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According to popular belief of Karma, suffering is caused by oneself. I would like to know:

  1. Is one's own suffering caused by oneself?
  2. Is one's own suffering caused by others?
  3. Is one's own suffering caused by both oneself and others?
  4. Is one's own suffering spontaneous?
4

The teaching of 'good & bad kamma' is not Buddhist but is merely a conventional & universal understanding about 'personal' behavior found in most cultures & religions that is also part of Buddhism. The doctrine of kamma in Buddhism is called 'lokiya dhamma', which means a 'mundane' or 'worldly' understanding based on the view of 'self' or 'persons'.

To the contrary, the suttas state (eg. MN 56) that the unique or special teaching of the Buddhas is the Four Noble Truths, which includes the Noble Eightfold Path that ends kamma (refer to AN 6.63). The Noble Eightfold Path ends kamma because its fruition renders all kamma as 'not-self' ('anatta'). Such understanding in Buddhism is called 'lokuttara dhamma', meaning 'transcendent', 'supramundane' or 'beyond the world'.

Thus, according to 'lokuttara dhamma', suffering is impersonally caused by the element of ignorance according to the process of Dependent Origination.

In short, the Acela Sutta answers the question exactly.

Note: the Acela Sutta states the view that suffering is 'self-caused' is a form of 'Eternalism' and the view that suffering is 'other-caused' is a form of 'Annihilationism'.

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It would be not possible to give a better answer than the Buddha and his formost disciple in regard of teaching gave to this question, and further broad explainings to it would be not proper, so read carefully of who or what causes pleasure and pain:

"Friend Sariputta, there are some brahmans & contemplatives, teachers of kamma, who declare that pleasure & pain are self-made. There are other brahmans & contemplatives, teachers of kamma, who declare that pleasure & pain are other-made. Then there are other brahmans & contemplatives, teachers of kamma, who declare that pleasure & pain are self-made & other-made. And then there are still other brahmans & contemplatives, teachers of kamma, who declare that pleasure & pain are neither self-made nor other-made, but arise spontaneously. In this case, friend Sariputta, what is the Blessed One's doctrine? What does he teach? Answering in what way will I speak in line with what the Blessed One has said, not misrepresent the Blessed One with what is unfactual, and answer in line with the Dhamma so that no one whose thinking is in line with the Dhamma will have grounds for criticism?" Bhumija Sutta: To Bhumija

Touch of "not knowing" (avija), is the cause, is the reason of pleasure and pain, what ever identity one forms around it.

  • A proper translation here & where ever suttas use the terms "sukhadukkhaṃ paṭi­saṃ­ve­di" should be "happiness & suffering" rather than "pleasure & pain" because "pleasure & pain" is best reserved for "vedana". The Bhumiga sutta is not about vedana, just as "kamma" is not about vedana. Arahant experience vedana. Regards – Dhammadhatu Apr 27 '17 at 11:34
  • Then Dhammadhatu, if sukha and dukkha is not experiances in what is called vedana, how would he call pleasure and pain, happiness and suffering? Sankhara, vinnana, form, or sanna? To argue if happy or pleasure, suffering or pain might be better can be called ayoniso manasikara, or what does @Dhammadhatu think? – Samana Johann Apr 27 '17 at 11:54
  • And what else that vedana would be the effect of touch (of ignorance)? – Samana Johann Apr 27 '17 at 12:07
  • "sukhadukkhaṃ paṭi­saṃ­ve­di" refer to happiness & suffering, which is the end result of craving, attachment & becoming, etc, as described in MN 149...: "For him — infatuated, attached, confused, not remaining focused on their drawbacks — the five clinging-aggregates head toward future accumulation. The craving that makes for further becoming — accompanied by passion & delight, relishing now this & now that — grows within him. His bodily disturbances & mental disturbances grow. His bodily torments & mental torments grow.... He is sensitive both to bodily stress & mental stress.." – Dhammadhatu Apr 27 '17 at 21:15
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    Craving has what as cause? sukhadukkhaṃ paṭi­saṃ­ve­di in Dhamma that has a cause, or, @Dhammadhatu . In which aggregate does it belong, if not vedana? – Samana Johann Apr 27 '17 at 23:13
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'Suffering' in Buddhism means the pain we create for ourselves, not pain which is outside our control. Buddhism won't stop others assaulting you, stop you having accidents or stop you getting sick.

The suffering we create for ourselves, according to Buddhism is not spontaneous, in the sense of arising by itself, but has a cause, which is our ignorance.

"Monks, an uninstructed run-of-the-mill person feels feelings of pleasure, feelings of pain, feelings of neither-pleasure-nor-pain. A well-instructed disciple of the noble ones also feels feelings of pleasure, feelings of pain, feelings of neither-pleasure-nor-pain. So what difference, what distinction, what distinguishing factor is there between the well-instructed disciple of the noble ones and the uninstructed run-of-the-mill person?"

"For us, lord, the teachings have the Blessed One as their root, their guide, & their arbitrator. It would be good if the Blessed One himself would explicate the meaning of this statement. Having heard it from the Blessed One, the monks will remember it."

"In that case, monks, listen & pay close attention. I will speak."

"As you say, lord," the monks responded.

The Blessed One said, "When touched with a feeling of pain, the uninstructed run-of-the-mill person sorrows, grieves, & laments, beats his breast, becomes distraught. So he feels two pains, physical & mental. Just as if they were to shoot a man with an arrow and, right afterward, were to shoot him with another one, so that he would feel the pains of two arrows; in the same way, when touched with a feeling of pain, the uninstructed run-of-the-mill person sorrows, grieves, & laments, beats his breast, becomes distraught. So he feels two pains, physical & mental.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn36/sn36.006.than.html

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    Old saying: "Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional." – user2341 Apr 21 '17 at 12:07

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