The 3 Views that Deny the Workings of Karma
There are three wrong views (ditthi) that deny the workings of karma and result:
- Inefficiency (akiriya) denies the workings of actions.
- Rootlessness (ahetuka) denies the root or cause of results.
- Non-Existence (natthika) denies the result of any cause.
This view denies the workings of unskillful and skillful actions. In the Buddha’s time, it was taught by Purana Kassapa. The Buddha explains how identity view (the belief in an enduring-self, denying egolessness) gives rise to such a wrong view: "When there is [materiality, feeling, perception, formations, or] consciousness [the Five Aggregates], monastics, by clinging to [them or to] consciousness, by adhering to [them or to] consciousness, such a view as [inefficiency] arises:
- ‘If with a razor-rimmed wheel one were to make living beings of this Earth into one mass of flesh, into one heap of flesh, because of this there would be no wrongdoing and no outcome of wrongdoing.
- 'If one were to go along the south bank of the Ganges river killing and slaughtering, mutilating and encouraging others to mutilate, torturing and encouraging others to torture, because of this there would be no wrongdoing and no outcome of wrongdoing.
- 'If one were to go along the north bank of the Ganges offering gifts and encouraging others to give gifts, making offerings and encouraging others to make offerings, because of this there would be no merit and no outcome of merit.
- 'By offering, by taming oneself, by self-control, by speaking truth, there is no merit and no outcome of merit.’"
This wrong view denies the efficiency [effectiveness] of unwholesome and wholesome actions, which is to deny the efficiency of karma.
The rootlessness view holds that events are determined by fate, or by circumstance, or by nature (i.e., "biology is destiny"), denying that events have a root or cause. In the Buddha’s time, it was taught by Makkhali Gosala. The Buddha explains how identity view gives rise to such a wrong view: "When there is [materiality, feeling, perception, formations, or] consciousness, monastics, by clinging to [these or to] consciousness, by adhering to [these or to] consciousness, such a view as [rootlessness] arises:
- ‘There is no root and there is no cause for the defilement of beings; without root and without cause beings are defiled.
- 'There is no root and there is no cause for the purification of beings; without root and without cause beings are purified.
- 'There is no power, there is no energy, there is no [supportive (viriya)] strength, there is
no [supportive] endurance.
- 'All beings, all breathers, all creatures, all living beings, are without ability, without power, and without energy: molded by fate, circumstance, and nature, they experience pleasure and pain in the six classes.’"
The "six classes" of pleasure and pain taught here by Makkhali Gosala are a sixfold system of purification that he said has no cause either. This wrong view denies that events have a root or cause, which is to deny that there are causes such as karma.
This view holds that only materiality [form, the body, physicality] has true existence and denies that actions have any result. For that reason, it denies also that there is rebirth, that there are other planes of existence, and denies that there are teachers such as the Buddha who know and see these things. In the Buddha’s time, it was taught by Ajita Kesakambali.
The Buddha explains how the identity view gives rise to such a wrong view: "When there is [materiality, feeling, perception, formations, or] consciousness, monastics, by clinging to [them or to] consciousness, by adhering to [them or to] consciousness, such a view as [nonexistence] arises:
- 'There is no offering, there is no alms giving, there is no sacrifice; there is no fruit or result of skillful and unskillful karma; there is no this world, there is no other world; there is no [special significance to] mother, there is no father; there are no spontaneously born beings [being born without parents such as celestial and infernal beings]; there are not in the world any ascetics or brahmins, rightly faring, rightly practicing, who (with direct knowledge) having themselves realized this world and the other world declare it.
- 'This person consists of the four great essentials [elements]. When one dies, earth enters and rejoins the body of the earth; water enters and rejoins the body of water; fire enters and rejoins the fire; wind enters and rejoins wind: the faculties are transformed into space. With the bier as the fifth, pallbearers carry away the corpse. As far as the cemetery is the body known. The bones whiten. Sacrifices end in ashes. A foolish wisdom is this offering.
- 'When anyone maintains the existence-doctrine [that there is a result of offering, of skillful and unskillful actions, etc.], it is false, idle talk. Fools and the wise, with the breakup of the body, are annihilated, perish, and do not exist after death.’"
This wrong view is an annihilation (uccheda) view, and is the same as the view of materialism. When the Buddha explains basic Right-View (samma-ditthi, a factor of the Noble Eightfold Path), he often contrasts it with this wrong view.