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Re: Re: How Does Buddhism View The Creation Of Life And Life After Death

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Posted by Glenn on December 14, 2000 04:01:25 UTC

This is Mahayana Buddhism optimistic view on Karma......

The concept of Karma has a long history and has been incorporated into a wide range of cultures, karma is often misunderstood. Viewed from a negative, backward-looking perspective, some have used the theory of karma to encourage the disadvantaged members of society to passively accept their situation in life: one's present suffering is attributed to negative causes one made in the past. Considering themselves to blame for their situation, those who accept this concept have fallen prey to a sense of powerlessness.

This perspective is, however, a distortion of the original meaning of karma as it is used in the Buddhist tradition. To accept the idea of karma does not mean to live under a cloud of resignation and guilt, without knowing what negative causes we may have made in the past. Rather, the true meaning of karma is to be confident that our destiny is in our own hands and that we have the power to transform it for the better at any moment.

In simplest terms, karma, which means actions, indicates a universal principle of causation, similar to that upheld by modern science. Science assures us that everything in the universe exists within the framework of cause and effect. "For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction," is a familiar principle. The difference between the materialistic causality of science and the Buddhist principle of karma is that the latter is not limited to only those things that can be seen or measured. Rather, it includes the unseen or spiritual aspects of life, such as the sensation or experience of happiness or misery, kindness or cruelty. In an address delivered in 1993, SGI(our organization)Pesident Ikeda described these different approaches. The Buddhist concept of causal relations, he wrote:

. . . differs fundamentally from the kind of mechanistic causation which, according to modern science, holds sway over the objective natural world--a world divorced from subjective human concerns. Causation, in the Buddhist view, spans a more broadly defined nature, one that embraces human existence. To illustrate, let us assume that an accident or disaster has occurred. A mechanistic theory of causation can be used to pursue and identify how the accident occurred, but is silent regarding the question of why certain individuals should find themselves caught up in the tragic event. Indeed, the mechanistic view of nature requires the deliberate forestalling of such existential questionings.

In contrast, the Buddhist understanding of causation seeks to directly address these poignant "whys?"

Originally, the Sanskrit word karma meant work or office, and was related to verbs that mean simply "do" or "make." According to Buddhism, we create karma on three levels: through thoughts, words and actions. Acts of course have a greater impact than mere words. Likewise, when we verbalize our ideas, this creates more karma than merely thinking them. However, since both words and deeds originate in thoughts, the contents of our hearts--our thoughts--are also of crucial importance.

Karma can be thought of as our core personality, the profound tendencies that have been impressed into the deepest levels of our lives. The deepest cycles of cause and effect extend beyond the present existence; they shape the manner in which we start this life--our particular circumstances from the moment of birth--and will continue beyond our deaths. The purpose of Buddhist practice is to transform our basic life tendency in order to realize our total human potential in this lifetime and beyond. (See relatedness on my posts below "The Eternity of Life," for a discussion of the continuity of karma.)

The important thing to recognize, however, is that cause and effect both exist simultaneously within us in the present moment. As one of the ancient Buddhist texts states: "If you want to understand the causes that existed in the past, look at the results as they are manifested in the present. And if you want to understand what results will be manifested in the future, look at the causes that exist in the present."

Karma is thus, like everything, in constant flux. We create our own present and future by the choices we make each moment. In this light, the teaching of karma does not encourage resignation, but empowers us to become the protagonists in the unfolding drama of our lives.


The law of cause and effect, which is central to each person's life. One's every action, whether good or evil, is engraved in the depths of one's life and eventually causes either a good or evil effect. Buddhism asserts that the actions of one's past lives exert an effect on his present life, while his present actions shape the future. Life is eternal, and the law of causality penetrates one's life throughout past, present and future existences.

Inevitably we must bear the consequences of our actions. Thus, in Buddhism taught us that we are held responsible for our own happiness and unhappiness and not given to us by someone a trascendental being. The teaching based on the consistency between cause and effect, is an extremely a reasonable one. But we should not simply resign ourselves to merely realizing that we are the ones responsible for the effects we are presently experiencing.
Generally speaking, one can't deny that words such as karma or destiny have as sort of a defeatist ring to them. We may hear poeple say such things as " This is my destiny " or " i have such heavy karma ". But these statements actually result from a mistaken understanding of karma. According tom the doctrine of karma, many of our present day circumstances are a result of causes we have formed in the past. It follows then, that we bring about the karma we want to have by creating the appropriate causes through our present actions.
Karma comes into 2 varieties, mutable and immutable.Immutable karma is that which cannot be changed, whom Mr. Yanniru had said it very deterministic. However, with regard to immutable karma, Nicheren Daishonin(1222-1282) states in his writings " On Prolonging Life ", "Sincere repentance will eradicate even immutable karma, to say nothing of karma which is mutable". Here Daishonin specifically refers to the kind of immutable karma that determines the lenght of an individuals life. The other types of immutable karma, which refers to that which is fixed or determined. In the case of immutable karma, it doesn't apply only to the lenght of one's life. Immutable karma is karma for which the time and nature of the manifest effect are set. In contrast, there is no fixed time or way in which the effect resulting from mutable karma will occur,
Actually, there are several aspects regarding the concept of immutable karma. Good and bad Karma exist in various forms, and, concerning the time lag before we experience the effects of our karma, it doesn't neessary follow that the effects of causes we formed in a previous existence will be experienced during this lifetime. Buddhism divides immutable karma into 3 types, according to when the effects of that karma will be felt. These are: karma that appears in this lifetime, karma that manifest itself in the next existence, and karma that aappears in a still laterm existence.
An action can produce either immutable karma, which yeilds a result occuring at a definite time and in a definite manner or mutable karma., which has no fixed time or way of appearing. What determines whether a particular action will produce immutable karma or mutable karma. As mentioned before, Buddhism describes both good and bad karma.It also explains that through our strong determination and repeated practice, especially practice based on great virtue, we can create good immutable karma. Buddhism teaches that every ones's situation is a direct result of the causes they have made in this and all previous existences(life being eternal throughout past, present and future). Thus all people have the luck or lack of it they deserve. This too sound pessimistic, however, were it not for the Buddhist teaching of " CHANGING OF ONE'S DESTINY "??(shukumei tenkan)
Shuku of shukumei means " that which dwells" and "mei" means "in one's life". AND WHAT DWELLS IN ONE'S LIFE IS KARMA, accumulated causes and their attendant effects from aeons( that is equals to 16 million years) of existences. Of course this karma is not only bad, as we can see in the case of the person who has consistent good luck. Karma can also be good. But it is bad karma that must be eradicated and changed if Buddhism is to be proved a valid religion for modern man. And of course Buddhism teaches us the way to eradicate the effects from past bad causes and is to create even greater positive causes in this lifetime.

The law of cause and effect expounded in Buddhism encompasses scientific causality, as in which also used in reference to the realm of science as it applies to physics or psycology. Causal principles in the realm of physics are laws abstracted from physical world.
Today,in micrcospic realm of quantum physics, causal relationships become a matter of statistical probability. And cause and effect in psycology refers to causal patterns discovered in the workings of human psyche. In contarst, the law of causality taught in Buddhism is not limited to either the physical or mental realm but refers to causes and effects at works in the depths of LIFE ITSELF. That is BUddhism uncovers causes and effects imprinted on the inner realm of LIFE that are turn expressed in the workings of both body and mind.

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