3.6.10 Introduction to Sīlānisaṃsakathā - What Are the Benefits of a Virtuous Life?
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato sammāsambuddhassa
Introduction to 3.6.10
What are the Benefits of a Virtuous Life?
‘‘Lobhajaṃ dosajañceva, mohajañcāpaviddasu1;
Yaṃ tena pakataṃ2 kammaṃ, appaṃ vā yadi vā bahuṃ;
Idheva taṃ vedaniyaṃ, vatthu aññaṃ na vijjati.
Tasmā lobhañca dosañca, mohajañcāpi viddasu;
Vijjaṃ uppādayaṃ bhikkhu, sabbā duggatiyo jahe3’’ti.4
‘‘Whatever kamma an ignorant person has performed –
Born from greed, ill will or ignorance, insignificant or performed in excess,
He has to experience it right here – there exists no other occasion.
Therefore a wise person, should abandon all deeds born from greed, ill will or ignorance,
A Bhikkhu with arising wisdom should thus forsake all states of suffering.”
Someone who refutes the ‘concept of ‘kamma and kamma-results’ – ‘kammavaṭṭavipākavaṭṭavasena5’ – as ‘foolish faith’ or ‘mere fatalism’ will lose opportunity of a healthy and supportive tool for this life. Even if kamma was in fact nothing but blind belief or mere fatalism, yet still out of faith in this ‘concept’ a person embraces ethical standards and moral principles during this life– this person will be successful!
The Sīlānisaṃsakathā - this present selection from Visuddhimaggo points to direct, evident benefits of someone who practices the principles of sīla.6 Someone who lives a moral life in harmony with the environment and his or her fellow beings remains engulfed in mental calm. Even if there was no kamma-result, at least it is ascertained that one has lived a wholesome life at peace. Therefore the Buddha emphasised to Ānanda: “Avippaṭisāratthāni kho, ānanda, kusalāni sīlāni avippaṭisārānisaṃsānī”7 - “O’ Ānanda, wholesome virtues have non-remorse as their reason and non-remorse as their result.”
It is stated, that the succession of kamma and its effects can be fully perceived only by a Buddha but not by his disciples.8 A mindful meditator, however, with regular practice will surely become more and more aware of positive and negative consequences of one’s actions. A Vipassana meditator, who practices insight, will be able to realize at least some kamma one has generated and some of its effects in parts: “Vipassakena pana kammantarañca vipākantarañca ekadesato9 jānitabbaṃ.”
As a meditator increases awareness and apprehension of the occurrence of the mental-material-structure, the mind-matter phenomenon, he will understand how not only the present occurrence, but likewise the past and the future occurrences of this mind-matter phenomenon are generated due to conditions based in kamma and kamma results.10 He understands clearly: “Iti kammañceva kammavipāko ca, kammavaṭṭañca vipākavaṭṭañca, kammapavattañca vipākapavattañca, kammasantati ca vipākasantati ca, kiriyā ca kiriyāphalañca”. – “This is kamma and kamma-result; this is the round of kamma and the round of kamma-result; this is the occurrence of kamma and the occurrence of kamma-result; this is the continuity of kamma and the continuity of kamma-result and this is action and the fruit of action!” Further comprehension may allow such a mindful person to recognize a logical thread of arising and origination depending on a cause not only in this existence but likewise in the future.
When the Buddha points in the Nidānasuttaṃ11 to the three causes from which kamma originates: – ‘‘Tīṇimāni, bhikkhave, nidānāni12 kammānaṃ samudayāya. Katamāni tīṇi? Lobho nidānaṃ kammānaṃ samudayāya, doso nidānaṃ kammānaṃ samudayāya, moho nidānaṃ kammānaṃ samudayāya” – “There are, Bhikkhus, three causes for kamma to originate. What are the three? Greed is a cause for kamma to originate; ill will is a cause for kamma to originate and ignorance is a cause for kamma to originate.”
The Buddha also points to the fact that kamma may take effect in any of the existences: ‘‘Yaṃ, bhikkhave, lobhapakataṃ kammaṃ lobhajaṃ lobhanidānaṃ lobhasamudayaṃ …… dosapakataṃ kammaṃ dosajaṃ dosanidānaṃ dosasamudayaṃ …… mohapakataṃ kammaṃ mohajaṃ mohanidānaṃ mohasamudayaṃ, yatthassa attabhāvo nibbattati tattha taṃ kammaṃ vipaccati13. Yattha taṃ kammaṃ vipaccati tattha tassa kammassa vipākaṃ paṭisaṃvedeti, diṭṭhe vā dhamme upapajja vā apare vā pariyāye.” – “Whatever kamma gets created through greed, is born from greed, caused by greed and originated from greed. Whatever kamma gets created through ill will, is born from ill will, caused by ill will and originated from ill will. Whatever kamma gets created through ignorance, is born from ignorance, caused by ignorance and originated from ignorance, bears fruit whenever the individual is reborn. Wherever this kamma bears fruit one experiences its results, either in this life, in the next or in some further existence.”
Kammā vipākā vattanti, vipāko kammasambhavo;
Kammā punabbhavo hoti, evaṃ loko pavattatīti.14
Kamma-result proceeds from kamma, result has kamma as its source;
Further becoming springs from kamma- that is how the world rotates.15
May the profitable principles of sīla and moral ethics prevail in this world!
May on base of these profitable ethics more and more beings get inspired to establish proper understanding through meditation and encounter and realize the working principles of kamma and kamma-results – kammavaṭṭavipākavaṭṭavasena. This would corroborate determination to ascertain a wholesome livelihood for the benefit of one and all in the ‘advanced’ world of today, yet filled with so much poverty, trouble, suffering and pain where selfishness and rapacity dominate over sympathy and empathy!
1 mohajañcāpaviddasu: moha + jaṃ + cāpi + aviddasu: ignorance + born from + ignorant person
2 pakataṃ: pakaroti (pp.): perform, act, make
3 jahe/jaheyya: jahāti (3.rd sing. opt.): should abandon, give up, renounce
4 Nidānasuttaṃ, Devadūtavaggo, Paṭhamapaṇṇāsakaṃ, Tikanipātapāḷi, Aṅguttaranikāyo
5 kammavaṭṭavipākavaṭṭavasena: kamma + vaṭṭa + vipāka + vaṭṭa + vasena: kamma + round + result + round + on account of
6 Sīlānisaṃsakathā, selected from Visuddhimaggo, refers here to the following suttas: Kimatthiyasuttaṃ, Ānisaṃsavaggo, Dasakanipātapāḷi and Nissayavaggo, Ekādasakanipātapāḷi, Aṅguttaranikāyo and Sīlavanttaānisaṃsā, Mahāparinibbānasuttaṃ, Mahāvaggapāḷi, Dīghanikāyo.
7 See lesson for vocabulary!
8 Paccayapariggahakathā, Kaṅkhāvitaraṇavisuddhiniddeso, Visuddhimaggo:
Iti imesaṃ dvādasannaṃ kammānaṃ kammantarañceva vipākantarañca buddhānaṃ kammavipākañāṇasseva yāthāvasarasato pākaṭaṃ hoti, asādhāraṇaṃ sāvakehi.
dvādasannaṃ kammānaṃ: the twelve kinds of kamma are: 1) to be experienced in this very life (diṭṭhadhammavedanīyaṃ kammaṃ); 2) to be experienced in the next existence (upapajjavedanīyaṃ kammaṃ); 3) to be experienced in any further existence (aparāpariyavedanīyaṃ kammaṃ); 4) which has been (ahosikammaṃ - kamma unable to produce result); 5) weighty (yaṃ garukaṃ kammaṃ - powerful profitable or unprofitable kamma dominating the other effects); 6) habitual (yaṃ bahulaṃ kammaṃ - kamma created by regularly applied and often repeated actions); 7) actions remembered at the time of death (yadāsannaṃ kammaṃ); 8) outstanding kamma yet to be realized (kaṭattā vā pana kammaṃ - only when the previous three are lacking this one can occur); 9) reproductive (janakaṃ kammaṃ - producing the material and immaterial aggregates at birth and in the course of existence); 10) consolidating or sustaining (upatthambhakaṃ kammaṃ - does not produce any result but consolidates the results, pain and pleasure that has been produced by any of the other kammas); 11) oppressive or obstructive (upapīḷakaṃ kammaṃ - does not produce any result but oppresses and obstructs the results, pain and pleasure that has been produced by any of the other kammas); 12) destructing or suppressive (upaghātakaṃ kammaṃ – cuts off weaker kamma and supports the arising of its own results).
9 ekadesato: part, portion
10 Paccayapariggahakathā, Kaṅkhāvitaraṇavisuddhiniddeso, Visuddhimaggo: So evaṃ kammavaṭṭavipākavaṭṭavasena paccayato nāmarūpassa pavattiṃ disvā ‘‘yathā idaṃ etarahi, evaṃ atītepi addhāne kammavaṭṭavipākavaṭṭavasena paccayato pavattittha, anāgatepi kammavaṭṭavipākavaṭṭavaseneva paccayato pavattissatī’’ti.
11 Devadūtavaggo, Paṭhamapaṇṇāsakaṃ, Tikanipātapāḷi, Aṅguttaranikāyo
12 nidānāni: (pl.) cause, origin, source
13 vipaccati: ripen, bear fruit
14 Paccayapariggahakathā, Kaṅkhāvitaraṇavisuddhiniddeso, Visuddhimaggo