Points of Controversy

17.3. Of Everything as due to Karma

Controverted Point: That all this is from karma.

Theravādin: Do you then include karma itself as due to karma? And do you imply that all this is simply the result of bygone causes? You are committed here to what you must deny.

Again, you imply, by your proposition, that all this is not so much from karma as from the result of still earlier karma. If you deny, you deny your first proposition. If you assent, you imply that one may commit murder through not karma, but the result of karma. You assent? Then murder, though a result, is itself productive of karmic result? You assent? Then the result of karma is productive of result? You deny? Then it is barren of result, and murder must a fortiori be barren of karmic result… .

This argument applies equally to other immoral acts—to theft, to wicked speech—lying, abuse, slander, and idle talk—to burglary, raiding, looting, highway robbery, adultery, destroying houses in village or town. It applies equally to moral acts: to giving gifts—e.g., giving the four necessaries to the religious. If any of these is done as the result of karma, and themselves produce karmic result, then you are on the horns of this dilemma: that either result-of-karma can itself produce effects which is heterodox, or any good or bad deed has no karmic result which is heterodox… .

Rājagirikas and Siddhatthikas: But was it not said by the Exalted One:

“By kamma the world revolves,
By kamma this generation revolves,
All beings are bound to kamma,
As linch-pin is to chariot-wheel. ”

“By karma praise and fame are gained,
By karma too generation, killing, bondage.
Knowing the many aspects of kamma,
Who can say ‘there is no karma in the world’.”

Hence surely all this is due to karma?