What is unforgivable in Buddhism?

What is unforgivable in Buddhism?

30 Sec Answer: Unforgivable actions in Buddhism include taking the life of another, knowingly committing sexual misconduct, stealing, and deliberately causing harm to another.


Buddhism is a spiritual tradition that emphasizes cultivating insight into the nature of one’s own existence. It emphasizes living with an attitude of respect and compassion for all sentient beings. As part of this ethos, there are certain actions considered unforgivable by the Buddhist faith. In this article, we’ll explore what constitutes an unforgivable action according to Buddhism, as well as some related teachings about forgiveness.

What Constitutes an Unforgivable Action According to Buddhism?

The fundamental principles of Buddhist morality come from the Five Precepts – refraining from killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, lying, and taking intoxicants. If a person knowingly commits any of these transgressions, they will be seen as having committed an unforgivable act. Furthermore, Buddhism teaches that a person who has committed such a deed will have to bear the consequences of their action throughout multiple lifetimes.

Taking the Life of Another

According to Buddhist teachings, it is never permissible to take the life of another being. Killing someone intentionally or unintentionally is seen as a major transgression against morality and can lead to serious karmic repercussions. This prohibition applies not just to humans but also animals and other forms of life.

Knowingly Committing Sexual Misconduct

In Buddhism, sexuality should always be conducted within the framework of mutual consent and respect between two parties involved. Therefore, any form of non-consensual sexual activity or contact is viewed as an unforgivable sin. This includes rape, molestation, adultery and any other form of coerced sex acts.


Stealing from others is seen as an immoral act that goes against basic principles of justice and respect for the rights and property of others. Buddhists are taught to practice generosity rather than selfishness; therefore theft is considered a major violation that could result in karmic retribution.

Deliberately Causing Harm to Another

Acts of violence and aggression towards another being go against basic Buddhist values like ahimsa (non-violence) and metta (kindness). Therefore engaging in physical or emotional abuse would be considered a major transgression that cannot be forgiven.

Related Teachings About Forgiveness

While there are certain deeds considered unforgivable in Buddhism, the religion also encourages its followers to practice forgiveness where possible. This means accepting that mistakes have been made without allowing resentment or anger to cloud your judgement when making decisions about how best to move forward with a situation. To illustrate this point further let’s look at some stories found in Buddhist literature about forgiveness in action:

The Story Of Ananda & The Monk Who Slept During Meditation

In this story from Theravada Buddhist literature, the Buddha tells his disciple Ananda not to scold or reprimand another monk who had fallen asleep during meditation practice because everyone makes mistakes sometimes and he should show understanding instead. By offering kindness and forgiveness instead of punishment or judgement Ananda was able to set an example for us all about how best to respond when faced with wrongdoing from someone else.

The Parable Of The Prodigal Son

This famous parable from Mahayana Buddhism features a father who shows love and acceptance for his son even after he has left home and squandered away his inheritance on frivolous things. When his son eventually returns home repentant for his actions, the father does not punish him but welcomes him back with open arms – illustrating how important it can be to offer mercy and compassion even when wrongdoings occur.


Ultimately while there are certain deeds considered unforgivable according to Buddhism, practicing forgiveness whenever possible can help us cultivate greater understanding between ourselves and those around us – regardless of whether we believe in karma or not!

Samantha Greenfield

Samantha Greenfield was born and raised in a small town in the rural countryside of Washington state. From a young age, she was drawn to the natural world and spent much of her time exploring the forests and fields around her home. As she grew older, she became increasingly interested in the intersection of nature, spirituality, and personal growth, and began to study Buddhism and mindfulness in depth. After completing her undergraduate degree in Environmental Science, Samantha decided to pursue a career in nature conservation and spent several years working with various non-profit organizations and government agencies on conservation projects around the world. Along the way, she discovered a passion for writing and began to document her adventures and insights in a series of personal blogs and articles. In recent years, Samantha has turned her focus to sharing her knowledge and experiences with a wider audience and has become a popular speaker and workshop leader on topics related to Buddhism, mindfulness, and personal growth. She is currently working on a book about the intersection of nature, spirituality, and mindfulness, and continues to be an active advocate for environmental conservation and sustainability.

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