I was surprised by the answers to the question Are actions in computer games bad for karma?

Specifically, @BuddHo's answer which takes on the question

Why must entertainment be eschewed?

I thought it was a great answer that clearly explained how being entertained could be a means of escape - to get away from being bored and relying on outside influences to create happiness.

However, I had some questions I had left in the comments, but thought I should perhaps expand them into a new question here.

I am still struggling with your explanation for "Why must entertainment be eschewed?" Is not any action we take, even mentally, technically a source of entertainment - even practicing mindfulness?

I think its the definition that causes me to struggle. "Entertainment is the distractive cure for fear masked as boredom" - I consider boredom and entertainment to be opposites, but that definition suggests otherwise. If one was doing nothing, yet was fine (not bored) - I would consider that as being entertained. If it is not one or the other, what is it when one is not bored, and not being entertained?

Is being entertained always considered a negative thing?

3 Answers 3


There are wholesome actions that are not caused by boredom.

Any action arising out of compassion (karuna), loving kindness (maithri), sympathetic joy (mudita), equanimity (upeksha) is not born of boredom. (See: Bramhaviharas)


Being resident in the rupa jhanas (absorptions of form), and even deriving joy from them is not considered unwholesome, because it leads to insight.

When one enters a state of abhaya (fearlessness) one notices a total cessation of boredom. The mind is very content to stay idle, and do nothing. It isn't searching for peace in someone or something, it finds peace within itself.

The mind thus stilled doesn't engage in thoughtless action, such as humming a tune, or thinking about the past or future, or making idle gestures with the limbs and so on.

A mind thus stilled has no need for sensory entertainment, and will find it an idle and wasteful use of energy.

Dreams and intellectual or ambitious ideation can occupy one's mind too, but it is unwholesome, and could be viewed as forms of entertainment.

Hence my statement - "Entertainment is the distractive cure for fear masked as boredom"

There are several ways to describe enlightenment [SN 35.204] - one can describe it as a lack of need for external entertainment, but there are other descriptions. I'll offer one more here.

Enlightenment as an energy conservation model of the central nervous system.

All actions are born out of some root emotion, even so called neutral actions.

Let's examine some principal emotions in ascending order of fuel efficiency.

At the least fuel efficient and even dangerous end, there are anger and fear.

Anger - this is perhaps the most energetic of emotions, but also the least fuel efficient - it offers a sudden burst of energy but can deplete one's vital energy reserve (some systems call it qi or prana) rather quickly.

As an example, notice that in boxing matches, and 100m sprints, the athletes typically produce a lot of energy through anger and bravado, and one even notices this in their pre-game interviews. However they cannot sustain this energy for very long, and grow tired quickly, thus these events are short and furious. At the opposite end, marathon runners are generally mild mannered and don't carry the same kind of hatred towards the opponent - an angry and furious marathoner will find it hard to even complete the event.

Fear is similar to anger, and anger is in fact derived from fear, but it doesn't end when energy runs out. One can be too tired to be angry, but one is never too tired to be afraid, and this leads to depression where the sufferer totally lacks any energy. An angry person who grows tired will sustain that anger as fear.

At the most efficient end there are the peaceful emotions of compassion, loving kindness, sympathetic joy and equanimity. One can sustain compassion for a long while (even indefinitely) provided one doesn't let other emotions like despair eat into the energy body.

There is a psychological concept of compassion fatigue, but this isn't pure compassion, it is compassion tinged with fear. The fear depletes energy reserves and even compassion becomes impossible. This is why there are records of field surgeons in WW2 committing suicide after saving hundreds of lives.

Thus enlightenment is about having maximum energy in the CNS through the wise use of highly efficient emotional states.

The unenlightened who are unwise in their use of emotions will need the use of CNS stimulants to sustain their energy levels. Caffeine is the most common, anti-depressants and pharma drugs are in the middle, and at the extreme end there are psychotropics like Cocaine and other drugs.

Entertainment is a CNS stimulant like coffee. Some people wake up to dance music to feel happy, or dull their emotional pain with death metal.

To one who has control over their emotions, and already conserves the vital energy of prana or qi, all entertainment is frivolous, because it messes with what is already perfect.

Enlightenment can thus be also viewed as a lack of need for CNS stimulants, including entertainment.

In Buddhism, anything that doesn't lead to enlightenment must be eschewed.

  • "anger is in fact derived from fear" I can think of times where I've certainly been fearful and acted with anger, but I couldn't say that most of the times I've been angry are down to fear. Why do you say it is so?
    – ian
    Commented Jul 21, 2015 at 20:56
  • Anger is what happens when you or something you care about is threatened. I can't think of a situation where that isn't the case. It's hard to always see the connection, and working backwards it may seem like it is not so. Therefore if ever one encounters true fearlessness, one sees that everything arises from fear. Even sensory pleasure arises from fear. There is no pleasure without sorrow. JK says more about it than I can here: jkrishnamurti.org/krishnamurti-teachings/…
    – Buddho
    Commented Jul 21, 2015 at 21:25

It's fear that is disguised as boredom, not entertainment.

If you're afraid and anxious you may not feel these emotions directly. An indirect way of feeling them is to be always searching for something to do to focus your atention away from the fear and anxiety. The constant search for something to do, and for entertainment in particular, may be confused with boredom.


Is being entertained always considered a negative thing?

Depend on the person's ideology it may vary. Some are used to keep on entertaining irrespective of the result. Ideology might be "be simply happy" Some may think in a religious way. Some totally don't like entertainments or engaging an entertainment activities at all. Anyway it's totally depend on the person that wish to entertain himself or herself. Also, negative and positive are comparative words. It is totally depending on the person's personality or ideology that he compare the word within his or her knowledge.

I feel rather than negativity or positivity if we can consider the result gaining on their lives and the effect creating for their future lives it may sounds help them to understand what exactly good for them and the society.

"Entertainment" the word itself has a broad meaning. Different people taking this word in a different ways.

  • Some of the people entertaining while engaging illwills.
  • Some entertaining carrying brutal acts.
  • some may engaging in religious activities
  • Philanthropists activities
  • social voluntary activities
  • Musical and Dancing etc.
  • some becoming priest or monks or any other religious leader.

At the end of the day these all are thoughts comes in to action in your mind. Your consciousness put them into action using your mind, words, and body.

These each actions creating your future word as a result of your consciousness process. It is very lengthy explanation combine together thought process, Karma, and the result of the Karma. I will try my best to keep it short and explain. So that you can make a decision which entertainment makes the heaven or hell.

I take this example it was mentioned in the question "Are actions in computer games bad for karma?"

Effects of the Computer Games in to one's Life

let us try to understand this through Buddhism. Also the advantageous and disadvantageous of their samsara journey.

To answer your questions better we take Abhidhamma which is the simplest and easiest way that you can decide which thoughts you are generating while you are gaming. According to Buddhism we have 5 Niyama Dhamma's that influencing our journey of samsara.

  1. Utu Niyama - physical inorganic order, e.g. seasonal phenomena of winds and rains. The unerring order of seasons, characteristic seasonal changes and events, causes of winds and rains, nature of heat, etc., all belong to this group.

  2. Bija Niyama - order of germs and seeds (physical organic order), e.g. rice produced from rice-seed, sugary taste from sugar-cane or honey, peculiar characteristics of certain fruits, etc. The scientific theory of cells and genes and the physical similarity of twins may be ascribed to this order.

  3. Karma Niyama - order of act and result, e.g., desirable and undesirable acts produce corresponding good and bad results. As surely as water seeks its own level so does Karma, given opportunity, produce its inevitable result, not in the form of a reward or punishment but as an innate sequence. This sequence of deed and effect is as natural and necessary as the way of the sun and the moon.

  4. Dhamma Niyama - order of the norm, e.g., the natural phenomena occurring at the advent of a Bodhisattva in his last birth. Gravitation and other similar laws of nature. The natural reason for being good and so forth, may be included in this group.

  5. Citta Niyama - order or mind or psychic law, e.g., processes of consciousness, arising and perishing of consciousness, constituents of consciousness, power of mind, etc., including telepathy, telaesthesia, retro-cognition, premonition, clairvoyance, clairaudience, thought-reading and such other psychic phenomena which are inexplicable to modern science.

In your question Karma Niyama and Chitta Niyama playing the vital role. Everything we do just because of the mind we call it consciousness. Though it is one as a whole according to its's actions it named in to 89 or 121 ways. Mainly, Wholesome, Unwholesome, Causes, Discauses, Supreme worlds.

In Buddhism what we are experiencing now due to our previous actions results even our eye, ears, nose, tongue, and body. There is no creator. We cannot blame any one for just because of our poverty or disability or not having a shelter etc. It is due to a result of our previous karmic actions.

Lord buddha Taught us about two worlds.

  1. Conventional world - The world that we see.Example: Mother,Father, House, Tree, Car, Girl, Boy, River etc.

Where as

  1. The objective world -Has only Four Ultimate realities 01. Chitta - 01 [but 89 or 121 in Action] [ Consciousness] 02. Chethasika - 52 [ Mental Factors] 03. Rupa - 28 [ Matters] 04. Nibana - [ Eternal Free from Birth] According to each Consciousness our future birth will decide and it has a real affects of our actions now.
  2. 89 Consciousnesses
  3. 52 Mental Factors and 28 Matters

If you really interesting to learn about those follow this link and then their lessons one by one: Ultimate Realities Step by Step in simple language

While you learning you have to know about the "Karma" and their Stages. The above second picture at the end of the page it has One mental process called "Chiththa Vithi". It shows Karma Producing Intentions 7 Chithas we called them "Javana".

Those 7 Javana Chithtas the one making influence of our samsara journey next after the chiththa occuring till the Nibbana means we stopped the journey of this Samsara.

Now coming to your question when you are playing game hypothetically we say you are playing a war game; Think what you are doing in your mind?

  1. You are planning to occupy territories. 02 They have their own civilization.
  2. You need to kill them to occupy.
  3. So You are planning to kill them and how to kill them trap them which kind of weapons that have to use to defeat them so and so fourth.

Killing is a unwholesome act which occured due to anger and illusion. Nothing else. So as it creates bad karmic actions for you in your future life.

Similarly, If you build a house for farmer in a village. You are creating wholesome thoughts. Karmic thoughts act accordingly. This is a example for you to understand how it works.

We cannot predict or or give 100% explanation how exactly Karma is working except Lord Buddha. We Can give simple guidance according to his teachings. That is why he taught us 5, 8, 10, precepts to follow.

In all precepts the first one is not to kill even a insect. To Fulfill there are few thing to complete.

  1. There is the object,
  2. the intention,
  3. the action and
  4. the completion. If all four of these variables are in the equation you get a very powerful, full effect karma, both virtue and vice.

Learn more cause and effect of Karma: Karma in Action

if you really interested on learning Abhidharma to understand the thought process and the journey of samsara: Abhidharma From the Beginning

Hope you get the fair answer for your question.

  1. Was this Short briefing helpful for you?
  2. If any clarification you need further please be feel free to drop a word below. so that I can attend it. We appreciate your kind words. So that we can improve our answers accordingly.

May Triple Gem Bless You all!

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