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Suppose a father is abusing his 3 year old child. As a consequence, the child is suffering. Who is the cause of the child's suffering?

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    The child is causing the child's suffering. Others may cause us pain, but only we can choose to suffer because of it. Out of delusion, we see no other choice but to suffer pain. – Ryan Jun 22 '15 at 0:24
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    Why not ask, "What is the cause of the suffering?" For example, ignorance etc. – ChrisW Jun 22 '15 at 7:55
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    @Ryan Ideally try to post an answer as an answer, not as a comment (comments are not made for answers but are more for asking for clarifications or suggesting improvements to the question). – ChrisW Jun 22 '15 at 9:16
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    I always feel like my "answers" are too short and succinct to be accepted as actual answers, hence I post them as comments instead. I'll try to be thorough enough to be able to post real answers going forward – Ryan Jun 22 '15 at 11:13
  • @Ryan What's wrong with a short, concise and pithy answer like your "comment" above? Do you mean the child causes the child's own suffering by "reacting" to the pain? Pain X Reaction=suffering? – Lowbrow Jun 22 '15 at 20:35

11 Answers 11

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The Pali scriptures (SN 12.17) state, from the perspective of ultimate truth, that the cause of suffering is 'ignorance' (rather than 'one-self' or 'another').

However, in the conventional scenario presented in the question, the father is causing the suffering because a 3 year old child does not have the cognitive capacity to engage the Buddhist path.

What is occurring to the child has no relationship to any (imaginary) past lives. I have never read this idea in the Pali suttas, where suffering (dukkha), let alone the suffering of helpless small children, is attributed to past lives.

The suffering is due to the evil within the mind of the father because the child cannot overcome the in-born ignorance in their mind that is causing the suffering.

Dhammapada 137 clearly states there are "innocent" victims of crime & AN 3.61 states what a person feels in not related to past kamma.

137. He who inflicts violence on those who are unarmed and offends those who are inoffensive, will soon come upon one of these ten states:

138-140 Sharp pain, or disaster, bodily injury, serious illness, or derangement of mind, trouble from the government, or grave charges, loss of relatives, or loss of wealth, or houses destroyed by ravaging fire; upon dissolution of the body that ignorant man is born in hell.

~~~

When one falls back on what was done in the past as being essential, monks, there is no desire, no effort [at the thought], 'This should be done. This shouldn't be done.' When one can't pin down as a truth or reality what should & shouldn't be done, one dwells bewildered & unprotected. One cannot righteously refer to oneself as a contemplative. This was my first righteous refutation of those brahmans & contemplatives who hold to such teachings, such views.

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I don't know if you intentionally chose "Who", since "What" seems a better question. I'll take some license and rephrase the question (I hope you don't mind).

  • Q: What causes the child's suffering?
  • A: Many things.

For any event Y, X caused Y if removing X removes Y. Note that Y can have many causes! For instance, some of the causes of the child's suffering include...

  1. The abusive parent.
  2. The child's reaction.
  3. The child's nervous system.
  4. The laws of physics.

And so on. Remove any of them from the equation and the suffering ceases.

Thinking in terms of a single cause of suffering (or in terms of who suffers) reinforces the kind of "ownership" of action or "mental object" that serves as a focus for clinging, especially to self.

Now if you wish to relieve an abused child's suffering, then I recommend local law enforcement or a child protective agency.

4

Lord Buddha has rejected the following

  1. That everything happens automatically, for no specific reason or force.
  2. That everything happens according to a will of a God or similar
  3. That everything happens because of Karma

It is the 3rd that you seem to question here. The Father is definitely choosing to do the action. He is responsible for his own actions, he cannot leave the responsibility to Karma or anything else. Buddha had Vinaya Nikaya with set of consequences for those who miss-behave.

How past Karma applied here is anyone's guess (except for Lord Buddha, who could see directly). It's extremely difficult to say, and the subject of "Karma Pala" (Karma Result) was once classified as "Achinthya" meaning infinite, which would be just too much for a normal mind to grasp. Note it's the result of the Karma which is hard to grasp, the Karma itself is well taught of. This could be because we accumulate an infinite amount of Karma.

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    Are you saying that the cause of the child's suffering is the father because the father is choosing to do the action? – beginner Jun 23 '15 at 9:13
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    In a simple answer to "Who" is, father yes. I am aware that you could analyse how Karma in action here and how suffering is in your own mind rather than action. But father is still responsible and will have the consequence. Karma shouldn't just be used to explain extreme examples, the fact that we see is also result of Karma. – xelber Jun 23 '15 at 23:36
  • You are saying the father is the cause of the child's suffering. I have updated my answer, to reflect my thoughts on it. – beginner Jun 24 '15 at 11:45
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"Phagguna, if anyone were to give you a blow with the hand, or hit you with a clod of earth, or with a stick, or with a sword, even then you should abandon those urges and thoughts which are worldly. There, Phagguna, you should train yourself thus: 'Neither shall my mind be affected by this, nor shall I give vent to evil words; but I shall remain full of concern and pity, with a mind of love, and I shall not give in to hatred.' This is how, Phagguna, you should train yourself." http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.021x.budd.html

"Monks, even if bandits were to savagely sever you, limb by limb, with a double-handled saw, even then, whoever of you harbors ill will at heart would not be upholding my Teaching. Monks, even in such a situation you should train yourselves thus: 'Neither shall our minds be affected by this, nor for this matter shall we give vent to evil words, but we shall remain full of concern and pity, with a mind of love, and we shall not give in to hatred. On the contrary, we shall live projecting thoughts of universal love to those very persons, making them as well as the whole world the object of our thoughts of universal love — thoughts that have grown great, exalted and measureless. We shall dwell radiating these thoughts which are void of hostility and ill will.' It is in this way, monks, that you should train yourselves." http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.021x.budd.html

"165. By oneself is evil done; by oneself is one defiled. By oneself is evil left undone; by oneself is one made pure. Purity and impurity depend on oneself; no one can purify another." http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/kn/dhp/dhp.12.budd.html

Indeed, the father's abuse should be stopped if it can be stopped, but we should remain unaffected by his actions. Why?

If we are trained like it is said above, the actions of the father should not give raise to aversion, hatred, evil words, hostility, anger, sadness, ill will and similar in our minds. Only a delusioned mind, permeated with ignorance, could be affected by the father's actions.

Indeed, the abuse of the father is wrong action done by the father. Why?

If the father would be trained like it is said above, his mind would never give raise to aversion, hatred, evil words, hostility, anger, sadness and similar. Only a delusioned mind, permeated with ignorance, could be affected in such a way to give raise to aversion, hatred, evil words, hostility, anger, sadness, ill will and similar. Thus, if the father knew this truth and practiced it, he would never abuse his child, his mind would be unaffected, ill will would never arise in him and the abuse stemming from ill will would never happen.

Indeed, the father should be helped if he can be helped. Why?

If we are trained like it is said above, we would feel an immense compassion towards all beings, especially towards the ones whose minds are permeated with ignorance who have not or cannot yet accept the truth like it is said above.

Thus, the abuse of the father is wrong action done by the father. The cause of abuse is in the father.

This is the truth of the cause of suffering of the father.

Indeed, the child's suffering should be stopped if it can be stopped, but we should remain unaffected if it can't be stopped. Why?

If we are trained like it is said above, the suffering of the child should not give raise to aversion, hatred, evil words, hostility, anger, sadness, ill will and similar in our minds. Only a delusioned mind, permeated with ignorance, could be affected by the child's suffering.

The suffering of the child is wrong action done by the child. Why?

If the child would be trained like it is said above, his mind would never give raise to aversion, hatred, evil words, hostility, anger, sadness and similar. Only a delusioned mind, permeated with ignorance, could be affected in such a way to give raise to aversion, hatred, evil words, hostility, anger, sadness, ill will and similar. Thus, if the child knew this truth and practiced it, he would never suffer, his mind would be unaffected, sadness, anger and fear would never arise in him.

You could argue: "Yes, but a 3 year old child cannot be trained like it is said above. He is too young to grasp the truth and liberate his mind from ignorance! Thus, the child's suffering is not wrong action done by the child!"

It is wrong action. Just as a lion cannot grasp that killing is wrong action, in the same way a 3 year old child cannot grasp that suffering is wrong action. Just as an adult cannot grasp that suffering is wrong action, in the same way a 3 year old child cannot grasp that suffering is wrong action.

Indeed, the child should be helped if he can be helped. Why?

If we are trained like it is said above, we would feel an immense compassion towards all beings, especially towards the ones whose minds are permeated with ignorance who have not or cannot yet accept the truth like it is said above.

Thus, the suffering of the child is wrong action done by the child. The cause of suffering is in the child.

This is the truth of the cause of suffering of the child.


What would a liberated Buddhist say is the cause of the child's suffering: the father, the child, both the father and the child or something (or someone) else?

I think the answer to the cause of suffering can only be one: the cause of suffering is always within the one who is suffering.

Consider a 3 year old child. His father is abusing him. As a consequence, the child is suffering. Remove the abuse and the child will stop to suffer. But, is the cause of suffering in the child really removed? No. Read the story about Mistress Vedehika http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.021x.budd.html

When the abuse is removed from the child, the cause of suffering is still present within him, his mind is still ignorant.

Even if the child had a perfect father and perfect living conditions for the rest of his life, in such a way, that no aversion, hatred, evil words, hostility, anger, sadness, ill will and similar would arise in his mind until the moment of death, he would still not be liberated from suffering - he would still be reborn after death. Why? Because he still craves and clings, even though his life was perfect, without any suffering. He was clinging and craving. He was suffering.

Furthermore, if we take the view "the cause of suffering is sometimes within me and sometimes outside me", we would make the same mistake described in the story of mistress Vedehika. We would remove the cause outside us, but the true cause of suffering would still be within us. By taking such a wrong view "the cause of suffering is sometimes within me and sometimes outside me" is like putting your head in the sand. No liberation would come in taking such wrong view.

Indeed, if we had a chance to help the child or the father, we would not say to them: the cause of suffering is always within the one who is suffering. Why? Because they wouldn't understand it properly because of ignorance. The child would probably become even more hurt because the blame for his suffering would be put on him. The father's evil doing would probably continue because he would have one more excuse to cause suffering to others: "I'm not to blame, I'm not the cause of anybody's suffering". Thus, we would need to choose our words carefully and wisely. That was not the question. The question was, what's the cause of the child suffering, not what would be the best way to liberate the child from suffering.


UPDATE

Suppose we have this view regarding the child's cause of suffering: "The cause of the child's suffering is the father"

With such a view, liberation from suffering comes from the child's ability to have control of his surrounding environment. When he will develop perfect control of his surrounding environment, his suffering will cease. Now suppose 20 years later a bandit comes into his perfect environment and abuses him. As a consequence, he suffers. Has the child really attained liberation from suffering? No. Why? Because the child clings on his surrounding environment.

Furthermore, is his environment permanent or impermanent? Impermanent. Can he have perfect control over his environment or can he not? He can not. Is worldly existence satisfactory or unsatisfactory? Unsatisfactory.

How could this be the right path towards liberation? It can't and it isn't. Why?

Because the child is searching for the cause of suffering outside, not within. The child had wrong view "the cause of my suffering is outside me, in my environment, in beings that surround me, in actions these beings perform on me, in actions my environment performs on me, in actions my body performs on me, in actions bacterias and viruses perform on me, in actions bandits perform on me, in actions my father performs on me, ..."

With such wrong view, clinging and craving cannot be removed. With such wrong view, the Second, Third and Fourth noble truths cannot come to fruition:

  1. Suffering, as a noble truth, is this: Birth is suffering, aging is suffering, sickness is suffering, death is suffering, sorrow and lamentation, pain, grief and despair are suffering; association with the loathed is suffering, dissociation from the loved is suffering, not to get what one wants is suffering — in short, suffering is the five categories of clinging objects."

  2. The origin of suffering, as a noble truth, is this: It is the craving that produces renewal of being accompanied by enjoyment and lust, and enjoying this and that; in other words, craving for sensual desires, craving for being, craving for non-being.

  3. Cessation of suffering, as a noble truth, is this: It is remainderless fading and ceasing, giving up, relinquishing, letting go and rejecting, of that same craving.

  4. The way leading to cessation of suffering, as a noble truth, is this: It is simply the noble eightfold path, that is to say, right view, right intention; right speech, right action, right livelihood; right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration."

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn56/sn56.011.nymo.html


Suppose we have this view regarding the child's cause of suffering: "The cause of the child's suffering is in his fathers's Karma"

With such a view, liberation from suffering comes from the child's ability to have control of his father's Karma.

Can we have full control over the Karma of others? No. Can we have "some" control over the Karma of others? Yes. How? By having the ability to control the actions of others.

The ability to control the actions of others arises from the ability to have control of our surrounding environment. Again, liberation from suffering would come from our ability to have control of our surrounding environment.

Is the environment permanent or impermanent? Impermanent. Can we have perfect control over our environment or can we not? We can not. Is worldly existence satisfactory or unsatisfactory? Unsatisfactory.

How could this be the right path towards liberation? It can't and it isn't. Why?

Because we are searching for the cause of suffering outside, not within. Our view "The cause of the child's suffering is in his fathers's Karma" is wrong.

With such wrong view, clinging and craving cannot be removed. With such wrong view, the Second, Third and Fourth noble truths cannot come to fruition.


Suppose we have this view regarding the child's cause of suffering: "The cause of the child's suffering is in the child's Karma"

With such a view, liberation from suffering comes from the child's ability to have control of his Karma.

Can we have full control over our Karma? No. Can we have "some" control over our Karma? Yes. How? By having the ability to control our actions.

The ability to control our actions arises from the ability to have control of our minds.

Can we have perfect control over our minds or can we not? Yes we can.

How could this be the right path towards liberation? It is. This is the right path to liberation. Why?

Because we are searching for the cause of suffering within. Our view "The cause of the child's suffering is in his Karma" is right.

With such right view, clinging and craving can be removed. With such right view, the Second noble truth will come to fruition. When the Second noble truth comes to fruition, the Fourth noble truth will lead us to meditation - a search for the cause of suffering within, not outside. Once we find the cause within, the Third noble truth will come to fruition.

And what is the cause by which stress comes into play? Craving is the cause by which stress comes into play."

And what is the result of stress? There are some cases in which a person overcome with pain, his mind exhausted, grieves, mourns, laments, beats his breast, & becomes bewildered. Or one overcome with pain, his mind exhausted, comes to search outside, 'Who knows a way or two to stop this pain?' I tell you, monks, that stress results either in bewilderment or in search. This is called the result of stress."

And what is the cessation of stress? From the cessation of craving is the cessation of stress"

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an06/an06.063.than.html


Suppose we have this view regarding the child's cause of suffering: "The cause of the child's suffering is in the child's mind" or "The cause of the child's suffering is in the child" or "The cause of the child's suffering is within the child"

With such a view, liberation from suffering comes from the child's ability to have control of his mind.

With such a view, liberation from suffering comes as already described above.

Whenever we are searching for the cause of suffering within us, sooner or later the four noble truths will come to fruition. Whenever we are searching for the cause of suffering outside us, the four noble truths will never come fully to fruition.


Craving and clinging within the child is the cause of the child's stress. This is the only right view if we want to reach full liberation.

Conventional thinking about the cause of suffering goes like this:

When things are in order, I'm happy. When I'm happy, I will cling on things being in order. When things are not in order, I'm not happy. When I'm not happy, I will crave for things coming into order. Things are changing order, there is nothing I can do about it. Thus, sometimes I'll be happy, sometimes I'll be not happy.

Buddhist thinking about the cause of suffering goes like this:

Things are changing order, there is nothing I can do about it. When things are in order, I will not cling on things being in order. When things are not in order, I will not crave for things coming into order. Thus, I'll not be, which is beyond happiness or anything you've ever imagined.

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    The law of kamma does not apply to animals such as lions. The answer is also wrong in negating the view: "A 3 year old child cannot be trained like it is said above. He is too young to grasp the truth and liberate his mind from ignorance! Thus, the child's suffering is not wrong action done by the child!". The Pali suttas explain 'kamma is intention'. The child does not act with intention thus its suffering is not due to kamma. The suffering is solely due to ignorance. This is why in the secular world children, let alone 3 year olds, are not treated in courts of the law the same way as adults – Dhammadhatu Oct 1 '16 at 12:05
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I don't understand how we could ever be fully awake or conscious of past lives we have had. How can something we have no memory/awareness of and no way to gain memory/awareness of be the cause of karma in our lives now? That just seems so unfair. I'm not sure if I even believe in past lives, future lives - that's not the point of the Path, right? The Path is to live here and now, always.

Also, I understand that suffering always comes from inside so the child suffering from an abusive father's actions is "the cause of his or her own suffering." Logically, without judgment, I understand that. But what choice does the child have in their situation? They do not have the choice to be aware. The choice to follow the Path and love themselves and everyone else in loving kindness. I wish to God I had had the awareness when my mother was yelling at me that I was a pig and selfish and criticizing my body and just everything about me - I wish as a child I had been able to somehow discover Buddhism. But ultimately, what choice do you have when you're brought into the world in a hypnotic mind-state where all you do is observe and soak in everything around you? You soak up all the suffering your parents are going through. It doesn't make it your "fault". Your brain is literally just new and growing. I don't understand putting responsibility for change and growth on a child. I just don't. I gues what I'm saying is why ask that question in the first place - who or what is the cause of the child's suffering? Does it help the child to determine logically that the child is the cause of its own suffering? No, because they don't really have the wherewithal to have a choice in their situation - or the resources and tools to change anything, really.

  • I'll try to give some perspective. Memory/awareness is a fabrication. Not truth. There is no death and birth. Both are fabrications, not truths. Child has no choice to be aware/follow the Path, due to ignorance. Not having many choices and only observing and soaking is due to ignorance. It is none fault, because of no self. It is your/father's/mother's/etc. fault because of ignorance. Thus, child is only a fabrication. Responsibility is a fabrication. Everything is a fabrication. – beginner Sep 9 '17 at 8:02
  • Child can't determine logically his suffering, due to ignorance. Nobody is to blame for that - remember: no self. Even though everything/responsibility is a fabrication, a being needs to fabricate everything/responsibility/memory/awareness/etc. to be able to follow the Path, remove his ignorance and gain wisdom. That's why Buddha teaches how to live a responsible life, in peace and harmony (no violence, no stealing, no hatred, etc.). – beginner Sep 9 '17 at 8:03
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Another way to answer this, is that there isn't really a child suffering in ultimate reality, and no father either...All there is is what we are truly experiencing in awareness, moment by moment. One really can't fit a child or father into moment by moment reality(ultimate reality). In ultimate reality no one is to blame, suffering is just suffering that is the effect of a previous cause. ...but that doesn't mean we throw conceptual reality out the window. All of the Pali Canon is conceptual after all. I doubt anyone could understand this without practicing continuous moment by moment mindfulness. That is why I stress that the answer to this question can be found eventually in the practice of mindfulness(along with virtue and concentration).

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    +1 for the sammuti sacca vs. paramattha sacca explanation. – Lanka Jun 22 '15 at 20:29
  • This still does not answer the question: who or what is the cause of the child's suffering? – beginner Jun 22 '15 at 23:15
  • @beginner Sure, in conceptual reality you can answer this question but you won't get a truly deep answer unless you meditate. In ultimate reality, if you saw "the child" it would be just a formation. Reality doesn't say "this is a child", "this is a car", "this is suffering", "this is a bellybutton"...We say these things, they don't arise in ultimate reality ...they arise from language...they arise from our minds. Did reality name you? No, a mental process named you. Things like names, laws and Redwood Trees are concepts from conceptual reality. – Lowbrow Jun 24 '15 at 21:23
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Another user has already mentioned the different realities so i will make it short.

In paramattha sacca, i.e. ultimate reality, there exists no conventions or concepts, meaning that there is no one who suffers, there is no creator of kamma or receiver of kammic results.

In sammuti sacca, i.e. conventional reality there exists concepts such as people, entities, animals, a father, a child etc.

Here the father is the cause of his own suffering. He is creating his own suffering by giving rise to unwholesome intentions based on Greed and Delusion.

The child is the creator of its own suffering by reacting to the phenomena, i.e. the fathers abuse. There might arise physical and mental pain, anger, sadness and the like. If the child reacts to these mental and physical phenomena the child is taking ownership of them and identifying with them.

There is a difference between saying:

"Pain, anger or sadness has arisen" and "I am angry, sad or feeling pain".

First one is objective. There is observation and non-interaction with the object(s).

The second one is when one is having wrong view due to ignorance and thinking that there is a Self that is experiencing and the owner of these phenomena.


To sum up: The child is the cause for its own suffering. The father can only impinge on the child's senses. Its the identifying, taking ownership of and having aversion to the objects that creates the suffering.

  • Thanks for the answer. Are you saying that with the removing of ignorance, anger or sadness still arise, but the experiencer does not react to it? If yes, do you have a source for this? – beginner Jun 24 '15 at 13:34
  • Look up "Paticca sammupada, i.e. The doctrine of Dependent Origination": vipassana.com.my/ebooks/deporigin.pdf. Removing of ignorance takes place when one achieves wisdom which is insight knowledge into how reality functions, i.e. the 3 signs of existence. – Lanka Jun 24 '15 at 14:51
  • @beginner en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… suggests that "freedom from ignorance" implies "arahant". Freedom from anger or ill-will implies "anāgāmi" (non-returner). Freedom from identity view (saying 'I' am suffering) implies sotāpanna. So I think that anger has ceased to arise, before the removal of ignorance is complete. – ChrisW Jun 24 '15 at 14:59
  • In paramattha sacca, i.e. ultimate reality, there is suffering & a creator of kamma or a receiver of kammic results. SN 12.17 states "It's not the case, Kassapa, that stress does not exist. Stress does exist." Ignorance is the creator of suffering & the mind (citta) reaps the results of karma. – Dhammadhatu Oct 1 '16 at 11:59
  • @Dhammadhatu. A Creator is a concept just as a man, woman, animal etc. In ultimate reality concepts do not exist. There exists only Rupa, Citta, Cetasika, Nibbana. This is my understanding of it. – Lanka Oct 2 '16 at 13:27
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We suffer as a result of past unwholesome karma(action). In the next life it is likely the abuser becomes the abused. That's Buddhism and the reason we don't like it is because we cling to our ideas given by society and we have no deep understanding of how things are what they are and nothing more. We don't like children to be abused more than we don't like adults to be abused when ultimately in Samsara we are all infants making our way. We can gradually grow up(become enlightened) when we constantly practice virtue, concentration and mindfulness. In order to practice mindfulness we first must learn a meditation technique(hopefully under a teacher's guidance but a teacher isn't absolutely necessary). Then it takes a little faith to practice the technique that may appear, at first glance to be pointless and repetitive. Then it takes effort to practice, it takes interest in the practice. One should ask themselves if they are interested in not suffering. When practicing, we little by little see directly what the Buddha was trying to teach us and this gives us faith or rather it gives us confidence in the Buddha's teachings we still can't understand.

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    So, the abusing father is not the cause of his child suffering? – beginner Jun 22 '15 at 10:29
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    The abusing father is the cause of his own suffering. You cannot harm another without first harming yourself. – Ryan Jun 22 '15 at 11:15
  • Is the abusing father the cause of the child's suffering or is the abusing father not the cause of the child's suffering? – beginner Jun 22 '15 at 11:28
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    The abusing father is not the cause of suffering. The child is giving rise to suffering through its ignorance. The father is only causing pain. – Ryan Jun 22 '15 at 11:41
  • Ok. If this is the correct answer I will mark it as answered. Write an answer so I can mark it. – beginner Jun 22 '15 at 12:45
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In a relative sense, it is obvious that the father is the cause of the child's immediate suffering. That is plain to see. If the father was not abusing the child, then at least this one suffering would not exist.

On a deeper level, however, all suffering is caused by karma. That is one of the four noble truths. For the father, his karma has ripened in a negative way such that it bears the fruit of abuse. His karma also has likely placed him in an environment to lead to such a situation. The father's suffering in this situation is thus caused by his own karma.

For the child, his/her karma has ripened in such a way that he/she is in a relationship that has fostered abuse against him/her even if it is not the child's direct immediate responsibility. It is the law of cause and effect - the child's suffering was the result of ripened karma. The child was born into a specific circumstance and so on, and so forth.

This does not mean that the child bears guilt for the situation at all. We, especially Westerners, develop attachment to the victim in a situation and produce a dualistic mindset of perpetrator vs. victim. On a relative level this is important - the father should be punished under the law. However, according to Buddhism, we develop equanimity for all. We feel equal compassion for both the child and father as we see with deeper wisdom that the karmic fruits of both parties led (and will lead) to their suffering. But each person bears their own karma - each person bears their own suffering as a result of their karma and the ignorance in their mind.

To contrast, I recently read an account of two Tibetan nuns who were imprisoned, tortured, and raped for many years by their Chinese oppressors after the 1959 occupation of Tibet by China. Instead of choosing suffering, however, these women viewed what was happening as the result of karma and thus were able to find peace in the situation in that the karma was being resolved - it would not linger any longer after the events were over.

Horrific and horrible as a situation may be, a mind directed towards enlightenment can view any situation and opt to avoid suffering and thus end the negative karma. We can also choose not to act on negative karma (i.e. in the case of the father in the abuse) and avoid it as well. It is not fatalism to hold such a view of karma - each decision is indeed our own responsibility moment to moment. That said, if we are not brought out of ignorance, we may never see it as such and thus cycles of abuse can persist across generations of families. Perhaps the father was abused when a child - you can see how things get complicated quickly.

Of course, it would be wrong to simply say, "Well, too bad, that was the karma." That is fatalistic and incorrect and lacking compassion and love. However, once one has received wisdom and had some level of realization, you can see how any one being's suffering, be it human, animal, or otherwise, is the result of their own karma and the subsequent results from karmic causes. It is the cause and effect that has persisted indefinitely backward in time and stopping one's own negative karma is indeed a big part of enlightenment.

  • Hi Mishtook, correct, if you read further down you would see I agree with you: "Horrific and horrible as a situation may be, a mind directed towards enlightenment can view any situation and opt to avoid suffering and thus end the negative karma. We can also choose not to act on negative karma (i.e. in the case of the father in the abuse) and avoid it as well. It is not fatalism to hold such a view of karma - each decision is indeed our own responsibility moment to moment...." – Yamataka Apr 12 '18 at 20:36
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I would like to amend this post with the following statement about Karma.

At the risk of coming across as a troll to the religious minded I feel I must state my opinion concerning the nature of Karma and its place in the above question. I base my opinion upon my own direct personal experience of the Truth. That said, in the spirit of Sanatana Dharma, that there is no end to the different ways the Elephant of Truth can be experienced I do not claim anything more than a provisional voice where the sound of silence is concerned. Though I have grasped more than one leg of the Great Mystery I do not claim to be a sage. I am at best a Wayfarer. For me there is only one Truth that no truth can fully describe. Some things can only be said in Silence.

In my opinion to blame or burden all but the most exceptional of 3 year old children with any responsibility for anything he or she does is in itself a form of child abuse. I do not believe we carry the burden of our past nor the honor of our past with us from one incarnation to the next. In my opinion the notion that our past places our future is at best a dualistic notion that is not based in or on Reality. Rather, it is simply a means of maintaining the status quo of the World System. No small child is responsible in any way for his or her environment. For most people this is the only time in their life that they are in fact free from karmic entanglements. Mountains are mountains again. We start over from scratch with each turn of the wheel until we die to every conditioned sense of self we cling to while objectified. To make any limiting statement about the spirituality of any small child is a form of abuse. Physical death is a time out period. The acquired personality dies but our essence is eternal. Changeless. Fully Empty is about as good as any dualistic expression can come. Our Original Face never changes. A human being that has set off on the Journey to the Interior simply see's more and more of what has always been. I concur with the Buckminster Fuller saying, "The Gravity of Metaphysics is Love." And Rumi, "The Love Religion has no codes or doctrines, only Love." Or the Apostle John, "God is Love!" God being what we focus on the most.

With each new incarnation a new ego is developed. The task then becomes to overcome or see through this conditioned sense of self that the World of Maya does it's best to force upon us. At the end of the day We are "Transcendent Beings", each a permanent member of the Family of Existence. We transcend all relative terms, be they poetic or mathematic, every name is a map at best. A map of Idaho is not Idaho.

It is my opinion that the Buddha's fundamental teaching was for one to primarily learn the Truth for oneself not through teachings but from one's personal experience of the Great Transpersonal. That we each have been granted by existence a Free Charter of Inquiry. Each of us has the Great Gene of Transcendence but only we can open our inner eye to It. We are Godlike in potential. And yet even the Buddha after his Great Experience still spent the rest of his embodiment learning how to express or think of things from the Awakened Perspective. At first he did not think women had the Enlightenment Gene, but in time he came around. No one has a patent on the Truth. But some do have Copyrights. Thus, the Buddha's Great Charter of Free Inquiry. What made the personage of the Buddha so great in my opinion was his ability to grow in human understanding. Though his awakening was instantaneous it took time for him to come to a mature position where the true essence of women is concerned. One's cultural milieu is a powerful glue. Even he had to get up and walk away from the Great Aloneness to wholly enter into the Great All Oneness. Everything is in relationship with everything else for we are each parts of that which has no separate parts. Truth is more a State of Being than a state of mind. The mind will always lag behind Being, or what some people call Mind. I believe the word Being comes closer to the essence of Truth than Mind, but I am talking nuance here. The tao that can be named is not the eternal Tao. There is no end to our embodied education. I believe the Buddha's greatest message was that until one knows for oneself what one truly is one doesn't really know anything. The Buddha had arrived at a Peace that Passeth Understanding. He knew enough to know he was not a separate God because he was truly Awake. A separate God is a Fake God. An asleep god. That to be Awake did not mean the end of dependent relationship, but the beginning of true cognitive understanding of what has always been. As Jesus stated, "I and the Father are One!". Everything is interconnected. "From the first Totality has been a Unitive One!. Hui-Neng. As do all the Great Sages from every place and every time proclaim. Truth is Universal. Therefore, it is my opinion that one does not have to quote the Buddha to support a Buddhist opinion. There are Buddha's among us. But we do not always recognize them for to truly know a Buddha one must be a Buddha. The Buddha chose one word to describe himself. He was Awake. We must be wholly Awake to wholly know a Buddha. Born again as it were. Childlike. Sleeping teachers, leave the Kids alone.

It is not the letter of the law, it is the spirit that matters most. Words do not contain the truth anymore than a map of Idaho contains Idaho. For this reason the Buddha spent the last 40+ years of his life talking about not talking. Until one directly experiences the Great Truth for oneself talk is cheap. Karma is a relative term for actions do not matter near as much as intentions. And yet even the best of intentions can have unintended consequences. So intend only Love. Though limited by their nature words can at times trigger a knowing that leadeth to True Understanding. Everything is potentially useful, even the old twisted and knotted tree can provide shade. So the Buddha talked much about that which cannot be realized through any simulacrum. Any representation falls short of that which is of itself so. Such a thing/not-thing are we where Truth is concerned. Absolute Truth is more a unitive one than a numerical one. Great Poetry speaks to the Great Heart within each of us. More a feel, than a think. If one wants to see the Moon one must take their eyes off a pointing finger and simply look at the Moon for oneself. Or as Jesus would say, "Look with the Third Eye". Look with the nondual eye, the inner eye of being.

Reality is not a state of mind nearly so much as it is a state of Being. Grace listeth where it willeth but rarely on those not looking for it with their heart. With their inner being. With at least the shadow of their True Being. One cannot defeat or cancel out any good or bad karma through any purist ascetic practice. There are no lines of demarcation in Nature, rather, there are merely areas of confluence. Nothing is separate from the Whole. All anyone can do is decide that the most important thing to know is the Truth. All commandments reduce down to one categorical imperative, love. The love of the Truth. Whatever the Truth is. One must be willing to give up anything and everything to know anything with true certainty. What the heck is really going on? I am going to sit here until I know! The Buddha was a Lion of Being. As are all the sages of the perennial philosophy.

The above Question is a Koan of sorts. An indirect question with no direct answer. Let go of dualistic thinking, two ends of a string appear to be separate until one sees the underlying unity of a whole string. Awaken from the Fall into Dualistic thinking. Yin and Yang are not opposites. Yin and Yang are opposite non-opposites for one contains the seed of the other. Day is relatively meaningless without night. To know a Buddha one must become a Buddha. Like knows like. As above so below. Samsara is Nirvana. Silence must be heard. The action of the Sage is non-action. Wu Wei. Action that is not driven by external circumstance alone. Action that is driven by context as well as content. Awakened Action. The Third Eye Perspective.

Even in a relative world there is no excuse for Child Abuse. It is one's duty to take responsibility for one's actions. The young child is just reacting. The responsibility of the Adult subsumes any reaction the child might have. But, as the child grows up, he or she must at some point begin to take responsibility for their negatively reactive actions if they are to ever get past their victimization. We are just spinning the Wheel of Karma to continue into adulthood while stuck in a reactive mode. Increased Awareness is the ticket off the Karma train. Otherwise we just keep playing the Game of the Victim. A game that many times turns into the Solipsistic Game of I Am God. The only thing or person that matters is me. I am not only me, but I am everyone else as well. I can do whatever I please. I am all that matters. I can abuse children, and others in a less dominant position than I am.

To that I say, "No one is above the Law!".

Butcho

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    This seems to be a general description of the overhead teaching. Please address the question, which is: "What is the Buddhist perspective on child abuse?". – Lanka Apr 14 '18 at 22:35
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The child is the cause of his own suffering in this lifetime. The Father is the perpetrator of the suffering inflicted on the child in this lifetime. By the laws of karma, the child suffers from their own actions of the past. The Father will suffer too as a result of the action he has taken against the child in this lifetime, when the soul within his human vehicle reincarnates again in a future lifetime, be it that he chooses ignorance for the remainder of this lifetime.

The same way that the child was born into this lifetime carrying the karma that caused his/her suffering from this lifetime. The child is living the consequence of his own actions of the past and therefore is the cause of his own suffering. The Father is the soul contact who is teaching the child his karmic lesson, and the person who inflicted the suffering, but the Father is not the actual cause of the suffering, by the laws of karma.

People can't grasp it because they are not viewing it in spiritual terms of the soul essence reincarnating into another human vehicle. People view it as a child being hurt and abused, an innocent child in this lifetime, but they neglect to acknowledge that this child's soul may have lived a life as a serial killer in a past and they are now having their own karmic debt repayed. Or what if in a past life the child was the Father's, Father and the Father was abused by the child in that lifetime, and this lifetime the child is carrying the karma from those actions that he/she now must repay, by the laws of karma. Everything is energy, what you give out must come back.

Every action has a consequence, you reap what you sow. If we are all taught to look within, as a natural way of life, we can heal and release some of this karma we all carry and heal the ancestral lines of our genetic dna. If we look within we can access our akashic records and learn what our karma is about, understand our life lessons, learn them and stop them from reoccuring. Of course in order for this to happen the Parent must first become aware before they become a Parent, and then raise the child in the same fashion so that the child has a chance to also be aware, and release attachments to emotions and the past.

The karma can be minimized but the lessons still need to be learned to end the repeating and to get out of the karmic wheel of reincarnation. But the suffering must still exist for people to grow and evolve. If life was always great why would we need to seek out our higher selves, why would we have a need to no longer be ignorant if their was never suffering or lessons to be learned we would cease existence. But, there are better ways of going about this than by staying ignorant. Everytime a harmful action is taken by someone, someone or something must then return that same action to the one who first created the harm.

And then that something or someone must also have someone or something return that energy back to them, and so the karmic wheel of reincarnation goes around and around. Until we all heal ourselves and others, learn to love each other unconditionally and accept that spiritually we are all of the same energetic consciousness, learn forgiveness, patience, non-judgment and selflessness, then the wheel will keep going.

That's nature and with nature comes karma. Heal your past karma and that of your ancestry, live in mindfulness, look within and connect to your higher self, create a balance of giving and receiving, love and treat everyone as equal, and live and act in kindness and honesty and you will only create good karma.

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    I negatively scored this post because the following ideas have not been supported with reference to any teachings of the Buddha: (i) By the laws of karma, the child suffers from their own actions of the past; (ii) the soul within his human vehicle reincarnates; (iii) the child was born into this lifetime carrying the karma that caused his/her suffering from this lifetime; (iv) Father is the soul contact who is teaching the child his karmic lesson; (v) this child's soul may have lived a life as a serial killer in a past and they are now having their own karmic debt repayed; etc, etc, etc – Dhammadhatu Oct 1 '16 at 11:30

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