- This topic has 65 replies, 5 voices, and was last updated 5 years, 3 months ago by Johnny_Lim.
December 22, 2017 at 2:12 pm #13316
In Milindapanha, Book IV, Chapter 1, §62-66 (translation Rhys Davids) it is discussed what caused the pains of the buddha after his enlightment, such as the splinter of a rock and his dysenterie. The King sees this as an evidence the Buddha was not free of sinn. Nagasena wants to make clear to King Milinda it was not due to his own kamma he suffered pains.
‘No, O king. It is not all suffering that has its root in Karma. There are eight causes by which sufferings arise, by which many beings suffer
pain. And what are the eight? Superabundance of wind, and of bile, and of phlegm, the union of these humours, variations in temperature, the avoiding of
dissimilarities, external agency, and Karma. From each of these there are some sufferings that arise, and these are the eight causes by which many beings suffer pain. And therein whosoever maintains that it is Karma that injures beings, and besides it there is no other reason for pain,
his proposition is false.’
…so also was it irrespective of any act done by him that that splinter of rock fell upon his foot.’
…”So, O king, it is not all pain that is the result of Karma. And you should
accept as a fact that when the Blessed One became a Buddha he had burnt out all evil from within him.’
These causes are also mentioned in SN36.21, AN5.104 and AN10.60.
It seems to me, but maybe i am wrong, there is a difference in approach in Abhidhamma and Sutta. Sutta is very clear that bodily pain can have many causes (at least 7 others then Kamma) and Abhidhamma seems to analyse that bodily pain is Always kamma-vipaka. Is it correct that according to Abhidhamma bodily pain is Always kamma-vipaka and if so, why, sutta’s do not seem to teach this.
December 23, 2017 at 7:39 am #13319
Thanks, Siebe, for another excellent topic. I am making this a new topic in the Sutta Interpretations forum, since it requires study of suttas.
However, as I mentioned in the side panel, please do not pose questions just to me in the future.
Siebe is correct in saying that “Abhidhamma seems to analyse that bodily pain is Always kamma vipaka”.
So, the question is: Are some suttas saying that there could be causes other than kamma vipaka that lead to bodily pain?
I have not studied those suttas that Siebe mentions. So, it would be good to see whether the suttas SN36.21, AN5.104 and AN10.60, as well as Milindpanha (which is attributed to Nagasena Thero who lived about 200 years after the Buddha), say that there could be other causes.
In Buddha Dhamma anything in this world happens due to one or more causes. But for those causes to bring effects, suitable conditions must be present. This is discussed in the section “Patthana Dhamma”.
So, conditions play a key role in the Principle of Cause and Effect in Buddha Dhamma, which is Paticca Samuppada. I wonder whether those “other possible causes” are really conditions in this particular case. It is also possible that there is a totally different explanation.
Please do not hesitate to comment. I am still on travel and will be back early next week.
December 23, 2017 at 11:39 am #13320
… bile, phlegm, wind, imbalance, climate, carelessness, assault …
These are strange causes. Or the translation is wrong.
Maybe the 3 sans are meant: greed, hate, ignorance …with these one generates (based on vipaka) san-vedana of anger (bile and assault), heaviness (phlegm and carelessness), restlessness (wind and imbalance) … ?
Or is it about the 5 niyama dhamma (dhammata)?
December 23, 2017 at 2:11 pm #13322
bile, phlegm and wind are nowadays still seen as causes for illnesses in, for example, Tibetan Healthcare system. On the internet this can be found.
It is for me quite clear that sutta’s do not teach that every bodily pain is due to own past kamma or kamma vipaka. When one, for example, decides to stand on one leg for a day, one will surely feel very painful feelings. This pain is not some kamma-debt repayed but is quite natural, everybody will feel intense pains. We are not build to stand on one leg a whole day.
When i would tomorrow sport very fanaticly, i would surely have very painful feelings tomorrow because my body is not used anymore (once it was and i would not feel any pain) to this kind of activity. Is this kamma repayed? I think it is not sensible to decide this way.
Kamma is in sutta’s seen as one of eight possible causes for illnesses (AN10.60), discomfort (AN5.104) and actual feelings (SN36.21).
‘Whatever a person experiences, whether it be pleasant or painful or neither-painful-nor-pleasant, all that is caused by what was done in the past,’ they overshoot what one knows by oneself and they overshoot what is considered to be true in the world. Therefore I say that this is wrong on the part of those ascetics and brahmins’.
This seems very different to the Abhidhamma system. From studying Nina van Gorkom i understood that Abhidhamma teaches that whatever one experiences and is, for example, painful, not pleasant, that is Always kamma-vipaka (repayed bad kamma) because that’s the way experiences (seeing, hearing, tactile feeling etc) come to us, as kamma-vipaka. But, i feel, the sutta’s teach something different (see SN36.21 above).
For me, it makes no sense that only hearing a painful sound (a train passing by which makes those high screaming sounds) is kamma-vipaka and the experience of a painful sound is due to my own bad kamma? That makes no sense to me. When one would make use of this line of thinking, then everything we experience and is painful of pleasant would be related to our own past deeds. Everything would be kamma. This is clearly not what the sutta’s teach. At least, i do not see that.
Nagasena in Milindapanha makes even clear the pain (backpain for example or the Budddha’s problems with his bowels) may not be seen as kamma-vipaka. ‘And you should accept as a fact that when the Blessed One became a Buddha he had burnt out all evil from within him.’ He explaines to King Milinda how it must be seen.
Carelessness as a cause. When one is careless one can meet all kind of intense pain. When one is careless when crossing a street, or careless when going on a ladder, careless when using a Phone in a car etc. one can meet with intense bodily pains or even death. The arisen pain can be seen caused due to carelessness. Must it be seen due to kamma, kamma vipaka?
Change of climate. For example, i always get bodily pains (aphthas, pain in longs, in muscles etc) when temperature drops, from autumn to winter. Many people get the flu and get bodily pains. Change of climate. Kamma?
Still, sutta’s (MN135) also explain that the differences we see among people; their appearance (beauty/uglyness) their healths (healthy or often ill, their living conditions (rich or poor), their lifespan (short or long), their influence (important or unimportant) must be understood as differences due to kamma.
December 23, 2017 at 10:01 pm #13326
“When one, for example, decides to stand on one leg for a day, one will surely feel very painful feelings. This pain is not some kamma-debt repayed but is quite natural, everybody will feel intense pains. We are not build to stand on one leg a whole day.
When i would tomorrow sport very fanaticly, i would surely have very painful feelings tomorrow because my body is not used anymore (once it was and i would not feel any pain) to this kind of activity. Is this kamma repayed? I think it is not sensible to decide this way.”
There are people with good genes who are less susceptible to physical abuse and trauma. Of course old age does affect our wellness. Also, the same contaminated food served to say, 200 diners…not everyone would get food poisoning. Isn’t hereditary good genes kamma vipaka?
December 24, 2017 at 12:41 pm #13331
Johnny-Lim asked: “Isn’t hereditary good genes kamma vipaka?”
i do not know but i feel kamma-vipaka refers to our own good and bad ripening deeds. It must come from our past?
Suppose, one would be born in a family with hereditary Alzheimer genes and one would develop this disease. Is this kamma-vipaka, does this arise from own deeds, a dept to be payed? I do not know what is the right answer but i feel that when certain characterstics of ourselves are hereditary, that decreases the change that our own kamma is cause.
December 23, 2017 at 8:31 pm #13324
I would think not everything is due to past kamma. There is a smile in the sutta that says if we put in a teaspoon of salt into a small cup of water, the water will be undrinkable. But if a similar amount of salt is mixed into a large amount of water, we won’t be able to perceive the saltiness. This implies that wholesome kamma could dilute unwholesome vipaka to a certain extend. The Buddha has the greatest virtue and yet He had to suffer certain ailments. If based on the above logic, it does not make sense for Him to suffer some seemingly normal discomfort. i.e the Buddha’s own wholesome kamma would have drastically reduce or even averted the ailments.
December 23, 2017 at 9:54 pm #13325
To add on, I would think if not for the Buddha’s great virtue and blessings, His ailments could have been much worse. We would never be able to find out exactly how the law of kamma works.
December 24, 2017 at 3:39 am #13327
But there should not be a contradiction within the Tipitaka. The question is, wether here the sutta talks about paccaya or real causes or causes which finally origin from kamma. I think Lal should have a closer look at the pali version.
December 24, 2017 at 6:29 am #13330
In Milindapanha it is said (Book IV, Chapter 1, §63)
‘If, O king, all diseases were really derived from Karma then there would be no characteristic marks by which they could be distinguished one
from the other. When the wind is disturbed, it is so in one or other of ten ways–by cold, or by heat, or by hunger, or by thirst, or by over eating,
or by standing too long, or by over exertion, or by walking too fast, or by medical treatment, or as the result of Karma. Of these ten, nine do not
act in a past life or in a future life, but in one’s present existence. Therefore it is not right to say that all pain is due to Karma. When the bile, O king, is deranged it is so in one or other of three ways–by cold, or by heat, or by improper food. When the phlegm is disturbed it is so by cold, or by heat, or by food and drink. When either of these three humours are disturbed or mixed, it brings about its own special, distinctive pain. Then
there are the special pains arising from variations in temperature, avoidance of dissimilarities, and external agency. And there is the act that has
Karma as its fruit, and the pain so brought about arising from the act done. So what arises as the fruit of Karma is much less than that which arises from other causes. And the ignorant go too far when they say that every
pain is produced as the fruit of Karma. No one without a Buddha’s insight can fix the extent of the action of Karma.’
December 25, 2017 at 10:19 am #13336
It is important to realize that the issue here is only bodily suffering (or pleasure). Abhidhamma DOES NOT say mental suffering (or pleasure) is due to past kamma vipaka.
In Abhidhamma, all sense inputs via the other five sense inputs (other than physical body) are initially felt as upekkha (neutral) vedana. Only the bodily sense inputs could lead to dukha vedana (getting injured, headaches, cancer, etc) or sukha vedana (good massage, lying on a comfortable bed, etc).
When we generate joy upon seeing something that we like, for example, it comes in as a neutral vedana. We generate joy via “samphassa ja vedana” based on our gathi. A good example is seeing a well-known politician. Some people generate good feelings and others may generate bad feelings; but it is the same person they were all looking at. One may need to contemplate on this and let the idea sink in. It is an important point. It holds true for any sense input other than the bodily sense inputs.
I don’t think anyone stated otherwise above, but I just wanted to make it clear.
I still need to give this some more thought when I get get back. But one question from Siebe can be answered.
Siebe said, “. When one, for example, decides to stand on one leg for a day, one will surely feel very painful feelings.”
That is definitely a kamma vipaka. It is NOT a vipaka of a kamma done in the past, but is due to a vipaka of a kamma done AT THAT TIME. One would not feel such pain, unless one DECIDED to stand on one leg. That decision by oneself and the follow-up action led to the dukha vedana.
If one decides shoot oneself, that is the same. One DECIDED to do that. Kamma is action done with intention. Some kammas bring immediate vipaka, as in those two cases.
Another type of bodily kamma vipaka that can be DIRECTLY and EXCLUSIVELY attributed to PAST kamma arise due to anantariya kamma, like killing a parent, injuring a Buddha, etc. Vipaka due to anantariya kamma WILL be realized without exception. Those will be bodily pain (dukha vedana).
Some Brahmins of the time of the Buddha used to attribute all vedana to kamma vipaka. That is what the Buddha denied.
So, we have narrowed down the scope of what was said in those suttas (and Milindapanha) that Siebe referred to. We still need to address those specific situations related to bodily sensations.
December 25, 2017 at 2:05 pm #13338
I learned that when there arises pain as kamma-vipaka or pleasure than is must be due to one’s own bad/immoral/akusala kamma/action and good/moral/kusala kamma or action, respectively. This is the law. From a black/immoral kamma beeja there cannot arise a white result. etc.
But is this the case when one decides to stand on one leg? Is that an immoral decision, is it kammically evil or black deed? Is it akusala? Maybe in the sense of ‘not-skillful’ but i would not say in the sense of immoral or evil.
Maybe one decides to stand on one leg to raise money for people with cancer.
The motives are very good but one suffers immense pains. I belief this cannot be seen as pain that is due to bad kamma. It is just physiological caused pain. Everybody will feel it, because that is how our bodies function.
The Nigrantha’s did belief that by such austere practise like standing on one leg they would burn there evil deeds/kamma. Their intention to do those intense painful practises was good, but there decision to do this practises came with very much pain. The Buddha taught this was not the way to purify evil deeds. But i have not seen the Buddha’s teaches that the pain those Nigrantha’s suffere due their decisions to do these practises, was kamma-vipaka.
Remember the Budddha. He also decided to get involved in all kinds of austere practises like not breathing. He suffered immense pains as consequence. His intentions were very good. He wanted to find the truth. Was this pain kamma-vipaka, i.e. a consequence of an immoral decision, intention or immoral act? I do not think so. It is just a consequence oof his decision but not an immoral one i would say.
Suppose i see a house burning and i start rescuing a child inside. As a consequence i get burnt. Ofcourse this pain can be seen as due to my own decision but is it due to an immoral deed, action or decision? Is it kamma-vipaka? I do not think so.
As far as i know the Buddha taught in the sutta’s there are unpleasant feelings, there is discomfort, there are illnesses, which are not due to kamma.
December 26, 2017 at 2:46 am #13342
Can someone please send the link to Abhidhamma with the statement about “bodily pain is always due to kamma vipaka”? Or is there no English translation?
December 26, 2017 at 11:31 am #13345
Tobias G said: “Can someone please send the link to Abhidhamma with the statement about “bodily pain is always due to kamma vipaka”? Or is there no English translation?”.
The “conventional English source” for Abhidhamma that I normally consult is the book, “A Comprehensive Manual of Abhidhamma”, by Bhikkhu Bodhi (2000), which I will call Ref. 1 below. See:
Abhidhamma – Introduction” for information.
In Ref. 1, p. 52, out of the 54 types of citta associated with the kamal loka, 1 is for (bodily) pleasure and 1 is for (bodily) pain. There are 18 with joy (somanassa), 2 with displeasure (domanassa), and 32 with neutral (equanimity). The latter 20 types are what I have discussed as “samphassa ja vedana”.
Those 5 types of vedana are discussed briefly on p. 116 of Ref. 1.
BI am sure similar descriptions are available in the “free eBook” by Dr. Mehm Tin Mon, mentioned in the above post.
Siebe said, “But is this the case when one decides to stand on one leg? Is that an immoral decision, is it kammically evil or black deed? Is it akusala? Maybe in the sense of ‘not-skillful’ but i would not say in the sense of immoral or evil.”
Just to stand on one leg is a foolish act, if it is done without any other possible effect in mind. Everything does not need to tied up to moral/immoral. Deciding to cross a busy street without looking is not a moral/immoral; it is just foolish. Actions have consequences, and one does need to consult suttas to figure out.
Siebe said, “Maybe one decides to stand on one leg to raise money for people with cancer.The motives are very good but one suffers immense pains.”
Those are two kamma (two intentions): the action of standing up on one leg (with that intention) WILL lead to pain no matter what the other intention is. Here, the other intention is to raise money and that is a good kamma (done by the mind or a mano sankhara), and may bring good benefits in the furture. The first was a kaya sankhara (to move and keep the leg up).
Just because one BELIEVES one has good intention does not necessarily mean it will bring good vipaka. Suicide bombers think they are doing a good deed by killing others and that it will bring good results for themselves and their families, but that is just being foolish.
People do foolish actions believing that they will bring good results in the future. These are due to micca ditthi or wrong views.
It does not matter who is doing the action. The Bodhisatva (not the Buddha) subjected his body to harsh punishments and had to face the consequences later in the life (some of the ailments were due to those hardships that the body went through).
This is why panna (wisdom) is critical. We don’t need to consult suttas for everything. Somethings we can figure out by ourselves after we learn the basics from the suttas. The fact the standing on a leg leads to pain is a no brainer. If there is no other intention (like doing it for charity), then it is just a foolish act. The goal of Buddha Dhamma is to avoid pain as much as possible.
There is an easy rule given by the Buddha to figure out what actions are good or bad:
1.If it is beneficial to oneself. 2. If it is beneficial to others.
Don’t do it:
3. If it is detrimental to oneself 4. If it is detrimental to others.
If a given action involves 1 or 2 AND 3 or 4, then both good and bad vipaka can materialize. One has to figure out whether the benefits outweigh the bad consequences.
In the last example Siebe gave: there will be bad consequences of jumping into the fire (burning). Good consequences in future for saving a child. Laws of kamma can be complex. But these are simple ones that we can figure out easily.
In all these examples, the decision to act is NOT a kamma vipaka. The decision (to stand on a leg or to jump into the fire) is made by the individual on his/her own volition. So, most of this discussion is outside the topic.
We also need to remember that it is impossible to avoid (inadvertently) doing things that are harmful to others. When we cook or even boil water to make a tea, millions of lifeforms are destroyed (by the way, those do not bring bad vipaka, because they are not intentional). They can be avoided only by getting to Parinibbana. In the meantime, we just need to be mindful and do the best we can. That is Satipatthana.
December 26, 2017 at 3:51 pm #13348
At the moment i belief, a certain result can only be named ‘kamma-vipaka’ when that specific result arises or is due to a kamma-beeja. Am i wrong?
When we try to answer whether a certain caused pain is kamma-vipaka, i
belief, we must see if this caused pain is due to a bad kamma beeja that is ripening. If that is not the case, is it kamma-vipaka? At the moment i would say it is not.
When i decide to stand on one leg, and as a result feel pain, is this pain due to a bad kamma-beeja ripening, or has it just a physiological cause.
I tend to the last.
December 26, 2017 at 5:55 pm #13351
I have not read the Sutta’s so I will not comment on them, but this is how I understand this topic.
For any effect there are causes. not just one cause but many. Kamma always plays a part in it, it is the underlying cause but may not be the major cause. A good example is to take a boy hitting a cat. If he hits the cat with his bare hand we will say that he hit the cat with his hand. If he hits the cat with a stick we will say he hit it with a stick. Now, when he hit the cat with the stick, was the hand involved? It definitely was, but we refer to as”hitting with the stick” because the stick was the main cause or more prominent. So in this way there can be numerous causes like weather or genes which are more prominent (like the stick) but the kamma still has a part to play and is the underlying cause (like the hand).
A person will not have some sort of bodily pain if he doesn’t have some sort of kamma to give that specific vipaka. This is how we can explain why only some people get sick even when others are exposed to the same external conditions. If there is no kamma to be repaid he may not get sick.
If a person decides to cross the road with his eyes closed, that is a foolish act, but he will only get knocked down by a car if he has a previous kamma to give vipaka in that particular way. That is why everyone who crosses the road without looking does not get knocked down, while people sitting inside a shop may get knocked down by a car that skids off the road. In conventional terms we call this luck. I see that luck being caused by kamma. In Buddha Dhamma there is nothing called luck or random events, all events have causes.
If one decides to stand on one leg, the initial thought that came across to his mind that he needs to stand on one leg may be due to a kamma vipaka, but if he is wise enough he will not take that action. Thus he does not have to go through that pain. But if he does decide to stand for long on one leg, the physiological aspects will come into play, and now we might only focus on them and not the initial decision taken to stand on one leg.
What the Niganta’s in the Buddhas time were doing was to stand on one leg to erase the bad kamma collected in previous lives. The Buddha saw that as foolish, as not all vipaka is due to past kamma in previous lives. Some are due to kamma in this lives as well. Just like standing on one leg. The decision to stand on one leg is a kamma in itself.
December 27, 2017 at 6:22 am #13354
Siebe said: “.When i decide to stand on one leg, and as a result feel pain, is this pain due to a bad kamma-beeja ripening, or has it just a physiological cause.”
I have explained in detail why the decision to stand on a leg is NOT a kamma vipaka. Please read above and let me know the points that you don’t agree with.
Let me try another way to explain this, since this is important to understand.
This is exactly what one needs to do in Satipatthana. In this particular case of moving a body part it is Kāyānupassanā. When a thought comes to the mind to stand on one leg, one needs to think about the consequences of that action. If it is a beneficial act then one needs to do it; if it is a detrimental act one should not (as I explained in detail above).
This is no different than deciding to hit someone. When such a thought comes to the mind, one needs to realize that it is a bad bodily action.
Many people tend to focus on lobha and dosa as immoral. But moha is immoral too. The decision to carry out an act that one KNOWS will lead to suffering for oneself or others is immoral.
See the post on Kāyānupassanā for more details:
Maha Satipatthana Sutta
P.S. As Akvan said, it is possible that the thought to stand on one leg MAY come to the mind as a kamma vipaka. But the ultimate decision is up to the individual. Otherwise, working of kamma will be deterministic and no one will be able to attain Nibbana.
December 27, 2017 at 6:27 am #13356
I have checked your references mentioned in the forum: Comprehensive Manual of Abhidhamma (Bhikkhu Bodhi), page 52 and page 116. (Unfortunately the PDF is locked, so I cannot extract text. As I cannot manually type all these texts I thought to send it by email to you. Maybe you just comment them or you copy the text from your book (if unlocked).)
The difference between bodily vedana and the rest is clear. But the cause for such vedana is not clear (kamma vipaka or more causes).
I have scanned through the reference and found some places with hints:
Page 191 describes the independent mind door process with more causes than just kamma (according to L.Sayadaw).
Page 199 mentions only kamma, which “governs” the type of object experienced.
Page 266 mentions kamma as “proximate cause” of eye-consciousness etc., made at the moment of conception of the body or jathi (also at patisandhi or rebirth-linking). In the summary at the end it is said, that material phenomena are caused by the four great essentials or maha bhuta (proximate cause again).
I think it can be said that the rebirth-linking between bhavas is controlled by kamma.
The bodily experience (also vedana) during a life time is something different. The texts on page 191 and 199 are opposed. The four great elements succumb to utu niyama. So it could be that some accidents, e.g. getting hit by a fallen stone, are due to other causes than kamma. Matter has four causes: kamma, citta, utu, ahara. Matter (rupa) is subject to other laws of nature, which generate circumstances that are not direct causes of kamma (wind, temperature, climate change …).
December 27, 2017 at 7:34 am #13357
Thanks Akvan. I know that at the moment i am not sure anymore about what kamma-vipaka means:-)
Is it really meant by the Budddha that any consequence or result of a decision, or intentional act, or volitional activity, is kamma-vipaka?
(is speech and bodily activity in itself kamma-vipaka?)
Or, does kamma-vipaka refer to that specific kind of result that arises due to the presence and ripening of a kamma-beeja?
Anyway, Kamma is mentioned as 1 of the 8 possible causes due to which sufferings arise (milindapanha). In other sutta’s those causes are mentioned too and are listed as causes for unpleasant feeling, discomfort and illnesses.
When it is listed in those sutta’s that kamma is a cause for suffering, what does this mean?
I belief it means that suffering can arise due to a kamma-beeja present within our mindstream. That beeja found an oppertunity to ripen. This is a very specific kind of cause and effect relationship. It is about something we accumulated, which is with us in someway and can ripen.
Next to this cause for suffering which is related to ripening of a bad kamma-beeja there are 7 other causes. The arahant Nagasena says in Milindapanha (Book IV, chapter I, §63, Rhys Davids):
“So what arises as the fruit of Karma is much less than that which arises from other causes”.
In other words, a lot of sufferings arise due to other mechanism than the ripening of a kamma-beeja.
I belief this is what the sutta’s transfer.
December 27, 2017 at 8:36 am #13358
From your reply 25 december:
“Siebe said, “. When one, for example, decides to stand on one leg for a day, one will surely feel very painful feelings.”
Your answer was; “That is definitely a kamma vipaka. It is NOT a vipaka of a kamma done in the past, but is due to a vipaka of a kamma done AT THAT TIME.
So i understand your view is: the pain caused by standing on one leg is kamma-vipaka…because… it is result of my decision.
is this a good representation of your view?
December 27, 2017 at 9:23 am #13359
That is correct.
I now see the root cause of your confusion.
Kamma is action (by the mind, speech, and bodily actions). Kamma vipaka is what happens as a result of that action. Without understanding that one cannot even begin to comprehend laws of kamma, let alone other concepts in Buddha Dhamma.
What is Kamma? – Is Everything Determined by Kamma?
I am beginning to understand why intelligent people get confused about Buddha Dhamma. They do not have a good grasp of fundamentals.
December 27, 2017 at 5:04 pm #13362
What i have seen, by studying the sutta’s, is that kamma is listed as 1 of 8 possible causes for sufferings.
When kamma is listed as 1 of the 8 possible causes for suffering what is meant by kamma-as-a-possible-cause?
I belief this refers to the specific mechanism that a bad kamma beeja that one has accumulated due to bad intentional actions in mind, speech and body, can ripen at a certain moment and experienced as sufferings.
This aspect of a ripening kamma-beeja is essential, i belief, when kamma in the sutta’s is mentioned as 1 of 8 causes for sufferings.
So, the sutta’s teach, i belief, this specific ripening mechanism of a kamma beeja, that can (sometimes) explain someones unpleasant feelings, discomfort and illnesses. And in that case one can say ‘it is due to kamma’.
Pain arising from standing on one leg, although one decides to do that, although intentional, i belief it is better not to say this is due to kamma.
December 28, 2017 at 6:41 am #13369
“Many people tend to focus on lobha and dosa as immoral. But moha is immoral too. The decision to carry out an act that one KNOWS will lead to suffering for oneself or others is immoral”. (Lal)
I do not belief this is true.
A lot of medical treatment, for example, comes with sufferings. The doctor or parents who know the treatment will come with pain and trouble do not act immoral.
A drug-adict knows that his detoxification will come with a lot of sufferings. But his decision is not immoral.
A Buddha discplines his discipels and teaches that his practise can come with much trouble and pain. He is not acting immoral and also not the practioners who feel a lot of pain and go to much trouble while practising.
December 29, 2017 at 3:57 am #13380
you said: “A lot of medical treatment, for example, comes with sufferings. The doctor or parents who know the treatment will come with pain and trouble do not act immoral.”
Sure this is not immoral. Moha can be translated as “morally blind” or “ignorant of the true nature of this world”. The medical treatment causes pain but is done with the intention to heal and to help, which is a moral act. It is not done with the intention to harm and to cause pain (that would be moha).
Your other two examples also have the goal to gain a healthy status of the person. That is always a good or kusala intention.
Kamma is intention. If intention is kusala, kamma is kusala. The possible pain associated with an action is embedded in the nature of this world. In your examples pain is not the intention. Thus the medication is given with sorrow for the pain caused but with good intention and the knowledge that the gained health is much more worth than the short lived pain.
December 29, 2017 at 7:56 am #13381
December 29, 2017 at 1:41 pm #13388
Regarding volitional activity (kamma) and results, i think AN1.314 and AN1.315 provide the bigger picture:
From AN1.314 (translation Bodhi):
“Bhikkhus, for a person of wrong view, whatever bodily kamma, verbal kamma, and mental kamma he instigates and undertakes in accordance with that view, and whatever his volition, yearning, inclination, and volitional activities, all lead to what is unwished for, undesired, and disagreeable, to harm and suffering. For what reason? Because the view is bad”
AN1.315 says the opposite.
This immediately makes clear the importance of right and wrong view.
It also makes clear, i find, that Buddha-Dhamma does not teach that good intentions have Always good results. i belief this is in accordance with reality.
If we are committed to doing good we can not rely on our good intentions alone. Our view must be right too.
Anyway, i find the sutta’s interesting.
December 28, 2017 at 8:26 am #13370
It seems like ‘kamma-vipaka’ is used in two different ways. Please correct me if i am wrong:
1. kamma-vipaka refers to the ripening or active manifestation of a kamma-beeja, a wholesome/good or onwholesome/bad kamma-seed. This how i use it.
This kamma-beeja is a kind of energy that is with us, in our mindstream. Strong moral actions/intentions lead to ‘good’ kamma-beeja. Strong immoral actions lead to ‘bad’ kamma-beeja. The first can ripen as happiness, as health, as things we normally call ‘good; . The last, the bad kamma-beeja can ripen as pain, discomfort, illnesses, bad births etc. When those things are due to ripening kamma-beeja, those results are called ‘kamma-vipaka’. So, bad feelings, bad health etc can be due to bad kamma-beeja’s ripening.
2. kamma-vipaka refers to what happens as a result or consequence of an intentional act. So, when i decide to take a shower, the nice feelings of the warm water are kamma-vipaka because they are a result of my decision to take a shower. The feelings do not arise from a good-kamma beeja, but they arise as a result of contact with nice warm water.
I have doubts with two. Is that nice feeling really kamma-vipaka?
December 29, 2017 at 8:39 am #13383
Siebe said: “2. kamma-vipaka refers to what happens as a result or consequence of an intentional act. So, when i decide to take a shower, the nice feelings of the warm water are kamma-vipaka because they are a result of my decision to take a shower. The feelings do not arise from a good-kamma beeja, but they arise as a result of contact with nice warm water.”
Yes. It is a kamma vipaka (result of an action). Taking a warm shower leads to a nice feeling.
It is not necessary to connect all kamma to kamma beeja that last into future lives. Some actions have results right away, or during the current lifetime (called dittadhamma vedaniya kamma). For these, one could say the kamma beeja uses its power right away or at least by the end of the lifetime. Long lasting kamma beeja are there for other types of stronger kamma where results can appear in future lives.
December 29, 2017 at 10:16 am #13387
I do not know. I still feel something is not oke, but i do not know i am able to express this. I try.
1. early in the morning i decide that after work i will sunbathe at the beach. After work i go to the beach. In the late afternoon i lie at the beach. I do not smear myself with suncream. The sun is still bright. In the evening i have sunburns all over my body. I have a painful time in the evening.
2. early in the morning i decide that after work i will sunbathe at the beach. After work i go to the beach. In the late afternoon i lie at the beach. I do not smear myself with suncream. A short time after i lie at the beach it becomes clowded. At the evening i have no sunburns at all. I have a good time in the evening.
I make exactly the same decisions and actions but the results are opposite. Al lot of pain versus no pain at all. .
If so, can those results really be seen as due to my own decicions and actions? Is this not important to speak of kamma-vipaka?
That my decisions and actions have results that is sure, but what is not sure is that those results are really due to my decicions and actions.
I belief, then it is also not sure that those results are kamma-vipaka.
Is this wrong?
December 29, 2017 at 6:23 pm #13389
@Siebe about sunburn:
If I did not know about you, I would think you are trying to pull my leg (that you are joking).
Sunburn depends on the amount of sunlight and how long you have been exposed. You have not mentioned those two critical factors. If you can be more specific about them, that would help. It looks like the in #2, the Sun was not that bright compared to #1.
December 30, 2017 at 7:17 am #13390
I am struggling:-)
You wrote: “Kamma is action (by the mind, speech, and bodily actions). Kamma vipaka is what happens as a result of that action”…
I have another example:
A lot of Dutch people decided to go on holiday or for other reasons to make a trip abroad. They took a plane. This plane was shot down above Ukraine. There was a war going on. A fighting party probably thought this plane was an enemy plane. This really happened.
The death of those people can be seen as a result of their decision to make a trip and their action to take that plane. Ofcourse, because when they did not decide that and did not took that plane, they would probably live.
But that seems at the same time to be too simplistic. Their death was not really due to their decision and actions alone. There is a third party involved.
Anyway a lot happenend after their decision to go on holiday and to take that plane, but is this result, their death, kamma-vipaka, ie. due to their own decision and actions? How do you look upon this case?
December 30, 2017 at 8:39 am #13391
The air tragedy was a case of collective kamma. Similar to the massacre of the Sakyans.
December 30, 2017 at 1:07 pm #13394
In treatings on kamma (buddhist kamma) the existence of such a thing as ‘collective kamma’ i have seen being denied, for example, by Dagpo Rinpoche in his book named Karma.
I do not know what is the theravada doctrine. Is that massacre been explained as collective kamma? of the Sakyans?
That individual choices or intentional actions in body, speech and mind, in some way or the other, can become collective, and spread, as it were, over other people too, that does not look as a buddhist doctrine, but maybe i am wrong.
December 30, 2017 at 7:16 pm #13405
I’m not sure whether the Sakyans massacre had been explicitly explained in any sutta. But I do believe everything happens for a reason (or reasons). Some people are born into good countries and families while some who are not so fortunate do not even have a chance to encounter Buddha Dhamma. Everything in this world is conditioned things or conditioners or both conditioned things AND conditioners. Take for example this kammaja kaya of ours. We have this body because of past kamma. Thus, it is a conditioned thing, a sankata. Everyday, we are making use of this body to do volitional acts, sankhara, to condition other things. This kammaja kaya is a breeding ground for many impending kamma beeja to ripen and let nature impart kamma vipaka onto us. A seemingly simple decision of buying an air ticket and boarding an aircraft to go on a holiday is already acting as a pre-requisite for past wholesome or unwholesome deed to ripen. Coming to Kama Loka and to be born as a human being alone is already a condition for nature to impart merciless unwholesome vipaka onto some beings. This is most evident in birth defects.
This burdensome body is like a time bomb waiting for the right trigger for something to happen. We cannot fully discern what sankhara to drop so as to avoid unwholesome vipaka. Being at the wrong place at the wrong time are conditioners for mishaps to happen. But they do not happen by randomness. Things do not just happen. Things are made to happen. All that we are experiencing now are just vipaka of kamma performed deep in our past or in this very lifetime.
December 30, 2017 at 7:10 pm #13404
I just opened a new topic in the Abhidhamma forum, “Comprehensive Manual of Abhidhamma (Bhikkhu Bodhi) – Grave Error on p. 164” to address Tobias G‘s comment on Dec 27, 2017.
December 31, 2017 at 8:49 am #13418
@Siebe regarding the working of kamma in the airline crash over Ukraine: This is related to the annantara samanantara paccaya (don’t be discouraged by the tittle):
Annantara and Samanantara Paccaya
The conditions became suitable for a strong kamma beeja (for each person accrued at possibly different times) to ripen at that time. The key is to realize that we all have billions and even trillions of kamma beeja piled up over our deep past; so, it is possible that there could be many people subjected to the same incident such as that plane crash. We also see that sometimes there are miraculous survivals.
Let me make some general comments that could be helpful (I am spending a lot of time on this issue, because I think it is an important topic for all; grasping basic concepts is critical in following Buddha Dhamma).
First, an important thing to realize is that the three types of kamma are done by Mano, vaci, and kaya sankhara:
Sankhāra – What It Really Means
Then, there are two ways to look at this problem of kamma and kamma vipaka.
1.One can try to analyze and figure out how vipaka arise with kamma (by the mind, speech, and bodily actions; but they all originate in the mind). But one may not able to figure out the finer details.
2. One can take Buddha’s word that bad vipaka arise due to bad (immoral) kamma, and good vipaka arise due to good kamma. This basically means one lives one’s life avoiding dasa akusala and cultivating kusala.
The Buddha also said that kamma is one of five things that a normal human cannot fully comprehend. Instead one should try to get the basic ideas involved. More deeper analyses involve paticca samuppada (cause and effect) and patthana dhamma (conditions for causes to bring in effects). You can search for relevant posts using the “Search” box.
The best approach is to do both 1 and 2, but 2 must have the priority. This is because with 2, one can start feeling the benefits of a moral life (calmness of mind) and that also helps understand concepts in 1. This is discussed starting from basic levels in the Bhavana (Meditation) and Living Dhamma sections.
Furthermore, one can read the posts under this forum topic from the beginning and that should help too.
Finally, even though kamma is not deterministic, one can get trapped in kamma/kamma vipaka cycle (as we all have been so far), as long as we do not comprehend the real nature of this world (avijja). The only way to get out of this cycle is to attain Nibbana by comprehending Buddha Dhamma (by following the Noble Eightfold Path).
This vicious cycle of “vipāka” leading to “kammā” leading to more “vipāka” is the process that binds us to the sansara of endless rebirths, or perpetuate our “world” of suffering.
The Buddha described this as, “kammā vipākā vaddanti, vipākō kamma sambhavō, tasmā punabbhavō hōti, evan lokō pavattati“.
That means, “kammā lead to vipāka, vipāka in turn lead to kammā and thus to rebirth (punabbhavō), and that is how the world (existence) is maintained”.
There “sambhava” is “san” + “bhava“, or “adding more existences”. Also, “lōka” is world, and “pavatta” means “maintain”. See:
How Are Paticca Samuppāda Cycles Initiated?
As I said above, without doing both 1 and 2 above, it is not possible to make progress.
December 31, 2017 at 3:40 pm #13422
I am struggling a little bit. I feel the people who use Abhidhamma systematics tend to see it this way: “All that we are experiencing now are just vipaka of kamma performed deep in our past or in this very lifetime”.
These are the words of Johnny_Lim in his last reply.
My reference is the sutta’s. In some sutta’s (i know four) kamma is listed as just 1 of the 8 possible causes for pains (milindapanha), illnesses, discomfort and bad feelings.
In Milindapanha is it said in this way:
-“There are eight causes by which sufferings arise, by which many beings suffer pain. And what are the eight? Superabundance of wind, and of bile, and of phlegm, the union of these humours, variations in temperature,
the avoiding of dissimilarities, external agency, and Karma.
These list can be found in other sutta’s too. So it is not incidental. I mentioned these other sutta’s earlier in this discussion.
Nagasena in Milindapanha is also quit clear; “And therein whosoever maintains that it is Karma that injures beings, and besides it there is no other reason for pain, his proposition is false.’
So, from these words, there seems no reason to belief that all pain (or sufferings) is imparted bad kamma.
Nagasena also says: “So what arises as the fruit of Karma is much less than that which arises from other causes. And the ignorant go too far when they say that every pain is produced as the fruit of Karma.
Nagasena also denies that the pains of the Buddha were kamma-vipaka.
So, in sutta’s it is effectively denied that all pains, illnesses, bad feelings, distress (experiences) is due to (or fruit of) kamma. Apparantly the Buddha did not want us to belief that all we experience is due to our kamma. At least 7 other causes are transmitted.
I know i repeat a lot, but that is mainly because i feel you do not reflect upon the above information from the sutta’s.
At the moment (maybe i have to change my opinion in the future) i sense there is something wrong in the Abhidhamma systematics that every experience comes to us as a kamma-vipaka. The sutta’s do not seem to use this systematics.
I understand, when one uses this systematics, ofcourse_THEN_i understand Johnny_Lin words, but i feel this is not supported in the sutta-pitaka, at least not in those above mentioned.
I would apreciate it when you both (of others) comment on the information from the sutta’s.
December 31, 2017 at 5:59 pm #13424
Indeed, the sutta did mention that not everything is attributable to kamma. I read that some where but forgot the reference. Well, we won’t be able to figure it all out. The more important thing is the follow up action upon the arousal of vipaka vinnana.
January 1, 2018 at 8:40 pm #13441
you said, Nagasena also denies that the pains of the Buddha were Kamma Vipaka.
From what I have heard the pains experienced by the Buddha were due to kamma vipaka. For example he had a back pain and this was due to him (when a Bodhisatta) breaking someone’s back in a wrestling game. Kamma was also the reason that the Buddha and a group of monks did not receive any Dhana and were offered only horse food for a period of 3 months.
So you may want to double check what has been said by Nagasena.
January 2, 2018 at 8:40 am #13446
Yes, good point Akvan, i have to be more specific.
Milindapanha, Book IV, §62-66 deals with the dilemma that Gautama, after becoming a Buddha, still suffered pains or certain discomfort.
Which pains and discomfort?
-“At Râgagaha a splinter of rock pierced his foot, and once he suffered from dysentery, and once when the humours of his body were disturbed a purge was administered to him, and once when he was troubled with wind the Elder who waited on him (that is Ânanda) gave him hot water” (§62)
These examples are given at the beginning of the §§.
King Milinda position is that these facts shows that the Buddha was not free of sin, or free of bad kamma. The kings view is:, …”all pains has its root in kamma”, so it is Obvious that the King believed that the cause for these pains and discomfort was bad kamma.
Nagesana makes clear this is not the case. A (small) part of pains and discomfort is due to kamma. Nagesana mentiones 7 other causes.
These can also be found elsehwere in the Sutta-pitaka. These are mentioned earlier in this serie posts.
Nagesana concludes at the end of the sutta:
“So, O king, it is not all pain that is the result of Karma. And you should
accept as a fact that when the Blessed One became a Buddha he had burnt out all evil from within him.”
The King accepts.
So, it deals with the cause of the pains and discomfort after the Blessed One became a Budddha.
I would appreciate when you give some sutta references for what you have heard.
I would appreciate it too when Lal gives his opinion. If abhidhamma really teaches that all bodily pain is due to (bad) kamma that seems not consistent with sutta. Maybe Lal can give some comment on this.
January 2, 2018 at 5:09 pm #13451
Here are a few examples of the Buddha and other Arahanths who suffered bodily pain after attaining enlightenment. https://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/hecker/wheel312.html
“Yet there were still a few who could not forget that Angulimala the bandit, with his superior prowess, had shown them in their weakness and thus had humiliated them. Out of that resentment, as an act of revenge, they were mean enough to injure the venerable Angulimala by throwing stones and sticks which struck him when he had gone for alms. They must have done so from a safe distance.
Then with blood running from his injured head, with his bowl broken, and with his patchwork robe torn, the venerable Angulimala went to the Blessed One. The Blessed One saw him coming, and he told him: “Bear it, brahmana, bear it, brahmana! You have experienced here and now the ripening of kamma whose ripening you might have experienced in hell over many a year, many a century, many a millennium.”
Being a saint, his mind and heart were firm and invulnerable. But the body, the product of former craving, the symbol and fruit of previous kamma, was still there in present existence and was still exposed to the effects of former evil deeds. Even to the Buddha himself it happened that, as a result of former deeds, Devadatta was able to cause him a slight injury. Also his two chief disciples had to experience bodily violence. The venerable Sariputta had been hit on the head by a mischievous demon, and the venerable Maha-Moggallana was even cruelly murdered. If this occurred in the case of these three Great Ones, how could Angulimala have fully avoided bodily harm — he who in his present life had committed so much evil! Yet, it was only his body that received these blows, but not his mind. That remained in invulnerable equipoise.”
So what I take out of this is that the primary cause for any vipaka (bodily pain in this case) has to be due to kamma. However the other 7 causes may also be there for the vipaka to materialise. This is the ananthara-samananthara paccaya. So there will be no vipaka (pain) if there is no kamma. However the other 7 causes can be more prominent than the kamma.
This is why the Buddha said that one cannot and does not need to repay all one’s kammic (sansarik) debt to attain nibbana. Eventhough one is an arahanth ss long as one has the (vipaka / flesh) body he can experience vipaka from kamma. When an arahanth attains parinibbana he is freed from that viapaka pain as well. Lal explains this is Saupadisesa and anupadisesa nibbana.
Also we have to understand that the suffering (dukka) that the buddha talks of is not the bodily suffering.
January 3, 2018 at 1:36 pm #13465
Yes, that example of wounding Angulimala, i knew, that is attributed to his bad kamma. I belief he killed 999 people. I think this number means ‘a lot of people’.
Milindapanha, Book IV, Chapter 1, §62-66 deals specifically with the pains and discomfort of the Buddha.
How are they caused? Nagasena in short:
(§65): …”the Blessed One never suffered pain which was the result of his own Karma, or brought about the avoidance of dissimilarity, yet he suffered pain from each of the other six causes”.
The wounding of a splinter in his foot by an attempt of Devadatta to murder the Budddha is not due to Buddha’s bad kamma, but due to 1 of 7 other causes, due to external agency.
This part of Milindapanha also transmitts that the Buddha was totally free of bad kamma or sinn. All the evil within was burnt. That is why any pain or discomfort of the Budddha cannot be seen as kamma-vipaka or due to his own bad kamma. At least, that is the reasoning of Nagasena.
At the moment, i belief, a reasonble attitude is that if one does not know if kamma plays a role, it useless to speculate.
I also think it is not supported by the sutta’s to belief that kamma is always a primary cause for sufferings or some kind of deeper underlying mechanism. For this i do not see support in the sutta’s, because kamma is really mentioned as 1 of 8 separate causes for pains, illness, bad feelings, discomfort. It is not presented as an underlying deeper cause for these manifestations. If the Bueddha taught this, then it would be very easy to list 7 causes for sufferings and to teach that kamma is Always an underlying cause. But this is not done. Kamma is presented as 1 of 8 possible causes for sufferings.
I do not know for sure if the Budddha taught …”that one cannot and does not need to repay all one’s kammic (sansarik) debt to attain nibbana”.
See for example this lines:
“Bhikkhus, I do not say that there is a termination of volitional kamma that has been done and accumulated so long as one has not experienced its results, and that may be in this very life, or in the next rebirth, or on some subsequent occasion. But I do not say that there is making an end of suffering so long as one has not experienced the results of volitional kamma that has been done and accumulated“.
Regarding the suffering the Budddha talks about. He also talks about ending the bodily suffering. Maybe not in this live but in future lives by not grasping a new body again and ending the proces of rebirth.
January 3, 2018 at 7:43 pm #13469
Firstly, we need to be a bit careful as the Milindapanha was recorded after the First Buddhist Council and is not considered by some to be part of the Tripitaka.
The question posed by King Milinda is whether the Buddha burnt out all evil in himself when he became a Buddha and if he had indeed burnt out all evil how was it that he hurt himself after becoming a Buddha?
This is a bit of a confusing question. One does not experience pain because of evil per say but because of the result of such an evil (thought/deed). So even though the Buddha does not have any evil within himself he can experience results due to past evil he had done.
These 8 causes are mentioned in SN36.21 (Sivaka Sutta), but I could not find them in AN10.60 (Girimananda Sutta)
In SN36.21, the Buddha’s opinion on some claims made by Brahmana’s that “whatever a person experience’s, all that is caused by what was done in the past” is clarified. The Buddha refutes this claim that everything that happens, is caused by something done in the past and gives 8 causes, one being kamma-vipaka. It has to be understood here that “what has been done in the past” does not refer to kamma-vipaka, as the Buddha says that, it is wrong to think that everything happens due to what was done in the past because kamma-vipaka can also be a cause.
It seems like the answer to the question in SN36.21 has been given for the question asked by King Milinda, which is a bit mis-leading.
Though Ven. Nagasena says that the wounding of the Buddha’s foot is not because of bad kamma this is not what is said elsewhere. “Even to the Buddha himself it happened that, as a result of former deeds, Devadatta was able to cause him a slight injury.”
Also in this same light when Angulimala (an arahanth, who has burnt out all evil within himself) was hit by rocks by people while walking on the road, can this also be only due to external agency? The Buddha says here, “Bear it, brahmana, bear it, brahmana! You have experienced here and now the ripening of kamma whose ripening you might have experienced in hell over many a year, many a century, many a millennium.” From this it can be seen that both external agency as well as kamma-vipaka played a part in Angulimala getting hurt.
This also shows that one does not need to repay all the kamma to attain nibbana. If one has to repay all kamma to attain nibbana, Angulimala would not have been able to attain nibbana until he repaid all of it in hell. The level of vipaka he would have had to experience in hell cannot be even compared to getting hit by stones and rocks.
AN10.217 and AN10.218 does not say that all kamma needs to be repaid. In AN10.219 it is said “The noble disciple understands: ‘Whatever bad deed I did here in the past with this deed-born body is all to be experienced here. It will not follow along.’” This is consistent with what the Buddha told Angulimala.
However, I need to find a sutta reference to kamma being the root / primary cause. If anyone does come across something please let me know.
January 3, 2018 at 10:16 pm #13470
Siebe said, “I do not know for sure if the Budddha taught …”that one cannot and does not need to repay all one’s kammic (sansarik) debt to attain nibbana”.
See for example this lines:
“Bhikkhus, I do not say that there is a termination of volitional kamma that has been done and accumulated so long as one has not experienced its results, and that may be in this very life, or in the next rebirth, or on some subsequent occasion. But I do not say that there is making an end of suffering so long as one has not experienced the results of volitional kamma that has been done and accumulated“.” (END OF QUOTE)
I see that my copy and paste did not come out well. But I have given the referennce link.
Here is the Pali version of the above verse from a sutta (Paṭhama Ssañcetanika Sutta, AN 10.217) that Siebe quoted:
“Nāhaṃ, bhikkhave, sañcetanikānaṃ kammānaṃ katānaṃ upacitānaṃ appaṭi¬saṃ¬ve¬ditvā byantībhāvaṃ vadāmi. Tañca kho diṭṭheva dhamme upapajje vā apare vā pariyāye. Na tvevāhaṃ, bhikkhave, sañcetanikānaṃ kammānaṃ katānaṃ upacitānaṃ appaṭi¬saṃ¬ve¬ditvā duk¬khas¬san¬takiri¬yaṃ vadāmi.”
The translation given by Siebe is NOT CORRECT. One has to be careful with translations as I keep saying. There is nowhere in the verse that says anything about TERMINATION OF KAMMA. Buddha says there, “ I do not say (na aham) that completed and accumulated kamma done via sancetana (defiled intentions) will not bring (appatisamveditva) vipaka and suffering in this life, paralowa, or in other (future) lives.”
In other words, as long as there are past kamma (unpaid), there is suffering to be had. But it DOES NOT say one has to get rid of all kamma to attain Nibbana. Even though an Arahant (like Angulimala) may have a lot of unpaid kamma left, he would not be reborn with a physical body to bring about those kamma vipaka. This is a VERY IMPORTANT point to understand.
Furthermore, this sutta also confirms what I said about dasa akusala being at the root of all bad kamma vipaka. That part of the sutta translation is correct (after the first several verses). Here is the English version of the sutta, that everyone should read:”217. Volitional (1)“.
Siebe said: “Regarding the suffering the Budddha talks about. He also talks about ending the bodily suffering. Maybe not in this live but in future lives by not grasping a new body again and ending the proces of rebirth.”
That is correct. There is absolutely no suffering upon Paribbana (death of an Arahant) because he/she in not reborn anywhere in the 31 realms of this world. But it is also important to understand that there is no MENTAL suffering (samphassa ja vedana) for a living Arahant; just bodily pains due to past kamma.
By the way, I am planning to write a post on why Kamma is the root cause for bodily suffering. The other seven types mentioned in those three suttas that Siebe mentioned in this discussion, are not ROOT CAUSES, but really effects of past kamma that act as causes. It could take some time, since I am busy with many other things.
Lastly, I just saw the most recent comment by Akvan and agree with it. Akavan said: “However, I need to find a sutta reference to kamma being the root / primary cause. If anyone does come across something please let me know.”
There are many suttas: Kamma vibhanga suttas (2), Kamma Nidana sutta, Kamma suttas, etc. Probably Siebe can provide a long list.
January 4, 2018 at 8:38 am #13473
Apart from what i think the sutta’s transmitt, i belief- no i know- volitional activities, what we are intend upon, where we are inclined to, our plans, tendencies, intentions and the deeds following upon that, shapen, for a great deal our future.
For example, if one is intend on enjoyment of the senses, or on intoxication and eat to much or drink to much or use drugs, one cannot be surprised, illnesses, both bodily and mentally, can arise. Future suffering is, more or less, guarenteed. Ofcourse, these results cannot be seen separate from the decisions and deeds made.
This is not meant to blame people, as lot of people experience it. It just describes how our own intentions or volitional activities and deeds are shaping a future. It is like the weather. Even when a storm is not there, all the ingredients that it will arise in two days are there. After two days it arises.
Also situations in which one gets involved do not manifest by chance. Often they are strongly related to kamma, intentional actions and deeds. For example, if one enjoys being in company of bad friends who steal etc. one cannot be surprised one day one will be in prison, or maybe be shot. One cannot say that this results have nothing to do with ones intentions, tendencies and own deeds.
But we are not alone too and results are influenced by so many factors then our own intentions and deeds alone. Think about the weather, the sun and the moon. They influence our voltional activities and deeds too. There is external influence.
From studying the sutta’s i have concluded that the difference between people in good health and being sickly, live long and live short, being ugly and beautiful, say the clear differences, those can be understood as due to kamma.
But if one would zoom in and look for a cause for a certain illness or pain or suffering one must be careful to immediately think that must be due to kamma. It seems like the sutta’s teach there can be more causes for sufferings then kamma alone.
Is is our kamma when we die when a big rock would hit the earth or when so many vulcano’s would burst out and this would cause a small ice-age? Or is it our kamma when the sun ends it life-cycle and we will have no more energy and heat from the sun?
January 4, 2018 at 5:11 pm #13492
Thanks Lal. I went through the suttas.
Siebe said; But if one would zoom in and look for a cause for a certain illness or pain or suffering one must be careful to immediately think that must be due to kamma.
In the Pubbakamma Pilotika Therapadana (THA AP392) in the Kuddaka Nikāya, the Buddha specifically mentions the causes for pain and illnesses he suffered after becoming the Buddha.
For example; in a previous birth he had killed his step-brother by throwing him off a rock to get his father’s wealth. Due to this kamma-vipaka his foot was injured when Devadatta threw a rock at him and it hit another rock and a splinter hit him.
From this it is obvious that the root cause is kamma, but other 7 causes may also come together for the vipaka to manifest.
With regard to natural disasters; if people dying by such natural disaster isn’t due to kamma vipaka how else can we explain why only some people are affected and others are not by the same incident? There are people who miraculously survive even when they are in the same place at the same time as others.
Also when a group of people are affected together it is due to all of them being part of a kamma together in a previous time. For example in the Pubbakamma Pilotika Therapadana the Buddha says how he in a previous life insulted a Brahmin and told 500 of his followers the same and all of them went around spreading bad words about the Brahmin. Due to this kamma-vipaka all 500 of his followers in that life, who were ordained and were followers of the Buddha now, were insulted together by Sundarika Pribrajika.
January 5, 2018 at 7:35 am #13496
Interesting Akvan!! Good work you found this.
Do you maybe have a link to Pubbakamma Pilotika Therapadana (THA AP392)? Is this a text in apadana? I do not have an English version of it. Never read it.
Still, Nagasena in Milindapanha makes clear that the wounding of the foot by that rock was not due to kamma of the Budddha. So that seems to be inconsistent.
Anyway, at the moment i still belief the Buddha-Dhamma does not teach that any bodily suffering we experience is some kind of repayment of our own evil intentions and deeds in this and former lives.
January 5, 2018 at 9:55 am #13499
Question is, how reliable is Nagasena’s work? He was a Sarvastivadan monk. Not saying Sarvastivada is bad. I’m just curious how could he be so sure that the wounding of Buddha’s foot was not a kamma vipaka.
I read a dhamma book (written by a Chinese bhante) which is referenced to Apadàna of the Khuddaka Nikāya. Inside this book, the bhante mentioned about the 12 major kamma vipaka suffered by the Buddha. It is written in Chinese though. Mentioned in the book were accounts of the wounding of the foot from the rock splinter, back pain, dysentery, ascetic practice etc. were all attributed to the Buddha’s previous kamma.
January 5, 2018 at 11:14 am #13500
Thanks Johnny_Lim. Based upon what Akvan says and you too, i tend to forget what Nagasena says.
The general question is still: could bodily pain due to other causes than kamma vipaka.
Based upon the sutta’s i still tend to a “Yes”.
Anyone who runs a marathon to collect money for cancer treatment will feel heavy pains. In spite of what Lal says, knowing one will cause pain and still deciding to do action, does not mean that decision is immoral. At least i do not call that immoral.
It is a moral decision to run this marathon and collect money despite the pain that will arise. Is the pain some repayment of a bad deed? Who can tell?
Life comes with pain, discomfort, and choosing for comfort, that is mostly immoral, egoistic. The Buddha did not choose for comfort! He did abandon comfort.
If i decide to stop breathing, like the Buddha, i also will feel pains, but do i repay any kammic debt? Ach…
January 5, 2018 at 8:19 am #13497
Above you say “These 8 causes are mentioned in SN36.21 (Sivaka Sutta), but I could not find them in AN10.60 (Girimananda Sutta)”
Here is a reference to AN10.60 and the relevant text copied from that:
(4) “And what, Ānanda, is the perception of danger? Here, having gone to the forest, to the foot of a tree, or to an empty hut, a bhikkhu reflects thus: ‘This body is the source of much pain and danger; for all sorts of afflictions arise in this body, that is, eye-disease, disease of the inner ear, nose-disease, tongue-disease, body-disease, head-disease, disease of the external ear, mouth-disease, tooth-disease, cough, asthma, catarrh, pyrexia, fever, stomach ache, fainting, dysentery, gripes, cholera, leprosy, boils, eczema, tuberculosis, epilepsy, ringworm, itch, scab, chickenpox, scabies, hemorrhage, diabetes, hemorrhoids, cancer, fistula; illnesses originating from bile, phlegm, wind, or their combination; illnesses produced by change of climate; illnesses produced by careless behavior; illnesses produced by assault; or illnesses produced as the result of kamma; and cold, heat, hunger, thirst, defecation, and urination.’ Thus he dwells contemplating danger in this body. This is called the perception of danger.
So, here you see again that kamma is mentioned as a separate cause for the arising of illnesses. The first three causes, disturbance in bile, phlegm, wind and their combination can be seen, i belief, as medical causes for illnesses.
In Milindapanha it is said that wind can be disturbed also due to kamma. So, then you see, for disturbance of wind, kamma can be an underlying cause. But this is not mentioned for the other 7 causes.
Kamma is mentioned as 1 of 8 seperate causes for pains, bad feelings, illnesses, discomfort and i also belief as a possible cause for death. Death is not Always caused by kamma, i read somewhere, but if it caused by kamma then it seen as death at the right moment, not premature death.
January 7, 2018 at 5:58 pm #13562
This is the only English translation I could find. This is not the best, and only mentions the verse he explains the cause of the rock hitting the foot, in the last 4 lines at the bottom of the page.
Relevant to your marathon question; In the Pubbakamma Pilotika Therapadana, the Buddha says how he insulted a Buddha in a previous birth and gives this as the reason why he had to undergo 6 years of suffering before he attained enlightenment. This is a decision he made but the suffering due to that decision was a result of a kamma.
However, this is not to say that everything is deterministic and/or determined by kamma. This is evident as the Buddha realised that putting the body through immense suffering was not the way forward and decided to let go of that approach. Likewise, the man running the marathon to raise money may later on realise that there is an easier, less painful way to raise money. Or better still that there is more permeant solution to all these illnesses and help people on that path.
Thanks for the Girimananda Sutta, sorry I may have just skipped this section.
The Buddha here is explaining the “adeenava” of the body. I wouldn’t translate “adeenava” as danger per say, but may be say something like the problems of the body, or the bad effects experienced by the body.
Then he lists down all the illnesses (problems) that a body can experience. These 8 reasons are listed together with commonly known diseases and also heat/cold, hunger/thirst etc. If we take kamma as a separate cause we will also have to take hunger as a separate cause and fever as a separate cause, which doesn’t make sense. So, I don’t think it is correct to take these 8 reasons separately but should rather consider all aspects on the list together, as problems afflicting the body.
So to your main question; could bodily pain be due to other causes than kamma-vipaka? Short answer; Yes.
But based on the sutta’s we can say that kamma-vipaka will be the primary cause, and that other 7 causes will also play a part. So kamma-vipaka may not be the only cause but there can be no bodily pain without any kamma-vipaka. There will be atleast, say 1%, due to kamma-vipaka. It also means that the primary cause may not be the most prominent, or at least the most visible for us.
January 8, 2018 at 6:01 am #13567
Hi Akvan, thanks for the reference and your detailled reaction.
Interesting to read. It would not surprise me if kamma, in some way or the other, is the primary cause for sufferings, although i do not see nor understand this. But i know, when the Buddha explains pains, suffering, situations, he also uses former deeds as explanation. Apparantly also his wounded foot and ascetic painful period.
Still i am not satisfied yet. How do you judge the following situations?
Suppose almost all (big) animal and human live would end here on earth because, again, a enormous rock would hit this earth. Is it really the kamma of all those beings? Does nothing happen by change?
If the sun comes to the end of its lifecycle, ofcourse this of influence on life on earth but is it the kamma of beings to suffer upon this of even die?
Is in those cases kamma a main cause or some external agency?
January 8, 2018 at 6:54 am #13571
I would like to share a nice write-up on kamma from a bhante.
“Other Factors Which Support Kamma
Although Buddhism says that man can eventually control his karmic force, it does not state that everything is due to kamma. Buddhism does not ignore the role played by other forces of nature. According to Buddhism there are five orders or processes of natural laws(niyama) which operate in the physical and mental worlds:
– seasonal laws (utu niyama): physical inorganic order e.g., seasonal phenomena of winds and rains, etc.
– the biological laws (bija niyama): relating to seasonal changes etc.,
– the kammic law (kamma niyama): relating to moral causation or the order of act and result,
– natural phenomena (dhamma niyama): relating to electrical forces, movement of tides etc., and
– psychological laws (citta niyama): which govern the processes of consciousness.
Thus kamma is considered only as one of the five natural laws that account for the diversity in this world.”
January 8, 2018 at 8:58 am #13573
Yes, niyama’s. I heard of them before.
Still, how to deal with them? Are they really helpful to decide if suffering is due to bad deeds in this or former lives? Are they helpful to decide whether all suffering is due to kamma?
If you can explain an bad harvest using all kind of meteorological explanations, talking about climate-change, desertification etc. does that mean the people and animals who die rf suffer because of that bad harvest do not die and suffer due to their bad deeds in this or former lives?
It cannot be disprooved, at least i do not see how.
January 8, 2018 at 6:53 pm #13576
Thanks Johnny for sharing the article.
For your question of the earth being destroyed; I wouldn’t say that it is only based on kamma. Just like all other events, the other 7 factors can also have an influence. However, it would be based on kamma that those specific beings will be living at the time the earth comes to its end. There would be countless other beings who would have died and be born in other realms just before the world ends and so the beings living at the time would be there due to their kamma.
You say that when this event takes place that these beings will suffer and die. We should note that how we see “suffering and dying” in the conventional sense is not how suffering and dying is seen through the Dhamma. For example, it is common to consider that dying in one’s sleep is peaceful while dying in a disaster or accident as tragic. However according to Dhamma the event that leads to death does not explain whether that person suffers or not and what his next birth will be.
When a person who has killed his parents dies (whether in his sleep or is violently killed in an accident) he will go to hell, while when a sotapanna dies (whether in his sleep or by a disaster) he will never go to hell. I would consider the former tragic while the latter peaceful regardless of the event. There are examples of arahanth’s being murdered or dying as a result of accidents. Such incidents would be seen as tragic in the conventional world.
Also in the Agganna Sutta (https://suttacentral.net/en/dn27) the Buddha says that after the earth is destroyed that most beings will be born in the Abhassara Brahma realm (world of radiance).
When explaining natural disasters (or anything for that matter) current scientific or sociological practices does not consider the kamma niyama, but considers all other niyamas. Also, current practices mainly focus on effort and intelligence (prayoga sampatti) to minimise or negate the effects of these impacts.
We also need to keep in mind that only a Buddha can truly understand the workings of Kamma. He has said that others should not try to understand everything about kamma and that such an effort will only lead one to lose their mind. It is unfathomable. So, I would simply assume that kamma plays a role in all these things and that the roots of these events are because of kamma. It may be a very small portion due to kamma, but kamma still has a part to play.
These Niyama’s govern how the world works. Out of all these niyama’s we can only influence kamma by influencing what type of kamma vipaka we will experience in the future. But we have so many kamma waiting to give vipaka, that the only solution is to make sure one does not get into a state that all these stored bad kamma can give us vipaka.
Finally, all of this shows that there are so many factors in play that we are not in control of this world or ourselves and that the world will not be as we like and want it to be.
January 9, 2018 at 5:37 am #13579
Your position is clear. I come and join you there:-)
Thanks for your contribution. At the moment i let it rest.
January 9, 2018 at 7:03 am #13580
This is a bit complex issue. I am still trying to figure out how to get all the relevant factors into a single post.
By the way, Johnny_Lim and Akvan have pointed out the important of the five niyamas. However, the traditional interpretation of the five niyamas is not correct.
I have discussed this a bit at: “What is Kamma? – Is Everything Determined by Kamma?”
I hope to finish the post within a few days.
January 9, 2018 at 10:55 am #13582
Our views and intentions and deeds have results for ourselves, but ofcourse also for other beings.
For example, our lifestyle has led to climate-change. Animals and people in certain regions suffer due to this change of climate. We in Holland do not suffer from climate change, yet. But their regions animals and people allready suffer due to climate-change.
Our materialistic greedy, over-consuming, comfort-oriented lifestyle in the west (and elsewhere) has led to the destruction of habitats for animals and also indigenous people in Africa, Indonesie etc.
Can we say these aninmals and people reap only the fruits of their own views, intentions and deeds? No, i belief not. We are in fact responsible for a lot of suffering that other beings have to endure.
I think it is not reasonble to belief that all the suffering is due to ones own views, own intentions and own deeds.
January 12, 2018 at 12:17 pm #13634
I just published the post, “Does Bodily Pain Arise Only Due to Kamma Vipaka?”, as promised.
Unless one takes time to go through that background material, this post may not be fully understood. Learning Dhamma (at this deeper level) REQURIES an effort.
Buddha Dhamma is not like anything that we have been exposed to, and some concepts may not be obvious to everyone. As I keep saying, do not expect to learn pure Dhamma just by reading posts. Practice (from a base level) is an essential part. Understanding how dasa akusala (and the ten types of micca ditthi) can defile a mind and cover it, is critical.
Also, please don’t take these comments as an indication of frustration on my part. I fully understand different people have different levels of understanding (that is why there are posts at the website ranging from basic to deep levels).
I will do whatever it takes to help out a motivated person (and I do know all those who have commented so far have the desire to learn).
Please do not just state what you believe or not. That is irrelevant. My goal is not to convince anyone of anything. My goal is to explain Buddha Dhamma per Tipitaka, and its original commentaries.
It is up to each person to decide whether these interpretations make sense.
Rehashing same ideas again and again, as I see in other discussion forums, does not serve any good for anyone. I will only respond if points in the post as directly quoted and shown to be incorrect.
Of course, there could be other explanations (more correctly other ways of looking at the issue) in some cases (as we have seen in discussions so far), and those would be valid comments. What is unproductive is to say what one just believes, without proof from the Tipitaka.
Finally, something that I have learned by experience: expecting to grasp deep concepts without a good grasp of fundamentals is like taking a college level course without going to primary school. I wasted a lot of time before encountering desanas of Waharaka Thero, because I did not know some fundamentals (not only anicca, dukkha, anatta, but a few more basic things like bhava, jati, and gandhabba). I say this with a lot of compassion, not with agitation or disrespect. So, please don’t hold back from making legitimate comments.
January 13, 2018 at 3:58 pm #13652
at the end of this discussion i have made some conclusions:
The important role of views is often ignored or not given enough attention. Kamma is instigated by certain views, is related to views, determined by views, coloured by views.
Those views (good or wrong), they play a key-role in the outcomings. They make the difference in manifesting suffering/happiness, health/sickness, wealth/poverty etc). See, AN1.314 and 1.315.
So to treat all those results we can see (like suffering/happiness and sickness/heath etc) like they all arise because of kamma alone, is not complete. It is just a part of what really happens. We must not forget the role of views.
For example; our view of becoming happy instigate our intentions and deeds. We might have the view: ‘sense pleasures provide me with happiness’. From that view and associated intentions and deeds, arise results. Maybe one eats to much, drinks to much and gets ill. We might conclude…due to bad kamma! I belief it is more truthful to conclude, due to wrong view. Or, even better, we must see the total picture and then we see how this misfortune arose.
If one sees that results like suffering/happiness, wealth and poverty, health and sickness are strongly related to certain views, then, i belief, we are really dealing with things as they are.
The moralist in us prefers to see kamma as the root cause of everything wished for of not wished for. The wise in us prefers to talk about bad and right views.
January 13, 2018 at 5:17 pm #13654
Siebe said: “The moralist in us prefers to see kamma as the root cause of everything wished for of not wished for. The wise in us prefers to talk about bad and right views.”
Those two are inter-connected. A moralist is one with right views. Bad kamma are done with wrong views, and good kamma are done with right views.
But the key point in Buddha Dhamma is that “Samma Ditthi” does not merely mean “mundane right views”.
It is deeper, and includes a comprehension of anicca, dukkha, anatta.
P.S. I just realized that you may not have seen “Buddha Dhamma – In a Chart” and the discussion referred to there.
January 14, 2018 at 3:14 pm #13675
I talk about this in a conventional sense Lal. In a conventional sense people have often good intentions but bad views, i belief.
For example, in earlier days upon now, there are religious people or cultures who sacrafice animals (or earlier humans) to please a God and, to give good health to family or clan or good harvest. Although killing animals i think the intention behind the killing is not bad or evil. The mind is directed to something positive but the method is cruel.
Or think about those people who in Buddha’s days and untill now wash in holy rivers to wash away bad kamma. Are their intentions evil, immoral, bad? I think not. The wish to loose bad kamma is, i belief a nobel wish.
But i belief, the view is not good. Washing in a river does not clean the mind. Good intentions but wrong view.
There are a lot of parents who spoil there children. But are the intentions of the parents bad? Maybe the parents truly belief that they are doing good.
Good intentions with wrong view.
I tend to spoil a little bit a sick girlfriend. She has MS. To provide her with something tasty. To give her a nice day, outside the treatment center.
Maybe it is foolish, bad view that she can become happy this way, but i know it is not immoral what i am doing. In fact, almost every welfare system is trying to give people, for a moment, a good time. In some way one can Judge this is totally foolish. One can better study dhamma and meditate, oke, but i do not think it is immoral or bad intentions.
The world is full of the combination wrong view and good intentions.
Even killing, stealing, lying, i would not say this cannot be done with any good intentions.
January 14, 2018 at 4:34 am #13657
In your latest post, you said “This vicious cycle of “vipāka” leading to new “kammā” (via acting with avijjā), which in turn lead to more “vipāka”, is the process that binds us to the samsāra of endless rebirths…”
I associate our kamma and vipaka to the 2 sides of a coin. The coin, being our 5 khandhas. As long as we exist, we are the coin that has these 2 sides.
This is somewhat related to the other post – Two unbroken streams of consciousness (DN28) where we discussed the meaning of “This is not mine, this I am not, this is not my self”. Kaya sankhara, vaci sankhara, and mano sankhara rise and pass away rapidly into the past. Once executed, there is no way we can change them. We know that our strong sankhara would create kamma beeja in the mano loka for nature to impart vipaka onto us in future. Thus, I reckon the only logical and right way to view all mental and physical phenomena is to see it as ‘This is not mine, this I am not, this is not my self’. Otherwise, we will be seeing all events with ignorance and perpetually fuel more future existence for ourselves.
January 14, 2018 at 7:02 am #13659
Johnny_Lim said: “I associate our kamma and vipaka to the 2 sides of a coin. The coin, being our 5 khandhas. As long as we exist, we are the coin that has these 2 sides.”
Yes. That is concise statement of the issue.
I agree with the rest of Johnny’s comment too. The only thing is that one first needs to realize that it is unfruitful take the five khandhas as “mine”; that is the Sotapanna stage and cannot be done without some grasping of Tilakkhana.
Even a Sotapanna only knows that it is unfruitful (that is the first stage or the right vision (“dassanena pahatabba“). Actually experiencing that is done in arriving at higher stages. Only an Anagami has seen (experienced) the “cooling down” by getting rid of the cravings for sense pleasures.
It is not easy to get rid of the sanna of a “me”, and that is reduced by stages and it completely removed only at the Arahant stage. Even an Anagami has cravings to learn and enjoy Dhamma (and may be also for jhanic pleasures).
It is easy to say “there is no me” or “there is no-self”, and there are a lot of people who meditate by just reciting something like that. That is just a waste of time.
There is always going to be “self” (not a permanent “self” but a “dynamic self” who keeps changing gathi; see, “What Reincarnates? – Concept of a Lifestream“) as long as one one values even a single thing in this world. This is a statement to contemplate on. That should indicate how hard it is to get to the Arahant stage.
January 14, 2018 at 3:45 pm #13678
Siebe said: “Even killing, stealing, lying, i would not say this cannot be done with any good intentions.”
I am surprised that you have read so many suttas and have not grasped the basics of Buddha Dhamma. In a way, I should not be surprised because Buddha Dhamma is being treated like philosophy these days. Each one tries to transform Buddha Dhamma to one’s own likings and biases. Secular Buddhists do not like rebirth, for example. But I have not seen that many who doubt that dasa akusala are inherently bad.
To quote from the “Sammā Diṭṭhi Sutta (MN 9)“: “Yato kho, āvuso, ariyasāvako akusalañca pajānāti, akusalamūlañca pajānāti, kusalañca pajānāti, kusalamūlañca pajānāti—ettāvatāpi kho, āvuso, ariyasāvako sammādiṭṭhi hoti,..”
Translated: ““When, friends, a Noble disciple understands the unwholesome (akusala) and the root of the unwholesome (lobha, dosa, moha), the wholesome (kusala) and the root of the wholesome (alobha, adosa, amoha), in that way he is one of right view,..”.
I am closing this topic too. Please keep in mind that this forum is not for philosophical discussions.
The benefits of staying away from dasa akusala need to experienced, not debated.
This is what I have tried to explain at the first several posts in the “Living Dhamma” section. The basis of the Satipatthana meditation is the verse “ātāpī sampajānō, satimā vineyya lōke abhijjhā dōmanassam“, that appears over and over in all sections of the sutta.
The above verse basically says to experience the cooling down the fires in the mind (atapi), by staying away from excess greed and hate (which also requires getting rid of the ten types of micca ditthi); see, “Satipatthāna Sutta – Structure“.
Abhijja (abhi + icca) and domanassa (do + manasa) are two critical akusala done by the mind, based on micca ditthi, the third one done by the mind. When greed and hate are controlled, others done by body and speech can be controlled. Of course, all dasa akusala are removed only at the Arahant stage.
There are many posts at the website (especially in the “Moral Living and Fundamentals” and “Living Dhamma” sections that discuss the importance of a good knowledge of dasa akusala as a pre-requisite for Buddha Dhamma.
February 11, 2018 at 8:14 am #14071
Lal has reopened this post for me to post a reference to a sutta.
This sutta might provide some insight to this topic of interest.
“So, friends, it seems that you don’t know that you existed in the past, and that you did not not exist… you don’t know what is the abandoning of unskillful mental qualities and the attainment of skillful mental qualities in the here-and-now. That being the case, it is not proper for you to assert that, “Whatever a person experiences—pleasure, pain, or neither pleasure nor pain—all is caused by what was done in the past.”
“So I asked them further, ‘Friend Nigaṇṭhas, what do you think: When there is fierce striving, fierce exertion, do you feel fierce, sharp, racking pains from harsh treatment? And when there is no fierce striving, no fierce exertion, do you feel no fierce, sharp, racking pains from harsh treatment?’
“‘… Then it’s not proper for you to assert that, “Whatever a person experiences—pleasure, pain, or neither pleasure nor pain—all is caused by what was done in the past.”
“Suppose that a man is in love with a woman, his mind ensnared with fierce desire, fierce passion. He sees her standing with another man, chatting, joking, and laughing. What do you think, monks: As he sees her standing with another man, chatting, joking, and laughing, would sorrow, lamentation, pain, disuffering, and despair arise in him?”
“Yes, lord. Why is that? Because he is in love with her, his mind ensnared with fierce desire, fierce passion…”
“Now suppose the thought were to occur to him, ‘I am in love with this woman, my mind ensnared with fierce desire, fierce passion. When I see her standing with another man, chatting, joking, and laughing, then sorrow, lamentation, pain, disuffering, and despair arise within me. Why don’t I abandon my desire and passion for that woman?’ So he abandons his desire and passion for that woman, and afterwards sees her standing with another man, chatting, joking, and laughing. What do you think, monks: As he sees her standing with another man, chatting, joking, and laughing, would sorrow, lamentation, pain, disuffering, and despair arise in him?”
“No, lord. Why is that? He is dispassionate toward that woman…”
The last quoted text is similar to Siebe’s example on standing on one leg for a good cause. I’m not saying that there is no cause for bodily and mental torment. But the fact that our sankhara rooted in ignorance is going to cause us grief. No doubt about it. As to whether what we experience here and now is really due to past kamma, we cannot tell for sure.
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