Setting and removing boundaries; Kamma & Rebirth are about forgiveness and letting go

This topic originated out of a reply to a comment in another thread. I haven’t edited it and refer you back to the previous thread for context - the link can be found directly after this OP.

So I’m going to try and address @Coemgenu’s comment but also go further to addressing other things that this comment has brought up for me.

This statement relates to the OP in two ways. Firstly, it addresses the fact that my OP set certain boundaries. Secondly, I can’t help but write and share from my own particular View, which is so very informed by an acceptance of Rebirth…but where this is more specific, I’ll use the grey text boxes.

And here’s me just seeing it as an experimental translation attempt! Anyway, I appreciated your sense of humour :slight_smile:

On a serious note: I do worry about the impact we have on the future of the Dhamma in the world. I think a lot of us do, regardless of what we believe or value to be correct. At the end of the day, for me personally and textually, I fall back on the Buddha’s incontrovertible teaching MN 60. But in a general sense (that is, not just for myself), I think we can all look to at least, aspects, of the final section of MN 60 and use the good example displayed in the 4th kind of person; because regardless of what happens to the Dhamma in the world, I think it’s important to be able to share with each other without inspiring fear and without holding on to pain. I know for most of us, myself included, this is a work in progress/Practise.

There are many public spaces on D & D…there are many threads…many future topics to be written. There’s room for most views…even the ones I see as Wrong Views :wink: Though, having said this, D & D, linked as it is to SC, is primarily about the EBTs.

It’s nice to be able to emphasise kindness in speech, to encourage and take into account differences in people’s backgrounds and views. To attempt to be inoffensive is to attempt to grow our own metta and our own good speech.

But for me, even just the intellectual understanding of conditionality (which is partly about how kamma works and is based in the 3 life DO teaching) and a useful way of looking at anatta, means that I also allow people to be who they are and to express how they express.

But why is it that sometimes we have such “sharp tongues”? That we tend to have little concern in how our knife and fork dissections of paragraphs may be failures in terms of their capacity to demonstrate listening or acknowledgement towards what others are really saying to us. In such demonstrations there is little capacity shown for letting go, of grudges for instance. I find myself asking why? Is it because we are going outwards with our responses? Projecting? Why is it so hard to connect with others to the point that we can forgive and let each others be?

To Practise through the lens I use means I have a big picture matrix of connections, one that travels in time and is influenced by a causality that is not limited by my own current experiences of the decay of seconds. It’s a view that has me looking more and more at myself, less and less at others. Yet paradoxically my day-to-day interactions with others have improved, I’m kinder, more giving… And when I look more at myself, I feel myself more. Feeling more, I can see the currents, the inter-play of energies - it’s the easiest thing in the world for such a personal experience to incorporate a useful view of rebirth to further enhance the sense of letting go, of increasing kindness and forgiveness and tolerance for others.

As @Mkoll and @dharmacorps said:

In my heart, when I sit quietly, such views inform my ability to let go. Weirdly, like some kind of etherial anchor, the very perception/understanding of these very connections, our lack of isolation from each other, sends me sliding along the threads of connection, away from each other and the outer world, back into my inner heart where the furnace churns away. Where I see that it is in temporarily severing and letting these connections be that I will have peace; in severing them I find forgiveness - a kind of letting go. And when I reconnect, kindness and peace flow out along my own shimmering threads, out into the matrix around me, and into a future I do not yet know. To be clear I am using imagination and metaphor to communicate something that I feel or perceive on some level.

But Buddhism isn’t all about tolerance in a broad sense. Acceptance is crucial for personal practice but it isn’t the only thing that defines a Buddhist. Being a Moderator on this forum means that I have to monitor certain boundaries too. That’s my conventional job here. But as a User, I have no problem setting some boundaries in my OP here either! As Buddhists, we use boundaries all the time… In their most basic form, they’re just cultivating positive mental states: “may all beings be happy”, instead of “he did that to me, he said that…I’m gonna set him straight!” Or in another basic form: they’re just the 5 precepts, our most basic protective boundary.

But as to people being people…expressing themselves…ourselves…in different ways… Well, sometimes we aren’t going to be perfect, we’re going to misunderstand and get angry and act from that anger. Sometimes, we’re going to speak passionately, not holding back, saying it like it is - or as we see it, because View really does condition us. And we’re never going to be able to please everyone, someone’s going to take something personally and hold it against us because we can’t expect everyone to see through our eyes, regardless of what we know our intentions to be.

What a mess it all can be. I can see how some cultural/religious groups around the world have come to blows, to even blowing each other up. Because they can’t stand how others think, they can’t stand that others express their own views.

This messy, imperfectness of human discourse, leads me to value certain things: forgiveness above all. I have had the privilege to work with children of different ages. Some times I have had to set boundaries with them. When I was younger, I confused boundary setting with intolerance and unkindness. Now I realise it’s for everyone’s benefit and is an act of kindness that stops our kilesas overrunning us. But often, when I’ve had to speak to a child about their “bad behaviour”, I found it important to say to them, “our having this chat doesn’t mean that I am always upset with you or that I only see you like this. Once this is over it’s over, and I’ll be looking for the beautiful things in you.” And I often go out of my way to make a fuss or a mention of these qualities. Forgiveness is really important. Not just as an idea. As a practise. It’s useful too…in terms of increasing community and individual peace and happiness. It often throws down a challenge for me, I feel myself rankling, wanting to hold on to and defend my personal feelings and thoughts; but rising to the challenge of forgiveness means I have to just be with myself, I have to resist projecting my stuff on to others - it’s often difficult.

Aside from forgiveness, I also highly value patience, the setting of healthy boundaries and the removal of unhealthy boundaries - that is, the cultivation of metta towards someone even when I disagree with them or they act out their own frustrations and project this on to me. I’m led to looking at my own tendencies towards holding grudges, towards lecturing others (negatively I mean…I know I gone on and on… :slight_smile: ) , towards attempting to be perfect and I’m reminded of the famous Ajahn Chah saying: “Look at other people 5% of the time, look at yourself 95% of the time.” This type of reflection has helped me so much, and it leads me to “feeling” my way through my Practice more and more.

The subtle background view on Rebirth, which I operate more and more through, really does funnel all these aspects of my Practice.

Yes, I could have done this:

But I chose to let it be instead. Part of my journey and my growth in Right Speech, is knowing when to remain silent and knowing when to let others be free of my presence. There are many opportunities to express ourselves on D & D.

It’s also okay to have a topic and to ask others to remain on topic. (I guess the founders of Discourse thought so too, as this is one of the options when you flag people: “off topic”). It’s also okay to focus our Practice of Right Speech on ourselves (95%) and it’s okay to Practice forgiveness with regard to both ourselves and others’ Speech (still “95%” - because in relating to others’ we are looking at our own responses, not on projecting anything unwholesome in our own hearts, on to them). It is okay to set our own healthy personal boundaries as an act of kindness to ourselves, because we know what human discourse can become.

So we do the best we can, between knowing when to facilitate freedom of speech, and knowing when to give ourselves and others a fair - and uninterrupted/undisrupted - chance to tease out, unpack and truly share what we need to share. And it’s not going to be perfect. It can’t be. We’re too anatta, anicca and dukkha for it to even come close to perfect. But we can gradually move closer to perfect in our attempts to be looking at ourselves 95% of the time…in our attempts, paradoxically, and inspired by the Anattalakkhana Sutta SN 22.59 (and Ajahn Brahm!) to not control ourselves so very much. This right here…is another example of how Rebirth impacts my life. But I must be more specific, and return to a comment made earlier in this thread:

I have touched on this here and there, but when I use the term “rebirth”, I am specifically referring to the process, the anicca laden process, empty of fixed core, that migrates from one life to another; I am referring to 3 life Dependent Origination, to anatta as an inherently empty process. A process so heavily conditioned that it is out of my control. Thus I need to relax and put the causes in. And here my faith and gratitude to the Buddha is immense. Because he’s the one who first mentioned these “causes”. He’s the one who provides the “words of another” and breaks the old conditioning and puts in some Dhamma conditioning.

This type of view, this understanding of a lack of control informed by how the Buddha taught about anatta SN 22.59, leads me to become more and more relaxed. Because I recognise the power of conditionality. I recognise that my sphere of control is small. I can’t control others, I can barely control myself. I can do all I can to improve my ability to forgive, to be kind to myself and others: my limited control rests most firmly in the arenas of Right Intention and Right View…these things I both investigate and grow quite deliberately. I allow them to be conditioned by the Buddha and his Dhamma as I deem it to be correct and, crucially, most useful.

We know our own intentions best; we are not the only ones we have to be honest with, but we are the ones to whom our honesty is going to matter the most. If we don’t understand forgiveness deeply, really deeply, and as an emotion founded in love and letting go and based in an understanding of ourselves and others; well, without this type of forgiveness, self-honesty might be terribly painful and it might be very difficult to look at ourselves 95% of the time. Anyway, returning to this:

I wouldn’t worry. :slight_smile:

I think this sort of View, of rebirth and kamma as “punishment” is commonly found in Buddhist religious cultures. It is one of the myths that I think was busted in the Kamma and Rebirth Workshops conducted by Bhante Sujato and Ajahn Brahmali. These are in the “Courses” catergory if you’re interested.

“Punishment” is not how I view kamma or rebirth. How can I? I can’t when I consider SN 22.59. I can’t when I reflect on conditionality and 3 life Dependent Origination in particular. I can’t when I take on board Ajahn Chah’s instruction to focus on myself 95% of the time; in doing this, I start to see the deep energetic, physical, tactile, vedana drenched, mental, sankhara-full, emotional, vinnyana-influenced, processes at play. Kamma and rebirth are then not about punishment. Kamma & Rebirth are about forgiveness and letting go.

With metta


From my time being here, I’ve made an important distinction when it comes to discussing with others—which is distinguishing between debate and communication.

Debate is an exercise in knowledge and the weeding out of false information; while communication is sharing something with someone, all the while trying to understand the other, as well as the context.


That’s a good distinction to make.

I think I would add that while

it also needs to be done within the boundaries of what constitutes Right Speech and certainly within our guidelines.

And if you’re engaging in it, you have to understand that people are operating from different POV and thus you might not really be talking about the same thing even!

And…you have to learn to pick your battles. Sometimes you have to walk away. Especially if you recognise that your speech is coming from anger, or fear or something like these…


Noting that the word communication has a prior meaning given to it, I suggest:

Mutual Learning
Understood through it’s values, assumptions and behaviors.

Mutual Learning values

  • Transparency
  • Curiosity
  • Informed Choice
  • Accountability
  • Compassion

The Mutual Learning assumptions

  • I have information and so do other people
  • People may disagree with me and still have pure motives
  • I may be contributing to the problem
  • Each of us sees things others don’t
  • Differences are opportunities for learning

Mutual Learning behaviors:

  • State views and ask genuine questions
  • Share all relevant information
  • Use specific examples and agree on what important words mean
  • Explain reasoning and intent
  • Focus on interests, not positions
  • Test assumptions and inferences
  • Jointly design next steps
  • Discuss undiscussable issues

Mutual Learning results:
(Defined here in terms of groups or organizations and their projects, goals, and objectives

  • Shorter implementation times
  • Increased commitment
  • Higher quality decisions
  • Increased learning
  • Improved working relationships
  • Greater personal satisfaction and well-being


Indeed. Moreso, IMO, that we do not see our “knife and fork dissections” as what they are, artificially contrived critical “knife and fork” positions based moreso in our own views and past than anything legitimately relevant to anything! “Knife and fork” positions. That we may dine on the ignorance of the innocently uninformed and eat their lack of exposure to “learnèd resources”.


Ah yes, mutual learning is important. I’d say that’s what wholesome debate should be like. :grin:

The distinction that I found important is that with debate/mutual learning, information is central, and people are secondary—while with communication (how it is said, for what purpose), people are central.


I like these distinctions about people vs. information that you call our attention to. Becoming focused on “the information”, as if the information was unrelated to rather that interrelated with people as the dharma teaches, is a trap.

But again, the words you use have prior meaning given to them.

Mutual Learning is about People
I can think of 5 groups that teach mutual learning type dialog who would disagree with you about mutual learning putting people second. The … uh … information is in the quote from above. Talking about “information” is a way of describing how people relate to each other when they are talking.

  • Transparency is about sharing myself – yes it’s information about myself but if I share food for instance am I sharing a thing or is it about people.
  • Informed Choice – in the context above is about the other’s persons choice and their way of choosing
  • Accountability - requires people and is about people.
  • Compassion

For what I’d call an advanced topic – there forms of debate that try to focus more on people. That kind of debate is usually seen in a moderated and structured environment. Frequently with judges or more mature persons who offer constructive suggestions to the debaters.
:smirk: So we shouldn’t throw the debaters out with the bathwater.


I don’t have a problem with the dissections in themselves. But as complete packages of productive dialog they are often incomplete. It’s like wearing only one shoe or a treatment that requires two medications or therapies but you only are given one.

After the dissection we would like to see something like:

“I dissected those sentences because they didn’t make sense to me. But that wasn’t everything you said. I’m thinking you may have something important to say, something you can teach me, so would you be willing to try again?”