Which leads to more harm unawareness or vindictiveness?

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Which leads to more harm unawareness or vindictiveness?

Postby Wizard in the Forest » Sat Dec 25, 2010 10:25 pm

When a person is unaware that they're performing a harmful action does it generate more harm than when a person is aware they're performing a harmful action, but do it anyway?

I remember a discussion with Nagasena and King Milinda, and Nagasena said that a person who is unaware that they're doing wrong produce more harm because it's like someone who grabs a hot iron. The person who does not know it's hot will hold on to it longer, and the one who knows it is hot will let go of it faster. Is there other cross-referenced support for this in the Nikayas?
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Re: Which leads to more harm unawareness or vindictiveness?

Postby m0rl0ck » Sun Dec 26, 2010 1:27 am

Wizard in the Forest wrote:When a person is unaware that they're performing a harmful action does it generate more harm than when a person is aware they're performing a harmful action, but do it anyway?

I remember a discussion with Nagasena and King Milinda, and Nagasena said that a person who is unaware that they're doing wrong produce more harm because it's like someone who grabs a hot iron. The person who does not know it's hot will hold on to it longer, and the one who knows it is hot will let go of it faster. Is there other cross-referenced support for this in the Nikayas?



http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karma_in_Buddhism


Intention and the moral quality of actions
According to Buddhist theory, every time a person acts there is some quality of intention at the base of the mind and it is that quality rather than the outward appearance of the action that determines the effect. If one appears to be benevolent but acts with greed, anger or hatred, then the fruit of those actions will bear testimony to the fundamental intention that lay behind them and will be a cause for future unhappiness. The Buddha spoke of wholesome actions (P. kusala-kamma, S. kuśala-karma) that result in happiness, and unwholesome actions (P. akusala-kamma, S. akuśala-karma) that result in unhappiness. The Buddha also elaborated that it was impossible for virtuous action to produce unfavorable results, and for nonvirtuous action to produce favorable results.[7] However, although a good deed may produce merit which ripens into wealth, if that deed was done too casually or the intention behind it was not quite pure, that wealth so obtained sometimes cannot be enjoyed (AN.4.392-393). There are two classes of determined deeds which always produce good or bad results (fixed results, P. niyato-rasi) respectively, and a class of deeds which may produce either good or bad results (non-fixed results, P. aniyato-rasi) presumably depending on the context, although the Buddha does not elaborate (DN 3.217). Good karma is described as generating merit (P. puñña, S. puñya), whereas bad karma is described as demerit (apuñña/apuñya or pāpa).[8]
"When you meditate, don't send your mind outside. Don't fasten onto any knowledge at all. Whatever knowledge you've gained from books or teachers, don't bring it in to complicate things. Cut away all preoccupations, and then as you meditate let all your knowledge come from what's going on in the mind. When the mind is quiet, you'll know it for yourself. But you have to keep meditating a lot. When the time comes for things to develop, they'll develop on their own. Whatever you know, have it come from your own mind.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/thai ... eleft.html
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Re: Which leads to more harm unawareness or vindictiveness?

Postby Anicca » Sun Dec 26, 2010 1:48 am

The sutta really surprised me -
Miln III.7.8: Doing Evil Knowingly and Unknowingly {Miln 84}
The king asked: "Venerable Nagasena, for whom is the greater demerit, one who knowingly does evil, or one who does evil unknowingly?"

The elder replied: "Indeed, your majesty, for him who does evil not knowing is the greater demerit."

"In that case, venerable Nagasena, would we doubly punish one who is our prince or king's chief minister who not knowing does evil?"

"What do you think, your majesty, who would get burned more, one who knowing picks up a hot iron ball, ablaze and glowing, or one who not knowing picks it up?"

"Indeed, venerable sir, he who not knowing picks it up would get burned more."

"Indeed, your majesty, in the same way the greater demerit is for him who does evil not knowing."

"You are clever, venerable Nagasena."


Go figure. :rolleye:

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Re: Which leads to more harm unawareness or vindictiveness?

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Dec 26, 2010 2:25 am

Thanks for the quote Anicca.

The understanding I've gleaned from various sources to make some sense of this is that if one does bad kamma knowing that it is bad then it is less likely to leave such a strong habitual tendency in the mind and so the behaviour is less likely to become habitual. One is very careful to let go of the hot ball quickly!

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Re: Which leads to more harm unawareness or vindictiveness?

Postby alan » Sun Dec 26, 2010 3:24 am

Hmm...I haven't read the Milindapanha, perhaps for good reason.
This Sutta does not conform with others--something seems wrong here.
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Re: Which leads to more harm unawareness or vindictiveness?

Postby phil » Sun Dec 26, 2010 3:32 am

Anicca wrote:The sutta really surprised me -
Miln III.7.8: Doing Evil Knowingly and Unknowingly {Miln 84}
The king asked: "Venerable Nagasena, for whom is the greater demerit, one who knowingly does evil, or one who does evil unknowingly?"

The elder replied: "Indeed, your majesty, for him who does evil not knowing is the greater demerit."

"In that case, venerable Nagasena, would we doubly punish one who is our prince or king's chief minister who not knowing does evil?"

"What do you think, your majesty, who would get burned more, one who knowing picks up a hot iron ball, ablaze and glowing, or one who not knowing picks it up?"

"Indeed, venerable sir, he who not knowing picks it up would get burned more."

"Indeed, your majesty, in the same way the greater demerit is for him who does evil not knowing."

"You are clever, venerable Nagasena."


Interesting. This is in line with Abhidhamma where, if I'm not mistaken, unwholesome cittas (only those rooted in greed or aversion, not those only rooted in delusion?) can be prompted or unprompted. For example, when we steal something when prompted by someone to do it, or when we do it spontaneously, unprompted. And it is the unprompted cittas that are said to be stronger in force. (Correct me if wrong, please.) Let's hope no one will take this as justification for doing something bad. "Well, I considered it carefully, balanced the pros and cons, considered the consequences...let 'er rip!"
Kammalakkhano , bhikkhave, bālo, kammalakkhano pandito, apadānasobhanī paññāti
(The fool is characterized by his/her actions/the wise one is characterized by his/her actions/Wisdom shines forth in behaviour.)
(AN 3.2 Lakkhana Sutta)
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Re: Which leads to more harm unawareness or vindictiveness?

Postby alan » Sun Dec 26, 2010 3:52 am

I've read boring suttas, and I've read suttas that are repetitious. But so far I have not encountered a sutta that did not make basic sense--until this one.
What is this Milindapanha? I'm not convinced it is to be trusted as the Buddha's word.
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Re: Which leads to more harm unawareness or vindictiveness?

Postby Kim OHara » Sun Dec 26, 2010 4:24 am

alan wrote:What is this Milindapanha? I'm not convinced it is to be trusted as the Buddha's word.

Hi, Alan,
It's widely respected but dates from a few centuries after the Buddha's time.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/kn/miln/miln.intro.kell.html wrote:The Milindapañha, the eighteenth book of the Khuddaka Nikaya (according to the Burmese version of the Pali canon), consists of 7 parts as shown below. The conclusion to the Milindapañha states that it contains 262 questions, though in the editions available today only 236 can be found. Although not included as a canonical text in the traditions of all the Theravadin countries, this work is much revered throughout and is one of the most popular and authoritative works of Pali Buddhism.

Composed around the beginning of the Common Era, and of unknown authorship, the Milindapañha is set up as a compilation of questions posed by King Milinda to a revered senior monk named Nagasena. This Milinda has been identified with considerable confidence by scholars as the Greek king Menander of Bactria, in the dominion founded by Alexander the Great, which corresponds with much of present day Afghanistan. Menander's realm thus would have included Gandhara, where Buddhism was flourishing at that time.

What is most interesting about the Milindapañha is that it is the product of the encounter of two great civilizations — Hellenistic Greece and Buddhist India — and is thus of continuing relevance as the wisdom of the East meets the modern Western world. King Milinda poses questions about dilemmas raised by Buddhist philosophy that we might ask today. And Nagasena's responses are full of wisdom, wit, and helpful analogies.

Buddhanet wrote:Although there is no doubt that the two protagonists of the Milindapanha really existed and that they held discussions with each other, it is not a verbatim record of the discussions as such but a work of literature. Despite this, it may well have captured something of the personalities of the two men. Nagasena comes across as dignified but accessible, confident of his abilities to convince, intellectually alert, learned and witty. Milinda on the other hand, appears to be appears to be interested in Buddhism but by no means prepared to accept its tenets without good reasons. The Milindapanha is the most important book of Theravada Buddhist doctrine outside the Pali Tipitaka and is still widely studied. A translation of it is also included in the Chinese Tipitaka.
N. Mendis, The Questions of King Milinda, Kandy, 1993.

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Re: Which leads to more harm unawareness or vindictiveness?

Postby Wizard in the Forest » Sun Dec 26, 2010 4:35 am

Milindapañha of the Khuddaka Nikaya. Unless you dismiss the Nikayas... It's Canonical.
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Re: Which leads to more harm unawareness or vindictiveness?

Postby alan » Sun Dec 26, 2010 4:39 am

I dismiss it.
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Re: Which leads to more harm unawareness or vindictiveness?

Postby alan » Sun Dec 26, 2010 4:52 am

They make no sense.
The arguments presented in this sutta are at odds with basic teachings. Until someone shows me otherwise I will assume these writings are later additions, writings that do not deserve attention.
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Re: Which leads to more harm unawareness or vindictiveness?

Postby Wizard in the Forest » Sun Dec 26, 2010 4:53 am

Do you dismiss it because you understand it or dismiss it because you have personal aversion to the idea?
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Re: Which leads to more harm unawareness or vindictiveness?

Postby alan » Sun Dec 26, 2010 4:59 am

Dismissed because the idea is not consistent with the recognized view of kamma.
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Re: Which leads to more harm unawareness or vindictiveness?

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Dec 26, 2010 5:30 am

Hi Alan,
alan wrote:Dismissed because the idea is not consistent with the recognized view of kamma.

Can you elaborate on why you think that it is inconsistent?

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Re: Which leads to more harm unawareness or vindictiveness?

Postby alan » Sun Dec 26, 2010 5:41 am

Kamma always goes to intention. We see that many times in the suttas.
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Re: Which leads to more harm unawareness or vindictiveness?

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Dec 26, 2010 5:47 am

alan wrote:Kamma always goes to intention. We see that many times in the suttas.

Sure, kamma involves volition. But one can intentionally do something, not aware that it is unskillful.

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Re: Which leads to more harm unawareness or vindictiveness?

Postby cooran » Sun Dec 26, 2010 5:51 am

Hello alan, all,

This article on Criteria for Judging the Unwholesomeness of Actions in the Texts of Theravaada Buddhism by Peter Harvey University of Sunderland
may make sense to you - particularly section v).


http://www.abuddhistlibrary.com/Buddhis ... the%20.htm

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Re: Which leads to more harm unawareness or vindictiveness?

Postby alan » Sun Dec 26, 2010 5:56 am

Yes, that is called ignorance. It's generally considered to be bad.

edit--thanks Chris. Mike and I posted at the same time.
I'll read your link and go to bed.
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Re: Which leads to more harm unawareness or vindictiveness?

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Sun Dec 26, 2010 6:19 am

See the Anangana Sutta Majjhimanikāya Sutta 5

Here, friend, Moggallāna, this person with blemish, who does not know, as it really is, there is blemish in me, would not arouse interest, and make effort to dispel that blemish. So he would die with a defiled mind with greed, hate, and delusion. Just like a bronze bowl bought from a shop or smithy would be covered with dust and stains, its owner not partaking food in it would not clean it, would let it lie with dust and as time goes that bronze bowl would be much more dusty and stained. In the same way this person with blemish, who would not know, as it really is, there is blemish in me, would not arouse interest, and make effort to dispel that blemish. So he would die with a defiled mind with greed, hate, and delusion.

Friend, this person with blemish, who knows, as it really is, there is blemish in me, would arouse interest, and make effort to dispel that blemish. He would die with a non-defiled mind without greed, hate, and delusion. Just like a bronze bowl bought from a shop or smithy would be covered with dust and stains. Its owner partaking food in it would clean it. Would not let it lie with dirt and as time goes the bronze bowl would be more and more clean. In the same manner this person with blemish, who knows, as it really is, there is blemish in me, would arouse interest and make effort to dispel that blemish. So he would die with a non-defiled mind without greed, hate, and delusion.
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Re: Which leads to more harm unawareness or vindictiveness?

Postby cooran » Sun Dec 26, 2010 6:23 am

Thank you Bhante Pesala. :bow:

with metta and respect,
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