AN6.63 Talkin' bout Kamma

I thoughts been popping around in my head for awhile about the procession of kammavipaka from life to life. Those popped into my head again after reading AN 6.63.

Specifically this line:

“Cetanāhaṁ, bhikkhave, kammaṁ vadāmi”

Cetana/Intention is deed, got it.

But how does this square with dependant origination and the explanation of “when this arises, that arises. When this ceases, that ceases”.

If an extremely short lived cetana is the kammic generating factor, how does that kammic fruit still appear after the cetana is kaput?

Maybe it works like potential energy? It takes 5 seconds to place a glass jar on a shelf, and then it goes 10 years and it smashes on the ground when someone pushes it off by accident while cleaning or something :slight_smile:


This selection from Ajahn Brahmali might help. It explains how cetana is an element of sankara, which is the second link in dependent origination. The thread also has an extensive discussion on the role of “choices” if you’re interested in reading about effect they may have.


I think that’s the Yogacara view of it, But I wadn’t sure about how that relates to the EBTS

Maybe I misunderstood your question, I interpreted it as saying basically, given ‘when this arises…’ from DO, shouldn’t the fruit cease when the cetana ceases?

This is a necessary and sufficient cause. I.e. the absence of the cause prevents the effect and the presence of the cause brings about the effect.

Edit: I understand the Buddha here as giving a general definition of causality, showing how DO is to be understood as a causal teaching. It is not obvious how to think about causality, we need only look at contemporary debates among scientists :slight_smile:

So, putting a jar on a shelf and having it break at a later time is an example of how a fruit (effect) might follow with a time lag.

It can be understood like this:

Necessary cause: if I don’t put the jar on the shelf, it will never fall off and break
Sufficient cause: if I put the jar on the shelf, it will eventually fall off and break

Another example, if I say smoking causes cancer, I don’t mean that the cancer will appear at the time the cigarette is touching the lips and smoke is being inhaled. It also doesn’t mean that the moment a person stops smoking the cancer must disappear.

For causality the only temporal condition is that causes come before effects, but cause-and-effect must not follow each other immediately :slight_smile:

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No, thats what I was driving at, you understand it completely.

I have studied this issue recently but I have admittedly not enough acumen to make heads or tails of it on my own,I think.

Historically, from my semi-educated understanding, various Buddhisy schools have tried to address this issue, for example Nagarjuna addresses it in his Verses, the Sarvastivadins tried to solve it through the Tritemporality of Dharmas, and so on. The Yogacara compared it to a seed store, like in your example. This seed jar (bhavanga, maybe?). This is an interesting theory, to be sure, but what I wanted to see is if this topic is directly or indirectly addressed in the EBT’S

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It is directly addressed in DN 15 :slight_smile:

‘Rebirth is a condition for old age and death’—that’s what I said. And this is a way to understand how this is so. Suppose there were totally and utterly no rebirth for anyone anywhere. That is, there were no rebirth of sentient beings into their various realms—of gods, fairies, spirits, creatures, humans, quadrupeds, birds, or reptiles, each into their own realm. When there’s no rebirth at all, with the cessation of rebirth, would old age and death still be found?”

“No, sir.”

“That’s why this is the cause, source, origin, and condition of old age and death, namely rebirth.

Extracting the abstract logic:

X is a cause of Y. What does this mean? Suppose there were no X, would there be Y?

“No, sir.”

That is why X is a cause of Y.

In modern parlance we would call X a necessary cause of Y. Necessary causation is about how the absence of something destroys an effect (but the presence of something does not guarantee the effect).

See also this very good essay by Ajahn Brahm:

Edit: In my own experience, the terminology necessary and sufficient is quite confusing, because the words necessary and sufficient don’t really explain what is meant very well. In my mind I think “necessary = effect destroyer” and “sufficient = effect creator”.

E.g. me writing this post is an ‘effect destroying’ cause for getting a like, because if I don’t write the post, there’s no way to get a like. The absence of post-writing destroys my ability to get a like.

But writing a post is not an ‘effect creating’ cause because it’s not guaranteed that writing a post will land me a like.

If I start smoking I gain an ‘effect creating’ cause of lung cancer. But if I don’t smoke, this isn’t an ‘effect destroying’ cause because I can still get lung cancer from asbestos or bad luck.


They are of different frameworks.
if you divide All with I, the world, and a timeline, there is kamma. I have a past and future, and present.

If you look at All with 5 aggregates, it will be this/that conditionality. It is not 5 aggregates and a timeline. Time is within the aggregates, it is a minute feature of a certainty. The same for subjectivity of I, mine.

This/that conditionality is not casual relationship, it is an axiom and our practice will arrive at its many logical theorems of existence. It is not interested in works within same category of aggregate, it is the dependency among instances from different aggregates.