Good Intention, Good Result?

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Good Intention, Good Result?

If your intentions influence the quality of the result, does this mean that every action done with good intentions will tend toward a good result?

For an intention to give good results, it has to be free of greed, aversion, and delusion [§31].

Now, it’s possible for an intention to be well-meaning but based on delusion, which can easily disguise subtle aversion or greed. When that’s the case, acting on the intention would lead to bad results: believing, for instance, that there are times when the compassionate course of action would be to kill, to tell a lie, or to have illicit sex. To give good results, an action has to be not only good, but also skillful: in other words, free of delusion.

To minimize delusion, you have to gain practical experience in what actually gives good results in the long term, and what doesn’t. This is why the Buddha taught himself to develop three qualities in his actions:

wisdom—aiming to act for long-term happiness;
compassion—intending not to harm anyone with his actions; and
purity—checking the actual results of his actions and learning from his mistakes so as not to be fooled by an intention that seems wise and compassionate but really isn’t.

It’s through developing purity in this way that good intentions are trained to be skillful.

Beyond that, there are two main levels of skill: the skillful actions that lead to a good rebirth and those that lead beyond rebirth entirely, to “”nibbāna (nirvāṇa): a dimension totally outside of space and time, and totally free from suffering.”

This reflection by Ajaan Geoff is from the book, Karma Q & A : A Study Guide, (pdf) p. 7.