What is Kamma? The Buddha said “I declare, O Bikkhus, that volition (cetana) is Kamma. Having willed one acts by body, speech and thought.” Involuntary, unintentional or unconscious actions do not constitute Kamma because volition , the most important factor determining Kamma, is absent. Kamma , literally means action or doing. Any kind of intentional action (good or bad) whether mental, verbal or physical is regarded as Kamma. In its ultimate sense Kamma means all moral and immoral volition (kusala akusala cetana).
Kamma Is Mind Made “ By mind the world is led, by mind it is drawn: And all men own the sovereignty of mind. If one speaks or acts with a wicked mind, pain follows one as the wheel, the hoof of the draught-ox.” - Dhammapada Verse 1 When the mind is unguarded, bodily action, speech and thought are all unguarded. When the mind is guarded, bodily action, speech and thought are all guarded. The chief cause of Kamma is the mind. All our words and deeds are coloured by the mind.
Kamma Is Mind Made Verbal actions are done by the mind by means of speech. Bodily actions are done by the mind through the physical body. Purely mental actions have no instrument other than the mind.
The Cause of Kamma Ignorance (avijja) or not knowing things as they truly are, is the chief cause of Kamma. Dependent on ignorance arise Kammic activities (avijja paccaya samkhara), states the Buddha in the Paticca Samuppada (Dependent Origination). Associated with ignorance is its ally craving (tanha), the other root of Kamma. Evil actions are conditioned by these two causes. Ignorance Craving
Kamma and Vipaka Kamma = action Vipaka = fruit or result or reaction Every volitional activity is inevitably accompanied by its due effect. As Kamma may be good or bad, so may Vipaka be good or bad. As Kamma is mental, so Vipaka too is mental; it is experienced as happiness or bliss; unhappiness or misery.
Where is Kamma stored? “ Where, Venerable Sir, is Kamma stored? King Milinda questioned the Venerable Nagasena. “ O Maharaja, Kamma is not said to be stored somewhere in this fleeting consciousness or in any other part of the body. But dependent on mind and matter it rests manifesting itself at the opportune moment, just as mangoes are not said to be stored somewhere in the mango tree, but dependent on the mango tree they lie, springing up in due season.” replied the Venerable Nagasena.
Where is Kamma stored? Neither wind nor fire is stored in any particular place, nor is Kamma stored anywhere within or without the body. Kamma is an individual force, and is transmitted from one existence to another. It plays the chiefest part in the moulding of character and explains the marvelous phenomena of genius, infant prodigies and so forth.
Sowing Good Seeds Good and bad Kamma will become active when the conditions are favourable. The Kamma of a person is like a savings account where money can be deposited or withdrawn. The Buddha had given us clear instructions on how we can reduce our evil deeds and increase our good deeds. By doing so, we can build a treasure store which cannot be destroyed. Unlike a savings account, the benefits of merits cannot be lost and will follow one from life to life. Good Kamma Bad Kamma
What are Merits and Why Perform Them? Merit (Punna) is defined as actions of the body, speech and mind which purify and cleanse the mind. Merits purify the mind of greed, hatred and delusion – the 3 evil roots. Fruits of merits: It frees one from the chains of desire and suffering and opens doors everywhere.
Ten Meritorious Deeds Helping others is another way of making merit. True expression of compassion is through service for the welfare of other beings. Service (Veyyavacca) 5 Practisinng respect & reverence purifies the mind as a man replaces his pride with humility. The humble man has a flexible and adaptable mind which is never too proud to learn. Respect & Reverence (Apacayana) 4 Mental culture or meditation aims at developing insight and the growth of wisdom. Mental Culture (Bhavana) 3 Observing the precepts and leading a harmless life. Moraility (Sila) 2 Generosity is concerned with sharing for the weal of others. Examples: giving food, money, clothing to hungry/poor; giving robes, almsfood, shelter and medicine to the monks; not killing is a gift of fearlessness which can be given by everyone. Generosity (Dana) 1
Ten Meritorious Deeds Wrong views lead a person away from Reality, the Dhamma; while Right Views bring him closer to Reality. Straightening one’s Views (Ditthijjukama) 10 Teaching and listening to Dhamma goes together because for there to be a giver there must be a receiver. Teaching dhamma is showing a practical path which leads to the relief of suffering. Listening to dhamma means concentrating one’s attention to the one who speaks the dhamma and reflecting on how the teachings can be applied. Teaching and Listening to Dhamma (Dhamma Savana, Dhamma desana) 8- 9 Cultivating appreciation and gladness at others’ happiness is a noble and positive mental quality which eradicates jealousy. Speaking and thinking well of others can cause a person’s enemies to become his friends. Rejoicing in Others’ Good Deeds (Anumodana) 7 A person shares the merits of his good deeds with others so that the performance of these deeds are not for egoistic motives. Sharing Merits (Pattidana) 6
Everything is not due to Kamma The Buddha refuted that everything is due to Kamma and said: “ So, then, owing to previous action, men will become murderers, thieves, unchaste, liars, slanderers, babblers, covetous, malicious, This important text contradicts the belief that all physical circumstances and mental attitudes spring solely from past Kamma. and perverse in view. Thus for those who fall back on the former deeds as the essential reason, there is neither the desire to do, nor effort to do, nor necessity to do this deed or abstain from that deed.”
Kamma Is Not Fatalistic Kamma is however neither a fate nor predestination imposed upon us by some mysterious unknown power to which we must helplessly submit ourselves. It is one’s own doing reacting on oneself, and so one has the power to divert the course of Kamma to some extent. How far one diverts it, depends on oneself. Yahoooo!!
The Five Niyamas According to Buddhism, there are five orders or processes (Niyamas) which operate in the physical and mental realms. Order of mind or psychic law. Citta Niyama Order of the norm. Dhamma Niyama Order of act and result. Kamma Niyama Physical organic order. Bija Niyama Physical inorganic order. Utu Niyama
The Five Niyamas Utu Niyama – physical inorganic order Deals with 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.
The Five Niyamas Bija Niyama – order of germs and seeds Deals with physical organic order eg. apple produced from apple seed, sugary taste from sugar cane or honey, and peculiar characteristics of certain fruits. The scientific theory of cells and genes and the physical similarity of twins may be ascribed to this order.
The Five Niyamas Kamma Niyama – order of act and result According to this natural law, acts bring their own rewards and punishments to the individual doer whether human justice finds him or not.
The Five Niyamas Dhamma Niyama – order of the norm The natural phenomena occuring at the birth of a Bodhisatta in His last birth. Gravity Gravity and other similar laws of nature, the reason for being good, etc, may be included in this group.
The Five Niyamas Citta Niyama – order of the mind or psychic law Processes of consciousness, constituents of consciousness, power of mind, including telepathy, telesthesia, retro-cognition, premonition, clairvoyance, clair-audience, thought-reading, and such other psychic phenomenon, which are inexplicable to modern science.
You Are Responsible One day, a young truth-seeker named Subha approached and asked the Buddha: “ What is the reason, what is the cause, O Lord, that we find amongst mankind the short-lived and the long-lived, the diseased and the healthy, the ugly and the beautiful, the powerless and the powerful, the poor and the rich, the low-born and the high-born, the ignorant and the wise.”
The Buddha replied: “ All living beings have actions (Kamma) as their own, their inheritance, their congenital cause, their kinsman, their refuge. It is Kamma that differentiates beings into low and high states.” You Are Responsible
Transcending Kamma After a Kamma has borne fruit, it dies like all other forces. But as old Kamma die, new ones are created and the life process goes on. If there is an aspiration to end craving, a transformation takes place. As the aspiration for Nibbana grows stronger, cravings wither destroying the three evil roots of anger, hatred and delusion. As they wither and no more new Kammas take their place, the current of life-process dries up. In the end there is no craving force to produce another birth.
The gift of Dhamma excels all gifts the taste of Dhamma excels all taste, the delight in dhamma excels all delights, The Craving-Freed vanquishes all suffering. - Dhammapada verse 354 End of Lesson 8