If one casts a glance at the history of human beings, one will see that the religious faiths enlighten the people, contribute to civilized societies and influence the philosophies and outlooks of the people. Even the atheists have certain basic principles embedded in their minds, and they happen to be some sort of religious faiths.
Unlike all other religious faiths, Buddhism has a peculiar belief – i.e. the belief in kamma and its kammic effects. The kammavada is translated by some people as “the self reliance principle” whereas it is translated by other people as “Reliance is laid not upon the individuals but upon the kamma”.
In this regard, it is needed to be mindful of the following pali phrase uttered by Buddha, “Cetanaham Bikkhave Kammamvadami”, Kamma means cetana. All the living beings are making one of the three volitional activities – physical, verbal and mental – at a time. These three volitional activities involve cetana, which is a mental factor (cetasika). Whenever there is a mind, there is a mental factor. Just as every conscience involves a cetana cetasika, the existence of other mental factors involve cetana cetasikas. Therefore, cetana should be regarded as a dhamma that co-exists with all minds and mental factors. The mind, mental factor and matter and also cetana have all their own characteristics. They have all their own jobs.
Amongst these dhammas, cetana is the most peculiar thing. Just as the cetana cetasika is doing its own job, it is also helping all other minds and mental factors do their jobs. All mental factors are led, encouraged and joined by cetana in co-operation. Just as cetana is the leader in making good minds and good mental factors, it also leads them to become evil minds and evil mental factors. Through these minds and mental factors, the physical, verbal and mental volitional activities are carried out with the leadership of cetana.
All actions and activities of the human beings involve other minds and mental factors, everything is led by cetana, and all the actions and activities are, therefore, termed as physical volitional activities, verbal volitional activities and mental volitional activities, naming after (kamma) cetana. What is peculiar here is that while the mental factors come into being and end in extinction, cetana behaves differently; it has the capacity to yield an effect. Depending upon the cetana’s being noble, clean, rough and wicked, there will yield different effects accordingly. One can enjoy or suffer the good or evil effects. But these effects befall not only on the doer of a kamma but also on those around him. For example, when a motorcar dives into a ravine, it is not just the suffering of an individual but of everybody on board the car.
Therefore, all humans need to analyse and criticize their own cetana prevailing in themselves. As it has been said that all the mental dhammas are led by the cetana, it is necessary to analyse and criticize whether metta-the loving kindness (adosa) is leading cetana or volitional activities are being carried out with metta citta that wants positive consequences or whether dosa that wants evil consequences is leading or volitional activities are being carried out with dosa.
Likewise, it is also needed to analyse and criticize whether the sense of equality that wants to share the opportunities (Alobha) is leading or the volitional activities are being carried out with alobha. In the same vein, it is also necessary to analyse and criticize whether atta (lobha) that brings self desire to the fore is leading or the volitional activities are being carried out with atta and lobha. Similarly, it is needed to analyse and criticize whether cetana is leading amoha (wisdom) that wants positive consequences or volitional activities are being carried out with wisdom as well as to analyse and criticize whether cetana is leading moha that fears to face the truth or the volitional activities are being carried out with moha (ignorance).
As the cetana cetasika (the mental factor of cetana) is leading all the minds and mental factors of a person, everybody is possessed with cetana. However, it is needed to watch out which cetana possesses who. As the physical, verbal and mental volitional activities are controlled by cetana, it is easy to observe the first two volitions whereas the third is difficult to assess. When the mental volitions deviate from the correct path, there will yield the evil consequences, which will have impact upon not only the doer of a volition but also upon the people around him.
Therefore, it is needed for all individuals to do only the correct volitional activities. In so doing, keeping an individual to commit only the good volitions is concerned not only with a particular person but also with all those around him who want him to enjoy the good benefits only. In this function, there is no tips as to who help should be sought from – it is a matter of self awareness and self consciousness.
In fact, this duty is not the duty of an individual only but that of all individuals who want good things happening. Otherwise, such a person cannot be said to believe in kamma and kammic effects as expounded by Lord Buddha. The majority of Buddhists accept kamma and kammic effects. However, they are weak in behaving correctly to be able to enjoy good effects. And only few kammas are found to be dedicated to other people.
Most of the kammas committed by individuals are dedicated only to themselves. Therefore, the majority of Buddhists in Myanmar cannot enjoy good consequences although they are engaged in good volitional activities.
One thing I would like to emphasize is for the good cetana to be in the leading role, a good environment is required because people tend to change depending upon time, location, function and the ability of the individual-kala, desa, payoga and puggala. Based on these factors, even good cetana can transform into bad cetana and vice versa.
Therefore, it is needed to create a good environment to suit time, location, function and the individual. And this is a more expansive task to create a good environment.
If we really want to enjoy the fruitful results, we should not be reluctant to sow the good seeds of kamma to have a good environment.
Wishing you health and happiness.