Brahmavihara Dhamma

Part VII by Ven. Mahasi Sayadaw

(102) Kammic cause of low or high birth

(6A) Failure to worship and pay reverence to those who are deserving by thinking highly of oneself or through self conceit will probably cause one to go down to hell (Apaya). Even in the event of his rebirth in human existence, he will be born into a low-caste family. The meaning of this statement has been elucidated briefly as follows:

“Nicakulinasamvattanika esa mavana patipada Yadidam thaddho hoti atimani abhivadetabbam na abhivadeti, etc.”

Mavana – O, Subha, the lad, Yadidam-yo ayam a certain person, thaddho – is stubborn and proud to the extent of becoming disrespectful and disobedient to others, with his mana (self-conceit). Atimani – is vain, glorious and conceited and looks down upon others hoti – so, he is. Abhivadetabbam – to a person deserving of worshipping or respect, na abhivadeti – he fails to pay due homage and respect (failing to give a place or make room for others and to make way for those who are deserving of respect or reverence, to show respect to a person who is deserving of respect, and to revere a person who is worthy of reverence).

Tassa – That person’s (his), esa patipada – habit of stubbornness and obstinacy with self-pride or conceit to the extent of refusing to pay respects and regards, nicakulinasamvattanika – is likely to cause to be reborn in a mean and low-caste family.

Those who are worthy of worshipping and respect are parents, elders and those who are accomplished with the attributes of morality (sila) etc., such as priests. Old aged parents and grandparents are worthy of reverence. Even if no reverence is made, respect should at least be given. Bhikkhus and high priests who are endowed with morality deserve to be worshipped. Genuine Buddhas and Sanghas with sanctity are worthy of deep reverence. If no proper respect or homage is given to these noble persons by one who has self-conceit (mana) he is liable to go down to hell. If rebirth takes place as a human being, he will have a humble birth in a low-caste family and will become ignoble. In this regard, a motto has been expressed in part as: “Rudeness causes low birth.”

(6B) If reverence and respect is paid to those who are worthy of reverence and respect without self-conceit, one may probably reach the world of Devas (Sugati). If he were reborn as a human being, he will belong to a noble family. This has been preached in a concise way.

“Uccakuli na samvattanika esa manava patipada yadidam atthaddho hoti anatimani abhivadetabbam abhivadeti, etc.”

Mavana – O, Subha, the lad, yadidam-yo ayam – a certain person, atthaddho – is gentle and meek not being stubborn with self-conceit (mana), anatimani – (and) without thinking highly of himself, or rather, without vanity, hoti – it so happens. Abhivadetabbam abhivadeti – pays homage or respect to one who is worthy of reverence, e.g. to stand up when coming close to him, with due respect, etc. Tassa – That person’s, esa patipada – good conduct or behaviour of paying reverence without self-pride or ego, uccakulinasamvattanika – is the cause of rebirth in a noble family. This has been composed as the last motto which goes to say; “Respect brings high birth.” This may be uttered in combination with the first part of the motto stated earlier.

(6) “Rudeness causes low-birth, respect brings high birth.”

The resultant effects of one’s own kamma, six in all, each different from one another, are very obvious in respect of the miserable or happy conditions that prevail in one’s life existence. It is sheer misery if one is short-lived, disease, ugly, lacking in attendants, poor and lowborn. There is happiness if one has long-life, good health, a fair complexion, many attendants, wealth and prosperity, and becomes noble. That is the reason why in developing metta, karuna and mudita reciting as: “May all be happy”, “May all be liberated from misery”, and “May all be able to retain their wealth and prosperity without diminution”, are more pertinent to these six kinds. Similarly, in developing upekkha, ‘Kammassaka’ – “One’s own property is his own kamma (actions), is also more relevant to these six categories. The way how it becomes relevant is that by developing and radiating metta, karuna and mudita as “May all be happy, etc.” the advantages of having a long life and of escaping from diseases that may be contracted by all living beings cannot be considered as adequate and complete as desired. Only when endowed with kamma, etc., that brings long life and good health, full accomplishment can be achieved as desired. As such, the said six kinds are more relevant to upekkha which is required to be borne in mind as. “Only kamma is one’s own property in possession (kammassaka). Hence, let us now first develop metta, etc., and then develop upekkha by reciting thus:

“May all beings be happy.” (Repeat three times)
“May all beings be liberated from misery,” (Repeat three times)
“May all living beings be able to retain their wealth and prosperity which they have acquired, without diminution, and also, be happy as before.” (Repeat three times)