It's said that some kammas are not to be experienced, some kammas have to be experienced. Not all kammas have to be experienced. For example Angulimala story, the bad vipaka of killing many people could not come into fruition because he had cut the cycle of birth and death.

Seeds ripen only if they meet the right conditions. But if they do not meet the right conditions they remain as seeds; if they are destroyed they can never ripen at all.

As mentioned here: Questions on Kamma

But in Karajakā­ya­sutta, it says:

I do not say that there is making an end of suffering so long as one has not experienced the results of volitional kamma that has been done and accumulated.

Which one is the correct one, do they contradict each other?


Not all Pali suttas are the words of the Buddha, which is why there are contradictions. In the Maha-parinibbana Sutta, this is addressed by the Four Great References.

The Karajakā­ya­ Sutta can appear a contradiction due to the Pali language, which often can be interpreted in two ways: (1) in mundane (lokiya) language, which will result in contradiction; and (2) in supramundane (lokuttara) language, which will not result in contradiction.

In mundane language, it seems the Karajakā­ya­ Sutta would make enlightenment impossible in a lifetime because the doer of bad kamma would keep being reborn in (an external) hell for each past unwholesome action.

However, in supramundane language, the results of kamma are experienced in the mind, such as the Buddha explained: "I recollected my manifold past dwellings, i.e., one birth, two... five, ten... fifty, a hundred, a thousand, a hundred thousand...There I had such a name, belonged to such a clan, had such an appearance. Such was my nutriment, such my experience of pleasure & pain..."

This said, the context of the Karajakā­ya­ Sutta is important. The section in the Anguttara Nikaya it is in are mundane (lokiya) teachings of morality rather than supramundane (lokuttara) teachings for enlightenment. For example, AN 10.217, which has the same teachings, is about the ten kinds of bad kamma that laypeople do.

Therefore, the Karajakā­ya­ Sutta appears to not be for enlightenment. It is mundane (lokiya) morality dhamma for laypeople or householders.

If we do not understand the principle of 'two kinds of right view' found in MN 117 and in the commentary quote below, suttas such as the Karajakā­ya­ Sutta may appear in contradiction.

For example, on a supramundane level, when Angulimala was in the stream to Nibbana (for arahantship), his mind would have been free from 'self-view' therefore free from suffering. However, this mind would have probably experienced the results of past kamma in the form of painful feelings & residual defilements (per SN 36.6).

When we are non-returners practising for arahantship, we might fully understand the Karajakā­ya­ Sutta (rather than theorize & speculate, as I have done).

The Awakened One, best of speakers, Spoke two kinds of truths: The conventional and the ultimate. A third truth does not obtain.

Therein: The speech wherewith the world converses is true, on account of its being agreed upon by the world. The speech which describes what is ultimate is also true, characterizing dhammas as they really are.

Therefore, being skilled in common usage, False speech does not arise in the Teacher, Who is Lord of the World, When he speaks according to conventions.

Mn. i. 95

  • I think there is possibility words in Karajakaya Sutta are not Buddha's. Angulimala experienced the result of bad kamma even after attaining enlightenment. Some said there was error transmission, the notion all bad kammas have to be experienced before enlightenment is of Jaina thought than Buddha's. Ven. Mogallana also had to pay his bad vipaka of killing his parents in one of his previous life, he experienced this after attaining enlightenment too.
    – B1100
    May 21 '16 at 0:15
  • I would disagree with the common view about Angulimala. Just because Angulimala was attacked with a rock does not mean his mind suffered (i.e. reaped karma). When the Buddha said to Angulimala "bear it Brahman" this does not mean Angulimala was suffering. Possibly Angulimala was going to say to the Buddha: "How beings cannot forgive" rather than cry like a child about emotional hurt. The Buddha himself was insulted by many people and even the target of assassination. This is all unrelated to karma. Just because Angulimala ended karma does not mean other people ended karma towards Angulimala, May 21 '16 at 3:12
  • I think it's not a question whether Angulimala's mind suffered or not. Even ordinary people or relatively advanced practitioner's mind is able not to suffer from the result of particular bad kamma, that doesn't mean they have attained Arahantship. What is said in the Karajakaya Sutta is, it's impossible to attain enlightenment without experiencing all the results/effects. The fact that Angulimala reaped his bad kamma after enlightenment is I think because we do not know when the result of kamma takes affect.
    – B1100
    May 21 '16 at 6:34
  • It's reduced due to the "great mass of water" vs "a lump of salt" but that does not mean all kammas have to be experienced as a requirement to attain enlightenment. As for "Just because Angulimala ended karma does not mean other people ended karma towards Angulimala", in my opinion, that is a little bit too far.
    – B1100
    May 21 '16 at 6:36

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