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Karma in Buddhism relates to will, volition, intention
November 28th, 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 (past-looking) as well as goals (future-looking)!

Karmic continuation (II)

Assume I believe that 'discrimination' is a key to happiness. If I care about families, I will transmit this belief around and one or two generations down, by providing appropriate toys and feedback. For example, I'll gladly provide shape-sorter toys and tactile play mats for babies, or jigsaw puzzles and artistic / cultural activities for older children… I'll also discriminate the stories others should hear, and insist that these are 'right' and the (unknown) rest is 'wrong,' i.e. that "discrimination matters."

I will also promote higher education, which ultimately comes down to learning finer vocabularies and finer discriminations (with sub-categories, specific 'rules,' exceptions, etc.). I might even contribute and create new toys and new educational tools! I might try and convince youngsters to keep studying, by discriminating life-long prospects (based on discriminating academic achievements).

— The old body ceases: I die, the environment does not. —

An education system does not die easily: for starters, it provides childcare with good conscience! Moreover, memes perpetuate themselves, to the point that they interfere with evolution (dangerously big heads at birth —dangerous for the mother in childbirth, and too heavy for the baby's neck— are only justified by the increased survival rate later in life… thanks to the efficacy of mnemes and memes).

Most people agree that finer discrimination "cannot hurt," and that the more education in distinguishing right from wrong, the better… Sometimes the interpretation is 'wide' (e.g. favouring access to various cultures, multiple languages, several 'fields' of knowledge), sometimes the interpretation is 'narrow' (e.g. favouring the knowledge of 'everything' in relation to only one particular Holy Book), but most people agree that "more tools" (of the 'right' kind) are an advantage. In itself, this is a mental fabrication too though, linked to the belief that "more is better" (in spite of explicit warnings by spiritual leaders against this view, be it about material or spiritual achievements).

— A new body arises. —

In my new body, I will likely receive gifts and education in line with what I de facto promoted in my previous life. The more widespread the ideas I promoted have become, the more I could "make a living" on these ideas, and the more the ideas were ingrained in me and a 'fundamental' part of my sense of identity. Moreover, the more widespread the ideas have become, the more likely my parents in the new life will use these fashionable ideas during my formative years. That is to say, the more the idea defined me in the previous life, the more it will define me in this life.

However, even if my former mental fabrications were not very 'successful,' I clung to them within some minority group; so I implicitly favoured a society which supports some diversity of thought. It may have been in the form of a tolerant society or of entrenched factions constantly struggling for power. Whatever the form I de facto promoted (in order to cling to my own values), I'm likely to pay the consequences of it: maybe I'll be reborn in an ignorant family (because I earlier promoted a society where "free speech" was interpreted to let ignorance be undisputed, and claims unchecked) or maybe I'll be born into an educated family suffering from exclusion by a less-educated majority… If I favoured wholesome tolerance, and inclusion and consideration of others, this will help make the world more welcoming for any new life. If I favoured intolerant ignorance and 'acceptable' clinging (maybe justified by a sweet-sounding 'respect', but in reality justified by fear of conflict and without compassion for the victims of intolerance), this will help make the world more dangerous and violent for any new life… Obviously, in my new life, I will be told "this is the way it is." But I will also merely 'appropriate' ('inherit' and 'perpetuate') the consequences of previous behaviour, via the impact it had on the environment. For starters, I will perpetuate the idea that "more is better"…

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

Clinging to discrimination (be it philosophical notions, scientific theories, or racism…) favours a rebirth surrounded by discrimination, again and again, until one learns that this attachment does not provide lasting satisfaction.
#Buddhism   #Dharma   #karma   #buddhistcircle  
[ image from ]
The previous "karmic continuation" modern example is available at