Points of Controversy

20.1. Of Unintentional Crime

Controverted Point: That the five cardinal crimes, even when unintentionally committed, involve retribution immediately after death.

Theravādin: But you imply that if I accidentally take away life, I am a murderer, and similarly as to two of the other four wicked deeds forbidden by morality that if I accidentally take what is not given, I am a thief… if I utter untruths unintentionally, I am a liar. You deny. Yet you wish to make exceptions to the relative innocence of such acts in just those five serious cases… .

Can you cite me a Sutta judging unintentional crime like that which says:

“He that intentionally takes his mother s life incurs immediate retribution.”

You cannot. Neither can you maintain your proposition.

Uttarapāthakas: But does not the fact remain that the mother’s life is taken? Surely then the unintentional slayer also incurs immediate retribution. Similarly, too, does one who unintentionally kills father or Arahant, or sheds a Buddha’s blood, incur a like doom.

Theravādin: Now as to the fifth of such crimes: do you imply that all schismatics incur such a doom? You deny. But think again! You now assent. But does a schismatic” who is conscious of right incur it? You deny. But think again! You now assent. But was it not said by the Exalted One:

There is a kind of schismatic, Upali, who incurs disaster, purgatory, misery for an won, who is incurable; there is a kind of schismatic, Upali, who does not incur such a doom, who is not incurable.”

Hence it is not right to say that a schismatic who perceives Dhamma incurs such a doom.

Uttarapāthakas: But was it not said by the Exalted One:

“He who breaks up the Saṅgha
Is doomed to remain for an aeon
In states of suffering and woe.
He who delights in a separate group,
And adheres not to the Dhamma,
Destroys the security from bondage.
Having broken up the Saṅgha when it was in harmony
He is tormented for an aeon in hell.

Hence surely a schismatic incurs retribution immediately after death.