Friday, February 12, 2010

Wrong-View: the "Materialism" Trap

Pa Auk Sayadaw, The Workings of Kamma (WQ edit)

A karmic congregation: ancient monks, modern monks, same-same (Flickr/JRaptor).

Materialism is the view that nothing happens beyond this life since we are composed only of materiality. It is a destructive wrong view that has the potential to drag one to a miserable rebirth. Holding persistent wrong views is one of the weightiest actions one can perform. The unwholesome weighty karmas are:
  1. To deprive one's mother of life
  2. To deprive one's father of life
  3. To deprive an arahant of life
  4. With unwholesome intent to shed a Tathagata's blood
  5. To cause schism in the Sangha
  6. To hold a persistent wrong view, that is, at the time of death to hold a view that denies the workings of karma.

If in one life one has accomplished one of these six weighty karmas (deeds), it will always be subsequently-effective karma. That is, its result is certain rebirth in "hell." AA.I.XVI.iii explains that those who have accomplished the first four escape from hell when their karma has been exhausted, which is no later than the end of an aeon.

Those who have caused a schism in the Sangha escape from hell only at the end of an aeon. (See A.X.I.iv.9). The outcome of holding a persistent wrong view is explained in the section The Weightiest Unwholesome Karma (p. 169).

It cannot be intervened by any other karma. See, for example, the case of King Ajatasattu (who killed his father). That is why these karmas are also called unintervenable karma.

The first three types take effect as weighty karmas as soon as one has accomplished the unwholesome volitional act. But the sixth (holding a persistent wrong view) takes effect as weighty karma only if one holds the wrong view up until the time of death, that is, up to the last mental process before the death-consciousness arises.

Not all wrong views, however, lead to rebirth in hell. One may, for example, hold the view that the self is eternal and that according to one's conduct one is reborn in either good or bad destinations. The view that the self is eternal is an eternity view, a wrong view.

But the view that unwholesome leads to an unhappy destination and that wholesome karma leads to a happy destination, is a doctrine of action. It does not deny the workings of karma. That is why, if one with such a view has accomplished wholesome karma, one may be reborn in either the human realm, the deva world, or the brahma world.

The persistent, strongly-held wrong view that alone can lead to rebirth in hell is the view that somehow denies karma and its result, which is either an annihilation view (such as Materialism) or an eternity view.

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