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Mahākammavibhaṅga Sutta

Potaliputta comes to Samiddhi in his forest hut, near Veḷuvana in Rājagaha, and tells him that the Buddha has declared that all one says or does is vain; the only thing of importance is that which passes in one’s mind. Samiddhi protests against this, and when Potaliputta says, “Tell me, what does a man experience who acts of set purpose?” gives his own explanation. Potaliputta then goes away without further talk and seeks Ānanda, to whom he reports the incident. Ānanda takes him to the Buddha, remarking that Samiddhi should not have given a single direct reply to a question, which required careful qualifications in the answer.

Lāḷudāyī interrupts and is rebuked by the Buddha, who explains that the question was essentially a triple one and should have been so answered. If a man’s purposeful act is calculated to produce a pleasant feeling, his experience is pleasant; if an unpleasant feeling, unpleasant; if neither pleasant nor unpleasant, it is neither. Ānanda asks him to explain further, and this he does. A man may be wicked in this world and yet, at death, pass either into heaven or into hell, he may be good yet go into hell or into heaven. However, one should not rush to conclusions from this truth, because the consequence of man’s action, good or bad, may be felt either here and now, in the next birth, or at some other time. Kamma can be divided into four classes:

  1. not only in operation, but also having the appearance of being so;
  2. in operation, though not appearing so;
  3. in operation, and appearing so;
  4. not in operation, and not appearing so. (M.iii.207‑15).

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