Is intention kamma?

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism

Is intention kamma?

Postby Tom » Sun Sep 29, 2013 10:24 am

Is intention itself kamma? For example, if one has an intention to undertake some deed, but ends up not doing the deed, is the intention itself considered kamma?
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Re: Is intention kamma?

Postby Sanjay PS » Sun Sep 29, 2013 11:04 am

Tom wrote:Is intention itself kamma? For example, if one has an intention to undertake some deed, but ends up not doing the deed, is the intention itself considered kamma?


To my understanding and reasoning , intent is kamma . But if the intent is translated onto vocal and physical action , the kamma is that much more stronger , whether wholesome or unwholesome.

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Re: Is intention kamma?

Postby cooran » Sun Sep 29, 2013 11:51 am

Hello Tom,

Yes - intentional action is kamma:
Intentional Action
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/ptf/dham ... kamma.html

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Re: Is intention kamma?

Postby beeblebrox » Sun Sep 29, 2013 12:11 pm

Hi all,

I think the Buddha actually made a distinction in between the intention (or volition) and the mental kamma. The volition gives rise to the mental, speech and action kamma.

I think he (or maybe it's just commentary?) also put more weight on the mental kamma than the speech or action kamma.

I think that's something good to contemplate about. Maybe it could be because when one speaks or acts, it's easier to see what kind of fruits that will make... rather than just thinking about it and then not seeing what actually happens if that's acted or spoken upon?

Also, it might be because the mental kamma happens more frequently (just from my observation) rather than speech or action kamma, so there's more opportunity to practice with the mental kamma.

Also, I think if the mental kamma becomes habitual, it will eventually find a way to manifest itself into the physical realm... so it's always good to take care of that every time it comes up. Study it... don't try just to ignore it, or suppress it.

:anjali:
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Re: Is intention kamma?

Postby Sanjay PS » Sun Sep 29, 2013 12:21 pm

beeblebrox wrote:Hi all,

I think the Buddha actually made a distinction in between the intention (or volition) and the mental kamma. The volition gives rise to the mental, speech and action kamma.

I think he (or maybe it's just commentary?) also put more weight on the mental kamma than the speech or action kamma.

I think that's something good to contemplate about. Maybe it could be because when one speaks or acts, it's easier to see what kind of fruits that will make... rather than just thinking about it and then not seeing what actually happens if that's acted or spoken upon?

Also, it might be because the mental kamma happens more frequently (just from my observation) rather than speech or action kamma, so there's more opportunity to practice with the mental kamma.

Also, I think if the mental kamma becomes habitual, it will eventually find a way to manifest itself into the physical realm... so it's always good to take care of that every time it comes up. Study it... don't try just to ignore it, or suppress it.

:anjali:



I think this is the best of all in defining kamma and its ways.

thank you,

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Re: Is intention kamma?

Postby chownah » Sun Sep 29, 2013 2:24 pm

"Intention, I tell you, is kamma. Intending, one does kamma by way of body, speech, & intellect.
"
AN 6.63 PTS: A iii 410
Nibbedhika Sutta: Penetrative
translated from the Pali by
Thanissaro Bhikkhu
© 1997


Seems pretty clear cut and straightforward.

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Re: Is intention kamma?

Postby kc2dpt » Sun Sep 29, 2013 3:07 pm

Tom wrote:Is intention itself kamma? For example, if one has an intention to undertake some deed, but ends up not doing the deed, is the intention itself considered kamma?

As I understand the teachings, yes an intentional thought still has consequences, even if that thought does not immediately turn into words or deeds.
- Peter

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Re: Is intention kamma?

Postby Aloka » Mon Sep 30, 2013 8:45 am

kc2dpt wrote:As I understand the teachings, yes an intentional thought still has consequences, even if that thought does not immediately turn into words or deeds.


Is it not perhaps the case that If someone is rude to me and the wish to make an angry reply comes into my mind ...but then I decide against it, focus on the breath and calm down completely, then that angry thought has had positive rather than negative consequences ?
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Re: Is intention kamma?

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Mon Sep 30, 2013 9:39 am

Aloka wrote:
kc2dpt wrote:Is it not perhaps the case that If someone is rude to me and the wish to make an angry reply comes into my mind ...but then I decide against it, focus on the breath and calm down completely, then that angry thought has had positive rather than negative consequences ?

If we get angry at all, we already made some unwholesome kamma. However, if we have awareness and wisdom, then we can suppress the anger and cultivate wholesome thoughts of patience and compassion instead, perhaps even removing the anger completely in the present moment. However, at a later date, when we are not so mindful, the anger can come back to bite us again. So, the angry thoughts might still have negative consequences later.

It's the wholesome thoughts such as patience and compassion that have positive consequences, not the angry thoughts.
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Re: Is intention kamma?

Postby seeker242 » Mon Sep 30, 2013 12:32 pm

Tom wrote:Is intention itself kamma? For example, if one has an intention to undertake some deed, but ends up not doing the deed, is the intention itself considered kamma?


I would say yes. But just not as bad if you had added the unskillful action to it. For example, you intend to steal something but because someone saw you lurking around or whatever, you did not steal anything. This would still be making bad kamma. I don't see how it could not!
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Re: Is intention kamma?

Postby Aloka » Mon Sep 30, 2013 3:23 pm

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:
Aloka wrote:
kc2dpt wrote:Is it not perhaps the case that If someone is rude to me and the wish to make an angry reply comes into my mind ...but then I decide against it, focus on the breath and calm down completely, then that angry thought has had positive rather than negative consequences ?

If we get angry at all, we already made some unwholesome kamma. However, if we have awareness and wisdom, then we can suppress the anger and cultivate wholesome thoughts of patience and compassion instead, perhaps even removing the anger completely in the present moment. However, at a later date, when we are not so mindful, the anger can come back to bite us again. So, the angry thoughts might still have negative consequences later.

It's the wholesome thoughts such as patience and compassion that have positive consequences, not the angry thoughts.


Surely though, if we practice correctly and continue to develop the wholesome, there will eventually be a time when anger doesn't "come back to bite us again", otherwise there would be no progress on the path.

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Re: Is intention kamma?

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Mon Sep 30, 2013 6:53 pm

Aloka wrote:Surely though, if we practice correctly and continue to develop the wholesome, there will eventually be a time when anger doesn't "come back to bite us again", otherwise there would be no progress on the path.

:anjali:

Yes, but only at the stage of Non-returning. Before attaining Stream-winning, we are still capable of killing someone if the circumstances conspire to make us angry. For example, what would you do if someone you had quarrelled with or someone you don't even know burnt down your house, killing your wife and children?
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Re: Is intention kamma?

Postby Aloka » Mon Sep 30, 2013 7:38 pm

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:Yes, but only at the stage of Non-returning. Before attaining Stream-winning, we are still capable of killing someone if the circumstances conspire to make us angry. For example, what would you do if someone you had quarrelled with or someone you don't even know burnt down your house, killing your wife and children?


I'm a woman and I don't have a wife/husband and children....and I couldn't kill someone whatever they'd done.


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Re: Is intention kamma?

Postby Cittasanto » Tue Oct 01, 2013 8:24 am

Tom wrote:Is intention itself kamma? For example, if one has an intention to undertake some deed, but ends up not doing the deed, is the intention itself considered kamma?

Intention is Kamma, as in a mental action.
As all acts start out as a mental process - even knee jerk reactions - intention has a role, whether deliberate or not.

what one perceives, what one thinks over, and what one fills the senses with: this supports the continuation of consciousness, and is a support for acts of body, speech and mind in the future.
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
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Re: Is intention kamma?

Postby Tom » Tue Oct 08, 2013 8:21 am

Would "volition" or some other term be a better translation of "cetana"?
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Re: Is intention kamma?

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Tue Oct 08, 2013 8:59 am

Tom wrote:Would "volition" or some other term be a better translation of "cetana"?
The Buddha clearly stated that cetanā is kamma (cetanāhaṃ bhikkhave kammaṃ vadāmi), so we are discussing cetanā in this thread.

Translation is always problematic — whichever word we choose it will have nuances not found in the original Pāli, and some nuances of the original Pāli will be lost in translation. So don't worry too much about the actual term used — try to understand how kamma works by reading widely.
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Re: Is intention kamma?

Postby Dr. Dukkha » Mon Oct 14, 2013 11:33 pm

Cittasanto wrote:
Tom wrote:Is intention itself kamma? For example, if one has an intention to undertake some deed, but ends up not doing the deed, is the intention itself considered kamma?

Intention is Kamma, as in a mental action.
As all acts start out as a mental process - even knee jerk reactions - intention has a role, whether deliberate or not.

what one perceives, what one thinks over, and what one fills the senses with: this supports the continuation of consciousness, and is a support for acts of body, speech and mind in the future.


What about medications that cause intrusive thought? Or a disorder with intrusive thought in general? Would those be considered demerit as well?

I'm thinking possibly because they generated the kamma to be in that condition themselves, so they have to deal with constantly regenerating demerit because of it, but I'm really not sure. It doesn't seem fair that there is a "point of no return."
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