Categories
Majjhima Nikaya

Majjhima Nikāya
135 Cūḷakammavibhaṅga Sutta
The Shorter Discourse on the Analysis of Kamma

The Buddha explains actions and their results in a very direct and helpful way.

This is how I heard. At one time the Buddha was living in the city of Sāvatthī in Jeta’s Park, at Anāthapiṇḍika’s monastery.

Then the high caste brahmin student Subha, Todeyya’s son, went to  the Supreme 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 inferior and superior? For people are seen who are short-lived and long-lived, always sick and healthy, ugly and beautiful, unknown and well known, poor and rich, from low and high class families, stupid and wise. What is the reason why among people, some are seen to be inferior and superior?”

“Student, beings are the owners of their kamma and inherit the results of their kamma. Kamma are their place of birth, their relative, and their refuge. It is kamma that divides beings into inferior and superior.”

“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, student, listen and pay close attention, I will teach.”

“Yes, sir,” replied Subha. The Buddha taught this:

Short-lived & long-lived

“Student, take a woman or a man who kills living beings. They’re violent, bloody-handed, a hardened killer, cruel  to living beings. Because of doing these things, after death, they’re reborn in a place of misery, hell. If they’re not reborn in hell, but return to the human world, then wherever they’re reborn  they’re short-lived. For killing living beings is the path leading to a short lifespan.

“But take a woman or a man who gives up killing living beings. They give up using  the rod and the sword. They’re very careful about their actions and kind, living full of compassion for all living beings. Because of doing these things, after death, they’re reborn in a good place, a heavenly world. If they’re not reborn in a heavenly world, but return to the human world, then wherever they’re reborn they’re long-lived. For not killing living beings is the path leading to a long lifespan.

Sick & healthy

“Take a woman or a man who again and again hurts living beings with a fist, stone, rod, or sword. Because of doing these things, after death they’re reborn in a place of misery… or if they return to the human world, they’re always sick …

“But take a woman or a man who does not again and again hurt living beings with a fist, stone, rod, or sword. Because of doing these things, after death they’re reborn in a heavenly world … or if they return to the human world, they’re healthy …

Ugly & beautiful

“Take a woman or a man who is irritable and quick to get angry. Even when lightly criticized they lose their temper, becoming annoyed, hostile, and hard-hearted, and displaying annoyance, hate, and bitterness. Because of doing these things, after death they’re reborn in a place of misery… or if they return to the human world, they’re ugly …

“But take some woman or man who isn’t irritable and quick to get angry. Even when heavily criticized, they don’t lose their temper, become annoyed, hostile, and hard-hearted, or display annoyance, hate, and bitterness. Because of doing these things, after death they’re reborn in a heavenly world … or if they return to the human world, they’re beautiful…

Unknown & well known

“Take a woman or a man who is jealous. They envy, resent, and complain about the possessions, honor, respect, reverence, homage, and veneration given to others. Because of doing these things, after death they’re reborn in a place of misery … or if they return to the human world, they’re unknown…

“But take some woman or man who is not jealous … Because of doing these things, after death they’re reborn in a heavenly world … or if they return to the human world, they’re well known…

Poor & rich

“Take a woman or a man who doesn’t give to others such things as food, drink, clothing, vehicles; strings of flowers, perfumes, and makeup; and bed, house, and lighting. Because of doing these things, after death they’re reborn in a place of misery … or if they return to the human world, they’re poor …

“But take a woman or a man who does give to others such things as food, drink, clothing, vehicles; strings of flowers, perfumes, and makeup; and bed, house, and lighting. Because of doing these things, after death they’re reborn in a heavenly world … or if they return to the human world, they’re rich …

Low & high class families

“Take a woman or a man who is stubborn and arrogant. They don’t bow to those they should bow to. They don’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 doing these things, after death they’re reborn in a place of misery … or if they return to the human world, they’re reborn in a low class family …

“But take a woman or a man who is not stubborn and arrogant … Because of doing these things, after death they’re reborn in a heavenly world … or if they return to the human world, they’re reborn in a high class family …

Stupid & wise

“Take a woman or a man who doesn’t go to virtuous and wise people to ask: ‘Sir, what is good and what is evil? What is right and what is wrong? What should be developed and what should not be developed? 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 doing these things, after death they’re reborn in a place of misery… or if they return to the human world, they’re stupid …

“But take a woman or a man who does go to virtuous and wise people to ask: ‘Sir, what is good and what is evil? What is right and what is wrong? What should be developed and what should not be developed? 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 doing these things, after death, they’re reborn in a good place, a heavenly world. If they’re not reborn in a heavenly world, but return to the human world, then wherever they’re reborn they’re very wise. For asking questions of  virtuous and wise people is the path leading to wisdom.

Summary

“So, student, it is the way that leads to short life makes someone short-lived. The way that leads to long life makes someone long-lived. The way that leads to always being sick makes someone always sick. The way that leads to health makes someone healthy. The way that leads to being ugly makes someone ugly. The way that leads to  being beautiful makes someone beautiful. The way that leads to being unknown makes someone unknown. The way that leads to being well known makes someone well known. The way that leads to being poor makes someone poor. The way that leads to being rich makes someone rich. The way that leads rebirth in a low class family makes someone be reborn in a low class family. The way that leads to being born in a high class family makes someone be reborn in a high class family. The way that leads being stupid makes someone  stupid. The way that leads to being wise makes someone wise.

“Student, beings are the owners of their kamma and inherit the results of their kamma. Kamma is their place of rebirth, their relative, and their refuge. It is deeds that divide beings into inferior and superior.”

When the Buddha had taught, the student Subha said to the Buddha, “Excellent, Master Gotama! Excellent! As if you 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 Teaching clear in many ways. I go for refuge to Master Gotama, to the Dhamma, and to the Saṅgha. From this day forth, may Master Gotama remember me as a lay follower who has gone for refuge to the Triple Gem for life.”

Three Bar Menu Button

Majjhima Nikāya 135 Cūḷakammavibhaṅga Sutta: The Shorter Discourse on the Analysis of Kamma

Explore other suttas with these topics:

Have a question?

Do you have a question about what you have read?