The kammic implications of the abuse of power

Theravāda in the 21st century - modern applications of ancient wisdom

The kammic implications of the abuse of power

Postby retrofuturist » Tue Mar 03, 2009 4:55 am

Greetings,

Some interesting thoughts taken from Nyanaponika Thera's "The Roots Of Good And Evil" that focus on the kammic effects of abusing power. If only the Burmese junta, the Chinese government, Robert Magame's despotic rule of Zimbabwe and other such authoritatian establishments were more aware of the consequences of their actions... not just to others and their country, but to themselves as individuals as well.

May all beings be happy.

Metta,
Retro. :)

---------------------------------------

The Buddha (AN 3.69):

There are, O monks, three roots of the unwholesome:
greed, hatred and delusion.

Greed, hatred and delusion of every kind are unwholesome.
Whatever kamma a greedy, hating and deluded person heaps
up, by deeds, words or thoughts, that, too, is unwholesome.
Whatever suffering such a person, overpowered by greed, hatred
and delusion, his thoughts controlled by them, inflicts under false
pretexts upon another — by killing, imprisonment, confiscation
of property, false accusations or expulsion, being prompted
in this by the thought, ‘I have power and I want power’ — all
this is unwholesome too. In this manner, there arise in him many
evil unwholesome states of mind, born of and originating from
greed, hatred and delusion, caused and conditioned by greed,
hatred and delusion.


Nyanaponika Thera:

As our text vividly shows, the three roots of evil have dreadful
repercussions on society, as causes of cruelty and the infliction
of suffering. e Buddha speaks of the three as motives for the
unrestrained use of power, and the examples given in the text
make it clear that he refers to political power: a ruler’s abuse of
power whether in time of war against his country’s enemy, or in
peacetime towards its own population. During his lifetime, the
Buddha must have observed many cases of violence and oppression.
He also must have known that the false pretexts justifying
such abuses of power are used in war as well as in peace. False
propaganda against a country’s enemy, and slander of the chosen
victims in the ruler’s own country, obviously existed even 2,500
years ago. In fact, all those instances of violence and oppression
mentioned by the Buddha have quite a familiar ring today. And
of course, the driving forces behind them are still the same: greed,
hatred and delusion. In modern history, however, the central role
has shifted towards delusion, which runs beneath various aggressive
ideologies of a religious, political or racial character.
e Buddha may have been recalling his life as a prince at
his father’s court when he spoke those moving verses opening the
sutta called ‘e Use of Violence’ (Aṭṭa-daṇḍa Sutta):

The Buddha (Sn 935-36):

The use of violence breeds terror:
See the nation embroiled in strife!
How this has moved my heart,
How I was stirred, I shall now tell.
Seeing the crowds in frantic movement,
Like swarms of fish when the pond dries up:
Seeing how people fight each other,
By fear and horror I was struck.


Nyanaponika Thera:

Only rarely did the Buddha speak about those darker sides of
contemporary society, but these few texts show that he was a keen
and compassionate observer.
Generally, all three roots of evil operate in those acts of
violence and oppression which our text mentions. But in specific
cases any of the three might be dominant, though an element of
delusion, or ignorance, will always be present. In war, rulers might
be motivated chiefly by greed for territory, wealth, economic
dominance or political supremacy; but to make the war popular
among their own people, they will employ hate-propaganda to
whip up their will to fight. Delusion was a prominent motive in
the religious wars of the past, and in our present time it still crops
up in ideological wars and revolutions, as well as in religious,
political and racial persecutions within a country.
In all these cases, delusion produces hate, with greed too
often lurking in the background. Oppressive regimes, in their
acts directed against sections of their own people, share the same
motives. e interaction of the roots is sometimes quite complex,
as they grow in strength by feeding each other.
e Buddha understood well the psychology of the mighty,
which basically has not changed through the millenia. All those
wrongful acts, from killing down to expulsion of innocent victims,
are committed out of the lust for power — the enjoyment
of power, the wish to secure it and the drive to expand its range.
His power craze is, of course, an obsessive delusion intricately
bound up with authority. It threatens to overcome all those who
exercise authority over others, from the old style monarchs to
the modern dictator. Even the petty bureaucrat does not escape:
he too delights in wielding his own little share of power and
displaying his stamp of authority.
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


Dharma Wheel (Mahayana / Vajrayana forum) -- Open flower ~ Open book (blog)
User avatar
retrofuturist
Site Admin
 
Posts: 14679
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 9:52 pm
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Re: The kammic implications of the abuse of power

Postby cooran » Fri Mar 06, 2009 9:22 pm

Hello Retro, all,

Retro quoted: Oppressive regimes, in their
acts directed against sections of their own people, share the same
motives. e interaction of the roots is sometimes quite complex,
as they grow in strength by feeding each other.
e Buddha understood well the psychology of the mighty,
which basically has not changed through the millenia. All those
wrongful acts, from killing down to expulsion of innocent victims,
are committed out of the lust for power — the enjoyment
of power, the wish to secure it and the drive to expand its range.
His power craze is, of course, an obsessive delusion intricately
bound up with authority. It threatens to overcome all those who
exercise authority over others, from the old style monarchs to
the modern dictator. Even the petty bureaucrat does not escape:
he too delights in wielding his own little share of power and
displaying his stamp of authority.

I don't think it is just the heads of state or managers who need to ponder on results of decisions......
I'm wondering how the decisions of ordinary public servants (bureaucrats and professionals) add to their own kamma? Because of the blinding result of Ignorance, it is hard to clearly know which causes and conditions within ourselves contribute to decisions and actions we make in our daily lives at work. I could, for instance, really believe that I am closing this case (as a social worker) because the client seems to be handling her life well - but it really could be that it is because I (personally) don't like the woman, it is difficult to reserve a vehicle to visit her, and she is the most geograpicly isolated client on the books - visits to her home always take so much time and cause me to finish late.

Kamma is such a complicated thing - not just one action one result.

metta
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---
User avatar
cooran
 
Posts: 7644
Joined: Tue Jan 06, 2009 11:32 pm
Location: Queensland, Australia


Return to Theravāda for the modern world

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 7 guests