Part 5: KAMMA
5.1 The Meaning of Kamma
Action - Kamma
‘By action (kamma) one becomes a farmer;
by action one becomes a craftsman;
by action one becomes a merchant;
by action one becomes a servant.’
‘By action one becomes a thief too;
by action one becomes a fighting-man;
by action one becomes a sacrificer;
by action one becomes a king.’
In this context, ‘action’ or ‘kamma’ is supposed to be the only cause of differences among human beings in the world.
Therefore ‘kamma’ is used to indicate all types of human activities in general. This view denies that man’s position in this world is determined by birth or the will of a creator.
Vasettha Sutta (Sn: 115-120) uses the term ‘kamma’ in the same context as mentioned above, to connote the spiritual an ethical dimensions of the term. ‘Kamma’ in the following verses may contain both meanings, i.e. physical and ethical.
Fruition of Kamma is Beyond Comprehension
‘The fruit of action (kamma), monks, is unthinkable, not to be thought of, thinking of which would make one distraught and come to grief.’
~A. II: 80
Kammic Effect does not Bear Immediately
Bad kamma takes Effect at the Opportune Moment.
‘Verily, an evil deed committed does not
immediately bear fruit, just as milk curdles
not at once; smoldering, it follows the fool
like fire covered with ashes.’
~A. I: 21
Intention is Kamma
‘Monks, I say that intention is kamma.
When one intends, one acts by deed,
word or thought.
Sense-contact is the source of kamma.’
~A. II: 82
Variety of Kamma
‘What is the variety of kamma?
There is kamma that is experienced in hell,
in a beast’s womb,
the spirit world, the world of humans, and
in the deva world.
This is the variety of kamma.’
Cessation of Kamma
‘Cessation of sense contact is cessation of kamma.
The way to the cessation of kamma is the Noble Eightfold Path.’
~A. III: 415; GS. III: 294
Understanding of Kamma pertains to Higher Knowledge
The Buddha develops clairvoyant vision to see how beings wander in samsara.
With His heart, thus serene ... He directs His mind to the knowledge of the fall and rise of beings.
With pure divine eye surpassing that of men, He sees beings as they pass away from one form of existence and take shape in another according to their kamma.
~D. I: 82;
5.2 Kamma and Other Views
What is Kamma
Kamma, in Pali, and karma, in Sanskrit, in its most general sense means all good and bad actions, Kamma is neither fatalism nor a doctrine of predetermination. The past influences the present, for kamma is past as well as present. The past and present influence the future - in this life or in the life to come. It has a cause first and an effect afterwards. We, therefore, speak of kamma as the law of cause and effect. What is the cause of the inequality that exists in the world. Buddhists cannot attribute it to a God, a Creator of the manifold destinies of men and the infinite gradations of beings that dwell in the universe. Neither can Buddhists believe that this heterogeneity of the world is the result of blind chance.
~Facets of Buddhism
Denial of Kamma
Makkhali holds the view that there is ‘no kamma, no act, no effort’. Since he refutes the kamma theory of the Buddhas of past, future and present, his view is like a trap cast against a stream for the destruction of all creatures living in the stream. Likewise, Makkhali is a human trap cast against the human beings in this world.
~A. I: 287
Monks, if anyone should say:
‘Just as this man does a deed, so does he experience it’ - this being so there is no living of the holy life - brahmacariya, there is no opportunity manifested for the utter destruction of dukkha - unsatisfactoriness.’
But if one should say:
‘Just as this man does a deed that is to be experienced, so does he experience its fulfillment,’ - this being so, monks, there is living of the holy life, there is opportunity manifested for the utter destruction of unsatisfactoriness - dukkha.’
~A. I: 249
5.3 Self Responsibility of Kamma
Well Done Kamma
Well done is that kamma which causes no repentance. ‘That deed is well done, when after having done it, one repents not, and when with joy and pleasure, one reaps the fruit thereof.’
One is Responsible for One’s Kamma
My good man, it was through ignorance that you did not act nobly in deed, word and thought. Verily, they shall do unto you in ignorance with your negligence. That evil action of yours was not done by mother, father, brother, sister, friends and comrades:
‘Not by kinsmen, devas, recluses and brahmins. By yourself alone it was done. It is just you that will experience the fruit thereof.’
~A. I: 138
Kamma Has a Say
‘All living beings have actions (kamma) as their own,
their inheritance, their congenital cause,
their kinsmen, their refuge.
It is kamma that differentiates
beings into low and high states.’
~M. III: 203
The Only Things Man Owns
‘Man’s merits and the wrong actions he hath wrought;
That is the thing he owns, that takes he hence
That dogs his step like shadows in pursuit.
Hence let him make good store for life elsewhere
Sure platform in some other world
Rewards of virtue on good beings wait.’
A Person Cannot Purify Another
‘By oneself indeed evil is done
By oneself is one defiled.
By oneself is evil avoided
By oneself is indeed one purified.
Purity and impurity depend on oneself
No one can purify another.’
5.4 Causes of Originating Kamma
The Cause of the Origin of Evil Deeds
Monks, there are these three originating causes of kamma. What three?
‘Lust, malice, delusion. An act performed in lust, born of lust, originating in lust, arising from lust, has its fruit wherever one’s personal self is reborn.’
‘Wherever that act comes to fruition, there one experiences the fruit thereof, whether it comes into being in this very life or in the next life, or in some phase (of existence).
An act performed in malice; an act performed under delusion, has its fruit in like manner.’
~A. I: 135
Three Causes of Evil - Kamma
Attachment, anger and delusion.
Attachment does not produce detachment but attachment. Likewise anger produces anger and delusion produces delusion. It is not possible to become a god - deva, a human being or experience other birth in a happy state by the kamma produced through selfish attachment, anger and delusion.
This type of kamma is the cause of hell - niraya, birth among animals, among spirits - peta or in any other woeful state.
~S. II: 263
Three Causes of Good - Kamma
Non-attachment, non-anger and non-delusion.
These three do not produce attachment, anger and delusion but they do produce non-attachment, non-anger and non-delusion.
This kamma is the cause for becoming a deva, a human being or for rebirth in other happy states.
~A. III: 338
Causes of Good Kamma That Leads to the Extinguishment
Monks, there are these three causes of the origin of actions (kamma).
‘Absence of lust, absence of malice, absence of delusion are the causes of action. An action done without lust, not born of lust, no caused by lust, not originated by lust is profitable, it is praise-worthy, it has happiness for its result, it conduces to the arising of (further) action (kamma), not to the ceasing thereof. So also with regard to actions do without malice and delusion.’
~A. I: 263
Causes Eliminating the Fruit of Kamma
Monks, there are these three originating causes of kamma. What three?
‘Freedom from lust, freedom from malice, freedom from delusion. An act not performed of lust, not born in lust, not originating in lust, not arising in lust - since lust has vanished, that act (kamma) is abandoned, cut off at the root, made like a palm-tree stump, made unable to come again in future time. An act not performed in malice, not performed under delusion is cut off at the root and is of a nature not to arise again in a future time.’
~A. I: 135
Evil Kamma Brings Suffering
‘An action done in lust, born of lust, caused by lust, originated by lust is not profitable:
it is blameworthy,
it has sorrow for its result,
it conduces to the arising of action,
(further) not to the ceasing of action (kamma).
So also with regard to actions done under the influence of malice and delusion.’
~A. I: 262
The Guarded and Unguarded Mind Determines the Nature of Kamma
‘When the mind is unguarded, bodily action is unguarded, speech and mental action are also unguarded. In him whose bodily action, speech and mental action are unguarded they are saturated with defilements. When these are thus saturated with defilements they are rotten. When they are rotten one’s death is not auspicious, one has no happy ending.’
‘When mind is guarded, bodily action also is guarded, speech and mental action are also guarded. In whom they are not saturated with defilements so they are not rotten. When they are not rotten one’s death is auspicious, he has a happy ending.’
‘When the mind is crooked, actions of body, speech and thought become crooked.’
~A. I: 262
Kamma has No Beginning or End
If we understand kamma as a force or a form of energy, then we can discern no beginning. To ask where is the beginning of kamma is like asking where is the beginning of electricity. Kamma like electricity does not begin. It comes into being under certain conditions.
5.5 Variation in Function
Fruition of Kamma Varies According to the State of the Mind
Now, for instance, there may be some trifling evil deed or other which may take him to hell. Or again there may be a like trifling evil deed of some person or other which is to be experienced in this very life; not a jot of it, nay, not a jot of it is seen hereafter.
If a person has not developed his body - kaya, morality - sila, mind - citta and wisdom - panna; and if he is insignificant, his self is restricted and cares very little, of such a person, monks, even a trifling evil deed done brings him to hell.
If some person has carefully developed his body - kaya, morality -sila, mind -citta and wisdom -panna; and if he is not insignificant, his self is great, his life is immeasurable; of such a person a similar small offense is to be experienced in this very life and not much of it, nay, a jot of it, is seen hereafter.
~A. I: 250-252; GS. I: 227-230
Variation of the fruit of kamma is explained respectively using two similes, i.e. a grain of salt thrown into a little cup of water makes the water salty and undrinkable while the same amount of salt thrown into the river Ganges does not make the water salty or undrinkable.
Potential Power of Kamma
The word ‘Sankhara’ is used in the scriptures to denote mental factors that consist of potential powers. Since kamma is ‘cetana’ (will, volition or intention) sankhara is defined as ‘sancetana’.
There are these six types of intentions: forms, sound, smell, taste, touch and mental images. These are called sankhara.
~SN. III: 60
Mode of Operation of Kamma
‘When one has intentionally done a deed by body, speech or thought for experiencing pleasure ... pain ... neither-pain-nor-pleasure, he experiences pleasure, pain, neither-pain-nor-pleasure respectively.’
~M. III: 209
Why There is Inequality Among Human Beings
The following questions regarding human inequalities were posed by a young man named Subha. The Buddha answered all his questions.
Q1. Some are short-lived or die prematurely whereas others live long. Why is this so?
A. Killing other beings in a previous birth is the cause of being short-lived. Compassionate abstinence from killing results in long life.
Q2. Some are sick, infirm and disease-ridden, others are strong, robust and healthy. Why?
A. Ill-treating, injuring and harming other living beings in a previous birth is the cause of proneness to disease in this life. Avoiding cruelty and developing kindness or empathy is the cause of strength and good health.
Q3. Some are ugly whereas some are handsome and pretty. Why?
A. Harboring hatred and jealousy towards others in a previous birth results in an ugly appearance in this life. The cultivation of patience and kindness results in beauty and good looks.
Q4. Some have few followers whereas some attract a large following. Why?
A. Envy towards others’ success and good fortune in a previous birth results in few followers or supporters in this life. Goodwill and harmony towards others result in a large faithful following.
Q5. Some are poor and destitute whereas others are wealthy and prosperous. Why?
A. Stinginess that prevents contributing anything to the welfare of others in a previous birth results in poverty and destitution in this life. Altruism and liberality results in wealth and prosperity.
Q6. Some are regarded as low caste, whereas some others as high caste. Why?
A. Rudeness, conceit and discourtesy to others in a previous birth results in birth in socially discriminated families and get belittled. Humility and respectfulness towards others results in birth in illustrious families, who are dignified and respected.
Q7. Some are dull by nature whereas some are intelligent. Why?
A. The maintenance of mental sloth in a previous birth results in ignorance and dull wit in this life. Likewise, the cultivation of the mind through enquiry and analysis results in high intelligence.
~M. III: 202-206; MLS. III: 248-253
5.6 Reflections on Kamma
Think Before You Act
Whatever action you intend to perform by body,
speech or mind, first think:
‘Will this action be harmful to myself,
or to others, or to both?
Will this action produce suffering’
If it is harmful, avoid doing it.’
~MI: 415f; MLS. ii: 88f
The Role of Kamma in Existence
‘By kamma the world moves,
by kamma men live
and by kamma are all beings bound,
As by its pin the rolling chariot wheel.
By kamma one attains glory and praise.
By kamma bondage, ruin, tyranny.
Knowing that kamma bears fruit manifold.
How say you, ‘In the world no Kamma is’?’
~Atthasalini: 66; The Exposition I: 88
The Transgressor Ruins Himself
‘As rust, arisen out of iron
Eats itself away, even so his own deeds lead
The transgressor to states of woe.’
‘The evil-doer grieves here,
He also grieves hereafter.
He grieves in both worlds,
He grieves and perishes
with his own impure deeds.’
Action and Reaction
‘One who kills also faces threats to his life,
One who conquers also faces being conquered,
One who reviles gets reviled.
Thus as a result of his own actions,
The spoiler will in turn be spoiled.’
Harm Not the Innocent
‘He who harms the innocent must bear
the severe effect of his act,
like dust flung against the wind.’
He Suffers When the Evil Affects Him
‘So long as an evil deed does not
affect the ignorant one,
He enjoys his life like taking honey.
But when it affects him,
Then he comes to grief.’
Life’s Future Store
‘Man’s merits and the merits he here hath wrought
That is the thing he owns, that takes he hence
That follows his steps, like shadows in pursuit.
Hence let him make good store for life elsewhere,
Sure platform in some other future world
Rewards of virtue on good things wait.’
No Place to Escape from Bad Effects of Kamma
‘Not in the sky
Nor in the mid-ocean
Nor in a mountain cave
Is found that place on earth
Where abiding, one may escape from
The consequences of one’s evil deed.’
‘Planters of groves and fruitful trees,
And they who build causeways and dams
And construct wells and watering-sheds,
And shelter give to the homeless.
For such as these by day and night
Forever doth the merit grow.
In righteousness and virtue’s might
Such folk from earth to heaven go.’
~S. I: 32
Benefits of Virtue
These five advantages come to the virtuous man because of his practice of virtue. The virtuous man, possessed of virtue, by reason of his earnestness, comes by great wealth, gains a good reputation, in whatever community or society he enters - he does so confidently and unconfused, dies without bewilderment and lastly, after death, is reborn in heaven.
Contemplate on the Body
‘They have not comprehended the Deathless who have not comprehended the mindful contemplation of the body. They have comprehended the Deathless who have comprehended the mindful contemplation of the body.’
~A. I: 21
Kamma Mounds the Next Life
‘This law of compensation often follows the law of similarity. An ascetic who has imitated a dog’s life may be reborn as a dog. If somebody concentrates on pure light and practices suffusion of it, he may be reborn among the gods of pure light.
A person who acts crookedly with body, speech and mind, can be reborn in the womb of an animal, one that creeps crookedly along.’
~A. V: 289
‘To reside in a suitable locality,
Meritorious deeds done in the past;
To set oneself in the right course -
this is the highest blessing.’
‘Vast learning, perfect handicraft,
A highly trained discipline;
And pleasant speech -
This is the highest blessing.’
~SN. VV: 260-261
5.7 For a Better Understanding of Kamma
Fools Enjoy Until Bad Deeds Bear Fruit
‘A man may spoil another (vilumpateva) just so far
As it may serve his ends, but when he’s spoiled
By others he, despoiled, spoils yet again
So long as evil’s fruit is not matured
The fool does fancy. ‘Now’s the hour, the chance!’
But when the deed bears fruit, he fareth ill
The slayer gets a slayer in his turn
The conqueror gets one who conquers him
The abuser wins abuse, the annoyer frets
Thus by the evolution of the deed
A man who spoils is spoiled in his turn.’
SN. II: 83
Where is Kamma Stored?
‘O Maharaja’, replied the Venerable Nagasena, ‘Kamma is not said to be stored somewhere in this fleeting consciousness or in any other part of the body. But dependent on mind and matter it rests manifesting itself at the opportune moment, just as mangoes are not to be store somewhere in the mango tree, but dependent on the mango tree they lie, springing up in due season.’
Rebirth - Past, Present and Future
‘Five causes were there in the past,
Five fruits we find in present life;
Five causes we now produce,
Five fruits we reap in future life.’
The five causes in the past are ignorance - avijja and potentiality - sankhara combined with craving - tanha, clinging - upadana and becoming -bhava.
The five fruits in the present means rebirth of the being at present as a result of past five causes. The 5 fruits are consciousness -vinnana, mentality-materiality - namarupa, six sense base -salayatana, sense contact -phassa and feeling -vedana.
As a being here in this life endures the five causes, i.e ignorance, potentiality, craving, clinging and becoming he gets rebirth -- the five fruits: consciousness, mentality-materiality, six sense base, sense contact and feeling.
Cause and Effect (Kamma Classified as It Produces Fruit)
Kamma means action. It is the law of moral causation or cause and effect and it relates to the physical, cosmic or universal causality. Kamma is the cause and vipaka is the fruit, the effect. The cause produces the fruit; the fruit explains the cause. Intentional action either wholesome - kusala or unwholesome -akusala, creates karmic effects. Kamma is of twelve kinds. Four of them are classified according to time of fruition in this life-time or hereafter. They are:
1/ Dittha Dhamma verdaniya: Immediately effective kamma.
2/ Upapajja vedanya: Subsequently effective kamma.
3/ Aparapairya vedaniya kamma: Indefinitely effective kamma in any life-time within the repeated cycle of births and deaths, (Samsara).
4/ Ashosi kamma: Lapsed kamma. Where there is no occasion for kamma to produce the fruit (effect) the kamma becomes inoperative. For instance, kamma which has the potential to produce its result in this life or in the next becomes inoperative if it does not produce its result within the due period (i. e. within this life or the next).
Four of them are classified according to their functions.
1/ Janaka: Generative kamma which conditions future birth.
2/ Upatthambaka: Supportive kamma.
3/ Upapidatka: Counteractive kamma.
4/ Upaghataka: Destructive kamma.
Four of them are classified according to the priority of the effect.
1/ Garuka: Weighty or serous kamma which produces an immediate result.
2/ Asanna: Death proximate kamma, which appears before the dying moment.
3/ Acinna: Habitual kamma which is action familiar to the mind.
4/ Kiatatta: Cumulative kamma unlike other kammas lies dormant and only becomes active in the presence of other supporting kammas.
The mental impulses of the intentional action - cetana, is an important factor determining whether the kamma will ripen in this life, the next or indefinitely in Samsara.
Can the Effect of Kamma be Changed?
Kamma is not predestination. Forces beneficent or baneful support or negate the self-operating law. Other contributing factors include birth, time, conditions, appearance and effort.
1/ Time - kala, and conditions such as world wars or famines which affect everyone, suspend the operation of good kamma and promote the fruition of bad kamma. Favorable worldly conditions, on the other hand may temporarily halt the fruition of bad kamma.
2/ For a person with good birth - gatisampatti, such as royal lineage, his good kamma has a better chance to operate, compared to a person of lowly birth.
3/ A person of good appearance - upadhi sampatti, may not suffer the disadvantages of lowly birth when compared to one with a good birth but marred by poor appearance - upadhi sampatti.
For example an heir apparent to the throne may be passed over on account of some physical or mental handicap.
4/ Effort or intelligence is the vital ingredient for material and spiritual progress. It is only through effort that good kamma is cultivated and bad kamma suppressed.
Further details can be found in Vibhanga of Abhidhamma Pitaka, about the effects of the past, present, and future Kamma by cause as explained by the Buddha.
a/ Gatisampatti: One kind of evil deeds which , thwarted by the perfection of place, does not give effects.
b/ Upadhisampatti: One kind of evil deeds which, thwarted by the perfection of personality, does not give effects.
c/ Kalasampatti: One kind of evil deeds which, thwarted by the perfection of time, does not give effects.
d/ Payogasampatti: One kind of evil deeds which, thwarted by the perfection of completeness of activities, does not give effects.
e/ Gativipatti: One kind of evil deeds which, aided by the disaster of place, give effects.
f/ Upadhismapatti: One kind of evil deeds which, aided by the disaster of personality, give effects.
g/ Kalavipatti: One kind of evil deeds which, supported by the disaster of time, give effects.
h/ Payogavitpatti: One kind of evil deeds which, supported by the disaster of the activities, give effects.
k/ Gativipatti: One kind of evil deeds which, thwarted by the disaster of place, does not give effects.
l/ Upadhivipatti: One kind of evil deeds which, thwarted by the disaster of personality, does not give effects.
m/ Kalavipatti: One kind of evil deeds which, thwarted by the disaster of time, does not give effects.
n/ Payogavipatti: One kind of evil deeds which, thwarted by the disaster of completeness of activities, does not give effects.
o/ Gatisampatti: One kind of evil deeds which, aided by the perfection of place, give effects.
p/ Upadhisampatti: One kind of evil deeds which, aided by the perfection of personality, give effects.
q/ Kalasampatti: One kind of evil deeds which, aided by time, gives effects.
r/ Payogasampatti: One kind of evil deeds which, aided by the perfection of completeness of activities, gives effects.
~VIB, A: 439
Wholesome Acts as Defined in Commentaries for the word Kusala
1/ Kusala: The word ‘kusala’ means ‘of good health’, ‘faultless’, ‘skillful’, ‘productive of happy sentient results’, etc. Now here in the phrase ‘moral states’ either ‘wholesome’, or ‘faultless’ or ‘productive of happy results’ is a suitable meaning.
~Atthasalini: 38; The Exposition: 48-49
Ten Kinds of Meritorious Deeds - Kusala Kamma
1/ Dana: Generosity which yields wealth and comfort.
2/ Sila: Morality which gives birth in noble families and in states of happiness.
3/ Bhavana: Meditation which produces insight knowledge, tranquillity and emancipation.
4/ Apacayana: Reverence the cause of noble parentage.
5/ Veyyavcca: Service which tends to produce large retinues or support from others.
6/ Patidana: Transference of Merit which allows one to give in abundance in future births.
7/ Pattanumodana: Rejoicing in Others’ Merit which is productive of merit wherever one is born.
8/ Dhamma savana: Hearing the Doctrine which promotes wisdom.
9/ Dhamma desana: Expounding the Doctrine which promotes wisdom.
10/ Ditthijju-kamma: Straightening of One’s Views which strengthens one’s confidence.
~The Expositor: 209f
Ten Kinds of Evil Actions - Akusala Kamma
1/ Three are caused by body, namely:
a/ panatipata: killing
b/ adinnadana: stealing and
c/ kamesumicchacara: sexual misconduct
2/ Four are caused by speech, namely:
a/ musavada: lying
b/ pisunavaca: slandering
c/ pharusavaca: harsh speech and
d/ samphappalapa: frivolous talk
3/ Three are caused by mind, namely:
a/ abhijjha: covetousness
b/ vyapada: ill-will and
c/ micchaditthi: wrong views
Five Kinds of Heinous, Unwholesome Kamma
One who commits any of the following evil kammas will face the grave consequences for a long period of time, immediately after his death, regardless of any previous good kammas he might have.
Moreover, any one who commits any of these actions is incapable of attaining Sainthood - Arahanthood within that life time even after leading a pure and religious life. The counteracting influence of good kamma is ineffectual until the force of the evil kamma is spent.
1/ Matricide: Killing of one’s own mother.
2/ Patricide: Killing of one’s own father.
3/ Killing of an Arahant. (a perfect Holy One)
4/ Wounding of a Buddha. (no one can cause the death of a Buddha)
5/ Creating dissension amongst members of the Sangha.
Necessary Conditions to Create Kamma
When anything pleasant comes to us and makes us happy, we can be sure that our kamma has come to show us what we have done is right. When anything unpleasant comes to us, hurts us or makes us unhappy, our kamma has come to show us our mistakes. We must never forget that kamma is always just. It neither loves nor hates, neither rewards nor punishes. It is never angry, never pleased; it is simply the law of cause and effect.
Kamma like fire is indifferent to anybody. Does fire know us when it burns us? It is the nature of fire to burn, to give out heat. If we use it properly it gives us light, cooks our food and burns anything we wish to get rid of. If we use it wrongly, it burns us and our property. Its work is to burn and our business is to use it in the right way. We would be foolish to get angry and blame it for burning us when we mishandle it.
Certain conditions must be fulfilled to create full effects of the kamma.
Five Conditions for the Act of Killing
An existing being, knowledge that it is a being, intention of killing, effort and consequent death.
Short life, prone to disease, constant grief caused by separation from loved ones, and constant fear.
Five Conditions for Stealing
Stealing property from other people, knowledge that it belongs to others, intention of stealing, effort and consequent removal.
Poverty, wretchedness, unfulfilled desires and dependent livelihood.
Three Conditions for Sexual Misconduct
Intention to experience the forbidden object, effort and possession of the object.
Have many enemies, get an unsuitable marriage partner, deformation of the sex organ.
Four Conditions for Lying
Untruth, intention to deceive, effort and communication of the untruth to others.
Tormented by abusive speech, subjected to vilification, distrust and deformities of mouth.
Four Conditions for Slandering
Dividing of persons, intention to separate them, effort and communication of the slander.
Dissolution of friendships without any sufficient cause.
Three Conditions for Harsh Speech
Someone to be abused, angry thought and the use of abusive language.
Detested by others although blameless and have a harsh voice.
Two Conditions for Frivolous Talk
The inclination towards frivolous talk and its narration.
Unpleasant physical appearance and unacceptable speech.
Two Conditions for Covetousness
Another’s property and a strong desire for it, thinking ‘if this property be mine’.
Non-fulfillment of one’s wishes.
Two Conditions for Ill-Will
Another being and the intention of doing harm.
Ugliness, various diseases and detestable nature.
Two Conditions for Wrong Views
Perverted manner in which an object is viewed and the misunderstanding of it according to that view.
Base attachment, lack of wisdom, dull wit, chronic diseases and blameworthy ideas.
~Expositor I: 128
The Roots of Violence
The Attadandasutta of the Sutta Nipata is the voice of someone overcome by despair by the violence:
‘Fear results from resorting to violence -
just look at how people quarrel and fight.
But let me tell you now of the kind of
dismay and terror that I have felt.’
‘Seeing people struggling like fish,
writhing in shallow water,
with enmity against one another,
I become afraid.’
‘At one time, I had wanted to find some
place where I could take shelter,
but I never saw such a place.
There is nothing in this world that is solid at base and
not a part of it, that is not changeless.’
‘I had seen them all trapped in mutual
conflict and that is why I had felt so repelled.
But then I noticed something
buried deep in their hearts.
It was - I could just make it out - a dart.’
~S. V: 935-938
We Gain the Fruit According to the Seed that is Sown
‘According to the seed that is sown,
So is the fruit ye reap therefrom.
The doer of good (will gather) good,
The doer of evil, evil (reaps).
Sown is the seed and planted well;
Thous shalt enjoy the fruit thereof.
~S. I.: 227
Lessons to be Learnt from Kamma
The more we understand it, we see that the more careful we must be in our acts, words and thoughts, and how totally responsible we are for own happiness. Living in the light of this knowledge, we will learn patience, confidence, self-reliance, restraint and power.
1/ Patience: Knowing that the law of kamma is our great helper if we live by it, and that no harm can come to us if we work with it, knowing also that it blesses us at just the right time, we learn the grand lesson of patience, not to get exited, and that impatience is a check to progress. In suffering, we know that we are paying a debt and we learn. If we are wise, not to create more suffering for the future. In rejoicing, we are thankful for its sweetness.
2/ Confidence: The Law of Kamma being just and perfect, it is not possible for an understanding person to feel uneasy about it. If we are uneasy and if we have no confidence it shows that we haven’t grasped the significance of the law. We are really quite safe beneath its wings and there is nothing to fear in the whole universe except for one’s own misdeeds. The Law makes a man stand on his own feet and rouses his self-confidence.
3/ Self-reliance: As we in the past have caused ourselves to be what we now are, so by what we do now will our future be determined. A knowledge of this fact and that the glory of the future is limitless, gives us great self-reliance and takes away that tendency to appeal for external help which is really no help at all.
4/ Restraint: Naturally, if we realize that the evil we do will return to strike us, we shall be very careful lest we do or say or think something that is not good, pure and true. Knowledge of kamma will restrain us from wrong doing for others’ sake as well as for our own.
5/ Power: The more we make the doctrine of kamma a part of our lives, the more power we gain not only to direct our future, but also to help our fellow beings more effectively.
~Facets of Buddhism
The Root of Kamma
Hetu-paccaya or root-condition is the first of the 24 modes of condition. Root-condition is that which resembles the root of a tree. Just as a tree rests on its roots, and remains alive only as long as its roots are not destroyed, so karmically unwholesome as well as wholesome mental states are entirely dependent on the presence of their respective roots; i.e. greed (lobha), hate (dosa) and delusion (moha), or absence of greed (alobha), absence of hate (adosa) and absence of delusion (amoha).
These conditions which through their presence determine the actual moral quality of a volitional state (cetana), together with their associated consciousness and mental factors give rise to the type and quality of a particular kamma. Therefore, we see that greed, hate, and delusion are karmically unwholesome and their opposite roots wholesome.
~Facets of Buddhism