WITruth gave a good post below, but it had a lot of HTML in it. So I edited it out and am sending it on his behalf just in case it has not been resent in text.
From: "John Zielke" Subject: World Events #Karma RE: I sincerely ask -- no, I beg someone to clearly, sequentially, and specifically explain how there could be a "karmic" connection using this example. Please explain the mechanics of how actions of people in the past, could FORCE people to act in certain ways in the present (and if you object to the word "force", I'm open for another word that would describe inevitability).
The reason I ask for specifics is that my observations are that the topic of karma is generally referenced with vagueness and ambiguity -- to the extent that the serious student has no "audit trail" (cause-effect-cause-effect, etc.) to follow. And, without that audit trail, how can cause and effect be shown. It cannot, other than to say, "It just is", or "trust me", etc. I am not trying to be difficult. I am honestly trying to understand the concept of karma. After all I have read, I cannot see the justification of applying a cause and effect law to situations involving human choice and freewill. RE: HELP, please.
JJ is much more an expert in this area then I, but here are a few ideas that have helped me get a better handle on the subject. PART 1 RE: I sincerely ask -- no, I beg someone to clearly, sequentially, and specifically explain how there could be a "karmic" connection using this example. Please explain the mechanics of how actions of people in the past, could FORCE people to act in certain ways in the present (and if you object to the word "force", I'm open for another word that would describe inevitability). PREFACING THOUGHTS: Before I pass along the following, I would agree that the word FORCE is probably not a good characterization (inevitability I'll address later) of our circumstance. Natural tendencies, programming, or even probabilities might be better terms to use in describing our situation as it relates to karma.
Take a river for instance. If I am a river it is my natural tendency (pre-destination) to flow into an ocean. How I get there, however, will be determined by my individual response or reaction to the environmental circumstances I encounter on my trip home (is not the ocean actually the rivers source as well as destination?). That too will be influenced by some general laws of my being (i.e. my natural tendency to seek the path of least resistance, etc.) and all Being. Whether or not my choice to go this way instead of that to get around a rock formation is a conscious choice (based on free will) or a programmed choice is a matter of perspective.
Is it based on some innate intelligence? You bet it is! Is intelligence a function of some level of consciousness? I believe so. Now, let's go a little further and place a man with a self-reflective mind capable of remembering a past and projecting a future in the water. If he is unconscious, he goes to the ocean just like the river, unconsciously. No greater degree of freedom or free will there. But if he is conscious and intelligent enough, he can choose to swim to the shore, and then watch all his unconscious brothers carried to the sea. He can also choose to build a motor boat that can actually go against the natural order (unconscious nature) and go up-river to its source in the mountains. He could also use the motor boat to pick up his unconscious brothers, take them to shore and wake them up, as well.
All of which leads me to a Buddhist model as espoused by Thich Nhat Hanh in Transformation at the Base, Fifty Verses on the Nature of Consciousness.ISBN 1-888375-14-0 (Note: Just a taste, the full text is about as clear sequential and specific as it gets) Before something manifests, we say that it doesn't exist. Once we are able to perceive it, then we say it exists. But even though a phenomenon is un-manifested, it is always there, as a seed in our consciousness. Our body, our mind, and the world are all manifestations of seeds that are stored in our consciousness. (pg 27)
Some seeds are received by us during our lifetime, in the sphere of experience. Some seeds, however, were already present when we were born the sphere of innate seeds. At the time of our birth, these innate seeds were already present within our consciousness - seeds of suffering and happiness that were transmitted to us by many generations of our ancestors. Many of our abilities, mannerisms, and physical features, as well as our values, where handed down to us by our ancestors. (pg 30) Our society, country, and the whole universe are also manifestations of seeds in our collective consciousness. (pg 35)
Habit energy is an important term in Buddhist psychology. Our seeds carry the habit energies of thousands of years. The Sanskrit term for habit energy, vashana, means to permeate, to impregnate (pg 45)
This impregnation of our consciousness, the habit energies carried by the seeds, affects our patterns of seeing, feeling, and behaving (pg 45)
The seeds that we receive from our ancestors, friends and society are held in our consciousness, just as the earth holds seeds that fall upon it. Like the seeds in the earth, the seeds in our consciousness are hidden from us. We are seldom in contact with them. Only when they manifest in our mind consciousness do we become aware of them. When we feel happy, we may believe that there is no seed of anger in us. But as soon as someone irritates us, our seed of anger will make itself known. (pg 45)
We are influenced by the actions and beliefs of our parents and of society. But our reactions to things have their own patterns and we are caught in these patterns. Our habit energies are the fruit of our behavior, formed by our reactions to things and also by our environment. (pg 45)
It is possible to change our habit energies. (pg 45)
CONCLUDING THOUGHTS: One can update the terminology used in the above discussion by equating Consciousness to an Infinite Field of Quantum Potential (Ayin in Kabbalist terms) having an innate capacity to become any or all possible states, conditions or beings in time and space. Said potential states might be described as seed possibilities as yet un-manifest. Plato's concept of Divine Archetypes (Perfect Seed thoughts in the Mind of God) is similar in concept though mythological in description. The real question, however, is what causes this global quantum wave function to collapse locally and, thereby, particularize one seed potential to the exclusion of all others at a given point in time? The answer, I believe, is attention. That is, it is the fixation of conscious attention (focused awareness) on a particular seed possibility that collapses the quantum wave function of infinite possibility down to one particular manifestation in each moment. (There's a great book called the Quantum Self that does an excellent job of suggesting such a model).
RE: I am not trying to be difficult. I am honestly trying to understand the concept of karma. After all I have read, I cannot see the justification of applying a cause and effect law to situations involving human choice and free will.
This is actually a very old theological question: How can fate and/or predestination logically coincide with free-will? The answer is really rather simple. What is called predestination applies at one level of consciousness, and what is called free will applies at another level. (Note: The same conflict of levels is often the source of other Scriptural inconsistencies or contradictions.) Quite simply, we are mixing spiritual apples and oranges.
Seen from the top down, through the Single (non-dual, non-linear) Eye or Mind of God, if you will, all things happen simultaneously. That is, only non-dual or unity consciousness outside of time and space (which is by definition a dual or relative state of consciousness) would have sufficient breadth of vision to see everything at once, or all at one time. Conceived in less abstract terms, think of all creation in time and space as one big picture (or mental photograph), with the left side Alpha (zero time) and the right side Omega (all time). Seen in this light and from that level of awareness, everything that happens in time is always, already done in Eternity.
In actually, time is a function of sequence, and sequences a function of sequential observation of partial or incomplete bits of information (points of reference) in space. A equilateral triangle serves as a wonderful metaphor. Let the left vertex on the base represent the Alpha Point and the right vertex the Omega Point, and the base line between the two represent All time. Seen from the all-encompassing view from the Apex the breath of vision is sufficient to see from Alpha to Omega all at one time. Move the point of observation (or fall) down a perpendicular line from the apex to the base, while holding the angle of vision to the original 60 degrees, and the breath of vision narrows. As a result, one is no longer able to see from Alpha to Omega simultaneously. As a result, one must first turn ones attention (minds eye) toward one apex and then towards the other in order to see the entire base (time line). This movement in space takes time. The result is a dualization and/or partialization of vision and/or consciousness. Not only does such mental head turning (minding this, while ignoring that) create multiple points of reference in space, it simultaneously creates a sense of sequence called time.
Now continue to step way down this perpendicular line (holding the angle or breath of vision constant) to the level or perspective we call human being, mind or consciousness. Being egocentric and dual, partial and imperfect, such a view of creation is definitionally constrained to the relative limits of time and space. At such a level, what is already done in Eternity is still working itself out in space-time. But because God already knows the end of the story, does it necessarily mean that I as a character have had no free will in the matter. That is, because God knows what my free choice in any given circumstance will be, does it necessarily mean that I am fated to make that choice? Am I a puppet or a participant? I suppose a bit of both, depending on how much I choose to identify myself as Part, or as Whole, as the One or the Many, as Actor or Author. Clearly, only the Author of All has complete free will, and with it a capacity to transcend any and all Self-imagined and imposed limits. So the question really becomes, Who Am I? (doesn't it always) --the Author, the Actor, or an Author-Actor playing a role He/She Him/Her Self has written?
In any event, the part is, by definition, subject to the laws of cause and effect, has varying degrees of freedom, depending on the number of possible reactions at its disposal (by virtue of being written into the script). Strike a rock and it is limited to a small number of response or reaction patterns. It can make a noise, it can break, or it can shatter. That's about it. Strike a human being and see how many possible response patterns you encounter. Very nearly endless, I suppose. But, if out of habit, programming or relative unconsciousness said human being can only strike back, how much free will does he/she actually manifest? Alternately, one who is 100%conscious and aware would have a capacity for infinite response patterns (one of which would be perfect to the circumstance) and thus have perfect free will and/or freedom.
(1) In actuality, true free will only arises when one ceases to identify with ones programming and is so able to transcend the mechanism called fate, predestination or karma. Thus free will is a seed possibility that all human beings have. The degree to which we are able to exercise it, however, depends on the degree of conscious awareness we are able to bring to bear in any given moment.
(2) For every action (whether physical, mental or spiritual) there is an equal and opposite reaction --negative actions, bring negative reactions; positive actions, bring positive reactions. Assuming we are fully conscious in the moment we choose, we would always choose the positive over the negative, the constructive over the destructive, life over death.
(3) Identified with the part, you are subject to laws of limitation; identified with the Whole you transcend all such laws by becoming the LAW ITSELF (or having it written in your heart, if you prefer).
(4) With regard to cause and effect, the First Initiator of all movement (the Unmoved Mover?), through whatever means (I prefer a mental model myself), may be called the First Cause, where as Movement itself, becomes both a secondary Effect and a subsequent Cause, ad infinitum. It's a lot like the room full of mousetraps with ping-pong balls. No movement and someone throws one more ping-pong ball into the room (or a stone into a still lake). Bang! A chain reaction in which the airin the room is full of ping-pong balls. The one who throws the ball into the room might be called the First cause Who/That initiates a causal chain of action, reaction, or primary, secondary, tertiary causes, etc. How can one ever hope to see or follow an audit trail of multi-dimensional cause and effect relationships of this magnitude and endless permutation?
(5) What we are dealing with is a mechanism up to the point where one of the balls becomes self-conscious and so able to choose to move in other than a pre-programmed or mechanistic manner.
(6) At the level of the mechanism, everything is pre-determined; at the level of self-reflecting consciousness, there is a larger and larger degree of freedom with respect to systemic reaction. If however, my free will is still a function of pre-programmed reactions is my will truly free or just imagine so.
(7) When the debtor is dead, his debts are forgiven; when the ego is slain, the karma accumulated by the ego is likewise forgiven. Action and reaction both require an actor. Let the actor go, cease to be the doer, and you will no longer be responsible for his actions. Thinking yourself actor, the natural law holds you accountable for the fruits of action. Cease to think so and you will cease to be so.
(8) The root concept I AM is the First Cause, the Word made Flesh. When I AM identifies with This to the Exclusion of That, or That to the exclusion of This, then This and That taken on First Cause creative power and usurp the Kings Throne. The Creator becomes subject to his Creation, a prisoner in His own Mental House such is the metaphor of the Divine Nature fixed in and crucified on the matrix of matter.
Copyright 2001 by J.J. Dewey, All Rights Reserved