+2 votes
by (1.5k points)
Some people like snakes, some people run a mile from snakes, and some people are not disturbed by them.  Is this due to each persons Karma being different? or from a present memory that influences the mind in a certain way, with a different level in the process of perception?

If it’s from a memory that influences the mind (I.e. the environment imprinting and creating an understanding in the mind that snakes are dangerous), is that the Mano Vinnana component in the mind that tames the emotion?

3 Answers

0 votes
by (3.3k points)
edited by
Why not all the trees look the same? Why some trees branch out and some don't?  Why the fruits of different trees taste different? It's biodiversity. Why stones do not look the same? Some stones are colorful, dense, some are smooth, some are rough. It's the diversity of nature.  In the same way different people have different likes and dislikes. It's the diversity of different minds and bodies. The mind is not something separate from nature.
by (1.5k points)
its interesting that we all evolve in different ways?  But why? Given that everything came from a single source, means that before anything existed there was stability,
by (3.3k points)
How do you make the assumption that everything came from a single source? There is no answer to 'why?' as that question assumes an inherent purpose to nature.
by (1.5k points)
Well, The Big Bang.  The instant before, must have been perfect, static and stable.  I.e. nothingness.
Out of nothingness came an expanding dynamic Universe, one that is unstable and becomes more unstable with time. But the cosmos came from the single event.
Also, on Earth life became because of a single cell bacteria.  So why is everything so different and dynamic?
by (3.3k points)
Big bang is just a theory and nobody knows if it really happened and if it did, what's the nature of that single point and if it came from nothing or perhaps a gateway to another universe or source of matter and energy.  All life evolving from single cell organism is another scientific theory, but I believe this one is better explained in science. So I would suggest you to study a book on evolution for this.
by (1.6k points)
"Out of nothingness came an expanding dynamic Universe, one that is unstable and becomes more unstable with time. But the cosmos came from the single event.
Also, on Earth life became because of a single cell bacteria.  So why is everything so different and dynamic?"

You might want to look at Buddhist cosmology. That's a bit more complex than our present universe. https://www.arrowriver.ca/book/cosmoBook.php :)
by (1.5k points)
Just what I was thinking about this morning.  Buddhist cosmology. Thank you.
0 votes
by (890 points)
edited by

Why not take the at home course and find out for yourself? Without a strong mindfulness practice, the theoretical explanations serve little beyond entertainment for the mind.

It is of course all "memory" but the explanation is a bit deeper. What is happening here is that the same physical world appears differently to each of us based on our signature set of tanha (cravings)(*1). For a full understanding of the mechanics of bhava, one needs to get an idea of Dependent Co-arising mechanics DN 15MN 9.

Roughly: What we call a person can be modeled as a self perpetuating chain reaction of the 5 aggregates(*2). As MN 109 says, when there is phassa (contact) three of the aggregates arise - sañña (perception), vedanā (feeling) , sankhara (intention). Also as MN 109 says, based on the craving, different perceptions, feelings and intentions arise. 


  1. For a snake charmer - the perception could be "a thing to catch for the next show", feeling could be pleasant "exotic species so next show will be a hit" and the intention could be "planning to catch it before it vanishes".
  2. However for someone with traumatic childhood experience the perception could be "danger", feeling could be extremely "unpleasant", intention could be "chain reaction of thoughts and feelings" tantamount to panic.
  3. If one retains mindfulness during the contact a very different set of perceptions, feelings and intentions will arise, all leading to equanimity.

How does karma play a role in the above?

  1. The 2nd link of Dependent Co-arising (DN 15MN 9) is the record of our all our karma - like a flash drive.
  2. AN 3.77 hints at the mechanics for the above 3 examples - how karma is strengthened (examples 1 & 2) or overridden (example 3).
  3. Intuitively: 
    1. Every intention one sets create new karma. e.g. "next time i see a snake i will run from it" or "next time i see a snake I will be more mindful"
    2. Every time one acts on the intention, the "chain reaction" mentioned above increases in strength.
    3. Idea then is to act on the intentions with mindfulness.

BTW this is an excellent question. It points to the issue of dukkha (suffering), its causes, its cessation and path leading to its cessation.

(*1) The above is also the same reason why an alcoholic see the wooden cabinet as a source of alcohol, while the artisan sees the same cabinet as an example of art. And in the limit, the same reason why an Arahant is completely free of suffering in this very world.

(*2) MN 109 defines the aggregates, how they arise and how they are perceived.

by (1.5k points)
edited by
Very interesting.  Does karma (Action) play a roll though?
Yes, I shall take part in the at home course. I’m just a bit slow to get started :)
by (890 points)
Add a section above regarding how karma relates to all this.

> Yes, I shall take part in the at home course. I’m just a bit slow to get started :)
Yes please don't delay - all these discussions really don't help - as explained above mindfulness is the key skill to build.
+1 vote
by (1.6k points)
I'd say we perceive things according to the way our mind is conditioned and habituated. Habituation can be quite strong when it goes on for ages, lifetimes etc. (That's why I would suggest that the role of memory is not that great. Memory is mostly pretty limited.)

Our likes and dislikes and preferences are very much influenced by our dormant tendencies and the loop of addiction.

A positive experience with happy feeling results in us liking this happy feeling. Which leads to wanting of this happy feeling, chasing after it and then getting the happy feeling. With a negative experience it's all reversed (disliking of unpleasant feeling leads to aversion, to running way and freedom/relief).

The problem of the loop is that the last stage reinforces the belief that what we've done has actually increased our happiness and is the way to go. I'd say that you are quite right in thinking that kamma plays a part. Our reaction to the (un)pleasant feeling is the kamma-bit. And with meditation we train ourselves not to react to what's going on. So that this loop is broken and habituation dissolves.  

The way you formulated the question was about different people having a different reaction to the same object. But I'd say, it's even so that this different reaction can be observed within the same person. At one moment the sound of a singing bird is experienced as pleasant, the next moment it's experienced as annoying. So, you don't even have to compare different people.

Anyway, I would say that a lot of conditions are in play: kamma, conditioning, habituation, different conditions, tendencies etc. I can't image anyone knowing all things that are involved. But, who knows. :)

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