Kamma - [Karma] - Actions

“Kamma”[Actions] and “Kamma Vipaka”[results] is one of the main topics among Lord Buddha teachings.  Before Siddhartha[Later become Buddha] born civilization prevailed and  those settlements, within the communities people had different believe’.  Especially goods and Bads in actions. People avoid killing animals. Some they killed and reserved first part for god and ask forgiveness. People did not steel. Though there had not been married they avoid and refuse prostitution. People not lied. People did not use liquor. etc. It means people had the opinion of the hell and heaven.

Karma is the law of moral causation. The theory of Karma is a fundamental doctrine in Buddhism. This belief was prevalent in India before the advent of the Buddha. Nevertheless, it was the Buddha who explained and formulated this doctrine in the complete form in which we have it today. Either this inequality of mankind has a cause, or it is purely accidental. No sensible person would think of attributing this unevenness, this inequality, and this diversity to blind chance or pure accident.

In this world nothing happens to a person that he does not for some reason or other deserve. Usually, men of ordinary intellect cannot comprehend the actual reason or reasons. The definite invisible cause or causes of the visible effect is not necessarily confined to the present life, they may be traced to a proximate or remote past birth.

Why this inequality?

According to Buddhism, this inequality is due not only to heredity, environment, “nature and nurture”, but also to Karma. In other words, it is the result of our own past actions and our own present doings. We ourselves are responsible for our own happiness and misery. We create our own Heaven. I am the one creating  my Hell. We are the architects of our own fate. Our world is created by us as a result of our past and present actions.

Perplexed by the seemingly inexplicable, apparent disparity that existed among humanity, a young truth-seeker approached the Buddha and questioned him regarding this intricate problem of inequality:

“What is the cause, what is the reason, O Lord,” questioned he, “that we find amongst mankind the short-lived and long-lived, the healthy and the diseased, the ugly and beautiful, those lacking influence and the powerful, the poor and the rich, the low-born and the high-born, and the ignorant and the wise?”

The Buddha’s reply was:

“All living beings have actions (Karma) as their own, their inheritance, their congenital cause, their kinsman, their refuge. It is Karma that differentiates beings into low and high states.”

I am responsible for my present and future 

He then explained the cause of such differences in accordance with the law of cause and effect.

“Kamma·ssak·omhi, kamma·dāyādo, kamma·yoni, kamma·bandhu, kamma·paṭisaraṇo, Yaṃ kammaṃ karissāmi, kalyāṇaṃ vā pāpakaṃ vā, tassa dāyādo bhavissāmī ti.”

A. Kamma·ssak·omhi, – I am my own kamma,
B. Kamma·dāyādo – I am a heir to my kamma,
C. Kamma·yoni – I am born [in this life] from my kamma,
D. Kamma·bandhu – I am the kinsman of my kamma,
E. Kamma·paṭisaraṇo. – I am protected by my kamma.
D. Yaṃ kammaṃ karissāmi, – Whatever kamma·s I shall do,
E. Kalyāṇaṃ vā pāpakaṃ vā, – kalyāṇa·s [ fortunate, happy, advantageous, beautiful, pleasant, good, virtuous. Almost a synonym of kusala] or pāpaka·s[bad, evil, wicked, sinful.]
F. Tassa dāyādo bhavissāmī ti. – I shall become their heir.

This formula explicits one of the foundation stones of the Buddha’s teaching: a subjective version of the law of cause and effect, that reminds us that we have no choice but being responsible for our deeds, that we have to patiently accept and endure the results of our past deeds, whether we are able to remember them or not, and that allows us to understand that generating negativity on account of others’ deeds is completely inappropriate.

Lord Buddha had a very important discussion with his son and teach him about Kamma

Reflecting on one’s actions (The Buddha teaches his young son) – Ambalatthika-rahulovada Sutta: Instructions to Monk Rahula

[The Buddha:] “What do you think, Rahula: What is a mirror for?”

[Rahula:] “For reflection, sir.”

[The Buddha:] “In the same way, Rahula, bodily acts, verbal acts, and mental acts are to be done with repeated reflection.

“Whenever you want to perform a bodily act, you should reflect on it: ‘This bodily act I want to perform — would it lead to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both? Is it an unskillful bodily act, with painful consequences, painful results?’ If, on reflection, you know that it would lead to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both; it would be an unskillful bodily act with painful consequences, painful results, then any bodily act of that sort is absolutely unfit for you to do. But if on reflection you know that it would not cause affliction… it would be a skillful bodily action with happy consequences, happy results, then any bodily act of that sort is fit for you to do.

“While you are performing a bodily act, you should reflect on it: ‘This bodily act I am doing — is it leading to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both? Is it an unskillful bodily act, with painful consequences, painful results?’ If, on reflection, you know that it is leading to self-affliction, to affliction of others, or both… you should give it up. But if on reflection you know that it is not… you may continue with it.

You should reflect on it… If,

“Having performed a bodily act, you should reflect on it… If, on reflection, you know that it led to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both; it was an unskillful bodily act with painful consequences, painful results, then you should confess it, reveal it, lay it open to the Teacher or to a knowledgeable companion in the holy life. Having confessed it… you should exercise restraint in the future. But if on reflection you know that it did not lead to affliction… it was a skillful bodily action with happy consequences, happy results, then you should stay mentally refreshed and joyful, training day and night in skillful mental qualities.

…[similarly for verbal and mental acts]…

“Rahula, all the brahmans and contemplatives in the course of the past who purified their bodily acts, verbal acts, and mental acts, did it through repeated reflection on their bodily acts, verbal acts, and mental acts in just this way.

“All the brahmans and contemplatives in the course of the future… All the brahmans and contemplatives at present who purify their bodily acts, verbal acts, and mental acts, do it through repeated reflection on their bodily acts, verbal acts, and mental acts in just this way.

“Therefore, Rahula, you should train yourself: ‘I will purify my bodily acts through repeated reflection. I will purify my verbal acts through repeated reflection. I will purify my mental acts through repeated reflection.’ Thus you should train yourself.”  
To Read full discussion: Ambalatthika-rahulovada Sutta

5 Orders or Processes (Niyama)

According to Buddhism, there are five orders or processes (niyama) which operate in the physical and mental realms.

They are:

01. Utu Niyama

Utu Niyama physical inorganic order, e.g. seasonal phenomena of winds and rains. The unerring order of seasons, characteristic seasonal changes and events, causes of winds and rains, nature of heat, etc., all belong to this group.

02. Bija Niyama

Bija Niyama order of germs and seeds (physical organic order), e.g. rice produced from rice-seed, sugary taste from sugar-cane or honey, peculiar characteristics of certain fruits, etc. The scientific theory of cells and genes and the physical similarity of twins may be ascribed to this order.

03. Karma Niyama

Karma Niyama order of act and result, e.g., desirable and undesirable acts produce corresponding good and bad results. As surely as water seeks its own level so does Karma, given opportunity, produce its inevitable result, not in the form of a reward or punishment but as an innate sequence. This sequence of deed and effect is as natural and necessary as the way of the sun and the moon.

04. Dhamma Niyama

Dhamma Niyama order of the norm, e.g., the natural phenomena occurring at the advent of a Bodhisattva in his last birth. Gravitation and other similar laws of nature. The natural reason for being good and so forth, may be included in this group.

05. Citta Niyama

Citta Niyama order or mind or psychic law, e.g., processes of consciousness, arising and perishing of consciousness, constituents of consciousness, power of mind, etc., including telepathy, telaesthesia, retro-cognition, premonition, clairvoyance, clairaudience, thought-reading and such other psychic phenomena which are inexplicable to modern science.

Every mental or physical phenomenon could be explained by these all-embracing five orders or processes which are laws in themselves. Karma as such is only one of these five orders. Like all other natural laws they demand no lawgiver.

What is Kamma?

The Pali term Kamma literally means action or doing. Any kind of intentional action whether mental, verbal, or physical, is regarded as Kamma. It covers all that is included in the phrase “thought, word and deed”. Generally speaking, all good and bad action constitutes Karma. In its ultimate sense Kamma means all moral and immoral volition. Involuntary, unintentional or unconscious actions, though technically deeds, do not constitute Kamma, because volition, the most important factor in determining Kamma, is absent.

The Buddha says:

“I declare, O Bhikkhus, that volition is Kamma. Having willed one acts by body, speech, and thought.” (Anguttara Nikaya)

Every volitional action of individuals, save those of Buddhas and Arahants, is called Karma. The exception made in their case is because they are delivered from both good and evil; they have eradicated ignorance and craving, the roots of Karma.

No any other Creator except “I or Me or Mine”

“Destroyed are their germinal seeds (Khina bija); selfish desires no longer grow,” states the Ratana Sutta of Sutta nipata.

This does not mean that the Buddha and Arahantas are passive. They are tirelessly active in working for the real well being and happiness of all. Their deeds ordinarily accepted as good or moral, lack creative power as regards themselves. Understanding things as they truly are, they have finally shattered their cosmic fetters – the chain of cause and effect.

Karma does not necessarily mean past actions. It embraces both past and present deeds. Hence in one sense, we are the result of what we were; we will be the result of what we are. In another sense, it should be added, we are not totally the result of what we were; we will not absolutely be the result of what we are. The present is no doubt the offspring of the past and is the present of the future, but the present is not always a true index of either the past or the future; so complex is the working of Karma.

Kamma and Vipaka

Karma is action, and Vipaka, fruit or result, is its reaction.

Just as every object is accompanied by a shadow, even so every volitional activity is inevitably accompanied by its due effect. Karma is like potential seed: Vipaka could be likened to the fruit arising from the tree – the effect or result. Anisamsa and Adinaya are the leaves, flowers and so forth that correspond to external differences such as health, sickness and poverty – these are inevitable consequences, which happen at the same time. Strictly speaking, both Karma and Vipaka pertain to the mind.

What is the cause of Kamma?

Ignorance (avijja), or not knowing things as they truly are, is the chief cause of Karma. Dependent on ignorance arise activities (avijja paccaya samkhara) states the Buddha in the Paticca Samuppada (Dependent Origination).

Associated with ignorance is the ally craving (tanha), the other root of Karma. Evil actions are conditioned by these two causes. All good deeds of a worldling (putthujana), though associated with the three wholesome roots of generosity (alobha), goodwill (adosa) and knowledge (amoha), are nevertheless regarded as Karma because the two roots of ignorance and craving are dormant in him. The moral types of Supramundane Path Consciousness (magga citta) are not regarded as Karma because they tend to eradicate the two root causes.

Who is the doer of Karma?
Who reaps the fruit of Karma?
Does Karma mould a soul?

In answering these subtle questions, the Venerable Buddhaghosa writes in the Visuddhi Magga:

“No doer is there who does the deed;
Nor is there one who feels the fruit;
Constituent parts alone roll on;
This indeed! Is right discernment.”

For instance, the table we see is apparent reality. In an ultimate sense the so-called table consists of forces and qualities. For the understanding need to learn more in Abhidharmma, Chittha -01[89 or 121 in Action], Chethisika -52, Rupa-28, Nibbana – 01 and these are called ultimate realities. 

 

Kamma
Kamma

Classification of Kamma

(A) With respect to different functions, Kamma is classified into four kinds:

01. REPRODUCTIVE KAMMA[Janaka Kamma] 

Every birth is conditioned by a past good or bad karma, which predominated at the moment of death. Karma that conditions the future birth is called Reproductive Karma. The death of a person is merely ‘a temporary end of a temporary phenomenon’. Though the present form perishes, another form which is neither the same nor absolutely different takes its place, according to the potential thought-vibration generated at the death moment, because the Karmic force which propels the life-flux still survives. It is this last thought, which is technically called Reproductive (janaka) Karma, that determines the state of a person in his subsequent birth. This may be either a good or bad Karma.

According to the Commentary, Reproductive Karma is that which produces mental aggregates and material aggregates at the moment of conception. The initial consciousness, which is termed the patisandhi rebirth consciousness, is conditioned by this Reproductive (janaka) Karma. Simultaneous with the arising of the rebirth-consciousness, there arise the ‘body-decad’, ‘sex-decad’ and ‘base-decad’ (kaya-bhavavatthu dasakas). (decad = 10 factors).

(a) The body-decad is composed of:

01. Patawi – The element of extension 
02. Apo – The element of cohesion 
03. Thejo – The element of heat 
04. Vayo – The element of motion 

(b) The four derivatives (upadana rupa):

01. Vanna – Colour .
02. Gandha – Odour 
03. Rasa – Taste 
04. Oja – Nutritive Essence 

These eight (mahabhuta 4 + upadana 4 = 8) are collectively called Avinibhoga Rupa (indivisible form or indivisible matter). [Shuddhashtakaya]

(c) Vitality (jivitindriya) and Body (kaya)

These (avinibhoga 8 + jivitindriya 1 + Kaya 1 = 10) ten are collectively called “Body-decad” = (Kaya dasaka).

Sex-decad and Base-decad also consist of the first nine, sex (bhava) and seat of consciousness (vathu) respectively (i.e. eye, ear, nose, tongue, and body).

From this, it is evident that the sex of a person is determined at the very conception of a being. It is conditioned by Karma and is not a fortuitous combination of sperm and ovum cells. The Pain and Happiness one experiences in the course of one’s lifetime are the inevitable consequence of Reproductive Kamma.

02. SUPPORTIVE KARMA[Upasthambaka Karma]

That which comes near the Reproductive (janaka) Kamma and supports it. It is neither good nor bad and it assists or maintains the action of the Reproductive (janaka) Karma in the course of one’s lifetime. Immediately after conception till the death moment this Karma steps forward to support the Reproductive Karma. A moral supportive (kusala upathambhaka) Karma assists in giving health, wealth, happiness etc. to the being born with a moral Reproductive Karma. An immoral supportive Karma, on the other hand, assists in giving pain, sorrow, etc. to the being born with an immoral reproductive (akusala janaka) Karma, as for instance to a beast of burden.

03. OBSTRUCTIVE KAMMA OR COUNTERACTIVE KARMA[Upapidaka Karma]

Which, unlike the former, tends to weaken, interrupt and retard the fruition of the Reproductive Karma. For instance, a person born with a good Reproductive Karma may be subject to various ailments etc., thus preventing him from enjoying the blissful results of his good actions. An animal, on the other hand, who is born with a bad Reproductive Karma may lead a comfortable life by getting good food, lodging, etc., as a result of his good counteractive or obstructive (upapidaka) Karma preventing the fruition of the evil Reproductive Karma.

04. DESTRUCTIVE  KAMMA[Upaghataka Kamma]

According to the law of Karma the potential energy of the Reproductive Karma could be nullified by a mere powerful opposing Karma of the past, which, seeking an opportunity, may quite unexpectedly operate, just as a powerful counteractive force can obstruct the path of a flying arrow and bring it down to the ground. Such an action is called Destructive (upaghataka) Karma, which is more effective than the previous two in that it is not only obstructive but also destroys the whole force. This Destructive Karma also may be either good or bad.

As an instance of operation of all the four, the case of Devadatta, who attempted to kill the Buddha and who caused a schism in the Sangha (disciples of the Buddha) may be cited. His good Reproductive Karma brought him birth in a royal family. His continued comfort and prosperity were due to the action of the Supportive Karma. The Counteractive or Obstructive Karma came into operation when he was subject to much humiliation as a result of his being excommunicated from the Sangha. Finally the Destructive Karma brought his life to a miserable end.

(B) There is another classification of Kamma, according to the priority of effect:

01. WEIGHTY KAMMA[Garuka Kamma].

This is either weighty or serious – may be either good or bad. It produces its results in this life or in the next for certain. If good, it is purely mental as in the case of Jhana (ecstasy or absorption). Otherwise it is verbal or bodily. On the Immoral side, there are five immediate effective heinous crimes (pancanantariya karma): Matricide, Patricide, and the murder of an Arahant, the wounding of a Buddha and the creation of a schism in the Sangha. Permanent Scepticism (Niyata Micchaditthi) is also termed one of the Weighty (garuka) Karmas.

If, for instance, any person were to develop the jhana (ecstasy or absorption) and later were to commit one of these heinous crimes, his good Karma would be obliterated by the powerful evil Karma. His subsequent birth would be conditioned by the evil Karma in spite of his having gained the jhana earlier. Devadatta lost his psychic power and was born in an evil state, because he wounded the Buddha and caused a schism in the Sangha.

King Ajatasattu would have attained the first stage of Sainthood (Sotapanna) if he had not committed patricide. In this case the powerful evil Karma acted as an obstacle to his gaining Sainthood.

02. PROXIMATE  KARMA OR DEATH-PROXIMATE KARMA[Asanna Kamma]

This is that which one does or remembers immediately before the moment of dying. Owing to the great part it plays in determining the future birth, much importance is attained to this deathbed (asanna) Karma in almost all Buddhist countries. The customs of reminding the dying man of good deeds and making him do good acts on his deathbed still prevails in Buddhist countries.

Sometimes a bad person may die happily and receive a good birth if he remembers or does a good act at the last moment. A story runs that a certain executioner who casually happened to give some alms to the Venerable Sariputta remembered this good act at the dying moment and was born in a state of bliss. This does not mean that although he enjoys a good birth he will be exempt from the effects of the evil deeds which he accumulated during his lifetime. They will have there due effect as occasions arise.

At times a good person may die unhappy by suddenly remembering an evil act of his or by harbouring some unpleasant thought, perchance compelled by unfavourable circumstances. In the scriptures, Queen Mallika, the consort of King Kosala, remembering a lie she had uttered, suffered for about seven days in a state of misery when she lied to her husband to cover some misbehaviour.

These are exceptional cases. Such reverse changes of birth account for the birth of virtuous children to vicious parents and of vicious children to virtuous parents. As a result of the last thought moment being conditioned by the general conduct of the person.

03. HABITUAL KARMA[[Achinna Kamma]

It is that which on habitually performs and recollects and for which one has a great liking. Habits whether good or bad becomes ones second nature, tending to form the character of a person. At unguarded moments one often lapses into one’s habitual mental mindset. In the same way, at the death-moment, unless influenced by other circumstances, one usually recalls to mind one’s habitual deeds.

Cunda, a butcher, who was living in the vicinity of the Buddha’s monastery, died yelling like an animal because he was earning his living by slaughtering pigs. King Dutthagamini of Ceylon (Sri Lanka) was in the habit of giving alms to the Bhikkhus (monks) before he took his own meals. It was his habitual Karma that gladdened him at the dying moment and gave him birth in the Tusita heaven.

04. RESERVE OR CUMULATIVE KARMA[Kataththa Kamma]

This literally means ‘because done’. All actions that are not included in the aforementioned and those actions soon forgotten belong to this category. This is, as it were the reserve fund of a particular being.

(C) There is another classification of Karma according to the time in which effects are worked out:

01. IMMEDIATELY EFFECTIVE KARMA [Ditthadhammavedaniya Kamma].

Immediately Effective Karma is that which is experienced in this present life. According to the Abhidhamma one does both good and evil during the javana process (thought-impulsion), which usually lasts for seven thought-moments. The effect of the first thought-moment, being the weakest, one may reap in this life itself. This is called the Immediately Effective Karma.

02. SUBSEQUENTLY EFFECTIVE KARMA [Uppapajjavedaniya Karma]

The next weakest is the seventh thought-moment. Its effect one may reap in the subsequence birth. This is called ‘Subsequently Effective’ Karma.

03. INDEFINITELY EFFECTIVE KARMA [Aparapariyavedaniya Karma].

If it does not operate in the second birth. The effect of the intermediate thought-moments may take place at any time until one attains Nibbana. This type of Karma is known as ‘Indefinitely Effective’ Karma.

No one, not even the Buddhas and Arahantas, is exempt from this class of Karma which one may experience in the course of one’s wandering in Samsara. There is no special class of Karma known as Defunct or Ineffective, but when such actions that should produce their effects in this life or in a subsequent life do not operate, they are termed Defunct or Ineffective Karma

04. DEFUNCT OR INEFFECTIVE KARMA [Ahosi Karma]

If it does not operate in this life, or in next life or till you become Arahanth and end your life Journey it is called ‘Defunct or Ineffective’ Karma. It means it is not effected and neutral. 

(D) The last classification of Karma is according to the plane in which the effect takes place, namely:

01. Evil Actions (akusala kamma):

which may ripen in the sentient planes (kammaloka). (Six celestial planes plus one human plane plus four woeful planes = eleven kamaloka planes.) Here are only four woeful kamalokas.

02. Good Actions (kusala kamma):

which may ripen in the sentient planes except for the four woeful planes.

03. Good Actions (kusala kamma):

which may ripen in the Realm of Form (rupa brahamalokas). There are four Arupa Brahma Lokas as well.:

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