Categories
Majjhima Nikaya

Majjhima Nikāya
135 Cula Kamma Vibhanga Sutta
The Shorter Discourse on Analysing Kamma

Learn about specific good and bad actions and their good and bad results.

This sutta is part 7 of 11 in the series Merit

This is as I heard from the Blessed One. Those days, the Buddha was living in the province of Sāvatthī, in Jeta’s Park, at Anāthapiṇḍika’s monastery.

Then the brāhmin youth Subha, Todeyya’s son, approached the Buddha, and exchanged greetings with him. When the greetings and polite conversation were over, he sat down to one side and asked the Buddha, “What is the cause, Master Gotama, what is the reason why among people, some are seen to be low and some are seen to be great? Some are short-lived and some are long-lived, constantly sick and healthy, ugly and beautiful, weak and influential, poor and rich, from low-caste and high-caste, unwise and wise. What is the reason why among people some are seen to be low and great?”

“Youth, beings are the owners of their kamma 1 and heir to their kamma. Kamma is their determining factor of rebirth, their relative, and their refuge. It is kamma that divides beings into low and great.”

“I don’t understand the meaning of what Master Gotama has said in brief, without explaining the details. Master Gotama, please teach me this matter in detail so I can understand the meaning.”

“Well then, youth, listen and pay close attention, I will teach.” 

“Yes, Master Gotama,” replied Subha. The Buddha said this:

“Take a woman or a man who kills beings. He is violent, bloody-handed, a killer and cruel to beings. Because of such actions, after death, he is reborn in a plane of misery, hell. If he is not reborn in hell, but instead reborn in the human world, then wherever he is reborn, he is short-lived. Youth, in this way, killing beings, being violent, bloody-handed, a killer and merciless to beings is the path leading to a short lifespan.

“But take some woman or man who gives up killing beings. He puts aside rods, swords and weapons. He is ashamed of killing beings, he is sympathetic and kind, full of compassion for beings. Because of such actions, after death, he is reborn in a happy world, heaven. If he is not reborn in heaven, but instead reborn in the human world, then wherever he is reborn, he is long-lived. Youth, in this way not killing beings, putting aside rods, swords and weapons, and being ashamed of killing beings, being sympathetic and kind, and full of compassion for beings is the path leading to a long lifespan.

“Take some woman or man who hurts beings with a fist, stone, rod or sword. Because of such actions, after death, he is reborn in a plane of misery, hell. If he is not reborn in hell, but instead reborn in the human world, then wherever he is reborn, he is constantly sick. Youth, in this way, hurting beings with a fist, stone, rod or sword is the path leading to a rebirth where one is constantly sick. 

“But take some woman or man who does not hurt beings with a fist, stone, rod, or sword. Because of such actions, after death, he is reborn in a happy world, heaven. If he is not reborn in heaven, but instead reborn in the human world, then wherever he is reborn, he is healthy. Youth, in this way, not hurting beings with a fist, stone, rod or sword is the path leading to a rebirth where one is healthy.

“Take some woman or man who is irritable and bad-tempered. Even when lightly criticized he loses his temper, becoming annoyed, hostile, and stubborn, and displaying annoyance, hate, and bitterness. Because of such actions, after death, he is reborn in a plane of misery, hell. If he is not reborn in hell, but instead reborn in the human world, then wherever he is reborn, he is ugly. Youth, in this way, being irritable, bad-tempered, losing one’s temper and becoming annoyed, hostile and stubborn when lightly criticized, and displaying annoyance, hate, and bitterness is the path leading to a rebirth where one is ugly.

“But take some woman or man who isn’t irritable and bad-tempered. Even when heavily criticized, he doesn’t lose this temper, become annoyed, hostile, and stubborn, or display annoyance, hate, and bitterness. Because of such actions, after death, he is reborn in a happy world, heaven. If he is not reborn in heaven, but instead reborn in the human world, then wherever he is reborn, he is beautiful. Youth, in this way, not being irritable, bad-tempered, not losing one’s temper and becoming annoyed, hostile, and stubborn when lightly criticized and not displaying annoyance, hate, and bitterness is the path leading to a rebirth where one is beautiful.

“Take some woman or man who is jealous. He envies the possessions, honor, respect, reverence, homage, and veneration given to others. He is resentful and bears a grudge. Because of such actions, after death, he is reborn in a plane of misery, hell. If he is not reborn in hell, but instead reborn in the human world, then wherever he is reborn, he is weak. Youth, in this way, being jealous, envying the possessions, honor, respect, reverence, homage and veneration given to others, and being resentful and bearing a grudge is the path leading to a rebirth where one is powerless. 

“But take some woman or man who is not jealous. He does not envy the possessions, honor, respect, reverence, homage, and veneration given to others. He is not resentful and bears a grudge. Because of such actions, after death, he is reborn in a happy world, heaven. If he is not reborn in heaven, but instead reborn in the human world, then wherever he is reborn, he is influential.Youth, in this way, not being jealous, not envying the possessions, honor, respect, reverence, homage and veneration given to others, and not being resentful and not bearing a grudge is the path leading to a rebirth where one is influential.

“Take some woman or man who is not generous. He doesn’t give food, drink, clothing, vehicles; flowers, perfumes, and makeup; and bed, house, and lighting to others. Because of such actions, after death, he is reborn in a plane of misery, hell. If he is not reborn in hell, but instead reborn in the human world, then wherever he is reborn, he is poor. Youth, in this way, not being generous, not giving food, drink, clothing, vehicles, flowers, perfumes, makeup, beds, houses and lighting to others is the path leading to a rebirth where one is poor.

“But take some woman or man who is generous. He gives food, drink, clothing, vehicles; flowers, perfumes, and makeup; and bed, house, and lighting to others. Because of such actions, after death, he is reborn in a happy world, heaven. If he is not reborn in heaven, but instead reborn in the human world, then wherever he is reborn, he is rich. Youth, in this way, being generous, giving food, drink, clothing, vehicles, flowers, perfumes, makeup, beds, houses and lighting to others is the path leading to a rebirth where one is rich.

“Take some woman or man who is stubborn and conceited. He doesn’t bow to those he should bow to. He doesn’t rise up for them, offer them a seat, make way for them, or honor, respect, esteem, or venerate those who are worthy of such. Because of such actions, after death, he is reborn in a plane of misery, hell. If he is not reborn in hell, but instead reborn in the human world, then wherever he is reborn, he is reborn in a low-caste family. Youth, in this way, being stubborn and conceited, and not bowing, rising, offering a seat to, making way for, honoring, respecting, showing esteem and venerating those worthy of such is the path leading to a rebirth where one is born into a low-caste family. 

“But take some woman or man who is not stubborn and conceited. He does bow to those he should bow to. He does rise up for them, offer them a seat, make way for them, or honor, respect, esteem, or venerate those who are worthy of such. Because of such actions, after death, he is reborn in a happy world, heaven. If he is not reborn in heaven, but instead reborn in the human world, then wherever he is reborn, he is reborn in a high-caste family. Youth, in this way, not being stubborn and conceited, and bowing, rising, offering a seat to, making way for, honoring, respecting, showing esteem and venerating those worthy of such is the path leading to a rebirth where one is born into a high-caste family.

“Take some woman or man who doesn’t go to wise and knowledgeable people to ask: ‘Sir, what is wholesome and what is unwholesome? What is wrong and what is right? What should be followed and what should not be followed? What kind of action will lead to my lasting harm and suffering? Or what kind of action will lead to my lasting welfare and happiness?’ Because of such actions, after death, he is reborn in a plane of misery, hell. If he is not reborn in hell, but instead reborn in the human world, then wherever he is reborn, he is witless. Youth, in this way, not going to wise and knowledgeable people to ask: ‘Sir, what is wholesome and what is unwholesome? What is wrong and what is right? What should be followed and what should not be followed? What kind of action will lead to my lasting harm and suffering? Or what kind of action will lead to my lasting welfare and happiness?’ is the path leading to a rebirth where one is unwise.

“But take some woman or man who does approach wise and knowledgeable people to ask: ‘Sir, what is skillful and what is unskillful? What is blameworthy and what is blameless? What should be cultivated and what should not be cultivated? What kind of action will lead to my lasting harm and suffering? Or what kind of action will lead to my lasting welfare and happiness?’ Because of such actions, after death, he is reborn in a happy world, heaven. If he is not reborn in heaven, but instead reborn in the human world, then wherever he is reborn, he is very wise. Youth, in this way, going to wise and knowledgeable people to ask: ‘Sir, what is wholesome and what is unwholesome? What is wrong and what is right? What should be followed and what should not be followed? What kind of action will lead to my lasting harm and suffering? Or what kind of action will lead to my lasting welfare and happiness?’ is the path leading to a rebirth where one is wise.

“So it is the way people live that makes them how they are, whether short-lived or long-lived, constantly sick or healthy, ugly or beautiful, weak or influential, poor or rich, in a low-caste or high-caste family, or unwise or wise.

“Beings are the owners of their kamma 2 and heir to their kamma. Kamma is their determining factor of rebirth, their relative, and their refuge. It is kamma that divides beings into low and great.”

When the Buddha taught this, Subha said to him, “Excellent, Master Gotama! Excellent! As if he were turning upright what was overturned, or revealing the hidden, or pointing out the path to the lost, or lighting a lamp in the dark so people with good eyes can see what’s there, Master Gotama has made the Dhamma clear in many ways. I go for refuge to Master Gotama, to the Dhamma, and to the Saṅgha. From this day on, may Master Gotama remember me as a lay follower who has gone for refuge to the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Saṅgha for life.”

Merit Series Navigation
Learn the Buddha’s teachings on merit.
The Supreme Buddha encouraged us to do a variety of wholesome actions known as merit. In this series you will learn about the power of this good karma and how it will bring happiness in this life and our future lives, and ultimately lead all the way to Nibbāna.
→ Pv 3.6 Seraṇī Sutta: The Ghost Serini →← Itv 27 Mettācetovimutti Sutta: The Development of Loving-kindness ←
Three Bar Menu Button

Majjhima Nikāya 135 Cula Kamma Vibhanga Sutta: The Shorter Discourse on Analysing Kamma

Have a question?

Do you have a question about what you have read?