Originally Posted by wildbill
BF Skinner, behavioral psychologist, postulates in Beyond Freedom and Dignity, that free will choices are pre-determined by the interaction of the individual's environmental experiences and their unique genetic makeup.
It can be demonstrated through a process called operant conditioning.
That's pretty well exactly my take on it. Your physicality and your past make you who you are. There is nothing intrinsic to us other than that - we're all made of the same "stuff". It seems to me that people are always taking credit or blame for things that don't appear to be in their control.
Originally Posted by Reggae_Mangle
It's interesting to see how you've misinterpreted the workings of karma to construe it as something evil.
If I am rich and powerful and I wrong those that are weak, I will be served up a dish of karma to avenge my wrongdoings perhaps in this life, or perhaps in the next. There is always come-uppance for wrongs and just as likely reward for virtue, but not necessarily a timeframe.
If I fail to adhere to principles like dharma (virtuous living), I will no doubt be doomed to be reborn again and again, sometimes richer, sometimes poorer. After all, what does virtue have to do with how rich or poor people are? Some of the poor people I know are far more virtuous than the rich. And the opposite holds true as well.
AKA you can feel sorry for yourself, or you can pick yourself up and give it the old "college boy" try.
Thinking of it as a punishment system is just erroneous interpretation. In this case, the Western pop culture version is decidedly more accurate than your version.
I would shudder to try and explain Maya (illusion) with my skills. As in, it's all maya, baby, you can't take it with you, but hey hey, you're not going anywhere either haha :)
It would be nice (or scary) to think of karma as real but my feeling is that the rights and wrongs in our little lives are of no consequence to the universe / God / whatever. It would be like talking about praiseworthy or blameworthy bacteria. Sure, the local bacteria affected by kind or egregious microbes might have an opinion but no one else cares :)
Still, there's obvious balancing going on in the universe - a pendulum swings back, the dry part of a sponge will absorb water from nearby saturated areas etc. I suppose it could apply to values too, given that values obviously exist and Yin/Yang seems to be a universal truth.
If karma exists then we'd better get our $#!% together, given that middle class humans are amongst the 0.0000000000001% of the most fortunate living things that have ever lived. Many creatures live in constant fear of predators, fear of not catching prey and generally die through being eaten alive or mangled. Here we are, calmly chatting on the net with almost zero threat to our lives.
So if you - one of the blessed ones - screw this life up you wouldn't want to think about the comeuppance. But don't let that worry you ... carry on ... no pressure lol
According to one of my peak experiences, the universe doesn't care a jot whether you're Adolph Hitler or Mahatma Gandhi - you have your little time in existence and then - floop!
- back to the fold when you die (whatever "the fold" is). No harm, no foul. In cosmic terms we are like microbes that exist for less than the blink of an eye.
Whether that peak experience had any truth to it or was an illusion, I don't know, although it seems similar in nature to peak experiences others have described. Of course it's possible that we are wired to have particular types of illusions so that's not proof either, maybe just a little comforting :)