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Is there such a thing as collective karma?

Posted by te2ataria on July 12, 2019

sent by a reader:

Is there such a thing as collective karma?

[Mirrored from:] Tenth in a series of lectures presented at Leiden University
by Richard Hayes in the autumn of 2009

1.  The idea of collective karma

In previous lectures I have referred to an interview with Lati Rinpoche in which the topic was karma and rebirth. One of the topics that came up in that interview was the notion of collective karma.That portion of the dialogue went as follows:

Hayes: What is the most frequently encountered question when you are speaking to Western audiences?

Lati Rinpoche: People always want to know why the ways of the world are as they are and who created these things. People want to know why there is so much pain and suffering in the world, and why there are so many thieves and other bad people causing so much suffering for others.

Hayes: That reminds me of a question that was once put to me when I was giving a public lecture about Buddhism. A Jewish person in the audience asked me how the Buddhists would explain why during the Second World War in Europe so many innocent Jewish children, who had never done anything wrong to deserve punishment, were put to death in Nazi concentration camps or were left as homeless orphans. That situation was completely lacking in any justice in that so many of the victims were apparently totally innocent. How would Lati Rinpoche answer that question if it were put to him?

Lati Rinpoche:
The proper Buddhist answer to such a question is that the victims were experiencing the consequences of their actions performed in previous lives. The individual victims must have done something very bad in earlier lives that led to their being treated in this way. Also there is such a thing as collective karma.

Hayes: Do you mean that the Jewish people as a whole have a special karma?

Lati Rinpoche: Yes. All groups have karma that is more than just the collection of the karma
of the individuals in the group. For example, a group of people may decide collectively to start a war. If they act on that decision, then the group as a whole will experience the hardships of being at war. Karma is the result of making a decision to act in a certain way. Decisions to act may be made by individuals or by groups. If the decision is made by a group, then the whole group will experience the collective consequences of their decision.

Hayes: What can an individual do to change the karma of the group that he or she belongs to?

Lati Rinpoche: You can change all karma through practice. You can persuade the group to adopt pure attitudes and to develop pure practices.  []

Click to access Lecture10.pdf

[Kyabje Lati Rinpoche (1922 – 12 April 2010). Born in the Kham region of Eastern Tibet, Lati Rinpoche was identified as the reincarnation of a great practitioner by Gongkar Rinpoche and entered monastic life at the age of 10. ]

• •

8 Responses to “Is there such a thing as collective karma?”

  1. KB said

    Collective karma is entirely consistent with the 2011 triple disasters that hit Fukushima, Japan and the major disasters that are striking the US.

    • JK said

      Two of the most evil countries around!

      • Peter said

        What are the criteria for eligibility? How do you determine which nations are the most evil ones?

        • Dave said

          Use the “W” filter. It never fails.
          Wealth accumulation, wickedness, warmongering, wantonness, willful malice, wastefulness, & wreaking havoc on the earth.

    • Steve said

      It’s a highly plausible assessment confirmed also by the casualties in both the Christchurch Earthquake and the Air NZ flight 901 crash on Mount Erebus.
      Japan and China with 28 and 23 dead respectively followed NZ as the countries with largest numbers of casualties.
      In the Mt Erebus crash 257 people were killed:

      New Zealand – 200
      Japan: 24
      United States – 22
      United Kingdom – 6
      Canada – 2
      Australia – 1
      France: – 1
      Switzerland – 1

  2. Carl said

    Having worked in Japan for almost four years, I can state with certainty the country has the largest number of evil people per 100,000 of population. Most of them are clustered in Wakayama prefecture (Kansai region), where they ritually massacre tens of thousands dolphins every autumn. And they have just started a new chapter in the annual massacre of whales…

    Last year, the Japanese fishermen (supported by nearly the entire country) killed about 60,000 dolphins. Most of the poisoned meat were fed to their children in school meals, with the rest being exported to China.

    Dolphin meat is full of toxic metals and carcinogens including toxic mercury, cadmium, DDT, dioxins and PCBs. Some cuts of dolphin meat have about 6,500 times the “safe” level of mercury, which can very quickly lead to severe nervous system disorder and even insanity. [It’s often difficult to tell the difference between insanity due to inbreeding and mercury poisoning!]

    They used to commit genocide in the neighboring countries, too, killing many hundreds of thousands of Chinese, Filipino, Indonesian… The sick cultural ritual is now conducted by the United States.

    • Drew said

      I concur with your observation regarding the ubiquity of evil in Japan. For a couple of hundred years, Japanese population have been unflinchingly devoted to forming a uniform nation. There’s never been any meaningful objection to the atrocities, war crimes and crimes against humanity [or the butchery of beautiful sea creatures] committed by their almost permanently right-wing government and the pre-WWII military.

      My history teacher once likened the Japanese to 130 million “manufactured monkeys”, qualifying his remarks, based on their history of genocide across Asia, as follows:
      “They know no evil; they see no evil; they hear no evil; they just do what comes to them naturally!”

      He added: “The Japanese DNA lacks the genes that give birth to the conscientious objectors.”

  3. Gary said

    Kyoto Animation fire: Arson attack at Japan anime studio kills 34
    At least 34 people were killed and dozens more injured after a man set fire to an animation studio in the Japanese city of Kyoto.

    “I did it because they stole my novel,” the suspect allegedly told police, according to NHK, the public broadcaster. “They plagiarized my work. Call the president. I have something to tell him.”

    The suspect, Shinji Aoba, was described as a mentally troubled 41-year-old man, who had served prison time for robbery. He was undergoing treatment for mental illness at the time of the incident and is now in a burn unit in Osaka, Japan, reports citing unnamed police source said.

    A mentally disturbed person in Japan?? No way!!

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