Maha Kamma Vibhanga sutta (MN 136)

Is the right view in this sutta the same as MN9? If so this sutta can scare the pants off people who do good deeds.:worried:
Also it gives an idea of the apparent danger of samsara. Can the conceptual right view that bhante is talking in here be applied to this sutta? @sujato


Wow! Thanks for the post. I shall now have to really study MN136.

But some other person here refrains from killing living creatures, stealing, committing sexual misconduct, or using speech that’s false, divisive, harsh, or nonsensical. And they’re contented, kind-hearted, and have right view. When their body breaks up, after death, they’re reborn in a place of loss, a bad place, the underworld, hell.

Oh. Ok. Read the sutta. End of panic. I still have no idea how I would have answered Potaliputta.


“Bhikkhus, those ascetics and brahmins who recollect their manifold past abodes all recollect the five aggregates subject to clinging or a certain one among them. SuttaCentral

This is about mundane and ‘supramundane’ right view!


Hmm… I don’t see why it should scare anyone who does good deeds. If you’re referring to the fact that it says people who do good deeds can still be reborn in a realm of deprivation—that’s because they still have the kamma of the bad deeds from the past:

Now, Ānanda, take the case of the person here who refrained from killing living creatures … and had right view, and who is reborn in hell. They must have done a bad deed to be experienced as painful either previously or later, or else at the time of death they undertook wrong view. And that’s why, when their body breaks up, after death, they’re reborn in a place of loss, a bad place, the underworld, hell. But anyone here who refrains from killing living creatures … and has right view experiences the result of that in the present life, or in the next life, or in some subsequent period. (MN 136)

Like you said, it shows the limits of samsara. Who knows where you’ll end up next? But doing good deeds does have pleasant results… you just don’t know when. Based on the EBTs, we all have dark deeds in our past, and if we haven’t reached any of the noble attainments then we can still be reborn in a place of loss.


The uncertainty of samsara is alluded in SN 56.33

By Ven. Sujato
Mendicants, suppose a stick was tossed up in the air. Sometimes it’d fall on its bottom, sometimes the middle, and sometimes the top.
It’s the same for sentient beings roaming and transmigrating, hindered by ignorance and fettered by craving. Sometimes they go from this world to the other world, and sometimes they come from the other world to this world.


I found it funny when I read how Buddha scolded Udayi saying “See how this foolish person Udāyī comes up with an idea?” and Samiddi by saying "Suppose the foolish person Samiddhi had answered the wanderer Potaliputta’s question like this: "

Sometimes one really need a “big slap” from the Buddha. :grin:

@Mat thank you for the sutta and reminding of the lokiya and lokuttara difference. I will research more on this. I found a wonderful essay by Bhante Sujato while doing a research here.

@Sumano Yes, that is true. But people who are not aware of the danger of samsara and do “meritorious deeds” in a traditional/ cultural way should be aware of this. They can keep doing those deeds but this is a great sutta to get them started on practising towards ending the journey of samsara. Anyway, I better help myself before trying to fix others. :wink:

Also my main issue was about the right view. (“A noble disciple understands the unskillful and its root, and the skillful and its root. When they’ve done this, they’re defined as a noble disciple who has right view, whose view is correct, who has experiential confidence in the teaching, and has come to the true teaching.”- MN9)
If I am not mistaken right view is a condition for noble attainments isn’t it? If so even having right view one may not be able to escape the past bad kamma until one reaches parinibbhana. Added: but helps avoid hell realms. In that case this right view is different.

Mat mentioned about mundane and supra mundane right view so I will do more reading on that.


Yes. Absolutely! It was a read to make one smile. :smiley:

And upon further study, I also realized that the Buddha did in fact answer all three of Potaliputta’s questions:

Deeds by way of body and speech are done in vain.
Only mental deeds are real.’
And: ‘There is such an attainment where the one who enters it does not feel anything at all.’

But the clarity, skill and extent of the Buddha’s answer took me quite by surprise. The three answers are subtly woven into the entire sutta. Even the Buddha’s short answer would have required more explanation for Potaliputta:

‘After doing an intentional deed to be experienced as pleasant by way of body, speech, or mind, one feels pleasure.

After doing an intentional deed to be experienced as painful by way of body, speech, or mind, one feels pain.

After doing an intentional deed to be experienced as neutral by way of body, speech, or mind, one feels neutral.’

The above answer directly answers the second question by clarifying the role of intention. Yet the full explanation for the first question takes up the bulk of the sutta with the explanation of compound kamma. And the answer to the third question is even more subtle in that one must infer that non-intention requires non-feeling.

So I remain completely unskilled and humble in the face of the Buddha’s answer. I would be quite decimated by Potaliputta’s questioning. I think the only cure here for me will be to listen to this sutta repeatedly. The list keeps getting longer…


Thank you for looking at the sutta in this way and understanding his deep answer. Sadhu! :pray:t4:


"And what is right view? Right view, I tell you, is of two sorts:
There is right view with effluents, siding with merit, resulting in
acquisitions [of becoming]; there is right view that is noble, without
effluents, transcendent, a factor of the path.

It’s the first “sort” of Right view that the MN 136 talks about.


I have a question about laukika (mundane) and lokottara (supramundane). I can vaguely remember that there were other places where this difference was mentioned by Buddha apart from right view. I could be mistaken but do you know anything about that? Thank you. :pray:t4:

Also please refer the sutta where the difference of the right view was mentioned as I couldn’t locate it in MN9. :pray:t4:

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This discourse mentions the two types of right view.
Mundane right view being the understanding of ones responsibility in regard to action/kamma. It’s the right view of authenticity.


Perfect. Thank you! :pray:t4:

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Thanks for that quote from MN117. It helped me understand something else.

Right view is twofold, I say.
There is right view that is accompanied by defilements, has the attributes of good deeds, and ripens in attachment.
And there is right view that is noble, undefiled, transcendent, a factor of the path.

I had not read this before and it does explain the odd passage in DN33 about eight rebirths by giving. It is odd in that all eight rebirths involve a wish for something. All eight of the rebirths are from the first of the two right views:

The heart’s wish of an ethical person succeeds because of their purity.


About MN 117, there was a discussion started by gnlaera (The value of MN117 and its serial Noble Tenfold Path). Part of discussion is Ven. Analayo article, which say that supramudane version of path-factor is probably expansion influenced by Abhidhamma, and should be understood in light of Abhidhamma (like how ‘path’ refer to the moment attaining four stage of awakening).