The Ethics of Non Action (Classical Theravada version)

A forum for members who wish to develop a deeper understanding of the Pali Canon and associated Commentaries, which for discussion purposes are both treated as authoritative.

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

Post by Jechbi » Fri Feb 13, 2009 4:45 am

Hi guys,
Peter wrote:It seems to me you are confusing two modes. Any discussion of morality belongs to one mode. Any discussion of anatta belongs to the other mode.
The specific point I was responding to was whether suicide might be regarded from one perspective as "one being killing another." I understand what you're saying with regard to the two modes. You may be reading more into my comment than was intended.
clw_uk wrote:There is no same being throughout exsistence.
Then there is no such thing as suicide, only homicide. But frankly I think you're oversimplifying the Buddha's teaching.

From here:
There is this world & the next world. There is mother & father.
It's true to say that there is no same being throughout existence. It's also true to say that there are individual people.
Peter wrote:Many people post their assumptions as what is traditionally taught. I do not. I post what has been traditionally taught as what is traditionally taught.
I also am trying to do that in these posts here in this forum. Likewise, I'm not a formal scholar. Just doing the best I can based on what I perceive to have learned through study. If these posts come across as spouting assumptions, then I apologize. That's not my intent. I'm here to learn.

Rain soddens what is kept wrapped up,
But never soddens what is open;
Uncover, then, what is concealed,
Lest it be soddened by the rain.

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

Post by Ben » Fri Feb 13, 2009 5:05 am

Ok, then its probably best to reference statements or positions to canonical and commentarial sources in this forum. This will help to dispel any creeping perception that posts are one's own analysis of the Dhamma rather than representing an authoritative source.
Many thanks

“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 (Classical Theravada version)

Post by pt1 » Fri Feb 13, 2009 5:40 am

Hi, regarding non-action and kamma, I came across this in Nina Van Gorkom's ADL chpt 17 that seems relevant:
Vyapada or ill-will is the cetasika which is dosa... Vyapada prevents us from kusala. When there is vyapada we cannot have lovingkindness and compassion for other people.

Thina and middha [sloth and torpor] cause us to have lack of energy for kusala. The 'Visuddhimagga' (XIV, 167) states concerning thina and middha :

... Herein, stiffness (thina) has the characteristic of lack of driving power. Its function is to remove energy. It is manifested as subsiding. Torpor (middha) has the characteristic of unwieldiness. Its function is to smother. It is manifested as laziness, or it is manifested as nodding and sleep. The proximate cause of both is unwise attention to boredom, sloth, and so on.

Don't we all have moments in a day when there is laziness and lack of energy to perform kusala? ... It may happen that we see someone else who needs our help, but we are lazy and do not move. Then we are hindered by thina and middha...

Uddhacca is translated as 'agitation' or 'excitement' and kukkucca as 'worry' or 'flurry'. Uddhacca arises with each and every type of akusala citta. It prevents the citta from wholesomeness.

As regards kukkucca, worry, the 'Visuddhimagga' (XIV, 174) states:

...It has subsequent regret as its characteristic. Its function is to sorrow about what has and what has not been done, It is manifested as remorse. Its proximate cause is what has and what has not been done. It should be regarded as slavery.

When we have done something wrong or we have not done the good deed we should have done, we might be inclined to think about it again and again. We may ask ourselves why we acted in the way we did, but we cannot change what is past already. While we worry we have akusala cittas; worry makes us enslaved. Uddhacca and kukkucca prevent us from being tranquil.
So, it seems that when we don’t act in a wholesome (kusala) way (non-action like not helping someone we can), it is because of unwholesome hindrances (akusala cittas), which are present at that moment (like fear for my own life, laziness, disliking people like criminals, strangers, etc). Akusala cittas lead to akusala kamma vipaka in the future. And in the more immediate future there’s also the likelihood of regret (kukkucca) arising.

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