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A Discourse on Paticcasamuppada

or The Doctrine of Dependent Origination

Chapter 11 - Habitual And Death-bed Kammas

The other three weighty kammas, viz., killing an Arahat, causing injury to the Buddha and wilfully causing a schism in the Sangha are also bound to drag the offender to hell.

The other type of kamma that bears fruit is habitual kamma, called //bahula or acinna kamma//. Failure to lead a good moral life may become habitual if no step is taken to remove it, and it will have evil kammic effect in a future life. So laymen should live up to the five precepts and in case of any breach verbally affirm the will to guard ones moral life more vigilantly. Moral purity is equally vital to the life of a bhikkhu. Failure to make amends for any deliberate or unintentional violation of a vinaya rule will create habitual kamma and so the bhikkhu should seek to regain moral purity through confession and reaffirmation of his will to preserve it.

Alms giving, reverence for parents and teachers, contemplation of the Buddha, practice of meditation and so forth, which one does daily are also habitual kammas that tend to bear immediate fruits.

In the absence of habitual kamma, what we do at the last moment of our life (//asanna kamma//: death bed kamma) produces kammic results. In one Abhidhamma book, it is described as being more potent than habitual kamma but perhaps this is true only in exceptional cases. As the commentaries say, the habitual kammas probably take precedence and bear fruits.

Nevertheless, in the light of stories in ancient Buddhist literature we can certainly rely on death bed kamma. A dying man who had killed people for over 50 years attained the deva world after offering food to Sariputta and hearing his discourse. This story finds an echo in the experience of a. Sinhalese fisherman who landed in the deva world after his encounter with a thera just before his death.

As productive as the positive death bed kamma is its negative counterpart. A Sinhalese layman who practised meditation for many years was disappointed as he had never seen even the light. He then concluded that the Buddhas teaching was not the way to liberation and because of this false view he landed in the peta world after his death.

Failure to encounter the light, etc., in the practice of meditation may be due to wrong method, wrong effort or lack of basic potential (parami). In the time of the Buddha, a monk called Sunakkhatta attained divine eye but not the divine ear because he did not have the potential for it and, besides, there was his bad kamma as a hindrance.

So the yogi need not be disheartened if his practice does not produce the desired effect. By and large, practice along the right path leads to unusual experiences.

With tranquillity and purity of mind, the material object of contemplation and the contemplating consciousness become clearly distinct as do their causal relation and their ceaseless, rapid arising and dissolution. At that time, the yogi sees the light but even if he does not see it clearly he experiences joy, ecstasy, etc., for joy, ecstasy, tranquillity, equanimity, etc., form the links of enlightenment (//bojjhanga//) that are so vital to the development of vipassana insight. Reflection on namarupa by itself does not lead to these higher states of consciousness.

In the absence of habitual or death bed kamma, there is kattata kamma which means the kamma that one has done once in a lifetime.

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