The kamma of wrong speech (was Re: Waiting patiently for the Cooran reports:-)
- Hi Sarah, Nina, James and all
Just a quick response on this now. I will get back to your threads
during my winter vacation which starts in two weeks. Just want to get
this down so I can look at it in a couple of weeks and see if I still
think it! :)
Sarah :> We can really only learn to know more about our own
intentions. Kusala and
> akusala follow each other so closely and our 'gentle words' may notbe as
> pure as we'd like to believe. On the other hand, I'm also sure thatsome
> of our friends here who speak very strongly or seemingly harshly mayoften
> have very good intentions when they do so.I think this idea of "good intentions" is very vague, much vaguer and
more thinky than the cittas actually involved. For example, many people
wrongly believe (largely due to a poor translation) that "right
intention" is one of the path factors, and imagine it to mean that we
should have sweet and wholesome intentions about what we want to do to
have less akusala and more kusala. Of course that is just thinking,
rooted in lobha and desire to be a very wonderful person, a peaceful
person, a wholesome person. Not at all what the Buddha had in mind.
I think of the times I have intended to *not* participate in the very
nasty talk about students that goes on (much of it pornographic.) But
almost inevitably, I do. My intention is not to, but I do. I don't see
how the good intentions there were means that it is not akusala kamma
On the other hand, I don't worry about it too much either. There are
conditions for it to arise, and it arises. There is an intention,
cetana cetasika, to say the awful thing at the moment I say it, or a
moemnt just before. I ahve a hunch -only a hunch - that *that* cetana
that motivates the wrong speech just before it occurs is the intention
that the Buddha invites that monk to consider, and we are nowhere near
being able to understand our momentary intentions to the degree that
that monk was. (I refer to the sutta Nina quoted.)
What we take for "intention" is just wishful thinking and
storytelling about ourselves, I think. It is believing, incorrectly,
and either subtly or blatantly depending on the degree to which wrong
view has been eradicated, that there is a self that makes it possible
to decide to give rise to kusala and prevent the arising of akusala,
contrary to the Buddha's teaching of anatta. (see the anatta sutta) (I
suppose wishful thinking could be a contributing condition to kusala
arising or akusala subsiding, but not in a direct way - just one of
many, many conditions.) And these sweet intentions are not the cetana
cetasika that arises and propels us into or away from akusala deeds
such as wrong speech.
If we were to be asked by the Buddha whether we intended to do harm
or not, we could answer with mistaken confidence, but we wouldn't
really know, it seems to me. We are not there yet, not by a long shot.
- Hi Ken H,
--- kenhowardau <kenhowa@...> wrote:
> suggested that an unwholesome desire to become an arahant was OK, and
> it would not lead to further unwholesomeness.
> In support of this "dangerous contention" it was said that the second
> noble truth was not, "Tanha, which leads to rebirth," but
> rather, "The tanha that leads to rebirth." The implication being that
> some tanha does not condition rebirth (either directly or
> indirectly). Is this right?
S: As I understand, no tanha is OK, but there is ordinary or sama
lobha and extraordinary or visama lobha.
The extraordinary lobha (or tanha) at moments of akusala kamma patha can
result in rebirth and other vipaka, but all lobha adds bricks and should
be known for what it is. Ive always understood the 2nd Noble Truth to
refer to the origin of suffering as being craving (of all kinds, leading
to rebirth etc, namely the craving for sense-pleasure, the craving for
new life and craving for annihilation. In other words, all kinds of
craving (kaama-ta.nhaa bhava-ta.nhaa vibhava-ta.nhaa. Its a good point
to consider further.
K:>I stick to the belief that the entire teaching
> is about understanding paramattha dhammas. Regardless of whatever it...
> discusses - walking, concentrating on breath, devas, rabbits on the
> moon - the aim of the teaching is always right understanding of the
> present namas and rupas.
S: Yes. There is nothing else!
K:> We talked about K Sujin's personal history, and we wondered if it was
> only she (and her students) who understood Dhamma-practice to be free....
> of "formal meditation." Are we really that alone? Is it true that all
> other modern-day authorities (Bhikkhu Bodhi etc.) regard the
> Abhidhamma as a later addition to the original texts?
S: Youve had a couple of replies to this question. Christine often raises
a similar question in Bangkok or India and K.Sujin usually responds by
saying something like if we forget the names and talk about the present
realities instead, isnt that more useful, no matter who says what?.
By chance, I started listening (and editing) a relevant question on an old
tape recently which I hope well soon be able to make available to
Sometimes I read comments here to suggest that K.Sujin doesnt give direct
replies.I was rather surprised to read this. Heres an example of a direct
(This is the exhange between C, an American friend living in England and
C: Since I started reading Buddhist texts 3 years ago, I was interested in
casting my net rather broadly. I didnt feel like getting down to one
thing right away.
I was investigating different traditions such as Mahayana traditions and
attending teachings from different Lamas. Of course, going to Thailand
gave me extraordinary opportunities to hear teachings from different
I find your teachings to be unique in what I have experienced of the
Dhamma and I find much greater similarity, for example, among different
other teachers of Dhamma, especially those who put emphasis on meditation
Even those who place emphasis on intellectual understanding, even between
Theravada and Mahayana, I still find a lot of similarity in style and only
slightly differences in emphasis.
I find in your teaching something RADICAL and something VERY different and
I find in your approach something like THIS IS THE approach and I wonder
if you could make a comment about this. I mean is the state of Buddhism in
such a state of decline and degeneration....
Sujin (interrupting): Certainly
C: and that in fact there are just a multitude of wrong views...
Others: shocked laugh....
*Aiming to get a couple of edited sets out by Xmas or New Year for those
- Hi Sarah (and Steve),
Thanks for your reply:
S: > As I understand, no tanha is `OK', but there is `ordinary'
or sama lobha and `extraordinary' or visama lobha.
The extraordinary lobha (or tanha) at moments of akusala kamma patha
can result in rebirth and other vipaka, but all lobha `adds bricks'
and should be known for what it is. I've always understood the 2nd
Noble Truth to refer to the origin of suffering as being craving (of
all kinds, leading to rebirth etc, `namely the craving for sense-
pleasure, the craving for new life and craving for annihilation." In
other words, all kinds of craving (kaama-ta.nhaa bhava-ta.nhaa
vibhava-ta.nhaa". It's a good point to consider further.
I am happy with the explanations and references you originally gave
in the Bhikkunhi sutta thread, even though the actual wording of the
sutta is problematical. If Steve has any lingering doubts about "the
craving that is to be pursued" then I hope he will pursue them here.
Thanks also for passing on those candid comments by K Sujin. When I
think about it I am not surprised that she and her students are so
alone. The same could be said for each of the meditation teachers
who disagree with her so strongly. It seems to me that no two of them
have the same teaching. The only thing they have in common is belief
in the efficacy of formal meditation.
- Hi Sarah, KenH and All,
Sarah: The extraordinary lobha (or tanha) at moments of akusala kamma
patha can result in rebirth and other vipaka, but all lobha `adds
bricks'and should be known for what it is. I've always understood the
2ndNoble Truth to refer to the origin of suffering as being craving
(of all kinds) leading to rebirth etc, `namely the craving for sense-
pleasure, the craving for new life and craving for annihilation."
The Dispeller (p. 132) has this to say on tanha in the section on
Classification of truths:
Also there is that (tanha) which gives further becoming and that
which does not; there is that which conduces to further becoming and
that which does not; and there is that which is the ripening of the
essentials of existence when rebirth-linking has been given; [this
latter kind] may give further becoming or it may not, it may conduce
to further becoming or it may not, yet it gets the name of `producing
Steve: I'm not sure why all tanha is given the name `producing
further becoming' when some tanha neither gives rise to further
becoming nor is conducive to further becoming. I would be interested
in hearing more about the tanha that does not conduce to further
As for the tanha that is to be pursued, passages from the
Nettippakarana and its commentaries seem to address this point.
There are two kinds of ta.nhaa: skilful [kusala] and unskilful
[akusala]. Unskilful ta.nhaa leads to sa.msaara, skilful ta.nhaa is
for abandoning, which leads to diminishing [of sa.msaaric
As the text goes on to tell us, quoting a passage from the Majjhima
Nikaaya, such skilful ta.nhaa is synonymous with an 'eager desire
[pihaa] to enter the peaceful sphere that the ariyas, who having
realized it by themselves, dwell in'. Thus, having 'liberation of
mind' (ceto-vimutti) due to the 'fading away of [unskilful] desire'
(raaga-viraaga) as its object, such ta.nhaa is skilful' (Three cheers
for Tanha http://www.westernbuddhistreview.com/vol2/tanha.html)
Tattha tanha duvidhaa, kusalaapi, akusalaapi
There craving is two fold, kusala and akusala.
Steve: The kusala tanha which is an eager desire to `enter the
peaceful sphere that the ariyas, who having realized it by
themselves, dwell in' is similar to the Bhikkhuni Sutta `'I hope that
I, too, will -- through the ending of the fermentations -- enter &
remain in the fermentation-free awareness-release & discernment-
release, having known & realized them for myself in the here & now.'