The Mind Illuminated archive

Motivation for Morality


Q&A: How can we change what happens to us when karma says we only get back exactly what we give?

Master Culadasa discusses what ultimately motivates morality and the limitations of the karmic model as understood by many.

Play the recording below or right click here to save to your computer. (21 Minutes)

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Culadasa: [00:00:00] That's right.

Student: Everything is the result of a past action. Then there's a theory that everything's being done before. Everything you've experienced is already being done before, since you've been here forever. So then how do you have a brand new experience?

Culadasa: What's let's examine the suppositions here behind the question. First of all, the question is that if everything is a result of past sector, I'm not sure how that fits in there, the apartment, but you said various things, the result of past actions then everything's been done before.

Student: Given that you experienced there, result of something you've done before and then not creates like a cycle, then the result comes soon since you've been here forever.

And then you're just going around the same. Roughly, but then suddenly something brand new that's never, ever happened before happens. How is that possible to be a result of a seed, which can only you've come from something which is a habit.

Culadasa: Okay. All right.

How can something new happen? If everything that happens is a result of past actions, or as you said, is the result of a karmic. See? Okay. Let's examine that. Okay. No, there are some assumptions here is assumptions that a

certain kind of relationship between causes and effects, I think, right? Because for something new for there to be a question about something new happening Daniel, there must be some sort of assumption that the only thing that can happen is something that has happened before.

Student: The result is similar to the course in a comic seed ripening, and suddenly there's a moment where something which doesn't contain ignorance.

So it was this opposition

Culadasa: that, that causes and effects are very similar. No, it's similar, but precisely simpler. Okay.

If that were the case, it would be hard to imagine anything happening and that's for sure. But why would we assume that causes in this case, you're talking about karmic causes. Why, where we are. I word we're saying that causes and effects. That similar

Student: if it's not the case, then there's absolutely no reason to keep any ethics because the result has absolutely nothing to do with the, so

Culadasa: the only reason for behaving ethically is that if you do something to me, somebody is going to do exactly the same thing.

Student: No, but it's more in the fundamental side. If you refrain from harming others, then you will experience in lack of harm yourself. Or if you want to have a calm state of mind, then you would deliberately avoid disturbing others minds in order to have a calm state of mind yourself to benefit meditation. So in that way, the result is similar.

Culadasa: I would say it's still very similar to the same thing. You don't harm others so that you won't be harmed because if you did harm others, then you would be harmed and you are respectful of others, mental peace, and calm, so that you'll be able to enjoy the same thing in the future. And you're, but the suggestion.

If it were not for that, there wouldn't be any basis for ethics and morality. That seems to me, that is a gigantic jump.

If that's the only basis for ethics and morality. Then the person for whom it's a basis of ethics and morality must be an incredibly Southcenter [00:05:00] person, pretty much devoid of any sort of empathy or compassion or for other paintings.

Student: No, there's a basic, this is just my view that there's a basic humanity comes in keeping ethics, but in terms of that, The basic humanity is just to be liked or to be able to get along with your fellow beings in the world, which is all around the south.

It's all about my relationship with my world. And so it's all soaked in holding things to be self existence, truly so existed. That may well be a basis for why you keep ethics, but that's not a racist, but I believe he's going to lead you to freedom. Or is it, I'm asking you other, or this is just my theory.

So it seems to me that all that is very much grounded in that holding to herself and holding others to be self existent. And how can that seed lead to the very opposite of average is experiencing the fiber. There is selflessness things don't have

Culadasa: inherent.

Okay. There's a lot home. I'm trying to find for myself a nice beginning point thread that we can follow it. And I said, he's a really good question. So I'm glad you brought this up. And hopefully. A place to start with, but okay. What we're talking about is basically a combination of questions to do with causality and especially certain interpretations of current causality, which would posit that.

What happens to us is very similar to what we have time. And that's intertwined with the question of morality and ethics. Would there be any basis for morality and ethics if it weren't for the idea of karma that where as as you do, so shall it be done on to you so these are two things that are tied together and somewhere in here.

Also, it's a question of if N D that kind of one to one relationship between. Karma causes and karmic results exist. How could anything new happen? Especially since we lived to handle the slides and everything we could ever do to think it's already been done in thought it's that right? I would have to say this is a really good. Exposure of the problems and some of them and some of the assumptions that are behind us. I know sorry with the assets part of it though, because some of these views on karma this is the basis in which they presented to us is. But that there would be no reason to lead an ethical and moral life except for the laws of karma.

And then the laws of karma are interpreted in such a way that whatever you do, that's, what's happened to you. So the only way to make the kinds of things you'd want happened to you is to make sure. You do to others, why you would like them to do onto you and you don't do what you wouldn't have them do on to you.

And if you do enough with the African, that's, why you'll get eventually in some future life. So I liked that approach that I like to look at Catholics and morality of this, and to really raise the question. Is it, is there any real foundation to the premise that that this particular kind of karma is necessary as a basis for ethics and morality now?

Because I think it assumes a degree of selfishness that doesn't correspond to what we actually see in human beings. And as a matter of fact, just to quote from a different system, Jesus said, do unto others, as you would have them do to you not do unto others so that they will do unto you. And I think the whole basis of that teaching, there was not a.

There was not a presumption of karma. And [00:10:00] later on that teaching became one of a reward and punishment thing so that if you didn't sin and if you kept that golden rule and you would be rewarded by eternal life in heaven and the divine presence of God. And if. Yeah, you would if you didn't keep that and you did send and you suffered eternally and hell.

But that actually, from what I can tell, wasn't really what Jesus meant to say. When he was saying that he was talking about something that comes from the heart from a sense of love and compassion. As some people would say, there's no such thing as altruism that in other, you all know what altruism means.

It means where you do something entirely for the benefit of. The being a person you're doing it for, with absolutely no expectation of any sort of reward in return. And there are people who claim that there is no such thing as altruism, but on the other hand, my understanding of it is that behavioral scientists have actually found uncountable numbers of examples of altruistic behavior, not just in humans, but in all kinds of animals where there is.

Possible conceivable way that action could have been performed out of an expectation of reward or the avoiding and punishment. I looked at this and I think we have something in us that is capable of manifesting as altruistic behavior. We are capable of experiencing love. That is not the selfish sexually motivated love, or the selfish, possessive love of our children and things like that.

But we are capable of the kind of love that the Greeks called underpay

I find that they're human beings. There is something that innately president NS that is best described as compassion that we see suffering in another. And we can relate to that on the basis of our own suffering by

we want to relieve the suffering. All the other, and it's not because of a fear that we're going to have the same suffering or a desire to avoid that suffering. It's doesn't even, it can come, but when I'm talking about true compassionate, it doesn't even come out of a desire to eliminate the suffering of the other.

So you no longer have to endure the sympathetic sort of experience of suffering others. I believe that we have. I could ask you for altruism for love African passion. And that,

that probably played quite a major role in the way the world worked before societies got large enough and complex enough and individuals became anonymous enough. That we need to construct a systems of ethics, which we created rules so that, and the rules are that if we don't want to be killed, when somebody gets mad at us, we make a rule in society that says that you don't kill people just because you're mad at them.

And then we enforced that and all the other rules of society, which basically are a reflection of a cell. Laws and social ethics are entirely self-centered and selfish. If I want to be able to live in a large community of other people without suffering at the hands of other seminars, we need a system of laws and ethics and rules that are relatively stringently enforced to protect protected.

And, but I think that's a function of large groups of people living closely together. I don't think it's a reflection of an abstinence in our innate nature of a basis for morality and ethics. Now it's true that if you fear heaven hill, or if you, I guess it's helping you with fear, if you [00:15:00] fear a judgment and you're going to go to heaven or hell based on what you've done.

No, that's that's operating on the basis of your selfishness, and even. Taking your innate nationals, natural selfishness, which and arguably is a really major part of how we behave and it's turning it around to help make you behave in socially desirable ways. And the same thing with karma.

If you live with. Fear of experiencing the consequences of your karma. You'll behave yourself. And if you can't hope for the prospect or rewards, if you behave well and treat other people then this is a selfish motivation, but I don't think you need either one of these things as a matter of.

And when I look at his. And actually when I look at what happened in the west as I guess probably I know Western history, maybe I know restaurant history better than Eastern, probably do, but anyway, look that in terms of the progress that's made by Western societies and overcoming gross injustice. And selfish patterns of behavior that were extremely exploitive of others and cruel.

They didn't come out of the religions that taught salvation and eternal damnation. They actually came out of humanist movements. Most of the proponents of which were either agnostic or atheist. So the eminence, the history and the world is that it's not the religiously driven fears of heaven and hell.

And I would suspect it's not, it's also not the concern with experiencing karmic results, but is primarily responsible for what goodness that we do see in society. Although I don't want to deny that both of these are useful tools and keeping. To a certain degree, keeping societies in line and making people behave.

But I would argue that,

that this law of karma is not the basis for him at morality ethics and to the degree that it's used that way to the degree that a person would respond to that. What they're doing is they're reinforcing in themselves, their own selfishness, their own self-centeredness their own conviction, that they are a self existent entity and that the other beings and the other entities in the world they interact with are self existing, substantially self existing from their own side.

So I don't even feel that this particular doctrine is very useful. I know that what happens when somebody attains a degree of realization, that there is a profound decrease in their self-centeredness in their sense of separation. And that has the effect of making those innate qualities. That I sensor already there in all people to some degree, they become far more pronounced as a person becomes less self-centered.

As a person comes to understand their own, the emptiness of their own self compassion, manifest love, manifest. They behave more altruism. Their reluctance to do things that are harmful to others is diminished enormously. And it has nothing to do with the fear of any kind of Carmen consequences to be experienced in the future.

It comes internally from a sense of it. They, the only thing to do the only way to be.


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