Post on “Details of Kamma – Intention, Who Is Affected, Kamma Patha”

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    • #47813

      Details of Kamma – Intention, Who Is Affected, Kamma Patha

      Kamma and Kamma Patha

      10. A given akusala kamma takes four stages to be “completed.”

      • For example, in the case of taking a life, the following are the four steps:
        (i) one must think that it is alive,
        (ii)  making a plan to kill that being intentionally
        (iii) executing the plan to kill
        (iv) a living being ends up dead.
      • Upon completing all five steps, that kamma becomes a “kamma with maximum strength” or a kamma patha. 
      •  As the number of completed steps keeps increasing, the severity of the vipāka will increase. When all are complete, a kamma becomes a kammā patha, and the kammā vipāka will be the strongest possible.
      • When we walk on grass, we may unintentionally kill many small insects. But since the “intention” is not there, none of the five factors will come to play. If someone hits a toy snake intending to kill, only the last factor will not be fulfilled.

      11. Let us consider another example of the four steps that constitute a kamma patha involving lying/deceiving (musāvāda.)

      • (i) there must be a person(s) to be deceived,(ii) one plans to deceive that person(s),(iii) carries out the deception,(iv) that person (and possibly others not even intended) suffer due to that deception.

      • I have been trying to find a Tipiṭaka reference for these “five factors.” Please comment in the discussion forum if you know.

      • If all factors are completed, the “kammic energy” will be optimized, and it becomes a “janaka kamma,” possibly leading to rebirth in a bad realm. If only some factors are completed, such a kamma can bring vipāka during a lifetime.

      Whenever I explained kamma to others based on this, I felt something didn’t fit my understanding. I didn’t know exactly what was wrong, but I felt something wasn’t right. So I thought ‘Maybe I didn’t understand kamma correctly.’ It was convincing because Kamma vipaka is an acinteyya topic. However, no matter how many times I tried to start over, I kept feeling like something wasn’t solved. I just couldn’t put this analysis with my understanding in a consistent way. Something didn’t fit in. This system was thought to be inconsistent by me. Though, I didn’t really think about looking for this topic because I thought it was a minor issue.

      Today, I found that the analysis of kamma in #10, and #11 belongs to Buddhaghosa. In chronological order, I first searched for the explanation of kamma in Tipitaka. But I couldn’t find any account similar to this in the Tipitaka. Then searched for the stages of kamma, and I found the text “What Kamma is” by Sayadaw U Thittila. The full text in English is available and publically accessible (free to read online). In “Immoral Kamma Which Produces Its Effect In The Plane Of Misery“, there is an exact same explanation as #10.

      To complete this offence of killing, five conditions are necessary, viz: a being, knowing that it is a being, intention of killing, effort, and consequent death.

      So I checked the literary warrant of those explanations. However, it did not provide a Tipitaka reference, but only an abbreviation of some text. ‘Expositor, Pt.1, Pg 12B’. It took me a lot of time to figure it out because this was an abbreviation I’d never seen before. About 30 minutes later, I found that the ‘Expositor’ means Atthasālinī. This pdf file gave me the information (pdf page number 122).

      So I checked whether there was really that mention in the book. This pdf file is the English translation of Atthasālinī. The sentence in question comes from the second paragraph at the bottom of page 128 (pdf page number 141).

      Of course, this explanation does seem to make sense intuitively. But it can cause a lot of logical problems. I think it will take more time and effort for me to explain why it is incompatible with Pure Dhamma. Therefore, I think it would be better to discard this explanation without further discussion. Occam’s razor is enough answer to do it.

      I sent an email to Ven. Lal around the end of July 2022. Now I deleted that email account, so I don’t know exactly what I said. As far as I remember, at that time, I was thinking about what the exact definition of Musavada was, and I asked Lal to elaborate. So there was no #11 in the previous version of the post. It was added after that. I found the forum post #26183 today while thinking about this topic. When I read this in 2022, I felt like this explanation was not enough then. But now I feel it enough. Once again, I realize that it’s really important to cleanse the heart. I think the reason why I needed a detailed definition of Musavada at that time was because my mind was so contaminated.

      Buddha Dhamma does not teach you to solve problems by controlling the detailed operational processes of the mind one by one. Such teachings, which gained currency these days in the name of jhana or vipassana meditation, only equate true understanding to just mechanical processes. Like a calculator, they know how to calculate, but they don’t know what kind of calculation to apply in a given context. This is what Ven. Lal emphasizes over and over again. Why do they translate Tipitaka mechanically? It’s because they can’t distinguish between computation and application.

      They don’t know the overall structure of Buddha Dhamma, so they can’t read any consistent structure from Tipitaka. That’s why they translate as they see it. They don’t translate after reading. They translate as they are seen. Even if it’s not Tipitaka and Pali, it’s not a good read in any language to just read at face value without considering the context. That’s why what’s left in the end is just a vague rhetoric. There is no question that Mahayana has only nonsense concepts. The situation is not much different for conventional Theravada with late commentaries(ex. Visuddhimagga) either. They try to do extremely fine analysis from a very narrow perspective. I’m not saying this with Abhidhamma in mind. Rather, I’m talking about their attitude toward Abhidhamma.

      They say it is possible to verify the content of Abhidhamma practically. The reason they claim it is only to secure the legitimacy of the method of “knowing something as they are seen”. They say the ability to describe mechanical operation is comprehension. I think the reason I recently asked about PS with neutral things(the stair part) is because I was influenced by the conventional Theravada. People who bring conventional Theravada to Korea say true understanding requires no faith or belief at all. (Here, faith or belief means to accept something unprovable but true.) They are basically saying that everything is provable. It is no different from Mahayana’s position ‘everyone can be Sammasambuddha’. Because ‘everything is provable’ only can be applied to someone who has sabbaññutā ñāṇa.

      The true understanding of Dhamma includes two things: (1) Distinguishing between what is worth and what is not worth, and (2) Deciding to spend time on what is worth and not to spend time on what is not worth. The fundamental reason for learning all Dhamma concepts is to be able to do right both of two things. If someone is learning concepts with this sense of purpose, he/she is doing it well. Reading is more than just seeing visible things. Reading is to see what is invisible(context) from what is visible(letter). Context has a structure, system, and consistency. But it is not visible. Therefore one should be able to see abstract structures through learning concepts. Because concept is not a description of facts, but a way of seeing something. So, to learn a concept is to choose that I see things this very way, not any other way. I hope everyone who starts to learn Dhamma always keeps this in mind.

      What I looked at most carefully when I learned the concept of Kamma was how to get rid of akusala and grow kusala. With the understanding of kamma, one can always cope with things in a constant way no matter how the circumstances change. The law of Kamma gives someone such rationale. Regardless of what vipaka is given, one can always have a metta to other living beings. What we need to do is not liquidate all the kamma. Our scope of responsibility is not all our history. Not to repeat the same mistakes here and now is enough to attain Nibbana. It’s all about getting one’s mind right, not getting outside things or happenings right. When someone doesn’t really understand this, they have the six ditthi: sayamkatam, paramkatam, sayakatanca paramkatanca, asayamkatam adhiccasamuppannam, aparamkatam adhiccasamuppannam, asayamkatanca aparamkatanca adhiccasamuppannam.

      The first three (sayamkatam, paramkatam, sayakatanca paramkatanca) are to apportion blame for suffering to only living beings (without nature). The next three (asayamkatam adhiccasamuppannam, aparamkatam adhiccasamuppannam, asayamkatanca aparamkatanca adhiccasamuppannam) are to apportion blame for suffering to only nature (without living beings). That’s why the latter is Accidentalism. But if we understand hetu and paccaya, we can start to learn how to properly consider both(Paticca Samuppada). Distinguishing between hetu and paccaya and understanding their role constitute the basis of Kamma. Kamma allows us to neither suffer from too much responsibility nor neglect complete irresponsibility.

      May the blessings of the three gems be with all beings! May all living beings follow the noble path and attain Nibbana!

    • #47828

      1. While it is good to have a general understanding of kamma vipāka, that is a subject fully amenable to the mind of a Buddha.

      • The Buddha mentioned four things that are fully amenable only to the mind of a Buddha. They should not be thought about incessantly; anyone who tries to think about them in detail will only get frustrated.”
      • See “Acinteyya Sutta (AN 4.77)“: “Kamma vipāko, bhikkhave, acinteyyo, na cintetabbo.” 

      2. Another point is the following. While the generic meaning of “kamma” is an “action/deed,” in Buddha Dhamma, it specifically means a “deed done with a defiled mind.” 

      • Walking to the kitchen to get a glass of water is a kamma in the generic sense, but that is not a kamma discussed by the Buddha.
      • There is nothing to worry about the first, generic kind. We need to worry about the types of kamma done with lobha, dosa, and moha in mind. 
      • It is pretty apparent what types of kamma need to be avoided. We also have a good idea about which types of kamma are stronger than others. That is enough to avoid “getting into trouble.” 


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