Kamma and its Ripening in the Abhidhamma

Discussion of Abhidhamma and related Commentaries

Moderator: Mahavihara moderator

Re: Kamma and its Ripening in the Abhidhamma

Postby Dhammanando » Wed Jan 21, 2009 8:59 pm

Hi Element,

Thanks for the reply. But when I said "he" I was actually enquiring about Goenka, not the Buddha.

Element wrote:In AN X.58, the Buddha said: "All dhamma practises converge on feelings". This is like the saying: "All roads lead to Rome".


'Dhammā' here is defined in the Anguttara commentary as the five aggregates, not "dhamma practices."

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu
    ...and this thought arose in the mind of the Blessed One:
    “Who lives without reverence lives miserably.”
    Uruvela Sutta, A.ii.20

    It were endless to dispute upon everything that is disputable.
    — William Penn Some Fruits of Solitude,
User avatar
Dhammanando
 
Posts: 1278
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 10:44 pm
Location: Wat Pa Mieng Khun Pang, Chiang Mai

Re: Kamma and its Ripening in the Abhidhamma

Postby Element » Wed Jan 21, 2009 10:59 pm

Dhammanando wrote: 'Dhammā' here is defined in the Anguttara commentary as the five aggregates, not "dhamma practices."

I know. I disagree with the commentary. For example, to say the five aggregates culminate in Nibbana and merge with the deathless is clearly wrong.

Whilst off topic, dhamma here to me is the same as "all dhammas fit into the footprint of heedfulness". To me, Dhamma is practises and not phenomena.
Element
 

Re: Kamma and its Ripening in the Abhidhamma

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Jan 21, 2009 11:07 pm

Greetings Element,

Which is all fine and well... but remember that this is the Abhidhamma forum for "discussion of Abhidhamma and related Commentaries", not for views we have on the Dhamma which might conflict with those sources of teachings.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


Dharma Wheel (Mahayana / Vajrayana forum) -- Open flower ~ Open book (blog)
User avatar
retrofuturist
Site Admin
 
Posts: 14677
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 9:52 pm
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Re: Kamma and its Ripening in the Abhidhamma

Postby Dhammanando » Thu Jan 22, 2009 12:43 am

.
QUESTIONS & ANSWERS ABOUT KAMMA AND ITS FRUIT, Part II


A. I understand that the active side of our life consists of unwholesome states of mind or akusala cittas and wholesome states of mind or kusala cittas. Akusala cittas can perform unwholesome deeds and kusala cittas can perform wholesome deeds. All through one’s life one accumulates both unwholesomeness and wholesomeness.

There are other cittas which are the result of one’s deeds: those are called vipākacittas. The result of unwholesome deeds or akusala kamma is akusala vipāka; the result of wholesome deeds or kusala kamma is kusala vipāka. Vipāka is the passive side of our life; we undergo vipāka. Seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting and feeling through body contact are vipāka.

I can understand this because sense-impressions are impressions which one undergoes. The cittas which think about those impressions, and which like or dislike them, are no longer result or vipāka; they are cause. They are akusala or kusala cittas. But I still doubt every time I see there is the result of akusala or kusala kamma I did in the past. Can you prove this to me?

B. This cannot be proven in theory. One can know the truth only through direct experience.

There are three kinds of wisdom. The first kind stems from thinking about the realities of life such as impermanence, old age, sickness and death. The second kind is understanding developed through the study of the Buddhist teachings. The third kind of wisdom is the direct experience of the truth.

The first and the second kind of wisdom are necessary, but they are still theoretical understanding; they are not yet the realization of the truth. If one accepts the Buddha’s teachings because they seem to be reasonable, or if one accepts them on the authority of the Buddha, one will not have the clear understanding that stems from the direct experience of the truth. Only this kind of understanding can eliminate all doubts.

We read in the Gradual Sayings (Aṅguttara Nikāya, Book of the Threes, Ch. VII, §65, Those of Kesaputta) that when the Buddha was staying in Kesaputta the Kālāmas came to see him. They had heard different views expounded by different people and had doubts as to who was speaking the truth and who falsehood. The Buddha said:

    "Now look you, Kālāmas. Be not misled by report or tradition or hearsay. Be not misled by proficiency in the collections, nor by mere logic or inference, nor after considering reasons, nor after reflection on and approval of some theory, nor because it fits becoming, nor out of respect for a recluse (who holds it). But, Kālāmas, when you know for yourselves: These things are unprofitable, these things are blameworthy, these things are censured by the intelligent; these things, when performed and undertaken, conduce to loss and sorrow—then indeed do you reject them, Kālāmas."

The Buddha then asked the Kālāmas whether greed, malice and delusion, and the evil deeds they inspire, lead to a man’s profit or to his loss. The Kālāmas answered that they lead to his loss. The Buddha then repeated that when they know for themselves that these things are unprofitable and lead to sorrow, they should reject them. Thereupon the Buddha spoke about non-greed, non-hate and non-delusion, and the abstinence from evil deeds these inspire. He said that when the Kālāmas know for themselves that these things are profitable and conduce to happiness, they should undertake them.

We have to find out the truth ourselves, by experiencing it in daily life. In being aware of all realities of daily life one develops the third kind of wisdom.

In the practice of vipassanā or "insight," we learn to understand all realities of daily life, in being aware of them at the moment they occur. We learn to be aware of what happens at the present moment. We will know what seeing, hearing, thinking, etc., really are if we are aware of those realities at the moment they occur. Only the present moment can give us the truth, not the past or the future. We cannot experience now the cittas we had in the past; we cannot experience the cittas which performed akusala kamma or kusala kamma in the past. We can only experience cittas of the present moment. We can experience that some cittas are akusala, some are kusala, and some are neither, that they have different functions. If we learn to experience the cittas of the present moment, we will gradually be able to see realities more clearly. If we realize enlightenment, or the experience of Nibbāna, all doubts about realities will be eliminated. Then we will see the truth.

A. I would like to be enlightened in order to know the truth.

B. If you only have wishful thinking about Nibbāna, you will never attain it. The path leading to Nibbāna is knowing the present moment. Only if we know the present moment will we be able to eliminate ignorance about realities and the idea of "self" to which we are still clinging. We should not cling to a result which might take place in the future. We should instead try to know the present moment.

A. Is it not possible for me to know whether seeing and hearing at this moment is akusala vipāka or kusala vipāka?

B. Sometimes you can find out. For instance, hearing is kusala vipāka when the sound is produced by kusala cittas. Someone who speaks to you with compassion, produces the sound with kusala cittas. When you hear that sound there is kusala vipāka. Often it is not possible for us to know whether there is akusala vipāka or kusala vipāka. Moreover, it is not of great use to know this, because we cannot do anything about our own vipāka.

It is enough to know that akusala kamma brings about akusala vipāka, and that kusala kamma brings about kusala vipāka. It is important to remember that vipāka is caused by our own kamma, that the cause of vipāka is within ourselves and not outside ourselves.

The Gradual Sayings (Aṅguttara Nikāya, Book of the Threes, Ch. IV, §35, The Lord of Death) tells of a man who had been negligent in the doing of good deeds, and was brought before Yama, the lord of death. Yama said to him:

    "My good man, it was through negligence that you did not act nobly in deed, word and thought. Verily they shall do unto you in accordance with your negligence. That evil action of yours was not done by mother, father, brother, sister, friends and comrades: not by kinsmen, devas, recluses and brahmins. By yourself alone was it done. It is just you that will experience the fruit thereof."

It is not important to know exactly at which moment there is akusala vipāka or kusala vipāka. However, it is most important to know exactly at which moments there is vipāka and at which moments we perform akusala kamma or kusala kamma. The moments we perform akusala kamma and kusala kamma will condition our future.

A. In order to know how and when one accumulates akusala kamma and kusala kamma one should know more about the cittas which perform kamma. I notice that the Buddha spoke about cittas in order to help people to have more understanding about their life and in order to encourage them to perform kusala kamma. Therefore I think that all through one’s life one should develop a clear understanding about cittas. Could you give me a definition of a citta ?

B. It is not possible to give a definition that will explain to you what a citta is. You should experience cittas yourself in order to know them. There are so many different types of cittas at different moments that it is impossible to give one definition for all of them. The most general definition is: it knows something. Citta is not like materiality, which does not know anything. The citta which sees knows colour, a citta which hears knows sound, a citta which thinks knows many different objects.

A. Why are seeing and hearing cittas? You explained before that seeing is not thinking, but only the experience of colour through eye-sense and that hearing is the experience of sound through ear-sense. Are those not merely physical processes instead of cittas which know something?

B. Eye-sense and ear-sense in themselves are not cittas, they are physical organs. But eye-sense and ear-sense are conditions for the arising of cittas. There is citta whenever an object, as for example colour or sound, is experienced. We should try to be aware of the citta of the present moment if we want to know what citta is. We should be aware of the seeing or the hearing that occurs right now.

Many people who are brought up in the West do not understand why it is not possible to give a clear definition of citta, and of everything the Buddha taught. They want to prove things in theory. This is not the way to find the truth. One should experience the truth in order to know it.

A. I still think of citta as a mind which directs seeing, hearing, thinking, etc. How can I find out that there is not a "self" which directs everything?

B. We can only find this out by being aware of different cittas. Thus we will experience that we cannot direct our thoughts. We are absent-minded when we do not want to be so, many odd thoughts arise, in spite of ourselves. Where is the self that can direct our thoughts?

There is one citta at a time; it arises and falls away completely, to be followed by the next citta, which is no longer the same. There is no single citta which stays. For example, seeing-consciousness is one citta, but hearing-consciousness is another citta.

A. I don’t understand why those functions are performed by different cittas. Why can’t there be one citta which stays and performs different functions, and why is it not possible that different functions are performed at the same time? I can see, hear and think at the same time.

B. Seeing occurs if colour contacts the eye-sense. Recognizing it or thinking about it occurs afterwards. Seeing is not performed by the same cittas as thinking about what one saw; seeing has different conditions. Hearing has again different conditions. Thinking about what one heard has conditions that are different from the conditions for hearing-consciousness.

You would not be able to notice that seeing and hearing are different if those functions were performed by one single citta at the same time. In that case you would only receive one impression instead of several impressions. We experience seeing and hearing as different impressions, even when they seem to occur at the same time. They have different places of origin and different objects, and they occur at different moments, though the moments can be so close that they seem to be one. Thinking about what one just saw occurs after the seeing-consciousness, thinking about what one just heard occurs after the hearing-consciousness. Seeing-consciousness occurs at a moment different from the moment the hearing-consciousness occurs. Therefore thinking about what one saw cannot arise at the same moment as thinking about what one heard. Thinking is done by many different cittas which succeed one another.

When we have learned to be more keenly aware of the citta which arises at the present moment, we will notice that seeing and hearing arise alternately, at different moments. We will notice that there isn’t one long moment of thinking, but different moments of thinking.

We will notice that thinking is very often interrupted by moments of seeing and hearing, and these again are conditions for new thoughts. We will find out how much our thoughts depend on different experiences of the past, on unwholesome and wholesome tendencies we have accumulated, on the objects we see and hear and on many other conditions.

A. You said that all cittas are beyond control, that they are "anattā." Akusala cittas and kusala cittas are conditioned by one’s accumulations. It is not in anyone’s power that they arise. You said that vipākacittas are "anattā" as well.

Sometimes it seems that I can have power over vipāka, that it is in my power to have kusala vipāka through the ear. Whenever I wish to hear a pleasant sound, I can put a record of classical music on my record-player.

B. You put the record on because you know the conditions for the pleasant sound. Everything happens when there are the right conditions for it. It is impossible for anything to happen without conditions. When there is fire we use water to extinguish it. We cannot order the fire to be extinguished. We don’t have to tell the water to extinguish the fire; the water has the characteristic that it can extinguish the fire. Without the right conditions we would not be able to do anything.

With regard to the beautiful music which you can play, there have to be many different conditions for this pleasant sound. And even when there is this pleasant sound, you have no power over the kusala vipākacittas. If you really could direct them, you could make them arise at any moment, even without the record-player. We should remember that music is not vipāka, only the cittas which experience the pleasant object through the ear are vipāka. Do we really have power over these cittas?

There are many conditions which have to cooperate so that the vipāka can arise. There has to be ear-sense. Did you create your own ear-sense? You received ear-sense before you were born; this also is a result for which you did not ask. Moreover, do you think that you can have kusala vipāka as long as you wish and whenever you wish? When you have developed a keener awareness you will notice that the kusala vipāka and the other types of cittas arise alternately.

The vipākacittas are followed by cittas which are no longer vipāka, for example, the cittas which arise when you like the music which you hear and when you think about it. Or there might be cittas which think about many different things, perhaps with aversion or with worry. Or there might be thoughts of kindness towards other people.

The kusala vipāka will not only be interrupted by akusala cittas and kusala cittas, but by akusala vipāka as well. There is akusala vipāka when there are loud noises outside, when the telephone rings loudly, or when one feels the sting of a mosquito. There cannot be kusala vipāka at the moment there is an akusala citta, a kusala citta or akusala vipāka.

If you could make kusala vipāka arise at will, you could have it without interruption, whenever you wish. This is not possible. Moreover, if it were not the right time for you to have any kusala vipāka, you would not be able to receive a pleasant object: the record-player would be broken, or something else would happen so that you could not have kusala vipāka.

A. Is it not by accident that the record-player would be broken?

B. The Buddha taught that everything happens because of conditions. There are no accidents. You will understand reality more deeply if you think of cittas, and if you do not think of conventional terms like record-player, this person or that person. Vipāka are the cittas, not the record-player or the sound in itself. The record-player is only one of the many conditions for vipāka. The real cause of vipāka is not an accident, or a cause outside ourselves; the real cause is within ourselves.

Can you find another cause for akusala vipāka but your own akusala kamma, and for kusala vipāka but your own kusala kamma?

A. That is right, I can find no other cause. However, I still do not understand how akusala cittas which performed akusala kamma in the past and kusala cittas which performed kusala kamma in the past can produce vipāka later on.

B. It is not possible to understand how the events of our life are interrelated without studying cittas in detail and without knowing and experiencing the cittas which arise at the present moment. When one can experience what the cittas of the present moment really are, one will be able to understand more about the past.

When the Buddha became enlightened he saw how everything that happens in life has many conditions and he saw how things that happen depend on one another.

The teaching about the conditional arising of phenomena, the dependent origination (paṭiccasamuppāda), is difficult to grasp. We read in the Kindred Sayings (Saṃyutta Nikāya I, Sagāthā Vagga, Ch. VI, The Brahmā Suttas, Ch. 1, §1, The Entreaty) that the Buddha, when he was staying at Uruvela after he had just attained enlightenment, was thinking that the Dhamma he had penetrated was deep, difficult to understand:

    "And for a race devoting itself to the things to which it clings, devoted thereto, delighting therein, this were a matter hard to perceive, to wit, that this is conditioned by that—that all that happens is by way of cause."

At first the Buddha had no inclination to teach Dhamma, as he knew that a teaching which is "against the stream of common thought" would not be accepted by people who delight in clinging. The sutta continues:

    "This that through many toils I’ve won,
    Enough! Why should I make it known?
    By folk with lust and hate consumed
    Not this a Dhamma that can be grasped.
    Against the stream (of common thought),
    Deep, subtle, fine, and hard to see,
    Unseen it will be by passion’s slaves,
    Cloaked in the murk (of ignorance)."

However, the Buddha decided out of compassion to teach Dhamma, for the sake of those who would be able to understand it. Do you still have doubts about the accumulation of deeds?

A. Is the deed you see a mental phenomenon or a physical phenomenon?

B. You can only see the action of the body, but the action is actually performed by cittas. We can never see the citta, but we can find out what the citta is like when the body moves in doing deeds. With regard to your question how deeds done in the past can produce a result later on, the answer is that deeds are performed by cittas. They are mentality and thus they can be accumulated. All experiences and deeds of the past are accumulated in each citta, which falls away and conditions the next citta. Whenever there is the right condition the kamma that is accumulated and carried on from one moment of citta to the next can produce vipāka.
    ...and this thought arose in the mind of the Blessed One:
    “Who lives without reverence lives miserably.”
    Uruvela Sutta, A.ii.20

    It were endless to dispute upon everything that is disputable.
    — William Penn Some Fruits of Solitude,
User avatar
Dhammanando
 
Posts: 1278
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 10:44 pm
Location: Wat Pa Mieng Khun Pang, Chiang Mai

Re: Kamma and its Ripening in the Abhidhamma

Postby kc2dpt » Thu Jan 22, 2009 6:23 am

Someone who speaks to you with compassion, produces the sound with kusala cittas. When you hear that sound there is kusala vipāka.

This confuses me. In the last part too it was said "a harsh word produces an akusala citta in the listener". I would think an unpleasant vedana from hearing would be a loud sound or a screeching sound. Surely the meaning of the sound is something other than vedana? Surely by that point were already beyond vedana?

To put it another way... Doesn't whether harsh words produce akusala citta (or compassionate words produce kusala citta) in the listener depend on the listener more than the speaker? I can easily imagine someone speaking to me out of kindness but I misinterpret their words and get offended. Or someone speaks to me harshly but I'm in a patient mood that day so the words just roll off my back.
- Peter

Be heedful and you will accomplish your goal.
User avatar
kc2dpt
 
Posts: 956
Joined: Thu Jan 01, 2009 3:48 pm

Re: Kamma and its Ripening in the Abhidhamma

Postby Dhammanando » Thu Jan 22, 2009 2:28 pm

Hi Will,

First she says "all cittas are beyond control" then "The cittas that like or dislike, and the cittas that think about the object, are not results but causes; they can motivate deeds which will bring fresh results." So I guess she means there are resultant cittas, all of which we have no control over and there are causal cittas which are causal because intention is there.


Actually intention (cetanā) is one of the universal mental factors (sabbacittasādhāraṇa cetasika), and so is present in every kind of citta, including vipākacittas. But the cetanā that arises with a vipākacitta is not kamma-producing; it merely performs the function of organizing its associated mental factors.

As for having control over it, bear in mind that intention is part of the fourth aggregate, formations. Concerning which the Buddha says:

    "Bhikkhus, formations are not-self. Were formations self, then these formations would not tend to affliction, and one could have it of formations: 'Let my formations be thus, let my formations be otherwise.' But since formations are not-self, so they tend to affliction, and none can have it of formations: 'Let my formations be thus, let my formations be otherwise."
    (Anattalakkhaṇa Sutta)

Therefore over the causal cittas we do have control


Who is this "we" that has control?


    "In all kinds of becoming, generation, destiny, station and abode, there appears only mentality-&-materiality (nāma-rūpa), which occurs by means of linking of cause with fruit. He sees no doer over and above the doing, no experiencer of the result over and above the occurrence of the result. But he sees clearly with right understanding that the wise say 'doer' when there is doing and 'experiencer' when there is experiencing simply as a mode of common usage.

    "Hence the Ancients said:

    "There is no doer of a kamma
    Or one who reaps the kamma's result;
    Phenomena alone flow on—
    No other view than this is right."
    (Path of Purification, XIX 20)

In the Abhidhamma there's neither a controller of dhammas nor even one single dhamma that would be amenable to being controlled. Each conditioned dhamma arises, performs its function and falls away. There is no room here for an "I" or a "we".

- how else would any transformation or purification occur?


In the Abhidhamma each stage and each aspect of purification, from going for refuge and undertaking the five precepts up to attaining the path and fruit of arahantship is explicated chiefly in terms of dhammas, not persons. How does it occur? Like everything else, it occurs by the arising of the necessary conditions for its occurrence. In particular:

  • The wholesome dhammas that constitute these stages of purification all have right view as their forerunner.
  • Right view arises in the present on account of past desire-to-act (chanda) and past volitions (cetanā) to engage in the actions that generate right view: consorting with the wise, hearing the Dhamma, discussing the Dhamma, and wisely reflecting on the Dhamma.
  • Right view will arise in the future on account of present desire-to-act and present volitions to engage in these actions.
  • Such volitions are generated through a combination of experiencing dukkha, encountering a faith-worthy object (the Triple Gem) and meritorious accumulations.

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu
    ...and this thought arose in the mind of the Blessed One:
    “Who lives without reverence lives miserably.”
    Uruvela Sutta, A.ii.20

    It were endless to dispute upon everything that is disputable.
    — William Penn Some Fruits of Solitude,
User avatar
Dhammanando
 
Posts: 1278
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 10:44 pm
Location: Wat Pa Mieng Khun Pang, Chiang Mai

Re: Kamma and its Ripening in the Abhidhamma

Postby Will » Thu Jan 22, 2009 4:22 pm

Now do not go too Zennish on me Bhante. :) I am using "we" or "I" just in the conventional sense, with no implication of self. That being the case, I see little value in straining, when writing or speaking, in avoiding the personal pronouns, as long as all parties know that no atta is being meant.

So if "I" may alter my words above - is this a better way to say it:

If there were never any noble volitions arising, there would never arise patience or metta or any virtue - is all I am saying. Besides, where did these cittas "we" have no control over now come from - many came from volitional thoughts, words or deeds in the past. Those in the past could not have all been pre-existing, some must have been initiated or arisen back then because of conscious, deliberate intent.


Curious, that I chose (many years ago) "Will" as my screen name based on "cetana" - but now I see much more depth (which I have not fathomed - yet) to that element.

I will have to ponder on part 2 of the quoted passage you have given us and thus will crawl back into my quiet cave.
This noble eightfold path is the ancient path traveled by all the Buddhas of eons past. Nagara Sutta
User avatar
Will
 
Posts: 384
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 11:26 pm

Re: Kamma and its Ripening in the Abhidhamma

Postby Jechbi » Fri Jan 23, 2009 7:49 am

Hello Bhante,
There is one citta at a time.

I find this difficult to understand. Why can't a citta related to hearing arise simultaneously with a citta related to seeing, for example? Is there some factor that orders these, or are they random? Does each citta carry an imprint from the previous citta, even across types? Or can accumulated kamma skip a bunch of cittas and effect vipaka in a manner that defies temporal proximity? (I hope these questions make sense.)
Metta
:smile:
Rain soddens what is kept wrapped up,
But never soddens what is open;
Uncover, then, what is concealed,
Lest it be soddened by the rain.
User avatar
Jechbi
 
Posts: 1268
Joined: Thu Jan 01, 2009 3:38 am

Re: Kamma and its Ripening in the Abhidhamma

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Jan 23, 2009 7:53 am

Hi Jechbi,

You might think of it like a single-processor computer. It appears to be doing many things by doing things in quick succession. Each citta is conditioned by previous cittas, just as each operation in the computer is conditioned by previous operations.

[Slightly off topic: I understand some other Buddhist schools, and possibly Abhidharmas, have multiple cittas arising simultaneously. Useful to know if you are having a discussion with non-Theravada Buddhists.]

Metta
Mike
User avatar
mikenz66
 
Posts: 10414
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 7:37 am
Location: New Zealand

Re: Kamma and its Ripening in the Abhidhamma

Postby robertk » Fri Jan 23, 2009 8:23 am

Will wrote:If there were never any noble volitions arising, there would never arise patience or metta or any virtue - is all I am saying. Besides, where did these cittas "we" have no control over now come from - many came from volitional thoughts, words or deeds in the past. Those in the past could not have all been pre-existing, some must have been initiated or arisen back then because of conscious, deliberate intent.


If you understand that each moment is conditioned , that it arises for less than a billionth of the time to bat an eyelid, then you can better understand why no control (the characteristic of anatta) is the heart of the Buddha's teaching. I think one would not then be stressing on conscious, delberate effort , but rather on realising that when there is understanding of the uncontrollabilty of any phenomena that right effort , samma vayama is present already.

Thus whatever the jati- whether akusala or kusala or vipaka or kiriya- each element merely arises and performs its function and then vanishes. Wisdom has no wish to understand, it just performs its function, likewise with energy , or tasting and every other dhamma.
User avatar
robertk
 
Posts: 1270
Joined: Sat Jan 03, 2009 2:08 am

Re: Kamma and its Ripening in the Abhidhamma

Postby Dhammanando » Fri Jan 23, 2009 4:54 pm

.

Part III

A. I would like to know if we only receive vipāka in this life, or is there vipāka in a future life as well?

B. According to the Buddhist teachings one receives the results of one’s deeds in future lives as well. We read in the Kindred Sayings (Saṃyutta Nikāya I, Ch. III, Kosala, 2, §10, Childless 2) that when the Buddha was staying at Sāvatthi, King Pasenadi came to see him. A rich man who had lived as a miser had just died. He had performed both good deeds and bad deeds and he therefore had to receive both kusala vipāka and akusala vipāka, which he experienced during different lifespans. He had given alms to a "Silent Buddha" of a former period, but afterwards he regretted his gift. As a result of his good deed of almsgiving to a Silent Buddha he was reborn seven times in heaven, where he could enjoy pleasant vipāka. After his existences in heaven he was reborn as a human being, which is kusala vipāka as well. He was born from rich parents, but his accumulation of stinginess prevented him from enjoying the pleasant things of life. Because he regretted his gift to the Silent Buddha, as a result he did not utilize his riches for himself or for others.

After his existence as a human being he was again bound for a different rebirth. He had committed akusala kamma of a heavy kind and this akusala kamma would bring akusala vipāka of a heavy kind. He had killed the only son of his brother because he wanted to get his brother’s fortune. This very heavy kamma caused him to be reborn in hell where he would stay for many hundred thousands of years. The sutta points out how one can receive different results in different existences.

A. Is the existence of heavens and hells not mere mythology?

B. People have different accumulated inclinations which make them perform different kamma. No person acts in the same way as another. Each act brings its own result, either in this life or in the following existences. To be reborn in a heavenly plane or in the human plane is the result of a wholesome deed, to be reborn in a sorrowful plane is the result of an unwholesome deed. Heaven and hell are conventional terms which are used to explain realities. They explain the nature of the vipāka which is caused by kamma. Since both akusala kamma and kusala kamma have different degrees, akusala vipāka and kusala vipāka must have different degrees as well.

Names are given to different heavenly planes and different sorrowful planes in order to point out the different degrees of akusala vipāka and kusala vipāka. Deva, which means "radiant being," is a name given to those who are born in heavenly planes. In the Anuruddha Sutta (Middle Length Sayings III, No. 127) Anuruddha spoke about different degrees of skill in meditation which bring their results accordingly. A monk who was not advanced was reborn as a deva "with tarnished light." Those who were more advanced in meditation were reborn as devas with a greater radiance. There are different devas with different degrees of brightness.

A. I find it difficult to believe in devas and in different planes of existence.

B. You do not experience devas and different planes of existence right at this moment. But is it right to reject what you cannot experience yet? If one has right understanding of the cittas of the present moment one will be able to understand more about the past and about the future.

Rebirth-consciousness can arise in any plane of existence. When the right conditions are present a good or a bad deed which has been accumulated can produce a result, it can produce rebirth-consciousness in the appropriate plane.

A. What is the first vipāka in this life?

B. There has to be a citta at the very first moment of life. Without a citta we cannot have life. A dead body has no citta, it is not alive. What type of citta would be the first citta? Would it be an akusala citta or a kusala citta, thus a type of citta which could bring a result? Or would it be another type of citta, for example, a citta which is not a cause but a result, a vipākacitta?

A. I think it must be a vipākacitta. To be born is a result; nobody asks to be born. Why are people born with such different characters and in such different situations? Are the parents the only cause of birth and the only cause of the character of a child?

B. Parents are only one of the conditions for the body of a child, but they are not the only condition.

A. What about the character of a child? Are there not certain tendencies in a child’s character he inherits from his parents? Is this not proved by science?

B. The character of a child cannot be explained by the character of the parents. Brothers and sisters and even twins can be very different. One child likes to study, another child is lazy; one child is by nature cheerful, another depressed. Parents may have influence on a child’s character after its birth in that education, a cultural pattern or a family tradition in which a child is brought up will be conditions for cittas to arise. But a child does not inherit its character from its parents. The differentiations in character are caused by accumulations of experiences from previous existences as well.

A. Are parents not the real cause of birth?

B. Parents are only one of the conditions for birth; kamma is the real cause of birth. A deed, done in the past, brings its result when it is the right time: it can produce the vipākacitta which is rebirth-consciousness. We read in the "Discourse on the Lesser Analysis of Deeds" (Middle Length Sayings III, No. 135) that, when the Buddha was staying near Sāvatthi in the Jeta Grove, Subha came to see him and said:

    "Now, good Gotama, what is the cause, what the reason that lowness and excellence are to be seen among human beings while they are in human form? For, good Gotama, human beings of short life-span are to be seen and those of long life-span; those of many and those of few illnesses; those who are ugly, those who are beautiful; those who are of little account, those who are of great account; those who are poor, those who are wealthy; those who are of lowly families, those of high families; those who are weak in wisdom, those who are full of wisdom. Now what, good Gotama, is the cause, what the reason that lowness and excellence are to be seen among human beings while they are in human form?"

    "Deeds are one’s own, brahman youth, beings are heirs to deeds, deeds are matrix, deeds are kin, deeds are arbiters. Deed divides beings, that is to say by lowness and excellence."

A. Is rebirth in a human plane the same as reincarnation?

B. If there were reincarnation, a soul or "self" would continue to exist and it would take on another body in the next life. However, there is no soul or "self." There are cittas which succeed one another from birth to death, from this life to the next life. One citta has completely fallen away when the next citta arises. There can be only one citta at a time, and there is no citta which lasts.

Cittas arise and fall away completely, succeeding one another. Death is the conventional word for the end of one’s lifespan on a plane of existence, but actually there is birth and death at each moment of one’s life, when a citta arises and falls away. There isn’t any citta one can take for a soul or "self." Since there is no soul or "self" in this life, how could there be a soul or "self" which is reborn in the next life? The last citta of this life is the dying-consciousness. The dying-consciousness arises and falls away, and it is succeeded by the rebirth-consciousness of the next life. The rebirth-consciousness is conditioned by the previous citta, the dying-consciousness, but it is not the same citta.

A. I can see tendencies in people’s character which seem to be the same all through their lives. Moreover, there is rebirth in the next life. Therefore there must be continuity in life. However, I do not understand how there can be continuity if each citta completely falls away before the next citta arises.

B. There is continuity because each citta conditions the next citta and thus accumulated tendencies can be carried on from one moment to the next moment. All accumulations of past existences and of the present life condition future existences.

When people asked the Buddha whether it is the same person who is reborn or another person, the Buddha answered that it is neither the same person nor another person. There is nobody who stays the same, not even in this life, because there is no "self." On the other hand, it is not another person who is reborn, because there is continuity. Former existences condition this life, and this life also conditions the following lives.

A. What is the last vipāka in this life?

B. The dying-consciousness (cuti-citta) is the last vipāka in this life.

Since there are many deeds which have not yet produced a result, one of the deeds will produce rebirth-consciousness after death. As long as there is kamma there will be vipāka, continuing on and on. There will be future lives, so that the results of one’s deeds can be received.

When the dying-consciousness falls away, a deed of the past, or kamma, immediately produces a vipākacitta: the rebirth-consciousness of the next life. When the dying-consciousness has fallen away, the rebirth-consciousness follows upon it immediately, and thus all that has been accumulated is carried on from the past into the next life.

A. What causes the rebirth-consciousness of the next life?

B. Everyone has performed akusala kamma and kusala kamma. Each deed brings its own result. The vipākacitta which is the rebirth-consciousness can therefore only be the result of one deed, of akusala kamma or of kusala kamma.

A. Is birth in the human plane the result of kusala kamma?

B. Birth in the human plane is always the result of kusala kamma. Akusala vipāka which arises afterwards in life is the result of kamma that is different from the good deed that produced the rebirth-consciousness. After birth in the human plane there can be many moments of akusala vipāka, every time one experiences an unpleasant object through one of the five senses. Those moments are the result of other unwholesome deeds performed in the past.

If the rebirth-consciousness is akusala vipāka one cannot be born as a human being. The rebirth has to take place in another plane of existence, such as the animal world or one of the woeful planes like the hells or the ghost realm.

A. Can a human being be reborn as an animal?

B. Some people behave like animals, how could they be reborn as human beings? Everyone will receive the result of his deeds accordingly.

A. Is it due to one’s kamma that one is born in favourable circumstances, for instance, in a royal family or in a rich family?

B. Yes, this is due to a wholesome deed performed in the past.

A. I notice that even people who are born in the same circumstances, as for example in rich families, are very different. Some rich people are generous, others are stingy. How could this be explained?

B. People are different because they have different accumulated inclinations and tendencies which cause them to behave in different ways. We read in the sutta that I quoted above about the person who was born from rich parents, but who could not enjoy the pleasant things of life because of his accumulated stinginess. Although he had the opportunity to let other people share in his fortune he did not want to do this. Other people again who have received pleasant things in life grasp every opportunity to give things away to others. The different inclinations people have accumulated condition them to do unwholesome deeds which will bring them unpleasant results, or to do wholesome deeds which will bring them pleasant results. People take different attitudes towards vipāka. The attitude one takes towards vipāka is more important than vipāka itself, because one’s attitude conditions one’s life in the future.

A. Can kusala vipāka be a condition for happiness?

B. The things which are pleasant for the five senses cannot guarantee true and lasting happiness. Rich people who have everything that is pleasant for the five senses can still be very unhappy. For instance, when one is sitting in a beautiful garden with sweet-smelling flowers and singing birds, one can still be very depressed. At the moment one is depressed the cittas are akusala cittas. One cannot always be happy with pleasant things around. Unhappiness and happiness depend on one’s accumulations of unwholesomeness and wholesomeness.

If one feels unhappy it is due to one’s own defilements. Unpleasant feeling is conditioned by attachment. If one does not get what one wants one feels unhappy. If one has no attachment at all there would be no unhappiness. One can be perfectly happy if one is purified from defilements.

We read in the Gradual Sayings (Aṅguttara Nikāya, Book of the Threes, Ch. IV, §34, Of Alavi) that when the Buddha was staying near Alavi, Hatthaka was wandering there and saw the Buddha seated on the ground strewn with leaves. He asked the Buddha:

    "Pray, sir, does the Exalted One live happily?"

    "Yes, my lad, I live happily. I am one of those who live happily in the world."

    "But, sir, the winter nights are cold, the dark half of the month is the time of snowfall. Hard is the ground trampled by the hoofs of cattle, thin the carpet of fallen leaves, sparse are the leaves of the tree, cold are the saffron robes and cold the gale of wind that blows."

    Then said the Exalted One: "Still, my lad, I live happily. Of those who live happily in the world I am one."

The Buddha then pointed out that a man who had a house with a gabled roof, well-fitting doors, "a long-fleeced woollen rug, a beautiful bed, four beautiful wives," could have lust, malice and delusion. Defilements will cause "torments of body or of mind," defilements are the cause of unhappiness. The Buddha had eradicated all defilements completely, and thus it was not important to him whether there was akusala vipāka or kusala vipāka. He could live perfectly happy no matter what the circumstance were.

A. How can we purify ourselves so that we take the right attitude towards vipāka?

B. We can purify ourselves only if we know the cause of defilements. The cause of all defilements is ignorance. Out of ignorance we believe in a "self," we cling to a "self." Ignorance conditions attachment and aversion or anger, it causes all unhappiness in the world. Ignorance can only be cured by wisdom. In vipassanā or "insight meditation" the wisdom is developed which can gradually eradicate the belief in a "self." Only when this wrong belief has been completely eradicated can all defilements be eradicated stage by stage.

The Arahat, the perfected one who has attained the final stage of enlightenment, has eradicated all defilements. He has no more attachment, ill-will or ignorance. As he has no defilements he is perfectly happy. After he has passed away there will be no more vipāka for him in a future life, there will be no more rebirth for him.

In the "Discourse on the Analysis of the Elements" (Middle Length Sayings III, No. 140) we read that the Buddha taught Dhamma to Pukkusāti when they were staying in the potter’s dwelling. The Buddha taught him about physical phenomena and mental phenomena and he taught the mental development which leads to Arahatship. The Arahat does not cling to life. In order to describe the state of the Arahat the Buddha used the simile of the oil-lamp which burns on account of oil and wick but which goes out if the oil and wick come to an end. It is the same with the conditions for rebirth. So long as there are defilements there will be fuel for rebirth. When defilements have been eradicated completely there is no more fuel left for rebirth. The sutta goes on to say that the highest wisdom of those who have attained enlightenment is the "knowledge of the complete destruction of anguish."

The knowledge or wisdom developed in vipassanā leads to Nibbāna, which is the end of all sorrow.

.
    ...and this thought arose in the mind of the Blessed One:
    “Who lives without reverence lives miserably.”
    Uruvela Sutta, A.ii.20

    It were endless to dispute upon everything that is disputable.
    — William Penn Some Fruits of Solitude,
User avatar
Dhammanando
 
Posts: 1278
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 10:44 pm
Location: Wat Pa Mieng Khun Pang, Chiang Mai

Re: Kamma and its Ripening in the Abhidhamma

Postby mikenz66 » Tue Jan 27, 2009 4:15 am

Dear Ven Dhammanando,

I hope I don't take this discussion too far off topic, but it seems to be a good place to ask my question. Of course, the answer may already be implicit, but I'm a little slow sometimes...

As far as I can understand the Abhidhamma (and the Dependent Origination Suttas) the mechanism of kamma and its ripening "travels along" with the particular mind-stream. Intentional actions by the mindstream (currently known as "Mike") condition what happens in this and future lives of the mindstream due to the "echos" (sorry for the use of non-technical terms) of those kammas in the mindstream.

Now, the thing I stuggle with is how to tie this into what is taught in some of the Suttas.
I can see that, for example, acting like a dog could condition the mindstream for rebirth in a dog's body as in http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .nymo.html
But what about the statement in the Angulimala Sutta http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
Then Ven. Angulimala, early in the morning, having put on his robes and carrying his outer robe & bowl, went into Savatthi for alms. Now at that time a clod thrown by one person hit Ven. Angulimala on the body, a stone thrown by another person hit him on the body, and a potsherd thrown by still another person hit him on the body. So Ven. Angulimala — his head broken open and dripping with blood, his bowl broken, and his outer robe ripped to shreds — went to the Blessed One. The Blessed One saw him coming from afar and on seeing him said to him: "Bear with it, brahman! Bear with it! The fruit of the kamma that would have burned you in hell for many years, many hundreds of years, many thousands of years, you are now experiencing in the here-&-now!"

Why is this interpreted in terms of the kamma? If the kamma ripens only in his mindstream then how does it condition the throwing of clods, stones, etc, by the bodies of other mindsteams?

In an earlier post:
Dhammanando wrote:In the Theravāda most things arise due to factors other than kamma. In this regard you'll find the Theravādin account of kamma rather different from what you're likely to have learned from Tibetan sources. The Theravāda was among the Indian Buddhist schools which went for "kammic minimalism", i.e. attributing only a rather narrow range of phenomena to kamma, whereas the Tibetans derived their conception of kamma from the "kammic maximalist" schools.

So one might argue that the Theravada view could be that the people threw rocks because they didn't like Ven Angulimala. Simple cause and effect, not ripening of kamma. But that would seem to contradict the Sutta...

:shrug:

Metta
Mike
User avatar
mikenz66
 
Posts: 10414
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 7:37 am
Location: New Zealand

Re: Kamma and its Ripening in the Abhidhamma

Postby Heavenstorm » Tue Jan 27, 2009 4:49 am

Dhammanando wrote:In the Theravāda most things arise due to factors other than kamma. In this regard you'll find the Theravādin account of kamma rather different from what you're likely to have learned from Tibetan sources. The Theravāda was among the Indian Buddhist schools which went for "kammic minimalism", i.e. attributing only a rather narrow range of phenomena to kamma, whereas the Tibetans derived their conception of kamma from the "kammic maximalist" schools.


I speculate that in Theravada, the kamma is carried by the bhavanga citta from life to life, moment to moment, therefore any objects that don't have a citta cannot be described as having affected by kamma. But in Mahayana, in certain schools like Tibetan ones, I think they believe that all objects came from the mind and the external world is just a big and gigantic illusion, consequently, it can be understood why their doctrine is built upon "kamma affected everything or every objects" theory.
Heavenstorm
 
Posts: 69
Joined: Mon Jan 26, 2009 8:37 am

Re: Kamma and its Ripening in the Abhidhamma

Postby robertk » Tue Jan 27, 2009 6:30 am

mikenz66 wrote:Dear Ven Dhammanando,

I But what about the statement in the Angulimala Sutta http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
Then Ven. Angulimala, early in the morning, having put on his robes and carrying his outer robe & bowl, went into Savatthi for alms. Now at that time a clod thrown by one person hit Ven. Angulimala on the body, a stone thrown by another person hit him on the body, and a potsherd thrown by still another person hit him on the body. So Ven. Angulimala — his head broken open and dripping with blood, his bowl broken, and his outer robe ripped to shreds — went to the Blessed One. The Blessed One saw him coming from afar and on seeing him said to him: "Bear with it, brahman! Bear with it! The fruit of the kamma that would have burned you in hell for many years, many hundreds of years, many thousands of years, you are now experiencing in the here-&-now!"

Why is this interpreted in terms of the kamma? If the kamma ripens only in his mindstream then how does it condition the throwing of clods, stones, etc, by the bodies of other mindsteams?

Mike

Where does the sutta say that kamma conditioned the people to throw clods stones etc? They were doing daily chores like throwing out things and these hit the venerable 'accidently'. It is like now when one sees a beautiful girl or an ugly beggar, one seeing vipaka is the result of kusala kamma done in the past, another of an akusala kamma. But the reasons are complex as to why , at any instant, kusala or akusala vipaka should arise, who could know that except a buddha
User avatar
robertk
 
Posts: 1270
Joined: Sat Jan 03, 2009 2:08 am

Re: Kamma and its Ripening in the Abhidhamma

Postby mikenz66 » Tue Jan 27, 2009 9:04 am

Greetings Robert,

Thank you for your post. I'm afraid I may still be confused. Can I understand you to be saying that it was a result of Angulimala's kamma ripening in his mind-stream that he walked into the path of the stones, etc?

Metta
Mike
User avatar
mikenz66
 
Posts: 10414
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 7:37 am
Location: New Zealand

Re: Kamma and its Ripening in the Abhidhamma

Postby robertk » Tue Jan 27, 2009 9:15 am

mikenz66 wrote:Greetings Robert,

Thank you for your post. I'm afraid I may still be confused. Can I understand you to be saying that it was a result of Angulimala's kamma ripening in his mind-stream that he walked into the path of the stones, etc?

Metta
Mike

Thinking of kamma vipaka in a too conventional way might confuse. Yes it was primarily due to his akusala kamma of killing that those unpleasant bodily vipaka arose. But it needed many other conditions than just the kamma for the result to come about....
User avatar
robertk
 
Posts: 1270
Joined: Sat Jan 03, 2009 2:08 am

Re: Kamma and its Ripening in the Abhidhamma

Postby mikenz66 » Tue Jan 27, 2009 9:32 am

Hi Robert,

Thank you for the reply. I do understand that the complexity makes it pointless to speculate in particular cases, but what I was interested in clarifying was whether I should understand kamma to only affect the mindstream that performs it. I think you are answering in the affirmative.

Metta
Mike
User avatar
mikenz66
 
Posts: 10414
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 7:37 am
Location: New Zealand

Re: Kamma and its Ripening in the Abhidhamma

Postby Dhammanando » Tue Jan 27, 2009 9:51 am

Hi Mike,

mikenz66 wrote:Why is this interpreted in terms of the kamma? If the kamma ripens only in his mindstream then how does it condition the throwing of clods, stones, etc, by the bodies of other mindsteams?


As Robert mentioned, in the commentary it is said that the various projectiles were not deliberately aimed at Angulimala. As for the ripening, this consisted in the unwholesome resultant bodily consciousnesses accompanied by painful feeling.

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu
    ...and this thought arose in the mind of the Blessed One:
    “Who lives without reverence lives miserably.”
    Uruvela Sutta, A.ii.20

    It were endless to dispute upon everything that is disputable.
    — William Penn Some Fruits of Solitude,
User avatar
Dhammanando
 
Posts: 1278
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 10:44 pm
Location: Wat Pa Mieng Khun Pang, Chiang Mai

Re: Kamma and its Ripening in the Abhidhamma

Postby Jechbi » Tue Jan 27, 2009 4:41 pm

Hello Mike,

This answer from Ven. Dhammanando is so precise and on target that I'm reluctant to post what I have been thinking, because it doesn't add much. But here goes:

Seems to me that all the external stuff (throwing rocks, etc.) could stem from all kinds of different conditions, and we're all going to face those types of circumstances as long as we're bound to samsara. So there's probably not much point wondering why bad things happen to good people. It's just life.

But the point is that in the moment those things are happening that we perceive as "bad," we have an internal experience, followed by a reaction that usually is so quick we don't even notice the connection. But that reaction is our own, and it is possible to react from wisdom rather than from ignorance. So when the Buddha told Angulimala to bear with it, I think he was speaking to Angulimala's method of reacting to vipaka. Whereas previously, Angulimala might have reacted to that "bad" situation by killing the rock-thrower and chopping off his finger, now Angulimala could react with metta.

But the notion of kamma still works fully well. It just means that kamma and external circumstances might not be bound together in the way we sometimes think they are. That's my understanding, any way.

:smile:
Rain soddens what is kept wrapped up,
But never soddens what is open;
Uncover, then, what is concealed,
Lest it be soddened by the rain.
User avatar
Jechbi
 
Posts: 1268
Joined: Thu Jan 01, 2009 3:38 am

Re: Kamma and its Ripening in the Abhidhamma

Postby kc2dpt » Tue Jan 27, 2009 6:36 pm

Dhammanando wrote:
mikenz66 wrote:Why is this interpreted in terms of the kamma? If the kamma ripens only in his mindstream then how does it condition the throwing of clods, stones, etc, by the bodies of other mindsteams?

As for the ripening, this consisted in the unwholesome resultant bodily consciousnesses accompanied by painful feeling.

I think what's confusing about this answer is we naturally want to ask "What if Angulimala hadn't killed all those people? If the kamma didn't cause the rocks to be thrown, and the kamma didn't cause him to walk just there at just that moment, then the rocks would still be thrown and he'd still be walking there and he'd still get hit on the head... there still would be "resultant bodily consciousnesses accompanied by painful feeling".

But I suspect there is something inherently wrong with thinking in this way. Off the top of my head... if he hadn't killed all those people so many things would have been different. Perhaps he would have met the Buddha earlier in life, perhaps later, perhaps not at all. Perhaps killing brought him to that part of the country but if he took up some other occupation instead he would have been living elsewhere. My point is I suspect it's nonsensical to ask "If everything was the same except for that karma, would he still have been hit on the head with rocks?"
- Peter

Be heedful and you will accomplish your goal.
User avatar
kc2dpt
 
Posts: 956
Joined: Thu Jan 01, 2009 3:48 pm

PreviousNext

Return to Abhidhamma

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests