MN-136- Maha Kamma Vibhanga Sutta

Soft Skills: As you sow, so shall you reap

136-The Greater Exposition of Action

§1 . THUS HAVE I HEARD. On one occasion the Blessed One was living at Rajagaha, in the Bamboo Grove, the Squirrels’ Sanctuary.

§2. Now on that occasion the venerable Samiddhi was living in a forest hut. Then the wanderer Potaliputta, while wandering and walking for exercise, went to the venerable Samiddhi and exchanged greetings with him. When this courteous and amiable talk was finished, he sat down at one side and said to the venerable Samiddhi:
“Friend Samiddhi, I heard and learned this from the recluse Gotama’s own lips: ‘Bodily action is vain, verbal action is vain, only mental action is real.’ And: ‘There is that attainment on entering which one does not feel anything at all.'”1226 [MA says that Potaliputta did not actually hear this personally from the Buddha, but had heard a report that these statements were made by the Buddha. The former is a distorted version of the Buddha’s· declaration at MN 56.5 that mental action is the most reprehensible of the three types of deeds for the performance of evil action. The latter derives from the Buddha’s discussion of the cessation of perception in the Potthapada Sutta (DN 9). MA glosses the word “vain” by “fruitless.”]
“Do not say so, friend Potaliputta, do not say so. Do not misrepresent the Blessed .One; it is not good to misrepresent the Blessed One. The Blessed One would not speak thus: ‘Bodily action is vain, verbal action is vain, only mental action is real.’ 
But, friend, there is that attainment on entering which one does not feel anything at all.”
“How long is it since you went forth, friend Samiddhi?”
“Not long, friend: three years.”
“There now, what shall we say to the elder bhikkhus when a young bhikkhu thinks the Teacher is to be defended thus?
Friend Samiddhi, having done an intentional action by way of body, speech, or mind, what does one feel?”
“Having done an intentional action by way of body, speech, or mind, one feels suffering, friend Potaliputta.”
Then, neither approving nor disapproving of the venerable Samiddhi’s words, the wanderer Potaliputta rose from his seat and departed.

§ 3. Soon after the wanderer Potaliputta had left, the venerable Samiddhi went to the venerable Ananda [208] and exchanged greetings with him. When this courteous and amiable talk was finished, he sat down at one side and reported to the venerable Ananda his entire conversation with the wanderer Potaliputta. After he had spoken, the venerable Ananda told him:
“Friend 
Samiddhi, this conversation should be told to the Blessed One. Come, let us approach the Blessed One and tell him this. As the Blessed One explains to us, so we shall bear it in mind.” –
“Yes, 
friend,” the venerable Samiddhi replied.

§. 4. Then the venerable Ananda and the venerable Samiddhi went together to the Blessed One, and after paying homage to him, they sat down at one side. The venerable Ananda reported to the Blessed One the entire conversation between the venerable Samiddhi and the wanderer Potaliputta.

§. 5. When he had finished, the Blessed One told the venerable Ananda: “Ananda, I do not even recall ever having seen the wanderer Potaliputta, so how could there have been this conversation? Though the wanderer Potaliputta’s question should have been analysed before being answered, this misguided man answered it one-sidedly.”

§.6. When this was said, the venerable Udayin said to the Blessed One: “Venerable sir, perhaps the venerable Samiddhi spoke thus referring to [the principle]: ‘Whatever is felt is suffering.'”1227
[This statement is made by the Buddha at SN 36:11/ iv.216, with reference to the suffering inherent in all formations by reason of their impermanence. Though the statement itself is true, Samiddhi seems to have misinterpreted it to mean that all feeling is felt as suffering, which is patently false]
Then the Blessed One addressed the venerable Ananda:
“See, 
Ananda, how this misguided man Udayin interferes. I knew, Ananda, that this misguided man Udayin would unduly interfere right now. From the start the wanderer Potaliputta had asked about the three kinds of feeling. This misguided man
Samiddhi [209] would have answered the wanderer Potaliputta rightly if, when asked thus, he would have explained:
‘Friend 
Potaliputta,

  • having done an intentional action by way of body, speech, or mind [whose result is] to be felt as pleasant, one feels pleasure.
  • Having done an intentional action by way of body, speech, or mind [whose result is] to be felt as painful, one feels pain.
  • Having done an intentional action by way of body, speech, or mind [whose result is] to be felt as neither-pain-nor-pleasure, one feels neither-pain-nor-pleasure.’

But who are these foolish, thoughtless wanderers of other sects, that they could  understand the Tathagata’s great exposition of action?
You should listen, Ananda, to the Tathagata as he expounds the great exposition 
of action. “

§7.. “This is the time, Blessed One, this is the time, Sublime One, for the Blessed One to expound the great exposition of action. Having heard it from the Blessed One, the bhikkhus will remember it.”
“Then listen, Ananda, and attend closely to what I shall say.”
“Yes, venerable sir,” the venerable Ananda replied. The Blessed One said this:

§.8. “Ananda,1228 [MA: This section is not the expounding of the Tathagata’s knowledge of the great exposition of action, but the setting up of the outline for the purpose of presenting that exposition.]
there are four kinds of persons to be found existing in the world.
What four?

  1. Here some person kills living beings, takes what is not given, misconducts himself in sensual pleasures, speaks falsehood, speaks maliciously, speaks harshly, gossips; he is covetous, has a mind of ill will, and holds wrong view. On the dissolution of the body, after death, he reappears in a state of deprivation, in an unhappy destination, in perdition, even in hell.
  2. “But here some person kills living beings…and holds wrong view. On the dissolution of the body, after death, he reappears in a happy destination, even in the heavenly world.
  3. “Here some person abstains from killing living beings, from taking what is not given, from misconduct in sensual pleasures, from false speech, from malicious speech, [210] from harsh speech, from gossip; he is not covetous, his mind is without ill will, and he holds right view. On the dissolution of the body, after death, he reappears in a. happy destination, even in the heavenly world.
  4. “But here some person abstains from killing living beings… and he holds right view. On the dissolution of the body, after death, he reappears in a state of deprivation, in an unhappy destination, in perdition, even in hell.

§. 9. “Here, Ananda, by means of ardour, endeavour, devotion, diligence, and right attention, some recluse or brahmin attains such concentration of mind that, when his mind is concentrated, with the divine eye, which is purified and surpasses the human, he sees that person here who kills living beings…and holds wrong view, and he sees that on the dissolution of the body, after death, he has reappeared in a state of deprivation, in an unhappy destination, in perdition, even in hell. He says thus:
‘Indeed, there are evil actions, there is result of misconduct; for I saw a person here who killed living beings…and held wrong view, and I see that on the dissolution of the body, after death, he has reappeared in a state of deprivation…even in hell.’
He 
says thus: ‘On the dissolution of the body, after death, everyone who kills living beings…and holds wrong view reappears in a state of deprivation…even in hell. Those who know thus know rightly; those who think otherwise are mistaken.’

Thus he obstinately adheres to what he himself has known, seen, and discovered, insisting: ‘Only this is true, anything else is wrong.’

§.10. “But here, Ananda, [211] by means of ardour…some recluse or brahmin attains such a concentration of mind that, when his mind is concentrated, with the divine eye, which is purified and surpasses the human, he sees that person here who kills living beings.. .and holds wrong view, and he sees that on the dissolution of the body, after death, he has reappeared in a happy destination, even in the heavenly world. He says thus:
‘Indeed, there are no evil actions, there is no result of misconduct; for I saw a person here who killed living beings.. .and held wrong view, and I see that on the dissolution of the body, after death, he has reappeared in a happy destination, even in the heavenly world.’
He says thus: ‘On the dissolution of the body, 
after death, everyone who kills living beings…and holds wrong view reappears in a happy destination, even in the heavenly world. Those who know thus know rightly; those who think otherwise are mistaken.’

Thus he obstinately adheres to what he himself has known, seen, and discovered, insisting: ‘Only this is true, anything else is wrong.’

§.11. “Here, Ananda, by means of ardour…some recluse or brahmin attains such a concentration of mind that, when his mind is concentrated, with the divine eye, which is purified and surpasses the human, he sees that person here who abstains from killing living beings…and holds right view, and he sees that on the dissolution of tire body, after death, he has reappeared in a happy destination, even in the heavenly world. He says thus:
‘Indeed, there are good actions, there is result of good conduct; for I saw a person here who abstained from killing living beings…and held right view, and I see that on the dissolution of the body, after death, he has reappeared in a happy destination, even in the heavenly world.’ He says thus: ‘On the dissolution of the body, after death, everyone who abstains from killing living beings…and holds right view reappears in a happy destination, even in the heavenly world. Those who know thus know rightly; those who think otherwise are mistaken/ Thus he obstinately adheres to what he himself has known, seen, and discovered, insisting: ‘Only this is true, anything else is wrong.’

§.12. “But here, Ananda, [212] by means of ardour…some recluse or brahmin attains such a concentration of mind that, when his mind is concentrated, with the divine eye, which is purified and surpasses the human, he sees that person here who abstains from killing living beings…and holds right view, and he sees that on the dissolution of the body, after death, he reappears in a state of deprivation, in an unhappy destination, in perdition, even in hell. He says thus: ‘Indeed, there are no good actions, there is no result of good conduct; for I saw a person here who abstained from killing living beings…and held right view, and I see that on the dissolution of the body, after death, he has reappeared in a state of deprivation…even in hell.’ He says thus:

‘On the dissolution of the body, after death, everyone who abstains from killing living beings…and holds right view reappears in a state of deprivation…even in hell. Those who know thus know rightly; those who think otherwise are mistaken.’
Thus he obstinately adheres to what he himself has known, seen, and discovered, insisting: ‘Only this is true, anything else is wrong.’

§ .13. “Therein, Ananda,1229 [MA: This too is not the expounding of the knowledge of the great exposition of action, but is still the setting up of the outline. The purpose here is to show what can be accepted and what should be rejected in the claims of the outside recluses and brahmins. Briefly put, the propositions they put forth reporting their direct observations can be accepted, but the generalisations they derive from those observations must be rejected.]
when a recluse or brahmin says:
‘Indeed, there are evil actions, there is result of misconduct,  I grant him this. When he says: ‘I saw a person here who killed living beings…and held wrong view, and I see that on the dissolution of the body, after death, he has reappeared in a state of deprivation…even in hell  I also grant him this. But when he says: ‘On the dissolution of the body, after death, everyone who kills living beings…and holds wrong view reappears in a state of deprivation…even in hell,’ I do not grant him this. And when he says: ‘Those who know thus know rightly; those who think otherwise are mistaken/ I also do not grant him this. And when he obstinately adheres to what he himself has known, seen, and discovered, insisting: ‘Only this is true, anything else is wrong/ I also do not grant him this. Why is that? Because, Ananda, the Tathagata’s knowledge of the great exposition of action is otherwise.

§.14. “Therein, Ananda, when a recluse or brahmin says:
‘Indeed, there are no evil actions, there is no result of misconduct, I do not grant him this. When he says: ‘I saw a person here who killed living beings.. .and held wrong  view, and I see that on the dissolution of the body, after death, he has reappeared in a happy destination, even in the heavenly world,  I grant him this. But when he says: “On the dissolution of the body, after death, everyone who kills living beings…and holds wrong view reappears in a happy destination, even in the heavenly world [213] I do not grant him this. And when he says: ‘Those who know thus know rightly; those who think otherwise are mistaken I also do not grant him this. And when he obstinately adheres to what he himself has known, seen, and discovered, insisting: ‘Only this is true, anything else is wrong I also do not grant him this. Why is that? Because, Ananda, the Tathagata’s knowledge of the great exposition of action is otherwise.

§.15. “Therein, Ananda, when a recluse or brahmin says: 
‘Indeed, there are good actions, there is result of good conduct,’ I grant him this. And when he says: ‘I saw a person here who abstained from killing living beings…and held right view, and I see that on the dissolution of the body, after death, he has  reappeared in a happy destination, even in the heavenly world;  I also grant him this. But when he says: ‘On the dissolution of the body, after death, everyone who abstains from killing living beings…and holds right view reappears in a happy destination, even in the heavenly world/ I do not grant him this. And when he says: ‘Those who know thus know rightly; those who think otherwise are mistaken/ I also do not grant him this. And when he obstinately adheres to what he himself has known, seen, and discovered, insisting: ‘Only this is true, anything else is wrong I also do not grant him this. Why is that? Because, Ananda, the Tathagata’s knowledge of the great exposition of action is otherwise.

§.16. “Therein, Ananda, when a recluse or brahmin says:
‘Indeed, there are no good actions, there is no result of good conduct, I do not grant him this. When he says: ‘I saw a person here who abstained from killing living  beings…and held right view, and I see that on the dissolution of the body, after death, he has reappeared in a state of deprivation…even in hell. I grant him this. But when he says: ‘On the dissolution of the body, after death, everyone who abstains from killing living beings…and holds right view reappears in a state of deprivation…even in hell,’ I do not grant him this. And when he says: [214]

‘Those  who know thus know rightly; those who think otherwise are mistaken,’ I also do not grant him this. And when he obstinately adheres to what he himself has known, seen, and discovered, insisting: ‘Only this is true, anything else is wrong,’ I also do not grant him this. Why is that? Because, Ananda, the Tathagata’s knowledge of the great exposition of action is otherwise.

§.17. “Therein, Ananda,1230
[Here begins the expounding of the know ledge of the great exposition of action.]
as to the person here who kills living 
beings…and holds wrong view, and on the  Dissolution of the body, after death, reappears in a state of deprivation…even in hell: either earlier he did an evil action to be felt as painful, or later he did an evil action to be felt as painful, or at the time of death he acquired and undertook wrong view.1231 [MA: The person who was seen with the divine eye killing living beings, etc., is reborn in hell because of another evil deed he had done earlier than the deed of killing, etc., or because of an evil deed he did afterwards, or because of a wrong view he accepted at the time of death. Although the Pali seems to be saying that he was necessarily reborn in hell on account of some action other than the one he was seen performing, this should not be
understood as an apodictic pronouncement but only as a statement of possibility. That is, while it may be true that he was reborn in hell because of the evil action he was seen performing, it is also possible that he was reborn there because of some other evil action he did earlier or ]later or because of wrong view

Because of that, on the dissolution of the body, after death, he has reappeared in a state of deprivation…even in hell. And since he has here killed living beings…and held wrong view, he will experience the result of that either here and now, or in his next rebirth, or in some subsequent existence.1232 [This statement shows that even if his evil kamma does not generate the mode of rebirth, it will still mature for him in some other way either in this life, in the next life, or in some more distant future life.]

§.18. “Therein, Ananda, as to the person here who kills living beings…and holds wrong view, and on thef dissolution of the body, after death, reappears in a happy  destination, even in the heavenly world: either earlier he did a good- action to be felt as pleasant, or later he did a good action to be felt as pleasant, or at the time of death he acquired and undertook right view.1233[In this case the heavenly rebirth must be due to some action other than the one he was seen performing, since an evil action cannot produce a fortunate mode of rebirth. ]
Because of that, on the dissolution of the body, after death, he has reappeared in a happy destination, even in the heavenly world. But since he has here killed living beings…and held wrong view, he will experience the result of that either here and now, or in his next rebirth, or in some subsequent existence.

§.19. “Therein, Ananda, as to the person here who abstains from killing living beings…and holds right view, and on the dissolution of the body, after death, reappears in a happy destination, even in the heavenly world: either earlier he did a good action to be felt as pleasant, or later he did a good action to be felt as pleasant, or at the time of death he acquired and undertook right view. Because of that, on the dissolution of the body, after death, he has reappeared in a happy destination, even in the heavenly world. And since he has here abstained from killing living beings [215]…and held right view, he will experience the result of that either here and now, or in his next rebirth, or in some subsequent existence.

§.20. “Therein, Ananda, as to the person here who abstains from killing living beings…and holds right view, and on the dissolution of the body, after death, reappears in a state of deprivation. . .even in hell: either earlier he did an evil action to be felt as painful, or later he did an evil action to be felt as painful, or at the time of death he acquired and undertook wrong view.
Because of that, on the dissolution of the body, after death, he has reappeared in a state of deprivation…even in hell. But since he has here abstained from killing living beings.. .and held right view, he will experience the result of that either here and now,
or in his next rebirth, or in some subsequent existence.

§.21. “Thus, Ananda,

  • there is action that is incapable [of good result] and appears incapable;
  • there is action that is incapable [of good result] and appears capable;
  • there is action that is capable [of good result] and appears capable; and
  • there is action that is capable [of good result] and appears incapable.”1234

[MA: The first is illustrated by the person who kills living beings and is reborn in hell: his action is incapable (of good result) because it is unwholesome, and it appears incapable because, since he is reborn in hell, it seems to be the cause for his rebirth there. The second is illustrated by the person who kills living beings and is reborn in heaven: his action is incapable (of good result) because it is unwholesome, yet it appears capable because he is reborn in heaven; thus to the outside recluses and brahmins it seems to be the cause for his rebirth in heaven. The remaining two terms should be understood along the same lines, with appropriate changes.]

That is what the Blessed One said.
The venerable Ananda was 
satisfied and delighted in the Blessed One’s words.

END OF SUTTA

Robina Curtin-2

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