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Wings to Awakening

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Title: Wings to Awakening: Part I

Summary:

Wings to Awakening

Part I

Basic Principles

by

Thanissaro Bhikkhu (Geoffrey DeGraff)

Alternate formats: wings_en.pdf (??pages/2MB) &nbsp; To request a printed copy of this book, write to: Mettā Forest Monastery, P.O. Box 1409, Valley Center, CA 92082, USA

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<!– robots content='none' –> <!– the following list is brought to you in living color by GetHList() –> <ul class='hlist'>

<li class='first'>[[index|Intro]]</li>
<li>Part I</li>
<li>[[part2|Part II]]</li>
<li>[[part3|Part III]]</li>
<li>[[end|End]]</li>

</ul>

Contents

<ol class=“nonSemantic-listA”> <li>Skillfulness (passages §§1-7)</li> <li>Kamma and the Ending of Kamma (§§8-17)</li> </ol>

<h1>A. Skillfulness &nbsp;<a title=“Go to top of page” class='back' href=“#top” name='part1-a' id=“part1-a”>&nbsp;</a></h1> <p>The Buddha's teachings, like the principles they describe, are inter-related in complex ways. It is difficult to point out any one teaching that underlies everything else, as all the teachings are mutually dependent. Nevertheless, there are a number of possible entry points into their pattern, and one of those points is the Buddha's observation that it is possible to master a skill.

Unlike many of his contemporaries — and many thinkers before and since — the Buddha did not try to reason from abstract principles down to direct experience. As we noted in the Introduction, the Buddha's contemporaries were influenced by the premier science of their time — astronomy — in the way they viewed experience, and it is easy to see prejudices derived from astronomy at work in their thought: that the universe is composed of discrete bodies acting in line with regular, linear causes; and that human knowledge of these processes has no impact on the way they behave. These prejudices, when applied to human experience, resulted in what the Buddha called theories of being, or what we today would call theories of order: that the processes of the universe can be totally explained in terms of physical principles that follow linear causal patterns unaffected by human intervention. The various conclusions that developed out of this approach differed primarily in how one's soul — viewed in various ways either as a discrete thing or as a more abstract principle — was to look for release from this vast cosmic machine. Some insisted that action was illusory; others, that action was real but totally determined by fixed rules, serving only to bind one to the impersonal cycle.

In reaction to the theories of being, the Lokayatans proposed a theory of non-being or absolute chaos that, like all reactionary ideologies, was defined largely by what it denied. Although it admitted the primacy of the physical universe, it denied that any causal laws operated on the observable, human level. Everything, the Lokayatans said, was totally spontaneous, random, and chaotic. No personal souls were observable, and thus human identity was composed only of the temporary conjunction of elements that made up the body, terminating when those elements separated at death.

In a manner typical of his approach to problems, the Buddha avoided both sides of this argument by focusing directly on the level of immediate experience and exploring the implications of truths that both sides overlooked. Instead of fixing on the content of the views expressed, he considered the actions of those who were expressing the views. The logic either of total determinism or of total chaos must end in the conclusion that purposeful action is pointless, and yet adherents of both schools continued to act in purposeful ways. The fact that each side advanced an interpretation of reality implied that both agreed that there were skillful and unskillful ways of approaching the truth, for each insisted that the other used unskillful forms of observation and argumentation to advance its views. Thus the Buddha looked directly at skillful action in and of itself, worked out its implications in viewing knowledge itself as a skill — rather than a body of facts — and found that those implications carried him all the way to release.

We have already touched on how implications drawn from the fact of skillful action shaped the major outlines of the Buddha's teachings. It will be useful to review those implications here. To begin with, the fact that skills can be developed implies that action is not illusory, that it actually gives results. Otherwise, there would be no such thing as skill, for no actions would be more effective than others. The fact of skillfulness also implies that some results are preferable to others, for otherwise there would be no point in trying to develop skills. In addition, the fact that it is possible to learn from mistakes in the course of developing a skill, so that one's future actions may be more skillful, implies that the cycle of action, result, and reaction is not entirely deterministic, and that acts of perception, attention, and intention can actually provide new input as the cycle goes through successive turns.

The important element in this input is attention. Anyone who has mastered a skill will realize that the process of attaining mastery requires attention to three things: (1) to pre-existing conditions, (2) to what one is doing in relation to those conditions, and (3) to the results that come from one's actions. This threefold focus enables one to monitor one's actions and adjust them accordingly. In this way, one's attention to conditions, actions, and effects allows the results of an action to feed back into future action, thus allowing for refinement in one's skill. By working out the implications of these requirements, the Buddha arrived at the principle of this/that conditionality, in which multiple feedback loops — sensitive to pre-existing conditions, to present input, and to their combined outcome — account for the incredible complexity of the world of experience in a way similar to that of modern theories of “deterministic chaos.” In this sense, even though this/that conditionality may seem somewhat alien when viewed in the abstract, it is actually a very familiar but overlooked assumption that underlies all conscious, purposeful action. The Buddha simply explored the implications of this assumption much further than anyone else, all the way to the disbanding of space, time, and the present, together with their inherent stress.

These implications of the fact of skillfulness account for the main framework of the Buddha's doctrine as expressed in the teachings on the four noble truths, dependent co-arising, and this/that conditionality. Other facets of skillful action also account for more detailed points within this framework. For instance, the Buddha's exploration of stress and its origination, in the light of skillful action, provided the analysis of mental and physical events (“name-and-form,” <i>nama-rupa)</i> that played a central role in the second noble truth as expressed in terms of dependent co-arising.

The first lesson of skillfulness is that the essence of an action lies in the intention motivating it: an act motivated by the intention for greater skillfulness will give results different from those of an act motivated by greed, aversion, or delusion. Intention, in turn, is influenced by the appropriateness or inappropriateness of the act of attention to one's circumstances. The less an act of attention is clouded by delusion, the more clearly it will see things in appropriate terms. The combination of attention and intention in turn determines the quality of the feeling and the physical events that result from the act. The more skilled the action, the more refined the feelings and physical events that result. Perceptions arise with regard to those results, some more appropriate than others. The act of attention selects which ones to focus on, thus feeding back into another round in the cycle of action, with all its inherent instabilities and uncertainties. Underlying the entire cycle is the fact that all its factors are in contact with consciousness. This constellation of factors came to form the central causal connection in one of the Buddha's most basic formulations of dependent co-arising, in which the mutual dependence of “name” (attention, intention, feeling, perception, and contact) and “form” (physical events) on the one hand, and consciousness on the other, accounted for the arising of all stress §§218, 228].

The interplay of name, form, and consciousness also plays a role in the formulation of the third and fourth noble truths, providing an answer to the quandary of how the stress and suffering inherent in the cycle of action can be ended. If one tried simply to stop the cycle through a direct intention, the intention itself would count as a factor to keep the cycle going. This double bind can be dissolved, however, if one can watch as the contact between consciousness and the cycle naturally falls away. This possibility requires, not an attempt at inaction, but even greater skillfulness in all the factors of action. Convinced that the only way to true happiness would be to find a way out of the cycle, that there had to be such a way, and that this was it, the Bodhisatta developed each of the factors of skillful action to an even higher degree of skill.The most skillful form of attention, he discovered, was to view all of experience in terms of the four noble truths: stress, its origination, its cessation, and the path of practice leading to its cessation.

These truths not only formed his most basic teaching §188], but also played a role in the path of practice leading to the cessation of stress, as the factor of right view. The most skillful form of intention was to engage in the directed thoughts and evaluations that would lead the mind to the stillness of mental absorption. These factors played a role both as aspects of the path factor of right concentration and as the highest form of path factor of right resolve §106]. The most refined forms of feeling and perception were the feelings of pleasure and equanimity and their accompanying levels of perception in the highest states of mental absorption DN 9; §164], later included in the path factor of right concentration as well §102].

The Wings to Awakening — as alternate expressions of the path to the cessation of stress — are also shaped by the implications of the fact of skillfulness. These implications account directly for the main factors in the Wings — the qualities of equanimity, concentration, and discernment that are needed to develop skillfulness — and indirectly for all the other qualities on which these qualities depend. As expressed in the non-linear pattern of this/that conditionality, these implications also account for the way in which the factors in the Wings must act as supports for one another in a pattern of mutual feedback. And, in the most general terms, the fact that skillfulness leads ultimately to a dimension where skillfulness is transcended, accounts for a paradoxical dynamic common to all seven sets that form the Wings: the meditator must intentionally make use of qualities from which he/she wants to escape, gaining familiarity with them in the course of mastering them to the point where they are naturally stilled. There the transcendent paths and their fruitions take over. This is the sense in which even the path of right practice must eventually be abandoned, but only after it has been brought to the culmination of its development.

Many people have misunderstood this point, believing that the Buddha's teachings on non-attachment require that one relinquish one's attachment to the path of practice as quickly as possible. Actually, to make a show of abandoning the path before it is fully developed is to abort the entire practice. As one teacher has put it, a person climbing up to a roof by means of a ladder can let go of the ladder only when safely on the roof. In terms of the famous raft simile §§113-114], one abandons the raft only after crossing the flood. If one were to abandon it in mid-flood, to make a show of going spontaneously with the flow of the flood's many currents, one could drown.

When the factors of the path <i>are</i> mutually brought to a state of consummation, however, there occurs a point of equipoise called “non-fashioning” <i>(atammayata)</i> §179], in which their contact with consciousness — still fully conscious — naturally becomes disengaged. In terms of chaos theory, this compares to a point of “resonance,” where the equations defining a non-linear system interact in such a way that one of their members is divided by zero, meaning that anything entering such a point would be undefined in terms of the system, and so released. The moon, for instance, if it entered one of the resonances in the combined gravitational fields of the earth and the sun, would be freed from its orbit around both. And just as the forces of gravity would be required to bring the moon to this freedom from gravity, in the same way the path of skillful action would be required to bring the mind to the point of non-fashioning, where the cycle of action is brought to an end. This is how all experience of stress, suffering, and the entire cosmos conditioned by time and the present is brought to an end as well, leaving the limitless freedom of “consciousness without feature§235], the endpoint of all human striving.

Thus we can say that the Dhamma — in terms of doctrine, practice, and attainment — derives from the fully explored implications of one observation: that it is possible to master a skill. This point is reflected not only in the content of the Buddha's teachings, but also in the way they are expressed. The Buddha used many metaphors, explicit and implicit, citing the skills of craftsmen, artists, and athletes to illustrate his points. The texts abound with explicit similes referring to acrobats, archers, bathmen, butchers, carpenters, farmers, fletchers, herdsmen, musicians, painters, etc., pointing out how their skills correspond either to the way the mind fashions stress and suffering for itself, or to the skills a meditator needs to develop in order to master the path to release. On the implicit level, the passages dealing with meditation are filled with terms derived from music theory. In his younger days as a prince, the Bodhisatta — like other young aristocrats of his time — was undoubtedly a connoisseur of the musical arts, and so was naturally familiar with the theory that lay behind them. Because the terminology of this theory is so pervasive in the teachings he formulated as a Buddha, it will be useful to discuss it here briefly.

Unfortunately, we do not have a full treatise on the theory of musical performance as practiced during the Buddha's time, but there are enough references to music scattered through the texts for us to piece together the outlines of that theory. The first step in performance was to tune one's instrument, “establishing” one's tonic note (literally, “base,” <i>thana)</i> to make it on-pitch (“even,” or <i>sama),</i> then to fine-tune or attune (“ferret out” or “penetrate”) the remaining notes (again, “bases”) of the scale in relation to the tonic. This required a great deal of skill, sensitivity, and some mathematical knowledge, as the well-tempered scale had not yet been developed, and many different ways of calculating the scale were in use, each appropriate to a different emotion. The musician then picked up the theme <i>(nimitta)</i> of the composition. The theme functioned in several ways, and thus the word “theme” carried several meanings. On the one hand it was the essential message of the piece, the image or impression that the performer wanted to leave in the listener's mind. On the other hand, it was the governing principle that determined what ornamentation or variations would be suitable to the piece.

These musical terms recur throughout the Buddha's discussion of meditation §§66, 74, 86, 150, 161, etc.]. For instance, in one context the Buddha says that one should establish one's persistence to the right pitch, attune the remaining faculties to that pitch, and then pick up one's theme. In other contexts, he says that one should become attuned to a particular theme, or that one should develop meditation in tune with a particular object. Impossibilities are said to be “non-base,” analogous to tones that cannot function as musical notes. There are enough passages to show that the Buddha used this terminology conscious of its musical connotations, and that he wanted to make the point that the practice of meditation was similar to the art of musical performance. We should thus try to be sensitive to these terms and their implications, for the comparison between music and meditation is a useful one.

In the most general sense, this comparison underlines the fact that the knowledge needed for release from suffering is the same sort as that involved in mastering a skill — a continued focus on the present, a sensitivity to one's context, one's own actions, and their combined consequences, rather than a command of an abstract body of facts. To develop the path is to become more and more sensitive to the present — in particular, more sensitive to one's own sensitivity and its consequences. This is similar to the way in which a musician must learn to listen to his/her own performance, a process that ultimately involves listening to the quality of one's listening itself. The greater one's sensitivity in listening, the more profound one's performances become. In the same way, the greater one's sensitivity to one's own mind in the development of skillful qualities, the more one abandons the causes of suffering and realizes its cessation.

In addition to this general observation, the comparison between music and meditation highlights a number of practical points in the development of meditative skill. First, it underscores the need for flexibility and ingenuity in the practice, tempered by an awareness of the limits of how far that flexibility can go. A skilled musician in the Buddha's time had to master not one but many tuning systems so as to handle a full range of musical themes, while simultaneously knowing which ways of tuning were unworkable. In the same way, a skilled meditator should know of many valid ways of tuning the mind to the theme of its meditation — and should have a command of them all so as to deal with various contingencies as they arise — but at the same time must be aware that some varieties of meditation simply do not lead to Awakening. In this light, the seven sets of the Wings to Awakening can be viewed as the Buddha's complete list of workable systems for tuning the mind. (There is evidence suggesting that seven is the number of musical tuning systems <i>(gramaraga)</i> recognized in the Buddha's time.) The implication here is that any path of practice deviating from these systems would be like an instrument tuned to a discordant scale, and would not be in harmony with the way of the contemplative <i>(samana)</i> who aims at a life in tune <i>(sama)</i> with the Dhamma.

A second point is that the musical analogy makes vivid the need for balance in meditative practice, a lesson that appears repeatedly in the texts §§66, 86, 97, 161]. Just as a musical instrument should neither be too sharp nor too flat, the mind on the path has to find a balance between excessive energy and excessive stillness. At the same time, it must constantly watch out for the tendency for its energy to slacken in the same way that stringed instruments tend to go flat. The “rightness” of right view and other factors of the path thus carries the connotation not only of being correct, but also of being “just right.”

A third point is that this analogy helps clarify passages in the texts that speak of attaining the goal without effort §62]. Taken out of context, these passages seem to contradict or totally negate the many other passages that focus on the need for effort in the practice. Viewed in context of the music analogy, however, they make perfect sense. Like a musical virtuoso, one develops skill to the point where it becomes effortless, but the perfection of the skill does not negate the fact that it took a great deal of effort to reach that level of mastery.

In fact, the Buddha's path is a meta-skill — the full art or science of skillfulness, in and of itself — in which one focuses on the mind as the source of what is skillful and unskillful, learns to deal skillfully with unskillful states of mind, then to deal more skillfully even with skillful states to the point of focusing not on the skill, but on the skill of acquiring a skill, so that one ultimately sees what lies both in the skillfulness and beyond §61].</p>

<img src=“./../../../../img/dalberding8.gif” alt='* * *' />

<p>The passages included in this first section cover three themes: (1) how the distinction between what is skillful and not is fundamental to the practice; (2) how to determine what is skillful and not; and (3) how to become skillful in developing skillful states of mind. Because these issues are so basic, the passages are fairly self-explanatory. A few of their facets, however, are easy to overlook.

First, it is important to note that the definition of skillful states of mind as free of greed, aversion, and delusion, provides a convenient rule of thumb for distinguishing between intentions that are merely good and those that are actually skillful. Sometimes good intentions are colored by ignorance, as when one tries to help another person without knowing the true source of that person's problem. This would qualify as a good but not a skillful intention. As we have noted, the processes of causality are sensitive and complex. Thus there is no getting by on well-meaning intentions alone. One must monitor one's actions continually to make sure that they are, in fact, appropriate to the present situation and not based on ignorance. Delusion, even well-meaning delusion, is a source for unskillful acts. For this reason, one needs to be constantly observant of one's actions and their effects §6] so that one's good intentions can truly become skillful, and one's actions can actually do justice to the specific conditions in the here and now produced by the process of this/that conditionality.

Second, the distinction between skillful and unskillful provides an insightful explanation for the causes for good and evil behavior. This distinction is not limited to the values of any particular society, and it avoids the issue of whether beings are inherently good or bad. When people act in evil ways, it is because they lack skill in the way they think; when they think in skillful ways, they naturally will do good. Because skill is something that can be acquired, the way to goodness is open for all people who want to be good, no matter how badly they have behaved in the past. The Canon tells of people who had committed misdeeds and, upon realizing their mistakes, confessed them to the Buddha. The most striking instance was King Ajatasattu DN 2], who had killed his father in order to secure his position on the throne. In spite of the gross nature of the deed, the Buddha approved of the king's confession, and — instead of playing on any feelings of guilt the king might have had — encouraged him in his determination to mend his ways, adding that it is a cause for progress in the noble way if one realizes one's mistakes as such and resolves not to repeat them. Thus it is always possible to make a fresh start in life, aware of one's past bad kamma and resolving to mend one's ways, unburdened with any feelings that one might be inherently unworthy or bad.

Third, it is important to note the two basic factors, internal and external, that enable one to tell what is skillful and unskillful. The main internal factor is “appropriate attention,” §53] which is well illustrated in §1. One learns to view one's thoughts objectively, without partiality, in terms of their actual consequences. As this factor develops from a sense of conviction in the principle of kamma §§9-17], it turns into the ability to view all of experience in terms of the four noble truths §51].

The main external factor is friendship with admirable people §54], defined as those who live by the principle of kamma. From their teachings, one can learn the advisability of trying to develop skillfulness in the first place; in their behavior, one can see skillfulness in action. These internal and external factors reinforce one another, in that skillful attitudes lead one to seek out admirable people to begin with, and admirable people lead one by word and example to see the less obvious advantages of skillful attitudes. Fortunately, every human being alive has some skillful qualities in his or her mind, as well as access to people who are admirable on at least some level. Thus no one consciously starting on the Buddhist path is starting from scratch. Rather, each person is advised to make the most of opportunities that have already been present and to search for further opportunities to develop the mind in a skillful direction.

The two prerequisites for skillfulness are amplified in §2. The discourse from which this passage comes — the Discourse to the Kalamas — is often referred to as the Buddha's charter of free inquiry, because of the emphasis it lays on seeing the truth for oneself, without reliance on outside authority. This interpretation, however, misses one of the important clauses in the discourse, where the Buddha says that one must take note of what wise people censure and praise. In other words, one must check one's own perceptions against those of people of upright character and solid experience, for until one gains Awakening, one's perceptions are bound to be partial and biased. This is why the Buddha says §115] that friendship with admirable people — which begins with the ability to recognize admirable people — is the whole of the life of practice.

The interaction between appropriate attention and friendship with admirable people in mastering skillful mental qualities is well-illustrated in §6. This passage, in which the Buddha shortly after his Awakening is instructing his seven-year-old son (who was born just before Prince Siddhattha left home), shows very explicitly how one develops appropriate attention by reflecting on the consequences of one's actions before, while, and after acting. If one realizes, after acting, that what looked like a proper action before and while acting actually turned out to have unfavorable consequences, one should confess the mistake to one's experienced friends on the path. This allows one to benefit from their counsel and also to make public one's resolve not to make the same mistake again. In this way, although one is responsible for treading the path oneself, one can benefit from the wisdom and encouragement of those already familiar with the way.

Passages from the Pali canon &nbsp;<a title="Go to top of page" class='back' href="#top" name='part1-a-passages' id="part1-a-passages">&nbsp;</a>

<b>§ 1.</b> Before my self-awakening, when I was still just an unawakened Bodhisatta, the thought occurred to me: 'Why don't I keep dividing my thinking into two classes?' So I made thinking imbued with sensuality, thinking imbued with ill will, & thinking imbued with harmfulness one class, and thinking imbued with renunciation, thinking imbued with non-ill will, & thinking imbued with harmlessness another class.

And as I remained thus heedful, ardent, & resolute, thinking imbued with sensuality arose in me. I discerned that 'Thinking imbued with sensuality has arisen in me; and that leads to my own affliction or to the affliction of others or to the affliction of both. It obstructs discernment, promotes vexation, & does not lead to Unbinding.'

As I noticed that it leads to my own affliction, it subsided. As I noticed that it leads to the affliction of others… to the affliction of both… it obstructs discernment, promotes vexation, & does not lead to Unbinding, it subsided. Whenever thinking imbued with sensuality had arisen, I simply abandoned it, destroyed it, dispelled it, wiped it out of existence. [Similarly with thinking imbued with ill will & harmfulness.]

Whatever a monk keeps pursuing with his thinking & pondering, that becomes the inclination of his awareness. If a monk keeps pursuing thinking imbued with sensuality, abandoning thinking imbued with renunciation, his mind is bent by that thinking imbued with sensuality. [Similarly with thinking imbued with ill will & harmfulness.]

Just as in the last month of the Rains, in the autumn season when the crops are ripening, a cowherd would look after his cows: he would tap & poke & check & curb them with a stick on this side & that. Why is that? Because he foresees flogging or imprisonment or a fine or public censure arising from that [if he let his cows wander into the crops]. In the same way I foresaw in unskillful qualities drawbacks, degradation, & defilement, and I foresaw in skillful qualities rewards related to renunciation & promoting cleansing.

And as I remained thus heedful, ardent, & resolute, thinking imbued with renunciation arose in me. I discerned that 'Thinking imbued with renunciation has arisen in me; and that leads neither to my own affliction, nor to the affliction of others, nor to the affliction of both. It fosters discernment, promotes lack of vexation, & leads to Unbinding. If I were to think & ponder in line with that even for a night… even for a day… even for a day & night, I do not envision any danger that would come from it, except that thinking & pondering a long time would tire the body. When the body is tired, the mind is disturbed; and a disturbed mind is far from concentration.' So I steadied my mind right within, settled, unified, & concentrated it. Why is that? So that my mind would not be disturbed. [Similarly with thinking imbued with non-ill will & harmlessness.]

Whatever a monk keeps pursuing with his thinking & pondering, that becomes the inclination of his awareness. If a monk keeps pursuing thinking imbued with renunciation, abandoning thinking imbued with sensuality, his mind is bent by that thinking imbued with renunciation. [Similarly with thinking imbued with non-ill will & harmlessness.]

Just as in the last month of the hot season, when all the crops have been gathered into the village, a cowherd would look after his cows: while resting under the shade of a tree or out in the open, he simply keeps himself mindful of 'those cows.' In the same way, I simply kept myself mindful of 'those mental qualities.'

Unflagging persistence was aroused in me, and unmuddled mindfulness established. My body was calm & unaroused, my mind concentrated & single. Quite secluded from sensuality, secluded from unskillful (mental) qualities, I entered & remained in the first jhāna: rapture & pleasure born of seclusion, accompanied by directed thought & evaluation. With the stilling of directed thoughts & evaluations, I entered & remained in the second jhāna: rapture & pleasure born of concentration, unification of awareness free from directed thought & evaluation — internal assurance. With the fading of rapture I remained equanimous, mindful, & alert, and sensed pleasure with the body. I entered & remained in the third jhāna, of which the noble ones declare, 'Equanimous & mindful, he has a pleasant abiding.' With the abandoning of pleasure & pain — as with the earlier disappearance of joys & distresses — I entered & remained in the fourth jhāna: purity of equanimity & mindfulness, neither pleasure nor pain.

When the mind was thus concentrated, purified, bright, unblemished, rid of defilement, pliant, malleable, steady, & attained to imperturbability, I directed it to the knowledge of recollecting my past lives. I recollected my manifold past lives, i.e., one birth, two… five, ten… fifty, a hundred, a thousand, a hundred thousand, many aeons of cosmic contraction, many aeons of cosmic expansion, many aeons of cosmic contraction & expansion: 'There I had such a name, belonged to such a clan, had such an appearance. Such was my food, such my experience of pleasure & pain, such the end of my life. Passing away from that state, I re-arose there. There too I had such a name, belonged to such a clan, had such an appearance. Such was my food, such my experience of pleasure & pain, such the end of my life. Passing away from that state, I re-arose here.' Thus I remembered my manifold past lives in their modes & details.

This was the first knowledge I attained in the first watch of the night. Ignorance was destroyed; knowledge arose; darkness was destroyed; light arose — as happens in one who is heedful, ardent, & resolute.

When the mind was thus concentrated, purified, bright, unblemished, rid of defilement, pliant, malleable, steady, & attained to imperturbability, I directed it to the knowledge of the passing away & reappearance of beings. I saw — by means of the divine eye, purified & surpassing the human — beings passing away & re-appearing, and I discerned how they are inferior & superior, beautiful & ugly, fortunate & unfortunate in accordance with their kamma: 'These beings — who were endowed with bad conduct of body, speech & mind, who reviled the noble ones, held wrong views and undertook actions under the influence of wrong views — with the breakup of the body, after death, have re-appeared in the plane of deprivation, the bad destination, the lower realms, in hell. But these beings — who were endowed with good conduct of body, speech, & mind, who did not revile the noble ones, who held right views and undertook actions under the influence of right views — with the breakup of the body, after death, have re-appeared in the good destinations, in the heavenly world.' Thus — by means of the divine eye, purified & surpassing the human — I saw beings passing away & re-appearing, and I discerned how they are inferior & superior, beautiful & ugly, fortunate & unfortunate in accordance with their kamma.

This was the second knowledge I attained in the second watch of the night. Ignorance was destroyed; knowledge arose; darkness was destroyed; light arose — as happens in one who is heedful, ardent, & resolute.

When the mind was thus concentrated, purified, bright, unblemished, rid of defilement, pliant, malleable, steady, & attained to imperturbability, I directed it to the knowledge of the ending of the effluents. I discerned, as it had come to be, that 'This is stress… This is the origination of stress… This is the cessation of stress… This is the way leading to the cessation of stress… These are effluents… This is the origination of effluents… This is the cessation of effluents… This is the way leading to the cessation of effluents.' My heart, thus knowing, thus seeing, was released from the effluent of sensuality, released from the effluent of becoming, released from the effluent of ignorance. With release, there was the knowledge, 'Released.' I discerned that 'Birth is ended, the holy life fulfilled, the task done. There is nothing further for this world.'

This was the third knowledge I attained in the third watch of the night. Ignorance was destroyed; knowledge arose; darkness was destroyed; light arose — as happens in one who is heedful, ardent, & resolute.</p> <p class=“cite”>— MN 19

<b>§ 2.</b> As they were sitting to one side, the Kālāmas of Kesaputta said to the Blessed One, 'Venerable sir, there are some contemplatives & brahmans who come to Kesaputta. They expound & glorify their own doctrines, but as for the doctrines of others, they deprecate them, revile them, show contempt for them, & disparage them. And then other contemplatives & brahmans come to Kesaputta. They expound & glorify their own doctrines, but as for the doctrines of others, they deprecate them, revile them, show contempt for them, & disparage them. They leave us simply uncertain & doubtful: Which of these venerable contemplatives & brahmans are speaking the truth, and which ones are lying?'

'Of course you're uncertain, Kālāmas. Of course you're doubtful. When there are reasons for doubt, uncertainty is born. So in this case, Kālāmas, don't go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, “This contemplative is our teacher.” When you know for yourselves that, “These qualities are unskillful; these qualities are blameworthy; these qualities are criticized by the wise; these qualities, when undertaken & carried out, lead to harm & to suffering” — then you should abandon them…

'What do you think, Kālāmas? When greed arises in a person, does it arise for welfare or for harm?'

'For harm, lord.'

'And this greedy person, overcome by greed, his mind possessed by greed: Doesn't he kill living beings, take what is not given, go after another person's wife, tell lies, and induce others to do likewise, all of which is for long-term harm & suffering?'

'Yes, lord.'

[Similarly for aversion & delusion.]

So what do you think, Kālāmas? Are these qualities skillful or unskillful?'

'Unskillful, lord.'

'Blameworthy or blameless?'

'Blameworthy, lord.'

'Criticized by the wise or praised by the wise?'

'Criticized by the wise, lord.'

'When undertaken & carried out, do they lead to harm & to suffering, or not?'

'When undertaken & carried out, they lead to harm & to suffering…'

'…Now, Kālāmas, don't go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, “This contemplative is our teacher.” When you know for yourselves that, “These qualities are skillful; these qualities are blameless; these qualities are praised by the wise; these qualities, when undertaken & carried out, lead to welfare & to happiness” — then you should enter & remain in them.

'What do you think, Kālāmas? When lack of greed arises in a person, does it arise for welfare or for harm?'

'For welfare, lord.'

'And this ungreedy person, not overcome by greed, his mind not possessed by greed: He doesn't kill living beings, take what is not given, go after another person's wife, tell lies, or induce others to do likewise, all of which is for long-term welfare & happiness — right?'

'Yes, lord.'

[Similarly for lack of aversion & lack of delusion.]

So what do you think, Kālāmas? Are these qualities skillful or unskillful?'

'Skillful, lord.'

'Blameworthy or blameless?'

'Blameless, lord.'

'Criticized by the wise or praised by the wise?'

'Praised by the wise, lord.'

&nbsp;'When undertaken & carried out, do they lead to welfare & to happiness, or not?'

'When undertaken & carried out, they lead to welfare & to happiness…'</p>

<p class='cite'>— AN 3.65

<b>§ 3.</b> Now what is unskillful? Taking life is unskillful, taking what is not given… sexual misconduct… lying… abusive speech… divisive tale-bearing… idle chatter is unskillful. Covetousness… ill will… wrong views are unskillful. These things are termed unskillful.

And what are the roots of what is unskillful? Greed is a root of what is unskillful, aversion is a root of what is unskillful, delusion is a root of what is unskillful. These are termed the roots of what is unskillful.

And what is skillful? Abstaining from taking life is skillful, abstaining from taking what is not given… from sexual misconduct… from lying… from abusive speech… from divisive tale-bearing… abstaining from idle chatter is skillful. Lack of covetousness… lack of ill will… right views are skillful. These things are termed skillful.

And what are the roots of what is skillful? Lack of greed is a root of what is skillful, lack of aversion is a root of what is skillful, lack of delusion is a root of what is skillful. These are termed the roots of what is skillful.</p>

<p class='cite'>— MN 9</p>

<p><b>§ 4.</b> The Tathāgata, the Worthy one, the Rightly Self-awakened One has two Dhamma discourses given in sequence. Which two? 'See evil as evil.' This is the first Dhamma discourse. 'Having seen evil as evil, become disenchanted there, dispassionate there, released.' This is the second Dhamma discourse…</p>

…See evil Be dispassionate toward evil. Then, with a mind dispassionate you will put an end to suffering & stress.

<p class='cite'>— Iti 39</p>

<p><b>§ 5.</b> Abandon what is unskillful, monks. It is possible to abandon what is unskillful. If it were not possible to abandon what is unskillful, I would not say to you, 'Abandon what is unskillful.' But because it is possible to abandon what is unskillful, I say to you, 'Abandon what is unskillful.' If this abandoning of what is unskillful were conducive to harm and pain, I would not say to you, 'Abandon what is unskillful.' But because this abandoning of what is unskillful is conducive to benefit and pleasure, I say to you, 'Abandon what is unskillful.'

Develop what is skillful, monks. It is possible to develop what is skillful. If it were not possible to develop what is skillful, I would not say to you, 'Develop what is skillful.' But because it is possible to develop what is skillful, I say to you, 'Develop what is skillful.' If this development of what is skillful were conducive to harm and pain, I would not say to you, 'Develop what is skillful.' But because this development of what is skillful is conducive to benefit and pleasure, I say to you, 'Develop what is skillful.'</p>

<p class='cite'>— AN 2.19

<b>§ 6.</b> The Buddha: What do you think, Rāhula: What is a mirror for?

Rāhula: For reflection, sir.

The Buddha: In the same way, Rāhula, bodily actions, verbal actions, & mental actions are to be done with repeated reflection.

Whenever you want to perform a bodily action, you should reflect on it: 'This bodily action I want to perform — would it lead to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both? Is it an unskillful bodily action with painful consequences, painful results?' If, on reflection, you know that it would lead to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both; it would be an unskillful bodily action with painful consequences, painful results, then any bodily action of that sort is absolutely unfit for you to do. But if on reflection you know that it would not cause affliction… it would be a skillful bodily action with happy consequences, happy results, then any bodily action of that sort is fit for you to do.

[Similarly with verbal actions & mental actions.]

While you are performing a bodily action, you should reflect on it: 'This bodily action I am doing — is it leading to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both? Is it an unskillful bodily action, with painful consequences, painful results?' If, on reflection, you know that it is leading to self-affliction, to affliction of others, or both… you should give it up. But if on reflection you know that it is not… you may continue with it.

[Similarly with verbal actions & mental actions.]

Having performed a bodily action, you should reflect on it… If, on reflection, you know that it led to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both; it was an unskillful bodily action with painful consequences, painful results, then you should confess it, reveal it, lay it open to the Teacher or to a knowledgeable companion in the holy life. Having confessed it… you should exercise restraint in the future. But if on reflection you know that it did not lead to affliction… it was a skillful bodily action with happy consequences, happy results, then you should stay mentally refreshed & joyful, training day & night in skillful qualities.

[Similarly with verbal actions.]

Having performed a mental action, you should reflect on it… If, on reflection, you know that it led to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both; it was an unskillful mental action with painful consequences, painful results, then you should feel horrified, humiliated, & disgusted with it. Feeling horrified… you should exercise restraint in the future. But if on reflection you know that it did not lead to affliction… it was a skillful mental action with happy consequences, happy results, then you should stay mentally refreshed & joyful, training day & night in skillful qualities.

Rāhula, all the contemplatives & brahmans in the course of the past who purified their bodily actions, verbal actions, & mental actions, did it through repeated reflection on their bodily actions, verbal actions, & mental actions in just this way.

All the contemplatives & brahmans in the course of the future… All the contemplatives & brahmans at present who purify their bodily actions, verbal actions, & mental actions, do it through repeated reflection on their bodily actions, verbal actions, & mental actions in just this way.

Therefore, Rāhula, you should train yourself: 'I will purify my bodily actions through repeated reflection. I will purify my verbal actions through repeated reflection. I will purify my mental actions through repeated reflection.' Thus you should train yourself.

That is what the Blessed One said. Glad at heart, Ven. Rāhula delighted in the Blessed One's words.</p>

<p class='cite'>— MN 61

<b>§ 7.</b></p>

The non-doing of any evil, the performance of what's skillful, the cleansing of one's own mind: This is the Buddhas' teaching.

Not disparaging, not injuring, restraint in line with the Pāṭimokkha, moderation in food, dwelling in seclusion, commitment to the heightened mind: This is the Buddhas' teaching. <p class=“cite”>— DHP.183, 185</p>

<h1>B. Kamma & the Ending of Kamma &nbsp;<a title=“Go to top of page” class='back' href=“#top” name='part1-b' id=“part1-b”>&nbsp;</a></h1> <p>The Buddha's doctrine of kamma takes the fact of skillful action, which can be observed on the ordinary sensory level, and gives it an importance that, for a person pursuing the Buddhist goal, must be accepted on faith. According to this doctrine, skillful action is not simply one factor out of many contributing to happiness: it is the primary factor. It does not lead simply to happiness within the dimensions of time and the present: if developed to the ultimate level of refinement, it can lead to an Awakening totally released from those dimensions. These assertions cannot be proven prior to an experience of that Awakening, but they must be accepted as working hypotheses in the effort to develop the skillfulness needed for Awakening. This paradox — which lies at the heart of the act of taking refuge in the Triple Gem — explains why the serious pursuit of the Buddhist path is a sustained act of faith that can become truly firm and verified only with the first glimpse of Awakening, called stream-entry. It also explains why a strong desire to gain release from the stress and suffering inherent in conditioned existence is needed for such a pursuit, for without that desire it is very difficult to break through this paradox with the necessary leap of faith.

The basic context for the doctrine of kamma was provided by the first two insights on the night of the Buddha's Awakening — remembrance of previous lives, and insight into the death and rebirth of beings throughout the cosmos §1]. This context was expressed in terms of personal narrative (the story of the Bodhisatta's own journey from life to life) and cosmology (general principles underlying the workings of the cosmos as a whole). The possibility of rebirth accounted for the way in which kamma could shape experiences in life, such as the situation into which a young child is born, for which no kammic cause in the present lifetime could be found. The pattern of death and rebirth for all beings, in which the quality of the state of rebirth depends on the moral quality of actions performed in previous lifetimes, presented the possibility that moral standards, instead of being mere social conventions, were intrinsic to the workings of any and all experience of the cosmos.

Essential to the Buddha's second insight was his realization of the mind's role in determining the moral quality of actions. His analysis of the process of developing a skill showed him that skillfulness depended not so much on the physical performance of an act as on the mental qualities of perception, attention, and intention that played a part in it. Of these three qualities, the intention formed the essence of the act §10] — as it constituted the decision to act — while attention and perception informed it. Thus the skillfulness of these mental phenomena accounted for the act's kammic consequences. The less greed, aversion, and delusion motivating the act, the better its results. Unintentional acts would have kammic consequences only when they resulted from carelessness in areas where one would reasonably be held responsible. Intentional actions performed under the influence of right view — which on this level means conviction in the principle of kamma conviction in the principle of kamma II/E; III/A; §106] — led inherently to pleasant states of rebirth, while those performed under the influence of wrong view led to unpleasant states. Thus the quality of the views on which one acts — i.e., the quality of the perception and attention informing the intention — is a major factor in shaping experience. This observation undercuts the radical distinction between mind and material reality that is taken for granted in our own culture and was also assumed by many of the Samana schools of the Buddha's time. From the Buddha's viewpoint, mental and physical phenomena are two sides of a single coin, with the mental side of prior importance §8].

Most descriptions of the Buddha's teachings on kamma tend to stop here, but there are many passages on kamma in the Canon — and included in this section — that do not fit into the neat picture based merely the first two insights on the night of the Awakening. The only way to account for these passages is to note the simple fact that Buddha's teachings on kamma were shaped not only by these two insights, but also by the third insight and the resulting knowledge of Unbinding. The third insight explored the possibility of a fourth kind of kamma — in addition to good, bad, and a mixture of the two — that was skillful enough to bring about the ending of kamma §§16-17]. At the same time, in the course of developing the level of skillfulness needed to bring kamma to an end, the Buddha learned a great deal about the nature of action that forced him to recast his understanding of kamma in much more subtle terms. The knowledge of Unbinding — which followed on the full development of this fourth type of kamma and the realizations that accompanied it — acted as proof that the understandings comprising the three insights were true. To explore these points will not only help give us a more complete understanding of the Buddha's teachings on kamma, but will also show why conviction in the principle of skillful kamma is essential to Buddhist practice.

In his effort to master kamma in such a way as to bring kamma to an end, the Buddha discovered that he had to abandon the contexts of personal narrative and cosmology in which the issue of kamma first presented itself. Both these forms of understanding deal in categories of being and non-being, self and others, but the Buddha found that it was impossible to bring kamma to an end if one thought in such terms. For example, narrative and cosmological modes of thinking would lead one to ask whether the agent who performed an act of kamma was the same as the person experiencing the result, someone else, both, or neither. If one answered that it was the same person, then the person experiencing the result would have to identify not only with the actor, but also with the mode of action, and thus would not be able to gain release from it. If one answered that it was another person, both oneself and another, or neither, then the person experiencing the result would see no need to heighten the skill or understanding of his/her own kamma in the present, for the experience of pleasure and pain was not his or her own full responsibility. In either case, the development of the fourth type of kamma would be aborted §§228-229].

To avoid the drawbacks of the narrative and cosmological mind-sets, the Buddha pursued an entirely different tack — what he called “entry into emptiness,” and what modern philosophy calls radical phenomenology: a focus on the events of present consciousness, in and of themselves, without reference to questions of whether there are any entities underlying those events. In the Buddha's case, he focused simply on the process of kammic cause and result as it played itself out in the immediate present, in the process of developing the skillfulness of the mind, without reference to who or what lay behind those processes. On the most basic level of this mode of awareness, there was no sense even of “existence” or “non-existence” §186], but simply the events of stress, its origination, its cessation, and the path to its cessation, arising and passing away. Through this mode he was able to pursue the fourth type of kamma to its end, at the same time gaining heightened insight into the nature of action itself and its many implications, including questions of rebirth, the relationship of mental to physical events, and the way kamma constructs all experience of the cosmos.

Because the Buddha gained both understanding of and release from kamma by pursuing the phenomenological mode of attention, his full-dress systematic analysis of kamma is also expressed in that mode. This analysis is included in his teachings on this/that conditionality, dependent co-arising, and the four noble truths: the three levels of refinement in the type of right view without effluents that underlay his mastery of the fourth type of kamma. Here we will consider, in turn, how each of these teachings shaped the Buddha's teachings on kamma, how the knowledge of Unbinding confirmed those teachings, and how the success of the phenomenological mode of analysis shaped the Buddha's use of narrative and cosmological modes in instructing others. We will conclude with a discussion of how these points show the need for conviction in the principle of kamma as a working hypothesis for anyone who wants to gain release from suffering and stress.

To begin with <b>this/that conditionality:</b> This principle accounts not only for the complexity of the kammic process, but also for its being regular without at the same time being rigidly deterministic. The non-linearity of this/that conditionality also accounts for the fact that the process can be successfully dismantled by radical attention to the present moment.

Unlike the theory of linear causality — which led the Vedists and Jains to see the relationship between an act and its result as predictable and tit-for-tat — the principle of this/that conditionality makes that relationship inherently complex. The results of kamma experienced at any one point in time come not only from past kamma, but also from present kamma. This means that, although there are general patterns relating habitual acts to corresponding results §9], there is no set one-for-one, tit-for-tat, relationship between a particular action and its results. Instead, the results are determined by the context of the act, both in terms of actions that preceded or followed it §11] and in terms one's state of mind at the time of acting or experiencing the result §13]. As we noted in the Introduction, the feedback loops inherent in this/that conditionality mean that the working out of any particular cause-effect relationship can be very complex indeed. This explains why the Buddha says in §12 that the results of kamma are imponderable. Only a person who has developed the mental range of a Buddha — another imponderable itself — would be able to trace the intricacies of the kammic network. The basic premise of kamma is simple — that skillful intentions lead to favorable results, and unskillful ones to unfavorable results — but the process by which those results work themselves out is so intricate that it cannot be fully mapped. We can compare this with the Mandelbrot set (see the cover of this book), a mathematical set generated by a simple equation, but whose graph is so complex that it will probably never be completely explored.

Although the precise working out of the kammic process is somewhat unpredictable, it is not chaotic. The relationship between kammic causes and their effects is entirely regular: when an action is of the sort that it will be felt in such and such a way, that is how its result will be experienced §13]. Skillful intentions lead to favorable results, unskillful ones to unfavorable results. Thus, when one participates in the kammic process, one is at the mercy of a pattern that one's actions put into motion but that is not entirely under one's present control. Despite the power of the mind, one cannot reshape the basic laws of cosmic causality at whim. These laws include the physical laws, within which one's kamma must ripen and work itself out. This is the point of passage §14, in which the Buddha explains that present pain can be explained not only by past kamma but also by a host of other factors; the list of alternative factors he gives comes straight from the various causes for pain that were recognized in the medical treatises of his time. If we compare this list with his definition of old kamma in §15, we see that many if not all of the alternative causes are actually the result of past actions. The point here is that old kamma does not override other causal factors operating in the universe — such as those recognized by the physical sciences — but instead finds its expression within them.

However, the fact that the kammic process relies on input from the present moment means that it is not totally deterministic. Input from the past may place restrictions on what can be done and known in any particular moment, but the allowance for new input from the present provides some room for free will. This allowance also opens the possibility for escape from the cycle of kamma altogether by means of the fourth type of kamma: the development of heightened skillfulness through the pursuit of the seven factors for Awakening and the noble eightfold path — and, by extension, all of the Wings to Awakening §§16-17].

The non-linearity of this/that conditionality explains why heightened skillfulness, when focused on the present moment, can succeed in leading to the end of the kamma that has formed the experience of the entire cosmos. All non-linear processes exhibit what is called scale invariance, which means that the behavior of the process on any one scale is similar to its behavior on smaller or larger scales. To understand, say, the large-scale pattern of a particular non-linear process, one need only focus on its behavior on a smaller scale that is easier to observe, and one will see the same pattern at work. In the case of kamma, one need only focus on the process of kamma in the immediate present, in the course of developing heightened skillfulness, and the large-scale issues over the expanses of space and time will become clear as one gains release from them.

The teaching on <b>dependent co-arising</b> helps to provide more detailed instructions on this point, showing precisely where the cycle of kamma provides openings for more skillful present input. In doing so, it both explains the importance of the act of attention in developing the fourth type of kamma, and acts as a guide for focusing attention on present experience in appropriate ways III/H/iii].

Dependent co-arising shows how the cosmos, when viewed in the context of how it is directly experienced by a person developing skillfulness, is subsumed entirely under factors that are immediately present to awareness: the five aggregates of form, feeling, perception, mental fabrication, and consciousness, and the six sense media §§212-213]. Included in this description is the Buddha's ultimate analysis of kamma and rebirth. The nexus of kamma, clinging, becoming, and birth accounts for the realm in which birth takes place §220], whereas the nexus of name-and-form with consciousness accounts for the arising and survival of the kammically active organism within that realm §231]. Also included in dependent co-arising is a detailed analysis of the way in which kamma can — but does not necessarily have to — lead to bondage to the cycle of rebirth. Unlike the Jains, the Buddha taught that this bondage was mental rather than physical. It was caused not by sticky substances created by the physical violence of an act, but by the fact that, when there is ignorance of the four noble truths III/H/i] (a subtle form of delusion, the most basic root of unskillfulness), the feeling that results from kamma gives rise to craving (a subtle form of greed and aversion), clinging, and becoming; and these, in turn, form the conditions for further kamma.

Thus the results of action, in the presence of ignorance, breed the conditions for more action, creating feedback loops that keep the kammic processes in motion. For this reason, the Buddha defined the effluents as clinging — expressed in some lists as sensuality, in others as sensuality and views — together with becoming and the ignorance that underlies them all. If ignorance of the four truths can be ended, however, feeling does not form a condition for craving or clinging, and thus there is no becoming to provide a realm for further kamma. Thus the mastery of the fourth type of kamma requires discernment of the four noble truths.

It is important to note that dependent co-arising makes no statements as to the existence or lack of existence of any entity to which these events pertain or to whom they belong §230]. As we noted above, such terms of analysis as “being,” “non-being,” “self,” or “other,” pertain properly to the modes of cosmology and personal narrative, and have no place in a radically phenomenological analysis. Questions and terms that derive from the conventions of narrative and the construction of a worldview have no place in the direct awareness of experience in and of itself. This is one reason why people who have not mastered the path of practice and who thus function primarily in terms of a worldview or a sense of their own personal story, find the teaching of dependent co-arising so inscrutable. Even though the Buddha's phenomenological approach answered his questions as to the nature of kamma, it also reshaped his questions so that they had little in common with the questions that most people bring to the practice. As with all insights gained on the phenomenological level, dependent co-arising is expressed in terms closest to the actual experience of events. Only when a person has become thoroughly familiar with that level of experience is the analysis fully intelligible. Thus, although the detailed nature of dependent co-arising is one of its strengths, it is also one of its weaknesses as a teaching tool, for the subtlety and complexity of the analysis can be intimidating even to advanced practitioners.

For this reason, the Buddha most often expressed the right view underlying the fourth type of kamma in terms of <b>the four noble truths.</b> These truths provide a more congenial entry point into the phenomenological mode of awareness for they focus the analysis of kamma directly on the question of stress and suffering: issues that tie in immediately with the narratives that people make of their own life experiences. As the Buddha noted in his second insight, his memory of previous lives included his experience of pleasure and pain in each life, and most people — when recounting their own lives — tend to focus on these issues as well. The four truths, however, do not stop simply with tales about stress: they approach it from the problem-solving perspective of a person engaged in developing a skill. What this means for the meditator trying to master the fourth type of kamma is that these truths cannot be fully comprehended by passive observation. Only by participating sensitively in the process of developing skillfulness and gaining a practical feel for the relationship of cause and effect among the mental factors that shape that process, can one eradicate the effluents that obstruct the ending of kamma II/B; III/E; III/H]. This point is underscored by a fact noted above: the ignorance and craving that are needed to keep the cycle of kamma in motion are subtle forms of the roots of unskillfulness. Thus, only through developing skillfulness to the ultimate degree can the cycle be brought to equilibrium and, as a result, disband.

The truth of the Buddha's understanding of the processes of kamma — as informed by this/that conditionality, dependent co-arising, and the four noble truths — was proven by <b>the knowledge of Unbinding</b> that followed immediately on his mastery of the fourth type of kamma. He found that when skillfulness is intentionally brought to a point of full consummation, as expressed in the direct awareness of this/that conditionality, it leads to a state of non-action, or non-fashioning, that forms the threshold to a level of consciousness in which all experience of the cosmos has fallen away. When one's experience of the cosmos resumes after the experience of Awakening, one sees clearly that it is composed entirely of the results of old kamma; with no new kamma being added to the process, all experience of the cosmos will eventually run out — or, in the words of the texts §225], “will grow cold right here.” This discovery proved the basic premise that kamma not only plays a role in shaping experience of the cosmos, it plays the primary role. If this were not so, then even when kamma was ended there would still remain the types of experience that came from other sources. But because no experience of the cosmos remained when all present kamma disbanded, and none would resume after all old kamma ran out, kamma would have to be the necessary factor accounting for all such experience. This fact implies that even the limiting factors that one encounters in terms of sights, sounds, etc., are actually the fruit of past kamma in thought, word, and deed — committed not only in this, but also in many preceding lifetimes. Thus, even though the Buddha's development of the fourth type of kamma focused on the present moment, the resulting Awakening gave insights that encompassed not only the present but also all of time.

Having used the phenomenological mode to solve the problem of kamma and reach Unbinding, however, the Buddha was not limited to that mode. After his Awakening, he was free to return at will to the narrative and cosmological modes of thought and speech, without being caught up in their presuppositions [DN 9]. For most people, he found, even the four noble truths were too alien to form an entry point into the teaching. Thus he had to use the narrative and cosmological modes of discourse to bring such people, step by step, to the point where they were ready to comprehend those truths. What he had learned in the final stage of his Awakening did not negate the validity of the first and second insights into kamma and rebirth; instead, it perfected them. The main change that the experience of Awakening made in his view of personal narrative and cosmology is that it opened them both to the dimension of release. The drama of kamma in the cosmos is not a closed cycle; the principles of kamma can be mastered to the point where they open to the way out, just as the gravity of the sun and earth could bring the moon to a point of resonance where it is freed from their power. The narrative of a person's course through the cosmos is not doomed to aimless and endlessly repeated death and rebirth; the person can tread the path of practice to Unbinding and so bring the narrative to an end.

Thus the Buddha used narrative and cosmological explanations to persuade his listeners to explore the phenomenology of skillful action so that they too might gain release; his descriptions of the role of action in shaping the vast expanses of space, time, and existence was designed to focus the listener's attention on the liberating potential of what he/she was doing in the here and now. Some of his most poignant teachings are narratives devoted to just this purpose:</p>

<p>What do you think, monks? Which is greater, the tears you have shed while transmigrating & wandering this long time — crying & weeping from being joined with what is displeasing, from being separated from what is pleasing — or the water in the four great oceans?… This is the greater: The tears you have shed… Why is that? From an inconceivable beginning, monks, comes transmigration. A beginning point is not evident, although beings hindered by ignorance and fettered by craving are transmigrating & wandering on. Long have you thus experienced stress, experienced pain, experienced loss, swelling the cemeteries — long enough to become disenchanted with all fabrications, enough to become dispassionate, enough to be released.</p> <p class=“cite”>— SN 15.3</p>

<p>The cosmological discourses — such as DN 26, DN 27, MN 129, and MN 130 — are aimed at a similar point. DN 26 describes how the evolution and devolution of the cosmos derive from the skillful and unskillful kamma of the beings who inhabit it, and ends with the admonition that one should make an island for oneself, safe from the process of the ups and downs of the cosmos. This island is nothing other than the practice of the four frames of reference, which, as we will see in II/B, are precisely the training aimed at familiarizing oneself with the phenomenology of skillful action. DN 27 shows how kamma accounts for the evolution of human society, ending with the statement that the most exalted member of society is the Arahant who has gained release through highest discernment. MN 129 and MN 130 give graphic descriptions of the levels of heaven and hell into which beings may be reborn after death through the power of good and bad kamma, MN 130 ending with a verse on the need to practice the path to non-clinging to escape the dangers of birth and death entirely.

Thus the experience of his Awakening gave a new purpose to narrative and cosmology in the Buddha's eyes: they became tools for persuading his listeners to adopt the training that would lead them to the phenomenological mode. This accounts for the ad hoc and fragmentary nature of the narratives and cosmological sketches in his teachings. They are not meant to be analyzed in a systematic way. It is a mistake to tease out their implications to see what they may say about such metaphysical questions as the existence or lack of existence of entities or identities underlying the process of kamma and rebirth, the relationship between the laws of kamma and the laws of the physical sciences, or the nature of the mechanism by which kamma makes its results felt over time see the discussion of appropriate questions in II/G]. The search for systematic answers to such issues is not only invalid or irrelevant from the Buddhist point of view, it is actually counterproductive in that it blocks one from entering the path to release. And, we should note, none of the modes of discourse — narrative, cosmological, or phenomenological — is capable of describing or even framing proper questions about what happens after Awakening, for such issues, which lie beyond the conditions of time and the present, cannot be properly expressed by the conventions of language and analysis, which are bound by those conditions. Only a person who has mastered the skill of release has the mental skills needed to comprehend such matters AN 4.174 <!–jtb 021227: AG calls it AN 4.173–>, MFU pp. 31-32]. The Buddha reserved his systematic explanations for the particular phenomenological mode to be used in viewing the process of kamma in its own terms, as it is being mastered, so that the actual problem of kamma and its retribution (as opposed to the theoretical questions about them) will be solved. The right way to listen to the narratives and cosmological sketches, then, is to see what they imply about one's own need to master the kammic process on the level of awareness in and of itself.

From these points it should become clear why kamma, as an article of faith, is a necessary factor in the path of Buddhist practice. The teaching on kamma, in its narrative and cosmological forms, provides the context for the practice, giving it direction and urgency. Because the cosmos is governed by the laws of kamma, those laws provide the only mechanism by which happiness can be found. But because good and bad kamma, consisting of good and bad intentions, simply perpetuate the ups and downs of experience in the cosmos, a way must be found out of the mechanism of kamma by mastering it in a way that allows it to disband in an attentive state of non-intention. And, because there is no telling what sudden surprises the results of one's past kamma may still hold in store, one should try to develop that mastery as quickly as possible.

In its phenomenological mode, the teaching on kamma accounts for the focus and the terms of analysis used in the practice. It also accounts for the mental qualities needed to attain and maintain that level of focus and analysis. In terms of focus, the principle of scale invariance at work in the complexities of kamma means that their essential processes can be mastered by focusing total attention on them right at the mind in the immediate present. This focus accounts for the practice of frames-of-reference meditation II/B], in which attention is directed at present phenomena in and of themselves. These phenomena are then analyzed in terms of the four noble truths, the phenomenological terms in which appropriate attention and discernment direct and observe the experience of developing the qualities of skillful action.

The most immediate skillful kamma that can be observed on this level is the mastery of the very same mental qualities that are supporting this refined level of focus and analysis: mindfulness, concentration, and discernment, together with the more basic qualities on which they are based. Thus, these mental qualities act not only as supports to the focus and analysis, but also as their object. Ultimately, discernment becomes so refined that the focus and analysis take as their object the act of focusing and analyzing, in and of themselves. The cycle of action then short-circuits as it reaches culmination, and Unbinding occurs. These elements of focus, analysis, and mental qualities, together with the dynamic of their development to a point of culmination, are covered by the teachings on the Wings to Awakening discussed in detail in Parts II and III. Thus the Wings can be viewed as a direct expression of the role of skillful kamma in the path to release.

It is entirely possible that a person with no firm conviction in the principle of kamma can follow parts of the Buddhist path, including mindfulness and concentration practices, and gain positive results from them. For instance, one can pursue mindfulness practice for the sense of balance, equanimity, and peace it gives to one's daily life, or for the sake of bringing the mind to the present for the purpose of spontaneity and “going with the flow.” The full practice of the path, however, is a skillful diverting of the flow of the mind from its habitual kammic streams to the stream of Unbinding. As the Buddha said, this practice requires a willingness to “develop and abandon” to an extreme degree AN 4.28]. The <i>developing</i> requires a supreme effort aimed at full and conscious mastery of mindfulness, concentration, and discernment to the point of non-fashioning and on to release. A lack of conviction in the principle of kamma would undercut the patience and commitment, the desire, persistence, intent, and refined powers of discrimination II/D] needed to pursue concentration and discernment to the most heightened levels, beyond what is needed for a general sense of peace or spontaneity. The <i>abandoning</i> involves uprooting the most deeply buried forms of clinging and attachment that keep one bound to the cycle of rebirth. Some of these forms of clinging — such as views and theories about self-identity — are so entrenched in the narrative and cosmological modes in which most people function that only firm conviction in the benefits to be had by abandoning them will be able to pry them loose. This is why the Buddha insisted repeatedly — and we will have occasion to return to this theme at several points in this book II/E; III/A] — that conviction in the fact of his Awakening necessarily involves conviction in the principle of kamma, and that both forms of conviction are needed for the full mastery of the kamma of heightened skillfulness leading to release.

The Canon contains many well-known passages where the Buddha asks his listeners not to accept his teachings simply on faith, but these remarks were directed to people just beginning the practice. Such people need only accept the general principles of skillful action on a trial basis, focusing on the input of their actions into the causal system at the present moment, and exploring the connection between skillful intentions and favorable results. The more complex issues of kamma come into play at this level only in forcing one to be patient with the practice. Many times skillful intentions do not produce their favorable results immediately, aside from the sense of well-being — sometimes clearly perceptible, sometimes barely — that comes with acting skillfully. Were it not for this delay, the principle of kamma would be self-evident, no one would dare act on unskillful intentions, and there would be no need to take the principle on faith. As we noted in the Introduction, the complexity of this/that conditionality is the major cause for the confusion and lack of skill with which most people live their lives. The ability to master this process takes time.

As one progresses further on the path, however — and as the process of developing skillfulness in and of itself comes more and more to take center stage in one's awareness — the actual results of developing skillfulness should give greater and greater reason for conviction in the principle of kamma. Except in cases where people fall into the trap of heedlessness or complacency, these results can spur and inspire one to hold to the principle of kamma with the increasing levels of firmness, focus, and refinement needed for Awakening.

Passages from the Pali canon &nbsp;<a title="Go to top of page" class='back' href="#top" name='part1-b-passages' id="part1-b-passages">&nbsp;</a>

<b>§ 8</b>.</p>

Phenomena are preceded by the heart,

ruled by the heart,
made of the heart.

If you speak or act with a corrupted heart, then suffering follows you — as the wheel of the cart,

the track of the ox 
that pulls it.

Phenomena are preceded by the heart, ruled by the heart, made of the heart. If you speak or act with a calm, bright heart, then happiness follows you, like a shadow

that never leaves.

<p class=“cite”>— DHP.1-2</p>

<p><b>§ 9.</b> Beings are owners of kamma, heir to kamma, born of kamma, related through kamma, and have kamma as their arbitrator. Kamma is what creates distinctions among beings in terms of coarseness & refinement…

There is the case where a certain woman or man is one who takes life — brutal, bloody-handed, violent, cruel, merciless to living beings. From performing & undertaking such kamma, then on the breakup of the body, after death, this person re-appears in the plane of deprivation, the bad destination, the lower realms, in hell. Or, if he/she does not reappear in the plane of deprivation… in hell, but instead returns to the human state, then wherever he/she is reborn, he/she is short-lived. This is the way leading to short life, namely being one who takes life…

But there is the case where a certain woman or man, abandoning the taking of life, abstains from the taking of life, dwelling with rod laid down, knife laid down, scrupulous, merciful, compassionate for the welfare of all living beings. From performing & undertaking such kamma, then on the breakup of the body, after death, this person re-appears in the good destinations, in the heavenly world. Or, if he/she does not reappear… in the heavenly world, but instead returns to the human state, then wherever he/she is reborn, he/she is long-lived. This is the way leading to long life, namely being one who, abandoning the taking of life, abstains from the taking of life…

Furthermore, there is the case where a certain woman or man has a tendency to injure living beings with the hand, with a clod, with a stick, or with a knife… On the breakup of the body, after death, this person re-appears in the plane of deprivation… in hell. Or, if he/she… instead returns to the human state, then wherever he/she is reborn, he/she is sickly. This is the way leading to being sickly, namely being one who has a tendency to injure living beings…

But there is the case where a certain woman or man does not have a tendency to injure living beings… This is the way leading to being healthy…

Furthermore, there is the case where a certain woman or man has an angry & irritable nature. Even when lightly criticized, he/she gets offended, provoked, hostile, & resentful, and displays annoyance, aversion, & bitterness… This is the way leading to being ugly…

But there is the case where a certain woman or man does not have an angry & irritable nature. Even when heavily criticized, he/she does not get offended, provoked, hostile, or resentful, and displays no annoyance, aversion, or bitterness… This is the way leading to being beautiful…

Furthermore, there is the case where a certain woman or man has an envious nature — envying, resenting, & begrudging the fortune, honor, respect, reverence, salutations, & veneration received by others… This is the way leading to having little authority…

But there is the case where a certain woman or man does not have an envious nature — neither envying, resenting, nor begrudging the fortune, honor, respect, reverence, salutations, & veneration received by others… This is the way leading to having great authority…

Furthermore, there is the case where a certain woman or man does not give food, drink, clothing, vehicles, garlands, scents, ointments, beds, dwellings, or lamps to contemplatives or brahmans… This is the way leading to being poor…

But there is the case where a certain woman or man gives food, drink, clothing, vehicles, garlands, scents, ointments, beds, dwellings, & lamps to contemplatives & brahmans… This is the way leading to being wealthy…

Furthermore, there is the case where a certain woman or man is obstinate & arrogant, not paying homage to those who deserve homage, not rising up for those in whose presence one should rise up, not offering a seat to those who deserve a seat, not making way for those for whom one should make way, not honoring, respecting, revering, or venerating those who should be honored… venerated. This is the way leading to being reborn in a low birth…

But there is the case where a certain woman or man is not obstinate or arrogant, who pays homage to those who deserve homage, rises up for those in whose presence one should rise up, offers a seat to those who deserve a seat, makes way for those for whom one should make way, honors, respects, reveres, & venerates those who should be honored… venerated. This is the way leading to being reborn in a high birth…

Furthermore, there is the case where a certain woman or man, having approached a contemplative or brahman, does not ask, “What, venerable sir, is skillful? What is unskillful? What is blameworthy? What is blameless? What is to be cultivated? What is not to be cultivated? What kind of action will lead to my long-term harm & suffering? What kind of action will lead to my long-term welfare & happiness?”… This is the way leading to having weak discernment…

But there is the case where a certain woman or man, having approached a contemplative or brahman, asks, “What, venerable sir, is skillful? What is unskillful? What is blameworthy? What is blameless? What is to be cultivated? What is not to be cultivated? What kind of action will lead to my long-term harm & suffering? What kind of action will lead to my long-term welfare & happiness?”… This is the way leading to having great discernment…

Beings are owners of kamma, heir to kamma, born of kamma, related through kamma, and have kamma as their arbitrator. Kamma is what creates distinctions among beings in terms of coarseness & refinement.</p>

<p class='cite'>— MN 135

<b>§ 10.</b> 'Kamma should be known. The cause by which kamma comes into play should be known. The diversity in kamma should be known. The result of kamma should be known. The cessation of kamma should be known. The path of practice leading to the cessation of kamma should be known.' Thus it has been said. Why was it said?

Intention, I tell you, is kamma. Intending, one does kamma by way of body, speech, & intellect.

And what is the cause by which kamma comes into play? Contact…

And what is the diversity in kamma? There is kamma to be experienced in hell, kamma to be experienced in the realm of common animals, kamma to be experienced in the realm of the hungry shades, kamma to be experienced in the human world, kamma to be experienced in the heavenly worlds. [In Buddhist cosmology, sojourns in hell or in heaven, as in the other realms, are not eternal. After the force of one's kamma leading to rebirth in those levels has worn out, one is reborn elsewhere.]…

And what is the result of kamma? The result of kamma is of three sorts, I tell you: that which arises right here & now, that which arises later [in this lifetime], and that which arises following that…

And what is the cessation of kamma? From the cessation of contact is the cessation of kamma; and just this noble eightfold path — right view, right resolve, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration — is the path of practice leading to the cessation of kamma.

Now when a disciple of the noble ones discerns kamma in this way, the cause by which kamma comes into play in this way, the diversity of kamma in this way, the result of kamma in this way, the cessation of kamma in this way, & the path of practice leading to the cessation of kamma in this way, then he discerns this penetrative holy life as the cessation of kamma.

'Kamma should be known. The cause by which kamma comes into play… The diversity in kamma… The result of kamma… The cessation of kamma… The path of practice for the cessation of kamma should be known.' Thus it has been said, and this is why it was said.</p>

<p class='cite'>— AN 6.63

<b>§ 11.</b> There are four kinds of persons to be found in the world. Which four? There is the case where a certain person takes life, takes what is not given [steals], engages in illicit sex, lies, speaks divisively, speaks harshly, engages in idle chatter; is covetous, has a hostile mind, & holds wrong views. On the breakup of the body, after death, he reappears in the plane of deprivation, the bad destination, the lower realms, in hell.

But there is also the case where a certain person takes life… holds wrong views, (yet) on the breakup of the body, after death, he reappears in the good destinations, in the heavenly world.

And there is the case where a certain person abstains from taking life, abstains from taking what is not given… is not covetous, does not have a hostile mind, & holds right views. On the breakup of the body, after death, he reappears in the good destinations, in the heavenly world.

But there is also the case where a certain person abstains from taking life, abstains from taking what is not given… is not covetous, does not have a hostile mind, & holds right views, (yet) on the breakup of the body, after death, he reappears in the plane of deprivation, the bad destination, the lower realms, in hell…

In the case of the person who takes life… (yet) on the breakup of the body, after death, reappears in the good destinations, in the heavenly world: either earlier he performed fine kamma that is to be felt as pleasant, or later he performed fine kamma that is to be felt as pleasant, or at the time of death he acquired & adopted right views. Because of that, on the breakup of the body, after death, he reappears in the good destinations, in the heavenly world. But as for the results of taking life… holding wrong views, he will feel them either right here & now, or later [in this lifetime], or following that…

In the case of the person who abstains from taking life… (yet) on the breakup of the body, after death, reappears in the plane of deprivation, the bad destination, the lower realms, in hell: either earlier he performed evil kamma that is to be felt as painful, or later he performed evil kamma that is to be felt as painful, or at the time of death he acquired & adopted wrong views. Because of that, on the breakup of the body, after death, he reappears in the plane of deprivation, the bad destination, the lower realms, in hell. But as for the results of abstaining from taking life… holding right views, he will feel them either right here & now, or later [in this lifetime], or following that…</p> <p class='cite'>— MN 136

<b>§ 12.</b> These four imponderables are not to be speculated about. Whoever speculates about them would go mad & experience vexation. Which four? The Buddha-range of the Buddhas [i.e., the range of powers a Buddha develops as a result of becoming a Buddha]… The jhāna-range of one absorbed in jhāna [i.e., the range of powers that one may obtain while absorbed in jhāna]… The results of kamma… Speculation about [the first moment, purpose, etc., of] the cosmos is an imponderable that is not to be speculated about. Whoever speculates about these things would go mad & experience vexation.</p>

<p class='cite'>— AN 4.77

<b>§ 13.</b> The Buddha: 'For anyone who says, “In whatever way a person makes kamma, that is how it is experienced,” there is no living of the holy life, there is no opportunity for the right ending of stress. But for anyone who says, “When a person makes kamma to be felt in such & such a way, that is how its result is experienced,” there is the living of the holy life, there is the opportunity for the right ending of stress.

'There is the case where a trifling evil act done by a certain individual takes him to hell. There is the case where the very same sort of trifling act done by another individual is experienced in the here & now, and for the most part barely appears for a moment.

'Now, a trifling evil act done by what sort of individual takes him to hell? There is the case where a certain individual is undeveloped in the body [i.e., pleasant feelings can invade the mind and stay there — see MN 36], undeveloped in virtue, undeveloped in mind [i.e., painful feelings can invade the mind and stay there], undeveloped in discernment: restricted, small-hearted, dwelling with suffering. A trifling evil act done by this sort of individual takes him to hell.

'Now, a trifling evil act done by what sort of individual is experienced in the here & now, and for the most part barely appears for a moment? There is the case where a certain individual is developed in the body [i.e., pleasant feelings cannot invade the mind and stay there], developed in virtue, developed in mind [i.e., painful feelings cannot invade the mind and stay there], developed in discernment: unrestricted, large-hearted, dwelling with the unlimited. A trifling evil act done by this sort of individual is experienced in the here & now, and for the most part barely appears for a moment.

'Suppose that a man were to drop a salt crystal into a small amount of water in a cup. What do you think? Would the water in the cup become salty because of the salt crystal, and unfit to drink?'

'Yes, lord…'

'Now suppose that a man were to drop a salt crystal into the River Ganges. What do you think? Would the water in the River Ganges become salty because of the salt crystal, and unfit to drink?'

'No, lord…'

'In the same way, there is the case where a trifling evil act done by one individual [the first] takes him to hell; and there is the case where the very same sort of trifling act done by the other individual is experienced in the here & now, and for the most part barely appears for a moment.'</p>

<p class='cite'>— AN 3.99

<b>§ 14.</b> Moḷiyasīvaka: There are some contemplatives & brahmans who are of this doctrine, this view: 'Whatever an individual feels — pleasure, pain, neither-pleasure-nor-pain — is entirely caused by what was done before.' Now what does Master Gotama say to that?

The Buddha: There are cases where some feelings arise based on bile [i.e., diseases and pains that come from a malfunctioning gall bladder]. You yourself should know how some feelings arise based on bile. Even the world is agreed on how some feelings arise based on bile. So any contemplatives & brahmans who are of the doctrine & view that whatever an individual feels — pleasure, pain, neither-pleasure-nor-pain — is entirely caused by what was done before — slip past what they themselves know, slip past what is agreed on by the world. Therefore I say that those contemplatives & brahmans are wrong.

There are cases where some feelings arise based on phlegm… based on internal winds… based on a combination of bodily humors… from the change of the seasons… from uneven ['out-of-tune'] care of the body… from attacks… from the result of kamma. You yourself should know how some feelings arise from the result of kamma. Even the world is agreed on how some feelings arise from the result of kamma. So any contemplatives & brahmans who are of the doctrine & view that whatever an individual feels — pleasure, pain, neither pleasure-nor-pain — is entirely caused by what was done before — slip past what they themselves know, slip past what is agreed on by the world. Therefore I say that those contemplatives & brahmans are wrong.</p>

<p class='cite'>— SN 36.21

<b>§ 15.</b> What, monks, is old kamma? The eye is to be seen as old kamma, fabricated & willed, capable of being felt. The ear… The nose… The tongue… The body… The intellect is to be seen as old kamma, fabricated & willed, capable of being felt. This is called old kamma.

And what is new kamma? Whatever kamma one does now with the body, with speech, or with the intellect. This is called new kamma.

And what is the cessation of kamma? Whoever touches the release that comes from the cessation of bodily kamma, verbal kamma, & mental kamma. That is called the cessation of kamma.

And what is the path of practice leading to the cessation of kamma? Just this noble eightfold path… This is called the path of practice leading to the cessation of kamma.</p>

<p class='cite'>— SN 35.145

<b>§ 16.</b> These four types of kamma have been understood, realized, & made known by me. Which four? There is kamma that is black with black result; kamma that is white with white result; kamma that is black & white with black & white result; and kamma that is neither black nor white with neither black nor white result, leading to the ending of kamma.

And what is kamma that is black with black result? There is the case where a certain person fabricates an injurious bodily fabrication… an injurious verbal fabrication… an injurious mental fabrication… He rearises in an injurious world where he is touched by injurious contacts… He experiences feelings that are exclusively painful, like those of the beings in hell. This is called kamma that is black with black result.

And what is kamma that is white with white result? There is the case where a certain person fabricates an uninjurious bodily fabrication… an uninjurious verbal fabrication… an uninjurious mental fabrication… He rearises in an uninjurious world where he is touched by uninjurious contacts… He experiences feelings that are exclusively pleasant, like those of the Ever-radiant Devas. This is called kamma that is white with white result.

And what is kamma that is black & white with black & white result? There is the case where a certain person fabricates a bodily fabrication that is injurious & uninjurious… a verbal fabrication that is injurious & uninjurious… a mental fabrication that is injurious & uninjurious… He rearises in an injurious & uninjurious world where he is touched by injurious & uninjurious contacts… He experiences injurious & uninjurious feelings, pleasure mingled with pain, like those of human beings, some devas, and some beings in the lower realms. This is called kamma that is black & white with black & white result.

And what is kamma that is neither black nor white with neither black nor white result, leading to the ending of kamma? The intention right there to abandon this kamma that is black with black result, the intention right there to abandon this kamma that is white with white result, the intention right there to abandon this kamma that is black & white with black & white result. This is called kamma that is neither black nor white with neither black nor white result, leading to the ending of kamma.</p>

<p class='cite'>— AN 4.232

[A related discourse repeats most of the above, defining black kamma with black result with the following example: “There is the case of a certain person who kills living beings, steals what is not given, engages in illicit sex, tells lies, and drinks fermented & distilled liquors that are the basis for heedlessness,” and white kamma with white result with the following example: “There is the case of a certain person who abstains from killing living beings, abstains from stealing what is not given, abstains from engaging in illicit sex, abstains from telling lies, and abstains from drinking fermented & distilled liquors that are the basis for heedlessness.”]</p>

<p class='cite'>— AN 4.234

<b>§ 17.</b> And what is kamma that is neither black nor white with neither black nor white result, leading to the ending of kamma? Right view, right resolve, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration.</p>

<p class='cite'>— AN 4.235</p> <!–jtb 021227: AG originally had this as AN 4.237–>

<p>[The discourse immediately following this is identical to this except that it replaces the above factors of the noble eightfold path with the following seven factors for Awakening: mindfulness as a factor for Awakening, analysis of qualities… persistence… rapture… serenity… concentration… equanimity as a factor for Awakening.]</p>

<p class='cite'>— AN 4.238</p>

<!– robots content='none' –> <!– the following list is brought to you in living color by GetHList() –> <ul class='hlist'>

<li class='first'>[[index|Intro]]</li>
<li>Part I</li>
<li>[[part2|Part II]]</li>
<li>[[part3|Part III]]</li>
<li>[[end|End]]</li>

</ul>

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Anumodanā puñña kusala!

en/lib/authors/thanissaro/wings/part1.txt · Last modified: 2018/11/14 04:26 by Johann