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?


2 Answers 2


"It's said that some kammas are not to be experienced, some kammas have to be experienced". If we answer this question is simply we can say "exactly right". Kamma is one of the main topics in buddhism.If we going to write a simple answer Kamma has few main classifications.

What is the cause of Karma?

Ignorance (avijja), or not knowing things as they truly are, is the chief cause of Karma. Dependent on ignorance arise activities (avijja paccaya samskhara) states the Buddha in the Paticca Samuppada (Dependent Origination). Associated with ignorance is the ally craving (tanha), the other root of Karma. Evil actions are conditioned by these two causes. All good deeds of a worldling (putthujana), though associated with the three wholesome roots of generosity (alobha), goodwill (adosa) and knowledge (amoha), are nevertheless regarded as Karma because the two roots of ignorance and craving are dormant in him. The moral types of Supramundane Path Consciousness (magga citta) are not regarded as Karma because they tend to eradicate the two root causes.

With respect to different functions, Karma is classified into four kinds:

01.REPRODUCTIVE KARMA[Janak Kamma]- Every birth is conditioned by a past good or bad karma, which predominated at the moment of death. Karma that conditions the future birth is called Reproductive Karma.

02.SUPPORTIVE KARMA[Upasthambaka Kamma]-That which comes near the Reproductive (janaka) Kamma and supports it. It is neither good nor bad and it assists or maintains the action of the Reproductive (janaka) Karma in the course of one’s lifetime.

03.OBSTRUCTIVE KARMA OR COUNTERACTIVE KARMA[Upapidaka Kamma] - Which, unlike the former, tends to weaken, interrupt and retard the fruition of the Reproductive Karma. For instance, a person born with a good Reproductive Karma may be subject to various ailments etc., thus preventing him from enjoying the blissful results of his good actions

04.DESTRUCTIVE KARMA(Upaghathaka Kamma) -According to the law of Karma the potential energy of the Reproductive Karma could be nullified by a mere powerful opposing Karma of the past, which, seeking an opportunity, may quite unexpectedly operate, just as a powerful counteractive force can obstruct the path of a flying arrow and bring it down to the ground. Such an action is called Destructive (upaghataka) Karma.

There is another classification of Karma, according to the priority of effect:

01.WEIGHTY (GARUKA) KARMA - This is either weighty or serious – may be either good or bad. It produces its results in this life or in the next life for certain.

02.PROXIMATE (ASANNA) KARMA OR DEATH-PROXIMATE KARMA - This is that which one does or remembers immediately before the moment of dying. Owing to the great part it plays in determining the future birth, much importance is attained to this deathbed (asanna) Karma in almost all Buddhist countries. The customs of reminding the dying man of good deeds and making him do good acts on his deathbed still prevails in Buddhist countries.

03.HABITUAL (ACCINA) KARMA - It is that which on habitually performs and recollects and for which one has a great liking. Habits whether good or bad becomes ones second nature, tending to form the character of a person. At unguarded moments one often lapses into one’s habitual mental mindset. In the same way, at the death-moment, unless influenced by other circumstances, one usually recalls to mind one’s habitual deeds.

04.RESERVE OR CUMULATIVE (KATATTA) KARMA - This literally means ‘because done’. All actions that are not included in the aforementioned and those actions soon forgotten belong to this category. This is, as it were the reserve fund of a particular being.

There is another classification of Karma according to the time in which effects are worked out:

01.IMMEDIATELY EFFECTIVE (DITTADHAMMAVEDANIYA KARMA - Immediately Effective Karma is that which is experienced in this present life. According to the Abhidhamma one does both good and evil during the javana process (thought- impulsion), which usually lasts for seven thought-moments. The effect of the first thought-moment, being the weakest, one may reap in this life itself. This is called the Immediately Effective Karma.

02.SUBSEQUENTLY EFFECTIVE (UPAPAJJAVEDANIYA) KARMA - If it does not operate in this life, it is called ‘Defunct or Ineffective’ Karma. The next weakest is the seventh thought-moment. Its effect one may reap in the subsequence birth. This is called ‘Subsequently Effective’ Karma.

03.INDEFINITELY EFFECTIVE (APARAPARIYAVEDANIYA) KARMA - This, too, is called Defunct or Ineffective Karma if it does not operate in the second birth. The effect of the intermediate thought-moments may take place at any time until one attains Nibbana. This type of Karma is known as ‘Indefinitely Effective’ Karma.

04.DEFUNCT OR INEFFECTIVE (AHOSI) KARMA - No one, not even the Buddhas and Arahantas, is exempt from this class of Karma which one may experience in the course of one’s wandering in Samsara. There is no special class of Karma known as Defunct or Ineffective, but when such actions that should produce their effects in this life or in a subsequent life do not operate, they are termed Defunct or Ineffective Karma.

The last classification of Karma is according to the plane in which the effect takes place, namely:

01.EVIL ACTIONS (AKUSALA KARMA) - which may ripen in the sentient planes (kammaloka). (Six celestial planes plus one human plane plus four woeful planes = eleven kamaloka planes.) Here are only four woeful kamalokas.

02.GOOD ACTIONS (KUSALA KARMA) - which may ripen in the sentient planes except for the four woeful planes.

03.GOOD ACTIONS (KUSALA KARMA) - which may ripen in the Realm of Form (rupa brahamalokas). There are four Arupa Brahma Lokas as well

This is how the lord buddha classified the Karma and accordingly you can find there are places where your question were answered exactly.

If you wants to learn more please read this article: [Kamma]1 [This page is still creating but hope it helps you to gain detailed knowledge of Kamma with further explanations.

May triple Gem Blessed You all!!!


Without any reference to scripture, Bhikkhu Bodhi said in his Questions on Kamma:

First of all, not all Kamma has to ripen as a matter of necessity. Although it has the tendency to ripen, it does not ripen inevitably. Kamma is like a seed. Seeds ripen only if they meet the right conditions. But if they do not meet the right conditions they remain as seeds..... Similarly, it can be said of kamma that kamma pushes for an opportunity to mature. It has a tendency to mature. If kamma finds the opportunity then it will bring its results. If it does not meet the right conditions it won't ripen.

However, in his footnote to MN 136, Bhikkhu Bodhi appeared to say the opposite, when he said:

This statement shows even if his evil kamma does not generate the mode of rebirth, it will still mature for him in some other way either in this life, in the next life or in some more distant future life.

In my view, the Karajakā­ya­sutta may not be the ideal sutta to answer this question because the Karajakā­ya­sutta is about the development of the Four Divine Abidings to at least the fruition of Non-Return. In other words, the Karajakā­ya­sutta is about the "elimination" of past deeds & their results. It says:

Nāhaṁ, bhikkhave, sañcetanikānaṁ kammānaṁ katānaṁ upacitānaṁ appaṭisaṁveditvā byantībhāvaṁ vadāmi

Mendicants, I don’t say that intentional deeds that have been performed and accumulated are eliminated without being experienced.

tañca kho diṭṭheva dhamme upapajje vā apare vā pariyāye.

And that may be in the present reality, or in a following reality, or in some other subsequent reality.

In other words, when the Four Divine Abidings are developed, it is inevitable any recollectable unwholesome past deeds will come to mind in the clarity of those Four Divine Abidings. Thus the Karajakā­ya­sutta says:

That noble disciple is rid of desire, rid of ill will, unconfused, aware, and mindful. They meditate spreading a heart full of love.... They understand: ‘Formerly my mind was limited and undeveloped. Now it’s limitless and well developed. Whatever limited deeds I’ve done don’t remain or persist there.’

However, other suttas that address this question include AN 6.63 and MN 136, which say:

Katamo ca, bhikkhave, kammānaṁ vipāko?

And what is the result/fruition of deeds?

Tividhāhaṁ, bhikkhave, kammānaṁ vipākaṁ vadāmi

The result/fruition of deeds is threefold, I say:

diṭṭheva dhamme, upapajje vā, apare vā pariyāye.

in this present reality, in a following reality, or at some other later time.

Ayaṁ vuccati, bhikkhave, kammānaṁ vipāko.

This is called the result of deeds.

AN 6.63

Yañca kho so idha pāṇātipātī hoti adinnādāyī hoti …pe… micchādiṭṭhi hoti tassa diṭṭheva dhamme vipākaṁ paṭisaṁvedeti upapajja vā apare vā pariyāye.

And if anyone here who kills living creatures … and has wrong view experiences the result of that in the present reality, or in a following reality next, or in some other subsequent reality.

MN 136

It follows the translation of MN 136 may need to be examined. Personally, I am not able to perform this task myself however Bhikkhu Thanissaro's translation is:

And as for the results of taking life... holding wrong view, he will feel them either right here & now, or in the next [lifetime], or following that.

If the above translation is adhered to, it may show the teaching is:

  • The results of kamma [when/if they ripen/mature] will be felt/experienced in the future.

In other words, this teaching may not say:

  • All kamma must produce results to be experience in the future.

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