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Re: kamma and grace

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  • Ong Yong Peng
    Dear Danya and friends, allow me to add that Buddhism is not a dogmatic, blind faith religion. Therefore, grace is not the deterministic factor to Nibbana,
    Message 1 of 20 , Sep 4, 2003
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      Dear Danya and friends,

      allow me to add that Buddhism is not a dogmatic, "blind faith"
      religion. Therefore, grace is not the deterministic factor to
      Nibbana, even in Pure Land Buddhism.

      This thought led me to the word faith, which is also not greatly
      emphasized in Buddhism as in other religions. But, that doesn't mean
      that faith is futile in Buddhist practice.

      Many western writers have given Buddhism a new perspective, and this
      includes Sharon Salzberg's Faith (ISBN: 1573222283). This may be an
      area you want to consider -- the ever evolving globalising Buddhism.
      And living in America means that you can easily get in touch with
      these contemporary Buddhist thinkers.

      As for the word kamma, with right understanding and right effort, all
      humans can attain nibbana here and now in their present lives,
      regardless of their past kamma. Nina had, in a previous mail, related
      Angulimala's story and kamma.

      metta,
      Yong Peng
    • Ong Yong Peng
      Dear Danya and friends, I missed out the last question. :-) So, here s my reply. Compassion brings peace and love to all, as it is unconditional. Grace is
      Message 2 of 20 , Sep 4, 2003
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        Dear Danya and friends,

        I missed out the last question. :-) So, here's my reply. Compassion
        brings peace and love to all, as it is unconditional. Grace is
        conditional, conditions vary from religion to religion, including
        demands and commandments. Therefore, grace does not bring true peace
        and love, and definitely not to all.

        metta,
        Yong Peng

        --- In Pali@yahoogroups.com, Danya Furda wrote:
        Also, I am distinguishing between the concept of grace and that of
        compassion.
      • rjkjp1
        ... all ... Dear Yong peng, I understand this point differently. There are said to be at this present time only two types of human : Neyya and padaparama.
        Message 3 of 20 , Sep 4, 2003
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          --- In Pali@yahoogroups.com, "Ong Yong Peng" <ypong001@y...> wrote:
          > >
          > As for the word kamma, with right understanding and right effort,
          all
          > humans can attain nibbana here and now in their present lives,
          > regardless of their past kamma.
          >_________________
          Dear Yong peng,
          I understand this point differently.
          There are said to be at this present time only two types of human :
          Neyya and padaparama.
          Neyya may or may not be able to attain in this present life .
          However, padaparama definitely cannot attain in this life and can
          only make conditions that may lead to success in future lives.
          Even at the Buddha's time there were those such as King Ajatasattu
          whose kamma (in this case killing his father) meant they could not
          attain in that life .
          Robertk
        • Ong Yong Peng
          Dear Robert and friends, you are right, Robert. Thanks for pointing that out. Padaparamas are indeed the exceptions. metta, Yong Peng
          Message 4 of 20 , Sep 4, 2003
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            Dear Robert and friends,

            you are right, Robert. Thanks for pointing that out. Padaparamas are
            indeed the exceptions.

            metta,
            Yong Peng

            --- In Pali@yahoogroups.com, rjkjp1 wrote:
            > > As for the word kamma, with right understanding and right effort,
            > all
            > > humans can attain nibbana here and now in their present lives,
            > > regardless of their past kamma.
            > >_________________
            > Dear Yong peng,
            > I understand this point differently.
            > There are said to be at this present time only two types of human :
            > Neyya and padaparama.
            > Neyya may or may not be able to attain in this present life .
            > However, padaparama definitely cannot attain in this life and can
            > only make conditions that may lead to success in future lives.
            > Even at the Buddha's time there were those such as King Ajatasattu
            > whose kamma (in this case killing his father) meant they could not
            > attain in that life .
            > Robertk
          • Lennart Lopin
            Dear Danya, On your interesting thesis we even had a small discussion here among friends. Actually, before you came up with your working thesis on grace, we
            Message 5 of 20 , Sep 4, 2003
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              Dear Danya,

              On your interesting thesis we even had a small discussion here among
              friends. Actually, before you came up with your "working thesis" on grace,
              we automatically thought of the (christian) concept of grace in a buddhist
              context and couldnt bring them together in any way (especially thinking of
              grace in a protestant context - it is sooo apart from the Buddhist point of
              view - none taking responsibility for your actions other than you. Yourself
              the one who eventually has to cross the stream, albeit taking the help of
              other kalyana mittas.)

              I understand now, that you try to explain the Buddhas to be special
              embodiements of the Dhamma, especially in a sense that they possess for
              instance the 10 powers and have accumulated sila, samadhi and panna during
              inamaginable long aeons - thus they would be kind of a "representative
              reality" (sic) who - because of their "grace" convey or "bestow" the dhamma
              on other beings even though they are murderers like Angulimala.

              Well, i think that the term, as it is so bound up with some of the most
              contrary concepts to Buddhist thought (as Yong Peng pointed out) and
              Angulimala in fact (as Nina pointed out) was already "under the surface"
              ready for understanding the dhamma, that it will be very difficult (to say
              the least) to come to terms with it in a Buddhist (tipitaka) context.

              That said, i wish you much luck for solving this task, but i am curious to
              know, how you came to relate so diverse ideas to each other?

              kind regards,

              Lennart

              ----- Original Message -----
              From: "Danya Furda" <dfurda@...>
              To: <Pali@yahoogroups.com>
              Sent: Thursday, September 04, 2003 8:25 PM
              Subject: RE: [Pali] RE: kamma and grace


              > Thanks for your help and suggestions. For the purposes of my thesis, I am
              > defining grace as "a gift or favor given by a representative of ultimate
              > reality without regard to the recipient's virtue and without which
              ultimate
              > liberation would not be possible." Many religious traditions embrace a
              > concept of grace in this sense. There does not need to be a god or God to
              > have a concept of grace. Grace needs not to be a technical term
              monopolized
              > by Christian theology. I am arguing here, however, that buddhas are
              special
              > beings and possess abilities and qualities not possessed by human beings
              or
              > even by devas.
              >
              > The concept of grace (as defined above) was brought to my attention while
              > reading Peter Masefield's excellent book, Divine Revelation in Pali
              > Buddhism. I guess my question in terms of grace is whether or not anyone
              > else has come across other resources which explore the idea that a buddha
              is
              > an essential element for Dharma to be transmitted to others.
              >
              > Thanks Nina for the info on kamma. It appears that kamma is operative
              > regardless whereas grace can only occur when a buddha is present in the
              > world to reveal the Dharma to those ready to hear it. Also, I am
              > distinguishing between the concept of grace and that of compassion. For
              > something to be "grace," rather than just simply "compassion," it must
              lead
              > to assured ultimate liberation.
              >
              > Danya
              >
              >
              > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              >
              >
              >
              >
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            • Bruce Burrill
              Grace is a concept that arises with in theistic context. Grace is given by god, though there is nothing we do to deserve it. Quite the contrary, being sinners,
              Message 6 of 20 , Sep 4, 2003
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                Grace is a concept that arises with in theistic context. Grace is given by
                god, though there is nothing we do to deserve it. Quite the contrary, being
                sinners, we do not.

                >Dr Masefield's work has received
                >high regards throughout buddhist circles.

                Masefield's book is generally regarded by Buddhologists as eccentric, which
                it is.
              • Everett Thiele
                Hi everyone, Offhand two main points of contact occur to me between Buddhism and Grace . I m not sure how theologically correct these are, but they might be
                Message 7 of 20 , Sep 5, 2003
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                  Hi everyone,

                  Offhand two main points of contact occur to me between Buddhism and
                  "Grace". I'm not sure how theologically correct these are, but they
                  might be worth looking at.

                  1) In the Pali Canon and in stories such as in the Dhp-a the act of
                  putting faith in the Buddha is often enough for someone to get a
                  heavenly rebirth. This sounds a lot like the Christian idea of faith
                  being salvific. The difference would be that Christianity sees heaven
                  as the end of the line, whereas Buddhism sees it as a state from
                  which a being eventually falls.

                  I haven't checked the Angulimala Sutta, but IIRC he gains this sort
                  of faith to begin with. He then, of course, goes on to become an
                  Arahant.

                  2) Pure Land Buddhism goes further and allows for faith in Amitabha
                  to enable one to be reborn in a heavenly realm as a non-returner.
                  This sounds, on the surface of it, to be very much based on 'other
                  power' like in Christianity, and to be fully salvific even in
                  Buddhist terms.

                  I'm not sure, but perhaps this 'Pure Land' is related to the sorts of
                  very high heavens which can be attained by advanced meditators in the
                  Pali tradition. I'd be very interested in hearing if this has been
                  studied.

                  best regards,

                  --Rett
                • Ong Yong Peng
                  Dear Everett, Bruce, Lennart and friends, thanks. As much as I know about Pure Land school, there are some differences. Anagamis have worked diligently on the
                  Message 8 of 20 , Sep 5, 2003
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                    Dear Everett, Bruce, Lennart and friends,

                    thanks. As much as I know about Pure Land school, there are some
                    differences. Anagamis have worked diligently on the path to reach the
                    stage of non-returners. Beings reborn in pure lands may not have
                    reached the stage of anagami yet, however pure land is a place where
                    no new kamma would be created, hence achieving the result of non-
                    returning.

                    Furthermore, the heavenly realm anagamis reside in is still within
                    the samsaric realm, which is a result of the collective karma of all
                    sentient beings in that realm/world. A pure land, on the other hand,
                    is a result of a Buddha's past vows. Amitabha's past vows was to
                    construct such a pure land. Shakyamuni's past vows was to reach out
                    to the beings in samsara.

                    Unlike a heavenly realm where beings enjoy the fruits of their good
                    karma (in Buddhist teachings), a pure land is a more conducive place
                    than samsara for beings to practice till they reach nibbana.

                    metta,
                    Yong Peng

                    --- In Pali@yahoogroups.com, Everett Thiele wrote:
                    > 2) Pure Land Buddhism goes further and allows for faith in Amitabha
                    > to enable one to be reborn in a heavenly realm as a non-returner.
                    > This sounds, on the surface of it, to be very much based on 'other
                    > power' like in Christianity, and to be fully salvific even in
                    > Buddhist terms.
                    >
                    > I'm not sure, but perhaps this 'Pure Land' is related to the sorts
                    of very high heavens which can be attained by advanced meditators in
                    the Pali tradition. I'd be very interested in hearing if this has
                    been studied.
                  • Brian Tawney
                    ... being ... I have heard this definition of grace, but I find it difficult to unravel. Having married a Christian, I have learned that her church believes
                    Message 9 of 20 , Sep 5, 2003
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                      > Grace is a concept that arises with in theistic context. Grace is given by
                      > god, though there is nothing we do to deserve it. Quite the contrary,
                      being
                      > sinners, we do not.

                      I have heard this definition of grace, but I find it difficult to unravel.
                      Having married a Christian, I have learned that her church believes grace is
                      only given to those who practice Christianity correctly. In other words,
                      God (in the person of Christ) came into the world to teach how salvation
                      might be attained, but salvation must still be earned through individual
                      effort in the form of correct practice. Is this what is called "grace"?

                      The Buddha came into the world to teach how nibbana might be attained, but
                      nibbana must still be earned through individual effort in the form of
                      correct practice. Is this what is called "compassion"?

                      To my inexperienced mind, if there is something in the Christian idea of
                      "God's grace" that is not in the Buddhist idea of "Buddha's compassion", it
                      is that God created salvation, whereas the Buddha discovered nibbana. On
                      the other hand, Christians believe that God created everything else as well,
                      and Buddhists (as far as I know) simply don't address the question of why
                      reality should be so constructed that we can escape samsara.

                      If I have said anything someone knows to be wrong, let me know. This is one
                      of many topics I regularly come across in discussions with my wife.

                      Thank you.
                      Brian.
                      (new to the group)
                    • Ong Yong Peng
                      Dear Brian, I am afraid not so. Although, the Buddha taught out of compassion (unconditional love), nibbana is not a physical location where there is an
                      Message 10 of 20 , Sep 5, 2003
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                        Dear Brian,

                        I am afraid not so. Although, the Buddha taught out of compassion
                        (unconditional love), nibbana is not a physical location where there
                        is an archangel guarding the gates to determine whether you have met
                        the criteria to enter. Nibbana is a state which only one who have
                        reached it can truly experience it, but there are of course many
                        books that try to explain it. The Buddhist experience and knowledge
                        is far much beyond the scope that the Christian doctrine can grasp.
                        This is a philosophical difference.

                        Buddhists do not practise to earn Buddha's compassion to reach
                        nibbana, Christians practise to earn God's grace to enter heaven. The
                        relationship between Buddha and Buddhists is teacher and students,
                        while that of God and Christians is master and servants. This is a
                        theological difference. In fact, without the concept of creation in
                        Hinduism, Taoism or Judaism, Buddhism is not even a theology.

                        metta,
                        Yong Peng

                        --- In Pali@yahoogroups.com, Brian Tawney wrote:
                        The Buddha came into the world to teach how nibbana might be
                        attained, but nibbana must still be earned through individual effort
                        in the form of correct practice. Is this what is called "compassion"?
                      • rjkjp1
                        ... of ... faith ... heaven ... Dear Everett, I think a difference between most religions and Buddhism is that the Buddha taught any attachment, even to him,
                        Message 11 of 20 , Sep 5, 2003
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                          --- In Pali@yahoogroups.com, Everett Thiele <rett@t...> wrote:
                          >
                          > 1) In the Pali Canon and in stories such as in the Dhp-a the act
                          of
                          > putting faith in the Buddha is often enough for someone to get a
                          > heavenly rebirth. This sounds a lot like the Christian idea of
                          faith
                          > being salvific. The difference would be that Christianity sees
                          heaven
                          > as the end of the line, whereas Buddhism sees it as a state from
                          > which a being eventually falls.
                          > ________________
                          Dear Everett,
                          I think a difference between most religions and Buddhism is that the
                          Buddha taught any attachment, even to him, is unwholesome.
                          The mind states which condition rebirth in deva realms are kusala
                          and all kusala cittas arise together with saddha. However faith - in
                          its normal usage - may include kusala confidence in the virtues of
                          the Buddha but it may also include attachment. Lobhamula citta
                          (mindstate rooted in attachment) cannot directly condition rebirth
                          in a heavenly realm.
                          Once the Buddha scolded Vakkali for his attachment to Buddha:
                          Yo kho Vakkali dhammam passati so mam passati Vakkali
                          whoever sees Dhamma, sees me [the Buddha]
                          RobertK
                        • nina van gorkom
                          Dear Yong Peng and friends, op 05-09-2003 13:17 schreef Ong Yong Peng op ypong001@yahoo.com: Beings reborn in pure lands may not have ... N: According to the
                          Message 12 of 20 , Sep 6, 2003
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                            Dear Yong Peng and friends,
                            op 05-09-2003 13:17 schreef Ong Yong Peng op ypong001@...:
                            Beings reborn in pure lands may not have
                            > reached the stage of anagami yet, however pure land is a place where
                            > no new kamma would be created, hence achieving the result of non-
                            > returning.
                            N: According to the Theravada tradition, anagamis still perform kamma which
                            bring result. We read in Buddhist Dictionary, Ven. Nyanatiloka: <Now, a
                            being through the disappearing of the five lower fetters (sa.myojana)
                            reappears in a higher world (amongs the devas of the 'pure abodes'
                            suddhaavaasa) and without returning from that world (into the Sensuous
                            Spere) he there reaches Nirvana> Thus, he is not reborn in a sensuous plane,
                            but still performs kamma in that higher plane.
                            Only the arahat does not perform any new kamma, although he still receives
                            results of former kammas for the remainder of his lifespan. That is why the
                            arahat has, instead of kusala citta, mahaakiriyacitta. Kiriyacitta is
                            inoperative, it does not bring result.
                            Y: Furthermore, the heavenly realm anagamis reside in is still within
                            > the samsaric realm, which is a result of the collective karma of all
                            > sentient beings in that realm/world.
                            N: I have heard the word collective kamma before, but we read in the Suttas
                            time and again that the Buddha explained that beings are heirs to their own
                            kamma, kamma is the womb from which they are born. Kammassakata ~naa.na,
                            knowing kamma as one's own (saka) is clearly seen by insight knowledge,
                            vipassana ~naa.na. According to Theravada tradition there is no collective
                            kamma. This makes sense to me, because kamma is accumulated by each
                            individual in the cycle, va.t.ta. Kamma is mental, it is intention, and thus
                            it can be accumulated from moment to moment, from life to life.
                            There are people who are born in a country where there is hunger and war, or
                            people who are together in a accident. It may seem that they receive the
                            same result, but in reality this is not so. There are different moments of
                            pain, seeing, hearing, all results of kamma. A person may feel the pain of
                            hunger but the next moment he may hear a pleasant sound. All different
                            moments of vipaka and they cannot be the same for a group of people. There
                            are also different intensities of vipaka.
                            Instead of thinking of a whole situation of people, or groups of people who
                            receive vipaka, we should analyse different moments of citta, then we come
                            closer to reality. People react differently to the result they receive. Some
                            people react with kusala citta, others with aversion, with akusala citta.
                            The reason is that people have accumulated different inclinations, and
                            different defilements, kilesas. In the commentary it is explained that there
                            are three cycles: the cycle of kamma, the cycle of vipaka and the cycle of
                            kilesa. Kilesa motivates again kamma and this produces again vipaka and this
                            conditions again kilesa, and so we go on and on. Thus the three cycles keep
                            turning around in our lives.
                            Nina.
                          • Ong Yong Peng
                            Dear Nina and friends, thanks for everything, Nina. You are right about collective kamma, it is commonly used in Mahayana schools, and a search on collective
                            Message 13 of 20 , Sep 6, 2003
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                              Dear Nina and friends,

                              thanks for everything, Nina. You are right about collective kamma, it
                              is commonly used in Mahayana schools, and a search on collective
                              karma will reveal that. I cannot for sure determine if the usage of
                              the word is more of a convenience, but I have the idea it appears in
                              Mahayana sutras.

                              I totally agree on the explanation you have given on the Theravada
                              perspective. And I apologise for my lack of knowledge and any
                              confusion due to that. Browsing the web, I have found what Sayadaw U
                              Silananda wrote on this topic:

                              One more thing that should not be applied to the doctrine of kamma is
                              the idea of mass kamma or collective kamma. There is no operation of
                              a collective kamma affecting a group of people. There may be, however
                              a group of people who do something together and who get the results
                              of their individual kamma together. In that case, the results of each
                              individual kamma is operating.

                              http://www.mahindarama.com/e-library/volition4.html

                              metta,
                              Yong Peng
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