Assertions about Karma from the Sarvastivada Abhidharma Basket

The Relation between Reinforced and Enacted Karmic impulses and Inciting and Incited Karmic Impulses 

One of the main sources about karma from the Abhidharma Basket is Revealing Karma (Las gdags-pa, Skt. Karmaprajñapti) by Buddha’s disciple Maudgalyayana. In it, Maudgalyayana states (Derge Tengyur vol. 139, 172B):

These words have I heard. At one time the Bhagavan (Buddha) was residing in Anathapindada’s pleasure garden in the Jetavana Grove in Shravasti. There, he addressed these words to the monks. O monks, I shall teach you about (karmic impulses) about which there is certainty of (the lifetime in which) the ripening (of their karmic force will begin to) be experienced, namely (the karmic impulses that are) deliberately enacted and reinforced. Further, concerning them, (the ripening of their karmic force will begin to) be experienced in this lifetime, in the next rebirth or in any number (of rebirths) other than those.
(Tib.) /’di skad bdag gis thos pa dus gcig na/ bcom ldan ‘das mnyan du yod pa na/ rgyal bu rgyal byed kyi tshal mgon med zas sbyin gyi kun dga’ ra ba na bzhugs so/ /de nas bcom ldan ‘das kyis dge slong rnams la bka’ stsal pa/ dge slong dag nga ni ched du byas shing bsags pa’i rnam par smin pa nyams su myong bar ston te/ de yang tshe ‘di dang / skyes pa’i ‘og dang / lan grangs gzhan la myong bar ‘gyur ba’o/ 

A karmic impulse that is “deliberately enacted” (ched-du byas-pa, Skt. adhikṛta) – literally, from the Tibetan, “purposely enacted” – is a specific type of enacted karmic impulse (byas-pa’i las, Skt. kṛtakarma). It is a karmic impulse that has been enacted after having been deliberated. Such a karmc impulse is thereby also reinforced (bsags-pa, Skt. upacita) in strength. Being both enacted and reinforced, there is certainty of the lifetime in which the ripening of the karmic force of the karmic impulse will begin to be experienced. Thus, deliberately enacted karmic impulses discussed in the abhidharma text Revealing Karma are similar to premeditated (ched-du bsams-pa, Skt. sāṁcetanika) karmic impulses discussed in the Mahayana sutra Divisions of Karmic Impulses (Las rnam-par ‘byed-pa, Skt. Karmavibhaṅga), as cited in the previous part of this series. Both deliberately enacted karmic impulses and premeditated karmic impulses are enacted and reinforced, and thus both have certainty of the lifetime in which the ripening of their karmic force will begin to be experienced.

Maudgalyayana continues with an explanation of specific types of karmic impulses that, being deliberately enacted, are both enacted and reinforced. However, unlike the explanation in Divisions of Karmic Impulses, which presents premeditated karmic impulses as only karmic impulses of the body or speech, Maudgalyayana illustrates deliberated karmic impulses with the karmic impulses in the three destructive actions of the body, the four of speech and the three of mind.

  • The deliberately enacted karmic impulses of the body and of the speech are revealing forms that arise, after deliberation, as methods implemented to cause the actions of body and speech to take place and to reach their finale.
  • The deliberately enacted karmic impulses of the mind are mental urges that drive the mind to deliberate and reach their finale of deciding to enact a karmic action of the body or speech.

Maudgalyana, Revealing Karma (Derge 172B), states: 

O monks, concerning these (karmic impulses), there are three types of deliberately enacted and reinforced (karmic impulses) of the body. The destructive ones give rise to suffering and (their karmic force) ripens into suffering. There are four of speech and three of mind.
(Tib.) /dge slong dag de la lus kyis ched du byas shing bsags pa/ mi dge ba sdug bsngal skyed pa/ rnam par smin pa sdug bsngal ba ni rnam pa gsum mo/ /ngag gi ni rnam pa bzhi'o/ /yid kyi ni rnam pa gsum mo/

Maudgalyana, Revealing Karma (Derge 172B-173A), first explains the deliberately enacted karmic impulses in the three destructive actions of the body:

O monks, there are three deliberately enacted karmic impulses of the body – (karmic impulses that are) enacted and reinforced – that, being destructive, give rise to suffering and (whose karmic force) ripens into suffering. Suppose you ask what these are. 
[1] In terms of taking a life, it is violently killing (some sentient being) with one’s bare hands, being unabashedly attracted to murder, having no compassion for sentient beings of (any) life form, from bugs on upwards, and not forsaking that killing of insects and animals. 
[2] In terms of taking what has not been given, it is stealing from a village or a monastery what has not been given, and not forsaking that taking of what has not been given.
[3] In terms of engaging in inappropriate sexual behavior with longing desire, it is causing someone such as the following to have sex with oneself, out of the auxiliary disturbing emotion of longing desire – someone else’s woman, someone else’s wife, someone under the guardianship of someone else, such as anyone under the guardianship of her mother, or under the guardianship of her father, or under the guardianship of her elder brother, or under the guardianship of her elder sister, or under the guardianship of her mother-in-law, or under the guardianship of her father-in-law, or under the guardianship of someone of her same caste, or under the guardianship of a relative, or under the guardianship of someone in her same family line, or someone under punishment or someone with any impediment, and finally someone already betrothed (as signified by her) wearing a flower garland – any (woman) like that, and not forsaking that engaging in inappropriate sexual behavior with longing desire. 
O monks, these three kinds of deliberately enacted karmic impulses (of the body) like those are enacted and reinforced. Being destructive, they give rise to suffering and (their karmic force) ripens into suffering.
(Tib.) /dge slong dag lus kyis ched du byas pa'i las byas shing bsags pa/ mi dge ba sdug bsngal bskyed pa/ rnam par smin pa sdug bsngal ba rnam pa gsum ji lta bu yin zhe na/ srog gcod pa ni drag cing lag dmar ba bsad pa dang / rab tu bsad pa la zhen pa ngo tsha med pa/ sems can srog chags su gyur pa thams cad la tha na srog chags grog sbur yan chad la snying rje med pa yin te/ de ni srog gcod pa ma spangs pa yin no/ /ma byin par len pa ni des grong ngam/ dgon pa nas ma byin par rkun thabs su blangs pa yin te/ ma byin par len pa ma spangs pa yin no/ /'dod pa la log par g.yem pa ni gzhan gyi bud med/ gzhan gyi chung ma gzhan gyis yongs su bzung ba 'di lta ste/ mas bsrungs pa 'am/ phas bsrungs pa 'am/ ming pos bsrungs pa 'am/ phu nu mos bsrungs pa 'am/ sgyug mos bsrungs pa'am/ gyos pos bsrungs pa 'am/ rigs gcig pas bsrungs pa 'am/ gnyen gyis bsrungs pa'am/ rus gcig pas bsrungs pa'am/ chad pa yod pa'am/ bgegs yod pa gang yin pa de dag dang / tha na me tog gi phreng ba btags pa yang rung ste/ de lta bu'i 'dod pa'i nye ba'i nyon mongs pa rnams kyis spyod pa la 'jug pa yin te/ de ni 'dod pa la log par g.yem pa ma spangs pa yin no/ /dge slong dag de ltar na ched du byas pa'i las rnam pa gsum byas shing bsags pa mi dge ba sdug bsngal bskyed pa/ rnam par smin pa sdug bsngal ba yin no/ 

Maudgalyana, Revealing Karma (Derge 173A-174A), then explains the deliberately enacted karmic impulses in the four destructive actions of speech:

O monks, there are four deliberately enacted karmic impulses of speech – (karmic impulses that are) enacted and reinforced – that, being destructive, give rise to suffering and (whose karmic force) ripens into suffering. Suppose you ask what these are. 
[1] In terms of lying, whether one is among a large group, among one’s circle, in the royal palace, or in the home of a relative, it is in connection with four major points: when asked, “Hey, if this is something you know, tell me you do; if this is something you don’t know, tell me you don’t; if this is something you have seen, tell me you have; if this is something you have not seen, tell me you haven’t,” then answering, “I know it” while not  knowing it, “I don’t know it” while knowing it, “I have seen it” while not having seen it, and “I have not seen it” while having seen it. (Lying like this) may be for their sake, or for one’s own sake, or for the sake of merely a little material gain, and (further it is) not forsaking that knowingly lying.
[2] In terms of speaking divisively, it is, after hearing something about this party here, going directly to that party there and relating it in order to cause them to part (from each other) and, after hearing something about them, going directly to this party here and relating it (also) to cause them to part, and (as a result) those who are in agreement (with each other) part (ways) and those who are parted go further apart. And when one speaks such words that cause disharmony, wishing to create disharmony and delighting in disharmony, and not forsaking that speaking divisively.
[3] In terms of speaking harshly, it is casting aside any such words as these: words that are gentle and pleasing to the ear, pleasant, polite, likeable, in courtly language, tender and sweet, tactful, grammatical, a delight to the ear, bringing joy to the hearts of many people, cherished by many people, liked by many people, pleasing to many people, and bringing total absorption and concentration; and speaking (instead) any such words as these: words that are hurtful, coarse, unbearable to others, damaging, hitting others in their weak spots, bringing unhappiness to the hearts of many people, uncherished by many people, disliked by many people, displeasing to many people, and bringing a lack of absorption and a lack of concentration, and not forsaking that speaking harshly.
[4] In terms of chattering meaninglessly, it is speaking at the wrong time, speaking improperly, speaking untruthfully, speaking unhelpfully, casting aspersions, saying what is counter to the Dharma, speaking without considering what you say, speaking in phrases that are garbled, illogical, nonsensical, meaningless and confusing, and not forsaking that chattering meaninglessly. 
O monks, these four kinds of deliberately enacted karmic impulses of the speech like those are enacted and reinforced. Being destructive, they give rise to suffering and (their karmic force) ripens into suffering.
(Tib.) /dge slong dag ngag gis ched du byas pa'i las rnam pa bzhi byas shing bsags pa/ mi dge ba sdug bsngal bskyed pa/ rnam par smin pa sdug bsngal ba ji lta bu zhe na/ brdzun du smra ba ni de tshogs pa'i nang na 'dug kyang rung / 'khor gyi nang na 'dug kyang rung / rgyal po'i pho brang gi nang na 'dug kyang rung / gnyen gyi khyim gyi nang na 'dug kyang rung / che bzhir dris te/ kye ma khyod gang shes pa de ni smros shig /gang mi shes pa de ni ma smra shig /gang mthong ba de ni smros shig /gang ma mthong ba de ni ma smra zhig ces byas na/ de mi shes bzhin du ni shes so zhes zer/ shes bzhin du ni mi shes so zhes zer/ ma mthong bzhin du ni mthong ngo zhes zer/ mthong bzhin da ni ma mthong ngo zhes zer te/ de dag gi phyir ram/ gzhan gyi phyir ram/ zang zing chung zad tsam gyi phyir/ shes bzhin du brdzun du smra ba ma spangs pa yin no/ /phra ma zer ba ni tshu rol pa rnams kyi thos nas/ de dag dbye ba'i phyir pha rol pa rnams kyi thad du song ste bsnyad la/ de dag gis thos na yang tshu rol pa rnams dbye ba'i phyir/ tshu rol pa rnams kyi thad du song ste/ bsnyad par byed de/ de ltar 'dum pa rnams dbye ba dang / dbye ba rnams la rjes su phyogs la/ mi mthun par 'dod cing mi mthun par dga' ste mi mthun par 'gyur ba'i tshig smra ba ni phra ma ma spangs pa yin no/ /tshig rtsub por smra ba ni des tshig 'jam zhing rnar snyan la/ yid du 'ong ba dang / snyan ba dang / 'dod par bya ba dang / pho brang 'khor gyi skad dang / snyan cing 'jams pa dang / zur phyin pa dang / brda phrad pa dang / rnar 'ong ba dang / skye bo mang po'i snying du sdug ba dang / skye bo mang pos gces par bya ba dang / skye bo mang po dga' ba dang / skye bo mang po'i yid du 'ong ba dang / mnyam par gzhag pa dang / ting nge 'dzin du 'gyur ba gang yin pa de dag dang / de lta bu'i tshig bor te/ tshig kun du zug pa dang / rtsub pa dang / gzhan gyis mi bzod pa dang / gzhan gyi zher 'debs pa dang / skye bo mang po'i snying du mi sdug pa dang / skye bo mang pos gces par mi bya ba dang / skye bo mang po mi dga' ba dang / skye bo mang po'i yid du mi 'ong ba dang / mnyam par gzhag pa ma yin pa dang / ting nge 'dzin du gyur pa ma yin pa gang yin pa rnams te/ de lta bu'i tshig rnams smra ba ni/ tshig rtsub bo ma spangs pa yin no/ /tshig kyal pa ni de dus ma yin par smra ba dang / yang dag pa ma yin par smra ba dang / mi bden par smra ba dang / phan pa ma yin par smra ba dang / skur pa smra ba dang / chos ma yin pa smra ba dang / gya tshom du smra zhing bab chol gyi tshig smra ba dang / gtan tshigs med pa dang / snyad med pa dang / don dang mi ldan pa dang / 'chal ba rnams kyi tshig kyal ba ma spangs pa yin no/ /dge slong dag de ltar na ngag gis ched du byas pa'i las rnam pa bzhi byas shing bstsags pa mi dge ba sdug bsngal bskyed pa/ rnam par smin pa sdug bsngal ba yin no/ 

Lastly, Maudgalyana, Revealing Karma (Derge 174A), explains the deliberately enacted karmic impulses in the three destructive actions of the mind:

O monks, there are three deliberately enacted karmic impulses of the mind – (karmic impulses that are) enacted and reinforced – that, being destructive, give rise to suffering and (whose karmic force) ripens into suffering. Suppose you ask what these are. 
[1] In terms of covetous thinking, it is, when seeing someone else’s material possessions, someone else’s wealth, and someone else’s goods, developing a covetous mind and thinking, “Wow, how could it not be fitting if I had those too,” and not forsaking that covetous thinking.
[2] In terms of thinking with malice, it is (thinking), “Wow, it would be fitting if they were beaten. It would be fitting if they were killed. It would be fitting if they were weakened. It would be fitting if they became emotionally disturbed with ignorance,” and not forsaking that thinking with malice.
[3] In terms of distorted, antagonistic thinking, it is thinking in a reversed manner and saying these words in one’s thoughts that are like this, “There should be no such thing as being generous. There should be no such thing as making offerings. There should be no such thing as offering fire pujas. There is no such thing as good behavior There is no such thing as bad behavior. There is no ripening of results from (enacting) karmic impulses for good behavior or for bad behavior, not in this lifetime and not in further lifetimes. There aren’t (others who have been my) mother. There aren’t (others who have been my) father. There is no such thing as the rebirth of sentient beings.” (Also while) being aware that arhats (liberated beings) who have graciously come to this world and graciously lived here have non-conceptually cognized with pure advanced awareness the existence of this lifetime and further lifetimes, yet concerning compulsive existence in (lifetimes) other than this one, having not (the slightest) urge to think, “Let us bring to an end to our rebirths, let us entrust ourselves to celibate behavior, let us take that action,” and not forsaking that distorted, antagonistic thinking. 
O monks, these three kinds of deliberately enacted karmic impulses of the mind like those are enacted and reinforced. Being destructive, they give rise to suffering and (their karmic force) ripens into suffering.
(Tib.) /dge slong dag yid kyis ched du byas pa'i las rnam pa gsum byas shing bsags pa/ mi dge ba sdug bsngal bskyed pa/ rnam par smin pa sdug bsngal ba ji lta bu zhe na/ brnab sems ni pha rol gyi rdzas rnams dang / pha rol gyi nor rnams dang / pha rol gyi yo byad rnams mthong na/ brnab sems skyed par byed de/ kye ma 'di dag bdag la yod kyang ji ma rung snyam ste/ brnab sems ma spangs pa yin no/ /gnod sems kyis sdang bar byed pa ni/ kye ma sems can 'di dag brgyab kyang rung ngo / /bsad kyang rung ngo / /nyams par byas kyang rung ngo / /mi rigs par nyon mongs kyang rung ngo snyam pa ni gnod sems kyi sdang ba ma spangs pa yin no/ /log par lta ba ni phyin ci log tu lta zhing 'di ltar lta la/ 'di skad du smra ste/ sbyin pa med do/ /mchod sbyin med do/ /sbyin sreg med do/ /legs par spyad pa med do/ /nyes par spyad pa med do/ /legs par spyad pa dang / nyes par spyad pa'i las rnams kyi 'bras bu rnam par smin pa med do/ /'jig rten 'di med do/ /'jig rten pha rol med do/ /pha med do/ /ma med do/ /sems can skye ba med do/ /'jig rten na dgra bcom pa yang dag par song ba yang dag par zhugs pa gang 'jig rten 'di dang 'jig rten pha rol tshe 'di nyid la dag nyid kyis mngon par shes pas mngon sum du byas te/ bsgrubs nas khong du chud de/ bdag cag gi skye ba zad do/ /tshangs par spyad pa bsten to/ /bya ba byas so/ /'di las srid pa gzhan gyi shes so snyam du sems pa med do zhes bya ba ni log par lta ba ma spangs pa yin no/ /dge slong dag de ltar na yid kyis ched du byas pa'i las rnam pa gsum byas shing bsags pa/ mi dge ba sdug bsngal bskyed pa/ rnam par smin pa sdug bsngal ba yin no/
Thus, in delineating these karmic impulses of body, speech and mind, Maudgalyayana explains that they are the karmic impulses in the ten destructive actions of body, speech and mind. 

Maudgalyayana, Revealing Karma (Derge 175A-B), then identifies the deliberately enacted karmic impulses of the mind as inciting karmic impulses (sems-pa’i las, Skt. cetanākarma) and deliberately enacted karmic impulses of the body and speech as the incited karmic impulses (bsam-pa’i las, Skt. cetayitvākarma) that they lead to: 

With respect to those (karmic impulses) that are known as “deliberately enacted,” there are the two (types): inciting karmic impulses and incited karmic impulses. Suppose you ask, “What are inciting karmic impulses?” Well, it has been said that whatever karmic impulses of mind there are that are for thinking about (enacting something with body or speech), for thinking about and deciding (to enact it), that cause (enacting it) by thinking about it, that bring about (enacting it) by thinking about it, and that affect (enacting it) by thinking about it – these are what are called “inciting impulses.” 
Suppose you ask, “What are incited karmic impulses?” Well, it has been said that karmic impulses of the body that have been incited (by inciting karmic impulses) and karmic impulses of speech that have been incited (by inciting karmic impulses) – these are what are called “incited karmic impulses.” 
(Tib.) ched du byas pa zhes bya ba la de la sems pa’i las dang / bsam pa’i las dang gnyis yod de/ sems pa’i las gang zhe na/ smras pa/ sems pa dang / mngon bar sems pa dang / sems par gyur pa dang / sems par gtogs pa dang / sems mngon par ‘du byed pa dang / yid kyi las gang yin pa ‘di ni sems pa’i las zhes bya’o/ / bsam pa’i las gang zhe na/ smras pa/ bsam pa’i lus kyi las dang bsam pa’i ngag gi las ‘di ni bsam pa’i las zhes bya’o. 

Revealing and Nonrevealing Forms 

Concerning the karmic impulses involved with the ten destructive actions, Maudgalyayana explains further in Revealing Karma (Derge 189B-191B):

Suppose you ask, “When what are called the ‘pathways of the karmic impulses that are the ten destructive actions’ have been spelled out in full, does taking a life have something called a ‘revealing (form)’ or does it have something called a ‘nonrevealing (form)?’” 
Well, it has been said that it has a revealing (form) and it also has a nonrevealing (form) as well. Suppose you ask, “What is the revealing (form)?” Well, it is like this: whether someone has ordered you saying, “Take the life of this living being,” and you have said, “I will take its life” or, while having being ordered, “Don’t take its life,” you have said, “I will take its life anyway,” then whether in the case of immediately taking the life of that living being or later taking the life of that living being, whatever karmic impulses of body there are at the time of taking its life are called “revealing (forms).” 
Suppose you ask, “What are the nonrevealing (form)?” Well, it is like this: after the taking of a life, so long as you have not turned away from doing it again and not placed it aside and not given it up and not abandoned doing it (again), then for that long, (the karmic impulses that) the body does not reveal are called “nonrevealing (forms).”.…  
Suppose you ask, “Do covetous thinking, thinking with malice, and distorted, antagonistic thinking have something called a ‘revealing (form)’ or do they have something called a ‘nonrevealing (form)?’” Well, it has been said that they have no revealing (forms) and no nonrevealing (forms). …    
Suppose you ask, “When what are called the ‘pathways of the karmic impulses that are the ten destructive actions’ have been spelled out in full, is (the karmic impulse involved with) taking a life a mental factor or is it not a mental factor?” Well, it has been said that it is not a mental factor…. Suppose you ask, “Are (the karmic impulses involved with) covetous thinking, thinking with malice, and distorted, antagonistic thinking mental factors or are they not mental factors?” Well, it has been said that they are mental factors.
(Tib.) mi dge ba bcu’i las kyi lam zhes bya ba nas rgyas par sbyar te/ srog gcod pa rnam par rig byed ces bya ba ‘am/ ‘on te rnam par rig byed ma yin zhes bya zhe na/ smras pa/ rnam par rig byed kyang yod/ rnam par rig byed ma yin pa yang yod do/ /rnam par rig byed gang zhe na/ smras pa/ ji ltar ‘di na kha cig la la zhig ‘di skad du srog chags kyi srog chod cig ces bsgo la des kyang gcad par bya’o zhes smras kyang rung / ma bcad cig ces bsgo bzhin du gcod do zhes smras kyang rung ba las/ phar song ste srog chags kyi srog bcad kyang rung / phyir ‘ongs te srog chags kyi srog gcod kyang rung ste/ gang gi tshe srog chags kyi srog gcod pa de’i tshe/ lus kyi las gang yin pa de ni rnam pa rig byed ces bya’o/ /rnam par rig byed ma yin pa gang yin zhe na/ smras pa/ srog gcod pa las phyir ma log cing phyir ma nur la ma btang ma spangs pas/ ji ste na lus kyis kyang rnam par rig par mi byed pa ‘di ni/ rnam par rig byed ma yin pa zhes bya’o/ …. /brnab sems dang / gnod sems dang / log par lta ba rnam par rig byed ces bya’am/ ‘on te rnam par rig byed ma yin pa zhes bya zhe na/ smras pa/ rnam par rig byed kyang ma yin/ rnam par rig byed ma yin pa yang ma yin no/ /mi dge ba bcu’i las kyi lam zhes bya ba nas rgyas par sbyar te/ srog gcod pa gzugs can zhes bya ‘am/ ‘on te gzugs can ma yin pa zhes bya zhe na/ smras pa/ gzugs can zhes bya’o/ /de bzhin du ma byin par len pa dang /….
 /mi dge ba bcu’i las kyi lam zhes bya ba nas rgyas par sbyar te/ srog gcod pa sems las byung ba zhes bya’am/ ‘on te sems las byung ba ma yin pa zhes bya zhe na/ smras pa/ sems las byung ba ma yin pa zhes bya’o/ … /brnab sems dang / gnod sems dang / log par lta ba sems las byung ba zhes bya’am/ ‘on te sems las byung ba ma yin pa zhes bya zhe na/ smras pa/ sems las byung ba zhes bya’o/ 
When a soldier, for instance, is ordered by a general to kill the enemy and they do so, or even if ordered not to kill but do so anyway, the soldier’s shooting the enemy is the incited revealing form of their action. It was incited by the general’s orders and, therefore, a nonrevealing form of the action also arises on the soldier’s mental continuum. Thus, the soldier is karmicly responsible for their actions even when merely carrying out orders. Maudgalyayana does not mention here, however, that the nonrevealing form of taking someone’s life also arises on the mental continuum of the general, and so the general ordering the killing is also karmicly responsible.

In the above passage, Maudgalyayana states that the ten destructive actions of body, speech and mind are pathways of a karmic impulse. The karmic impulses for the seven destructive actions of body and speech are revealing and nonrevealing forms and they are not mental factors. The karmic impulses for the three destructive actions of mind are not revealing forms and nonrevealing forms but are mental factors, namely urges. 

The Pervasion between Karmic Impulses and Pathways of Karmic Impulses

Concerning the pervasion between karmic impulses and pathways of the karmic impulses associated with the ten destructive actions, Maudgalyayana goes on in Revealing Karma (Derge 200B-201A):

Suppose you ask, “When what are called the ‘pathways of the karmic impulses that are the ten destructive actions’ have been spelled out fully, then out of these pathways of the karmic impulses that are the ten destructive actions, are there those that are also karmic impulses as well as pathways of karmic impulses, and are there some that are pathways of karmic impulses and not karmic impulses?” Well, it has been said that seven are karmic impulses as well as pathways of karmic impulses – namely, taking a life, taking what was not given, engaging in inappropriate sexual behavior, lying, speaking divisively, speaking harshly, and chattering meaninglessly. And three are pathways of karmic impulses but not karmic impulses – namely, covetous thinking, thinking with malice, and distorted, antagonistic thinking. 
Suppose you ask how is it that some are karmic impulses as well as pathways of karma?” Well, it has been said that the karmic impulse of taking a life is what is now enacting (the taking of a life) and is also the pathway of the karmic impulse of mind that has caused it to arise (motivating it) as (the revealing form of) taking a life, as well as its course and road. For this reason, taking a life is a karmic impulse and the pathway of a karmic impulse.  It is the same with taking what was not given, engaging in inappropriate sexual behavior, lying, speaking divisively, speaking harshly, and chattering meaninglessly.
Suppose you ask, “Why are thinking covetously, thinking with malice, and thinking distortedly with antagonism pathways of karmic impulses but not karmic impulses?” Well, it has been said that although thinking covetously, thinking with malice, and thinking distortedly with antagonism are not karmic impulses and are not things that are enacting (an action of the mind), nevertheless they are the pathways (of thinking) that have been produced by karmic impulses of mind that have caused them to arise (motivating them) by means of (the disturbing emotions of) covetousness, malice, and having a distorted, antagonistic outlook and (that are directing) their course and that are driving them along as well. In other words, they are the pathways of the karmic impulses of mind (that have arisen) by means of (the disturbing emotions of) covetousness, malice, and having a distorted, antagonistic outlook as their causes, but they are not karmic impulses (themselves).
(Tib.) /mi dge ba bcu’i las kyi lam zhes bya ba nas rgyas par sbyar te / mi dge ba bcu’i las kyi lam gang yin pa de dag las/ du zhig las kyang yin la las kyi lam yang yin/ du zhig las kyi lam ni yin la las ni ma yin zhe na/ smras pa/ bdun ni las kyang yin la las kyi lam yang yin te/ srog gcod pa dang / ma byin par len pa dang / ‘dod pa la log par g.yem pa dang / brdzun du smra ba dang / phra ma dang / tshig rtsub po dang / tshig kyal pa rnams so/ /gsum ni las kyi lam yin la/ las ni ma yin te/ brnab sems dang / gnod sems dang / log par lta ba rnams so/ /ci’i phyir las kyang yin la/ las kyi lam yang yin zhe na/ smras pa/ srog gcod pa’i las ni da ltar de byed pa yang yin la srog gcod pas kun nas bslang ba’i sems pa rnams kyi lam dang / bgrod pa dang / srang yang yin te/ rgyu des na srog gcod pa las kyang yin la/ las kyi lam yang yin no/ /srog gcod pa ji lta ba bzhin du ma byin par len pa dang / ‘dod pa la log par g.yem pa dang / brdzun du smra ba dang / phra ma dang / tshig rtsub po dang / tshig kyal pa yang de dang ‘dra’o/ /ci’i phyir brnab sems dang / gnod sems dang / log par lta ba las kyi lam yin la las ma yin zhe na/ smras pa/ brnab sems dang / gnod sems dang / log par lta ba ni las kyang ma yin/ byed pa yang ma yin gyi/ brnab sems dang / gnod sems dang / log par lta bas kun nas bslang ba’i sems las byung ba rnams kyi lam dang / bgrod ba dang / srang yin te/ rgyu des na brnab sems dang / gnod sems dang / log par lta bas las kyi lam yin la/ las ma yin no/

When Maudgalyayana says that the seven destructive actions of body and speech are the pathways of the karmic impulses of mind that have caused them to arise, these karmic impulses of the mind refer to the inciting karmic impulses of mind that are their antecedent causes (rgyud-rgyu). 

Maudgalyayana, then, is not contradicting Buddha’s statement in The Sutra on Repaying the Kindness of the Buddha, the Great Skillful One in Methods that the seven destructive actions of body and speech are pathways of the revealing forms of these actions, in the sense that they are pathways that contain these revealing forms. Thus, from one point of view, the seven destructive actions of body and speech are pathways of the karmic impulses of mind that cause them to arise; and, from another point of view, they are pathways of the karmic impulses of body and speech that they contain.

In accord with the custom of calling a part by the name of the whole, the methods implemented for causing the ten destructive actions to occur are called the “pathways of the karmic impulses of mind that bring them on.” 

  • In the case of the seven destructive actions of body and speech, the revealing forms within the karmic pathways that are the seven destructive actions of body and speech – such as the shape of the body stabbing someone or the sound of the voice uttering the words of a lie – are the methods implemented for causing these actions to occur and are karmic impulses. As parts being called by the name of the whole, the revealing forms are also pathways of the karmic impulses of mind that have caused them to arise. 
  • In the case of the three destructive actions of the mind, the lines of thinking are the methods implemented to cause these actions to occur. The lines of thinking are karmic pathways but not karmic impulses. Moreover, the karmic impulses of mind – namely, the mental urges – that cause these pathways to arise and that drive them do so by means of their accompanying disturbing emotions of covetousness and so on. 

We can see from these quotations from Buddha and his direct disciple, Maudgalyayana, that many of the main points concerning the Vaibhashika and Madhyamaka presentations of karma as entailing revealing and nonrevealing forms, enacted and reinforced karmic impulses, inciting and incited karmic impulses and pathways of karmic impulses are found in the Mahayana sutras and in the Abhidharma Basket prior to the composition of the Indian treatises on karma that later expound these points in detail.

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