Kamma and its Ripening in the Abhidhamma

Discussion of Abhidhamma and related Commentaries

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Re: Kamma and its Ripening in the Abhidhamma

Postby mikenz66 » Tue Jan 27, 2009 8:40 pm

Hi Peter,
Peter wrote: My point is I suspect it's nonsensical to ask "If everything was the same except for that karma, would he still have been hit on the head with rocks?"

Yes, that's a good point.

I still feel I'm missing something, because it feels like I'm not getting a straight answer to the question I was trying to ask. This probably means that I'm really confused, since I doubt that there is a conspiracy going on here to "deny information..." :spy:

Perhaps I should try it again:
Kamma is intentional action performed by cittas in a particular mind stream. Does what is described as "the ripening of kamma" happen only in that same mind-stream?
Clearly, actions by one mind stream can condition other mind streams (e.g. by injuring or killing). What I'm trying to understand is what extent that should be regarded just "regular cause-and-effect" (i.e. not "ripening of kamma").

I keep getting the feeling I'm painting myself into a corner...

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Re: Kamma and its Ripening in the Abhidhamma

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Jan 28, 2009 12:14 am

Greetings Mike,

A few points that may assist or confuse (we'll see how it goes!)

1. Vipaka is the mental resultant of kamma. Vipaka is not physical.

2. Remember Angulimala was not a "self". As per Ajahn Chah's phrase "No Ajahn Chah", there was "No Angulimala". In this sense there was "No Angulimala" to be subject to the vipaka arising from previous kamma. When we think about a particular "person" (as anything more than a conventional designation) who does an action and then suffers the result of that, we come to miss what kamma and Buddhist conditionality are all about.

Metta,
Retro. :)
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Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


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One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Kamma and its Ripening in the Abhidhamma

Postby kc2dpt » Wed Jan 28, 2009 12:17 am

mikenz66 wrote:Kamma is intentional action performed by cittas in a particular mind stream. Does what is described as "the ripening of kamma" happen only in that same mind-stream?

Yes.
- Peter

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Re: Kamma and its Ripening in the Abhidhamma

Postby dhammatrophic » Wed Jan 28, 2009 3:39 am

B. There is no question of punishment or reward because there is no one who punishes or rewards. It is the course of nature that one reaps what one has sown. Accumulated akusala kamma produces at the right time a citta which experiences an unpleasant object; this citta is the result of a bad deed one did in the past. Accumulated kusala kamma produces at the right time a citta which experiences a pleasant object; this citta is the result of a good deed one did in the past.


If you could make kusala vipāka arise at will, you could have it without interruption, whenever you wish. This is not possible. Moreover, if it were not the right time for you to have any kusala vipāka, you would not be able to receive a pleasant object: the record-player would be broken, or something else would happen so that you could not have kusala vipāka.


How is the "right time" determined?
How does this "rightness" logically mingle with the unpredictability of ripening karma?
-trophic
1. turning, changing, or reacting in a particular way
2. attracted to, having an affinity for, or moving toward a particular thing
3. acting on something specified, or in a particular way
4. relating to a specified kind of nutrition.
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Re: Kamma and its Ripening in the Abhidhamma

Postby robertk » Wed Jan 28, 2009 9:36 am

mikenz66 wrote:Hi Robert,

Thank you for the reply. I do understand that the complexity makes it pointless to speculate in particular cases, but what I was interested in clarifying was whether I should understand kamma to only affect the mindstream that performs it. I think you are answering in the affirmative.

Metta
Mike

yes, that is so.
Angulima had kamma that could give rise to unplesant results at any time. If he had stayed in his room possibly he would not have experienced the result as soon as he did, or possibly the roof would have fallen on his head, who knows.
It's like us, we have done intense dark deeds over millions of aeons, thus the kamma is waiting to give result, waiting for other conditions to come together. So no surprise if we burn our hand cooking, or loose a limb in a car accident, or come down with incurable heart disease.
I was listening to Khun sujin a few years ago when someone was bewailing many unfortunate fatalities from flooding in South thailand. She said - do you have the same compassion when you read about a killer now (implying that he will one day be the one dying suddenly somewhere).
So the kamma/viapaka is arising only in the same mindstream.. but kamma needs supporting conditions to bring its result.

No hurry.. 100,000 aeons of time is not too long for kamma to wait. :mrgreen:
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Re: Kamma and its Ripening in the Abhidhamma

Postby kc2dpt » Wed Jan 28, 2009 2:33 pm

dhammatrophic wrote:How does this "rightness" logically mingle with the unpredictability of ripening karma?

Because the factors that make it right are far too complex for you to predict.
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Re: Kamma and its Ripening in the Abhidhamma

Postby cooran » Wed Jan 28, 2009 8:06 pm

Hello Rob,

Robert said: No hurry.. 100,000 aeons of time is not too long for kamma to wait.


But ... not all kamma has to have fruit, does it? Otherwise their would be no Liberation.

metta
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Re: Kamma and its Ripening in the Abhidhamma

Postby kc2dpt » Wed Jan 28, 2009 9:23 pm

Chris wrote:not all kamma has to have fruit, does it?

I have heard that not all kamma has to give fruit.
Some kamma, if no suitable circumstances arise in time, won't pass on from one life to the next.
Some kamma is countered by other kamma.
Some kamma, if no suitable circumstances arise in time, and it is the end of an arahant's life, won't give fruit at all.
Some kamma will always give fruit.
- Peter

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Re: Kamma and its Ripening in the Abhidhamma

Postby robertk » Mon Feb 02, 2009 6:37 am

Dear Mike
I asked Sujin Boriharnwanaket this question on Saturday. She said that there is the experience of hardness through the body door very very often, perhaps many hundred of times even in a second. And each experience is vipaka - the result of kusala or aksula kamma done in the past. Thus it is not surprising that at times there may be experience of very intense hardness.

This intense hardness is the result of akusala kamma of a strong degree -
When we descibe such momentary experience conventionally we might say "I was in a car accident and broke my arm ..".

She said it is no more surprising that at times there are such intense experiences, than it is that when we are sitting down and feeling some light pressure for example. The experience of the light pressure is also a vipaka.
The rupas (matter) always arise in kalapas that include heat, hardness, color etc. Every experience through the sense doors must contact one of these elements, but is primarily kamma that determines which one, what intensity and whether it will be inherently desirable or undesirable.
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Re: Kamma and its Ripening in the Abhidhamma

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Feb 02, 2009 7:42 am

Greetings Robert,

Thank you for the thoughtful post. What you say makes sense, but I am not clear exactly which question you were answering.

However, one of the interesting things about what you report Khun Sujin as saying is that it sounds related to what Goenka says in his instructions and Dhamma talks about "Old Sankharas coming to the surface", e.g. on this thread: viewtopic.php?f=17&t=62

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Re: Kamma and its Ripening in the Abhidhamma

Postby Jechbi » Tue Feb 03, 2009 4:44 pm

Hi Robert,
robertk wrote:... whether it will be inherently desirable or undesirable.
I don't think there's any such thing as "inherently" desirable or undesirable when it comes to vipaka. It's just vipaka, and then we add on interpretations such as "desirable" or "undesirable."
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Re: Kamma and its Ripening in the Abhidhamma

Postby Dhammanando » Tue Feb 03, 2009 9:13 pm

Hi Jechbi,

Jechbi wrote:Hi Robert,
robertk wrote:... whether it will be inherently desirable or undesirable.
I don't think there's any such thing as "inherently" desirable or undesirable when it comes to vipaka. It's just vipaka, and then we add on interpretations such as "desirable" or "undesirable."


You're welcome to your opinion, but this sub-forum is concerned with classical Theravada teaching. In the present matter, a sense-door ārammaṇa is desirable or undesirable before it is processed by any javana cittas.

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu
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Re: Kamma and its Ripening in the Abhidhamma

Postby kc2dpt » Wed Feb 04, 2009 2:50 am

Dhammanando wrote:In the present matter, a sense-door ārammaṇa is desirable or undesirable before it is processed by any javana cittas.

You mentioned something about this before regarding harsh speech and I am unclear about it. I recall you said harsh speech is inherently unpleasant. I can see that an overly loud sound is inherently unpleasant; it can be physically painful regardless of our opinion of it. I am less clear on how harsh words can be inherently unpleasant since to understand the meaning of the words requires a certain higher level of processing, thinking if you will. Can you clarify why harsh words are inherently unpleasant?
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Re: Kamma and its Ripening in the Abhidhamma

Postby Jechbi » Wed Feb 04, 2009 4:04 am

Bhante,

I would prefer to abandon my opinions in favor of correct knowledge. So I very much appreciate your guidance.

The Q&A article you posted here is so helpful and vivid that I may have gotten carried away. The article brings Abhidhamma language right down to a real-world level that seems to apply to everyday existence. A recurring obstacle for me has been to muddy the waters by not being precise in my understanding and use of terms.

I think I misapplied this comment:
Dhammanando wrote:The vipâkacittas themselves are morally neutral, but the terms 'kusala' and 'akusala' are applied to them to indicate the moral class of the (past) kammically active citta of which they are the present fruit.


I get that kusala-vipaka-citta can only know ittharammana, and that akusala-vipaka-citta can only know anittharammana. I just don't have all the sequences and terminology firmly in my mind. I keep thinking in terms of what happens between vedana and tanha, and that's probably not an appropriate application in this context.

I'm sure you can clearly see my confusion and where I am misunderstanding. If you could point me toward a resource that puts this together in way I can understand, I would be grateful.

(Sorry, Robert, if my comment was counter-productive.)

Respect,
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Re: Kamma and its Ripening in the Abhidhamma

Postby robertk » Wed Feb 04, 2009 7:54 am

Peter wrote:
Dhammanando wrote:In the present matter, a sense-door ārammaṇa is desirable or undesirable before it is processed by any javana cittas.

You mentioned something about this before regarding harsh speech and I am unclear about it. I recall you said harsh speech is inherently unpleasant. I can see that an overly loud sound is inherently unpleasant; it can be physically painful regardless of our opinion of it. I am less clear on how harsh words can be inherently unpleasant since to understand the meaning of the words requires a certain higher level of processing, thinking if you will. Can you clarify why harsh words are inherently unpleasant?

Good question Peter
The citta that conditions the rupa(cittajarupa) of sound in the case of harsh words is 'harsh', it is rooted in dosa mula citta. Thus the rupa will be of a different 'tone' than if one was speaking with cittas rooted in loving kindness.

However, It can be hard to distinguish, moreover vipaka is only one jati whereas kusala and aksuala are given a jati each becuase it is critical to know which jati is which - but not so much to know whether the vipaka is conditioned by past akusala or kusala.
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Re: Kamma and its Ripening in the Abhidhamma

Postby Jechbi » Wed Feb 04, 2009 5:38 pm

Thanks, Robert. I guess I'm getting hung up on the notion of desirability. I get that the moment of hearing a sound can be akusala vipaka. But the sense of whether that is "undesirable" seems to come afterward, with a subsequent akusala citta. So it's hard for me to understand why we'd want to call arammana "desirable" or "undesirable" even before that subsequent citta has arisen.

Metta
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Re: Kamma and its Ripening in the Abhidhamma

Postby Jechbi » Thu Feb 05, 2009 6:19 am

Friends,

I have to admit I'm feeling discouraged at this moment. I no longer know whether this is the appropriate forum to ask my questions about Abhidhamma and seek feedback regarding my (admittedly limited) understanding. I have reread this topic from Page 1, I have tried to do some research on my own, I have given it some thought, and I still do not understand how desire fits into all of this.

I understand how arammana can be pleasant or unpleasant or neutral (ittharammana, anittharammana or mijjhattarammana, right?). But I don't understand how arammana can be regarded as desirable or undesirable. After reading all of this carefully, the limit of my understanding is this: The moment I start desiring some arammana or desiring the absence of some other arammana is a moment of javana. I understand that this is my misinformed opinion, but I honestly don't understand what I'm missing.

Worse still for me, I don't know how to put into practice the notion that some arammana are to be desired and other arammana are not to be desired. It just runs contrary to my entire (limited) understanding at this moment.

After initially having been extremely encouraged by this topic and the presentation of Abhidhamma language here, I now find that I have completely misunderstood the most basic part of it. For example this:
Nina van Gorkom wrote:A. But I cannot help disliking unpleasant vipāka. How can I change my attitude?

B. You can change your attitude by understanding what is vipāka and what is no longer vipāka. It is very important to know that the moment we feel dislike or regret is not the same as the moment of vipāka. People are inclined to think that the dislike which arises after the vipāka is still vipāka. When they say "This is just vipāka," they do not distinguish unpleasant feelings from the moments of vipāka. If they do not really know what is vipāka and what is not vipāka but akusala citta, or akusala kamma, they accumulate unwholesomeness all through their lives. By ignorance, by not knowing when the citta is akusala, one accumulates unwholesomeness.

If I dislike a certain arammana even before it arises (because it is undesirable), then it seems to follow that vipaka also is either desirable or undesirable. So I must desire certain vipaka and not desire other vipaka. Which seems to contradicts the above. So obviously I've completely misunderstood all of this.

Then there's this:
robertk wrote:The idea we sometimes hear about breaking the chain at the vedana link is mostly motivated by an idea of a self who can control and also by lobha which looks for a quick result. If there is understanding of any element - including vedana- then at that moment there is a weakening of the chain, but this doesn't imply trying to be equanimous or detached. It rather needs clear pariyatti wisdom that knows all elements are merely that- ephemeral and conditioned, thus anatta.

So is it even possible to talk about breaking the chain at the vedana link while still being motivated by the idea of anatta and while acknowleding that it may take many lifetimes? I'm sorry, but my understanding does not include trying to be equanimous or trying to detach from anything. If equanimity arises, it arises and I recognize that it is temporary. Rather than detach, my understanding leads me to engage and understand. So once again, I find that the entire basis of my approach to these topics is woefully out of sync with a proper understanding. Actually I feel sick about it, and I don't see the point of trying to pretend I'm equanimous with it.

I understand there are some very knowledgeable Abhidhamma scholars here. I am not one of them. Will someone please explain to me why some arammana are desirable and other arammana are not desirable? Desirable to what end? What exactly is the proper role of desire here?

If this post is inappropriate in this topic, I invite a moderator to split it into a separate topic in an appropriate forum, or to delete it. If anyone can offer clarity, I feel I would benefit.

:heart:
:(
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Re: Kamma and its Ripening in the Abhidhamma

Postby robertk » Fri Feb 06, 2009 5:23 am

Jechbi wrote:Thanks, Robert. I guess I'm getting hung up on the notion of desirability. I get that the moment of hearing a sound can be akusala vipaka. But the sense of whether that is "undesirable" seems to come afterward, with a subsequent akusala citta. So it's hard for me to understand why we'd want to call arammana "desirable" or "undesirable" even before that subsequent citta has arisen.

Metta
:smile:


Rupa that is experienced through th five sense doors is classified as: undesirable
(anittha),
moderately desirable (ittha) or extremely desirable (ati-ittha). The English translations of these pali terms shoudl not be confused with LOBha or Tanha (translated as greed and desire).
In the former case it is merely showing that nature of the rupa - that it is because of past kusla kamma that one experiences it.

Take the case of hearing the Buddha speak- the sound contacting the ear base is ati-ittha (it is inherently very "desirable" or "good" or "nice" or "pleasant" or .... ) but someone who doesn't follow the Buddha might have extreme dosa (aversion) in the minddoor processes immediately following hearing the sounds...
\
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Re: Kamma and its Ripening in the Abhidhamma

Postby robertk » Fri Feb 06, 2009 5:31 am

From the Dispeller of Delusion(Sammohavinodani) p9-11:

QUOTE
Rupa sadda (visible data, sounds)..there are none which are
disagreeable that are born of profitable kamma; all are agreeable
only....But a disputatious speaker (vitandavadin) said 'There is no
intrinsic agreeable and disagreeable'It is according to the likings
of these or those individuals)[and the vitandavadin goes on to give
an example of how to people in some distant place worms are
considered a delicacy whereas most people find them repulsive , he
also says the same about peacocks flesh].
He should be asked 'But how? Do you say that there is no
distinguishing an object as intrinsically agreeable or
disagreeable?' 'Yes: I say there is not?..[


it continues a little
more
and then refutes the vitantavadin (sectarian of another school)]

QUOTE
''It is through perversion of perception that the same object is
agreeable for one and disagreeable for another. But there is the
distinguishing of an object as intrinsically agreeable or
disagreeable'.......the elder Tipitaka Cula-Abhaya said: 'The
agreeable and disagreeable are distinguishable according to vipaka
(kamma result) only, not according to javana (impulsion that follows
the vipaka). But it is impulsion through perversion of perception
(sannavipallasa)only that lusts for the agreeable and hates the same
agreeable; that lusts for the disagreeable and hates the same
agreeable. Only by way of vipaka however is it rightly
distinguishable. For resultant consciousness (vipaka citta) cannot
be
mistaken. If the object is agreeable it is profitable result that
has
arisen; if disagreeable, it is unprofitable result that has arisen.
Although those of wrong view on seeing such exalted objects as
the enlightened one(buddha) shut their eyes and feel domanassa
(unpleasant feeling)[arising during the javana stage]and on hearing
the Dhamma they stop their ears nevertheless their eye-consciouness,
ear-consciousness , etc are only profitable kamma result (vipaka).
Although dung eating pigs on smelling the odour of dung become
joyful, thinking;'we shall get something to eat' nevertheless their
eye-consciousness (a vipaka) in the seeing of the dung, nose
consciousness (a vipaka) in smelling its odour and tongue
consciousness (a vipaka)in tasting its flavour is only unprofitable
result."" ENDQUOTE
------

It is true that often we cannot be sure whether the present vipaka
is
the result of kusala kamma or akusala kamma. ).
And if we still think in wholes and situation we cannot understand
vipaka either:
For instance, take the case of holding a soft warm dogshit in the hand and how most
people think this is entirely akusala. However, the commentary (see
sammohavinodani p11 )notes that in such a case
that the vipaka through body sense is actually kusala vipaka(because
soft and warm) while through the eyesense and nose sense akusala- for
obvious reasons. In a short moment these different vipakas alternate
many times, but one might not be aware of how it is changing.

Even in the above example someone might object and say 'what if
there were little hard bits in the shit; wouldn't it be akusala
through the bodysense then?' And, yes maybe it would in that case.
But the examples are given to help us see these matters so we can
study dhammas directly and see for ourselves, not to cover every
possible hypothetical case.

Or someone is wearinga price diamond ring. Through teh bodysense it is akusala viapka (very hard) on finger but they are so absorbed in teh story , the idea of this tresure on their finger that they are not aware at all of the realities.
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Re: Kamma and its Ripening in the Abhidhamma

Postby Jechbi » Fri Feb 06, 2009 8:03 am

Thank you for these posts, Robert. I understand all that. But the word "desirable" cannot possibly be the best translation for the word "ittha." I can see "pleasant" or "agreeable." But those words mean something very much different from "desirable."

Everything pleasant is not necessarily desirable.

The Abhidhamma does not teach that some experiences through the sense doors are by their nature worthy of desire. As nearly as I can tell, this is not a matter of opinion.

Moreover, I think it is very cynical to say that an attempt to break the chain at the vedana link "is mostly motivated by an idea of a self who can control and also by lobha which looks for a quick result," as you put it. I do not even understand how that statement is supposed to relate to this discussion.

I think I have a clearer picture now of what's going on in this discussion. I renew my original appreciation of the posted Q&A. I withdraw my sense of discouragement, because I now realize it's not a matter of opinion to reject the use of the term "desirable" to describe pleasant experience through the sense doors (ittharammana). Such experiences are not worthy of desire just because they are pleasant. "Ittha" does not equate to desirability.

Metta
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But never soddens what is open;
Uncover, then, what is concealed,
Lest it be soddened by the rain.
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