Four elements that make an action complete
Four elements that make an action complete —
- the basis (Skt. vastu; Wyl. gzhi)
- the intention (Skt. āśaya)
- the execution (Skt. prayoga)
- the completion (Skt. niṣṭhāgamana; Wyl. mthar thug)
- Take the example of a hunter killing a wild animal. First of all, he sees an actual stag, or musk-deer, or whatever it might be, and identifies the animal beyond any doubt: his knowing that it is a living creature is the basis for the act. Next, the wish to kill it arises: the idea of killing it is the intention to carry out the act. Then he shoots the animal in a vital point with a gun, bow and arrow or any other weapon: the physical action of killing is the execution of the act. Thereupon the animal's vital functions cease and the conjunction of its body and mind is sundered: that is the final completion of the act of taking a life.
Every action has these four elements therefore how they come together determines whether an action yields positive, negative, or mixed results for the future.
- Although it’s translated as ‘execution’ in The Words of My Perfect Teacher, the word is a little ambiguous as it has two meanings in English. One meaning is to carry out a course of action, and the other is to carry out a sentence of death on a condemned person. Here it has the first meaning. But it might be better to translate it in a way that conveys what is meant here—that it’s the act carried out as a result of the previous two elements, basis and intention.
- Patrul Rinpoche, The Words of My Perfect Teacher (Boston: Shambhala, Revised edition, 1998), pages 103-104.