THE BUDDHA'S WORDS ON KAMMA Four Discourses of the Buddha from the Majjhima Nikaya Transla

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THE BUDDHA'S WORDS ON KAMMA Four Discourses of the Buddha from the Majjhima Nikaya Translated by Bhikkhu Nanamoli Edited with Preface and Introductions by Bhikkhu Khantipalo The Wheel Publication No. 248/249 BUDDHIST PUBLICATION SOCIETY KANDY SRI LANKA First Edition 1977 Second Edition (revised) 1993 Copyright 1977, 1993 by Buddhist Publication Society ISBN 955-24-0073-2 * * * DharmaNet Edition 1994 This electronic edition is offered for free distribution via DharmaNet by arrangement with the publisher. DharmaNet International P.O. Box 4951, Berkeley CA 94704-4951 * * * * * * * * CONTENTS Preface PREFACE.TXT The Dog-Duty Ascetic DOG_DUTY.TXT The Shorter Exposition of Kamma SHORTER.TXT The Great Exposition of Kamma GREAT.TXT The Brahmins of Sala BRAHMINS.TXT Changes made in this edition ERRATA.TXT About the BPS BPS.TXT * * * * * * * * PREFACE Kamma concerns everyone. We make it, a great deal of it, every day while we are awake. We decide whether or not to get up -- kamma. (Good kamma if one gets up vigorously, bad kamma if slothfully or grudgingly.) Let's have a cup of tea, breakfast -- maybe some greed is involved, so bad kamma. We sympathize with someone's sickness and give help -- good kamma. We get flustered because the bus is late to take us to work -- bad kamma. Once we're there perhaps we get impatient with someone, or angry with them, or threaten them -- worse and worse kamma. But perhaps we are generous and kindly to someone there -- excellent kamma. Work brings on dull mental states, then we shake ourselves out of that listlessness and resentment (bad kamma) and vigorously try to get back to mindfulness (good kamma). In the crowded bus returning home someone stamps on one's foot, one curses -- bad kamma -- but after quick reflection one realizes "Ah, no mindfulness" and this is good kamma. At home at last, one comforts the sick, then plays with the children and tells them some Jataka stories -- all good kamma. But then, tired and dull, one switches the radio (and/or television) on and, not listening to it, leaves it going as a sound to drown silence, then one eats too much and feels lethargic -- bad kamma. But perhaps instead one pays respect to the Buddha-image, does some chanting and then meditates -- all kinds of good kamma. When the body is tired one goes to sleep holding some meditation subject in mind -- good kamma. All these decisions, choices and desires are kammas made in the mind. More kamma is made when one talks after having decided. Still more kamma is added if after this one acts as well. "Good" and "bad" kamma are distinguished by //the roots// of the actions. What is one's motivating force when one helps the sick? This is a case where there are various possibilities. Is it just because one wants rich Aunty's money when she dies, or out of genuine compassion? Obviously, in the latter case much better kamma is made. But there are examples where there is no doubt. One's toes are stamped on and one curses: this can never be good kamma simply because it is //rooted in hatred//. Or one gobbles down too much food -- just //greed-rooted// kamma in this case. Again those dull or day-dream periods at work, not looking at things as they are at all, this is //rooted in delusion//. When any of the mentally defiled states of mind has arisen, when these three "roots of evil" are in control, then bad kamma is sure to be made. Once it is made there is no way of erasing it or changing it and some day or other it will begin to fruit. The fruit of bad kamma is never happiness, as we can read in these discourses. It always comes up as pain, anguish, frustration, or the limitation of opportunities. Who wants them? Then make no more bad kamma! Everyone has laid in a stock already quite capable of giving rise to sufferings for lifetimes to come. There is no need to increase it. Everyone wants happiness! But it too arises conditionally. Now a great producer of happiness is the making of good kamma. What is good about it? It is //rooted in non-greed// (generosity, renunciation), or in //non-hate// (loving-kindness, compassion) or finally in //non-delusion// (wisdom, understanding). The sure way to gain happiness, then, is to make good kamma, as much as possible every day. It is only people who make a real effort to grow in Dhamma (that is, to make good kamma), who have any chance to succeed in meditation on the path to final liberation. Whatever one's goal in this life -- happiness here and now, a good rebirth in the future, or to end the whole birth and death process by attainment of Nibbana, one cannot go wrong by making good kamma. And what about those who do not believe in kamma and its fruits? They still make it whether they believe or not! And they get the fruits of the kamma they make, too. But the doing, not the believing, is the important thing. "Do good, get good, do evil, get evil." * * * * * * * *

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