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Tipitaka >> Sutta Pitaka >> Anguttara Nikaya >> Causes of Action

AN 3:33 Causes of Action

Translated from the Pali by Nyanaponika Thera and Bhikkhu Bodhi


There are, O monks, three causes for the origination of action. What three? Greed, hatred, and delusion.

An action done in greed, born of greed, caused by greed, arisen from greed, will ripen wherever the individual is reborn; and wherever the action ripens, there the individual experiences the fruit of that action, be it in this life, or in the next life, or in subsequent future lives.

An action done in hatred, born of hatred, caused by hatred, arisen from hatred, will ripen wherever the individual is reborn; and wherever the action ripens, there the individual experiences the fruit of that action, be it in this life, or in the next life, or in subsequent future lives.

An action done in delusion, born of delusion, caused by delusion, arisen from delusion, will ripen wherever the individual is reborn; and wherever the action ripens, there the individual experiences the fruit of that action, be it in this life, or in the next life, or in subsequent future lives.

It is, monks, as with seeds that are undamaged, not rotten, unspoiled by wind and sun, capable of sprouting and well embedded in a good field, sown in well-prepared soil: if there is plenty of rain, these seeds will grow, shoot up, and develop abundantly.

Similarly, monks, whatever action is done out of greed, hatred or delusion … will ripen wherever the individual is reborn; and wherever the action ripens, there the individual experiences the fruit, be it in this life, or in the next life, or in subsequent future lives.

These, monks, are three causes for the origination of action.

There are, O monks, three other causes for the origination of action. What three? Non-greed, non-hatred, and non-delusion.

If an action is done in non-greed, born of non-greed, caused by non-greed, arisen from non-greed. … If an action is done in non-hatred. … If an action is done in non-delusion, born of non-delusion, caused by non-delusion, arisen from non-delusion, once greed, hatred, and delusion have vanished that action is thus abandoned, cut off at the root, made barren like a palm-tree stump, obliterated so that it is no more subject to arise in the future.

It is, monks, as with seeds that are undamaged, not rotten, unspoiled by wind and sun, capable of sprouting and well embedded: if a man were to burn them in fire and reduce them to ashes, then winnow the ashes in a strong wind or let them be carried away by a swiftly flowing stream, then those seeds would have been radically destroyed, fully eliminated, made unable to sprout, and would not be liable to arise in the future.

Similarly it is, monks, with actions done in non-greed, non-hatred, and non-delusion. Once greed, hatred, and delusion have vanished, these actions are thus abandoned, cut off at the root, made barren like palm-tree stumps, obliterated so that they are no more subject to arise in the future.

These, monks, are the other three causes for the origination of action.

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