I am unsure the definition of 'good' in Buddhism. My assumptions are of 'good' are;

  1. Caused no bodily harm intentionally
  2. Caused no mental harm intentionally
  3. No expectations when help is offered
  4. Willingness to help and support to those who need it
  5. Willingness to provide guidance to those who need it

If there is a different definition of 'good', it would be appreciated if it can shared.

Now assuming, you are surrounded by 'good' people, is that not a form of aversion?

For example, if i am constantly hounded by a person's presence and this person has caused mental harm e.g. suffering and i opt to keep my distance and not participate in any activity or relationship with the person but to surround myself with 'good' people, is that not a form of aversion?

What if the person has caused bodily harm?

What if the person has not provided you with help when you have needed it?

In Buddhism, if i choose to avoid such people, is that aversion?

3 Answers 3


An analogy, in martial arts, when one needs to train and toughen up their knuckles, he wouldn't just start out punching bricks right away. He has to start with punching paper stacks, then move on to punching beans, then to sands, etc. Only after a period when his knuckles become strong enough then he'd practice on bricks. Similarly, your mind isn't conditioned to handle bad evil people with peace and equanimity. So first you have to start with good people to build up the needed strength. This doesn't mean you should completely avoid bad people. Try your best to treat them kindly and compassionately until the day your mind is strong enough to handle any kind of person or any kind of situation with peace and equanimity.

  • Interesting analogy. If avoidance of 'bad' people aversion though? For example, if i have formed views about them e.g. cannot be trusted, likely to back stab you, etc that aids my intention to stay away and reduce suffering of my mind so that i don't hold ill against them, is that aversion? Will me staying away allow me to build 'immunity' against the same person years after?
    – Motivated
    Commented Mar 18, 2015 at 17:25
  • You don't stay away from the bad person just to relax and have a good time but to work hard on building a stronger mind so that when you're ready, you'll be able to handle the situation much better. And again, no one except yourself would know the strength of your knuckles, whether you're ready to handle the paper stack, the beans, the sand grains, or the bricks, right?
    – santa100
    Commented Mar 18, 2015 at 17:48
  • The intention isn't to relax and have a good time but rather avoid tension and stress. These are based on opinions and interactions. Now if i attempt to avoid this person and only surround myself with people who don't attempt to cause tension or stress, is this aversion?
    – Motivated
    Commented Mar 19, 2015 at 6:28
  • Next question, i agree on strengthening the mind. However what is the intention? To be at peace? To protect myself? If i use the analogy of martial arts, am i practising to protect myself and others? Am i practising to be stronger and not fearful? In some martial arts, the rule of thumb is run from conflict? Is that aversion?
    – Motivated
    Commented Mar 19, 2015 at 6:41
  • 1
    True but not quite. The intention is to be at peace even under very bad situation. If one could run away from a conflict to protect oneself and others from harm, then that's not aversion. That's wisdom. And if one has no choice but to fight, then one will do his best to inflict minimal harm to the opponent.
    – santa100
    Commented Mar 19, 2015 at 15:04

In my opinion, staying away from harmful people is not aversion. It's merely protecting yourself from bad consequences. After all, everyone desires happiness for themselves. If you practise Buddhism because you want to overcome suffering (dukkha), it's not because you have an aversion towards suffering, rather, it's because you want to solve the problem of suffering.

That said, after staying away from harmful people, if you continue to bear a mental grudge against them, and speak ill of them to others, then you have an aversion against them.

IMO, aversion is a mental thing, not a social concept. Karma works in such a way that it is primarily related to your intentions. If your intention is to avoid suffering, then it is not aversion. If your feeling of them is negative and continues long after their presence is removed, then it is aversion.

  • Good answer. I agree about the "intention" as being the key word here.
    – user2424
    Commented Mar 18, 2015 at 15:52
  • @ruben2020 - When you say mental grudge, what do you mean? For example, if i have a conflict with person x, i attempt to stay away. I am however keen to understand their behavior e.g. why would they do that, or say that, etc. Next i may form mental judgements of them e.g. i don't trust them, i don't like them due to their behaviors, etc. I may not wish them ill e.g. death, sickness, etc. however i have now formed mental models of them. My intention is clearly to stay away.
    – Motivated
    Commented Mar 18, 2015 at 17:22

"I am unsure the definition of 'good' in Buddhism."

In general, "good" is that which leads to the welfare of beings, leads to nibbāna. The precepts and the eightfold path present examples of "good". The hindrances, poisons, fetters, etc. are examples of "bad".

"Now assuming, you are surrounded by 'good' people, is that not a form of aversion?"

It is aversion if aversion is present in the mind and/or it's the main driving force producing the influence. By aversion, it is meant a specific unwholesome state. An aversion born of conceit, hate, delusion, ...

Not all "aversions" (in the conventional sense) are aversions (in the buddhist sense). Otherwise, all kinds of avoidances would be unwholesome. Like avoiding walking towards a pit.

Renunciation (eg. avoiding unwholesome states and circumstances that promote unwholesome states) is a prime concern in Buddhism.

"In Buddhism, if i choose to avoid such people, is that aversion?"

Not necessarily. Your state of mind while you're inclined to avoid certain things or people could be any, including compassion for yourself. Moreover, regardless if one perceives aversion in ones mind or not, it's frequently encouraged to associate with good people, and avoid associating with those whose relationships raise or increase hindrances.

I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was living among the Sakyans. Now there is a Sakyan town named Sakkara. There Ven. Ananda went to the Blessed One and, on arrival, having bowed down to the Blessed One, sat to one side. As he was sitting there, Ven. Ananda said to the Blessed One, "This is half of the holy life, lord: admirable friendship, admirable companionship, admirable camaraderie."

"Don't say that, Ananda. Don't say that. Admirable friendship, admirable companionship, admirable camaraderie is actually the whole of the holy life. When a monk has admirable people as friends, companions, & comrades, he can be expected to develop & pursue the noble eightfold path.

-- SN 45.2

  • What is the definition of welfare of others though? What about personal welfare? The precepts set out as well as the path are vague to me. It may be my limited knowledge. So forgive my naivety. I will use an example. I am currently confronted by an individual who is negative on all levels i.e. negative about others. This individual also in my opinion makes attempts to make work difficult. I attempt to stay away from this person as much as i can. If my opinion of this person is that of tension and someone who plays 'office games', is my aversion of this person bad?
    – Motivated
    Commented Mar 19, 2015 at 6:26
  • Like I said above, I don't think avoiding people who become a problem to ourselves is a bad thing. I cannot address your questions about what is welfare, precepts, the noble eightfold path and ethics in general in this comment, but you could post these questions in the site so people here can answer.
    – user382
    Commented Mar 19, 2015 at 14:07

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