Dhamma school lessons - Kamma

I’m teaching a Theravada dhamma school for young children on Sunday at Thames Buddhist Vihara near London and though I would post the handout content. Comments and or discussion is welcome- if there is anything particularly relevant I might incorporate it into the handout :slight_smile:.

Kamma - “what goes around comes around”

Deciding what is good:

Good for me, good for the other person √
Bad for me, good for the other person x
Good for me, bad for the other person x
Bad for me and bad for the other person x

“Intention, I tell you, is kamma. Intending, one does kamma through body, speech, & mind.”— AN 6.63
“Cetanāhaṃ bhikkhave kammaṃ vadāmi”

Roots of good intentions: non-greed, not-hatred, non-delusion [generous, kind, wise]
Roots of bad intentions: desire, anger, delusion

“If with a pure mind a person speaks or acts happiness follows him like his never-departing shadow. Dammapada 1

Killing - that leads to hell, rebirth as an animal, hungry ghosts. The slightest of all the results coming from the killing is that, when one becomes a human being, it leads to a short life span.
"Stealing — it leads to the loss of one’s wealth.
"being unfaithful (to one’s partner) —it leads to rivalry & revenge.
"Telling lies —leads to being falsely accused.
"Divisive speech —leads to the breaking of one’s friendships.
"Harsh speech —leads to unappealing sounds.
"Frivolous chatter —leads to words that aren’t worth taking to heart.
“The drinking of fermented & distilled liquors —leads to madness.” AN 8.40

Three ways of reducing the effects of bad kamma: Dana, Metta meditation, Practicing the N8FP

Q1: Your brother wants all of your sweets. How do you make a decision of good kamma?

Q2: How can you tell a bad intention from a good intention?

Q3: If someone didn’t believe in kamma, will it still affect them?


I’d add ‘(universal) law of cause and effect’ in your definition of ‘kamma’.

You could also add a section on the wholesome courses of action (kusala-kammapatha)—redescribed in a different/more positive way (e.g., “being careful of living beings” vs. “avoiding of killing”)—to rebalance the negatively-centered perspective of the precepts and moral qualities of intentions (it’s not wrong, but actually correct and more precise; it’s just not exactly enticing for children). I’d maybe find another Sutta passage as to avoid overtly mentioning Hell for the first precept and madness for the last.

Basically, keeping in mind your specific audience, and avoiding seeming too condemning/negative, which gives this impression when intense topics/aspects are discussed.

Have a good time. :slight_smile:


Thank you Samseva. That’s helpful.

with metta

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Great thing you’re doing, Mat.

Depending on the age, the third precept might not make much sense. Maybe it can be re-framed as being disloyal to one’s friends or family. The hell stuff may be a bit overwhelming for kids too lol.

The imagery of the first two lines of the Dhammapada are very rich imo. Could bring up some pictures or videos of happy people walking along a path and an ox or some beast of burden dragging a cart along a bumpy road. Contrasting lightness with heaviness and immediacy with inevitable consequences over time.


It sounds wonderful, Mat. It wouldn’t be too awkward if a middle-aged man joined the class, would it? :grimacing:

It sounds to me like you have a good curriculum. Although sīla is mostly covered in the eightfold path, it would seem simpler to me to talk about mitigating the effects of bad kamma with the traditional trio of dāna, sīla, bhāvanā, with sīla defined as the five precepts. Bhāvanā could then be outlined as a spectrum from basic mettā or breath meditation to fully practicing the eightfold path.

I assume you’d use the simile of the salt crystal to illustrate the mitigation of bad kamma?


Hi Mat
You already have a very decent curriculum as others too have pointed out. A lot depends on ages of children specially when you discuss the third precept. By the way, are the three questions for us to answer?.
With Metta

Thanks @samseva, @SCMatt @Nimal and @Christopher for your replies. I hope to work in some of your suggestions.

Well they are 11-14 year olds. I devised the questions for them, but you are welcome to try them out! No prizes though. :joy:

Sure no problem as long as you do your best to blend in :grin:.

With metta

I’ll do my best…



Unless your class time is long or a series, this might be too much. But it might be helpful to briefly share definition of living beings per Buddhism, because it will clash with scientific definitions. May that not be made an obstacle in any mind! But one could easily have a whole session on the 1st precept.