Is there such a thing as unintentional thoughts?

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
User avatar
Stiphan
Posts: 1343
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 2:53 pm

Is there such a thing as unintentional thoughts?

Postby Stiphan » Sun Apr 11, 2010 4:37 pm

It is possible to do an unintentional, unwholesome deed, like stepping on ants you didn't see were there.

But is it possible to think, e.g. an unwholesome thought, without any intention behind it?

And what about speech?


P.S. To clarify the purpose of my question: sometimes I have unwholesome thoughts, and immediately after that I ask myself "Did I really mean to think this?"... So I wonder whether such thoughts are bad kamma.

Reductor
Posts: 1381
Joined: Sat Sep 12, 2009 6:52 am
Location: Alberta, Canada

Re: Is there such a thing as unintentional thoughts?

Postby Reductor » Sun Apr 11, 2010 6:33 pm

By thought do you mean verbal thought?

If so, then I think that there are no unintentional thoughts, but they may seem so if we were not paying enough attention to their source. If we notice some feature about a person that is similar to another person we know, who we had a romantic relationship with, then we will be vaguely aware of that similarity - but if we give rise a verbal thought based on that similarity, then that thought was intended.

The time from when we perceive the similarity to the formation of the thought is very brief, and the thought overshadows the initial perception, which leaves you with the impression that the thought came out of nowhere.

The only way that an unwholesome thought is going to bring suffering now and in the future is if you form the desire for that thought not to have occurred, or to stop immediately, or to continue. If you want it to stop or not have occurred, then you will continue a line of thought about the initial thought and what it meant, and that is annoying and can give rise to self recrimination which is unnecessary. If you like the thought, or think it to be justified, then you will also continue the chain of thoughts, and might start to think that they are proper and fitting for you, which makes them more likely in the future.

The only time you are in any danger is when you feel attracted to that thought, or unhappy about it. If you feel neither and can easily turn the mind to other things, then that is best.

In terms of speech, I think you cannot speak without intention, any more than you can jump up and down. Thoughts and perceptions are also arisen by volition, and they all fall into the category of kamma.

User avatar
ground
Posts: 2591
Joined: Wed Nov 25, 2009 6:01 am

Re: Is there such a thing as unintentional thoughts?

Postby ground » Sun Apr 11, 2010 7:17 pm


User avatar
cooran
Posts: 8502
Joined: Tue Jan 06, 2009 11:32 pm
Location: Queensland, Australia

Re: Is there such a thing as unintentional thoughts?

Postby cooran » Sun Apr 11, 2010 8:04 pm

Hello Stefan,

This may be of interest:

The Removal of Distracting Thoughts (Vitakka-Santhana Sutta) translated by Soma Thera
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... el021.html

Habitual ways of thinking
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... html#habit

with metta
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---

User avatar
jcsuperstar
Posts: 1915
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 5:15 am
Location: alaska
Contact:

Re: Is there such a thing as unintentional thoughts?

Postby jcsuperstar » Sun Apr 11, 2010 8:12 pm

what do you mean by intentional? if i go to a movie then 4 days later while drinking a cup of coffee a scene from that film pops into my head is that intentional? maybe , i mean i caused it to happen by going to that movie.

when you sit and meditate, do you intentionally cause everyone one of those distracting thoughts to come up? do you say to yourself, "now lets be distracted"?

on days when you wake up happy or maybe you wake up sad with thoughts of a lost friend or past love, where you intentionally trying to be happy or sad? did you say to yourself 'haven't been depressed in a bit, lets feel crappy today"?

what about dreams, those are thoughts..

at some point we set up the causes or conditions for every thought that pops into our heads; if we didn't go to that film we'd never seen the scene we think about later, if we never made a certain friend we'd never think back on certain occasion with sadness or joy, if we don't kill our self Tuesday we have all of the experiences of the next week to have thoughts about them, but is that really intention?
Last edited by jcsuperstar on Sun Apr 11, 2010 9:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.
สัพเพ สัตตา สุขีตา โหนตุ

the mountain may be heavy in and of itself, but if you're not trying to carry it it's not heavy to you- Ajaan Suwat

User avatar
cooran
Posts: 8502
Joined: Tue Jan 06, 2009 11:32 pm
Location: Queensland, Australia

Re: Is there such a thing as unintentional thoughts?

Postby cooran » Sun Apr 11, 2010 8:38 pm

:goodpost:

Well said JC!

with metta
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---

meindzai
Posts: 595
Joined: Thu Jan 15, 2009 8:10 pm

Re: Is there such a thing as unintentional thoughts?

Postby meindzai » Sun Apr 11, 2010 9:48 pm


User avatar
cooran
Posts: 8502
Joined: Tue Jan 06, 2009 11:32 pm
Location: Queensland, Australia

Re: Is there such a thing as unintentional thoughts?

Postby cooran » Sun Apr 11, 2010 9:49 pm

Hello Stefan, all,

A little more ...

The Buddha clearly states in MN 79 Culasakuludayi Sutta (The Shorter Discourse to Sakuludayin)
End of verse 7:

"But let be the past, Udayin, let be the future... I shall teach you the Dhamma:

When this exists, that comes to be;
with the arising of this, that arises.
When this does not exist, that does not come to be;
with the cessation of this, that ceases."

This is the Paticca-samuppada. That is, nothing pops up from nothing. There are causes and conditions for every single thing (except Nibbana).

with metta
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---

User avatar
cooran
Posts: 8502
Joined: Tue Jan 06, 2009 11:32 pm
Location: Queensland, Australia

Re: Is there such a thing as unintentional thoughts?

Postby cooran » Sun Apr 11, 2010 9:59 pm

---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---

User avatar
BlackBird
Posts: 1925
Joined: Fri Apr 17, 2009 12:07 pm
Location: New Zealand

Re: Is there such a thing as unintentional thoughts?

Postby BlackBird » Sun Apr 11, 2010 10:02 pm

There was a time when I was thinking a lot of unwholesome thoughts, I mean I would be sitting there meditating and a whole host of really nasty things would come up. I was getting quite upset. Anyway I went and asked Venerable Dhammajiva how to put an end to this papanca and he said something along the lines of:

"These thoughts are always there, but you're the one who's paying attention to them. They're like a bunch of hooligans standing at your door, every time they knock you go and answer the door and then they harass you. So it's up to you whether you open the door or not. Aren't you getting tired of opening the door so they can play the same old tricks on you? So don't worry about papanca - Just stop opening the door."

metta
Jack
"For a disciple who has conviction in the Teacher's message & lives to penetrate it, what accords with the Dhamma is this:
'The Blessed One is the Teacher, I am a disciple. He is the one who knows, not I." -

Clueless Git
Posts: 137
Joined: Fri Oct 16, 2009 7:44 am

Re: Is there such a thing as unintentional thoughts?

Postby Clueless Git » Mon Apr 12, 2010 9:41 am


Stuart
Posts: 28
Joined: Fri Mar 05, 2010 7:24 pm
Location: London, UK.

Re: Is there such a thing as unintentional thoughts?

Postby Stuart » Mon Apr 12, 2010 6:37 pm



Return to “General Theravāda discussion”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 12 guests

Google Saffron, Theravada Search Engine