Author Topic: How to explain Karma without sounding like Fear Tactics?  (Read 11619 times)

kris

  • Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 919
How to explain Karma without sounding like Fear Tactics?
« on: May 13, 2012, 03:41:45 AM »
It is quite common for religions to use fear tactics, for example in one of the famous religions, it is said that if you don't believe in their supreme being, then you will go to hell.

I love the Karma theory, but, I thought karma theory itself also sound like a fear tactic: If you don't do good things, then you will go to the lower realms (and hell is one of the 3 lower realms).

I personally hate this fear tactic even though many people actually buy in to this. While I "condemn" others for using fear tactics, it seems like I am shooting myself in the foot because I am explaining Karma in a fear tactic way.

So, my question is, how do I explain karma without sounding too much like fear tactics? Any help here will be grateful!

sonamdhargey

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 406
Re: How to explain Karma without sounding like Fear Tactics?
« Reply #1 on: May 13, 2012, 08:32:36 AM »
Hmm.. I share your concern about the fear. How we communicate effectively about Karma without imposing fear or being overly emphasizing on the effects of negative Karma is very important to not create negativity in other people's mind.

Well I've been talking about Karma to people around me, and I've gotten a fair bit of feedback and reactions when I talked about Karma. After experiencing the feedbacks and reactions, I find that the most effective way of communicating Karma to people is do not emphasizing on the negative effects of Karma rather emphasize the positive effects of Karma. How? Instead of telling people that if they do not do good they will go to the 3 lower realms, we can try telling them that by doing good they will enjoy the positive effects of Karma in the future. Be positive with your words and they will see the positive side of it and may not have fear instead reason with them logically and they may open up to understand Karma better. Once they understand Karma, they would not take it negatively as a fear tactic.

dondrup

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 816
Re: How to explain Karma without sounding like Fear Tactics?
« Reply #2 on: May 13, 2012, 10:02:22 AM »
The Law of Cause and Effect or Karma is a natural phenomenon.  No one created this natural law. It is not created by the god or the Buddha.  The Law of Cause and Effect (Karma) is definite.  All sentient beings are subject to the Law of Cause and Effect.  If we gain complete control of our mind, we won’t be creating any more positive, negative or neutral karma.  Because we have yet to have the mastery over our mind, it is easy for us to create negative karma which will lead us to the three lower realms. 

Buddha had expounded about the different degree of sufferings in these lower realms of existence.  To avoid being reborn into the three lower realms, we develop this fear in us that will propel us to do only virtuous actions than non-virtuous actions.  This fear of being reborn in the lower realms is one of the causes of us taking refuge in the Three Jewels.  Without this fear factor, we won’t take Karma seriously! 

Buddha had shown us the truth.  It is not the fear tactic that matters; it is whether people accept the truth of Karma and the danger of being reborn in the lower realms.  Through giving examples and careful explanation, we can convince others about Karma and the three lower realms.

diamond girl

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 282
Re: How to explain Karma without sounding like Fear Tactics?
« Reply #3 on: May 13, 2012, 03:19:13 PM »
Personally I have found the knowledge about Karma to be quite liberating. Why? Karma explains a lot why we have our lives the way it is. Many people like to "beat" themselves up with the fate of things for them, the negative things of course. No one complains of the good things. But if you understand Karma even the "good" things in life have karma. And you will see that you can turn the "bad" around with a change in actions and purification. This can only be achieved with knowledge of Karma.

Karma is inevitable and the fact of life. The bestseller book The Secret to me is all about cause and effect and how we can control our cause to create the effect. Now, did that book sound fear inflicting? Not to me. Perhaps you can look at that approach.

However, for me I have found that reading books from great teachers like Geshe Kelsang Gyatso to be very simple and informative. Please have a look at this link:

http://kadampa.org/en/reference/karma

I do not like when people relate religion with fear tactics. It is insulting to my intelligence, however, many are quite ignorant and have the attitude of "Oh, it won't happen to me.." This is ignorance and luck-testing. People like this, I guess fear tactic works because they are that dumb BUT, even if fear is used as a method we must still always provide the knowledge to support the fear so that it can be liberating, powerful and life changing.

kurava

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 292
    • Email
Re: How to explain Karma without sounding like Fear Tactics?
« Reply #4 on: May 13, 2012, 11:24:16 PM »
You know something ? Fear is good.

To have the correct motivation for taking refuge, these are the stages/steps :
1) realize death /impermanence,
2) realize the precious opportunity we now have ,
3) generate fear for the consequences of how we conduct ourselves now
4) develop faith in the 3 jewels by understanding their unique and special qualities
5) then take refuge.

After taking refuge sincerely, we will then follow the teachings of Buddha.Without fear, our refuge will be shaky.

I agree we must not put people off by emphasizing the negative effects as propounded in the law of Karma.To new comer, we can always talk about any of the  above first 4 points skilfully in different degree of emphasis. After planting the seed of these knowledge, let them contemplate and gradually introduce the benefits & protection that Dharma offers. When they are solidly grounded with such knowledge, refuge will be the next natural course of action to take by most people.

KhedrubGyatso

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 185
    • Email
Re: How to explain Karma without sounding like Fear Tactics?
« Reply #5 on: May 14, 2012, 04:27:36 AM »
The law of karma whereby one's actions are the causes and one's experiences are its effects is a universal law which does not depend on us liking / disliking or believing / not believing  it. While there is no way one can prove or disprove it by empirical means, we nevertheless can derive conviction through logical reasoning and by direct  personal experience.
When we engage in any actions of body speech and mind, we have choice to follow the Buddha's advice or our own or someone else's. If we have faith in Buddha who has never known to have lied, we would take karma seriously.
No one can force us to do anything against our will. Not even Buddha. I don't see it as a threat when someone tells me to watch out for my karma if I did something negative. The person is merely reminding /warning me about the Buddha's caution . A real threat would usually be backed up by some form of harm to us if we do not follow the person's instructions. I don't think  the person had any  intention to  ' harm' you in anyway even  if you disregard what he says. If you felt threatened or fearful , it is your own conscience at work. This is not a bad thing actually because it means you do realize there is some truth or basis in what the person said. Your dislike or fear  is just  your own personal bias/reaction. Another person may just as easily have appreciated the caution and feel grateful that he can do something to change the course of things.We should not allow our personal dislikes to distract us from the important  issues at hand which is to prevent suffering. If we fear karma, this is a positive fear which motivates us to transform and do the right things.

yontenjamyang

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 733
    • Email
Re: How to explain Karma without sounding like Fear Tactics?
« Reply #6 on: May 14, 2012, 07:08:10 AM »
If we are doubtful of anything, then we should not apply it. We should examine if what we are doing, the way we are doing it and the result of what we are doing is right. If we are not comfortable with the "fear tactic" then it is telling us that we are not applying the correct method. Perhaps, we do not understand the points of karma well enough. Perhaps the target audience are not the type to apply this to.

Karma is not always negative. It is the supreme law of nature. We reap what we sowed. So we can also use the positive results as the explanation. The negatives can be use as a contrast. In that way I think it is more wholesome than to just use the negative.

Anyway the best method to explain Dharma, Karma or how to do anything is to apply what is the most effective to the listener. So listen to them first. Find out their problems, lifestyle, interest and background. Then apply the correct method. That is why we need to study and contemplate the Lamrim.

It certainly is not about having a ready made formula. It takes knowledge and skills. Like a nurse, apply what the doctor prescribe; the medicine correctly. Train ourselves.

negra orquida

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 205
Re: How to explain Karma without sounding like Fear Tactics?
« Reply #7 on: May 15, 2012, 05:14:31 PM »
I suppose the question is how to explain karma to someone who does not know about Buddhism? I would use the example of how if we commit a crime, we'd go to jail, if we did something good, we get commended and acknowledgement and maybe a prize like "best employee award" or something.  that's basically the same as karma, in the most simplistic kindergarten sense.  bad things come out of bad actions, good things come out of good actions. its quite fair really, the law of karma. what is there to fear if we do not intend to do something "bad"?  If we follow this logic, there is nothing to be afraid of unless we are planning to do or have done lots of "bad" things!  Even then.. since we know the "formula" for good things to happen (i.e. do "good" things), then we still have some degree of control of what we will get later on and somewhat mitigate what we have already done.

I've mentioned this before in one of the posts... how I find it funny when people of other faiths who believe in heaven and hell tell me that they don't believe in karma... LOL if karma did not "exist", how could they ever go to heaven? Why would their God tell them to do good to go to heaven?

Manjushri

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 442
Re: How to explain Karma without sounding like Fear Tactics?
« Reply #8 on: May 15, 2012, 07:28:20 PM »
I like what Negra Orquida wrote and the examples she gave. It is simple, what you do will come back to you; good or bad.

I don't think that there's any 'fear tactic' involved when explaining Karma because it is the truth. You don't need to associate karma with rebirth in the lower realms, maybe that'll turn people off. What I usually do with my mates is I ask them.. If they don't believe in Karma, then shouldn't all of us be leading the exact same lives? Why are there so much differences between theirs and my life, why are there people who go through what they go through and people who don't? Why do certain countries experience natural disasters, and so happen those people affected just happen to be there, and there are those who are not affected? What can explain the myriad of differences and situations we face and are put into? We are the ones who gotta reap what we sow by ourselves.

I think alot of people take the concept of Karma for granted. Alot of times my mates blame what they go through on Karma, but the sad thing is that they don't do anything to fix the situation. I had a friend who cheated on her partner, and she comes telling me, okay Karma's going to turn around and bite my ass, and yet she still continues to do what she does. Self deception, perhaps. And when things hits the fence, she'll just blame it on karma, do nothing but continue digging a hole for herself to fall deeper into. Its' sad.

lotus1

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 557
Re: How to explain Karma without sounding like Fear Tactics?
« Reply #9 on: May 16, 2012, 11:26:06 AM »
It is very common for people to think that karma is a fear tactics. Just like people think that Buddhism is pessimistic when they heard about life is sufferings. I suggest we can let them see the bigger picture of karma.

If we understand Karma, we will start to do two types of actions:
1.   Stop doing harmful actions as it will bring us negative karma
2.   Do good – as it will bring us positive karma.

When we truly understand karma, we will not stop at the first type of action, instead we will continue with the second type of actions. Then, they will see that actually we gain a lot when we know karma, e.g. by being generous, we will create the cause for abundance of resources. Isn’t it beneficial for us on both worldly & spiritual level?    ;D

pgdharma

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1055
Re: How to explain Karma without sounding like Fear Tactics?
« Reply #10 on: May 16, 2012, 02:38:35 PM »
Generally people think that karma is fear tactics, but that is the wrong perception. When we explained karma we should focus on the positive actions resulting in positive karma. People will accept the fact that if we do good we reap good. So encourage them to have good thoughts, good speech and good actions as it will benefit them in the long run. Who wouldn't want to have good results for themselves. So if we follow this logic, if good actions result in good karma, definitely bad actions result in bad karma.   However, most people have some understanding of karma,  it is just that they take it for granted and refused to do anything to correct and change for the better.

Good seeds + good nurturing + good effort = good harvest
Bad seeds + bad nurturing + no effort = bad harvest

So the choice is ours whether we choose to have good harvest or bad harvest.

vajratruth

  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 706
Re: How to explain Karma without sounding like Fear Tactics?
« Reply #11 on: May 16, 2012, 03:34:24 PM »
It is quite common for religions to use fear tactics, for example in one of the famous religions, it is said that if you don't believe in their supreme being, then you will go to hell.

I love the Karma theory, but, I thought karma theory itself also sound like a fear tactic: If you don't do good things, then you will go to the lower realms (and hell is one of the 3 lower realms).

I personally hate this fear tactic even though many people actually buy in to this. While I "condemn" others for using fear tactics, it seems like I am shooting myself in the foot because I am explaining Karma in a fear tactic way.



Personally I find karma extremely liberating instead of it being scary.  It would be extremely scary if karma is outside my control and there is a god or a force that is determining my fate/karma. But that is not the case at all. I alone determine my karma. My actions and my decisions.

Karma is completely neutral and it is neither good or bad on its own, and that being the case, why should be afraid if it? Unless I am afraid of the effect of my own actions. I would only be afraid of my karma if (i) I understood firmly that everything I do has repercussions; (ii) I know I did something wrong and that the negative effect is coming back towards me; and (iii) I don't know how to stop it. And therefore I am scared.

The bottom line is, you should only be fearful of karma only if you have done something that warrants a negative effect, or if you are planning to so something you know is wrong. Why else would you fear karma.

Conversely, karma is also such that it returns very positive effects to positive causes. If you do good, then good things happen. Knowing this, and if you were to perform virtuous and meritorious deeds, why would you fear karma? Instead you should be looking forward to positive outcomes.

The beauty of karma is that even negative karma can be purified. It all depends on us and what we do. We are in control. To fear karma is like getting into a car, not wear the safety belt, drive recklessly close to the cliffs with my eyes shut...and then proclaim that I am afraid.


bambi

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 722
Re: How to explain Karma without sounding like Fear Tactics?
« Reply #12 on: May 18, 2012, 04:05:07 AM »
I know what you mean that some religion says 'you'll go to hell if you do not believe'. It's kinda annoying because I have people who walked up to me and said that. Fair enough. Tell me why?

Karma is not a fear tactic. Karma is explained with facts and logic. We don't tell people straight in their face 'you'd go to hell if you don't believe in Karma'. Where there is a cause for something to arise there is an effect for it to happen.

It also depends on how someone explains Karma and not scaring the other party.   ;D

"Karma is the law of moral causation. The theory of Karma is a fundamental doctrine in Buddhism. This belief was prevalent in India before the advent of the Buddha. Nevertheless, it was the Buddha who explained and formulated this doctrine in the complete form in which we have it today."


I found the above at this site which is quite helpful http://www.buddhanet.net/e-learning/karma.htm

Jessie Fong

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 690
Re: How to explain Karma without sounding like Fear Tactics?
« Reply #13 on: May 18, 2012, 04:35:27 AM »
I have explained karma to my friends simply as Cause and Effect - you are what you are today of what you have done previously.  Just like : You are what you eat.  If you have been living your life like a glutton, there is not way you end up looking like a super model.

Some people also liken it to What goes around, comes around.  We should never use fear tactics.  I agree with Sonamdhargey when he said that we "should try telling them that by doing good they will enjoy the positive effects of Karma in the future."

Sakyong Mipham eloquently summed this up when he said:
Like gravity, karma is so basic we often don't even notice it


vajrastorm

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 706
Re: How to explain Karma without sounding like Fear Tactics?
« Reply #14 on: May 18, 2012, 09:57:23 AM »
The Law of Cause and Effect is a Universal Law and applies to all, whether you believe it or not. It is like the Law of Gravity. Only with gravity , you can prove it, here and now.However, the Law of Cause and Effect plays itself out over lifetimes.For instance, the Cause or 'action' was performed in a previous lifetime and the Effect is experienced in this lifetime. Hence it's hard to convince anyone about it.

A family friend, who is a Muslim, is very rich.He was born with a silver spoon in his mouth. He has never had to work for anything. He never had to swot over exams to get a degree. Now , he is over 70 years of age and has never known a day's illness.His own brothers, on the other hand, have had to study to get professional qualifications so as to carve out successful careers for themselves; and now in their old age, they are sick and suffering. How came it that he alone is living the life of a samsaric god? But I know that I cannot convince him or any non-believer or non-Buddhist that he had created the causes for being a samsaric god in a previous lifetime or many previous lifetimes.

Personally,I am glad I have created the causes to meet with the Dharma in this lifetime and to meet with the King. I think it is rare  for a person to have created the Karma (merits)to be born a human and to meet with the Dharma, a great Spiritual Guide, Lama Tsongkapa's teachings and the King Protector. Rare and more precious than to be born rich and a samsaric god like my friend. I fold my hands to the Three Jewels.