It is of certain interest to me how does buddhism view the mechanics of karma accounting. By accounting I mean the weighing of intentions and outcomes and adjustment of the karmic ledger of the reincarnated unit - without a "supercomputer" to calculate all the expected probabilities.
Consider this example from the book [https://www.amazon.com/Three-Levels-Spiritual-Perception-Commentary/dp/0861713680] "The three levels of spiritual perception" by Kunga Tenpay Nyima:
"... there is a story in the Jakata Tales of one of the earlier lives of the Buddha as a bodhisattva. In that rebirth he was a sailor. While crossing a river in a ferry, through his bodhisattva's prescience he realized that one of the passengers was planning to kill all five hundred people aboard the ship. Quick as a wink, he killed the person intending the evil act. By doing so, he saved not only the other passengers but also the person who was planning to kill them, preventing him from committing such a terrible sin. Even though he did this at the price of killing a living being himself, because his intention was so good, and was motivated by compassion, both for the other passengers and for the would-be killer, it was, on balance a meritorious action."
Note the complexity of this scenario, and also extend it a bit in your imagination with other people suspecting that the killing could take place, and also the killer himself still debating in his mind as to whether to proceed and sink the ship. The bodhisattva could also not be 100% sure that the deed will eventually take place - as Buddhism rejects complete determinism and fatalism. There were other passenger with their intentions and decisions to act or not to act, passengers whose karma was to be punished on this ship and by not dying on that day the balance could have been changed for the worse. Imagine there were future killers among the passengers, etc etc.
There was a web of intentions, partial knowledge, and unknown outcomes.
- How does karma calculation proceed in this case without a supercomputer?
- How can we, as individuals, choose the right course of action without knowing the outcome of this complicated karmic accounting?