How did the Buddha gain knowledge of karma under the bodhi tree?

the first knowledge is easy to understand which is knowledge of rebirth I think Buddha gain that knowledge by just reviewing his past lives

but I still don’t understand how Buddha gain that second knowledge which is knowledge of karma, how did he arrive at his conclusion that karma exists ? what was he doing there that he arrived to that conclusion ?

Hi. The suttas say the Buddha used the Divine Eye (dibbena cakkhunā), which is a psychic power, to learn about the kamma of people.

When my mind had become immersed in samādhi like this—purified, bright, flawless, rid of corruptions, pliable, workable, steady, and imperturbable—I extended it toward knowledge of the death and rebirth of sentient beings.

With clairvoyance (dibbena cakkhunā) that is purified and superhuman, I saw sentient beings passing away and being reborn—inferior and superior, beautiful and ugly, in a good place or a bad place. I understood how sentient beings are reborn according to their deeds: ‘These dear beings did bad things by way of body, speech, and mind. They spoke ill of the noble ones; they had wrong view; and they chose to act out of that wrong view. When their body breaks up, after death, they’re reborn in a place of loss, a bad place, the underworld, hell. These dear beings, however, did good things by way of body, speech, and mind. They never spoke ill of the noble ones; they had right view; and they chose to act out of that right view. When their body breaks up, after death, they’re reborn in a good place, a heavenly realm.’ And so, with clairvoyance that is purified and superhuman, I saw sentient beings passing away and being reborn—inferior and superior, beautiful and ugly, in a good place or a bad place. I understood how sentient beings are reborn according to their deeds.

MN 4

For example, some other Arahants (such as Maha Moggalla) also had the Divine Eye and other Arahants (such as Sariputta) did not. :melting_face:

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I don’t think reviewing people’s past life would make you believe in karma if that’s true those past life regressionist would all believe in karma but some only believe in rebirth

so I think there must something that Buddha did so he got that conclusion

I guess/speculate the Buddha was simply more clear & logical. The Buddha saw certain karma (actions) leads to painful hell and other karma leads to happy heaven.

But many secular therapists may not think like this. For example, many secular therapists probably believe suffering is simply part of life rather than from kamma. This is similar to a wrong view of ‘causelessness (ahetukavāda)’ mentioned in the suttas (MN 60; AN 3.61).

There are some ascetics and brahmins who have this doctrine and view:

Santi, bhikkhave, eke samaṇabrāhmaṇā evaṁvādino evaṁdiṭṭhino:

‘Everything this individual experiences—pleasurable, painful, or neutral—has no cause or reason.’

‘yaṁ kiñcāyaṁ purisapuggalo paṭisaṁvedeti sukhaṁ vā dukkhaṁ vā adukkhamasukhaṁ vā sabbaṁ taṁ ahetuappaccayā’ti.

AN 3.61

I also think the same way. Maybe he has experienced all those things in past :scream:. Because somewhere it is given in suttas I don’t remember where that, Lord buddha says that, there is not a single place/realm/condition that the lord buddha was not born into, except pure abodes!

I have read the reasons/deeds he carried out in order to achieve the 32 major and 80 minor signs…there 10th sign of 80 minor marks says that…

“The soles of a Buddha’s feet are flat, rather than uneven. This is because a Buddha has gone through all the difficult stages of samsara.”

All the difficult stages of samsara also includes all the things!

Also somewhere in suttas buddha himself says that, saying that buddha is having knowledge of karma, is more appropriate than saying that he is omniscient!
(Well the knowledge of karma & past lives logically makes him omniscient)

I think, the Buddha know it by way of inference.

If He saw sentient beings do bad deeds and falling to hell 100.000 times, it is easy to draw conclusion that doing bad deeds lead to birth in hell.

Same with good deeds. Even when there are variations in the quality of the deeds etc, it is easy to draw conclusion if He can see the large sample.

In some stories, he could even track the root cause of specific condition to minor act in distant past.

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this is my assumption and I can be wrong I see him “seeking” the most impactful karma one have done in that life then linking it to how well that person is in their next life

I assume that the Buddha already has some assumption about karma maybe from his Jain teachers so Buddha just want to prove his assumption/hypothesis that karma has influence to being’s next life and in the end of his research the Buddha established the link and arrived at his final conclusion

so I see the Buddha seeked the most impactful karma that specific being have done and again seeked the specific fruit of that karma I think this is how Buddha established that second knowledge

the other alternative is the Buddha seeked that specific being’s most intense feeling (suffering/happiness) then he seeked the specific karma that may have conditioned that intense feeling

but how did Buddha seek things like that ? by using jhana ?

I don’t think it would be that easy with just the knowledge from jain teachers. If it had been that easy many people other than buddha would be able to do that…well that’s not the case we all know.

Maybe by using his Buddha-eye!?:thinking:

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In Brahmajala Sutta (DN 1), some wrong view arise from remembering past lives experiences, in limited number.
They only saw back 2-3 past lives and then draw conclusion.

The Buddha, according to later texts, can remember up to 100.000 kalpa and more.

Also, before Buddha said his theory, the theory of karma is very different. (According to Richard Gombrich)
According to Brahmins, karma means ritual. To get salvation, one must do rituals (karma)
According to Jains, karma means physical act. Physical act that will accumulate dust to the soul (atman), dust will burden the soul and make it sink to samsara.
To cleanse the dust, one must exhaust the karma by self mortification.

Buddha, said that karma is intention.
The language and concept has similarities and influence from Jain, but it is very different.

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The Buddha did not theorize or deduce this. He saw it directly and understood through seeing.

Because this is such a hard thing for us to understand he gave a simile:

Just as though there were two houses with doors and one with good sight standing there between them saw people entering the houses and coming out and passing back and forth.

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