Buddhist Doctrine of Karma

1643 WordsApr 30, 20017 Pages
The Buddhist doctrine of karma ("deeds", "actions"), and the closely related doctrine of rebirth, are perhaps the best known, and often the least understood, of Buddhist doctrines. The matter is complicated by the fact that the other Indian religious traditions of Hinduism and Jainism have their own theories of Karma and Reincarnation. It is in fact the Hindu versions that are better known in the West. The Buddhist theory of karma and rebirth are quite distinct from their other Indian counterparts. In Buddhism the law of karma is the moral law of causation - good actions give good results and vice versa. It is the quality of an act, which determines its consequences. But what determines the karmic quality of a deed? In Hinduism it is the…show more content…
To understand the Buddha's reply we have to investigate the criteria, which establish personal identity. Is the child the same as the adult it later becomes? In the Buddhist sense we are making two observations at two points of time in a constantly changing psychophysical entity. For legal and conventional purposes some arbitrary criteria are used, such as physical continuity over time, or the retention of memory. These define only a conventional person. Just as it is a conventional or "fictional" person who lasts continuously from birth to death, so it is just such a conventional person who persists from one life to another. In the Buddhist view of rebirth the only links between two successive lives is the karmic residue carried over and an element of consciousness, called the re-linking consciousness: (paisandhi viññâna), which momentarily links the two lives. In Buddhism there is no conception of a transmigrating soul which inhabits successive material bodies until it unites with God. Buddhism uses the Pali term sasâra to denote the "round of births" in various planes of existence governed by the law of karma. The acceptance of the validity of the hypothesis of sasâra is very difficult for some people, while for others it is the most natural of hypotheses. Some features of the observable world suggest it. In the Culakammavibhanga Sutta the Buddha is asked: "What is the reason and the

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