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Kamma Paccaya, Vipāka Paccaya – Condition of Intentional Acts and their Results

Kamma as a Paṭṭhāna condition, refers to the condition wherein actions, but more specifically mental acts of will or intention are acting as a cause to produce some particular result (mental or material) in the future.

Whereas the condition of Vipāka refers to the result of past actions and intentions, either in the form of mental or material phenomena. Thus the two conditions are cause and effect.

For gaining at first a most simple comprehension of the condition of kamma, we might try to think first again, what it will mean in matters of the four elements. Thus, in regards to the elements, stands the element of air both for the mind and for direction (intention). So, for understanding the condition of kamma, one may try to conceive of the element of air entering the element of earth (vipāka). As it moves this earth, it acquires the power of producing heat (fire) to change the earth (thus producing kamma). But it also, due to the dry nature of the earth element, seeks to draw in water (viz. it seeks for pleasure), which will eventually bind it further to the earth element.

Then we again try to go deeper in our understanding, by thinking in matters of bodily and mental processes. The physical body is produced by 4 causes (or one might also say the result thereof). That is, Mother and Father†, Nutriment, the Consciousness that is arising at the moment of rebirth (rebirth linking) (or shortly thereafter when the being to be born agrees to the new existence) and Kamma, that is a previous intention or desire related to sense-sphere existence.

Then, the being made up of body, mind and consciousness, creates kamma usually in four ways. That is, in the course of its life, it acquires habits, which are habitual kamma (or repeatedly the same conditions of consciousness), off and on it develops strong kamma through strong intentions confirmed by actions, many times it develops kamma as a response to sense-impressions, but it at times too develops kamma purely as a result of some random thought. These kammas once initiated perpetually become modified by new kammas that follow.

Any such kamma might be motivated by a positive or wholesome thought (or idea/concept), such as a thought of kindness or of wisdom, or by a negative one, such as a thought of hatred or greed or stupidity. The result in each case will be, that consciousness in the future will more easily follow the trail of such thought, while it will follow thoughts of the opposite nature with greater difficulty.

Kamma Paccaya - Mental Process and Karma

But how does this Law of Kamma work in detail?

For a Buddhist practitioner, gaining a comprehensive understanding of the law of kamma, is one of the essential things to aim at. So here I will insert some more elaborate elucidation of the workings of this very fundamental law, along the line of Abhidhamma.

Suppose, for example a skilled meditator, attains samadhi, and picks up a certain kamma related to his spiritual path. Presumably, being a good meditator, many times in the past he has been a monk, a priest, shaman, or scholar or something of that sort,….perhaps in the first place initiated, through the sight of some such person of knowledge. Then, in many further lives, he off and on gathers kammical seeds (generating supportive kamma) related to that initial kamma. Which means, that after kamma generating thoughts related to this particular kamma, a binding or registering consciousness (tadārammaṇa) arises, which binds those new types of kamma to the stock of related previous kamma.

In some lives, that kammical seed finds some opportunity to grow within an introspective consciousness (mind-door adverting), getting fed by a further desire for growth (..javana- a thought accompanied by a wholesome desire) (…Kamma is the seed, consciousness is the field, desire for more is the moisture). That kammical seed sprouting thus in consciousness, occasionally grows into speech and actions. Those verbal and physical actions in turn create circumstances and opportunities for further growth of that kamma. Which in some lives mean, that that person will take on the mode of life of a monk or priest or scholar.

But then, as is the nature of the physical manifestation of those kammical seeds that were responsible for the coming into being of the physical body, this manifestation has to yield itself to the laws of the physical world and in due time decay and perish. Yet, in accordance with certain laws governing the nature of the mind, at the near death moment of the physical manifestation of certain seeds that generated the physical body (meaning, at the near death moment of the body), there will arise certain mind states, (depending on the quality of the faculties at that time), which will initiate, based on certain fundamental tendencies, the continuation of certain kammical seeds in a future body.

Once the future physical body is taken on, certain tendencies of a more fundamental kind will agree to the new existence (bhava-nikkhantika-lobha). And thus, in the initial period of the new existence, usually only the more fundamental kammical seeds will have a chance of growing while much new kammical seeds are getting generated through responses made to impressions coming from the physical senses. Thus, there may come lives in which kammical seeds related to phases of further development will have no chances of growth due to a persons having to cope too continuously with impressions coming through the sphere of the senses.

Then again, there may come lives in which a person will be able to more frequently raise himself above sensory conditions. Thus good kammical seeds related to the higher faculties (such as the faculty of faith, of spiritual or heroic exertion, of mindfulness and reflection, samadhi (inner unification) and wisdom faculty) are getting generated and those from the past are getting supported and nurtured. If these attain to a more permanent condition, becoming part of a persons character…and remaining so until the time of approaching death, that persons consciousness after death, still will move back into latency (life-continuum of the past) as happens during life in deep dreamless sleep. Yet, upon becoming manifest again, may not become manifest in a physical body. Because the person’s identification has already shifted from a self-perception of a sense-sphere being with a physical body, towards a more lofty type of being that rather finds self-expression through spiritual exertion, reflection and higher intellection (that is, the concepts surrounding the development of those faculties have become the main concepts that the organism responded towards). Thus, that person may find himself reborn in a fine-material body, and upon recovering the senses, may find himself surrounded by surroundings of equally finer matter.

On the reverse side of things, there may come about a condition, wherein a person is entirely unsuccessful in processing his sensory experiences and where pain, anguish and confusion become so predominant a factor in a persons life,…that he can not get ahead of them. When that condition becomes so continuous a condition (continuity-condition), that it becomes rooted in the personality (root-condition) (…taken in (tadārammaṇa)) as the default state, wherein the higher faculties cease to develop obstructive kamma towards those unwholesome impressions coming from within), he may be said to slope downwards towards lower forms of existences. When such person dies, he may thereafter arise as a rather senseless being, being entirely self absorbed in its own suffering. Because it is exceedingly difficult, if not impossible, to do any new (especially wholesome) kamma in those spheres, it will generally be quite difficult to rise out of the lower realms into higher forms of existence again. Generally this might only happen, when the material to which such being is bound, itself becomes unstable.

As for the animal life, …generally a person who is reasonably functional in ordinary society, will not easily go backwards into animal life. Yet for persons who grow up and live in very primitive conditions, and with very little human establishment, there may be a greater possibility of falling downward again into animal life, as such type of person has not yet attained a very firm self-identity as a human being.An animal has very little intellection (active kamma producing mental processes). That is why very little progress is happening in an animals life.. it moves mostly by impulse (kammical resultant) and has very little reason for or power to modify or curb those kammical impulses arising from within. Usually only strong shock experiences (like when seeing some animal that is part of the herd being brutally killed by some predator animal), will produce greater amounts of intellection, capable of modifying the inner organisation of that animal and hence change the direction of his kamma. It is usually only when coming into contact with species of a higher order, that learning becomes accelerated and moves in a higher direction. Such is the case for example when a dog develops admiration for his owner, distinctly understanding the superiority of the latter.


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