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I am hoping for help as I’m feeling really horrible right now. I’m not a Buddhist but I have OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder) that is focussed on religion. I am sorry for such a long post but I don’t know how else to explain this.

My main fears have always revolved around being the worst person and committing unforgivable sins. When I learned about the unforgivable sin in Christianity I became absolutely ruined with fear of committing it. I do not want to commit it but my OCD drove me insane with this. I am now having these same issues with Buddhism. I think despite not being Buddhist, my fear is that it could be true and I don’t want to do the worst sins.

I have to say this since my fear is about it:

I do not want anyone to die no matter what. Please do not kill anyone no matter what.

My fear is the five cardinal sins/heinous crimes. I keep getting thoughts about this all the time and I don’t want them. I am scared because I will get thoughts about for example killing my father and I absolutely do not want that but the thought worries me so much. What is now making things so much worse is I feel like when I have a thought I am saying things out loud/whispering them by moving my lips. I don’t think I am but I keep thinking what if I am? So I have thoughts like “kill my father” and I fear I am mumbling this and someone will see me doing this and then they will kill my father. This makes me feel like it’s because of me that they killed them. Like I contributed to them dying. But I have no intention for them to die. It’s gotten to the point this happens constantly and I try to cover my mouth everywhere, I am constantly having to say “Do not kill” after every bad thought I have. I feel like my head will explode.

I think in Buddhism it is the intention behind an action that would result in karma. So I tell myself I have no intention to cause harm to my father but when I get these thoughts and feel like maybe I said something like “don’t do X or else kill father” but I want to do X so I try to counter this/cancel it out by thinking/saying “I have to do X or else kill father” but then maybe I cannot do X or don’t want to do X anymore (X can be something as simple as drinking milk) so now I feel like I CHOSE to say that and am willfully going against it so then I am responsible for someone killing my father even though I don’t intend for any harm to my father. I hope this makes sense I am so sorry it’s difficult to explain this.

I am also having the same fear about the heinous crime of killing an Arhat and I DO NOT want to kill them and have no intention for them to die.

I am hoping you can help me in: - Would I be committing these heinous crimes/sins if I don’t have any intention to kill/cause harm? Even if I willfully think something/say something and someone kills because of it – I don’t have intention to kill and in my heart I don’t want to hurt anyone. - Is my intention what counts? It’s what I am telling myself “I don’t intend for anything bad to happen”

Thank you for reading all this I really just don’t want any of this to happen. I don’t want these thoughts and I don’t want to cause harm to anyone. I would be very grateful if anyone can help me.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – ChrisW Feb 12 at 12:33
  • Both Buddhism and Christianity teach an infinitely forgiving doctrine. The latter has often been misrepresented as being all about hellfire and damnation but this is medieval fear-mongering. If you can handle a difficult book I'd recommend 'A Course in Miracles' (googleable). This talks at length about love, forgiveness and the overcoming of fear. It states that Jesus (like Buddha) teaches a doctrine of sinlessnesss. If you can get a grip on the idea of sinlessness you might find it easier to relax. All you can do is your best. – PeterJ Feb 13 at 12:03
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"Would I be committing these heinous crimes/sins if I don’t have any intention to kill/cause harm? Even if I willfully think something/say something and someone kills because of it – I don’t have intention to kill and in my heart I don’t want to hurt anyone. - Is my intention what counts? It’s what I am telling myself “I don’t intend for anything bad to happen."

In Buddhism, it's the intention behind an action that counts. It's the intention that's "kamma-potent" and what causes future effects to take place.

Harming or killing another living being can only happen with an impure mind, i.e. a mind that acts with intentions of anger, hatred, ill-will.

If your intention is wholesome, i.e. based in renunciation, good-will, harmlessness and a sincere and honest wish to help other beings, then only wholesome future resultants will take place.

Please read about "Right Intention (Samma Sankappa)", p. 26 in "The Noble Eightfold Path", by Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi and the Twin Verses about "Intention", p. 58, in The Illustrated Dhammapada.

"...I have OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder) that is focussed on religion..."

Are you in any medical or therapeutical treatment? If not, you might want to see a therapist regarding the OCD.

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    Sadhu for elaborating, extending – Samana Johann Feb 12 at 14:42
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Thanks for your trust for opening yourself to us.

Although this is a Buddhist forum, I'd like to speak not so much as a buddhist, but as a human being.

Obssesions can be difficult to be dealt with. I know that because I've been there too. But there is, most of the time, a peaceful and gradual ways to overcome such problems.

A few years ago, I went through the hardest phase of my life: I suffered from severe depression, and stayed home, away from friends, school and jobs for almost three years. Suicidal thoughts came constantly though my mind. I couldn't see any escape from that mindstate.

My parents suggested and encourage me to go to psychotherapy. At first, I didn't want to go, mainly because of my prejudices towards that kind of treatments. But I had nothing to lose, and I went ready to open myself to anyone able to help me. And believe, that "little" step was one of the best decisions of my life. It helped me to start to see life from a different perspective. Since that professional was someone outside my circle of close friends and relatives, she could see things that everyone else could not, and she wasn't afraid of telling me those things. It was just after a while, almost a year and a half after starting my treatment, that I became acquainted with buddhism, and it was for the best, because it was just now that I was receptive enough to understand the Buddha's teachings.

Buddhism can offer a lot to anyone disposed to open themselves to view reality from different eyes. Buddhism is not about optimism nor about pessimism; the Dhamma is about realism, about seeing things for what they are, even if they seem unconfortable at first glance. And maybe a good way to start on this path is to give yourself a chance for helping youlself and to ask for help. And you can combine that medical help and knowledge with the Buddha's teachings. Those two perspective should not be necessarily mutually exclusive.

Psychotherapy can help you to solve problems from your past, and Buddhism can offer you strategies and tools for attending the present (present thoughts, emotions, feelings, sensations, ideas, etc.) in a skillful way. This two approaches can help you to transform your mind into your ally.

This worked for me, and it could work for more people as well. My advice is this: give yourself an opportunity for seeing this kind of options. What can you lose?

And if we can help you with something else, just write your questions over here.

Kind regards!

  • Good to seek for friend, Sadhu: (3) "In four ways, young householder, should one who gives good counsel be understood as a warm-hearted friend: (i) he restrains one from doing evil, (ii) he encourages one to do good, (iii) he informs one of what is unknown to oneself, (iv) he points out the path to heaven. zugangzureinsicht.org/html/tipitaka/dn/dn.31.0.nara_en.html – Samana Johann Feb 12 at 12:33
  • Thank you for these words. Is it ok if I ask do you think if I do not intend anything bad in my heart that is what matters? – jj5828 Feb 13 at 3:53
  • Sorry one more question, do you think I need to always counter the bad things or is that I don't intend/want anything bad to happen enough? Thank you – jj5828 Feb 13 at 4:11
  • @jj5828 Hi again! Don't apologize for asking these things. We're here for that very reason. The first step is to be mindful of your intentions, because they are fuel for your actions. But sometimes we do unskillful deeds even with the best intentions. If unwholesome thoughts arise, recognize them, without trying to supress them by force or negate them. If they are there, the wisest thing to do is to know what to do with them (with your thoughts). Maybe you can let them go, while trying to not to feel guilty. – Brian Díaz Flores Feb 13 at 4:57
  • @jj5828 Once you have paid attention to your thoughts and emotions, and once you let them go, you can start to analyse the cause of such ideas. If you find them, accept those causes, and look for measures to cultivate thoughts of compassion, both for yourself and for the people around you. Take one step at a time, and don't be so harsh on yourself. The process for achieving peace of mind can be gradual and progressive, so be happy with every step you give. – Brian Díaz Flores Feb 13 at 5:01
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Two answers.


First, according to Buddhism, yes: your intention matters. And it's good to have no intention to kill.

Any careful person will ordinarily try not to cause serious accidents, but that is not quite the same thing as intentional killing.

Apart from "intention" another bit of Buddhist doctrine talks about "remorse" -- e.g. if you are angry and hurt someone on purpose (because you're angry) then you might feel remorse (i.e. regret your action) afterwards. An ideal is to be well-behaved or ethical, to maintain non-anger, to maintain compassion not ill-will (for others), so that you don't feel remorse.

Even if someone dies (which people do eventually, for one reason or another), it might help to be able to tell yourself, "I didn't intend for that to happen, I didn't do something with the intention of harming them, and so I have no cause for remorse".

Another bit of Buddhist doctrine is about "attention" or being "heedful", i.e. what do you pay attention to, and e.g. whether you're attend to thoughts which cause suffering (for yourself or others), or to thoughts which lead away from suffering.


Secondly if I Google ocd harm I find for example an article Living with Harm OCD which says, among other things

Harm OCD is a common subset of OCD in which sufferers are constantly worried about causing harm to others.

... and the following are said to be "misconceptions" i.e. untrue ...

Having these thoughts is a reflection of your character and moral compass.

Someone with Harm OCD is more likely to act on their thoughts than a non-sufferer.

Anyway I hope you're able to find some relief from your fears -- perhaps (I'm guessing) through therapy (talking with a teacher, psychologist, fellow-sufferer), through medicine (talking with a psychiatrist or medical doctor), and/or through meditation (possibly with a group or with a teacher again).

  • So you say that fear to kill someone is a misconceptioned idea? Like hell should one fear wrongdoings – Samana Johann Feb 12 at 12:35
  • No, it's that "fearing to kill someone" is a common form of OCD, but doesn't imply that they're going to die, doesn't imply that you're going to kill hem, and doesn't imply that it would be your fault if they died for some other reason. Furthermore that fear may be misplaced, i.e. not helpful, excessive, inappropriate ... e.g. I have no fear of killing (except careful when driving a car) because I know I have no intention to, it (i.e. my killing someone) just isn't going to happen. Also I'm sure (from experience) it's possible for someone to have a diagnosed mental illness and yet be harmless. – ChrisW Feb 12 at 12:58
  • it's not to called a sickness then at all, but very health if strong fears of wrong doing. Look at Lanka and you know what can be called rightous sick and even treating... – Samana Johann Feb 12 at 13:35
  • @SamanaJohann Nevertheless I think an excess of fear can be unhealthy or counter-productive: e.g. a preschool teacher who is afraid of hurting children will avoid hurting them, which is good; but someone who is excessively afraid that preschool children might become hurt accidentally might have panic attacks about that and so be unable to act as a professional teacher. When the OP wrote "my CD drove me insane", I'm not sure it's right to contradict that and say, "no that's very healthy". – ChrisW Feb 12 at 16:15
  • It may be true, too, that enlightened behaviour and attitudes might seem wrong to lay society -- and that laypeople's intolerant or judgemental attitudes to so-called "mental illness" can be part of the problem, and contribute to suffering rather than being part of the solution -- but that wasn't the question either. Perhaps someone with wisdom or experience might be able to help, if you can find or arrange to meet them. – ChrisW Feb 12 at 16:19
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Firstly, Buddhist teachings and practices are no substitute for professional healthcare. So, please consult a doctor.

Secondly, one way to deal with this is to treat mental imagination like it's a television. If you see someone killing another on television, you won't consider it as having anything to do with you, would you?

Similarly, if you suddenly have the mental imagination of killing someone, without the actual intention of killing someone (which is normally accompanied by anger and rage, not fear and anxiety), then treat this imagination like it was something that flashed on television. It has nothing to do with you.

  • Thank you so these are in my mind but that doesn't mean I intend for these things? – jj5828 Feb 13 at 3:49
  • Sorry one more question, do you think I need to always counter the bad things or is that I don't intend/want anything bad to happen enough? Thank you – jj5828 Feb 13 at 4:12
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Strong fear of wrongdoing is a good fear and should be appreciated and cultivated, is nothing that is wrong but praiseworthy.

It's not possible to act without intention and there is no way to excuse acts. Taking life is taking live, stealing others possession.

Killing ones father is one of the five heaviest wrongdoings. Aside of never having the change to become monk or nun, one is sure not to prosper in Dhamma, understand it, i.e. no future, no happiness, destinated to hell and sure to have a lot of pain.

So it's manly a matter of your future since virtue is a protection for you and it would be foolish to cut oneself hopeless off.

What ever your father do, did... thats his business. You should think about your good future and happiness and seek for what ever refuge, i.e. the tripple Gems, you can find and with Refuge take the five precepts.

If wishing to do that online, that promis, no monk next, you can make it here: Refuge and requesting Silas online, what ever time if my person is avaliable, or another monk.

At last but not least, one owes a lot to one father which could not easy repayed.

“I tell you, monks, there are two people who are not easy to repay. Which two? Your mother & father. Even if you were to carry your mother on one shoulder & your father on the other shoulder for 100 years, and were to look after them by anointing, massaging, bathing, & rubbing their limbs, and they were to defecate & urinate right there [on your shoulders], you would not in that way pay or repay your parents. If you were to establish your mother & father in absolute sovereignty over this great earth, abounding in the seven treasures, you would not in that way pay or repay your parents. Why is that? Mother & father do much for their children. They care for them, they nourish them, they introduce them to this world.

“But anyone who rouses his unbelieving mother & father, settles & establishes them in conviction; rouses his unvirtuous mother & father, settles & establishes them in virtue; rouses his stingy mother & father, settles & establishes them in generosity; rouses his foolish mother & father, settles & establishes them in discernment: To this extent one pays & repays one’s mother & father.“

— AN 2:32

Lessons of Gratitude

As no place to replay to comments: You are always welcome here, Nyom. Again: foolish thought might come up and stop only when having reached the Path. And there is nothing wrong within someone having great fear in wrongdoing, just the understanding of what is wrong and right should be understood completely and it's actually simple. Taking precepts, a promise in front of the Noble Ones.

  • Hi, thank you for your comment. I have thoughts about what I don't want to happen my biggest fear. I do not want to cause harm. Do you think I am okay? – jj5828 Feb 13 at 3:45
  • Hi you said "It's not possible to act without intention and there is no way to excuse acts" this scares me do you mean I have these intentions? But I really do not want anything bad to happen, I don't want to kill anyone and I don't want anyone to die. I don't have these intentions in my heart, that's why I am so scared and obsess over bad thoughts because I don't like them. Please help me. – jj5828 Feb 13 at 3:48
  • Thank you again. I think I understand. May I ask to help bring me relief, if you can please help answer this for me: Are intentions what matters? Is it correct that if my intentions are not bad then there will not be bad karma? Thank you. – jj5828 Feb 14 at 0:34

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