Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Rebirth and Buddhist Law of Karma

There is big confusion over  Rebirth and  Law of Karma theory in Buddhist and Ambedkarite people. The traditionally Buddhist belongs to Mahayan School of thought seems to believe Rebirth and Law of Karma theory. But, people belongs to Theravada School of  thought and Ambedkarites are in hotchpotch over this matter. The Ambedkarite thinkers too are confused over this theory. However, in 'The Buddha and His Dhamma', Dr Ambedkar clearly have stated that there in no Rebirth and  Law of Karma theory in Buddhism as Brahminic literature believe and want to be believed to dalit mass.

Is there Rebirth ? Buddha said, yes. But this is not in line what Brahminic literature believe and want to be believed. Buddha affirmative reply was in accordance to science. Buddha was not likely to be called 'Annihilistic' nor 'Eternalist'. That is why his reply was affirmative. Buddha' Law of Karma theory was applicable for present life.

Here, I am going to reproduce what Dr Ambedkar said over this issue-

Please see;  The Buddha and His Dhamma :Book IV/Part II


The Buddha was not likely to be known as Eternalist or an Annihilationist-
1. What happens after death is a question often asked.
2. The contemporaries of Buddha held two different views. One set was called Eternalist and the other was called Annihilationist.
3. The Eternalist said that the soul knows no death: therefore life is eternal. It is renewed by birth. 
4. The thesis of Annihilationists was summed up in one word, Ucchedvad, which meant that death is the end of every thing. There is nothing after the death.
5. The Buddha was not an eternalist.  For it involved a belief in the existence of a separate, immortal soul to which he was opposed. 
6.  Was the Buddha an annihilationist ?  With his belief in the non-existence of the soul the Buddha would naturally be expected  to be an annihilationist.
7. But in the alagaddupamma-Sutta the Buddha complains that he is called an annihilationist when as a matter of fact he is not.
8 to 10................................ 
11. How can the Buddha not believe in the existence of soul and yet say that he is not an annihilationist.
12. This raises the question: Did the Buddha believe in rebirth ?

Rebirth of what ?
1. Did the Buddha believe in Rebirth ?
2. The answer is in the affirmative.
3. It is better to split this question further into two parts: (1)  Rebirth of what and (2)  rebirth of whom ?
4 . It is better ti take each one of these two questions seperately.
5. Here we may consider the first, Rebirth of what ?
6. This question is almost always ignored. It is because of the mixing of the two questions that so much confusion has arisen.
7. According to the Buddha there are four elements of Existence which go to compose the body. They are (1) Prithvi (2) Apa (3) Tej : and (4) Vayu. 
8. Question is when the human body dies what happens to these four elements ? do they also dies along with the dead body ? some say that they do. 
9. The Buddha said no.  They joins the mass of similar elements floating in (Akash) space.
10. When the four elements  from this floating mass join together a new birth take place.
11. This is what the Buddha meant by Rebirth.
12. The elements need not and are not necessarily from the same body which is dead. They may be drawn  from different dead bodies.
13. It must be noted that the body dies. But the elements are ever living.
14. This is the kind of Rebirth in which the Buddha believed.
15 to 36....(Dialogue of Sariputta with Maha-Kotthita over this matter) 
37. Thus amplified, the real answer to the question : What happens when the body dies ?  Is the body ceases to produce energy ? 
38. But this is  only a part of the answer. Because death also means that whatever enegy that has escaped  from the body joins the general mass of  energy playing about in the universe. 
39. Annihilation has therefore a two-fold aspect. In one of its aspects it means cession of  production of energy. an another aspect of it means a new addition to the stock of  general floating mass of energy.
40. It is probabaly because of this two-fold aspect of annihilation that the Buddha said he was not an absolute annihilationist. He was annihilationist so far as soul was concerned. He was not an annihilationist so far as matter was concerned.
41. So interpreted, it is easy to understand  why the Buddha said that he was not an annihilationist. He believed in the regeneration of matter and not in the rebirth of the soul.
42. So interpreted, the Buddha's view is in consonance with science. 
43. It is only in this sense that the Buddha could be said to have believed in rebirth.
44. Energy is never lost. That is what science affirms. Annihilation in the sense that after death nothing is left would be contrary to science. For it would means that energy is not constant in volume.
45. This is the only way by which the dilemma could be solved.

(3) Rebirth of whom ? 
1. The most difficult question is Rebirth of whom ?
2. Does the same dead person take a new birth ?
3.Did the Buddha believe in this thesis ? The answer is " Most improper."
4.The answer depends upon the elements of existence of the dead man meeting together and forming a new body than the possibility of the Rebirth of the same Sentient being is possible.
5.If a new body is formed after a mixture or the different elements of the different men who are dead then there is rebirth but not the rebirth of the same sentient being.
6 to 40. ...........(Explanation over this by Sister Khema to King Pasenadi). 
Section II/ KARMA 

(1) Is the Buddhist Doctrine of Karma same as the Brahminic Doctrine ?

1. There is no doctrine in Buddha's Dhamma which has created so much confusion as this doctrine of Karma.
2 . What is its place in the Buddha's dhamma and what is its significance which has already been told.
3. Ignorant Hindus out of seer want of understanding say by comparing merely the similarity of words that Buddhism is the same as Brahminism or Hinduism.
4. The educated and orthodox section of the Brahmins also do the same. They do so deliberately to mislead the ignorant masses.
5. The educated Brahmins know full well that the Buddhist Law of karma is quite diffrent from the Brahminic Law of karma. Yet they keep on saying that Buddhism is the same as Brahminism and Hinduism. 
6. The similarity in terminology gives them an easy handle for their false and malicious propaganda.
7. It is therefore, necessary to examine the position closely. 
8. The Buddha's Law of karm, however much may be similarity of words cannot be the same in its connotation as the Brahminic Law of Karma.
9. The premises of the two are so widely diffrent, indeed so widely opposed that tha result of the two cannot be the same. They must be diffrent.
10. The principles of Hindu law of karma may be stated seriatism for convenience.

The Brahminic Law of Karma -
11. The Hindu Law of Karma is based on the soul. The Buddhist is not. In fact, there is no soul in Buddhism.
12. The Brahminic law of Karma is hereditary.
13. It goes from life to life. This is because of the transmigration of soul.
14. This can not be true of Buddhist Law of Karma. This is also because  there is no soul.
15. The Hindu Law of Karma is based on the existence of the soul which is distinct from the body. When the body is dies the soul does not die. The soul flies away.
16. This is not true with the Buddhist Law of Karma.
17. According to Hindu Law of Karma, when a man does a karma.  His act produces two-fold results. It affects the doer and secondly, it produces an impression upon his soul.
18. Each act he does produces an impress upon his soul.
19. When a man dies and when his soul escapes, the soul is full of such impressions.
20. It is these impressions which determines his birth and status in his future life.
21. The Hindu theory is inconsistence with the Buddhist theory of no-soul.
22. For this reason the Buddhist doctrine of Karma cannot be and in not the same as the Hindu doctrine of Karma.
23. It is therefore simply foolish to talk about the Buddhist doctrine of Karma being the same as the Brahminic doctrine of Karma .
24. All that one can say is beware of this jugglery.

(2) Did the Buddha believe in the past Karma having effect on Future Life ?

As you sow so you reap
1. The Law of Karma was enunciated by Lord Buddha. He was the first to say,  "Reap as you sow."
2. He was so emphatic about the Law of Karma that he maintained that there could be no moral order unless there was a stern observance of the Law of karma.

 Buddhist Law of Karma -
3. The Buddhist Law of Karma applied only to Karma and its effect on present life.
Pernicious doctrine-
4. There is, however; an extended doctrine of karma. According to it Karma includes Karma done in past life or lives.
5. If a man is born in a poor family it is because of his past bad Karma. If a man is born in a rich family because of  his past good karma. 
6. If a man is born with a congenital defect it is because of his bad karma.
7. This is a very pernicious doctrine. For in this interpretation of Karma there is no room left for human effort. Everything is predetermined for him by his past Karma. 
8. This extended doctrine is often found to be atributed to the Buddha.
9. did the Buddha believe in such a doctrine ?

The Law of Heredity-
10. To examine this extended doctrine properly it is better to change the language in which it is usually expressed.
11. Instead of saying that past Karma is transmitted it should be better if it was said that past karma is inherited.
12. This change of language enables us to test it by the Law of heredity. At the same time it does no harm to the doctrine either ti it de jure or de facto connotation.
13. This restatement makes it possible to pose the two questions which could not otherwise be posed and without answering which the matter could not be made clear.
14. The first question is how is past karma inherited ? What is the process ? 
15. The second question is what is the nature of past karma in term of heredity ? Is it an inherent characteristic or acquired characteristic ?
16. What do we inherit from our parents ?
17. Starting with science the new individual begins when a  sperm enters the egg. Fertilization consist in fusion of the head of the sperm with the nucleus of the egg.
18. Each human being takes its origin from the union of two bits of living matter, an egg from the mother which has been fertilized by a single sperm from the father.

Buddha reply
19. That human birth is genetic is told by the Buddha to a Yakkha who came to discuss the matter with him.
20 to 22. ....(the illustration of this discussion).

23. But the Hindu doctrine differs.
24. It say that the body is genetic but the soul is not. It is implanted into the body from outside- the doctrine is unable to specify the source.
25.Turning to the second question as to what is the nature pf past Karma, it must be determined whether it is inherent characteristic or an acquired characteristic.
26. Unless the answer to this question is forthcoming it cannot be tested by the scientific theory of heredity. 
27. But assuming there is an answer one way or other to this question how it is possible to get any help from science whether it is a sensible theory or senseless theory.
28. According to science a child inherits the characteristics of his parents.

29. In the Hindu doctrine of Karma a child inherits nothing from its parents except the body.

(3)Did the Buddha believe in past Karma having effect on Future Life ?

 1. The Buddha doctrine of past Karma (Nagasena's illustration of stealing mangoes and fruits of a tree ) is thus keeping with the science.
2. He did not believe in the inheritance of past Karma.

16. The doctrine of past Karma is a purely Brahminic doctrine. Past Karma taking effect in present life is quite consistence with the Brahminic doctrine of soul, the effect of Karma on the soul. But it is quite inconsistent with the Buddhist doctrine of non-soul.
17. It has been bodily introduced into Buddhism by some one who wanted to Buddhism akin to Hinduism or who did not know what the Buddhist doctrine was.
 1. Many occasions One thing however, is clear. The Buddha's Rebirth and Law of Karma theory was so new and vibrant that it was not easy to digest by those who want to perpetuate it owing to their class interest.
2. Many occasions, Buddha say:  "Though this is what I affirm and what I preach yet some recluses and Brahmins wrongly, erroneously and falsely charged me in defiance of facts, .... (section I:1/8).
3. The first meeting was held after hundred years of His Mahaparinirvan. There was lot of space of 'wrongly/falsly interpretation'.
4. Even today, many institutions say;  Mahabodhi Sabha, Goyenka Vipsana etc are busy to intense this Rebirth and Law of karma theory. Religious Texs and Bhikkhus are continue in this job.
5. Some Dalit intellectuals say; Dr Dharmveer etc are going to make serious issue even on Dr Ambedkar's The Buddha and His Dhamma.
6. This article is to clarify the matter. It would be their kindness to comments in this regards.