...but it seems to me that a result will always have a cause has been incorrectly extended by many to nothing can be experienced unless you have created the cause. The problem with this is that there must be some random events mixed in with cause and effect.
You are correct! You have a bright discerning mind, that's the most precious which guided you in choosing the right path, also guarded you against misleading teachings. Learning Buddha's authentic teachings, or anything this days, is a path tracked along traps and hypocriticals.
In one instant (Ksaṇa), one is experiencing the results of causes also creating new causes; the mind discerns, then chooses the associated factors/responses at hand - in it there are random events, in your words; else this whole Karma equation will fall into the grip of Fatalism (Determinism), what the Buddha rebuked.
Like you, I don't understand why there is this
1. karma is determined in the list of Four Characteristics of Karma in Tibetan Buddhism. In Chinese Mahayana teachings, I've not heard about nor came across this FCK saying. It would be helpful if there is Sutra, or even Sastra can be quoted to refer to it's origin. Or it's the Guru's (Lama's) teaching? Or modern Buddhist scholar's (scholar-monk's) summery?
One of the notions of Karma I think that's closely related to this
karma is determined is, Bearer of Karma can't be Replaced (自作自受, the doer bears his own deed), in Chinese Mahayana. That said, even if you are the father/mother of the BKR, you can't replace your son/daughter to bear his/her Karma. Karma is like debt/saving but also unlike debt/saving, for no one can replace another to take it.
However, above Chinese Mahayana understanding is conflicting to some Tibetan teachings for I learnt that some Gurus can help their disciples to bear their Karmas. In fact, this is the initial when a student accepted a Lama as his Guru, i.e., right there this Guru has taken over this student's Karma, this student is "reborn" by the moment he accepting the Guru...
To say "Karma is determined" is very dangerous. So is @Andrei Volkov explaint in his
"On a mundane level...", although I believed he intended to emphasize one should take full responsibility of one's life. Yet it's easily fallen into the trap of fatalist. Indeed this saying has been hijacked/exploited by many ruling classes before our modern time. Examples in distance past and present is the Indian Caste System, and Tibetan Serfs System. (There are many articles both false and true surfing on the internet, the best is to see the photos and videos for they are the least capable of lying):
I stress, it's very precious to maintain your doubt: "how could Karma be determined?" "how could there no random events mixed in?"... etc. Keep your sane mind keep your reasoning until you realize yourself, not by anyone's telling you so and so. In fact any "super-master", "H.H. master", "Harvard PhD master"... etc. their job is not to transmit you a set of teachings sealed with "authorized", but to help you realize the knowledge by awakening your own wisdom.
Karma multiples. Chinese Mahayana thus teaches, don't disregard insignificant good because it's insignificant; don't do petty evil because it's petty. Be in awe of the rippling effect of Karma!
The better way to state your
3 is, "Karma will not come to fruition unless ripen". This explains neatly why there disbelief and argument of Karma, since the time of fruition is unpredictable, compounded with the superlative cause-effects and endless birth-deaths.
Karma doesn't dissipate is a warning that one should Think Thrice (三思) before his conducting life. The well-known example for this is about Maudgalyāyana/Moggallāna being beaten to death by the heretics. Despite his superior Rddhi/Iddhi accomplishment, by the moment of attack (fruition of Karma), he lost his powers completely, helpless and mindless to even remember a name of them.
A. Volkov is thorough to point out "On the enlightened level", Karma is understood differently. Yet still greatly different is Andrei's elaboration to Nagarjuna's. Nagarjuna said, Karma is empty. Why? Because in enlightened level, "I" is no longer constructed, hence, "others" ceased; if I ceased, the doer disappeared, therefore the doing no longer there; thus, Karma nixed. I think the key explanation is in Chapter 1 and 2 in Madhyamaka, however I don't think there good translation work in English around that enable one understand what he said, not to say his analogy required a very bright mind to grasp what he said. Maybe until a right moment will come for you to conduct the right study :).
My last friendly reminder, keep your bright discerning mind, do not accept because someone said so, only until you realize it's true, that's the guide and guard helping you along the path.
- answering the newly edited -
Your new version of
- Not experiencing the effects of actions you did not do.
There are 3 aspects:
A) This is a, if you will excuse me, bad sentence. This is called a sentence that "Begging the Question". It's like saying, you will not die if you haven't consumed the deadly toxin of the pufferfish; or Not experiencing the pain (effect) of cutting (action) if you did not cut yourself (do).
B) I was not able to locate where exactly this saying in the Lam Rim Chenmo 1, Tsong-Kha-Pa written in Tibetan, there are 4 Chinese translations, different English translations too. I believe it's making more sense to revert to your original quote, or as Andrei's quote
If karma were not accomplished, the result would not be experienced. These versions of translation/summery may better transmit TKP's original meaning.
C) Taking the sensible, more acceptable translation, still this way of saying is in logical conflict. How could a Karma be not accomplished? A Karma is the effect of an action, how could an effect be obtained if the action is not completed? Example, you hit someone, the fist contacted the body part of your object, this is a karma: hit someone; if your fist hasn't contacted your object, it's not called hit someone, right? Likewise, how could
karma were not accomplished, the result would not be experienced be established? Therefore, I think it's a corrupted statement trying to convey this statement Karma will not come to fruition unless ripen - what I learnt from the Chinese Mahayana source. And the translated Tibetan statement is really easily being hijacked again. For one can be playing with the marginal/edge. Like a boat will sink if overloaded, but the boat will never sink if it's even so close to overload but not overloaded, so that you can keep loading because the boat will not sink if not overloaded, even so close to overload... I think this may be employed as an aid and explanation, when to the higher level, the Tibetan teaching telling, to prove that one's realized a higher understanding of reality, one should disregard social norms... the more one challenging the existing/known norms, the more advance one's achievement in Dharma.
However, your core question is triggered by the
3. Not experiencing the effects of actions you did not do., though not really about the 3th of FCK. Because in your mind there is a question about when/how the 1st cause happened if experience must be experiencing the effect of a cause, an effect without cause is impossible, therefore experiencing the 1st effect is impossible, then how the 1st experience happened?
Think of a loop, or electric circuit, the end is the beginning, the beginning is the end. So in eons of death-births, in the perfect circle (not linear, that's how electricity can be live constantly, by switching on/off; not like a battery that after used up then dead), no beginning and end, so is cause-effects. Your this question arisen in the same way as in this post, a construct confined in the Four-statement when searching for the ultimate in the mind of intellect. In the Ultimate Truth, it's Suchness. Nagarjuan said in Madhyamaka, my transl. from Chi.:
... ... [excerpt]
The effect comes from cause, from non-cause?
The cause contains the effect, contains not the effect?
If from this comes the effect, thus called the cause;
If the effect is not yet born, why not called this non-cause?
Has or Hasn’t the effect already been in the cause, invalid are both;
If hasn’t how rendered it that cause, if has how it would need the cause?
If the effect not coming from cause, nor coming from non-cause;
Neither both, how renders it there the cause?
... ... [excerpt]
The effect not comes from cause, nor from non-cause;
There the effect unobtainable, hence vain is the cause and non-cause.
A graphical depiction in my words to help understanding this question: In the Ultimate, there's no spatial/temporal conditioning; there is no "I", hence no "others"; no observer (subject), hence no observed (object). It is you taking a position, now you have the cause causing your existing, defining your positioning... and the world is created.
I don't think I can give a solid answer to this question, maybe by analyzing your question you may come to understand the question and answer by yourself.
As far as I leant, Tsong-Kha-Pa (1357–1419CE) his teachings and writings were coming from a background with the Lama political power established, a need for religious reform due to the power struggles of different lineages, he synthesis the teachings and condensed in this The Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment. Traditional Chinese Mahayana held we should 1st consult and learn the Sutras - teaching spoken directly by the Buddha; then the Sastras - explanation of Sutras written by the Bodhisattvas or Great Masters with achievements. Tsong-Kha-Pa's in the Sastras category the max., however not sure which Sutras he was referring to. As far as I learnt, TKP himself didn't practice his own teaching, he was never a Tantra Yoga practitioner himself. His last vow was hoping to be reborn in Tusita, until then when Maitreya Buddha be born, to complete his quest together .
There is not lack of controversy in the Tibetan Tantra Yoga practice. In the linked article the former Dakini even has strained relationship with her own father for she thought her father set it up. Little did she know nor she was able to mention, in Tsong-Kha-Pa's Lamrim Chenmo/Nagkrim Chenmo it taught the apprentice should offer his women, from wife (girlfriend), daughter, sister, aunt to anyone related to him, to his Guru...
It's not such a mystery or it's also very mysterious of the Tibetan Tantra Yoga. I believe it has it's psycho-physiological reasoning, also the reasoning in the way of Qi (氣, Prana), Chakra, Nidas (Mài 脈)... etc. The Daoist having this type of harnessing sexual energy skill, so the Indian... though I can't say these are all the same. There is certain truth about desire is not rid by suppression... But I really can't discern if the Buddha will teach such technique (or it's not for human, but for celestial beings some said) even if it's having effect, if the harm is bigger than the effect, especially the harm to the objects that's used in aiding the practitioner.
Tibetan Tantra Yoga was a skill widely adopted by the Emperors, especially after China fell to the Mogonlian rule around 1360CE, inside the Emperor's zenana. So was the Lamas ruling Tibet. Not sure how do general public carry out the practice; perhaps Hugh Hefner that type of super-rich has the exclusivity, without causing complaints since those were knowingly working like his playgirls.
Anyhow, I think it's always good to learn something. It is in my task to give Tsong-Kha-Pa's writings a read, but there are many other more important Sutras also Sastras I need to study first. I've already save a copy of Lamrim Chenmo in my collection.
I read some learnt said Tibetan Buddhism built upon the wrong interpretation of Nagarjuna's Madhyamaka, it mistaken the 6th Vijnana the foundation; not the 8th Vijnana. Nagarjuna's Emptiness is referring to the 8th... Some said the real Tibetan School was extinct, it was Jonang, teaching the real Tathāgatagarbha, but wiped out and replaced by the 5th Dalai Lama... And Vajrayana (金剛乘) is not exclusivity of Tibetan Buddhism, historically there are Vajrayana teaching in different schools, like Tientai, Huayan, and Ch'an/Zen is the greatest of Vajrayana, like a great secret laid open in plain sight but only for those can see it. In fact the fundamental Sutra for Ch'an school is Diamond Sutra, which, diamond and Vajra are the same word: 金剛 (Pinyin: Jīngāng), thus Diamond Sutra in Pinyin is Jīngāng Jīng... I think it's too deep for the general Western practitioners due to they are new in contacting Buddhism, due to the lack of Sutras they can read in English, also English Sutras correctly transmitting the teaching...
If you are interested to dab more a bit in Buddhism, I think a good translation work was Blue Cliff Record, done by Thomas Clearly. I read by chance one or two chapters I was impressed, until recently I learnt who is Thomas Clearly and he also translated the Avatamsaka Sutra, I will recommend and also is in my list to acquire this work. the Platform Sutra (grasping the fundamental principles in the most plain words) by Red Pine is not a bad read, though the accuracy is in question but I see Red Pine is genuine in his trying his best. These are suggestions if you are interested, though I think to follow whichever teaching is purely a personal choice. But to read something in the different sect is always a good balance also good cross-checking process ;).
My last, keep your bright discerning mind as guide and in guarded, be safe in your venture!