Home » Features » Do Good Intentions Excuse Bad Results?
Pure motivations matter most,
but consequences matter too,
just as getting what you want
is as important as wanting it.

– Stonepeace | Get Books

If a Buddhist lacking in Dharma understanding insists on posting his thoughts online to share, despite being advised that his interpretations are partly inaccurate, does he create good or bad karma? The quality of intention is what creates correspondingly good or bad karma. However, this does not mean that as long as one’s intention is good, there will be only good karma. This is because many of us have mixed intentions over even a single matter. For example, the person wanted to share the Dharma, who also does not heed advice to share it properly has both the good intention to share the Dharma, and the bad intention of not wishing to be more careful. The karmic results are thus mixed.

The above refers to grown-ups who can think and act properly, who can also wilfully refuse to do so. For a very young kid yet to be able to think well, however, he might do something harmful and with ignorance, though with a good intention too. For example, seeing a fire not of his making at home when alone, he might try to put it out with a bottle of wine, thinking it contains water, which makes things worse, possibly burning down the house. Yet, he does create some good karma as he only had good intentions, and in this case, no bad karma at all from inappropriate action and negative results, for there was no wilful negligence of advice, of the right thing to do, as such advice was simply not available to him.

Is it then better to be silent when we see someone sharing the Dharma wrongly, but with ‘right’ intentions, lest we create an opportunity for him to give rise to wilful negligence of advice to share the Dharma properly, and thus condition him to create bad karma? No – because we know such sharing can harm others. Thus, we should do what we can to dissuade him from sharing the Dharma wrongly – unless the person is clearly too wilful for the time being. None of us are perfect yet, but there should be increase in skilfulness, instead of decrease in mindfulness, of exactly why we do what we do, and the potential results of that to be done, which affects oneself and others, in terms of the Dharma or otherwise.

As the mind is the forerunner of everything, its presence or absence of compassion and wisdom determines if an expressed action leads to True Happiness or not – as compassion and wisdom are requisites for it. It is impossible to be, even if very compassionate, happy as a result, if there is no wisdom guiding one’s compassion, because such blind compassion might even harm oneself and others, much less able to lead anyone to True Happiness. In reality, if one is really compassionate, one would wisely think twice before posting stuff that might confuse or harm others. This is why compassion should always tag along with wisdom. Compassion is true only when truly guided by wisdom, as they are mutual-supports.

Without wisdom,
one cannot be truly compassionate.
Without compassion,
one cannot be truly wise.

– Stonepeace | Get Books

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