In the Visuddhimagga, on the topic of virtue, there is a reference to the ten courses of action (kamma):

Furthermore, virtue as volition is the seven volitions [that accompany the first seven] of the [ten] courses of action (kamma) in one who abandons the killing of living things, and so on. Virtue as consciousness-concomitant is the [three remaining] states consisting of non-covetousness, non-ill will, and right view, stated in the way beginning, “Abandoning covetousness, he dwells with a mind free from covetousness” (D I 71).

I know the quote is taken out of context from the chapter, but I was just wondering about the ten courses of action (kamma), and their reference and significance?

2 Answers 2


1. What are the ten courses of action & their significance?

They are unwholesome and wholesome behaviors that lead people to live unhappily or happily now & in the future.

Unwholesome Course
Bodily Conduct
1. Killing & harming living beings.
2. Taking what is not given.
3. Sexual misconduct.
Verbal Conduct
4. Lying.
5. Slandering.
6. Harsh talk.
7. Useless Idle chattering.
Mental Conduct
8. Covetous thinking.
9. Hateful thinking.
10. Seeing distortedly with wrong view.

Wholesome Course
Bodily Conduct
1. Abandoning killing & harming living beings.
2. Abandoning taking what is not given.
3. Abandoning sexual misconduct.
Verbal Conduct
4. Abandoning lying.
5. Abandoning slandering.
6. Abandoning harsh talk.
7. Abandoning useless idle chattering.
Mental Conduct
8. Abandoning covetous thinking.
9. Abandoning hateful thinking.
10. Seeing undistortedly with right view.
(You can find details about them in the references provided below.)

2. What are their references?

You can find them in many discourses throughout the Pāḷi Canon, specially in the 10th book of the Numerical Discourses (Aṅguttara Nikāya).

Two examples are: AN 10.176, Cunda (Cunda-suttaṃ) & MN 41, Brahmans of Sala (Sāleyyaka-suttaṃ).


From the textbook Grade 11 Buddhism, Published by the ministry of education of Sri Lanka, they are:

1.Kamma from Mind

  1. Abhidya - Wish of " May others property become mine"
  2. Viyapada - Wish of " May other (or I) suffer or die"
  3. Mithyadrushti - Wrong beliefs ex: there is no effect of kamma

2.Kamma from words

  1. Lying
  2. Bitter words
  3. Columny
  4. Telling bare words

3.Kamma from deeds

  1. killing
  2. Stealing
  3. Sexual actions other than wife

To fulfill the Kamma there should be 4 things to complete

1. There should be a victim of it (Self or other)
2. There should have will to commit it
3. Should have made planning to do it
4. Commit it

If one of above not is there, Kamma was not been done.


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