Aŋguttara Nikāya


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Aŋguttara-Nikāya
III. Tika Nipāta
IX. Samaṇa Vagga

The Book of the
Gradual Sayings
Part III
The Book of the Threes

Sutta 99

Loṇaka-Phala[1] Suttaɱ

Salt-Crystal

 


Translator's Introduction

The key to understanding this sutta is in understanding the introductory and identical concluding passage:

"For one speaking thus, beggars:

'Whatever whatsoever is such as a person does by his deed[2]
such as such as that is the experience that returns to him.'

Such being the case, beggars,
there could be no living of the godly life.

There would be no room for a clear understanding
of the consummate making an end of pain.

But for one speaking thus, beggars:

'Whatever whatsoever sensation this person intends to create by his deed,
such as such as that gives result to the experience that returns to him.'

Such being the case, beggars,
there is living of the godly life.

There would be room for a clear understanding
of the consummate making an end of pain.

Kamma is not a matter of 'an eye for an eye'.

The meaning is that if it were the case that one doing an intentional deed of body, speech or mind necessarily were to experience the consequences in the form of experiences of body, speech and mind (it is not even necessary in this case to specify that these results be identical to those deeds, but only that they are of the same form), the nature of that manner of consequence is such as to preclude escape from kamma.

This must be understood in connection with the statement that there is no doing of an intentional deed without the experience of the consequences thereof. [AN 10.208]

Those two ideas together would require, for example, a deed done with body to be experienced by a consequence to the body, and so forth.

This would require identification with, or being downbound to body. And further, since there is no knowing the extent into the past of our intentional deeds of body, and kamma is not a one-for-one thing, but greatly amplifies whatever deed is done, there could be no knowing or saying that 'after such and such a time of doing no more intentional deeds of body, speech or mind, there will be an end of kamma'. And since the time involved in experiences of this sort is extensive, even if one were to practice very earnestly, death would intervene, and there would follow forgetfulness and in the next rebirth there would be the doing of new deeds.

However, if the experience of the repercussion of an intentional deed is in accordance with the sensation that it was intended to cause, (may so-and-so suffer pain, may I enjoy pleasure by way of this deed) then understanding that there are but the three sensations (painful, pleasant and not-painful-but-not pleasant), and that these sensations accompany all sense experience at whatever level, this allows the results of deeds intended to cause sensations of a certain sort to manifest in connection with any experience of sense at any level. Then, understanding that sensation is limited to the sense-spheres, by so developing one's bodily behavior, heart, and wisdom such as to abandon and rise above sense-experience, there is escape from kamma.

The repercussion of past deeds in the form of sensation will follow one up into ever more refined states, but by that very process such perspective is created as encompasses the ultimate past in terms of repercussions in the form of sensation (the perspective above sense-experience is the perspective of the totality of existence) and thus is had the experience of the totality of one's past kamma and by this the opportunity is created for the understanding of the consummate making of an end to pain in the understanding that that which is a sense experience is a thing that has come to be and that which has come to be comes to an end, and that by creating no new kamma and by abandoning and rising up above sense experience, kamma is brought to an end.

The theory one has about the nature of the mechanism of action of kamma will determine the nature of the measures one takes to bring kamma to an end. Holding the first of the two points of view above, one will not be able to bring kamma to an end because one will be attempting to bring the wrong things (forms of behavior) to an end. Looking to the second of these points of view one will be able to bring kamma to and end because one will be looking to bring the cause of sensation to an end, that is, identification with the intent to create personal sense-experience.

Bhk. Bodhi quotes the Abhidhamma in stating that there are types of kamma which go extinct if they do not gain an opportunity to create consequences within their time limit. This is in direct contradiction to Gotama's statement that there is no doing of an intentional deed without experiencing the consequences thereof. The error here is exactly in the misunderstanding of the doctrine in this sutta, that is that the ultimate nature of the consequences of kamma is not found in forms but in sensation. Do yourselves a big favor and stear clear of the Abhidhamma and commentaries at least until you have a firm grasp of the suttas.

 


 

[1][pts][wrrn][than] I hear tell:

Once upon a time The Lucky Man,
around Sāvatthi revisiting.

There then The Lucky Man addressed the beggars:

"Beggars!"

And the bhikkhus responding "Venerable!" The Lucky Man said:

"If, beggars, one were to say:

'Whatever whatsoever is such as a person does by his deed
such is such as the experience that returns to him.'

Such being the case, beggars,
there could be no living of the godly life.

There would be no room for a clear understanding
of the consummate making an end of pain.

But for one speaking thus, beggars:

'Whatever whatsoever sensation this person intends to create,
such is such as gives result to the experience that returns to him.'[3]

Such being the case, beggars,
there could be the living of the godly life.

There would be room for a clear understanding
of the consummate making an end of pain.

 

§

 

Here, beggars a person
makes just a small amount of bad kamma
that brings him to Hell.

But here, beggars, a person
making the same small amount of bad kamma
has the experience of it in this seen thing —
where just this is the extent of it.

 

§

 

2. Now of what form, beggars, is the person
who makes just a small amount of bad kamma
that brings him to Hell?

Here, beggars, a person has
not developed body,
not developed ethics,
not developed heart
not developed wisdom —
a limited, little self,
living without passing beyond pain.

Of this form, beggars, is the man
who makes just a small amount of bad kamma
that brings him to Hell.

Of what form, beggars, is the man
making the same small amount of bad kamma
but who has the experience of it in this seen thing —
where just this is the extent of it?

Here, beggars, a person has
developed body,
developed ethics,
developed heart
developed wisdom —
an unlimited, great self,
an immeasurable living.

Of this form, beggars, is the man
making the same small amount of bad kamma
but who has the experience of it in this seen thing —
where just this is the extent of it.

3. Suppose, beggars, a person
put salt-crystal into a small cup of water.

What do you think about that beggars?

Would that water
in that small cup of water
become salty
from placing in it that salt-crystal?"

"Even so, bhante.

How come?

Indeed, bhante, it is because
the water is in a small cup
that the water in that small cup of water
becomes salty
from placing in it that salt-crystal."

"Suppose, beggars, a person put salt-crystal into the river Gaŋges.

What do you think about that beggars?

Would that water
in the river Ganges
become salty
from placing in it that salt-crystal?"

"Not so, bhante.

How come?

Indeed, bhante, it is because
the river Ganges is a great body of water
that it does not become salty
from placing in it that salt-crystal."

"In just the same way, beggars,
here one person makes just a small amount of bad kamma
that brings him to Hell.

But here, beggars, another person
making the same small amount of bad kamma
has the experience of it in this seen thing —
where just this is the extent of it.

 

§

 

4. Now of what form, beggars, is the person
who makes just a small amount of bad kamma
that brings him to Hell?

Here, beggars, a person has
not developed body,
not developed ethics,
not developed heart
not developed wisdom —
a limited, little self,
living without passing beyond pain.

Of this form, beggars, is the man
who makes just a small amount of bad kamma
that brings him to Hell.

Of what form, beggars, is the person
making the same small amount of bad kamma
but who has the experience of it in this seen thing —
where just this is the extent of it?

Here, beggars, a person has
developed body,
developed ethics,
developed heart
developed wisdom —
an unlimited, great self,
an immeasurable living.

Of this form, beggars, is the man
making the same small amount of bad kamma
but who has the experience of it in this seen thing —
where just this is the extent of it.

5. Here, beggars, one, for just a half-penny[4]
is put into bondage;
for just a penny
is put into bondange;
for just a hundred-pence
is put into bondage.

But here, beggars, one, for just a half-penny
is not put into bondage;
for just a penny
is not put into bondage;
for just a hundred-pence
is not put into bondage.

Of what form, beggars, is the person
who, for just a half-penny
is put into bondage;
for just a penny
is put into bondange;
for just a hundred-pence
is put into bondage?

Here, beggars one is impoverished
owns little
earns little.

Of this form, beggars, is the man
who, for just a half-penny
is put into bondage;
for just a penny
is put into bondange;
for just a hundred-pence
is put into bondage.

Of what form, beggars, is the person
who, for just a half-penny
is not put into bondage;
for just a penny
is not put into bondange;
for just a hundred-pence
is not put into bondage?

Here, beggars, one is wealthy
owns much
earns much
a king,
or a king's minister.

Of this form, beggars, is the man
who, for just a half-penny
is not put into bondage;
for just a penny
is not put into bondange;
for just a hundred-pence
is not put into bondage.

"In just the same way, beggars,
here one person makes just a small amount of bad kamma
that brings him to Hell.

But here, beggars, another person
making the same small amount of bad kamma
has the experience of it in this seen thing —
where just this is the extent of it.

 

§

 

6. Now of what form, beggars, is the person
who makes just a small amount of bad kamma
that brings him to Hell?

Here, beggars, a person has
not developed body,
not developed ethics,
not developed heart
not developed wisdom —
a limited, little self,
living without passing beyond pain.

Of this form, beggars, is the man
who makes just a small amount of bad kamma
that brings him to Hell.

Of what form, beggars, is the person
making the same small amount of bad kamma
but who has the experience of it in this seen thing —
where just this is the extent of it?

Here, beggars, a person has
developed body,
developed ethics,
developed heart
developed wisdom —
an unlimited, great self,
an immeasurable living.

Of this form, beggars, is the man
making the same small amount of bad kamma
but who has the experience of it in this seen thing —
where just this is the extent of it.

7. Imagine, beggars,
a sheep-butcher
or one who slaughters rams
who may seize,
or strike,
or bind,
or confiscate the property of
one who steals a goat,
but may not seize,
or strike,
or bind,
or confiscate the property of
another who steals a goat.

Now of what form, beggars, is the person of whom the sheep-butcher,
or one who slaughters rams
may seize,
or strike
or bind,
or confiscate the property?

Here, beggars one is impoverished
owns little
earns little.

Of this form, beggars, is the person of whom the sheep-butcher,
or one who slaughters rams
may seize,
or strike
or bind,
or confiscate the property.

Now of what form, beggars, is the person of whom the sheep-butcher,
or one who slaughters rams
may not seize,
or strike
or bind,
or confiscate the property?

Here, beggars, one is wealthy
owns much
earns much
a king,
or a king's minister.

Of this form, beggars, is the person of whom the sheep-butcher,
or one who slaughters rams
may not seize,
or strike
or bind,
or confiscate the property.

There is nothing else for him but to plead
with out-stretched hands, saying:

'Return, kind sir, my goat,
or compensate me for it.'

"In just the same way, beggars,
here one person makes just a small amount of bad kamma
that brings him to Hell.

But here, beggars, another person
making the same small amount of bad kamma
has the experience of it in this seen thing —
where just this is the extent of it.

 

§

 

8. Now of what form, beggars, is the person
who makes just a small amount of bad kamma
that brings him to Hell?

Here, beggars, a person has
not developed body,
not developed ethics,
not developed heart
not developed wisdom —
a limited, little self,
living without passing beyond pain.

Of this form, beggars, is the man
who makes just a small amount of bad kamma
that brings him to Hell.

Of what form, beggars, is the man
making the same small amount of bad kamma
but who has the experience of it in this seen thing —
where just this is the extent of it?

Here, beggars, a person has
developed body,
developed ethics,
developed heart
developed wisdom —
an unlimited, great self,
an immeasurable living.

Of this form, beggars, is the man
making the same small amount of bad kamma
but who has the experience of it in this seen thing —
where just this is the extent of it.

 

§

 

"If, beggars, one were to say:

'Whatever whatsoever is such as a person does by his deed
such is such as the experience that returns to him.'

Such being the case, beggars,
there could be no living of the godly life.

There would be no room for a clear understanding
of the consummate making an end of pain.

But for one speaking thus, beggars:

'Whatever whatsoever sensation this person intends to create,
such is such as gives result to the experience that returns to him.'

Such being the case, beggars,
there could be the living of the godly life.

There would be room for a clear understanding
of the consummate making an end of pain."

 


[1] Literally 'salt-fruit'. This could be 'salt-grain', 'salt-crystal' or 'rock-salt' or 'flower of the sea'. As a single grain of salt or even a small pinch of fleur de sel is unlikely to make even a small cup of water salty 'salt-crystal' (a salt crystal can be quite large) or 'rock salt' seem to be the best candidates for this translation.

[2] Kammaɱ karoti. 'by deed does' or 'by action does', in an effort to clarify while sticking to the orthodox understanding of 'kamma' I have inserted here the idea of 'intent.' "'Kamma' beggars, is a term for 'intent.'[AN 6.63] The meaning is that it is not the form or shape of the intended consequence, but the experience in terms of feeling or sensation. "I hope he wins the lottery," breaks down to the intent that he win the lottery and the intent that he feels happy. In this first case he is saying that by making such a wish one will experience winning a lottery as a consequence. In the second case it is that the person making the wish will experience happiness as a consequence.

[3]This is saying: "An act intending to cause a certain sensation (pain, pleasure, neither pain nor pleasure) returns to the doer as a sensation of the same nature as the deed.

[4] Kahāpaṇena.

 


 

Of Related Interest:

See also: [AN 6.63]
[AN 3.74]


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