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Thread: A Big Pot of Merit

  1. #11
    Forums Member
    Join Date
    May 2018
    Hello Woodscooter,

    To comment on your points. I'm pleased you think I'm up the right tree but I'm not sure I haven't dug myself a hole.

    Anyway I think:
    “Self IS the result of past deeds” does invite some speculation on what this “self” might be composed of.
    I think in this context I was referring to the personal experience of “self”, as in the quality of the experience which has resulted from our previous actions. I might try to expand on the idea and post something in due course.

    I think: Karmic deeds can be done in isolation, e.g. thoughts which will affect the mental continuum of the thinker, there is no need for them to directly involve others, as in positive meditational exercises or stewing up hateful thoughts.

    I would understand that: Unintentional harm doesn’t create negative karmic outcomes since they are said to require specific qualities as below:
    (Sorry, again from my notes, paraphrased, without a source, but from a mahayana perspective)

    "Karmic actions are willed and directed activities of body, speech and mind. Karmic outcomes are dependent on motivation or intention which can be defined as virtuous, non-virtuous and neutral. They have effects, the intensity of which is determined by the strength of the motivations behind them. There are three factors which result in a “completed” karmic action:
    -First the preparation which defines the object of the action, the intention to carry out the action, and for a non-virtuous action, the presence of an affliction such as anger, attachment or confusion.
    -Secondly there is the action itself, and
    -Thirdly the completion of the action accompanied by pleasure or satisfaction that the deed was done."

    I understand also that the final satisfaction or pleasure is a key component. If disgust or regret follows the action the karmic result would not be the same or as severe. This indicates a purely personal connection to the action, and therefore a person in isolation could still generate karmic results from their solitary actions." Karma is generated by intention etc, rather than outcome. Perhaps.

    If anyone has other perspectives or definitions please post them.

  2. #12
    Forums Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    Having thought a bit more about merit and karma, there is another interesting 'in' to the subject. If you look behind the science of the brain and mind, whatever we think or do influences both, even to the point of bringing about restructuring of the brain. We can then see merit and karma as the changes which are the result of actions, or even thoughts, we undertake. This would take care of the 'good intentions' part too.

  3. #13
    Technical Administrator woodscooter's Avatar
    London UK

    You are right to follow “Self IS the result of past deeds” with some thought as to what is meant by "self". Even though Buddhism teaches that the self arises from conditioned thought, there is an entity doing the thinking, creating the arising and with a path towards liberation from the self. We may deny the self but cannot deny the entity that creates the image of a self.

    If karma exists, that predicates something exists that is capable of forming an intention and being the receptacle for accumulated karma (or indeed merit).

    That's as far as my tiny brain can go. I'll end by repeating "I hesitate to offer any speculation as to the way in which karma (or kamma) operates."

  4. #14
    Previous Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2018
    It's a troublesome subject for me as well. Actually, I have no trouble w/ it, I just do not see any evidence that it exists, nor see any reason why it should exist. Being Zen, and I think that is just something that suits how I think and behave, not what I believe, merit isn't there. Like Oakland (sorry Oakland), there is no there, there. The minute I think that I am performing a good or helpful act in order to benefit from it, I am far off the path.

  5. #15
    Forums Member Olderon's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    Concord, New Hampshire, U.S.A.
    woodscooter: "I would be very interested to hear from anyone who could give a Buddhist perspective on these thoughts."
    From a karmic perspective, merit and "demerit" can be thought of as beneficial "intentional" actions vs non-beneficial actions. Killing (causing harm) would be an example of non-beneficial actions, and preventing harm is an example of beneficial actions.

    Here is a collection of discussions of Buddhas perspective regarding Kamma from The Suttas:

    Following is an except from the second collection. The whole of the suttas regarding kamma will benefit anyone who wishes to understand kamma and benefit from this understanding.

    The definition
    "Intention, I tell you, is kamma. Intending, one does kamma by way of body, speech, & intellect."

    — AN 6.63

    Taking responsibility for one's actions
    "'I am the owner of my actions (kamma), heir to my actions, born of my actions, related through my actions, and have my actions as my arbitrator. Whatever I do, for good or for evil, to that will I fall heir'...

    "[This is a fact that] one should reflect on often, whether one is a woman or a man, lay or ordained...

    "Now, based on what line of reasoning should one often reflect... that 'I am the owner of my actions (kamma), heir to my actions, born of my actions, related through my actions, and have my actions as my arbitrator. Whatever I do, for good or for evil, to that will I fall heir'? There are beings who conduct themselves in a bad way in body... in speech... and in mind. But when they often reflect on that fact, that bad conduct in body, speech, and mind will either be entirely abandoned or grow weaker...

    "A disciple of the noble ones considers this: 'I am not the only one who is owner of my actions, heir to my actions, born of my actions, related through my actions, and have my actions as my arbitrator; who — whatever I do, for good or for evil, to that will I fall heir. To the extent that there are beings — past and future, passing away and re-arising — all beings are the owner of their actions, heir to their actions, born of their actions, related through their actions, and live dependent on their actions. Whatever they do, for good or for evil, to that will they fall heir.' When he/she often reflects on this, the [factors of the] path take birth. He/she sticks with that path, develops it, cultivates it. As he/she sticks with that path, develops it and cultivates it, the fetters are abandoned, the obsessions destroyed."

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