View Full Version : Karma of cities and the world

26 Feb 11, 18:15
I read somewhere that karma applies not just to each individual but in fact to whole villages, cities etc. Does that mean it applies to the earth as a whole?

I suppose what my mind is dwelling on for the moment is how much evil there is at any given time. What does this mean for human-kind in terms of collective karma?

I just want some basic clarification please.

26 Feb 11, 18:50
Milly, it may be that what you read about karma is incorrect. There is a lot of misinformation around.

I don't think anyone can give you clarification about karma. Ask 5 people and you'll get 6 or 7 different opinions.

There may be no universally-accepted definition of karma within Buddhism. Some say it's the law of cause and effect, others translate the word karma (or kamma) as 'action'.

Nowhere (to my knowledge) is there a central accounting-house that weighs up good and bad karma and deals it out to those who deserve it.

You are thinking about how much evil there is in the world, but think again: the amount of evil that you see depends entirely on what you consider to be evil. How much you see depends on where you draw the line between good and evil.

The only things you control are your actions in the present lifetime. That's where you can make the right choices, based on your personal ethics.

Wondering whether it will lead to "good" or "bad" karma is pure speculation, and concerns of global karma takes you to realms that are not provable and are unknowable.


26 Feb 11, 20:04
Dear WS

I remember now where I saw it. In 'The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying' by Sogyal Rinpoche, 1992 edition, on page 92.

It said "There are many different kinds of karma; international karma, national karma, the karma of a city and individual karma. All are intricately interrelated and only understood in their full complexity by an enlightened being".

It makes sense to me, that all that we individually do affects collective behaviour too. Every action has a result. In my view certain things are universally good or bad e.g. killing or harming other living things.

26 Feb 11, 21:24
Hi Milly

I suppose there are forms of 'collective karma' (although they may not be 'guarranteed').

For example, if one nation does harm to another nation then that nation may experience repercussions.

Terrorism is generally an example of the result of collective karma.

A disempowered individual person may feel the actions of a certain nation are wrong therefore that individual performs a random act, like setting off a bomb in a shopping centre.

War is often the result of percieved 'collective karma' but often those injured in war are not the perpetrators of the karma.

Common men generally fight, are mamed & killed in wars for the ruling & economic elites that start them.

Kind regards


26 Feb 11, 22:15
Element's posting goes a lot further towards answering Milly's question than my ramblings could.

But Milly, now that you have given me the source of what you read . . .

"There are many different kinds of karma; international karma, national karma, the karma of a city and individual karma. All are intricately interrelated and only understood in their full complexity by an enlightened being".

. . . perhaps it is sufficient to regard it as something we will never fully understand in our present state?

26 Feb 11, 23:20
Cities, countries, they all have governments. Rules. Traditions. Ways of thinking and acting, the same as a single mind, and as such represent skillful and unskillful karma. If they have a trend of acting in a certain way, that's how they will be predisposed to act!

Atta/Self is not just a single human mind immersed in ignorance, it can also be applied to any aggregation that clings to itself, even an aggregate of humans with their traditions, rules and collective world-view.

27 Feb 11, 17:55
Very interesting answers. It is a logical thing is karma, to me. I want to find out more about it as time goes on.

27 Feb 11, 21:18
I would be careful of taking what you read to be the truth. Do you recall where you read this? I imagine collective actions though made up of individuals have an effect that follows the law of dependent origination (think of climate change and the totality of human involvement in it as an example). But in the end, it seems to me, the Buddha was concerned about the ethical interaction and relationship of the individual as made up of the aggregates to the world at large. Millyone, what you refer to seems to be a kind of collective type responsibility much akin to what in Christianity is called orginal sin. I don't see it in my understanding of what the Buddha taught, but I am no expert to be sure.

28 Feb 11, 17:02
Dear Devamitta

yes - see a little further up - I read this in 'The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying'. I do see many things as being a collective responsibility indeed.

28 Feb 11, 17:32
Hi Milly,

As you are interested in Tibetan Buddhism you might like to read these short articles "Karma", "Karma and Growth" and "Karma Doesn't Explain Anything" by the American teacher Ken Mcleod, who was a student of the Tibetan scholar and teacher the late Kalu Rinpoche. (from whom I received a number of teachings and Empowerments myself a long time ago)


...and of course as I mentioned in another thread, its worth knowing that irrespective of what anyone else has to say about it, the Lord Buddha said in sutta AN 4.77 'Unconjecturable', that if we spend time trying to work out the results of kamma we'll drive ourselves crazy !


Kind wishes,

A-D :hands:

28 Feb 11, 23:35

That is fantastic, thank you. I have printed it off and will read and think about it.