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The Ethics of Non Action (Classical Theravada version) - Dhamma Wheel

The Ethics of Non Action (Classical Theravada version)

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Bankei
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The Ethics of Non Action (Classical Theravada version)

Postby Bankei » Sat Feb 07, 2009 11:30 pm

Hi

I am wondering if there is any concept of Karmic consequences of not doing something.

eg. You see someone drowning and don't save them.

In this situation would you have an intention to left them suffer. Kamma = Intention.

What do you think?

Bankei
Last edited by Bankei on Sun Feb 08, 2009 12:48 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Ben
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Re: The Ethics of Not Action

Postby Ben » Sun Feb 08, 2009 12:34 am

“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

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Re: The Ethics of Non Action

Postby kc2dpt » Sun Feb 08, 2009 3:00 am

I can't recall coming across anything in the texts which points to non-action as unwholesome.
On the other hand, various abstinences are taught to be wholesome. :shrug:
- Peter


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Ben
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Re: The Ethics of Non Action

Postby Ben » Sun Feb 08, 2009 6:17 am

Thanks Jechbi and Peter.

Its time like these I wish I had my Dhamma books. In particular my copy of Ven Bodhi's translation of the Majjhima, A comprehensive manual of the Abhidhamma and the Vissudhimagga. I think they could shine some light on this issue.

My reasoning above is based on the Upali Sutta (?) in the Majjhima Nikaya where the Buddha refutes the doctrine of the Jains who held that the 'physical rod' to be the root of kamma. The Buddha, in the Upali Sutta and elsewhere, asserted that it was the 'mental rod', to use the expression favoured by the Jains, as kammically most potent. Perhaps it was an error of my interpretation to then jump to say that inaction, particularly when the result coincided with the unwholesome roots of desire, aversion or ignorance, were not kammically neutral.

Hi Jechbi
From memory, ahetu-apaccayavada maybe treated in Ledi Sayadaw's Manual of Conditionality and perhaps also in the Compendium of Conditionality in Venerable Bodhi's A Comprehensive Manual of the Abhidhamma.
Kind regards

Ben
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

(Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • •

e: [email protected]..

Bankei
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Re: The Ethics of Non Action

Postby Bankei » Mon Feb 09, 2009 1:38 am

Hi

I personally would find it hard to justify non action if someone was suffering in front of me.

The reason I ask this question is that I had been reading some writings by Peter Singer who is a modern philosopher. He argues that it is also unjustifiable to not help someone who you can see suffering. But he takes things further.
e.g. there are people starving right now in many places of the world.
e.g. There are people dying because they can't afford medicine etc.

Do we have a moral obligation to help these people (even though they may be located far away)?

Could there be any karmic affects of not helping them - there is no real conscious decision as there would be with watching someone drown in front of you. Most people would not give a moments thought to these issues, so how could there be Karma?

Bankei
Last edited by retrofuturist on Mon Feb 09, 2009 4:41 am, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Edited on account of duplication of thread to Classical AND General
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Re: The Ethics of Non Action (Classical Theravada version)

Postby Annapurna » Mon Feb 09, 2009 7:13 am

I posted a reply here.

It is gone, without a notification as to why.

Why?
http://www.schmuckzauberei.blogspot.com/

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retrofuturist
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Re: The Ethics of Non Action (Classical Theravada version)

Postby retrofuturist » Mon Feb 09, 2009 7:18 am

Greetings Annabel,

All posts not relevant to the Classical Mahavihara Theravada position have been moved to the General Theravada version of this thread to be found at viewtopic.php?f=13&t=621 . If you have not done so, please read the recently updated guidelines specific to the Classical Mahavihara Theravada section here: viewtopic.php?f=19&t=373

Posts not even relevant to the Theravada perspective have been removed in accordance with the Terms of Service: viewtopic.php?f=8&t=2

Now...

:focus:

Metta,
Retro. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

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gavesako
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Re: The Ethics of Non Action (Classical Theravada version)

Postby gavesako » Mon Feb 09, 2009 1:28 pm

According to the Pali Vinaya, a bhikkhu incurs no fault when he lets someone drown. As the rule is defined, one has to make some active effort to commit an offence. That is how the Vinaya structure is made, usually it works well but in some cases (such as this one) if does not quite make sense.
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Kiṃkusalagavesī anuttaraṃ santivarapadaṃ pariyesamāno... (MN 26)

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kc2dpt
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Re: The Ethics of Non Action (Classical Theravada version)

Postby kc2dpt » Tue Feb 10, 2009 3:55 am

Perhaps to understand why inaction would not create karma...

What we might do in the course of a day is finite.
What we might not do in the course of a day is infinite.

For each day the Buddha sought out someone to help there were countless beings he did not try to help.
Conversely, even if I harm one person every day there are countless beings I'm not harming every day.

I suspect a good answer to the question is to be found in the Abhidhamma. Unfortunately I am not familiar with Abhidhamma.
- Peter


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Re: The Ethics of Non Action (Classical Theravada version)

Postby retrofuturist » Tue Feb 10, 2009 4:04 am

"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

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Will
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Re: The Ethics of Non Action (Classical Theravada version)

Postby Will » Tue Feb 10, 2009 5:20 am

A bodhisattva does not become weary of evil beings nor does he commit the error of bringing forth thoughts inclined to reject them and cast them aside. Avatamsaka Sutra, ch. 25

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gavesako
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Re: The Ethics of Non Action (Classical Theravada version)

Postby gavesako » Tue Feb 10, 2009 2:20 pm

Well, the Vinaya only deals with the legal aspect of the situation (i.e. whether he would incur an offence according to the Vinaya) and not with the skilful or unskilful action itself -- that is more in the area of Dhamma.
Bhikkhu Gavesako
Kiṃkusalagavesī anuttaraṃ santivarapadaṃ pariyesamāno... (MN 26)

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Re: The Ethics of Non Action (Classical Theravada version)

Postby kc2dpt » Tue Feb 10, 2009 6:26 pm

Correct me if I'm wrong, Bhante, but I would guess the Vinaya only deals with speech and action, not thoughts.
- Peter


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Re: The Ethics of Non Action (Classical Theravada version)

Postby kc2dpt » Tue Feb 10, 2009 6:39 pm

- Peter


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Re: The Ethics of Non Action (Classical Theravada version)

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Feb 11, 2009 3:23 am

"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

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Re: The Ethics of Non Action (Classical Theravada version)

Postby kc2dpt » Wed Feb 11, 2009 3:44 am

- Peter


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Re: The Ethics of Non Action (Classical Theravada version)

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Feb 11, 2009 4:37 am

Greetings Peter,

What I'm suggesting is that the movement of physical elements that comprise the bodily form is in itself morally neutral or amoral. The moral quality of the volitional kammic action is the mindstate underpinning it, which can be wholesome or unwholesome. The strength of the volition could be measured in part by whether that mindstate manifests itself by way of speech or physical action, but it's not the action or the inaction at a physical elemental level which is important in terms of kamma or Buddhist ethics - it is the mindstate that is important. This is why I questioned your assumption that "Just as certain actions are understood to always be unwholesome..."

This is how I understand the situation as per the Abhidhammic analysis. I am happy to be corrected if this is wrong.

Metta,
Retro. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

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cooran
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Re: The Ethics of Non Action (Classical Theravada version)

Postby cooran » Wed Feb 11, 2009 7:23 am

Helllo all,

My understanding is that Kamma is Intentional Action - a choice.

But .... no intentional action can occur without either a wholesome or unwholesome mental state arising i.e. 'a thought' prior to the choice .... even if it lasts only a millionth of a second.

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---
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Re: The Ethics of Non Action (Classical Theravada version)

Postby kc2dpt » Wed Feb 11, 2009 7:50 pm

- Peter


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clw_uk
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Re: The Ethics of Non Action (Classical Theravada version)

Postby clw_uk » Wed Feb 11, 2009 7:52 pm

Would it be Inaction?

If there is still ignorance then one would choose not to act because one is not awakened.

Only when one is awakened does action stop.

:namaste:
Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken


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