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I.e

Mr A and Mr B are virtually identical (only their names, positions in space etc. are different).

Mr A intends (x) and does x Mr A receives y

Mr B intends (x) and does x Mr B receives z

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Yes (the results can be different), e.g. because Mr. A and Mr. B are different in other ways.

Lonaphala Sutta

Mendicants, suppose you say: ‘No matter how this person performs a deed, they experience it the same way.’ This being so, the spiritual life could not be lived, and there’d be no chance of making a complete end of suffering. Suppose you say: ‘No matter how this person performs a deed, they experience the result as it should be experienced.’ This being so, the spiritual life can be lived, and there is a chance of making a complete end of suffering. Take the case of a person who does a trivial bad deed, but it lands them in hell. While another person does the same trivial bad deed, but experiences it in the present life, without even a bit left over, not to speak of a lot.

What kind of person does a trivial bad deed, but it lands them in hell? A person who hasn’t developed their physical endurance, ethics, mind, or wisdom. They’re small-minded and mean-spirited, living in suffering. That kind of person does a trivial bad deed, but it lands them in hell.

What kind of person does the same trivial bad deed, but experiences it in the present life, without even a bit left over, not to speak of a lot? A person who has developed their physical endurance, ethics, mind, and wisdom. They’re not small-minded, but are big-hearted, living without limits. That kind of person does the same trivial bad deed, but experiences it in the present life, without even a bit left over, not to speak of a lot.

Suppose a person was to drop a lump of salt into a small bowl of water. What do you think, mendicants? Would that small bowl of water become salty and undrinkable?” “Yes, sir. Why is that? Because there is only a little water in the bowl.” “Suppose a person was to drop a lump of salt into the Ganges river. What do you think, mendicants? Would the Ganges river become salty and undrinkable?” “No, sir. Why is that? Because the Ganges river is a vast mass of water.

etc. (another example)

I think that the first paragraph is saying that if every trivial deed would land everyone or anyone in hell then it wouldn't be possible for a holy life to result in enlightenment, liberation.

You might want to say this doesn't the answer the question, which asks about when "Mr A and Mr B are virtually identical". I'm not sure that question is answered in the suttas, though. I think that ("in the real world") people tend not to be "identical", that whatever "x" is isn't their only intentional action, and that Buddhism is meant to be practical (a doctrine of liberation) not theoretical (hypothetical or oversimplified doctrine of karma) -- and that an important, practical part of the doctrine is that the state of a person's mind, and how they live, makes a lot of difference.

  • If it works like this: Mr A intends x does x receives x (x) Mr B intends x does x receives y (x) Where the bracketed (x)'s stand for an appropriate response to the intention and action then it seems the workings of kamma are still orderly even if the superficial consequences are different e.g Mr B receiving y (x). If that sutta is saying is saying the consequences will be appropriate but not necessarily matching in appearance etc. then the workings of kamma are still lawful and orderly albeit not superficially. Is that what that sutta means? – Angus Oct 23 '18 at 19:03
  • I know it's meant to be practical but if the requirements for becoming a Sotapanna are confirmation of the Buddha's perfect knowledge then it seems I have to verify every aspect in every single sutta and can't simply assume that it's all correct. – Angus Oct 23 '18 at 19:08
  • I think so: i.e. the effect (result) of x will vary from person to person, because people are different, react differently. I don't know a good example -- maybe a non-canonical example is this, a monk reborn as a naga after breaking a blade of grass (or more specifically his own reaction to that afterwards). The breaking was accidental, though. Still it's an example of a small misdeed becoming over-important. – ChrisW Oct 23 '18 at 19:25
  • I'm not sure you have to "verify every sutta", or do you? I say that because the people in the suttas who became Sotapannas, at the end of a sutta, hadn't heard every sutta. – ChrisW Oct 23 '18 at 19:29
  • Well apparently Sotapannas are not omniscient so how would they know they agreed with the Buddha on every aspect? So if they lacked the ability to know whether they agreed with the Buddha on every aspect they couldn't have complete confirmation of the accuracy of the Buddha's teaching in which case they should be in doubt about the Buddha and his teaching in which case they couldn't have become Sotapannas could they? Am I missing something? – Angus Oct 23 '18 at 19:42
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❓Can the same kamma cetana and action lead to different fruit-of-kamma (kamma vipaka)?

No, a specific cause has it's effect. But one may experiance it different and it's nearly impossible to act, in dependance in- and outwardly, in similar circumstances.

  • Cetana A has quality X followed by effect y

  • Cetana B has quality X followed by effect y

A x X = y - B x X = y => A=B 🔁

[Note: this gift of Dhamma has not be thought, is not dedicated, for any trade or wordily exchange or stacks]

  • So is the effect the same but how one experiences it might be different and outward circumstances might be different? – Angus Nov 1 '18 at 10:54
  • Otherwise the Buddhas teachings would be a teaching of fortuitousness. But the other extrem should be avoided as well -> straight linearity, determinism, as well as thinking to much on kamma vipaka, wishing to find out in detail: so simly: good deeds bring good results, bad caused/cause bad experiances for practical and liberating ways, Nyom @Angus . – Samana Johann Nov 1 '18 at 11:35
  • Karma Q &A is at large a good help by Bhante Thanissaro, Nyom @Angus . – Samana Johann Nov 1 '18 at 11:38

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