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Controversial Life Is Easier Without Karma - A Discussion

Nov 15, 2004
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388
59
Thailand
Embers ji,


The issue as I see it above is mainly one of vocabulary. When I say soul, Consciousness or Atman, it is because I am on a Sikh forum or I am writing from the perspective of Vedanta. Lets start afresh and I will speak in this thread as a student of Theravada. I will accept anatta, anicca and dukkha for the purpose of our conversation.
I'm not sure how to react to this.
I consider what I hear from the Buddha as being about the Truth, the Four Noble Truths. This is not just one of the many possible viewpoints with regard to reality, it is *the* description of the way things are. Every other teaching comes under the sixty odd wrong views listed in the Buddha's discourse on the All Embracing Net of Views. So I'm here to speak about the Truth and not Theravada.

Why would I come into a Sikh group or any other group, representing the Theravada position? Doing so I'd just be adding to the mess, re: the net of views? As it is we are already caught up in a tangle. My proposing a view amongst other views would only create even more tangle.

I let it be known to this group sometime ago, that I am not here to learn anything from anyone, but share my understandings. This is a more tolerant group than most and as someone proposed, nothing is swept under the carpet, and this is why I'm still able to post here. At first I was more circumspect, but now I don't think that I have to. People have long got the impression that what I say is very different from what they understand. It is time therefore to be direct as possible given that otherwise there is much room for misinterpretation.

So when you come in proposing that you talk as a student of Theravada and accept anatta and anicca only for the purpose of discussion, I don't see that this is going to lead to any good. I'd rather that you do not accept Theravada but are interested in finding out what reality / Truth is. And I don't care to discuss philosophy. So whatever it is that you are thinking please lay it out. Even if this is that you do not believe that there is one single Truth or that you reduce all teachings to being merely different ways of thought meant to make life more tolerable or easier.

Now to your enquiry.

Can you assist me to understand the suffering inherent in the formations (saṅkhāra-dukkhatā)? Formations are of course anicca and anatta, however is dukkha inerent in the formations even when the Unconditioned is known?
I have difficulty understanding sankhara dukkha myself. You can search the web for explanations, although I don't think that this would make any difference. The only real way to understand is by studying the reality, and therefore if upon reading any description the attention is not drawn towards the reality now, no real learning would be taking place. I'm only crawling at this point.

But there is also this, the three general characteristics are intimately connected. Therefore in understanding one, there is moving towards understanding the other two as well. Also at the point of enlightenment, insight into one of the three characteristics is the stepping stone to the experience of Nibbana. Which of these three is the object depends on the individual, which means that different people have different propensity to understand one characteristic better than the other two.
 

Embers

SPNer
Aug 10, 2009
114
148
EU
Hello Confused Ji

I will reply to the quote:
I let it be known to this group sometime ago, that I am not here to learn anything from anyone, but share my understandings. This is a more tolerant group than most and as someone proposed, nothing is swept under the carpet, and this is why I'm still able to post here. At first I was more circumspect, but now I don't think that I have to. People have long got the impression that what I say is very different from what they understand. It is time therefore to be direct as possible given that otherwise there is much room for misinterpretation.

So when you come in proposing that you talk as a student of Theravada and accept anatta and anicca only for the purpose of discussion, I don't see that this is going to lead to any good. I'd rather that you do not accept Theravada but are interested in finding out what reality / Truth is. And I don't care to discuss philosophy. So whatever it is that you are thinking please lay it out. Even if this is that you do not believe that there is one single Truth or that you reduce all teachings to being merely different ways of thought meant to make life more tolerable or easier.
I had missed the posts explaining your reason for posting here; it is helpful to know.

The reason I speak of Theravada is because I have no familiarity of other Buddhist schools, it doesn't imply that Theravada is a thing in itself, to me.

You want to teach me the Truth, so I became your student. I left my baggage at the door and entered your class room.

The teaching of the Eightfold noble path leads to the end of suffering. Once there is no longer suffering then who is there to convince, who is there to teach, who is there to learn?

You talk to me as an individual with ignorance and wrong views above. You seem to see a 'me' needing correction but not anatta.

It need not be a question of tolerance or ease, or philosophy or truth. Please try to explain what life is, without using any of these.

I have difficulty understanding sankhara dukkha myself. You can search the web for explanations, although I don't think that this would make any difference. The only real way to understand is by studying the reality, and therefore if upon reading any description the attention is not drawn towards the reality now, no real learning would be taking place. I'm only crawling at this point.

But there is also this, the three general characteristics are intimately connected. Therefore in understanding one, there is moving towards understanding the other two as well. Also at the point of enlightenment, insight into one of the three characteristics is the stepping stone to the experience of Nibbana. Which of these three is the object depends on the individual, which means that different people have different propensity to understand one characteristic better than the other two.
My path of inquiry is the question if Dukkha is an inherent quality in objects. Someone else told me that it is always so, I cannot confirm that as true, which is why I asked above. I see no dukkha in objects unless there is ignorance. I will share my thoughts below, but I am prepared to leave this topic to rest and my questions are answered in the quotes (unless you disagree). :happymunda:

Here is a quote on Sankhara Dukkha by Bhikkhu Bodhi (I choose it as it came up quickly in a search):

For this reason the Buddha declares that all sankharas are suffering (sabbe sankhara dukkha) — suffering, however, not because they are all actually painful and stressful, but because they are stamped with the mark of transience. "Having arisen they then cease," and because they all cease they cannot provide stable happiness and security. http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/bodhi/bps-essay_43.html
Then it is anicca and anatta which when touched by craving and aversion there is the arising of Dukkha. By removing craving and aversion there is only anicca and anatta, but no Dukkha. The way to end craving is the Eightfold noble path.

Do we agree that Dukkha ends with the end of craving (aversion and ignorance)?
Personally I cannot see how Dukkha would remain after they end?

SN 56.11:
"Now this, monks, is the noble truth of stress:[1] Birth is stressful, aging is stressful, death is stressful; sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair are stressful; association with the unbeloved is stressful, separation from the loved is stressful, not getting what is wanted is stressful. In short, the five clinging-aggregates are stressful.

"And this, monks, is the noble truth of the origination of stress: the craving that makes for further becoming — accompanied by passion & delight, relishing now here & now there — i.e., craving for sensual pleasure, craving for becoming, craving for non-becoming.

"And this, monks, is the noble truth of the cessation of stress: the remainderless fading & cessation, renunciation, relinquishment, release, & letting go of that very craving.

"And this, monks, is the noble truth of the way of practice leading to the cessation of stress: precisely this Noble Eightfold Path — right view, right resolve, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration."
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn56/sn56.011.than.html
From this quote it seems Dukkha ends and it does not continue. I really do not have much more to talk about on this thread.

Thank you for the reply.
with respect, Embers.
 
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Nov 15, 2004
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Embers ji,

I had missed the posts explaining your reason for posting here; it is helpful to know.
It's not like I announced it, but it was more a response to a particular suggestion, perhaps one regarding Sikhs being learners. Also I had said that there must be many, many motives, alternating, depending on conditions. Also if I remember right, I distinguished between learning about and from Sikh teachings. Although the latter is never the case, the former is implicit each time that I read posts here.

The reason I speak of Theravada is because I have no familiarity of other Buddhist schools, it doesn't imply that Theravada is a thing in itself, to me.
The point is that you appear willing to accept as 'Truth' more than one set of teachings which do not, from my perspective, point to the same thing.

You want to teach me the Truth, so I became your student. I left my baggage at the door and entered your class room.
That has not been my impression. But why would I want you to leave your baggage at the door? How could anyone do that anyway? Indeed I want you to be telling me the Truth; I want you to try and correct me and be upfront about it. I am not the least interested in becoming some kind of teacher, which would be dumb. I am here to challenge and be challenged. Life is too short to be dancing around.

The teaching of the Eightfold noble path leads to the end of suffering. Once there is no longer suffering then who is there to convince, who is there to teach, who is there to learn?
Who is there to convince now?! No one, but conditions roll on regardless of what one thinks. Insight into non-self does not mean there will be no thinking in terms of people and things and actions in relation to situations.
But see, you just said that you are willing to become a student and immediately you are trying to teach me something.

You talk to me as an individual with ignorance and wrong views above. You seem to see a 'me' needing correction but not anatta.
Yes, that is my perception.

It need not be a question of tolerance or ease, or philosophy or truth. Please try to explain what life is, without using any of these.
I don't understand your point. And how do you expect me to talk about life while leaving the question of truth out?

My path of inquiry is the question if Dukkha is an inherent quality in objects. Someone else told me that it is always so, I cannot confirm that as true, which is why I asked above. I see no dukkha in objects unless there is ignorance. I will share my thoughts below, but I am prepared to leave this topic to rest and my questions are answered in the quotes (unless you disagree).

Here is a quote on Sankhara Dukkha by Bhikkhu Bodhi (I choose it as it came up quickly in a search):

Quote: For this reason the Buddha declares that all sankharas are suffering (sabbe sankhara dukkha) — suffering, however, not because they are all actually painful and stressful, but because they are stamped with the mark of transience. "Having arisen they then cease," and because they all cease they cannot provide stable happiness and security. http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/a...-essay_43.html

Then it is anicca and anatta which when touched by craving and aversion there is the arising of Dukkha. By removing craving and aversion there is only anicca and anatta, but no Dukkha. The way to end craving is the Eightfold noble path.
No, you have wrongly inferred this. And it appears that you are referring to Dukkha as in unpleasant mental feeling, not the Dukkha which is characteristic of all conditioned realities. The quote is not making a reference to ignorance or aversion and craving as cause for the experience of dukkha. It is describing how dukkha is intimately connected to the other two characteristic of anicca and anatta. It is stating that no reality can ever provide happiness, because of this characteristic of rise and fall. In other words it is Dukkha in and of itself and not because there is craving for objects. This is why the unconditioned Nibbana is said to be the only real happiness. Indeed this comes only after penetrating the Noble Truth of Dukkha. An enlightened person understands that all conditioned phenomena are anicca, anatta and dukkha.

Do we agree that Dukkha ends with the end of craving (aversion and ignorance)?
Personally I cannot see how Dukkha would remain after they end?
The Dukkha that ends with the eradication of ignorance and craving refers to the Dukkha in the context of the Four Noble Truths where Craving or Tanha is the cause, i.e. the Second Truth. This is saying that with the eradication of ignorance and craving there will not be rebirth (hence the arising of Dukkha) anymore.

Even a Buddha experiences Dukkha as in unpleasant bodily feeling, being that he would receive the result of past kamma. And he and all the arahats would not perceive any of their experiences and the objects of the senses as anything but Dukkha, re: one of the three marks of existence.

Quote: SN 56.11:
"Now this, monks, is the noble truth of stress:[1] Birth is stressful, aging is stressful, death is stressful; sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair are stressful; association with the unbeloved is stressful, separation from the loved is stressful, not getting what is wanted is stressful. In short, the five clinging-aggregates are stressful.

"And this, monks, is the noble truth of the origination of stress: the craving that makes for further becoming — accompanied by passion & delight, relishing now here & now there — i.e., craving for sensual pleasure, craving for becoming, craving for non-becoming.

"And this, monks, is the noble truth of the cessation of stress: the remainderless fading & cessation, renunciation, relinquishment, release, & letting go of that very craving.

"And this, monks, is the noble truth of the way of practice leading to the cessation of stress: precisely this Noble Eightfold Path — right view, right resolve, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration."
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipit....011.than.html

From this quote it seems Dukkha ends and it does not continue. I really do not have much more to talk about on this thread.
Yes, as in being reborn again where conditioned phenomena will continue to roll on. However so long as the arahat is still alive, all his experience and object of experience (leaving out Nibbana and concepts), being that they are conditioned realities, would exhibit the characteristic of Dukkha along with the other two general characteristics.
 

Embers

SPNer
Aug 10, 2009
114
148
EU
Hello Confused Ji
Thanks for the reply. I do not understand how the end of Dukkha can imply a continuation of Dukkha? It doesn't make sense to me.

If it is because everything is always anicca, anatta and dukkha, then I cannot agree. I cannot agree that a stone lying on the floor is dukkha for me. Have I misunderstood what is meant by conditioned phenomena in your last post?

Be well!

No, you have wrongly inferred this. And it appears that you are referring to Dukkha as in unpleasant mental feeling, not the Dukkha which is characteristic of all conditioned realities. The quote is not making a reference to ignorance or aversion and craving as cause for the experience of dukkha. It is describing how dukkha is intimately connected to the other two characteristic of anicca and anatta. It is stating that no reality can ever provide happiness, because of this characteristic of rise and fall. In other words it is Dukkha in and of itself and not because there is craving for objects. This is why the unconditioned Nibbana is said to be the only real happiness. Indeed this comes only after penetrating the Noble Truth of Dukkha. An enlightened person understands that all conditioned phenomena are anicca, anatta and dukkha.

...

The Dukkha that ends with the eradication of ignorance and craving refers to the Dukkha in the context of the Four Noble Truths where Craving or Tanha is the cause, i.e. the Second Truth. This is saying that with the eradication of ignorance and craving there will not be rebirth (hence the arising of Dukkha) anymore.

Even a Buddha experiences Dukkha as in unpleasant bodily feeling, being that he would receive the result of past kamma. And he and all the arahats would not perceive any of their experiences and the objects of the senses as anything but Dukkha, re: one of the three marks of existence.
 
Nov 15, 2004
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Embers ji,

Thanks for the reply. I do not understand how the end of Dukkha can imply a continuation of Dukkha? It doesn't make sense to me.
I already explained this. But I'll do it again another way.

Full enlightenment, namely the arising of path consciousness of the Arahat, has the implications that all defilements are eradicated such that there will therefore not be rebirth anymore. The Four Noble Truths can be divided into two parts, the first two pointing to samsara and the cause of samsara. In other words, Dukkha of the first Noble Truth refers to the continued arising of conditioned existence and craving is what causes this. The Third and Fourth Noble Truths point to the end of samsara and the Path leading to this. So when it is said that there is no more Dukkha, this is referring to Dukkha as in continued existence.

From your own quote in the last message:

Quote:
"Now this, monks, is the noble truth of stress:[1] Birth is stressful, aging is stressful, death is stressful; sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair are stressful; association with the unbeloved is stressful, separation from the loved is stressful, not getting what is wanted is stressful. In short, the five clinging-aggregates are stressful.”

Obviously, the arahat still ages and must finally experience death, even though he would not feel sorrow, distress and despair. And since these are given as examples of Dukkha (stress) why can't you see then that the context in which it is referred to in the quote is different from what you are trying to make it fit into?

You are not alone though in thinking this way. Many Buddhists like to imagine that an arahat will never perceive anything as Dukkha. But the fact is he'd perceive Dukkha more clearly than anyone else. Only he would never be distressed by it. And btw, what do you think the Noble in the Four Noble Truths imply, that it is what is seen by the noble ones is it not? Whereas what you are suggesting has the implication that everyone but the arahat would have the characteristic of Dukkha as part of their experience…..

If it is because everything is always anicca, anatta and dukkha, then I cannot agree. I cannot agree that a stone lying on the floor is dukkha for me. Have I misunderstood what is meant by conditioned phenomena in your last post?
Stone is of course a concept, and as I suggested in my last message, Nibbana and concepts do not exhibit the characteristic of rise and fall. What does rise and fall however, are the ultimate realities which make up stone. Rising and falling away are therefore, the four primary elements of earth, water, fire and wind and the twenty odd derived physical elements. When you perceive 'stone', there must be seeing which experiences visible object and / or touching experiencing hardness (the earth element) for example. This visible object and the hardness are the physical phenomena which rise and fall away at the rate of billions of risings and falling away in one second. This rising and falling away is the anicca and dukkha of physical phenomena.

I refer again to the three meanings of Dukkha:

<<dukkhatā (abstr. noun fr. dukkha): 'the state of suffering', painfulness, unpleasantness, the unsatisfactoriness of existence. "There are three kinds of suffering:
(1) suffering as pain (dukkha-dukkhatā),
(2) the suffering inherent in the formations (saṅkhāra-dukkhatā),
(3) the suffering in change (vipariṇāma-dukkhatā)" (S. XLV, 165; D. 33).

(1) is the bodily or mental feeling of pain as actual]y felt. (2) refers to the oppressive nature of all formations of existence (i.e. all conditioned phenomena), due to their continual arising and passing away; this includes also experiences associated with neutral feeling. (3) refers to bodily and mental pleasant feelings, "because they are the cause for the arising of pain when they change" (Vis.M. XIV, 34f).>>

You must take care not to conflate the second with the other two meanings, which is what I think you are doing and is the reason why you are having difficulty with this.
 

Embers

SPNer
Aug 10, 2009
114
148
EU
Confused Ji
Thanks for the continued explanation.
Unless a being is still opposed to change through craving, clinging and aversion. Buddhism may address well a person who is undergoing suffering because they cannot get what they want, cannot avoid what they do not want or remain neutral. I can see that the body will bring pain.

If someone knows there is anatta and anicca then all that happens will arise and pass away. There will be dukkha, the body ages and dies (disease etc), but this is recognised as anicca and dukkha, but there is still anatta; it is all arising and passing away for 'nobody'.

Unless I am continuing to miss something, I cannot see anything further in it?

I am aware that all suffering is transient and it is happening to 'nobody', it arises and passes that is all.
 
Nov 15, 2004
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Embers ji,

I am not sure what it is that you understand and agree and disagree with.
I get the impression that you are not so interested in continuing with this discussion. If that is not the case, then could you please give your answer to the following?

1. What is reality and how does one distinguish this from what is not real?
2. What is anicca or impermanence and how is it known?
3. What is anatta or non-self and how is it known?
4. What is dukkha or suffering and how is it known?
5. Why do you say that “Buddhism addresses well a person who is undergoing suffering”? Does this imply that it does not address those who do not undergo suffering? And who might these be?
6. In stating that “There will be dukkha, the body ages and dies (disease etc), but this is recognised as anicca and dukkha,” are you saying that dukkha although it is experienced, can’t be said to be a characteristic as are anicca and anatta?
7. In saying, “all suffering is transient and it is happening to 'nobody', it arises and passes that is all” are you here referring to suffering as in displeasure? Because if you are referring to Dukkha as in one of the three marks of existence, it would sound like that you are saying that this Dukkha itself is impermanent. In other words, this one general characteristic has in turn the characteristic of impermanence….

I hope that this is not asking too many questions. But please do take your time with them.
 

Embers

SPNer
Aug 10, 2009
114
148
EU
Embers ji,

I am not sure what it is that you understand and agree and disagree with.
I get the impression that you are not so interested in continuing with this discussion. If that is not the case, then could you please give your answer to the following?

1. What is reality and how does one distinguish this from what is not real?
2. What is anicca or impermanence and how is it known?
3. What is anatta or non-self and how is it known?
4. What is dukkha or suffering and how is it known?
5. Why do you say that “Buddhism addresses well a person who is undergoing suffering”? Does this imply that it does not address those who do not undergo suffering? And who might these be?
6. In stating that “There will be dukkha, the body ages and dies (disease etc), but this is recognised as anicca and dukkha,” are you saying that dukkha although it is experienced, can’t be said to be a characteristic as are anicca and anatta?
7. In saying, “all suffering is transient and it is happening to 'nobody', it arises and passes that is all” are you here referring to suffering as in displeasure? Because if you are referring to Dukkha as in one of the three marks of existence, it would sound like that you are saying that this Dukkha itself is impermanent. In other words, this one general characteristic has in turn the characteristic of impermanence….

I hope that this is not asking too many questions. But please do take your time with them.
Confused ji
I think the conversation is coming to an end, which is fine.

Your questions are quoted followed by my answer below, my answer is personal i.e. I am not quoting scripture or being philosophical for the sake of it. I am using my own vocabulary a little here, as I cannot remember Buddhist vocabulary well.

1. What is reality and how does one distinguish this from what is not real?

Reality is that which does not change or cannot change. It is unconditioned.
That which changes or is subject to change is not reality, although it may 'exist' now. It is distinguished through insight or the inner eye, for want of a term.


2. What is anicca or impermanence and how is it known?

Anicca is the 'quality' of change. It is not a thing in itself but rather an observation. It is known to the 6 senses, including inner perception of emotion, thoughts etc. It includes the 6 senses and the mind which are themselves subject to anicca (anatta and dukkha).

3. What is anatta or non-self and how is it known?

Anatta is the recognition that there is no fixed phenomena inherent in any phenomena. In other words it is recognition that there is no fixed unchanging self (or concept of self) in phenomena. By phenomena I mean material elements, thoughts, emotions etc.

4. What is dukkha or suffering and how is it known?

Dukkha is unsatisfactory quality of phenomena, it is not a thing in itself. It is known through the 6 senses and inner perception. It can also mean pain, such as physical or emotional pain.

5. Why do you say that “Buddhism addresses well a person who is undergoing suffering”? Does this imply that it does not address those who do not undergo suffering? And who might these be?

It implies that once the teaching (Buddhism) has done its job (Nibbana, the end of the the holy life) it is no longer to be clinged to (it is let go). The question who might these be does not apply at this stage (Nibbana).

6. In stating that “There will be dukkha, the body ages and dies (disease etc), but this is recognised as anicca and dukkha,” are you saying that dukkha although it is experienced, can’t be said to be a characteristic as are anicca and anatta?

No, I am saying that dukkha can be seen as arising and passing away (anicca) without any inherent self (anatta). It simply happens.

7. In saying, “all suffering is transient and it is happening to 'nobody', it arises and passes that is all” are you here referring to suffering as in displeasure? Because if you are referring to Dukkha as in one of the three marks of existence, it would sound like that you are saying that this Dukkha itself is impermanent. In other words, this one general characteristic has in turn the characteristic of impermanence….

Dukkha here can be pain (physical, emotional) as well as unsatisfatoriness. It is not real in the sense that it arises and passes away. So yes, it has the characteristic of impermanence. Dukkha is not a thing in itself.

Hope that helps.
 
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Oct 21, 2009
451
895
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Embers ji.

Duality lies till we are not united/merged with the Lord i.e. we are all different from God-Lord. There becomes two planes of thinking i.e. pre-merger state and post merger state. In the pre -merger state we are acting as individuals under the effect of 'ego hood'. In this stage we keep on accumulating Karma the sum total of which may be Karmic credit of Karmic debits. In this plane, we shall move to next life along with the sum total Karmas.

Once we have overcome ego and have attained the stage of liberation the stage of duality ends; 'I' and 'He' becomes one; duality ends and then the Karmas become redundant as one shall be performing deeds for God-Lord (seeing Him in everyone one comes across). Thus soul shall not be accountable for any deed done under the post merger stage.

In nutshell , duality continues to exist till we have not overcome 'egohood' and there would be effect of Karmas as per Laws of Karma.

Mr. Surinder Singh Kohli has, in his book " Grace", covered the aspect of Karma and Transmigration of soul in detail and provides insight into philosophical insight to the laws of Karmas. As per him every soul is born with some set of accumulated karmas that he calls as 'Sanchit Karmas'; during the life span the soul may have the effect of some Karmas- the Karmas that have fructified are called as "Prarabdh'. There are other Karmas called as 'Aagami Karmas' i.e. the Karmas that are yet to be performed through out the life span of the soul. The closing balance of the Karmas becomes the 'Sanchit Karmas' for the next life and so on and so forth.... this goes on till the balance of Karmas is reduced to nil. It is possible only with His Grace only i.e at the time of merger with God -Lord. There is also second possibility that our Karmic accounts may be reduced to nil by God Lord as per His wishes even though we may not be merged with Him. This is , in essence, the sikh philosophy, i.e. Karmas can be reduced to Zero when He is pleased.

According to oriental philosophy including Hindu philosophy also one is required to transmigrate even if one is Liberated in order to bring one's Karmic Balance to Zero.

In Sikhi Karmas are absolutely extinguishable by the Grace of God. Bani also mentions that Karmas can be extinguished by True Guru as well.

ਪਉੜੀ ॥ Pauree:


ਤੂੰ ਸਚਾ ਸਾਹਿਬੁ ਅਤਿ ਵਡਾ ਤੁਹਿ ਜੇਵਡੁ ਤੂੰ ਵਡ ਵਡੇ ॥ O
True Lord and Master, You are so very great. As great as You are, You are the greatest of the great.

ਜਿਸੁ ਤੂੰ ਮੇਲਹਿ ਸੋ ਤੁਧੁ ਮਿਲੈ ਤੂੰ ਆਪੇ ਬਖਸਿ ਲੈਹਿ ਲੇਖਾ ਛਡੇ ॥
He alone is united with You, whom You unite with Yourself. You Yourself bless and forgive us, and tear up our accounts.

ਜਿਸ ਨੋ ਤੂੰ ਆਪਿ ਮਿਲਾਇਦਾ ਸੋ ਸਤਿਗੁਰੁ ਸੇਵੇ ਮਨੁ ਗਡ ਗਡੇ ॥
One whom You unite with Yourself, whole-heartedly serves the True Guru.

ਤੂੰ ਸਚਾ ਸਾਹਿਬੁ ਸਚੁ ਤੂ ਸਭੁ ਜੀਉ ਪਿੰਡੁ ਚੰਮੁ ਤੇਰਾ ਹਡੇ ॥
You are the True One, the True Lord and Master; my soul, body, flesh and bones are all Yours.

ਜਿਉ ਭਾਵੈ ਤਿਉ ਰਖੁ ਤੂੰ ਸਚਿਆ ਨਾਨਕ ਮਨਿ ਆਸ ਤੇਰੀ ਵਡ ਵਡੇ ॥੩੩॥੧॥ ਸੁਧੁ ॥
If it pleases You, then save me, True Lord. Nanak places the hopes of his mind in You alone, O greatest of the great! ||33||1|| Sudh||

Second Shabad
Gurbani further states that without the Grace of Guru Karmas cannot be extinguished:Following is an extract of shabad at ang 56:

ਕੇਤੇ ਪੰਡਿਤ ਜੋਤਕੀ ਬੇਦਾ ਕਰਹਿ ਬੀਚਾਰੁ ॥
There are so many Pandits and astrologers who ponder over the Vedas.

ਵਾਦਿ ਵਿਰੋਧਿ ਸਲਾਹਣੇ ਵਾਦੇ ਆਵਣੁ ਜਾਣੁ ॥
They glorify their disputes and arguments, and in these controversies they continue coming and going.

ਬਿਨੁ ਗੁਰ ਕਰਮ ਨ ਛੁਟਸੀ ਕਹਿ ਸੁਣਿ ਆਖਿ ਵਖਾਣੁ ॥੭॥
Without the Guru, they are not released from their karma, although they speak and listen and preach and explain. ||7||
]
ਸਭਿ ਗੁਣਵੰਤੀ ਆਖੀਅਹਿ ਮੈ ਗੁਣੁ ਨਾਹੀ ਕੋਇ ॥
They all call themselves virtuous, but I have no virtue at all.

ਹਰਿ ਵਰੁ ਨਾਰਿ ਸੁਹਾਵਣੀ ਮੈ ਭਾਵੈ ਪ੍ਰਭੁ ਸੋਇ ॥
With the Lord as her Husband, the soul-bride is happy; I, too, love that God.

ਨਾਨਕ ਸਬਦਿ ਮਿਲਾਵੜਾ ਨਾ ਵੇਛੋੜਾ ਹੋਇ ॥੮॥੫॥
O Nanak, through the Shabad, union is obtained; there is no more separation. ||8||5|

Third shabadAng-66

ਸਿਰੀਰਾਗੁ ਮਹਲਾ ੩ ॥ Siree Raag, Third Mehl:
ਪੰਖੀ ਬਿਰਖਿ ਸੁਹਾਵੜਾ ਸਚੁ ਚੁਗੈ ਗੁਰ ਭਾਇ ॥
The soul-bird in the beautiful tree of the body pecks at Truth, with love for the Guru.

ਹਰਿ ਰਸੁ ਪੀਵੈ ਸਹਜਿ ਰਹੈ ਉਡੈ ਨ ਆਵੈ ਜਾਇ ॥
She drinks in the Sublime Essence of the Lord, and abides in intuitive ease; she does not fly around coming and going.

ਨਿਜ ਘਰਿ ਵਾਸਾ ਪਾਇਆ ਹਰਿ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮਿ ਸਮਾਇ ॥੧॥
She obtains her home within her own heart; she is absorbed into the Name of the Lord, Har, Har. ||1||

ਮਨ ਰੇ ਗੁਰ ਕੀ ਕਾਰ ਕਮਾਇ ॥
O mind, work to serve the Guru.

ਗੁਰ ਕੈ ਭਾਣੈ ਜੇ ਚਲਹਿ ਤਾ ਅਨਦਿਨੁ ਰਾਚਹਿ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਇ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥
If you walk in harmony with the Guru's Will, you shall remain immersed in the Lord's Name, night and day. ||1||Pause||

ਪੰਖੀ ਬਿਰਖ ਸੁਹਾਵੜੇ ਊਡਹਿ ਚਹੁ ਦਿਸਿ ਜਾਹਿ ॥
The birds in the beautiful trees fly around in all four directions.

ਜੇਤਾ ਊਡਹਿ ਦੁਖ ਘਣੇ ਨਿਤ ਦਾਝਹਿ ਤੈ ਬਿਲਲਾਹਿ ॥
The more they fly around, the more they suffer; they burn and cry out in pain.

ਬਿਨੁ ਗੁਰ ਮਹਲੁ ਨ ਜਾਪਈ ਨਾ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਫਲ ਪਾਹਿ ॥੨॥
Without the Guru, they do not find the Mansion of the Lord's Presence, and they do not obtain the Ambrosial Fruit. ||2||

ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਬ੍ਰਹਮੁ ਹਰੀਆਵਲਾ ਸਾਚੈ ਸਹਜਿ ਸੁਭਾਇ ॥
The Gurmukh is like God's tree, always green, blessed with the Sublime Love of the True One, with intuitive peace and poise.

ਸਾਖਾ ਤੀਨਿ ਨਿਵਾਰੀਆ ਏਕ ਸਬਦਿ ਲਿਵ ਲਾਇ ॥
He cuts off the three branches of the three qualities, and embraces love for the One Word of the Shabad.

ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਫਲੁ ਹਰਿ ਏਕੁ ਹੈ ਆਪੇ ਦੇਇ ਖਵਾਇ ॥੩॥
The Lord alone is the Ambrosial Fruit; He Himself gives it to us to eat. ||3||

ਮਨਮੁਖ ਊਭੇ ਸੁਕਿ ਗਏ ਨਾ ਫਲੁ ਤਿੰਨਾ ਛਾਉ ॥
The self-willed manmukhs stand there and dry up; they do not bear any fruit, and they do not provide any shade.

ਤਿੰਨਾ ਪਾਸਿ ਨ ਬੈਸੀਐ ਓਨਾ ਘਰੁ ਨ ਗਿਰਾਉ ॥
Don't even bother to sit near them-they have no home or village.

ਕਟੀਅਹਿ ਤੈ ਨਿਤ ਜਾਲੀਅਹਿ ਓਨਾ ਸਬਦੁ ਨ ਨਾਉ ॥੪॥
They are cut down and burnt each day; they have neither the Shabad, nor the Lord's Name. ||4||
ਹੁਕਮੇ ਕਰਮ ਕਮਾਵਣੇ ਪਇਐ ਕਿਰਤਿ ਫਿਰਾਉ ॥
According to the Lord's Command, people perform their actions; they wander around, driven by the karma of their past actions.




E & O E
 
Nov 15, 2004
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Embers ji,

Response to your answer to question 1.

1. What is reality and how does one distinguish this from what is not real?

Embers: Reality is that which does not change or cannot change. It is unconditioned.
Is this some philosophical school you are going by where reality is defined in such terms? The dictionary meaning of reality includes the following:

re•al•i•ty (r-l-t)
n. pl. re•al•i•ties
1. The quality or state of being actual or true.
2. One, such as a person, an entity, or an event, that is actual: "the weight of history and political realities" (Benno C. Schmidt, Jr.)
3. The totality of all things possessing actuality, existence, or essence.
4. That which exists objectively and in fact: Your observations do not seem to be about reality.

I have stated that there is conditioned reality and the unconditioned reality. Your qualifying “reality” with unconditioned, to me does not invalidate the other reality, namely the conditioned. So please explain how “unchanging” and “unconditioned” give validity to the concept of “reality” while being conditioned invalidates it?

And btw, you said that you have read only the Theravada, but this idea about the unconditioned being the only reality is in fact what the Mahayana school believes in which I consider as essentially, wrong view.

That which changes or is subject to change is not reality, although it may 'exist' now.
The dictionary seems to be making a connection between “existence” and “reality” in such a way that one implies the other. If you say therefore, that conditioned phenomena “exist”, then according to the dictionary you must also admit that they are “real”.

And is it not strange that you should so confidently claim as the “only reality”, namely the unconditioned, something which is never part of your experience? Would this not then mean that you claim to be “reality” what exists only as an idea as far as your experiences are concerned, whereas the experiences through the five senses and the mind which in fact forms the basis for *all* your conceivings / thoughts, this you deny as being real? In other words you are taking as basis for denying the reality of your moment to moment experience, an idea which in fact would not have been conceived of without those experiences performing some very real functions to begin with?

Or are you going to tell me that this is not so, but that in fact it is your “inner eye” which has seen this to be the case?

It is distinguished through insight or the inner eye, for want of a term.
I wasn't asking about what it is that “understands”, but what characteristic or mark distinguishes reality from that which is not real. This you already gave an answer, namely that reality is that which is “permanent and unconditioned”. But as you would have seen, I have a problem with this proposition. So I shall await your response to this.
 

Embers

SPNer
Aug 10, 2009
114
148
EU
Hello Confused Ji
Please find answers below questions.

Embers ji,

Is this some philosophical school you are going by where reality is defined in such terms?
Yes, for example Vedanta defines reality in such terms. Phenomena such as thoughts and sense data are relatively real i.e. they appear are real as long as they last.

What is the unconditioned by your definition? Please explain.

I have stated that there is conditioned reality and the unconditioned reality. Your qualifying “reality” with unconditioned, to me does not invalidate the other reality, namely the conditioned. So please explain how “unchanging” and “unconditioned” give validity to the concept of “reality” while being conditioned invalidates it?
It does not invalidate it for me either. Why would we need to invalidate anything?

The unconditioned/unchanging reality does not under go anicca. Anything conditioned is subject to anicca.

And btw, you said that you have read only the Theravada, but this idea about the unconditioned being the only reality is in fact what the Mahayana school believes in which I consider as essentially, wrong view.
Perhaps because Mahayana is influenced more by Indian philosophy?


The dictionary seems to be making a connection between “existence” and “reality” in such a way that one implies the other. If you say therefore, that conditioned phenomena “exist”, then according to the dictionary you must also admit that they are “real”.
Yes, conditioned phenomena are real whist they arise until they pass away. Such as tea :sippingcoffeemunda:

And is it not strange that you should so confidently claim as the “only reality”, namely the unconditioned, something which is never part of your experience? Would this not then mean that you claim to be “reality” what exists only as an idea as far as your experiences are concerned, whereas the experiences through the five senses and the mind which in fact forms the basis for *all* your conceivings / thoughts, this you deny as being real?
I don't recall saying the unconditioned is not part of 'my' experience?

Correct, ideas are conditioned phenomena and as such are not 'real', I will settle for relatively real, whilst they last, if easier to be understood by the reader.


In other words you are taking as basis for denying the reality of your moment to moment experience, an idea which in fact would not have been conceived of without those experiences performing some very real functions to begin with?
Or are you going to tell me that this is not so, but that in fact it is your “inner eye” which has seen this to be the case?
The functions of the senses are subject to anicca, and are hence not real, they do not exist in themselves (anatta) and are subject to anicca.

Enjoy what remains of your day!
 
Nov 15, 2004
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Embers ji,

Your response to question 2.

2. What is anicca or impermanence and how is it known?

Embers: Anicca is the 'quality' of change.
You are using your own vocabulary, but the understanding which comes across to me appears misleading. I wouldn't describe impermanence as "'quality' of change”, but rather characteristic of rise and fall inherent in all conditioned phenomena. Nothing changes, one state to another, but simply what arises must fall away instantly.

It is not a thing in itself but rather an observation.
Again I am not sure about your expression.
When seeing consciousness for example, is known, it will be known to be impermanent. So when you suggest above, that “impermanence is an observation” this appears to be saying that it is a conclusion drawn from more than one experience. And why would you want to highlight that it is not a thing in itself? Who would consider impermanence a “reality” in itself? Are you in fact trying to convey the idea, that impermanence is not a characteristic, but rather an inference drawn from certain observations made in time?

It is known to the 6 senses, including inner perception of emotion, thoughts etc.
It includes the 6 senses and the mind which are themselves subject to anicca (anatta and dukkha).
Again, what is expressed is misleading.
Of course you are referring to the consciousness through the five senses and the mind (this one is not a sense door experience) and not the senses which are physical and not mental phenomena. But even then, it is wisdom, a particular mental reality, which understands impermanence and this arises at the mind door. No other mental phenomena can perform this particular function and therefore impermanence can't be 'known to' anything else.

Embers ji, I don't ask for precision in the use of terms, but I do expect precision with regard to what it is that is being pointed at.
 
Nov 15, 2004
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Embers ji,

Quote:Is this some philosophical school you are going by where reality is defined in such terms?

Yes, for example Vedanta defines reality in such terms. Phenomena such as thoughts and sense data are relatively real i.e. they appear are real as long as they last.
Since the qualifiers have been added to distinguish the two kinds of realities, is it correct then to consider one more real than the other? Why not be happy with the particular distinction of conditioned vs. unconditioned? I wonder if this is an attempt to make one appear insignificant so that the other can then be given more importance. Besides 'relatively real' then creates instead of two categories to be distinguished, namely reality vs. concept, but three, absolute reality, vs. relative reality vs. concept. And this takes the attention away from making the reality vs. concept distinction which is crucial to the development of right understanding.

How according to you then, does one distinguish say, “thinking” from the “concepts thought about”? If the understanding is not that one is a reality and the other is not, what is it then?

What is the unconditioned by your definition? Please explain.
That which is not conditioned by anything and hence does not rise and fall away. In other words, it is not something that I can ever imagine nor should think too much about.

Quote: Originally Posted by Confused
I have stated that there is conditioned reality and the unconditioned reality. Your qualifying “reality” with unconditioned, to me does not invalidate the other reality, namely the conditioned. So please explain how “unchanging” and “unconditioned” give validity to the concept of “reality” while being conditioned invalidates it?

It does not invalidate it for me either. Why would we need to invalidate anything?
So why did you limit “reality” only to the unconditioned? Was it not an attempt to put the other reality more or less on the same level as concepts?

The unconditioned/unchanging reality does not under go anicca. Anything conditioned is subject to anicca.
Yes, but is the conditioned any less “real” by virtue of this? All conditioned phenomena did not exist prior to its arising and completely disappears after it has fallen away, but when it is present it is known to be “real” is it not?

Quote: Originally Posted by Confused
And btw, you said that you have read only the Theravada, but this idea about the unconditioned being the only reality is in fact what the Mahayana school believes in which I consider as essentially, wrong view.


Perhaps because Mahayana is influenced more by Indian philosophy?
Or rather, it is the result of wrong view instead of right view.

Quote: Originally Posted by Confused
The dictionary seems to be making a connection between “existence” and “reality” in such a way that one implies the other. If you say therefore, that conditioned phenomena “exist”, then according to the dictionary you must also admit that they are “real”.

Yes, conditioned phenomena are real whist they arise until they pass away. Such as tea
So you are agreeing now, that conditioned phenomena are realities?
Tea is a conditioned reality? Through which doorway is it experienced and by virtue of what characteristic is it known to be real? Does it have a particular function, manifestation and proximate cause?

Quote: Originally Posted by Confused
And is it not strange that you should so confidently claim as the “only reality”, namely the unconditioned, something which is never part of your experience? Would this not then mean that you claim to be “reality” what exists only as an idea as far as your experiences are concerned, whereas the experiences through the five senses and the mind which in fact forms the basis for *all* your conceivings / thoughts, this you deny as being real?


I don't recall saying the unconditioned is not part of 'my' experience?
But this is the only conclusion that I can draw!
If you have experienced the unconditioned, then according to my understanding, you must be enlightened, which you obviously are not. Perhaps you are only questioning my conclusion here, because if in fact you claim to have experienced the unconditioned, then the problem is not merely that there is ignorance and some wrong view, but so much of the latter and attachment to “self”, that I'd consider it to be extremely deluded.

So what is it, was I wrong in my initial assessment?

Although when I read in another message (if I remember right) you mention experiencing some special state which according to you, matched what was described in a particular set of teachings, I did not at the time take it seriously. I thought that you probably are not a big time meditator and simply mentioned this as a matter of fact. But now I am not so sure.

I consider those who make reference to their experiences during meditation and then trying to convince others about what is and not the right understanding and practice, as a case of a blind trying to lead another blind. Only fools would do such a thing. A wise person will always refer to “now”, in terms of what can and must be understood. And when talking in terms of general principles, he’d make sure that it is something that he can refer back to the set of teachings which he himself learned from. Therefore instead of saying, “this is what I experienced”, he'd say for example, that “this is what the texts say” or “the Buddha taught this”.

The biggest fools are those who claim enlightenment but can't and don't ever refer to the present moment when trying to instruct others. “Now” is where the rubber meets the road, therefore a test for the person who is teaching as well as the one who is listening.

Correct, ideas are conditioned phenomena and as such are not 'real', I will settle for relatively real, hilst they last, if easier to be understood by the reader.
No, it only adds to the confusion and takes away from the importance of understanding the reality vs. concept distinction which can and must be made now.

Ideas being concepts are not conditioned. They can ever only be thought about. What is conditioned while the ideas are objects of the consciousness, include the thinking itself and any of the other realities accompanying this, such as perception, feeling, attention, concentration or the ignorance, attachment etc. which is at the root.

Quote: Originally Posted by Confused
In other words you are taking as basis for denying the reality of your moment to moment experience, an idea which in fact would not have been conceived of without those experiences performing some very real functions to begin with?
Or are you going to tell me that this is not so, but that in fact it is your “inner eye” which has seen this to be the case?


The functions of the senses are subject to anicca, and are hence not real, they do not exist in themselves (anatta) and are subject to anicca.
Something which performs functions is not real, yet have the characteristic of impermanence?! And Anatta is due to the fact of being conditioned; therefore that which is unconditioned is Atta? Well, you have not responded to my suggestion, which is something along the lines that, you take as reality that which is the product of the thinking process while the thinking itself is judged as not real. And what about something being “relatively real”?! Do you not have a definite outlook?
 

Embers

SPNer
Aug 10, 2009
114
148
EU
Hello Confused Ji
I really think you are overthinking all of this. 0:) What is to be gained from it? Are you trying to lead me to the end of suffering or something else?
 
Nov 15, 2004
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Embers ji,

I can understand why you would consider that I am over-thinking. From my perspective, it is more like making sure that I do not miss a crease. Often I even find myself missing a point or two to comment on when reading over my response after I have posted it. :happysingh:

What is to be gained from this? Even if you do not get anything from it, I am involved in the process of “straightening of view”, and this is something I consider more valuable than any other activity. It is of course only at the intellectual level, which is not as good as were it to be direct understanding and realization. But this is where I am at, while overreaching will only take me in the opposite direction, I am happy to go at a snail's pace.

Apparently I am not leading you to the end of suffering, and perhaps my posts are starting to act as condition for mental unpleasant feelings for you. :)And although I never think along such lines as “ending suffering”, however if I am indeed involved in straightening of view, then I, if not anyone else, must be moving in that very direction.
 

Embers

SPNer
Aug 10, 2009
114
148
EU
Embers ji,

I can understand why you would consider that I am over-thinking. From my perspective, it is more like making sure that I do not miss a crease. Often I even find myself missing a point or two to comment on when reading over my response after I have posted it. :happysingh:
Hello Confused Ji, thanks for your consideration.0:)
As I see it, it adds to the complication if we are making comparisons, or trying to rebuke one philosophy against another regardless of which one considers to be better. The reason is Buddhism and Theism may always be at loggerheads, so it is easier to not try to compare. I would prefer to consider your views above with a blank slate to avoid contamination and misunderstandings. At times I have felt that the vocabulary of different schools can be very different, but there are some strong similarities underlying the teachings. I would much prefer to take the topic (Buddhism) in isolation as if I were new to it; it simply works for me that way.


What is to be gained from this? Even if you do not get anything from it, I am involved in the process of “straightening of view”, and this is something I consider more valuable than any other activity. It is of course only at the intellectual level, which is not as good as were it to be direct understanding and realization. But this is where I am at, while overreaching will only take me in the opposite direction, I am happy to go at a snail's pace.
I admire your dedication to Theravada as a Right View. I am not here to convince anyone of my view, which is why I have appreciated the posts above which challenge my own views; it is useful and I am aware of the weaknesses. The Buddhist Right View is not the only view on life, which is why I mention above the need to address this topic in isolation to avoid going around in circles; I would only need to mention a permanent consicousness and all the work would be lost as it was for Sāti, which would be a pity. I have gained knowledge from your posts, thank you, but I asked if there was a goal in mind as it isn't clear from the flow.

Apparently I am not leading you to the end of suffering, and perhaps my posts are starting to act as condition for mental unpleasant feelings for you. :)And although I never think along such lines as “ending suffering”, however if I am indeed involved in straightening of view, then I, if not anyone else, must be moving in that very direction.
I feel like I have been running with a wild horse rather than been guided to an explicit destination. peacesign I see it as nothing personal. My goal would be clarification on some areas rather than liberation. I have not explicitly said that I am enlightened or liberated, to do so would be an error for numerous reasons. Enlightenment is not my goal here on this forum. I do not consider myself a Buddhist.

I do not deny theism as a possibility, which is why I am exploring it as a fact for Sikhs in this forum. Needless to say that all of these factors imply that this conversation will remain mainly philosophical and I appreciate that is not your goal.

I suggest we stop now, as this thread is not related to Karma or Sikhism as it set out to be (the reason I started posting). I thank you for your replies and wish you all the best!

0:)
 
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Nov 15, 2004
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Thailand
Embers ji,


Hello Confused Ji, thanks for your consideration.0:)
As I see it, it adds to the complication if we are making comparisons, or trying to rebuke one philosophy against another regardless of which one considers to be better. The reason is Buddhism and Theism may always be at loggerheads, so it is easier to not try to compare. I would prefer to consider your views above with a blank slate to avoid contamination and misunderstandings. At times I have felt that the vocabulary of different schools can be very different, but there are some strong similarities underlying the teachings. I would much prefer to take the topic (Buddhism) in isolation as if I were new to it; it simply works for me that way.

So when you are ready to discuss about Truth / reality / the way things are, let me know. You are right that it is useless to compare, so perhaps you should not even think to talk about Buddhism in isolation, because this is already assuming the existence of other viewpoints. I'm not here to convince anyone about Buddhism, nor to represent Theravada. So let's in fact forget about Buddhism, Theism, Sikhism and all other Isms. And also let us drop all those different concepts associated, such as karma, God, rebirth, soul etc.

Should we begin now? I'll start a thread called, “The Way Things Are” if you want, or you may start one with another title…?
 

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Shabad Vichaar by SPN'ers

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