Although kamma has the tendency to ripen, it does not ripen
inevitably. Kamma is like a seed. Seeds ripen only if they
meet the right conditions. But if they do not meet the
right conditions they remain as seeds; if they are destroyed
they can never ripen at all. Similarly, we can say that
kamma has a tendency
to mature. If kamma finds the opportunity then it will bring
its results; if it does not meet the right conditions
it won't ripen. One kamma can even be destroyed by another
Wholesome kamma/unwholesome kamma
The Buddha identifies wholesome or unwholesome kamma.
wholesome kamma — action which is
spiritually beneficial and morally praiseworthy
unwholesome kamma — action
which is spiritually harmful
To distinguish wholesome from unwholesome kamma we use two
Actions intended to bring harm to either oneself or
to others are unwholesome
kamma. Action conducive to the good of oneself or others is
All action arises from certain mental factors. These
roots are the causal factors underlying action or the sources
All unwholesome actions (more >>>)
come from three unwholesome roots:
greed — selfish desire aimed at personal gratification,
expressed as grasping, craving and attachment
aversion — ill will, hatred, resentment, anger
and a negative evaluation of the object
delusion — ignorance, mental unclarity and confusion.
Wholesome actions have roots as well:
non-greed becomes manifest as detachment and generosity.
non-aversion is expressed positively as good will, friendliness
and loving kindness.
non-delusion is manifested as wisdom, understanding and
Because of these roots, we have to be very careful when we
judge actions — both our own and of others. Often there
can be a sharp difference between an action and the state of
mind from which the action springs.
The working of kamma is so complex and so subtle that it is
almost impossible to make definite predictions. All that we
can know with certainty are the tendencies, but that is enough
to guide our actions.
When the Buddha asked his son what a mirror was used for,
Rahula answered. "For reflection."