Notes on karmic path in Abhidharmakosha

karma karma of path

A path of karma (or action) motivates the mind to shift to its object. For example, ill-will, craving, and wrong view are a path of karma. They motivate the mind to move, which is karma. The seven non-virtues of speech and body are karmas.

Karma is a movement of the mind.

There is (still!) a debate about whether the mental functions which follow the mind, such as anger, love, etc., constitute karma.

Karmic Path: LE LAM

There are four parts to a path of action, or karmic path (ex. killing):

SHI (basis) : The object involved (ex. the person you killed)

SAMPA The thinking involved, your intention or motivation (did you kill
with premeditated anger or accidentally while trying to help someone).

Kinds of sampa:

  • DU-SHE – correct identification. Is the person you kill the one intended?
  • NYON-MONG – bad thoughts. Were you under the control of attraction, dislike, or ignorance when you committed the deed?
  • KUN-LONG – motivation or intention. Did you want to kill or was it an accident?

JORWA – undertaking the deed. Taking the weapon and going after the person.

TARTUK – completing the deed. You collect the karma when the person actually dies.

Source: The Asian Classic Institute Course 05: How Karma Works


Our minds are like a very sensitive piece of film, and whatever we expose them to – in particular, whatever good or bad we see ourselves doing to others – makes a definite imprint or impression. These imprints grow and create a reality around us.

Here’s a technique that was found in Abhidharmakosha – a text from 350 A.D.

4 steps for plant good karma:

SHI – decide what you want, in one sentence;

SAMPA – find another person who wants the same thing. And make a plan for the help you’re going to give them;

JORWA – help them reach their goal. The intention to help them is what matters most.

TARTUK – every night before you go to bed, rejoice in helping your friend.

The karmic seed may be dormant for a long time even after planting it. Tartuk, is a form of meditative contemplation that enables the karmic seed to grow and yield fruits.


How to Plant Good Seeds

The Four Steps

  1. Make a decision of what you wish to have or want to happen for yourself.

It should be one short sentence.

Examples :
“I want an amazing place to live.” “I want a healthy body.” I want a loving partner.”
“I want to travel more.” “I want help with my business.” “I want more money.”

Be specific and exact.

This step is called Shi in Tibetan. It basically means “basis”.

  1. Find someone who wants something similar to what you want.

Make a plan to help them get what they wish.

Example :
I will ask my friend who shares my same desire if she wants to have tea.
I will listen and see how I can support their desire and give counsel and ideas as they arise.

This step is called Sampa in Tibetan. It basically means “intention” or “state of mind”.

  1. Meet them. Speak with them. Love them and be happy for them.

Meet and talk. Help them with intention and attention.

This step is called Jorwa in Tibetan. It basically means “deed” or “act”.

  1. Before bedtime, as you lay awake review your day and the good deed that you did in sharing your time to help someone be happier and more fulfilled in their life.

Keep your mind and heart in a happy place and take joy in your actions.

This step is called Tartuk. It basically refers to “joyful contemplation”.

Tartuk is the most important step of this process. It is the step that will make a magic garden grow in your life.