'roots', also called hetu (q.v.; s.
1), are those conditions which through their presence determine the actual moral
quality of a intentional state (cetanā), and the consciousness and mental
factors associated therewith, in other words, the quality of karma.
are 6 such roots, 3 karmically advantageous and 3 disadvantageous roots, viz.,: greed,
hate, delusion (lobha, dosa, moha), and greedlessness, hatelessness,
undeludedness (alobha, adosa, amoha).
In A.III.68 it is said that greed arises through unwise
reflection on an attractive object, hate through unwise reflection on a
repulsive object. Thus, greed (lobha or rāga) comprises all
degrees of 'attractedness' towards an object from the faintest trace of a
longing thought up to grossest egoism, whilst hatred (dosa) comprises all
degrees of 'repulsion' from the faintest trace of ill-humor up to the highest
pitch of hate and wrath.
The 3 advantageous (kusala) roots, greedlessness, etc.,
though expressed in negative terms, nevertheless possess a distinctly positive
character, just as is also often the case with negative terms in other
languages, for example, the negative term 'immorality', which has a decidedly
Thus, greedlessness (alobha) is a name for
unselfishness, liberality, etc., hatelessness (adosa) for kindness or
goodwill (mettā), undeludedness (amoha) for wisdom (paññā).
"The perception of impurity is to be developed in order
to overcome greed (lust); loving-kindness in order to overcome hate; wisdom in
order to overcome delusion" (A.VI.107).
"Killing, stealing, unlawful sexual intercourse, lying,
tale-bearing, harsh language, frivolous talk, covetousness, ill-will and wrong
views (s. kammapatha), these things are due either to greed, or hate, or
"Enraptured with lust (greed), enraged with hate,
blinded by delusion, overwhelmed, with mind ensnared, man aims at his own ruin,
at others' ruin, at the ruin of both, and he experiences mental pain and grief.
And he follows evil ways in deeds, words and thought... And he really knows
neither his own welfare, nor the welfare of others, nor the welfare of both.
These things make him blind and ignorant, hinder his knowledge, are painful, and
do not lead him to peace."
The presence or absence of the 3 disadvantageous roots forms part
of the mind contemplation in the Satipatthāna Sutta (M.10). They are also used
for the classification of disadvantageous consciousness (s. Tab. I).
See The Roots of Good and Evil, by Nyanaponika Thera