Home » Features » Can A Parent’s Negative Karma Ripen Through A Child?

We are all interconnected together,
though with various degrees apart,
known and seen, or not.

― Stonepeace | Books

As one creates positive and negative karma personally, these good and bad karmic seeds thus ripen accordingly, when conditions are ripe, with their sweet and bitter fruits experienced personally. This is (individual or) personal karma. However, one can also create similar karma in a group, with more people. When collective karmic seeds bear fruits, they can thus be tasted together. Where there are such overlaps, there is interconnected karma. Yet, it is near, if not impossible, for two parties to create exactly the same quantity of the same quality of karma. Where there are such non-overlaps, there is again personal karma. In short, all personal experiences involve personal karma, whether it is functioning within or without collective karma. In the larger web of interdependence though, we all are interconnected yet individual, individual yet interconnected.

In the Buddhist perspective, is it possible for the ‘sins’ (or rather, here, ‘karmic misgivings’) of the father to be passed down to his child? In other words, can parental negative karma ripen through their kids? And can kids’ karma ripen through their parents? The answer for both questions is ‘no’. How then, do we explain the common belief that the answer is ‘yes’? This misperception is due to the interconnected nature of our experiences. For example, a wayward father might feel great distress when his seemingly karmically ‘innocent’ young son becomes very sick, and blames himself for ‘causing’ him suffering with his ill adult ways. It is as if his transgressions had spilled over to harm his son. However, the son must have his own personal negative karma to suffer, while the father’s negative karma was ripening through having to struggle with his son’s suffering.

Thus, it was the negative karma of the father ripening with the negative karma of his son; instead of anyone’s karma ripening through the other. In the innumerable rounds of rebirth, no one is born absolutely ‘innocent’. Even infants are reborn with a mixed ‘bag’ of positive and negative karmic seeds. This means that parents and their children can plant and nurture personal and collective positive karmic seeds too. When the father and son repent to be better people, they will karmically deserve less suffering together. The son might heal faster, which gives the father less grief. If one party repents and does good first, he can dedicate merits to the other to relieve his suffering too. That the other has someone dedicating merits to him means he has positive karma to deserve them, while the dedicator creates more positive karma by his dedication!

Although merits can
be dedicated for another’s well-being,
wisdom for creating one’s own well-being
cannot be dedicated.

― Stonepeace | Books

Related Articles:

Some Dynamics of Parent-Child Karma
https://thedailyenlightenment.com/2011/10/some-dynamics-of-parent-child-karma
How To Be Good Parents With Good Children?
https://thedailyenlightenment.com/2015/04/how-to-be-good-parents-with-good-children
Can Dedication Of Merits Solve Problems?
https://thedailyenlightenment.com/2013/05/can-dedication-of-merits-solve-problems

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