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"There are these five inhabitants of the states of deprivation, inhabitants of hell, who are in agony & incurable. Which five? One who has killed his/her mother, one who has killed his/her father, one who has killed an arahant, one who — with a corrupted mind — has caused the blood of a Tathagata to flow, and one who has caused a split in the Sangha. These are the five inhabitants of the states of deprivation, inhabitants of hell, who are in agony & incurable."

AN 5.129

If someone tries to kill an arahant, Buddha or their parents but they don’t get hurt even a little bit, do you still go to hell for “attempting” to kill them? Or is it only incurable if you have succeeded in killing them?

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From SN 42.3:

When a warrior strives and struggles in battle, their mind is already low, degraded, and misdirected as they think:
Yo so, gāmaṇi, yodhājīvo saṅgāme ussahati vāyamati, tassa taṁ cittaṁ pubbe gahitaṁ dukkaṭaṁ duppaṇihitaṁ:

‘May these sentient beings be killed, slaughtered, slain, destroyed, or annihilated!’

His foes kill him and finish him off, and when his body breaks up, after death, he’s reborn in the hell called ‘The Fallen’.

From the sutta quote above, we see that the warrior who strives (ussahati) and struggles or exerts himself (vāyamati) in battle, is already deep in the low, degraded and misdirected mindset of killing.

Similarly, just having the fleeting thought of hurting the Buddha, killing an arahant, killing one's mother, killing one's father or causing a schism in the Buddha's sangha, is not sufficient to be considered an incurable action.

It's an incurable action only when one strives (ussahati) and struggles or exerts himself (vāyamati) to commit those heinous acts, regardless of whether he has actually been successful or not, just as in the case of the warrior in battle.

So, yes, even an unsuccessful intentional and deliberate attempt to perform these wicked acts would be incurable.


The OP asked in the comments to the effect of: What about Angulimala who killed many humans and attempted to kill the Buddha, but eventually became an arahant?

When Angulimala attempted to kill the Buddha, he did not know that it was the Buddha or an arahant. He only saw a monk walking alone along the road.

So he did not have the intention to kill the Buddha. He only had the intention to kill a monk.

Please read the story of Chakkhupala in the commentary of Dhammapada 1 and also the quote:

"Intention, I tell you, is kamma. Intending, one does kamma by way of body, speech, & intellect." - AN 6.63

Karma is based on intention in Buddhism. Karma is not a universal system of justice.

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  • Then how did Angulimala get cured? He still killed a lot of humans and attempted to kill the Buddha – Usefuldonut Mar 29 at 16:31
  • The sutta seems to be suggesting that if you die while thinking “ ‘May these sentient beings be killed, slaughtered, slain, destroyed, or annihilated!’”, you would be reborn in hell. – Usefuldonut Mar 29 at 16:42
  • How can you be guilty of ie matricide if your parents are alive? Degraded doesn't mean degraded to the point equal to that of having done. If the two were equal then the act has no karmic potency and is ethically neutral. Wrong answer, proven by contradiction. If you were correct then Angulimalla would not have been able to become an Arahant because he tried to kill the Buddha, it is said that he exhausted himself trying to kill the Buddha and initially planned on murdering his mother iirc. – Buddhism Mar 29 at 19:46
  • @Usefuldonut When Angulimala attempted to kill the Buddha, he did not know that it was the Buddha or an arahant. He only saw a monk walking alone along the road. – ruben2020 Mar 29 at 23:36
  • So he did not have the intention to kill the Buddha. He only had the intention to kill a monk. – ruben2020 Mar 29 at 23:54

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