TODAY -

An overview of the Buddha's teachings on kamma (karmma)

Thangjam Sanjoo Singh *

 A Buddhist Temple at Tamu , Myanmar in 2014
A Buddhist Temple at Tamu , Myanmar in 2014 :: Pix - WT



What is 'Kamma' and what does it have to do with Awakening? Well, as a word, 'Kamma' is the Pali language version of the Sanskrit term 'Karma' which has split into colloquial English as meaning something like a person's fate or destiny. Taken in this way, the notion can support a passive acceptance of circumstances: if something goes wrong, one can say 'it was my Kamma' meaning that it had to happen. Where the idea really go astray is when it is used to condone actions, as in 'it's my kamma to be a thief.'

If kamma meant this, it would rob us of responsibility for our lives. Furthermore, there would be no way in which we could guide ourselves out of our circumstances or past history: which is what Awakening is about. However , 'kamma' in the way the Buddha taught, it means skillful or unskillful action – something that we do now, it is the active aspect of a cause and effect process known as kamma-vipaka, in which vipaka or 'old kamma' means the effect, the result of previous actions. And, for the most part, we bound up with the results of our action.

However, as 'action,' kamma supports choice. We can choose what actions we undertake. Cause and effect governs the activities of volcanoes, plants and planetary systems, but karma relates specifically to beings who can exercise choice over what they cause – which means you and me. Also, not everything that we experience is because of past kamma (other than that of being born).' So if you are sick or caught up in an earthquake, it is not necessarily because of you did bad things in a previous life. Instead, kamma means centers on your current intention or 'violation'.

The teachings of kamma therefore encourage a sense of responsibility for action; the responsibility to give attention to the many conscious and half-conscious choices we make in terms of what we do. What this means is that in this present moment we do have a choice as to how the future pans out: whether we will feel joyful and at ease with ourselves, or anxious and depressed depends on our actions now. And similarly, through our actions now, we can be liberated from the past, present and future. That is what Awakening to kamma brings about.

Bodily, Verbal And Mental Kamma

' Kamma means 'action' in more than physical sense ; it also includes verbal action – whether we insult and yell at people , or say truthful and reliable things and that includes the 'internal speech' of thinking ! But actually the kamma of our emotive responses – 'mental' (or heart) kamma – is the strongest. Responses – and the inclinations that they are based upon – govern the actions of body and speech and also engender results in the domain of emotions, attitudes, and mind states.

Similarly, we do only things physically or verbally because of convictions, assumptions, interpretation and attitudes – mind. By itself, the body does neither good nor evil; these ethical qualities are rooted in the mind that initiates the physical deed. It is the same with speech and thought: language is neutral – it is the kindness or malice of the mind using the language and concepts that brings fortunate or unfortunate results.

Considering kamma in this light motivates us to clear the mind of ill-will or greed because these lead to verbal and physical actions that leave an unpleasant tone: they endanger harshness and grasping and demanding – and later on worry, regret, and doubt. On the other hand, actions and thoughts based on compassion give the mind clarity and warmth. Hence the teachings on cause and effect: they associated with any action.

As our actions bring conflict or harmony into the context within which we live, taking hold of kamma allows us to have a positive effect on the world around us. Understanding kamma then also offer us the significant realization that our own well-being is not separate from how we act towards others.

The Dynamics Of Kamma

The law of kamma is that an effect or result cause is inevitable from an active cause. If I curse and abuse someone today, the effect of that is that they get hurt – and that means that they are probably going to be unpleasant towards me in the future. It is also likely that that action will have immediate effects in my own mind: agitation and remorse. Or, it may be that I get accustomed to acting in that way: so I continue to act abusively, develop and insensitive mind and lose friends.

So effects accrue both in terms of state of mind ( offence and remorse) and also behavioral structures ( a pattern or program of being loud-mouthed or self-centered ) the really problematic stuff is the ongoing programs, formations,' or , in Buddhist language, sankhara. These behavior patterns become part of our identity, and because we don't see past our own ingrained habits, these patterns and programs sustain the rolling-on, or samsara, of cause and effect.

It is important then if we want to get free, to get a hold on how we are operating. And it is possible, because the kamma-vipaka process forms feedback loops of mental feelings of stress or agitation or ease that we can contemplate and consider. Moreover we can response in different ways to the results of our actions – so each effect does not inevitably endanger a corresponding cause. Here is the choice: I can pause, come out of the mind-state of irritation or recklessness, and give it due consideration and try to do better in the future.That is the first step towards liberation.

The teaching on kamma is most readily accessible in the context of external behavior. The Buddha saw that clarity in regard to behavior offers a pragmatic way in which suffering and stress can be avoided, and peace, trust and clarity generated. Hence in spoke of dark karma – actions such as murder, theft, falsehood and sexual abuse that lead to bad results, and bright kamma and dark kamma – actions which have some good intentions in them, but are carried out unskillfully. An example of this would be having the aim to protect and care for one's family but carrying that out in a way which abuses one's neighbor.

Kamma is also dynamic – we act according to input and as we receive the feedback of agreeable or disagreeable results, that moderates our further actions. However as some feedbacks doesn't occur immediately, and may even take years to occur, aspects of the feedback loop are chaotic. This means that our rate of learning doesn't necessary keep up with the rate at which we can commit further action. We were blithely polluting the atmosphere for decades before it became clearwhat was going on; by which time other actions had taken place – establishing industries and lifestyles depending on unsustainable resources – that make it difficult to bring it about change.

This point is significant: it encourages us to put effort into clarifying awareness of the mind and its impulses. We need to investigate our minds and mental programs more thoroughly and more often. Then it is possible to interrupt the feedback loop with input that arrests or moderates our impulses. This input is the kamma that leads to the end of kamma, and it is the hinge-point of the Buddha's teachings. In it is deepest fulfillment it can lead not justto changes in behavior but to complete liberation.


* Thangjam Sanjoo Singh wrote this article for Imphal Times and The Sangai Express
The writer is a lay Buddhist and a Vocalist of a Rock Band called ‘No Name’.
This article was posted on 31 October, 2018 .


* Comments posted by users in this discussion thread and other parts of this site are opinions of the individuals posting them (whose user ID is displayed alongside) and not the views of e-pao.net. We strongly recommend that users exercise responsibility, sensitivity and caution over language while writing your opinions which will be seen and read by other users. Please read a complete Guideline on using comments on this website.




LATEST IN E-PAO.NET
  • Dzukou Valley, Senapati : Gallery
  • Chiraikangja, Apaibi :: eMing
  • Demand for ILP :: Articles/Photos...
  • Rules of the Road at Silicon Valley
  • What is a school meant for ?
  • Why meiteis should not be ST #3
  • Release Thokchom Veewom - II
  • Release Thokchom Veewom - I
  • Face scrubs to avoid dirt & dullness
  • SM4E Awards 2019 : Nomination open
  • After effect of CAB collapse
  • Need to look beyond CAB
  • Panel seeks support to save NH
  • Amuktang-Ga Haikho #2 : eRang
  • Exam Centre allocation for HSLC 2019
  • 3rd World Bamboo Workshop #2 : Gallery
  • Cry of a Dying River - 65 :: Poem
  • DIPR facts on Census confuse Pangals
  • Manipur Tourism: Global Mice Congress
  • Coping up with examination stresses
  • On Govt inability to present CAB
  • Breather for the North East
  • Henjunaha #2 :: Funga Wari
  • Sangai Chef: Season 1 : Gallery
  • CAB: Imphal I/W [12 Feb] #2: Gallery
  • Lui-Ngai-Ni -Naga Seed Sowing Fest
  • Inner Line Permit (ILP) Demand :: Timeline
  • Different opinions on CAB 2016
  • Change of B Voc Examination Schedule
  • Nagaland MP will vote against CAB
  • Overshadowing issues by CAB
  • RS adjourned till February 13
  • CAB: Imphal I/W [12 Feb] #1: Gallery
  • CAB: Blockade [7 Feb] #2: Gallery
  • Keisham Priyokumar's short stories? #1
  • Just a beautiful lie :: Poem
  • World Wetlands Day 2019
  • Protests against Union HRD Ministry
  • 'PDA trying to confuse Naga people'
  • The 'ban' of Internet
  • Setting date with February 12, 2019
  • NSCN (I-M) elects new leaders
  • Scientific Knowledge in Manuscript
  • Poppy destruction @CCpur : Gallery
  • Kishorechand Wangkhem's case
  • 70th Indian Republic Day #3 : Gallery
  • Hinduism and Indianess
  • CAB: Maharaj & Xenophobia :: WJ
  • Deciphering a laboratory test report
  • Stop discrimination against women
  • The falls of protracted leader
  • More than hinting CAB will be tabled
  • CAB: Khwairamband [10 Feb] #1: Gallery
  • Gaan-Ngai @Majorkhul #2 : Gallery
  • Human trafficking at Moreh
  • Why meiteis should not be ST #2
  • The Dark Light :: Poem
  • Exclusion of Pvt Teachers from HSLC
  • Pan Meetei met Ex Dy CM
  • NSS special camp 2019 concluded
  • NE to Bangkok flight from March
  • CAB: Khwairamband [9 Feb] : Gallery
  • Thamoise Foidattuna :: e-pao Radio
  • CAB Meira Rally #4 [30 Jan] : Gallery
  • Prof T Kameshwar: Reminiscence
  • Bamboo Cooking Competition: Final Day
  • Tips for healthier skin this winter
  • Sincerity matters
  • Awaiting final pact with NSCN (IM)
  • CAB: Blockade [7 Feb] #1: Gallery
  • 3rd World Bamboo Workshop #1 : Gallery
  • The panic radiated at War-Torn PAD
  • NE- Socio-Economic Development: Book
  • CAB- Consequences in Manipur
  • [ST] Demand for Constitutional Safeguard
  • 'ArP to observe Black Day during PM visit'
  • CAB date with RS on Feb 12 ?
  • Check Post (ICP) @ Moreh : Gallery
  • Tribes India [Exhibition] #2 : Gallery
  • Citizenship Bill, 2016: What to do now #4
  • It's a privilege to be a Rongmei
  • A Saviour Of My Own :: Poem
  • North East Startup Summit 2019
  • Budget : Full, half or quarter ?
  • BJP shows no concern for NE states
  • Mission schools under threat again
  • CAB : Blockade @Tiddim [6 Feb] : Gallery
  • Dolaithabi Barrage: Concealing Facts
  • 70th Indian Republic Day #2 : Gallery
  • Marketing Associates @ PiCiDi Systems
  • CAB, Political Parties and Manipur
  • The Novels Of BM Maisnamba #2
  • Employment in non-Govt sectors in Manipur
  • The board exam festival
  • Naga Peace Process :: News Timeline
  • NE voice on CAB: no worry for the BJP
  • Alienating natives & embracing foreigners
  • Henjunaha #1 :: Funga Wari
  • CAB Gen Strike #2 [31 Jan] : Gallery
  • Movement against Citizenship Bill in NE
  • Bamboo Cooking Competition: Day 1 Report
  • A girl with a Bicycle :: Poem
  • Mithun (Sandang) Mela at Machi
  • Disrespect to mother earth
  • Significance of MANPAC
  • Konthoujam Maikel (Painter) :: Profile
  • CAB Meira Rally #3 [30 Jan] : Gallery
  • Business as usual will fail on cancer control
  • Citizenship Bill: Thinking with ethics
  • STDCM reasserts Demand for ST
  • NE Pol parties met Union Home Minister
  • Free Heart Screening at Jiribam & Silchar
  • The ultimate showdown
  • Nepal to SE Asia: Trafficking via Moreh
  • Symbolism in the Tribal Art #2
  • Aribam Syam return Padmashree to Govt
  • Literature review
  • CAB : An Adhesive for Integrity of Manipur
  • Cry of a Dying River - 64 :: Poem
  • Impact of AI and Robotics on Society
  • New MSAD Executive term 2019
  • Rejoinder from Shurhozelie Liezietsu -Feb 3
  • Festival to promote NE trade, tourism
  • Onetwo Okram : Singer- Profile :: eRang
  • CAB : Film Forum Protest : Gallery
  • Cultural: Republic Day #1: Gallery
  • Why Manipuri people oppose CAB? #2
  • Antibiotic Consumption by farm animals
  • The Beauty of the Sunset :: Poem
  • Coordinator of Social Media for Congress
  • Rejoinder to NDPP [Feb 2]
  • Non presentation of CAB at RS is an insult
  • Noting anti-CAB stand of NPP, NPF
  • CAB Gen Strike #1 [31 Jan] : Gallery
  • Match: 4th Women's Polo #3: Gallery
  • Citizenship Bill, 2016: What to do now #3
  • Truth of Manipur is inherent in nature
  • Chola Pass & Chola Range in Sikkim
  • JRF required at IBSD, Imphal
  • NPF disclosure on Citizenship Bill
  • Viral audio which confuse people
  • CAB indication from President
  • Imoinu Erat Thouni #3 : Gallery
  • February Calendar for Year 2019 :: Tools
  • CAB Meira Rally #2 [30 Jan] : Gallery
  • The Novels Of BM Maisnamba #1
  • Screen time, effect on speech & language
  • Trainees Certificate of Lunglei, Mizoram
  • ST: Unfounded fear psychosis being spread
  • Join the people, brother/sisters of state BJP
  • CAB : The rallying point for NE
  • CAB Meira Rally #1 [30 Jan] : Gallery
  • CAB Protest #1 [29 Jan] : Gallery
  • NE Railway's Work & fate of Villages
  • Fellowship Meet of Maring Naga
  • Legal Awareness for Women leaders
  • Flowers for beauty
  • Opposing ST demand of STDCM
  • Gaan-Ngai @Namthanlong : Gallery
  • Why Manipuri people oppose CAB? #1
  • Citizenship Bill, 2016: What to do now #2
  • Oinam Shilla : Society Development Award
  • Let this year be your year
  • Release Journalist Keshore Wangkhem
  • Bill haunt NE today, may haunt BJP tomm
  • Staying away from all parties meet
  • Taking the Street Vendor seriously #2
  • CAB Protest #2 [21 Jan] : Gallery
  • I'm sorry :: Poem
  • Self-development
  • Time to Reshape Reservation Policy
  • Sikandra, where Akbar the Great rests
  • Wise rulers listens kingmakers
  • Understanding National Voters' Day
  • 70th Indian Republic Day #1 : Gallery
  • Agri Fair @ CAU #1 : Gallery
  • MIK (Manipuri in Kolkata) : Gallery
  • Of Manipuri marriages & Swasti Pujas
  • 2nd AMAND Blood Donation Camp at Pune
  • NSUD : on call centre scam at Noida
  • The Banyan :: EI
  • Match: 4th Women's Polo #2: Gallery
  • Why shouldn't Meitei be included in ST
  • Some lessons from Ramayan
  • Republic Day celebrated across North East
  • Mizo Gov addresses RDay in empty ground
  • On the arrest of Gen Sec of RSF
  • International exposure via business
  • Kitchen Ingredients- can be used on skin
  • Republic Day at Loktak Power Station
  • 'A slap in the face for PDA government'
  • No final solution yet in sight !!
  • Combing Operation @Hatta : Gallery
  • Laishram Bombayla : Padma Shri Award
  • Female sex tourism: Sociological study
  • Imphal Declaration: Pan Meetei Convention
  • RPL trainees of Damparengui, Mizoram
  • Is the country listening ?
  • Yet another boycott call of R-Day
  • Maisnam Renuka (Painter) : Profile
  • Thank You Note: Khumukcham Sanjita
  • Gaan-Ngai - festival of Kabui #2
  • Imoinu Erat Thouni #2 : Gallery
  • Rongmei and Kabui are one
  • Rani Khidir : Kalaritu (Laiyekpa) : Profile
  • 11 in line for Congress ticket
  • Gaan-Ngai @Majorkhul #1 : Gallery
  • Eyek Tamba :: Learn Manipuri script
  • Match: 4th Women's Polo #1: Gallery
  • CAB Protest [17 Jan] : Gallery
  • Ranjit Ningthouja : Profile of a playwright
  • Imoinu Erat Thouni #1 : Gallery
  • Dr Thokchom Asha: Teacher Award
  • Purnima Ngangom (Printmaker) :: Profile
  • The Killing Fields 2013-18 : News Timeline
  • New Year picnic at Sekmai #2: Gallery
  • WWII museums in Japan: Gallery
  • Manipuri Calendar for 2019 : Download
  • Featured Front Page Photo 2018 #6: Gallery
  • Irengbam Bedamani - Actress :: eRang
  • List of Restricted Holidays for 2019
  • List of Public Holidays for 2019
  • List of General Holidays for 2019
  • Fabrics of Bangladeshi Manipuri: Download
  • Old Manipuri Movie #1 :: eRang Classic
  • SPONSORED ADS