...60. Formations are the six mentioned in brief above thus, “the three, namely,
formations of merit, etc., and the three, namely, the bodily formation, etc.” (§44);
but in detail here the [first] three formations are twenty-nine volitions, that is to
say, the formation of merit consisting of thirteen volitions, counting the eight
sense-sphere profitable volitions that occur in giving, in virtue, etc., and the five
fine-material profitable volitions that occur in development [of meditation]; then
the formation of demerit consisting of the twelve unprofitable volitions that occur
in killing living things, etc.; then the formation of the imperturbable consisting
in the four profitable volitions associated with the immaterial sphere, which
occur in development [of those meditations].
...61. As regards the other three, the bodily formation is bodily volition, the verbal
formation is verbal volition, and the mental formation is mental volition. This
triad is mentioned in order to show that at the moment of the accumulation of the
kamma the formations of merit, etc., occur in these [three] kamma doors....
...Herein, it might be [asked]: How can it be known that these formations have
ignorance as their condition?—By the fact that they exist when ignorance exists.
For when unknowing—in other words, ignorance—of suffering, etc., is
unabandoned in a man, owing firstly to his unknowing about suffering and
about the past, etc., then he believes the suffering of the round of rebirths to be
pleasant and he embarks upon the three kinds of formations which are the
cause of that very suffering. Owing to his unknowing about suffering’s origin
he embarks upon formations that, being subordinated to craving, are actually
the cause of suffering, imagining them to be the cause of pleasure. And owing to
his unknowing about cessation and the path, he misperceives the cessation of
suffering to be in some particular destiny [such as the Brahmá-world] that is not
in fact cessation; he misperceives the path to cessation, believing it to consist in
sacrifices, mortification for immortality, etc., which are not in fact the path to
cessation; and so while aspiring to the cessation of suffering, he embarks upon
the three kinds of formations in the form of sacrifices, mortification for immortality,
and so on.
63. Furthermore, his non-abandonment of that ignorance about the four truths
in particular prevents him from recognizing as suffering the kind of suffering
called the fruit of merit, which is fraught with the many dangers beginning
with birth, ageing, disease and death, and so he embarks upon the formation of
merit classed as bodily, verbal, and mental formations, in order to attain that
[kind of suffering], like one desiring celestial nymphs [who jumps over] a cliff...
...Also, not seeing how that fruit of merit reckoned as pleasure eventually breeds
great distress owing to the suffering in its change and that it gives little
satisfaction, he embarks upon the formation of merit of the kinds already stated,
which is the condition for that very [suffering in change], like a moth that falls
into a lamp’s flame, and like the man who wants the drop of honey and licks the
...Also, not seeing the danger in the indulgence of
sense desires, etc., with its results, [wrongly] perceiving pleasure and overcome
by defilements, he embarks upon the formation of demerit that occurs in the
three doors [of kamma], like a child who plays with filth, and like a man who
wants to die and eats poison...
...Also, unaware of the suffering due to formations
and the suffering-in-change [inherent] in kamma-results in the immaterial
sphere, owing to the perversion of [wrongly perceiving them as] eternal, etc., he
embarks upon the formation of the imperturbable which is a mental formation,
like one who has lost his way and takes the road to a goblin city....
...So formations exist only when ignorance exists,  not when it does not;
and that is how it can be known that these formations have ignorance as their
...“Not knowing, bhikkhus, in ignorance, he forms the formation
of merit, forms the formation of demerit, forms the formation of the imperturbable.
As soon as a bhikkhu’s ignorance is abandoned and clear vision arisen,
bhikkhus, with the fading away of ignorance and the arising of clear vision he
does not form even formations of merit” (cf. S II 82)...