5th Class Notes: Abhidharma 4 – Karma and Defilements

I. OVERVIEW - The teaching of karma (action) is fundamental to Buddhist thought, explaining how the various realms of being, and the world itself, arise. In Buddhism, the world (discussed in the last class), arises from the collective karma of all beings. - However, there is a current of interpretation which views the teaching of karma as merely a concession for the uninitiated, a straightforward moral framework for the common people, and peripheral to the ultimate aims of Buddhism, ―an insufficiency ethic for the weak who will not seek complete salvation‖ (-Weber). The real or essential Buddhism is then meditation and enlightenment as the Abhidharmakosa states: ―Essentially, the precepts have heaven for their result; cultivation has disconnection [i.e., nirodha, cessation] for its result.‖ Insight into no-self uproots the illusion of a self performing karma. There are thus two distinct paths: a ―karmic path‖ of doing good and a ―nirvanic path‖ seeking liberation (Spiro). We will return to this question below. - As we discussed in the first class, Śākyamuni Buddha did adopt the basic notion of karma from the Brahmanical context where karma meant ritual action, as well as the Śramaṇa movements, in which the Jains taught that karma was a subtle material dust which could be good or bad but was to some extent all negative or impure. However, the teaching of karma in the context of Buddhism was altered in key ways with deep ties to the ultimate soteriological goal of liberation from saṃsāra. - Karma means action and in Buddhism, particularly moral action – good/skillful (kuśala) or bad/unskillful (akuśala). - The definition of karma (action) is intention (cetanā). This represents a profound shift in emphasis from engaging in acts of external purification and cultivation - such as sacrifice, ritual washing and physical asceticism - to internal or mental purification and cultivation: training the mind. - Karma as intention ultimately rests on the defilements and it thus the elimination of the defilements that constitutes liberation. But note, karma is not peripheral in this context. It is because the defilements unfold through karma into the world of birth and death that elimination of the defilements acquires its soteriological significance. - In addition to being action which is morally defined by its intention, karma is action which brings about a result at a later time. Technically, the result of karma (action) is retribution (vipāka), but karma also comes to refer to the relational complex of the original act and its later retribution, and by extension, karma also comes to be applied just to the result (e.g. ―it‘s your karma‖). Further, karma can also refer to unretributed (or accumulated) karmic acts – that is, one can possess ―a store of good karma‖. II. INTENTION (CETANĀ) - Cetanā, intention or volition, basically refers to thought, voluntary and conscious. More specifically, in the Abhidharma approach, volition is the overall pattern or shape of the mind, or that which conditions, informs and shapes the mind. The mind here refers to consciousness and all the mental factors present in a moment of mind. - Cetanā is thus the overall pattern of the mental factors, or that which directs the mental factors towards a given pattern and the most significant patterns are moral: good, bad, etc. The mental factors (caitta) themselves are thus classified in terms of their moral (skillful and unskillful) and spiritual (defiled) valence expressing the central importance of cetanā and karma in the Abhidharma psychological analysis. The moral quality of karma is defined by the intention that lies behind it, the overall ethical tendency of the voluntary directing function of the mind. - The Buddha thus grounds action and ethics in the study of the mind, and more specifically, intention, a choice or the voluntary shaping of the mental factors. Ultimately it is the mind which gives rise to the world through action. - There are numerous classifications of karma in the Abhidharma teachings. In relation to cetanā: 2-fold: i .cetanā (intention, volition), and ii. cetanākrta (action created by volition, action-after-having-been-willed). Intention, volition or thought (cetanā) projects bodily & vocal karmas and arises before them. Cetanā also arises together with and assists bodily and vocal karmas. Karma is not just cetanā, as cetanā itself does not accomplish action in the world. 3-fold: 1. Mental (manas), 2. Bodily (kāya), 3. Vocal (vāk). Karma is established on a 3-fold basis: 1) In terms of the originating cause, mental karma is established (all actions have their origin in the mind) 2) In terms of intrinsic nature, vocal karma is established (voice is action by its nature whereas ―body‖ is not) 3) In terms of supporting basis, bodily karma is established.

that has not yet come to fruition). i. the Sarvāstivāda resolve this issue: a) By asserting that the original karma exists in the three times (the defining these of sarvāstitva: all exists). Emphasis is placed on intention. their variant moral valences pose no conflict to the principle that each moment of mind must have one moral quality. This is the result of good and pure action. good. how are the accumulated karmic potentials invariably associated with one‘s series? . they proposed a theory of ―seeds‖ (bīja) which carry karmic potentials. beneficial.As discussed under the ―Abhidharma Problematic‖ in the 2nd class. on the overall pattern of mental factors. or sabhāga .. evil. there would be conflicting moral valences in a single moment. Two sub-types: i. bad or undefined.g. ii.III. unwholesome): Undesirable results: Negative sensation or painful rebirth. neutral. Anivṛta (Non-veiled. b) By introducing a mediating dharma of possession or acquisition (prāpti) which is disjoined or disassociated from mind (citta-viprayukta). b) Any given moment of mind can only be characterized by one karmic valence: good. If they are not. The prāpti series guarantees that accumulated karmic potentials are only associated with the series from which they were produced and provide an unbroken stream of causal links connecting the originating act with its future retribution. Conducive to the attainment of nirvāṇa – this definitely protects one from suffering. indeterminate. One thus ―possesses‖ the karma. vipāka-hetus) or not and if not. how can they bring about a retribution? IV. The prāpti dharmas hold things together: the series and its associated actions as above. TRANSMISSION OF KARMIC ACCUMULATIONS AND THE ABHIDHARMA PROBLEMATIC . ii. Avyākrta (Morally non-defined. Nivṛta (veiled. ii. Akuśala (skillful.The doctrine that ―everything exists‖ ensures that the past can bear results in the present or future. belief in self (satkāya-dṛṣṭi)).similar) series of acquisition (prāpti) dharmas until the karma comes to fruition. c) How then can accumulated karmic potentials (past karma. the doctrine of karma poses a particular problem for the synchronic approach of dharma theory. wholesome): Desirable results: i.In this context. The moral valence of karma is also characterized in reference to its (non-moral) results rather than the originating intention or the nature of the action itself (harmful vs.. be accounted for? i. ii. . . and as we will see below. of indistinct nature): No karmic result. . obstructed) – indefinite but obstructive to liberation (e. etc. Such dharmas are discernable on a moment-to-moment basis in the mind and its associated mental factors which comprise the individual. bad. one can say that the prāpti series is the ongoing efficacy of the karma as it continues to be associated with the individual). These seeds are not actually dharmas but are potentials or merely ―provisional‖ (prajñapti). possibly. both good and bad.g. A prāpti series is a prāpti dharma arising with the original karma which replicates itself in a homorgenous (niṣyanda – emanation. KARMA IS MORALLY DEFINABLE . in determining the moral valence of an action (as discussed in the 3rd class). the series remains connected to that karma by way of a prāpti series. In particular: a) The synchronic approach asserts that the ultimate account of reality consists of the momentary existence of dharmas. The prāpti series maintains the causal efficacy of the karma (or.The Sautrantika took another approach: less committed to upholding dharma theory at any cost.When a series generates karma. The Sarvāstivādins reply. Because the prāptis are disjoined from mind. [Intention is the definition of karma then as it is what is most prominent in forming karmic results]: Kuśala (skillful. If they are a part of the series. Agreeable retribution: either as positive sensation or good rebirth – this protects one from suffering for a limited time. certain crafts) . the mind and its dispositions towards the defilements. This is the result of good but impure action. detrimental. The dharmas disjoined from mind preserve the overall approach of dharma theory while sacrificing the principle that the overt functions of mind completely encompass the individual stream. unobstructed) – indefinite and not obstructive to liberation (e. a key aspect of the diachronic soteriological frame in which the synchronic method acquires its relevance. action which purifies other action. helpful.Karma is morally definable.). in effect: are they real forces (dharmas.

Even when such a person performs a good deed. Not being defiled. On one hand. further karma is generated. . the particular conditioned pattern of dharmas which abandon the defilements. Applies to actions of body and voice which are ―informative‖ – evident. . they become extinct at the death of the body). visaṃyoga). how monks and nuns are truly different from the non-ordained.g. Agreeable sensations tend to invoke greed. Pure: Pure action destroys the other three types of action. The original vocal karma does not constitute the act (e. iii. it is not white. Based on those reactions. so it is thus black-white. helping one to avoid transgressing the precepts. is black-white. not to the nature of the action itself. further karmic cause of the accomplished deed). There is no action which is black-white. It is ‗non-white‘ (asukla)…the Blessed One wishes to oppose pure action to white action…Pure action does not have any retribution. Even so. avijñapti is 3-fold: i. is white. This is similar to the 1st type. This avijñapti requires specific conditions and ecclesiastical procedure (e. its retribution. Vijñapti: informative. not being retribution. retribution. the path (which is conditioned) and leads to nirvāṇa (which is unconditioned) includes mental states which overlap with the mental states of good or skillful minds. Refers to a non-evident. (Pure Action) Black. When properly acquired. in one and the same mental series. an avijñapti is produced (based on the vijñapti of the original vocal karma. Discipline/restraint (saṃvara) – Primarily concerns vow and meditation states. non-communicating aspect of certain actions. but it is not itself nirvāṇa – it induces the possession or acquisition (prāpti) of definitive abandonment of the defilements (= cessation. good action is mixed with bad action. is absolutely white.Avijñapti karmas only last for one‘s present existence. In relation to ordination. iii. murder) as the emissary may be interrupted. Undiscpline/non-restraint (asaṃvara) – Primarily concerns livelihoods. Disagreeable sensations tend to invoke aversion. The path. not movement. this avijñapti can act as a restraining force. which would be a contradiction. being defiled. being agreeable. nor any retribution which is black-white. through which the potential status of the karmic fruit can be continuously modified. vows must be taken in front of a teacher who recites the vows which one then repeats word for word [para-vijñāpana]). V. INFORMATIVE (VIJÑAPTI) AND NON-INFORMATIVE (AVIJÑAPTI) KARMA . they still possess this negative avijñapti. Black-White & Pure Action: i. nirodha and disconnection. which in itself cannot serve as the cause for the seeding of the distinct. ii. Good action leads to higher births. because of momentariness (movement is a false conception). the avijñapti.In fully develop Sarvāstivāda.g. contribute to and transform the karmic cause associated with the originating volition. but applies to unskillful occupations such as being a butcher. being mixed with the bad. their retribution can be actualized in future lives through an acquisition (prāpti) series (one can continue to possess (prāpti) the avijñatpis). being painful. Black: Bad action. b) This category of avijñapti is also used to account for the tricky problem of actions committed through an emissary. (White action) ii. it is not black. White: Good action of the sphere of Rūpadhātu. in fact. . This definition is to be understood as applying. is absolutely black. Avijñapti: non-informative. Simultaneous with the accomplishment of the action itself.Bodily and vocal karma can be informative or non-informative.Good karma is a kind of pivot between saṃsāra and nirvāṇa: i. but higher births are still part of the wheel of birth and death. not mixed with the bad. What then changes in the person‘s karmic causes at the moment when the emissary enacts the deed? It is explained that at that moment. Bodily informative action is shape. an invisible karmic force (a retributive cause) is projected within the doer‘s body (it is a type of subtle material form (rūpa)) which continues to renew itself in a series. but to the ‗series‘ or the person. communicating. iv. Neither-discipline-nor-undiscipline (naiva-saṃvara-nasaṃvara) – Concerns a variety of situations including: a) How rejoicing over an action or repenting an action (see consecutive karma below). its retribution is mixed. On the other hand. is pure. it arrests the process of existence. Avijñaptis are not carried over into one‘s future existences (being material. ii. saṃsāra subsumes positive and negative karma. for it is not of the domain of the spheres of existence. Such an interaction between the original karmic seed and subsequent actions presupposes a continuously present and active karmic agent. Another example is that the merit of a gift increases by reason the unfolding of benefits received through the gift. Vocal informative action is speech. White. visible. Black-White: Good action of the sphere of Kāmadhātu.. is black. etc.. audible. this avijñapti establishes the difference between those in the discipline (saṃvara) and those who are not – that is.

HOW KARMA UNFOLDS . (iv) Injuring a Buddha (impossible to kill a Buddha). they are not conjoined with mind. Actions carried out continuously or for a prolonged period of time iv. . Three types: (i) to be retributed in this life. avijñapti develops to serve multiple functions in a variety of specific situations which posed problems for the synchronic approach. the action preparatory to killing lasts. the retribution of some karmas may be lightened as a result of practice and cultivation. Also.. For it is by reason of two causes that one is touched by the transgression of murder: by reason of the preparatory action and by reason of the achievement of the result [of the preparatory action].Aivjnapti may have originally served as a mechanism to account for karmic retribution (rather than a prāpti series as above). and thus avert the problem of conflicting moral valences co-existing in a single moment of mind. avijñapti karmas may represent an alternative strategy to resolving problems of the Abhidharma Problematic: as they are material. eating it. vijñapti which is rūpa]. (ii) in the next life. non-resistant and nonspatialized). sometimes avijñapti. Further.6 Contributing Causes: Karma is not bound by a mechanical rigidity.g. takes a sword. a Buddha) v. (The Theravada tradition seems to have opted for this strategy generally rather than dharmas disjoined from mind. strikes the head once or twice: as long as he does not kill it. takes some silver. pulls it. A subset of determinate karmas are the 5 ―mortal transgressions‖ (ānantarya = ―no-gap‖ transgressions – one goes to Avīci Hell (the worst hell) immediately (no-gap) after one‘s present life): (i) Patricide. leads it. desiring to kill an animal. and (iii) in subsequent lives.Karma can be determinate or indeterminate: Determinate karma (niyata): Action determinate with respect to its retribution. Actions carried out through great faith iii. These 6 causes affect the gravity of a karmic cause and thus its retribution (one further factor is the spiritual status of the doer/possessing false views): . Preparatory (prayoga or sāmantaka) action consists of any preparations for an action – they are always vijñapti. goes to the market. Others teach that nobles ones (āryas) necessarily experience the retribution of their determinate karmas before entering the noble path. Arhats and Buddhas cannot escape the consequences of determinate karma. ―A man. its retribution can be modified in various ways.) However.Karma is 3-fold: i. Consecutive (pṛṣṭhā) action is action in the moments that follow – they are sometimes vijñapti. ―The moments that follow. There are five ways to generate action that is determinate: i.‖ ii. cooking it. are the consecutive action. practically speaking it was non-material. and congratulating oneself on it. the series of the moments of vijñapti are also consecutive action: moments that constitute pulling the hide off the animal. rises from his bed. like creditors desperately putting pressure on a debtor when about to leave the country. how can rūpa be volitional? VI.. The murdering of one‘s mother and father. The course of action proper is the act at the moment of accomplishing or achieving the action (just 1 moment).‖ . However. (v) Creating a schism in the Saṃgha (Buddhist community) (iii) Killing an Arhat (fully enlightened disciple) Indeterminate karma (aniyata) is karma that may or may not be retributed. selling it. makes it enter. Actions carried out through great defilement ii. Highly developed practitioners may transform even serious transgressions. always avijñapti. (ii) Matricide.Defined as a special kind of matter (rūpa) [because it derives from. Many factors are at work as action and its retribution unfold according to the teaching of dependent co-arising. Action carried out with respect to a ―field of qualities‖ (e. feels the animal. buys the animal. are the course of action proper. .‖ iii. a middle way between determinism or fatalism and absolute freedom or random chance. the moments of avijñapti created by the killing. Such moments of transcendence are described as encountering a strong obstructing force of the retributable karma not wanting to be transcended. their spiritual development is such that even great evil karmas mature in ways that little harm is done. For example. washing it. weighing it. at the moment when the animal dies—the vijñapti of this moment and the avijñapti which is simultaneous to this vijñapti. or with. In mature Sarvāstivāda however. mistreats it. as a material entity. ―At the stroke by which he deprives the animal of its life—that is. avijñapti was unwieldy for it was so subtle (invisible.

3-fold Result: All paths of karma (karma-patha). represent a major form of ethical guidance within Buddhism – the most important kinds of action. An individual‘s karmic action has both personal and collective aspects. Note: preparatory actions for all the courses of action can arise from all three roots. ii. etc.‖ . Lack of vitality and non-durability of external things (how the act changes/makes the world) . Rebirth in a lower realm ii.Collective Karma: The paths of karma are established not only because they effect one by way of retribution. arhats. malice (vyāpāda) 10. The basis (adhisthāna) is the deed itself. etc. shape and power. The nature of the field (kṣetra-viśesa) is the moral or spiritual quality of the person with respect to whom the karma is incurred. in certain humans this or that is lacking. the fruit of dominance (adhipati-phala) of the collective karma of the totality of beings inhabiting the universe. one defines the ten courses of action. KARMIC RESULTS . skillful or unskillful. E. with all its planets. covetousness (abhindhyā) 9. Projecting actions: One action projects one arising and no more. Completing Actions: Many actions complete an existence. But note: the projecting karma operates with an assemblage of other causal factors including the functioning of defilements and assisting conditions.. etc. false speech (mṛṣā-vāda) 5. VII.g. harsh speech (pāruṣya) 7.) v. iii. 5 & 7 through any one of the three roots. The 10 courses of action. mountains and oceans. . confession. 3 & 8 through greed. (This can include regret. Splitting the saṃgha is the most serious transgression because the saṃgha is the most excellent field of virtue. Volition (cetanā) is the dharma through which the act is accomplished. good and bad respectively‖. iv. in which volition unfolds and operates (see also 3-fold result below).i. (This can also include the further consideration of whether the action is fully accomplished and completed.Courses of Action (karma-patha): AKB: ―By taking from among these [good & bad] practices the most evident. figure. Fruit of retribution (vipāka-phala) ii. rejoicing. major and minor members. false view (mithyā-dṛṣṭi) . and work through. 6 & 9 are achieved through hatred. The latter is sometimes called ―collective karma. ii. Fruit of dominance (adhipati-phala) For example. killing one‘s parents is much worse than stealing from them. whereas. one‘s mother and father. malicious speech (paiśunya) 6. 10 through delusion. even though their quality of being a human is the same.The 10 courses of action represent the most significant ways. AKB: ―The same way that a painter with one stroke delineates the outline of an image. killing is said to have the following three results: i. vi. Other significant ―fields‖: the Buddha. taking life (prāṇātipāta) 2.) . contributing in terms of specific details (life span. sexual misconduct (kāma-mithyācāra) 4.The ten unskillful courses of action are based in the three unskillful roots (akuśala-mūla): 1. Strength of intention (āśaya-viśesa) is the level of conviction behind the deed. The unskillful paths of karma represent the primary ways in which beings establish a course within saṃsāra.Projecting (ākṣepaka) and Completing (paripūraka) Karmas: i. The group-homogeneity (nikāya-sabāgha) & vital faculty (jīvita-indriya) of one existence are the result of the karmic projection of one and only one karma. The preparatory action (prayoga) is action which leads to the principle action. etc). 2.. and then fills in this image: so too. taking what is not given (adattādāna) 3. the projection of existence would take place in parts. certain humans have perfect organs. is the result. The 10 unskillful paths of karma are: 1. Some karmic causes are responsible for projecting a particular type of existence.‖ The basic Buddhist teaching is that the whole universe. certain humans are beautiful through the excellence of their hue. but also the whole world. are said to have a threefold result: i. the overall tendency of the mental factors conjoined at the moment of the karma. frivolous speech (saṃbhinna-pralāpa) 8. and 4. Fruit of emanation (niṣyanda-phala) iii. Nothing arises from a single cause. . the endless round of birth and death. skillful and unskillful. Short life-span in future births iii. Many actions do not together project one arising: for if this were the case. karma-patha. to its accomplishment (roads volitions can traverse or follow). Subsequent actions (pṛṣṭhā) following the principle action can make it more grave and make its retribution determinate. They are pathways or courses (-patha) that volition (karma) can traverse.

vedanā.e. the cognitive and emotional afflictions of mind.A further result of the action of course is also what is actually accomplished by the deed itself. over-simplifications. Liberation goes beyond karma (it is pure karma rather than black. and through karmic causation. This is a corollary of the basic ethic of intention.). The retribution result is primarily sensation. the doctrine of karma underwent numerous alterations. . that: ―Essentially. In its popular manifestations. .. cultivation (bhāvanā) has disconnection [from the defilements] for its result.The retribution result is undefiled-neutral. HOW THE DEFILEMENTS FUNCTION WITH KARMA A. Karma without the defilements is not actually karma – it does not accumulate (upacita) and does not give rise to new existence.Can one’s karma bear effect on another or be experienced by another? The Sarvāstivāda refute these possibilities. No one experiences someone else‘s retribution. and reconfigurations. Action elaborates the defilements into the realm of sentient relations. anuśaya). and a psychology of liberation from good and bad? . bad. white.How does the realm of action interrelate with the realm of the mind? . as quoted above.Karma is generated because of the defilements and without the defilements. and as part of the path on the other? .While it is the case. however. the precepts (śīla) have heaven for their result. forming a rut. disposition. but the path to liberation involves clearly distinguishing and committing oneself to good or wholesome karma (and mental states) in contrast to evil.Liberation (nirvāṇa) is conceived (or even defined) in terms of the abandonment of defilements and the karmic activity they engender. and karmic results unfold a new foundation upon which the defilements can thrive.How integrate morality based on good vs. etc. are the ―root of existence‖ (mūlaṃbhavasya) – the underlying condition for saṃsāra. Karma thus requires the defilements as a necessary supporting condition for the process of retribution. the transfer of merit is effective through inspiring in beings new wholesome volitions which are new karmic causes in their stream. distortions. . bad or unwholesome karma (and mental states).This is expressed in the 3-part cyclic condensation of the 12-fold dependent arising (discussed last week): Defilement [5th class] World [4th class] Action [5th class] C.Karma is how the defilements are enacted. but they are incapable of producing rebirth in the absence of the defilements.How do ethics work with spiritual cultivation? B.Defilements (kleśa. The defilements apart from karma do not get elaborated into a world. . Underlying questions and perspectives: . habit.The first two are unique for the individual but the third is shared by all beings. karmas are incapable of effecting a new existence. . how the world of cyclic rebirth is constantly maintained and renewed. .The ten paths of karma are said to be established on account of these three fruits. .‖ successful negotiation of the path of cultivation presupposes and builds on a deep and extensive commitment to the ethical practices of the precepts (i.How does karma interact with the defilements on one hand. how they are actually put into action. Thus it is through both the defilements and karma that suffering is truly established and maintained. . Defilements are the generating cause and a supporting condition for karma: . The transfer of merit is not actually a transfer of good karmic causes.The emanation (even-flowing) result is also taught as a tendency to repeat the action. . good karma). One does not receive the karmic retributions of actions intended by others. How karma is works with and against the path to liberation: .. DEFILEMENTS I. . Rather. vipāka. Arhats do have the indeterminate karmas conducive to rebirth.

and in all three cases. This brings temporary relief including an agreeable result but does not definitively address the underlying problem of the defilements. Further. good. The later represents a juncture of choice. Between that result and a new karmic cause is defilement. particularly grasping. and this is the juncture or gap into which liberating practice can find a footing. and the cycle goes on perpetually. Pure action. the cycle may have too much momentum for cultivation to be effective. Cultivation is then the continuation of this purification of the mind in the relatively non-active context of meditation and study of the teachings. commitment to ethical conduct leads naturally into studying the mind and its mental factors and developing good or skillful states of mind. ongoing.In terms of the schematic above. In the “Karma Gap” one engages in ethical practice: not acting on the defilements. and prerequisite component of turning the attention inward to study the underlying mental process.This may help to clarify how good karma is spiritually bivalent (as discussed above): i. Good karma is part of the process of saṃsāra. hatred and ignorance (the afflicted counterparts to agreeable. This bivalent approach to good ethical conduct may also resonate with correlate tensions between right view and going beyond all views. the world.e. Since karma is intention. There is no way to drive a wedge between karmic cause and karmic result. a) Karma  b) Result  c) Defilement  d) Karma  Good (kuśala) Agreeable Greed [Greed. Good karma is also part of the path to nirvāṇa. It is the basis for training the mind back to the ―Cultivation Gap‖. Based on not reacting to the result. and eventually realizing the true nature of the object of the defilements. where intention can potentially shape a skillful or unskillful response to the karmic result of the present. c) defiled tendencies underlie or are provoked by those feelings or sensations. These defilements then predispose the series to further… d) karma. which ―destroys‖ action.. .In some more detail: a) karma which is good. disagreeable and indeterminate feelings). hatred and ignorance can be the condition for good. two distinct gaps or junctures can be identified: “Cultivation Gap” (abandoning the defilements) World [4th class] “No Gap” Defilement [5th class] “Karma gap” (ethical practice. These were productive tensions which helped move the tradition forward. Without creating a gap between the arising of the defilements and new action through ethical practice. and thus characterized by the ―suffering of change‖. ii. We will explore these tensions later in the context of Madhyamaka thought. the juncture before the defilements arise and take root. as well as between Conventional Truth leading to or opening Ultimate Truth vs. Bad (akuśala) Disagreeable Hatred bad or undefined karma] Undefined (avyākrta) Neutral Ignorance (+ Greed & Hatred) ―Karma Gap‖ ―No Gap‖ ―Cultivation Gap‖ ―Karma Gap‖ ―No Gap‖ . summarized below by the three unskillful or evil roots (akuśala-mūla): greed. attachment and greed. Ultimate Truth which negates or goes utterly beyond Conventional Truth. This is definitive release. and purifying one‘s action is purifying one‘s mind. impure karma) Action [5th class] In the “Cultivation Gap” the defilements are abandoned such that they no longer arise. i. more significant than its agreeable results is that ethical practice is conducive to cultivation. but the possibility for liberation flows from the freedom that is available between karmic result and new karmic cause. which can be good. disagreeable or indeterminate. karmic activity does not occur. bad or non-defined. . action is mental. agreeable sensation becomes the foundation for the arising and development of defilements. Good karma represents an essential. leads to… b) results which are correspondingly agreeable. the foundation.The defilements are what lies between karmic result which is neutral and karmic action which is not. If the defilements do not arise. Karmic result is the perpetuation of samsaric existence but in and of itself does not comprise an active cause for the maintenance of cyclic suffering. As karma is defined as intention. However. It generates pleasant results but agreeable sensation itself is only a temporary relief.. is thus distinct from white action. bad or non-defined. .

interpreting anuśaya rather as ―subtle‖ and ―tenacious‖. BASIC NATURE OF THE DEFILEMENTS – ABHIDHARMA PROBLEMATIC PART II . such as belief in self. whereas the paryavasthāna (outburst) is the kleśa in an awakened state.The defilement also adheres and grows in relation to its object.II.‖ III. Dharma theory needs to be adapted or to some extent abandoned. most of which are only active under specific conditions.The defilements also strongly adhere – it is very difficult to become free from the defilements. the defilements (kleśa) as dispositions. in the state of being a seed.Sautrantika Response: In the Abhidharmakosa. Like a bird flying in the sky. And by ‗seed‘ one should understand a certain capacity to produce the kleśa. which are clearly a fundamental aspect of the whole soteriology. For this reason. As discussed below. can co-exist with practically any object. some are also incompatible with good or skillful states of mind. Apparent references to latent defilements in the early discourses were reinterpreted as possession (prāpti). The defilement and the aggregate of mind and mental factors mutually support and deepen each other. The array of defilements lie in wait as dispositions. . b) How can such an approach account for the diachronic persistence of latent dispositions towards the defilements? A moment of anger is easily classified as a distinct dharma. unless the object is pure (anāsrava. c) Not only are the defilements incompatible with each other (greed and hatred). thinking it can cross an ocean. the defilement itself becomes more intense. the Sarvāstivāda teach that the defilements ―adhere and grow‖. HOW THE DEFILEMENTS FUNCTION A. The abandoning of the defilements then consists of the destruction of the prāptis of the defilements. Abandoning the defilements refers to the complete uprooting of the latent disposition. the Sarvāstivādins once again invoke the dharma of possession (prāpti). In other words. in the gradual abandoning of the defilements. how is it that the remaining defilements are transmitted even while the pure path abandons other defilements? d) In other words. and hatred only arises with respect to a disagreeable sensation or object (and further. thus encounter the same impasse which arose with accounting for the related notions of karmic cause and effect. When a defilement becomes active (conjoined with mind).As with the discussion of karma above. greed and hatred cannot co-exist as their modes of activity are opposed). the awakened kleśa is the manifested kleśa. expressing a lack of commitment to dharma theory by once again appealing to the notion of seeds (bīja) which are not dharmas: ―What is called anuśaya is the kleśa itself in a state of sleep. and asserting that anuśaya simply refers to the manifest afflictions (kleśa). Sentient beings are endowed with a number of defilements. whereas greed only arises with respect to an agreeable sensation or object. arising in that moment. a power belonging to the person engendered by the previous kleśa. etc. Each of the defilements is associated with an individual by a conascent prāpti (disjoined from mind). Such pure objects do not support the growth of the defilements but are opposed to them.In early Buddhism.Enlightenment is not merely the absence of defilements in one‘s present state of mind – it is that the defilements cannot afflict the mind under any condition whatsoever. The sleeping kleśa is the non-manifested kleśa. how are they not efficacious in every moment? e) Abhidharma approaches to the defilements. . Ignorance accompanies all defiled states. The Defilements Adhere and Grow: One defilement causes the whole citta-caitta (mind and mental factors) complex to be defiled by way of influence and contamination. how can the dispositions continue in an unbroken series if they are not somehow present in each moment? But if they are present in each moment. the Abhidharma describes the path in terms of a gradual process of abandoning the defilements. ready to overwhelm the sentient being once the correlate set of conditions arise. karmic accumulation. and a fish swimming in the water. tendencies or potentials are referred to as anuśaya (latent tendency). . but the disposition towards getting angry belongs to a different level of discourse. outflow-free). Instead. the kleśa in action. we find here a second major manifestation of the Abhidharma problematic: a) The synchronic approach asserts that the ultimate account of reality consists of the momentary existence of the mind and its associated mental factors which comprise the individual. the latent dispositions towards the defilements have been uprooted and completely cleared. Pure objects refer to the 3rd and 4th noble truths of nirvāṇa and the path. Some afflictions. the prāpti series associated with that defilement is strengthened. . The language of dispositions is rejected as incompatible with dharma theory.Sarvāstivāda Response: The Sarvāstivāda reject the notion of latent defilements. As the mind and its mental factors become defiled. . Vasubandhu supports the view that the anuśayas are latent tendencies of defilements. All other objects are opportunities for the growth of the defilements. . Further. following its shadow until it eventually the bird falls to its demise. .

Defilements can arise without the 2nd cause (object) if the 1st (not abandoned) and 3rd (improper mental application) are active. are cognitive and affective in nature and thus are not abandoned by insight alone. makes one go astray). are solely abandoned by the path of seeing (darśana-marga). induces consciousness on the objects of rebirth). the upakleśas (secondary defilements): hatred engenders anger. etc. See table on the next page. By seeing the 2nd noble truth of origin 3. The Sarvāstivāda distinguishes 5 categories of abandonables: 1. that is. and -It becomes a bond (bandhana) and prevents surmounting of the sphere of existence to which it belongs. repeated practice and realization of insight. . esteeming views & doubt . Otherwise. 10 & 98 Defilements.preventing it from being broken. induces the karma for new existence). There are 11 universal defilements (7+4) [see table on next page where the universal defilements are marked with a ―u‖]: 7 under the defilements abandoned by seeing the truth of suffering in Kāmadhātu: ignorance. complete knowledge (parijñā) and fruit of the spiritual life (Śrāmaṇaya-phala). all 5 views & doubt 4 under seeing the truth of origin in Kāmadhātu: ignorance. Cultivation. On account of the object (viṣaya-balena): external stimuli conducive to defilements enter one‘s field.Abandonment (prahāna). 7. pride and ignorance. -It engenders its offspring. cessation (nirodha). A. repeatedly giving rise to improper mental application). Modes and Categories of Abandonment of the Defilements: When a defilement can be abandoned simply by the insight into the Four Noble Truths. attachment. Kāmadhātu (desire-realm). On account of preparatory effort (prayoga-balena): This refers to improper mental application (ayonisomanaskara. iii. and incorrect judgment (3) is its immediate preparation: three distinct forces‖: i. namely. ―erroneous judgment‖ or ―incorrect comprehension‖). By seeing the 3rd noble truth of extinction 4. that is. They are intrinsically more tenacious and resilient than the cognitive defilements. it accomplishes many operations: -It makes solid (or firm) its root. and 3. The 2nd (object) cannot make a defilement arise if there is proper mental application (the opposite of the 3rd). its prāpti—the possession that a certain person already had of the kleśa .The Sarvāstivāda also distinguishes defilements in terms of the 3 spheres: 1. Universal (sarvatrāga) Defilements: The universal defilements can arise and function in relation to all objects of their sphere (dhātu) and also serve as the cause for the production of further defilements (similar and dissimilar). IV.B. it is darśana-heya. at certain stages. 9 (by excluding the view of self & view of extremes) also serve as universal defilements in relation to the higher spheres (Rūpadhātu & Ārūpyadhātu). it continues to reproduce itself. -It places itself in a series (that is. Defilements arise from 3 Causes: ―The anuśaya (1) is cause. Ārūpyadhātu (non-material-realm).Of these 11 universal defilements. The other 4 defilements. (―engenders a poisonous emanation‖) -It leads to action (leads to karma-bhāva. -It aggregates its causes.‖ . 2. the 10 anuśayas are elaborated into a total of 98 defilements – see next page: ―6. -It accommodates its field. the defilements are susceptible to being abandoned by seeing and cultivation (bhāvanā-heya). The 5 views and doubt. is required. the dharmas are its object (2). Rūpadhātu (fine-material-realm). -It can generate all forms of suffering. By seeing the 4th noble truth of the path 5. incorrect judgment (gathers up its own requisites. establishing a series). D. -It bends the mental series towards the object or towards rebirth (conducts the stream of consciousness. false views. is basically synonymous with: disjunction (visaṃyoga). . -It causes one to be mistaken (deluded) with regard to the object of consciousness (harms proper understanding).Taking into account the 5 categories of abandonables above and the 3 spheres. C. false views (mithyā-dṛṣṭi) & doubt abandonable by seeing the 3rd & 4th truths have pure (anāsrava) objects. -It brings about a falling away of good (opposes the virtues. susceptible to being abandoned by the path of seeing (or vision: darśana). anger. On account of a cause (hetu-balena): anuśayas in one‘s samtana (series) have not been abandoned or known so the defilements can arise when the corresponding conditions assemble. Through cultivation [completely abandons view of self & view of extremes] [universal defilements are abandoned by seeing 1st & 2nd truths] [ignorance. and deepening of meditation. Functions of the Defilements: When a defilement (kleśa) enters into action. By seeing the 1st noble truth of suffering 2. rendering the person fit for the arising (or abiding) of the kleśa (and also makes one inapt to change). being cognitive in nature. ii. HOW THE DEFILEMENTS ARE ABANDONED .] [these 4 anuśaya have 9 grades: weak-weak to strong-strong] .

as it mistakes asceticism as the path of purification.views (subsumed under mati. the 10 7 courses of unwholesome action are generated. synonym: lobha (covetousness). 10 AND 98 DEFILEMENTS Fundamental Defilements 6 anuśaya/kleśa defilements 1. avidyā – ignorance (non-cognizance/non-knowledge of the four noble truths.1. but also.] (u=universal defilement) 1.... one of the 3 u unskillful/evil roots. conceit. & 7. greed. Like satkāyadṛṣṭi & antagrāhadṛṣṭi above. wrong pride. synonym: moha (delusion). extreme x pride. this view presupposes u satkāya-dṛṣṭi. ignorance is the root cause for all defilements.) 9. associated with pleasure & satisfaction (refers to attachment x sensual greed to objects. views are defiled understanding (prajna). dṛṣṭi . view of self & what pertains to self (false view that the x five skandhas of grasping constituting the person is the real self.) 6. 6. Veiled-nondefined (in contrast to ignorance). main significance: it is responsible for the cutting off of the roots of good. māna – pride 4.) u 7 10 98= 10 in kāmadhātu abandoned by: seeing origin in rūpadhātu abandoned by: seeing suffering seeing origin in Ārūpyadhātu abandoned by: seeing suffering seeing origin seeing extinction seeing path seeing extinction seeing path seeing extinction seeing path x x x x x x x x x x x x 6 x 7 cultivation cultivation x x x x x x x x x x x x x x u x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x u x x x x x x x x x x x u x x x x x x x x x x x x x u 7 x 7 x 8 4 x 9 x 6 x 6 x 7 3 x 9 x 6 cultivation x 3 . only in kāmadhātu. vicikitsā – doubt Total: 6 10 anuśaya/kleśa Fundamental defilements [on the unskillful roots (akuśala-mūla: 1.) 8. rāga – attachment. hostility. found in all 3 spheres. like the 5 views: these 6 are abandoned completely through seeing the truths. hostility harm beings. avidyā – ignorance 98 anuśaya: seeing suffering 5.) 5.) 7. including greed and hatred. in 12-fold dependent-co-arising. holding as cause & path x that which is not cause & path (attachment to religious vows and observances by those u who undertake them as a means for purification and liberation. ignorant pride. abandoned by seeing the truth of suffering. view of eternity & annihilation (grasping self as x eternal or subject to complete annihilation. synonym: dvesa (hate). pratigha – anger. vicikitsā 10. dṛṣṭi – views 5. arrogance (7 types: ordinary pride. greed 2. pratigha – anger 3. 5. kamarāga . a disinclination to understand. Ignorance/delusion is always present in an anuśaya/kleśa unwholesome state. & 7. extraordinary pride. pratigha – 2.all unskillful mental states spring from these three roots. 7. (Cognitive in x doubt nature. below): root here means ―cause‖ . exaggerated pride.) 6. associated with displeasure & dissatisfaction (intending to x anger. 2. error. Only abandoned by seeing dukkha as the five skandhas of clinging are primarily an expression or result of this truth.). These views are based on satkāya-dṛṣṭi. because of these 3 roots. dṛṣṭiparāmarśa – esteeming views. mithyādṛṣṭi – false views.) u 7.) 6. obstinate u attachment to the 3 views above (5. view of negation (false view denying causal efficacy. x ignorance non-clarity. are not classified as unskillful but as veiled-non-defined. śīlavrataparāmarśa – esteeming morality & ascetic practices. vicikitsā – doubt. one of the 3 unskillful/evil roots) 2. understanding two thesis.6. pride of inferiority. 2 extremes (anta). it also arises with regard to the path and hence is subsumable under seeing the truth of the path (mārga-satya) as well. It is the view of Self u superimposed on the skandhas. rāga – attachment. māna – 3. & 4. bhavarāga existence-greed 3. Greed & anger may or may not be and they cannot co-exist (their defilements modes of activity are opposed). they too are only abandoned by seeing suffering. 4 NT x etc. conceit pride. holding as high that which is low (attachment to or x esteeming of one‘s own views as being true and superior and in particular. one doubts [which is true]. māna – pride. avidyā 4. antagrāhadṛṣṭi – a belief in extremes. satkāyadṛṣṭi – a belief in self. ignorance (the 1st limb) is the collective name for all the defilements of the past existence giving rise to present karmic formations. one of the 3 unskillful roots) 4.

the acquisition (prāpti) series associated with the correlate defilements cannot continue. . . V. cheating (maya) 3. Vicikitsā – Doubt . Māna – Pride 4. dissipation (auddhatya) 4. one is bound to that object by the defilement.According to this approach. as result. torpor (styana) 8. Insight into the Four Noble Truths consists of insight into corresponding objects and aspects or modes of understanding for each of the Four Truths. etc. and so on for other objects. and for the other defilements. disagreeable. jealousy (irsya) 7. greed or attachment with respect to the belief in creator god is uprooted through seeing the 2nd Noble Truth of Origin. the defilements too arise in relation to an object (which can be a sensory object or a mind object). the defilement loses its afflictive potential. hypocrisy (mraksa) 6. regret (kaukrtya) 9.The prāpti series for each defilement and its correlate object (or class of objects) thus serves as a linkage between the individual and the defilement pertaining to a given object. greed or attachment with respect to conditioned things which are actually suffering is uprooted through seeing the 1st Noble Truth of Suffering. all dharmas. envy. The defilements are not themselves destroyed (the dharmas exist in the three times). greed or attachment with respect to extinction as the cessation of consciousness is uprooted through seeing the 3rd Noble Truth of Extinction. . . etc.It is not that the path destroys or acts directly upon the defilements. wrappings 6 “filth of defilement” (kleśa(paryavasthāna) mala) 1. which bear on objects distinctly subsumed under the Four Truths. This is not possible because the path is pure and thus opposed in nature to the defilements which are impure. The object refers to the particular conditions which evoke. Mithyādṛṣṭi – False views 7. hostility (vihimsa) 2.The ―object‖ here is basically what is referred to above as the world. Just as consciousness does not arise without an object. How the defilements are abandoned: The defilements are abandoned through complete knowledge of their object. The universal defilements can arise in relation to all objects of their sphere. disrespect (ahrikya) 5. . underlie or impel the arising of an associated defilement. The path and the defilements do not co-arise. hostility 3. as foundation.For instance. 10 defilements (anuśaya / kleśa) Secondary defilements (upakleśa) 10 envelopments. THE DERIVATION OF THE UPAKLEŚAS: . Rather.The paryavasthānas and kleśa-malas are derived from the anuśayas but come to constitute distinct forces (dharmas). absence of fear (anapatrapya) 10. esteeming evil (pradasa) - 1. enmity (upahana) 6. crookedness (sathya) 4. hypocrisy (mraksa) 3. and as feeling (agreeable. the defilement no longer gives rise to any fault in relation to the object. . Dṛṣṭi-parāmarśa – Esteeming views 9. languor (middha) 2. and more broadly. Avidyā – Ignorance 5. for objects pertaining to the higher spheres. Rāga – Attachment. drunkeness of pride (mada) 5. Pratigha – Anger. Satkāya-dṛṣṭi – Belief in self 6. Śīlavrata-parāmarśa – Esteeming morality & ascetic practices 10. when one possesses defilements associated with a certain object. These linkages are severed through the arising of the counteracting path. which is the liberating prajna of seeing the Noble Truths.This may also clarify the classification of the defilements in terms of their abandonability in relation to the Four Noble Truths above. avarice (matsarya) 10. Antagraha-dṛṣṭi – Belief in extremes 8. Through complete knowledge of the object. the path corresponds to insight into the object which interrupts the acquisition (prāpti) series for the defilement bearing on that object.). greed 2. This accord with the basic Abhidharma principle that the defilements are abandoned through discernment of the dharmas (dharma-pravicaya). greed. It is thus profound comprehension of the true nature of the object in the light of the Noble Truths that actually accomplishes the abandoning of the defilement. There are thus distinct defilements of ignorance. but through understanding the object.B. anger (krodha) 1. When the prāpti series ceases.

One drifts about. the 10 unskillful paths of karma (karma-patha) have their origin in these three roots. These correspond to the akuśala-mahā-bhūmikas (unskillful universals). and each unfolding with its own distinct logic (into various divisions and re-classifications of the defilements). to saṃsāra. Āsrvas (outflows. and some of the kleśa-mahā-bhūmikas (defiled universals) and aniyata (indeterminates). The basic terms with their correlate interpretations: Kleśa (defilements): The most generic term for the defilements. or molest the psycho-physical series. TERMS . because they yoke (or attach) one to the many sufferings of transmigration. afflict. Kāya-grantha (corporeal ties): They tie-up sentient beings. VI. they are called yogas. is overwhelmed by the torrent. for they are subtle. Anuśaya (latent tendencies): The anuśayas are atomic. . one clings or seizes to things of the senses. from which all unskillful states arise. that is. disturb. etc. connections): The defilements are called saṃyojanas because by them one is fettered or bound by objects. canker): The defilements are referred to as asravas because they cause the mental series to flow into objects.Various terms are used to denote the defilements. surrounded. prevents living beings from detaching from saṃsāra. yokes (yoga) and clingings (upādāna) are alternate ways of classifying these 108 defilements.108 Defilements: A total of 108 defilements is arrived at by adding the 98 anuśayas to the 10 envelopments (paryavasthāna). the kleśa above. detachment and the roots of skillfulness. Ogha (floods): The defilements are called oghas when they are violent as then they can ―carry one away‖ as in a flood.) Upakleśa (secondary defilements): The secondary defilements proceed from or emanate (niṣyanda) from the foundational defilements. reappearing despite efforts to block them. Connotations: ―fuel‖ because they enable the fire of karma to stay ablaze. bonds): When the defilements do not enter into activity with such violence. Yoga (yokes. parītta-kleśa-bhūmikas (defilements of restricted scope). completely covered. hatred and ignorance. they adhere and are nourished by objects and associated mental factors. Bandhana (bonds): The bandhanas emphasize how the defilements bind beings to the three spheres of existence. Synonyms: corporeal bondage (kāya-bandhana) and rebirth-linking (pratisaṃdhi). As mentioned above. Nivaraṇas (hindrances): The defilements can functions as nivaraṇas when they arise as obstacles or hindrances to the noble path. they continually bind.. (This is in accord with the Sarvāstivādin interpretation of anuśaya as subtle and tenacious rather than as latent dispositions. like a prison one is confined or enclosed. Upādāna (clingings): The defilements are called upādānas because through their action. . and ―envelopment‖ like be locked in a cocoon or a spider‘s web. because they cause the individual to flow through the various stations of existence within saṃsāra and/or because the defilements are associated with a loss or gain (out-flow / in-flow) of energy and/or impurity. characterizing their different functionalities and scope of operation. floods (ogha). or because by them one is fettered to the three realms of existence. envelopments): The parya-vasthanas envelop one‘s psychophysical series. wrapped up.There are three unskillful or evil roots (akuśala-mūla): greed. entrapping the psycho-physical series (kāya). ―forcefulness‖ because their activity is forceful or sharp. The outflows (sāsrava). so-called because they defile. Paryavasthāna (wrappings. or is utterly submerged. Saṃyojana (fetters.

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