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Karma - Selfish?

  • #1
    Closed Accounts Posts: 36 ✭✭✭ MT2


    Hi All,

    I am currently reading Rinpoche Soygal's book on living and dying. I'm new to Buddhism in that I never really read much specifics on it, although have read other spiritual books that quote a lot from the Buddha.

    Since I began thinking about Karma and Buddhism, there is one particular outstanding question - the general belief on karma is that 'what goes around comes around'.

    So, is it ultimately selfish to be compassionate, kind and loving to others as we are only trying to ensure our better karma for next time around?

    I don't actually believe that myself, I believe we are here for Love and Compassion etc but I can't help but feel that's the gist Buddhism gives off sometimes.

    Also, before I started reading the book and looking into it properly, anytime I asked about buddhism I was told that it's more of a belief where 'one looks after themselves first' - when I challenged this (in my thoughts we give to recieve, love before seeking to be loved etc) the responses I got were odd in that most people made it sound like there;s a large element of selfishness in Buddha's beliefs?

    Right, enough questions, if anyone can make sense out of what I said and has any thoughts on it I'm curious!

    Thanks a mil,

    MT


Comments



  • if the only reason you are nice to people, is because you think your god is going to punish you if your not, then you are not really being nice to people. and in your own mind you will know this, no matter how others percieve you.

    and in buddhism if the only reason you show compassion, is so you can escape the cycle of rebirth, or have a better rebirth, then this isnt showing true compasion, and deep in your own mind, you will know this, no matter how others talk or percieve your seemingly noble actions.

    you love someone, because you love them. its a very deep and powerful emotion. if there are extra conditions to this, then it is not love.

    if you are compassionate to someone, it is beccause you are compassionate. you cant hold conditions to it. or add on, because this will get me further along.

    getting a better rebirth, or escaping samsara, are simply the outcomes of living a pure, compasionate life, full of love for your fellow living being and understanding the nature of the mind. it should not really be looked at like a rpg game, if i show this much love, ill ding and get to the next level. because then even before you attempt to be kind, or thoughtful, or compassionate, your already thinking how many good karama points you will get.

    the second part of the question, about looking after yourself first is a huge misconception among readers of buddhism. what it basically means, is that we are all ego based, duality obsessed beings. so how can anyone really help another person, if there view on reality is as tainted as the person they are trying to help. so its best to practice your meditation, follow the teaching of the buddha, so you can be as clear minded, and unconditioned as posible, while helping your fellow man. it would be like a person still in the matrix who had no idea of the REAL world, telling neo how the world is and advising him on how he should live his life. and the person who follows the path, who meditates to calm their mind, and understand emotions, especially strong ones like hatred, and lust, and resentment, would be like morpheus.

    they are experiencing existance on another level, they can see how emotions can guide us and sometimes take our minds over with out us knowing. they themselves might not be enlightened, but they try to live the dharma, they meditate to calm themselves, and they are aware of how the mind works.

    i hope this helps


    O




  • odinreln wrote: »

    they are experiencing existance on another level, they can see how emotions can guide us and sometimes take our minds over with out us knowing. they themselves might not be enlightened, but they try to live the dharma, they meditate to calm themselves, and they are aware of how the mind works.


    O

    Hey O,

    Thank you very much. That was interesting and enjoyable to read, particularly the compassion/love part.

    Just one question - who are you talking about when you say 'they' in the above paragraph?
    Just not sure youre still referring to Morpheus etc (a film which I never really grasped!!) or buddhists in general?

    Thanks for taking the time to answer me!

    Cheers,

    MT




  • Nice post odinreln, thanks.




  • no worries.

    yes, when i say they, i mean buddhists. or anyone really who practices meditation and is aware of the nature of thoughts and emotions and how they can effect us and sometimes even control us.

    so going back to your original question, if you are a person, who meditates and understands how thoughts and emotions effect the human mind, you are in a more neutral state of mind, to help others, because your help is not unintentionally tainted with your own perceptions and conditioning. and its not just in trying to help people, but just with general views and conversations too.

    its not selfish to practice to have a clear, calm and pure mind. your helping your own head, and even by just being that kind of person, your helping those around you, in your positive actions, words and lifestyle.


    O




  • The more one practices to cultivate a calm mind, the more one becomes oneself and the more one goes beyond dual concepts like selfishness and unselfishness, good karma and bad karma, etc. Once one is truly oneself one can neither be called selfish nor compassionate. Just like the sun which causes both skin cancer and makes our food grow - we become who we are and move beyond worry.


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  • MT2 wrote: »
    Also, before I started reading the book and looking into it properly, anytime I asked about buddhism I was told that it's more of a belief where 'one looks after themselves first' - when I challenged this (in my thoughts we give to recieve, love before seeking to be loved etc) the responses I got were odd in that most people made it sound like there;s a large element of selfishness in Buddha's beliefs?

    I always took it as meaning that "one should look AT themselves first"
    When i began reading books and websites, I would read it and then take a few minutes to think over it and figure out my own opinions on the subject and then what the Buddhist view was and then compare the two.

    I agree with that you thought above about giving and receiving. My opinions on Karma were that one would be selfless by loving people and not expecting it back, and then good Karma would come back to you in the future. But if you only gave love so that you could be given it back, that would be selfish. That isnt to say that I cant think about giving love and then actually do it, just not do it for my future benefit. Make sense?

    This is why i like buddhism, people such as your good self and the whole religion in general ask questions which completely suprise me and then it forces me to create an opinion on something that i have never even considered! :)

    Edit: Asiaprod, love that bit in your sig said by Heinlein, will write that somewhere for future memory!




  • Hey again lads,

    Thanks for your thoughts, as mentionned, it's very interesting to be able to get new/other opinions thoughts as it either enlightens or makes you think of other possiblities.

    I have to ask though, MeditationMom, the way you put it, it sounds nearly like you're saying (rf to the Sun cancer/food growth) that we have our negative sides along with our positive sides but if we have a pure mind we must go on with our lives and accept that others will, in a sense, have to put up with us as we we are regardless?

    In one way, it could be said that that is a slightly selfish point of view, but on the other hand, I like the fact that if you are thriving to be pure, compassionate and kind I suppose people will always see bad in you so with this frame of mind, one nearly has blinkers on and just ignores the conflicting outside attitudes?

    Or maybe I'm way off in my perception of what you meant.

    Kat, thanks for your thoughts too! It's really great to have like minded people think about and discuss things! Although, to be honest, I didn't get the part about ' If I think about giving love, I still can'... sorry....!

    Thanks all,

    MT




  • MT2 wrote: »
    I have to ask though, MeditationMom, the way you put it, it sounds nearly like you're saying (rf to the Sun cancer/food growth) that we have our negative sides along with our positive sides but if we have a pure mind we must go on with our lives and accept that others will, in a sense, have to put up with us as we we are regardless?
    i'm trying to put together a proper reply to that part of what you said, but my brain doesnt seem to want to work properly tonight!

    what i will say is: Do you change yourself and your personality becuase One person doesnt like a part of you?
    No! They put up with it or just not put up with you! its a bit like beng in school, your friends will take your "negatives" and mistakes,but then theres those people who you meet and wont hang out with you becuase they dont like a "fault" in you - you dont get along with everyone!

    That being said, a "negative" isnt negative if you look at it differently, theres a "stingiest thing you've seen stingy people do" thread in AH and i've read the whole thing, the general consensus is those stingy people seem to be very rich, so for them its a "postitive", alothough others seem their stingyness as a "negative"




  • By MT2 - I have to ask though, MeditationMom, the way you put it, it sounds nearly like you're saying (rf to the Sun cancer/food growth) that we have our negative sides along with our positive sides but if we have a pure mind we must go on with our lives and accept that others will, in a sense, have to put up with us as we we are regardless?

    Whichever way you are, Hitler or Buddha, people either put up with you, or they don't. They do have the freedom to choose. Whether you are all negative, half negative/half positive, or all positive - people decide for their own reasons whether to put up with you or not.

    Even if we were all positive (which we may or not may not achieve in a lifetime) - but lets imagine we were to rise to the level of Buddha or Jesus - as close to "all positive" as we can imagine - this still will hurt people. Men abandoned their wives and children to follow these teachers, religions sprung up that caused millions of deaths, etc, etc. So there is no reason to try to become "all positive" out of compassion for others. Just like there is no reason to try to become "all positive" for oneself if it requires a ton of self denial and sacrifice.

    To become "all positive", and infinitely compassionate, is a simple byproduct of total relaxation. Total relaxation means relaxing all fears and all desires, not just in meditation, but in everyday life with all its responsibilities.




  • Even if we were all positive (which we may or not may not achieve in a lifetime) - but lets imagine we were to rise to the level of Buddha or Jesus - as close to "all positive" as we can imagine - this still will hurt people. Men abandoned their wives and children to follow these teachers, religions sprung up that caused millions of deaths, etc, etc. So there is no reason to try to become "all positive" out of compassion for others. Just like there is no reason to try to become "all positive" for oneself if it requires a ton of self denial and sacrifice.

    To become "all positive", and infinitely compassionate, is a simple byproduct of total relaxation. Total relaxation means relaxing all fears and all desires, not just in meditation, but in everyday life with all its responsibilities.

    Millions of deaths occurred (are occurring) because people failed to rally around great people like Christ. It's about time people started becoming like these great people.
    You say one should not bother trying this if it requires a lot of sacrifice, but that is selfish atiitude, he is refusing to do something because he wants an "easy" life, material comforts etc. It is the wrong attitude, that I will leave it up to someone else, or, I won't bother standing up for what is right because my life would be in danger. These are the things that are messing up the World.


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  • You misunderstand me, Four-Too. The only way to stand up to injustice and all kinds of things in the world that are wrong, and to do so effectively, is in a totally relaxed and fearless way, and without any personal desires. Just like people like Jesus.

    I did not say to "not bother" so one can enjoy "an easy life". I said - don't have a reason. Reasons will betray you. Wars always have reasons, peace doesn't need a reason.




  • considering the forum we're discussing in, I'm going to add, people like Siddhartha Gautama.




  • by odinleln - considering the forum we're discussing in, I'm going to add, people like Siddhartha Gautama.

    Yes, of course. To me Jesus and Buddha are the same. Pure compassion.




  • Hello again all,

    Well that was a really interesting read and very instructive.

    Thanks a mil for your thoughts and opinions!

    MT




  • I thought I'd add a bit to what odinreln said about karma and the dualistic view of self. This maybe relates also to what MeditationMom said about going beyond dualistic concepts.

    Selfish = thinking of oneself. As long as we see ourselves as a separate self and the world as something out there, we will always be thinking about ourselves and all our activities will have some bit of selfishness about them. Karma gives rise to the way we perceive ourselves and our world: due to the way we perceived and acted in the past, our current perceptions arise as a result and then we have a tendency to act habitually, as we did before, in a self-centred way. Thus we lay down the seeds of future perceptions and actions. Karma is the summation of this dualistic, ego based view of a self and other. Every moment that we perceive and act in a dualistic way we are experiencing old karma and creating new karma reinforcing the view of self and other.

    From the Mahayana viewpoint, our fundamental buddha-nature is pure infinite wisdom and compassion but this has been obscured due to our karma. This is called ignorance. If we let go of the false duality of self and other, we find this compassionate nature already present. Letting go requires that we actively work on our perceptions and actions to slowly overcome the grasping at a self. Meditation and positive actions done with good motivation are the tools to loosen the the false dualistic view. When self-centredness has been sufficiently weakened, then our perception is completely transformed and the wisdom and compassion of our true nature naturally arise. We would then be completely free of self-centredness and all our thoughts and actions would be solely focused on the benefit of all sentient beings.

    Our motivation in carrying out actions is said to be key to the action being truly positive. If the motivation is solely out of concern for the benefit of others then this is a very positive action. If one also has the view of the illusoriness of self, other and activity then it becomes an infinitely positive action. However, as long as we perceive ourselves as separate we need also to care for ourselves since we could regret an action which benefits others while hurting ourselves. The positivity of the action could be reduced or destroyed through regretting it.

    Meditation helps us to let go of grasping so that then we can naturally act positively without the grasping and our actions become truely beneficial for all beings. As grasping reduces, the thoughts of "I'm doing this for myself" or "I'm doing this for them" reduce while the positivity increases.




  • I was just now reminded of another important aspect of positive action - dedication. The "Three Noble Principles" of correct Motivation, View and Dedication make an action infinitely positive. Without them, the action will bring some positive result for you in the future but the karma of it will fade away. With these Three Noble Principles, the positivity multiplies and is never exhausted. You begin with motivation before the action, making the aspiration that the action will bring limitless benefit to limitless numbers of sentient beings. Then, as you do the action bring the view of the illusoriness of oneself, the action, and those for whom the action is undertaken. Finally, dedicate the positivity of the action to the benefit of all sentient beings, giving it away entirely so that you have no wish for personal gain from it. You give it to the buddhas to add to their ocean of merit. In this way, even the tiniest act becomes a very powerful cause for enlightenment of all beings.




  • When you breathe it benefits you, but doesn't really benefit anyone else much. Should you not breathe?




  • Try it for a minute (not longer) and see how you feel about it. You'll probably find that you very much want to continue breathing. I did mention above that you shouldn't do something which hurts you, is of no benefit to anyone and which you would regret.
    Breathing allows you to continue living. As long as you live, you have the opportunity to develop more understanding of the world so that might be a good thing.




  • Talliesin wrote: »
    When you breathe it benefits you, but doesn't really benefit anyone else much. Should you not breathe?


    How does it not benefit anyone else?


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