Buddhism and the Soldier

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Buddhism and the Soldier

Postby cooran » Sun Apr 25, 2010 1:17 am

Hello all,

It is interesting, though a little confusing, on ANZAC Day, the day in which Australia remembers, and tends to glorify, those who went to war - to look at two very different view on how the Buddha regarded soldiers and war.

Anzac Day - Australia
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anzac_Day

Buddhism and the Soldier by Major General Ananda Weerasekera
http://www.beyondthenet.net/thedway/soldier.htm

Getting the Message by Thanissaro Bhikkhu
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... ssage.html

The Buddha and the Four-Limbed Army: The Military in the Pali Canon ___Matthew Kosuta Ph.D.
http://www.urbandharma.org/udharma6/militarycanon.html

What do you reckon?

with metta
Chris
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Re: Buddhism and the Soldier

Postby Ben » Sun Apr 25, 2010 3:14 am

Hi Chris

I tend to think that then, as now, a military is one of those necessary 'evils' so to speak.
Let's not forget that a military force can do a great deal of good, as we can see in examples of natural disaster relief, and in maintaining peace and security - without the loss of life.
kind regards

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Re: Buddhism and the Soldier

Postby cooran » Sun Apr 25, 2010 8:43 am

Thanks Ben. I think the problem arises when an enlisted soldier is inevitably ordered into a role, peace-keeping or otherwise, and is then placed in a position where he is armed with weapons for killing.

A little more.... from the Buddha:

"Apparently, headman, I haven't been able to get past you by saying, 'Enough, headman, put that aside. Don't ask me that.' So I will simply answer you. When a warrior strives & exerts himself in battle, his mind is already seized, debased, & misdirected by the thought: 'May these beings be struck down or slaughtered or annihilated or destroyed. May they not exist.' If others then strike him down & slay him while he is thus striving & exerting himself in battle, then with the breakup of the body, after death, he is reborn in the hell called the realm of those slain in battle. But if he holds such a view as this: 'When a warrior strives & exerts himself in battle, if others then strike him down & slay him while he is striving & exerting himself in battle, then with the breakup of the body, after death, he is reborn in the company of devas slain in battle,' that is his wrong view. Now, there are two destinations for a person with wrong view, I tell you: either hell or the animal womb."
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

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Re: Buddhism and the Soldier

Postby Zom » Sun Apr 25, 2010 3:36 pm

More:

Phagguna, is it true, that you spend much time with the bhikkhunis? Do you maintain such an association with the bhikkhunis that when a bhikkhu blames the bhikkhunis in your presence, you get annoyed and talk in favour of the bhikkhunis, and when a bhikkhu blames you in the presence of the bhikkhnis, they get annoyed and talk in favour of you? Phagguna, do you maintain such an association with the bhikkhunis?

- Yes, veneraable sir.

- Aren’t you the son of a clansman who has gone forth as a homeless out of faith?

- I am venerable sir.

- Phagguna, it is not suitable for the son of a clansman, who has gone forth as a homeless to spend much time with the bhikkhunis. Therefore Phagguna, when anyone blames the bhikkhunis in your presence, you should give up that worldly interest and worldly thoughts. Phagguna, there you should train like this: My mind will not change, I will not utter evil words, I will abide with compassion and loving kindness without an angry thought. Again Pagguna, if anyone beat those bhikkhunis with their hands or with clods, or sticks, or weapons, you should train as above. Again Phagguna, if anyone blames you in the face, you should train as above. If anyone beats you with hands, or clods, or sticks, or weapons, you should give up that worldly interest and worldly thoughts. Phagguna, there you should train like this- My mind will not change, I will not utter evil words, I will abide with compassion and loving kindness, without an angry thought.

MN 21
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Re: Buddhism and the Soldier

Postby Sekha » Sun Apr 25, 2010 4:29 pm

Ben wrote:Hi Chris
I tend to think that then, as now, a military is one of those necessary 'evils' so to speak.

I don't think any evil is necessary... In the worst case, we should accept to get slaughtered brutally without fear nor resentment.

If I am not mistaken, it is on the basis of such an assertion that Mohammed allowed his followers to use weapons in order to protect themselves against invaders, provided they kept wives and children of both parties safe. And we know what this lead to after his death.
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Re: Buddhism and the Soldier

Postby alan » Mon Apr 26, 2010 2:30 am

"evil" was put into quotes for a reason.
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Re: Buddhism and the Soldier

Postby Ben » Mon Apr 26, 2010 3:03 am

Thank you alan!

Hi Chris

Yes, I understand only too well the absolute dilemma that one can be confronted with. And it is an extraordinarily difficult one for any Buddhist to deal with and to be honest with you - I don;t know how to resolve it. Especially in an age when one is potentially confronted with an enemy who, potentially, motivated by the idea of martyrdom.

I don't agree with Dukkhanirodha that one should just "accept that we be slaughtered brutally without fear and resentment". I do not recall the Buddha saying anywhere that we should just be vegetables when faced with violence towards ourselves or others. It was Buddhaghosa who suggested that we should not leave ourselves outside of the net of compassion and loving kindness during metta bhavana. In the same way, we should be similarly motivated to protect ourselves and others when faced with violence.
kind regards

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Re: Buddhism and the Soldier

Postby cooran » Mon Apr 26, 2010 3:17 am

Ben said: I do not recall the Buddha saying anywhere that we should just be vegetables when faced with violence towards ourselves or others.


Can you give us references to scriptural quotes where the Buddha - anywhere or at any time - indicated that a layperson should use violence of any sort to protect him/her self?

with metta
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Re: Buddhism and the Soldier

Postby Ben » Mon Apr 26, 2010 4:02 am

cooran wrote:
Ben said: I do not recall the Buddha saying anywhere that we should just be vegetables when faced with violence towards ourselves or others.


Can you give us references to scriptural quotes where the Buddha - anywhere or at any time - indicated that a layperson should use violence of any sort to protect him/her self?

with metta
Chris


I didn't suggest that, Chris.
"One cannot step twice into the same river, nor can one grasp any mortal substance in a stable condition, but it scatters and again gathers; it forms and dissolves, and approaches and departs."

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Re: Buddhism and the Soldier

Postby cooran » Mon Apr 26, 2010 4:20 am

Yes - I was misunderstanding you - but on re-reading what you said, I can see you didn't necessarily mean violence was O.K.

Is running away the only alternative to direct fighting?
Or might building bridges long before a confrontation reaches an explosion point be worthwhile?
And perhaps taking precautions against incidental violence from intruders ...

Maybe other tings too ...

with metta
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Re: Buddhism and the Soldier

Postby gavesako » Mon Apr 26, 2010 7:00 am

I listened to a talk between Ajahn Chah and a group of visitors headed by Sanya Dharmasakti (Chief Privy Councillor) from the late 1970s. Ajahn Chah was talking about the principle of kamma. Then one of the visitors, a military officer, asked about "doing one's duty" which might mean using violence sometimes. Ajahn Chah's reply was very direct: no matter if you call it "your duty" or not, if you use violence to kill living beings, it is definitely bad kamma. He emphasised that Dhamma and worldly laws are quite separate, that the law of kamma operates outside of the conventions of society. He kind of paused a little, because his visitors were high ranking Bangkok civil servants and officers, but then stressed again: you can't say that you haven't committed bad kamma by calling it "your duty". It may be necessary in order to keep law and order in society to use some harsh methods, but it is nevertheless within the sphere of kamma. He didn't make any flattering comments to them because of their social rank, he just gave them straight Dhamma using some down-to-earth similies.

On another occasion, some Westerner asked him, "How can all these terrible things be happening in Buddhist countries?" He replied: "This is not Buddhism -- it is people doing such things. The Buddha did not teach to do such things."

I found one good text on the subject of Buddhism and War:
http://home.earthlink.net/~brelief1/bud_war.html

Recently I have been reading about the Buddhist history and how king Asoka in India for the first time used Buddhism as a kind of "national ideology" in order to govern the country and keep it under control and in peace. However, he first had to defeat some of his enemies and kill many people in the process. He also had to use punishment against those who were working against him. So it seems that there is a paradox in the very concept of a "dhammaraja" or Righteous King, and one cannot completely avoid using violence in that kind of position. Do you know the Temiya Jataka? It is the story of a prince who reflected on the law of kamma and decided to pretend that he was disabled, so that we would not have to take on the role of a king, because he was afraid of the bad kamma that he would get from sentencing people to death, etc. This Jataka story is very interesting because it is the opposite of the Cakkavatti-raja ideal (the Wheel-turning king) which is mentioned in some Suttas. I guess one tries to make a "heaven on earth" whereas the other acknowledges the real dangers of Samsara and shows the way out.
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Re: Buddhism and the Soldier

Postby cooran » Mon Apr 26, 2010 8:11 am

Hello Bhante Gavesako,

It is the Muga-Pakkha Jataka ~ Book XXII Mahanipata No 538 (p. 1 Vol. VI) ~ the story of Temiya-kumara, son of king Kasiraja. Very interesting.

with metta and respect,
Chris
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Re: Buddhism and the Soldier

Postby Sekha » Mon Apr 26, 2010 9:43 am

Ben wrote:I don't agree with Dukkhanirodha that one should just "accept that we be slaughtered brutally without fear and resentment". I do not recall the Buddha saying anywhere that we should just be vegetables when faced with violence towards ourselves or others. It was Buddhaghosa who suggested that we should not leave ourselves outside of the net of compassion and loving kindness during metta bhavana. In the same way, we should be similarly motivated to protect ourselves and others when faced with violence.

We don't necessarily disagree, as I neither say we should be like vegetables. I talked about "the worst case" where you can't do anything. Of course, there are plenty of things that might be done before such a situation may arise. But this cannot include the use of retaliation and weapons. In any way, we must recognize and accept the fact it is bad kamma ripening. According to the Jataka, when they tried to kill Mogallana, he simply fled, until he realized he had to get through this as a result of bad kamma. Then he let them cut him into pieces like a vegetable.

I think there is a way, even for a king, to reign without the use of violence. But this way may be very difficult to find. I think I remember it is mentioned somewhere in the suttas but I can't remember exactly where. The first thing to be done is not to generate any aversion against people threatening the peace of the country, and then act out of compassion for them, with as a primary intention to save them from their bad course of action, keeping the peace of the kingdom being only a secondary intention. If it is done truthfully, it might work without having to resort to violence.

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Re: Buddhism and the Soldier

Postby Zom » Mon Apr 26, 2010 9:49 am

I don't agree with Dukkhanirodha that one should just "accept that we be slaughtered brutally without fear and resentment". I do not recall the Buddha saying anywhere that we should just be vegetables when faced with violence towards ourselves or others.


Actually I gave a quotation above...

Again Pagguna, if anyone beat those bhikkhunis with their hands or with clods, or sticks, or weapons, you should train as above. Again Phagguna, if anyone blames you in the face, you should train as above. If anyone beats you with hands, or clods, or sticks, or weapons, you should give up that worldly interest and worldly thoughts. Phagguna, there you should train like this: "My mind will not change, I will not utter evil words, I will abide with compassion and loving kindness, without an angry thought".


Of course, you can and must defend yourself - but NOT by counter-attack. Run away, cover with shield or whatever... -)
I often think about 1941 when nazi forces attacked our country. What would I do if I lived at that time? If you flee - you will be arrested and executed. If you attack - you will kill many other people - german soldiers - who are just like you. Perhaps I would prefer to die in russian prison rather than go kill nazi forces. That is my strong point of view. If any world war 3 starts right now - I will escape somewhere to the jungles of Burma )) Why participate in this madness?
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Re: Buddhism and the Soldier

Postby Mukunda » Mon Apr 26, 2010 10:57 pm

gavesako wrote:Ajahn Chah's reply was very direct: no matter if you call it "your duty" or not, if you use violence to kill living beings, it is definitely bad kamma. He emphasised that Dhamma and worldly laws are quite separate, that the law of kamma operates outside of the conventions of society.

It may be necessary in order to keep law and order in society to use some harsh methods, but it is nevertheless within the sphere of kamma. He didn't make any flattering comments to them because of their social rank, he just gave them straight Dhamma using some down-to-earth similies.


A prime example of the inconvenient truths of Dhamma that so many so desperately try avoid or gloss over. The choice really does boil down to do I want to try and make samsara more bearable, or do I want to do what it takes to be liberated from it?
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Re: Buddhism and the Soldier

Postby Ben » Tue Apr 27, 2010 4:40 am

Thank you Dukkhanirodha, Zom and Mukunda

One of the points I have been trying to make, perhaps unsuccessfully, is that one cannot always determine or have foreknowledge of the kinds of situations one finds oneself in. Life is more complex, difficult and random than a hypothetical situation that we concoct in our heads or have discussions about. We see examples of this everyday on our headlines - victims of carjackings, armed hold-ups, abductions, unlawful killings, acts of criminal negligence and craven disregard for the welfare of others - and the list goes on.
Finding a clear path to a Dhammic course of action may not be so clear cut in the heat of the moment.
I'm pretty sure that I would not hold back from using force to neutralise an attack to myself or someone else.
What I do agree with everyone here - is the need to take responsibility for one's own kamma.
kind regards

Ben
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