Dong Hung Buddhist Temple
Tuesday Evening Discussion Group
March 11, 2014
The Venerable Thich Chuc Dai led the discussion. The Venerable Thich Chuc Thanh assisted. This is the first in a series of Tuesday Evening Discussion Groups the temple will be conducting through 2014. The notes I am presenting from these sessions will attempt to capture the key learning points of the topic which the Venerables concur to be in accordance with the Buddha’s teachings.
Prior to the group meeting, Thay Dai assigned the Majjhima Nikaya 135 sutra (the Short Exposition of Karma) for reading to provide the group a basis for beginning the study and discussion of Karma. Thay Dai opened the evening by asking everyone what their understanding of Karma is. Each of the eight participants responded with what they thought Karma was before they began their study of the Buddha’s teachings, and what they currently think Karma is. The responses included thoughts such as “cause and effect”, “what was done in the past affects the present and the future”, “Karma is action, not the result”, “Karma is a tool for balance in life” and “Karma is action with no control over the fruits of the action.”
Thay Dai then provided the group with a quote from the Buddha: “I declare, Bhikkhus, that volition is karma. Having willed, one acts by body, speech or thought.” Thay wrote the following concepts on the white board: 1) Volitional = action or doing and 2) Law of Moral Causation. These three items provided the basis for a lively discussion within the group regarding the components of karmic actions and conversely, what actions may or may not have a karmic impact. Discussion included a review of good (white) karma and bad (black) karma, the four combinations of the types of karma actions and results with the introduction of a possible “American” version, “gray karma”.
As the discussion moved to types of beings and that results of karmic actions in this life can result in being reborn in other realms of existence, Thay Thanh reminded us that the Buddha’s teachings are for human education to make good volitional thoughts, actions and speech. We ended the evening with the topic of euthanasia and making life or death decisions for other beings, including human beings.
For the next session on Tuesday, March 18, the participants are asked to formulate their thoughts on euthanasia and what they perceive the Dharma teaches us with respect to volitional actions resulting the death of another being.
Thay Dai also encourages the group to read other sutras regarding karma, including these:
Majjhima 1/136, the Great Exposition of Karma
Anguttara Nikaya, “The Book of Tens”, the deed born body.
March 12, 2014