How does karma work in Mahayana Buddhism?

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shanyin
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How does karma work in Mahayana Buddhism?

Post by shanyin » Mon May 14, 2018 5:45 am

What is karma?

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Re: How does karma work in Mahayana Buddhism?

Post by Ayu » Mon May 14, 2018 7:26 am

Action has a result. Because everything is empty it is arising dependently.
I have decided to stick with love.
Hate is too great a burden to bear.
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Re: How does karma work in Mahayana Buddhism?

Post by Bristollad » Mon May 14, 2018 9:00 am

karma is intentional action. Its often loosely used to describe the results and fruits of intentional action too.

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Re: How does karma work in Mahayana Buddhism?

Post by Queequeg » Wed May 16, 2018 5:09 pm

There are two questions here - one in the body of the OP, and one in the subject line.

"What is karma" is answered.
Ayu wrote:
Mon May 14, 2018 7:26 am
Action has a result. Because everything is empty it is arising dependently.
Bristollad wrote:
Mon May 14, 2018 9:00 am
karma is intentional action. Its often loosely used to describe the results and fruits of intentional action too.
"How does karma work in Mahayana Buddhism?" has not been answered.

This is a complicated answer that involves internal and external dynamics...

All action (words and deeds) starts with a thought. These thoughts, words and deeds have concatenating effects internally and externally.

Internally, our thoughts, words, and deeds condition the thoughts, words and deeds that follow.

To illustrate, suppose my co-worker makes a mistake and does something which creates more work for me. This displeases me, and anger rises. Wishing my co-worker to suffer some consequence comparable to my displeasure and anger, I raise my voice and with malice point out my co-workers mistake with the intention of causing emotional injury to them. Without considering the external effect yet, this process is an internal experience. My displeasure leads step by step to my intentional action to inflict injury on another. This experience is now part of "me".

Each time I meet with displeasure, I react in a similar way - with anger, malice, and desire to inflict injury on others. Each time I go through that experience, I am reinforcing that process, making it habitual. From the Buddhist perspective, this habitual pattern is written into our consciousness at a subtle level, and with each experience of that habitual behavior, the behavior becomes more deeply imprinted into out consciousness. Its one thing to just repeat this behavior, but what actually starts happening is that our angry behavior becomes natural, and we are then in a position to carry out our impulses in increasingly exaggerated ways, such that, without restraint, we might soon become murderous in rage.

These thoughts words and deeds also have external effects, such that they imprint into our environment.

I want to build a house. I secure the property, gather the materials and arrange them in a manner that more or less matches the image of a house I had in my mind. I then move in and live happily ever after in my house.

Simple enough.

In the case of the my anger at my co-worker, when I act on my impulse to cause injury, I yell, "You stupid idiot! Look at this sloppy job. Now I have to clean up after you!" My co-worker, depending on their disposition, may be hurt, may be angry, or if they are spiritually developed, equanimeous. In the case of the first two options, the experience of being yelled at will condition their disposition toward me. I also grab a coffee cup and hurl it across the room, causing it to shatter and dent the wall. Just as my angry response imprinted on my consciousness, it imprints on the sentient and insentient environment. My actions have consequences - in one way or another, my relationship with my co-worker is soured. My coffee cup broken, I now drink from paper cups which go in the garbage and contribute to the mass of refuse collecting in the dump. The dent in the wall has to be repaired. Fixing the wall reminds me of my co-worker's mistake, I blame them for making me angry, and as I apply plaster to the wall, I stew in resentment at my co-worker. My anger at my co-worker becomes more deeply imprinted with each passing thought.

Work becomes more complicated with the personal animosity between us. My repair to the wall is shabby, and so makes our business, a gift shop, a less appealing place for our customers. Our animosity becomes palpable to customers who quickly leave because of the tense environment we create. Our toxic relationship eventually leads to customers not wanting to shop with us, and eventually, the business closes. The frustration and stress of losing my business puts me on edge, and my internal habit to react in anger is ever more deeply imprinted. I react in anger toward my family and friends. When driving, I am quick to anger at others who I feel are driving erratically, leading to road rage. Eventually, my road rage leads me to confront someone equally quick to anger. We confront each other, and I get shot in the interaction...

This is where Mahayana Buddhism departs from the sort of common sense, secular karma that I think is easy enough to grok.

As I bleed out on the side of the road and lose consciousness, I am overwhelmed by fear and anger. I find myself in what seems like a soup of raw emotions, predominantly fear and anger. The rage is deafening, the fear is debilitating. I reach and grasp for something to hold onto, to shield me from these emotions. Feeling something, I grasp and hold on tight. The emotions subside the stronger I grasp, until they are muted, to the point of placidity. But they start to roil again... until, I am born into a litter of Tasmanian Devils... And so it goes... on and on and on...

Until some eons from now, I encounter a beautiful, golden bodied being who radiates bliss, and I listen...
This is Suffering...
This is the Cause of Suffering...
Cutting off the Cause of Suffering, Suffering ends...
The End of the Cause of Suffering is achieved through this course of Ethical Conduct, Right Views, and Right Concentration...

I shave my head and devote myself to this course, vowing to become like this beautiful, golden bodied being myself...

I got a little carried away... :smile:
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

There are beings with little dust in their eyes who are falling away because they do not hear the Dhamma. There will be those who will understand the Dhamma.
-Ayacana Sutta

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Re: How does karma work in Mahayana Buddhism?

Post by shanyin » Mon May 21, 2018 3:53 am

What is Mahaparinirvana?


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Re: How does karma work in Mahayana Buddhism?

Post by Grigoris » Mon May 21, 2018 9:51 pm

shanyin wrote:
Mon May 21, 2018 3:53 am
What is Mahaparinirvana?
What is Google?
"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: How does karma work in Mahayana Buddhism?

Post by chimechodra » Mon May 21, 2018 11:19 pm

Grigoris wrote:
Mon May 21, 2018 9:51 pm
shanyin wrote:
Mon May 21, 2018 3:53 am
What is Mahaparinirvana?
What is Google?
Baby don't hurt me...

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Re: How does karma work in Mahayana Buddhism?

Post by Grigoris » Tue May 22, 2018 7:14 am

shanyin wrote:
Mon May 14, 2018 5:45 am
What is karma?
Something else you may want to try is the search function on the top right-hand side of the forum page.
"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: How does karma work in Mahayana Buddhism?

Post by Tenma » Wed May 23, 2018 9:43 pm

If this is karma, how does purification work exactly? Is it just karma is washed up? Or do you still have to atone for your crimes in more minor ways? Or what?

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Re: How does karma work in Mahayana Buddhism?

Post by Queequeg » Wed May 23, 2018 9:52 pm

Tenma wrote:
Wed May 23, 2018 9:43 pm
If this is karma, how does purification work exactly? Is it just karma is washed up? Or do you still have to atone for your crimes in more minor ways? Or what?
Break the cycle at vedana. Don't let tanha arise. Without tanha, the wheel doesn't have any new energy added to its spin. Eventually, the wheel will stop.
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

There are beings with little dust in their eyes who are falling away because they do not hear the Dhamma. There will be those who will understand the Dhamma.
-Ayacana Sutta

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Re: How does karma work in Mahayana Buddhism?

Post by Tenma » Wed May 23, 2018 9:56 pm

Queequeg wrote:
Wed May 23, 2018 9:52 pm
Tenma wrote:
Wed May 23, 2018 9:43 pm
If this is karma, how does purification work exactly? Is it just karma is washed up? Or do you still have to atone for your crimes in more minor ways? Or what?
Break the cycle at vedana. Don't let tanha arise. Without tanha, the wheel doesn't have any new energy added to its spin. Eventually, the wheel will stop.
Qu'est-ce que? :?
Could you translate that in teenage terms, please? I don't understand.

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Re: How does karma work in Mahayana Buddhism?

Post by Queequeg » Wed May 23, 2018 10:52 pm

In the 12 linked chain of causation, we can't control the ripening of karma. But we can exert control over how we react to the experience of karma ripening.

12 linked chain goes like this:

Ignorance gives rise to mental formation/volitions gives rise to Consciousness gives rise to Name-and-form gives rise to six-sense-bases gives rises feeling (vedana) gives rise to craving (tanha) gives rise to attachment gives rise to becoming gives rise to birth gives rise to aging, sickness and death. And then rebirth back to the top.

A lot could be said about this but the point is, there are a few places where this cycle can be broken. One of them is the link between feeling (vedana) and craving (tanha). Even if we experience the ripening of karma, we don't need to react to it (developing a craving for it). Hinayana training and some Mahayana is focused on breaking this link. In East Asian Buddhism, and maybe other paths, though I have not seen this, this is referred to as "reducing the body to ashes".

Another point in the link that can be broken is ignorance. If ignorance is replaced with wisdom then the cycle just... its not accurate to say it stops. But it no longer continues. It... drops.
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

There are beings with little dust in their eyes who are falling away because they do not hear the Dhamma. There will be those who will understand the Dhamma.
-Ayacana Sutta

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Re: How does karma work in Mahayana Buddhism?

Post by Tenma » Wed May 23, 2018 11:39 pm

Queequeg wrote:
Wed May 23, 2018 10:52 pm
In the 12 linked chain of causation, we can't control the ripening of karma. But we can exert control over how we react to the experience of karma ripening.

12 linked chain goes like this:

Ignorance gives rise to mental formation/volitions gives rise to Consciousness gives rise to Name-and-form gives rise to six-sense-bases gives rises feeling (vedana) gives rise to craving (tanha) gives rise to attachment gives rise to becoming gives rise to birth gives rise to aging, sickness and death. And then rebirth back to the top.

A lot could be said about this but the point is, there are a few places where this cycle can be broken. One of them is the link between feeling (vedana) and craving (tanha). Even if we experience the ripening of karma, we don't need to react to it (developing a craving for it). Hinayana training and some Mahayana is focused on breaking this link. In East Asian Buddhism, and maybe other paths, though I have not seen this, this is referred to as "reducing the body to ashes".

Another point in the link that can be broken is ignorance. If ignorance is replaced with wisdom then the cycle just... its not accurate to say it stops. But it no longer continues. It... drops.
So one must not feel anything when they recite something like the Mantra of Breaking Karmic Chains of Guan Yin?(Speaking of which, does anyone have a Sanskrit, not Chinese, version of it?)

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Re: How does karma work in Mahayana Buddhism?

Post by Queequeg » Thu May 24, 2018 12:20 am

Not sure what you're asking because I'm not familiar with that practice.

But as far as not feeling... How do you do that? That would involve disrupting the link between contact and feeling. I suppose that would be anesthesia... That's not practical. People try to do that, I guess... Opioids... Not quite the effect they're seeking...
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

There are beings with little dust in their eyes who are falling away because they do not hear the Dhamma. There will be those who will understand the Dhamma.
-Ayacana Sutta

Tenma
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Re: How does karma work in Mahayana Buddhism?

Post by Tenma » Thu May 24, 2018 2:50 am

Queequeg wrote:
Thu May 24, 2018 12:20 am
Not sure what you're asking because I'm not familiar with that practice.

But as far as not feeling... How do you do that? That would involve disrupting the link between contact and feeling. I suppose that would be anesthesia... That's not practical. People try to do that, I guess... Opioids... Not quite the effect they're seeking...
It's a "rising" feeling that causes goosebumps to rise as well, more effective during cold(happens in warm places as well, but cold is where you can feel it more). Within you, it is has though there is some form of clear light shining out(though when I ended up meeting my guru for the first time, it became a cleansing water feeling and then in sadhanas, the clear light usual). Of course, this happens when I do a Vajrasattva sadhana, then after feeling its "effects," I call Guan Yin's name, pray, and recite the mantra that unties karmic bonds. This effect then comes back in the Guan Yin practice. The same in others like Saraswati or Manjushri, but purification practices sometimes include a healing part(for example, I found great use in Vajrasattva whenever I had a stomach ache).

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Re: How does karma work in Mahayana Buddhism?

Post by Tenma » Thu May 24, 2018 2:35 pm

Queequeg wrote:
Thu May 24, 2018 12:20 am
Not sure what you're asking because I'm not familiar with that practice.

But as far as not feeling... How do you do that? That would involve disrupting the link between contact and feeling. I suppose that would be anesthesia... That's not practical. People try to do that, I guess... Opioids... Not quite the effect they're seeking...
Look here:
viewtopic.php?f=40&t=26826&start=20

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Re: How does karma work in Mahayana Buddhism?

Post by Queequeg » Thu May 24, 2018 5:56 pm

Tenma wrote:
Wed May 23, 2018 9:43 pm
If this is karma, how does purification work exactly? Is it just karma is washed up? Or do you still have to atone for your crimes in more minor ways? Or what?
OK, now I understand where you are coming from with this question.

How does purification work? That's a good question. I don't know for sure. There are some reasonable explanations in the thread you linked to.

As I understand, good and bad causes are never effaced. To efface a cause would require the present moment to be something other than what it presently is. Purification does not act to change the past, but rather, its a purification of our present condition such that reality will unfold in a manner different than the trajectory of ignorant samsaric perpetuation. Purification of our six sense doors, purification of our mistaken notions about our real situation (ie. Wisdom), we are taught, dispels ignorance such that we cut off the perpetuation of the 12 linked chain. As I mentioned above, we break the chain of causation either at the link between feeling and craving, or at the point of ignorance. Purification can rightly be said to be the replacement of ignorance with wisdom.

I recently posted this in another thread - these are 10 steps outlined by Ven. Zhiyi for repenting and expiating offenses.
First, develop a clear understanding and belief in cause-and-effect;
Second, give rise to profound fearfulness of retribution;
Third, bring forth a deep sense of shame and dread of blame;
Fourth, seek out a method to extinguish offenses;
Fifth, reveal and confess prior offenses;
Sixth, cut off the thought of continuing the offences;
Seventh, resolve to protect the Dharma;
Eighth, make a great vow to liberate beings;
Ninth, be ever mindful of the Buddha;
Tenth, Contemplate the nature of offenses as being unproduced.
I suppose in this model, purification mantras would be the substrate on which these steps would be practiced.
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

There are beings with little dust in their eyes who are falling away because they do not hear the Dhamma. There will be those who will understand the Dhamma.
-Ayacana Sutta

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Re: How does karma work in Mahayana Buddhism?

Post by Vajrasvapna » Mon May 28, 2018 3:42 pm

shanyin wrote:
Mon May 14, 2018 5:45 am
What is karma?
Karma is a concept of pre-Buddhist origin, you don't have a single view about karma. In Mahayana, you have the casual Madhyamaka viewing and the phenomenological Yogacara viewing. That kind of Manichean viewing about karma is not truly part of any Indian Buddhist school, in one pali sutra, the Buddha in fact atribute that to Jainism, not to Buddhsm. The concept of law of karma, in fact, have origin in the Theosophical Society, no ground in the Buddhist scriptures, I don't know why so many Buddhist accept that. You may read "Karmasiddhi Prakarana: The Treatise on Action by Vasubandhu" of Vasubandhu to learn about in Karma in non-esoteric Buddhism.

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