Kamma of unintentional actions

Hi, Robert,
You wouldn’t happen to have a link for that talk, would you? I’d very much like to listen if it has been recorded.

Anjali,

Claralynn

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I have managed to track down one sutta reference re: unintentional action, but it is a later text, not an EBT.
Milindapanha 84. Wikipedia dates this text from about 100 BCE, explaining it as ‘a dialogue in which the Indo-Greek king Menander I (Pali Milinda)… poses questions on Buddhism to the sage Nāgasena.’

The king asked: “Venerable Nagasena, for whom is the greater demerit, one who knowingly does evil, or one who does evil unknowingly?”

The elder replied: “Indeed, your majesty, for him who does evil not knowing is the greater demerit.”

“In that case, venerable Nagasena, would we doubly punish one who is our prince or king’s chief minister who not knowing does evil?”

“What do you think, your majesty, who would get burned more, one who knowing picks up a hot iron ball, ablaze and glowing, or one who not knowing picks it up?”

“Indeed, venerable sir, he who not knowing picks it up would get burned more.”

“Indeed, your majesty, in the same way the greater demerit is for him who does evil not knowing.”

“You are clever, venerable Nagasena.”

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We have this text in SuttaCentral, by the way:

The question here is subtly different, which becomes clear if you look at the simile. In each case, a person picks up the hot iron knowingly, in the sense that they know that they are picking something up; but one of them does not know that it is hot.

So I think what this passage is saying is not that the action is unintentional: in both cases, they intend to do the action. It is about whether you recognize that the action is wrong. It seems to me that Nāgasena’s point here is that if you do wrong and you know that you are doing wrong, at least you have right view, and that means you may well make a different choice in the future. Whereas if you do wrong and don’t even know that it’s wrong, you haven’t even got basic right vuew and in the future you’ll continue to do wrong.

This relates to something that said from time to time, that the most ignorant of all the spiritual teachers are the ones who cannot even distinguish between good and bad.

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OK, thank you Bhante, and point taken – yet even with unintentional actions there is intent in the bigger picture.

When I drive my car or fly in a plane or ride in a bus, I know there is a high likelihood of bugs being squashed or critters being hit. I don’t have an intention to kill, but I am reasonably certain that it will happen.

So I am not intentionally picking up a lone hot coal. What I am doing with intention is picking up a basket that I am reasonably certain contains, among other things, a hot coal.

So then are we back to the lump of salt simile? I.e. we want to make sure the basket we intentionally pick up that we know contains a hot coal is also packed with cooler items?

P.S. REALLY appreciating the opportunity to discuss these questions that I’ve had for over a decade!

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Hi Claralynn!

If you live in a house, you can be certain that bugs were killed during the building of it. If you wear clothes, there is a strong possibility that during the whole manufacturing chain someone suffered. Even if you are a vegetarian, there is also a high likelihood that bugs and rodents were killed during the production of your food. As you can see, there is no end to thinking like that.

Of course we should minimize the negative impacts of our actions as best we can but at some point we just have to accept that there is no way to live in samsara without causing suffering.

The best thing we can do, is to become more mindful, more peaceful and happier people, then our negative impact on other beings tends to decrease all by itself. And that is very hard to do when we constantly worry about all the possible unintended consequences of our actions.

With metta,

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Hi Claralynn,

the Dhamma talk has indeed been recorded - a ton of thanks and mettaa to the Dhammaloka Admin and all volunteers! Being located in Germany myself, I very much rely on the online talks (live and recorded). The recordings are a true blessing and very valuable to so many who want to learn the Dhamma. :smile:

The last Friday Night Talk by Bhante Sujato is available on the BSWA youtube channel:

On the main page of the BSWA youtube channel you usually find the Dhamma talks. You can scroll back to older talks via the slider below the main screen.

They also usually maintained an BSWA Sutta channel:

and an BSWA meditation channel:

When I want to follow a live-session, I usually go to the livestream web-page:
http://www.livestream.com/dhammaloka

Friday night talks are on from
Fridays - 19:30 - 20:00 (short meditation) 20:00 - 21:00 (the Dhamma talk) - Perth time
this is 12:30 - 13:00 and 13:00 - 14:00 - Central European Time (including DST)
and 13:30 - 14:00 and 14:00 - 15:00 - Central European Time (summer time)

DST = Daylight Savings Time

On livestream I also follow the ongoing Perth live-sessions of this Early Buddhism Course - for the course dates please see the PDF with the course outline…
Sundays 12:30 - 14:00 (1. session) and 16:30 - 18:30 (2. session) - Perth time
this is 05:30 - 07:00 and 09:30 - 11:30 - Central European Time (including DST)
or 06:30 - 08:00 and 10:30 - 12:30 - Central European Time (summer time)

In the slider below the main screen (which will usually read “OFFLINE”, unless an online session is being broadcasted) you find most video recordings in a chronological order. (If a course should be on, but you still get “OFFLINE” try to refresh your browser.)
In that slider you also find the recording of this Sundays “Kamma & Rebirth wkshop 2, session 1”. It seems that session 2 of this workshop was not recorded (maybe by accident - well - its all work done by volunteers and I feel deep gratitude for all the good work they are already doing!).

(I guess you know already most of this, but I tried to expand my reply a bit, so that it can also be used by others. Let me know if you have any trouble with the links…)

Thanks again to Dhammaloka and with much mettaa and anjali,
Robert

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We can distinguish between the ethical and the existential. At an ethical level, we make whatever choices we can to minimize the harm and maximise the good we do. On the existential level, we understand that life in samsara will always entail suffering. Think of the story where the Bodhisatta saw the plough churning up the soil, and the birds coming down and eating all the worms. We do what we can, but it is never enough, hence enlightenment!

The good news is that practicing harmlessness is part of the path to awakening, so they are not, or should not, be conflicting goals.

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I had thought about this post yesterday evening, but did not post it yet… Now after posting it, I just saw that in the meantime some of this has already been taken up and discussed in other “dicussion topics”… For anyone who is still interested, just read the main points in bold letters…

Dear Banthe,
many thanks for sharing this sharp observation.
I was not really so clear on this point.

My main inquiry is: Would it be possible, if during the course of the workshop you could highlight, which ethics in your opinion are essential for awakening.

What follows are some thoughts on how to bring our different perspectives on the discussion together, but a lot has now been covered in other “discussion topics”…

Thinking about your comment and the overall discussion, I realize that there are at least four perspectives on the topic, which played a role:

  1. (personal) Ethics from a viewpoint of a student of the Dhamma, who just wants to know how to find peace with the unavoidable harm that we indirectly cause other beings, just by being alive ourselves.
  2. Ethics from the viewpoint of the Early Buddhist Teachings
  3. Ethics from a wider viewpoint of philosophy in general (traditional and modern)
  4. The viewpoint on Buddhist ethics as an integral part in a balanced practice.

“Trying to find meaning in a meaningless world” (as Bhante Sujato mentioned), I guess I had tried to make all these different perspectives match (…or in other words erase condradictions between those). I guess, I had doubts and questions, because I sensed a dis-congruence of theses viewpoints (in the way I had understood them at the time).

I interpret your comment in such a way, that you first of all suggest to look at the precepts in a direct fashion (as one would do with any ‘law’). Going back to the basics, is a wellcome reminder! However, the doubt about the precepts was already part of the initial question: the question focussed on how to deal with the unavoidable harming of other beings, which constitutes an indirect infringement of the first precept. Admittedly, I understand Claralynns original question as being motivated by compassion for these harmed beings, which is a more noble standpoint, than just wanting to know if one can ‘condone’ that these beings are being harmed and still get away with it, i.e. still get enlightened, but to me this is a related line of argumentation. (‘to condone’ is a little bit too harsh here)

Looking at the examples you mention - vegetarianism and a habitual liar - I would discern them in the following way: For a layperson, I would think that the first precept mainly focusses on intentional harming of any being (with your own hands). To cause a being harm as a secondary effect within in a complex network of consequences, brought about by an act which has mostly wholesome intentions (such as maintaining your body to be able to practice the Dhamma), constitutes a ‘secondary infringement’ of the precept. The basic color of the intention would still be very wholesome. Since the Suttas describe laypersons who became stream-enterers and even arahats, the EBT position seems to be close to this.

Then again, your example of an habitual liar implies repeatedly and intentionally breaking the fourth precept. This would be a ‘first order infringement’, with the basic color of the intention being clearly unwholesome…

I would be very intersted to learn if your approach would be different.

However, apart from this discussion involving the thinking mind, I would also stress Raivo’s suggestion to “feel” one’s way through such issues when it comes to ones practice. When sitting in meditation then even as a beginner, I sometimes know that my mind was not calming down, because I did something unwholesome. Then again, if I cared for others, having had a mind with wholesome intention, I can usually also feel that wholesome quality in the meditation.
Sometimes, I am quite sad about the damage I cause and the way our planet is going down the drain, but I can also enjoy having done a little act of kindness, an act of caring, … of compassion, a shared smile, a kind word, …

So I would think, for ones practice it is very important no to drift off into denial as Bhante Sujato states:

on the other hand one should also not focus on the unwholesome side in an unbalanced way (see the story with homicidal monks after practicing body contemplation in an unbalanced way), but also to actively look for and enjoy the serenity that shines through all these abundant little acts (by others or ourselves) with wholsome qualities in our daily lifes… So if this is really dragging us down, then my two pence worth of advise would be to allow ourselfes to enjoy the path more.

If the world is really without meaning as Bhante Sujato says, then it is completely up to us to define the meaning for ourselves. As such, no meaning that we give the world is better than another: belief in a God, belief in materialism, the Jaina belief, belief in the Dhamma, … It may only be, that certain ‘meanings’ do not yield the expected results, put simply, it may be that they do not work as expected. What a blessing it is then, as Bhante Bramahli points out, that the Buddha passed on the Dhamma to us, which actually works, which keeps its promise, where meaning is given to things in such a way that the Dhamma - if correctly understood - leads to liberation. (I have no intention to judge any of these paths, I only have the feeling that the Dhamma works best for me…)

With much mettaa,
Robert

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Dear Robert,

Yes, the idea of first order and second order infringement of the precepts seems about right to me. If an ethical issue really is a hindrance on the path, you can usually feel it, as you suggest. And it seems to me that second order ethical problems will generally have much less emotional impact than first order issues.

With metta.

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Hi bhantes,
when I think of kamma, I consider it in terms of energy, action. So in physics, action and reaction are always equal and opposite. So any act gives energy outward, intentionally or unintentionally, and so that’s why I think even unintentional acts should produce result/reactive energy, which I call the result of kamma. So some time ago, i gave the example that if I hurt someone unintentionally, and she punches me in the face, as a result of my unintended action. Ie because of my action, even unintentionally, an reactive energy related to that comes back to me. And I called that kamma, and asked why that wasn’t considered as kamma. But it seems that when both bhantes replied my or other’s questions, you seem to use the word kamma to refer only to rebirth producing kamma, past or future rebirth. Is it correct? Also in AN6.63, when the Buddha talks about the diversity of kamma, he also really only refers to kamma in terms of rebirth. Is it what you mean when you talk about the result of kamma, as in only refers to the result in past lives/future rebirth?

Bhikkhu Bodhi gave this reference in AN6.63
The Chinese parallel, MĀ 111, at T I 600a23–24, says: “How does one understand kamma? There are two kinds of kamma: intention and the kamma created when one has intended.

So can I understand as intention gives the direction for the actions to focus its momentum? And when it is unintentional, we just follow our old past kammic energy (as “kamma created when one has intended”) or the energy of our environment at the time, so it loses its directional focusing force to give definite effect in a particular direction? Please correct my logic here. Assuming you agree with my line of reasoning above, is it more accurate to say that unintentional actions give unclear or can’t be linearly specified result (while intentional gives clearly related result), as opposed to saying that unintentional actions producing no rebirth related kamma?

Where I get stuck with this idea of unintentional actions produce no kamma is first of all, as how I started this message, it seems just scientific inaccurate to say that acting with energy produces no result, just because it’s unintentional. Energy must go somewhere, no? Secondly, it’s the fact that it’s obviously untrue, unless you only refer to rebirth related result. I say that because in some countries, if one kills somebody unintentionally, one still has to go to prison. And that seems to be clear enough cause and effect. And we know that in many day to day encounters as well. Like I said, if I hurt someone through my actions, unintentionally, there still seems to be result seemingly directly related to my specific action. So how can one says that unintentional actions give no kammic result at all? Thirdly then, why does the result of kamma only refers to rebirth? I mean assuming that’s what you mean. I mean rebirth is just a station in the process of kammic energy flowing, right? Why doesn’t the result of kamma in this very life also referred to as kamma?

And lastly, I am uncomfortable with the implication that when we talk about unintentional acts don’t produce, it’s as if in that case it’s ok. It implies that no further effort is needed. I mean, there are quite a few rules in the patimokkha that it’s an offence, even when there’s no intention – such as receiving money, or the ones relating to food. And maybe one would say that it’s because of convention. But somehow I feel that we are encouraged to help each other to be awakened to truth and to discourage lax attitude in attentiveness and care, which I previously referred to as a form of moha, because to me it’s similar to sloth and torper ( I mean similar in the kind of lack of application of energy). And thank you Ajahn Brahmali for pointing out the shades of grey in terms of kamma. That’s very insightful. And I do want to again clarify, is this kind of lax attitude in attentiveness., or this attitude of “if it’s unintentional then no need to confess before it’s just a matter of convention to keep up with the form of the Vinaya” unwholesome? How does it relate to kamma as we have been discussing above?
I hope I will get less confused by the end of this! Until then thanks for bearing with me. Thank you for your help.
Big Metta

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Hi Shirley!

I’m sure the Bhantes will respond as well but in the meantime I will also attempt to clarify some things for you.

The Buddha said that the fruits of our kamma can ripen in three “places” - in this life (referred to in the suttas as here and now), in our next life or in one of our lives after that. So clearly kamma doesn’t only mean rebirth producing actions. Rebirth producing kamma is often singled out because the aim of the buddhist path is to end rebirth and consequently suffering.

Secondly, allthough it is true that we perform all kinds of actions (release all kinds of energy, create all kinds of potentials) and experience all kinds of phenomena, when the Buddha talked about kamma, he only referred to our ethical actions, that is actions by mind, speech and body that have some kind of ethical consideration (good/bad) behind them.

The way I understand this, is that kamma either is intention (a mental action) or the subsequent (mental, verbal or physical) action we perform out of that intention. We intend to harm and then because of that we express our intention through some harmful action.

So while our unintentional actions do have results, deep down we don’t consider those actions as OUR actions and therefore don’t feel the need to get punished for them (for example when we review our life after death with a bit more clarity of mind).

So please don’t think I’m saying that we should go out causing harm to others through our heedlessness. Making sure we live our life as harmlessly as possible is in itself good kamma. All I am saying, is that feeling guilty about the results of your unintentional actions is not that helpful and it could be considered as ill-will towards yourself, which is bad kamma.

Actually, feeling guilty about our intentional actions is not that helpful either. In both cases, we should first acknowledge our action and notice that the result wasn’t pleasant or peaceful and then forgive ourselves and try to do our best to avoid such an action in the future. So the old AFL code by Ajahn Brahm - Acknowledge, Forgive, Learn.

With metta.

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It would also be good if the Bhantes elaborated on the meaning of “intentional” in a buddhist context. While we can do what we want, we can’t want what we want, so where do we draw the line?

If we abandon personality view at stream-entry, could any of our subsequent actions be considered as intentional? It seems to me that after that point we would just be automatically acting out of old habits (which had actually always been the case). Or do we forget the insight after taking up another existance until we re-experience it and therefore consider our actions intentional again?

Or is intention just a name we give to a part of an automatic non-self process that makes the mind move?

May you all be happy and well!

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Dear Bhante,
many thanks again for your answer. Now, while going through the reading material for the next workshop, I found your Sutta Class on MN41 - Saaleyyaka Sutta

where you did address similar questions as we discussed here. (I post the corresponding link here, because maybe it is of interest to others following this course. I found the talk a nice complement to our discussion here.)

Thanks so much again and with much mettaa,
Robert

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Dear Shirley,

Raivo already gave quite a comprehensive reply, so I just wanted to bring a few relevant quotes from some of the Bhantes replies to your attention and add a discussion of your example. (My appologies if you saw the quoted posts yourself in the meantime):

I agree with you that everything we do has a consequence, but kamma, is determined by the ethical dimension of the action as Raivo said, even though trying to work out the inner workings of kamma may be limited by the concepts we have at our disposition:

So, if you took all sensible precautions (looked that nobody was close by that could get hurt) and afterwards grab your bag from the overhead compartment and while taking it down hit your ellbow on someones nose, then that action has consequences, but not kammic ones. Maybe the person saw that you were reaching for the overhead compartment. Then, they became impatient and thought that they too should get up and get their stuff sorted. So they manouvered themselves in an unfortunate position. Where could then be your “fault” in this situation. It could still be of course, that the person goes into denial of their own unthoughtful action and yell at you or punch you in the face (though in my experience ususally both sides just utter an embarrased “Sorry! Are you ok?” in such a situation). Then being punched in the face is the fruit (vipaaka) of having been born into the human realm with lots of fellow beeings that are lost in greed, hatred and delusion(*). It is also clearly a consequence to your action, albeit not an ethical one. Also, your feeling of guilt about having hurt the other person will be small, apart from the usual desire to try to avoid such a mishap in the furture. There may also be compassion for the other persons pain.
On the other hand, if you are talking about negligence or even gross negligence (so that you wittingly did not even take the minimum required precautions and hence condoned the harm and damage to others), then of course you are making the kamma of having been neglectful. Negligence is for example also punished by penal consequences in German law. Still, the kamma you are making by negligence it is not the kamma of intentionally banging your ellbow into someones face and you will not feel as guilty as if you had done that in a spur of rage:

So, I did not understand the Bhantes in a way that such unintenional actions have no consequence at all, but the kammic implications for you depend on the stat of your mind, when you did the action. Of course, if greed, hatred or delusion were dominant in the mind, then the kamma is unwholesome. And I agree with you that delusion can express itself as wrong view or negligence.

Maybe also have a look at the Sutta Talk on MN 41 by Bhante Brahmali, which I posted above.

As Raivo pointed out, usually the Bhantes and also Ajahn Brahm seem to try to teach the Dhamma in such a way, that the typical guilt trips are avoided (typical in western culture, where many people who start on the spiritual path have the tendency to overreact). This still means that you have to make an effort to avoid such problems in the future, but the emphasis is on learning and not on blaming.

Regarding your example about food or receiving money by monastics. There is the description of one occasion in the Suttas, when queen Mallikaa (king Pasenadi’s spiritual mother) (? hope I got her name right ?) wanted to go to a festivity fully dressed with garments and jewlery. However, in a spur of the moment, she decided to visit the Buddha instead. Since she thought it was inappropriate to wear her jewlery in front of the monks, she took it off and put it in a bag. After the Buddhas talk she was so inspired that she just forgot the bag with the extremley precious jewlery which was later found by Ananda. He then asked the Buddha what to do. He did not want to touch the jewlery because he thought he would commit an offence, but the Buddha said, that it was ok for him to take the jewlery in order to return it to the queen. So, if a monk finds money in the meditation hall, they can put it away, so that the owner can later retrieve it. Also, if someone would place money in a monks bag without the monk knowing (e.g. when the bag was unattended), this would not be an offence on behalf of the monk. Of course the monk would then have to ask, who the owner of the money is. The money could then be given to the treasurer and if nobody reclaims it after some time, it could be used as a donation for the whole monestary (I guess). The important part here is, I think, that the monk does not knowingly accepts money for his own comfort.

With much mettaa,
Robert

(*) Ajahn Brahm said the following a few times. "When we are reborn into the human realm, we sign a contract which includes in small print: ‘Here you can die at any time for any reason or no reason at all.’ "
That a person dies is first of all the kammic fruit (vipaaka) of having been born in the first place. That a person, for example, dies in an accident is the kammic fruit of having been reborn with a fragile human body. However, the rest of the web of conditions that lead up to the accident and ultimately to death of the person may simply have been bad luck (unless it was intention or avoidable negligence on behalf of the some participent in the accident).
Being born as a human being implies that we have senses with limited range and precision. Moreover, even though our senses are already quite limited, there is no way we can be mindful of the full stream of information of all senses at the same time. Hence, we can always only have an incomplete picture of the world around us and we are limited by our bodys with respect to the possible responses. That is the reason why we say that some events are accidents. Things just come together in such a way that it is impossible for an average human being to avoid harming effects.
I think Ajahn Brahm said once that even an Arahant cannot be mindful of all information from all senses at the same time! So even though an Arahant will be deeply rooted in yoniso manasikara (i.e. thorough or wise attention) in every action, he can still end up in a mishap.
Also, consider the example where the Buddha tought the monks the contemplation of the body and the monks ended up commiting suicide (or asking the game keeper to kill them…). I am sure, we would all agree that the Buddha taught that meditation practice with the best of intentions. Also, this meditation is very beneficial if practiced correctly. According to the story, the Buddha then went on a retreat, where he obviously had no idea about what the monks were doing with his teaching. When he returned and found out that the number of monks was quite depleted, he simply adjusted and tought another practice. So even the Buddha could not forsee everything and even he could be misunderstood. (If he could have made himself fully understood to everone whom he met, then they all should have become fully enlightened after hearing one teaching.)

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*Thanks for pointing out the small print Robert, I had a feeling there was something I hadn’t noticed! nicola
ps liked the rest of your logic also

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Dear Shirley,

Raivo and Robert have already replied to most of your questions, and I just want to add a few points.

Exactly, these are conventional rules, and they do not imply that doing that action is bad kamma in itself. (Although it could be bad kamma to break the rule, if it is your intention to deliberately do so.)

Yes, lack of attentiveness and care is sometimes an outcome of delusion and as such the kamma you create will be greyish. But even if you take the best of care you will not be able to attend to all things around you. In other words, sometimes accidents will happen, including the hurting of others, even if your mindfulness is absolutely sharp and there is no delusion. In such cases there is no bad kamma, or even grey kamma, but just the unfortunate result of human life being inherently painful, at least some of the time.

With metta.

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Dear Brahmali,

Exactly, these are conventional rules, and they do not imply that doing that action is bad kamma in itself. (Although it could be bad kamma to break the rule, if it is your intention to deliberately do so.)

1.If somebody breaks it intentionally … what can be the motivation and why is it bad kamma?

2.Can you please explain the term , strength of actions" - bad,grey and good actions in Buddhism? how can we know the strength of them?

3.Is fantasising has a kammic potentional or we we have to act out things to have a kammic consequence?

Thank you!

With metta.
Samma

Dear Samma,

(1) One might intentionally break the monastic rules for a number of reasons, but it would almost always be based on defilements. When you become a monastic you are agreeing to abide by the rule of conduct for monastics. By not doing so you are not fulfilling your obligations. The reasons why one might break the rules include stubbornness or conceit (your sense of self gets in the way), desire or anger (you are not able to restrain yourself), delusion (you convince yourself it’s ok). No doubt one could add to this list, but because the motivation is almost invariably bad, the kamma must be bad too.

(2) Take generosity: it is rarely completely pure. We often give expecting the other person to remember the act or at least appreciate us. If this doesn’t happen, it is common for people to get upset. Or perhaps we give hoping for a positive kammic result. Or we might give because we are just following the Buddhist tradition, and there might be some peer pressure. In all of these case there is a bit of desire bound up with the giving and so it is not pure. This sort of giving is a light shade of grey and it leads to results that are a light shade of grey, such as rebirth as a human or one of the lower heavenly realms.

Another example might be getting angry with someone because they don’t do as they’re told and so you shout at them. In this case you may be partly motivated by wanting to help the person, but a big part of the motivation is the anger. This sort of act would probably be a dark shade of grey, and on its own would lead to results that have a dark shade of grey, perhaps rebirth as an animal.

The point is that most of our actions are complex in this sense; they tend to be different shades of grey. It is rare that we do acts that are entirely bad (such as killing someone because we hate them or sadistically hurting another person), but it is equally rare that we do acts that are entirely good, such as giving with an entirely pure heart, which can really only happen after samādhi.

You know the shade of grey by knowing the quality of your mind. This takes a lot of self-knowledge, which realistically can only be gained through meditation. In the meantime, you just do your best. It is important not to set the bar too high, otherwise you will lose heart.

(3) If you act it out it is much worse, but fantasising is also best avoided. How do you feel if you fantasise about killing someone? If you notice that you feel less positive or bright than normal, you know the kamma is not good. One of the essential things on the Buddhist path is to gradually change the way we think. But again, please don’t set the bar too high, or you will just get very frustrated and perhaps even give up.

With metta.

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Dear Ajahn

I’ve always been confused about the distinction between motivation and intention. The confusion is getting a tiny tiny bit, slightly clearer, for which I’m very grateful! My apologies for asking what may be such an obvious question, but could you please write a little more about the distinction between these two and how (and if) knowing about this kind of thing might be of use on the Path?

Many thanks.

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Dear Bhantes and all

I just want to say how grateful I am for this forum and the Kamma and Rebirth course and these kinds of threads… Thank you so much!

It’s nice to see that there’s always something to be learned in this Dhamma! 20 odd years of practice…and I didn’t realise how my notion of kamma, despite the fact that I thought I reflected on it in a ‘cause and effect’ sense, was so coloured by deep seated notions of fatalism tied up with guilt and a sense of self seeking punishment or agrandizement!!

The quite specific sense in which kamma is presented by both Ajahns in the course, was to me, a rather free-ing sort of thing to listen to. A sort of relief. Because, it meant the responsibility for what I do with what I’ve got now, is in my own hands.

I mean, that whole, ‘one is the heir of one’s kamma’…used to only ever frighten the dickens out of me cos of the fact that on some level I was viewing it with some sort of fatalism… But actually, you’ve made me see that this means that I can actively work in a wholesome way…take responsibility for my salvation. That feels kind of huge for me.

Despite the fact that the negative tendencies can be overwhelmingly difficult to deal with, I feel that there is a genuine hope. ‘Hope’ in the sense of, there’s a small chance of gradually doing something about it. And latching on to that view is like latching onto a life line.

I never really ‘got’ Ajahn Brahm’s story about the two bakers baking cakes…one with good ingredients and one with bad. A really simple story…one would think I’d have gotten it! But no…! I feel like, on a reflective level anyway, I finally get it! Hooray for this small victory along the way!! :slight_smile:

I’m going to continue to listen/try and attend the course because I deliberately want to brainwash myself into feeling more empowered and thus energise and motivate and inspire myself to keep practicing in the right direction…I’ll try and take all the help I can get!! Thank you very much.

With much gratitude to all.

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