Karma - The Mechanism: Attraction to Karma

Published: 21.10.2014

Chapter 6 of the Tattvarthasutra

(1) With the activities of our body, speech and mind we attract karma to our consciousness.

(2) This attraction causes our consciousness and karma to interact (asrava).

(3) We experience two modes of karma:

  • positive karma (punya) - manifests as a subjectively agreeable feeling of life (positive experiences) and ideally will further our inner growth. It is caused by activities we generally regard as positive ('good', 'virtuous').
  • negative karma (paapa) - manifests as a subjectively disagreeable feeling of life (negative experiences) and obstructs our inner growth. It is caused by activities we generally regard as negative ('bad', 'evil').

(4) Karma affects us in two intensities:

  • actions caused or influenced by negative passionate emotions (samparayika) prolong the cycle of our incarnations
  • actions not influenced by these negative emotions (iryapatha) have only transient, short-lived karmic effects.

(5) With our five senses, four negative passionate emotions, indifference to the Five Freedoms and by 25 types of activities we attract karma that prolongs our cycle of incarnations (samparayika).

(6) Two persons may perform the same physical action, but experience different karmic effects.

These differences are caused

  • by the intensity with which each of them desired or planned the act
  • whether they performed the action with or without intention (e. g. through negligence etc.)
  • whether they initiated the action or were prompted to act by outside influences (the origin - adhikarana)
  • by the amount of energy and the ability each of them committed to the act.

(7) How karma manifests depends on whether the impulse for that activity

  • originated within our consciousness (jiva) or
  • was presented by our environment (by the ajiva-elements outside our consciousness).

(8) The karmic effects of actions originating within our consciousness are shaped by the following factors:

Whether we

  • only decide to act
  • actually prepare for the action (e.g. by collecting materials etc.) or
  • physically begin with the action.

Whether

  • we ourselves carry out the act
  • others carry out the act as a result of our instigation or
  • we only silently assent to the act (without taking any further part in it).

The instrument of activity through which we act (body, speech or mind) and whether we are motivated by anger, pride, the intention to deceive others or greed (the four negative passionate emotions) further affect the karmic consequences.

(9) When our environment (the ajiva-elements) prompts us to act, we shape these karmic effects by

  • the way we create actions, objects, thoughts etc.
  • the way we place objects
  • the way we combine objects and
  • the means we choose for carrying out an action.

(10) Rejecting, consciously ignoring or a negative attitude towards knowledge

  • withholding knowledge
  • refusing to impart knowledge out of envy or jealousy
  • obstructing the process of gaining knowledge
  • denying truth proclaimed by others although we recognize it as truth and
  • discrediting truth although we recognize it as such

attracts karma that prevents our intuition from orienting towards growth (samyag darshana). It also obstructs access to knowledge that advances our development (samyag jnana).

(11) Enjoying and prolonging pain, painful emotions or suffering

  • enjoying and prolonging feelings of grief, sadness, remorse, shame and commiseration
  • intentionally depriving others of their vitality and
  • lamenting openly to attract compassion and attention

attracts karma that produces a negative (painful) feeling of life - irrespective if we induce this in ourselves or in others.

(12) Compassion for all living beings

  • compassion for all who actively realize the Five Freedoms
  • charity based on compassion
  • self-control, even if it is not yet perfect
  • equanimity at the manifestation of positive and negative karmas
  • spiritual efforts, even if based on ineffective knowledge
  • meditation and intelligent behavior while we strive for freedom from all karmic limitations
  • forgiveness (our own and others' mistakes)
  • equanimity and
  • freedom from greed (freedom from the compulsion to accumulate more and more possessions)

attracts karma that produces a positive (happy) feeling of life.

(13) Doubt in (or a negative attitude towards)

  • the omniscient (kevali)
  • the knowledge contained in the scriptures (shruti)
  • the fellowship of seekers for the ultimate freedom (sangha)
  • the path to freedom from all karmic limitations (dharma) and
  • the inhabitants of higher (celestial) regions (devas)

attracts karma that obstructs insight in and understanding of reality.

(14) Intense negative emotions - anger, pride, the intention to deceive others and greed - prevent us to pursue activities that further inner growth.

(15) Excessive infliction of pain and excessive attachment to this world attracts karma that leads to incarnations in 'infernal' regions.

(16) Deceiving and misleading others attracts karma that leads to birth(s) in the world of animals and plants.

(17) Activities with mild attachment and moderate possessions attract karma that leads to incarnation(s) in human form.

(18) An attitude of natural mildness and modesty also leads to birth(s) in human form.

(19) Life that focuses exclusively on pleasures and enjoyment may cause incarnation(s) in any of the four forms.

(20) Self-control with slight attachment

  • partial realization of the Five Freedoms
  • equanimity at the spontaneous manifestation of karma
  • spiritual efforts, even if not based on correct understanding

attracts karma that leads to birth(s) in 'heavenly' regions.

(21) (In the inhabitants of 'heavenly' regions) orientation towards growth (samyag darshana) also attracts karma.

(22) Crooked and deceitful thoughts, words and actions attract karma that leads to the manifestation of an ugly, disagreeable body.

(23) The opposite (i.e. straightforward, honest thoughts, words and actions) attracts karma that leads to the manifestation of a pleasant, agreeable body.

(24) Sixteen types of actions and attitudes attract karma that manifests the body of a tirthankara (a perfect teacher who teaches from the state of omniscience):

  1. actively orienting towards growth (samyag darshana)
  2. appreciation for the means by which we reach freedom from all karmic limitations and all who strive towards this goal
  3. perfect realization of the Five Freedoms
  4. ceaseless pursuit of all knowledge that leads to freedom from all karmic limitations
  5. constant awareness of the temporary and limiting nature of the material form our consciousness is subjected to during its incarnations
  6. charity (dissolving the fear of others and supporting those striving for the ultimate freedom by supplying knowledge and food)
  7. overcoming the hardships we may confront while striving for freedom from all karmic limitations
  8. protecting others and removing obstacles on their path to freedom from all karmic limitations
  9. supporting others on their path to ultimate freedom by paying attention to their special needs (e.g. by preparing especially pure food etc.)
  10. respect and reverence for the omniscient
  11. respect and reverence for those who publicly represent and propagate freedom from all karmic limitations
  12. respect and reverence for those who teach freedom from all karmic limitations
  13. respect for the knowledge contained in the scriptures
  14. teaching others how to gain freedom from all karmic limitations
  15. performing six daily practices
  16. deep compassion and understanding for all who strive for the ultimate freedom.

(25) Speaking ill of others

  • praising ourselves
  • concealing good qualities and achievements of others
  • praising qualities we do not possess

attracts karma that leads to a low, inferior status in life.

(26) Its opposite (i.e.)

  • praising others
  • modesty
  • proclaiming the good qualities and achievements of others
  • refraining from praising our own qualities and achievements
  • respect for those further advanced towards freedom from all karmic limitations
  • freedom from pride in our own achievements

attracts karma that leads to a high, honored status in life.

(27) Obstructing and disturbing others

  • in their exercise of charity
  • in earning their livelihood
  • in their pleasures in consuming food etc.
  • in their enjoyment of comfort
  • in the use of their vitality and power

attracts karma that leads to obstructions in our life.

Sources

Title: Karma - The Mechanism

Publisher: Crosswind Publishing

Edition: 2000

HN4U Edition: 2014

'The purpose of souls is to assist each other.'
TATTVARTHASUTRA - Chapter 5, Sutra 21

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Page glossary
Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Anger
  2. Asrava
  3. Body
  4. Consciousness
  5. Darshana
  6. Devas
  7. Dharma
  8. Environment
  9. Equanimity
  10. Fear
  11. Greed
  12. Jiva
  13. Jnana
  14. Karma
  15. Karmas
  16. Kevali
  17. Meditation
  18. Omniscient
  19. Paapa
  20. Pride
  21. Punya
  22. Samyag Darshana
  23. Samyag Jnana
  24. Sangha
  25. Tirthankara
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