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Kamma and Rebirth

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Kamma and Rebirth


    Kamma w.r.t Function

        Reproductive Kamma (Janaka Kamma)
        Supportive Kamma (Upatthambhaka Kamma)
        Obstructive Kamma (Upapidaka Kamma)
        Destructive Kamma (Upaghataka Kamma)

    Kamma w.r.t. Order to take effect

        Weighty Kamma (Garuka Kamma)
        Proximate Kamma (Asanna Kamma)
        Habitual Kamma (Acinna Kamma)
        Reserve Kamma (Katatta Kamma)

    Kamma w.r.t. Time of taking effect

        Immediately Effective Kamma (Ditthadhammavedaniya Kamma)
        Subsequently Effective Kamma (Upapajjavedaniya Kamma)
        Indefinitely Effective Kamma (Aparapariyavedaniya Kamma)
        Defunct Kamma (Ahosi Kamma)

    Kamma w.r.t. Place of taking effect

        Immoral (Akusala) Kamma pertaining to the Sense-Sphere (Kamavacara)
        Moral (Kusala) Kamma pertaining to the Sense-Sphere (Kamavacara)
        Moral Kamma pertaining to the Form-Sphere (Rupavacara)
        Moral Kamma pertaining to the Formless-Sphere (Arupavacara)

    Kamma w.r.t. Function

        Reproductive Kamma (Janaka Kamma)

        Reproductive Kamma is that which produces mental aggregates and material aggregates at the moment of conception. The initial consciousness which is termed the patisandhi vinnana (rebirth-consciousness) is conditioned by this Reproductive Kamma. Simultaneous with the arising of the rebirth-consciousness there arise the ‘body-decad’, ‘sex-decad’ and ‘base-decad’ (kaya-bhava-vatthu dasaka).

        1. Element of Extension (pathavi) Element of Extension Element of Extension
        2. Element of Cohesion (apo) Element of Cohesion Element of Cohesion
        3. Element of Heat (tejo) Element of Heat Element of Heat
        4. Element of Motion (vayo) Element of Motion Element of Motion
        5. Colour (vanna) Colour Colour
        6. Odour (gandha) Odour Odour
        7. Taste (rasa) Taste Taste
        8. Nutritive essence (oja) Nutritive essence Nutritive essence
        9. Vitality (jivitindriya) Vitality Vitality
        10. Body (kaya) Sex (bhava) Base (vatthu)

        Supportive Kamma (Upatthambhaka Kamma)

        Supportive Kamma is that which comes near the Reproductive Kamma and supports it. It is either good or bad and it assists or maintains the action of the Reproductive Kamma in the course of one's lifetime. Immediately after the conception till the death moment this Kamma steps forward to support the Reproductive Kamma. A moral supportive Kamma assists in giving health, wealth, happiness, etc, to the person concerned. An immoral Supportive Kamma, on the other hand, assists in giving pain, sorrow, etc., to the person born with an immoral Reproductive Kamma as, for instance, to a beast of burden.
        Obstructive or Counteractive Kamma (Upapidaka Kamma)

        Obstructive or Counteractive Kamma which, unlike the former, tends to weaken, interrupt and retard the fruition of the Reproductive Kamma. For instance, a person born with a good Reproductive Kamma may be subject to various ailments etc., thus preventing him from enjoying the blissful results of his good action. An animal, on the other hand, who is born with a bad Reproductive Kamma, may lead a comfortable life by getting good food, lodging, etc., as a result of his good Counteractive Kamma preventing the fruition of the evil Reproductive Kamma.

        Destructive Kamma (Upaghataka Kamma)

        According to the Law of Kamma the potential energy of the Reproductive Kamma could be nullified by a more powerful opposing Kamma of the past, which, seeking an opportunity, may quite unexpectedly operate, just as a counteractive powerful force can obstruct the path of a flying arrow and bring it down to the ground. Such an action is called Destructive Kamma which is more effective than the previous two in that it not only obstructs but also destroys the whole force. This Destructive Kamma also may be either good or bad.

    Kamma w.r.t Order to take effect

        Weighty Kamma (Garuka Kamma) which means either weighty or serious, may be either good or bad. It produces its results in this life or in the next for certain. If good, it is purely mental as in the case of the Jhanas. Otherwise it is either verbal or bodily. The five kinds of Weighty Kamma according to their gravity are :-

            The creation of a schism in the Sangha
            The wounding of a Buddha
            The murder of an Arahant
            Matricide (killing of mother)
            Parricide (killing of father)

        These are also know as Anantariya Kamma because they will definitely produce their effects in the subsequent life. Permanent Scepticism (niyata micchaditthi) is also termed one of the Weighty Kamma.

            If, for instance, any person were to develop the Jhanas and later were to commit one of these heinous crimes, his good Kamma would be obliterated by the powerful evil Kamma. His subsequent birth will be conditioned by the evil Kamma in spite of his having gained the Jhanas earlier. Devadatta lost his psychic powers and was born in an evil state because he wounded the Buddha and caused a schism in the Sangha.

            King Ajatasattu would have attained the first stage of Sainthood if he had not committed parricide. In this case the powerful evil Kamma acted as an obstacle to his gaining Sainthood.

        Proximate Kamma (Asanna Kamma) - Asanna or Death-proximate Kamma is that which one does or remembers immediately before the dying moment. Owing to its significance in determining the future birth, the custom of reminding the dying person of his good deeds and making him do good acts on his death-bed still prevails in Buddhist countries.

            Sometimes a bad person may die happily and receive a good birth if fortunately he remembers or does a good act at the last moment. A story runs that a certain executioner, who casually happened to give some alms to the Venerable Sariputta, remembered this good act at the dying moment and was born in a state of bliss. This does not mean that although he enjoys a good birth he will be exempt from the effects of the evil deeds, accumulated during his lifetime. They will have their due effects as occasions arise.

            At times a good person may die unhappily by suddenly remembering an evil act of his or by harbouring some unpleasant thought, perchance compelled by unfavourable circumstances. Queen Mallika, the consort of King Kosala, led a righteous life, but as a result of remembering, at her death moment, a lie which she had uttered, she had to suffer for about seven days in a state of misery.

        The examples are only exceptional cases. Such reverse changes of birth account for the birth of virtuous children to vicious parents and of vicious children to virtuous parents. As a rule the last thought-process is conditioned by the general conduct of a person.
        Habitual Kamma (Acinna Kamma) is that which one habitually performs and recollects and for which one has a great liking. Habits whether good or bad become second nature. They tend to form the character of a person. At leisure moments we often engage ourselves in our habitual thoughts and deeds. In the same way at the death-moment, unless influenced by other circumstances, we, as a rule, recall to mind such thoughts and deeds.

            Cunda, a butcher, who was living in the vicinity of the Buddha's monastery, died squealing like a pig because he was earning his living by slaughtering pigs.

            King Dutthagamani of Ceylon was in the habit of giving alms to the Bhikkhus before he took his meals. It was this habitual Kamma that gladdened him at the dying moment and gave him birth in Tusita Realm.

        Reserve or Cumulative Kamma (Katatta Kamma) refers to all actions that are done once and soon forgotten belong to this category. This is as it were the reserve fund of a particular being.

Procedure with regard to Decease

The advent of death is fourfold - namely:

    through the expiration of the age-limit
    through the expiration of the (Reproductive) Kammic force
    through the (simultaneous) expiration of both
    through (the intervention of) Destructive Kamma

The first three types of death are collectively called kalamarana (timely death), and the last one is known as akalamarana (untimely death).

Illustration :

An oil lamp, for instance, may be extinguished owing to any of the following four causes - namely:

    the exhaustion of the wick,
    the exhaustion of oil,
    simultaneous exhaustion of both wick and oil, and
    some extraneous cause like the gust of a wind.

Death of a person may similarly be caused by any of the afore-said four ways.

To those who are about to die, at the moment of death, by the power of Kamma, one of the following will present itself through any of the six doors :-

    A Kamma that produces rebirth in the subsequent birth enters (the mind-door) according to circumstances.

    An object (Kamma nimitta) such as a pre-perceived form and the like, or anything that was instrumental in the performance of the Kamma.

    A symbolic sign (Gati nimitta) that where one would be going and experiencing in the subsequent birth-place.

Death is not the complete annihilation of a being
Death in one place means the birth in another place, just as, in conventional terms,
the rising of the sun in one place means teh setting of the sun in another place
Death is the temporary end of a temporary phenomenon.

Thus Death means the extinction of

    psychic life (jivitindriya),
    heat (tejodhatu), and
    consciousness (vinnana) of one individual in a particular existence.

The Five Cosmic Orders (Panca Niyama Dhamma)

According to the Buddhism there are five orders or processes (Niyamas) which operate in the physical and mental realm.

They are :

    Physical Inorganic Order (Utu Niyama)

    Examples - Seasonal phenomena of winds and rains,
    - the unerring order of seasons.
    - characteristic seasonal changes and events.
    - causes of winds and rains, nature of heat, etc. belong to this group.

    Order of Germs and Seeds or Physical Organic Order (Bija Niyama)

    Examples - Rice produced from seed,
    - sugary taste from sugar-cane or honey,
    - peculiar characteristics of certain fruits.
    - The scientific theory of cells and genes and the similarity of twins may be ascribed to this order.

    Order of An Act and Result (Kamma Niyama)

    Examples - Desirable and undesirable acts produce corresponding good and bad results.

    Order of the Norm (Dhamma Niyama)

    Examples - The natural phenomena occurring at the birth of a Bodhisatta in his last birth. Gravitation and other similar laws of nature, the reason for being good, etc. may be included in this group.

    Order of Mind and Psychic Law (Citta Niyama)

    Examples - Processes of consciousness,
    - constituents of consciousness,
    - power of mind, including telepathy,
    - telesthesia,
    - retro-cognition,
    - premonition,
    - clairvoyance,
    - clair-audience,
    - thought-reading,
    - such other psychic phenomena, which are inexplicable to modern science.