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Full Version: No Statute of Limitations for the Law of Kamma
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There are good reasons why some jurisdictions have a statute of limitations on crimes other than murder. I don't want to debate the rights and wrongs of such legal issues. That is a matter for judges and politicians to decide after careful consideration of the consequences. 

I just wanted to point out that there is no statute of limitations when it comes to the Law of Kamma. Having done an evil deed, the result may not come at once, but it will come in due course when conditions ripen, as is shown by the story of Mahākāla. 

The Lay Disciple Mahākāla

This devout layman, having listened to the Dhamma throughout the night, was washing his face at the monastery’s pond in the morning. At that time, a thief who was being pursued, threw his stolen goods near him and fled. The owners, mistaking Mahākāla for the thief, beat him to death. When the young monks found his dead body, and reported it to the Buddha, they said that he did not deserve to die like that. The Buddha explained that it was due to his past evil kamma.

The Soldier and the Beautiful Wife
The king of Benares posted a soldier at a frontier town, with orders to escort travellers through a forest where there were robbers. One day, a man and his wife arrived. On seeing the man’s wife, the soldier fell in love with her at first sight. In spite of the man’s protests, he had the carriage turned back, and arranged for them to be lodged for the night. During the night, the soldier hid a precious jewel in the travellers’ carriage, and made a noise as if thieves had broken in. In the morning he ‘discovered’ the theft, and sent his men to search for the thieves. When the man and his wife left in the morning, their carriage was searched, the gem discovered, and the headman of the village had the man led away and beaten to death. After the soldier died, he was reborn in hell, and during the Buddha’s time he was reborn as Mahākāla.

“By oneself is evil done; it is self-born, it is self-caused. 
Evil grinds the unwise as a diamond grinds a hard gem. (Dhammapada v 161).


Having told this story of Mahākāla’s past life, the Buddha uttered the above verse.
If you wish to erase or mitigate the effects of evil kamma done earlier in this existence, although it is too late to undo what has already been done, one can cultivate wholesome deeds and deep insight to mitigate the effects.

Evil Can Be Erased by Good

“Whoever, by a good deed, covers the evil done,
such a one illuminates this world like the moon freed from clouds.” (Dhammapada v 173)

Aṅgulimāla killed many human beings, but he later attained Arahantship and put an end to suffering. If we could at least attain the first stage of Stream-winning, we could put an end to rebirth in the lower realms.
Thanks for these posts Bhante.

What stands out to me in the story of Mahakala is the reciprocal nature of the results of kamma as laid out in MN 135: Cula-kammavibhanga Sutta. Mahakala's actions toward the soldier and his wife resulted in the soldier's death. It is likely that Mahakala knew that the soldier would be punished with death by the authorities for theft. So his intention was not only to deceive by pretending he found the jewel, but also to have the man be executed so he could take his wife. According to MN 135, one who performs the kamma of killing has a short life if born in a human state. And that's exactly what happened during his life when born in the Buddha's time. Would you agree that Mahakala's actions included the intention to kill, even though it was done indirectly through deception and proxy? edit: Having just read the other post you made today, it appears that the five factors of killing living beings were fulfilled in Mahakala's case. So I'm guessing you would agree.

At the same time, he was born in the most right place and the right time imaginable: in the area and during the lifetime of a sammasambuddha. And he heard His teachings and became a devout layperson. Clearly, much of this is the result of very good kamma performed some time in the past (MN 136: Maha Kammavibhanga Sutta). Do the texts say anything about what that good kamma was? Or more broadly, do the texts have any examples of good kamma performed that led them to be reborn in equally fortunate circumstances?
One will often find such examples in the Commentaries. For example, someone donates to a Solitary Buddha, but later regrets it. As a result he is reborn as a multi-millionaire, but is a miser so cannot enjoy his wealth.

No one only does wholesome deeds and never unwholesome deeds (and vice versa). Even the Buddha suffered some bad results of previous misdeeds when he was sick, injured by Devadatta, or threatened by the wild elephant Nālagiri.
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