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Karma in Mahāyāna

Posted: Tue Dec 26, 2017 12:07 am
by markatex
In the Nikayas/Agamas, it’s said that not everything that happens is the result of karma. I was under the impression (perhaps wrongly) that the Mahāyāna sutras state otherwise. Is this correct? Are there Mahāyāna texts where this is discussed?

Re: Karma in Mahāyāna

Posted: Tue Dec 26, 2017 11:41 am
by Astus
markatex wrote:
Tue Dec 26, 2017 12:07 am
In the Nikayas/Agamas, it’s said that not everything that happens is the result of karma. I was under the impression (perhaps wrongly) that the Mahāyāna sutras state otherwise. Is this correct? Are there Mahāyāna texts where this is discussed?
Even the Nikayas do not say that there are experiences not from action. Please read Thanissaro Bhikkhu's introduction to the Sivaka Sutta. As it is stated in the Kosha (vol 2, p 477): "by reason of the collective action of beings, there appears the first signs of a future physical world", so the physical world itself appears because of past action. As for Mahayana, the three worlds are nothing but the fabrications of mind.

Re: Karma in Mahāyāna

Posted: Fri Dec 29, 2017 3:40 am
by SunWuKong
Nagarjunas cornerstone of Mahayana is Dependent Origination

http://enlight.lib.ntu.edu.tw/FULLTEXT/ ... 04088.html

University of Hawai'i Press

Re: Karma in Mahāyāna

Posted: Wed Jan 10, 2018 5:48 pm
by javier.espinoza.t
For something to "form/occur/happen/exist/..." a cause must be first, as in mahayana, the intention and follwing action.

Ive been thinking on this, whats deeper in us? Will or intention?

Re: Karma in Mahāyāna

Posted: Thu Jan 11, 2018 7:22 pm
by markatex
I kept meaning to follow up on this. I'm asking about something fairly specific, but I couldn't remember details off-hand when I posted this topic. Upon further investigation, I'm wondering about something called niyamas, apparently discussed in the Moliyasivaka Sutta, of which there are five types, of which karma is only one. Is this concept something that exists in Mahayana as well? I'm specifically curious if there's a parallel teaching in the Chinese canon.

Re: Karma in Mahāyāna

Posted: Tue Jan 16, 2018 6:43 am
by javier.espinoza.t
What are nikayas/agamas? Interdependence is ln the spot, but it's interesting to know.

Re: Karma in Mahāyāna

Posted: Tue Jan 16, 2018 8:31 am
by Marc
javier.espinoza.t wrote:
Tue Jan 16, 2018 6:43 am
What are nikayas/agamas? Interdependence is ln the spot, but it's interesting to know.
The Nikayas are a portion of the Pali Sutapitaka.
The Agamas are a portion of the chinese Sutrapitaka that more or less corresponds to the Pali Nikayas.
As far as I know, there are however no equivalent in the Tibetan Kanjur.

Re: Karma in Mahāyāna

Posted: Tue Jan 16, 2018 10:54 am
by Seishin
It poses more questions; is karma only cause and effect? Is all cause and effect karma (dependant origination for example)? Do insentient phenomena have karma?

Re: Karma in Mahāyāna

Posted: Tue Jan 16, 2018 11:26 am
by Seishin
markatex wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 7:22 pm
I kept meaning to follow up on this. I'm asking about something fairly specific, but I couldn't remember details off-hand when I posted this topic. Upon further investigation, I'm wondering about something called niyamas, apparently discussed in the Moliyasivaka Sutta, of which there are five types, of which karma is only one. Is this concept something that exists in Mahayana as well? I'm specifically curious if there's a parallel teaching in the Chinese canon.
On one occasion the Blessed One was dwelling near Rajagaha in the Bamboo Grove Monastery, the Squirrel's Feeding Place. There Moliyasivaka the wanderer went to the Blessed One and, on arrival, exchanged courteous greetings with him. After an exchange of friendly greetings & courtesies, he sat to one side. As he was sitting there, he said to the Blessed One, "Master Gotama, there are some brahmans & contemplatives who are of this doctrine, this view: Whatever an individual feels — pleasure, pain, neither-pleasure-nor-pain — is entirely caused by what was done before. Now what does Master Gotama say to that?"

[The Buddha:] "There are cases where some feelings arise based on bile.[1] You yourself should know how some feelings arise based on bile. Even the world is agreed on how some feelings arise based on bile. So any brahmans & contemplatives who are of the doctrine & view that whatever an individual feels — pleasure, pain, neither-pleasure-nor-pain — is entirely caused by what was done before — slip past what they themselves know, slip past what is agreed on by the world. Therefore I say that those brahmans & contemplatives are wrong."

"There are cases where some feelings arise based on phlegm... based on internal winds... based on a combination of bodily humors... from the change of the seasons... from uneven[2] care of the body... from harsh treatment... from the result of kamma. You yourself should know how some feelings arise from the result of kamma. Even the world is agreed on how some feelings arise from the result of kamma. So any brahmans & contemplatives who are of the doctrine & view that whatever an individual feels — pleasure, pain, neither pleasure-nor-pain — is entirely caused by what was done before — slip past what they themselves know, slip past what is agreed on by the world. Therefore I say that those brahmans & contemplatives are wrong."

When this was said, Moliyasivaka the wanderer said to the Blessed One: "Magnificent, lord! Magnificent! Just as if he were to place upright what was overturned, to reveal what was hidden, to point out the way to one who was lost, or to carry a lamp into the dark so that those with eyes could see forms, in the same way has the Blessed One — through many lines of reasoning — made the Dhamma clear. I go to the Blessed One for refuge, to the Dhamma, & to the community of monks. May the Blessed One remember me as a lay follower who has gone for refuge from this day forward, for life."

Bile, phlegm, wind, a combination,
Season, uneven, harsh treatment,
and through the result of kamma as the eighth.[3]

Notes
1.I.e., diseases and pains that come from a malfunction of the gall bladder.2."Out-of-tune."3.This concluding verse seems to have been added by the compilers of the Canon as a mnemonic device.
I think some teachers will say that this illustrates that karma is not the only causal factor, however some teachers disagree. The translators note states:
Some people have interpreted this sutta as stating that there are many experiences that cannot be explained by the principle of kamma. A casual glance of the alternative factors here — drawn from the various causes for pain that were recognized in the medical treatises of his time — would seem to support this conclusion. However, if we compare this list with his definition of old kamma in SN 35.145, we see that many of the alternative causes are actually the result of past actions. Those that aren't are the result of new kamma. For instance, MN 101 counts asceticism — which produces pain in the immediate present — under the factor harsh treatment. The point here is that old and new kamma do not override other causal factors operating in the universe — such as those recognized by the physical sciences — but instead find their expression within those factors. A second point is that some of the influences of past kamma can be mitigated in the present — a disease caused by bile, for instance, can be cured by medicine that brings the bile back to normal. Similarly with the mind: suffering caused by physical pain can be ended by understanding and abandoning the attachment that led to that suffering. In this way, the Buddha's teaching on kamma avoids determinism and opens the way for a path of practice focused on eliminating the causes of suffering in the here and now.
See here: https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .than.html

Re: Karma in Mahāyāna

Posted: Thu Jan 18, 2018 3:42 am
by markatex
Thanks for that, Seishin! That clarifies some things. A problem for me is that I read things and then forget where I read them. I had only seen the passage quoted online; I don't have the book, so I haven't read the translator's notes, but that makes sense. For some reason, based on this, I had it in my head that the Mahayana had different ideas about karma than what is expressed in the Pali Canon. Evidently, that's not the case.

Re: Karma in Mahāyāna

Posted: Thu Jan 18, 2018 3:43 am
by markatex
Seishin wrote:
Tue Jan 16, 2018 10:54 am
It poses more questions; is karma only cause and effect? Is all cause and effect karma (dependant origination for example)? Do insentient phenomena have karma?
Yes, that's part of what I was wondering about, too.

Re: Karma in Mahāyāna

Posted: Sat Jan 20, 2018 7:44 am
by javier.espinoza.t
What do you think?