In this following context, what does the phrase 'outward circumstances' mean? Does it mean 'outward world' or 'physical world'?


Whoever is jealous, niggardly, haughty, carries within himself the tendency to grudge everything to others, and to despise them. Accordingly, germs that are destined to develop in poor outward circumstances, possess affinity for him.


  • The 'outward circumstances' are those of the subsequent life of a reborn person. Commented Feb 6, 2023 at 10:00

1 Answer 1


This is in the context of the Buddhist idea of Affinity as it relates to cause and effect, about which I am no expert.

For context, my understanding of this statement is that the germ will operate in the world poorly, cause harm or ugliness or disease. As a result it will have an affinity for a person who exhibits the laundry list of character defects listed above. They would attract, and be attracted to, each other.

The 'outward circumstance' of the germ is what could be observed of that germs behavior.

  • I think you're right, here. At first blush, we might think that conventional medicine would absolutely reject the idea that nasty germs actively seek out nasty-minded victims to infect, but everyone now accepts that the placebo effect is real, so we know that the state of the mind itself can definitely affect the progress of disease in "non-obvious" ways. But if there's any truth to the Buddhist idea of Affinity here, it's more likely to be Nasty-minded people are more likely to succumb to infection by nasty germs (reversing the "agent/patient" roles of the two "parties"). Commented Jul 12, 2023 at 10:23

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