Showing posts with label karma. Show all posts
Showing posts with label karma. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Buddhism in a Nutshell - Karma / Kamma

Buddhism in a Nutshell
by Narada Thera

Kamma or the Law of Moral Causation
We are faced with a totally ill-balanced world. We perceive the inequalities and manifold destinies of men and the numerous grades of beings that exist in the universe. We see one born into a condition of affluence, endowed with fine mental, moral and physical qualities and another into a condition of abject poverty and wretchedness. Here is a man virtuous and holy, but, contrary to his expectation, ill-luck is ever ready to greet him. The wicked world runs counter to his ambitions and desires. He is poor and miserable in spite of his honest dealings and piety. There is another vicious and foolish, but accounted to be fortune's darling. He is rewarded with all forms of favors, despite his shortcomings and evil modes of life.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Abhidhammattha Sangaha - Fourfold Kamma

Abhidhammattha Sangaha ( A Manual of Abhidhamma )

Translated by Narada Maha Thera
Published By the Buddhist Missionary Society

§7.i.Janakam’ upatthambakam’ upapilakam’
upaghatakanc’ati kiccavasena,
ii.Garukam’ asannam’ acinnam katattakam-
manc’ ati pakadanapariyayena,
iii.Ditthadhammavedaniyam upapajjaveda-
niyam aparapariyavedaniyam ahosikam-
manc’ ati pakakalavasena ca cattari
kammani nama.
iv.Tatha akusalam; Kamavacarakusalam,
Råpavacarakusalam, Aråpavacarakusa-
lam c’ati pakatthanavasena.

Tattha akusalam kayakammam, vacikammam,
manokammam c’ ati kammadvaravasena tivi-
dham hoti.
Panatipato, adinnadanam, kamesu miccha-
caro ca kayavinnatti sankhate kayadvare
bahullavuttito kayakammam nama.
Musavado, pisunavaca, pharusavaca, sam-
phappalapo c’ ati vacivinnatti sankhate vaci-
dvare bahullavuttito vacikammam nama.
Abhijjha, vyapado, micchaditthi c’ ati anna-
tra’ pi vinnattiya manasmim y’ eva bahulla-
vuttito manokammam nama.
Tesu panatipato pharusavaca vyapado ca
dosamålena jayanti. Kamesu micchacaro
abhijjha micchaditthi lobhamålena. Sesani
cattari dvihi målehi sambhavanti. Cittup-
padavasena pan’ etam akusalam sabbatha’ pi
dvadasasavidham hoti.
Kamavacarakusalam pi ca kayadvare pavat-
tam kayakammam, vacidvare pavattam vaci-
kammam, manodvare pavattam manokammam
c’ati kammadvaravasena tividham hoti.
Tatha danasila-bhavana-vasena cittuppa-
davasena pan’ etam atthavidham pi.

Dana-sila-bhavana-pacayana- veyyavacca-
pattidana-pattanumodana dhamma-savana-
dhamma-desana-ditthijjukammavasena dasa-
vidham hoti.
Tam pan’ etam visatividham pi kamavacara-
kammam’ icc’ eva sankham gacchati.
Råpavacarakusalam pana manokammam’
eva. Tan ca bhavanamayam appanappattam
jhanangabhedena pancavidham hoti.
Tatha Aråpavacarakusalan ca manokam-
mam, tam pi bhavanamayam appanappattam
alambanabhedena catubbidham hoti.
Ettha akusalakammam’ uddhaccarahitam
apayabhåmiyam patisandhim janeti. Pavat-
tiyam pana sabbam pi dvadasvidham.
Sattakusalapakani sabbattha’ pi kamaloke
råpaloke ca yatharaham vipaccanti.
Kamavacarakusalam pi ca kamasugatiyam’
eva patisandhim janeti. Tatha pavattiyan ca
mahavipakani. Ahetukavipakani pana attha’
pi sabbattha’ pi kamaloke råpaloke ca
yatharaham vipaccanti.
Tatth’ api tihetukam’ ukkattham kusalam
tihetukam patisandhim datva pavatte sola-
savipakani vipaccati.

Tihetukam’ omakam dvihetukam’ ukkatthan
ca kusalam dvihetukam patisandhim datva
pavatte tihetukarahitani dvadasa vipakani
vipaccati. Dvihetukam’ omakam pana kusalam’
ahetukam’ eva patisandhim deti. Pavatte ca
ahetukavipakan’ eva vipaccati.
§8.Asankharam sasankhara-vipakani na paccati
Sasankharam asankhara-vipakani’ ti kecana.
Tesam dvadasapakani dasattha ca yathakka-
Yatha vuttanusarena yathasambhavam’
§9.Råpavacarakusalam pana pathamajjhanam
parittam bhavetva Brahmaparisajjesu uppaj-
janti. Tad’ eva majjhimam bhavetva Brahma-
purohitesu, panitam bhavetva Maha-
Tatha dutiyajjhanam tatiyajjhanan ca
parittam bhavetva Parittabhesu. Majjhimam
bhavetva Appamanabhesu; panitam bhavetva
Abhassaresu. Catutthajjhanam parittam bha-
vetva Parittasubhesu; majjhimam bhavetva
Appamanasubhesu; panitam bhavetva
Subhakinhesu. Pancamajjhanam bhavetva

Tam’ eva sannaviragam bhavetva Asanna-
Anagamino pana Suddhavasesu uppajjanti.
Aråpavacarakusalan ca yathakkamam
bhavetva aruppesu uppajjanti.
§10.Ittham mahaggatam punnam yathabhåmi
Janeti sadisam pakam patisandhippavattiyam.
Idam’ ettha Kammacatukkam.
iv.Fourfold Kamma (29)
§7.(i)With respect to function there are four
kinds of Kamma—namely,
(a)Reproductive Kamma (30), (b) Sup-
portive Kamma (31), (c) Obstructive Kamma
(32) and (d) Destructive Kamma (33).
(ii)With respect to the order in which the effect
of Kamma takes place there are four kinds of
(a)Weighty Kamma (34), (b) Proximate
Kamma (35), (c) Habitual Kamma (36), and
(d) Reserve Kamma (37).

(iii) With respect to the time of taking effect
there are four kinds of Kamma—namely,
(a)Immediately Effective Kamma (38)
(b)Subsequently Effective Kamma, (c) Indefi-
nitely Effective Kamma and (d) Defunct Kamma.
(iv) With respect to the place in which effect
takes place there are four kinds of Kamma—
(a)Immoral Kamma, (b) Moral Kamma
pertaining to the Sense-Sphere, (c) Moral
Kamma pertaining to the råpa plane, and
(d)Moral Kamma pertaining to the aråpa plane.
Of them Immoral Kamma is threefold
according to the doors of action—namely,
bodily action, verbal action, and mental action.
How ?
Killing, stealing, and sexual misconduct are
bodily actions done generally (39) through the
door of the body, known as bodily intimation
Lying, slandering, harsh speech, and vain
talk are verbal actions done generally through
the door of speech, known as verbal intimation

Covetousness, illwill, and false belief (42)
are mental actions done generally through the
mind itself without (bodily or verbal) intimation.
Of them killing, harsh speech, and illwill spring from the
root of hatred. Sexual misconduct, covetousness, and false
belief, from the root of attachment; the remaining four
arise from the two roots.
According to the classes of consciousness Immoral
Kamma is twelvefold.
Moral Kamma of the Kama-plane is threefold accord-
ing to the doors of action—namely, deeds pertaining to the
door of the body, verbal actions pertaining to the door of
speech, mental actions pertaining to the door of the mind.
Similarly it is eightfold according to the classes of con-
sciousness such as generosity, morality, and meditation.
It is also tenfold121 according to (i) generosity,
(ii)morality, (iii) meditation, (iv) reverence, (v) service,
(vi) transference of merit, (vii) rejoicing in (others’) merit,
(viii) hearing the doctrine, (ix) teaching the doctrine,
(x)and straightening one’s views (42).
All these twenty kinds are regarded as Kamma per-
taining to the kama-plane.
Moral Kamma of the råpa-plane is purely mental
action, and is caused by meditation. According to the
jhana factors that involve ecstasy it is fivefold.
121.Of these ten, vi and vii are included in generosity (dana), iv, and v in morality
(sila), viii, ix and x in meditation (bhavana).

Similarly moral Kamma of the aråpa-plane is mental
action, and is also caused by meditation. According to the
objects of jhana that involve ecstasy, it is fourfold.
Herein immoral Kamma, excluding restlessness,
causes rebirth in a woeful state. But during lifetime all the
twelve take effect (44).
The seven unwholesome resultants are experienced
anywhere in the kama plane and the råpa plane according
to circumstances.
Moral Kamma (45), of the kama-plane produces re-
birth in the blissful kama-plane. Similarly the eight Great re-
sultants (are experienced) during lifetime. The eight (whole-
some) rootless resultants are experienced anywhere in the
kama plane and råpa-plane according to circumstances.
Therein the highest moral Kamma (46) accompanied
by three roots, produces rebirth similarly accompanied by
the three roots. During lifetime it gives effect to sixteen
kinds of resultants.
Moral Kamma, accompanied by three roots of a
lower class (47) and by two roots of a higher class, produc-
es rebirth with two roots, and gives effect to twelve result-
ants, excluding those with three roots, during lifetime.
But moral Kamma, accompanied by two roots of a
lower class, produces rebirth without roots, and gives
effect to rootless resultants during lifetime.
122. See Ch, I.
123. Uddhacca is too weak to produce rebirth.
124.The eight Beautiful and eight rootless resultants.

Unprompted moral consciousness does not pro-
duce a prompted resultant. Some say that a prompted
moral consciousness does not produce an unprompted
§8.Some (teachers) (48) say that unprompted thoughts
do not produce prompted resultants and prompted
thoughts do not produce unprompted resultants.
According to them, as stated above, the arising of the
resultants, in due order, twelve, ten and eight (49) should
be set forth.
§9.As regards moral Kamma of the råpa-plane, those
who develop the first jhana to a minor degree are born
amongst the Brahma’s Retinue. Developing the same to a
Medium degree, they are born amongst the Brahma’s Min-
isters. Developing them to a high degree, they are born
amongst the Maha Brahma gods.
Similarly, developing the second jhana and the third
jhana to a minor degree, they are born amongst the gods of
Minor Lustre. Developing them to a medium degree, they
are born amongst gods of Infinite Lustre. Developing them
to a high degree, they are born amongst the Radiant gods.
Developing the fourth jhana to a minor degree, they
are born amongst the gods of Minor Aura. Developing it to
a medium degree, they are born amongst gods full of
unlimited Aura. Developing it to a high degree, they are
born amongst gods of Steady Aura.

Developing the fifth jhana, they are born amongst
the gods of the Great Reward.
Developing it with no attachment to consciousness,
they are born amongst beings without consciousness.
The Never-Returners are born in the Pure Abodes (50).
Developing moral Kamma pertaining to the Formless
Sphere, they are born in Formless Spheres in correspond-
ing order.
§10.Thus sublimated merit, determined according to
spheres, produces similar results (both) at rebirth and in
one’s lifetime.
Herein this is the fourfold Kamma.
29.Kamma, Samskrt Karma, lit., means action or
doing. Strictly speaking, Kamma means all moral and
immoral volition (cetana). It covers all that is included in
the phrase—‘thought, word and deed’. It, is the law of
moral causation. In other words, it is action and reaction
in the ethical realm, or ‘action influence’ as Westerners
say. It is not fate or predestination. It is ones own doing
reacting on oneself.
Every volitional action, except that of a Buddha or of
an Arahant, is called Kamma. The Buddhas and Arahants
do not accumulate fresh Kamma as they have eradicated
ignorance and craving, the roots of Kamma.

Kamma is action and Vipaka, fruit or result, is its
reaction. It is the cause and the effect. Like a seed is
Kamma. Vipaka (effect) is like the fruit arising from the
tree. As we sow, we reap somewhere and sometime in this
life or in a future birth. What we reap today is what we
have sown either in the present or in the past.
Kamma is a law in itself, and it operates in its own
field without the intervention of an external, independent
ruling agency.
Inherent in Kamma is the potentiality of producing its
due effect. The cause produces the effect; the effect explains
the cause. The seed produces the effect; the fruit explains
the seed; such is their relationship. Even so are Kamma and
its effect; “the effect already blooms in the cause.”
According to Abhidhamma, Kamma constitutes the
twelve types of immoral consciousness, eight types of
moral consciousness pertaining to the Sense-sphere
(kamavacara), five types of moral consciousness pertain-
ing to the realms of Forms (råpavacara), and four types of
moral consciousness pertaining to the Formless realms
The eight types of supramundane consciousness
(Lokuttara Citta) are not regarded as Kamma and Vipaka,
because they tend to eradicate the roots of Kamma that
condition rebirth. In the supramundane consciousness
wisdom (panna) is predominant, while in the ordinary
types of consciousness volition (cetana) is predominant.
These twenty-nine types of consciousness are called

Kamma because the reproductive power is inherent in
them. Just as every object is accompanied by a shadow,
even so every volitional activity is accompanied by its due
These types of consciousness that are experienced
as inevitable consequence of good and bad thoughts are
called resultant consciousness (vipaka). The 23 types
(7+ 8 + 8) of resultant consciousness pertaining to the
Sense-sphere, the five types of resultant consciousness
pertaining to the realms of Form, and the four types of
resultant consciousness pertaining to the Formless
realms, are called vipaka or fruition of Kamma.
See ‘The Life of the Buddha and his Teachings’,
pp.129–133 and ‘Manual of Buddhism’, pp. 79–88.
30. Every birth is conditioned by a past good or bad
Kamma which predominates at the moment of death. The
Kamma that conditions the future birth is called Reproduc-
tive (Janaka) Kamma.
The death of a person is merely “the temporary end
of a temporary phenomenon”. Though the present form
perishes another form which is neither the same nor abso-
lutely different takes place according to the potential
thought-vibrations generated at the death moment, as the
Kammic force which propels the life-flux still survives. It is
this last thought, which is technically called Reproductive
Kamma, that determines the state of a person in his sub-
sequent birth. This may be either a good or bad Kamma.

According to the commentary Janaka Kamma is that
which produces mental aggregates and material aggre-
gates at the moment of conception. The initial conscious-
ness which is termed the patisandhi vinnana (rebirth-
consciousness) is conditioned by this Janaka Kamma.
Simultaneous with the arising of the rebirth consciousness
there arise the ‘body-decad’, ‘sex-decad’, and ‘base-decad’
(kaya-bhava-vatthu dasaka).
The body-decad is composed of the four elements—
namely, the element of extension (pathavi), the element of
cohesion (apo), the element of heat (tejo), the element of
motion (vayo); its four derivatives (upada råpa)—namely,
colour (vanna), odour (gandha), taste (rasa), nutritive
essence (oja), vitality (jivitindriya), and body (kaya). Sex-
decad and base-decad also consist of the first nine and sex
(bhava) and seat of consciousness (vatthu) respectively.
From this it is evident that the sex is determined at
the very conception of a being. It is conditioned by Kamma
and is not a fortuitous combination of sperm and ovum
cells. Pain and happiness, one experiences in the course of
one’s lifetime, are the inevitable consequences of Janaka
31.Upatthambhaka—that which comes near the
Reproductive Kamma and supports it. It is either good or
bad and it assists or maintains the action of the Reproduc-
tive Kamma in the course of one’s lifetime. Immediately
after the conception till the death moment this Kamma

steps forward to support the Reproductive Kamma. A
moral supportive Kamma assists in giving health, wealth,
happiness, etc., to the person concerned. An immoral Sup-
portive Kamma, on the other hand, assists in giving pain,
sorrow, etc., to the person born with an immoral reproduc-
tive Kamma as, for instance, to a beast of burden.
32.Upapióaka—Obstructive or Counteractive
Kamma which, unlike the former, tends to weaken, inter-
rupt and retard the fruition of the Reproductive Kamma.
For instance, a person born with a good Reproductive
Kamma may be subject to various ailments etc., thus pre-
venting him from enjoying the blissful results of his good
action. An animal, on the other hand, who is born with a
bad Reproductive Kamma, may lead a comfortable life by
getting good food, lodging, etc., as a result of his good
Counteractive Kamma preventing the fruition of the evil
Reproductive Kamma.
33.Upaghataka—According to the Law of Kamma
the potential energy of the Reproductive Kamma could be
nullified by a more powerful opposing Kamma of the past,
which, seeking an opportunity, may quite unexpectedly
operate, just as a counteractive powerful force can
obstruct the path of a flying arrow and bring it down to the
ground. Such an action is called Destructive Kamma which
is more effective than the previous two in that it not only
obstructs but also destroys the whole force. This Destruc-
tive Kamma also may be either good or bad.

As an instance of the operation of all four, the case of
Devadatta, who attempted to kill the Buddha and who
caused a schism in the Sangha, may be cited. His good
Reproductive Kamma conditioned him a birth in a royal
family. His continued comforts and prosperity were due to
the action of the Supportive Kamma. The counteractive
Kamma came into operation when he was subject to much
humiliation as a result of his being excommunicated from
the Sangha. Finally the Destructive Kamma brought his life
to a miserable end.
34.Garuka—which means either weighty or seri-
ous, may be either good or bad. It produces its results in
this life or in the next for certain. If good, it is purely men-
tal as in the case of the Jhanas. Otherwise it is verbal or
bodily. The five kinds of Weighty Kamma according to
their gravity are:— (i) The creation of a schism in the
Sangha, (ii) The wounding of a Buddha, (iii) The murder
of an Arahant, (iv) matricide, and (v)parricide.
These are also known as ânantariya Kamma because
they definitely produce their effects in the subsequent life.
Permanent Scepticism (niyata micchaditthi) is also termed
one of the weighty Kammas.
If, for instance, any person were to develop the jha-
nas and later were to commit one of these heinous crimes,
his good Kamma would be obliterated by the powerful evil
Kamma. His subsequent birth will be conditioned by the
evil Kamma in spite of his having gained the jhanas earlier.

Devadatta lost his psychic powers and was born in an evil
state, because he wounded the Buddha and caused a
schism in the Sangha.
King Ajatasattu would have attained the first stage of
Sainthood if he had not committed parricide. In this case
the powerful evil Kamma acted as an obstacle to his gain-
ing Sainthood.
35.âsanna or Death-proximate Kamma is that
which one does or remembers immediately before the
dying moment. Owing to its significance in determining
the future birth, the custom of reminding the dying person
of his good deeds and making him do good acts on his
death-bed still prevails in Buddhist countries.
Sometimes a bad person may die happily and receive
a good birth if fortunately he remembers or does a good act
at the last moment. A story runs that a certain executioner,
who casually happened to give some alms to the Venerable
Sariputta, remembered this good act at the dying moment
and was born in a state of bliss. This does not mean that
although he enjoys a good birth he will be exempt from the
effects of the evil deeds accumulated during his lifetime.
They will have their due effects as occasions arise.
At times a good person may die unhappily by sud-
denly remembering an evil act of his or by harbouring
some unpleasant thought, perchance compelled by un-
favourable circumstances. Queen Mallika, the consort of
King Kosala, led a righteous life, but as a result of remem-

bering, at her death moment, a lie which she had uttered,
she had to suffer for about seven days in a state of misery.
These are only exceptional cases. Such reverse
changes of birth account for the birth of virtuous children
to vicious parents and of vicious children to virtuous par-
ents. As a rule the last thought-process is conditioned by
the general conduct of a person.
36.âcinna Kamma is that which one habitually
performs and recollects and for which one has a great
Habits whether good or bad become second nature.
They tend to form the character of a person. At leisure
moments we often engage ourselves in our habitual
thoughts and deeds. In the same way at the death-moment,
unless influenced by other circumstances, we, as a rule,
recall to mind such thoughts and deeds.
Cunda, a butcher, who was living in the vicinity of
the Buddha’s monastery, died squealing like a pig because
he was earning his living by slaughtering pigs.
King Dutthagamani of Ceylon was in the habit of giv-
ing alms to the Bhikkhus before he took his meals. It was
this habitual Kamma that gladdened him at the dying
moment and gave him birth in Tusita Realm.
37. Katatta—Reserve or Cumulative Kamma. Liter-
ally, it means ‘because done’. All actions that are done
once and soon forgotten belong to this category. This is as
it were the reserve fund of a particular being.

38.Ditthadhammavedaniya Kamma is that which
is experienced in this particular life. Ditthadhamma means
this present life.
According to Abhidhamma one does both good and
evil during the javana process which usually lasts for seven
thought-moments. The effect of the first thought-moment,
being the weakest, one may reap in this life itself. This is
called the Immediately Effective Kamma. If it does not
operate in this life, it is called Defunct or Ineffective
(Ahosi). The next weakest is the seventh thought-moment.
Its evil effect one may reap in the subsequent birth. This is
called Upapajjavedaniya Kamma. This, too, becomes inef-
fective if it does not operate in the second birth. The effects
of the intermediate thought-moments may take place at
any time until one attains Nibbana. This type of Kamma is
known as Aparapariyavedaniya—Indefinitely Effective. No
one, not even the Buddhas and Arahants, is exempt from
this class of Kamma which one may experience in the
course of one’s wanderings in Samsara. There is no special
class of Kamma known as Ahosi, but when such actions
that should produce their effects in the present life or in a
subsequent life do not operate, they are termed Ineffective.
39.Bahullavuttito—This term is used because
these actions may be done through the other doors as well.
40.Kayavinnatti—expressing the intention through
bodily movements.

41.Vacivinnatti—expressing the intention through
42. By false beliefs are meant the following three
misconceptions:— i. Everything has sprung up without a
cause (ahetuka ditthi). ii. Good and bad produce no effect,
(akiriya ditthi) and iii. There is no after-life (natthika ditthi).
43. i. e., by viewing rightly such as—it is beneficial
to give alms etc.
44. The evil effects of the twelve types of immoral
consciousness are the seven types of rootless resultant con-
sciousness. They may take effect in the course of one’s life-
45. The desirable effects of moral actions are the
eight types of rootless resultant consciousness and the
eight types of Beautiful resultant consciousness. The
effects of the eight types of moral consciousness may not
only serve as rebirth consciousness but also give rise to dif-
ferent types of resultant consciousness in the course of
one’s lifetime.
46.Ukkattha—lit., up (u) drawn (
√ kas). A
highest class of moral Kamma is that which is attendant
with good causes before and after the commission of the
act. For instance, an alms given to the most virtuous with
righteously obtained wealth, with no later repentance, is
considered a ‘highest’ moral Kamma.

47.Omaka—Inferior. While giving alms one may
experience a moral consciousness with the three good
roots. But, if he were to give to the vicious with unright-
eously obtained wealth, and with later repentance, it is
regarded as an inferior Kamma.
48. They are the teachers of the school of Maha-
dhammarakkhita Thera of Moravapi Monastery in Ceyion.
49. Twelve—8 ahetuka vipakas and either 4 Prompt-
ed Resultants or 4 Unprompted Resultants.
Ten—8 ahetuka vipakas and 2 prompted or 2 un-
prompted resultants unaccompanied by wisdom.
Eight—8 ahetukas.
50. The Sotapannas and Sakadagamis, who de-
velop the fifth jhana, are born in the Vehapphala plane.
But those Sotapannas and Sakadagamis who develop a dis-
passion for material existence, are born in formless realms.
The Anagamis who have developed the fifth jhana and
who possess the five faculties such as confidence, energy,
mindfulness, concentration, and wisdom to an equal degree
are born in the Vehapphala plane. Those who surpass in
confidence (saddha) are ‘born in the Aviha plane; those
who surpass in energy (viriya) in Atappa plane; those who
surpass in mindfulness (sati) in Sudassa plane; those who
surpass in concentration (samadhi) in Suddassi plane; and
those who surpass in wisdom (panna) in Akanittha plane.

There is no fixed rule that Anagamis are not born in
other suitable planes.
(Te pana annattha na nibbattantiti niyamo natthi—
‘Dry-visioned’ (sukkha-vipassaka) Anagamis who
have followed the contemplation course develop jhanas
before death and are consequently born in the Pure Abodes.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Kamma / Karma / Law of cause and effect

Kamma / Karma / Law of cause and effect

Karma (Sanskrit, also karman, Pāli: Kamma) means "action" or "doing"; whatever one does, says, or thinks is a karma. In Buddhism, the term karma is used specifically for those actions which spring from the intention (Sanskrit: cetanā, Pali: cetana) of an unenlightened being.

These bring about a fruit (Sanskrit, Pali: phala) or result (S., P.: vipāka; the two are often used together as vipākaphala), either within the present life, or in the context of a future rebirth. Other Indian religions have different views on karma. Karma is the engine which drives the wheel of the cycle of uncontrolled rebirth (S., P. saṃsāra) for each being. In the early texts it is not, however, the only causal mechanism influencing the lives of sentient beings.

As one scholar states, "the Buddhist theory of action and result (karmaphala) is fundamental to much of Buddhist doctrine, because it provides a coherent model of the functioning of the world and its beings, which in turn forms the doctrinal basis for the Buddhist explanations of the path of liberation from the world and its result, nirvāna."

In the early sutras, as found in the Pali Canon and the Agamas preserved in Chinese translation, "there is no single major systematic expostion" on the subject of karma and "an account has to be put together from the dozens of places where karma is mentioned in the texts." Nevertheless, the Buddha emphasized his doctrine of karma to the extent that he was sometimes referred to as kammavada (the holder of the view of karma) or kiriyavada (the promulgator of the consequence of karma).

In the Nibbedhika Sutta (Anguttara Nikaya 3.415) the Buddha said:

"Intention (P. cetana, S. cetanā), monks, is karma, I say. Having willed, one acts through body, speech and mind."

In the Upajjhatthana Sutta (AN 5.57), the Buddha states:

"I am the owner of my karma. I inherit my karma. I am born of my karma. I am related to my karma. I live supported by my karma. Whatever karma I create, whether good or evil, that I shall inherit."

According to Buddhist theory, every time a person acts there is some quality of intention at the base of the mind and it is that quality rather than the outward appearance of the action that determines the effect. If one appears to be benevolent but acts with greed, anger or hatred, then the fruit of those actions will bear testimony to the fundamental intention that lay behind them and will be a cause for future unhappiness. The Buddha spoke of wholesome actions (P. kusala-kamma, S. kuśala-karma) that result in happiness, and unwholesome actions (P. akusala-kamma, S. akuśala-karma) that result in unhappiness. The Buddha also elaborated that it was impossible for virtuous action to produce unfavorable results, and for nonvirtuous action to produce favorable results. However, although a good deed may produce merit which ripens into wealth, if that deed was done too casually or the intention behind it was not quite pure, that wealth so obtained sometimes cannot be enjoyed (AN.4.392-393). There are two classes of determined deeds which always produce good or bad results (fixed results, P. niyato-rasi) respectively, and a class of deeds which may produce either good or bad results (non-fixed results, P. aniyato-rasi) presumably depending on the context, although the Buddha does not elaborate (DN 3.217). Good karma is described as generating merit (P. puñña, S. puñya), whereas bad karma is described as demerit (apuñña/apuñya or pāpa).

The Buddha most often spoke of karma as the determining factor of the realm of one's subsequent rebirth--for this reason karma is often explained in tandem with rebirth and cosmology. The Cūlakammavibhanga Sutta ("The Shorter Exposition of Action," Majjhima Nikaya 3.203) is devoted to describing the various rebirths that various kinds of actions produce; negative actions such as killing lead to rebirths in the lower realms such as hell, and virtuous action such as gracious behavior under duress leads to rebirth in the human or other higher realms. Further, within human rebirths in particular, virtuous actions produce desirable qualities and good fortune such as physical beauty, influence, and so forth, whereas nonvirtuous actions lead to ugliness, poverty, and other misfortunes. The Mahākammavibhanga Sutta ("The Greater Exposition of Action," MN.3.208) is a similar exposition, with the additional stipulation that other rebirths may intervene between the time of the virtuous or nonvirtuous actions and the rebirth that they impel.

The Buddha denied one could avoid experiencing the result of a karmic deed once it's been committed (AN 5.292). In the Anguttara Nikaya, it is stated that karmic results are experienced either in this life (P. diṭṭadhammika) or in a future lives (P. samparāyika). The former may involve a readily observable connection between action and karmic consequence, as when a thief is captured and tortured by the authorities, but the connection need not necessarily be that obvious and in fact usually is not observable. Among the results which manifest in future lives, five heinous actions (P. ànantarika-kamma) provoke a rebirth in hell immediately subsequent to death, according to the Vinaya: matricide, patricide, killing an arhat, intentional shedding of a Buddha's blood, and causing a schism in the sangha (Vinaya 5.128).

The Buddha makes a basic distinction between past karma (P. purānakamma) which has already been incurred, and karma being created in the present (P. navakamma). Therefore in the present one both creates new karma (P. navakamma) and encounters the result of past karma (P. kammavipāka). Karma in the early canon is also threefold: Mental action (S. manaḥkarman), bodily action (S. kāyakarman) and vocal action (S. vākkarman).

The Buddha's theory of karmic action and effect did not encompass all causes (S. hetu) and results (S. vipāka). Any given action may cause all sorts of results, but the karmic results are only that subset of results which impinge upon the doer of the action as a consequence of both the moral quality of the action and the intention behind the action. In the Abhidharma they are referred to by specific names for the sake of clarity, karmic causes being the "cause of results" (S. vipāka-hetu) and the karmic results being the "resultant fruit" (S. vipāka-phala). As one scholar outlines, "the consequences envisioned by the law of karma encompass more (as well as less) than the observed natural or physical results which follow upon the performance of an action." The law of karma also applies "specifically to the moral sphere . . not concerned with the general relation between actions and their consequences, but rather with the moral quality of actions and their consequences, such as the pain and pleasure and good or bad experiences for the doer of the act." The theory of karma is not deterministic, in part because past karma is not viewed as the only causal mechanism causing the present. In the case of diseases, for instance, he gives a list of other causes which may result in disease in addition to karma (AN.5.110).

The Buddha's theory of moral behavior was not strictly deterministic; it was conditional. His description of the workings of karma is not an all-inclusive one, unlike that of the Jains. The Buddha instead gave answers to various questions to specific people in specific contexts, and it is possible to find several causal explanations of behavior in the early Buddhist texts.

In the Buddhist theory of karma, the karmic effect of a deed is not determined solely by the deed itself, but also by the nature of the person who commits the deed and by the circumstances in which it is committed.

A discourse in the Anguttara Nikaya (AN.1.249) indicates this conditionality:

A certain person has not properly cultivated his body, behavior, thought and intelligence, is inferior and insignificant and his life is short and miserable; of such a person ... even a trifling evil action done leads him to hell. In the case of a person who has proper culture of the body, behavior, thought and intelligence, who is superior and not insignificant, and who is endowed with long life, the consequences of a similar evil action are to be experienced in this very life, and sometimes may not appear at all.

The Buddha declared that the precise working of how karma comes to fruition was one of the four incomprehensibles (P. acinteyya or acinnteyyāni) for anyone without the insight of a Buddha (AN.2.80). The Buddha sees the workings of karma with his "superhuman eye." Contemporary scholar Bruce Matthews asserts that the Cūlakammavibhanga Sutta (M.3.203) indicates that karma provokes "tendencies or conditions rather than consequences as such;" presumably he counts the rebirths resulting from karma described in the sutta as "tendencies or conditions" rather than "consequences," although he does not elaborate the point.

In the Lakkhana Sutta (Digha Nikaya 30), the Buddha explains that his thirty-two special physical characteristics are the fruition of past karma.

There is a further distinction between worldly, wholesome karma that leads to samsāric happiness (like birth in higher realms), and path-consciousness which leads to enlightenment and nirvana. Therefore, there is samsāric good karma, which leads to worldly happiness, and there is liberating karma—which is supremely good, as it ends suffering forever. Once one has attained liberation one does not generate any further karma, and the corresponding states of mind are called in Pali Kiriya. Nonetheless, the Buddha advocated the practice of wholesome actions: "Refrain from unwholesome actions/Perform only wholesome ones/Purify the mind/This is the teaching of the Enlightened Ones" (Dhp v.183).

In Buddhism, the term karma refers only to samsāric actions, the workings of which are modeled by the twelve nidanas of dependent origination, not actions committed by Arhats and Buddhas.

In Buddhism, karma is not pre-determinism, fatalism or accidentalism, as all these ideas lead to inaction and destroy motivation and human effort. These ideas undermine the important concept that a human being can change for the better no matter what his or her past was, and they are designated as "wrong views" in Buddhism. The Buddha identified three:

1. Pubbekatahetuvada: The belief that all happiness and suffering, including all future happiness and suffering, arise from previous karma, and human beings can exercise no volition to affect future results (Past-action determinism).
2. Issaranimmanahetuvada: The belief that all happiness and suffering are caused by the directives of a Supreme Being (Theistic determinism).
3. Ahetu-appaccaya-vaada: The belief that all happiness and suffering are random, having no cause (Indeterminism or Accidentalism).

Karma is continually ripening, but it is also continually being generated by present actions, therefore it is possible to exercise free will to shape future karma. P.A. Payutto writes, "the Buddha asserts effort and motivation as the crucial factors in deciding the ethical value of these various teachings on kamma."

As the earliest Buddhist philosophical schools developed with the rise of Abhidharma Buddhism, various interpretations developed regarding more refined points of karma. All were confronted with a central issue, as one scholar summarizes:

When [the Buddhist] understanding of karma is correlated to the Buddhist doctrine of universal impermanence and No-Self, a serious problem arises as to where this trace is stored and what the trace left is. The problem is aggravated when the trace remains latent over a long period, perhaps over a period of many existences. The crucial problem presented to all schools of Buddhist philosophy was where the trace is stored and how it can remain in the ever-changing stream of phenomena which build up the individual and what the nature of this trace is.

As the Buddha had not offered elaboration in the early sutras that addresses this, the various schools proposed various similar yet distinct solutions. As one scholar writes, "In certain cases it is apparent that concern with karma doctrine or vocabulary explanatory thereof played a distinctly causal role in sectarian evolution. In other cases it is safer to say that the concern for an intelligible karma vocabulary was one among many complex factors that helped give decisive shape and substance to already distinct or emerging sectarian positions."

One scholar summarizes the various orientations as follows:

Different sects gave different names to their theoretical candidates for the "carrier of the Karma" . . The following schools are associated with the following entities: Sammitīya—the avipranāśa or 'indestructible', a dharma of the citta-viprayukta class. Sarvāstivādin/Vaibhāṣika tradition—prāpti and aprāpti or adhesion and non-adhesion, and the avijñapti·rūpa or form that does not indicate. Sautrāntika tradition—the bīja or seed, the ekarasa-skandha or aggregate of unique essence, the mulāntika-skandha or proximate root aggregate and the paramārtha-pudgala. Yogācāra/Vijñānavādin tradition—the ālaya-vijñāna or store house' consciousness. Again, the central question that these entities seem to have been constructed to answer is that of how the karmic force inheres in the psychophysical stream without thereby coloring or pervading each discrete moment of that stream. What accounts for the "idling" or non-active aspect of defilement when a given thought is of a virtuous or morally indeterminate nature?

In the Theravāda Abhidhamma and commentarial traditions, karma is taken up at length. The Abhidhamma Sangaha of Anuruddhācariya offers a treatment of the topic, with an exhaustive treatment in book five (5.3.7).

Of particular interest is the Kathāvatthu, which "alone of the works of the Pali canon is directly concerned with conflicting views within the Buddhist community. . . A number of the controverted points discussed in the Kathāvatthu relate either directly or indirectly to the notion of kamma." This involved debate with the Pudgalavādin school, which postulated the provisional existence of the person (S. pudgala, P. puggala) to account for the ripening of karmic effects over time. The Kathāvatthu also records debate by the Theravādins with the Andhakas (who may have been Mahāsāṃghikas) regarding whether or not old age and death are the result (vipāka) of karma. The Theravāda maintained that they are not—not, apparently because there is no causal relation between the two, but because they wished to reserve the term vipāka strictly for mental results--"subjective phenomena arising through the effects of kamma."

The Visuddhimagga states that "the kamma that is the condition for the fruit does not pass on there (to where the fruit is)."

In the canonical Theravāda view of kamma, "the belief that deeds done or ideas seized at the moment of death are particularly significant."

As scholar Peter Harvey notes, "one curious feature of the Abhidamma view of the perceptual process is that the discernments related to the five physical sense organs are always said to be fruitions of karma." However, in agreement with scholar L.S. Cousins he agrees that the most "plausible" explanation "is that karma affects discernment by determining which of the many phenomena in a person's sensory range are actually noticed . . in the same room, for example, one person naturally tends to notice certain things which give rise to pleasure, while another tends to notice things which give rise to some displeasure."

As karma is not the only causal agent, the Theravādin commentarial tradition classifed causal mechanisms taught in the early texts in five categories, known as Niyama Dhammas:

* Kamma Niyama — Consequences of one's actions
* Utu Niyama — Seasonal changes and climate
* Biija Niyama — Laws of heredity
* Citta Niyama — Will of mind
* Dhamma Niyama — Nature's tendency to produce a perfect type

The Theravāda Abhidhamma also categories karma in other ways:
With regard to function

* Reproductive karma (janaka-kamma) - karma which produces the mental and material aggregates at the moment of conception, conditioning the rebirth-consciousness (patisandhi vinnana).
* Supportive karma (upatthambhaka kamma) - karma ripening in one's lifetime which is of the same favorable or unfavorable quality as the reproductive karma which impelled the rebirth in question. That is to say, in the case of an animal with an unpleasant life, the karma creating unpleasant conditions would be considered supportive of the reproductive karma which impelled what is considered an unfavorable rebirth.
* Obstructive or counteractive karma (upapidaka kamma) - the reverse of the former. In the example of the animal, an animal with a pleasant life would be said to have obstructive rather than supportive karma in relation to his reproductive karma.
* Destructive karma (upaghātaka kamma) - karma powerful enough to conteract the reproductive karma entirely, by ending the life in question.

With regard to potency

* Weighty kamma (garuka kamma) — that which produces its results in this life or in the next for certain, namely, the five heinous crimes (ānantarika-kamma)
* Proximate kamma (āsanna kamma) — that which one does or remembers immediately before the dying moment
* Habitual kamma (ācinna kamma) — that which one habitually performs and recollects and for which one has a great liking
* Reserve kamma (kaṭattā kamma) — refers to all actions that are done once and soon forgotten

With regard to temporal precedence

* Immediately effective kamma (diţţhadhammavedaniya kamma) - in the present lifetime
* Subsequently effective kamma (upapajjavedaniya kamma) - in the immediately following lifetime
* Indefinitely effective kamma (aṗarāpariyavedaniya kamma) - in lifetimes two or more in the future
* Defunct kamma (ahosi kamma) - kamma whose effects have ripened already

With regard to the realm-setting of the effect

* Unwholesome (akusala) kamma pertaining to the desire realm (kamavacara)
* Wholesome (kusala) kamma pertaining to the desire realm (kamavacara)
* Wholesome kamma pertaining to the form realm (rupavacara)
* Wholesome kamma pertaining to the formless realm (arupavacara)

source: wikipedia