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Thread: Causality

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    Causality

    Hello,
    How does Buddhism explain causality without the concept of Ishvara?

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    Re: Causality

    Quote Originally Posted by ale84 View Post
    Hello,
    How does Buddhism explain causality without the concept of Ishvara?
    Greetings,

    Atleast according to some schools of Buddhism, everything is momentary. To exist is to be causally efficacious.

    Putting in syllogistic form, we get:

    (1)Nothing exists for more than one moment.

    (2)To exist is to be causally efficacious. (i.e. to exist is to be the cause of an effect.)

    An entity existing at moment t1 is destroyed at the "following" moment t2 when another entity comes into existence. The entity existing at time t1 is considered the cause of the entity at time t2. This process continues ad infinitum.

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    Re: Causality

    Hello, wundermonk

    Quote Originally Posted by wundermonk View Post
    Greetings,

    Atleast according to some schools of Buddhism, everything is momentary. To exist is to be causally efficacious.

    Putting in syllogistic form, we get:

    (1)Nothing exists for more than one moment.

    (2)To exist is to be causally efficacious. (i.e. to exist is to be the cause of an effect.)

    An entity existing at moment t1 is destroyed at the "following" moment t2 when another entity comes into existence. The entity existing at time t1 is considered the cause of the entity at time t2. This process continues ad infinitum.
    I've heard a buddhist master saying that even in a plane crash, it was people's karma to be in that plane.
    How does buddhism explain karma coming to fruition without the existence of a higher mind/entity controlling it?

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    Re: Causality

    Hi

    Quote Originally Posted by ale84 View Post
    How does buddhism explain karma coming to fruition without the existence of a higher mind/entity controlling it?
    It is not just Buddhism, but even Mimamsa and Samkhya have a purely naturalistic explanation for karma with no over arching mind guiding the process.

    Cause and effect are naturalistic processes. As per Samkhya, specifically, purusha or consciousness does not take part in karma or action or desire, etc. It is purely aloof and actionless.

    Cause and effect affect only prakriti. Prakriti is not conscious. It is insentient matter and it is "not-self".

    The way to think of a purely naturalistic non-theistic doctrine of karma would be to think that actions and beliefs (which are the purview of prakriti) leave traces or impressions on the sukshma sarira (which the subtle envelope of the purusha). This sukshma sarira is composed of prakritic elements alone. This sukshma sarira is like a piece of a jigsaw puzzle. It can assume many shapes. Having assumed different shapes in different lifetimes, it will fit in to a larger piece of the jigsaw puzzle at appropriate times and places. There is no need of a higher mind here as the process is natural. That is, it is of the very nature (or svabhava) of prakriti to assume different forms (one of the characteristics of prakriti is that it keeps changing constantly as opposed to purusha which is changeless) and attach itself to positions which are compatible with it (note that jigsaw piece and the jigsaw puzzle analogy). This is nothing but karma and reincarnation.

    Does this analogy/metaphor make sense?

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    Re: Causality

    Hello

    Quote Originally Posted by wundermonk View Post
    Hi



    It is not just Buddhism, but even Mimamsa and Samkhya have a purely naturalistic explanation for karma with no over arching mind guiding the process.

    Cause and effect are naturalistic processes. As per Samkhya, specifically, purusha or consciousness does not take part in karma or action or desire, etc. It is purely aloof and actionless.

    Cause and effect affect only prakriti. Prakriti is not conscious. It is insentient matter and it is "not-self".

    The way to think of a purely naturalistic non-theistic doctrine of karma would be to think that actions and beliefs (which are the purview of prakriti) leave traces or impressions on the sukshma sarira (which the subtle envelope of the purusha). This sukshma sarira is composed of prakritic elements alone. This sukshma sarira is like a piece of a jigsaw puzzle. It can assume many shapes. Having assumed different shapes in different lifetimes, it will fit in to a larger piece of the jigsaw puzzle at appropriate times and places. There is no need of a higher mind here as the process is natural. That is, it is of the very nature (or svabhava) of prakriti to assume different forms (one of the characteristics of prakriti is that it keeps changing constantly as opposed to purusha which is changeless) and attach itself to positions which are compatible with it (note that jigsaw piece and the jigsaw puzzle analogy). This is nothing but karma and reincarnation.

    Does this analogy/metaphor make sense?
    I know it's not just Buddhism but also other philosophies derived from Sramana, like Jainism.
    What is hard to understand for me is how the insentient can work in a causal way and bring the fruits of past actions.
    I've heard in Buddhism an analogy of karma with the law of gravity, but this explanation is not satisfactory to me, as laws of physics don't apply to morality.
    How would insentient matter manage to bring togheter a group of people with a particular karma and make them take a specific plane, and then make that plane crash in order to make that karma come in to fruition?
    I believe the ultimate truth must be impersonal, but at some level of the cosmic evolution there must be a sentient controller coming into existence. We are personal beings so I think personality must potentially exist in Brahman.

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    Re: Causality

    Hi:

    Quote Originally Posted by ale84 View Post
    What is hard to understand for me is how the insentient can work in a causal way and bring the fruits of past actions.
    There are many (rather famous) counter examples to this debated in Indian philosophy. For e.g. centuries of Nyaya Buddhist debates revolved on the counterexample provided by Buddhists of growing of grass without the need of an intelligent being behind it.

    The Nyaya countered that even growth of grass has an efficient cause. That cause is God and argued that the "cause" need not be temporally or spatially proximate.

    Yet another example about insentient things forming design is sand falling via a small hole from behind a truck onto the ground. It invariably forms a beautiful pyramid without the seeming involvement of an overseeing personality or being.

    When provided with this counterexample, the Nyaya would again argue that the God is the common cause of every effect despite God being temporally or spatially "distant".

    My point is, the need of a God-like being to oversee karma and reincarnation has arguments both for as well as against it.

    I believe the ultimate truth must be impersonal, but at some level of the cosmic evolution there must be a sentient controller coming into existence. We are personal beings so I think personality must potentially exist in Brahman.
    This is indeed the view of theistic schools of Hinduism.

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