Buddhism and Self Defence

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism

Buddhism and Self Defence

Postby clw_uk » Fri May 22, 2009 1:48 pm

Greetings


As we know Buddhadhamma teaches non-violence, compassion and loving-kindness and so any act of agression is not compatible with it, does this leave any room for self-defence both at the individual level and the national level?

For example, at the individual level, if i was being mugged would it be ok to push them off or use some force to get away?


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Re: Buddhism and Self Defence

Postby genkaku » Fri May 22, 2009 1:55 pm

A near-by neighbor of mine is into martial arts ... serious martial arts. When his teacher's teacher died, the old man, a man who had devoted his long life to martial arts, left some last words:

"Don't hit anybody. Don't get hit by anybody."

I'm sorry I never met such a man, but that doesn't mean you or I cannot live up to such wisdom.
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Re: Buddhism and Self Defence

Postby piotr » Fri May 22, 2009 4:07 pm

Hi,

The Buddha taught that one can defend oneself as a bird defends from eagle's attack (I can't find reference now, sorry).
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Re: Buddhism and Self Defence

Postby clw_uk » Fri May 22, 2009 4:32 pm

piotr wrote:Hi,

The Buddha taught that one can defend oneself as a bird defends from eagle's attack (I can't find reference now, sorry).



Thanks piotr :smile:

What about in in terms of nations. For example during ww2 was it ethical for my country to go to war with germany in terms of buddhadhamma?
“ Your mind is likewise blocked. But the right road awaits you still. Cast out your doubts, your fears and your desires, let go of grief and of hope as well, for where these rule , then the mind is their subject." Boetius
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Re: Buddhism and Self Defence

Postby Rui Sousa » Fri May 22, 2009 4:38 pm

Hi clw_uk,

What would you do if my country invaded yours?

Fight it?
Ignore it?
Abandon it?
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Re: Buddhism and Self Defence

Postby Individual » Fri May 22, 2009 5:25 pm

I vaguely remember Ven. Dhammanando mentioning on here that the Buddha always forbid killing, but, for instance, Vinaya allowed a nun to beat off an attacker trying to rape her, in order to get away. This, however, does not apply to protecting any kind of "property," which monks wouldn't have anyway.

When it comes to self-defense, people often engage in violence for reasons of honor or protecting property. When it comes to the defense of one's own life, obviously it is justified, but with property, there is a grey area because such an action might simply be greed.

As for the war vs. pacifism argument, often it's a choice between two comparably regrettable outcomes and the decision lies, not with idealistic principle, but with what would practically reduce suffering for people.

WW2 was not simply "justified" or "unjustified". Both sides were pretty horrible, although I think that the outcome of an Allied victory is preferable to an Axis one, especially something like a global Nazi regime. This still doesn't mean, though, that it was "good" or "justified" for Allied soldiers to use horrible forms of torture, the carpet-bombing of Berlin, or the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki... In WW2, the Russians would actually train dogs to look for meat or other snacks under tanks. Then, out in the field, they would strap explosives to the dogs, the dogs would climb under enemy tanks, and blow up. Plus, WW2 created a wave of anti-German sentiment in America and set the stage for the Cold War with Russia.
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Re: Buddhism and Self Defence

Postby cooran » Fri May 22, 2009 7:46 pm

Hello all,

This may be of interest:

"Phagguna, if anyone were to reproach you right to your face, even then you should abandon those urges and thoughts which are worldly. There, Phagguna, you should train yourself thus: 'Neither shall my mind be affected by this, nor shall I give vent to evil words; but I shall remain full of concern and pity, with a mind of love, and I shall not give in to hatred.' This is how, Phagguna, you should train yourself.

"Phagguna, if anyone were to give you a blow with the hand, or hit you with a clod of earth, or with a stick, or with a sword, even then you should abandon those urges and thoughts which are worldly. There, Phagguna, you should train yourself thus: 'Neither shall my mind be affected by this, nor shall I give vent to evil words; but I shall remain full of concern and pity, with a mind of love, and I shall not give in to hatred.' This is how, Phagguna, you should train yourself.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... bl109.html

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Re: Buddhism and Self Defence

Postby piotr » Fri May 22, 2009 8:02 pm

Hi Chris,

Does this quote talks about self-defence? It seems to talk only about keeping calm mind when someone attacks you verbaly.
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Re: Buddhism and Self Defence

Postby cooran » Fri May 22, 2009 8:14 pm

Hello piotr,

I think the second paragraph refers to physical harm?
Phagguna, if anyone were to give you a blow with the hand, or hit you with a clod of earth, or with a stick, or with a sword, even then you should abandon those urges and thoughts which are worldly.

metta
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---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
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Re: Buddhism and Self Defence

Postby Cittasanto » Fri May 22, 2009 8:53 pm

hi Individual,
I remember the vinaya allows a monk to defend themselves if they are attacked, it is by memory so may be inaccurate somewhat but i do remember reading it.

Individual wrote:I vaguely remember Ven. Dhammanando mentioning on here that the Buddha always forbid killing, but, for instance, Vinaya allowed a nun to beat off an attacker trying to rape her, in order to get away. This, however, does not apply to protecting any kind of "property," which monks wouldn't have anyway.

When it comes to self-defense, people often engage in violence for reasons of honor or protecting property. When it comes to the defense of one's own life, obviously it is justified, but with property, there is a grey area because such an action might simply be greed.

As for the war vs. pacifism argument, often it's a choice between two comparably regrettable outcomes and the decision lies, not with idealistic principle, but with what would practically reduce suffering for people.

WW2 was not simply "justified" or "unjustified". Both sides were pretty horrible, although I think that the outcome of an Allied victory is preferable to an Axis one, especially something like a global Nazi regime. This still doesn't mean, though, that it was "good" or "justified" for Allied soldiers to use horrible forms of torture, the carpet-bombing of Berlin, or the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki... In WW2, the Russians would actually train dogs to look for meat or other snacks under tanks. Then, out in the field, they would strap explosives to the dogs, the dogs would climb under enemy tanks, and blow up. Plus, WW2 created a wave of anti-German sentiment in America and set the stage for the Cold War with Russia.
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Re: Buddhism and Self Defence

Postby piotr » Sat May 23, 2009 8:50 am

Hi,

Chris wrote:I think the second paragraph refers to physical harm?


You're right! :oops: But does it talk about selfdefence? To me it sounds like advice about attitude on mental and verbal level towards aggressor.
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Re: Buddhism and Self Defence

Postby jcsuperstar » Sat May 23, 2009 9:02 am

Manapa wrote:hi Individual,
I remember the vinaya allows a monk to defend themselves if they are attacked, it is by memory so may be inaccurate somewhat but i do remember reading it.


yeah i remember seeing this before as well.. but not sure where
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Re: Buddhism and Self Defence

Postby Dhammanando » Sat May 23, 2009 2:02 pm

jcsuperstar wrote:
Manapa wrote:hi Individual,
I remember the vinaya allows a monk to defend themselves if they are attacked, it is by memory so may be inaccurate somewhat but i do remember reading it.


yeah i remember seeing this before as well.. but not sure where


The clause you’re referring to comes under the pācittiya rule prohibiting a bhikkhu from striking a fellow bhikkhu. The section of the Vinaya where this rule is laid down contains supplementary rulings covering other kinds of assault by a bhikkhu. One of the rulings is that it’s no offence if a bhikkhu is attacked and strikes the attacker only in order to effect his escape.

    anāpatti kenaci viheṭhīyamāno mokkhādhippāyo pahāraṃ deti

    “There is no offence if, being in some difficulty, he gives a blow desiring freedom.”
    (Vin. iv. 146. I.B. Horner trans.)
    ...and this thought arose in the mind of the Blessed One:
    “Who lives without reverence lives miserably.”
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Re: Buddhism and Self Defence

Postby jcsuperstar » Sat May 23, 2009 5:13 pm

Dhammanando wrote:
jcsuperstar wrote:
Manapa wrote:hi Individual,
I remember the vinaya allows a monk to defend themselves if they are attacked, it is by memory so may be inaccurate somewhat but i do remember reading it.


yeah i remember seeing this before as well.. but not sure where


The clause you’re referring to comes under the pācittiya rule prohibiting a bhikkhu from striking a fellow bhikkhu. The section of the Vinaya where this rule is laid down contains supplementary rulings covering other kinds of assault by a bhikkhu. One of the rulings is that it’s no offence if a bhikkhu is attacked and strikes the attacker only in order to effect his escape.

    anāpatti kenaci viheṭhīyamāno mokkhādhippāyo pahāraṃ deti

    “There is no offence if, being in some difficulty, he gives a blow desiring freedom.”
    (Vin. iv. 146. I.B. Horner trans.)


thats it, i knew of this from a story where a monk hit another monk..thank you!
สัพเพ สัตตา สุขีตา โหนตุ

the mountain may be heavy in and of itself, but if you're not trying to carry it it's not heavy to you- Ajaan Suwat
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Re: Buddhism and Self Defence

Postby cooran » Sat May 23, 2009 10:03 pm

Though this is casting a wider net than the OP requested, this article f interest: Is violence justified in Theravada Buddhism? by Mahinda Deegalle

ConclusionThrough a close examination of three textual resources, we can see that a Buddhist cannot justify violence under any circumstance.

Examining a pervasive myth used for violence, we perceive that the position of the Pali Chronicles, the Mahavamsa, is rather contradictory to the fundamental Buddhist teachings of the Pali Canon. In addition, with an examination of terminology related to "violence" in the Sinhala language, it is clear that the corresponding terms used in Sinhala to communicate the multiple dimensions of violence are rather ambiguous and convoluted. A Buddhist cannot justify violence. The challenge for a modern Buddhist is to meditate on the Saddharmaratnavaliya's message that "the rage of one who vows vengeance cannot be quelled except by the waters of compassion".
http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m ... ntent;col1

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---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
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