Brief Review of the System of Karma According to Vasubandhu and Nagarjuna
Last time, we presented the main components of karma, or karmic impulses, according to Vasubandhu and Nagarjuna. We saw that mental karma refers to the mental factor of a compelling urge that draws the consciousness and its accompanying mental factors into engaging in a pathway of karma for a physical, verbal, or mental action with or directed at an object. The karmic impulses for physical and verbal actions refer to their revealing and nonrevealing forms that are compelled by these karmic mental urges.
The revealing form of a physical action refers to the movement of the body involved in implementing a method for carrying out a physical action. The revealing form of a verbal action refers to the utterances of the sounds of speech involved in implementing a method for carrying out a verbal action. The revealing form lasts only as long as the physical or verbal action itself lasts. Revealing forms may be constructive, destructive, or unspecified as being either of the two. They reveal that they were brought on by constructive, destructive or unspecified compelling mental urges.
In addition, some physical and verbal actions have nonrevealing forms. These include only constructive or destructive physical or verbal actions and among them, only those that are strongly motivated by a constructive emotion or a disturbing one. The nonrevealing forms are also compelled by the mental urge that brings them on in conjunction with the revealing form, but they do not reveal that urge. In addition, they themselves are compelling karmic impulses that continue to affect our physical and verbal behavior after the action with which they began ceases. These nonrevealing forms of an action, then, arise with the revealing form of the actions but continue after the actions have ceased so long as we do not give them up.
A distinctive feature of karmic impulses is that they actively do something; they actively perform a function. Mental karma actively draws the consciousness and its accompanying mental factors to engage in an action with or toward an object. Revealing forms actively enact a method for carrying out a physical or verbal action. Nonrevealing forms affect our continuums either directly, by regulating our behavior, as in the case of vows, or indirectly, by building up in strength to bring about more powerful results through others either obeying our orders or utilizing something that we have made for them or given them.
Simply stated, then, there are these three different types of karmic impulses – mental, revealing and nonrevealing. In the case of actions of the mind, the mental karmic impulses refer only to what brings on the action. In the case of actions of the body and speech, the karmic impulses refer to what occurs during the action and, in the case of the nonrevealing forms, what continues after the action as well. That’s what we’ve covered so far.
What Brings on Karmic Mental Urges: An Intention
To fill out further our picture of karma, we need to understand how karmic mental urges arise – in other words, what brings them on. Based on external and internal circumstances, we feel like doing or saying or thinking about something. For example, we might feel like going to visit someone, or feel like speaking with someone, or feel like planning a vacation. This feeling like doing something arises because of external and internal circumstances in a particular moment similar to what we’ve done in the past. In other words, we feel like repeating an action that we’ve done before.
Feeling like doing something, in Buddhist terminology, is a mental factor. Although sometimes we might feel like doing something with someone but do not know what we actually feel like doing or with whom we actually feel like doing it, here this feeling is specific. It is defined as the wish to do some intended action toward or with some intended person or object. This is the mental factor called “intention.” It goes together with a distinguishing of a specific action and a specific object for that action. It doesn’t necessarily have to go together with attachment to or longing desire for either that action, person or object – although, of course, sometimes it does. And, unlike the English word “intention,” it does not imply that we’ve already made a decision to actually implement what we wish to do. We are merely intent on doing it.
We feel like doing, saying, or thinking about something, we wish to do that, and we are intent on doing that – that is our intention – for various reasons. For such an intention to arise, there needs to be circumstances for why we feel like doing this now. It can be the circumstances that we’re in, such as the time, place, and company that we’re with. It can be what’s going on in our lives at that time, and it can also be because we are feeling happy or sad. It would also depend on past tendencies to act, speak, or think in certain ways. We could also feel like doing something based on incorrect consideration of what is going on or because of some motivating emotion such as anger or compassion, or on the most fundamental level, just from grasping for some impossible type of “me.” For example, I need to prove how strong I am or how good I am at this or that.
Mental Karma and Pathways of Mental Karma
Subsequent to the first phase of the intention and now simultaneous with the continuity of the intention is the mental factor of a compelling karmic urge, drawing the consciousness, together with the intention and other accompanying mental factors, to engage in either a mental action or a physical or verbal one. The mental action may be to deliberate whether or not to implement the intention with a physical or verbal action, and such a train of thought may or may not reach the finale of making a decision. And even if the mental action concludes with making a decision to implement the intention, an actual physical or verbal action implementing it may or may not follow. And even if it does follow, that might occur either immediately or sometime later. It may also happen that the compelling mental urge draws the consciousness, intention and other accompanying mental factors directly into committing the physical or verbal action without any prior mental action of deliberating the decision.
Let’s just look first at the case of a compelling karmic urge bringing on an action of mind, whether or not it is one that is deliberating and if so, whether or not it ends with making a decision. Remember, a compelling karmic urge is a mental karmic impulse and any mental action that follows from it and is compelled by it is the pathway of this mental karmic impulse but not itself a karmic impulse. If the compelling karmic urge is destructive, then so is the mental action that is the pathway of this mental karmic impulse, and both function as a negative karmic force. If the compelling karmic urge is constructive, meaning tainted constructive, then likewise constructive is the mental action that is the pathway of this mental karmic impulse. In this case, both function as a positive karmic force. Positive karmic force is usually translated as “merit,” and negative karmic force is sometimes translated as “sin,” which is actually a very misleading translation since it comes from a completely different conceptual framework.
For example, we might have the wish or intent to help or to hurt someone. While still intent on doing that, the compelling mental urge might arise to think about it, in order to decide whether or not to do it and also how exactly to do it. At the conclusion of the pathway of thinking about it, we might reach the conclusion to implement what we wish to do. In the case of wishing to help someone, the mental urge to think about it and the pathway of that urge, which is the action of thinking, both function as a positive karmic force. In the case of wishing to hurt someone, both the mental urge and the pathway of that urge function as a negative karmic force.
Physical and Verbal Karma and Their Pathways
The pathways of physical and verbal karmic actions are brought on and compelled by the mental karmic impulse of a compelling urge. This is the case whether or not these pathways for the physical or verbal actions are preceded by the pathway of a mental action of thinking about whether or not to commit the physical or verbal action. If the physical or verbal actions, namely the pathways of those actions, are tainted constructive phenomena, so are the revealing and nonrevealing forms of that action. Similarly, if those pathways are destructive, likewise destructive are their revealing and nonrevealing forms. As was the case with mental actions, the tainted constructive phenomena involved with physical and verbal actions function as a positive karmic force, while the destructive phenomenon function as a negative karmic force.
Karmic Forces and Potentials
What I have referred to as a “karmic force,” either positive or negative, when analyzed from another point of view can also be translated as a “karmic potential.” It has the potential to give rise to a result. Since there are several phases and types of karmic force, let’s make an artificial distinction between the karmic forces that are the karmic impulses and karmic pathways, which we shall call from here “karmic potentials,” and the aftermath of them, which we shall call “karmic force.”
In the case of mental karma, the karmic impulse is the compelling mental factor of an urge, while the karmic pathway is a noncongruent affecting variable, which is an imputation phenomenon on the basis of (1) a basis for the action, (2) a motivating framework, (3) the implementation of a method for committing the action and (4) a finale. So, the karmic potentials in this case are either a way of being aware of something or a noncongruent affecting variable. In the case of the compelled karma of physical and verbal actions, the karmic impulses – both the revealing forms and nonrevealing forms – are forms of physical phenomenon, while the karmic pathways are, again, noncongruent affecting variables.
Again, let's make an artificial distinction in order to avoid confusion. Let's use the term “obvious karmic potential” for the karmic potential that occurs immediately before a karmic pathway and during the karmic pathway and let's call the karmic potential that occurs after the karmic pathway has ceased nonobvious karmic potential. That means that mental karma, pathways of physical verbal and mental karma, revealing forms and the phase of nonrevealing forms that occurs during the karmic pathway are obvious karmic potentials, whereas the phase of nonrevealing forms that continues after the pathway has ceased are nonobvious karmic potentials.
In the case of the obvious karmic potentials that are mental karma, karmic pathways and revealing forms, when they cease, they undergo a phase transition and continue as a karmic force. A phase transition is like ice turning to water or water turning to steam. In the case of karmic potentials that are nonrevealing forms, they first have a phase as an obvious karmic potential, then a phase as a nonobvious karmic potential, and if the nonrevealing form is lost, it undergoes a phase transition and also becomes a karmic force. Karmic force is a noncongruent affecting variable that is an imputation phenomenon on the basis of, according to Prasangika, the conventional “me,” which itself is a noncongruent affecting variable on the basis of an individual continuum of five aggregates.
This is all insanely complicated and confusing, I know. In short, for constructive or destructive mental karma, revealing forms and all pathways of physical, verbal or mental karma, there is a phase of obvious karmic potential and then a phase of karmic force. For constructive or destructive nonrevealing forms, there is a phase of obvious karmic potential, then one of nonobvious karmic potential and, if the nonrevealing form is lost, one of karmic force.
Mental karma, as a mental urge, is a way of being aware of something, while revealing and nonrevealing forms are forms of physical phenomenon. But pathways of karma, which are equivalent to karmic actions, and karmic force are noncongruent affecting variables. But perhaps we need to clarify a little bit further what a noncongruent affecting variable is.
Noncongruent Affecting Variables
A noncongruent affecting variable is a nonstatic phenomenon that is neither a form of physical phenomenon nor a way of being aware of something. That’s quite a mouthful. Let’s explain this phrase by phrase. It is a variable. That means that it is nonstatic; it changes from moment to moment. It is affecting, which means that it affects what we experience. It’s not like the other types of nonstatic phenomenon that are physical phenomena, like a sight, sound, smell, taste, or physical sensation. It is not a part of our physical body and it’s not a way of being aware of something like consciousness, emotion, concentration or other mental factors. It accompanies the various moments of experience but is not congruent with it.
Consciousness and its accompanying mental factors are congruent with each other. That means that they share five things in common. This is similar to congruent triangles in geometry, if you can remember your high school geometry. The consciousness, emotions and all the other accompanying mental factors share in common (1) the same cognitive sensors, such as the photosensitive cells of the eyes or the sound-sensitive cells of the ears. Next, they also share the same focal object, such as when looking at a painting. When looking at a painting, for example, the consciousness is aimed at the painting, the interest is aimed at the painting, and the level of happiness is aimed at the painting. Everything is sharing (2) the same focal object and all of them are relying on the same photosensitive cells of the eyes for them to arise. These cells are dominating what type of experience it will be. It’s a visual experience.
In addition, they all share (3) the same mental hologram. This is usually translated as “aspect,” but that doesn’t have very much meaning. When we see something, the light enters our eyes and gets transformed into electrical and chemical signals, and then what we actually perceive is like a mental hologram that is a decoding of this neurochemical information.
They also all share (4) the same time. In other words they are all occurring simultaneously. Finally, they all share (5) the same slant , which means that they all fit together harmoniously. Noncongruent affecting variables do not share these five things in common with the consciousness and mental factors that they accompany.
A good example of a noncongruent affecting variable is age. Our age is something that is occurring every moment of our experience. We are continually getting older as our age changes from moment to moment. Age, then, is a variable and it affects us, certainly. It’s neither a way of being aware of something nor a form of physical phenomenon, and it does not share five things in common with our consciousness and its accompanying mental factors. For example, our age is not focused on the painting when we’re looking at it, is it? It’s not dependent on the photosensitive cells of our eyes, etc. It’s not congruent with each moment of our experience, but it’s accompanying it. It’s happening. Therefore, it is an example of a noncongruent affecting variable. It’s an imputation phenomenon on the basis of an individual continuum of five aggregates during a specific lifetime. As an imputation phenomenon, it is tied to this basis and can neither exist nor be known separately from the basis. I think that’s a very clear example.
The conventional “me” is the same type of phenomenon, a noncongruent affecting variable. “Me” is an imputation phenomenon on an individual continuum of five aggregate factors that make up each moment of someone’s experience. Since some of the aggregate factors are forms of physical phenomena, some are ways of being aware of something and some are even other noncongruent affecting variables, the “me” that is an imputation phenomenon on the continuum of all of them cannot itself be either a form of physical phenomenon or a way of being aware of something. It cannot exist or be known separately from its basis, the aggregates, but it is noncongruent with the consciousness and mental factors of each moment of the aggregates.
Similarly, pathways of karma are also noncongruent affecting variables. They are imputation phenomena on the basis of the continuum of all the components of the pathway – the basis at which an action is aimed, a motivating framework, the implementation of a method for carrying out the action, and the reaching of a finale. The basis is usually a person, which is a noncongruent affecting variable on the basis of their five aggregates; and the motivating framework consists of the mental factors of an intention, a distinguishing and an emotion, all of which are ways of being aware of something. The implementation of a method for carrying out a physical or verbal action entails a movement of the body or an utterance of the sounds of words, both of which are forms of physical phenomenon, or in the case of the pathway of a mental action, conceptual thought. The reaching of a finale – for instance, someone dying, or someone believing the lie that we tell, or reaching a decision about something that we have deliberated – is a variety of different types of nonstatic phenomena. So, the pathway of these karmic actions, which is equivalent to the actions themselves, and is an imputation phenomenon on the basis of the continuum of all of these, cannot itself be either a form of physical phenomenon or a way of being aware of something. And the karmic action or pathway of the karmic action can neither exist nor be known separately from all these components, and it does not share five things in common with the consciousness and mental factors involved in the flow of the pathway.
Karmic force, which is the karmic aftermath that is a phase transition of the obvious and nonobvious phases of karmic potential, is the same type of phenomenon here. It is a noncongruent affecting variable. According to the Gelug Prasangika system, it is an imputation phenomenon on the basis of the continuum of the conventional “me.” It can neither exist separately from that conventional “me” nor be known separately from it. And, like the conventional “me” on which it is an imputation phenomenon, karmic force does not share five things in common with the consciousness and mental factors of the aggregates on which the conventional “me” itself is an imputation phenomenon.
You follow that, I hope. Noncongruent affecting variables and imputation phenomena are a very essential things that you need to understand in order to understand the whole Buddhist presentation of not only the self, but also the presentation of karma. The karmic forces that are phase transitions of obvious and nonobvious positive karmic potentials network together and, as an imputation phenomenon on the basis of the continuum of all the positive karmic forces, comprise a network of positive karmic force. This network of positive karmic force is usually translated as a “collection of merit,” and, like karmic force itself, it is a noncongruent affecting variable. We can infer that there is likewise a network of negative karmic force, but there is no specific technical term for it.
The conventional “me” continues lifetime to lifetime with the networks of karmic force, in a sense, carried piggyback on it as imputation phenomena. From the sutra point of view, at the time of death, there is just subtle mental consciousness with the other aggregates as potentials that are imputation phenomena on it as their basis. From the point of view of anuttarayoga tantra, at the time of death there is just subtlest clear light consciousness, with the aggregates that are mental factors now as potentials that are imputation phenomena on it as their basis, and also subtlest energy wind. But regardless of which system we look at it from, there is always the “me” as an imputation phenomenon even at the time of death and so, we always retain our individuality. The karmic force is an imputation phenomenon riding on that “me.”
This is not so strange to think in terms of karmic force or karmic potential as something associated with the conventional “me.” We speak in our ordinary language in phrases like, “I have the potential to succeed,” or “I have the potential to get sick.” Don’t we? A potential is an imputation phenomenon on the basis of “me.” We don’t say that the body has the potential to get sick. We say. “I have the potential to get sick.” We don’t say that the mind has the potential to succeed. We say, “I have the potential to succeed.” “Me” is an imputation phenomenon on the continuum of our whole experience, and that “me” has the potential to succeed.
Karmic Tendencies and Karmic Constant Habits
To repeat, karmic potential and karmic force are either tainted constructive or destructive. In the Prasangika system, “tainted” means that they arise while the mind is giving rise to an appearance of self-established existence. Technically, the phase of the karmic potential when it has become a karmic force, a type of karmic aftermath, is known as a “karmic potential that has taken on the essential nature of a karmic tendency.” A karmic tendency is my way of translating the word “seed.” It is literally the word “seed,” but like a karmic force it is a noncongruent affecting variable, not a form of physical phenomenon as the word “seed” might misleadingly imply.
After a karmic pathway of a physical, verbal or mental action has ceased, there arise not only a karmic force, which is a phase transition of the karmic potential of that pathway, but also two other types of karmic aftermath. The two are a karmic tendency and a karmic constant habit. The term “karmic tendency,” then, is a general term that includes both what we can call “actual” karmic tendencies as well as karmic potentials that have taken on the essential nature of a karmic tendency. This terminology, of course, can be very confusing, so let's put aside the term a “karmic potential that has taken on the essential nature of a karmic tendency” and just refer to that as “karmic force.”
Both karmic tendencies and karmic constant habits are unspecified phenomena, neither constructive nor destructive. That means that they are the karmic aftermath not only of tainted constructive and destructive actions, but also the aftermath of unspecified actions. This is in contrast with karmic force, which is either positive or negative, and which is the karmic aftermath of only tainted constructive or destructive karmic actions.
Sometimes we might read or hear the expression “negative karmic tendencies.” You should not be confused by this terminology. It means the unspecified karmic tendencies that are the aftermath of destructive karmic actions. Karmic tendencies are always unspecified phenomena.
Karmic tendencies, like karmic force, give rise to their results intermittently. In other words, they give rise to their results from time to time. It’s the same thing with the tendencies of the disturbing emotions. We don’t get angry all the time in every moment of our existence. The English word “intermittently” means “sometimes.” So, karmic tendencies and karmic force give rise to their results only sometimes.
Karmic constant habits, on the other hand, give rise to their results continually. They do that in every moment. The result that they give rise to is limited awareness and the inability to cognize the two truths simultaneously – what exists and how each thing exists. Thus, karmic constant habits obstruct and prevent our attainment of enlightenment. They prevent our simultaneous cognition of the two truths and, in this way, limit our awareness by giving rise to the false appearance of self-established existence in all moments other than when totally absorbed on non-conceptual cognition of voidness.
This is a karmic constant habit. The constant habits of the disturbing emotions, of unawareness or ignorance and of grasping for self-established existence limit our minds as well in the same way.
Constant Habits of Grasping for Self-established Existence
Could you clarify what causes grasping for self-established existence?
Because of these three types of automatically arising constant habits, our minds give rise to the appearance of self-established existence. There are two levels of grasping, then, for self-established existence. Grasping for it means to cognize it and, in addition, because of our unawareness that this appearance does not correspond to how things actually exist, and that the actual mode of existence is the exact opposite of this, we also grasp at the false appearance in the sense of considering it actually to correspond to reality.
When we attain liberation, these constant habits stop causing us to grasp at these appearances as corresponding to reality; we no longer believe they are true. However, until we attain enlightenment, these constant habits continue to continually give rise to this appearance of self-established existence, except when totally absorbed non-conceptually on voidness. But now we no longer believe it corresponds to reality. However, because these constant habits cause our minds still to give rise to these deceptive appearances, we are unable to cognize the two truths simultaneously and so our minds remain limited. That renders us as sentient beings, in other words limited beings. We only attain a true stopping of this false appearance-making and the presence of these constant habits on our continuums with our attainment of enlightenment.
When we talk about constant habits, then, they include constant habits of karma, constant habits of disturbing emotions, constant habits of grasping for self -established existence, and constant habits of unawareness or ignorance, and all of them do the same thing.
The Difference between Intermittently Ripening Karmic Aftermath and Nonrevealing Forms
There is a big difference between karmic tendencies and karmic force, on the one hand, and nonrevealing forms on the other. Only karmic tendencies and karmic force are karmic aftermath, whereas nonrevealing forms are still karmic impulses. Karmic tendencies and karmic force give rise to results through what is known as “ripening.” “Ripening” means either that, like a fruit growing on a tree, they need to develop and grow over time to the point at which they can produce their result, or it can refer to what happens at the actual point when they give rise their result. In this second sense, they may give rise to their result intermittently, at irregular intervals, until they finally exhaust.
Nonrevealing forms do not ripen. Although they can be strengthened or weakened, they do not need to develop and grow over time in order to produce some effect. But, as with the example of a vow, nonrevealing forms begin to affect our behavior immediately upon obtaining them. But that doesn't mean that there is such a thing as what some people call “instant karma” – for instance, we tell a lie and immediately afterwards something bad happens to us. Karma doesn’t work like that.
There are some more significant points about nonrevealing forms that we need to understand, and which differentiate them from karmic forces and karmic tendencies. Vows regulate our behavior continuously, while intermediate vows regulate it at regular intervals, not irregular ones. The nonrevealing forms obtained from others following our orders or making use of something we have made for them or given them increase in strength regularly, whenever someone follows our orders or makes use of what we have made or given them. In addition, nonrevealing forms do not exhaust and eventually stop affecting our behavior. They only stop affecting it if we consciously decide to stop honoring them and give them up. None of these features characterize karmic force or karmic tendencies.
Only karmic aftermath ripens. And so karmic tendencies and karmic force continue to ripen, to give their results, intermittently at irregular intervals, until they actually end when they are finished giving their results. Then they become what are sometimes called “burnt seeds.” Remember “tendency” is literally the word "seed."
One of Tsongkhapa’s special Prasangika assertions, though, is that karmic tendencies and karmic force continue even as exhausted burnt seeds as imputation phenomena on the basis of on the conventional “me.” They are not eradicated even when they finish ripening and giving their usual results. But, rather they undergo a phase transition and now turn into or function as karmic constant habits. We only attain a true stopping of them when we attain enlightenment. Vasubandhu does not make a similar assertion.
We’ve already had one type of phase transition when the karmic potential of a karmic impulse changes from a way of being aware of something or a form of physical phenomenon to being a karmic force which is a noncongruent affecting variable. So here we have another phase transition. As karmic constant habits, the burnt seeds of karmic force and karmic tendencies are still noncongruent affecting variables that are imputation phenomenon on the basis of the conventional “me.” But the effect they give rise to and the manner in which they give rise to it – now continually and not intermittently – have completely changed.
Not only does positive karmic force continue as a burnt seed after it has finished giving rise to its results, but also so does negative karmic force. That means that when we have purified ourselves of negative karmic force and the karmic tendencies from our destructive behavior with the four opponent forces and Vajrasattva meditation, we have not actually eradicated these types of karmic aftermath from our continuums. They undergo a phase transition and now function as karmic constant habits preventing omniscience.
This doesn't mean that because we have purified ourselves of these troublemakers and they have now transformed into karmic constant habits that we will never again have destructive karmic impulses and destructive behavior. Remember, until we have attained liberation, the karmic constant habits will give rise to an appearance of self-established existence – except when we are totally absorbed non-conceptually on voidness – and we will grasp at this false appearance to correspond to reality. Based on that unawareness, ignorance and grasping, we will generate anew disturbing emotions and attitudes that will lead to the renewed arising of destructive karmic impulses and destructive behavior.
Visualizing the Schemes of Karma
Since all of this is quite complicated, then to keep it all straight I think it's very helpful if you make charts yourself. If you make them yourselves, you will learn the material much better than if I were to provide them for you. If you’re really skilled in visualization, you don’t have to make a chart with paper. You can just visualize the chart and construct it in your minds. This is one of the benefits of training in visualization.
Okay, so now let’s try visualizing. In the case of mental actions, there is the mental karma of a karmic urge followed by the pathway of that of mental karma. The mental karma is a way of being aware of something, while the pathway is a noncongruent affecting variable. If both the mental karma and its pathway are either tainted constructive or destructive phenomena, both are positive or negative karmic potentials. When the pathway is finished, that potential undergoes a phase transition. As karmic aftermath, it becomes a positive or negative karmic force but is still a noncongruent affecting variable. Look in your minds at the imaginary “chart”: one phase is the urge and thinking and one phase is the karmic aftermath. In both phases, they are all either tainted constructive or destructive.
Now after the pathway of the mental karma is finished, there arises as the karmic aftermath not only a positive or negative karmic force, but also an unspecified karmic tendency and an unspecified karmic constant habit. Both of these are also noncongruent affecting variables. So, visualize now these three types of karmic aftermath, one below the other, following from the karmic pathway of thinking. When the karmic force and the karmic tendency have finished giving rise to their results, they undergo another phase transition and become more karmic constant habits, reinforcing the ones that are already there. Although that happens with all the negative karmic force and the karmic tendencies from destructive behavior, it only happens with the positive karmic force and karmic tendencies from tainted constructive behavior if they have not been dedicated with unlabored bodhicitta to enlightenment. If they have been dedicated like that, then they continue until the attainment of enlightenment. The karmic constant habits cease with the attainment of enlightenment.
Try to visualize the whole sequence in a line. You are doing all sorts of visualization practices. Use that ability. So, in the case of tainted constructive or destructive mental actions, there's mental karma, followed by a pathway of that mental karma, followed by three types of karmic aftermath: karmic force, karmic tendencies, and karmic constant habits. The karmic force and karmic tendencies are followed either directly by the attainment of enlightenment or also by karmic constant habits. Following the karmic constant habits is also the attainment of enlightenment.
The mental karma is a way of being aware of something and everything else in the chart is a noncongruent affecting variable that is an imputation phenomenon. The mental karma and its pathway are karmic potentials, and both the karmic potentials and the subsequent karmic force are either tainted constructive or destructive phenomena. The karmic tendencies and karmic constant habits are unspecified. Enlightenment is constructive but untainted constructive, not in any way tainted.
I guess that was pretty complicated to visualize for most of us. But if you were able to keep up with that without having to make a chart on paper, then try to visualize a chart for tainted constructive or destructive physical or verbal actions. And let's consider one that is preceded by the mental action of deliberating whether or not to commit the physical or verbal action.
The mental action of deliberating has its own sequence of karmic aftermath just as we've already visualized. But there's another line that follows at the conclusion of the pathway of the mental karma. This line starts with another mental karmic impulse of a karmic urge and it is now followed by a pathway of a physical or verbal action. That pathway includes a revealing form and a nonrevealing form. The revealing form starts at the beginning of the pathway and finishes at the end of that pathway; whereas the nonrevealing form starts at the beginning of the pathway but continues past the end of that pathway during the period of the karmic aftermath. The revealing form is followed by the same sequence of karmic aftermath as followed the pathway of mental karma – so, karmic force, karmic tendencies and karmic constant habits. There are two possibilities for the nonrevealing form. One is if it is a constructive one and never given up; then it is followed by the attainment of enlightenment. If it is given up, whether constructive or destructive, it is followed by a karmic potential and that is followed by the same sequences as the other karmic potentials.
As before, the mental karma is a way of being aware of something; and the pathways of the mental, physical and verbal karmic impulses, as well as the karmic force, karmic tendencies and karmic constant habits are, again, noncongruent affecting variables. The revealing and nonrevealing forms are forms of physical phenomena. These forms are also either tainted constructive or destructive phenomena and are also included as positive or negative karmic potentials. Everything else in the chart is as before.
Actually, having gone through all of this here, it probably is much too complicated to visualize the whole thing all at once. So please, if you'd like to learn this material more deeply, make some charts on paper yourself.
Just one more thing needs to be added and that is the network of positive karmic force. This network includes just the constructive karmic aftermath, namely the positive karmic force. It does not include the karmic tendencies and karmic constant habits that come from constructive karmic actions, whether or not they are dedicated with bodhichitta. This is because karmic tendencies and karmic constant habits are unspecified phenomena, not constructive ones.