Kamma as a Pali word it literally means action. Mind is often active by itself and creates kamma. Action and expression an always directed by mind and these create kamma also.
In other words mind manifests itself in action and in bodily and vocal expressions. Without mind, there is no kamma. Thus there are fundamentally three kinds of kamma , viz, mind kamma (mano kamma.) action kamma (kaya kamma) and bodily and vocal expression kamma (vacikamma). The action and bodily and vocal expressions are always preceded and directed by mind. The opening verses of one of the Buddhist Canonical Texts entitled "The Way of Virtue" (Dhammapada) are:
"Mind precedes and directs all mental faculties. Mind is their essence and mind determines them. If a living being speaks and acts with an evil mind, misery follows him just as the wheel of the cart follows the hoof of the draught ox.
If a living being speaks or acts with a praise worthy mind, happiness follows him just as his shadow always follows him"
Every person has had countless rounds of births and deaths, and Mind has been the determining factor in his sojourn from the past to the present existence. It will also condition all his future lives in the ocean of existence. Mind creates kamma which in turn creates man and woman and determines their success or failure from life to life. Verily, kamma is the Great Architect of the Universe. It, however, is not a living being but only volitional action initiated by the personal will and carried out in accordance with the Laws of Nature. The three kinds of kamma, viz, thought, deed, and bodily and vocal expressions are classified according to the time in giving effect and according to the function they perform. There are four kinds of kamma according to the time they take in giving effect, viz,
- kamma which gives its effect in this very existence (dittha dhammavedaniya kamma).
- Kamma which was committed in the previous existence, and gives effect in this existence (upapajjavedaniya kamma)
- Kamma which was committed in the countless existences before the previous existence and which gives effect in this existence or which gives its effect in some subsequent existence (aparapariyavedaniya kamma) and
- Kamma which is ineffective (ahosi kamma).
All persons except those who have attained the Highest Fruition are endowed with the four kinds of kamma results but only the first kind of the kamma result is apparent to an ordinary person, and the others are not apparent to him. There are also four kinds of kamma according to the function they perform, namely: -
- kamma which conditions birth after death (janakamma)
- Kamma which maintains the result of (1) (upatthambhakakamma)
- Kamma which creates troubles in this life (upapilakamma) and
- kamma which is destructive to the life of a being (upaghagaka kamma).
In this world vast differences are found among the people. Some live long and some die early; some are healthy and some are sickly, some are good looking and some are bad looking and some are poor and some are wealthy, some are of low family and some are of high family and some are stupid and some are intelligent. Why? The Buddha said "There is the case of a person, a woman or man, who takes life, is cruel with blood stained hands and who is given to striking and killing the living beings without mercy. When his kamma is worked out and completed. with the dissolution of the body after death he is reborn in a state of misery, in an unhappy destiny, in a state of punishment or in hell or if he is not thus reborn but attains the state of man, wherever he is reborn, he is short lived. A kamma, as this tends to shortness of life, namely the kamma of one who takes life, who is cruel with blood stained hands, and is given to striking and killing without mercy, the living beings". "On the other hand there is a woman or a man, who has put aside destructive weapon and refrains from taking life, who has laid aside the use of a stick or knife and dwells modestly, full of kindness, and compassionate for the welfare of all living beings. When that kammais worked out and completed with the dissolution of the body after death, he is reborn is in a state of happiness or in the celestial world and if he is not thus reborn but attains the state of man wherever he is reborn, he is long lived. A path, as this, tends to lengthen life, namely , the kamma of one who has put aside destruction and refrains from taking life, who has laid aside the use of a stick or knife, who dwells modestly, full of kindliness and compassion for the welfare of living beings".
In the same strain, The Buddha went on saying that if a person is given to hurting others and is reborn, he has ill health, if not given to hurting others and is reborn he has good health; if a person is wrathful and gets angry and furious, malevolent and hostile and is reborn, he is bad looking and if he is not wrathful and entertains loving kindness to others and is reborn, he is attractive; if a person is jealous, ill tempered and harbours jealousy at the gain, honour, reverence, esteem, respect and worship as shown to others and is reborn, he is of little power and if not jealous and so forth and reborn, he is of great power; if a person does not give anything to an ascetic ora holy person and is reborn, he is poor and if a person gives to an ascetic or a holy man and is reborn he is of great wealth; if a person is haughty and reborn he is born in a low family and if he is not haughty and reborn he is born in a high family; if a person does not learn from an ascetic or holy person about what is moral and what is immoral, what is blameless or not, what should be followed or avoided, and if he is reborn, he is born stupid and a person who is the other way and reborn is born intelligent.
As describe above, kamma is thought and deed and bodily and vocal expressions directed by mind. With the mind there always arises volition (cetana) which is one of the mental properties. Volition is, in plain language, wish or will. In Buddhism, the good will of a person towards all the living beings is his highest and noblest possession and it is most essential for a Buddhist to cultivate it. Good will towards others is the best kamma of a person and will stand by him as his saviour and supporter in any state of life against any difficulties that he may encounter.
Mind creates kamma except in the case of the Elect who has attained the Highest Fruition and has done away with all kamma, moral and immoral. On account of the kamma of all the living beings in the past, the present and the future, this earth came into existence and remains in existence. It will not be wrong to say that the kamma of all the sentient beings jointly and severally creates the earth. Of course mind is the originator. In other words, kamma creates the earth; it is the kamma of those who have wish or will to live on the earth and in the earth. Such is the huge power of kamma
It may be said that kamma is such a perfect accountant that it does not give any one one cent more or one cent less than what he deserves. It gives every one, according to his moral and immoral thought, deed and bodily and vocal expressions performed in the present life and in the previous lives. Nowadays, some bad people get on in this world and to such people, the Buddha said: "The fool thinks that his evil deed is sweet as honey till it bears its fruit when he suffers pain"
"An evil deed does not curdle suddenly like milk, but pursues the fool like a smouldering fire".
"Even a wrong doer is happy so long as his evil has not matured; but when it matures he suffers".
"Even a good man suffers evil while his good deed has not matured, but when it matures he enjoys the result of his good deed".
"Let no man think of evil lightly. "It will not touch me". Drop by drop is the pitcher filled and little by little, the fool becomes filled with evil".
It is seen that in this world, as a rule, one succeeds or fails in his life in accordance with his character, diligence and intellect and it cannot be over emphasised that these qualities, to wit, character, diligence and intellect, jointly and severally constitute kamma which is, in common parlance, thought, deed and words (past and present).
To be a real Buddhist, one must have faith in The Buddha, His Doctrine (Dhamma) and the Congregation (the Sangha) and also in kamma and its results.