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   Buddhist Writings.
The Harvard Classics.  1909–14.
 
II. The Doctrine
 
Fruitful and Barren Karma
 
1. Translated from the Anguttara-Nikya (iii. 331).
[1. FRUITFUL KARMA]
 
 
THERE are three conditions, O priests, under which deeds are produced. And what are the three? Covetousness is a condition under which deeds are produced; hatred is a condition under which deeds are produced; infatuation is a condition under which deeds are produced.  1
  When a man’s deeds, O priests, are performed through covetousness, arise from covetousness, are occasioned by covetousness, originate in covetousness, wherever his personality may be, there those deeds ripen, and wherever they ripen, there he experiences the fruition of those deeds, be it in the present life, or in some subsequent one.  2
  When a man’s deeds, O priests, are performed through hatred, … are performed through infatuation, arise from infatuation, are occasioned by infatuation, originate in infatuation, wherever his personality may be, there those deeds ripen, and wherever they ripen, there he experiences the fruition of those deeds, be it in the present life, or in some subsequent one.  3
  It is like seed, O priests, that is uninjured, undecayed, unharmed by wind or heat, and is sound, and advantageously sown in a fertile field on well-prepared soil; if then rain falls in due season, then, O priests, will that seed attain to growth, increase, and development. In exactly the same way, O priests, when a man’s deeds are performed through covetousness, arise from covetousness, are occasioned by covetousness, originate in covetousness, wherever his personality may be, there those deeds ripen, and wherever they ripen, there he experiences the fruition of those deeds, be it in the present life, or in some subsequent one; when a man’s deeds are performed through hatred, … are performed through infatuation, arise from infatuation, are occasioned by infatuation, originate in infatuation, wherever his personality may be, there those deeds ripen, and wherever they ripen, there he experiences the fruition of those deeds, be it in the present life, or in some subsequent one.  4
  These, O priests, are the three conditions under which deeds are produced.  5
 
[II. BARREN KARMA]

  There are three conditions, O priests, under which deeds are produced. And what are the three? Freedom from covetousness is a condition under which deeds are produced; freedom from hatred is a condition under which deeds are produced; freedom from in fatuation is a condition under which deeds are produced.
  6
  When a man’s deeds, O priests, are performed without covetousness, arise without covetousness, are occasioned without covetousness, originate without covetousness, then, inasmuch as covetousness is gone, those deeds are abandoned, uprooted, pulled out of the ground like a palmyra-tree, and become non-existent and not liable to spring up again in the future.  7
  When a man’s deeds, O priests, are performed without hatred, … are performed without infatuation, arise without infatuation, are occasioned without infatuation, originate without infatuation, then, inasmuch as infatuation is gone, those deeds are abandoned, uprooted, pulled out of the ground like a palmyra-tree, and become non-existent and not liable to spring up again in the future.  8
  It is like seed, O priests, that is uninjured, undecayed, unharmed by wind or heat, and is sound, and advantageously sown; if some one then burn it with fire and reduce it to soot, and having reduced it to soot were then to scatter it to the winds, or throw it into a swift-flowing river, then, O priests, will that seed be abandoned, uprooted, pulled out of the ground like a palmyra-tree, and become non-existent and not liable to spring up again in the future. In exactly the same way, O priests, when a man’s deeds are performed without covetousness, arise without covetousness, are occasioned without covetousness, originate without covetousness, then, inasmuch as covetousness is gone, those deeds are abandoned, uprooted, pulled out of the ground like a palmyra-tree, and become non-existent and not liable to spring up again in the future; when a man’s deeds are performed without hatred, … without infatuation, arise without infatuation, are occasioned without infatuation, originate without infatuation, then, inasmuch as infatuation is gone, those deeds are abandoned, uprooted, pulled out of the ground like a palmyratree, and become non-existent and not liable to spring up again in the future.  9
  These, O priests, are the three conditions under which deeds are produced.
        A wise priest knows he now must reap
The fruits of deeds of former births.
For be they many or but few,
Deeds done in cov’tousness or hate,
Or through infatuation’s power,
Must bear their needful consequence.
Hence not to cov’tousness, nor hate,
Nor to infatuation’s power
The wise priest yields, but knowledge seeks.
And leaves the way to punishment.
  10
 
2. Translated from the Anguttara-Nikya (iii. 991)

  “O priests, if any one says that a man must reap according to his deeds, in that case, O priests, there is no religious life, nor is any opportunity afforded for the entire extinction of misery. But if any one says, O priests, that the reward a man reaps accords with his deeds, in that case, O priests, there is a religious life, and opportunity is afforded for the entire extinction of misery.
  11
  “We may have the case, O priests, of an individual who does some slight deed of wickedness which brings him to hell, or, again, O priests, we may have the case of another individual who does the same slight deed of wickedness, and expiates it in the present life, though it may be in a way which appears to him not slight but grievous.  13
  “What kind of individual, O priests, is he whose slight deed of wickedness brings him to hell?—Whenever, O priests, an individual is not proficient in the management of his body, is not proficient in the precepts, is not proficient in concentration, is not proficient in wisdom, and is limited and bounded, and abides in what is finite and evil: such an individual, O priests, is he whose slight deed of wickedness brings him to hell.  14
  “What kind of individual, O priests, is he who does the same slight deed of wickedness, and expiates it in the present life, though it may be in a way which appears to him not slight but grievous?—Whenever, O priests, an individual is proficient in the management of his body, is proficient in the precepts, is proficient in concentration, is proficient in wisdom, and is not limited, nor bounded, and abides in the universal: such an individual, O priests, is he who does the same slight deed of wickedness, and expiates it in the present life, though it may be in a way which appears to him not slight but grievous.  15
  “It is as if, O priests, a man were to put a lump of salt into a small cup of water. What think ye, O priests? Would now the small amount of water in this cup be made salt and undrinkable by the lump of salt?”  16
  “Yes, Reverend Sir.”  17
  “And why?”  18
  “Because, Reverend Sir, there was but a small amount of water in the cup, and so it was made salt and undrinkable by the lump of salt.”  19
  “It is as if, O priests, a man were to throw a lump of salt into the river Ganges. What think ye, O priests? Would now the river Ganges be made salt and undrinkable by the lump of salt?”  20
  “Nay, verily, Reverend Sir.”  21
  “And why not?”  22
  “Because, Reverend Sir, the mass of water in the river Ganges is great, and so is not made salt and undrinkable by the lump of salt.”  23
  “In exactly the same way, O priests, we may have the case of an individual who does some slight deed of wickedness which brings him to hell; or, again, O priests, we may have the case of another individual who does the same slight deed of wickedness, and expiates it in the present life, though it may be in a way which appears to him not slight but grievous.  24
  [Repetition of paragraphs 3 and 4, above.]  25
  “We may have, O priests, the case of one who is cast into prison for a half-penny, for a penny, or for a hundred pence; or, again, O priests, we may have the case of one who is not cast into prison for a half-penny, for a penny, or for a hundred pence.  26
  “Who, O priests, is cast into prison for a half-penny, for a penny, or for a hundred pence?  27
  “Whenever, O priests, any one is poor, needy, and indigent: he, O priests, is cast into prison for a half-penny, for a penny, or for a hundred pence.  28
  “Who, O priests, is not cast into prison for a half-penny, for a penny, or for a hundred pence?  29
  “Whenever, O priests, any one is rich, wealthy, and affluent: he, O priests, is not cast into prison for a half-penny, for a penny, or for a hundred pence.  30
  “In exactly the same way, O priests, we may have the case of an individual who does some slight deed of wickedness which brings him to hell; or, again, O priests, we may have the case of another individual who does the same slight deed of wickedness, and expiates it in the present life, though it may be in a way which appears to him not slight but grievous.  31
  [Repetition of paragraphs3 and 4, above.]  32
  “Just as, O priests, a butcher and killer of rams will smite one man if he steal a ram, and will bind him, and burn him, and wreak his pleasure on him; and another who steals a ram, he will not attack, nor bind him, nor burn him, nor wreak his pleasure on him.  33
  “Who is he, O priests, whom a butcher and killer of rams will smite if he steal a ram, and will bind him, and burn him, and wreak his pleasure on him?  34
  “Whenever, O priests, the robber is poor, needy, and indigent: him, O priests, a butcher and killer of rams will smite if he steal a ram, and will bind him, and burn him, and wreak his pleasure on him.  35
  “Who is he, O priests, whom a butcher and killer of rams will not smite if he steal a ram, nor bind him, nor burn him, nor wreak his pleasure on him?  36
  “Whenever, O priests, the robber is rich, wealthy, and affluent, a king, or a king’s minister: him, O priests, a butcher and killer of rams will not smite if he steal a ram, nor bind him, nor burn him, nor wreak his pleasure on him. On the contrary, he will stretch out his joined palms, and make supplication, saying, ‘Sir, give me the ram, or the price of the ram.’  37
  “In exactly the same way, O priests, we may have the case of an individual who does some slight deed of wickedness which brings him to hell; or again, O priests, we may have the case of another individual who does the same slight deed of wickedness, and expiates it in the present life, though it may be in a way which appears to him not slight but grievous.  38
  [Repetition of paragraphs 3 and 4, above.]  39
  “O priests, if any one were to say that a man must reap according to his deeds, in that case, O priests, there is no religious life, nor is any opportunity afforded for the entire extinction of misery. But if any one says, O priests, that the reward a man reaps accords with his deeds, in that case, O priests, there is a religious life, and opportunity is afforded for the entire extinction of misery.”  40
 

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