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Manual of Vinaya - Reading Seven: The Ten Non-Virtues, and their Karmic Results

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The following selection is taken from the Great Book on the Steps of the Path (Lam-rim chen-mo), written by Je Tsongkapa (1357-1419).

Here is the third section, a presentation on the consequences of the various kinds of bad deeds. We proceed in three parts, beginning with what are called the “ripened” consequences.

Now each one of the ten paths of karma can itself be divided into three kinds—lesser, medium, and greater—depending on the intensity of the three poisons. The Main Stage of Levels states that, from the ten greater instances of killing and the rest, one is born into the hells. It says that from medium instances of each of the ten you take birth as an insatiable spirit; and from the ten lesser instances, you are born as an animal.

The Sutra on the Ten Levels however states the consequences of two of the kinds of instances, the lesser and the medium, in reverse of this.

The “consistent” consequences are as follows. Even if you do manage to escape the realms of misery and take birth as a human, the following respective results occur to you:

1) Your life is short.

2) You don’t have enough to live on.

3) You have problems keeping your partner from others.

4) People don’t believe what you say, even when you’re telling the truth.

5) You lose friends easily.

6) You hear things as bad sounds.

7) No one listens to you.

8) Your personality is dominated by desire.

9) Your personality is dominated by anger.

10) Your personality is dominated by stupidity.

The Chapter on the True and the Sutra on the Ten Levels state that there are two such consequences for each of the ones given here; even if you do manage to take birth as a human,

1) Your life is short, and you get sick easily.

2) You don’t have enough to live on, and what you do have is all just common property with others.

3) The people who work around you are “inconsistent,” which here means unreliable, and you find yourself having a lot of competition for your partner.

4) No one believes what you say, even when you are speaking the truth, and others are always deceiving you.

5) The people around you are always fighting against one another, and have an undesirable character.

6) You hear many unpleasant things, and when others talk to you it always seems to you as if they want to start a fight.

7) No one respects what you say—no one thinks that what you say has any particular value, and you are afflicted with a lack of confidence.

8) Your personality is dominated by desire, and you are never satisfied with what you have.

9) You are always finding yourself without help, or never find the help you need; and you are always hurting others, or always being hurt by others.

10) You become a person who keeps harmful views, or a deceitful person.

Great lamas of the past have expressed the position that the “consistent” consequence is where, even if you do manage to take birth as a human, you enjoy killing things, and so on. They say then that experiencing the various results just listed is a “ripened” consequence [the second rgyu mthun here is likely a text error for rnam smin; this is the corrected reading].

Next is what we call the “environmental” or “dominant” consequence. Here for example the consequence of killing expresses itself in the outer world around you. Food, drink, medicine, the crops in the fields, and other such things have very little power; they are always inferior; they have little nutrition or potency; they are hard to digest, and they cause disease in you. Because of this the majority of the living beings around you die before reaching the end of a full life.

Because you have stolen, then the crops are few and far between; the crops have no power to remove hunger; they spoil; they never come up; dry spells stay on too long; it rains too much; the crops dry up, or die off.

Because you have done wrong sex, you live in a place where there is urine and feces all around, and mud and dirt and filth, and everything stinks, and everywhere seems unpleasant and distasteful.

Because you have lied, you live in a world where, when you undertake farming or some work in cooperation with other people, in the end the work fails to prosper, and the people can’t work well together, and for the most part everyone is cheating one another, and is afraid, and where there are many things to be afraid of.

Because you have split people up with your talk, the very ground in the place you live is all uneven, covered with crags and gullies, full of highs and lows, so that you can travel only with difficulty, and where you are always afraid, and there are many things to be afraid of.

Because you have spoken harsh words, the ground where you live is covered with obstacles like the trunks of fallen trees, and thorns, and stones, and clods of dirt, and lots of sharp broken pieces of glass; it’s rough, and dreary; no streams, or lakes, or springs of water; the whole earth is parched, poisoned with salt and borax, burning hot, useless, threatening; a place where there are many things to fear.

Because you have talked meaninglessly, fruits refuse to grow on the trees, or they start to grow at the wrong times, never at the right times, and seem ripe when they’re still not ripe, or their roots are frail, or they can’t stay long; there are no places to take your leisure, no parks, no glades, no pools of cool water, and many things around to make you afraid.

Because you have coveted what others have, then each and every good thing you ever manage to find starts to get worse, and less and less, never more, each one of them, with the passing of each of the four season, and in every month, and even day by day.

Because you have wished bad things on others, you live in a world of chaos, where diseases spread, and evil is everywhere, and plague, and conflict, and fear from the armies of other nations; where there are many lions or leopards or other dangerous animals; where there are everywhere venomous snakes or scorpions or poison biting worms; surrounded by harmful spirits, and thieves or muggers, and the like.

Because you have held wrong views, then you live in a world where the single highest source of happiness is steadily disappearing from the earth; a world where people think that things that are unclean and things that are suffering are actually nice, and happy; a world where there is no place to go, no one to help, nothing to protect you.

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