Sunday, October 12, 2008

Why?: Comments By Famous Intellectuals

Karma (in Sanskrit),(Kamma in Pali): The comment below is from a Buddhist book:

We are faced with a totally ill-balanced world. We perceive the inequalities and manifold destinies of men and the numerous grades of beings that exist in the universe. We see one born into a condition of affluence, endowed with fine mental, moral and physical qualities and another into a condition of abject poverty and wretchedness. Here is a man virtuous and holy but, contrary to his expectation, ill-luck is ever ready to greet him. The wicked world runs counter to his ambitions and desires. He is poor and miserable in spite of his honest dealings and piety. There is another vicious and foolish, but accounted to be fortune's darling. He is rewarded with all forms of favours, despite his shortcomings and evil modes of life.

Why, it may be questioned, should one be an inferior and another a superior? Why should one be wrested from the hands of a fond mother when he has scarcely seen a few summers, and another should perish in the flower of manhood, or at the ripe age of eighty or hundred? Why should one be sick and infirm, and another strong and healthy? Why should one be handsome, and another ugly and hideous, repulsive to all? Why should one be brought up in the lap of luxury, and another in absolute poverty, steeped in misery? Why should one be born a millionaire and another a pauper? Why should one be a mental prodigy, and another an idiot? Why should one be born with saintly characteristics, and another with criminal tendencies? Why should some be linguists, artists, mathematicians or musicians from the very cradle? Why should some be blessed and others cursed from their birth?

These are some problems that perplex the minds of all thinking men. How are we to account for all this unevenness of the world, this inequality of mankind? Is it due to the work of blind chance or accident? There is nothing in this world that happens by blind chance or accident. To say that anything happens by chance, is no more true than that this book has come here of itself. Strictly speaking, nothing happens to man that he does not deserve for some reason or other.

Could this be the fiat of an irresponsible Creator? Huxley writes: "If we are to assume that anybody has designedly set this wonderful universe going, it is perfectly clear to me that he is no more entirely benevolent and just in any intelligible sense of the words, than that he is malevolent and unjust.'

According to Einstein: "If this being (God) is omnipotent, then every occurrence, including every human action, every human thought and every human feeling and aspiration is also his work; how is it possible to think of holding men responsible for their deeds and thoughts before such an Almighty Being? "In giving out punishments and rewards, he would to a certain extent be passing judgement on himself. How can this be combined with the goodness and righteousness ascribed to him?"

"According to the theological principles man is created arbitrarily and without his desire and at the moment of his creation is either blessed or damned eternally. Hence, man is either good or evil, fortunate or unfortunate, noble or depraved, from the first step in the process of his physical creation to the moment of his last breath, regardless of his individual desires, hopes, ambitions, struggles or devoted prayers. Such is theological fatalism:' (Spencer Lewis)

As Charles Bradlaugh says: "The existence of evil is a terrible stumbling block to the theist. Pain, misery, crime, poverty confront the advocate of eternal goodness and challenge with unanswerable potency his declaration of Deity as all-good, all-wise, and all-powerful."

In the words of Schopenhauer: "Whoever regards himself as having become out of nothing must also think that he will again become nothing; for an eternity has passed before he was, and then a second eternity had begun, through which he will never cease to be, is a monstrous thought. "If birth is the absolute beginning, then death must be his absolute end; and the assumption that man is made out of nothing leads necessarily to the assumption that death is his absolute end."

Lord Russell states: "The world, we are told, was created by a God who is both good and omnipotent. Before He created the world He foresaw all the pain and misery that it would contain. He is, therefore responsible for all of it. It is useless to argue that the pain in the world is due to sin. If God knew in advance the sins of which man would be guilty, He was clearly responsible for all the consequence of those sins when He decided to create man."

In Despair, a poem of his old age, Lord Tennyson thus boldly attacks God who, as recorded in Isaiah, says, "I make peace and create evil." (Isaiah, xiv.7) "What! I should call on that infinite love that has served us so well? Infinite cruelty, rather, that made everlasting hell, Made us, foreknew us, foredoomed us, and does what he will with his own. Better our dead brute mother who never has heard us groan."

According to Buddhism, this variation is due not only to heredity, environment, nature and nurture", but also to our own kamma, or in other words, to the result of our own inherited past actions and our present deeds. We ourselves are responsible for our own deeds, happiness and misery. We build our own hells. We create our own heavens. We are the architects of our own fate.

In short, we ourselves are our own kamma. Thus, from a Buddhist standpoint, our present mental, intellectual, moral and temperamental differences are mainly due to our own actions and tendencies, both past and present. Kamma, literally, means action;(mainly volitional actions).
Kamma constitutes both good and evil. Good begets good. Evil begets evil. Like attracts like. This is the law of Kamma. As some Westerners prefer to say: Kamma is "action-influence". We reap what we have sown. What we sow we reap somewhere (in due course).

In one sense we are the result of what we were; we will be the result of what we are. In another sense, we are not totally the result of what we were; we will not absolutely be the result of what we are. For instance, a criminal today may be a saint tomorrow. Buddhism attributes this variation to kamma, but it does not assert that everything is due to kamma.


A true Malaysian said...


Karma or Kamma is really a subject really hard to understand fully. This subject even attracted intellectuals like Einstein thought about it. It is so 'scientific' and yet so hard to be proven.

Proven or not proven, Karma is there but sometime it is hard to accept if something bad happened to ourselves or our loved ones. Only then, the subject of Karma will be of interest to us, and start asking why and how.

That is why we must learn how to accept whatever befall us, face the 'cruelty' in life and observe those teachings of Buddha.

Some Christian friends tend to tell me how powerful is their 'God', but when you asked them, if your God is so powerful, then why He couldn't eliminate the sufferings in life, why there exist inequality amongst us? Their answers to these questions make me more convinced that 'God' doesn't exist at all as what we Buddhists believe.

On the other hand, it is hard for them (ie Christian friends) to believe in 'Karma' because believe in God is their main pillar for their beliefs. Without 'God', there is no religion named 'Christian'.

Having said the above, it is not a problem for me at all as what important is that we must have 'faith' in what we believe at.

Justin Choo said...

A true Malaysian,

There are mainly 3 "theories" explaining the nature of life's injustices.

1. God
2. Kamma
3. No reason. So live life to the fullest.

Take your pick.

A true Malaysian said...

My pick, obviously is Kamma.

Whatever, live life to the fullest and be a 'decent' human whenever and whatever we are.

Always remember, we are part of nature.

A true Malaysian said...


I wish to add. Unlike temperature or distance, Kamma is unmeasurable.

In the eyes of a third party, one may regards a 'rich' man and having good life is due to his good Kamma, but to the rich man, he may thinks he is not rich enough and not happy in life and regards this as his bad karma.

The best thing to do, as I see it, be 'contented' with what we have, don't be so particular to what we don't have. That will make our life a happier one.

Kamma is not absolute, but more of relativity.

CYC said...

A true malaysian,

We can't comprehend a lot of things and incidents in this mundane world due to or ignorance and inability to see things as it really is. In mandarin, we term our mundane knowledge or wisdom as "wisdom with leakage" (yu lou je). We shall strive to gain "wisdom without leakage" (wu lou je)as these are the supreme wisdom that leads us to see things as they really are.

Thank you Justin for initiating this blog to spread the dharma. I may have come in contact with Buddhism long time ago, but shame to say i m not practicing it as a Buddhist really should.

Finally, sorry for the inaccurate "pin yin" as my computer is not equipped with Chinese Star program. Anyway i don't how to use it.

Justin Choo said...


Welcome to this blog. It's your destiny that you are here, as stated on the right column.

Not to worry about hanyu pinyin. I don't know a thing either.

Li Li said...

Hi a true malaysian,

I am a Catholic and I believe in karma. I also believe in God because I have experienced it.

Buddhism is a good way of life - the middle path.

If we were poor when we were young, we appreciate hard earn money now;
If we experienced a loss, we appreciate the people who are living;
If we experience failure, we will treasure success better.
If we have experience heart break, we will love our spouse more now.

God is like the wind, you experience the breeze but you cannot see it.
God is like falling in love, you cannot explain the dizzy feeling when you see the person that you have a crush on !

Lastly, I believe God creates ; but human beings are so naughty, they break all the rules to have fun !

And still God is forgiving at the end :)

Li Li said...


I am sorry, I wasn't trying to preach.

Just sharing both good sides of Buddhism and believe in God.


Justin Choo said...

Li Li,

"Lastly, I believe God creates ; but human beings are so naughty, they break all the rules to have fun !"

Why God wants to create naughty humans?

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