“Akālika” is understood as “immediate” or “without delay”, and figuratively, it is said to mean “happening in this very life”; all of which is the opposite of “kālika”, meaning “take time”, “belonging to time”, or “happening in the afterlife”. These interpretations seem to have been developed due to the intimate relationship in the text between “akālika” and another word, “sanditthika”, meaning “immediately or directly visible”, “pertaining to this very life”; the two words are being viewed as synonyms, and they very frequently come next to each other, as epithets describing Dhamma, the Doctrine taught by Buddha.
Yet I am quite doubtful about these interpretations, because “kālika”, on the other hand, appears most often as an adjective of “kāma”, sensual pleasure, and I never quite understood how sensual pleasure can be viewed as something that “takes time”, happening after delay, or bearing fruit in an afterlife!
So we have two intimate relationships here: sanditthika-akālika, and kālika-kāma. A very good example of these two is where they appear together at the Samiddhi sutta (SN 1.20), where a certain devata directs the following question to Venerable Samiddhi:
Kathañca bhikkhu kālikā kāmā vuttā bhagavatā bahudukkhā bahūpāyāsā ādīnavo ettha bhiyyo. Kathaŋ sandiṭṭhiko ayaŋ dhammo akāliko ehi passiko opanayiko paccattaŋ veditabbo viññūhī.
If “kālika” must mean “take time” etc. then it would be rather an illogical and inapplicable adjective of kāma, since sensual pleasure is felt instantly and, more over, it dissipates quickly in time. Another problem is that, if “akālika” is to be understood as “immediate” etc., then it is not a synonym of “sanditthika”, but identical to it! We must then make an effort to envisage other meanings of both “kālika” and “akālika” . If sensual pleasure is “kālika”, and Dhamma is “akālika”, then we are talking about features that are opposed to each other and exclusive to each category. And when Dhamma is both “sanditthika” and “akālika”, then there is probably some difference between these two words.
So I am inclined to believe that, where “sanditthika” refers to how Dhamma is experienced (immediately or directly, right here), “akālika” refers to the effect of Dhamma (substantial, cumulative, lasting, not ephemeral, not subject to time, not diminished by it, etc.). Where “sanditthika” means “right here”, “akālika” means “staying here, not going anywhere!”. “Sanditthika” conveys that Dhamma is directly and immediately experienceable, while “akālika” conveys that it is always present and accessible, immutable.
And only with this understanding does “kālika” finally becomes applicable to kāma or sensual pleasure, as meaning: non-substantial, fleeting, ephemeral, diminished by time, etc.
And indeed, one of the foremost disadvantages of sensuality, is that its pleasurable effect never lasts (“kālika”), precisely, not beyond death! While one of the foremost advantages of Dhamma, is that its beneficial effect does last (“akālika”), precisely, even beyond death.
Kālika : affected by time, subject to time, ephemeral, fleeting, evanescent, temporal, transient.
Akālika : unaffected by time, not subject to time, lasting, permanent, immutable, ageless (not going anywhere!)