The Answer to Life
Why are we born? A question difficult to answer since we were all born into this world in ignorance. We do not know why we were born rich, poor, handicapped, beautiful, ugly, etc. Besides being born ignorant, we also do not know when we shall die, how we shall die and where we would go after death. Everyone lives in ignorance, even of what life is. A considerable number of psychologists and scientists try to explain the meaning of the word 'life' and to understand life. They also attempt to comprehend the reason, the incentive or the determining factor, for various human behaviors, and to form theories from distinct perspectives on life to explain human behavior. Actually, the answer to human life is given in Buddhism. Unfortunately, very few people are interested enough to seriously study the religion.
Most Buddhists are not interested in the detailed study of the dhamma because they think it too difficult to understand. On the other hand, some Buddhists, especially those highly educated, mistake the dhamma for something easy which can be guessed at or thought up by each individual, without having to study conscientiously to understand. They think that the teachings are those that teach people to do good and refrain from bad deeds like the teachings of other religions. Therefore they do not take an interest in studying the dhamma because they believe that they are already good, satisfied with what they are, intending no harm to anyone, jealous of none, without unhappiness, a fine member of society. Why would they need to study the dhamma?
Since they are not interested in studying the dhamma (which is the truth about life the Buddha was enlightened in and which he manifested to worldly creatures living in darkness so they too could understand), they would not be able to understand the truth that is there, nor would they be able to find the answer to their lives. On the contrary, when anyone has had the opportunity to study Buddhism in detail, he would be able to realize then that this was reality and the answer to life.
Buddhism is a matter of causes and results. Nothing ever happens out of thin air, or by chance. Everything that arises has conditions that cause it to. The Venerable Assaji manifested the dhamma to the Venerable Sariputta, saying that 'All dhamma arise from causes,' which means that all are born different because each has performed distinct causes or kamma. The kamma already performed would be causes for various physiques, features, and complexions, with certain good or bad characters. These very kamma already done are the causes of good or bad fortune, good or bad social status, happiness or unhappiness, and praise or blame. You could only understand all this after you have studied the dhamma conscientiously. The Abhidhamma is the teachings about realities that truly exist. In other words, it is the sacca-dhamma. The Sammasambuddha the arahanta had accumulated the parami (omnipotent qualities) for all of four asankheyya and a hundred thousand kappa for this enlightenment of sacca-dhamma or the truth about all things. Therefore the truth in which he was enlightened is not simple. Anyone who thinks that the dhamma is easy and could be understood without studying it is wrong and being contemptuous of the Buddha's supreme panna. Even the Buddha, when he was just enlightened, was not inclined towards teaching worldly creatures because of the intricacy and depth of the dhamma he had been enlightened in, which is so difficult for others to realize likewise. However, those who have accumulated panna would be able to examine or prove the dhamma he manifested according to the strength of their own panna. As said in the introduction to the Tipitaka edited by Mahamakut Buddhist University, the dhamma in which he was enlightened is profound and difficult for others to also realize. It is intricately peaceful, not experienced through thinking, refined, to be experienced by the erudite scholar.
What is kamma?
Kamma is action consisting of cetana cetasika (intention, volition) that are either kusala (good, wholesome) or akusala (bad, kilesa). It causes the performing of kusala or akusala kamma physically, verbally or mentally. Once the kusala or akusala kamma has been performed, it would become paccaya for the appropriate results to arise. The kamma could result during the same lifetime as the deed done, as well as bear fruit in the next life or the following ones. Not all kamma would bring results during the lifetime in which the kamma was performed, because the kamma could persist in bringing results as long as the results has not yet or only partially arisen. This is because kamma would be accumulated in each instant of citta that arise and fall away in continuation.
After we have conscientiously studied Buddhism and begun to know more about the citta we would know which instant of citta is a cause (kusala and akusala citta), which receives the results (vipaka-citta) of kusala or akusala kamma already performed. Instead of thinking humans have a soul and a body as before, and that the soul is extinguished when life is over, after a more thorough study of the dhamma, we would better understand that the citta is a reality that experiences, the character of knowing, and that it arises and falls away in a very swift, continuous stream. This is because the citta has the characteristics of anantarapaccaya: the dhamma that is citta is paccaya for other citta, with the power of anantarapaccaya, or the preceding citta would be paccaya for the succeeding citta with the power of anantara paccaya. Which is to say that, this very citta that had just arisen and then rapidly fallen away would be paccaya for a new citta to arise, ceaselessly, in continuation. Only when we are able to develop panna to the point that it can abandon all akusala-dhamma (which means the attainment of arahantship to become the arahanta ariya puggala) would the kusala-dhamma also end.Then when the cuti-citta of the arahanta, which is the last citta in samsara for the person, arises, there will be no more cause for any subsequent citta to arise in the least. The cuti-citta of the arahanta is not an anantarapaccaya, but manifests the end of samsara without any further cycles of births and deaths.
The causes of kamma.
In the Suttantapitaka, Anguttaranikaya Chakkanipata 9 Nidanasutta about akusala- and kusala-mula there is a passage:
(310) Behold bhikkhu: What are the three causes of kamma (akusala-kamma)? They are lobha, dosa and moha. Behold bhikkhu: Deva, humans or any of the sugati beings would certainly not result from kamma arising from lobha, dosa and moha. Hell, animal, pittivisaya and any dugati birth would result from kamma that arise from lobha, dosa and moha. Behold bhikkhu: These are the three causes of kamma.
Behold bhikkhu: These are the three causes of kamma (kusala kamma). What are they? Alobha, adosa, and amoha. Hell, animal, pittivisaya and any dugati birth would certainly not result from kamma that arise from alobha, adosa and amoha. Deva, humans or any of the sugati beings would certainly result from kamma arising from alobha, adosa and amoha. Behold bhikkhu: These are the three causes of kamma (the three akusala hetu are lobha, dosa and moha).
The Sammasambuddha the arahanta had manifested the six hetu that are causes for various actions as follows: There are three causes for doing bad deeds (akusala-kamma); these hetu are the roots that cause the akusala-kamma to develop and flourish. They consist of lobha (attachment), dosa (aversion) and moha (ignorance). And there are three causes for good actions (kusala-kamma) which are the roots that cause the kusala-kamma to develop and flourish. They consist of alobha (detachment, generosity), adosa (non-aversion, metta) and amoha (right view about realities).
How does lobha cause akusala kamma?
Lobha is desire, covetousness and attachment, which is each person's state of mind at this instant. Those who had not conscientiously studied the dhamma would not know that to live normal daily lives, eating, bathing, dressing, conversing, watching a movie and listening to music, which are ordinary occurrences, is also a kind of lobha. This does not trouble, hurt or harm anyone, but is lobha by nature, or by being attachment, desire to do something. This is lobha of the refined kind, the truth about which we would never have known had the Buddha not manifested. In reality our citta evolve with lobha almost all the time. We are only conscious of the characteristics of lobha only when it is strong, for example when we want something very badly, then we would feel the passion, the ardent desire to possess. The self causes all to seek things that please them. When they covet something beyond their rightful means those with very strong lobha would resort to dishonesty. Or the extremely rich who could not have enough but continue to want more, endlessly. This insatiable need is the cause for dishonesty physically (stealing, corruption, robbing) verbally (lying) and mentally (to want, to plan robbery and corruption).
Does anyone see one's own lobha? Everyone knows only the term lobha, but none know the actual lobha. This is because we are accustomed to and enjoy having lobha. We have infinite desires (lobha). We want to have this and that, to be rich and powerful. As long as there is breath, we would accumulate needs (lobha) in the citta. Even when we die we want to go to heaven, which is why to abandon lobha is exceedingly difficult. The Buddha in his omniscient enlightenment knew that this very lobha is the cause of dukkha (samudaya-sacca), the cause for the rounds of wandering rebirths in samsara-vatta of worldly creatures.
How does dosa cause acts of akusala kamma?
Dosa is the state of the citta that is coarse, rough, and mean. There are several levels of dosa, milder dosa are feelings of irritation, displeasure, intolerance, and annoyance. When there is much dosa we would cry, show signs of aggression. If the dosa is strong we could hurt ourselves or others. It is a vicious, coarse and rough state of the citta, when the physical and verbal expressions would be crude and unsightly, for example, manifest hurtful, harsh expressions, and if the dosa were very strong there could be physically harming (hitting, beating) others or even killing.
Lobha is the cause for dosa, that is to say, one has dosa when one does not get what one wants. Many people see the harm of dosa: they know that dosa is bad and do not want to have dosa. This is impossible since to be able to abandon dosa one must already have abandoned lobha. When we are able to abandon lobha, then we would be able to abandon dosa. Does anyone want to abandon lobha? Who does not wish to have money, social status, good cars, beautiful houses? Evidently, it is impossible for normal people like us to abandon lobha. Since lobha cannot be abandoned, neither could dosa. The only ones who are able to abandon lobha are those who have attained the supreme dhamma of the anagami level.
Another paccaya for the arising of lobha is moha or ignorance and misunderstanding of the dhamma. If one is ignorant in matters of kamma, vipaka, causes and results, dosa could easily arise when some bad or displeasing arammana comes into contact. For example such events as seeing someone whose conduct we do not approve of, or hearing the honking of some cars trailing ours, or having bad tasting food, are all things that happen normally in daily life, causing irritation. Some might be able to contain dosa and manifest it physically or verbally thereby causing subsequent considerable affairs.
How does moha cause acts of akusala kamma?
Moha is ignorance, misunderstanding and not knowing realities as they really are. Moha is the reality that arises with all akusala citta. It is because we do not know the truth that we are attached and covetous, that we get angry and perform all sorts of akusala kamma that are dishonest. In ignorance we perform kusala kamma (void of panna) and take realities for the self, entities and people. Since there is the self, there is attachment to the self and selfishness. Hence various actions to please the self, by doing all kinds of dishonest deeds to find happiness, without knowing the truth that happiness is minute and fleeting. It arises and falls away according to causes and conditions, while the heart must be tortured and restless with its own infinite lobha.
No matter how much money or social status, it is never enough for lobha.
Those who are slaves to lobha would endeavor to do anything to have a lot of money, titles and situations. Having gotten them, they struggle to have more. When they get what they want they become over confident, and when they do not they are unhappy, tormented. As long as they are ignorant of realities as they truly are (moha), and there is the self buried firmly embedded, never having studied the dhamma to attenuate the wrong view of the self, there is no way to abandon lobha, dosa, and moha in the least. Only panna (mindfulness of realities as they really are) could abandon lobha, dosa and moha.
'Ignorant people would perform acts arising from lobha, dosa and moha.
Whatever little or great kamma performed by ignorant people
Would bring results to the persons themselves,
Not any other recipients.
Thus the wise bhikkhu would abandon lobha, dosa and moha,
Cause vijja (wisdom) to arise, thereby abandoning all dugati.
The three kusala hetu are
- adosa and
Alobha is non-covetousness, non-attachment, and generosity, giving for the good of others: for example to donate to charitable organizations or to give assistance to others.
Adosa is friendliness towards others, helping those in need, the state of the citta that means no harm to others.
Amoha is panna, the right understanding right view of realities that appear as they really are.
The Buddha classified the basis for the development of kusala into three categories namely:
- Dana is the kusala citta that evolves with others' well being, consisting of donating things. Other than giving objects, there are other aspects of dana, such as giving advice, helping others in their duties, and forgiveness etc.
- Sila is appropriate and honest physical and verbal behavior.
- Bhavana is the development of panna through constantly studying, considering the teachings, and reasoning. Those with much panna, would have to be one who has listened, read and studied a lot, reasoning and applying the dhamma in order to polish away kilesa.
Kusala is the state of the citta that is good, clear and harmless both for others and for oneself. The citta that is kusala would be characterized by goodness, such as good actions which are causes for good results (vipaka).
Kusala kamma is the action that causes happiness, harmlessness, which is classified not only as the three general categories, but also in detail, as the ten kusala kammapatha or punna-kiriya-vatthu.
Since there is still wrong view mistaking realities as animals, people, the selves or some object or other, everyone would perform good or bad kamma hoping to be happy in either this or the next lifetimes. For example they perform kusala (make merits, giving dana) because they wish to have the results of the good kamma as compensation. When they do bad deeds such as be dishonest, corrupt or to embezzle people, they wish to get a large amount of money to procure happiness with.
The Buddha manifested that our nearest enemy is our own kilesa, as seen in the following passage in the Malasutta:
 Behold Bhikkhu: These three akusala dhamma are internal defilements (defilements of the citta), not friends, enemies, executioners, and adversaries. They are lobha (attachments), dosa (thoughts of harming) and moha (wrong view). These three are internal defilements (defilements of the citta), not friends, enemies, executioners, and adversaries.
Knowing this would we still be angry with or hold a grudge against those who cause us trouble?
If we are still angry and wish them harm we would create more new kamma which would be cause for more results as dukkha, harm in the future. But if we understand and do not think of returning the offense, that harm would be repressed and out lives would certainly be happier.
In the Vinaya Pitaka, Mahavagga, part 2 Kosambikhandhaka, Verupasamagatha the Buddha said to the bhikkhu:
'Whoever begrudges that another insulted him, hit him, beat him at something, had taken something from him, the bad actions would not end.
While whoever does not begrudge that another insulted him, hit him, beat him at something, had taken something from him, the bad actions would end peacefully. All the harm in the world has never been repressed by other harm, but by non vengefulness. This dhamma is of old.'
The Result of Kamma
Nowadays many people begin not to believe that 'to do good is to get good results, to do bad is to get bad results'. Some people believe that 'kamma brings no results or after death there is no rebirth'. Without studying the dhamma or the truth in detail one might be inclined to think the same way, that 'where are the bad people who receive bad results? Plenty of bad people get good things,' 'There are no results of kamma, and when you die all is void.' Because of these beliefs, many people are discouraged from doing good, but the following passage may bring confidence that 'to do good is to get good results, to do bad is to get bad results' and that 'the results of kamma are real, we must be reborn again to receive them' for sure. This is because the citta is the reality that accumulates kamma and kilesa and pass them on to the next citta continuously, until the kamma bears fruit (as vipaka citta). For example, when we are able to steal something without anyone knowing about it, we might think that we have gotten away with it because we were not caught. But as said earlier, the citta is the reality that transfers kamma and kilesa, and the kamma already performed (the act of stealing done) must bring results. We might lose some assets in some improbable manner, for example, always lose your investments, get robbed, have property stolen, etc.
Therefore from now on we should not be preoccupied with whether those who practice corruption, or embezzling politicians, would get away with the dishonest deeds. The study of kamma would make us certain that the kamma will certainly bring results. Even if the kamma does not bring immediate results in this lifetime, it is able to pursue to give results at the appropriate occasion, in future lifetimes, transcending space and time. If in the present life the person still has payoga-sampatti or the proficiency in exercising his profession, cleverness in negotiations and procuring profits, and in devising schemes to advance to high positions, his success comes from his former good deeds which are still giving results. The new bad deeds must wait for the occasion to produce results in the meantime, whenever the results of the good kamma ends, then he is sure to receive the results of the bad deeds, sooner or later.
Those who do bad deeds usually do not believe in kamma bringing results as long as the bad kamma hasn't caused results. Since the old kusala kamma hasn't yet ended bearing fruit, they become over confident that there are no results to bad kamma, there are no future lifetimes and no matter how bad the kamma, there will be not results. This is because they do not believe in continuous rebirth.
On the other hand, those who had performed good deeds pray that they would bring results quickly. When the good results have not yet arisen, they feel discouraged, hopeless, and think also that there are no results to the good deeds either.
In the Dhammapadatthakatha, the Commentary of Khuddakanikaya, Gathadhammapada, Papavaggavannana says:
'When kamma brings results, the foolish would correctly see'
When the Buddha taught the millionaire and the deva about the efficiency of vipaka from good and bad kamma, he said,
'Behold, householder: Those who perform bad deeds in this world would think them good as long as the bad deeds have not brought results.
'But when their bad deeds bear fruit, they would see that bad deeds are truly evil.
'Contrarily, those who perform good deeds would see think that they are bad so long as the good kamma has not yet brought results. But when their good deeds bear fruit, they would see that good deeds are truly good.'
In the Manorathapurani, the Commentary of Anguttara-nikaya, Tikanipata, Nidana Sutta, kamma is categorized in several ways: 11 kamma according to the Suttantika-pariyaya, 16 kamma according to the Abhidhamma, and 12 kamma according to the Patisambhidamagga. Roughly speaking there would be remain three types of kamma, namely:
- Dittha-dhamma-vedaniya-kamma: The kamma that brings results in this lifetime.
- Uppajja-vedaniya-kamma: The kamma that brings results in the next lifetime.
- Aparapariyaya-vedaniya-kamma: The kamma that brings results in the following lifetimes.
The 16 kinds of Kamma according to the Abhidhamma comprise 8 kusala kamma and 8 akusala kamma. For the kusala kamma to bear fruit it depends on sampatti and vipatti of the gati (birth in the right place), upadhi (physical attributes), kala (the right time or age) and payoga (efficiency at work), namely:
Gati-sampatti or birth in a good plane, for example in heaven, thereby receiving uniquely good, pleasant arammana, while there. Heaven is the bhumi (place) where only the results of kusala kamma is received, the bad kamma could not bring results yet. Only after the results of the kusala kamma that caused birth in heaven is gone and the occasion arises for akusala kamma to bring results, would that person be immediately born in apaya bhumi (hell planes) to receive the results of past akusala kamma.
Gati-vipatti or birth in hell where only the results of past bad kamma are received all through the time there. No matter how much good deeds one has done they would be unable to bring results but must wait until one has left that world in order to bring results. This is the result of gati-vipatti. (Other than the hell bhumi there are also the worlds of peta asurakaya and animal.)
Upadhi-sampatti is to be born with an well formed body which affords more opportunity to receive more results of kusala kamma than those born handicapped.
Upadhi-vipatti is to be born with an handicapped body which affords more opportunity to receive more results of akusala kamma than kusala kamma.
Kala-sampatti is to be born in the period when the land is peaceful and pleasant, with more opportunity for to receive results of kusala kamma than that of akusala kamma.
Kala-vipatti is to be born in the period when the land is in disaster, famine and ruination (kala-vipatti), with more opportunity for to receive results of akusala kamma than that of kusala kamma.
Payoga-sampatti is to have professional proficiency, which would condone to receiving the results of kusala kamma more than akusala kamma.
Payoga-vipatti is to have no professional proficiency, which would condone to receiving the results of akusala kamma more than kusala kamma.
There are several examples in the Tipitaka of kamma bringing results. For example in the Sutta Pitaka and the Commentaries, Vimanavatthu (on the result of akusala causing birth as peta) and in the Khuddakanikaya apadana (on the result of kusalakamma in the past lives if the ariya-savaka).
The following are examples from the Dhammapadatthakatha, commentary of the Khuddakanikaya Papavaggavannana, where the Buddha manifested to the buddhist order the pubba-kamma that causes entities and people to receive diverse bad vipaka:
First story: A group of bhikkhu on their way to an audience with the Buddha saw burning grass rising up in the air and wrapping around a flying crow's neck, burning and killing it so that it fell dead to the ground. Upon entering his audience, they asked the Buddha about the kamma that caused such accidents.
The Buddha manifested the pubba-kamma of the crow thus:
Bhikkhu: The crow received the result of very kamma that it had performed. In the past, there was a farmer in Varanasi tried to train his ox, but could not do it, because the ox would walk a few steps and then lay down. Even after he had beaten it and made it get up and walk a few steps, it would lay down again. The farmer could not train the ox even though he tried, so anger overcame him and he said, 'You can lie happily from now on' and wrapped hay around its neck (…) and lit the fire, burning the ox to death there. Bhikkhu, akusala kamma done by the crow resulted in his burning in hell for an eternity and was born a crow being burnt in midair 7 times with the remaining vipaka.
Second story: While seven Bhikkhu were traveling to have an audience with the Buddha, they stopped to rest in a cave, when a stone slab moved and closed the mouth of the cave, so they had to go without food or water for as long as seven days. Upon entering his audience, they asked about their kamma.
The Buddha manifested the pubba-kamma (past kamma) of the seven Bhikkhu thus:
Bhikkhu, even you have received the results of past kamma. For in the past, seven ox keeper boys in Varanasi traveled with their herd on seven day rounds near the forest. One day after herding the cows they came upon a big monitor lizard and gave chase. The monitor escaped into a termite hill which had seven holes. The boys decided that they would not be able to catch it that day, but the next day they will come back to catch it so they each broke a handful of branches and stopped the holes and went away. The next morning they forgot about the monitor and herded their cows to other places. On the seventh day they returned with their cows to the termite hill and remembered, wondering, 'How is the monitor?' so they opened the holes they had closed. The monitor, having lost all hope of survival, was all skin and bones, and crawled trembling out. Upon seeing this the boys took pity and said, 'Let's not kill it, it has been starving for seven whole days,' stroked its back and let go, saying, 'Go at ease.' The boys did not have to burn in hell before because they did not kill the monitor, but the seven had to starve together for seven days in 14 rebirths. Bhikkhu, you have performed the kamma as the seven ox herders at the time.
The Buddha answered the question the bhikkhu asked thus.
'Those who perform akusala kamma would not escape it even if they flee up in the sky,
Nor to the middle of the ocean,
Nor to the mountain pass.
For there is no country on earth they can be, where death cannot rule.
Can kamma be escaped / cut?
None can escape the results of kamma already performed. For example when one has done kusala kamma, the moment kusala kamma brings results, one would receive things even if one does not want them. One would be rich even if one did not want it. People ask you to become a minister out of the blue, even when one does not want to, they invite you to take the position. The same applies to the result of akusala kamma which happens although one might try stop it, for example accidents of various levels of gravity according to past (akusala) kamma, serious illnesses, or loss of investments and ruination.
Some, thinking themselves smart, would try to do good to wash away the bad, such as using a part of the hundreds of millions obtained through corruption to do kusala in robe offering ceremonies or in donations to benefit the poor in order to make up for what they owe. However, in reality the results of distinct kamma are never mixed together. The bad kamma already performed would bring inescapable results, sooner of later, in this life or the next ones, while past good kamma would wait for the occasion to produce results later on.
Even the Buddha was unable to transcend the kamma done in past lives. As he manifested kamma done in past lives that caused him to receive dukkha vedana in his last life. For example he described the pubba-kamma (past kamma) that made him perform dukkhara-kiriya for six years in the Commentaries, Buddha-vagga 1, Buddha-padana as follows: 'When I was a brahma called Jotipala, I said to the Buddha Kassapa thus: How would the bald samana attain nibbana? Enlightenment is extremely difficult. Because of the vipaka of the kamma, I had to perform dukkhara kiriya for six years at Uruvera before achieving the Bodhinana' Because of the vipaka of the kamma, he had wrong view, was attached to wrong practice which did not lead to attainment of the anuttara-samma-sambodhi-nana.
When is it the result of kamma?
The result of kamma starts with the first instant or the moment of patisandhi (birth). None could choose when or as what one would be born. If one were able to one would probably choose to be born in heaven or in a rich family with much possessions. In reality no one is able to choose since the instant of patisandhi is the result of a past kamma from this or another lifetime . If the patisandhi-citta (vipaka-citta) were the result of a kusala-kamma (already performed) it would be the cause for birth in a sugati-bhumi. On the contrary, if the patisandhi-citta (vipaka-citta) were the result of an akusala-kamma (already performed) it would be the cause for birth in a dugati-bhumi to receive the result of the said akusala kamma.
When one is born a human being, after the patisandhi one would develop eyes, ears, tongue, and body which none could create, only kamma is the cause of various organs that differ according to distinct past kusala or akusala performed. One can see that people are born with different physiques, degree of beauty and nice complexion. Some are born ugly or physically challenged, all the result of past kusala or akusala kamma.
In addition kamma is the cause for good or bad arammana through the eyes, ears, nose, tongue, and body-sense.
The instant one receives good arammana through the eyes (the citta that sees is a vipaka citta) one sees pleasant rupa.
The instant one receives good arammana through the ears (the citta that hears is a vipaka citta) one hears pleasant sound.
The instant one receives good arammana through the nose (the citta that smells is a vipaka citta) one smells pleasant scents.
The instant one receives good arammana through the tongue (the citta that tastes is a vipaka citta) one tastes pleasant flavors.
The instant one receives good arammana through the body sense (the citta that experiences body sense contact is a vipaka citta) one feels pleasant body sense contacts.
One should know that whenever one receives undesirable arammana through the eyes, ears, nose tongue, and body sense it is the result of akusala kamma done in the past. For example to see dirty, rotten things, hear people gossiping about you, have food that is not delicious, or to receive bodily dukkha (through illnesses, being attacked or having accidents,) results from kamma one had done, otherwise one would not have to experience the unpleasant arammana in the least.
One could only understand the above when one has studied the subject in detail: kusala, akusala, vipaka and kiriya citta. The Buddha had manifested the truth that, when there are pleasant or unpleasant body sense contact, in reality no one does it to us. It arises as the result of past kusala or akusala kamma. Therefore if we have bodily dukkha such as to have been physically harmed, or when we hear unpleasant sounds such as scolding, invectives or malicious gossip, and if we know that the truth that these are the result of a kamma we had done, in other words that we had hurt and abused others, so who should we be angry with? We should not be angry with those who do us harm because in reality it is our akusala kamma that harm us as in the two preceding stories. Because in reality there are no animals or people, only citta, cetasika and rupa.
'When the Buddha was enlightened in the truth about all realities, he taught Buddhists that realities are not the self, entity nor person but paramattha-dhamma, (the ultimate reality or truth); they are realities each with distinct characteristics. None can change the characteristics of a specific reality, whether one knows it or not. Whether one calls a reality such a word in such language or not call it anything at all, the reality remains unchangeable characteristics. Whatever reality arises, it arises because of conditions and then falls away, as he manifested the dhamma to the Venerable Ananda, "That which has arisen, has existed and was conditioned, [that reality] is common to destruction."
To mistake realities for the self, entity or person is parallel to travelers in a place where they see mirages before them, but as they approach the mirages disappear, since in reality there is no water. The mirages seen are false, illusions as is the way realities are mistaken for the self, entity or person from ignorance, from memory or from attachment thereof.'
The Four Paramattha-dhamma are:
Citta is the reality preeminent in experiencing that which appears such as seeing and hearing. There are altogether 89 types of citta or 121 in specifics.
Cetasika is another kind of reality that arises concurrently with a citta, experiences the same object, falls away at the same instant, and arises at the same location. Each cetasika has distinct characteristics and functions according to its type. There are altogether 52 types of cetasika.
Rupa is the reality that is not consciousness such as colors, sounds, smells and tastes. There are altogether 28 types of rupa.
Nibbana is the reality that eradicates defilements and ends sufferings. There are no conditions for nibbana; it, therefore, does not arise or fall away.
Which instant is kamma?
The instant of kamma is the instant after seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting and body sense contact when kusala or akusala citta arise with enough strength to show as bodily or verbal actions thereby doing people good or harm. They are normal daily life occurrences. Our daily actions differ according to the individual accumulated habits, as the intricacy of each person's citta. For example to see someone or something, some would like or dislike the person or it. Some might like him so much that they praise. Others dislike enough to find faults, distinctly according to the accumulations of the citta. The same applies to hearing a sound: some people might then be dissatisfied or angry, while others feel indifferent and still others pity and sympathetic. Isn't this so in daily life? In any case, if there were no bodily or verbal actions but remains just thoughts, there would be accumulations as habits later. There would be no kamma. However, when there has been bodily or verbal actions that break the kusala-kamma-patha or was strong duccarita, all the results would be akusala vipaka. The same applies to kusala kamma.
Therefore we should develop the citta to be good and kusala to be the cause for good results or kusala vipaka in the future and abandon akusala or bad citta which are causes for results that are dukkha and unsatisfactory. The best citta are those composed with panna that clearly realize realities as they really are, not worldly knowledge.
We usually feel sorry for those who come upon disaster such as those whose property are damaged or succumb to illnesses or accidents. We feel sympathetic when they receive the results of their akusala, but when they perform the causes (by doing bad deeds) why do we not feel sympathetic, and instead feel anger and hatred, which not only doesn't help anything but increases our own akusala. For example, when we see government officials, politicians or businessmen getting away with corruption happily in society, once we study Buddhism in detail and understand more have of the dhamma and have more understanding of kamma and its results, even though we might not be able to make ourselves feel sympathy for those who are performing bad deeds (since metta has not been developed), we would have enough knowledge to repress displeasure to see doing bad deed and still prospering in society. None can do bad deed all the time, nor can a good person always be good. Everyone would perform good and bad deeds intermingled. Whether anyone is more inclined towards more kusala or akusala depends on their kilesa or habits accumulated in their individual citta. Since at present the results of past good deeds are supporting them, in spite of their bad deeds the bad would be unable to bring immediate results. Or they might die before receiving the results of the bad deeds, but the bad would of course pursue them with bad results in future lifetimes.
If we did not have the knowledge and understanding of kamma and its results, when we see government officials, business men or politicians being dishonest one might be unable to refrain from being angry, vengeful and cursing them. One might then think that one is a good member of society, a just person, and one for the general benefit. That one is praiseworthy and that all should join in one's abuses. On the contrary when there is understanding of kamma and its results one would realize that we are over confident about life. We let time pass with verbal wrong doing through invectives, insinuations, lies (exaggerations to color the conversation), and accumulate dosa in the citta. We might have to wait for the result of the akusala kamma to turn back against us. In reality what everyone should know is that when we are angry to see anyone doing bad deeds, at that moment we are already accumulating dosa in the citta. When accumulated until the dosa is strong one might be able to kill someone one day.
Should we then anumodana (have empathetic joy) with bad deeds? The performance of bad deeds comes from citta that are akusala. Are we in a position to warn or stop them? If they were in a position that we could warn them then one should immediately do so, with the citta that is kusala (metta). But if we were not in the position to speak because they are powerful or in a high position, or because they are belligerent and would not listen, it would be useless to. What to do then? Therefore we should have upekkha and belief in the result of kamma.
Everyone wants to be good since good people are welcome by all. Good people are always endearing. But how much could we persist in doing good, and for how long, since our citta is still filled with akusala (kilesa) or self-love, selfishness, jealousy, envy, and competition accumulated for so long, and still dormant in each instant of citta. Those who had developed the citta well would have metta, consideration of other people's welfare, according to the strength of their selfishness or self-love. If they love themselves very much they would have less consideration for others. If they love themselves less they would have more consideration for the majority.
It is extremely difficult to fathom the human heart, no one is able to really know another's citta. Only we may know the state our own citta. The seemingly good deeds of an outwardly good person do not mean that we know the real state of his citta. We could never know the true state of anyone's heart, but we know our own hears the reasons why we do good to others, and whether we expected anything in return for example:
To work hard hoping for praise.
To are respectful and modest hoping for our superior's affections.
To give hoping for other's affections, or for something in return.
To donate money to society and good causes hoping for acclamation.
To ask for donations hoping to gain lots of merit.
To speak with circumspection help with the duties of the superior's hoping to be given preference and the opportunity to advance in one's position.
To criticize others' work hoping to make people think one is better, more efficient.
Forced to do good because of the fear of blame or punishment (hoping for safety).
To pass rules and regulations or laws that benefit ourselves and/or ours.
These secret hopes in the citta in reality are tenacious, deep rooted and hard to eradicate self-love and selfishness. They are akusala citta whose harm and hindrance to the development of the parami towards reaching the shores (of nibbana) would not be detected without detailed understanding of the dhamma.
To do good in hopes of the results is akusala (lobha). Some might not agree with this, thinking that to do good is in itself good, no matter the inducement. Superficially it would seem so. But carefully considered, one would realize that all kinds of hopes and wishes are the characteristics of lobha. As for those who do good out of fear is akusala of the dosa kind. Those who do good and then praise themselves are not praised by the Buddha, who teaches that the wise do not praise themselves. Therefore would it not be better if we did good because it should be done, with the citta filled with metta to help others with a pure heart that wants no compensation whatever.
We should have right intention, or do good for the general benefit or altruistically, without even the hope of being praised, in order to develop kusala.
We should 'make merit' without overlooking the minor causes, in order to cleanse our own citta, to attenuate our stinginess and covetousness.
We should have metta and share things with friends and relatives for their benefits and not in hopes of compensations.
We should have respect for our seniors since the citta with respect is a good citta, not being respectful in hopes of ingratiating oneself.
To do good without hoping for any results (in fortune, fame or social status) is something that should be done since at the moment of doing good without expecting recompenses is the instant that kusala citta is strong enough to do kusala kamma repressing the akusala kamma of that instant. Therefore each should constantly examine their citta to see how much akusala of kusala one has, which is also a kind of development of kusala as well as the accumulations of the causes of happiness and prosperity in both this and the following rebirths.
Everyone has a very strong self love, so we all love happiness (sukha vedana) and hate unhappiness (dukkha vedana). We perform kusala in order that we might receive the results of the kusala, for example make merit in order to be reborn in heaven. We do akusala to receive happiness in this lifetime also, such as some of us lying to incriminate others in order to profit from the situation. Some have dishonest professions such as stealing, drug dealing. Some might have a profession that seems honest but they behave dishonestly such as corrupting in diverse circles, all because of their selfishness, self love. They want to be rich, be fortunate and powerful, be of higher social rank than others. The human desire (lobha) is boundless, as the saying goes, a mountain of solid gold is not enough for lobha. It still wants more. One obvious example is the election of the House of Representatives. All the candidates would pray that they win, even the last place would be better than none at all. When they really get elected they would pray that they get a ministry, no matter which. Once their wish comes true, they would proceed (with lobha) to think they ought to get a powerful ministry, to bring honor to their family. After being minister for a while, they would dream of being the Prime Minister. Once the Prime Minister, they want to stay in the position as long as possible.
To receive fame and fortune does not come from desire. Everyone would want the best for themselves and the people they love. But how many get their wish? Only past good kamma would cause one to receive good and desirable things, since the causes must be deserving of the results. It means that when the causes are good, the results would be good. When the causes are bad or not good enough it would be useless to hope or wish for any result.
Society would be more peaceful and pleasant if everyone knew the word 'enough'. But who among ordinary people could abandon kilesa. Puthujjana means one thick with kilesa. Since we cannot abandon kilesa we should study the dhamma to know the characteristics of kilesa so as to be vigilant when kilesa arises in one's citta. This would make us know ourselves as we really are, with how much kilesa. When it has increased and really seen the harm of kilesa, panna would do its duty in abandoning kilesa. To know one's own kilesa is more beneficent than preoccupation with others' kilesa. This would make us more conscientious in words, thoughts and deeds to become in the future more collected, with good, kusala behavior.
Kamma leading to rebirth
We have wandered around the rounds of rebirths for an infinity of times. This life is another when kusala kamma yielded results in birth as a human, but soon we must change rebirths and worlds once again. How much longer will we live, in terms of years, months or days? Say ten years, which would be only 3650 days. But life is unpredictable, we may die today, tomorrow or this evening, when the result of the kamma that caused birth as a human is finished.
We were able to be born humans because the last javana citta before death or the cuti citta (the citta that performs the function of leaving the lifetime) was kusala, which made us transcend the hell worlds. Knowing this some people might intend that when they are near death they would make their citta kusala. Indeed kusala citta could only arise from paccaya. No one can force the citta to be kusala because the citta arises and falls away rapidly, under no one's control. Therefore the Buddha encouraged the Buddhists to always develop kusala because kusala brings about happiness. When one habitually performs kusala, one would have better chances that the last javana-citta would be kusala than those who habitually perform akusala kamma. Therefore if the last citta is kusala, it would cause birth in sugati-bhumi (i.e. in the human and heavenly planes.) On the contrary, if we were carelessly performing akusala as a habit, always accumulating akusala-citta, there are no chances that the last vithi-citta before cuti (death) would be kusala. Such being the case, dugati is to be expected. One would be born in hell, pittivisaya (bhumi of the peta) or the animal world.
We would never know which kamma would cause the patisandhi-citta in our next lifetime because we have performed both good and bad deeds. Any one of the kamma performed during this or former lifetimes can cause patisandhi-citta of the next lifetime to arise. That is why the Buddha taught us to develop all kinds of kusala since the more often we develop kusala, the more chances we have to receive the happy results of kusala. Kusala-citta is like a dear friend while akusala-citta is like an enemy because it brings unhappiness. We should be vigilant against the enemy, or our own akusala-citta. Therefore one should study to thoroughly understand the various types of kusala and akusala citta in order to develop kusala and leave no room for akusala because our real enemy is our own akusala-citta. Before we study the intricate dhamma we have affinity with the enemy because we mistake the enemy for our close friend. In reality we like to have lobha. We like this and that. We think that they bring us happiness so we desire fortune, fame and praise insatiably. We never see the harm of lobha. We never realize that we are overwhelmed, overpowered and enslaved by lobha all the time. We never know that lobha brings all unhappiness. Besides being friend with lobha akusala, we are also friends with another kind of akusala, namely moha or ignorance of the truth (sacca-dhamma). We are ignorant even of what we do not know. We do not know whether there is really a next lifetime, nor what kusala and akusala really are. Only when we have studied the abhidhamma and gradually increased our understanding would we begin to realize that the dhamma, with which the Buddha was enlightened, and which he manifested is the peerless, supreme and wondrous teaching. The more we understand the dhamma, the more we would appreciate his great beneficence towards worldly beings and realize his supreme panna.
Many people think that the Buddha manifested the kamma and their results as a technique or ploy to render people afraid of doing bad deeds and to encourage people to do good. But having studied the intricate dhamma (abhidhamma) concerning the function the citta and the vithi-citta, one would know that the Buddha was not using intimidation or any tactic. Rather, he was manifesting the truth for which he had accumulated parami for a very long time in order to attain this supreme sacca-dhamma.
The benefits of knowledge about kamma
Knowledge about kamma is considered the insight into the truth, which is supreme. Although the truth is difficult to realize and experience, it still could be understood through carefully considered and applied logic. The knowledge about kamma makes us realize the truth that good or bad events that occur to us do not happen by chance or through other people's doing but arise from our own doing of this or a past life. Thus being the great and magnificent truth and its discoverer being the Sammasambuddha, is it not appropriate that we, who proclaim ourselves to be Buddhists, should obey? Should we not respectfully worship his beneficence in graciously manifesting the dhamma for the sake of blindly ignorant worldly creatures who never know or admit the truth that they are ignorant because avijja (ignorance) has always hidden the fact. Only after realizing the good benefit of the dhamma and duly take interest and study would we understand our own, as well as other people's lives, and comprehend the true causes for each person's happiness and unhappiness in daily life.
In a passage in Culakammavibhangasutta, the Buddha manifested 7 pairs of good and bad results derived from past kamma thus:
- To have short or long life spans because of killing or not killing.
- To have much or little illness because of harming or not harming beings.
- To have bad or good complexion because of bad or good temper.
- To have low or status because of jealousy or lack of it.
- To have little or great fortune because of absence or practice of dana.
- To be born of high or low extraction because of haughtiness or humility.
- To have little or great knowledge of the truth because of avoiding or seeking the company of pundits to ask about kusala and akusala.
The knowledge and understanding of kamma as the Buddha manifested in the Tipitaka is useful in leading a daily life. In summary,
- Be steadfast in doing bodily, verbal and mental good to others.
- Persevere to refrain from bodily, verbal and mental wrongdoing.
- Forgive those who cause us trouble.
- Attenuate resentment in unfair treatment.
- Forbear anger towards those who mistreat us.
- Be friends even with those who do wrong.
- Live wisely by developing kusala and endeavoring to abandon akusala.
- Make no enemies.
- Make friends
Whose kamma are the problems of the country?
At this moment our country is having problems and troubles, such as corruption in the government, insolvency in the business sector, electoral frauds at all levels and scandals in religious circles. Being Buddhists only in name, in our house registration, we still have superficial understanding of Buddhism. Since we do not understand the basic dhamma, we are unable to eliminate wrong view. Therefore we would be troubled because we do not have the dhamma as refuge. We turn to politicians, high-ranking government officials or fortune-tellers. We even seek out strange-looking trees or animals and worship them willingly. The Buddhists increasingly regress from the dhamma because they think it useless. The dhamma is unable to bring fortune, social status and positions that everyone wants. But the dhamma brings the truth about all things and enables the ordinary person to develop the attenuation of their own kilesa towards becoming a superior person. The dhamma brings a peacefully intricate happiness because it extinguishes the heat (kilesa) in the citta according to the level of understanding. If the people who run the country, such as politicians, businessmen, government officials of all levels, understood the right teachings of the dhamma, believed in the rules of kamma, and endeavored to abandon kilesa which is the enemy within, our country would certainly survive the crisis. However, all is anatta, under no one's control. No one can make things evolve the way one wants. The best thing is to understand that we and other people each has his own kamma, which makes us see or hear things that bring unhappiness (common and personal problems), and causes us birth in an era when the country has such economic problems. Still, it is better than birth in a chaotic country with harsh conflicts and warfare.
With better understanding of the dhamma we can know the truth of life previously unknown. This truth can only be discovered by the Sammasambuddha, who had persevered in developing panna parami to perfection. It is not something that the ordinary person to extrapolate and understand without studying. It is a subtle truth, intricate, profound and difficult to understand. But if anyone seriously studied and rightly understood, he would realize that the dhamma is the answer to life. Therefore we should not take the dhamma for granted as something easy, the study of which is unnecessary in order to be a good and intelligent person. That we understand about good and bad deeds, as well as their results, or the knowledge of the results of kamma, could make life more peaceful and happier. We should not be careless in matter of akusala and habitually accumulate it, seeing it as trivia and normal. No one could predict one's own passing. Therefore before leaving this world we should accumulate kusala, without the slightest disregard. Upon leaving this world there is no other refuge at all except for kusala. The most important thing is the study of the dhamma, the teachings of the Buddha. One should accumulate the understanding of the dhamma in order to attenuate our own kilesa because the less kilesa we have, the more happiness. Isn't it this kind of happiness that we all should seek?
"One should endeavor to do good and refrain from bad deeds for when one lags in doing good, the mind would take pleasure in the bad."
November 5, 2000
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