Collective karma

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cyril
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Collective karma

Post by cyril » Tue Apr 17, 2018 6:22 am

A while ago, I found this video of Ven. Master Chin Kung asserting that the wealth of the modern-day Islamic nations is the karmic result of the Islamic practice of Zakat.



Personally, I am not convinced that this is the case, primarily because the Zakat is compulsory, therefore the meritorious intention is probably lacking. Besides, hystorically, the Islamic nations have also practiced Jizya (which amounts to extorsion) and plundered the hell out of the neighbouring kuffars, so the resulting negative karma would have probably offset whatever positive vipaka derived from the Zakat.

Still, I wonder, is there such thing as the collective karma of a nation or community in the sense that the master implies?
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Re: Collective karma

Post by Wicked Yeshe » Tue Apr 17, 2018 8:07 am

cyril wrote:
Tue Apr 17, 2018 6:22 am
Still, I wonder, is there such thing as the collective karma of a nation or community in the sense that the master implies?
There is and you can feel it once you are in a country or even think about a group of people. However, i think that we have a tendency to filter it through our own karmic lenses so to speak.

Master Chin Kung is a good teacher to listen to in many ways. I found a lot of answers to basic questions through his videos.

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Re: Collective karma

Post by Kim O'Hara » Tue Apr 17, 2018 8:28 am

Here's a philosophical treatment of the question: https://www.unm.edu/~rhayes/Lecture10.pdf
1. The idea of collective karma
In previous lectures I have referred to an interview with Lati Rinpoche in which the topic was karma and rebirth. One of the topics that came up in that interview was the notion of collective karma. That portion of the dialogue went as follows:
Hayes: What is the most frequently encountered question when you are speaking to Western audiences?
Lati Rinpoche: People always want to know why the ways of the world are as they are and who created these things. People want to know why there is so much pain and suffering in the world, and why there are so many thieves and other bad people causing so much suffering for others.
Hayes: That reminds me of a question that was once put to me when I was giving a public lecture about Buddhism. A Jewish person in the audience asked me how the Buddhists would explain why during the Second World War in Europe so many innocent Jewish children, who had never done anything wrong to deserve punishment, were put to death in Nazi concentration camps or were left as homeless orphans. That situation was completely lacking in any justice in that so many of the victims were apparently totally innocent. How would Lati Rinpoche answer that question if it were put to him?
Lati Rinpoche: The proper Buddhist answer to such a question is that the victims were experiencing the consequences of their actions performed in previous lives. The individual victims must have done something very bad in earlier lives that led to their being treated in this way. Also there is such a thing as collective karma.
Hayes: Do you mean that the Jewish people as a whole have a special karma?
Lati Rinpoche: Yes. All groups have karma that is more than just the collection of the karma of the individuals in the group. For example, a group of people may decide collectively to start a war. If they act on that decision, then the group as a whole will experience the hardships of being at war. Karma is the result of making a decision to act in a certain way. Decisions to act may be made by individuals or by groups. If the decision is made by a group, then the whole group will experience the collective consequences of their decision.
Hayes: What can an individual do to change the karma of the group that he or she belongs to?
Lecture 10: Is there such a thing as collective karma?
Lati Rinpoche: You can change all karma through practice. You can persuade the group to adopt pure attitudes and to develop pure practices.1
According to Wilhelm Halbfass, this notion of collective karma is not part of traditional Indian thought. The origin of the idea seems to be the doctrine of karma as taught by the Theosophical Society, which was founded in 1875. Halbfass also notes that it was the Theosophical Society that introduced the expression “the law of karma.” In traditional Hindu and Buddhist texts, karma is never referred to as a law in any of the several senses of that English word, although it is described in ways that naturally make Western people think of it as being somewhat like other laws of nature, such as the law of gravity or the law of diminishing returns. ...
Ven Dhammika doesn't agree:
Nothing like the idea of collective kamma is found in or even hinted at in the Buddha’s teachings. There is no Pali or Sanskrit words for collective kamma in the traditional lexicons. The idea is also absent from later Buddhist texts. In his Abhidharmakosabhasya Vasubhandu has a comment that could be interpreted as suggesting something like collective kamma. He says: “When many persons are united with the intention to kill, either in war, or in the hunt, or in banditry, who is guilty of murder, if only one of them kills? As soldiers, etc., concur in the realization of the same effect, all are as guilty as is the one who kills. Having a common goal, all are guilty just as he who among them kills, for all mutually incite one another, not through speech, but by the very fact that they are united together in order to kill. But is the person who has been constrained through force to join the army also guilty? Evidently so, unless he has formed the resolution: ‘Even in order to save my life, I shall not kill a living being’.” (Vasubandhu, Abhidharma-kośa-bhāsya. Vol.1, translation by Leo M. Pruden 1991.
https://sdhammika.blogspot.com.au/2014/ ... ality.html

:reading:
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Re: Collective karma

Post by Astus » Tue Apr 17, 2018 10:10 am

Karma is intentional action. Only beings have intention, not groups, hence there is no such thing as collective karma.
1 Myriad dharmas are only mind.
Mind is unobtainable.
What is there to seek?

2 If the Buddha-Nature is seen,
there will be no seeing of a nature in any thing.

3 Neither cultivation nor seated meditation —
this is the pure Chan of Tathagata.

4 With sudden enlightenment to Tathagata Chan,
the six paramitas and myriad means
are complete within that essence.


1 Huangbo, T2012Ap381c1 2 Nirvana Sutra, T374p521b3; tr. Yamamoto 3 Mazu, X1321p3b23; tr. J. Jia 4 Yongjia, T2014p395c14; tr. from "The Sword of Wisdom"

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Re: Collective karma

Post by Grigoris » Tue Apr 17, 2018 11:18 am

Astus wrote:
Tue Apr 17, 2018 10:10 am
Karma is intentional action. Only beings have intention, not groups, hence there is no such thing as collective karma.
You think that a group of people acting together with a single goal cannot have similar or identical motivations?
"My religion is not deceiving myself."
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"Butchers, prostitutes, those guilty of the five most heinous crimes, outcasts, the underprivileged: all are utterly the substance of existence and nothing other than total bliss."
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Re: Collective karma

Post by Astus » Tue Apr 17, 2018 11:49 am

Grigoris wrote:
Tue Apr 17, 2018 11:18 am
You think that a group of people acting together with a single goal cannot have similar or identical motivations?
People can have numerous things in common and imagine there to be an identity based on seemingly shared attributes, but that will not make them identical, nor create a new sentient entity. Even on a conventional level group identities are nominal. For example, people can eat together, but it doesn't mean they have one mind and one stomach.
1 Myriad dharmas are only mind.
Mind is unobtainable.
What is there to seek?

2 If the Buddha-Nature is seen,
there will be no seeing of a nature in any thing.

3 Neither cultivation nor seated meditation —
this is the pure Chan of Tathagata.

4 With sudden enlightenment to Tathagata Chan,
the six paramitas and myriad means
are complete within that essence.


1 Huangbo, T2012Ap381c1 2 Nirvana Sutra, T374p521b3; tr. Yamamoto 3 Mazu, X1321p3b23; tr. J. Jia 4 Yongjia, T2014p395c14; tr. from "The Sword of Wisdom"

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Re: Collective karma

Post by Mantrik » Tue Apr 17, 2018 1:04 pm

Astus wrote:
Tue Apr 17, 2018 10:10 am
Karma is intentional action. Only beings have intention, not groups, hence there is no such thing as collective karma.
Any group can agree a shared objective, state the shared intention to attain it, and together conduct the actions in order to do so. For example, a jury can share the intention to unanimously declare someone innocent of a crime and then do so.

Of course, the real debate is whether they share any vipaka or if that only arrives individually.
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Re: Collective karma

Post by Astus » Tue Apr 17, 2018 2:18 pm

Mantrik wrote:
Tue Apr 17, 2018 1:04 pm
the real debate is whether they share any vipaka or if that only arrives individually.
It's always an individual's decision, hence the consequences are individual as well. There is no such thing as a group mind.
1 Myriad dharmas are only mind.
Mind is unobtainable.
What is there to seek?

2 If the Buddha-Nature is seen,
there will be no seeing of a nature in any thing.

3 Neither cultivation nor seated meditation —
this is the pure Chan of Tathagata.

4 With sudden enlightenment to Tathagata Chan,
the six paramitas and myriad means
are complete within that essence.


1 Huangbo, T2012Ap381c1 2 Nirvana Sutra, T374p521b3; tr. Yamamoto 3 Mazu, X1321p3b23; tr. J. Jia 4 Yongjia, T2014p395c14; tr. from "The Sword of Wisdom"

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Re: Collective karma

Post by Grigoris » Tue Apr 17, 2018 2:30 pm

Astus wrote:
Tue Apr 17, 2018 11:49 am
Grigoris wrote:
Tue Apr 17, 2018 11:18 am
You think that a group of people acting together with a single goal cannot have similar or identical motivations?
People can have numerous things in common and imagine there to be an identity based on seemingly shared attributes, but that will not make them identical, nor create a new sentient entity. Even on a conventional level group identities are nominal. For example, people can eat together, but it doesn't mean they have one mind and one stomach.
I agree. At the same time though, we know that our shared reality is formed as a consequence of our similar past actions. We also know that the actions of others effect us.
"My religion is not deceiving myself."
Jetsun Milarepa 1052-1135 CE

"Butchers, prostitutes, those guilty of the five most heinous crimes, outcasts, the underprivileged: all are utterly the substance of existence and nothing other than total bliss."
The Supreme Source - The Kunjed Gyalpo
The Fundamental Tantra of Dzogchen Semde

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Re: Collective karma

Post by Astus » Tue Apr 17, 2018 3:33 pm

Grigoris wrote:
Tue Apr 17, 2018 2:30 pm
we know that our shared reality is formed as a consequence of our similar past actions. We also know that the actions of others effect us.
No reality is shared, because experience is not shared. It is rather just conceptual categories that seem to create a shared world. Similarly, others' actions cannot affect us, as all experiences are the products of one's own conditioning.
1 Myriad dharmas are only mind.
Mind is unobtainable.
What is there to seek?

2 If the Buddha-Nature is seen,
there will be no seeing of a nature in any thing.

3 Neither cultivation nor seated meditation —
this is the pure Chan of Tathagata.

4 With sudden enlightenment to Tathagata Chan,
the six paramitas and myriad means
are complete within that essence.


1 Huangbo, T2012Ap381c1 2 Nirvana Sutra, T374p521b3; tr. Yamamoto 3 Mazu, X1321p3b23; tr. J. Jia 4 Yongjia, T2014p395c14; tr. from "The Sword of Wisdom"

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Re: Collective karma

Post by Grigoris » Tue Apr 17, 2018 3:41 pm

Astus wrote:
Tue Apr 17, 2018 3:33 pm
Grigoris wrote:
Tue Apr 17, 2018 2:30 pm
we know that our shared reality is formed as a consequence of our similar past actions. We also know that the actions of others effect us.
No reality is shared, because experience is not shared. It is rather just conceptual categories that seem to create a shared world. Similarly, others' actions cannot affect us, as all experiences are the products of one's own conditioning.
So you disagree with the Six Realms model then?

It is ridiculous to say that the actions of other's do not effect us. If I punch you in the head, believe me, it will effect you. For quite some time too. :smile:
"My religion is not deceiving myself."
Jetsun Milarepa 1052-1135 CE

"Butchers, prostitutes, those guilty of the five most heinous crimes, outcasts, the underprivileged: all are utterly the substance of existence and nothing other than total bliss."
The Supreme Source - The Kunjed Gyalpo
The Fundamental Tantra of Dzogchen Semde

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Re: Collective karma

Post by Astus » Tue Apr 17, 2018 4:40 pm

Grigoris wrote:
Tue Apr 17, 2018 3:41 pm
So you disagree with the Six Realms model then?
No, why would I? Although the 5 realms model has its advantages.
It is ridiculous to say that the actions of other's do not effect us. If I punch you in the head, believe me, it will effect you. For quite some time too. :smile:
"Even though now I have done no wrong, I am reaping the karmic consequences of past transgressions. It is something that neither the heavens nor other people can impose upon me."
(Bodhidharma)

"Through enduring the disparagement of others in the present life, the bad karma from the prior lives can be removed, and one can attain peerless perfect enlightenment."
(Diamond Sutra, ch 16)
1 Myriad dharmas are only mind.
Mind is unobtainable.
What is there to seek?

2 If the Buddha-Nature is seen,
there will be no seeing of a nature in any thing.

3 Neither cultivation nor seated meditation —
this is the pure Chan of Tathagata.

4 With sudden enlightenment to Tathagata Chan,
the six paramitas and myriad means
are complete within that essence.


1 Huangbo, T2012Ap381c1 2 Nirvana Sutra, T374p521b3; tr. Yamamoto 3 Mazu, X1321p3b23; tr. J. Jia 4 Yongjia, T2014p395c14; tr. from "The Sword of Wisdom"

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Re: Collective karma

Post by Grigoris » Tue Apr 17, 2018 5:28 pm

Astus wrote:
Tue Apr 17, 2018 4:40 pm
"Even though now I have done no wrong, I am reaping the karmic consequences of past transgressions. It is something that neither the heavens nor other people can impose upon me."
(Bodhidharma)
This is talking about karma vipakka arising from our previous actions, it does not prove that my actions do not effect you.
"Through enduring the disparagement of others in the present life, the bad karma from the prior lives can be removed, and one can attain peerless perfect enlightenment."
(Diamond Sutra, ch 16)
The fact that something needs to be endured (from others), is evidence of the effect (of others).
"My religion is not deceiving myself."
Jetsun Milarepa 1052-1135 CE

"Butchers, prostitutes, those guilty of the five most heinous crimes, outcasts, the underprivileged: all are utterly the substance of existence and nothing other than total bliss."
The Supreme Source - The Kunjed Gyalpo
The Fundamental Tantra of Dzogchen Semde

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Re: Collective karma

Post by Astus » Tue Apr 17, 2018 7:01 pm

Grigoris wrote:
Tue Apr 17, 2018 5:28 pm
This is talking about karma vipakka arising from our previous actions, it is not prove thatmy actions do not effect you. ... The fact that something needs to be endured (from others), is evidence of the effect (of others).
If beings suffer/enjoy the consequences of their own actions, how could they also suffer/enjoy the actions of others?

"This third category, ascription of karma, means that you experience the results of the karma you create. Results will ripen in the skandas related to the actor, and not to others. The Collection of the Abhidharma says:
What does the ascription of karma mean? One experiences the maturation of the karma one has created. It is uncommon to others and, so, is called ascription.
If that were not the case, the karma that was created could be wasted or there could be the danger of facing a result that one had not created. Therefore, in the sutra it says:
That karma that is created by Devadatta will not mature in the earth, water, and so forth But that karma will ripen in the skandas and ayatana of that particular individual To whom else would this karma result?"

(Jewel Ornament of LIberation, p 119-120)
1 Myriad dharmas are only mind.
Mind is unobtainable.
What is there to seek?

2 If the Buddha-Nature is seen,
there will be no seeing of a nature in any thing.

3 Neither cultivation nor seated meditation —
this is the pure Chan of Tathagata.

4 With sudden enlightenment to Tathagata Chan,
the six paramitas and myriad means
are complete within that essence.


1 Huangbo, T2012Ap381c1 2 Nirvana Sutra, T374p521b3; tr. Yamamoto 3 Mazu, X1321p3b23; tr. J. Jia 4 Yongjia, T2014p395c14; tr. from "The Sword of Wisdom"

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Re: Collective karma

Post by cyril » Tue Apr 17, 2018 7:26 pm

Kim O'Hara wrote:
Tue Apr 17, 2018 8:28 am
Here's a philosophical treatment of the question: https://www.unm.edu/~rhayes/Lecture10.pdf


:reading:
Kim
Thanks for the link. I guess the line between karma-vipaka and what appears to be direct, natural causation can be quite blurry at times. The examples of collective karma that Lati Rinpoche brings forth (one nation suffers as a result of having decided to start a war or Toronto is a nice place as a result of its citizens having decided to live in a peaceful, civilized manner) are more akin to natural causation. Here, the link between cause and effect is quite obvious and can be empirically established; we don't even need karma to understand how one generation makes a decision and the following generation is left with its consequences. Whereas in the Master Chin Kung's example, the relation is not so linear and cannot be empirically established.
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Re: Collective karma

Post by cyril » Tue Apr 17, 2018 7:32 pm

Mantrik wrote:
Tue Apr 17, 2018 1:04 pm
Astus wrote:
Tue Apr 17, 2018 10:10 am
Karma is intentional action. Only beings have intention, not groups, hence there is no such thing as collective karma.
Any group can agree a shared objective, state the shared intention to attain it, and together conduct the actions in order to do so. For example, a jury can share the intention to unanimously declare someone innocent of a crime and then do so.

Of course, the real debate is whether they share any vipaka or if that only arrives individually.
Exactly. If I am part of a mob that lynches a person and I rejoice in the act of killing, then obviously, i share the karma of killing with the rest of the mob even if i didn't even touch the victim. But the vipaka is likely to be experienced individually. The Master Chin Kung however, seems to imply that the vipaka can be somehow experienced collectively, if I understand correctly.
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Re: Collective karma

Post by Mantrik » Tue Apr 17, 2018 8:21 pm

cyril wrote:
Tue Apr 17, 2018 7:32 pm
Mantrik wrote:
Tue Apr 17, 2018 1:04 pm
Astus wrote:
Tue Apr 17, 2018 10:10 am
Karma is intentional action. Only beings have intention, not groups, hence there is no such thing as collective karma.
Any group can agree a shared objective, state the shared intention to attain it, and together conduct the actions in order to do so. For example, a jury can share the intention to unanimously declare someone innocent of a crime and then do so.

Of course, the real debate is whether they share any vipaka or if that only arrives individually.
Exactly. If I am part of a mob that lynches a person and I rejoice in the act of killing, then obviously, i share the karma of killing with the rest of the mob even if i didn't even touch the victim. But the vipaka is likely to be experienced individually. The Master Chin Kung however, seems to imply that the vipaka can be somehow experienced collectively, if I understand correctly.
Yes, that's what I was seeking to point out as the nub of the issue. I was looking for examples of actions which were genuinely equal for members of a group, hence the jury example. I take Astus's point, and agree of course that we have separate consciousness and therefore separate vipaka playing out, but I do think there is an argument that we can have group karma when it is a simple situation.
The lynching would fit this as long as everyone had the same motivation to perform the same act, but if only one killed the victim then it doesn't fit when it comes to vipaka.

Personally, I do have a belief that there is shared vipaka, but I can't back that up scripturally.
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Re: Collective karma

Post by cyril » Tue Apr 17, 2018 8:31 pm

Mantrik wrote:
Tue Apr 17, 2018 8:21 pm

... but if only one killed the victim then it doesn't fit when it comes to vipaka.

Then, in this case, by analogy, the positive karma acquired by rejoicing in another one's meritorious deeds wouldn't result in vipaka similar to that of the doer?
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Re: Collective karma

Post by Mantrik » Tue Apr 17, 2018 8:44 pm

cyril wrote:
Tue Apr 17, 2018 8:31 pm
Mantrik wrote:
Tue Apr 17, 2018 8:21 pm

... but if only one killed the victim then it doesn't fit when it comes to vipaka.

Then, in this case, by analogy, the positive karma acquired by rejoicing in another one's meritorious deeds wouldn't result in vipaka similar to that of the doer?
Oh yes, similar for sure. But if the deed itself is not shared then not the same. The reason I use a jury as an example, is that each is equally responsible for a unanimous decision to execute someone, for example. But they don't share the vipaka of a different action by the executioner, who actually carries it out. I think . lol :)
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Re: Collective karma

Post by Astus » Wed Apr 18, 2018 11:00 am

cyril wrote:
Tue Apr 17, 2018 8:31 pm
Then, in this case, by analogy, the positive karma acquired by rejoicing in another one's meritorious deeds wouldn't result in vipaka similar to that of the doer?
Agreeing with the actions of another is a mental, and possibly a verbal act, but not a bodily one. Because it strengthens a similar intention, the result is similar. However, the act is not the same, and when the result occurs the conditioning of the mind is not the same either.

Furthermore on "sharing karma":

"By oneself is evil done; by oneself is one defiled. By oneself is evil left undone; by oneself is one made pure. Purity and impurity depend on oneself; no one can purify another."
(Dhp 12.165)

"It can't be wrested away. It follows you along. When, having left this world, for wherever you must go, you take it with you. This fund is not held in common with others, & cannot be stolen by thieves."
(Khp 8)

"It may seem like a contradiction to dedicate merit when each person in samsara enjoys or suffers the results of only his or her own negative or positive actions, but no conflict really exists. Just as the results of the virtuous or evil deeds we create cannot be transferred to another person, neither can we take away someone else's negative karma or take our own virtue and transfer it to another person."
(Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche: King of Samadhi, p 120)

"we do not really exchange the karma we haven’t created, with karma created by others. Karma cannot be transferred or eliminated by giving and taking practice"
(Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche: The Seven Points of Mind Training)
1 Myriad dharmas are only mind.
Mind is unobtainable.
What is there to seek?

2 If the Buddha-Nature is seen,
there will be no seeing of a nature in any thing.

3 Neither cultivation nor seated meditation —
this is the pure Chan of Tathagata.

4 With sudden enlightenment to Tathagata Chan,
the six paramitas and myriad means
are complete within that essence.


1 Huangbo, T2012Ap381c1 2 Nirvana Sutra, T374p521b3; tr. Yamamoto 3 Mazu, X1321p3b23; tr. J. Jia 4 Yongjia, T2014p395c14; tr. from "The Sword of Wisdom"

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