Kamma (Action) is of two types-meritorious action (kusala kamma) and demeritorious action (akusala kamma). Kusala kamma is of four categories: Kamavacara-kusala kamma, Rupavacara-kusala kamma, Arupavacara-kusala kamma, and Lokuttara-kusala kamma. Kamavacara-kusala kamma bears its result in the sense sphere, Rupavacara-kusala kamma in the fine-material sphere. Arupavacara-kusala kamma in the non-material (formless) sphere. The results become effective in accordance with the attainment of Jhanas. Lokuttara-kusala kamma bears its result as the Supramundane Fruition. This result takes effect in accordance with the wisdom.
Kamavacara-kusala kamma is of ten kinds: three bodily actions, four verbal actions and three mental actions:
(1) panatipata virati = refrain from killing living beings (bodily)
(2) adinadana virati = refrain from stealing other’s possessions (bodily)
(3) kamesumicchacara virati = refrain from sexual misconduct and adultery (bodily)
(4) musavada virati = refrain from telling lies (verbal)
(5) pisunavaca virati = refrain from slandering (verbal)
(6) pharussavaca virati = refrain from harsh speech (verbal)
(7) samphappalapavaca virati = refrain from vain talk (verbal)
(8) anabhijja = non-covetousness, refrain from envy (mental)
(9) abyapada = non-harming, refrain from cruelty (mental)
(10) sammaditthi = right belief, refrain from false views such as disbelieving the law of kamma and its results (mental)
These ten actions are called ten kinds of good conduct (sucarica). Kusala means blameless wholesome action producing beneficial results. These ten good conducts can help one to be reborm in human world or celestial realms. Because they serve as ways of getting to good destinations, they are called as “Kusala kamma patha”. Of the ten meritorious actions, the mental action of holding the right view, i.e., believing in kamma and its results, is the most important basic kusala kamma.
Akusala kamma is also of ten kinds: three bodily actions, four verbal actions and three mental actions. Akusala means blameworthy, faulty and unwholesome actions producing detrimental results. Since these action are not wholesome, they are called evil kinds of conduct (ducarica). They can lead one to be reborn in the four miserable realms. Because they serve as ways of getting to miserable realms, they are called “Akusala kamma patha”.
Akusala kamma also is of ten kinds: three bodily actions, four verbal actions and three mental actions:
(1) killing living beings (panatipata)(bodily)
(2) theft (adinnadana) (bodily)
(3) sexual misconduct (kamesumicchacara) (bodily)
(4) lying (musavada) (verbal)
(5) slander (pisunavaca) (verbal)
(6) harsh speech (pharussavaca) (verbal)
(7) vain talk (samphappalapavaca) (verbal)
(8) covetousness (abhijjha) (mental)
(9) ill-will (byapada) (mental)
(10) wrong view (micchaditthi) (mental)
Among the akusala kammas, having the wrong view, i.e, not realizing and not believing in the kamma and its results is the most heinous action. For the arising of kusala and akusala kamma, the Kammassakata-nana is the basis. The knowledge that kamma is one’s own property, and that there is no creator of the world except one’s own kamma, is called Kammassakata-nana. Only when one realizes and believes in this way; one is said to possess the right view: Kammassakata-sammaditthi.
On account of the difference in the results produced by kusala and akusala kammas, there arise differences in the life of beings: some are long-lived while others are short-lived, some are beautiful while others are ugly, some are rich while others are poor, some enjoy blissful existences but some suffer woeful existences.
Any of the kusala and akusala kammas may be performed in four ways:
(1) By personally doing it,
(2) By urging or commanding others to do it,
(3) By encouraging others to do it by telling them the benefits of such action,
(4) By being pleased with or expressing approval when others do it
Therefore ten kinds of kusala kamma as well as the ten kinds of akusala kamma can be multiplied by these four ways resulting in forty kinds of sucarica and forty kinds of ducarica. For whatever actions one may have done personally or urged or encouraged or consented, one shall have to bear the good or the bad consequences just the same.
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