Is good action that is committed through self interest capable of creating good karma? For example

one may contemplate, “if I do action X, it will produce good effects in the future for me, or it may make me look like a good person, etc.”

Are such intentions viewed as greedy? If such intentions are rooted in greed, then it is possible to do something good out of greed? What kind of karmic effect will that produce?

2 Answers 2


Only wholesome actions can lead to wholesome resultants.

In the same way only unwholesome actions can lead to unwholesome resultants.

This is stated in the first 2 verses of the Dhammapada.

What are the unwholesome actions based in? They are based in the 3 unwholesome roots (akusala-mūla) which are greed, hatred and delusion. From these roots all other defilements emerge.

To act in a wholesome way one needs to cultivate and act on the 3 wholesome roots which are non-greed, non-hatred, non-delusion (wisdom). Actions based in these roots will lead to wholesome resultants for oneself and others.

How to cultivate the wholesome roots? By following the Noble Eightfold Path. In here we have the recipe for overcoming suffering and ignorance.

Especially the Wisdom-group which contains "Right View and Right Intention" is relevant here with regard to the twin verses in the Dhammapada, since it cultivates intentions based on renunciation, good-will and harmlessness.


"Are such intentions viewed as greedy?"

If by "good effect" you mean it's a virtuous behavior that produces good kamma fruit, than I find the following blameless:

"if I do action X, it will produce good effects in the future for me"

If a person understand such is the case, the above is simply an acknowledgement of the outcomes that are expected. And if one knows this, one shouldn't refuse doing X afraid of greed. The entirety of the virtue training is based on this very knowledge: of what actions produce what results. We are encouraged to know and see how doing Y is not for our good, and how doing X is; and we are encouraged to do things for our well-fare and well-fare of others.

The greed case likely would be one where "good effects" means producing things that are blameful or not connected to virtue or spiritual life, and there is a desire for these things.

"it may make me look like a good person"

The above might also not be related to greed: say a person who is good, and is seeing as someone who is bad, because of some misunderstanding or something else. It's for their good to try to correct their views and be seeing as the good person they are.

I think a greedy case here would be one where the person is craving and collecting praises of him or herself.

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