What makes kamma not extinguish before awakening?

According to AN 3.76, there’s no rebirth without kamma:

“Ananda, if there were no kamma ripening in the sensuality-property, would sensuality-becoming be discerned?”
“No, lord.”

(The same is said about the other forms of becoming)

Besides, rebirth only stops after arahatship. So what assures that not all kamma ripens before awakening? For most beings, kamma is generated all the time during the lifetime, but this isn’t true for others, like non-percipient beings. Wouldn’t it be possible for someone to live a whole lifetime and experience all kammic fruits without generating more kamma to get reborn?

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How could you not create any Kamma if you still have craving? I’m going to include a translation by Thanissaro Bhikkhu from that same sutta you quoted:

“> Ananda, if there were no kamma ripening in the sensuality-property, would sensuality-becoming be discerned?”

“No, lord.”

"Thus kamma is the field, consciousness the seed, and craving the moisture. The intention & aspiration of living beings hindered by ignorance & fettered by craving is established in/tuned to a lower property. Thus there is the production of renewed becoming in the future.

It seems as long as craving isn’t severed at every second you’re creating kamma that will ripen. Even something basic like hunger and thirst will ripen into future need for nutriment.

There’s also ofc the fact that the Buddha said speculating on all the specifics of kamma will lead to frustration and annoyance.

Thanks for the reply, Aidan!

I’m not sure if a necessary condition for craving is intention. In the sutta, the Buddha seems to be discussing that both kamma and craving are necessary conditions for rebirth, not that one generates the other. How would one cause the other? Maybe as wrong attention?

Yes, that’s true. I don’t intend to fully understand the workings of kamma, but rather to get a solid groud on it. You know, Westerners usually have an initial problem with it, which was my case. Because of that, I’ve been struggling to understand it as well as I should.

This is basically the position of Jainism, and its a very good point - from the "action-consequences " view of things it would seem possible to sumply “put the brakes on” and stop commiting intentional acts and therby put an end to the round, this is what the Jains claim to do.

The Buddha rejects this picture, in part claiming that the exertion in “applying the brakes” is itself generative of kamma.

The Buddhist approach first of all psychologiezes kamma, and then epistemologiezes the psychology, arguing that it is the clear seeing and understansing of kamma that alows escape from its ductates.

The whole “thinking about kamma will drive you mad” is absolutely not meant to deter an understanding of the priciples, its more (in my opinion) meant to deny that there can be a strict determinism discernable in it, as this would seemingly make the buddhist strategy impossible.

So tldr the jains say kamma is everything and just stop, the buddha says its motivation that makes kamma and so you cant stop until your motives change and that is through understanding.



Joseph made a great reply, I knew someone more equipped would come around. The Jain position is something that flew over my head. I’m having a bit of trouble trying to find the sutta to link for you, it’s in the Middle Nikaya and elsewhere I’m sure. Anyway, in it the Buddha tells of 4 types of kamma/action:
Bright action with bright result
dark action with dark result
bright and dark action with bright and dark result
Neither bright nor dark action with neither bright nor dark result, the action that ends action.

So good, bad, mixed, and the 8fold path are the types of kamma. So unless you’re actively following the paths and fruits I don’t think that all karma could fully end. The Buddha also said the sense bases are “old kamma” and in the famous fire sermon he says the senses are burning. So if there’s constantly fuel for the fire it won’t extinguish, unless you’re attained to Arahantship.

I’m not the most qualified on this topic, but I hope I provided some help! I’ll leave some good resources on the topic of Kamma that helped me. Hopefully I’ve made no mistakes here apologies if I did.

Kamma: A study guide by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Four Kinds of Kamma from AN - Ven. Bodhi

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Thanks for the sources, Aidan. I’m gonna study them.

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Thanks for the explanation, Joseph. That answers my question.

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Kamma affects only to aggregates…but… Because " person(we) "…took aggregates as " self(atta) "…by… " upādāna(Grasping) "…therefore when aggregates arising-falling we will felt as we also arising-falling as well.

8 Noble path is the " action "…to end all the kamma… So Buddha call this type as " either white nor black kamma which resultes to ending of all kammas "

Except Arahant, everyone can’t stop kamma… Because… paṭiccasamuppād keep functioning… Every time, there is rising of " Contact (which originated from ignorance - choices) " that is kamma

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