Intruders (BnE) and Non Violence

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism

Re: Intruders (BnE) and Non Violence

Postby dagon » Fri Sep 13, 2013 8:28 pm

Without trying to drift any further in to the gun debate, my reasons why I do not want a gun in my home (not saying what others should do or think) are as follows.

I have not had a gun in my house since 1987, at that time I was a prison officer in a small town and my family was known to be an officer’s family. As such, my family was at a higher risk of being target than most in the community whether for purposes of revenge or attempts to influence my actions. I had extensive knowledge of firearms from military, custodial and target shooting training. I had the opportunity to get to know a lot of criminals and to find out how their various minds worked. This is what informed the decision that I made at that time. Buddhism was not a consideration in the decision.

25 years later I have no regrets about that decision, all that has changed is that I have tried to move towards a Buddhist life style and tried to develop a better understanding of the Dhamma through living a more ethical life, study and appropriate reflection on my intentions and actions. I have examined my life and tried to see what is useful to the practice and what is not useful.

My truth (which is only applicable to me)

If I have a gun in my possession then I have the intention to kill under certain circumstances. If I buy a gun for the purpose of “defending myself, my home and my family” then I am buying a weapon – engaging in trading of weapons.

The reason that I would buy a gun is that I was living in fear and that should tell me something about my (lack) of adherence to the teachings. That if I hold such a total aversion to the unlikely events of a home invasion with the intention to kill that I am binding myself to something that I don’t want. I think that all too often we terrorize ourselves and force ourselves to live in ways that we do not want – this is no different in effect than a terrorist action against ourselves. Violence has a rebounding effect but with each rebound it gathers force – until someone of peace stops the violence in its tracks. The words from the Pali Cannon that come to mind are “stop now, no you stop now”

The irony of the discussion to me is that the only times that anyone has broken into my house with the intention of killing was a friend who intended to commit suicide. I had dinner with her last night because of a discussion on the forum about approaches to alcoholism and I remembered that I had been somewhat negligent in my support for her continuing recovery. She thanked me more times than I care to remember for saving her life (on a number of occasions). I have asked her before why she did what she did in my house and she said that “I knew my body would be treated with dignity”.

Metta
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Re: Intruders (BnE) and Non Violence

Postby Sima » Fri Sep 13, 2013 9:13 pm

Hi!

I signed up just today, so I hope I'm not committing any blunders posting on this thread, especially on such an emotional topic.

Others have commented on the importance of intentionality, on the one hand, and on the permissibility of "striking a blow" when the intention is "to escape." That was very well said, and I've nothing to add to any of that. Dagon's posts are particularly interesting, with his background in corrections, and I respect his decision. Also, as was pointed out earlier, the default in Theravada seems to be toward pacifism, and away from "striking a blow in order to escape."

In case it's of interest to anyone, I can comment very briefly about firearms. Going back to intentionality as the key, the question becomes, "What is your intention in having, carrying, or using a firearm?" To the average person, a firearm is made to kill, and having or using one indicates the intention to kill. That would certainly create bad karma, so anyone with that view of the matter would do most skillfully to have nothing to do with firearms.

Depending on the individual, it might be possible to carry a firearm with a different intention. I have worked in law enforcement, and I have carried a firearm. I asked a Theravada monastic in the US whether working in law enforcement could possibly be seen as "right occupation," and he gave that infuriating answer: "It depends." It depends on your intentions, and it depends what you might do when faced with circumstances that seem to call for wrong action, or wrong speech, etc.

My job in law enforcement was serving arrest warrants: my work day was spent arresting people. My intention was to protect... the people I was arresting. Another person in that job might break down the door, use excessive violence, etc. I've been able to do the job without breaking any doors, without using any violence, without harming anyone--partly, of course, because I've had the good fortune not to run into anyone who was determined to fight me. But I knew that this might happen sooner or later, and as required for the job, I carried a firearm. I did it with no intention of harming anyone. The facts that were uppermost in my mind were:

  • The likelihood of using it was slim--more than 90% of police go their entire careers without ever using their firearm in the line of duty.
  • If a situation arose in which a firearm is needed, the majority of the time no shots are ever fired. Drawing the firearm ends the confrontation.
  • If it became necessary to fire a shot, the person is unlikely to die: when police specifically try to shoot someone, about 75% of the time nobody actually dies.
  • Finally, whether or not anyone dies, my intention would be to end the conflict, not to cause death.

I won't say whether that proves I had right intentions, or that carrying the firearm was right action, and I certainly would never say that this proves that other people should do so. But perhaps it illustrates a frame of mind in which carrying a firearm might not be unskillful action. That said, I very seldom carry a firearm anymore. The more the precepts sink into my consciousness, the more I simply don't want to do so. Not that I never do, or that I've decided never to do it, but the desire to do it simply isn't present.

Metta,
Sima.
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Re: Intruders (BnE) and Non Violence

Postby Dhammabodhi » Fri Sep 13, 2013 9:24 pm

As a case study, the story of Ajahn Sucitto getting robbed in a forest near Rajgir(old Rajgaha) is striking. Whether his response (highlighted) is right or wrong, is upto you to decide.

Rude Awakenings wrote:The bag was hanging on my left shoulder. Across my chest
was slung the water bottle and mug so that they dangled by my right
side. It was from behind me on that side that the little chap approached.
He caught hold of my mug, and as I turned, asked in Hindi where we
were going. There were others with him; they were the men who had
been sitting on top of the dead buffalo. “To the next village,” I said as he
tugged my mug urgently. “What is it? Do you want this thing? It’s only
a mug....”
Then everything blew up. Nick turned round with a menacing expression
on his face; someone was tugging my robe on one side while the
first man was hauling frantically at the mug on its strap on the other.
Three men charged at Nick who was crouched boxer-style; he wheeled
and hit them with his backpack, then ran off with the three of them in
hot pursuit. I was being lugged in two directions simultaneously by the
strap on my water bottle and on my bag, I could only try to get the stuff
off and let them have it, but their pulling on it made that impossible.We
were going round in circles, with their excitement spinning into frenzy.
I had to stop this. “Wait!Wait! Let me get this stuff off !” Momentarily
they stood still. They all had axes and staves. The leader glared at me
through twisted features and raised his axe.
Funny how your mind goes clear when the options disappear. Why
struggle against the inevitable? The only freedom was to go without
fear. I bowed my head and pointed the top of my skull toward him, drew
the blade of my hand along it from the crown of my head to the brow.
“Hit it right there.” Something shifted; he backed off,waving his axe and
muttering angrily. I stepped forward and repeated the action. Give it
away; let it all go.




You can read what happened next here (page 238): http://amaravati.org/downloads/pdf/Rude ... gs_web.pdf

:anjali:
-Samāhitam cittam yathābhutam pajānāti.

समाहितं चित्तं यथाभूतं पजानाती |

A concentrated mind sees things as they really are.

-Ujuko nāma so maggo, abhayā nāma sā disā.

उजुको नाम सो माग्गो, अभया नाम सा दिसा |

'Straight' is this path, fearlessness is its way.
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Re: Intruders (BnE) and Non Violence

Postby dagon » Sat Sep 14, 2013 2:02 am

Hi Sima
Welcome to the forum – and as far as I can see your post is most appropriate and appreciated.

Sima"

My job in law enforcement was serving arrest warrants: my work day was spent arresting people. My intention was to protect... the people I was arresting. Another person in that job might break down the door, use excessive violence, etc. I've been able to do the job without breaking any doors, without using any violence, without harming anyone--partly, of course, because I've had the good fortune not to run into anyone who was determined to fight me. But I knew that this might happen sooner or later, and as required for the job, I carried a firearm. I did it with no intention of harming anyone.



The work situation you describe and your attitudes and intentions are most useful and enlightening.
Your intentions are well known to you “clients” and the behavior that they can expect under any given response by them is well known. You are in control of the situation partly by planning and partially because you are in control of yourself. You good luck was mainly of your own making – you are a professional. You have the gun accessible and are trained to use it for the purpose that you intend.

This can be contrasted with a home invasion situation where they are in control (but probably not of themselves). You are responding to the situation and maybe faced with superior numbers and or fire power. The risk to bystanders is a risk to those who you emotional want to protect. You (hopefully) don’t walk around the house with side arms strapped to your side and in all probability have the gun in another room. There is a high probability that the people that you are confronted with are affected by drugs, mental disorders or both. They are probably also subject to excitement about what they plan and fear of getting caught. This list is far from complete but serves to illustrate the point.

The figure of 75% injury without death is true but is part of my non-buddhist decision not to have guns in my house. It is NOT generated by a decision to injure and not kill rather the effectiveness of fire arm and their use in stressful situation.

metta
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Re: Intruders (BnE) and Non Violence

Postby David N. Snyder » Sat Sep 14, 2013 2:58 am

dagon wrote:The figure of 75% injury without death is true but is part of my non-buddhist decision not to have guns in my house. It is NOT generated by a decision to injure and not kill rather the effectiveness of fire arm and their use in stressful situation.


As far as breaking and entering into one's home, typically home owners know the layout of their home much better than the home invader and can escape or if they have a weapon use it to keep the assailants guarded until the police arrive. But I am not advocating for anyone to get a gun. Guns are very dangerous. They are not for everyone. Gun owners need plenty of training. It is a personal decision a person needs to make based on their needs, their intention and other factors. Some people purchase guns strictly for target shooting. The guns are not specifically designed or intended to kill anything other than paper targets. But this is a sport choice which most people are not interested in. Most of us here probably live in areas that are not in high crime areas.

Sima wrote:
  • The likelihood of using it was slim--more than 90% of police go their entire careers without ever using their firearm in the line of duty.
  • If a situation arose in which a firearm is needed, the majority of the time no shots are ever fired. Drawing the firearm ends the confrontation.
  • If it became necessary to fire a shot, the person is unlikely to die: when police specifically try to shoot someone, about 75% of the time nobody actually dies.
  • Finally, whether or not anyone dies, my intention would be to end the conflict, not to cause death.


Hi Sima and Dagon,

Like the two of you, I also was in LE (law enforcement) and worked for the Federal Prison system and had weapons on me when transporting prisoners. Sima's list is very accurate. Although most of the time when the police do shoot, they miss their target, which is why 75% of the time no one dies, but that is another story for some other time. Fortunately, I never had to fire a weapon at a person and only had to use #2 above which worked; simply the drawing and sight of the firearm ended the confrontation.
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Re: Intruders (BnE) and Non Violence

Postby Buckwheat » Sun Sep 15, 2013 4:09 am

DonnieRage wrote:"Give a blow desiring emancipation" Would this apply politically (like to those in tibet, for example)? I know the Dalai Lama advises against violence, but it seems peaceful protest and even extreme self violence (like self immolation) have very little effect overall. Throughout my life I've often thought that when it comes to situations like that you have to "speak their own language" which with totalitarian states, is normally violence :( This is actually an issue that's caused me a little bit of stress as I come from a radical anarchist background, and I'm trying to work non-violence into my life. It's obvious to me that peaceful protest works to some extent (majority of the civil rights movement) but then you're waiting around for those in rule to decide they just don't want that power anymore.

Thanks in advance for any feedback
:thanks:


In Gandhi's autobiagraphy he says (paraphrasing) that non-violent protest must not be confused for passive protest. You still have to make a stir so that people notice the protest and see the atrocity of the opposing rulers. Thus Gandhi is famous for things like making salt, which publicized to oppression of British rule.. The point is to get a large populace backing you, not to overtake them with force.
Last edited by Buckwheat on Sun Sep 15, 2013 4:26 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Intruders (BnE) and Non Violence

Postby Buckwheat » Sun Sep 15, 2013 4:24 am

Ben wrote:Hi Jeff,

I think my recommendation above of mitigating risk of break-in by investing in making your home more secure and less appealing as a break-in target is probably my preferred option and is consistent with Buddhist teachings. But if you do find yourself being subject to a home invasion - I would recommend that you remove yourself and your family to outside the property and call the police. If you can't do that, then stay calm.
I might be naive but I don't think that it ever ends well when armed home-owners confront intruders. The intruder already has some very dark kamma to face as a result of the forced entry, intimidation and theft. Stepping into a situation that is highly charged and unpredictable - you leave yourself open to the possibility of reaping the bitter fruit created by acting out of intense fear and anger.
kind regards,

Ben


Even many "self-defense" gun owners here in the states will point out the first line of defense is to make yourself a difficult (not-appealing) target. Make your house the least appealing one in your neighborhood and you will probably hear about a neighbor being robbed before you are ever robbed. Crooks aim for the low-lying fruit.
Sotthī hontu nirantaraṃ - May you forever be well.
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Re: Intruders (BnE) and Non Violence

Postby dagon » Sun Sep 15, 2013 3:35 pm

One of the issues that i have with guns in my house is biased on the number that have been used in suicides. I believe that far more people die as a result of suicide than murder. Why have just another means of suicide laying around the house.

These are two links that those concerned by the (ummm) risk of a violent home invasion for the purpose of murder and associated gun issues.
http://www.aic.gov.au/publications/curr ... paper.html
http://www.aic.gov.au/publications/curr ... paper.html

If we look at the more likely causes of death in the home it is shocking how under prepared we are. How many of us have real plans to deal with likely emergencies - sickness, accident, and fire to mention just 3. How well have we communicated with other that live in house what to do in such events. Surely this would be a more beneficial activity to be engaged in.

There is very little left in my house that would attract the interest of criminals because as i worked out what is important in my life a lot of what i owned has been given away. Such things as photos have been scanned and copies given to other people so if i lost every thing then i can still get back what matters to me.

My home security preparations have been to reduce the vegetation around the house which has the dual benefit of making it harder for others to hid activities on my property as well as increasing engagement with my neighbors. My neighbors are my best security when i am away from the house because they will (and have) phoned the police if they see anything suspicious occurring.

What may appear strange to other people is that when i am not there i lock my front door but leave the back door unlocked. My reason is simple - i can replace anything that is stolen without any problem but if some one damages the house it will play on my mind until i fix it.

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