are there any justifiable wars to a practicing buddhist?

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are there any justifiable wars to a practicing buddhist?

Postby jason c » Sun Jun 10, 2012 12:29 am

sitting in meditation at a retreat, the man behind me started breathing heavy then it sounded like he had fallen over. i turned and sure enough he was passed out from some illness. myself and a few others managed to call an ambulance and get him some medical attention. he ended up being ok it was an illness he had medication for but had neglected to take. the whole meditation hall was a frenzy, everyone was so concerned so distracted, except for the monk hosting the retreat, he sat without moving a muscle, not giving a glance, seemed to pay no attention to this. when the hour was up he rang the bell, quietly got up and left the meditation hall. that evening when it was question and answer time he was flooded with questions, why didn't you get up and help? do you not care about others? the monk simply stated he was not an expert in the medical field, the man seemed to be cared for, and he was simply minding his own business.
while contemplating past and current wars i asked myself, are there any justifiable wars that a practicing buddhist could support? violence just seems to lead to more violence, a visious circle. or have we just become so culturally attatched to war that it has become a family or countries tradition(my father fought in the war and his father fought in the war.....). maybe it's simply that we respect our elders ,friends,fathers,wives, so much that we are afraid to oppose their sacrifices. it seems to me that practicing buddhists should not be supporting or taking part in any military or police activities, we should simply be minding our own business.
respectfully,
jason
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Re: are there any justifiable wars to a practicing buddhist?

Postby tiltbillings » Sun Jun 10, 2012 1:14 am

jason c wrote: we should simply be minding our own business.
What is our own business? Do we ignore the screams of terror outside our apartment window because that is not our business? Do we ignore the person in distress? What is our business?


violence just seems to lead to more violence
So, we allow the violence to contune because it is not our business? What is our business?
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: are there any justifiable wars to a practicing buddhist?

Postby manas » Sun Jun 10, 2012 1:21 am

jason c wrote:sitting in meditation at a retreat, the man behind me started breathing heavy then it sounded like he had fallen over. i turned and sure enough he was passed out from some illness. myself and a few others managed to call an ambulance and get him some medical attention. he ended up being ok it was an illness he had medication for but had neglected to take. the whole meditation hall was a frenzy, everyone was so concerned so distracted, except for the monk hosting the retreat, he sat without moving a muscle, not giving a glance, seemed to pay no attention to this. when the hour was up he rang the bell, quietly got up and left the meditation hall. that evening when it was question and answer time he was flooded with questions, why didn't you get up and help? do you not care about others? the monk simply stated he was not an expert in the medical field, the man seemed to be cared for, and he was simply minding his own business.
while contemplating past and current wars i asked myself, are there any justifiable wars that a practicing buddhist could support? violence just seems to lead to more violence, a visious circle. or have we just become so culturally attatched to war that it has become a family or countries tradition(my father fought in the war and his father fought in the war.....). maybe it's simply that we respect our elders ,friends,fathers,wives, so much that we are afraid to oppose their sacrifices. it seems to me that practicing buddhists should not be supporting or taking part in any military or police activities, we should simply be minding our own business.
respectfully,
jason


Hi jason,

an interesting question. I have already decided that should even my own country (Australia) be invaded by a foreign power some day (well, it already has been, in the sense of overseas corporations coming in and taking much of our common wealth away in the form of natural resources, without we the people being given anywhere near a proper share of the vast material wealth thus acquired - but that's not an overt war as such, rather it's more like legal, (but in terms of common law, unlawful), plundering) - anyway, I would not take up a weapon to harm or kill any opposing soldiers; but I would be happy to help with the defence of our Land in other, non-violent ways such as being a medic, getting the injured to safety, caring for them, etc. As for invading another country, violently - would any Buddhist see that as justified, ever?

manas _/I\_
Last edited by manas on Sun Jun 10, 2012 1:27 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: are there any justifiable wars to a practicing buddhist?

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Jun 10, 2012 1:26 am

I think that the OP argument is an unjustified conflation.

That the monk could tell that others were dealing with the situation, and didn't need to prove that he "cared" by fussing about it, it a good lesson. If circumstances were different and he could have done something more useful than what was already being done, then I suspect he would have acted.

Besides, remaining calm may be the most useful thing to do in times of stress, when others are loosing it. Ajahn Brahm sometimes talks about when a woman came into the Wat (I think this was in Thailand, I don't recall the details) distraught because her husband had died (maybe shot or something). The Abbot calmly finished his meal, and the woman calmed down considerably while waiting for him to talk to her. Making her wait was, in that circumstance, a very effective action.

:anjali:
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Re: are there any justifiable wars to a practicing buddhist?

Postby tiltbillings » Sun Jun 10, 2012 1:40 am

manas wrote:I would not take up a weapon to harm or kill any opposing soldiers; but I would be happy to help with the defence of our Land in other, non-violent ways such as being a medic, getting the injured to safety, caring for them, etc.
If you could would you stop the murder of your family or of complete strangers? If you would, where do you draw the line as to what you would and would not do?
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: are there any justifiable wars to a practicing buddhist?

Postby David N. Snyder » Sun Jun 10, 2012 2:38 am

I can't comment specifically on the monk who did nothing because I wasn't there but as you say it appears that medical professionals were on the scene.

However, the Buddha did intercede to help people.

Now at that time a certain monk was suffering from dysentery and lay where he had fallen in his own excrement. The Buddha and Ananda were visiting the lodgings and they came to where the sick monk lay and the Buddha asked him, ‘Monk, what is wrong with you.’ ‘I have dysentery, Blessed One.’ ‘Is there no one to look after you?’

‘No, Blessed One.’

‘Then why is it that the other monks do not look after you?’

‘It is because I am of no use to them, Blessed One.’

Then the Buddha said to Ananda, ‘Go and fetch water so we can wash this monk.’ So Ananda brought water and the Buddha poured it out while Ananda washed the monk all over. Then taking the monk by the head and feet the Buddha and Ananda together carried him and laid him on a bed. Later, the Buddha called the monks together and asked them, ‘Why monks, did you not look after that sick monk?’

‘Because he was of no use to us, Blessed One’

‘Monks, you have no mother or father to look after you. If you do not look after each other who will? He who would nurse me, let him nurse the sick’ (Yo bhikkhave mam upatthaheyya so gilamam upatthaheyya, Vin. I. 301).

Mahavagga 8.26.1-8
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Re: are there any justifiable wars to a practicing buddhist?

Postby David N. Snyder » Sun Jun 10, 2012 2:49 am

The Buddha was not an anarchist. He regularly met with kings and taught them. He could have told them to never defend yourself or your people, but he did not. Instead he counseled them on being good leaders. He supported the idea and need for governments. As such they would need to defend themselves from time to time no matter how peaceful they are; the neighboring kingdoms may not be so peaceful or Dhammic.

The Buddha wrote:"A king should never fall into the power of anger. Rather, let him control his anger, for neither a person’s interests or duty thrive when one is angry... When a dispute arises, he should pay equal attention to both parties, hear the arguments of each and then decide according to what is right. He should not act out of favouritism, hatred, fear or foolishness, but should hear the arguments of both sides and then decide according to what is right... While keeping an eye on state affairs, a king should dispense happiness to all. He should prevent all from committing violence and show that it is righteousness which brings reward. As in the days of former kings, large numbers of immigrants came together to be admitted into the realm, so should you admit them. Always show favour to the poor but also protect the rich who are your subjects...Do not foster hostility towards neighbouring kings. Whoever hates, will be repaid with hatred by his enemies. Cultivate ties of friendship with your neighbours, for others honour those who are steadfast in friendship. Do not talk at great length on all sorts of subjects, but give your judgement at the appropriate time and keep it to the point...Always protect those who live justly. For the wheel of power turns in dependence on the wheel of justice...Do not appoint as headmen of villages or provinces even your own sons or brothers if they are unscrupulous, violent or base...A foolish or greedy minister is of no value to either ruler or realm. Therefore, appoint as your ministers men who are not greedy but prudent and devoted in counsel and who can guide the realm. Your eyes are not as good as those of an informer, nor is your policy. Therefore, you should employ an informer in all your affairs."
Tesakuṇa Jātaka from the Jātaka (Ja.V.109)


The quote above includes "Always protect those who live justly" which could imply self-defense of oneself and / or others.

In the Mahaparinibbana Sutta the Buddha talks about conditions for a nation's success:

"What have you heard, Ananda: do the Vajjis duly protect and guard the arahats, so that those who have not come to the realm yet might do so, and those who have already come might live there in peace?"

"I have heard, Lord, that they do."

"So long, Ananda, as this is the case, the growth of the Vajjis is to be expected, not their decline." (Digha Nikaya 16)

An arahant would not go to war, not be in the military; an arahant would be a bhikkhu or bhikkhuni; but not everyone can be an arahant or a bhikkhu or bhikkhuni; there are lay people and the Buddha specifies that it is the lay people's duty to protect those arahants, which makes perfect sense so that the teachings can remain around longer, so that they can teach for a longer time.

But of course the reality is that most wars are not in defense and are even pre-emptive attacks, like what we have seen in Iraq and elsewhere.
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Re: are there any justifiable wars to a practicing buddhist?

Postby manas » Sun Jun 10, 2012 4:52 am

tiltbillings wrote:
manas wrote:I would not take up a weapon to harm or kill any opposing soldiers; but I would be happy to help with the defence of our Land in other, non-violent ways such as being a medic, getting the injured to safety, caring for them, etc.
If you could would you stop the murder of your family or of complete strangers? If you would, where do you draw the line as to what you would and would not do?


Hi Tilt,

I didn't feel the need to bring it up, but yes there is one situation where I would risk breaking the precept against killing: if my children's safety was at risk. I would try to aim for non-lethal places on the intruder's body, of course, but fire I would, to protect my kids. Otherwise - no. Before anyone accuses me of a double standard, I ask them if they, in a similar situation, would allow bad-minded people to take their kids in a time of war. I bet that if it came to that, most people, even those who oppose the killing of even a tiny mosquito (as I do), will do the needful.

manas. _/I\_
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Re: are there any justifiable wars to a practicing buddhist?

Postby santa100 » Sun Jun 10, 2012 5:30 am

Imagine the US didn't make the decision to take action during WW II, we probably would've been discussing the Dhamma in German. Actually, it's more like for those who practice "corrupted" doctrines not in line with National Socialism, they would be free to practice their faith...at Auschwitz; and worst of, our youths would probably be learning in their history class that once upon a time, there used to be an "evil" group of people called the Jews, but how wonderful it is now that they no longer exist!
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Re: are there any justifiable wars to a practicing buddhist?

Postby Mr Man » Sun Jun 10, 2012 7:49 am

jason c wrote:while contemplating past and current wars i asked myself, are there any justifiable wars that a practicing buddhist could support? violence just seems to lead to more violence, a visious circle. or have we just become so culturally attached to war that it has become a family or countries tradition(my father fought in the war and his father fought in the war.....). maybe it's simply that we respect our elders ,friends,fathers,wives, so much that we are afraid to oppose their sacrifices. it seems to me that practicing buddhists should not be supporting or taking part in any military or police activities, we should simply be minding our own business.

To come to these questions from the position of being a "Buddhist" is, in my opinion, already divisive and in fact is actually creating an unnecessary conflict, although we can certainly look to the wise for guidance.

Are we culturally attached to war? I would say that humanity is attached to war and that unfortunately war is likely to continue. War is an extension of our lust for power and control + ignorance.

Should practicing buddhists be taking part in war? Most probably not but they are. For some there is no choice.

Should we as humans feel a sense of responsibility to society? Definitely yes

Jason, should "minding our own business" be just allowing war to continue or should we be actively working against war (war on war)?
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Re: are there any justifiable wars to a practicing buddhist?

Postby jason c » Sun Jun 10, 2012 10:12 am

tiltbillings wrote:
jason c wrote: we should simply be minding our own business.
What is our own business? Do we ignore the screams of terror outside our apartment window because that is not our business? Do we ignore the person in distress? What is our business?


violence just seems to lead to more violence
So, we allow the violence to contune because it is not our business? What is our business?


our own sense perception. if we are put in a life or death situation we would simply act, sounds are just sounds how you interpret them is your business. if we are put in a life of death situation we would simply act, the life or death situation does not have to my own. minding the sense doors.
metta jason
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Re: are there any justifiable wars to a practicing buddhist?

Postby tiltbillings » Sun Jun 10, 2012 10:14 am

jason c wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:
jason c wrote: we should simply be minding our own business.
What is our own business? Do we ignore the screams of terror outside our apartment window because that is not our business? Do we ignore the person in distress? What is our business?


violence just seems to lead to more violence
So, we allow the violence to contune because it is not our business? What is our business?


our own sense perception. if we are put in a life or death situation we would simply act, sounds are just sounds how you interpret them is your business. if we are put in a life of death situation we would simply act, the life or death situation does not have to my own. minding the sense doors.
metta jason
Simply act how?

the life or death situation does not have to my own. minding the sense doors.Please clarify.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: are there any justifiable wars to a practicing buddhist?

Postby jason c » Sun Jun 10, 2012 10:16 am

David N. Snyder wrote:The Buddha was not an anarchist. He regularly met with kings and taught them. He could have told them to never defend yourself or your people, but he did not. Instead he counseled them on being good leaders. He supported the idea and need for governments. As such they would need to defend themselves from time to time no matter how peaceful they are; the neighboring kingdoms may not be so peaceful or Dhammic.

The Buddha wrote:"A king should never fall into the power of anger. Rather, let him control his anger, for neither a person’s interests or duty thrive when one is angry... When a dispute arises, he should pay equal attention to both parties, hear the arguments of each and then decide according to what is right. He should not act out of favouritism, hatred, fear or foolishness, but should hear the arguments of both sides and then decide according to what is right... While keeping an eye on state affairs, a king should dispense happiness to all. He should prevent all from committing violence and show that it is righteousness which brings reward. As in the days of former kings, large numbers of immigrants came together to be admitted into the realm, so should you admit them. Always show favour to the poor but also protect the rich who are your subjects...Do not foster hostility towards neighbouring kings. Whoever hates, will be repaid with hatred by his enemies. Cultivate ties of friendship with your neighbours, for others honour those who are steadfast in friendship. Do not talk at great length on all sorts of subjects, but give your judgement at the appropriate time and keep it to the point...Always protect those who live justly. For the wheel of power turns in dependence on the wheel of justice...Do not appoint as headmen of villages or provinces even your own sons or brothers if they are unscrupulous, violent or base...A foolish or greedy minister is of no value to either ruler or realm. Therefore, appoint as your ministers men who are not greedy but prudent and devoted in counsel and who can guide the realm. Your eyes are not as good as those of an informer, nor is your policy. Therefore, you should employ an informer in all your affairs."
Tesakuṇa Jātaka from the Jātaka (Ja.V.109)


The quote above includes "Always protect those who live justly" which could imply self-defense of oneself and / or others.

In the Mahaparinibbana Sutta the Buddha talks about conditions for a nation's success:

"What have you heard, Ananda: do the Vajjis duly protect and guard the arahats, so that those who have not come to the realm yet might do so, and those who have already come might live there in peace?"

"I have heard, Lord, that they do."

"So long, Ananda, as this is the case, the growth of the Vajjis is to be expected, not their decline." (Digha Nikaya 16)

An arahant would not go to war, not be in the military; an arahant would be a bhikkhu or bhikkhuni; but not everyone can be an arahant or a bhikkhu or bhikkhuni; there are lay people and the Buddha specifies that it is the lay people's duty to protect those arahants, which makes perfect sense so that the teachings can remain around longer, so that they can teach for a longer time.

But of course the reality is that most wars are not in defense and are even pre-emptive attacks, like what we have seen in Iraq and elsewhere.


hey david,
do you think the united states is a peaceful nation?
metta,
jason
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Re: are there any justifiable wars to a practicing buddhist?

Postby jason c » Sun Jun 10, 2012 10:20 am

David N. Snyder wrote:
Getting the message

...So the Buddha's position on the precepts was uncompromising and clear. If you want to follow his teachings, there's absolutely no room for killing, stealing, or lying, period. However, in our current climate of terrorism and counter-terrorism — where governments have claimed that it's their moral duty to lie, kill, and torture in order to prevent others from lying, killing, and torturing — a number of Buddhist teachers have joined in the effort, trying to find evidence that there were some occasions, at least, where the Buddha would condone killing or offer a rationale for a just war.


I agree with Ven. Thanissaro's essay. Governments have made claims, even lies about the threats of others and have gone to war with them. This is not wholesome, not good and I opposed, for example, the Iraq war when most Americans were beating the war drum to get Saddam Hussein.


if a fire is burning let it burn itself out do not add more fuel to it.

metta,
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Re: are there any justifiable wars to a practicing buddhist?

Postby jason c » Sun Jun 10, 2012 10:23 am

manas wrote:
jason c wrote:sitting in meditation at a retreat, the man behind me started breathing heavy then it sounded like he had fallen over. i turned and sure enough he was passed out from some illness. myself and a few others managed to call an ambulance and get him some medical attention. he ended up being ok it was an illness he had medication for but had neglected to take. the whole meditation hall was a frenzy, everyone was so concerned so distracted, except for the monk hosting the retreat, he sat without moving a muscle, not giving a glance, seemed to pay no attention to this. when the hour was up he rang the bell, quietly got up and left the meditation hall. that evening when it was question and answer time he was flooded with questions, why didn't you get up and help? do you not care about others? the monk simply stated he was not an expert in the medical field, the man seemed to be cared for, and he was simply minding his own business.
while contemplating past and current wars i asked myself, are there any justifiable wars that a practicing buddhist could support? violence just seems to lead to more violence, a visious circle. or have we just become so culturally attatched to war that it has become a family or countries tradition(my father fought in the war and his father fought in the war.....). maybe it's simply that we respect our elders ,friends,fathers,wives, so much that we are afraid to oppose their sacrifices. it seems to me that practicing buddhists should not be supporting or taking part in any military or police activities, we should simply be minding our own business.
respectfully,
jason


Hi jason,

an interesting question. I have already decided that should even my own country (Australia) be invaded by a foreign power some day (well, it already has been, in the sense of overseas corporations coming in and taking much of our common wealth away in the form of natural resources, without we the people being given anywhere near a proper share of the vast material wealth thus acquired - but that's not an overt war as such, rather it's more like legal, (but in terms of common law, unlawful), plundering) - anyway, I would not take up a weapon to harm or kill any opposing soldiers; but I would be happy to help with the defence of our Land in other, non-violent ways such as being a medic, getting the injured to safety, caring for them, etc. As for invading another country, violently - would any Buddhist see that as justified, ever?

manas _/I\_


hi manas,
it's not your country,
what about the animals share of the lands wealth?
it's not your land!
metta,
jason
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Re: are there any justifiable wars to a practicing buddhist?

Postby rowyourboat » Sun Jun 10, 2012 10:27 am

Hi All

Our business:

"And how does one dwell in heedfulness? When a monk dwells with restraint over the faculty of the eye, the mind is not stained with forms cognizable via the eye. When the mind is not stained, there is joy. There being joy, there is rapture. There being rapture, there is serenity. There being serenity, he dwells in ease. The mind of one at ease becomes centered. When the mind is centered, phenomena (dhammas) become manifest. When phenomena are manifest, one is classed simply as one who dwells in heedfulness.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

..based on the principle:

Don't sacrifice your own welfare
for that of another,
no matter how great.
Realizing your own true welfare,
be intent on just that.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

Can we do anything more beneficial to others than becoming enlightened ourselves?
With Metta

Karuna
Mudita
& Upekkha
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Re: are there any justifiable wars to a practicing buddhist?

Postby jason c » Sun Jun 10, 2012 10:28 am

mikenz66 wrote:I think that the OP argument is an unjustified conflation.

That the monk could tell that others were dealing with the situation, and didn't need to prove that he "cared" by fussing about it, it a good lesson. If circumstances were different and he could have done something more useful than what was already being done, then I suspect he would have acted.

Besides, remaining calm may be the most useful thing to do in times of stress, when others are loosing it. Ajahn Brahm sometimes talks about when a woman came into the Wat (I think this was in Thailand, I don't recall the details) distraught because her husband had died (maybe shot or something). The Abbot calmly finished his meal, and the woman calmed down considerably while waiting for him to talk to her. Making her wait was, in that circumstance, a very effective action.

:anjali:
Mike


i think he would have and i think that is the lesson.
ajahn brahm saw that the offence had already taken place it was in the past, nothing could change the past he simply remained present and let the fire burn out.
metta,
jason
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Re: are there any justifiable wars to a practicing buddhist?

Postby jason c » Sun Jun 10, 2012 10:36 am

santa100 wrote:Imagine the US didn't make the decision to take action during WW II, we probably would've been discussing the Dhamma in German. Actually, it's more like for those who practice "corrupted" doctrines not in line with National Socialism, they would be free to practice their faith...at Auschwitz; and worst of, our youths would probably be learning in their history class that once upon a time, there used to be an "evil" group of people called the Jews, but how wonderful it is now that they no longer exist!

hi santa100,
some do practice the dhamma in german, what's wrong with that?
the united nations acts the same way exterminating people who oppose their views, you only care about the side of the fence you are on. plus the united nations exterminates animals on a daily basis for food consumption, we humans share this planet, we do not own it, its not all about us.
metta,
jason
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Re: are there any justifiable wars to a practicing buddhist?

Postby jason c » Sun Jun 10, 2012 10:40 am

Mr Man wrote:
jason c wrote:while contemplating past and current wars i asked myself, are there any justifiable wars that a practicing buddhist could support? violence just seems to lead to more violence, a visious circle. or have we just become so culturally attached to war that it has become a family or countries tradition(my father fought in the war and his father fought in the war.....). maybe it's simply that we respect our elders ,friends,fathers,wives, so much that we are afraid to oppose their sacrifices. it seems to me that practicing buddhists should not be supporting or taking part in any military or police activities, we should simply be minding our own business.

To come to these questions from the position of being a "Buddhist" is, in my opinion, already divisive and in fact is actually creating an unnecessary conflict, although we can certainly look to the wise for guidance.

Are we culturally attached to war? I would say that humanity is attached to war and that unfortunately war is likely to continue. War is an extension of our lust for power and control + ignorance.

Should practicing buddhists be taking part in war? Most probably not but they are. For some there is no choice.

Should we as humans feel a sense of responsibility to society? Definitely yes

Jason, should "minding our own business" be just allowing war to continue or should we be actively working against war (war on war)?


hi mr man,
could you define society, who or what is contained in your definition of society?
what does actively working against war mean?
metta,
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Re: are there any justifiable wars to a practicing buddhist?

Postby Mr Man » Sun Jun 10, 2012 11:07 am

Hi Jason
A fairly standard dictionary definition of society is what I mean (the community within which we live).
Actively working against war could mean many different things. Can you think of some examples?
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