Majjhima Nikaya


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The Analysis of Kamma: Two Suttas

Condensed adaptations of
Majjhima Nikaya III, #135. CulaKammavibhanga Sutta, III.202;
#136. MahaKammavibhanga Sutta, III.207
with reference to:
WP: The Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha, Translated by Bhikkhu Nanamoli and Bhikkhu Bodhi: The shorter Exposition of Action, pp1053
PTS: Middle Length Sayings, III, translated by I.B. Horner: Discourse on the Lesser Analysis of Deeds, III.254
ATI: The Shorter Exposition of Kamma, Thanissaro Bhikkhu, trans
WP: The Greater Exposition of Action, 1058
PTS: Discourse on the Greater Analysis of Deeds, III.254
ATI: The Greater Exposition of Kamma


The Little Analysis of Kamma

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:

"BrokeTooth!"

"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]

 


 

The Great Analysis of Kamma

I HEAR TELL:[4]

Once Upon a Time, The Lucky Man, Rajagaha, Bamboo Grove, the squirrels' feeding place came-a ReVisiting. At this time Samiddhi (a novice Beggar) and Potali's son (a Wanderer of no particular sect) had this conversation:

Potali's son: "I have heard it from the mouth of Gotama himself that Kamma of Body is useless, Kamma of Speech is useless, that only Kamma of Mind is True, and, furthermore, that there is that attainment on attaining which one experiences the end of higher perception."[5]

Samiddhi: "Do not say this, Potali's son! Do not speak this way! Do not misrepresent what The Potter would say, for it is not good to misrepresent what the Potter would say, nor would the Potter say such."

Potali's son: "When one has intentionally done Kamma of Body, Speech or Thought, what does one experience?"

Samiddhi: "Dukkha, friend Potali's son."

At this Potali's son, neither accepting nor rejecting this statement, went his way, and Samiddhi came into the presence of Ananda who suggested that they go to Gotama for his reaction. There Ananda puts the case to Gotama and Gotama replies:

"But Ananda, I do not acknowledge the first premise of the case Potali's son put forth; how can I comment on the whole conversation? The question the wanderer Potali's son put was given a one dimensional answer by this foolish Beggar, Samiddhi. What it needed was a multidimensional answer.[6[7]

Gotama goes on:

"Ananda, the wanderer Potali's son was really asking about the three feelings. That foolish Beggar Samiddhi should have answered this way: 'When, friend Potali, one has done a deed by body, speech or Mind with the intention of producing pleasure, pain, or not-pain-but-not-pleasure he experiences pleasure, pain, or not-pain-but-not-pleasure as a result.' If, Ananda, Potali's son had answered in this way, he would have answered properly. Now, Ananda, there are foolish and inexperienced wanderers who are members of other sects who would find out about the Tathagata's Great Analysis of Kamma if you, Ananda, would listen while the Tathagata enumerates it's details."

Ananda: "Now is the time for this, Lucky Man! Now is the time for this Tathagata. Now is the time that The Potter should enumerate the Great Analysis of Kamma. When the Beggars have heard The Potter, they will keep it in mind!"

"Very well then, Ananda, lend ear, pay attention, I will speak!

"BrokeTooth!"

"There are four types of persons existing in the world. What four?

In the case of the first case, there is the case of some person here who slaughters living creatures, takes what has not been given to him and abandons his ethical conduct in the pursuit of pleasure, speaks lies, slander, uses harsh language, is a gossip, is covetous, cruel, and holds low views[8]. He, at the breaking up of the elements at death finds consciousness again in the Way of Woe, as an animal, or in Niriaya Hell.

In the case of the second case, there is the case of some person here who slaughters living creatures, takes what has not been given to him and abandons his ethical conduct in the pursuit of pleasure, speaks lies, slander, uses harsh language, is a gossip, is covetous, cruel, and holds low views. He, at the breaking up of the elements at death finds consciousness again in some Heaven world.

In the case of the third case, there is the case of some person here who abstains from slaughtering living creatures, taking what has not been given to him and who does not abandon his ethical conduct in the pursuit of pleasure, he abstains from speaking lies, slander, the use of harsh language, is no gossip, is not covetous or cruel and holds High View. He, at the breaking up of the elements at death finds consciousness again in some Heaven world.

In the case of the fourth case, there is the case of some person here who abstains from slaughtering living creatures, taking what has not been given to him and who does not abandon his ethical conduct in the pursuit of pleasure, he abstains from speaking lies, slander, the use of harsh language, is no gossip, is not covetous or cruel and holds High View. He, at the breaking up of the elements at death finds consciousness again in the Way of Woe, as an animal, or in Niriaya Hell.

Then we have the case, Ananda, of some sorcerer or Beggar who, as a result of applying himself, making effort, hard work, and mental discipline reaches such High state of mind that while High he sees with the dibbacakkhu, the divine eye superior to the vision of man, some individual who slaughtered living creatures, took what was not given to him and who abandoned his ethical conduct in the pursuit of pleasure, spoke lies, slander, used harsh language, was a gossip, covetous, cruel, and held low views and who, at the breakup of the elements at death found consciousness again in the Way of Woe, as an Animal, or in Niraya Hell. He concludes "It is true, there are deeds which can be called "bad", there is a result of bad deeds. That individual I saw here doing bad deeds has been reborn in the Way of Woe, as an Animal, or in Niriaya Hell." And then he goes on to say: "It's true, everyone who does bad deeds ends up in the Way of Woe, as an Animal, or in Niriaya Hell. Those who say so are telling the truth. Those who say differently are wrong." And in this way he stubbornly holds on to and sticks to the view formulated by himself based on what he has seen for himself as "This alone is the truth, everything else is false."

But then we have the case, Ananda, of some sorcerer or Beggar making a similar effort and attaining the dibbacakkhu, he sees some individual who slaughtered living creatures, took what was not given to him and who abandoned his ethical conduct in the pursuit of pleasure, spoke lies, slander, used harsh language, was a gossip, covetous, cruel, and held low views, who, at the breaking up of the elements at death found consciousness again in some Heaven world. He concludes: "It is not true that there are evil deeds, deeds that can be called bad. There is no result of bad deeds. How do I know? That individual I saw here doing bad deeds has been reborn in a Heaven World." And then he goes on to say: "Everyone who does bad deeds ends up in a Heaven World. Those who say this know the truth.. Those who say differently are wrong." And in this way he stubbornly holds on to and sticks to the view formulated by himself based on what he has seen for himself as "This alone is the truth, everything else is false."

And then we have the case, Ananda, of some sorcerer or Beggar making a similar effort and attaining the dibbacakkhu, he sees some individual who abstained from slaughtering living creatures, taking what has not been given to him and who did not abandon his ethical conduct in the pursuit of pleasure, he abstained from speaking lies, slander, the use of harsh language, was no gossip, was not covetous or cruel and held High View who, at the breaking up of the elements at death found consciousness again in some Heaven world. He concludes: "It is true, there are deeds which can be called good, there is a result f good deeds. That individual I saw here doing good deeds has been reborn in a Heaven World." And then he goes on to say: "It's true, everyone who does good deeds ends up in a Heaven world. Those who say so are telling the truth. Those who say differently are wrong." And in this way he stubbornly holds on to and stick to the view formulated by himself based on what he has seen for himself as "This alone is the truth, everything else is false."

And then we have the case, Ananda, of some sorcerer or Beggar making a similar effort and attaining the dibbacakkhu, he sees some individual who abstained from slaughtering living creatures, taking what has not been given to him and who did not abandon his ethical conduct in the pursuit of pleasure, he abstained from speaking lies, slander, the use of harsh language, was no gossip, was not covetous or cruel and held High View who, at the breaking up of the elements at death found consciousness again in the Way of Woe, as an Animal, or in Niriaya Hell. He concludes: "It is not true that there are good deeds, deeds that can be called good. There is no result of good deeds. How do I know? That individual I saw here doing good deeds has been reborn in the Way of Woe, as an Animal, or in Niriaya Hell." And then he goes on to say: "Everyone who does good deeds ends up in the Way of Woe, as an Animal, or in Niriaya Hell. Those who say this know the truth.. Those who say differently are wrong." And in this way he stubbornly holds on to and sticks to the view formulated by himself based on what he has seen for himself as "This alone is the truth, everything else is false."

As far as this goes, Ananda, whatever sorcerer or Beggar says: "There are bad deeds, there is result of doing bad deeds." This much I give him.

And if he says: "I saw such and such an individual who was of bad deeds reborn in this bad state." This much I also give him.

But if he says: "Everyone who does bad deeds is reborn in such and such a bad state." This I do not give him.

And if he says: "Those who know this know the truth, those who say otherwise are wrong." This I do not give him.

And whoever stubbornly holds on to and sticks to the view formulated by himself based on what he has seen for himself as "This alone is the truth, everything else is false." This I do not give him.

As far as this goes, Ananda, whatever sorcerer or Beggar says: "There are no bad deeds, there is no result of doing bad deeds." This much I do not give him.

And if he says: "I saw such and such an individual who was of bad deeds reborn in this good state." This much I give him.

But if he says: "Everyone who does bad deeds is reborn in such and such a good state." This I do not give him.

And if he says: "Those who know this know the truth, those who say otherwise are wrong." This I do not give him.

And whoever stubbornly holds on to and sticks to the view formulated by himself based on what he has seen for himself as "This alone is the truth, everything else is false." This I do not give him.

As far as this goes, Ananda, whatever sorcerer or Beggar says: "There are good deeds, there is result of doing good deeds." This much I give him.

And if he says: "I saw such and such an individual who was of good deeds reborn in this good state." This much I also give him.

But if he says: "Everyone who does good deeds is reborn in such and such a good state." This I do not give him.

And if he says: "Those who know this know the truth, those who say otherwise are wrong." This I do not give him.

And whoever stubbornly holds on to and sticks to the view formulated by himself based on what he has seen for himself as "This alone is the truth, everything else is false." This I do not give him.

As far as this goes, Ananda, whatever sorcerer or Beggar says: "There are no good deeds, there is no result of doing good deeds." This much I do not give him.

And if he says: "I saw such and such an individual who was of good deeds reborn in this bad state." This much I give him.

But if he says: "Everyone who does good deeds is reborn in such and such a bad state." This I do not give him.

And if he says: "Those who know this know the truth, those who say otherwise are wrong." This I do not give him.

And whoever stubbornly holds on to and sticks to the view formulated by himself based on what he has seen for himself as "This alone is the truth, everything else is false." This I do not give him.

As far as this goes, Ananda, in the case of some person here who slaughters living creatures, takes what has not been given to him and abandons his ethical conduct in the pursuit of pleasure, speaks lies, slander, uses harsh language, is a gossip, is covetous, cruel, and holds low views, who, at the breaking up of the elements at death finds consciousness again in the Way of Woe, as an animal, or in Niriaya Hell -- either bad Kamma to be experienced as Dukkha was done by him earlier,[9] or bad Kamma to be experienced as Dukkha was done by him later, or at the time of dying a low view was adopted and firmly held by him. It was because of this that at the breaking up of the elements at death he found consciousness again in the Way of Woe, as an animal, or in Niriaya Hell. But he who is of such Kamma and of such views experiences its fruition either in the here and now or in some other way.[10]

As far as this goes, Ananda, in the case of some person here who slaughters living creatures, takes what has not been given to him and abandons his ethical conduct in the pursuit of pleasure, speaks lies, slander, uses harsh language, is a gossip, is covetous, cruel, and holds low views, who, at the breaking up of the elements at death finds consciousness again in some Heaven world. -- either good Kamma to be experienced as Sukkha was done by him earlier, or good Kamma to be experienced as Sukkha was done by him later, or at the time of dying High View was adopted and firmly held by him. It was because of this that at the breaking up of the elements at death he found consciousness again in a Heaven World. But he who is of such Kamma and of such views experiences its fruition either in the here and now or in some other way.

As far as this goes, Ananda, in the case of some person here who abstains from slaughtering living creatures, taking what has not been given to him and who does not abandon his ethical conduct in the pursuit of pleasure, who abstains from speaking lies, slander, the use of harsh language, is no gossip, is not covetous or cruel and holds High View, who, at the breaking up of the elements at death finds consciousness again in some Heaven world-- either good Kamma to be experienced as Sukkhawas done by him earlier, or good Kamma to be experienced as Sukkha was done by him later, or at the time of dying High View was adopted and firmly held by him. It was because of this that at the breaking up of the elements at death he found consciousness again in a Heaven World. But he who is of such Kamma and of such views experiences its fruition either in the here and now or in some other way.

As far as this goes, Ananda, in the case of some person here who abstains from slaughtering living creatures, taking what has not been given to him and who does not abandon his ethical conduct in the pursuit of pleasure, he abstains from speaking lies, slander, the use of harsh language, is no gossip, is not covetous or cruel and holds High View, who, at the breaking up of the elements at death finds consciousness again in the Way of Woe, as an animal, or in Niriaya Hell-- either bad Kamma to be experienced as Dukkha was done by him earlier, or bad Kamma to be experienced as Dukkha was done by him later, or at the time of dying a low view was adopted and firmly held by him. It was because of this that at the breaking up of the elements at death he found consciousness again in the Way of Woe, as an animal, or in Niriaya Hell. But he who is of such Kamma and of such views experiences its fruition either in the here and now or in some other way.

So, Ananda, there are seeds of Kamma[11] which have not germinated and appear not to have germinated; there are seeds of Kamma which have not germinated but appear to have germinated; there are seeds of Kamma which have germinated and appear to have germinated; and there are seeds of Kamma which have germinated which appear not to have germinated.

Thus spoke the Lucky Man.

 


[ 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

[4]I think it is worth it to give the whole, lengthy Nidana (casting down, setting down, introduction), for this Sutta in that it shows a more fully developed case than the usual "he was here and said". Even so, I have eliminated the repetitions, which show a scrupulous attention to repeating the exact details of what was said and how during each progression of the case.

[ 5 ]One can easily see how this corruption of the Buddha's teaching came about from the view that Kamma of body is less significant than Kamma of speech, and Kamma of speech less than that of mind, and that there is an attaining of a state which is the ending of perception and sense experience.

[ 6 ]This means that while Samiddhi's answer was not exactly wrong in ultimate terms in that the eventual outcome as seen by Buddhists is that as a consequence of the attachment involved, even pleasant consequences of action come to an end bringing Pain, what was needed was to point out this more expanded way of seeing things to the Wanderer so as to make the Dhamma more palatable to him.

[7]There follows an absurd interruption by the Beggar Udayin who concludes: "If this is true what Samiddhi says, then whatever one experiences one experiences Pain," totally missing the fact that Gotama has just dismissed both Potali's son's question and Samiddhi's answer. This is met by Gotama as follows: "Now do you see, Ananda, this foolish Udayin's UnWay? I knew, Ananda, that this foolish man would open up this question to no purpose." The commentator says that he knew, not by psychic power, but by the fact that the man was squirming around in his seat, stretching out his neck, moving his jaws and twitching his face. A full reading of the Suttas is an absolute pleasure for anyone (even if just as literature) in terms of these asides.

[8]Miccha Ditthi contrary views; contrasted with Samma Ditthi, High Views, or the First Ariyan Truth. See: Glossology: The Four Truths.

[9]Than that period of his life noticed by the sorcerer or Beggar who is viewing his rebirth with the dibbacakkhu. It is interesting to note how the construction allows for phenomena observed from outside Time (the state of the Arahant, known as Akalika); that is that it is possible for an individual to be seen to be experiencing a life that was the result of a life that came, in the chronological view, after the life being observed. Numerous lifetimes are experienced in "do-over" mode, where at the end of the lifetime, the idividual reverts to some point in time earlier in an identical life to the one just lived.

[10]There is no doing of an intentional act of mind, word, or deed without the experiencing of the consequences thereof.

[11]Deeds done with Intent.


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