Wholesome motivation is the most superior of the three motivations. It can be further divided into the motivation of an inferior, an average and a superior disciple.

The motivation of an inferior disciple is the lowest of the three. Those who cultivate virtue with this kind of motivation do not think about liberation from samsara. They are only concerned with not being reborn into the hell, the ghost, or the animal realm but the realm of god or human; and as human, better be born as someone with good health, long life, high position and wealth. Their actions, albeit virtuous, would not bring them any closer to enlightenment. Hence, this type of motivation is relegated to the bottom level.

Some people may wonder why, as mentioned above, a motivation to pursue health and long life is considered unwholesome, but here it turns up in the section of wholesome motivation. The previous one is unwholesome in the sense that it only aims to take care of things for this life; whatever of the next life is not its concern. The inferior disciples, on the other hand, do not seek enlightenment nor rewards for this life. Their goal is to obtain temporal blessings for the next life, which makes it a wholesome motivation.

However, for those seeking enlightenment, this should not be the motivation for virtuous actions. Nowadays many lay practitioners make it a habit to chant Buddha’s name, burn incense, do prostrations and so forth every day. But please ask yourselves honestly why you do all these. Is it to gain health and longevity for this or next life, and to make sure not going to the hell realm? If so, nothing that you do will ever free you from samsara, not if you practice for one hundred, one thousand, or even ten thousand years. Good karma resulted from this kind of motivation cannot be made the cause of liberation. Neither can it yield the fruit of liberation when matured. To practice with such intentions will not result in much virtuous karma other than some temporal benefits like health and long life, or avoiding rebirth in the hell realm.