3 Immoral Roots

  1. Greed
  2. Hatred
  3. Delusion


  10 kinds of evil committed through deed, word, and   thought.

  Deed – 1. Killing 2. Stealing 3. Sexual misconduct
  Word – 4. Lying 5. Slandering 6. Harsh speech 7. Vain talk
  Thought – 8. Covetousness 9. Hatred 10. False view


“Killing living beings is unwholesome, abstention from killing living beings is wholesome; taking what is not given is unwholesome, abstention from taking what is not given is wholesome; misconduct in sensual pleasures is unwholesome, abstention from misconduct in sensual pleasures is wholesome; false speech is unwholesome, abstention from false speech is wholesome; malicious speech is unwholesome, abstention from malicious speech is wholesome; harsh speech is unwholesome, abstention from harsh speech is wholesome; gossip is unwholesome, abstention from gossip is wholesome; covetousness is unwholesome, non-covetousness is wholesome; ill will is unwholesome, non-ill will is wholesome; wrong view is unwholesome, right view is wholesome. In this way ten things are unwholesome and the other ten things are wholesome."
~ The Buddha MN 73


  1. Sense desires
  2. False beliefs
  3. Adherence to rites and rituals
  4. Self-illusion/Ignorance


  1. Greed
  2. Hatred
  3. Delusion
  4. Pride
  5. False views


  1. Material pleasure
  2. Aversion for holy life
  3. Hunger and thirst
  4. Craving
  5. Sloth and torpor
  6. Fear
  7. Doubt
  8. Detraction and obstinacy
  9. Gain
  10. Praise, honor and ill-gotten fame


  1. Personality belief /individual-group-view
  2. Skeptical doubt (and wavering)
  3. Clinging to rites and rituals
  4. Sensuous craving /desire and lust
  5. Ill-will /malevolence
  6. Craving for material existence /lust of form
  7. Craving for immaterial existence /lust of the formless
  8. Conceit
  9. Restlessness /excitement
  10. Ignorance /delusion


  1. Sensual pleasure
  2. Notion of eternalism
  3. Notion of nihilism


  1. Sensual desire
  2. Ill-will /malevolence
  3. Sloth and torpor
  4. Restlessness and brooding /excitement
  5. Indecision /wavering


  1. Doubt regarding the Buddha
  2. Doubt regarding the Dhamma
  3. Doubt regarding the Sangha
  4. Doubt regarding the precepts
  5. Doubt regarding one’s past birth
  6. Doubt regarding one’s next birth
  7. Doubt regarding one’s past and next birth
  8. Doubt regarding the doctrine of dependent origination

From the Abhidhamma Teachings:

The Unwholesome Factors:

1. Delusion 2. Shamelessness 3. Fearlessness of wrong-doing 4. Restlessness 5. Greed 6. Wrong view 7. Conceit 8. Hatred 9. Envy 10. Avarice 11. Worry 12. Sloth 13. Torpor 14. Doubt these fourteen mental factors are termed the unwholesome.

1. Delusion (moha): Moha is a synonym for avijja, ignorance. Its characteristic is mental blindness or unknowing. Its function is non-penetration, or concealment orf the real nature of the object. It is manifested as the absence of right understanding or as mental darkness. Its proximate cause is unwise attention. It should be seen as the root of all that is unwholesome.

2. & 3. Shamelessness (ahirika) and fearlessness of wrongdoing ((anottappa): The characteristic of shamelessness is the absence of disgust at bodily and verbal misconduct; the characteristic of fearlessness of wrongdoing (of moral recklessness) is the absence of dread on account of such misconduct. Both have the function of doing evil things. They are manifest as not shrinking away from evil. Their proximate cause is the lack of respect for self and lack of respect for others, respectively.

4. Restlessness (uddhacca): Restlessness (or agitation) has the characteristic of disquietude, like water whipped up by the wind. Its function is to make the mind unsteady, as wind makes a banner ripple. It is manifested as turmoil. Its proximate cause is unwise attention to metal disquiet.

5. Greed (lobha): Greed, the first unwholesome root, covers all degrees of selfish desire, longing, attachment, and clinging. Its characteristic is grasping an object. Its function is sticking, as meat sticks to a hot pan. It is manifested as not giving up. Its proximate cause is seeing enjoyment in things that lead to bondage.

6. Wrong view (ditthi): Ditthi here means seeing wrongly. Its characteristic is unwise (unjustified) interpretation of things. Its function is to preassume. It is manifested as a wrong interpretation or belief. Its proximate cause is unwillingness to see the noble ones, and so on.

7. Conceit (mana): Conceit has the characteristic of haughtiness. Its function is self-exaltation. It is manifested as vainglory. Its roximate cause is greed dissociated from views. It should be regarded as madness.

8. Hatred (dosa): Dosa, the second unwholesome root, comprises all kinds and degrees of aversion, ill will, anger, irritation, annoyance, and animosity. Its characteristic is ferocity. Its function is to spread, or to burn up its own support, i.e. the mind and body in which it arises. It is manifested as persecuting, and its proximate cause is a ground for annoyance.

9. Envy (issa): Envy has the characteristic of being jealous of other’s success. Its function is to be dissatisfied with others’ success. It is manifested as aversion towards that. Its proximate cause is others’ success.

10. Avarice (macchariya): The characteristic of avarice (or stinginess) is concealing one’s success when it has been or can be obtained. Its function is not to bear sharing these with others. It is manifest as shrinking away (from sharing) and as meanness or sour feeling. Its roximate cause is on’e own success.

11. Worry (kukkucca): Kukkucca is worry or remorse after having done wrong. Its characteristic is subsequent regret. Its function is to sorrow over what has and what has not been done. It is manifested as remorse. Its proximate cause is what has and what has not been done (i.e. wrongs of commission and omission).

12. Sloth (thina): Sloth is sluggishness or dullness of mind. Its characteristic is lack of driving power. Its function is to dispel energy. It is manifested as the sinking of the mind. Its proximate cause is unwise attention to boredom, drowsiness, etc.

13. Torpor (middha): Torpor is the morbid state of the mental factors. Its characteristic is unwieldiness. Its function is to smother. It is manifested as drooping, or as nodding and sleepiness. Its proximate cause is the same as that of sloth.

Sloth and torpor always occur in conjunction, and are aooposed to energy. Sloth s identified as sickness of consciousness, torpor as sickness of the mental factors. As a pair they constitute one of the five hindrances. Which is overcome by initial application.

14. Doubt (vicikiccha): Doubt here signifies spiritual doubt, from a Buddhist persective the inability of place confidence in the Buddha, the Dhamma, the Sangha, and the training. Its characteristic is doubting. Its function is to waver. It is manifested as indecisiveness and as taking various sides. Its proximate cause is unwise attention.


Sayings of the Buddha in Verse


Whoso in this world destroys life,
Tells lies, takes what is not given,
Goes to others' wives, and is addicted to intoxicating drinks,
Such a one digs up his own root in this world.
~ The Buddha (Dhpd. 246, 247)

There is no evil that cannot be done by the liar,
Who has transgressed the one law (of truthfulness),
And who is indifferent to a world beyond.
~ The Buddha (Dhpd. 176)

Whoever harms a harmless person, one pure and guiltless,
Upon that very fool the evil recoils like fine dust thrown against the wind.
~ The Buddha (Dhpd. 125)

One who tells lies (about others) goes to niraya (a woeful state);
One who has done evil and says, “I didn’t do it,” also goes to niraya.
Both of them being evil doers, suffers alike (in niraya) in their next existence.
~ The Buddha (Dhpd. 306)

Four misfortunes befall a careless man who commits adultery: acquisition of demerit, disturbed sleep, blame, and suffering in a woeful state. There is acquisition of demerit as well as evil destiny. Brief is the joy of the frightened man and woman. The King imposes a heavy punishment. Therefore, a man should not commit sexual misconduct with another man’s wife.
~ The Buddha (Dhpd. 309, 310)

He who does harm with weapons to those who are harmless and should not be harmed,
Will soon suffer any of these ten evil consequences.
He will be subject to acute pain, disaster, bodily injury, or even grievous sickness,
or loss of mind, or oppression by the king, or heavy accusation, or loss of relatives, or destruction of wealth, or ravaging fire that will burn his house.
Upon the dissolution of the body the fool will be reborn in hell.
~ The Buddha (Dhpd. 138, 139, 140)

By oneself, indeed, is evil done; by oneself is one defiled.
By oneself is evil left undone; by oneself, indeed, is one purified.
Purity and impurity depend on oneself.
No one purifies another.
~ The Buddha (Dhpd. 165)

As sweet as honey is an evil deed,
So thinks the fool so long as it ripens not;
But when it ripens,
Then he comes to grief.
~ The Buddha (Dhpd. 69)

An evil deed does not immediately bear fruit,
Just as milk does not curdle at once;
But it follows the fool,
Burning him like live coal covered with ashes.
~ The Buddha (Dhpd. 71)

Not in the sky,
Nor in mid-ocean,
Nor in a mountain cave,
Is found that place on earth where abiding,
One may escape from the consequences of one’s evil deeds.
~ The Buddha (Dhpd. 127)

Know thus, O good man: "not easy to control are evil things". Let not greed and hate drag you to suffering for a long period.
~ The Buddha


The sources for the above material:
MN 73 Mahavacchagotta Sutta: The Greater Discourse to Vacchagotta.
Copyright © Bhikkhu Bodhi 1995, 2001. Reprinted from The Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha: A Translation of the Majjhima Nikaya. Used with permission from Wisdom Publications, 199 Elm Street, Somerville, MA 02144 U.S.A.

Abhidhamma - Bhikkhu Bodhi, General Editor. A Comprehensive Manual of the Abhidhamma. Copyright © 1993, 1999 by Buddhist Publication Society, P. O. Box 61, 54, Sangaraja Mawatha, Kandy, Sri Lanka. Used with permission.

Dhpd. K. Sri Dhammananda. The Dhammapada. Copyright © 1988 by Sasana Abhiwurdhi Wardhana Society, 123, Jalan Berhala, 50470, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Used with permission.



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