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Home > Fundamentals of Tibetan Buddhism > Level 4: Deepening the Understanding of the Path > Constructive, Destructive, and Unspecified Phenomena

Constructive, Destructive, and Unspecified Phenomena

Alexander Berzin, July 2005

Definitions

Tainted phenomena can be divided into those that are destructive (mi-dge-ba, Skt. akushala; nonvirtuous), constructive (dge-ba, Skt. kushala; virtuous) , or unspecified (lung ma-bstan, Skt. avyakrta, Pali: avyakata; neutral).

[See: Tainted and Untainted Phenomena.]

According to Vasubandhu's Vaibhashika text, A Treasure House of Special Topics of Knowledge (Chos mngon-pa'i mdzod, Skt. Abhidharmakosha), destructive phenomena are those that ripen into what is harmful, while constructive into what is of no harm. In his Chittamatra work, An Anthology of Special Topics of Knowledge (Chos mngon-pa kun-las btus-pa, Skt. Abhidharmasamuccaya), Asanga substitutes "suffering" for "harm" and "happiness" for "non-harm."

Before exploring the bounds of what is destructive, we must specify the limits of our investigation. All Buddhist systems assert three planes of existence (khams-gsum, Skt. tridhatu; three realms): the plane of sensory desires ('dod-khams, Skt. kamadhatu; desire realm), ethereal forms (gzugs-khams, Skt. rupadhatu; form realm) and formless beings (gzugs-med khams, Skt. arupadhatu; formless realm). The properties of the latter two differ significantly from those of the first. For the sake of simplicity, we shall limit our discussion to the plane of sensory desires, the one upon which humans live.

Destructive Phenomena According to Vasubandhu

On the plane of sensory desires, according to Vasubandhu, there are four types of destructive phenomena:

  • Phenomena destructive by their essential nature (ngo-bo-nyid-kyis mi-dge-ba, naturally destructive phenomena). Certain states of mind are destructive by nature, namely the three poisonous attitudes of attachment ('dod-chags, Skt. raga), hostility (zhe-sdang, Skt. dvesha), and naivety (gti-mug, Skt. moha, closed-mindedness), known also as the three roots of destructiveness, as well as having no sense of values (ngo-tsha med-pa, Skt. ahrikya) and having no scruples (khrel med-pa, Skt. anapatrapya).

[See: Mind and Mental Factors: The Fifty-one Types of Subsidiary Awareness.]

  • Phenomena destructive through their motivating emotional or mental state (kun-slong-gis mi-dge-ba). These refer to actions motivated by any of these five naturally destructive states of mind.
  • Phenomena destructive through congruence (mtshungs-ldan-gyis mi-dge-ba). The primary consciousness and other mental factors that are congruent with any of these five naturally destructive states are also destructive. Congruent means sharing five things in common, such as aiming at the same focal object. Thus, since pride, jealousy, and all other disturbing emotions and attitudes, except a deluded outlook toward a transitory network ('jig-tshogs-la lta-ba, 'jig-lta, Skt. satkayadrshti) and an extreme outlook (mthar-'dzin-pa'i lta-ba, Skt. antagrahadrshti), explained below, always occur congruent with the mental factors of having no sense of values and no scruples, they are always destructive.

[See: Congruent and Noncongruent Affecting Variables.]

  • Deepest destructive phenomena (don-dam-pa'i mi-dge-ba). Uncontrollably recurring situations or rebirth (samsara) is called the deepest destructive phenomenon, although it does not follow that everything of samsara is destructive.

Asanga's Presentation of Destructive Phenomena

Asanga expands Vasubandhu's presentation and outlines twelve categories of destructive phenomena. According to the Tibetan commentary to Asanga's text, The Essence of an Ocean of Special Topics of Knowledge, An Excellent Explanation (Legs-par bshad-pa chos mngon rgya-mtsho'i snying-po), written by the Gelug master Gyeltsabjey (rGyal-tshab rje Dar-ma rin-chen), the twelve are divided into destructive phenomena that occur on occasion (gnas-skabs-can-gyi mi-dge-ba) and destructive phenomena classified according to the occasion in which they occur (de'i gnas-skabs-kyi mi-dge-ba).

Destructive phenomena that occur on occasion include four definitional ones (mtshan-nyid-pa'i mi-dge-ba) and one that is just termed destructive (brtags-pa-pa'i mi-dge-ba). The four definitional ones are:

  1. Phenomena destructive by their essential nature (ngo-bo-nyid-kyis mi-dge-ba) – the six root disturbing emotions and attitudes, other than those that are unspecified (as explained below), as well as the twenty auxiliary disturbing emotions and attitudes.
  2. Phenomena destructive by being conjoined ('brel-bas mi-dge-ba) – the primary consciousness and other mental factors that are congruent with the naturally destructive emotions and attitudes.
  3. Phenomena destructive by being follow-up (rjes-su 'brel-bas mi-dge-ba) – the karmic habits (bag-chags) of destructive actions. In this context, karmic habits refer only to the negative karmic potential of destructive actions – namely, their negative karmic force (sdig-pa) that has taken on the essential nature of a karmic tendency (sa-bon-gyi ngo-bor gyur-ba).

[See: Logical Pervasions of Technical Terms for the Different Types of Karmic Aftermath.]

  1. Phenomena destructive through their motivating emotion or mental state (kun-slong-bas mi-dge-ba) – actions motivated by the naturally destructive emotions and attitudes.

The destructive phenomena that occur on occasion and which are just termed destructive are:

  1. Deepest destructive phenomena (don-dam-pas mi-dge-ba) – all phenomena of samsara. These are merely termed destructive, but are not destructive according to definition, since not all of them ripen into the experience of the suffering of pain.

Destructive phenomena classified according to the occasion in which they occur also include definitional ones and those that are just termed destructive. The definitional ones include two classified according to specific distinctions (dbye-ba) and three according to action (byed-pa). The two classified according to specific distinctions are:

  1. Destructive phenomena gained by birth (skye-ba thob-pas mi-dge-ba) – having had extreme familiarity with destructive phenomena in previous lives, such as killing, then, once having attained a body with a proclivity for destructive phenomena, destructive behavior, such as killing, that arises simply from the force of that prior close bond (dam-tshig) and familiarity with negative ways.
  2. Destructive phenomena (gained) through connection (sbyor-bas mi-dge-ba) – destructive actions generated with effort through the support of negative circumstances in this lifetime, without much familiarity from past lives. These may arise through the influence of misleading friends and teachers, misleading teachings, and, with incorrect consideration (tshul-min yid-la byed-pa), taking these teachings as correct.

The three classified according to their action are:

  1. Phenomena destructive through setting something up in front (mdun-du byas-pas mi-dge-ba) – setting up before one an ideological symbol for veneration, such as an image of a worldly deity, or going in front of one already set up, and being driven by teachings encouraging violence or other distorted views, actions such as constructing sacrificial altars and offering blood sacrifices on them, which encourage many other people to kill. Also included here are constructing military forts that will provide the circumstance for many people to engage in destructive acts and setting up false grocery scales for cheating people.
  2. Phenomena destructive through their inflicting harm (gnod-par byed-pas mi-dge-ba) – acting in a distorted manner (log-par byed-pa; committing a misdeed, misconduct) toward others with our body, speech, or mind, such as by beating them, verbally abusing them, or thinking about how to hurt them. These ripen into unwished for results simply by the power of their inflicting harm on others.
  3. Phenomena destructive through their taking care (about a future rebirth) (yongs-su 'dzin -pas mi-dge-ba) – actions that throw one into the unwished for result of a worse rebirth state or which complete the unwished for circumstances of such a rebirth, as well as those that complete a better rebirth with unwished for circumstances.

There are two types of destructive phenomena that are just termed as being classified according to the occasion in which they occur. Since they comprise items that are also included in the other categories of destructive phenomena, they do not actually constitute separate categories.

  1. Phenomena destructive through their being discordant (mi-mthun-pa'i phyogs-kyis mi-dge-ba) – any definitional or just labeled destructive phenomenon when it impedes the generation of an untainted pathway mind, such as holding a distorted outlook (log-lta; wrong view).
  2. Phenomena destructive through their interrupting (bar-du gcod-pas mi-dge-ba) – any definitional or just labeled destructive phenomenon when it interrupts or impedes the development of constructive phenomena, also such as holding a distorted outlook.

The most significant point that Asanga makes to supplement Vasubandhu's presentation is that certain actions are destructive regardless of the motivating emotion or attitude. Such actions are destructive either merely through the force of their providing the circumstances for others' negative behavior to arise, such as building a military fort or manufacturing weapons, or merely through their causing harm to others, even if only accidentally.

Moreover, there are many variables that can cause us to act destructively, not just the naturally destructive emotions and attitudes. For example, the urge may arise to act destructively through merely the force of familiarity from previous lives, such as when a small child instinctively tortures and kills insects. Such an urge may also arise even without great familiarity with such behavior in previous lives. For example, the urge to torture and kill members of a minority group may arise through the influence of misleading demagogues and doctrines met in this lifetime, such as when caught up in a violent mob. Moreover, destructive actions, such as murdering someone, become even more destructive through the force of committing them before a symbol of an ideology that demands blood sacrifices or the extermination of a minority group.

Constructive Phenomena According to Vasubandhu

Vasubandhu specifies four types of constructive phenomena:

  • Naturally constructive phenomena (ngo-bo-nyid-kyi dge-ba). The three roots of constructiveness: detachment (ma-chags-pa, Skt. alobha), lack of hostility (zhe-sdang med-pa, Skt. advesha, imperturbability), and lack of naivety (gti-mug med-pa, Skt. amoha), as well as having a sense of values (ngo-tsha shes-pa, Skt. hri) and having scruples (khrel yod-pa, Skt apatrapya) are naturally constructive.
  • Phenomena constructive through their motivating emotional or mental state (kun-slong-gi dge-ba). They refer to actions motivated by any of these five naturally constructive emotions and attitudes.
  • Congruent constructive phenomena (mtshungs-ldan-gyi dge-ba). The mental factors and primary consciousness congruent with naturally constructive phenomena are also constructive. Such beneficial attitudes as serenity (btang-snyoms, Skt. upeksha), taking care (bag-yod, Skt. apramada), and so on are always accompanied by the five naturally constructive mental factors and are thus always constructive themselves.
  • Deepest constructive phenomena (don-dam-pa'i dge-ba). The state beyond sorrow (nirvana, liberation) is called the ultimately constructive phenomenon, although it is not within the domain of what is constructive because it is a static phenomenon.

Asanga's Presentation of Constructive Phenomena

Asanga expands Vasubandhu's presentation and enumerates thirteen categories of constructive phenomena. According to Gyeltsabjey's commentary, these are divided into constructive phenomena that occur on occasion (gnas-skabs-can-gyi dge-ba) and constructive phenomena classified according to the occasion in which they occur (de'i gnas-skabs-kyi dge-ba).

Constructive phenomena that occur on occasion include four that are affected phenomena ('dus-byas; collected phenomena) and one that is an unaffected phenomenon ('dus ma-byas; uncollected phenomenon). The four affected constructive phenomena that occur on occasion are:

  1. Phenomena constructive by their essential nature (ngo-bo-nyid-kyis dge-ba) – the eleven constructive mental factors: belief in fact (dad-pa), and so on.
  2. Phenomena constructive by being conjoined ('brel-bas dge-ba) – the primary consciousness and other mental factors that are congruent with the naturally constructive mental factors.
  3. Phenomena constructive by being follow-up (rjes-su 'brel-bas dge-ba) – the karmic habits of constructive actions, namely, their positive karmic force (bsod-nams; merit) that has taken on the essential nature of a karmic tendency.
  4. Phenomena constructive through their motivating emotion or mental state (kun-slong-bas dge-ba) – actions motivated by any of the eleven constructive mental factors.

The unaffected constructive phenomena that occur on occasion are:

  1. Deepest constructive phenomena (don-dam-pas dge-ba) – voidness.

Constructive phenomena classified according to the occasion in which they occur are divided into those that are affected phenomena, those that are unaffected phenomena, and those that are affected phenomena gained by relying on them (de-la brten-nas thob-pa'i 'dus-byas). The affected constructive phenomena classified according to the occasion in which they occur include two classified according to specific distinctions (dbye-ba) and four according to action (byed-pa). The two classified according to specific distinctions are:

  1. Constructive phenomena gained by birth (skye-ba thob-pas dge-ba) – having had extreme familiarity with constructive phenomena, such as belief in the Dharma, in previous lives, then, once having attained a distinctive human body, constructive phenomena, such as belief in the Dharma, that arise simply from the force of that prior close bond and familiarity, without analytical awareness of its individual features.
  2. Constructive phenomena (gained) through connection (sbyor-bas dge-ba) – constructive phenomena, such as the wish to attain Buddhahood, which, although not generated through familiarity from past lives, is generated with effort in this lifetime through the support of conducive circumstances. These circumstances are relying on a proper spiritual mentor, listening to his or her teachings, correct consideration (tshul-bzhin yid-la byed-pa) of those teachings, and practicing methods that are conducive for achieving such a wish to attain Buddhahood.

The four classified according to their action are:

  1. Phenomena constructive through setting something up in front (mdun-du byas-pas dge-ba) – setting up before one a symbol for veneration, such as a statue or painting of a Buddha, a stupa, a Dharma text, and so on, or going in front of such a symbol or an actual emanation of a Buddha, acts such as offering praises and making offerings. Also included is making new paintings or statues of Buddhas, building stupas, and producing Dharma texts.
  2. Phenomena constructive through being of help (phan-'dogs-pas dge-ba) – actions that bring special benefit to others, such as helping disciples through the four ways of gathering others (bsdu-ba rnam-pa bzhi): being generous; speaking about the Dharma in an easily understandable, pleasing manner; acting meaningfully so as to encourage spiritual practice; and behaving in a manner that accords with what we teach.
  3. Phenomena constructive through their taking care (about a future rebirth) (yongs-su 'dzin -pas dge-ba) – actions, such as being generous or keeping ethical self-discipline, that enable us to gain the body or material features of higher rebirth status (mtho-ris) or to attain the definite goodness (nges-legs) of liberation or enlightenment.
  4. Phenomena constructive through their being opponents (gnyen-pos dge-ba) – states of mind that directly counter (dngos-gnyen) discordant factors or that are the states of mind from which such factors have been extricated (rnam-par 'byin-pa). Those that directly counter are known as "opponent pathway minds" (gnyen-po'i lam), defined as states of mind that realize the disadvantages of something and counter them with something else. Opponent pathway minds include (a) overpowering opponents (rnam-par gnon-pa gnyen-po), such as focusing on ugliness to overpower attachment, (b) distancing opponents (thag-srid-pa gnyen-po), such as the higher states of mental stability (bsam-gten, Skt. dhyana), some of which distance the mind from tainted feelings, and (c) separational opponents (bral-ba gnyen-po), such as nonconceptional cognition of the lack of true identity of persons, which completely separate the mind from attachment.

The unaffected constructive phenomena classified according to the occasion in which they occur are:

  1. Phenomena constructive through their being pacifications (nye-bar zhi-bas dge-ba) – true stoppings ('gog-bden; true cessations), the nirvana of Hinayana arhats with residue (lhag-bcas-kyi mya-ngan-'das) of tainted aggregates, the nirvana of Hinayana arhats without residue (lhag-med-kyi mya-ngan-'das), and the nonabiding nirvana (mi-gnas-pa'i mya-ngan-'das) of a Buddha that abides neither in the extreme of compulsive samsara nor the extreme of apathetic nirvana. These are just termed "constructive," but are not definitionally constructive phenomena since they are untainted and static.

The constructive phenomena classified according to the occasion in which they occur and which are affected phenomena gained by relying on the phenomena constructive through their being pacifications are:

  1. Phenomena constructive through their being similar to their causes (rgyu-mthun-pas dge-ba) – the ordinary good qualities ('jig-rten-pa'i yon-tan; worldly good qualities), such as extrasensory awareness (mngon-shes; advanced awareness), and the extraordinary good qualities ('jig-rten-las 'das-pa'i yon-tan; trans-worldly good qualities) of Buddhahood.

Thus, as in the case of his presentation of the twelve types of destructive phenomena, Asanga asserts that there are many variables that can cause us to act constructively, not just the naturally constructive emotions and attitudes. For example, confident belief in the Dharma may arise in a young person merely by the force of a close connection with Dharma in a previous lifetime, without making any analytical investigation of Buddha's teachings in this lifetime.

Some constructive phenomena arise without having a prior karmic potential for it. For example, when someone develops for the first time a bodhichitta aim to reach enlightenment for the benefit of all others, that person does not have prior karmic potentials from bodhichitta developed in a previous lifetime. The first development of bodhichitta arises from the positive influence of qualified spiritual masters, listening to their teachings on bodhichitta, correct consideration of them, and meditation on them. These need to be supplemented, of course, by a large network of positive force built up from other constructive behavior done in this and prior lives

Asanga also asserts that some actions are constructive by the force of their being of special help to others. He specifies here helping disciples through the four ways of gathering others (bsdu-ba rnam-pa bzhi) – being generous; speaking about the Dharma in an easily understandable, pleasing manner; acting meaningfully so as to encourage spiritual practice; and behaving in a manner that accords with what we teach. Since behaving in a manner that accords with the Dharma eliminates the possibility of gathering disciples for a negative reason, such as to exploit them for money, power, or sexual favors, as well as for an unspecified reason, such as merely to earn a livelihood, these actions that are of special help can only be constructive.

Actions that are merely of ordinary help to others, however, such as preparing food for others, are not necessarily constructive, since they may be motivated by an unspecified state of mind, such as the need to earn money by being a cook in a restaurant, or by a destructive emotion, such as anger, as when preparing poisoned food to kill someone.

Further, some actions are constructive by the force of providing circumstances for others to develop constructive states of mind or behavior, such as preparing Dharma books, making Buddha statues, and erecting stupas. But these are constructive only when accompanied by a constructive emotion or attitude.

Unspecified Phenomena According to Vasubandhu

There are two kinds of unspecified phenomena: obstructive unspecified phenomena (bsgribs-pa'i lung ma-bstan, Skt. nivrta-avyakrta) and nonobstructive unspecified phenomena (ma-bsgribs-pa'i lung ma-bstan, Skt. anivrta-avyakrta). The former obstruct liberation, while the latter do not.

As in the case of destructive and constructive phenomena, Vasubandhu presents four types of unspecified phenomena:

  • Naturally unspecified phenomena (ngo-bo-nyid-kyi lung-ma-bstan) may be either obstructive or nonobstructive.
  • Obstructive unspecified phenomena include those disturbing attitudes that are not necessarily destructive by nature or concomitance, but which can accompany either destructive, constructive, or other unspecified states of mind and actions. They include a deluded outlook toward a transitory network ('jig-lta, Skt. satkayadrshti) and an extreme outlook (mthar-'dzin-pa'i lta-ba, Skt. antagrahadrshti). The former is the disturbing mental factor that is aimed at some transitory network of the five tainted aggregate factors of our experience (contaminated aggregates), such as our body or any state of our mind, and regards them as either (a) "me," conceived as an independent, unchanging, monolithic entity or (b) "mine," the possession of such an entity. An extreme outlook is the disturbing attitude, based on the former, that regards this transitory network of aggregates so viewed as either static and lasting forever, or as entailing no future lives and thus is denying the laws of behavioral cause and effect. For example, the deluded outlook that regards our bad temper as our permanent true identity is destructive and is thus accompanied by no sense of values or scruples, while those that, without attachment or pride, similarly regard our generosity or our talent at cooking as our true identities are respectively constructive or unspecified and are not accompanied by these two. All three outlooks, however, are disturbing attitudes that obstruct liberation.
  • Nonobstructive unspecified phenomena include not only our body that has ripened from previous karma, but also mental factors that have likewise ripened, for example interest, intelligence, concentration, and so on, and such other mental factors as productiveness, creativity, and activeness. Such items, by nature, are neither destructive nor constructive, and do not obstruct liberation. They are, however, tainted since the all-pervasive affecting problem of uncontrollable rebirth with them is the result of unspecified actions that are tainted by obstructive unspecified disturbing attitudes.
  • Phenomena unspecified through their motivating emotional or mental state (kun-slong-gi lung ma-bstan). They refer to actions motivated by either obstructive or nonobstructive naturally unspecified phenomena.
  • Congruent unspecified phenomena (mtshungs-ldan-gyi lung ma-bstan). The primary consciousness and other mental factors accompanying either obstructive or nonobstructive naturally unspecified phenomena are likewise unspecified. Thus the naivety that accompanies either a deluded outlook toward a transitory network or an extreme outlook, when either is aimed, without attachment, at our talent at cooking or our youthful bodies as our true identities, is unspecified.
  • Deepest unspecified phenomena (don-dam-pa'i lung ma-bstan). Space and analytical stoppings (so-sor brtags-pa'i 'gog-pa, Skt. pratisamkhya-nirodha), namely all true stoppings of disturbing emotions and attitudes attained through analysis of the four noble truths, are included here. In fact, however, they are not actually unspecified tainted phenomena, because they are static.

Asanga's Presentation of Unspecified Phenomena

Asanga expands Vasubandhu's presentation and enumerates fourteen categories of unspecified phenomena. According to Gyeltsabjey's commentary, these are divided into unspecified phenomena that occur on occasion (gnas-skabs-can-gyi lung ma-bstan) and unspecified phenomena classified according to the occasion in which they occur (de'i gnas-skabs-kyi lung ma-bstan).

Unspecified phenomena that occur on occasion include four that are affected phenomena ('dus-byas; collected phenomena) and one that is an unaffected phenomenon ('dus ma-byas; uncollected phenomenon). The four affected unspecified phenomena that occur on occasion are:

  1. Phenomena unspecified by their essential nature (ngo-bo-nyid-kyis lung ma-bstan) – all items included in the five aggregates that are neither constructive nor destructive, whether or not they obstruct liberation.
  2. Phenomena unspecified by being conjoined ('brel-bas lung ma-bstan) – the primary consciousness and congruent mental factors that take hold of words through term universals (sgra-spyi) – or that take hold of any other naturally unspecified phenomenon – and which are not motivated by constructive or destructive phenomena.
  3. Phenomena unspecified by being follow-up (rjes-su 'brel-bas lung ma-bstan) – the karmic habits of actions involving phenomena unspecified by being conjoined, such as speaking words without a constructive or destructive motivating emotion or mental state. Constant karmic habits, as well as karmic tendencies that are not from constructive or destructive phenomena, and karmic tendencies that are neither positive nor negative force are also unspecified.
  4. Phenomena unspecified through their motivating emotion or mental state (kun-slong-bas lung ma-bstan) – actions motivated by any unspecified state of mind.

The unaffected unspecified phenomena that occur on occasion are:

  1. Deepest unspecified phenomena (don-dam-pas lung ma-bstan) – space and analytical cessations.

Unspecified phenomena classified according to the occasion in which they occur are divided into those divided according to their causes (rgyu'i sgo-nas dbye-ba'i lung ma-bstan) and those divided according to their actions (byed-pa'i sgo-nas dbye-ba'i lung-ma-bstan). The two types of unspecified phenomena classified according to the occasion in which they occur and which are divided according to their causes are:

  1. Unspecified phenomena gained by birth (skye-ba thob-pas lung ma-bstan) – the five aggregate factors of any of the better or worse rebirth states, as the ripened results (rnam-smin-gyi 'bras-bu) of tainted constructive or destructive actions.
  2. Unspecified phenomena (gained) through connection (sbyor-bas lung ma-bstan) – daily actions and craftsman work, the ability for which have been gained from circumstances and effort merely in this lifetime, and which are not motivated by either a constructive state of mind or a disturbing emotion or state of mind.

The seven divided according to their actions are:

  1. Phenomena unspecified through setting something up in front (mdun-du byas-pas lung ma-bstan) – setting up before one an ideological symbol for veneration, such an image of a worldly deity, or going before one that has already been set up, and having given up negative ways of thinking and acting – in other words, not being motivated by harmful intentions – erecting new images of that deity, offering praises, and making material offerings. Also included here is erecting a Buddhist temple or monastery when it is motivated by neither a tainted constructive state of mind nor a disturbing emotion or state of mind, such as competition.
  2. Unspecified phenomena that are of help (phan-'dogs-pas lung ma-bstan) – actions that bring benefit to others, such as feeding one's dog or paying workers their salary, when they are motivated by neither a tainted constructive state of mind nor a disturbing emotion or state of mind.
  3. Unspecified phenomena that make use of something (nye-bar spyad-pas lung ma-bstan) – actions, such as eating food, getting dressed, going somewhere, and so on, when done for an ordinary motivation (tha-mal-gyi kun-slong) that is neither tainted constructive nor disturbing.
  4. Unspecified phenomena that take care (about a future rebirth) (yongs-su 'dzin -pas lung ma-bstan) – actions, such as learning and practicing crafts like carpentry or some other skill, with just an ordinary motivation that is neither tainted constructive nor disturbing, such as merely to make a living. Such actions take care of future rebirths in the sense that they will make it easier to learn such a craft or skill in those lifetimes.
  5. Unspecified phenomena that are opponents (gnyen-pos lung ma-bstan) – actions, such as giving medicine to a sick person, when motivated by neither a tainted constructive nor a disturbing emotion or state of mind.
  6. Unspecified phenomena that are states of pacifications (nye-bar zhi-bas lung ma-bstan) – the disturbing states of mind of the realm of ethereal forms and the formless realm, since they occur on the mental continuums of those who have a stilled and settled state of shamata (zhi-gnas; mental quiescence) which overrides and thus blocks the manifestation of the disturbing emotions and states of mind of the realm of desirable forms.
  7. Unspecified phenomena that are similar to their causes (rgyu-mthun-pas lung ma-bstan) – the forms of emanations (sprul-pa) that one produces, motivated by an unspecified thought to produce emanations (sprul-pa'i sems).

Especially noteworthy here is that actions that are of ordinary help to others, even administering medicine, are unspecified. They become constructive, destructive, or unspecified depending on the motivation. When motivated by a constructive emotion, such as compassion, they are constructive; when by a destructive one, such as reviving a prisoner with a glass of water in order to be able to continue torturing him, they become destructive. When motivated by an unspecified motivation, such as when just doing a job, they become unspecified. The same is true even with building a Buddhist temple, since working on the construction may be for helping others, to compete with others, or when just doing a job. Even sticking a knife into someone is unspecified, since we might do it to hurt someone, to help someone by performing surgery, or when just doing a job as a doctor. Moreover, actions that would be constructive if performed before a Buddha image, such as offering praise or making offerings, become unspecified if performed before an image of a worldly deity.