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Can inaction be akusala kamma? - Dhamma Wheel

Can inaction be akusala kamma?

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
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Jechbi
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Can inaction be akusala kamma?

Postby Jechbi » Fri Mar 13, 2009 2:02 am


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Re: Can inaction be akusala kamma?

Postby kc2dpt » Fri Mar 13, 2009 3:01 am

- Peter


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Re: Can inaction be akusala kamma?

Postby Jechbi » Fri Mar 13, 2009 5:16 am


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Re: Can inaction be akusala kamma?

Postby SeerObserver » Fri Mar 13, 2009 6:10 am


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Re: Can inaction be akusala kamma?

Postby Cittasanto » Fri Mar 13, 2009 10:42 am



He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them.
But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion …
...
He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them … he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.

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Re: Can inaction be akusala kamma?

Postby sukhamanveti » Fri Mar 13, 2009 2:12 pm

I am no expert on Buddhist ethics, but I am reminded of a few famous passages from the Tipitaka:

When the Buddha and Ananda saw a monk suffering from dysentery, lying in filth, neglected by other monks around him, they bathed him. Then the Buddha questioned the monks near the sick man about their indifference. They said that the sick monk does nothing for them, so they do nothing for him. The Buddha replied, "Monks, you have no mother, no father, who might attend to you. If you do not attend to one another, then who will attend to you? Monks, he who would attend on me, he should attend to one who is ill." (Vin. I.301 f) Was there a hint of rebuke in the Buddha's words here? If so, then perhaps the inaction of the monks was blameworthy, a result of mental defilements.

In the Karaniya Metta Sutta (Sutta Nipata 1.8) we are told, "Just as a mother would protect with her life her own son, her only son, so one should cultivate an unbounded mind [of metta/lovingkindness] towards all beings." Does this imply that we ought to take action or can the love of a mother for her only child, a mother willing to risk her life for the child, be contained within? We are told that we "should" cultivate this sort of love. If we do not seek to do so, might that be a fault or a form of error?

What do we mean when we say "love" and "compassion" in Buddhism?

Metta is defined as "the aspiration for the true happiness of any, and ultimately all, sentient beings, for these are like oneself in liking happiness and disliking pain." [Peter Harvey, An Introduction to Buddhist Ethics (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007) p. 104.]

Karuna means "the aspiration that all beings be free of suffering..." [ibid.]

Can these aspirations be genuine if they have no impact on our behavior? Might their absence imply the presence of defilements?

What do you think?

Ed
Sīlaṃ balaṃ appaṭimaṃ.
Sīlaṃ āvudhamuttamaṃ.
Sīlamābharaṇaṃ seṭṭhaṃ.
Sīlaṃ kavacamabbhutaṃ.


Virtue is a matchless power.
Virtue is the greatest weapon.
Virtue is the best adornment.
Virtue is a wonderful armor.

Theragatha 614


Sabbapāpassa akaraṇaṃ,
kusalassa upasampadā,
Sacittapariyodapanaṃ,
etaṃ buddhāna sāsanaṃ.


Refraining from all wrong-doing,
Undertaking the good,
Purifying the mind,
This is the teaching of the buddhas.

Dhammapada v. 183/14.5

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Re: Can inaction be akusala kamma?

Postby kc2dpt » Fri Mar 13, 2009 2:27 pm

- Peter


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Jechbi
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Re: Can inaction be akusala kamma?

Postby Jechbi » Fri Mar 13, 2009 3:57 pm

Yes, Peter, those are some very good points in my opinion. :anjali:

I guess my line of inquiry is focused more on the notion that things die all the time but nothing about the Buddha's teachings seek to prevent that. It seems as if some things in the Buddha's teachings do seek to prevent that, as Ed noted in his insightful post. I'm also interested in the idea that a monk who watches a man being swept away and choses to do nothing -- and even encourages others to do nothing -- is always blameless in such a situation. That just doesn't make sense to me.

So yes, you are right, many different kinds of thoughts can and do arise, and there are countless hypothetical situations we could build in which the choice NOT to help someone would be an act of compassion. I think we can all agree that there are times when it's better NOT to help (like when it comes to cheating on homework). For example, if the monk watching the man swept away could see that it would be a suicide mission to try to help, then obviously his "inaction" and his encouragement of others to stay safely on the shore would be an act of compassion.

I'm not talking about those situations, though. I'm talking about situations when we clearly see that there is something we could do to help, we clearly see that there's no compelling reason not to try to help, yet we choose to do nothing. In those situations, you're right, I would argue that inaction is always akusala kamma. (Of course there may be additional nuances that I'm not recognizing.)

Metta
:smile:

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Re: Can inaction be akusala kamma?

Postby jcsuperstar » Fri Mar 13, 2009 6:50 pm

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

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Re: Can inaction be akusala kamma?

Postby Individual » Fri Mar 13, 2009 7:36 pm

Non-kamma isn't merely "the stopping of action," in the sense of non-thinking or not moving, but it's the stopping of the entire system of causality. I think maybe it's clarified by using the word "causation" for kamma.

Using the word causation, the question answers itself: "Can non-causation be wholesome causation?" No, of course not. There's nothing there, no intention and nothing to lay the foundation for future consequences.

The question as it was, "Can inaction be akusala kamma?" is ambiguous. Non-kamma cannot be any kind of kamma, no, but the intention, "I will not act," is itself kamma, it is itself a causation, which leads to vipaka.
The best things in life aren't things.


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Cittasanto
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Re: Can inaction be akusala kamma?

Postby Cittasanto » Fri Mar 13, 2009 9:52 pm



He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them.
But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion …
...
He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them … he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.

Individual
Posts: 1970
Joined: Mon Jan 12, 2009 2:19 am

Re: Can inaction be akusala kamma?

Postby Individual » Sat Mar 14, 2009 9:45 pm

The best things in life aren't things.



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