Namo tassa bhagavato arahato sammāsambuddhassa

Introduction to 3.5.0
sammākammanto - right actions

Four verses from Yamakavaggo, the Pair-chapter of the Dhammapada introduce this chapter on sammākammanto - right actions. On the one hand they express the delight that one, who maintains a life in goodness and practices Dhamma uprightly, encounters. On the other hand they likewise point to and underline the mental pain that results from unwholesome actions.

Although on the superficial level the three constituents of sammākammanto are based on avoidance of micchākammanto – a deeper understanding derives once the activities that the Buddha describes as akusala, unwholesome, are completely abandoned. A mind who has the base in this very avoidance gets unremittingly liberated and naturally determines to perform wholesome deeds intentionally and deliberately. Thus, the second aspect of sīla - cāritta1 - not only reinforces and boosts the effects of vāritta, but especially enhances the effect of delight, enjoyment and happiness in one’s mind. Sīla, moral ethics and principles, embrace their own beneficial results and form the solid base for the threefold training in the context of the ariyo aṭṭhaṅgiko maggo. Upholding sīla fosters determination, avoidance of breakage supports awareness and mental strength, experiencing the results thereof encourages understanding. Although these benefits are enjoyed with full understanding, they remain subordinates to the perspective of mental purification.

Tattha pāpakārīti nānappakārassa2 pāpakammassa kārako puggalo ‘‘akataṃ vata me kalyāṇaṃ, kataṃ pāpa’nti ekaṃseneva maraṇasamaye idha socati, idamassa kammasocanaṃ3. Vipākaṃ anubhavanto pana pecca socati. Idamassa paraloke vipākasocanaṃ4. Evaṃ so ubhayattha socatiyeva.- “I have not performed wholesome actions, but evil was done by me,” thus, at the time of death the evildoer of manifold evil actions suffers here, suchlike he is bewailing his actions. Undergoing the effects derived therefrom he laments thereafter, suchlike is his bewailing of the karmic effects in the next world. In this way he bewails in both the places” - ‘‘Bhante, idha loke evaṃ socitvā puna gantvā socanaṭṭhāneyeva5 nibbatto’ti, ‘‘āma, bhikkhave, pamattā nāma gahaṭṭhā vā hontu pabbajitā vā, ubhayattha socantiyevā!’’6 – ‘‘Bhante, having suffered here in this world after being reborn he arose once again in a place of grief?” “Yes, truly so, Bhikkhus, whether a layperson or someone having gone forth, being oblivious, he likewise suffers in both the places!”

Tattha katapuññoti nānappakārassa kusalassa kārako puggalo ‘akataṃ vata me pāpaṃ, kataṃ me kalyāṇa’nti idha kammamodanena, pecca vipākamodanena modati. Evaṃ ubhayattha modati nāma. Kammavisuddhinti dhammikaupāsakopi7 attano kammavisuddhiṃ puññakammasampattiṃ8 disvā kālakiriyato pubbe idhalokepi modati, kālaṃ katvā idāni paralokepi atimodatiyevāti. - “I have not performed evil actions, but wholesome ones were done by me,” thus, at the time of death the performer of manifold good actions delights here, suchlike he is his enjoying his actions and he enjoys the karmic effects in the next world. In this way he rejoices in both places. Understanding the purified kamma when seeing his merits derived from those wholesome actions the disciple practicing the Dhamma enjoys this world, and when his time has arrived in the next world he is filled with joy.”9

The Buddha was repeatedly approached by Bhikkhus and laypeople who were observing or enquiring about the effects of respective evil or wholesome deeds: ‘Bhante, idāni idha ñātimajjhe modamāno vicaritvā idāneva gantvā puna modanaṭṭhāneyeva10 nibbatto’ti. ‘Āma, bhikkhave, appamattā hi gahaṭṭhā vā pabbajitā vā sabbattha modantiyevā11 – “Bhante, having enjoyed his life amongst his relatives here in this world and gone from here he arose once again in a place of delight?” “Yes, truly so, Bhikkhus, whether a layperson or someone having gone forth, being heedful, he takes pleasure in both the places!”

‘‘Bhante, idha tappanto vicaritvā puna gantvā tappanaṭṭhāneyeva nibbatto’’ti. ‘‘Āma, bhikkhave, pabbajitā vā hontu gahaṭṭhā vā, pamādavihārino12 ubhayattha tappantiyevā’13 - “Bhante, having been tormented here in this world after being reborn he arose once again in a place of sorrow?” “Yes, truly so, Bhikkhus, whether a layperson or someone having gone forth, being used to negligence, he is tortured in both the places!”

‘Bhante, mama dhītā idha ñātakānaṃ antare nandamānā vicaritvā ito gantvāpi nandanaṭṭhāneyeva nibbattā’’ti. Atha naṃ satthā ‘‘āma, gahapati, appamattā nāma gahaṭṭhā vā pabbajitā vā idha loke ca paraloke ca nandantiyevā’’14 – “Bhante, while my daughter was dwelling in the midst of her kin she enjoyed her life here in this world and when gone did she arise once again in a place of happiness?” “Yes, truly so, householder, whether a layperson or someone having gone forth, being heedful will rejoice in both the places!”

May more and more beings get established in merits not only through avoidance of unwholesomeness but likewise collect and develop all the concomitants of cāritta-sīla with the perspective of mental purification within the framework of the Noble Eightfold Path!
[1] See Lesson 3.5.3

[2] nānappakārassa: nānappakārassa: (gen.) in many ways, various

[3] kammasocanaṃ: kamma + socanaṃ: action + sorrow, bewailing

[4] vipākasocanaṃ: vipāka + socanaṃ: fruit, result, consequence + sorrow, bewailing

[5] socanaṭṭhāneyeva: socana +ṭ + ṭhāna +yeva: grieve, suffering + place + just so

[6] Cundasūkarikavatthu, Dhammapada-aṭṭhakathā, Khuddakanikāye

[7] dhammikaupāsakopi: dhammika + upāsako + pi: following the Dhamma + disciple + also

[8] puññakammasampattiṃ: puñña + kamma + sampattiṃ: merits + actions + attainment

[9] Dhammikaupāsakavatthu, Dhammapada-aṭṭhakathā, Khuddakanikāye

[10] modanaṭṭhāneyeva: modana + ṭ +ṭhāne + yeva: rejoycing + place + just so

[11] Dhammikaupāsakavatthu, Dhammapada-aṭṭhakathā, Khuddakanikāye

[12] pamādavihārino: pamāda + vihārino: negligence + dwelling in

[13] Devadattavatthu, Dhammapada-aṭṭhakathā, Khuddakanikāye

[14] Sumanādevīvatthu, Dhammapada-aṭṭhakathā, Khuddakanikāye
Pāli lesson (with audio) 3.5.0

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Last modified: Wednesday, 20 February 2019, 1:35 PM