The impact of our action

Hello guys,

In Buddhism, we are told what matter is the intention. If our
intention is not bad but the impact of our action is relatively bad to
other people then are we supposed to stop that action or not?

For example, we often share or express our suffering to other people
e.g. loved ones or best friends, regarding life problems or other specific problems. This, I think is quite natural particularly in a close relationship.

But the other people who listen to this sometimes can experience suffering at least to a certain degree, as the result. If we keep it to ourselves, I don’t think it’s healthy either both mentally and physically, therefore it’s not the right thing to do as well. I believe, we, humans are social animal. Our intention is not to hurt other people but the impact is somehow make other people suffer.

What do we have to do in this kind of situation? Thanks.


Hi SC1100,

With a name like that it feels a bit like I am writing to a robot! :grinning: But I guess robots would not ask about morality, not yet anyway …

And now for the serious part. Please keep in mind that vihiṃsa, “harmfulness” or “ruthlessness” or even “inconsiderateness”, is one of the three wrong intentions. If you don’t care whether your actions hurt others and you just go ahead regardless, then yes, that would be bad kamma. However, if your motivation is just to share because you feel the need to, then the situation is quite different. And, of course, sometimes the motives will be mixed. So again, it gets complicated.


the skillful reaction of the people one shares one’s predicaments with according to the Dhamma would be karuna (compassion), which is a wholesome quality, but if they suffer instead, it is due to their identification with the said person (a friend, a relative or a loved one) rooted in the view of self, which is unskillful undhammic type of outlook

this kind of suffering is totally under their control and they have a freedom of choice in that, provided they’re educated about other options

a doctor may feel compassionate towards their patients but they don’t necessarily suffer because of patient’s condition, since no self-identification with the patient’s personality is involved, normally a doctor doesn’t hold a patient dear

Just the sort of thing a p-zombie would talk about, though…

It’s a matter of timing, it seems to me.

You’ve asked the question as though one must make a final choice between talking to person X or not talking to person X, when it’s probably more likely the case that person X is a good listener at time n but not at time n+1.

Furthermore, it may be the case that person X is a good listener with respect to topics A and B at time n but not topic C at time n, though maybe at time n+1 all these topics - or none of them - will be suitable to broach with person X.

So while the timing is always off if one’s intentions are unwholesome, even if they are wholesome it’s the case that the other person needs to be gently accounted for.

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Hi @SC1100!

Definitely know what you mean here. I think we can find the answer within ourselves by making a searching inquiry into what our motivations are when talking to another. Intention, as you say is most important. When the impulse to talk to someone else arises, I try to note in myself what is there. Is it desire for attention/approval? Desire for a distraction? Desire to complain? Desire to show off? Or do I have something I genuinely need to talk about? Do I wish to encourage? Do I wish to uplift and support another?

Sometimes sharing our own intimate problems and thoughts gives others the space and courage to share theirs too. By the way, I’m not saying any of the reasons to speak are better or worse than the others, just useful to note. Personally, I notice a lot of the times I wish to speak it’s mainly for attention and approval - hopefully not including now :grin:

In terms of causing suffering to the listener… I feel like we can’t rely too heavily on our own projections to decide whether our decision to talk to somebody is causing them suffering. We need to hope that they can express for themselves what’s going on for them. Otherwise you’re creating more suffering for yourself thinking about what THEY’RE thinking about. Oh, exhausting!

Each person needs to know their own limits and boundaries. I do try to be patient listening to my friends problems, because they are very patient listening to mine. Relationships are a two way street. But if my friends talk over and over to me about the same problem for months, I usually gently suggest they find a therapist to continue to talk about that problem. There’s a point where I have to recognize I’m out of my depth, and show compassion for my friend by getting them the help they need. And I would expect them to do the same for me. I think it’s important to have boundaries if you want the relationship to survive.

Well I’ve really gone on here. Point is we can’t eliminate suffering while in samsara, so don’t get too caught up about it or beat yourself up. That’s why the Buddha taught that intention is foremost. Have good intentions, so you can have less guilt and be happy, which will facilitate getting samadhi. Suffering’s all around us so let’s get out!


It’s not either you talk about it or not, it depends on the situation and the problem. If you think the problem can be solved by talking then talking about it is not useless. But there are times where we keep talking about problem without any apparent result but suffering. The more you talk about it the more likely you magnifying the problem therefore it is harming yourself and other people too.

We practice Buddhism is not for socializing but to purifying the mind and it’s practiced and done gradually. If we like to talk about our difficulty although we know it will not bring any result then it’s a kind of bad habit that we have been accustomed to. Sincerely, we try to diminish this bad habit to the best of our ability. And if you cannot change everything at once, keep trying again and again.

Hope this helps.


I just had to verify that I am not a robot to get access to Suttacentral! :grinning: All I had to do was tick a box to confirm I was not a robot. So I guess that’s settled then. I suspect this test was created by yet another potential robot … Bhante Sujato?

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before long we aren’t allowed to discriminate against robots and required to respect their identity

Hi Bhante @Brahmali,

Thanks and sorry for the late reply.
No, I’m not a keyboard, maybe it’s good for us to meet but you’re far. Thanks to Sutta Central forum :anjal:.

Even though our motivation is just to share but there is awareness the other person will suffer because of his action, whether it’s due to his attachment, greed, etc.

AFAIK, only when one cetana can arise in one moment, can you please explain what do you mean by mixed motivation?

I guess because that doctor is not our loved ones and vice versa.

Thanks for your reply, appreciate that :anjal:

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yes, that’s my point, the wrong view of self and resulting tendency of appropriation plays here a major part