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 [Dhamma Talk]


AN 3.074

Ananda describes three methods for ending Pain and evading kamma as taught by the Buddha.

Read the Sutta

Index to available translations: AN 3.74

The key to understanding this sutta is in the phrase: Purāṇañ ca kammaɱ phussa phussa vyantīkaroti. 'And he removes past kamma by way of touch and touch again.' Repeated contact.

There is no explanation in the sutta, and the various translations do not explain well.

The idea is that by continuously examining the body, sensations, mental states and the Dhamma and dredging up in memory deeds said and done in the past and examining them from the perspective of Dhamma as it is currently understood [the point of satipatthana, and an evolving process] one is in effect experiencing the consequences of one's past deeds. Problematic past deeds, in this process of self-examination, emerge into consciousness where they can be re-examined.

At this point by understanding the deed in terms of ethical conduct, the detachment of jhāna and by seeing the freedom in the destruction of the corrupting influences [āsava] the deed is resolved and swept away.

Understanding this in this way one is able to resolve the paradox presented by the statement made that there is no ending of kamma without experiencing the results thereof, and the case of Arahants apparently being subjected to the consequences of prior bad kamma as in the cases of Devadatta being able to injure the Buddha's toe, Moggliana being murdered, and Angulimala being subjected to assalt ... and other cases.


By ethical conduct, the calm detached serenity of jhāna, and insight into the freedom that results from the destruction of the corrupting influences of lust, hate, and stupidity [āsavas] it is possible to become arahant before the ending of the individual's residual kamma.

The Arahant is, by this behavior and insight, subject to no further births after death. That is what distinguishes Arahantship in this life from pari-Nibbana, and what is meant by the term 'with remainder' when speaking of arahants and non-returners who must experience some delay after death before attaining Nibbana.

Those consequences of former deeds that remain to the khandhas (that is, the individuality,) of what is now the Arahant, however far back in time they may have begun, are forced, because their scope is limited to the khandhas, and there will be no further khandhas after the death of this individual, into presenting themselves within the narrow limit of the life of the khandhas of the Arahant that remains.

Thus the consequences of former actions are experienced (though in the case of the Arahant, as impersonal phenomena, impinging on the khandhas, but not on the mind), but in proportion to the relationship of the finite life remaining to the unbounded scope of Nibbana.

A similar thing occurs for the Streamwinner, Once-returner, and Non-returner.

Two similes that were made to make this clear can be found in AN 3.99.

Today [Friday, February 21, 2014 8:50 AM] we can use our common understanding of earth's relationship to outer space as a good simile:

Imagine the perspective of an ordinary person here on planet earth. In this case the earth appears vast to the point of feeling unlimited.

Then send this same person into orbit in the International Space Station. Here his perspective of earth is radically changed. He has become detached from actual experiences on earth though some may still be visible, and he can see the planet as a finite object in space.

Take this person further out in space past the solar system and he will hardly be able to make out the existence of earth at all, let alone experience any disturbance from even cataclysmic things that happen there.

Then move this person out beyond the Galaxy, and beyond, and beyond the beyond.

The various perspectives can be related to the various changes in perspective from Streamwinner to Arahant, while that which is due to be made manifest on planet earth is confined to planet earth.

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