Just War

An open and inclusive investigation into Buddhism and spiritual cultivation

Just War

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Thu Feb 12, 2009 12:27 am

In two weeks time I will go to a local school to discuss with Sixth Formers the topic of a Just War. Here are some the starter questions:
  1. Is there such a thing as a Just War?
  2. What should be the rules of a Just War?
  3. Was World War II a Just War?
  4. Is a Just War possible with today's weapons?
  5. Is violence ever acceptable?
  6. When is violence acceptable?
  7. When should religious people go to war?
  8. Is pacifism the ideal for all religious people?
  9. Is pacifism possible in today's world?
  10. Is it irresponsible for a state/government to be pacifist?
  11. Is there a difference between personal behaviour and the behaviour of a state/government?
  12. Is pacifism an ideal and war a reality?
  13. Does Religion get used to justify political wars?
  14. Should a person's religious beliefs ever be used to justify the killing of another?
  15. Should a person's beliefs ever be used to justify the taking of land?
  16. If one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter – is terrorism ever justifiable?

Any comments on the above questions?
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Re: Just War

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Feb 12, 2009 12:41 am

Greetings venerable,

I think that's a very comprehensive list with a lot of scope for ethical and philosophical investigation. They could spend the entire sixth form investigating those topics and still not exhaust their potential!

Metta,
Retro. :)
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


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Re: Just War

Postby Ben » Thu Feb 12, 2009 1:11 am

That is excellent, Bhante!
No doubt, you know that many young men and women are conditioned by the rhetoric of 'the war on terror'. Given where the school is and its cultural cross-section, you may have some work to do to get the kids to begin questioning the concept of a 'just war' rather then them justifying their deeply held beliefs.
Some examples from history that may demonstrate the absolute stupidity and futility of war include the Children's Crusade, the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand which sparked the Great War, and the convenient 'intelligence failure' before Gulf War II.
Other historical examples are the battles between European powers during middle ages and early industrialisation over resources including salt.
I hope your talk goes well and I hope you will share the experience with us.
Metta

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Re: Just War

Postby zavk » Thu Feb 12, 2009 2:08 am

I hope mods won't mind this, but a friend of mine once joked that going to war in the name of peace is like f---ing for chastity.

But that's a great list, plenty to talk about.

:)
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Re: Just War

Postby BubbaBuddhist » Thu Feb 12, 2009 2:44 am

That should cover it, Bhante.

As a side note, it's great to "see" you again.

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Re: Just War

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Feb 12, 2009 2:45 am

Greetings,

Bubbabuddhist wrote:As a side note, it's great to "see" you again.

Yes, I was thinking the same thing.

Metta,
Retro. :)
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


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Re: Just War

Postby Element » Thu Feb 12, 2009 3:05 am

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:[list=1][*]Is there such a thing as a Just War?
[*]Was World War II a Just War?

No. Wars arise from causes and conditions. WWII was merely an extension of WW1, of which both were wars arising from a colonial race.

Put another way, the horrors committed in China by the Japanese were no different than the horrors committed in China by England in its Opium Wars.

WWII was an intevitable war. It was unavoidable just as certain wars that may arise in the future are unavoidable.

A Buddhist can decided to see thru all of this bullchit and AVOID.

The world is illusion. As Buddha said, a painted chariot.
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Re: Just War

Postby cooran » Thu Feb 12, 2009 7:53 am

Hello Ven. Pesala,

I think the list of questions is comprehensive.

Here are a few short readings giving diverse buddhist opinions:

“Just War” is an Oxymoron - Santikaro Bhikkhu, on behalf of BPF’s Dharma Council, March 2003
http://www.liberationpark.org/bpf/just-war-oxy.htm

1. A "JUST WAR" IS INCOMPATIBABLE WITH BUDDHISM by Asian Human Rights Commission - Religious Groups for Human Rights
http://www.rghr.net/mainfile.php/0507/476/

In Defense of Dharma: Just-war Ideology in Buddhist Sri Lanka, review by Annewieke Vroom
http://www.lankanewspapers.com/news/200 ... space.html

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Re: Just War

Postby Rui Sousa » Thu Feb 12, 2009 10:32 am

Greetings Venerable,

:namaste:

I believe those questions will put the students brains working, and raise important questions that are seldom addressed.

As Plato said, in his book "Laws", there three types of war: 1 - war with another state, 2 - war within the state or family, 3 - war within one's mind. I would add that a warring mind is a precondition for war, a peaceful mind is the way for the end of war.

I hope your discussion with the students goes well for all involved.
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Re: Just War

Postby Rui Sousa » Thu Feb 12, 2009 10:50 am

On another post Calvin & Hobbes were mentioned, and while I was looking for some of my favorite strips I found this one, that sums up some of the issues Venerable Pesala mentioned:

Image
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Re: Just War

Postby Cittasanto » Thu Feb 12, 2009 2:30 pm

all questions with no end with out a belief for or against pacifism
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
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Re: Just War

Postby AdvaitaJ » Sat Feb 14, 2009 2:26 am

Venerable,

I'm still quite new to Buddhism, but I was trained for war (long ago, in my youth). I have no idea what your circumstances are, but I could easily believe your surroundings include mostly persons of like mind. As a consequence, I think it may help you to be better prepared to be aware of the following possible responses:

Is there such a thing as a Just War?
Only one that you in no way precipitated or initiated.
What should be the rules of a Just War?
Minimum violence necessary to restore the peace.
Was World War II a Just War?
Parts of it. Certainly Hitler and Hirohito had to be stopped.
Is a Just War possible with today's weapons?
Some of them make it more possible. Some of them make it impossible.
Is violence ever acceptable?
See below: (This question and the next are somewhat duplicates.)
When is violence acceptable?
Only as a genuine last resort (and the phrase "last resort" is way easy to abuse).
When should religious people go to war?
Depends on the religion and whether or not its adherents are willing to allow it to be extinguished.
Is pacifism the ideal for all religious people?
No, it isn't, but pacifism should be the ideal for all people.
Is pacifism possible in today's world?
More possible than it used to be.
Is it irresponsible for a state/government to be pacifist?
The state should provide security for the people, and pacifism may be the best way to achieve that. On the other hand, the perception of weakness has often led to the initiation of hostilities.
Is there a difference between personal behaviour and the behaviour of a state/government?
Yes. The same as there is a difference between an individual's mentality and a crowd's.
Is pacifism an ideal and war a reality?
So far.
Does Religion get used to justify political wars?
Any and every difference is/has been used to justify wars.
Should a person's religious beliefs ever be used to justify the killing of another?
No, but it does happen.
Should a person's beliefs ever be used to justify the taking of land?
Wars happen in this manner when one group of people has more of something that the other group needs/wants.
If one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter – is terrorism ever justifiable?
The victors write the history.

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Re: Just War

Postby Will » Sat Feb 14, 2009 3:26 am

Since Augustine and the Roman Catholics came up with this Just War notion, here is how a Catholic describes it:

http://www.catholic.com/library/Just_War_Doctrine_1.asp
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Re: Just War

Postby nathan » Tue Feb 17, 2009 6:57 am

Will wrote:Since Augustine and the Roman Catholics came up with this Just War notion, here is how a Catholic describes it:
http://www.catholic.com/library/Just_War_Doctrine_1.asp
I read over the Just War Doctrine as detailed in the link. I note the absence of what I consider an important precondition to the whole consideration of war and/or of 'just war' that is rarely if ever presented for any fair and reasonable public discussion.

Namely, "Does the aggressor have a legitimate grievance?" Secondarily, "Despite the legitimacy or illegitimacy of the grievance has there been a thorough consideration of the relative costs of going to war vs. the costs of addressing the grievance?" Thirdly, "Have any efforts been made to address the grievance in whole or in part?" Considering how little attention these considerations typically receive (generally none), I find it hard to consider any of the known war doctrines legitimate.

In regards to the doctrine in the link, I can only ask, "At what point and under what conditions will we have these supposed statesmen who act in the interests of the common good?" I've yet to hear word of such a state of affairs visibly persisting anywhere in the world at any point now or in our collective memory (aka the historical record - the Buddha's references to wheel turning monarchs in the ancient past [frequently dismissed as mythical - not by me], as the recollections of one historical person, are both accepted and excepted).

It seems to me that most of the overt and widely destructive warfare in the last century has arisen from the global promotion of the pernicious concept of the right to assert a national identity, frequently in conjunction with territorial rights, (thanks again America!). Given the present context where a global non-culture is impacting, compromising and homogenizing all cultures and will likely overcome all cultures it might be best to give serious thought to discern that which is valuable and retainable from any and all of the traditional cultures we have variously known and do all that we can to preserve what we can. Retaining the way of life of traditional cultures can more or less be considered a lost cause. If we likewise see a disappearance of "national identities" it need not be considered a complete loss if we can each retain and maintain that which is of real value to us as individuals and as a species. If we cannot face up to the emerging conditions and set aside our former identifications we will of course suffer far more in the future because we are not facing the arising of a monoculture or of a dominant culture but the end of culture more or less entirely as we have all variously known it in the past.

In the context of this emerging non-culture there is a decreasing 'tribal' basis for warfare and so fewer outlets for the warfare goods and services franchises. As they say in the industry, "It is not the one gun for every twelve people on planet earth which is the problem, the question is, "how do we arm the other eleven?" In a studious effort to prepare for this we have already seen the beginning of "conceptual wars" such as the "war on drugs" and the "war on terror" and by casting persisting and visible social differences in this light a context for "perpetual escalation" is guaranteed thus guaranteeing the future growth of the War Industry, which has already long been the dominant economic sector. Social stability and the maintenance of the ongoing hierarchical social structure will probably also increasingly require more overt forms of "class warfare" than those which predominate today.

My personal answer after long consideration and reflection is "No". No to war. Period. No to violence. Period. None of it is ultimately justifiable when one is as fully aware as is possible regarding the overall context of one's existence (and it was my working assumption that until such time I had no thoroughly considered justification for offensive or defensive violence and so my position has remained consistent). Naturally most will object to such a blanket statement on any number of grounds, which if we explore that ground, eventually are found to be groundless. A common example is offered by those who will "do anything to defend their children". I understand. My choice, suitable to maintaining my stance, have no children, therefore no children to defend. And so on, no to self-defense, etc, etc..
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Re: Just War

Postby Rui Sousa » Tue Feb 17, 2009 2:47 pm

nathan wrote:My personal answer after long consideration and reflection is "No". No to war. Period. No to violence. Period. None of it is ultimately justifiable when one is as fully aware as is possible regarding the overall context of one's existence (and it was my working assumption that until such time I had no thoroughly considered justification for offensive or defensive violence and so my position has remained consistent). Naturally most will object to such a blanket statement on any number of grounds, which if we explore that ground, eventually are found to be groundless. A common example is offered by those who will "do anything to defend their children". I understand. My choice, suitable to maintaining my stance, have no children, therefore no children to defend. And so on, no to self-defense, etc, etc..


Hi Nathan,

I believe self preservation, protection of your family and defense of your tribe are the fuel for too many wars.

It all comes down to kamma, I believe that setting your mind to peace will create the conditions to be less prone to life in a war situation. If a war cames knocking on my door... And if I can't leave the war... And if there is compulsory drafting... I may find myself with a gun in my hands, but I can't envision any justification for that.

I would certainly try to avoid any harm being done to my family, but there skillful and unskillful ways of preserving their welfare.
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Re: Just War

Postby nathan » Tue Feb 17, 2009 9:20 pm

Rui Sousa wrote:
nathan wrote:My personal answer after long consideration and reflection is "No". No to war. Period. No to violence. Period. None of it is ultimately justifiable when one is as fully aware as is possible regarding the overall context of one's existence (and it was my working assumption that until such time I had no thoroughly considered justification for offensive or defensive violence and so my position has remained consistent). Naturally most will object to such a blanket statement on any number of grounds, which if we explore that ground, eventually are found to be groundless. A common example is offered by those who will "do anything to defend their children". I understand. My choice, suitable to maintaining my stance, have no children, therefore no children to defend. And so on, no to self-defense, etc, etc..


Hi Nathan,

I believe self preservation, protection of your family and defense of your tribe are the fuel for too many wars.

It all comes down to kamma, I believe that setting your mind to peace will create the conditions to be less prone to life in a war situation. If a war cames knocking on my door... And if I can't leave the war... And if there is compulsory drafting... I may find myself with a gun in my hands, but I can't envision any justification for that.

I would certainly try to avoid any harm being done to my family, but there skillful and unskillful ways of preserving their welfare.
It seems reasonable to me that one may have alternatives to violence when fleeing it but it is also sometimes not so. It is understandable to me that many would not simply be able to watch while family are maimed and killed while some may be able to do so or unable to act to prevent it. The only absolutely secure stance is in having nothing to defend or remaining unwilling to defend even that which one does possess or maintain a responsibility for the defense of.

This would ultimately have to include the self in any form. Apart from that one may practice otherwise, think and feel otherwise, but one is not truly otherwise and one cannot be certain that one will not be drawn into a defense in some manner. It is not an easy position to hold, the only consistently functional tactic is a thoroughly encompassing renunciation and dispassion. Until then one exercises self control and so on but it is not possible to predict that one will do so with complete fidelity until one is absolutely certain of that capacity and inclination. I noted in my own life and in other's lives how quickly and without malice or forethought this could change in a dynamic situation. The only certainty that one can have in this dynamic context is to abandon all of these responsibilities and affinities and to strictly avoid all such bonds and duties. Short of that, even a deeply committed pacifist such as myself cannot be certain that one would not act violently. There can be no certainty about this at all, short of a full awakening to the truth of all things as they are.
But whoever walking, standing, sitting, or lying down overcomes thought, delighting in the stilling of thought: he's capable, a monk like this, of touching superlative self-awakening. § 110. {Iti 4.11; Iti 115}
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Re: Just War

Postby Rui Sousa » Thu Feb 19, 2009 12:16 am

nathan wrote: (...) This would ultimately have to include the self in any form. Apart from that one may practice otherwise, think and feel otherwise, but one is not truly otherwise and one cannot be certain that one will not be drawn into a defense in some manner. It is not an easy position to hold, the only consistently functional tactic is a thoroughly encompassing renunciation and dispassion. Until then one exercises self control and so on but it is not possible to predict that one will do so with complete fidelity until one is absolutely certain of that capacity and inclination. I noted in my own life and in other's lives how quickly and without malice or forethought this could change in a dynamic situation. The only certainty that one can have in this dynamic context is to abandon all of these responsibilities and affinities and to strictly avoid all such bonds and duties. Short of that, even a deeply committed pacifist such as myself cannot be certain that one would not act violently. There can be no certainty about this at all, short of a full awakening to the truth of all things as they are.


Well said.

As long as there is ill will, and other defilements, one can't be assured not to act violently, but renunciation of mundane life is a safer path to follow.
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Re: Just War

Postby Individual » Thu Feb 19, 2009 3:57 am

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:In two weeks time I will go to a local school to discuss with Sixth Formers the topic of a Just War. Here are some the starter questions:
  1. Is there such a thing as a Just War?
  2. What should be the rules of a Just War?
  3. Was World War II a Just War?
  4. Is a Just War possible with today's weapons?
  5. Is violence ever acceptable?
  6. When is violence acceptable?
  7. When should religious people go to war?
  8. Is pacifism the ideal for all religious people?
  9. Is pacifism possible in today's world?
  10. Is it irresponsible for a state/government to be pacifist?
  11. Is there a difference between personal behaviour and the behaviour of a state/government?
  12. Is pacifism an ideal and war a reality?
  13. Does Religion get used to justify political wars?
  14. Should a person's religious beliefs ever be used to justify the killing of another?
  15. Should a person's beliefs ever be used to justify the taking of land?
  16. If one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter – is terrorism ever justifiable?

Any comments on the above questions?

I think that Buddhism should neither be regarded as supporting "just war" theory nor being strictly pacifist. Both of these are speculative views, which detract from the simple yet unsurpassable excellence and all-encompassing teaching of Noble Right View. Regarding "just war" theory, the Tipitaka categorically condemns violence and does not regard violence as essential to enlightenment.

Dhp. v. 129-134
All
tremble at the rod,
all
are fearful of death.
Drawing the parallel to
yourself,
neither kill nor get others to kill.

All
tremble at the rod,
all
hold their life dear.
Drawing the parallel to
yourself,
neither kill nor get others to kill.

Whoever takes a rod
to harm living beings desiring ease,
when he himself is looking for ease,
will meet with no ease after death.

Whoever doesn't take a rod
to harm living beings desiring ease,
when he himself is looking for ease,
will meet with ease after death.

Speak harshly to no one,
or the words will be thrown
right back at you.
Contentious talk is painful,
for you get struck by rods in return.

If, like a flattened metal pot
you don't resound,
you've attained an Unbinding;
in you there's found
no contention.


Dhp. v. 201
Victory breeds hatred,
The defeated live in pain.
Happily the peaceful live,
Giving up victory and defeat.


Sn 4.15
When embraced, the rod of violence breeds danger & fear:


The Buddha also stated categorically that people who engage in violence go to the hell realms.

SN 42.6
On one occasion the Blessed One was staying near Nalanda in the Pavarika Mango Grove. Then Asibandhakaputta the headman went to the Blessed One and on arrival, having bowed down to him, sat to one side. As he was sitting there he said to the Blessed One: "The brahmans of the Western lands, lord — those who carry water pots, wear garlands of water plants, purify with water, & worship fire — can take [the spirit of] a dead person, lift it out, instruct it, & send it to heaven. But the Blessed One, worthy & rightly self-awakened, can arrange it so that all the world, at the break-up of the body, after death, reappears in a good destination, the heavenly world."

"Very well, then, headman, I will question you on this matter. Answer as you see fit. What do you think: There is the case where a man is one who takes life, steals, indulges in illicit sex; is a liar, one who speaks divisive speech, harsh speech, & idle chatter; is greedy, bears thoughts of ill-will, & holds to wrong views. Then a great crowd of people, gathering & congregating, would pray, praise, & circumambulate with their hands palm-to-palm over the heart [saying,] 'May this man, at the break-up of the body, after death, reappear in a good destination, the heavenly world!' What do you think: would that man — because of the prayers, praise, & circumambulation of that great crowd of people — at the break-up of the body, after death, reappear in a good destination, the heavenly world?"

"No, lord."

"Suppose a man were to throw a large boulder into a deep lake of water, and a great crowd of people, gathering & congregating, would pray, praise, & circumambulate with their hands palm-to-palm over the heart [saying,] 'Rise up, O boulder! Come floating up, O boulder! Come float to the shore, O boulder!' What do you think: would that boulder — because of the prayers, praise, & circumambulation of that great crowd of people — rise up, come floating up, or come float to the shore?"

"No, lord."

"So it is with any man who takes life, steals, indulges in illicit sex; is a liar, one who speaks divisive speech, harsh speech, & idle chatter; is greedy, bears thoughts of ill-will, & holds to wrong views. Even though a great crowd of people, gathering & congregating, would pray, praise, & circumambulate with their hands palm-to-palm over the heart — [saying,] 'May this man, at the break-up of the body, after death, reappear in a good destination, the heavenly world!' — still, at the break-up of the body, after death, he would reappear in destitution, a bad destination, the lower realms, hell.


MN 135
Beings are the owners of their actions (karma), heir to their actions, born of their actions, related through their actions, and have their actions as their arbitrator. Action is what creates distinctions among beings in terms of coarseness & refinement...

There is the case where a certain woman or man is one who takes life — brutal, bloody-handed, violent, cruel, merciless to living beings. From adopting & carrying out such actions, then on the break-up of the body, after death, this person re-appears in the plane of deprivation, the bad destination, the lower realms, in hell. Or, if he/she does not reappear in the plane of deprivation, the bad destination, the lower realms, in hell, but instead returns to the human state, then he/she is short-lived wherever reborn. This is the way leading to short life, namely being one who takes life...

But there is the case where a certain woman or man, abandoning the taking of life, abstains from the taking of life, dwelling with rod laid down, knife laid down, scrupulous, merciful, sympathetic for the benefit of all living beings. From adopting & carrying out such actions, then on the break-up of the body, after death, this person re-appears in the good destinations, in the heavenly world. Or, if he/she does not reappear in the good destinations, in the heavenly world, but instead returns to the human state, then he/she is long-lived wherever reborn. This is the way leading to long life, namely being one who, abandoning the taking of life, abstains from taking life...

Furthermore, there is the case where a certain woman or man has a tendency to injure living beings with the hand, with a clod, with a stick, or with a knife. From adopting & carrying out such actions, then on the break-up of the body, after death, this person re-appears in the plane of deprivation, the bad destination, the lower realms, in hell. Or, if he/she does not reappear in the plane of deprivation, the bad destination, the lower realms, in hell, but instead returns to the human state, then he/she is sickly wherever reborn. This is the way leading to being sickly, namely being one who has a tendency to injure living beings with the hand, with a clod, with a stick, or with a knife...

But there is the case where a certain woman or man does not have a tendency to injure living beings with the hand, with a clod, with a stick, or with a knife. Or, if he/she does not reappear in the good destinations, in the heavenly world, but instead returns to the human state, then he/she is healthy wherever reborn. This is the way leading to being healthy, namely being one who, abandoning the taking of life, abstains from taking life does not have a tendency to injure living beings with the hand, with a clod, with a stick, or with a knife...


SN 3.15
A man may plunder
as long as it serves his ends,
but when others are plundered,
he who has plundered
gets plundered in turn.
A fool thinks,
'Now's my chance,'
as long as his evil
has yet to ripen.
But when it ripens,
the fool falls into pain.

Killing, you gain
your killer.
Conquering, you gain one
who will conquer you;
insulting, insult;
harassing, harassment.

And so, through the cycle of action,
he who has plundered
gets plundered in turn.

The Buddha also regarded the sale of weapons, being a soldier, etc., as wrong livelihood. This is just a short list of passages on non-violence. Even more passages on non-violence can be found here.

With that said, there is a very good reason for the Buddha's categorical condemnations of things such as theft, killing, and so on, but particular categorical condemnations should be misconstrued as being Noble Right View, but are merely nuanced generalizations stated out of knowledge of Right View. To understand these nuances a bit more, see this article by Accesstoinsight, to understand why he was not a pacifist. After all, he was under the protection of the devas, the most famous being the yakkha Vajrapani (which Buddhaghosa apparently identifies with the deva Indra\Sakka). If it were not for the protection of the devas, it is arguable that something terrible may have happened to the Buddha.

Although violence is categorically condemned, there are exceptions to the rule. Within Abhidhamma, for instance, I have heard that if a person is attempting to rape a Buddhist nun, the nun may defend themselves in order to get away. To the best of my knowledge, the exceptions to the rules prohibiting violence do not apply to the mere protection of "personal property" (since monks and nuns essentially have none).

In this light, one could speculate that some violence, including some wars, can be rooted in hatred, being aggressive violence and aggressive warfare, whereas other violence can be rooted in non-hatred, being action that is defensively violent and yet disenchantedly compassionate, being rooted in equanimity. This speculation, however, would be my own, and it was not something directly taught by the Buddha. But the notion of "pacifism," a universal opposition to all warfare was something that was also not taught by the Buddha.
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Re: Just War

Postby nathan » Thu Feb 19, 2009 10:58 am

Individual wrote:I think that Buddhism should neither be regarded as supporting "just war" theory nor being strictly pacifist.
"Renunciant" might be a more fully appropriate term. I would not call it opposition to war, I would call it overcoming war.

Interesting reflections. I don't know if it is accurate to say that buddhism is pacifistic or should be or need be. My sense of the dhamma is that it in many ways encompasses and transcends pacifism. Others can address the question of buddhism and pacifism more comprehensively and competently than I. It is a much different question in terms of the many things that can be called 'buddhism', including non-buddhist perceptions of what 'buddhism is' and there are many forms of approach and analysis. There are many knotty issues.

I used pacifist to loosely define myself however I do not think pacifism is the term I would use to define my position either. It is simply the closest thing to it that we can all easily conceptualize. Some of your comments inspired me to share something more. So not to contend with what you have said I would simply like to add my own sense of how this apparently passive dynamic operates. It is not really passive, it is active in it's own form. Renunciation of whatever might be defended does not mean that one does see value in it of various kinds. It is no different in terms of the preciousness of this human life. This divine or Noble outlook involves a greater measure of concern for the offender than even pacifism might allow for.

From within the outlook of the four brahmaviharas, mudita, karuna, metta, upekkha, the position is taken that the offender, even in offending has at least as much value as a being and regardless of all else one simply cannot be turned away from a compassionate stance. One cares, regardless of the nature of the being and one is untroubled, regardless of the nature of the threat or action. One is then aligned to those of like mind, be they of this world or another and my sense of it is best described this way; when one renounces one's own defense, that defense appears to be taken up by the whole universe instead and one can simply abide in an inexplicable sense of security. This sense persists in the face of all obstacles and one's confidence in it can only grow despite what horrors might befall one. It appears to me that until this is felt, it is not imaginable and so a kind of faith or trust must first replace or overcome any natural fears but this faith proves itself entirely worthy in due course. One then knows and sees that one has taken the best course.

Under these conditions it has been my ongoing observation that "the gods", by nature, will either intervene or at the very least bear witness and lend support. One can interpret this as either a metaphorical or literal truth but it does not much matter how it is interpreted. For oneself and the other, one achieves the best result by forgiving the offender even as one is maimed or killed. As far as changing overall conditions for the better for all, this is in many senses ensured, despite how events unfold. It is difficult to communicate but actually it is probably best communicated in terms of this image of God or the gods assuming the role of defender.

It is incredible what I have experienced in this light, having been no stranger to hostility, oppression and violence. Most people would admit on hearing some of what I have witnessed that much of what I can describe having occurred when hatred and destruction is met with only compassion and peace has been entirely miraculous. I am sure many who have been in and who know of similar situations would concur. Be it the hand of forces beyond our control, an aspect of the very dhamma of all things, or an undeniable avenue to accessing a common humanity which in it's own particular way requires more bravery than any combatant can summon forth; there is a profound effect experienced by all, there is a different set of conditions as a result of maintaining such a stance and it has it's own significant qualities in the context of meeting conflict and opposition. We can all see the same principles at work in lesser things, war merely pushes conditions towards extremes and in this context there are sometimes extreme sacrifices.

I think there are Noble applications and appropriate uses for the term sacrifice, for efficacious and authentic sacrifices.
After long reflection it does not seem to me that there is any wiggle room when one has committed to renunciation:

MN 60 Apannaka Sutta A Safe Bet Translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

"Now, householders, of those brahmans & contemplatives who hold this doctrine, hold this view — 'There is what is given, what is offered, what is sacrificed. There are fruits & results of good & bad actions. There is this world & the next world. There is mother & father. There are spontaneously reborn beings; there are priests & contemplatives who, faring rightly & practicing rightly, proclaim this world & the next after having directly known & realized it for themselves' — it can be expected that, shunning these three unskillful activities — bad bodily conduct, bad verbal conduct, bad mental conduct — they will adopt & practice these three skillful activities: good bodily conduct, good verbal conduct, good mental conduct. Why is that? Because those venerable brahmans & contemplatives see in unskillful activities the drawbacks, the degradation, and the defilement; and in skillful activities the rewards of renunciation, resembling cleansing.

see also:
MN 8 Sallekha Sutta The Discourse on Effacement Translated from the Pali by Nyanaponika Thera
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .nypo.html


If we simply look we can all find many, many very moving and amazing accounts of the power of peace and compassion. There is another way than war, a way with it's own rules, with it's own heroic path which overcomes all opposition and it is not an avenue open exclusively to buddhists at all. Here is one person of the kind that every child in every school should hear from:

“In 1994, Rwandan native Ilibagiza was 22 years old and home from college to spend Easter with her devout Catholic family when the death of Rwanda's Hutu president sparked a three-month slaughter of nearly one million ethnic Tutsis. She survived by hiding in a Hutu pastor's tiny bathroom with seven other starving women for 91 cramped, terrifying days. This searing firsthand account of Ilibagiza's experience cuts two ways: her description of the evil that was perpetrated, including the brutal murders of her family members, is soul-numbingly devastating, yet the story of her unquenchable faith and connection to God throughout the ordeal uplifts and inspires. This book is a precious addition to the literature that tries to make sense of humankind's seemingly bottomless depravity and counterbalancing hope in an all-powerful, loving God.”

Immaculee Ilibagiza
http://www.lefttotell.com/about/index.php

"I looked one Interahamwe straight in the eye and held his gaze. My heart told me that he was a person just like me, and that he really didn’t want to kill. I held my rosary and summoned all my will to send a message of love to him. I prayed that God would use me to touch the killer with the power of His love.

I didn’t blink... and we stared into each other’s eyes for what seemed like a lifetime. Finally, the killer broke my gaze and looked away. He turned his back to me and dropped his machete, as if the devil had left his body."
But whoever walking, standing, sitting, or lying down overcomes thought, delighting in the stilling of thought: he's capable, a monk like this, of touching superlative self-awakening. § 110. {Iti 4.11; Iti 115}
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Re: Just War

Postby cooran » Mon Mar 02, 2009 9:18 pm

Hello Ven. Pesala,

How did the talk go? What form did it eventually take, and how was the discussion?

metta and respect,
Chris
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---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---
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