Obstacles AN6.86

What exactly is meant by this sutta?

With Metta


Hi Andrej,

Is there a particular word in the sutta that you are unsure how to understand?


“deeds, defilements, or results.”

I understand the words, but not in the context of the sutta.


Perhaps some examples might help?

  • For one born into abject poverty struggling to eat let alone study the Dhamma, that would be an obstacle.
  • For one swept away by greed, aversion and delusion, that would be an obstacle.
  • For one who can no longer think coherently after long term drug addiction, that would be an obstacle.

The original Pali phrase is:

Kammāvaraṇatāya samannāgato hoti, kilesāvaraṇatāya samannāgato hoti, vipākāvaraṇatāya samannāgato hoti

Thanissaro Bhikkhu’s translation of this is slightly more verbose:

He is endowed with a [present] kamma obstruction, a defilement obstruction, a result-of-[past]-kamma obstruction

“Defilement” (kilesa) refers to the ten defilements and “results” (vipāka) refers to the consequences of past kamma.


Thanks, it seems the first and third example, bot fit the term “results”.

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Thanks, if the term “vipaka” refers to the consequences of past kamma, what is meant by “deeds” then?

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There are distinctions between intention. My interpretation is that deeds pertains to “others” and results pertains “one’s own”. Or v.v.

AN4.171:6.3: There is a reincarnation where one’s own intention is effective, not that of others.
AN4.171:6.4: There is a reincarnation where the intention of others is effective, not one’s own.
AN4.171:6.5: There is a reincarnation where both one’s own and others’ intentions are effective.
AN4.171:6.6: There is a reincarnation where neither one’s own nor others’ intentions are effective.

Sorry, I don’t understand that part one bit.

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“Deeds” is kamma in the Pali. Thanissaro Bhikkhu annotates these as “present” and “past” to make the distinction clear.

An example of how I understand this: If you decide to burgle a house instead of going to a dhamma talk, that is kamma obstruction. If a week later you would decide to go to a dhamma talk but are arrested for burglary, that is vipāka obstruction.


Thanks, that makes sense.

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Apologies, I’ll try more words.

My understanding is that others may provide a great obstacle for the study of Buddhism. For example, historically there were massacres of Buddhists. In such conditions, one declared faith in the Buddha upon peril of death. This is one case, the deeds of others.

The other case is for one’s own kamma tripping up one’s progress. This I think corresponds to vipaka.

PTS Pali English Dictionary
fruit, fruition, product; always in pregnant meaning of “result, effect, consequence (of one’s action),” either as good & meritorious (kusala or bad & detrimental (akusala). Hence “retribution (kamma˚;), reward or punishment. See on term e.g. Dhs. translation introd.2xciii; Cpd. 43. 249

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Oh, OK, thanks now I get it.

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