Friday, March 5, 2010

The Kamma And Dhamma Of Killing Bed Bugs

(A) According to the Buddha, kamma is the intention (cetana) behind our physical, verbal and psychological actions (A.III,415). In other words, kamma is primarily how we use our mind and the effects it has. It is not some sort of force outside ourselves that decides what action will have what reaction. (B) There are positive, negative and mixed (vitimissa, sometimes ‘partly a dark partly bright’, kanhasukka; M.I,318; 389) actions which must be such because the intentions behind them are correspondingly positive, negative or mixed. Even in ordinary parlance we speak of being in ‘two minds’ about or ‘having mixed feelings’ about something. Each of these types of actions will of course have a corresponding positive, negative or mixed vipaka.
(C) Although the mind is a subtle and complex phenomena and its workings are difficult to plumb, the doctrine of kamma is all too often presented in the most naive and simplistic terms. For example, one often hears people say ‘If you kill you will...(fill in the gap – be killed in your next life, be reborn as a worm, go to hell, etc.).Interestingly, although not surprisingly, the Buddha criticized such generalizations.

(D) ‘If anyone were to say that just as a person does a deed, so is his experience is determined by it, and if this were true, then living the holy life would not be possible, there would be no opportunity for the overcoming of suffering. But if anyone were to say that a person does a deed that is to be experienced, so does he experience it, then living the holy life would be possible, there would be an opportunity for the ending of suffering. For instance, a small evil deed done by one person may be experienced here in this life or perhaps not at all. Now, what sort of person commits a small evil that takes him to hell? Take a person who is careless in the development of body, speech and mind. He has not developed wisdom, he is insignificant, he has not developed himself, his life is restricted, and he is miserable. Even a small evil deed may bring such a person to hell. Now, take the person who is careful in development of body, speech and mind, He has developed wisdom, he is not insignificant, he has developed himself, his life is unrestricted and he is immeasurable. For such a person, a small evil deed may be experienced here or perhaps not at all. Suppose someone throws a grain of salt into a little cup of water. That water would be undrinkable. And why? Because the amount of water is small. Now, suppose throws a grain salt in River Ganges. That water would not be undrinkable. And why? Because the amount of water is great’ (A.I,249).

(E) So let’s say, Mr. X kills a friend during an argument that gets out of hand, and you say ‘He will have a negative rebirth.’ Such a statement assumes several things. (1) That what Mr. X did during the (let’s say) 19 minutes of the violent and ultimately lethal argument, will completely overwhelm and cancel out everything else he did during the other (let’s say) 68 years of his life; and (2) that his murderous act will have absolutely no effect on him in this life, only in his next life. Both these assumptions are highly doubtful. Mr. X may have been a caring and compassionate social worker, he may have been a thug and a bully. Surely what he was like and how he behaved during his whole life would have some impact on the intensity of the vipaka he will experience as a result of his murder! If he was a caring and compassionate person the vipaka from that may well dilute the vipaka from his murder. And when we speak of vipaka, why do we always insist that this must manifest only in the next life? Perhaps Mr. X feels a deep and painful remorse for his behaviour and that he spends 15 years in prison because of it. If so, this would be the vipaka for the murder he committed. In fact, it may well be that by the time Mr. X passes away his subsequent remorse and contrition and the good deeds he does after the murder, exhausts the negative vipaka he had generated.
(F) So I maintain that the usual mechanistic and simplistic understanding of kamma does not take into account the complex and multi-faceted phenomena that is human intentions, human behaviour and human consciousness. Perhaps this is the reason why the Buddha mildly rebuked those who confidently and glibly proclaimed which good or bad act would have which vipaka. When the Buddha heard that Migasala was proclaiming that a certain deceased person had been reborn in a certain place because of their kamma he said, ‘Who is this Migasala...to know the complexity of the human character?’ (A.III,351). Purisapuggalaparopariyanana is a difficult compound but the translation ‘the complexity of the human character’ does, I think, capture its general meaning.
(G) One other point relevant to the ‘killing bed bugs’ issue. I know of no place where the Buddha makes a distinction between killing, i.e. between species (human and animal), between the size of the victim (cow and ant) or between intention in killing (self-defence and hunting for pleasure). However, the Vinaya makes one such distinction, considering murder an offence so serious as to require permanent expulsion from the Sangha (Parajika 3), while killing an animal is a far less serious offence (Pacittiya 62), on a par with insulting someone, idle chatter and having a non-regulation size sitting mat. This distinction is probably based on the idea that the intentions behind killing a fellow human would be markedly stronger and more intense than those behind killing an animal. Each of us has probably noticed that we differently about the death of a person, the death of a warm blooded animal and that of an insect. Likewise we probably notice a difference in how we felt if we were to kill a chicken and an ant. These feeling must be partly socially conditioned but whatever their cause they do affect our minds differently and therefore have different vipaka. I am not stating this as a fact but only as a possible explanation for the Vinaya’s (and most peoples’) distinction between killing a human and an animal.
(H) I will continue this examination tomorrow. If you have any comments which include some of the theoretical and complex ideas about the different types of kamma, please distinguish between (1) the Buddha’s words from the Tipitaka, (2) concepts from the Abhidhamma Pitaka and (3) concepts from later medieval abhidhamma literature.

25 comments:

Gui Do said...

Distinguishing what comes from where is a bit hard for me, I am not a scholastic. But the idea that self-defence is different from hunting for pleasure would - in zen - stem from the way we attach. Self-defence can be a momentarily thing and totally unplanned whereas the hunting, esp. when for pleasure, would be planned and probably derive from (or create) some kind of attachment.

A.I,249, the analogy with the salt in the water, doesn't help me much. How many lives may someone like Hitler or Pinochet than order to take, just because he is a nice family man or he only had "good intentions" on the long run or whatever? I also don't see that caring for your own family of, let's say half a dozen people, makes up for the serial killing of 20 women or so, we all read of cases like such. Furthermore we all know people who, judging from this life, have done a lot of good and not anything remarkably bad, but are struck by cancer at early age or the like. So there is just a grain of salt in a wide ocean for them - but then an earthquake strikes. That karma which they can't control and which might really make their other - cetana-based - karma look like insignificant.

Also, when speaking of cetana, the will, and when we clearly see that karma is created in the mind, we also detect that it is dissolved in the mind. That is why certain strains of that "mixed" karma don't arise when the mind is not mixed up about the deed. E.g., when there is no ill-will and no tribunal within you, how could even the thought of some "mixed" follow-up reaction arise in your mind?

Aaron said...

"Furthermore we all know people who, judging from this life, have done a lot of good and not anything remarkably bad, but are struck by cancer at early age or the like. So there is just a grain of salt in a wide ocean for them - but then an earthquake strikes. "

I'm going to respond to this point, and I think Bhante Dhammika would agree my point, that is, natural causes such as illness or natural disasters are NOT the result of kamma as taught by the Buddha, so please don't discuss kamma and natural causes of unpleasant things as one.

Finally, reading all the discussion that has been going on with regards to Bhante Dhammika's recent entries on killing bedbugs, I can't help but get the feeling that most of these folks are mixing things up. I'm not saying that the mix-up or confusion is bad or wrong, but as Bhante Dhammika hinted, many of the ideas and concepts that has been discussed so far are NOT the words of the Buddha but the ideas of people who came after the Buddha.

Gui Do said...

Well Aaron, then - what is? The worst suffering I know of is physical pain. I saw people in endless physical pain, i.e. it ended only with death. It was unavoidable. For the pain of one's soul sometimes there might also be no way out, but chances are better.

If cause and effect are not involved in physical pain, how comes that when you drink a bottle of acid, you will surely be in pain? Actually, I know that the "disaster" karma that strikes is not the one that you can influence by cetana, but it might very well be the one with the stronger impact. Don't forget that the Buddha included physical pain in his definition of "suffering". So when what I say comes after his words, it is because I found that out myself. Call me a kalamer.

Noonshyne said...

" Each of us has probably noticed that we differently about the death of a person, the death of a warm blooded animal and that of an insect. Likewise we probably notice a difference in how we felt if we were to kill a chicken and an ant."

This does not even begin to discuss "killing by proxy", where someone else causes death to some fauna for our benefit. For example, the cotton farmer must plow his field, spray for weevils and defoliate at harvest. These actions no doubt cause the death, directly or indirectly, of worms, mice, snakes, birds, etc. But I am wearing a cotton shirt, shorts and socks right now.

Shravasti Dhammika said...

Earthquakes, storms, epidemics, accidents, etc, have nothing to do with kamma. They do have a cause or causes but it is not a psychological one. Kamma is how we react to things (other people, frustrations, earthquakes, acts of kindness, etc). Each of our reactions will to a greater or lesser extent be conditioned by our individual psychological makeup (i.e. our former reactions) which will in turn condition how we will react to things that happen in the future. That is kamma. By making an effort (intending, cetana) to modify our reactions we can gradually change our kamma and consequently our vipaka.
I did not ‘even begin to discuss killing by proxy’ because as you may have noticed, the whole point of my post was to address the question ‘can killing things like insects sometimes be justified’ which I will conclude tomorrow. Unless we stay focused on this one issue the discourse might become lost in the complications of side issues.

Gui Do said...

Well, then what about the cancer example I spoke of, induced by mistakes in nutrition (let's exclude genetically induced cancer) - even if one doesn't know of them? It is suffering, it works by cause and effect, one may be responsible for it, and I'd still call it a disaster karma because it is not always possible to avoid it, either due to knowledge or non-knowledge. Actually, if you don't consider this karma, it might still trump the cetana karma, meaning whatever you willingly do or not do, even if you don't create cetana karma, this kind of suffering might just catch you. In other words, it is the stronger force and doesn't care much about one's will. Besides, physical pain could not be included in the definition of suffering by the Buddha if it would not also be part of karma. Even when this pain comes from epidemics etc., it is suffering and therefore one would have to state that there actually is a kind of suffering that the Dharma has no solution for.

Shravasti Dhammika said...

Dear Gui Do
The Buddha put this question. An ordinary person and an enlightened person can both be struck by an arrow, so what is the difference between them? He answered like this. The ordinary person feels the pain of the arrow and then weeps, wails cries and laments. He is in a sense shot with two arrows. The enlightened person feels the pain of the arrow but does not weep, wail, cry or lament. He only feels the pain of the one arrow. Cancer may bring with it physical pain. This is the luck of the draw. How I react to the cancer is my kamma. If I curse myself for having smoked, if I bitterly say ‘Why me and not them!’, if I am filled with regret, if I am terrified of dying, etc, that is my kamma and the suffering I inflict on myself by all this is my vipaka.
Consider. What makes any particular event or characteristic ‘good’ or ‘bad’? Surely it’s whether we like and welcome it or not. If I was a woman in western Africa and I was seriously overweight I would be very happy and consider myself lucky (apparently feminine obesity is a sign of beauty in that part of the world). If I also happened to be an uninformed Buddhist I might say I had really ‘good kamma’. If I were a woman living in the US and I was equally obese I might be very frustrated and unhappy and consider that I had really ‘bad kamma’. So I reinterate my point – getting cancer, winning the lottery, tripping on the doorstep, being handsome, etc, have nothing to do with kamma. Kamma is how we react to what happens to us.

Tazzie said...

Well said Bhante and Aaron in reply to GuiDo. It's a common misconception about Kamma/Vipaka.
The most elementary explanations of Buddhism say that we will experience old age, Sickness( the common cold, cancer, bubonic plague etc etc) and death, in spite how we conduct our lives, simply because we have been born into conditioned existence. The whole reason we practice the Noble 8 Fold Path is to escape from conditioned existence. Then it ca'nt happen again. It may just(may Just?) be possible to avoid certain illnesses by following certain dietary regimes, or by being vaccinated etc but sooner or later, if we don't die suddenly beforehand, an illness will take hold of our conditioned bodies and minds. Whether we die from an illness or not is secondary to how we deal with it emotionally and psychologically. The only way a gambler at the betting table can avoid the possibility of losing his winnings, or not winning at all,is to get up and leave the betting table and not come back to it.

Ranger said...

As for being involved in killing anything, as opposed to the level of non-involvement in using things from critters killed by others, e.g. shoes, food, clothing, then it is not skilful action, unless one has no choice in the matter to keep one's self and family alive, e.g. fishing, hunting, self defence.

Without criticizing the bed bug case, skilful action would involve catching them and throwing them away, blocking off their source of entry, blocking off their water source (all critters need water) and generally trying to trap them or set up a chemical line of defense. Squishing anything is generally the unskilful way and does not usually solve the problem.

As for karma, then it obviously involves intent, and like robbing a bank, you can justify it whatever way you like once you are rich but the intent remains as karma.

I have never met bed bugs (your karma and not mine perhaps) but I have met many roaches. Obviously the freak-out factor is a key element in determining the degree of intent. If you meet countryside roaches, they appear as just another insect critter, light brown in color, nothing sinister.

However, the drain living critters that one finds in urban landscapes are something else, dark brown stained bodies and much bigger in size due to eating all that ....

I have witnessed people's reactions to such critters and the freak-out factor is directly related to the intent involved in ceasing their existence. I personally don't have any such reaction, and on the odd occasion when they do stray into my abode then I catch them with a damp cloth and put them outside.

My principal concern is that they don't pay any rent and are uninvited guests, who, given the opportunity, tend to freak out my invited guests, but if they strolled into my house with a hundred dollar bill stuck to their backs occasionally then I would probably be open to telepathic negotiation for a place to hang out, water, and some food scraps.

I suspect that due to past experience the freak-out factor concerning these bed bugs influences your decision making. I will give you credit for actually coming out and revealing this situation, as for a monk in this day and age you are likely to be regarded as an untouchable even for insignificant acts like touching money.

I wouldn't know of the exact solution as I am not aware of all the details, nor the predictable habits of the critters concerned. However, all critters are predictable and skilful action is generally to use this predictability in solving the problem.

I wouldn't be too concerned about the karma created but would think of it rather as a test of finding the right solution.

yuri said...

That bedbug story has grown into a kind of collective bedbug epic. I suggest one interesting consideration. Imagine what the whole world would be like if all people living in it are dogmatic Buddhists fearing bad kamma and loving and not harming any living being — even black plague bacillae, cancer cells and swine-flu viruses. Why fear bad kamma and possible trip to hell — the hell would be all around... The answer? Really not reading books and suttas but meditating and then if killing insects would disturb you — don't kill them. If they disturb you more than your remorse will — do them in... Jus kiddin! :)

wizwman said...

Perhaps Bhante should have called in the pest control fellas to do the killing. Then the karma he incurs should not be more than taking a meal of meat or more accurately, fried bugs. In both cases the killing is delegated.

Gui Do said...

Of course I know the arrow analogy. But it doesn't always work. In extreme pain, people wail. It may only partly have to do with your kamma, there seem to be certain limits to withstand weeping and wailing. Maybe this ideal of "being tough" - in the sense of relaxed and calm - stems from the exercises of the brahmin tradition. I always here that as an argument: Have you never heard of the yogis who can do this and that? Yes, and with their role model humankind would be extinct. Certain buddhist masters who died for example of pancreas cancer, one of the most painful forms, just wept, from what I read. What's so bad about it? It seems to be just adequate.

I wanted to show this illogic point. First, dukkha includes pain: "Sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief, & despair are dukkha." Pain is physical, too, see e.g. the back-pain of Buddha etc. (http://www.accesstoinsight.org/ptf/dhamma/sacca/sacca1/dukkha.html).

Second, if physcial pain is not part of kamma, one might easily ask, why un-satisfaction as a mental or "soul pain" or sorrow should be. As we know today, states of the mind and emotion are linked to physical events, e.g. depression and a "wrong" outlook on life can be caused physically by a lack of serotonin etc. As well as cancer might be caused mentally (for example stomach cancer on the long run through a lot of swallowed anger). I really believe that life is more complex than this kamma theory - and the arrow analogy. Although I welcome when you underline that physical pain can usually not be overcome by the Buddhist path (or the right cetana kamma), I believe that it is written differently - because physical pain is one form of dukkha and the Buddhist path is about overcoming dukkha - and therefore the wrong expectations of Buddhists arise. If I'd say: Sickness, ageing and death are suffering and I know a way to overcome suffering, what would people expect? Not to get sick, not to age and not to die, of course. Therefore naturally a Medicine Buddha and Buddhist schools with a rebirth theory came up, and I recently read about a zen master who said he was not afraid of flying, he had more power than any terrorist. This misconception might have its roots exactly there.

Another point - and that is why I discuss it in this bug thread - is, that when physical pain is excluded from the kamma theory (on which I'd agree), it is only logic to say that inflicting suffering on an animal by killing it - which is mainly inflicting a momentary pain - could not create any kamma by that reason, just because it would not create the said suffering (a kind of suffering linked to kamma). If one then argues, the point is NOT the suffering of the animal but the fact that killing it is defined as creating bad cetana kamma, then the argument stands, that it wouldn't matter for the animal, only for oneself. But then, the word metta wouldn't make sense for avoiding the killing. It is more like egotism.

I have my own theory of the Pali canon. Because it was written or first told by a non-homogenic group of people, there have to be inconsistencies which only popped out over the cause of time. If I had to rewrite the Four Noble Truths, I could for example state: Aging, (I am not so sure about birth, think it doesn't matter to most people), sickness and dying are suffering - but I can't change that. CONSIDERING it suffering creates another subjective form of suffering - and I may have a cure for that. As a lecturer I would have changed a couple of sentences in the Noble Truths to make more sense.

yuri said...

Dear Gui Do, if we start rewriting Tipitaka we would be writing our own scriptures. But I have no doubt that there are distortions in Tipitaka of the original teaching and of stories about the Buddha. One such is Ananda's lament that he failed to respond to the Buddha's hint that if requested the Buddha could stay in the world longer. To me it is a literary invention. Still we can express our opinions about some parts of Tipitaka but rewriting it would only confuse Buddhists more.
I believe the Buddha did not promise liberation from suffering in this samsaric world. But easing physical pain by removing its mental aspect is possible. Last year I had acute pain because of a stone in one of my kidneys. And the pain was more bearable as I was not mentally involved in experiencing it. So the double arrow simile makes sense to me.
As to the bedbugs — it is not really a great problem for lay people. For monks yes, but I am not a monk to offer suggestions. With all that I find S.Dhammika's attitude to the matter quite reasonable.

Tazzie said...

One last thought from me at least, on this subject,alas without any specific references from the Pali Canon, heartfelt nonetheless! All this moral and ethical hairsplitting often causes us to lose sight of the guidelines offered by The Lord Buddha, ie the five precepts for lay men and lay women and The Noble Eightfold Path itself. This continual 'guilt by association', over analysis of the degrees of culpability in ever more diverse applications beyond our direct control, in my view at least tends to render the Noble Eightfold Path as unworkable. But of course we know that The Buddha suggested this Middle Way as a solution for our existential confusion and subsequent suffering because it was indeed able to be followed.. To put it another way, I have never believed that in his line of duty if some soldier from my country, kills another person(S) somewhere overseas or wherever, that I am responsible in some convoluted or remote way. I do not believe that this can compromise my ability to follow the Buddha's prescriptive solution for release from suffering. If I am that soldier then thats another matter. This is not to say that analysis is unwelcome, but if it leads to inaction through confusion and an 'Its all too hard'
outcome then it is not helpful to the aspiring Buddhist especially. The 5 precepts and The Middle way are about my actions and intentions as they directly affect the environment, others and my mind here and now, not some sort of unending set of hypotheticals.

Aaron said...

Gui Do,

It seems to me that you are trying to use your definition of kamma to explain everything. I think Bhante Dhammika has patently made it clear that kamma, as taught by the Buddha, is related to the mind and only the mind, and this is the boundary of discussion. If you have an alternative idea to explain why people get cancer or suffer from natural catastrophes that is outside of what mainstream science has to say, then please do not call that alternative idea kamma so as to avoid confusing people who do not know better.

I mean no offense, but the way you are responding reminds me of the parable of the arrow as mentioned by Bhante Dhammika. There's no need for all these hair splitting discussion because they distract us needlessly. Frankly speaking, a true Buddhist could care less whether he's receiving "retribution", whether he gets flu or cancer, or whether he will be born as a deva or as a dog next life. All these are not important. What's important is that life in the samsara is vastly imperfect, and the way to navigate the imperfections of the samsara is through the directions given by the Buddha who has been there, done that.

I sincerely advise you to avoid overindulging in hair splitting thoughts and spend the time to do better things that will generate more positive vipaka for yourself and the people around you. :)

yuri said...

Dear Aaron, I feel your comment is a bit rough, but I understand your views and mostly support them. I no longer rely too much on what the Scriptures say or what any teacher says (even the Buddha), but mostly on my own meditational experience. There is some problem in the Buddhist literature concerning dhamma. If we take Dhammapada we can interpret some of its verses as supporting mystical approach to it. And the Buddha is reported to say that kamma is extremely complicated and hardly comprehensible phenomenon, which, I am afraid, gives room to its mystical interpretations. So I will not blame anyone for having different understanding of kamma from mine or mainstream. My own vision of kamma is that cetana manifested in our thoughts, words and actions may either undermine the three roots tying us to samsara and develop three roots in nibbana, or tend samsaric roots and undermine nibbanic roots. In other words strengthening or undermining our egos. And vipaka is the resulting greater exposure to samsaric forces and conflicts or progress towards true liberation.

Tazzie said...

I believe what Yuri, especially, has just posted is really an eaxample of how we can increase in confidance when we ernestly practice in the true spirit of The Buddha Dhamma. I believe that we start to evaluate all aspects of The Dhamma through our own experience of it, and that experience of the Dhamma
as The Buddha said, has 'the taste of freedom'. We internalize the teachings that we have heard, read, or discussed and recognize our own increasing sense of freedom and compassion as a result.

Gui Do said...

". Frankly speaking, a true Buddhist could care less whether he's receiving "retribution", whether he gets flu or cancer."
Well, Aaron, and I couldn't care less if I kill a bug or think about revenge - actually, it bothers me much less than for example a migraine does. That's just a fact. So it's rather the admittance of the complexity of our live and the obvious effects - the thought doesn't usually prevent my wellbeing, but the migraine does - than "hair splitting". It is just accepting the obvious.

Dharma said...

Re: 'According to the Buddha, kamma is the intention (cetana) behind our physical, verbal and psychological actions (A.III,415).'

Reply: In Bhante's original post, he stated clearly that he hates bugs. If so, the intentional killing he did was out of hatred, and the kamma created is surely negative. The means he used to kill was painful and horrific too - involving boiling water.

Re: 'However, the Vinaya makes one such distinction, considering murder an offence so serious as to require permanent expulsion from the Sangha (Parajika 3), while killing an animal is a far less serious offence (Pacittiya 62), on a par with insulting someone, idle chatter and having a non-regulation size sitting mat. This distinction is probably based on the idea that the intentions behind killing a fellow human would be markedly stronger and more intense than those behind killing an animal. Each of us has probably noticed that we differently about the death of a person, the death of a warm blooded animal and that of an insect. Likewise we probably notice a difference in how we felt if we were to kill a chicken and an ant. These feeling must be partly socially conditioned but whatever their cause they do affect our minds differently and therefore have differentvipaka. I am not stating this as a fact but only as a possible explanation for the Vinaya’s (and most peoples’) distinction between killing a human and an animal.'

Reply: The true measure of the intensity of negative karma created from killing should not so much be due to the size or species of the being killed but due to the intensity of hatred generated in the killing. Other conditions on the quantity and quality of negative kamma created pivot on the number of beings killed and how they were killed. Those intent on perfecting compassion like the Buddha would avoid killing as much as possible as part of spiritual practice. Recall too the Buddha's numerous sacrifices, sometimes for single animals - as a Bodhisatta. May Bhante and all of us work harder in perfecting our compassion - for the sake of all beings. If a fool like me had no need to kill a single insect for more than 15 years, I think all of us can too. May all beings be well and happy, free from fear and harm.

Dharma said...

Re: Earthquakes, storms, epidemics, accidents, etc, have nothing to do with kamma.

Reply: If so, does it mean that it is by sheer ‘luck’ (not that it exists), instead of good karma, that no Buddhas ever perish in earthquakes, storms, epidemics and accidents?

Re: Cancer may bring with it physical pain. This is the luck of the draw.

Reply: ‘Luck of the draw’? Which is more powerful – bad luck or good karma (in terms of one’s blessings)? If there is such thing a random luck as a wild card, that flashes its face on and off with misfortune, did the Buddha teach how to ward off bad luck? No – because there is no such thing as luck. Illness can be an expression of past created karma too.

Re: So I reinterate my point – getting cancer, winning the lottery, tripping on the doorstep, being handsome, etc, have nothing to do with kamma. Kamma is how we react to what happens to us.

Reply: Tripping can be seen as the instant karmic rebound of being unmindful. On karma affecting looks and health, this is stated in the Cula-kammavibhanga Sutta:

"But here some woman or man is not angry or much given to rage; even when much is said, he is not furious, angry, ill-disposed, resentful, nor does he show ill-temper, hate or surliness. Due to having performed and completed such kammas, on the dissolution of the body, after death, he reappears in a happy destination... If instead he comes to the human state, he is BEAUTIFUL wherever he is reborn. This is the way that leads to beauty, that is to say, not to be angry or given to much rage; even when much is said, not to be furious, angry, ill-disposed or resentful, or to show ill-temper, hate or surliness.

"So, student, the way that leads to short life makes people short-lived, the way that leads to long life makes people long-lived; the way that leads to sickness makes people sick, the way that leads to health makes people HEALTHY; the way that leads to ugliness makes people UGLY, the way that leads to beauty makes people beautiful; the way that leads to insignificance makes people insignificant, the way that leads to influence makes people influential; the way that leads to poverty makes people poor, the way that leads to riches makes people rich; the way that leads to low birth makes people low-born, the way that leads to high birth makes people high-born; the way that leads to stupidity makes people stupid, the way that leads to wisdom makes people wise. Beings are owners of kammas, student, heirs of kammas, they have kammas as their progenitor, kammas as their kin, kammas as their homing-place. It is kammas that differentiate beings according to inferiority and superiority." - http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.135.nymo.html

Re: Imagine what the whole world would be like if all people living in it are dogmatic Buddhists fearing bad kamma and loving and not harming any living being — even black plague bacillae, cancer cells and swine-flu viruses. Why fear bad kamma and possible trip to hell — the hell would be all around... The answer?

Reply: Microscopic lifeforms that are very simple (not complex enough) might pertain more to plant life.

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