Author Topic: Secular Karma  (Read 877 times)

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Offline Mr. Beagle

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Re: Secular Karma
« Reply #15 on: April 20, 2017, 10:33:19 AM »
Correct me if I am wrong, but is not the Buddhist concept of Karma an adaptation from earlier Hindu conceptions? In my understanding, Hindu Karma gets more into reincarnation, where it may take your next life to see Karma's effects.

Like much/most of Christian theology (after many years of my study), Karma is, to me, like one of Lewis Carroll's "Humpty Dumpty" words, in which it means whatever I want it to mean.

http://sabian.org/looking_glass6.php

Quote
'When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, 'it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.'
'The question is,' said Alice, 'whether you can make words mean so many different things.'
'The question is,' said Humpty Dumpty, 'which is to be master — that's all.'

(I did not mean that as a slam - simply an observation of my Christian mentors.)

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Offline Johnny Slick

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Re: Secular Karma
« Reply #16 on: April 20, 2017, 12:29:22 PM »
This idea has no relation to Karma as understood and practiced by traditional Buddhists.

This version is a very "western" way of thinking of it, more like good deeds and sin. Karma is simply the practice to cease suffering. Nothing about it suggests it balances anything, and nothing good is supposed to come of doing good. The end benefit is enlightenment. Outside randomness isn't anything more or less special than human acts.

To try to put it briefly, by practicing compassion you attempt to lessen suffering. All karmic lines can be ended by compassion towards suffering. You cannot just go out into the world and end others' karmic lines, but you can end them when they pass to you.
If a dog bites a mailman (randomness), and this pisses off the mailman and he shreds important mail for the homeowner, who then becomes angered and slaps his kid for a minor offense, and that kid comes to your classroom and disrupts the class because he was slapped by his father, you now have the choice to find compassion for the child to help lessen suffering by the very least of not acting it out and passing it on, and even perhaps by not making things worse for the child, who could then enrage his father and mother all over again and on and on... you can see it spiral out. Your own attachment to things can cause this suffering. If your ego is bruised you will likely act in a shitty manner to someone else and they then have the choice to get pissed and be shitty, or to end that karmic line in themself and not pass it on.

If you do not incorporate the practice of compassion to end suffering, then you're not actually talking about karma, you're discussing some other concept of a positive energy bank.

And yes, I think karma can be perceived secularly, but not with the end point being some kind of nirvana, though I could argue a person who can end suffering is enlightened.  :laugh:
This is actually really fascinating, more in line with what I think of as karma, although I kind of always thought I was silently co-opting the word to mean what I preferred it to mean. There was a website made by a guy about zen freeway driving a few years ago that gets at this as well: basically his philosophy was that no matter what the conditions of the road were, *he* was going to be the person who didn't tailgate, who let people in on merges, and so on. In there he made the claim that just by doing this he actually *did* see results from this on the road: the ripple effect from one person trying to end suffering sometimes led to rather quick results.

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Speak what you think now in hard words, and to-morrow speak what to-morrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said to-day.

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Offline The Latinist

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Re: Secular Karma
« Reply #17 on: April 20, 2017, 03:28:11 PM »
The true nature of the concept of Karma in Buddhist/Hindu thought, while interesting, is pretty much irrelevant to this discussion, in my opinion. The OP was obviously using Karma in the way most Westerners use the term: as a shorthand for the idea that good things happen to those who do good while bad things happen to those who do bad.  I don't think anyone here had any trouble understanding what he meant, especially as he clearly explained it in his post.  This is the kind of pedantry that really irks me, because it has nothing to do with the topic at hand.
I would like to propose...that...it is undesirable to believe in a proposition when there is no ground whatever for supposing it true. — Bertrand Russell

Offline superdave

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Re: Secular Karma
« Reply #18 on: April 20, 2017, 03:50:16 PM »
The true nature of the concept of Karma in Buddhist/Hindu thought, while interesting, is pretty much irrelevant to this discussion, in my opinion. The OP was obviously using Karma in the way most Westerners use the term: as a shorthand for the idea that good things happen to those who do good while bad things happen to those who do bad.  I don't think anyone here had any trouble understanding what he meant, especially as he clearly explained it in his post.  This is the kind of pedantry that really irks me, because it has nothing to do with the topic at hand.

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Offline arthwollipot

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Re: Secular Karma
« Reply #19 on: April 20, 2017, 09:38:20 PM »
I see absolutely no reason for this to be true.
The world does not care how good you are, it cares what you can give it. Or rather what you are seen to give it.
The world does not care, but people do.

If you are nice to people, there is more of a chance that people will be nice back. If you are nasty to people, then they will be less inclined to be nice to you.

You could phrase this as "what goes around comes around" if you like. But it's pretty disconnected from the religious/spiritual idea of karma.

Offline Henning

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Re: Secular Karma
« Reply #20 on: April 20, 2017, 09:50:56 PM »
I had an IRL discussion today that was relevant to this.

In the case of Bill O'reilly finally getting taken off the air:
-my "no worries, man" friend is happy to attribute his come-uppance to Karma. See? Just give it time and the bad guy will get what's coming to him. They can't help going too far, getting too greedy. As if the universe is fair and we just have to sit back and wait for it to dole out justice. Fuck that idea of Karma.
-my 'Bert friend is happy to attribute his come-uppance to the invisible hand of the market. Advertisers withdrew from his show, FOX listens to money, eventually the market punished the bad guy. Fuck that. Far too slowly and inadequately. He gets to stay rich, losing a job is less than a slap on the wrist.
-I said... both these invisible force ideas don't appear to take into account that WE are responsible for shaping the social environment that delivers whatever justice there is. By nature the universe is random, and it takes work to enforce karma or move the invisible hand. Our work.

We are Karma, bitch.
Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. --Voltaire
That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence. -- Hitchens.

Offline Gerbig

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Re: Secular Karma
« Reply #21 on: April 20, 2017, 10:12:14 PM »
I think life is too random and arbitrary for generally nice people to be rewarded because if their niceness
Ditto for generally not nice people being punished for being not nice.

Its true in some circumstances, but not enough for it to be a general rule about life.

Offline The Latinist

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Re: Secular Karma
« Reply #22 on: April 20, 2017, 10:22:08 PM »
You all seem to think the world of social interactions is a lot more random than it has ever appeared to me.
I would like to propose...that...it is undesirable to believe in a proposition when there is no ground whatever for supposing it true. — Bertrand Russell

Offline arthwollipot

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Re: Secular Karma
« Reply #23 on: April 20, 2017, 10:30:54 PM »
You all seem to think the world of social interactions is a lot more random than it has ever appeared to me.
Ditto.

As I said, the world might not care if you're nice, but people do. And it's interactions with people that matter.

That said, if you throw trash all over your house, you get to live in a house full of trash. That will cause problems for you later, but it's not the world getting back at you because you're nasty to it, it's just a physical consequence of your decision.

Offline Caffiene

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Re: Secular Karma
« Reply #24 on: April 20, 2017, 11:47:35 PM »
You all seem to think the world of social interactions is a lot more random than it has ever appeared to me.
Ditto.

As I said, the world might not care if you're nice, but people do. And it's interactions with people that matter.

Yeahhhh... I think people have positive feelings about people who are nice to them, but im pessimistic that those nice feelings carry over into interactions enough to change the outcome in many cases.

Many people in the middle of the spectrum are selfish enough that they simply ignore social "obligations" such as favours and karma - they will only be kind to the extent that there is no sacrifice or effort on their part, which mostly includes only interactions that would already be positive regardless of previous "karmic" acts. And for those who do genuinely repay kindness im not sure that it outweighs the other end of the scale - the malignant personalities who will actively take advantage of kindness.

I dont know that being good is a detriment, but Im also not sure that it benefits interactions enough to be noticeable above the background noise of the types of people who you randomly happen to interact with.
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Offline Jeremy's Sea

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Re: Secular Karma
« Reply #25 on: April 21, 2017, 12:47:42 AM »
The true nature of the concept of Karma in Buddhist/Hindu thought, while interesting, is pretty much irrelevant to this discussion, in my opinion. The OP was obviously using Karma in the way most Westerners use the term: as a shorthand for the idea that good things happen to those who do good while bad things happen to those who do bad.  I don't think anyone here had any trouble understanding what he meant, especially as he clearly explained it in his post.  This is the kind of pedantry that really irks me, because it has nothing to do with the topic at hand.
omg lol you of anyone is going to pull the pedantry card and actually give leeway on the usage of a word... holy shit, I can't believe it.
I mean fuck me for providing clarity to or nuance right?
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Offline arthwollipot

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Re: Secular Karma
« Reply #26 on: April 21, 2017, 02:13:25 AM »
You all seem to think the world of social interactions is a lot more random than it has ever appeared to me.
Ditto.

As I said, the world might not care if you're nice, but people do. And it's interactions with people that matter.

Yeahhhh... I think people have positive feelings about people who are nice to them, but im pessimistic that those nice feelings carry over into interactions enough to change the outcome in many cases.

Many people in the middle of the spectrum are selfish enough that they simply ignore social "obligations" such as favours and karma - they will only be kind to the extent that there is no sacrifice or effort on their part, which mostly includes only interactions that would already be positive regardless of previous "karmic" acts. And for those who do genuinely repay kindness im not sure that it outweighs the other end of the scale - the malignant personalities who will actively take advantage of kindness.

I dont know that being good is a detriment, but Im also not sure that it benefits interactions enough to be noticeable above the background noise of the types of people who you randomly happen to interact with.

Put it this way. If you're nasty to someone, they're going to remember it. They're going to tell other people that you were nasty to them. And the next time you interact with that person, that's going to affect the interaction.

People might not notice if you're being good to them, but they'll definitely notice if you're being nasty.

Offline The Latinist

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Re: Secular Karma
« Reply #27 on: April 21, 2017, 08:16:56 AM »
The true nature of the concept of Karma in Buddhist/Hindu thought, while interesting, is pretty much irrelevant to this discussion, in my opinion. The OP was obviously using Karma in the way most Westerners use the term: as a shorthand for the idea that good things happen to those who do good while bad things happen to those who do bad.  I don't think anyone here had any trouble understanding what he meant, especially as he clearly explained it in his post.  This is the kind of pedantry that really irks me, because it has nothing to do with the topic at hand.
omg lol you of anyone is going to pull the pedantry card and actually give leeway on the usage of a word... holy shit, I can't believe it.
I mean fuck me for providing clarity to or nuance right?

I believe that I am very careful to limit my pedantry to distinctions that actually affect clarity of expression or that are directly related to the topic at hand.  Do you really think anyone failed to understand what superdave was saying in his original post or what anyone else was saying in their subsequent posts?  I did not say that I do not appreciate pedantry; I said that I do not appreciate this kind of pedantry.
« Last Edit: April 21, 2017, 08:21:49 AM by The Latinist »
I would like to propose...that...it is undesirable to believe in a proposition when there is no ground whatever for supposing it true. — Bertrand Russell

Offline superdave

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Re: Secular Karma
« Reply #28 on: April 21, 2017, 11:01:33 AM »
The true nature of the concept of Karma in Buddhist/Hindu thought, while interesting, is pretty much irrelevant to this discussion, in my opinion. The OP was obviously using Karma in the way most Westerners use the term: as a shorthand for the idea that good things happen to those who do good while bad things happen to those who do bad.  I don't think anyone here had any trouble understanding what he meant, especially as he clearly explained it in his post.  This is the kind of pedantry that really irks me, because it has nothing to do with the topic at hand.
omg lol you of anyone is going to pull the pedantry card and actually give leeway on the usage of a word... holy shit, I can't believe it.
I mean fuck me for providing clarity to or nuance right?

I believe that I am very careful to limit my pedantry to distinctions that actually affect clarity of expression or that are directly related to the topic at hand.  Do you really think anyone failed to understand what superdave was saying in his original post or what anyone else was saying in their subsequent posts?  I did not say that I do not appreciate pedantry; I said that I do not appreciate this kind of pedantry.

yeah this.  While I may not have used the best word, my intended meaning was clear.  I apologize to practitioners of Buddhism for using the word incorrectly. 

Offline Nosmas

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Re: Secular Karma
« Reply #29 on: April 21, 2017, 01:29:23 PM »
I think it's true barring supernatural factors. So I believe good deeds done increases the chance of you being on the receiving end of good deeds from others. The same is true for harmful actions. It's not guaranteed though. I do not believe that things that happen to you are necessarily the result of some other things you did previously.

I don't think there's anything controversial about this other than to what degree the chances of doing good/bad things effects the chance of those choices impacting you later in life.
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