Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
hyper223

Releasing the little birds - Good karma?

Recommended Posts

Is there someone out there who can give me a reasoned counter-argument?

--

Walking around Sukhumvit, et al, I often see someone carrying cages with birds in them. My understanding is that releasing the bird is good luck - you're giving the bird its freedom, so good karma for you.

But thinking about this practice in terms of economics, it's bad karma for the person releasing the bird. Or?

-If releasing the bird is good karma, imprisoning the bird is bad.

-The reason the seller imprisoned the bird is because he knows someone like you will pay him to release it.

-Therefore people that pay to release birds from the cages are providing the seller an economic basis for imprisoning more birds.

-Therefore people that pay to release the birds, are actually the cause for the birds being imprisoned in the first place.

-The seller is an instrument of evil acting on the purchaser's behalf. He's still evil, but a lesser evil than the person that asked for the imprisonment to be performed.

Restated: People that pay to release the birds from little cages seem to be committing acts of bad karma, not good karma, as they're providing the economic basis for more birds to be imprisoned.

Expected responses:

-"You just don't understand Thai culture."

-"You're attempting to apply a logical argument to religion; don't bother."

-"You've insulted our religion, get out of the country."

-The post is perceived as anti-Buddhist and deleted to avoid government intervention.

-Random off-topic garbage

-Personal attacks

Unexpected response:

A well thought out counter argument that explains to me how it is that releasing the birds is actually good for one's karma.

Or is it just an empty, feel-good symbol with no real meaning? :twisted:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was with a friend in Sukhothai and saw the birds for sale to release. I asked her about them, because I figured the birds were probably trained to come back to their cages at night.

"Jim, Thai people don't think about that", was her instant reply. From the very little I understand about karma, I think one creates it through willful actions. Since the Thais don't think about the actual consequences of their action, but only about 'freeing' the bird, they are creating good karma, or making merit. Likewise, I guess there's some way that the people who sell the birds are making merit because they give others a chance to make merit. Or something like that.

This isn't meant to be a "well thought out counter argument", it's just what went through my head when she replied so quickly. I just shrugged my shoulders and shut my mouth. We didn't buy any birds to release.

I do like feeding those huge catfish at Wat BorFie, though.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The sellers drug the birds so they can catch them again just after the buyer has stopped whatching where they've gone. This is good karma for the buyer, but of course not so good karma for the seller who is trying to make an honest living. So later on the seller goes to the temple to make tamboon, thus balancing their karma. The overall karma credit is a positive, so everything is ok.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The sellers drug the birds so they can catch them again just after the buyer has stopped whatching where they've gone. This is good karma for the buyer, but of course not so good karma for the seller who is trying to make an honest living. So later on the seller goes to the temple to make tamboon, thus balancing their karma. The overall karma credit is a positive, so everything is ok.

Thank you. A response within the context of the discussion.

I still don't understand how it can be good karma for the buyer if the buyer's purchase is the cause of the bird's imprisonment. Wouldn't the buyer need to go to the temple to make merit as well, to remove the stain of their purchase? Or is it as JimnT says, that they don't consider the consequences of their actions?

...Thais don't think about the actual consequences of their action, but only about 'freeing' the bird, they are creating good karma, or making merit.

I don't believe in karma (or any set of religious beliefs), but I was hoping it was at least self-consistent. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised. :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Your whole logic is unacceptable, not because of the conclusion, but in the first place because it's binary and unsuitable.

Anyway, as it is about religious practices it serves no purpose whatsoever. There's no additional value to what is obvious at first sight.

And here I thought religion was all about good vs evil. Good actions versus bad actions. Isn't that the basic idea behind karma?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"drug the birds.."? drug a little wee bird like that? .. haha..

"trained to come back.."? :o

Birds are actually quite territorial. It would be my assumption that these little birds released randomly into various areas of Bangkok wouldn't last too long from local bigger birds.. they would be run out from the local foraging areas and probably die.

I would be curious to know if they are bred in captivity for this practice... Either way though, I think it's highly unlikely they are trained to return to any point.. though I'm certainly no expert.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The sellers drug the birds so they can catch them again just after the buyer has stopped whatching where they've gone. This is good karma for the buyer, but of course not so good karma for the seller who is trying to make an honest living. So later on the seller goes to the temple to make tamboon, thus balancing their karma. The overall karma credit is a positive, so everything is ok.

Thank you. A response within the context of the discussion.

I still don't understand how it can be good karma for the buyer if the buyer's purchase is the cause of the bird's imprisonment. Wouldn't the buyer need to go to the temple to make merit as well, to remove the stain of their purchase? Or is it as JimnT says, that they don't consider the consequences of their actions?

...Thais don't think about the actual consequences of their action, but only about 'freeing' the bird, they are creating good karma, or making merit.

Thais are very concerned with the consequences of their actions. That's pretty much the definition of karma. But they don't generally have a western logical analytical way of looking at things. Everything in Thai culture is interdependent in some way forming a vastly complex network of relationships that can only be known intuitively or by rote. In short, it's about relationships rather than logic. And in this case the relationship is (from a blunt farang point of view) the seller is serving by imprisoning birds thereby taking on the negative karma while the buyer is in the higher position of obtaining tamboon from freeing the birds. And in Buddhism everyone is responsible for their own actions, so there's no need to attribute the negative karma to the buyer.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A fairly good argument. But this practice hasn't got anything to do with religion. As curtissensei points out, it's a cultural practice. It's supposed to bring luck. Luck isn't the same thing as karma, nor does it have anything to do with samsara (re-birth).

Paying for the release of the birds perpetuates the practice, despite what pathetic analogies about beggars, taxes and other such rubbish you might hear to the contrary. Weather or not the seller or buyer receives good or bad karma for such practices is open to debate and interpretation.

I'm sure most, if not all Thais realise this when they pay for some birds to be freed. But they choose, for whatever reasons (sanuk?) to do it anyway. Much like monks tying goodluck string around a persons wrist. It doesn't impart good karma, it's supposed to bring luck. Again not a Buddhists practice. It's cultural. These practices aren't performed in the west. And you might argue that western countries aren't Buddhist. But Buddhism is probably, almost certainly practiced more faithfully in the UK and elsewhere. These things were possibly practiced even before Buddhism arrived in Thailand.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hey, nice input Kitschiguy, for me this was informative message on the difference of karma and luck, as for me, and I guess for many others who have not scratched the surface of buddhism deep, luck and karma are "tied", or somehow thought these things are related as you put it. But in a way, Neo makes a case that sounds like karma and luck in this bird issue are related...Karma, luck hmmm, same same, but different? :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
A fairly good argument. But this practice hasn't got anything to do with religion. As curtissensei points out, it's a cultural practice. It's supposed to bring luck. Luck isn't the same thing as karma, nor does it have anything to do with samsara (re-birth).

Good point. Although I find the concept of tamboon seems to be a mix of merit/karma and luck. Perhaps part of the unique blend of pagan religion and Buddhism that is practiced here. Even a long time monk friend of mine considers the birds thing to be good karma and not just good luck. Any Thais want to enlighten us confused farang? :P

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Once found an injured racing pigeon.Got advice off gOOgle on how to make the thing better,then once it was , i personally delivered it to some sort of bird sanctuary.Despite such largesse ,they still crap on my car.Where's the love?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Luck is defined as a belief in something that happens to a person, good or bad as a result of chance, fortune or fate. The Buddha completely dismissed such beliefs and taught that everything that happens has a specific cause and there is a relationship between the cause and effect. It's a basic tenet of Buddhism.

When asked about luck, Buddha pointed to The Noble Eightfold Path. He said that being well, learned, being filial to one's parents, earning an honest living, developing one's heart and mind etc . . is the best good luck.

Karma doesn't simply mean that if you do good then you'll be 'lucky' or good things will happen to you.

From a Buddhist point of view, our present mental, moral intellectual and temperamental differences are, for the most part, due to our own actions and tendencies, both past and present.

Although Buddhism attributes this variation to Karma, as being the chief cause among a variety, it does not, however, assert that everything is due to Karma. The law of Karma, important as it is, is only one of the twenty-four conditions described in Buddhist Philosophy.

Refuting the erroneous view that "whatsoever fortune or misfortune experienced is all due to some previous action", the Buddha said:

"So, then, according to this view, owing to previous action men will become murderers, thieves, unchaste, liars, slanderers, covetous, malicious and perverts. Thus, for those who fall back on the former deeds as the essential reason, there is neither the desire to do, nor effort to do, nor necessity to do this deed, or abstain from this deed."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Luck is defined as a belief in something that happens to a person, good or bad as a result of chance, fortune or fate. The Buddha completely dismissed such beliefs and taught that everything that happens has a specific cause and there is a relationship between the cause and effect. It's a basic tenet of Buddhism.

When asked about luck, Buddha pointed to The Noble Eightfold Path. He said that being well, learned, being filial to one's parents, earning an honest living, developing one's heart and mind etc . . is the best good luck.

Karma doesn't simply mean that if you do good then you'll be 'lucky' or good things will happen to you.

From a Buddhist point of view, our present mental, moral intellectual and temperamental differences are, for the most part, due to our own actions and tendencies, both past and present.

Although Buddhism attributes this variation to Karma, as being the chief cause among a variety, it does not, however, assert that everything is due to Karma. The law of Karma, important as it is, is only one of the twenty-four conditions described in Buddhist Philosophy.

Refuting the erroneous view that "whatsoever fortune or misfortune experienced is all due to some previous action", the Buddha said:

"So, then, according to this view, owing to previous action men will become murderers, thieves, unchaste, liars, slanderers, covetous, malicious and perverts. Thus, for those who fall back on the former deeds as the essential reason, there is neither the desire to do, nor effort to do, nor necessity to do this deed, or abstain from this deed."

You may need to simplify this so that the local populous can better understand their religion. Then again, I've tried in vain many times. You can not undersestimate the importance of 'luck' in the Thai belief system.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Luck is defined as a belief in something that happens to a person, good or bad as a result of chance, fortune or fate. The Buddha completely dismissed such beliefs and taught that everything that happens has a specific cause and there is a relationship between the cause and effect. It's a basic tenet of Buddhism.

When asked about luck, Buddha pointed to The Noble Eightfold Path. He said that being well, learned, being filial to one's parents, earning an honest living, developing one's heart and mind etc . . is the best good luck.

Karma doesn't simply mean that if you do good then you'll be 'lucky' or good things will happen to you.

From a Buddhist point of view, our present mental, moral intellectual and temperamental differences are, for the most part, due to our own actions and tendencies, both past and present.

,

Although Buddhism attributes this variation to Karma, as being the chief cause among a variety, it does not, however, assert that everything is due to Karma. The law of Karma, important as it is, is only one of the twenty-four conditions described in Buddhist Philosophy.

Refuting the erroneous view that "whatsoever fortune or misfortune experienced is all due to some previous action", the Buddha said:

"So, then, according to this view, owing to previous action men will become murderers, thieves, unchaste, liars, slanderers, covetous, malicious and perverts. Thus, for those who fall back on the former deeds as the essential reason, there is neither the desire to do, nor effort to do, nor necessity to do this deed, or abstain from this deed."

You may need to simplify this so that the local populous can better understand their religion. Then again, I've tried in vain many times. You can not undersestimate the importance of 'luck' in the Thai belief system.

Yeah, that's a good point, and I realise how important the belief is. I'm just explaining it from a traditional Buddhist point of view. Thais aren't strictly traditional Buddhists and their belief in luck and superstition is just as important and relevant to their culture as any belief in following The Eightfold Path. I think. Of course, everyone is different and views and practices vary greatly from person to person. There aren't any rules. Buddha taught people to question everything.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

i will say that religion and superstition are well mixed in the mindset of many, if not all, thai people. like when you make a merit (buddhism), at the same time, you "expect", as a result, good luck or your merit will be built/increased for the future purpose (belief/superstition).

for freeing the birds, i dont know any who actually do that anymore because many are also skeptical about this action just like the points hyper raised. but for those who do it because whatever reason...i suppose they tend to have the below thought in mind...

And in this case the relationship is (from a blunt farang point of view) the seller is serving by imprisoning birds thereby taking on the negative karma while the buyer is in the higher position of obtaining tamboon from freeing the birds. And in Buddhism everyone is responsible for their own actions, so there's no need to attribute the negative karma to the buyer.

to think about this, it seems like an irresponsible thought but in reality, whatever you do has some consequences...and you may not always know or be sure which way; negative or positive, it would be, thus, you cannot possibly be responsible for all of them. so if your action and your will is sincere and means well...maybe thats what counts?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...