If we have been transmigrating in samsara infinitely via rebirths, then doesn't that mean that kamma which we have earned too is infinite? And if so, doesn't that imply that enlightenment is imposible to reach since it would take one infinite amount of time to reach? I know this is classified as something that is unconjecturable and drives one insane, but this one is driving me curious. Any takers on this?


According to this Jainpedia page on Jain teachings on karma:

The karmas accrued over a lifetime trap the soul in the cycle of births. The karmas mature by affecting the soul or the physical body of its next lifetime or birth. When the body dies, the soul is born in a different body, which is shaped by karmas from the previous birth and the ones before that. The condition of the soul in that lifetime is also influenced by karmas from previous incarnations. This cycle of birth, death and life repeats endlessly while the soul has karmas attached to it.

The soul yearns to fulfil its true nature, which it cannot do while it is imprisoned within the cycle of rebirth. Only a soul without karma can be liberated from the cycle of birth, reaching self-realisation. Following the teachings of the Jinas and developing spiritually lead to the prevention of new karmas entering the soul – saṃvara – and the removal of existing karmas. .... Destroying karmas that are attached to the soul requires ascetic practices such as fasting, meditation and denying bodily needs and comforts.

In MN 101, the Buddha debunked the following teachings of the Jains:

  • All the happens to a person is due to past karma
  • Elimination of past karma is possible by penance
  • Elimination of karma is possible by not accumulating new karma
  • With emptying of all past bad and good karma, suffering would end

In other words, the Jain way is emptying the karma account in order to end the cycle of rebirth, which is suffering.

The Buddha's path is that of the purification of the mind to end suffering, and not emptying of the karma account.

The Jain idea is that suffering is sustained by karmic balance. The Buddhist teaching is that suffering is sustained by craving and ignorance.

From MN 101:

“Mendicants, there are some ascetics and brahmins who have this doctrine and view: ‘Everything this individual experiences—pleasurable, painful, or neutral—is because of past deeds. So, due to eliminating past deeds by mortification, and not doing any new deeds, there’s nothing to come up in the future. With nothing to come up in the future, deeds end. With the ending of deeds, suffering ends. With the ending of suffering, feeling ends. And with the ending of feeling, all suffering will have been worn away.’ Such is the doctrine of the Jain ascetics.

I’ve gone up to the Jain ascetics who say this and said, ‘Is it really true that this is the venerables’ view?’ They admitted that it is. ...

But since you don’t know any of these things, it’s not appropriate for the Jain venerables to declare this.’ ...

Such is the doctrine of the Jain ascetics. Saying this, the Jain ascetics deserve rebuke and criticism on ten legitimate grounds.

  • agree with what you said. Thanks for clarifying on that. Also kind of reminded of the zeno's paradox. It's only mathematical as it doesn't reflect the real world. So do the Jains interpret kamma and rebirth. Apr 26 '21 at 16:35
  • 1
    @NithinManmohan Yes. The Jain idea is that suffering is sustained by karmic balance. The Buddhist teaching is that suffering is sustained by craving and ignorance.
    – ruben2020
    Apr 27 '21 at 3:03

I'm pretty sure it's possible to have really bad karma and get enlightened anyway. There is a famous story of someone that killed many persons and got enlightened on that same life (though I think they end up killing him because of his past). The story should be easy to find, he was called Angulimala.

And I think it wouldn't be possible to accumulate infinite karma because a being with a ton of good karma would end up in a really long life in a heaven and burn that good karma away. And someone with really bad karma would get a long life in hell and burn the karma away too.


A determination can become inevitable or cancelled due to development. This is like a person sometime changing his plans & determinations, whereas at other times actions & determinations have a fixed determined effect that can't be changed.

Some actions cancel & override the effects of other actions and change the course of experience.

Existence occurs for this or that person because something is true, because it is true we know that existence has been and will be as long as the factor is true & in play.

An infinite past doesn't mean that it includes every possible element or factor.

ie the numbers less than 0 are infinite but they do not include any numbers higher than 0.

If everybody remembered & knew all past in-formation, this would be an impossible amount of data and would require an infinite amount of matter for storage, let alone storage if someone was to to objectify the immeasurable & incalculable by rememberance & thought then it would take an infinite amount of nutriment & time for one to do so, the universe would grow cold before one is done.

These are incalculable & immeasurable, therefore there is no counting & measuring of it, this never occurs.

There is only a counting & measuring as conception & perception of countable & measurable elements conceived of as being resultant of an indeterminate development.

The immeasurable & incalculable philosophical principles are basis for conception.

It's much like a person not acting on what he doesn't know & remember, knowing & remembering only particulars due to past development and acting on those unaware of what one is unaware but he is not exempt from the unconscious conditioning whether he knows it or not and it will come into play if there is an opening.

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