Does kamma depends on how effective one's actions are?

On the one hand, kamma is intention.

On the other hand, the act of killing parents for example is not fulfilled if parents don’t die as that result or by mere thinking.

So it seems that the strength of the kamma depends on the results of the actions done?

One case is Alice got angry and send a voice message to Bob, then later regreted and say sorry to bob for the harsh voice message in typing.

Bob opening his whatsapp, sees the word message first and then decided not to listen to the voice message to save Alice some bad kamma of harsh speech.

Question, did Alice nonetheless did bad kamma of harsh speech? Or it doesn’t count as Bob didn’t receive it?

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Used to ponder over this. MN135 gives some hints, but AN4.77 indicates the working of kamma is one of the four “inconceivables”.

But even if the killing of our parents is incomplete, there is still karma involved: what we thought and did up to that moment.

Even getting angry at our parents or at another person, it’s already karma.

I’d say in this example the fact that Alice regretted it and sent an apology is what prevented Bob from receiving it, so it is her own wiser action that softened the effect of her original angry action.

As for your question it does sound like it could lead to confusion and doubt and is therefore better not to ponder too deeply. So I focus on intention as the most important aspect. Once you make an intentional thought or action there can be all sorts of circumstances that help or prevent it from going as you planned, but you don’t want to rely on that to keep you safe.

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I have understood from tibetan teachers that kamma is indeed related to how effective one deeds are. One cannot become a heir of the kamma of killing, for example, while one has never really killed someone. Mere thinking about killing, does not make one a heir of the kamma of killing.
I believe this makes sense. But the longer mind is occupied with these thoughts of killing, and even making preperations to do so, is not at all innocent ofcourse. It is like collecting a kamma seed that becomes more and more powerful, loaded. Kamma seeds are loaded mano-vinnana’s and those are fed by constant attention for killing (stealing, lying, harming etc). It is like a killing vinnana grows. It becomes more and more concrete, manifest. It becomes ones inner world.

I have understood that the most potential has that kamma seed that contains all aspects of a full kammic Path of killing: intention, identifying another living being that must be killed, no regret, no shame, no fear for consequences, preperations for killing, execution of plan, and really killing someone. Now one is owner of the full kammic path of killing. This is a collected kamma seed with a great potential. It does not need much to ripen. Now one is the heir of the kamma of killing.

If a thought of killing immediately disappears, to me it makes no sense to think one is now the owner or heir of the kamma of killing.

Also, unintentionally killing a being is also not seen as becoming a heir of the kamma of killing.

One cannot become an heir of kamma without intention to steal, kill, lie, etc.

The kammic results seem to become more and more serious for oneself if there is a complete kammic Path involved.

Sometimes also there is distinction made between kamma that is created and collected (become a heir of that kamma). Alice has created the kamma of harsh speech, but did not collect it, because the harsh speech was not received by Bob.

Unintentional killing means that the kamma of killing is created, there is really a being killed, but it was not intentional, and that person has not collected that kamma of killing.

I would say since kamma is intention, unintentional means no kamma is created.

Indeed, but it’s also a guide for us in the position of Bob to decide to listen to the angry voice message or not and we can help to lessen the effects of bad kamma of others.

It could also be that Alice send a bunch of angry text messages with a few voice message in between, so Bob knows by context that the voice message is going to be unpleasant, never mind the text that he had no way of avoiding. So Alice could still be furious and Bob can still help to reduce her bad kamma by not listening.

Kamma is in AN6.63 described as cetana. Which is translated as intention by some. But i do not believe this really captures the full meaning of cetana.

From Bodhi comprehensive manual of abhidhamma a summary:

Cetana is the mental factor that is concerned with actualising of a goal.(So the mind is goal-oriented with cetana. I feel this is the most important aspect of cetana). This is its volitional aspect.
Cetana organises other mental factors to acting upon a sense object. Its characteristic is a state of willing. Its function is to accumulate and its manfestation is coordination. These are all aspect of cetana.

For myself i feel the goal-orientedness is most important aspect. It is not that the mind is always goal-oriented, but with plans, intentions, tendencies arising it becomes goal-oriented. It wants to actualise a goal.

Cetana as explained in the cetana sutta’s (SN12.38 -40) deals with the volition, goal-orientedness and coodination that is present in arising plans, intentions, but also the kind of volition, orientation and coordination present in arising anusaya, the latent tendencies.

If someone would die unconsiously, and there are not conscious experienced intentions, plans arising, that does not mean that there is no support for a rebirth-vinnana to establish, because there are still the anusaya. So cetana does not only refer to conscious intentions and plans, it is also deeper.
In general i believe it is concerned with goal-orientedness. If the mind is oriented upon actualizing something wholesome, merit is accumulated, bright kamma, with bright ripening results etc. And even when unconscious, there is goal-orientedness in the form of anusaya.

(This does not decribe the realm of the undirected, dispassion, stilling, Nibbana).

It starts with emotion, making it’s way to intention, where it’s root lies, but it is not independent of action and reaction, as kamma is the law of action and reaction and how it works. The law of kamma is very difficult to understand. Most importantly we should develop good and proper Sila, to free us from the snares of kamma. Namaste.

I would say a condition for regret was produced in all cases. But then there is the option to react wholesomely to regret, to see the danger even in small faults.

IMO, the problem is we can’t be sure exactly what that condition of regret might enable further. It could come up at the moment of death (unlucky, but probably not very likely) or it could produce a renewed effort to maintain good speech.

A while back I had a slip up in speech, it wasn’t a deliberate lie, I was responding in a stressful situation, but I should have taken the time to get the facts really clear and straight.

I do regret it, but it also reminds me that I can’t even remember the last time I told a lie or didn’t strive to give a honest account, even when it makes me look bad.

So in a way, that slip up is also a cause for joy. So I think kamma is just very malleable, and we can’t do better than try to live with kindness and compassion as much as we can :yellow_heart:

It’s not a lie indeed, wow, amazing that your level is that high. I thought it’s ok to let people misunderstand things on their own, without me making any action to contribute to it as there’s no need to tell the world everything about me at all opportunities. I don’t need to clear it up as well.

The ambiguity of my words suggested an interpretation that was more favorable to me than a clearer account, even if everything I said was technically true. So there was an aspect of selfish worldly gain to it, which I know in my heart is actually not worth it.

In a calm situation, I would not have acted from that intention. I’m not sure my level is so high! :stuck_out_tongue:

I use this a lot without any qualms, so your level is higher. Now I am reconsidering if I should upgrade.

Ps. but then it’s tricky.

Due to Pārājika 4 and Pc 8.

Let’s say a monk keeps on answer the question of is he a stream winner when asked by unordained people. He said the truth, no.

Then sometime later, he did became one and refused to answer the question anymore. It could occur to an intelligent lay person that the monk has an attainment already due to this sudden change in attitude towards this question.

That is basically indirectly revealing attainments, against the spirit of Pc8.

If he would have maintained silence all the way or just explain this scenario I am writing now, he could maintain the non committal answer and not violate any rule, even after he had attained. Without a prior pattern of saying no to such question of attainments, it’s not possible to guess at the attainments of the monk by such questions.

The danger is of course towards possible misrepresentation of having attainments when one doesn’t have one. So sometimes in certain situations, it’s a good call to just tell that lay person the truth of non-attainment rather than keeping silence. Eg. when a stream winner lay person reveals his attainment to the monk and is surprised that the monk is not frightened by the notion of nothing after parinibbāna. Either the monk is severely under practised or attained stream winner. I think in that situation, it’s better to reveal the truth rather than to keep the ariya lay person in doubt or suspecting one is a stream winner.

Anyway, due to this 2 rules, we have to learn many ways of communication which is not lying, but does serve the function of concealment.

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My situation had nothing to do with the spiritual life, but it was more analogous to letting the concealment imply I’m a stream winner so I’ll get more support. I.e. unwholesome (but not as grossly unwholesome as that of course). It was about something worldly and I was responding under stress from a deadline.

Actually, I remember years ago posting something here on the forum in a discussion about jhanas, and later re-reading my post, I realized it could be read as a (false) claim of being a stream winner. IIRC, I couldn’t sleep for two days! Ugh, I’m getting goosebumps just thinking about it :rofl:

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