Hello, community of SuttaCentral! I am somewhat confused regarding one of the subtle intricacies of the teaching on Kamma, and I was hoping that someone here has the answer.
I understand that Kamma is not to be seen as predestination, and that being clear on this is, in fact, a very important component of the Buddha’s teaching. But how exactly the law of Kamma allows for variation and freedom of choice is what’s not very clear to me.
What has caused this confusion is the brief introduction to Sivaka Sutta in Thanissaro Bhikkhu’s translation. In it, Ven. Thanissaro states that the sutta has been misunderstood as saying that not everything is the result of Kamma, because even the body is old Kamma. He argues that one of the main points of the sutta is that the results of Kamma find their expression through the other laws of the universe, such as biology or physics, but I think this is at odds with the actual text of the sutta. In my view (which, of course, might be wrong), even though the body is a result of old Kamma (through rebirth, in my understanding), that does not necessarily explain the arbitrary malfunctions of the body, which the Buddha explicitly lists as separate from the results of Kamma.
So, to get to my main point, is it the case that every seemingly random event in one’s life is the ripening of Kamma, finding expression through the other laws of the universe? Or is it rather the case that some things are indeed arbitrary occurrences with no relation to past Kamma whatsoever?
If the first interpretation is correct, then I see no conflict with the teaching that Kamma is not predestination, as this fits in perfectly with Thanissaro Bikkhu’s commentary that present Kamma can influence one’s experience at the moment of the ripening of old Kamma. Whereas if the second interpretation is correct, this also is not at odds with the teaching that Kamma is not predestination since, at any given moment, a random event in the universe can influence the ripening of Kamma.
So which view is correct?
Thank you, and Metta.
P.S. I also posted this on Stack Exchange, in a more restricted way, due to the rules for questions over there