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(Second Revised Edition)

The Workings of Kamma was over several years prepared by the Most Vener­able Pa-Auk Tawya Sayadaw and various of his bhikkhu disciples at Pa-Auk Tawya Forest Monastery, Myanmar: as a Dhamma’dana, for the many’s welfare and happiness. The Sayadaw checked whatever his editors had prepared, includ­ing the final manuscript. But owing to continuous visitors, the Sayadaw could never find sufficient peace to check the final manuscript well and thoroughly.

During a meditation retreat abroad, however, the Sayadaw found sufficient peace properly to check the entire book, and he made some amendments. The most notable ones were:

· The Arahant’s consciousness may be knowledge dissociated(ii”ana-vippayutta): see p.55 <1st ed., p.57>.

· The wholesome resultant consciousness that is unrooted may function not only as a process-separate consciousness (already discussed), but also as a proc­ess consciousness (added to the discussion): see notes under table, p.61.

· The factor of great learning(bahu-sacca) under ‘Conduct(carana)’, includes the first two insight knowledges: knowing and seeing ultimate mentality/materi­ality/their origin. See, for example, p.136 <1st ed., p.133>.

· In the first edition’s explanation of the five-door process, it said the ‘knowing’ of an object taken by a five-door process ‘takes place at the fifth subsequent mental processes’ <p.143>, which was not only ungrammatical, but also dis­agreed with the subsequent explanation of visual cognition <p.145>. Thus, it should say that the knowing of a five-door object ‘takes place at the fourth and subsequent mental processes.’ See in this edition p.145.

· In the first edition, it said that of the many thousand million first-impulsion volitions arising during one particular kamma, only one is able to produce its result in this life: but there is no such restriction. That restriction exists only for subsequently-effective kamma. See under ‘Presently-Effective Kamma’ and ‘Subsequently-Effective Kamma’, p.149 <1st ed., p.146>, and at every other mention of presently-effective kamma, especially under ‘The Workings of Kamma Past/Present/Future’, p.160f<lst ed., p.158>.

· The table describing the attainment of jhana covers both fine-material and immaterial jhana. In the first edition, ‘the counterpart sign’ was given as ob­ject, which does not apply to the immaterial jhanas. Hence, the object is now described as ‘Jhana Object’, and the table is now called ‘The Jhana-Attain­ment Process’: see p.176 <1st ed., ‘The Absorption Process’, p.174>.

· Under The Kannamunda Devi (p.186) <1st ed., p.183>, it said a ‘wholesome kamma’ gave her rebirth as a beautiful mansion-ghost: this was meant to re­fer only to her beauty. It could, however, be misconstrued to refer to her having become a ghost. Thus, it is now: ‘Her unwholesome kamma of lying about her adultery gave her rebirth as a mansion-ghost(vimana-peti). But be­cause of wholesome kamma, she was beautiful.. . .’

· King Ajatasattu will in the distant future become a Paccekabuddha called Viji­tavi, not Vijita: see, for example, p.189 <1st ed., p.187>.

· Regarding the fIVe hundred bhikkhus who were killed either by themselves or another, the Most Venerable Sayadaw (and the commentary) emphasizes that those who were Noble Ones did not kill themselves or kill another: this emphasis has been added: see p.196ff<lst ed., p.l94ff>.

Having become aware that there are those who disbelieve the workings of


The Workings of Kamma

kamma in this story, the Sayadaw has also elaborated upon it, so as to help such readers overcome their scepticism.

· The name of the first human being to attain Stream Entry in this Dispensa­tion is in the ‘Dhamma’Cakka’Ppavattana’sutta given as Aiiiiisikon(laiiiia, al­though he is in the Texts referred to also as Aiiiiakondaiiiia (the name given in the first edition): see p.213 <1st ed., p.211>.

· Resolution of the Venerable Bakula’s name should be: ba = two/both; kula = families: see p.265ff<lst ed., p.268>.

· The discussion of Nanda’s kamma while honouring The Buddha said: ‘And of the seven impulsions, the middle five impulsions are the most powerful: kammas to be experienced in some subsequent life, subsequent to the next Iife.’The middle five are, however, indefinitely-effective kammas, to be ex­perienced in a life after the subsequent life: see p.271ff<lst ed., p.272>.

· The Stream Enterer/Once Returner who is reborn in the fine-material or imma­terial sphere does not return to the sensual sphere, and is called a Jhana Non-Returner(.7Mna·An,4gamino): see explanation in endnote 287, p.352 <1st ed., endnote 34, p.357>.

Other amendments were elaborations for the sake of greater accuracy (see, for example, the two factors for wrong view now elaborated, p.127<lst ed., p.124>; the distinction between condllSive volition and preceding&succeeding volitions, under for example ‘Function of Effect’, p.l84 <1st ed., p.181>; and the new description of how the body is maintained by nutriment, under ‘Nutriment-Born Materiality’, p.100 <1st ed., p.100», and some more examples.

The editor has also improved some of the tables (further improved by the Saya­daw, and also finally approved by him), and has added a few more example sto­ries (see, for example, The Parsimonious Millionaire, p.34). Owing to many diffi­culties with the proof of the first edition (owing to an unstable computer program), the footnotes and endnotes have now been made to run on from page to page, and are both referred to by numbers: regular and italicized respectively.

The Sayadaw has reported that ‘many foreigners’ have ‘criticized’ him because his editor refers to him as the Most Venerable Sayadaw. The Sayadaw has thus been questioned: ‘Are you the most venerable person in the whole world?’ Such a reading of ‘Most Venerable’, however, has no basis in Standard English.9s9 Since such an expression of reverence and respect for the most venerable author

959 MDSr. PHR(Longman’s Dictionary of the English Language): ‘adv 2 very <shall ~ cer­tainlYaJme> <her argument was ~ persuasive> NOTE 1 As an intensifier meaning “very”, mastis generally used only with adjectives and adverbs conveying a judgment of feeling or opinion <a most handsome gift> <he argued mast persuasively>’. MW: ‘adv …. 2 to a very great degree <was ~ persuasive>. POD: ‘adv. To a great or the greatest degree or extent or amount (esp. with adjj.& adw. To emphasize or, with the, to form superlative … ).’ PHR (Usage and Abusage Eric Partridge) ‘MOST AND VERY Mastcan properly (though rather formally) mean “very”, as well as meaning “more than all the others”.’ Fowler’s Modem English Usage Revised Third Edition by R.W. Burchfield, OXford University Press, OXford, 2004: ‘Mastgoveming an adj. frequently has an intensive rather than a superlative func­tion.’ Thus the term is used in, for example, On the Path to Freedom (Buddhist Wisdom Centre, Selangor, Malaysia) p.441: ‘The Most Venerable Ovadacariya Sayadaw Bhaddanta Panditabhivamsa [sic] ‘; and on p.442: ‘The Most Venerable Aggamahapandita Mahasi Sayadaw’; and on the cover of their The Great Chronicle of Buddhas: ‘The Most Venerable Mingun Sayadaw Bhaddanta Vicitta 5arabhivarhsa.’ In the same way, ‘Most Reverend’ is used in the Christian church to refer respectfully to and address an archbishop or cardinal.

Editor’s Note


of The Wolkings of Kamma is fully in line with the Teachings of The Buddha, many readers have approved of it as only natural, only proper, and even wonder­ful. For that reason, and in order to avoid causing offence to those many readers, this most venerable term of reference has been left untouched.96o

From a retreat in the USA came a most valuable contribution from successful yogis. They pointed out that ‘translucent’ is in fact more accurate than ‘transpar­ent’, to describe the counterpart sign in, for example, mindfulness of breathing; to describe the ‘ice-block’ appearance of the body during successful four-elem­ents meditation; and to describe pasada·rOpa (now translated ‘translucent mate­riality’).961 This is confirmed by the Visuddhi-Maggiis comparing the counterpart sign to a mirror, to mother of pearl, and to the full moon, and its comparing transparent materiality to a pellucid mirror: they are all translucent things rather than transparent ones.962

For the first edition, there was no one at Pa-Auk to proof-read the manuscript.

For this new edition, however, there were several, which has meant the great number of small mis-typings, copy-paste oversights, other oversights, etc. of the first edition has been vastly reduced.

The Most Venerable Sayadaw found it most difficult to read the first edition unless it was enlarged, and also reported that he had received complaints from ‘many’ readers that the script was too small, even though it was in fact noticably larger than standard script. Therefore, the font was changed to Tahoma, and the Sayadaw has arranged with the most generous donors from Singapore (who to­gether with a group in Malaysia will publish the second edition) that a special edition enlarged to A4 be published. Anyone wishing to acquire a copy may con­tact the Singapore group: see p.iv.

the editor

960 See The Buddha’s words under ‘One Is Not Stubborn, Not Proud’ <p.290>, and ‘One Does Not Harbour Envy’ <p.280> , as well as footnote 663 <p.229>, and ‘Reference to The Buddha, Etc.’ <in this edition, p.367>.

961 TRANSLUCENT (translucency/translucence): PHR ‘permitting the passage of light: e.g. A clear, transparent <glass and other ~ materials> .E! transmitting and diffusing light so that objects beyond cannot be seen clearly <a ~ windowoffrostedglass> <~ porcelail1> [L translucent-, translucens, prp of transluO”e to shine through, fr trans- + lucere to shine … ]’ TRANSPARENT. PHR ‘having the property of transmitting light without appreciable scattering, so that bodies lying beyond are entirely visible [ME, fr ML transparent-, transparens, prp of transparereto show through, fr L trans- + parereto show oneself – more at APPEAR]’

962 VsM.iv.57 2Y7aa.ana·Wdhanam'(‘Meditation Directions’) PP.iv.31 describes the kasilJa counterpart sign: ‘The counterpart sign appears as if breaking out from the learning sign, and a hundred times, a thousand times more purified, like a looking-glass disk drawn from its case, like a mother-of-pearl disk well polished, like the moon’s disk coming out from behind a cloud, like cranes against a thunder cloud.’ And VsM.xiv.447 ‘ROpa-Kkhandha­·Katha’ (‘ Discussion of the Materiality-Aggregate’) PP.xiv.73 explains that the five types of translucent materiality{Pa5OO’a’$ni) are so-called because they are like a pellucid mirror­surface(vippasannatta adasa·talani).


The Workings of Kamma

EDITOR’S NOTE (First Edition)

When the Most Venerable Pa-Auk Tawya Sayadaw teaches the Dhamma, the Pali is his authority. Hence, the explanations and examples given in this book can in their full version be found in the Pali Texts, for which source references are given in footnotes. Hence also, the editing of this book has been governed by faith in, respect for, and deference towards the Pali, in the unsceptical spirit of the author.

In preparing the book for publication, one editor has inserted endnotes (located at the end of each chapter, indicated by a reference number in italics) with sutta references and quotations, etc. Also various charts have been inserted to make the text clearer: they are all the independent work of one editor, based on data in the Pali Texts.

Certain orthographical and stylistic points need to be mentioned.


The spelling of some Pali words is in Myanmarese3Z8 not the same as in the Sinhalese (used in Romanized Pali): here, the Myanmarese version has been adopted. Hence:

MvANMARESE anapana-ssati thina


SINHALESE anapana-sati thina virijtam

ENGLlSH TRANSLATION mindfulness-of-breathing sloth



In accordance with Standard English, Pali words (being foreign) are written in italics: excepting such words that have become ‘naturalized’, such as ‘Buddha’, ‘Arahant’, ‘Pali’, ‘Sangha’, and ‘vipassana’. But Sanskrit loanwords such as dhanna or kanna have nowhere been resorted to.

Pali words are also written with all diacritics: for example, metta rather than metta, na(la rather than nana, or nana. And usually the uninflected stem is given: for example, salilsara rather than, for example, salilsaru; na(la rather than, for example, na(lalil.


Translation of the Pali has (in so far as it accords with Standard English) been kept as close to the Pali as possible: to maintain the same semantic emphasis. For clarity and brevity’s sake (as well as to familiarize the reader with the Pali original) Pali compounds have been kept as compounds, with dots to indicate the compound’s individual elements: e.g. Kamma·Ssakata·fJa(lalil, which is translated ‘Kamma-Ownership Knowledge’ instead of ‘Knowledge of the Ownership of Kamma’; upadana·kkhandha, which is translated ‘clinging aggregate’ instead of ‘aggregate of clinging’; Sankhar·Upekkha·fJa(lalil, which is translated ‘the Forma­tions-Equanimity Knowledge’ instead of ‘the Knowledge of Equanimity towards

Editor’s Note


Formations’; and avijja·nivara(lanam sattanam, which is translated ‘ignorance­hindered beings’ instead of ‘beings hindered by ignorance’.


In accordance with the Most Venerable Sayadaw’s overriding reverence, re­spect and veneration for The Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha,963 and in accor­dance with The Buddha’s teachings on kamma,964 The Buddha and anything re­lated to Him is written with a honorific initial capital letter: The Buddha; He said; His Teaching, etc. For the same wholesome reasons, all Noble Ones or anything related to their attainments, are also written with an initial capital letter: Noble Disciple, Stream Entry, Once-Returner Path, Arahant Fruition Consciousness, etc. Likewise, reference to elders of the past, or an editorial reference to the au­thor of this book, is preceded by the honorific title in standard usage: the Vener­able, or the Most Venerable.



Readers of the manuscript voiced the necessity for a discussion about transla­tion of certain Pali words and phrases.96s/.DO

Beera.Wine Uquor(sura·meraya·majja)

According to the ingredients and manufacturing processes given in the Pali,966 sura is equivalent to the English ‘malt Iiquor’,331 and meraya equivalent to the English ‘vinous Iiquor’:332 both fermented, and distiliable.3.D

Surais milled-grain malt(p4tf1a·5lIra), bread malt(pilva·5lIra), rice malt(afana·5lIr.l),.D4 with yeast added(kinna·pakkhittii), or with ingredients blended(sambhalll·samyutta). Meraya is flower Iiquor(pupph·asava) (sapfoilfhoney(madhu) from the honey tree (madhuka), palmyra(tala), coconut palm(fl8:Uke-a), etc.), fruit Iiquor(phaJ.asava) (jack­fbread fruit(panaso), grape(muddika), etc.), sugar Iiquor(guf-as-ava) (sugar-cane juice (UCdlUlllsa), etc.), honey IiquOr(madhv·as-ava),967/335 or with ingredients blended(sam­bhalll·samyutt;Jj. 336 Majja is a generic term for liquor, spirituous-, intoxicating drink. That makes: sura·meraya·majja = malt and vinous liquor, which is all kinds of liquor. Unfortunately, these two English terms are not in common usage, which is why the translation here is ‘beer&wine Iiq uor’: 337 also covering all kinds of liquor.

963 Every evening, at Pa-Auk Forest Monastery, the bhikkhus chant a twenty-six verse long Pali Text that honours The Buddha: Wama·AA”ata·pa!i'(‘Homage-Paying Text’).

964 See quotation at ‘One Is Not Stubborn, Not Proud’, p.290, and quotation on superiorityf equality-finferiority conceit, endnote 81, p.233.

96S The endnotes refer to definitions given in standard English dictionaries, etc.

966 E.g. :5ura·pana·Sikkha·Pao’am'(‘Malt-Drink Training-Precept’) and com­mentary, DT.iii.8:5iligalaka·Suttam'(‘The Sirigalaka Sutta’), and VbhA.xiv.703 (DD.xiv.­1905) :5ikkha·Pao’a· Vibhaliga’ (‘Training Precept Analysis’).

967 This is also explained as liquor from grape juice(fTIIJddika·raso).


The Workings of Kamma


The Pali analyses conscience(hiti)and shame(ottappa)together:968 ‘It has con­scientious scruples about bodily misconduct, etc., thus it is conscience. This is a term for modesty. It is ashamed of those same things, thus it is shame. This is a term for anxiety about evil. Herein, conscience has the characteristic of disgust at evil, while shame has the characteristic of dread of it. Conscience has the function of not doing evil and that in the mode of modesty, while shame has the function of not doing it and that in the mode of dread. They are manifested as shrinking from evil in the way already stated. Their proximate causes are self-respect and respect of others. A man rejects evil through conscience out of respect for him­self, as the daughter of a good family does; he rejects evil through shame out of respect for another, as a courtesan does. But these two states should be regard­ed as the Guardians of the World.’969

Hiriis thus modest and disgusted at evil because of self-respect. That makes it equivalent to the English ‘conscience’338 or ‘conscientiousness’.339 A popular tran­slation is ‘shame’, which is better suited for ottappa.970

DependentOrigination/,Because ofIgnorance’, etc.

Dependent originationiPap’cra·samupp8da) is analysed at length in the Visuddhi­_Magga.971 What is emphasized throughout is that it is not simple arising, one after the other. Hence, it should in English really be ‘dependent co-arising’ (sam­= co- + uppada = arising). The factors arise in association: some sequentially and some concurrently, etc., although no factor can be left out. Nonetheless, this translation has not been chosen, but the less perfect ‘dependent origination’: the meaning is perfectly in accord with paticca-samup,Afda although the equivalence is not.

Furthermore, the Most Venerable Pa-Auk Tawya Sayadaw emphasizes that ig­norance causes volitional formations, volitional formations cause consciousness. The workings of the factors of dependent origination are to be seen at work, not to be inferred as working. That is, when the yogi discerns dependent origination, she or he discerns the dynamic working of one thing causina another thing: she or he does not merely infer the condition for a thing’s arising. Hence, rather than the popular translation, ‘with ignorance as condition, formations arise,’, etc., the Sayadaw’s preferred translation of avijja paccaya, sankhara is the straightforward ‘because of ignorance, formations arise,’ etC.340

968 VsM.xiv.466 ‘Sarikham·Kkhandha-Katha'(‘Discussion of the Formations-Aggregate’) PP.xiv.142

969 A.II.I.i.9 (9)~arijta·Suttam'(‘The Conduct Sutta’) 970 See ‘Shame’, p.371.

971 VsM.xvii.574-580 ‘Pa{icca·SamuppBda·Katha’ (‘Discussion of Dependent Origination’) PP.xvii.7-24

Editor’s Note



There are four kinds of saddha:972

1) Religious faith(iigamana·saddha)/41 which is comprehensive faith in the Tea­chings of The Buddha, possessed by Bodhisattas and Noble Disciples.

2) Acquired faith(adhigama·saddha), which is acquired by realization of a Path&­Fruition(Magga·Phala).

3) Determined faith(okappana·saddhii),<m which is unreserved/absolute conviction by which one relies and depends on The Buddha, Dhamma, and Sangha. It is unshakeable(acala) faith in the qualities of The Buddha, Dhamma, and Sangha, with an attitude described as: ‘It is so(evam-eliJm).’ Such faith is es­sential for full commitment to the threefold training (morality, concentration, and wisdom).

4) Inspired faith(pas-iida·saddhii), which is non-committalliking and respect for the Teachings of The Buddha. It is insufficiently strong not to alternate with scepticism, and liking/respect for also teachings of other teachers. It cannot support full commitment to the threefold training, although it can support great offerings, and even ordination.974

The only word faithful to saddhais thus ‘faith,.342 In certain quarters, however, the English word ‘faith’ has become restricted to mean a weak and unwholesome state of mind, akin to superstition, blind credulity, or restricted solely to mean theistic faith. Saddhais then translated as ‘confidence’. Since such a restricted meaning of ‘faith’ finds no corroboration in Standard English, that translation has here not been considered: it is (as just seen) too narrow and shallow. Saddha reaches from existential surrender to the tenets of a certain religion, which gov­ern one’s conduct and thought (and cannot be translated as mere ‘confidence’), to reserved regard for such tenets, some of which one may bow to more or less, given the circumstances (which can be translated as mere ‘confidence’). Thus saddhamay manifest as belief, blind credulity, conviction, confidence, devotion, knowledge, superstition, and trust, etc.: in English the word is ‘faith’. Hence, one can have confidence in many teachers, but faith in only one.

The only real difference between the English ‘faith’ and the Pali ‘saddha’is that ‘faith’ can refer to belief in religions that are based on wrong view, whereas ‘sad­dha’refers only to faith in the religion based on the view of a Fully Enlightened Buddha. The objects of such faith are eight: The Buddha, Dhamma, Sangha, the

‘Il2 When asked by one Prince Bodhi how long it takes for a bhikkhu under training to real­ize Nibbana, The Buddha gives five striving factors necessary for success. The first is faith, which is also the first of the five faculties. The other four striving factors are: 2) good health/ digestion; 3) honesty/sincerity towards teacher and companions; 4) energy in abandoning unwholesome things and undertaking wholesome things, with firm perseverance; 5) supe­rior knowledge regarding the arising&perishing of formations (see under ‘The Sixteen In­sight Knowledges’, p.l09). Each factor is explained by MA.II.iv.5 ‘Bodhi·R~a-Kumiira·Sut­tam ‘(‘The Royal-Son Bodhi Sutta’).

‘Il3 The sUbcommentary to D.ii.3 ‘Mahii·Parinibbiina·Suttam’ (‘The Great-Parinibbana Sutta’) describes determined faith as having plunged into(ogiihetva) and entered upon(anupavisitvii) the bases of faith(.saddhewa·vattf1uni)<Buddha/Dhamma/Sangha>, and occurring with the attitude of, ‘It is so'(evam·eliJn’ti).

‘Il4 DhSA.12 ‘Kam·Avacara-Kusalam Niddesa·Viira-Kathii'(‘Discussion of Sensual-Sphere Wholesome Exposition Part’) E.N.ii.191-192


The Workings of Kamma

threefold training, past lives, future lives, past&future lives, and dependent origi­nation.97s

Kammic Pob!ncy(kamma·satti)

To explain this term, the Most Venerable Pa-Auk Tawya Sayadaw always uses the simile of a mango tree. There may be a mango tree in a garden. At present it bears no fruits. But when the conditions are right, it will bear fruits: it has the power or potency to bear mango fruits. But if we examine the mango tree, we cannot identify that potency. It is neither to be found in the leaves, nor the twigs, the branches, the trunk or the roots.976 Yet it cannot be denied that it exists. 343

In the same way, when unwholesome or wholesome kamma has been accom­plished, there remains in that same mentality-materiality continuity the power or potency for that kamma to produce a result. It is neither mentality nor material­ity, but it produces resultant mentality and kamma-born materiality.

In translating satti, ‘force’ has been avoided, since that refers to strength or energy, an active thing that brings to bear, and exerts change, rather than a ca­pacity or potency which mayor may not produce a result (mayor may not be­come a force). 344 ‘Force’ could (and does) therefore give rise to (or reinforce) the very common misunderstanding that kamma is somehow ‘stored’, and ‘underlies’ the mentality-materiality continuity.977 Better translations are ‘ability’, ‘capacity’, ‘potential’, although they are all rather weak, being too abstract. ‘Power’ is an apt translation,345 but is used to translate bala.978 Equally apt, although perhaps not as commonly used, is ‘potency’, which has been preferred over ‘potential’, as it is stronger. 346


As the first of the five clinging-aggregates, The Buddha is referring to ultimate materiality: the four essentials and derived materiali!y.979 The Most Venerable Pa­Auk Tawya Sayadaw (having taken it from Bhikkhu Nal)ilmoli’s Path of Pufifica­tion), almost only uses ‘materiality’.347 Other popular translations are ‘matter’ or ‘form’. Whereas ‘materiality’ and ‘matter’ may be said to be equivalent, ‘form’,348 has not been considered: it suggests the delusions of material compactness,980 even Platonic! Aristotelian wrong view. Furthermore, rlJpa includes the fire ele­ment (temperature), and the wind element, as well as odour, flavour, nutritive essence, and life faculty, neither of which can be said to possess, constitute or even suggest form.


As the four immaterial clinging-aggregates, The Buddha is here referring to ulti­mate mentality(pall1l17attf1a·nama). The Most Venerable Pa-Auk Tawya Sayadaw

97S eight objects of saddha: see quotations regarding the uneducated ordinary person’s objects of scepticism, endnote 18, p.22.

976 The meditator who has penetrated to ultimate materiality can, however, see that when the fruit appears and grows, it is temperature-born materiality that initially arises from temperature-born materiality of the tree.

977 foo

See tnote 56, p.15.

978 See quotation at ‘The Buddha’s Knowledge of Kamma&Result’, p.37.

979 four essentials/derived materiality: see ‘The Twenty-Eight Types of Materiality’, p.l03. 980 See ‘The Three Types of Material Compactness’, p.93.

Editor’s Note


(having taken it from Bhikkhu Nal)amoli’s Path of Pufification) uses almost only ‘mentality’.349 Other popular translations are ‘mind’ or ‘name’. ‘Mentality’ and ‘mind’ may be said to be equivalent, although in common usage ‘mind’ can imply the delusions of mental compactness,981 which ‘mentality’ does not do. ‘Name’ has not been considered, as it belongs to the realm of concepts(pafiiiaU), rather than the ultimate realities of consciousness and mental factors that The Buddha is referring to. 350


The Pali defines macchariya as follows:982 ‘Concealment of obtained or obtain­able personal gain is the characteristic. Not tolerating that others share one’s property is the function. Shrinking or contraction is the manifestation. One’s own gain is the proximate cause. It is to be regarded as mental warping.’ It is thus equivalent to the English ‘possessiveness’.351 It may also be translated as ‘stingi­ness’, which has not been chosen, because stinginess means also that one is averse to spending one’s property.

The Buddha gives five kinds of possessiveness:983

1) dwelling possessiveness(av.iso·maatlanya)

2) family possessiveness(kula·maro’1anya)

3) gains possessiveness(labha·maatlanya)

4) beauty possessiveness(vanna·maatlanya)984

5) Dhamma possessiveness(Dhamma·maatlanya).

They are all about something one already possesses or is about to possess, which one does not want to share with others. Hence, the popular translation ‘avarice’ has not been considered, not least because avarice is greed-rooted, while macchariya (possessiveness) is hatred-rooted. 352


Ottappa is anxious about evil, and dreads evil, because of respect for others.98s It is thus equivalent to the English ‘shame’ (although there can be some overlap with ‘conscience’).353 Other translations are ‘fear of shame’, ‘fear of blame’, and ‘fear of wrongdoing’ (which misses the respect for others). These fears are al­ready inherent in the single word ‘shame’, which is why those translations have not been chosen.

Sympathetic Joy(mudita)

Muditais rejoicing in another’s success, being unenvious. It is a happyequi­valent to the English ‘commiseration’: 354 the opposite of the German loanword schadenfreude.355 German has also the exact equivalent, mitfreude (‘con-feli­city’l’con-gratulation’),356 which word has not become a loanword in English.

981 See ‘The Four Types of Mental Compactness’, p.l05.

982 VsM.xiv.487 ‘Sarikhara·Kkhandha·Katha'(‘Discussion of the Formations Aggregate’) PP.xiv.173

983’Pafica-Macchariya.Suttam'(‘The Five [Kinds of] Possessiveness Sutta’)

984 The commentary explains that vanna·macchariya refers to two things: bodily beauty (sarim·va(l(lil) (one is physically beautiful, and wants no one else to be so); quality beauty (gU(IiI’va(lna) (one possesses such qualities as make one famous, and wants no one else to possess such qualities).

98S See quoted analysis at ‘conscience’, p.368.


The Workings of Kamma

Since no true equivalent exists in English, one needs to contrive a paraphrase. Popular translations are: ‘altruistic joy’, ‘appreciative joy’, and ’empathetic joy’. 357 Rare translations are ‘gladness’, and ‘congratulation,.358The least flawed para­phrase would seem to be another popular translation: ‘sympathetic joy’. Even though ‘sympathy’ is commonly used to mean participation in the other’s feel­ings, empathy, and feeling sorry or pity for the other, it also refers to the ability to respond to something good or bad that has happened to another:353/ although not perfect, this translation is unlikely to be misunderstood.

For any errors, oversights, inconsistencies, incoherences, ambiguities, etc., the various editors beg forgiveness.

The last of a series of editors Pa-Auk Forest Monastery

Editor’s Note



328 According to the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English, Pearson, Longman, 2005, and New Oxford Spelling Dictionary: the Wtiter’s and Editor’s Guide to Spelling and Word Division, OXford University Press, 2005, ‘Myanmarese’ is now standard English.

329 In translating, the editor has referred to the following translations of the following texts: Vinaya·Pitaka ~ Book of the Discipline, LB. Homer, M.A., PTS (pali Text Society, OXford/london); Digha·Nikaya ~ Dialogues of The Buddha, Rhys Davids, PTS, and The Long DisaJursesofthe Buddha, Maurice Walshe, WP (Wisdom Publications, Boston)); ‘Brahma·.J8la·Suttam’ and commentary ~ The DisaJurse on the AlI-Embradng Net of VieWS; Bhikkhu Bodhi, BPS (Buddhist Publication Society, Kandy); ‘Samafifia·Phala·Suttam’ and commentary ~ The Discourse on the Froits of Recluseship, Bhikkhu Bodhi, BPS; Majjhi­ma·Nikaya ~ Middle Lenflth Sayings, LB.Homer, PTS, and The Middle Length DisaJurses of the Buddha, Bhikkhu NalJamoli/Bodhi, WP; ‘MOla·Pariyaya·Suttam’ and commentary ~ The DisaJurse on the Root of Existence, Bhikkhu Bodhi, BPS); Samyutta·Nikaya ~ Kindred Sayings, various translators, PTS, and The Connected DisaJurses of The Buddha, Bhikkhu Bodhi, WP; Ariguttara·Nikaya ~ Gradual Sayings, various translators, PTS, and Numerical Discourses of the Buddha, Nyanaponika Thera/Bhikkhu Bodhi, Vistaar Publications, New Delhi; Dhamma·Pada·Attha·Katha ~ Buddhist Legends, Eugene Watson Bur1ingame, PTS; Udana and ltivuttaka ~ The Udana & The ltivuttaka, John D. Ireland, BPS; Milinda·Pafiha ~ The Questions of King Milinda, LB. Homer M.A., PTS; Thera·G8tha and Theri·G8tha ~ Psalms of the Early Buddhists, Mrs Rhys Davids M.A., PTS; Peta· Vatthu·Atfha-Katha ~ Elu­cidation of the Intrinsic Meaning, U Ba Kyaw, PTS; Vibhariga ~ The Book of Analysis, Patl1amakyaw Ashin Thitthila (Setthila) AggamahapalJc;lita, PTS (mispelled ‘Thittila’). Re­ferred to has also been BuddhistDictionaryby Nyanatiloka Mahathera, BPS, and the Dic­tionary of Pali Proper Names by G.P. Malasekera, D.Litt., Ph.D., M.A. (Lond.), O.B.E. The translations mainly referred to, however, have been translations by Bhikkhu NalJamoli (quotations from which have been taken directly with only rare changes), published by PTS, as well as his translations of certain suttas in the following publications by BPS: The Buddha’s Woro’s on Kamma, and The Lion’s Roar. See also ‘Bibliographical Abbreviations etc.’, p.377 .

.DO The standard English dictionaries referred to are: CTCD: 07ambers Twentieth Century Dictionary, Editor A.M.Macdonald OBE BA(Oxon): WaR Chambers Ltd.: 1972 (British); MW: MetTiam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 10 Ed., Merriam-Webster, Incorporated, 2001 (American); PHR: Penguin Hutchinson Reference library, Helicon Publishing and Penguin Books Ltd, 1996 (British); POD: The Pocket OXforo’Dictionary, H.W. Fowler: Clar­endon Press: 1924 (British); RHU: Random House Unabridged Dictionary (American); WNW: Webster’s New World Dictionary: Thiro’ College Edition, Eds. Victoria Neufeldt, David Guralnik, Oeveland & New York, 1988 (American). Also referred to is EB: Encyclo­paedia Btitanicca 2002 Deluxe Edition CD-ROM, 2002 (American Ed.), and two dictionaries by AggamahapalJc;lita A.P. Buddhadatta Mahathera, BEP: Concise English­Pali Dictionary, Motilal Banarsidass Publishers Private Limited, Delhi, 1997, and BPE: Con­cise Pali-English Dictionary, The Colombo Apothecaries’ Co., Ltd., Colombo, 1968 .

.Dl MALT: POD ‘Barley or other grain prepared by steeping & germination or otherwise for brewing & distilling … m. liquor, made from malt by fermentation’, ‘malt liquor: ‘malt .. liq­uor. .. beer &c.’ RHU ‘2. any alcoholic beverage as beer, ale, or malt liquor, fermented from malt.’ In Pali malt is referred to by several other terms: BEP:”‘malt” ariklJlita-yava [sprout­ed barley], sura·kinna [malt ferment/yeast], yava·sur.1″[bar1ey/com-malt, also under ‘beer’ and ‘ale’]’ .

.D2 VINOUS: CTCD ‘pertaining to wine: like wine: caused by or indicative of wine.’ POD ‘Of or like or due to wine.’, ‘vino/15. .. liquor. .. wine.’ RHU ‘resembling, or containing wine.’

.D3 DISl1li.ED LIQUOR: (EB) brandy, whisky, rum, or arrack are obtained by distillation from wine or other fermented fruit juice (e.g. grapes, apples, peaches) or plant juice (e.g. sug-


The Workings of Kamma

arcane/beets/potatoes) or from various grains (barley, corn, rice, rye) that have first been brewed into beer. The process has existed since ancient times.

334 (EB) In Russia, beer is made from rye bread, and in China, Japan, and Korea, it is made from rice. In Africa, it is made from many different kinds of grain.

335 (EB) Honey liquor is in English called ‘mead’, a liquor fermented from honey and water, sometimes with yeast added, very similar to table wine: it was once widespread in Europe:

PHR ‘[ME mede, fr OE medu; akin to OHG meW mead, Gk methywine].’ BPE “‘mead” madhu-pana [honey drink].’

336 BPE: “‘vine/grape” muddikd, and “vinous/grape wine” muddik·asava [vinous liquor].’ 337 BEER: CTCD ‘an alcoholic beverage made by fermentation, in which the yeast settles to the bottom … the generic name of malt liquor, including ale and porter.’ RHU ‘1. an alco­holic beverage made by brewing and fermentation from cereals, usually malted barley, and flavored with hops and the like … 2. any of various beverages, whether alcoholic or not, made from roots, molasses or sugar, yeast, etc.’ BPE “beer” yava·sura [barley/ com malt’]. WINE: MW ‘2: the usu. fermented juice of a plant product (as a fruit) used as a bev­erage.’ RHU ‘1. the fermented juice of grapes, made in many varieties … 3. the juice, fer­mented or unfermented, of various other fruits or plants, used as beverage.’ BPE: see endnote 336, p.374.

338 CONSCIENCE: CTCD ‘[L. c6scientia, knowledge-ronsdre, to know well, in one’s own mind-am-, inten., scire, to know.]’ MW: ‘la: the sense or consciousness of the moral goodness or blameworthiness of one’s own conduct, intentions, or character together with a feeling or obligation to do right or be good b: a faculty, power or principle enjoining good acts … 3: conformity to the dictates of conscience: conscientiousness.’ WNW: ‘1 a knowledge or sense of right and wrong, with an urge to do right: moral judgement that opposes the violation of a previously recognized ethical principle and that leads to feelings of guilt if one violates such a principle.’ Bhikkhu NalJamoli, in his Dispeller of Delusion, The Guide, Path of Discrimination, Path of Purification, and Pali-English Glossary of Buddhist Technical Tenns, also translates hirias ‘conscience’, and ottappaas ‘shame’.

339 Used by Professor Pe Maung Tin M.A. in The Expositvr(E)

340 Used by the Most Venerable Pathamakyaw Ashin Thit\hila (Set\hila) in his translation of the second book of the Abhidhamma, The Book of Analysis (Vibhariga), PTS (Luzac & Company, Umited, London) 1969.

341 RELIGION/RELIGIOUS: although in English, ‘religion’ refers to an attitude of faith/devotion towards a god or something supernatural, and the teachings of a church, the term may legitimately be used to describe the attitude of faith/devotion that arises with regard to the Teachings of The Buddha. Thus: PHR ‘[religion] 1 of or showing faithful devotion to an acknowledged ultimate reality or deity [here, to the Teachings of The Buddha]. .. 2 of, be­ing, or concerned with (the beliefs or observances of a) religion 3 committed or dedicated to the service of a deity or deities <the ~ life> [here, the threefold training]’ POD ‘[reli­gion] system of faith and worship; human recognition of superhuman controlling power [here recognition of truth of the Dhamma]. .. effect of this on conduct … [religious] imbued with religion … devout; of or concerned with religion.’

342 FAITH: CTCD ‘belief in the truth of revealed religion: confidence and trust in God: the living reception of religious belief …. [M.E. feith, feyth-O.Fr. feid-L. fidifs-fidereto trust]’ PHR ‘2a(1) belief and trust in and loyalty to God 2a(2) belief in the traditional doctrines of a religion 3a something that is believed with strong conviction; esp a system of religious bel­iefs < the ~ of our fathers>’ POD ‘belief in religious doctrines esp. as affecting character.’ 343 The Most Venerable Sayadaw has had it suggested that modern science’s identification of the mango tree’s genetic code constitutes such a potency: it has, however, been con­sidered untenable to put an equation between code and potency.

344 FORCE: CTCD ‘[Fr., -L.L. fo~L.fortis, strong.]’ MW ‘la (1): strength or energy exerted or brought to bear … active power <the ~sof nature>.’

Editor’s Note


345 POWER: CTCD: ‘ability to do anything-physical, mental, spiritual, legal, etc.: capacity for producing an effect… potentiality … [O.Fr.poer(Fr. pouvoilj- L.L.porere (for L.pas-se) to be able.]’ MW ‘la (1): ‘ability to act or produce an effect… (3) …. possession of ability to wield force ‘

346 POTENCY: ‘CTCD ‘power: potentiality … [L. pores, -entis, pr.p. of posse, to be able ­potis, able, es-se, to be.]’ MW ‘la: force, power … c: the ability or capacity to achieve or bring about a particular result 2: potentiality 1.’

347 MATERIAUTY: CTCD ‘L. materialis-materia, matter.’ POD ‘adj. Composed of or connected with matter, not spirit (them. universe, m. phenomena … them. theory of heat, that it is a substance) … materiality n.’ MW’l: the quality or state of being material 2: something that is material.’ RHU ‘1. material nature or quality. 2. something material.’

348 FORM: RHU ‘Philos. a. the structure, pattern, organization, or essential nature of any­thing b. structure or pattern as distinguished from matter.’ PHR ‘form la the shape and structure of something as distinguished from its material, colour, texture, etc … 2 philoso­phythe essential nature of a thing as distinguished from the matter in which it is embod­ied: e.g. 2a often cap IDEA [Platonic Idea], [ME tonne, fr OF, fr L tonna, perh modif of Gk morpheform, shape]’

349 MENTALITY: CTCD ‘mind.’ RHU ‘that which is of the nature of the mind or of mental act­ion.’ WNW: ‘mental capacity, power or activity; mind.’

350 NAME: CTCD ‘that by which a person or a thing is known or called: a designation. [O.E. nama; Ger. name; L. nOmen.]’ POD ‘Word by which individual person, animal, place, or thing, is spoken of or to … word denoting any object of thought.’ PH R ‘la a word or phrase whose function is to designate an individual person or thing.’

351 POSSESSIVENESS: CTCD ‘extreme attachment to one’s possessions.’ RHU ‘[possessive] ‘desirous of possessing, esp. excessively so: Young children are so possessive they will not allow others to play with their toys.’This is the very example given by the Most Venerable Pa-Auk Tawya Sayadaw, when explaining macchariya. ‘Stingyfmeanfniggardlyfparsimoni­ousftightfistedfmiserly’ can also have this as a general rather than specific meaning (PHR). Thus, possessive children is one example given in RHU’s entry for ‘stingy’: ‘unwilling to share, give, or spend possessions or money: children who are stingy with their toys.’

352 AVARICE: CTCD ‘eager desire for wealth: covetousness. [L. avatitia-avall15, greecly­-avere, to pant after.]’ POD ‘Greed of gain, cupidity’ RHU ‘insatiable greed for riches; inordinate, miserly desire to gain and hoard wealth.’

353 SHAME: CTCD ‘the humiliating feeling of having appeared unfavourably in one’s own eyes, or those of others, as by shortcoming, offence, or unseemly exposure, or a similar feeling on behalf of anything one associates with oneself… susceptibility to such feeling; fear or scorn of incurring disgrace or dishonour; modesty; bashfulness.’ POD ‘feeling of humiliation excited by consciousness of guilt or shortcoming or being ridiculous or having offended against propriety or modesty or decency, restraint imposed by or desire to avoid this.’ WNW: ‘la painful feeling of having lost the respect of others because of the improper behaviour, incompetence, etc. of oneself or another 2 a tendency to have feelings of this kind, or a capacity for such feeling.’

354 COMMISERATE: CTCD ‘to feel or express compassion for: to pity … commiserative, feeling or expressing sympathetic sorrow. [L. (X}fTI-, with, miser8ri, to deplore -miser, wretched.]’

355 SCHADENFREWE: CTCD ‘pleasure in others’ misfortunes.’

356 See ‘mudita’in Buddhistisches WOtterbuch (Buddhist Dictionary), by the Venerable NalJatiioka, Verlag Beyerlein & Steinschulte, Stammbach-Herrnschrot, 1999.

357 ALTRUISTIC JOV: altruism is action governed by regard for others. Hence, this would mean one rejoices out of regard for the other, which is not equivalent to mOdita’, apprecia­tive joy: this fails to mention that the joyous appreciation is of another’s success; empa­thetic joy: this means one enters into the other’s feelings, which is alien to mOdit8.

358 GLADNESS: this fails to mention that it is gladness over another’s success; congratu­lation: this is in standard usage restricted to exoression of joy at the other’s success: MW


The Workings of Kamma

‘[L amgratulatus, pp. of amgratulatito wish joy, fro (X}fTI- <with> + gratulatito wish joy, fro gratuspleasing] 1 archaic. to express sympathetic pleasure at (an event) 2: to express vicarious pleasure to (a person) on the occasion of success or good fortune … .’

359 SYMPATHET1C JOV: CTCD ‘sympathy … affinity or correlation whereby one things responds to the action of another … sympathetic … induced by sympathy …. [Gr. sympatheia-syn, with, pathos, suffering]’ POD ‘(of pain [joy] &c.) caused by pain [joy, etc.] to some one else … .’

Bibliographical Abbreviations etc. (Used in Source References)986

A. Anguttara-Nikaya (Numerical Collection)

M. Anguttara-NikaycrAtthakatha987 (- Commentary)

AbS. Abhidhammattha-Sangaho{Abhidhamma Compendium)

Ap. Apadana-Paji{Nanative Text)

ApA. Apadana-Atfhakatha{- Commentary)

AT. Anguttara-Nikaya Tlka (Numerical Collection SubcommentarY)

CMA. A Comprehensive Manual of Abhidhamma 988

D. DTgha-Nikaya (Long Collection)

DA. DTgha-Nikaya-Atfhakatha{- Commentary)

DD. The Dispeller of Delusion 989

DhP. Dhamma-Pada{Dhamma Woro’)

DhPA. Dhamma-Pada-Atfhakatha (- Commentary)

DhS. Dhamma-Sanga(lT{Dhamma Compendium)

DhSA. Dhamma-Sanga(lJ.Atfhakatha (- Commentary)

DhST. Dhamma-Sanga(lJ.MOla-Tlka{- Root Sub-commentary)

E. The Expositor 990

Iti. Iti- Vuttaka-Paji (Thus It Was Said Text)

J. Jataka-Paji(Jataka Text)

JA. Jataka-Atthakatha{- Commentary)

KhP. Khuddaka-Pafha-Paji (Minor Reading)

KhPA. Khuddaka-Pafha-Atfhakatha{- Commentary)

M. Maffhima-Nikaya{Middle Collection)

MA. Maffhima-Nikaya-Atfhakatha (- Commentary)

MiP. Milinda-Paflha-Paji (Milinda Question Text)

MR. The Minor Readings991

MT. Maffhima-Nikaya- Tlka (- Sub-commentary)

P. patfhana-paji (Causal Relations)

PaD. Param-Attha-DTpanj992 (Manuals of Ultmate Reality)

PD. Path of Discrimination 993

PED. The Pali Text Society’s Pali-English Dictionary994

986 For details on the source references, and examples, see next section.

987 The Pali titles for the commentaries are: AA = Manomtha·POmni; DA = Su-Marigala­·ViJasini; DhSA = Atfha·SBlini; MA = Papafica·SOdani; SA = SBmttha·Ppakasini; VbhA = Sa-Mmoha· Vinodani

988 CMA: English translation of Abhidhammattha·Sarigaha edited and with notes by Bhik­khu Bodhi, Buddhist Publication Society, Kandy, Sri Lanka.

989 DD: English translation of Vibhariga-A.tthakathacry Bhikkhu NalJamoli, Pali Text Society, OXford, England.

990 Exp: English translation of Dhamma·SariganJ.A.tthakathaby Professor Pe Maung Tin M.A., Pali Text Society, London, England.

991 MR: English translation of Khuddaka·pafha-Atfhakathaby Bhikkhu NalJamoli, Pali Text Society, Oxford, England.

992 PaD: ‘manual’ by the Most Venerable Ledi Sayadaw (1846-1923). References are to paragraph number in the edition on the Chatfha Sarigayana CD-ROM:see footnote 997, p.379.

993 PD: English translation of Patfsambhida-Magga by Bhikkhu NalJamoli, Pali Text Society, OXford, England.


The Workings of Kamma

PP. Path of Pufification 99S

PsM. PapsambhidaNagga{Discrimination Path)

S. Samyutta-Nikaya (Connected Collection)

SA. Samyutta-Nikaya-Atfhakatha (- Commentary)

SuN. Sutta-Nipata{Sutta Book)

TG. Thera-Gatha-Paji (Elder’s- Text)

TGA. Thera-Gatha-Atfhakatha{- Commentary)

TiG. The1f.Gatha-Paji (Elderess’s- Text)

U. Udana{Inspiration)

Vbh. Vibhanga{Analysis)

VbhA. Vibhanga-Atfhakatha{- Commentary)

VbhT. Vibhanga- “[ika996 (- Sub-commentary)

Vin.Cv. Vinaya Cilja- Vagga (Monastic Rule: Small Chapter)

Vin. Mv. Vinaya MaM- Vagga (Monastic Rule: Great Chapter) Vin.Pac. Vinaya Pacittiya-Paji{-: Expiable Text)

Vin.par. Vinaya Parajika-Paji{-: Defeat Text)

VsM. VisuddhiNagga{Pufification Path: Commentary)

VsMT. VisuddhiNaggaNaM- Jika (- Great Sub-commentary)

994 PED: by T.W.Rhys Davids, F.B.A., D.Se., Ph.D., LL.D. D.Utt., and William Stede Ph.D., Pali Text Society, Oxford, England.

99S PP: English translation of Visuddhi-Magga by Bhikkhu NalJamoli, Buddhist Publication Society, Kandy, Sri Lanka.

996 The Pali titles for the sub-commentaries are: VbhTi = MOla· Tlka; VsMT = Pamm·Attha MafijOsa

Source References

The Source references are according to the standard divisions in the pali:997

Nikaya Vagga. Samyutta Vagga. Sutta

(Collection. Book. Section • Chapter. Sutta)

For example:998


997 All source references are according to the 07at!ha Sarigayana CD-ROM, Version 3.0, Vipassana Research Institute, Dhamma Giri, Igatpuri-422 403, India.

998 Please note also references to section numbers in VsM(Visuddhi-Magga), and DhSA (Dhammasarigani-A.tthakath8), the last examples.


The Workings of Kamma



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