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BASIS FOR KARMA / REBIRTH

Posted: Mon Nov 25, 2013 3:04 pm
by mindyourmind
I doubt whether I have the theistic knowledge and background to meaningfully ask this question, but here goes. I need to answer this in one of those email debates that some of us get into from time to time, and I am too busy (aka lazy) to go and do hours of research.

From a theistic point of view, God created everything, is the uncreated creator and all questions can be ascribed to him. Why are flowers, rainbows, puppy dogs - God is the ultimate answer.

Along come the Buddhists, "believing" in karma and rebirth, but not in a creator god. To put it in its simplest form, where does karma / rebirth "come from"? Who created such an exquisitely complex system, if there is no god?

Please be as technical and detailed as you can, I have been bet a case of beer that the Buddhist cannot meaningfully answer this, and that the best we can do is to ask questions like "Who's asking" and "ask your teacher". :reading: :sage:

Re: BASIS FOR KARMA / REBIRTH

Posted: Mon Nov 25, 2013 3:22 pm
by PadmaVonSamba
Actually, a good answer is possible, and you may lose that case of beer.
It's not all that much of a complex system,
not too much more complex than the working of your own mind, anyway.

I am reposting this comment I made on another recent thread about karma:
http://www.dharmawheel.net/viewtopic.php?f=77&t=14589
.........................

This is actually a misunderstanding of karma. There is not some kind of force in the universe that dishes out rewards and punishments.

There is no permanent ' you' that is going to experience those effects later on. But there is the accumulation of causes which will manifest again as a being, just as the being you are now is the result of previous events.

Consider that you are in fact not the same person that you were when you were a child. Every cell that once lived has died and has been replaced. Your thoughts have changed constantly.

One cell at a time, you have already experienced rebirth many times over.
Yet, there is a sensation of continuity that arises in the mind.
This sense of continuity occurs because the causes of continuity are there.
The effect (of the actions of the body speech and mind) is essentially like digging a hole today that you will fall into later on, because the results resemble their causes.

These causes and effects are not bound by what we regard as the passing of life. The fact that "you will die' all at once some day is not appreciably different than the fact that you have been dying over and over again since the time you were born. the only difference is that this is when the cells stop replicating, because the causes for replication no longer arise.

but the causes of attachment that you have set into motion are still in motion,
and so the cycle of rebirth continues.
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Re: BASIS FOR KARMA / REBIRTH

Posted: Mon Nov 25, 2013 3:23 pm
by futerko
It is a perspectival illusion. To explain flowers you need to explain the formation of planets, the atmosphere, solar systems, etc. and if you trace it all the way back you basically have to explain the whole universe, which either tends to be accounted for by a creator God or the big bang...

...but what was before God, or the big bang?

Effectively you've gone down a dead end where there could always be something prior to the "first cause", because seeing everything in terms of a chain of cause and effect is only relevant to the person looking right here and now, due to the fact that we can only view it in terms of linear time and space, and because we are limited to view things from the place we are at, and to see them in the way we see things (in time and space), then karma is an explanation of the way things are for us in this very moment as they appear to us right now.

If there was a God, then she/he would not have that limitation of being in time and space like we are, but then as a result, they would not notice any difference of changes occurring over time like we do - therefore the explanation that places events in a sequence cannot possibly correspond to the way they are for a creator God anyway - therefore it is a moot point.

Re: BASIS FOR KARMA / REBIRTH

Posted: Mon Nov 25, 2013 3:34 pm
by KonchokZoepa
it would be nice if nagarjuna was here on this forum chatting with us and giving an answer to this question :D

Re: BASIS FOR KARMA / REBIRTH

Posted: Mon Nov 25, 2013 3:38 pm
by Malcolm
mindyourmind wrote:To put it in its simplest form, where does karma / rebirth "come from"? Who created such an exquisitely complex system, if there is no god?
Karma is volition and what proceeds from volition, state Buddha, Nāgārjuna and Vasubandhu. Karma/rebirth, therefore come from the mind.

One important Buddhist tenet is beginninglessness. There is no absolute beginning.

All the diversity that we see in the universe is a result of all the individual actions of all sentient beings.

Re: BASIS FOR KARMA / REBIRTH

Posted: Mon Nov 25, 2013 3:49 pm
by mindyourmind
Malcolm wrote:
mindyourmind wrote:To put it in its simplest form, where does karma / rebirth "come from"? Who created such an exquisitely complex system, if there is no god?
Karma is volition and what proceeds from volition, state Buddha, Nāgārjuna and Vasubandhu. Karma/rebirth, therefore come from the mind.

One important Buddhist tenet is beginninglessness. There is no absolute beginning.

All the diversity that we see in the universe is a result of all the individual actions of all sentient beings.

I haven't got Vasubandhu in my draft yet, in he goes.

This is one of those comparative religion questions that I sense the answer, and I can probably do an article on it, but to get it down to a sentence or two soundbite, there's the trick.

What he wants to know (and here my theism may be letting me down) is "Who made it?" In the theistic worlview all of these questions of course have a wonderfully pat answer.

Re: BASIS FOR KARMA / REBIRTH

Posted: Mon Nov 25, 2013 4:01 pm
by futerko
mindyourmind wrote: In the theistic worlview all of these questions of course have a wonderfully pat answer.
You mean something like - God made it?

...but then what about God's mom?

Re: BASIS FOR KARMA / REBIRTH

Posted: Mon Nov 25, 2013 4:18 pm
by oushi
mindyourmind wrote:What he wants to know (and here my theism may be letting me down) is "Who made it?"
People seeing patterns, nothing more.
Who made that cloud dragon? Imagination of the observer.

Re: BASIS FOR KARMA / REBIRTH

Posted: Mon Nov 25, 2013 4:53 pm
by kirtu
mindyourmind wrote:To put it in its simplest form, where does karma / rebirth "come from"?
Karma comes from grasping. Grasping comes from ignorance (see the 12 Links).

Ignorance comes originally from non-recognition. Non-recognition of what? To be brief, non-recognition that you are a Buddha.
Who created such an exquisitely complex system, if there is no god?
No one created the system. It's a natural consequence of ignorance (realizing of course that this is in part another form of "just because").

Kirt

Re: BASIS FOR KARMA / REBIRTH

Posted: Mon Nov 25, 2013 4:55 pm
by PadmaVonSamba
mindyourmind wrote: From a theistic point of view, God created everything, is the uncreated creator and all questions can be ascribed to him. Why are flowers, rainbows, puppy dogs - God is the ultimate answer.
From a Buddhist viewpoint, this is wrong, because "things" (flowers, rainbows, puppy dogs)
do not have any intrinsic existence to begin with.
They are only the momentary coming together of various conditions.
In other words, a puppy is not the same thing from moment to moment,
nothing that is "puppy" can be said to exist,
and if it doesn't exist, it wasn't created,
and if it wasn't created, then there is no creator.

Yet, the appearance of a puppy occurs.
What occurs can thus be regarded as a series of events.
Thus, a puppy is, in fact, a series of events
and what makes that series of events appear to be a thing,
created or otherwise,
is the mind
and the same mind is what creates karma and rebirth,
which are also, after all, a series of events.

The theist looks at the constellation Ursa Major and says
"God put those stars into the shape of The Big Dipper" (or, the Big Bear, if you prefer)
The atheist says "the shape of the Big Dipper is produced by a purely random arrangement of stars"
The Buddhist says,
"any resemblance to a bunch of stars, and a Dipper or a Bear is created by your own mind"

...and that reasoning, the Buddhist extends to all phenomena,
including flowers, rainbows, puppy dogs, and cases of beer.
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Re: BASIS FOR KARMA / REBIRTH

Posted: Mon Nov 25, 2013 4:57 pm
by futerko
kirtu wrote:(realizing of course that this is in part another form of "just because").
...the big (and possibly, only) difference being that Buddhists locate that "just because" with their own perception rather than projecting it onto the infinite beyond.

Re: BASIS FOR KARMA / REBIRTH

Posted: Mon Nov 25, 2013 5:00 pm
by smcj
Where does karma/rebirth "come from"?=Where did God "come from"?

Re: BASIS FOR KARMA / REBIRTH

Posted: Mon Nov 25, 2013 5:04 pm
by KonchokZoepa
the experience of those comes or appears from the mind, and im sure those concepts also come from the mind. where does mind come from ?

Re: BASIS FOR KARMA / REBIRTH

Posted: Mon Nov 25, 2013 5:27 pm
by Malcolm
mindyourmind wrote:[

What he wants to know (and here my theism may be letting me down) is "Who made it?" In the theistic worlview all of these questions of course have a wonderfully pat answer.

The answer is that we (every sentient beings in the universe) all did by the force of our past actions which have no beginning.

Re: BASIS FOR KARMA / REBIRTH

Posted: Mon Nov 25, 2013 5:30 pm
by LastLegend
mindyourmind wrote:
What he wants to know (and here my theism may be letting me down) is "Who made it?" In the theistic worlview all of these questions of course have a wonderfully pat answer.
"Who made it?" is the question right? Then it follows that it has to be somebody, and that is God.

Ask again, "What made it?" Then it follows that something made it, and that is something something.

God is the first uncaused cause? On what basis have we arrived that there is a separate first uncaused cause since there is not a thing that exists independently on its own. And why do we have to think of time as linear? And what it means for A to cause B? For A to cause B, B must be implied in A and vice versa. A exists in reference to B, and B exists in reference to A. A and B exist in a relationship here, and there is no separation between A and B because of that. If A can exist on its own, it would not be A at all.

The mind cannot be the first separate uncaused cause either because mind does not exist independently on its own apart from physical appearances. The mind is evident in our experience. Everything else out there cannot be known.


I accept cashier check and personal check through mail for that case of beer. I drink Heineken. :thanks: :namaste:

Re: BASIS FOR KARMA / REBIRTH

Posted: Mon Nov 25, 2013 5:37 pm
by futerko
I already went and got beers. :cheers:

Re: BASIS FOR KARMA / REBIRTH

Posted: Mon Nov 25, 2013 6:30 pm
by LastLegend
It becomes clearer if A= orange seed, B=orange. With right conditions (sunlight, water, soil), seed will grow into an orange tree and bear oranges. In those oranges, there are orange seeds. So then A is implied in B, and B is implied in A.

Re: BASIS FOR KARMA / REBIRTH

Posted: Mon Nov 25, 2013 6:37 pm
by muni
"All is possible by the grace of emptiness".

I forgot who said this.

Re: BASIS FOR KARMA / REBIRTH

Posted: Mon Nov 25, 2013 6:44 pm
by Lotus_Bitch
These three articles will help in understanding the law of karma according to dependent origination:

http://www.buddhanet.net/e-learning/karma.htm

http://www.buddhanet.net/cmdsg/getting6.htm

http://www.buddhanet.net/cmdsg/kamma1.htm

All three are similar in content, but each explains the topic from slightly different angles, which could be helpful. Take notice, in the first article, of the authors views on the intermediate state (bardo) which are unique to the Theravadins. His views should not be held as exclusively representing the majority opinion, according to this article: http://santifm.org/santipada/2010/rebir ... -buddhism/

Re: BASIS FOR KARMA / REBIRTH

Posted: Mon Nov 25, 2013 7:23 pm
by smcj
Just a footnote; one definition for 'God' in christian thought is 'the uncaused cause'. In other words they don't have an answer to the infinite regression question of 'where did God come from', so they answer it by saying, in effect, that God caused himself. That of course is a paradox. Whereas the Buddhists simply say that there is an infinite regression, also a paradox. So either tradition's answer is a paradox.