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Karma in Buddhism relates to will, volition, intention
December 7th, 2012 (December 8th, 2012)

illustration (attribution, if any possible, is at the end of the article)

Karma in Buddhism relates to will, volition, intention… It relates to habits and mental fabrications (used as 'rationales' behind specific volitions), the so-called 'knowledge,' 'references,' 'education' ('endoctrinement'), 'values,' 'beliefs,' "long-lasting feelings"… i.e. 'reasons': explanations, which are looking to the past, as well as goals, which are looking to the future!

Karmic continuation (III) — two readings of the Samaññaphala Sutta exhibiting how the next karmic 'life' is in continuity with the previous 'life' without it necessarily requiring a Self or a Person, but only an environment shaped by previous acts.

First reading, DURING ONE'S LIFE:

Ajātasattu was the son of King Bimbisāra of Magadha, one of the Buddha's earliest followers. Urged on by Devadatta —the Buddha's cousin, who wished to use Ajātasattu's support in his bid to take over the Buddha's position as head of the Saṅgha!— Ajātasattu arranged for his father's death so that he could secure his own position on the throne.

— The ruthless Ajātasattu 'ceases' and now seeks relief from remorse: —

King Ajātasattu (…) was sitting on the roof terrace of his palace surrounded by his ministers. Then he felt inspired to exclaim: "How wonderful is this moonlit night! How beautiful… How lovely… How inspiring… How auspicious is this moonlit night! What brahman or contemplative should we visit tonight who might enlighten and bring peace to our mind? (…) Friend Jivaka, why are you silent?"

"Your majesty, there is the Blessed One, worthy and rightly self-awakened, staying in my mango grove with a large community of monks — 1,250 monks in all. Concerning this Blessed One, this admirable report has been spread: 'Surely, the Blessed One is worthy and rightly self-awakened, consummate in clear knowing and conduct, well-gone, an expert with regard to the cosmos, unexcelled trainer of tamable people, teacher of beings human and divine, awakened, blessed.' Your majesty should visit him. Perhaps, if you visited him, he would enlighten and bring peace to your mind."

"Then in that case, friend Jivaka, have the riding elephants prepared." (…)

— A 'new' Ajātasattu 'arises', fearful: —

Then the king (…) set out from the capital in full royal state (…) headed for Jivaka Komārabhacca's mango grove. But when the king was not far from the mango grove, he was gripped with fear, trepidation, his hair standing on end.

Fearful, agitated, his hair standing on end, he said to Jivaka Komārabhacca: "Friend Jivaka, you aren't deceiving me, are you? You aren't betraying me, are you? You aren't turning me over to my enemies, are you? How can there be such a large community of monks —1,250 in all— with no sound of sneezing, no sound of coughing, no voices at all?"

"Don't be afraid, great king. Don't be afraid. I'm not deceiving you or betraying you or turning you over to your enemies. Go forward, great king, go forward! Those are lamps burning in the pavilion hall."

'Values' from an old body passed onto a new body: the 'I' shaped an environment, which later re-created the 'I'. —

The greed that led to the parricide (justified by selfish unwholesome desire) was an expression of ignorance, which binds one in cyclic saṃsāra.

The same ignorance later makes the king imagine himself surrounded by enemies (notably when he reaches the Saṅgha that his father supported). The serenity and happiness of the community is thus interpreted as a danger and a threat to the king's own happiness. In fact, the silence expressed the perfect mastery of the disciples of the Buddha but, having himself legitimised violence and murder by his previous act, the king now experiences 'his' world as dangerous and unsafe. He truly planted the seed of his unhappiness in this very life!

Second reading, THROUGH REBIRTH:

Ajātasattu was the son of King Bimbisāra of Magadha, one of the Buddha's earliest followers. Ajātasattu arranged for his father's death so that he could secure his own position on the throne.

As a result of this evil deed, Ajātasattu was destined to be killed by his own son Udāyibhadda (who was greedy for his kingdom)! The psychological unrest and paranoia of Ajātasattu was thus not only 'deserved' but also 'reasonable,' as he himself legitimised violence in accession to power: he caused his life to be miserable and only collected his karmic due.

— The old body ceases, the environment does not. —

After the meeting in the mango grove, the Buddha declared: "Had [King Ajātasattu] not killed his father —that righteous man, that righteous king— the dustless, stainless Dhamma eye would have arisen to him as he sat in this very seat."

Despite of the clear instruction of the "fruits of the contemplative life," Ajātasattu did not benefit as much as he could have, if his mind had been pacified and without fear.

Udāyibhadda will naturally prove just as paranoid as his father, for the same reason. Not only the environment carries stories (of Ajātasattu and Udāyibhadda, thus conditioning the next generations to consider violence 'normal' for 'winners') but also the environment suffers from the paranoia of any king: military controls, high military costs hence high taxes, 'preventative' wars…

— A new body arises. —

As a result of the parricide, Ajātasattu was also destined to take immediate rebirth (for 60,000 years) in one of the lowest regions of Hell, the 'Lohakumbhiya.'

'Values' from an old body passed onto a new body: the 'I' shaped an environment, which later re-created the 'I'. —

It is not hard to imagine any life now having to live in some sort of 'Hell' as the result of violence being seen as a 'legitimate' accession to power: as long as people will remember the story of this king, violence, wars, fear, paranoia and intrigues will pollute minds and 'justify' unwholesome behaviours.

Hell in Buddhism is where people are repeatedly cut into pieces, revived and cut again, i.e. simply a world of violence under Udāyibhadda: whatever the next life of Ajātasattu, it will be in some 'Hell' (cosmological or metaphorical)!

#Buddhism   #Dharma   #karma   #buddhistcircle  
[Photo: Damir Sagolj (Reuters) — Thai soldiers check under the robes of a Buddhist monk, May 2010]
The previous "karmic continuation" modern examples are available at (I) and (II)

Full sutta of "the fruits of the contemplative life" (Dīgha Nikāya, 2):