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  • hardie karges 11:48 am on February 7, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , equanimity, , intent, Jataka, , thought experiment   

    Thought Experiment: Reverse Karma and the Limitations of Intent… 

    Sometimes our worst enemy can teach us more than our best friend. This is one of the secondary principles of Buddhism, derived directly from the foundations, if not stated explicitly therein. So it is a kind of reverse karma, in which things happen as a result of causes, but not in any precise order. Karma is not a simple law of cause and effect, after all, if it is a law at all. It is a law of indirect effect, or extended effect, beyond the immediacy of action and reaction, which is simple classical physics, or simple free enterprise: you give me some money, and I’ll give you a product.

    Karma, if it exists, must be something more than that. For example: you give me some money, and I’ll guarantee that you get something back far and away more than you ever expected, and at a time to be determined later (I accept all currencies, by the way). And so it is with my idea of Reverse Karma, something similar to that often expressed by Tibetan Buddhists in general, and the Dalai Lama, in particular. And this is not surprising, because Tibetan Buddhists seem to be the most attracted and attached to the concept of karma.

    But there’s one important difference in the karma that I accept and the karma that so captures the Tibetans: this life. My karma exists only in this life, which is the only one I know, and which is the only one knowable, IMHO. The Tibetans, and many others, perhaps most inspired by the Jataka tales of the Buddha’s many lives, believe in the constant recycling of lives and consciousness, thinly disguised souls looking for succor.

    I limit my endeavors to this this life and this world, which is only consistent, after all, if you are a ‘present moment’ Buddhist, now, isn’t it? You know ET’s ‘Power of Now’ and all that rap, right? Not a bad way to go. And so it is with Reverse Karma, at least as I envision it. The Tibetans may have other ideas (but let’s leave Lobsang Rampa out of it, okay?)

    So if karma is all about your actions, then Reverse Karma, in my thought experiment, is all about your reactions, i.e. being the recipient of actions, not the actor, or doer, yourself. And this is a lot trickier, if you stop to think about it. Because you may well be very certain about what you want to do in this life, but how can you be certain about what to receive from others, when you have no idea what that will be, or when that will be? You can’t. As an individual you can’t, nor as a group can we.

    Most of us know that we need to do something about Global Warming, but few of us know the best way to go about it. Yet some will survive, and others likely won’t, regardless of the fact that we share a planet. So if we only knew which group or groups would most likely survive, then we could ally ourselves with them. That is one way Reverse Karma could work. Another way is the well-known ‘Butterfly Effect’ of Chaos Theory, in which a random action simply sets off a chain reaction of almost totally unrelated events.

    The point is: Reverse Karma is the ultimate test of equanimity, a balanced and composed mind, even in the most difficult of circumstances. Sound familiar? Therefore we must be open to all actions as being ultimately the best of circumstances, regardless of implied intent and ascribed emotions. One more word about rebirth: it has been said that we should be open to it, and that is true. But we should also be open to non-rebirth and that is the problem, because the ‘re-birthers’ are bending over backwards to double down on it. But that is for another day and maybe even another life. We are all going to die, after all, that is true, but not today…

     
    • Dave Kingsbury 3:05 pm on February 10, 2021 Permalink | Reply

      I wonder if karma for a ‘present moment’ Buddhist could be the accumulated richness and connectivity of life as it plays out? Ripeness is all, to quote the Bard! Just a thought from an amateur in such matters …

    • hardie karges 3:10 pm on February 10, 2021 Permalink | Reply

      Hey, I like it! There’s always a place at the table for the Bard…

  • hardie karges 6:34 am on November 24, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , intent,   

    Karma and the Necessity of Imperfection 

    Maybe the world is an imperfect place, or maybe I’m just too sensitive. But the world, of course, is defined by its imperfection, and it would be futile to want it any other way, in fact, because these imperfections are what allows for change and evolution, the constant mutation of genetic units into something else, the concepts of better or worse subject to the judgment of volunteers and substitutes, while perfection itself means no such thing, just the fact that it has been completed, finished, no more change, end of story, and that’s not likely to happen, no time soon, anyway, not with egos flaring and guns flashing, the glint of hard cold steel embedding itself in our collective consciousness as a reminder of our potential for cruelty, as a vestige of our not-so-distant past, savage and brutal and begging for redemption when none is likely and where none could be further from the truth. This is ground zero, the testing area, between past and future, for liberation and release, from the bonds of self-imprisonment and the requirements for future freedom. The past is but a signpost and the present a yawning zero, a field of action between the two goal posts of judgment, neither of which has meaning except that which we care to give it, for purposes of narrative, the requirements of closure and the necessities of a happy ending, with possibilities for future options. But in every act of jurisprudence the important question is intent, no matter the difficulty of determination or the conundrums of context, because guilt without intent is in fact no guilt at all, in a good and just world, and any notion of Buddhist karma must take this into account, no less so than the Supreme Court, sitting in judgment over the law of our land. Karma is equal to actions, and actions are equal to intent. Every act of cruelty or kindness carries the weight of its own intent, no more and no less…

     
  • hardie karges 4:10 am on January 13, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , ICE, intent, , , , ,   

    Buddhism and Donald Trump, Criminal Intent and Modern Justice 

    img_2116Intent is the elephant in the courtroom of modern justice, beyond forensics and beyond genetics, the need to know what someone was thinking and why they thought it, at such-and-such a time and such-and-such a place. But isn’t this a system doomed to failure? And is it really necessary? Only we European-derived Westerners could invent a term like schadenfreude, delight in the misfortune of others, not so much the passive enjoyment of something such so strange, but that we do it so often that we have a name for it…

    But that is indeed the case, that we are so obsessed with our feelings that our whole system of justice is based upon it, such that if someone is supposedly repentant, then that counts in his favor, whereas without it he is doomed to longer incarceration, as if we could really know the difference, so to make ourselves feel good we reward the best actors, and maybe the most honest are doomed to perdition… (More …)

     
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