Points of Controversy

15.11. Of Karma and its Accumulation

Controverted Point: That karma is one thing, its accumulation is another.

Theravādin: Are you then prepared to admit that each mental phase—mental reaction, feeling, perception, volition, cognition, also faith, energy, mindfulness, samādhi, understanding, also the ten corruptions (kilesas)—is a different thing from its accumulation? Of course not. Then neither can you affirm your proposition.

Again, do you imply that karmic accumulation is coexistent with karma? You deny? But think! You assent. Then a fortiori meritorious (or good) karma is coexistent with good karmic accumulation? No? No, you must admit it is. Then it follows that karma, being inseparably conjoined with feeling, is both coexistent with its accumulation, and also inseparably conjoined with corresponding feeling.

Similarly for demeritorious (or bad) karma.

Again, you admit of course that karma is coexistent with consciousness and has a mental object, but you do not admit as much of its accumulation. That is to say, you agree that karma, being coexistent with consciousness, is broken off as mental process when consciousness is broken off. But, by your view of the different nature of karmic accumulation, you hold that when consciousness stops, karmic accumulation does not necessarily stop. So that we may get a cessation of karma as conscious process, and a continuation of karmic accumulation as product!

You admit, further, that karmic accumulation is where karma is. Surely this implies that an act (kamma) and its (accumulation or) conservation is one and the same thing… . And that, the conservation of karmic energy being where karma is, result is produced from that conservation; and that you must conclude that there is no difference in kind between karma, its conservation and its result. Yet this you deny.

Now you have admitted that karma has a mental object,and you also admit of course that result, which is produced from the conservation of karma, has a mental object. But you deny that the conservation is of this nature, even while you admit that where karma is, there, too, is its conservation, producing the result!…

Finally, was it not said by the Exalted One:

“Here, Puṇṇa, is one who plans activities in deed, word and thought, either malevolent or benevolent. In consequence hereof he is reborn in a world either of malevolence or of benevolence; and when his mental reaction to good and bad shall set in, his sensations are in accordance herewith, and his feelings are a mixture of pleasure and pain, as is the case with human beings, with certain of the devas, and with some of the fallen angels. Now thus, Puṇṇa, is the rebirth of creatures conspicuous and obscure: by that which he does is he reborn, and being reborn mental reactions affect him. And so I say, Puṇṇa, that beings are the heirs of their own actions (karma).”

Hence it is not right to say that conservation of karma is a thing apart from karma itself.