Why three sources of kamma (body, speec, and mind)? Why not just two (body and mind)?

I have wondered about this topic for a while. In Buddhism, the action or kamma can be done in three ways: body (kāya), speech (vācā), and mind (mano). Why isn’t the speech a part of the body since speech is the result of the tongue touching parts of the mouth under the control of the mind? Why is it three ways, and not two ways (only mind and body)? If speech’s action is different from body’s action, why do we find sometimes that the results of speech’s action are as strong as the body’s action (e.g. when someone swears something bad, s/he might receive the result of that speech like what s/he says)?

Do you have any idea or anything to explain this three ways of actions in Buddhism?

Dear @kittivamso

An excellent question, never thought of it that way. :anjal:

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“These three fabrications, friend Visakha: bodily fabrications, verbal fabrications, & mental fabrications.”

“But what are bodily fabrications? What are verbal fabrications? What are mental fabrications?”

“In-&-out breaths are bodily fabrications. Directed thought & evaluation are verbal fabrications. Perceptions & feelings are mental fabrications.”

“But why are in-&-out breaths bodily fabrications? Why are directed thought & evaluation verbal fabrications? Why are perceptions & feelings mental fabrications?”

“In-&-out breaths are bodily; these are things tied up with the body. That’s why in-&-out breaths are bodily fabrications. Having first directed one’s thoughts and made an evaluation, one then breaks out into speech. That’s why directed thought & evaluation are verbal fabrications. Perceptions & feelings are mental; these are things tied up with the mind. That’s why perceptions & feelings are mental fabrications.”

—Majjhima Nikaya 44

It can be seen from this that the Buddhist dhamma is a specialized epistemology that the meditation practitioner must adapt to in order to have a comprehensive understanding. For example the breath is the main manifestation of the body as life depends upon it, and that motivation is fundamental to successful breath meditation. And in the second tetrad of the Anapanasati sutta (Majjhima Nikaya 118) whose subject is feeling, it’s sometimes asked why step 7 deals with mental fabrications. The subject of speech is related to the first jhana which includes directed thought & evaluation.

These are a progressive development of right view and when view changes, perceptions of external events change.

Just a thought, not claiming that this is the correct answer …

Maybe speech is considered separate because it can be repeated by others, and written down (there was no writing in Buddha’s time, otherwise he might have mentioned it as well). Therefore can have karmic consequences long after it was been uttered.

Look at us know, we are influenced by the words of the Buddha which were spoken thousands of years ago.

On the flip side, look at hate speech repeated ad nauseam on social media.

For kamma to be cetana, three points of contact need to be defined or arranged:

1- The mind: for an action to be possible, a first person is needed. That first person is known through the subjectivity of thought that is inaccessible to second or third persons.

2- Speech: it is a form of declared telepathy, where minds can communicate without physical contact.

3- Body: what makes speech a form of declared telepathy (rather than psychic) is the possibility of confirming the existence of another through physical contact.

Staying at Savatthi… [the Blessed One said,] "What one intends, what one arranges, and what one obsesses about: This is a support for the stationing of consciousness. There being a support, there is a landing [or: an establishing] of consciousness. When that consciousness lands and grows, there is the production of renewed becoming in the future. When there is the production of renewed becoming in the future, there is future birth, aging & death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair. Such is the origination of this entire mass of suffering & stress.

Maybe there is a categorization in the sutta but I don’t see or remember so. This categorization below is what I made up so feel free to tear it down:

Mind: As a source.
Speech: As a transmitting means.
Body: As a receiving end.

So, the best case is: start with the wholesome mind, transmitting wholesomely to wholesome body action.
And the worst case is: start with the unwholesome mind, transmitting unwholesomely to unwholesome body action.

Anywhere in between, the whole process is mostly weighed at the source. That means,

Case 1: start with the wholesome mind, even though, transmitting unwholesomely to unwholesome body action.
Case 2: start with the unwholesome mind, even though, transmitting wholesomely to wholesome body action.

I think Case 1 is considered better (more encouraging/praise) than Case 2, am I right?

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