Recently I’ve been reading a lot into Buddhist philosophies and the idea of Karma. I think it can be agreed on that in a simple enough sense karma is just: “do good, good comes to you” and “do bad, bad comes to you.” Now this makes complete sense to me from personal experience and other reading i’ve done on karma. But one thing that I was left wondering about was this:
If somebody believes strongly in karma and this belief has given them strong motivations to do good and be good to others, then that’s good, right?
Well what if this same person begins to develop a kind of greed that goes hand in hand with karma. This person could begin to think “Oh, if I do good then good comes to me. I will always do good to manifest all of these positive effects on my life and then I will always be happy.” So they begin to jump on every opportunity they find to do good. And if you apply this to the basic ideology of karma, good things will come to him right? Well to me this seems shallow. This just sounds no different to me than that one kid who every year on halloween takes the entire bowl of candy that the family who couldn’t be home to hand it out left out on their porch. This person begins to only do good so that he can ensure a good/positive future for himself and quite frankly he could care less about the results of these “good deeds.”
Personally I think this comes down to intention, and that intention comes hand in hand with karma. With good intention comes positive things, but with a selfish intention you’re doing no better than you were before even if you’re attempting to drown yourself in good karma.
I think intention is all that matters as well. Doesn’t matter what the action looks like on the surface, it’s the intention underneath that counts. For instance, I don’t think a person can really say that ALL war is bad, that ALL confrontation is bad, or that ALL non-violence is good, etc. You can’t just look at the surface of it. That also implies that in reality no physical action can really be judged as good or bad except by the person doing the action. Problem is a lot of the time we aren’t really conscious of the real reasons as to why we do certain things.
sometimes doing the right thing isn’t always a good idea. I’ve been an asshole in many points in my life and I’m aware of it, even when i’m acting like an asshole. if you’ve ever watched fight club, then there’s suddenly a thin line between good and preserving good. You see there are times where we have to do bad things to good people to make others realize the gravity of an issue but then again, it’s hard to define a ‘good’ person to people with different ideas.
@wesker53r86, what is “the right thing” though? Sometimes acting like an asshole is the right thing. Seemingly positive actions are not always the right thing to do (like non-violence, non-confrontation, turning the other cheek, etc). If you do something ‘bad’ to a ‘good’ person to make them realize something bigger and better, then aren’t you actually doing ‘good’? I would say you are. Again, it comes down to intention.
@Alex, I’m not sure you’re looking at the big picture of the ‘good deeds’ you mention. If they are truly good, it benefits someone altruistically(other than self) and it does not matter the self gets positive results back. Of course people want positive results, though, and there’s nothing wrong with wanting to help people out of reciprocity. Karma is much less important than doing good deeds. I can’t know just because I do a good deed I will benefit down the line; however, I can receive satisfaction and possibly returned favors from helping others.
Taking a whole bowl of candy is not a good example as it is not a good deed done with future benefit in mind as you were talking about. There’s nothing greedy about wanting positive things for yourself, and as long as you genuinely want to help others then there is harmony.
**Example: Friend needs help with labor. You offer to help because you don’t want to see your friend stressed. Friend offers you money for your effort and you gladly accept(or decline). No greed, just a good deed. Even if you have the thought of reward in mind and it is the only reason you decide to help, you are still helping so it is not selfish. I advise learning to take joy in the deeds themselves since tangible rewards aren’t everything.
@Shredder, so doing a ‘good deed,’ even if you feel totally empty inside while you’re doing it, is still a ‘good deed’? What if there’s no appreciation for the deed on the other end, either? Then it couldn’t be a good deed, it just looks that way. Intention behind the actions is really important in my opinion.
@Mikey W, of course intention is important; if you don’t intend to do a good deed then chances are a good deed will not be done. I think it is pretty clear whether an action helps another person or not, even if they don’t appreciate it. I don’t know much about feeling empty inside while doing good deeds, I need an example of this. I imagine that no, it is not a good deed, and certainly not what I was talking about. I mean truly having a desire to bring goodness into the lives of others, and maybe knowing goodness might come into yours as a result.
@Mikey W, exactly… the line between the two becomes much thinner and thinner when you see both sides of the argument
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