Aṅguttara NikāyaAN 3.100 Loṇakapalla Sutta
A Lump of Salt

“Monks, suppose you say: ‘No matter how this person performs a deed, they experience it the same way.’ This being so, the spiritual life could not be lived, and there would be no chance of making a complete end of suffering.

“Suppose you say: ‘No matter how this person performs a deed, they experience the result as it should be experienced.’ This being so, the spiritual life can be lived, and there is a chance of making a complete end of suffering.

“Take the case of a person who does a small bad deed, but it lands them in hell. Meanwhile, another person does the same small bad deed, but experiences it in the present life, without even a bit left over, let alone a lot.

What kind of person does a small bad deed, but it lands them in hell? A person who hasn’t developed their body, virtue, mind, or wisdom. They’re small-minded and mean-spirited, living in suffering. That kind of person does a small bad deed, but it lands them in hell.

What kind of person does the same small bad deed, but experiences it in the present life, without even a bit left over, let alone a lot? A person who has developed their body, virtue, mind, and wisdom. They’re not small-minded, but are big-hearted, living without limits. That kind of person does the same small bad deed, but experiences it in the present life, without even a bit left over, not to speak of a lot.

Simile of the Lump of Salt

“Suppose a person was to drop a lump of salt into a small bowl of water. What do you think, monks? Would that small bowl of water become salty and undrinkable?”

“Yes, Bhante. Why is that? Because there is only a little water in the bowl.”

“Suppose a person was to drop a lump of salt into the Ganges river. What do you think, monks? Would the Ganges river become salty and undrinkable?”

“No, Bhante. Why is that? Because the Ganges river is a vast mass of water.”

“This is how it is in the case of a person who does a small bad deed, but it lands them in hell. Meanwhile, another person does the same small bad deed, but experiences it in the present life, without even a bit left over, not to speak of a lot. …

Simile of the Thief

“Take the case of a person who is thrown in jail for stealing half a dollar, a dollar, or a hundred dollars. While another person isn’t thrown in jail for stealing half a dollar, a dollar, or a hundred dollars.

What kind of person is thrown in jail for stealing half a dollar, a dollar, or a hundred dollars? A person who is poor, with few possessions and little wealth. That kind of person is thrown in jail for stealing half a dollar, a dollar, or a hundred dollars.

What kind of person isn’t thrown in jail for stealing half a dollar, a dollar, or a hundred dollars? A person who is rich, affluent, and wealthy. That kind of person isn’t thrown in jail for stealing half a dollar, a dollar, or a hundred dollars.

This is how it is in the case of a person who does a small bad deed, but they go to hell. Meanwhile, another person does the same small bad deed, but experiences it in the present life, without even a bit left over, not to speak of a lot. …

Simile of the Sheep Butcher

It’s like a sheep dealer or butcher. They can execute, jail, fine, or otherwise punish one person who steals from them, but not another.

What kind of person can they punish? A person who is poor, with few possessions and little wealth. That’s the kind of person they can punish.

What kind of person can’t they punish? A ruler or their minister who is rich, affluent, and wealthy. That’s the kind of person they can’t punish. In fact, all they can do is raise their joined palms and ask: ‘Please, good Bhante, give me my sheep or pay me for it.’

This is how it is in the case of a person who does a small bad deed, but it lands them in hell. Meanwhile, another person does the same small bad deed, but experiences it in the present life, without even a bit left over, not to speak of a lot. …

Monks, suppose you say: ‘No matter how this person performs a deed, they experience it the same way.’ This being so, the spiritual life could not be lived, and there would be no chance of making a complete end of suffering.

Suppose you say: ‘No matter how this person performs a deed, they experience the result as it should be experienced.’ This being so, the spiritual life can be lived, and there is a chance of making a complete end of suffering.”

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Aṅguttara Nikāya 3.100 Loṇakapalla Sutta: A Lump of Salt

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