Anguttara Nikaya


Aŋguttara-Nikāya
III. Tikanipāta
IV. Devadūta Vagga

Sutta 33

Nidāna Suttaṃ

Beginnings

Translated from the Pali by Michael Olds

 


 

Translator's Introduction

This sutta is deeper than it seems.

There is a window being opened here to the mystery of how to end the experiencing of old kamma.

Imagine a boomerang. It's not a boomerang, it's a wave-face. A slice of energy set into action that appears as colored shapes, given names, made into stories. It swoops out in a parabolic arch and travels as far as the energy of the thrower, the airodynamics of the boomerang, and the resistance it meets with on the way out and then it sails back to it's point of origin.

It's a rug. Begun with a knot, the 'Nidana', it is the anchor for a pattern being woven with colored lights waving this way and that. The pattern has a beginning a middle and end that creates a symmetry in two dimensions that an intentional act (kamma) produces in all directions outward from the perpetrator ... and back. Expanding over time in tandom with the individuality.

It's a spell. Cast out into the world in a story that is a lesson that is a drama that is living which forges its way on outward until it reaches the maximum extent of its scope and then it returns to the point from which it began; the lesson having been completed.

It says: "Caution!" APPAMADA. This 'being' stuff is very dangerous! Do it with your eyes wide open, and understand which knots or castings out of your seed are likely to bear fruit and which are not. And it is saying that it is the nidanas that do not bear fruit that are the more desirable.

But it is also saying that deeds do not just go on out there causing consequences forever, but neither do they stop until these three beginnings to them are stopped. That is 'Lust, and Hate and Stupidity'.

But it is also saying that old deeds can be stopped from causing further damage when the Lust or Hate or Stupidity is removed from them.

This should be causing you to jump up and down in your seat.

This means the experiencing of old kamma can be stopped.

This sutta should not be read with a tired old linear mind! That way there is, for sure, a valuable lesson to be learned: Deeds done with lust, hate or stupidity will immediately begin producing results right here in a manner that accords with the intent and will continue to produce results indefinately until stopped; whereas deeds done without lust, hate or stupidity are dead from the get go, fruitless.

There is Lust. There is the intent to get pleasure for the self. There is the action. There is the experience of the result in accordance with the intent.
There is no lust. There is no intent to get pleasure for the self. There is action. There is no experience of any result.

Lust/Hate is a phenomena formed from both the sensation of plesure/pain which may arise from some contact of sense-organ with sense-object [the result of some previous kamma], and from the intent to recreate that pleasure/avoid that pain for the self. It may go no further than the mind, or it may manifest in speech and bodily activity.

Deeds not involving lust, hate and stupidity are of two general sorts: The intentional not-doing of some deed that would involve lust, hate and stupidity; and the doing of some deed in response naturally or in some contrived way free from lust, hate and stupidity, such as, for example, passing the salt, when requested.

This is also a lesson in Dhamma-research. Careful reading will show that the simile and the main text are not quite parallel.

In the first half, the deed, the seed, done, planted, grows on to fruition.
In the second half, the deed, the seed, done, planted, is destroyed and does not go on to fruition.
Note that in the simile, in both cases, there is a deed, the seed, which is done, planted.

This reading thus states that while deeds involving lust, hate and stupidity go on to fruition, those that do not involve such do not have an outcome. This is the way both Bhk. Thanissaro and Woodward translate.

Superimposing the second half of the sutta over the first half, what is being said is: 'A deed, once set rolling, keeps on rolling forever or until the lust (liking) or hate (disliking) which was it's beginning has been eliminated and the deed seen for what it really is (a path to pain). Conversely, it is saying that because a deed is never done until it's done with, it can be undone at any time by eliminating the lust or hate which was it's beginning and by seeing the deed for what it really is.

So 'in the same way' it is being said that:
for both types of deed, the deed, the seed, would grow on
to fruition and continued fruition
if not stopped [forcing us to think of the kamma done without Lust, Hate and Stupidity as potentially 'good kamma' which is killed off instantly because of the lack of Lust (wanting) and Hate (wanting to get away)]
but the real point is that the first sort of deed
can be converted to the second sort of deed
through the elimination of stupidity.

How can you stop a kammic repercussion when it is way out there ... in Time ... in memory?

Because that boomerang has never left 'here.'

'...rolls on to wherever self becomes...'

Thats How.

obo
Los Altos,
Sunday, June 06, 2010 12:47 PM

How about: What this sutta is saying is that all acts, kammas are neutral in terms of 'cosmic balance' (it's all part of the story, there is no misplaced act, it all makes sense in terms of the story in the Creator's eye, there is no 'injustice'; it's 100% lose-lose all the way down); but that it is only insofaras 'self' is injected into acts [sankharamed] by way of Lust, Hate and Stupidity that there is the experiencing of living as an individual with all the pain that follows.
Then it is saying that if one is caught within this trap, the way out is to drop the lust and hate and see the reality — right here!

 


 

[1][wrrn][pts][than][bodh] These three, Beggars, begin[1] kamma production.

What three?

Lust begins kamma production,
hate begins kamma production,
stupidity begins kamma production.

A deed, beggars, by nature lustful, born of lust, begun in lust, produced in lust —
rolls on to wherever self becomes
and there that deed bears fruit.

Where that deed bears fruit,
there the fruit of that deed is subjectively experienced[2]
either in this visible thing,
or wherever arising.

A deed, beggars, by nature hateful, born of hate, begun in hate, produced in hate —
rolls on to wherever self becomes
and there that deed bears fruit.

Where that deed bears fruit,
there the fruit of that deed is subjectively experienced
either in this visible thing,
or wherever arising.

A deed, beggars, by nature stupid, born of stupidity, begun in stupidity, produced in stupidity —
rolls on to wherever self becomes
and there that deed bears fruit.

Where that deed bears fruit,
there the fruit of that deed is subjectively experienced
either in this visible thing,
or wherever arising.

In the same way, beggars, as seeds,
unbroken,
not rotten[3],
undamaged by wind and heat,
viable,
well sown,
happily planted in well-prepared ground,
and the high heavens bear their watery gift —
those seeds, beggars, so sown,
would then show growth
and come to maturity.

In the same way, beggars,
a deed, by nature lustful, born of lust, begun in lust, produced in lust —
rolls on to wherever self becomes
and there that deed bears fruit.

Where that deed bears fruit,
there the fruit of that deed is subjectively experienced
either in this visible thing,
or wherever arising.

A deed, beggars, by nature hateful, born of hate, begun in hate, produced in hate —
rolls on to wherever self becomes
and there that deed bears fruit.

Where that deed bears fruit,
there the fruit of that deed is subjectively experienced
either in this visible thing,
or wherever arising.

A deed, beggars, by nature stupid, born of stupidity, begun in stupidity, produced in stupidity —
rolls on to wherever self becomes
and there that deed bears fruit.

Where that deed bears fruit,
there the fruit of that deed is subjectively experienced
either in this visible thing,
or wherever arising.

These are the three Beggars, that begin kamma production.

 

§

 

[33.2] These three Beggars, begin kamma production.

What three?

Non-lust begins kamma production,
non-hate begins kamma production,
non-stupidity begins kamma production.

A deed, beggars, without lust by nature, not born of lust, not begun in lust, not produced in lust —
lust not being there,
that deed is thuswise and then let go,
uprooted,
made an unplanted palm,[4]
made not to become,
a thing not to appear in future.

A deed, beggars, without hate by nature, not born of hate, not begun in hate, not produced in hate —
hate not being there,
that deed is thuswise and then let go,
uprooted,
made an unplanted palm,
made not to become,
a thing not to appear in future.

A deed, beggars, without stupidity by nature, not born of stupidity, not begun in stupidity, not produced in stupidity —
stupidity not being there,
that deed is thuswise and then let go,
uprooted,
made an unplanted palm,
made not to become,
a thing not to appear in future.

In the same way, beggars, as seeds,
unbroken,
not rotten,
undamaged by wind and heat,
viable,
well sown,
happily planted in well-prepared ground,
and then some man burns them by fire
having burnt them by fire
reduced them to ashes
having reduced them to ashes
winnows them in a great wind
or swift stream or rapids
thuswise and then, beggars, these seeds are uprooted,
made an unplanted palm,
made not to become,
a thing not to appear in future.

In the same way, beggars, a deed without lust by nature, not born of lust, not begun in lust, not produced in lust —
lust not being there,
that deed is thuswise and then let go,
uprooted,
made an unplanted palm,
made not to become,
a thing not to appear in future.

A deed, beggars, without hate by nature, not born of hate, not begun in hate, not produced in hate —
hate not being there,
that deed is thuswise and then let go,
uprooted,
made an unplanted palm,
made not to become,
a thing not to appear in future.

A deed, beggars, without stupidity by nature, not born of stupidity, not begun in stupidity, not produced in stupidity —
stupidity not being there,
that deed is thuswise and then let go,
uprooted,
made an unplanted palm,
made not to become,
a thing not to appear in future.

These then Beggars, are the three that begin kamma production.

Born of lust or hate or of stupidity
If of such a nature, deeds, little or big,
Are here thus and then to be experienced,
another site is not seen.
therefore of lust and hate and of stupidity
the wise beggar does the appearance note
and all bad outcomes does avoid.
So it's said.

 


[1] Nidānāni kammānaṃ samudayāya. Woodward's/Bhk. Thanissaro's: causes, action, originating; Warren's: conditions, deeds, produced.
Nidana = Down-bound. The 'nidana' is the first knot beginning the weaving process (kamma — pun certainly intended). Too often inappropriately translated 'cause', (in casual English, 'cause' is understood less as a force of creation than as simply something that happens co-insidentally: 'just because') it means more like 'tied up in/to' involved with, but also 'beginning' which is the basis for the other often used translation 'foundation', 'basis.' It is also the first 'condition' necessary to begin weaving. Here what is indicated by the context is a way to say 'There are three "factors based on which" action arises.' 'Tied-up with,' 'bound-up in' 'Tied down to' all would work here.
Note Woodward translating 'nidana' as 'cause' in the first paragraph, translates 'lobhanidānaṃ etc, as 'originating in ...'.

[2] Paṭisaṃvedeti. Woodward: 'come into bearing'; Bhk. Thanissaro: 'experience'. 'Experience' is the PED translation, but as this is also it's translation of 'vedeti' how do we explain the 'pati+saṃ'? Pati = bounce, reflect, repercuss, idea of turning back on; saṃ = own, self, with.

[3] Apūtīni. Not putrid.

[4] borassus flabelliformis. This simile is often used but never explained. I think in the case of this palm, sometimes a cigar is more than just a cigar.

 


Contact:
E-mail
Copyright Statement   Webmaster's Page