Well I always thought karma meant volitional action.
Yes, essentially - it also includes thought, mental action. That is, as I understand it, I'm certainly not the expert.
The odd thing was you don't seem to object at all to the idea of rebirth.
Of course not.
There are lots of Buddhists who say the Buddha never meant literal rebirth or multiple lives but instead each realm of existence is just a state of mind. I object to that claim because why use a term such as rebirth instead of something more suiting and less problematic for misinterpretation? I think he really meant rebirth.
I'm not going to say one way or the other about what Buddhist believe on this particular point, as I have heard both interpretations. But I will say this: what does it really matter? Buddhism is a pragmatic practice, not just an intellectual study. Minutia like this are largely irrelevant, the important thing is to practice - only through practice will you learn the answer for yourself, you know?
But for the sake of the discussion, because it is an interesting one, I have to ask: what is the difference between really meaning rebirth and saying that rebirth into certain realms, like hungry ghosts, is figurative language referring to a state of mind? Are these really mutually exclusive? Couldn't one be reborn into an existence of a particular psychological status that corresponds to the figurative descriptions of a particular realm?
And we also have to remember the issue of translation. I would love to learn the etymology of this word:
Well I'm patient, doesn't really matter to me so when ever you can spare the time.
Well this means that animals retain the potential for enlightenment. But that holds true if you live multiple lives however; it also says that in the lower realms you are so involved or distracted by your own existence that you can't put any effort into enlightenment.
If they have the potential for enlightenment, wouldn't that mean that they can become enlightened? I get what you are saying about that potential may only be realized in some other form, and that's a fine point. But what necessarily bars the animals from attaining enlightenment as animals?
I do recall something about what you say regarding animals and effort, though, which may very well be the answer to my question. Do you have a source that I could look at?
Yeah all sentient beings which would also mean that a dog, a mouse, a cockroach and worms are all equal in terms of Buddha nature. But their potential for enlightenment is not and that is why the need for a human birth.
Well, maybe we'll just have to wait for the source to be collected and referenced, but what you say here contradicts the article. Not that those articles are authoritative...
Yes they have the potential but not while they remain in the animal realm. They would have to obtain rebirth as humans to meet with enlightenment. If the realm didn't matter or have an effect on awakening than the Buddha wouldn't have even discussed it. It would be like saying, no matter what grade of school you are in, you will always graduate.
I don't think it's quite like that - I think it's closer to 'no matter what grade you are in, you might
be able to graduate, though it is a heck of a lot easier for a senior to graduate than a freshman'.
Anyway, I'll try to track down my references, and if you track down yours, we can put them together and see what we come up with.