No intention = no kamma?

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No intention = no kamma?

Postby lotuspadma » Sat Sep 11, 2010 7:22 pm

I was reading a book by Ajahn Brahm, and he mentioned this guy who pushed his friend into the water as a child; his friend drowned. It got me thinking if he is to be blamed for his friend's death or not. He had no intention of doing it, but pushing him into the water was not a very nice thing to do, if he had given enough thought about it, he would have realized the risk. My question is: did he create unwholesome kamma from pushing his friend, from accidentally killing him, or both? Let's disregard the fact that he was a child, and only focus on him not having the intention. Thanks to everyone!
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Re: No intention = no kamma?

Postby Goofaholix » Sat Sep 11, 2010 7:32 pm

lotuspadma wrote:I was reading a book by Ajahn Brahm, and he mentioned this guy who pushed his friend into the water as a child; his friend drowned. It got me thinking if he is to be blamed for his friend's death or not. He had no intention of doing it, but pushing him into the water was not a very nice thing to do, if he had given enough thought about it, he would have realized the risk. My question is: did he create unwholesome kamma from pushing his friend, from accidentally killing him, or both? Let's disregard the fact that he was a child, and only focus on him not having the intention. Thanks to everyone!


The trouble with the notion of "no intention = no kamma" is that I don't think there is any such thing as an unintentional action, there are just unintentional results.

Kamma is the action not the results.

So this guy didn't intend to kill his friend but he did intend to push him into the water, in other words his intention was heedless and carried risks. His friend dying was the kammic result of his intention to do a risky and heedless action.

For an action to be unintentional it would have to be out of ones control, my arm never spontaneously darts into the air without my brain telling it to for example. So I guess someone with brain damage or something similar might be capable of unintentional action, but even so a wise person would take steps to minimise potential negative results, like putting away sharp objects for example.
"Proper effort is not the effort to make something particular happen. It is the effort to be aware and awake each moment." - Ajahn Chah
"When we see beyond self, we no longer cling to happiness. When we stop clinging, we can begin to be happy." - Ajahn Chah
"Know and watch your heart. It’s pure but emotions come to colour it." — Ajahn Chah
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Re: No intention = no kamma?

Postby MJH » Sat Sep 11, 2010 10:58 pm

Goofaholix wrote:The trouble with the notion of "no intention = no kamma" is that I don't think there is any such thing as an unintentional action, there are just unintentional results....

....For an action to be unintentional it would have to be out of ones control, my arm never spontaneously darts into the air without my brain telling it to for example. So I guess someone with brain damage or something similar might be capable of unintentional action, but even so a wise person would take steps to minimise potential negative results, like putting away sharp objects for example.


Just to stir the pot.... A few weeks ago I was driving and a baby bird jumped out in front of my car. About 1 meter from me. I slammed on the brakes and swerved, but there was nothing I could do. Now, maybe I'm brain damaged :smile: But I clearly had no intention of hitting (and killing) anything.

So how would this fit in? Surely, I must accumulate some negative kamma, although not as much as if I was trying to kill the poor bird.... at least I hope.
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Re: No intention = no kamma?

Postby bodom » Sat Sep 11, 2010 11:21 pm

MJH wrote:. A few weeks ago I was driving and a baby bird jumped out in front of my car.... Surely, I must accumulate some negative kamma, although not as much as if I was trying to kill the poor bird.... at least I hope.


If you want to make up for it, go buy some birdseed, go to the park and feed his hungry friends. :smile:

:anjali:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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Re: No intention = no kamma?

Postby manas » Sun Sep 12, 2010 12:18 am

Just my humble two cents worth here, but there is some passage somewhere where Buddha says 'volition is kamma', from which I infer that it is the intention which is the root of the kammic result, as expanded upon in Dhammapada 1.1:

Mind precedes all mental states. Mind is their chief; they are all mind-wrought. If with an impure mind a person speaks or acts suffering follows him like the wheel that follows the foot of the ox.

I infer from this that if one has the intent of drowning someone, and then carries it out, that unwholesome mind-state acted upon has a comparable kammic result ("...If with an impure mind a person speaks or acts..."). But if the state of mind is only of carelessness, whether a prank or ordinary ill-will but without the intent to kill, the corresponding kammic result would not be the same as if the intent had been to kill (though I can't imagine it would be a very good result). Recklessness is, of course, also unwholesome, and can have sad consequences, as I'm sure lots of us here would know from our own lives. But I recall the Buddha saying that kammas and their particular outcomes are inscrutable to ordinary beings, and that only (a Buddha?) can comprehend them (is that correct?).

NB: If I have explained any detail incorrectly, please may someone with more realization and / or erudition correct me. I would not wish to misrepresent the Teaching in any way.
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Re: No intention = no kamma?

Postby Ben » Sun Sep 12, 2010 12:40 am

Hi lotuspadma

Intention, I tell you, is kamma. Intending, one does kamma by way of body, speech, & intellect.
--AN6.63


Certainly, there is intention involved in the act, and the vipakka (fruition) of that kamma will relate to it. So, what was the intention? Its impossible for me to speculate on, but it would not surprise me if the two boys were playing.
As to the drowning death of one of the boys, it relates to the fruition of his past kamma, and not the immediate kamma of the boy who did the pushing. Traditionally, the untimely death of a child is sometimes attributed to the vipaka of a violent past life. The little boy who died, had his kamma come to fruition through the agency of play and proximity to water. Its just one of those incredibly tragic things that happen from time to time.
There is no one to blame.
I hope that explains things for you.
kind regards

Ben
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Re: No intention = no kamma?

Postby manas » Sun Sep 12, 2010 12:59 am

Ben wrote:Hi lotuspadma

Intention, I tell you, is kamma. Intending, one does kamma by way of body, speech, & intellect.
--AN6.63


Certainly, there is intention involved in the act, and the vipakka (fruition) of that kamma will relate to it. So, what was the intention? Its impossible for me to speculate on, but it would not surprise me if the two boys were playing.
As to the drowning death of one of the boys, it relates to the fruition of his past kamma, and not the immediate kamma of the boy who did the pushing. Traditionally, the untimely death of a child is sometimes attributed to the vipaka of a violent past life. The little boy who died, had his kamma come to fruition through the agency of play and proximity to water. Its just one of those incredibly tragic things that happen from time to time.
There is no one to blame.
I hope that explains things for you.
kind regards

Ben


Thanks for giving the full quote and reference (of AN 6.63). I only remembered part of it. :)
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Re: No intention = no kamma?

Postby Ben » Sun Sep 12, 2010 1:03 am

no problem manasikara

There's actually a kamma study guide at access to insight that might be worthwhile for members to review.
Just go to http://www.accesstoinsight.org and type in "kamma study guide" in the search window at the top right of the screen.
Here it is: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/study/kamma.html
kind regards

Ben
"One cannot step twice into the same river, nor can one grasp any mortal substance in a stable condition, but it scatters and again gathers; it forms and dissolves, and approaches and departs."

- Hereclitus


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Re: No intention = no kamma?

Postby Darren_86 » Sun Sep 12, 2010 5:03 am

Dear All,

I've read this from a book written based on stories of Luang Phor Jaran (Abbot of Wat Ambhavan) which explain the kamma as such : Lets take the example of us trying to killing a tortise.

1. You know it is a tortise (a living being).
2. You intend to turn it over.
3. You know that your action might / will cause it to die.
4. You performed your action.
5. The tortise died as a result of your action.

If all these five actions have been committed, then the effect of this killing kamma is strong. And if not, they would not be so strong. This is picked from the book 'Fruit of Karma'.

Hope this help.

:namaste:
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Re: No intention = no kamma?

Postby Goofaholix » Sun Sep 12, 2010 5:25 am

MJH wrote:Just to stir the pot.... A few weeks ago I was driving and a baby bird jumped out in front of my car. About 1 meter from me. I slammed on the brakes and swerved, but there was nothing I could do. Now, maybe I'm brain damaged :smile: But I clearly had no intention of hitting (and killing) anything.

So how would this fit in? Surely, I must accumulate some negative kamma, although not as much as if I was trying to kill the poor bird.... at least I hope.


The bird was careless and flew in front of a moving car, the bird got the results of that kamma. It sounds like you did the best you could under the circumstances, why would you assume this story is about you?
"Proper effort is not the effort to make something particular happen. It is the effort to be aware and awake each moment." - Ajahn Chah
"When we see beyond self, we no longer cling to happiness. When we stop clinging, we can begin to be happy." - Ajahn Chah
"Know and watch your heart. It’s pure but emotions come to colour it." — Ajahn Chah
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Re: No intention = no kamma?

Postby lojong1 » Sun Sep 12, 2010 6:17 am

I've never hit a person or animal with my car. That's one reason I've never had a car.
Acintita Sutta AN 4.77:
"There are these four unconjecturables that are not to be conjectured about, that would bring madness & vexation to anyone who conjectured about them. Which four?
"The Buddha-range of the Buddhas is an unconjecturable that is not to be conjectured about, that would bring madness & vexation to anyone who conjectured about it.
"The jhana-range of a person in jhana...
"The [precise working out of the] results of kamma...
"Conjecture about [the origin, etc., of] the world is an unconjecturable that is not to be conjectured about, that would bring madness & vexation to anyone who conjectured about it.
"These are the four unconjecturables that are not to be conjectured about, that would bring madness & vexation to anyone who conjectured about them."
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Re: No intention = no kamma?

Postby acinteyyo » Sun Sep 12, 2010 9:36 am

AN VI.63 wrote:Intention (cetanā), I tell you, is action (kamma). Intending, one does action (kamma) by way of body, speech, & intellect.
It is quite clear from the sutta, that when there is no intention (cetanā), there is no action (kamma). In this case what was actually intended, which result one assumed as outcome of a particular action doesn't matter whether it comes to action or not. It is mostly incomprehensible what results (vipāka) a particular action (kamma) will cause.
lotuspadma wrote:It got me thinking if he is to be blamed for his friend's death or not. He had no intention of doing it, but pushing him into the water was not a very nice thing to do, if he had given enough thought about it, he would have realized the risk.
Whether he had the intention to kill his friend or not, doesn't matter for the question whether there was action (kamma) or not. It's a matter of fact that he had an intention, and intending he did action.

It is a totally different question whether he is to "blame" for his friend's death or not, because this doesn't deal with the question whether there was intention=action or not, but rather whether the outcome (vipāka) was a result of that intention=action, which has been commited already.

But this in particular is a question I don't deal with, because it will be nothing more but supposition, because the precise working out of the results of kamma is incomprehensible. It is enough for me to know, that carelessness and a lack of mindfulness (among others, starting with ignorance) cause unwholesome intention=action. In other words, that causes unwholesome kamma, which leads to unwholesome results.

best wishes, acinteyyo
Pubbe cāhaṃ bhikkhave, etarahi ca dukkhañceva paññāpemi, dukkhassa ca nirodhaṃ. (M.22)
Both formerly, monks, and now, it is just suffering that I make known and the ending of suffering.
Pathabyā ekarajjena, saggassa gamanena vā sabbalokādhipaccena, sotāpattiphalaṃ varaṃ. (Dhp 178)
Sole dominion over the earth, going to heaven or lordship over all worlds: the fruit of stream-entry excels them.

:anjali:
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Re: No intention = no kamma?

Postby MJH » Sun Sep 12, 2010 2:44 pm

bodom wrote:If you want to make up for it, go buy some birdseed, go to the park and feed his hungry friends. :smile:


Very good idea! Thanks.

Goofaholix wrote:The bird was careless and flew in front of a moving car, the bird got the results of that kamma. It sounds like you did the best you could under the circumstances, why would you assume this story is about you?


I guess because I was the one that ended the bird's life. But I do understand what you're saying and I appreciate the chance to see it from a different angle. :namaste:

edit:punctuation
Last edited by MJH on Sun Sep 12, 2010 4:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: No intention = no kamma?

Postby BubbaBuddhist » Sun Sep 12, 2010 3:20 pm

The problem with paying for perceived misdeeds is when do you decide you've payed enough?

You see, I've tried this. I'm still attempting to pay for things I did when I was basically a child. Now I wish I had never made those promises. These are debts you can never repay. You go to your grave still feeling there's something more you should have done. :broke:

What studying Buddhadhamma has taught me? Should have just chalked it up to being stupid and let it go. Can't resurrect the dead by beating yourself with a stick. But you can learn from it and refine your mind toward the path of wisdom.

However, feeding strays is a great idea. Makes you feel good and animals always appreciate a free grub. So do I for that matter. :anjali:

J
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Re: No intention = no kamma?

Postby BubbaBuddhist » Sun Sep 12, 2010 3:27 pm

Had a similar cause-and-effect incident. Noticed an inordinate amount of Butterflies commuting suicide by flying into my windshield while I was driving. Then it occurred to me I had a brightly-colored faux Lei (flowery garland) wrapped around my rear-view mirror. It dawned on me these Butterflies might be mistaking them for real flowers and were aiming for it. Sure enough, I took it down and the suicidal dive-bombing stopped.

Was sad for the three or four deaths of the Butterflies but there was no way I could have anticipated this outcome. I liked looking at the flowers. My intention wasn't to cause harm, so I'm not going to kick myself. But I'm not going to put the Lei back up either. I learned something.

Hope this isn't too silly a posting. I thought it might help. It's hard to live in this world without inadvertently harming little things. I just try to do so as little as possible. :toast:

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Re: No intention = no kamma?

Postby MJH » Sun Sep 12, 2010 4:03 pm

Bubbabuddhist wrote:Hope this isn't too silly a posting. I thought it might help. It's hard to live in this world without inadvertently harming little things. I just try to do so as little as possible.


Not silly at all. Thanks for sharing. :thumbsup:
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