On Being Debtless
In [THAG 255] there is the very interesting point to be found in these verses of Angulimala, a fierce bandit/murderer who was converted by Gotama, that is the statement:
[882.] Me who had wrought such direful deeds,
Fast going to my place of doom,
Me all that doing's aftermath,
Hath touched e'en here — and freed from debt
Now take I my allotted share.
We hear throughout the suttas the statement being made by newly-become Arahants that their debt is paid or that they are debtless.
This is a statement that they have become Arahant, and also that they have brought kamma to an end — that is, insofar as identified-with personal experience is concerned.
Sometimes this happens very quickly, as within half a day. Here we get a tiny glympse of what process has brought about this debtlessness.
It is by way of bringing the mind into contact with that debt, so openeing the mind, so refusing to allow evasion and rationalization of badly done deeds that the experience of the consequences of former deeds are allowed to come forward and vent their full weight and thus expire.
Seen in the inverse, what is preventing the freedom of Nibbāna is maintaining a guard against experiencing the consequences of former deeds by evasion and rationalization.
In other words, all it requires, to attain Nibbāna is to let that stuff go and ride out whatever storm is the result.
It is also interesting to see in this episode the statement by Gotama to Angulimala that he should 'bear-up'.
Does this tell us that there is still, while the body remains some chance of not bearing up?
Elsewhere we are told that the distinction between the still-living arahant and the ordinary person is that while pain occurs to both, for the arahant there is no anguishing over the pain, no mental suffering.
There is another interesting thing that goes on in this sutta when the Buddha suggests that Angulimala do an 'act of truth' for the woman experiencing difficult labor.
He tells Angulimala to say that from the time he was born he was not aware of having done any harm to any living being.
Angulimala responds by questioning Gotama about how it would be possible for him to say this given his history.
The Buddha then tells him to say that from the time he was born as an Ariyan (Aristocrat) he was not aware of having done any harm to any living being.
One wonders if this were a test of Angulimala. He was not yet Arahant at this point.