Intention that is good will have a good result and bring happiness, bad intention will have a bad result and suffering as a result. But many things have been experienced in life, one thing can be experienced many times in different situation, condition and time. These all together with one's habit will give rise to different kind of intentions only for one action. The first intention will be followed by the second or maybe the third.

Normally intention that first comes up is closely related to someone character/behavior, realizing this he corrects his mistake. Along with this correction, there will be another intention over two previous intentions.

In that case, is one intention better than the other?

4 Answers 4


Each intention is it's own Karma. Whether one intention is better than the other depends on the purity of the intention. In other words, if it's defiled by greed, hatred and ignorance.

  • We are all defiled by greed, hatred and ignorance. As an example, someone doesn't like to give, everytime he gives his stinginess creates negative mental states. Soon after realized this, he says to himself this thought is unwholesome therefore he creates generosity mind. Does it mean at that moment he is both creating both negative and positive kamma? Or only positive kamma since he realizes his mistake and develop positive ones?
    – Steve
    Aug 31, 2015 at 5:23
  • Intention is a momentary and Karma is created at every moment in the scenario you described. Whenever an unwholesome mental state comes up, it creates unwholesome karma. Whenever a wholesome state comes up it creates wholesome Karma. Aug 31, 2015 at 5:40
  • Are you saying our mind is momentary or intention? I'm not sure if we make intention all the time. In above case, his habitual intention creates unwholesome karma, soon after realizes this he changes his intention therefore creates wholesome karma. Can you please confirm this?
    – Steve
    Sep 2, 2015 at 9:28
  • Yes, what you call as the mind is a stream of thoughts that appear and die instantly. Not a single thing that lasts. Each thought can potentially create new Karma. Sep 2, 2015 at 14:19
  • But if a (bad) thought is unacted upon, does this create Kamma?
    – Steve
    Sep 3, 2015 at 10:02

I'm not a teacher but let me share.

I think I can not disagree with " O monk, it's intention what I call kamma, intending, one does action through body, speech and mind."

Action is kamma according to theory of kamma of other religion or belief. But in Buddhism, particularly Theravada Buddhism, kamma is intentional action.

We do many actions during the day but not all actions are kamma. We have and can make a choice. If unintentional bad thought is kamma then it'll be the same as predestined fate. You can drive a car with the intention going to work but at the same you may also have many unintentional actions. Insects that you kill unintentionally while driving, the death of those insects are not your responsibility. Hope this helps.


Building on B1100, unintentional bad thoughts arise as a result of previously having had bad thoughts or committing bad actions, they do sow seeds of further bad thoughts, however, each bad thought which is discarded weakens the karma so that it is possible to slowly diminish the frequency of such thoughts until they don't occur. This is the idea of conditioned choices, i.e that we are conditioned by karma to make the same mistakes but it is possible to tame the karma. More determinism discussed here.

If the intention has changed but the action remains the same, assuming that the new intention is good and the old is bad, then yes even though they have the same action, the good intention will yield better results for you because your frame of mind is purer so everything that happens will be seen with that same purity. The results for others may even be better, because your mental state might influence them.


Theravada Buddhists say that a violation of the first precepts involves five factors.

First, there is a living being.
Second, there is the perception that the being is a living being.
Third, there is the volition thought of killing.
Fourth, the killing is carried out.
Fifth, the being dies.

To be a Kamma all five factors must present.
So intention alone cannot produces kamma.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .