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?


4 Answers 4


Kamma means that what you are doing now will have consequences in the future, either in this life or in subsequent ones. If you perform good actions, such as protecting lives and providing food for animals, you will be rewarded for your virtuous deeds. Conversely, engaging in negative deeds like killing animals or deceiving people will result in negative consequences.

Until attaining 'nirvana,' we continue to accumulate kamma, and this kamma can lead to rebirth. Thus, until achieving nirvana, we are accountable for our past actions.

However, if you become a 'sowan' (the first step towards achieving nirvana), you will be spared from being reborn in hell or as an animal (Dughathi)

  • you get what you did.....kamma
    – Better
    Commented Aug 11, 2023 at 5:07
  • only way to stop the cycle....nirvana..
    – Alistaire
    Commented Aug 11, 2023 at 5:09

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.

yes...but you can reduce impact of bad karma by do lots of good karma...however karma not stop until you get NIRVANA.


It is incorrect to say that Angulimala did not suffer the bad karmic fruits of his killings. In Angulimala Sutta, he was physically assaulted even as an Arhant. Whether he, subsequently, exhausted the bad karma arising from his earlier killings is immaterial as he had attained Arhantship and by this definition had made an end to suffering. So, this contradicts the sayings in Karajakāyasutta about an end of suffering is not possible until one had exhausted one’s karma. In fact, that entire sentence contradicts the Buddha’s teachings as we know it. There are some who conjectured that Karajakāyasutta may be influenced by the Jains due to its similar claim to their teachings about exhausting one’s karma in order to reach Enlightenment or an end to suffering.

I am not sure of any sutras that mentioned about karmic seeds being destroyed and from what we read from the sutras even the Buddha and his Arhant disciples still suffer karmic effects from the past. The only sutra I came across that talk about minimizing the impact of bad karma is the Lonaphala sutta. Even in that sutra, it is not about cancellation of bad karma but its dilution to a point where it is hardly detectable.

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