The Roots

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The other criterion is the root of the intention and, therefore, of the action. All actions stem from certain mental factors that are called the roots. These are the causal factors that form the basis of the action or the source of the action.

All evil actions stem from three evil roots: greed, hate and delusion. Greed is the selfish desire that aims at personal pleasure, expressed as predation, greed, desire and attachment. Hate is malice, anger, enmity, resentment, rage, intense annoyance that manifests itself violently, as well as the negative evaluation of a situation or a person. Delusion is ignorance, mental turbidity, confusion and fantasy.

The roots of good deeds are: non-greed, non-hate and non-delusion. Non-greed manifests itself as non-attachment and generosity. Non-hatred is positively expressed as goodwill, good intentions, friendliness, compassion, benevolence and kindness. Non-delusion manifests itself as wisdom, understanding and mental clarity.

Due to these roots, we have to be very careful when judging our own actions and the actions of others. There can often be a big difference between the external action and the state of mind from which that action originates.

One can do good for others, but only externally. The inner motivation that lies behind the beneficence may be the desire to gain fame and recognition, which is a form of evil greed and intense desire.

Someone may sit in silence and meditate, seemingly distant and self-centred; but internally, he can develop a friendly disposition and compassion for all beings, wishing for them to be happy and live without pain. Some may criticise him for pursuing only his own good, but he may be doing more to benefit the world than the benefactor driven by the desire to make a name for himself and gain fame.

The function of Karma (Action) is so complex and so subtle that it is almost impossible to make specific predictions. The only thing we can know for sure is our tendencies and intentions, but that is enough to guide our Karma (Actions).