Reply To: Upanisa Sutta


This is a critical sutta to discuss. Let me give just the basic idea first.

1. We accumulate kamma in two ways:

(i) where avijjā does not manifest, meaning one’s THOUGHTS at that moment are not directly based on ignorance. Instead, ignorance hidden in one’s samyojana/anusaya assists indirectly for such thoughts to arise. These are only mano kamma.

(ii) As those thoughts lead to more thoughts (i.e., if the ārammana is tempting), then we start consciously thinking (vaci sankhāra) and even initiate bodily actions (with kāya sankhāra). These are the strong kamma that can lead to rebirth.

2. The first category is “purāna kamma,” and the latter is “nava kamma.”

  • Both are initiated by a sensory input (ārammana.)  As you see, “purāna kamma” happens in the early stage, and “nava kamma” occurs in the latter stage. 

3. Those “new kamma” in the latter stage are done consciously (with javana citta.) They are done with avijjā and described by the uppatti Paticca Samuppāda: “avijjā paccayā sankhāra,where “paccayā” is described by the “hetu paccayā. That means sankhāra are generated with avijjā directly (i.e., avijjā is hetu or the direct cause.) 

  • On the other hand, “purāna kamma” occurs at the beginning of exposure to an ārammana. As we discussed, an ārammana always brings a “distorted sannā.” Here, the mind attaches to the ārammana (at various strengths, depending on the ārammana) and AUTOMATICALLY generates abhisankhara based on one’s hidden defilements (anusaya/samyojana.)
  • That INDIRECT involvement of avijjā (not consciously) is said to happen via the “upanisa paccayā.” Here, “upanisa” means something like “indirect support.”
  • That happens in the avyākata Paticca Samuppāda, which occurs right after exposure to an ārammana.

4. Thus, we can see that avyākata Paticca Samuppāda and uppatti Paticca Samuppāda could both run in a citta vithi based on an ārammana.

  • They correspond to the “purāna kamma” and the  “nava kamma” stages.
  • See, “Avyākata Paṭicca Samuppāda for Vipāka Viññāṇa.” In fact, the whole process (what we have separated as two PS processes) is just one Paticca Samuppāda. Even though they are separately discussed as two PS processes in the Tipitaka Commentaries, they are NOT discussed separately in the Sutta Pitaka.
  • I think Dosakkhayo asked about this in an earlier discussion.

5. What I briefly discussed above will become more clear in the next post I am writing on “purāna kamma” and”nava kamma.

6. Finally, regarding Dosakkhayo’s question: “Why is dukkha the ‘upanisā‘ of saddha?”

  • When one understands the “purāna kamma” stage (which we will discuss), that will help build  saddha by seeing that the beginning of future ” dukkha” is at the “purāna kamma” stage.
  • With the standard PS, we have seen that strong kamma arise via vaci and kaya sankhara. But the “root problem” is with the “distorted sannā” in the “purāna kamma” stage, even if no strong kamma accumulated there.

7. Another critical point is the following. Attachment to a sensory input (ārammana) DOES NOT happen in one shot. As we know, attachment happens over seconds to minutes to hours. Even within a second, there will be many citta vithis running through the mind. Each subsequent citta vithi is strengthened by the previous one. Thus, the attachment will keep increasing, and we will start doing strong kamma later in the process. 

  • However, one can stop the “nava kamma” generation if one is mindful.
  • To stop the “purāna kamma” stage, one must cultivate insight meditation by fully understanding the process. That is the deeper version of Satipatthana.
2 users thanked author for this post.