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Can't ask on the other stack, nor can I find the answer through google or my notes on what I've read.

Do Buddhists talk about the consequences of e.g. wrong action, and do they carry the same karmic results for us even when the wrong action has no real world bad consequences, even good ones? I think I know the character of the act is what is important, whether the intention is virtuous, motivated by e.g. greed vs benevolence, but is this right, and does this mean the consequences (in the consequentialist sense, I guess) are completely beside the point?

the key feature of an action, in terms of its ethical/unethical nature and its consequent karmic results, is its cetanā, the volition expressed in the action

So if e.g. I want to threaten someone, and act to bring it about, but they are not threatened, because e.g. they didn't hear, is it just as bad karmically?

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  • This is religion, not philosophy. Commented Jan 18 at 23:35
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    @DavidGudeman I think of Buddhism as Psychology, not religion.
    – Scott Rowe
    Commented Jan 18 at 23:44
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    Yes, beliefs are a problem, I try to avoid having any. Someone I know said, "Be positionless with regard to issues."
    – Scott Rowe
    Commented Jan 18 at 23:46
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    but do they make YOU a problem ha @ScottRowe
    – user71083
    Commented Jan 18 at 23:46
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    Buddha advocates the ending of deed/kamma altogether: "By the cutting of craving, deed is cut; by the cutting of deed, suffering is cut." SN, V, 86 (46, 26). Also Ariyamagga Sutta: "kamma that is neither dark nor bright" i.e. no kamma, no deed. Philosophically links to the inventive thinking of Beyng. Commented Jan 19 at 12:09

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The following quote is from the introduction by Bhikkhu Bodhi to the Anguttara Nikaya and refers to its sixth book AN 6.63:

The word kamma literally means “action,” but the Buddha uses it to refer specifically to volitional or intentional action: “It is volition, bhikkhus, that I call kamma; for having willed, one acts by body, speech, or mind” (6:63 §5). Kamma thus denotes deeds that originate from volition, which may remain purely mental, creating kamma through our thoughts, plans, and desires; or it may come to expression in bodily and verbal deeds.

The quote shows that – according to the Buddhist Pali canon - the moral assessment relevant for Karma depends on volition. That's the primary cause of actions.

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    Thoughtcrime has an old history, eh?
    – Scott Rowe
    Commented Jan 19 at 11:29
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Mahayana perspective

if we intend to hurt someone, but they aren't hurt, perhaps becasue we don't go through with it, that will generate negative karma, same as actually hurting them.

Buddhists must purify their minds.

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  • Yes, negativity hurts yourself first, and always. Be selfish! Don't hurt yourself with negativity. Selfishly be kind and empathetic to all! (ha ha but it is true)
    – Scott Rowe
    Commented Jan 19 at 11:27
  • @ScottRowe i think it's more meant as an elitist thing than a genuine warning about your moods ("thought crime"). the odds of being born a human with access ot the dharma etc. etc. (i.e. we'll be doing all this again... assuming we do)
    – user71083
    Commented Jan 19 at 12:48

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