Some questions have already touched the nature of habits, namely in the sense of good habits or their benefits. This answer explains how attachment occur from a repeated desire to engage in the phenomenon. But, psychology sees this same pattern for habits, and more so, in psychological literature habits occur independently of pleasure and of effort. A habit, when formed, continues usually even when no more satisfaction is derived from it, even if it produces no reward.

Thus, wouldn't bad habits be a form of attachment and potentially even worse given the lack of reward? By definition, unless they are positive, habits will continue occuring again and again despite nothing rewarding is produced.

Does Buddhism consider neutral habits, just habit itself, as unvirtuous? Is doing something repeatedly without reward, compulsively, a kind of potential attachment? Or does the Buddhist concept more so mean a pleasurable form of attachment?

Thank you

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    Please don't be offended, and I apologize if I'm overstepping the boundaries, but I have to ask this. You ask a lot of questions many of them getting pretty good answers, but you keep finding new topics to ask about. When I was like this, my teacher pointed out it was a sign of overly active discursive mind, that keeps spinning endlessly generating infinite variety of ideas. Tell me, what goes on in your head in the years you've been on this site? Are getting anything from the answers at all? Because it really seems like you don't. Sorry I'm confronting you like this but I really want to know.
    – Andriy Volkov
    Oct 5, 2019 at 14:38
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    I guess you're right that there's a lot of discursive stuff going on. I do feel I'm getting some things from these answers, but I guess I'm perhaps not entirely aware of what the basic problem which affects me is. I feel that in many ways, I'm either backwards or not fully satisfied with my experience, and I feel Buddhism has a lot of answers; but, as you say, across the years I'm still a bit clueless. I will say, though, that recently I'm less motivated and derive less pleasure from my activities and experience. In any case, perhaps I could answer better on the chatboard. I'm not offended
    – user7302
    Oct 5, 2019 at 17:45
  • Sounds like you're experiencing reality as unsatisfying and that is one of the 3 characteristics a meditator who is practicing correctly sees. Do things seem to come and go? Does your understanding come and go? Does the meditation make YOU feel like your not in control? You could be practicing better than you thought.
    – Lowbrow
    Oct 6, 2019 at 11:50

2 Answers 2


Kilesa has a residual impression which is called vāsanā which even arhats (other than the Buddha) have. Only a Buddha eliminates that. This is what drives habits. Many habits are reflexive and there no much thoughts of the intention behind it. If it is purely reflexive it does not have karmic consequences.

Initially, when you start doing something this is driven by craving. More you do it it becomes habitual. When it becomes habitual this might surface without craving.

If you think you are developing bad habits you should break them early. Deeply ingrained habits are difficult to break.

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    Buddha is an arahant Oct 6, 2019 at 6:47

Does Buddhism consider neutral habits, just habit itself, as unvirtuous?

Nothing is a habit in itself. They consists/occurs out of something else, and can be viewed as sankhara.

Is doing something repeatedly without reward, compulsively, a kind of potential attachment?

Yes, there is silabbatupadana - clinging to rituals - for instance. However, one may benefit from specifying what is meant by habit. Sometimes we persevere because we're hard wired that way, and it could arguably be a case of rupa, our constitution.

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