Brahmavihara Dhamma

Part VII by Ven. Mahasi Sayadaw

(116) Kamma and its effects – critical comment in conclusion

“Sabbe satta – All beings, kammassaka – have their own individual kamma, good and bad actions as their own personal property. Such actions may be mental or verbal or physical, thoughts, words and deeds, done by themselves.” This has been accordingly taught by the Buddha. A motto has been composed (recited earlier), and this may now be repeated:

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

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

After having heard this desana, Subha, the lad, took his refuge in the Three Jewels of Buddhism, and became a Buddhist. Relating to this upekkha-bhavana, the fundamental point stressed is that misery, happiness, bad and good resultant effects cannot be repaired, created or brought about by anyone. These have happened according to one’s own individual kamma. It is therefore required of a noble person to remain indifferent to the pains and pleasures which he may come across. No worry or spirit of goodwill need be borne or exercised in favour of any other person wishing him to be wealthy, healthy, and freed from misery and to be happy as before. If one is worried, one will become tiresome for nothing. Kammassaka – Only kamma is one’s own personal property in possession. Therefore, one should have a feeling of indifference to all beings who are either suffering from misery or enjoying happiness etc. according to one’s own kammic circumstances. Let us now recite as follows in developing “upekkha” with all mindfulness which will also include the manner of realisation through contemplation and noting.

“All beings have only kamma as their own personal property in possession. Things are taking place according to varying circumstances. This indifferent attitude and willingness to recite are nama. Recitation and the sound (voice) are rupa. Contemplation and noting them are nama. Only rupa and nama are there. These rupa and nama having vanished and ceased all at, once are merely the nature of “impermanence”, “suffering” and “Non-self’ (anatta).”

Wealth and happiness are due to kamma. Suffering and misery are also due to kamma. Only kamma is one’s own personal property. One has one’s own kamma which produces its effect. By developing upekkha with indifference towards others, it could bring mental relief and happiness when misfortune, misery or suffering take place. Bringing into one’s own mind that everything which happens is based upon kamma is not only faultless or blameless, but also gives relief from mental distress even in the present lifetime. For having avoided akusala and having developed kusala-kamma .to the best of one’s own ability to gain reliance in future existences, one could expect to gain happiness and prosperity in existences to come. If it is not practised in the said manner, anger may arise because of misery which will thereby cause akusala in finding fault with others when such miserable conditions occur. Hence, the best course of action, is to make the doctrine of kamma a part of our lives and to view things as happening according to one’s own kamma (kammassaka) and therefore beyond one’s control. This frame of mind will bring mental relief. It is pure and true, and the best.

Explanation relating to the development of upekkha has been fully rendered. We shall conclude this portion of the Dhamma by reciting the mottoes relevant to the Teachings, which run as: “Kammassaka – Only kamma is one’s own personal property in possession.”

  1. Killing others causes short life, abstinence from killing brings long life.
  2. He who ill-treats is becomes diseased, whereas, compassion brings good health.
  3. Anger causes ugliness, patience brings beauty.
  4. Envy repels attendants and helpers, goodwill brings forth retinue in large numbers.
  5. Refraining from making charity cause extreme poverty, charity brings wealth and prosperity.
  6. Rudeness causes low birth, respect brings high birth.
  7. Non-investigation causes blind ignorance, investigation brings high intelligence.
  8. Doer of evil will gather evil, doer of good will reap good.
  9. It’s Kamma, the Planner, that implements both evil and good, making, one suffer pain or gain happiness.

All beings have only Kamma as their own personal property.

Misery and happiness take place according to one’s own kamma.

By developing ‘upekkha’ – equanimity, one who has achieved the Third Jhana can attain, the Forth Jhana connected with upekkha. This has been already stated. Ordinary worldlings who have not achieved any jhana’, when personally faced with distress and misery or when other acquaintances of him are in misery, should reflect upon the desana which says: “Sabbe satta kammassaka.” and imagine that all beings have only kamma, good and bad actions done by themselves as their own property in possession, and that kamma being the architect of their own fate, people are afflicted with diseases, misery, poverty and so forth. Then only will one be mentally relieved.

The teachings on all the four Brahmavihara which has been done quite comprehensively ends here. I will finish the teachings by making some recitations relating to how these four kinds of Brahmavihara Dhamma are to be developed:

  1. “May all beings be free from danger, mental distress, physical distress, and be able to shoulder their own burden of khandha with happiness.”
  2. “May all beings be liberated from misery which they are presently suffering.”
  3. “May all beings be able to retain their wealth and prosperity Which they have acquired, without diminution, and may continue to be prosperous and happy as before.”
  4. “May all beings have only kamma (good and bad actions, volitionally done by them) as their own personal property.”