Brahmavihara Dhamma

Part VII by Ven. Mahasi Sayadaw

(94) Lord Buddha’s answer

“Kammassaka manava satta kammadayada kammayoni kammabandhu kammappatissarana kammam satte vibhajati yadidam hinappani tataya. “

Manava – O, Subha, the lad, satta – in regard to beings (the question asked by Subha referred to people; but Buddha gave his answer with reference to all beings who deserved to be known), kammassaka – only kamma is what they really own and possess.

As regards beings, it has been stated that kamma which they themselves have done, are the property which they really own. Any kind of external property or belongings such as gold and silver in one’s possession that may be regarded as one’s personal property, if happened to reach the hands of others by some reason or the other, will no longer be their own. Though, such properties may be in one’s own possession without destruction throughout his lifetime, on his death, he will have to part with these. These properties are no longer his own. However, in respect of all actions which he has done or performed, whether these are business dealings relating to worldly affairs, or acts of merits (kusala) such as dana and sila, or acts of demerits (akusala), such as acts of killing (panatipata) relating to the matter of religion (Sasana), these do not concern others. He himself is responsible for these deeds or actions which only concern him and is relevant to him. only. Efforts made by him in matters relating to his business affairs will bring benefits in commensurate with the strength of endeavour he has put in. Acts of kusala also will bring him advantages as might be deserving, throughout his existences. Akusala – Demeritorious acts will in the same way bring forth bad results as a reaction. People in luxury or in misery nowadays are merely the inheritors of their own good or bad kamma, as the case may be. These have so happened not because of blind chance but because of their past moral or immoral actions. Hence, kammassaka – only kamma is their own property which they really own and possess. This statement is, therefore, most relevant to upekkhabhavana.

Next, satta – as regards beings, kammadayada – their own actions or kamma which they have done, are only inherited by them. It is something which resembles sons and daughters who inherit the properties, good or bad, of their parents. If a worldling performs his work which can bring him wealth, he will derive due advantages thereof. In the same way, if one commits a crime, he will receive due punishment for committing the offence. Persons indulging in drinking liquor and gambling, will have the disastrous effects of their own immoral actions. In the least, it would adversely affect their health, their reputation, and cause other miseries such as disharmony among friends, These are instances of the disadvantages inherited by them. Similarly, acts of kusala in the form of dana (charity) and sila (morality) will bring them good results even in this present lifetime in the shape of good health, long life, etc. All throughout the rounds of existences in Samsara also, they will gain happiness relevant to the happy conditions of life as either human beings or Devas. Eventually, they can gain the bliss of Nibbana where all sufferings will cease. If acts of akusala, such as, killing and stealing are committed, evil effects will react to beat upon them even in the present existence. Moreover, throughout Samsara they will suffer miseries or Apaya, etc. Good and bad inheritance will be accordingly derived. This explanation as stated has also been amplified in Anguttara Pancakanipata Abhinha-paccavekkhitabbathana Sutta (66) in the following manner.

Kalyanam va – Virtuous, papakam va – as also the evil, yam kammam – actions, karissanti – will be done, tassa – and the results of good and bad actions, or rather, merits and demerits, dayada – the derivation of both good and bad inheritance, bhavissanti – will take place.

This word “kammadayada” and the word “kammassaka” have the same meaning or effect. It simply imbibes the exposition of the word “kammassaka”. Thereafter, satta – beings, kammayoni – are subjected only to kamma that has been committed by them on their own volition which will bring the effects to all beings for their actions to make them either happy or miserable. Ii means to say that good actions mill bring them good, and evil actions will bring them evil, inasmuch as every action produces an effect. This is also an exposition of the meaning of the word “kammassaka”.

Kammabandhu – This means only kamma constitutes one’s own relatives and friends to be relied upon. If there are good relatives and friends, advantages can be derived by depending upon them. If lacking in good relatives and friends, no one can be relied upon. In much the same way, advantages can be derived depending upon good actions or kamma. If good kamma is lacking, there is nothing else to be relied upon. However, if there is bad kamma, the waves of bad. effects will come rushing in or bounce upon them like friends in disguise and enemies. This statement also serves as a. clarification of the word “kammassaka”.

Kammappatissarana – This means: it is only kamma that can be relied upon. All performances relating to. business enterprise from the worldly point of view, are those on which reliance can be made to bring ‘prosperity. Likewise, reliance will have to be made on acts of merit (kusalakamma) to gain virtues. However, in the case of demerits, only by ‘avoidance of akusala or only if free from vices, reliance, could be made. The more the demerits or akusalakamma can be cleared away, the more misery can be minimised, or rather the less the sufferings become. Hence, practices and performances of kusalakamma to dispel akusalakamma, are really dependable. This phrase also offers an explanation relating to the words “kammassaka”.

Kammam – good and bad actions, satte – make the beings, yadidam hinappanittataya – become inferior or superior, vibhajati – (and) distinguish them making distinction between one individual and another. These actions (kamma) bring about the two different classes of beings as inferior and superior. Bad kamma makes a man ignoble whereas, good kamma causes one to become a noble or superior person. This is to say that beings are put into different classification by their own respective kamma as ‘inferior’ or ‘superior’ individuals. If translated briefly in Burmese, “Beings have only kamma as their own property which they actually possess. They have to accept and receive the inheritance from kamma. Kamma is the ‘Cause’ which produces ‘Effect’. Only kamma can be relied upon as relatives and friends. Kamma serves as a backbone for beings to lean back upon. It is kamma that distinguishes beings, making them, different from one another as inferior (ignoble) or superior (noble)” Please follow the recitation:

“Beings have only kamma as their own property which they actually possess. They have to accept and receive their inheritance from kamma. Kamma is the cause which produces effect. Only kamma can be relied upon as relatives and friends. Kamma serves as a backbone for beings to lean upon. It is kamma that distinguishes beings, making them different from one another as inferior (ignoble) or superior (noble).”

It is, in fact, the Buddha’s Dhamma. The conditions of misery and low birth as inferior beings are created by their own individual immoral actions (akusalakamma). Their own individual kamma has made them happy and noble in the life existence and brought them fame and honour. In other words, oneself is responsible for ones own happiness and a man’s misery is the consequential effects of his own actions. It is his own destiny to be born noble or ignoble. It is not that living beings expedience suffering and happiness as a result of others creation or of the Almighty’s creation. The Buddha’s Dhamma pins it down to one’s own individual kamma and such being the case, no one needs to be blamed. Let us recite the following motto:

“Doer of evil will gather evil,
Doer of good will reap good.”

If the seeds of mango, jack fruit, etc., are sown, sweet fruits will be gathered or received. If the seeds of lemon or citrus fruits are sown, they will yield sour fruits, and one shall have his taste of the fruits he reaps there from. We may recite the second motto in the light of the above:

“It’s kamma, the Planner, that implements both evil and good, making one suffer pain and gain pleasure.”

The brief answer given by the Buddha not being fully understood as yet by Subha, the lad, further elaboration, as requested by him, was given with comments by the Enlightened One, as follows: