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Cetana and Kamma (Intention and Action)

One can refer the Nibbedika Sutta Discourse of Gautama Buddha to learn about Cetana (Intention) and Kamma (Action). A most used part of a Sutta passage for this effect is

Cetanàhaü bhikkhave kammaü vadàmi,

Indeed when the above is mentioned there is an often omitted section which goes together with the above sutta passage.

That is

Cetanàhaü bhikkhave kammaü vadàmi, cetayitvà kammaü karoti kàyena vàcàya manasà,

(An.-6.2.1.9-Nibbedhika suttaü)

 

Unless one doesn't take into account the meaning of the whole sutta passage, a distorted meaning surfaces for the reader.

The correct meaning coming out of the sutta passage should be ,

 

Bhikkhus, intention I say is action. Having intended one does action by body, speech and mind.

 

If one give more heed to the above this is what it says.

One need Intention first to do an action. With Intention as foremost, one does action by Body, Speech or Mind. Just having an Intention but if the action is missing either through Body, Speech or Mind, then there is no Kamma and a Vipaka cannot take place.

For example lets say, one had an intention to go to BodhGaya on a pilgrimage and to worship the Buddha that would definitely accumulate meritorious vipaka for the person.

Suppose that person had the intention but did not go to Bodhgaya at all.

Suppose a second person with the same intention of going to Bodh Gaya does all the needful things as getting the Visa to visit India, goes to a travel agent who facilitates the tour to Bodh Gaya and later in person visits Bodhgaya, worshipping Gautama Buddha with profound understanding and feeling.

Out of the above two persons whom do you think will accumulate the meritorious ( kusala or skillful )results or Vipaka?

Similarly one got a dislike towards another person. Later he has forgotten it and matter rested at that point.

Another person also had a dislike towards another person. He first started abusing that person and later physically harmed him which also caused the death of the person he disliked.

Whom do you think acquired harmful (akusala or unskillful) resultants or Vipaka ?

Buddha invites one to come and look- So you are invited to think on above four incidents since there is a difference anyone can understand whether he knows Sutta discourses or not. In Buddha Dhamma, it needs the involvement of the person who has to think , reason and to accept the correct thing.

         

 To learn more on Kamma or Action, we can turn to Nibbedika Sutta of Angttara Nikaya.

The reason for Kamma as Buddha says in the sutta is due to Contact or phassa. There are different types of Kamma or actions which gives different types of Vipaka or results. Results of some Kamma needs to be experienced in hell, some in animal world, some in ghostly (peta world), some in the human world and some in heavenly worlds. They may be experienced either in this lifetime, or in the next life or in any of subsequent births. The way of cessation of Kamma is the cessation of Contact or Phassa. This is achieved through the Noble Eightfold Path

 

Gautama Buddha in this sutta discourse pointed out that

One should know about Kamma or action

(Having Intended, one does Action by Body,Speech or Mind)

Should know how Kamma arises

(By Contact)

Should know the difference of Kamma

( to be experienced in hell, some in animal world, some in ghostly (peta world), some in the human world and some in heavenly worlds)

Should know the resultants or vipaka of Kamma

(may be experienced either in this lifetime, or in the next life or in any of subsequent births.)

Should know the cessation of Kamma

(By cessation of Contact)

Should know the Path to the cessation of Kamma

(cessation of Contact or Phassa achieved through the Noble Eightfold Path )

 

 

Going into details of arising of Kamma, Gautama Buddha states that due to Contact or Phassa, the Kamma arises. Now the explanation of Contact or Phassa in Upadana Parivatta Sutta is of help to understand Phassa or Contact.

 

Refering

Upàdàna parivatta sutta of Samyukta Nikaya

Katamà ca bhikkhave, vedanà:

Chayime ca bhikkhave, vedanàkàyà: cakkhusamphassajà vedanà, sota samphassajà vedanà, ghànasamphassajà vedanà, jivhàsamphassajà vedanà, kàyasamphassajà vedanà, manosamphassajà vedanà ayaü vuccati bhikkhave, vedanà. Phassasamudayà vedanàsamudayo, phassanirodhà vedanànirodho, ayameva ariyo aññhaïgiko maggo vedanànirodhagàmãni pañipadà, seyyathãdaü: sammàdiññhi sammàsaükappo sammàvàcà sammà kammanto sammààjãvo sammàvàyàmo sammàsati sammàsamàdhi.

 

Because of Eye contact , Feeling arises (cakkhusamphassajà vedanà,)

Because of Ear contact , Feeling arises ( sota samphassajà vedanà,)

Because of Nose contact , Feeling arises (ghànasamphassajà vedanà, )

Because of Tongue contact , Feeling arises ( jivhàsamphassajà vedanà)

Because of Body contact , Feeling arises ( kàyasamphassajà vedanà,)

Because of Mind contact , Feeling arises ( manosamphassajà vedanà)

 

Now what is Eye contact. It is the union of three factors. Eye, Form and Eye consciousness causes Eye Contact or cakkhusamphassa

Now what is Ear contact. It is the union of three factors. Ear, Sound and Ear consciousness causes Ear Contact or sotasamphassa

Now what is Nose contact. It is the union of three factors. Nose, Smell and Nose consciousness causes Nose Contact or ghanaamphassa

Now what is Tongue contact. It is the union of three factors. Tongue, Taste and Tongue consciousness causes Tongue Contact or jivhàsamphassa

Now what is Body contact. It is the union of three factors. Body, Touch and Body consciousness causes Body Contact or kàyasamphassa

Now what is Mind contact. It is the union of three factors. Mind, Thoughts and Mind consciousness causes Mind Contact or manosamphassa


 

Gautama Buddha stressed that one should refrain from thinking of Kamma Vipaka since it is only subject to a Buddha

Kammavipàko bhikkhave acinteyyo na cintetabbo, yaü cintento ummàdassa vighàtassa bhàgã assa

 

(Anguttara. ni-Acinteyyasuttaü)

         

 

Relevant Pali Sutta passages from Nibbedika Sutta follows

 

 "Kammaü bhikkhave veditabbaü kammànaü nidànasambhavo veditabbo, kammànaü vemattatà vedibbà, kammànaü vipàko veditabbo, kammanirodho veditabbo, kammanirodhagàminã pañipadà veditabbà"ti iti kho panetaü vuttaü, ki¤cetaü pañicca vuttaü:

Cetanàhaü bhikkhave kammaü vadàmi, cetayitvà kammaü karoti kàyena vàcàya manasà,

Katamo ca bhikkhave kammànaü nidànasambhavo: phasso bhikkhave kammànaü nidànambhavo.

Katamà ca bhikkhave kammànaü vemattatà: atthi bhikkhave kammaü nirayavedanãyaü, atthi kammaü tiracchànayonivedanãyà, atthi kammaü pettivisayavedanãyaü, atthi kammaü manussalokavedanãyaü, atthi kammaü devalokavedanãyaü. Ayaü vuccati bhikkhave kammànaü vemattatà.

Katamo ca bhikkhave kammànaü vipàko: tividhàhaü bhikkhave kammànaü vipàkaü vadàmi: diññhevà dhamme, upajje và, apare và pariyàye. Ayaü vuccati bhikkhave kammànaü vipàko.

Katamo ca bhikkhave kammanirodho: phassanirodho bhikkhave kammanirodho.

Ayameva ariyo aññhaïgiko maggo kammanirodhagàmini pañipadà. Seyyathã*daü: sammàdiññhi sammàdiññhi sammàsaïkappo sammàvàcà sammàkammanto sammà àjã sammàvàyàmo sammàsati sammàsamàdhi.

Yato ca kho bhikkhave ariyasàvako evaü kammaü pajànàti, evaü kammàna nidànasambhavaü pajànàti, evaü kammànaü vemattataü pajànàti, evaü kammànaü vipàkaü pajànàti, evaü kammanirodhaü pajànàti, evaü kammanirodhagàmini pañipadaü pajànàti. So imaü nibbodhikaü brahmacariyaü pajànàti kammanirodhaü.

"Kammaü bhikkhave veditabbaü kammànaü nidànasambhavo veditabbo, kammànaü vemattatà vedibbàvvv, kamvvvramànaü vipàko veditabbo, kammanirodho veditabbo, kammanirodhagàminã pañipadà veditabbà"ti iti yantaü vuttaü, idametaü pañicca vuttaü.

                Note     Times CSX+ font was used to display Pali Sutta passages in English