Fluke wrote:It seems to me that the "action" is less important than the "effect" it has.
ie you could insult one person, and she could brush it off as nothing. You could insult another person in the same way, and he is so devastated that he becomes depressed over it.
That is, the one same action can cause different amounts of suffering.
So, isn't it the "effect" of one's action that is important, not the actual action itself?
It doesn't work like that. If you insult a bad person they might kill you, so the immediate effect might be serious, but it is far worse to insult a virtuous person. A saintly person won't even be upset or angry with you, but will only show compassion. However, insulting a saint has serious consequences for the future. As a consequence of your action, you may suffer throughout many existences, being insulted without by others, although completely innocent of any fault.
Insulting a wicked person, e.g. by calling a thief or a liar as "Thief, liar," is truthful speech, though still not skilful or wholesome, unless done with the intention of correcting their behaviour. Even then, they most likely won't appreciate your good advice if given without being asked, or at the wrong time. An Introduction to Kamma