EVIL TAKES EFFECT AT THE OPPORTUNE MOMENT
Na hi papam katam kammam sajju khiram 'va muccati
Dahantam balam anveti bhasmacchanno'va pavako.
An evil deed does not immediately bear fruit, just as milk does not curdle at once; but it follows the fool, burning him like live coal covered with ashes.
On one occasion, Venerable Maha Moggallana was going on an almsround with Venerable Lakkhana in Rajagaha. On seeing something strange,he smiled*but said nothing. When they were back at the monastery, Moggallana explained to Lakkhana that he had smiled because he had seen a peta-ghost with the head of a human being and the body of a snake. The Buddha then added that he himself had seen that very peta-ghost on the day he attained Buddhahood. The Buddha then revealed that, a very long time ago, there was a Paccekabuddha. People going to his monastery had to pass through a field. The owner of the field, fearing that his field would be damaged by too many people going to and from the monastery, set fire to it. Consequently, the Paccekabuddha had to move to some other place. The supporters of the Paccekabuddha got very angry with the land owner, beat him, and as a result of the beating he died. Because of his bad kamma, he was reborn to suffer as a peta-ghost.
In conclusion, the Buddha said, 'An evil deed does not bear fruit immediately, but it invariably follows the evil doer. There is no escape from the consequences of an evil deed.'
*When Arahants and Buddhas smile, it is not an expression of humour. Rather it is a sign to whoever is with them to question them on what prompted the smile.