1. A person is walking through a friend's house and accidentally/unintentionally knocks a vase and causes it to fall and break. The friend asks for the person to buy them a new vase, but the person refuses.

Does the person necessarily suffer for this action?

  • I am finding a trend in your questions: they mostly revolve around justice. But, to me, karma and the dharma are not about justice. And trying to impose theories of justice on them will pull you away from their true meaning. You should check out this article. – user29568 Nov 18 '18 at 13:10
  • The degree that someone feels stress depends on the person's way of dealing with it. For example, if the person blames the vase's position, then they no longer feel guilty. Or, they can rationalize that the vase was ugly and deserved to be broken. The mind deals with situations in many ways, typically to help relieve the situation(most of the time this is done without thinking about the other person, but only the self.) – user29568 Nov 18 '18 at 13:24
  • I think the basis of the four noble truths is that there is a way, but I do see how you can interpret as sometimes there is no way. Thich Hanh mentions that it is not about ending suffering, but suffering less. – user29568 Nov 18 '18 at 13:26

You say "unintentionally" but your friend might see it as "negligence".

  • I didn't mean to break it!
  • Yes but you should have looked where you were going! No one else broke it...

I suspect that Buddhism might classify negligence too as volitional, karmically active, and a cause of suffering.

Anyway, I think that arguing about it with the friend probably counts as intentional.

FWIW a civil court might try to apportion blame e.g. based on where the vase was placed. Who knows, maybe it would be appropriate to share the blame.


The friend asks for the person to buy them a new vase, but the person refuses.

Well, intentional or not, the damage's already been done to the host's property and the guest cannot say that s/he's completely free from the responsibility. So even if the host did not request for payment, it should be the right thing for the guest to offer some payment to cover for the host's lost property. In terms of kamma, since the cause was unintentional, the fruit will certainly be of a different degree of severity than that of an intentional one. But that doesn't mean it'll guarantee that the guest will 100% be free in the future. Who knows, maybe in some near future, this guest might invite some of his own guests over, and his own guest in turns, will unintentionally break some property in his house! In short, if in doubt, try to play it safe and try one's best to be reasonable and responsible for one's own actions.

  • Well, that's why I said "when in doubt". Unless we're arahants, there's no way we can say with 100% certainty that that guest will be 100% free from his unintentional action. So one should err on the safe side to avoid any regrets later on. The cultivation of the whole Path itself is difficult, arduous, take a lot of time, and confusing sometimes. But that doesn't mean one should not give it a try! – santa100 Nov 17 '18 at 21:12
  • consequences or suffering or not, there's not explicit declaration that he's 100% free from his unintentional action. That's the whole point. We just don't know with 100% certainty, hence the "play it safe" approach. – santa100 Nov 17 '18 at 21:18

Breaking of the vase unintentionally is not bad Karma, but

  1. Refusing to acknowledge that it is your mistake and not apologizing when it really is your mistake is usually caused by ego. That is bad Karma.
  2. Refusing to correct that mistake when one has the means to do it is usually caused by ego and greed. Any thoughts arose, words uttered, actions performed to justify this ego and greed are all bad Karmas.

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