mettafuture wrote:I know this is a bit off topic, but what's one of the insights you came across in the Anguttara Nikaya?
Well, since it's your thread and your choice of topic, I see no harm.
One of the first suttas I came across that made a giant impression on me was outside of having read the Anguttara
. It was a quotation from
in another book about Buddhism. And as many here might be able to attest, having already experienced the cynical world of religious politics in real life, it came as a breath of fresh air during a very crucial time in my life. As with many things in life context was everything, and the context of that moment was very poignant. I was a monk and priest in a contemplative western religion order at the time, and was reconsidering my options regarding the road to realization. This was before I even knew there was
an Anguttara Nikaya
. I, however, had always been impressed with what I had read about Buddhism while studying in college, and this was just another — and as it turned out very important — instance of that. It actually was one of two key factors in helping me to arrive at a very critical personal decision. The other key factor had been a quotation by Jiddhu Krishnamurti that I came upon just before having read the passage from the Anguttara
and at about this same time.
The time was this same time of year, the Fall of 1989. I was thirty-seven, and becoming disillusioned with the organization I was with as well as the man who was leading it, my religious superior and the person directly in charge of my training. The passage I read was a famous one from the Kalamas Sutta
. The person it described (the Buddha) was an ideal that I had until then not been able to come across in my life. When I read that passage, I knew instantly that I had to make some changes in the course of my life, and that they were not going to be easy changes given the circumstances I was in at the time. The man I read about in that passage was nothing like
the real life person I was tied to in the religious order. Talk about confronting cetana
(volition) and sankharas
(mental volitions) and having to transform them.
Anyway, I'm sure many other people have been impressed by that same sutta from the Anguttara
. As such, it is something that many of us can relate to, and therefore is not all that obscure. So, I will locate another to talk about that isn't perhaps so widely known.
There is a sutta toward the end of the book (in the Chapter of the Tens) that was particularly helpful in my understanding and defining of kamma. I don't know the traditional Pali name of the sutta because the edition I have doesn't give that designation. The English name given is "The Extinction of Kamma," and it is at AN X.206. It was the opening paragraph of this translated sutta and the footnote to it that particularly struck me.
I declare, monks, that actions willed, performed and accumulated will not become extinct as long as their results have not been experienced, be it in this life, in the next life or in subsequent future lives. And as long as these results of actions willed, performed and accumulated have not been experienced, there will be no making an end to suffering, I declare.
70. On the threefold ripening of kamma, see Text 24 and Ch. III, n. 13. The Buddha's statement — that there is no making an end to suffering without experiencing the results of all actions performed — must be understood with the reservation (which AA makes explicit in connection with "kamma ripening in future lives") that reference is to "kamma that is actually capable of yielding a kammic result" (vipakarahakamma). But under certain circumstances kamma can be annulled by a counteractive or destructive kamma, and the arahant, by terminating the conditions for rebirth, extinguishes the potential for ripening of all his past kamma. The statement in our text must also be understood in the light of the following sutta passage: "If one says that in whatever way a person performs a kammic action, in that very same way he will experience the result — in that case there will be no (possibility for) the holy life, and no opportunity would appear for making a complete end to suffering. But if one says that a person who performs a kammic action (with a result) that is variably experienceable, will reap its result accordingly — in that case there will be (a possibility for) the holy life, and an opportunity would appear for making a complete end to suffering" (AN III, 110).
That last sentence highlighted above was a great relief and burden off my shoulders at the time. It also told me that the possibility for the result of kamma is dependent on one's present-time frame of reference (i.e. in this very
moment) and not
on some ontological (metaphysical) inevitability. Thus, with wisdom (the ending of ignorance about what kamma is
) and with mindfulness on this established, one never need be overly concerned about the results of past kamma. This last has to do with the development of Right View, which is ever so important in the process of the ending of suffering.
"The gift of truth exceeds all other gifts" — Dhammapada, v. 354 Craving XXIV