Recklessness is a type of mental defilements. It is an ignorant or wilful disregard of unwholesomeness and it’s consequences. This is especially so when driven by our innate lust, hatred and wrong views.

Just like a moth that is drawn towards an open flame, the defilement of recklessness causes us to brush aside all inhibition and fear of bad karmic consequences.

In short, this is the defilement that causes us to throw caution to the wind. It is the driver of bad decision. A type of defilement in our mind that resulted in bad judgement.

For example, we may wrongly conclude that it is fine to drive after drinking because it is just a short distance. Engage in casual sexual encounter without due care / protection. Telling another person’s secret in moments of gossip euphoria etc.

At the back of our head we may have this feeling that perhaps we shouldn’t do it, but we decided to simply ignore that nagging feeling.

From a Buddhist practice perspective, we kind of just ignore karma and behave recklessly.

Some may even use Buddhist practices or philosophy to help them justify their own actions.

Or they may engage in “cherry picking” practice. That means to believe in doctrines or Buddhist passages that suit their lifestyle only.

For example, Buddhist who wrongly believe that their prayer or mantra makes it alright to slaughter animals for food, thus ignoring the first Buddhist precepts.

In the above examples, ignorant or wrong views may be driving that recklessness belief or behaviour. When in doubt, they choose to believe in what “make sense” to them rather than clarifying with a knowledgeable teacher.

In Mahayana Buddhism, this recklessness would cause someone to blatantly disregard the well-beings of other sentient beings.

In the Vajrayana system the same reckless mentality can cause one to break their sacred vows or disrespect their guru.

As seen from the examples, this defilement causes one to stumble in their spiritual journey.


While it may be great to live in a carefree manner, there is a fine line between “carefreeness” born from spiritual awakening or recklessness caused by ignorance.

Categories: Articles

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