View Full Version : Collective Karma & the Universe Question

11 Mar 10, 23:12
Hello. I'm new here and hoping to get clarification regarding collective karma.

I know the 8th consciousness or alayavijnana is where individual karmic seeds are stored but is this also where collective karmic imprints are stored?

Also what about the collective karmic imprints on the level of the universe itself? My understanding is the universe comes into being from the ripening of the collective karmic imprints of huge numbers of sentient beings with the propensity to inhabit this particular type of universe.

One last question. Can someone please explain how our karmic imprints work in forming the mental images in our minds which we mistake for the external world of form? Is that collective karma as well? I am aware of the sense faculties and sense consciousnesses but needed clarification in just how they are all working together to form these mental images. i.e. Vibrations, light and color combined with karmic imprints to form a mental image?


11 Mar 10, 23:51
Hi followingthepath - and welcome to the group ! Are you a Tibetan Buddhist practitioner? We have a New Member chat thread for introductions.

The eighth consciousness is a Mahayana/Vajrayana concept. As far as I know there are six consciousnesses mentioned in Theravada and no mention from Lord Buddha in the Pali Canon about an eighth consciousness. It's therefore worth noting that your questions might be viewed differently by the various traditions.

From a Vajrayana prespective, to quote the late Kalu Rinpoche from ''The Dharma'':

"The eighth consciousness is the Basic Consciousness. It is called this because it is the basis, the ground that holds the seeds...the skhandas, ayatanas, dhatus, and so forth. In clear awareness, the basis of the mind, occur all the places in the 6 realms, external objects, the bodies we inhabit in each. All the karmic seeds for taking birth in these realms are held by Basic Consciousness and so it is called the 'taking consciousness'. All these different places, bodies, and objects are like appearances in a dream, or images in a mirror. Although they are 'mere appearance', without any ultimate reality, they are planted by habit and sustained by Basic Consciousness. Thus it is also called the 'ripening consciousness'. By and large, the different terms sem, yi and nam she have the same referent. But more specifically, sem connotes the basic consciousness and yi the emotionally afflicted consciousness while nam refers to the collection of the six consciousnesses."

In general I think the 3 articles on karma at this website below called 'Karma', 'Karma and Growth,' and 'Karma Doesn't Explain Anything' will be useful to you.( The author Ken Mcleod was a pupil of the late Kalu Rinpoche mentioned above)

URL (http://unfetteredmind.org/articles/index.php)

Kind regards,



12 Mar 10, 02:58
from post #1

It sounds like a very interesting question,and l hope you will get many interesting and insightful replies

12 Mar 10, 03:44
One canonical source:

Other Commentarial works:
http://www.berzinarchives.com/web/en/archives/sutra/level2_lamrim/init ial_scope/karma/questions_collective_karma.html (http://www.berzinarchives.com/web/en/archives/sutra/level2_lamrim/initial_scope/karma/questions_collective_karma.html)

The universe that we inhabit and our shared perception of it are the results of a common karma.
Likewise, the places that we will experience in future rebirths will be the outcome of the karma that we share with the other beings living there.
The actions of each of us, human or nonhuman, have contributed to the world in which we live.
We all have a common responsibility for our world and are connected with everything in it.
~His Holiness The 14th Dalai Lama

13 Mar 10, 01:44
Thank you for the kind and helpful responses. I am slowly looking through the references cited in your replies. Alex Berzin's explanation via the Kalacakra of collective karma and how innumerable universes come into being, endure and then distintegrate sheds a light on things for me. I could not figure out how when this particular universe we all "inhabit" disintegrated and went into dormancy, our collective karma could serve as the impetus for it coming into existence again. i.e. Where did we go when the universe dissolves? It seems we inhabit other universes which are in still in existence while this one returns to the cocoon stage so to speak.

I assume the shared collective karma from plwk's citation of the quote from the Dalai Lama is stored in our 8th consciousness along with our individual karma.

Dazzle, thanks for the link to Ken McLeod's articles. I will look at them as well. I am familiar with McLeod as the voice of a number of Buddhist books in audio format. Did not know he was a student of Kalu Rinpoche, though. Never had the opportunity to meet or know Kalu Rinpoche but from reading a book by him and just seeing his picture, I felt a deep connection.

13 Mar 10, 01:55
Likewise, the places that we will experience in future rebirths will be the outcome of the karma that we share with the other beings living <u>there</u>.

"There or here?

13 Mar 10, 07:15
"There or here?
I checked others, it's 'there'...

13 Mar 10, 07:24
"The universe that we inhabit and our shared perception of it are the results of a common karma. Likewise, the places that we will experience in future rebirths will be the outcome of the karma that we share with the other beings living <u>there</u>."

Ok where is "there"? because to me this sounds like something dragged from the "future".
Not sure how this works,anybody got any ideas?

13 Mar 10, 07:29
Can be anywhere in the 6 realms, where our rebirth takes place..

13 Mar 10, 09:16
from post #9

Ok this may be clear,thanks.

13 Apr 10, 05:12
Thought this was worth posting