I. General statement of “law of karma”
“Beings are (1) the owners of their actions; (2) the heirs of their actions; (3) their actions are their origin (yoni = womb), (4) their kinsman, (5) their refuge. (6) Their actions divide beings into the inferior and superior.”
II. Four types of karma (according to Majjhima Commentary)
1. Oppressive karma (upapilaka-kamma): brings misfortune, destroys wealth and enjoyment. Causes difficulties and problems in the course of one’s life.
2. Destructive, terminative karma (upacchedaka-kamma): cuts off the life span prematurely, even if one is born through a karma tending to a long life-span. Simile: like a stone thrown up that knocks down an arrow in flight.
3. Generative karma (janaka-kamma): the karma that produces the mode of rebirth.
4. Supportive karma (upatthambhaka-kamma): karma that brings success in the course of life; removes obstacles and attracts good fortune.
(1) and (2) are necessarily unwholesome; (3) can be either wholesome or unwholesome; (4) is exclusively wholesome.
III. How contrasting modes of action determine rebirth and life-experiences
1. The destruction of life, killing
a. In the role of “generative karma” it produces rebirth in the plane of misery (in hell).
b. As “destructive karma,” ripening in the human world, it can cut off another karma tending to a long life-span and bring premature death.
c. As “oppressive karma” it impedes the efficacy of a generative karma tending to long life and thereby leads to short life-span.
Note: According to Majjhima Commentary, it is the “determinative volition,” i.e. the volition that actually “drives” the act of killing, that causes rebirth in a lower realm. The volitions preceding and following the act lead to short life in the human realm.
2. Abstaining from the destruction of life, non-killing
a. In the role of “generative karma” produces rebirth in a heavenly world or a rebirth tending to long life in the human world.
b. As “supportive karma,” it reinforces another wholesome karma that has produced a human rebirth and removes obstructions and afflictions, thereby tending to long life in the human world.
Note: According to Majjh. Comy., the determinative volition takes on role (a), the preceding and subsequent volitions take on role (b).
IV. The other pairs of contrasts
1. The paths to poor health and good health
a. Injuring beings > lower rebirth or poor health in the human world
b. Refraining from injury to beings > higher rebirth or good health in the human world
2. The paths to ugliness and beauty
a. Persistently angry person > lower rebirth or ugliness in the human world
b. Refraining from anger > higher rebirth or beauty in the human world
3. The paths to influence and lack of influence
a. Envying others > lower rebirth or lack of influence in the human world
b. Refraining from envy > higher rebirth or positions of influence in the human world
4. The paths to poverty and wealth
a. Stinginess > lower rebirth or poverty in the human world b. Generosity > higher rebirth or wealth in the human world
5. The paths to low status and high status
a. Arrogance > lower rebirth or low status in the human world
b. Respect and reverence > higher rebirth or high status in the human world
6. The paths to dullness and wisdom
a. Obtuseness > lower rebirth or dullness in the human world
b. Investigation > higher rebirth or wisdom in the human world