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.. I am starting to read Smith and Hogan's Criminal Law, which is of course, not the law of Dhamma, but a common law from one island in Europe. This is the title of the first chapter, but it makes me think. I am interested whether there is a parallel within Buddhist law.. at the very least, given that legal systems should be comparable, I think the question is worth asking! :)

So, what delineates a crime within Dhamma/Buddhism?

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  • Better to invest one's blessed and hard gained good existance to read and investigate the Dhamma instead of stuff which really never worked really even for a while, good householder. – user11235 Apr 24 '20 at 14:43
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tort /tɔːt/ Learn to pronounce nounLAW

a wrongful act or an infringement of a right (other than under contract) leading to legal liability.

"public nuisance is a crime as well as a tort"


What is negligence?

Negligence is a failure to take reasonable care to avoid causing injury or loss to another person. There are four steps in proving negligence. The plaintiff must prove:

  1. that there is a duty in the circumstances to take care duty of care

  2. that the behaviour or inaction of the defendant in the circumstances did not meet the standard of care which a reasonable person would meet in the circumstances (breach of duty)

  3. that the plaintiff has suffered injury or loss which a reasonable person in the circumstances could have been expected to foresee (damage)

  4. that the damage was caused by the breach of duty (causation).


Whenever you want to do a bodily action, you should reflect on it: 'This bodily action I want to do — would it lead to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both? Would it be an unskillful bodily action, with painful consequences, painful results?' If, on reflection, you know that it would lead to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both; it would be an unskillful bodily action with painful consequences, painful results, then any bodily action of that sort is absolutely unfit for you to do

MN 61


The kings are informed of someone’s bad deed: ‘While under the influence of alcoholic drinks that cause negligence, this person murdered a woman or a man. Or they stole something from a village or wilderness. Or they had sexual relations with women or maidens under someone else’s protection. Or they ruined a householder or householder’s child by lying.’ Then the kings have them arrested for being under the influence of alcoholic drinks that cause negligence, and execute, imprison, or banish them, or do what the case requires. Have you ever seen or heard of such a case?

Sir, we have seen it and heard of it, and we will hear of it again.

AN 5.178

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So, what delineates a crime within Dhamma/Buddhism?

There's the concept of wholesome/unwholesome kamma (volitional-action), which could be a super-set to the crime concept in common law. For example, if one has the intent to kill, steal, rape, lie, or indulge in intoxicant, but has NOT physically carried them out, s/he has not committed a crime per the common law; but s/he already has committed an unwholesome mental kamma per the Buddhist teaching. Similarly, if one verbally utters words with anger like: "I'm gonna kill you" without actually killing, it's not a crime per the common law, but it'd be an unwholesome verbal kamma according to the Dhamma.

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  • Just to possible correct a crime, if wishing: as speech is already something traceable for others, in terms of convention possible to judge, "death treat" is actually in countries with serious law systems a crime and can lead to punishments under this system, goid householder. It may also possible help to removes a pit-fall of wrong speech so that a possible full ofens is avoided. – user11235 Apr 24 '20 at 14:02
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simply intentional act of doing,maintain,perform or support unwhosme or social norm called bad act which is directly motivated by desire (thanha). In buddhism it explained(of course this is universal) as : "chethanahan bikkawe kamman wadami" mean "intention is action(KARMA)". in modern day whole legal system is centered on this statement. ex. doctor and murderer doing same action with knife but work on two different intentions. the ultimate purpose of any legal investigation or proceeding focus on clarify and isolate exact intention(chethana) behind the act. if you need more explanation please don not hesitate to question on this.

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Good householder, interested,

As co-existence will always cause hurt of others, laws and means of punishment, or try to compensate refraction, are always just confentions and it would be impossible to define acts in ways which could discriminate without failures, not even theoretical since it's firt all a dual matter and second, the root of all actions is intention, hard to trace even for the actor. Less laws therefore give much value on intention to judge, yet hurt could be caused by other then the subjected actor and with no intent of the actor at all.

Nevertheless the "universal law of kamma and vipaka", cause and effect, does it's cause but is not sufficent enough for satisfaction of a sociaty since it is often perceived as un-just and does not primarly serve a particuar sociaty.

The only "law" and resolve-system that the Buddha gave was the Vinaya for his founded sociaty of monks, the Sangha.

Of what is a "crime" within other sociaty he put much effort into explain the Silas, the 4 basic precepts (taking existance, taking others, abuse, not speaking truth) and causing heedlesness for it. Yet the "judge", cause and effect, acts alone and no other punishment, compensation system could work instead.

Of what is wrong, an universal crime,and what is right, the Buddha gave the 10 wholesome and 10 unwholesome actions, ku-sala (ku = bad, sala= cutting away, bad-cutting off) and a-ku-sala (not cutting bad off).

In regard of duties, there are also set out formulations for his monks but in regard of his lay followers in this Buddha-parisa, there is nearly no compensation tool defined, if violating, since the lay people still have certain others peoples laws to follow and this would cause sociaties conflict. A set of duties for lay people in particular relations is found in the Sigalasutta in a "if then" manner, a law to maintain a relation well.

Right view is the base to understand the universal law.

It's very simple, Dhamma, the universal law, good actions bring good results, bad, bad and to overcome all crimes, one needs to abound touch, the cause of good and bad, touch of avijja, not knowing.

A good read to understand better is Wisdom over Justice and Justice vs. Skillfulness.

Phenomena are preceded by the heart, ruled by the heart, made of the heart. If you speak or act with a corrupted heart, then suffering follows you — as the wheel of the cart, the track of the ox that pulls it.

Phenomena are preceded by the heart, ruled by the heart, made of the heart. If you speak or act with a calm, bright heart, then happiness follows you, like a shadow that never leaves. dhp

Possible more on it, updated and corrected answer, as well as given proper space to further ask or discuss, here: Q&A Is there a universal definition of a crime?.

(Note that this is not given for stacks, exchange, trade, commercial purpose, but to escape this wheel)

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