Majjhima Nikaya


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Majjhima Nikāya
III. Upari Paṇṇāsa
4. Vibhaŋga Vagga

Sutta 135

Cūḷa Kamma-Vibhaŋga Suttaɱ

The Short Analysis of Kamma

A condensed adaptation/translation from the Pali
by Michael Olds

 


 

[1][chlm][pts][than][nymo][ntbb][upal] I HEAR TELL:

Once Upon a Time the Lucky Man, Savatthi town, Jeta Grove, Anathapindika's Park came-a Revisiting.

There the brahman youth Todeyya's Son[1] asked:

"Good Gotama, what is the cause,
what is the reason
that humans are seen to be born in low states and high states,
of short life-span of long life,
of many illnesses of few illnesses,
ugly and beautiful,
no accounts and those of great account,
poor and wealthy,
born in low cast and of respected families,
those who are foolish and those who are wise?"

And this is the answer he received from the SammasamBuddhassa man:

"Kamma is "one's own", brahman youth,
beings are heirs to their Kamma.

Kamma is the womb,
Kamma is one's ancestors,
Kamma is the judge.

Kamma separates beings
into low states and high states."

So then Todeyya's son said:

"I do not understand, Good Gotama, what has been said in brief here.

It would be good if the Good Gotama were to spell out Dhamma
so that I should understand the meaning in full."

"Well then, Todeyya's son,
listen up,
pay attention,
I will speak:

"Bhante!"

"In this case, Todeyya's son,
some man or woman slaughters living beings,
is cruel,
bloody-handed,
intent on injuring and killing,
without mercy to living beings.

Because of Kamma like that,
made his own
and fully developed as a lifestyle,
he, at the breaking up of the elements at death
finds consciousness again in the Woeful Ways
or as an Animal
or in Niriaya Hell.

But if he should happen to avoid that
and find consciousness again as Man,
he is of short life-span.

This is the way to a short life-span, Todeyya's son:
slaughtering living beings and so forth.

Then there is the case of some man or woman
who has let go of slaughtering living beings,
cruelty,
bloody-handedness,
intention to injure and kill,
one who lives merciful toward all living beings.

Because of Kamma like that,
made his own
and fully developed as a lifestyle,
he, at the breaking up of the elements at death
finds consciousness again in some Heaven World.

But if he should happen to fail that
and find consciousness again as Man,
he is of long life-span.

This is the way to a long life-span, Todeyya's son:
letting go of slaughtering living beings.

Then there is the case
of some man or woman who is habitually harmful to living creatures
with hand or stone or stick or sword.

Because of Kamma like that — he finds consciousness in Hell.

But if not, and he finds consciousness again as Man,
he has many illnesses.

In the opposite case he has few illnesses.

Then there is the case of some man or woman who is wrathful,
grumpy,
irritable,
intolerant of small criticisms,
easily offended,
contrary,
stubborn,
angry
and shows his anger, hatred and resentment ... Hell.

But if not Hell ... he is ugly.

In the opposite case he is beautiful.

Then there is the case of some man or woman who is jealous-minded;
jealous,
revengeful,
envious,
covetous,
resentful of others gains, honor fame
and the respect paid to them. . . Hell.

But if not Hell ... he is of little account.

In the opposite case he is of great account.

Then there is the case of some man or woman who is stingy,
who does not give food,
clothing,
or medicine,
vehicles,
garlands,
scents,
oils
and perfumes,
bed,
lodging,
light. ... Hell.

But if not Hell ... is poor.

In the opposite case he is rich.

Then there is the case of some man or woman
who is hardheaded and proud,
stuck up,
stiff,
does not acknowledge the presence of those who should be greeted,
does not stand up for one who should be stood up for,
does not give his seat
to one who deserves a seat,[2]
does not make way
for one who should be differed to,
does not respect,
revere,
reverence,
honor one who should receive such ... Hell.

But if not Hell ... born in a low cast of no respect.

In the opposite case
he is of high birth in a respectable family.

And again, Todeyya's son,
there is the case of some man or woman
who, having come into the presence of a sorcerer or Beggar,
does not ask:

"What is skillful Kamma?

What is unskillful Kamma?

What is blameworthy?

What blameless?

How should one practice?

What should one not practice?

If I do what,
will it be for many a day for my pain and sorrow?

Or if I do what,
will it be for many a day for my good and happiness? ... Hell

But if not Hell ... he is weak in wisdom.

In the opposite case he is wise.

So, Todeyya's son,
the course causing short life-span
leads to shortness of life-span;
the course allowing long life-span
leads to length of life-span;
the course causing many pains
leads to having many illnesses;
the course causing few pains
leads to having few illnesses;
the course creating ugliness
leads to ugliness;
the creating the lovely
leads to beauty;
the course causing the lessening of worth
leads to smallness of account;
the course allowing greatness of account
leads to being of great account;
the course causing poverty,
leads to poverty;
the course bringing wealth
leads to being wealthy;
the course showing disrespect
leads to being low born;
the course that brings respect
leads to being high born;
the course conducive to being weak in wisdom
leads to weakness of wisdom;
the course conducive to being of great wisdom
leads to greatness in wisdom.

"Kamma is "one's own", brahman youth,
beings are heirs to their Kamma.
Kamma is the womb,
Kamma is one's ancestors,
Kamma is the judge.

Kamma separates beings
into low states and high states."

And at this Todeyya's son said:

"Excellent Good Gotama! Excellent!

In the same way as if one were to set upright
that which had been upside down;
or as if one were to bring a lamp into the darkness
so that the beings there might see;
in the same way has the Good Gotama set out Dhamma
and made it clear.

I go to the Good Gotama for Refuge,
I go to the Dhamma for Refuge,
I go to the Order for Refuge.

May the Good Gotama accept me
as a Lay Follower going for Refuge
from this day forth
as long as life shall last!"[3]

 


[1] Todeyya was King Pasenadi's spiritual advisor, a rich and grumpy fellow identified as being reborn after death as a dog in his own house by the Buddha. The story of Pasenadi, and his conversion to Buddhism, is just one of many on-going stories one encounters in reading the entire Pali.

[2]An elder, teacher, newcomer, or one who is infirm. In the USA, for laymen, a woman; but in the case of a Bhikkhu, women should understand that a Bhikkhu would be disrespecting the Dhamma to stand or give his seat to anyone not included in the first list of those to whom one should yield a seat. Women and men are considered equal in this matter.

[3]This last, a formula, is the ending of numerous Suttas. The "Going for Refuge" is used to this day. See The Refuges

References:

MN 135
PTS: Middle Length Sayings, III, translated by I.B. Horner: Discourse on the Lesser Analysis of Deeds, III.254
PTS: Discourse on the Greater Analysis of Deeds, III.254
ATI: The Greater Exposition of Kamma


 

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