Kamma is actually cetana cetasika, volition. Cetana arises with each citta and it can therefore be kusala, akusala, vipaka or kiriya. Cetana directs the associated dhammas and coordinates their tasks (Atthasalini, Book I, part IV, Ch I, 111). Cetana which accompanies kusala citta and akusala citta has a double function: it directs the tasks of the associated dhammas and it has the function of "willing" or activity in good and bad deeds. In this last function it is capable of producing the results of good and bad deeds later on.
There are two kinds of kamma-condition: conascent kamma-condition and asynchronous kamma-condition. Cetana which arises with each citta directs the tasks of the associated dhammas and conditions these dhammas by way of conascent kamma-condition, sahajata kamma-paccaya. The cetana which is kusala or akusala and which can produce the appropriate results of good deeds or bad deeds later on conditions that result by way of asynchronous kamma-condition, nanakkhanika kamma-paccaya.
As regards conascent kamma-condition, sahajata kamma-paccaya, the cetanas accompanying all 89 types of citta are conascent kamma-condition for the citta and the other cetasikas they accompany as well as for the rupa produced by them. The cetana which accompanies kusala citta and akusala citta conditions citta, the other cetasikas and the rupa produced by them by way of conascent kamma-condition, sahajata-kamma-paccaya. Vipakacitta and kiriyacitta can also produce rupa, and the accompanying cetana conditions citta, the other cetasikas and rupa by way of conascent kamma-condition, sahajata kamma-paccaya. Seeing, hearing and the other sense-cognitions are vipakacittas which do not produce rupa, but the accompanying cetana conditions citta and the other cetasikas by way of conascent kamma-condition. When the patisandhi-citta arises the accompanying cetana conditions that citta, the other cetasikas and also the kamma-produced rupa which arises at the same time by way of conascent kamma-condition (Patthana, Faultless Triplet, Investigation Chapter, kamma, §427, vii b).
Asynchronous kamma-condition, nanakkhanika kamma-paccaya, pertains to kusala cetana or akusala cetana which is able of producing later on results of good or evil deeds committed through body, speech and mind. The cetana, volition or intention, which motivates a good or bad deed falls away, but since each citta conditions the next one in the cycle of birth and death, the force of cetana is accumulated from moment to moment so that it can produce result later on. It conditions the result in the form of vipakacitta and specific rupas of the body by way of asynchronous kamma-condition. When one, for example, slanders, there is akusala kamma through speech and this can produce akusala vipaka later on. The akusala cetana or kamma conditions the vipakacitta which arises later on by way of asynchronous kamma-condition. At the same time, the akusala cetana is related to the citta and cetasikas it accompanies and to speech intimation (vaci-vinnatti), a rupa produced by citta, by way of conascent kamma-condition. Thus, cetana is in different ways a condition for other phenomena.
There are kusala kamma and akusala kamma through body, speech and mind, and they are of different degrees. Kamma is not always a "completed action", kamma patha. There are certain constituent factors which make kamma a completed action. For example, in the case of killing there have to be: a living being, consciousness of there being a living being, intention of killing, effort and consequent death (Atthasalini, I, Book I, part III, Ch V, 97). If one of these factors is lacking there is not a completed action. Akusala kamma which is a completed action is capable of producing an unhappy rebirth. Not only birth is the result of kamma, but also the experiences of pleasant or unpleasant objects through the senses, which are seeing, hearing, smelling tasting or experiencing tangible objects through the bodysense throughout life. Some kammas produce their results in the same life they were committed, some in the next life, some in later lives. There is also kamma which has no opportunity to produce result, "lapsed kamma", in Pali: ahosi kamma.
We read in the Visuddhimagga (XIX, 14-17) about different ways of classifying kamma. Kamma can be classified as weighty, habitual, death-threshold and reserve or cumulative by being performed (Visuddhimagga XIX, 15,16). Weighty (garuka) kamma is very unprofitable kamma, such as the killing of a parent, or very profitable kamma, such as jhanacitta. Habitual (acinna) kamma is what one usually and repeatedly does. Death-threshold (asanna) kamma is what is vividly remembered just before death. Reserve or cumulative kamma (kamma katatta) is kamma which is not included in the other three kinds, but which has been performed in the past. The latter produces rebirth if there is no opportunity for one of the other three kinds to do so.
Do we know which type of kamma we usually and repeatedly perform? Is it akusala kamma through body, speech or mind, or is it kusala kamma? When we perform kusala kamma such as generosity do we know whether the kusala citta is accompanied by panna or unaccompanied by panna? The development of satipatthana, right understanding of nama and rupa, is kusala kamma. When we see the benefit of considering nama and rupa over and over again, in one's daily life, it can become habitual kamma, often performed. Then panna can be developed which leads to the end of rebirth-producing kamma.
Kamma can also be classified as: reproductive, consolidating, obstructive and destructive. Reproductive kamma (janaka kamma) produces nama and rupa at birth and in the course of life. Consolidating or supportive kamma (upatthambaka kamma) consolidates the result which has been produced by reproductive kamma. Supportive kusala kamma can prolong the arising of pleasant results in the form of health or wealth and supportive akusala kamma can prolong the arising of painful feeling and the experience of other unpleasant objects in the course of life. Obstructive or counteractive kamma (upapilaka kamma) weakens, interrupts or retards the result of kusala kamma or akusala kamma. Someone who has a happy rebirth may suffer ill health so that he cannot enjoy pleasant objects. An animal who has an unhappy rebirth may still have a comfortable life because of obstructive kamma. Destructive kamma (upaghataka kamma) counteracts other weaker kamma to produce its result; instead it produces its own result.
A deed can produce result when it is the right time. Some deeds produce result in this life, some in the next life and some after aeons. The lokuttara kusala citta, the magga-citta, produces immediate result in the form of the phala-citta, fruition-consciousness (lokuttara vipakacitta), without any interval. The magga-citta is anantara kamma-paccaya for the phala-citta (anantara means: without interval).
We have accumulated many different kammas and we do not know which of these will produce result at a particular moment, it depends also on the force of natural decisive support-condition, pakatupanissaya paccaya.
Only a Buddha has full knowledge of the true nature of kamma and vipaka and this knowledge is not shared by his disciples (Visuddhimagga XIX, 17).
We do not know which of our deeds will produce rebirth. We read in the "Greater Analysis of Deeds" (Middle Length Sayings III, 136) that the Buddha, while staying near Rajagaha, in the Bamboo Grove, spoke to Ananda about deeds and their results. We read about someone who does evil deeds and is of wrong view, and who has an unhappy rebirth. However, for such a person there is also a possibility of a happy rebirth. We read:
... As to this, Ananda, whatever individual there is who makes onslaught on creatures, takes what has not been given... is of false view and who, at the breaking up of the body after dying arises in a good bourn, a heaven world-- either a lovely deed to be experienced as happiness was done by him earlier, or a lovely deed to be experienced as happiness was done by him later, or at the time of dying a right view was adopted and firmly held by him; because of this, at the breaking up of the body after dying he arises in a good bourn, a heaven world. If he made onslaught on creatures here, took what had not been given... and was of false view, he undergoes its fruition which arises here and now or in another mode.
We then read about someone who is restrained from evil and is of right view, and who has a happy rebirth. However, even for such a person there may be an unhappy rebirth. We read:
... As to this, Ananda, whatever individual there is who is restrained from making onslaught on creatures, is restrained from taking what has not been given... is of right view and who, at the breaking up of the body after dying, arises in the sorrowful ways, a bad bourn, the Downfall, Niraya Hell-- either an evil deed to be experienced as anguish was done by him earlier, or an evil deed to be experienced as anguish was done by him later, or at the time of dying a false view was adopted and firmly held by him; because if this... he arises in the sorrowful ways... Niraya Hell. And he who was restrained from making onslaught on creatures... and was of right view undergoes its fruition which arises either here and now or in another mode....
So long as we perform kamma there are conditions for rebirth and there will be dukkha. Kamma is one of the links in the "Dependent Origination" (Paticca Samuppada), the chain of conditionally arisen phenomena which cause the continuation of the cycle of birth and death. When defilements have been eradicated there will be no more rebirth. We read in the "Gradual Sayings" (Book of the Tens, Ch XVII, Janussoni, §8, Due to Lust, Malice and Delusion):
Monks, the taking of life is threefold, I declare. It is due to lust, malice and delusion. taking what is not given... wrong conduct in sexual desires... falsehood... spiteful speech... bitter speech... idle babble... coveting... harmfulness... wrong view, is threefold, I declare. It is due to lust, malice and delusion. Thus, monks, lust is the coming-to-be of a chain of causal action; so is malice. Delusion, monks, is the coming-to-be of a chain of causal action. By destroying lust, by destroying malice, by destroying delusion comes the breaking up of the chain of causal action.
The arahat can still have vipaka which is conditioned by asynchronous kamma-condition, but from the time he attained arahatship he could not perform new kamma. The maha-kiriyacittas (inoperative cittas of the sense sphere which are sobhana, beautiful) of the arahat do not produce vipaka.
As to vipaka-condition, citta and its accompanying cetasikas which are vipaka condition one another by being vipaka. The realities involved in vipaka-condition are phenomena which are conascent, arising at the same time. We read in the Visuddhimagga (XVII, 89) that they assist one another "by effortless quiet". They are merely vipaka, they have no other activity. The nature of vipakacitta is altogether different from the nature of kusala citta and akusala citta which are active in the wholesome way or in the unwholesome way. Vipakacitta and its accompanying cetasikas also condition one another by way of conascence-condition and by way of mutuality-condition.
In the planes where there are five khandhas (nama and rupa), vipakacittas, except the five sense-cognitions, can produce rupa which arises at the same time and which, according to the "Patthana" (Faultless Triplet, Investigation Chapter, §428), is also conditioned by the citta and cetasikas by way of vipaka-condition. In the planes where there are five khandhas kamma produces at the first moment of life the patisandhi-citta which is vipakacitta as well as rupa. According to the "Patthana" (same section) citta and cetasikas condition at that moment kamma-produced rupa by way of vipaka-condition.
The patisandhi-citta is the first vipakacitta arising in life. When it is the result of kusala kamma there is birth in a happy plane and when it is the result of akusala kamma there is birth in an unhappy plane. There are many different degrees of kusala kamma and of akusala kamma and thus the vipaka they produce is also of different degrees. When the patisandhi-citta is the result of kusala kamma which is weak, it is ahetuka kusala vipakacitta (unaccompanied by sobhana hetus) and in that case, although one has a happy rebirth, one is handicapped from the first moment of life. The patisandhi-citta can also be maha-vipaka, accompanied by two or three sobhana hetus. The maha-vipakacitta is also conditioned by way of hetu-paccaya, root-condition. When the patisandhi-citta is the result of akusala kamma it is ahetuka akusala vipakacitta, and in that case one has an unhappy rebirth in one of the woeful planes.
Human birth is the result of kusala kamma. Although there can be in the case of a human being nine types of patisandhi-citta, the patisandhi-cittas are much more variegated and this can be noticed later on in the course of life from the kamma-produced rupas of different people and from people's different capacities. We see great differences in features: some people are beautiful, some are not beautiful. We notice differences in the sense-faculties such as eyesense and earsense. There are differences in bodily strength, some people are apt to have many illnesses and they are weak, some have only few illnesses and they are strong. People are born with different degrees of panna or without it; thus, there are different possibilities for people to develop panna. If the patisandhi-cittas of people were not so different, there would not be such a variety in the characteristics of different people.
The vipakacitta which is patisandhi-citta is succeeded by the vipakacitta which is bhavanga-citta because of proximate-condition, contiguity-condition and proximate decisive support-condition. The bhavanga-citta is the same type of citta as the patisandhi-citta. There are countless bhavanga-cittas arising throughout life in between the processes of cittas and all of them are of the same type as the patisandhi-citta. They keep the continuity in the life of a person who is born with a particular character and particular capacities.
Throughout life kamma produces vipakacittas arising in processes of cittas which experience pleasant or unpleasant objects. Seeing, for example, is vipakacitta which experiences a pleasant or unpleasant visible object through the eyesense. It merely sees, it does not know whether the object is pleasant or unpleasant. Citta and the accompanying cetasikas condition one another by way of vipaka-condition, they assist one another in "effortless quiet". The succeeding receiving-consciousness, sampaticchana-citta, is also vipakacitta, and this is succeeded by another vipakacitta, the investigating-consciousness, santirana-citta. This is succeeded by the determining-consciousness, the votthapana-citta, which is a kiriyacitta. After that the javana-cittas arise which are, in the case of non-arahats, kusala cittas or akusala cittas. When the object is pleasant, lobha-mula-cittas are likely to arise and when the object is unpleasant, dosa-mula-cittas are likely to arise. There are seven javana-cittas arising, succeeding one another. Cittas arise and fall away succeeding one another very rapidly and when panna has not been developed we do not realize when there is vipakacitta and when there is kusala citta or akusala citta. When we have an unpleasant experience such as an accident we keep on thinking of the concept of a situation or of an event we consider as "our vipaka" and we may wonder why this had to happen to us. We tend to forget that vipakacitta is only one moment which falls away immediately. Instead of thinking of concepts with aversion we should develop understanding of paramattha dhammas, realities which each have their own characteristic and which appear one at a time.
When we see visible object and we like the object it seems that seeing and liking occur at the same time. We do not realize that there is proximity-condition, anantara-paccaya, because of which each citta is succeeded by the next one, without any interval. Or we do not even realize that there is attachment to the object. We may think that there is seeing while there is in reality already clinging. Without knowing it we accumulate ever more akusala.
It is important to have right understanding of cause and effect in our life. We like to experience pleasant objects and we may think that we can choose ourselves which objects we wish to experience. We buy beautiful things in order to look at them, we prepare delicious food in order to enjoy pleasant flavours. However, something can happen so that our expectations do not come true. It depends on kamma whether we experience a pleasant object or an unpleasant object at a particular moment. Kamma produces its appropriate result and when it is time for akusala vipaka it is unavoidable. We never know what will happen at the next moment, but when there is more understanding of cause and effect in our life we can be prepared to face whatever may happen. When there is right understanding of kamma and vipaka, the citta is at that moment kusala citta and there is no opportunity for aversion towards unpleasant experiences. When there is awareness of the characteristics of seeing, hearing, thinking and other realities which appear there will be less ignorance. We will gradually learn to distinguish between the moments of vipaka and the moments of kusala citta and akusala citta.
Footnotes and references:
The term kamma is used for good and bad deeds, but we should remember that when we are more precise, kamma is cetana cetasika. Then we can understand that there is conascent kamma, namely, kamma or cetana accompanying each citta.
Cittas which are kusala citta, akusala citta, vipakacitta and kiriyacitta. For the classification of the different cittas see my "Abhidhamma in Daily Life", Ch 23.
Citta, being one of the four factors which produces groups of rupas of the body, can produce groups of rupas consisting of at least the eight "inseparable rupas" (the four great Elements, colour, odour, flavour and nutritive essense) and in addition there can be other rupas as well in such a group.
Nanakkhanika literally means: working from a different time and this pertains to the fact that it produces result later on.
Kamma is one of the four factors which produces rupas of the body. It produces rupas such as the sense-bases, the heart-base and femininity or masculinity.
Kamma katatta, literally: kamma which has been done. Sometimes it is translated as "stored up kamma", but this is misleading, since it may suggest something which is permanent. Kamma falls away immediately, but its force is accumulated in the citta. Since our life is an unbroken series of cittas arising and falling away, and each citta conditions the next citta, kamma can produce result later on.
See Appendix 2 for the different types of kusala citta.
We read in the Commentary to the "Book of Analysis", the "Dispeller of Delusion" (Ch 16, Tathagata Powers 2, 439-443) about four factors which condition kamma to produce result: destiny, or the place where one is born (gati), substratum, including beauty or ugliness in body (upadhi), the time when one is born (kala) and the "means", including one's behaviour (payoga). These four factors can be favorable (sampatti) or unfavorable (vipatti). If they are favorable akusala kamma has less opportunity and kusala kamma has more opportunity to produce result and if they are unfavorable akusala kamma has more opportunity and kusala kamma has less opportunity to produce result. For example, if someone is born in a happy plane, if he has beauty of body, if he is born in a favorable time (kala), when there is a good king and the country is prosperous, if he has the right means (payoga), that is, he refrains from bad deeds and performs good deeds, the ripening of akusala kamma is inhibited and there is opportunity for kusala kamma to give results. If these four factors are unfavorable (vipatti), the opposite is the case: akusala kamma has the opportunity to ripen and the results of kusala kamma are inhibited. For example, if someone is ugly in body, he may have to do the work of a slave and then there is opportunity for the experience of unpleasant objects. If someone steals or kills, thus, when his "means" are unfavorable, he may be caught and then tortured or executed.
See Ch 8.
See Ch 5.
Bhavanga-citta, receiving-consciousness (saÿpaticchana-citta) or investigation-consciousness (santirana-citta) are, for example, vipakacittas which produce rupas. See Appendix 1 for these cittas.
By alobha, non-attachment or generosity, adosa, non-aversion or kindness, or panna.
One type is ahetuka kusala vipaka, and eight types are maha-vipakacittas. See my Abhidhamma in Daily Life Ch 11.
See Appendix 1 for the cittas arising in a process.