Ten Non-Virtuous/Virtuous Actions


Virtuous actions (positive deeds coming from wholesome intentions) sow seeds of future happiness. On the other hand, non-virtuous actions (negative deeds arising from unwholesome motivations) sow seeds of future suffering. These karmic seeds can remain dormant in our mind until the conditions for them to ripen occur – and then they produce their effect.  

The ten non-virtuous actions, and their opposites, are presented in the table that follows.  Three actions of the body, four of speech, and three of the mind are given: 

Bodily actions: killing, stealing, sexual misconduct 

Verbal actions: lying, slander (divisive speech), harsh speech (hurtful words), and gossip (idle chatter) 

Mental actions: covetousness (greed), harmful intent (hatred), and holding wrong views (ignorance)  



Ten Non-Virtuous/Virtuous Actions    



Actions of Body    





Protecting the life of other beings    





Giving – practicing generosity    



Sexual misconduct    


Maintaining moral conduct    



Actions of Speech    





Truthfulness – speaking the truth    



Divisive speech – using words to harm others or to cause conflict    



Reconciliatory speech – creating harmony; bringing foes together    


Harsh words – using mean language such as swearing    


Kind words – speaking peacefully and politely    



Idle gossip – meaningless talk    


Meaningful talk – speaking that which is important    



Actions of Mind    






Non-attachment – and being content    



Harmful intent – malice and thinking ill of people    


Loving-kindness – goodwill and being kind to others    



Wrong views    


Right view    



Source : Adapted from Gill Farrer-Halls, Working with Karma: Understanding and Transforming Your Karma (London: Godsfield Press, 2007), 14; and Geshe Tashi Tsering, The Four Noble Truths (Somerville, MA: Wisdom Publications, 2005), 130-131.    



For a PDF copy of this table, please click on Ten Non-Virtuous and Ten Virtuous Actions. 

For another similar, but different, PDF version of the above list of ten non-virtuous/virtuous behaviours, please click on Ten Negative/Positive Actions.


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