Just War and Buddhism

An open and inclusive investigation into Buddhism and spiritual cultivation

Re: Just War and Buddhism

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Jan 07, 2011 3:17 pm

kirk5a wrote:
tiltbillings wrote: If you have never been there, you have not a clue.

I do have a clue. And I have faith in Buddha. And so I have faith in what I am capable of not doing. Killing.
Good luck, sir. May you never have to find out.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Just War and Buddhism

Postby kirk5a » Fri Jan 07, 2011 3:33 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
kirk5a wrote:
tiltbillings wrote: If you have never been there, you have not a clue.

I do have a clue. And I have faith in Buddha. And so I have faith in what I am capable of not doing. Killing.
Good luck, sir. May you never have to find out.

:smile: Oh being killed is not the worst evil.

Not the worst for the one killed, I mean. Might be pretty bad for the killer.
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230
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Re: Just War and Buddhism

Postby meindzai » Fri Jan 07, 2011 4:09 pm

First of all, non-violent intervention isn't pacifism. It means disabling the enemy by non-violent means. It does not just mean sitting and protesting. It means using any and all non-violent means to stop violence from occurring. It means literally going into enemy territory and disabling them. It costs lives. So does violent means.

Secondly, the problem is that we (societal "we") haven't put enough though into non-violent intervention and it is not viewed as a viable option, when it very well could be. We have dazzling, frightening war technologies, techniques, and strategies for engaging in violent wars, but little attempt has been made to channel that energy into non-violent solutions. There are a *few* attempts such as "weapons" that disable the enemy without hurting or killing them, etc., but my solution (which will never happen) would be to channel all our energies in this direction. Current attempts at finding non-violent solutions are half-assed and are typically more of a formality so that we can say "Well we *tried* to talk to them but that didn't work."

We've also made no attempt at rooting out the causes of violence in the first place, which often have to do with resources and poverty and politics. Religious clashes are not the main source of wars, but the predominant moral compass used in this world is a monotheistic one, which does justify war.

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Re: Just War and Buddhism

Postby PeterB » Fri Jan 07, 2011 4:18 pm

Hitler Stalin and Pol Pot were all avowed atheists.
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Re: Just War and Buddhism

Postby Jason » Fri Jan 07, 2011 4:29 pm

PeterB wrote:Hitler Stalin and Pol Pot were all avowed atheists.


Personally, I wouldn't go so far as to say that Hitler was an avowed atheist. While he said things critical of Christianity, his writings and speeches are also full of positive references to God and Christianity. Mein Kampf alone is littered with them. For more on Hitler's conflicting actions/statements regarding atheism and Christianity, see this and this.
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Re: Just War and Buddhism

Postby meindzai » Fri Jan 07, 2011 4:41 pm

PeterB wrote:Hitler Stalin and Pol Pot were all avowed atheists.


I stated specifically that religious ideologies are not the main cause of war. What I did say was that as long as there is monotheism, there will be wars that are religiously justified.

But since you brought up Hitler:

"Hence today I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord." -

- Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, Vol. 1 Chapter 2

"Even today I am not ashamed to say that, overpowered by stormy enthusiasm, I fell down on my knees and thanked Heaven from an overflowing heart for granting me the good fortune of being permitted to live at this time."

Mein Kampf, Vol. 1 Chapter 5

"What we have to fight for is the necessary security for the existence and increase of our race and people, the subsistence of its children and the maintenance of our racial stock unmixed, the freedom and independence of the Fatherland; so that our people may be enabled to fulfill the mission assigned to it by the Creator. "

Mein Kampf, Vol. 1 Chapter 8

http://www.hitler.org/writings/Mein_Kampf/

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Re: Just War and Buddhism

Postby PeterB » Fri Jan 07, 2011 4:46 pm

I think we can say that whatever use he made of Christian conventions bent to his own ends...that Hitlers actions were not consistant with a Christian view....to say the least.
And Stalin who murdered even more people than Hitler WAS an avowed athiest, as was Pol Pot. As was Mao.
More people died in the 20th century as a direct result of Communist idelology than died as a result of Monotheism.
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Re: Just War and Buddhism

Postby clw_uk » Fri Jan 07, 2011 4:54 pm

PeterB wrote:I think we can say that whatever use he made of Christian conventions bent to his own ends...that Hitlers actions were not consistant with a Christian view....to say the least.
And Stalin who murdered even more people than Hitler WAS an avowed athiest, as was Pol Pot. As was Mao.
More people died in the 20th century as a direct result of Communist idelology than died as a result of Monotheism.



But they didnt kill in the name of Atheism, the killed in the name of a deformed Communism and National Socialism


Besides even if hitler was atheist, many of his inner circle and his followers were not.


Himmler seems to have been a pagan with some Hinduism thrown in


Magda Goebbels claimed to respect Buddha although I dont know if she classed herself as Buddhist after becoming a Nazi


Also on the belt buckly of the SS was the slogan "Gott mit uns" (meaning God with us) and the majority of the SS were confessing Catholics
“Happy is the man who has broken the chains which hurt the mind, and has given up worrying once and for all.” Ovid
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Re: Just War and Buddhism

Postby PeterB » Fri Jan 07, 2011 5:20 pm

As was Saint Teresa.
Any ideology can be turned to justify evil as well as promoting good.
Charles Manson claimed to have commited his crimes as a result of Zen satori. And after achieving " non duality".
Whatever that might be. The worst thing is...it might be true.
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Re: Just War and Buddhism

Postby Kaktus » Fri Jan 07, 2011 5:50 pm

As the situations brought in by tilt - are there any such situations possible in the time of the Buddha? There weren't any riffles in these times. I think the "normal" way killing people was to stand face to face with them. In this case i can't think of any dilemma like the ones we could be confronted with today. So, is it fair to argue with a possible answer of the Buddha for a question he never was confronted with?
English isn´t my native language. So please accept my apologies for my kind of spelling and grammar ;-)
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Re: Just War and Buddhism

Postby meindzai » Fri Jan 07, 2011 7:00 pm

PeterB wrote:I think we can say that whatever use he made of Christian conventions bent to his own ends...that Hitlers actions were not consistant with a Christian view....to say the least.
And Stalin who murdered even more people than Hitler WAS an avowed athiest, as was Pol Pot. As was Mao.
More people died in the 20th century as a direct result of Communist idelology than died as a result of Monotheism.


I agree. You seem to be refuting the idea that monotheism is the cause of wars, a point which no-one has made. Again, it doesn't cause wars, but it allows them, and it is the prevailing moral system on the planet.

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Re: Just War and Buddhism

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Jan 07, 2011 7:26 pm

kirk5a wrote:Oh being killed is not the worst evil.

Not the worst for the one killed, I mean. Might be pretty bad for the killer.
Let us hope you are never in the situation where other's lives are dependent upon your choices.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Just War and Buddhism

Postby PeterB » Fri Jan 07, 2011 7:28 pm

Really ? You see I think meindzai Americans tend to see their own situation in this regard as normative for the world. In reality Euope is largely in a post monotheistic age, and India and China have never had one.
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Re: Just War and Buddhism

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Jan 07, 2011 7:35 pm

PeterB wrote:I think we can say that whatever use he made of Christian conventions bent to his own ends...that Hitlers actions were not consistant with a Christian view....to say the least.
And Stalin who murdered even more people than Hitler WAS an avowed athiest, as was Pol Pot. As was Mao.
More people died in the 20th century as a direct result of Communist idelology than died as a result of Monotheism.
Better technology and more people to kill in the 20th Cent.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Just War and Buddhism

Postby cooran » Fri Jan 07, 2011 7:37 pm

Hello all,

This might be of interest:

The Buddha and the Four-Limbed Army: The Military in the Pali Canon by Matthew Kosuta Ph.D.

Excerpt: On a final note, what did all this mean for a kshatriya of the era, and what has it meant for Buddhist soldiers through the ages? Any Buddhist soldier conversant in the Pali Canon's references to the military cannot have been or now be reassured about his profession. However, again there is a positive side. These soldiers can look at the various Jataka stories telling of the Buddha and future arahants victorious in battle and the rewards obtained therefrom. Other sutta and passages also express a favorable attitude toward the military, and the Buddha himself recognized the necessity of an army when he banned fighting-men in the service of a king from joining the sangha. Perhaps most reassuring is the fact that should a Buddhist be a model soldier he will also possess many of the important qualities necessary for a person to obtain nibbana. But, all this is outweighed by the condemnation the military receives when viewed with proper Buddhist insight. A soldier by virtue of his raison d'être violates many of the basic ethical principles of Buddhism. Professional soldiers are told that should they die in combat they will be reborn in a purgatory and the Bodhisatta at one point stated that his expert military skill would, in the end, lead to hell. It would seem that a professional soldier begins his carrier with a negative kammic balance sheet.

This study has shown that the Pali Canon indeed forms an explicit opinion on the military. The Canon recognizes that, in a mundane perspective, the military is ever present, of high prestige, and even necessary in some circumstances for the protection of Buddhism. But, ultimately it must be judged from the higher insight of the transcendental, the lokuttara, where it becomes evident that the military is not conducive to Buddhist ethics and thus not conducive to performing Path actions. From this point of view, the military even loses its value in the mundane, where military pursuits are seen as prideful, destructive, and in vain, engendering a cycle of revenge which only leads to more suffering.
http://www.urbandharma.org/udharma6/militarycanon.html

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Re: Just War and Buddhism

Postby PeterB » Fri Jan 07, 2011 8:02 pm

PeterB wrote:
kirk5a wrote:Ah yes. The old saw "your freedom is dependent on somebody's war"

Except it isn't. Because the freedom that matters doesn't depend on conditions.

If you are referring to the Unconditioned it is not dependent on absence of war either.

So ...my post above...who is going to tell these people at http://www.buddhistmilitarysangha.blogspot.com
That they are not Buddhists or are second class Buddhists ?


And these people might have a different view...
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Re: Just War and Buddhism

Postby Viscid » Fri Jan 07, 2011 8:35 pm

I don't know if anyone's mentioned this in this thread, but the much-reviled Stephen Batchelor's book 'Confession of a Buddhist Atheist' had an interesting couple pages on War and Buddhism in his experiences at a Korean Zen temple:

Stephen Batchelor wrote: Sometimes, even in the midst of a three-month retreat, the younger Korean monks would exchange their robes for camouflaged fatigues, climb onto the back of a truck, and depart for a day of military training. (South Korea was--and is-- technically at war with the North.) Despite their vow not to kill, Buddhist monks are not exempt from this duty. I met one monk who had bound his trigger finger with surgical gauze, dipped it in oil, set it alight, then offered it as a candle to the Buddha. I knew another who had chopped off all his fingers of his right hand with an ax. But these were exceptions. Most monks accepted their position in the reserve army, which recalled for them, perhaps the monastic militias raised by Zen Master Sosan that played a crucial role in the defeat of the Japanese army that invaded Korea in 1592.

When I queried my Korean friend "Strongman" (among ourselves we foreigners gave the Korean monks nicknames since their real ones sounded so similar to us) about the morals of of participating in the state killing machine, he looked at me and asked with disbelief: "Then you would not fight for your country?" No one had challenged my knee-jerk pacifism quite so bluntly before. Even as a child, I had found the thought of killing any living creature, let alone a fellow human, repugnant. I had always assumed that Buddhists, in particular, would feel this way too. "To be honest, Strongman," I said, "no. I would not." He shook his head in amazement, then marched off with his fellow monk-soldiers for target practice and combat drill, leaving the unpatriotic Nose People to stew on their cushions.


In my opinion, the notion of not killing anyone, ever, regardless of the context may be idealistic and naive. As tilt has said, I don't think you can judge the decision you would make unless you've been put in that position. I'd go with my gut and my heart rather than some vow.

Would you not feel guilty if someone you dearly loved died because you wouldn't let go of some moral principle?
"What holds attention determines action." - William James
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Re: Just War and Buddhism

Postby kirk5a » Sat Jan 08, 2011 12:27 am

tiltbillings wrote:Let us hope you are never in the situation where other's lives are dependent upon your choices.

The insult was plain enough the first time you said it.
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230
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Re: Just War and Buddhism

Postby tiltbillings » Sat Jan 08, 2011 1:02 am

kirk5a wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:Let us hope you are never in the situation where other's lives are dependent upon your choices.

The insult was plain enough the first time you said it.
If it is an insult, then don't accept, but it was hardly meant as such.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Just War and Buddhism

Postby kirk5a » Sat Jan 08, 2011 1:09 am

tiltbillings wrote:If it is an insult, then don't accept, but it was hardly meant as such.

No? I took the implication that if others lives were to be dependent upon my choices, I would do nothing to save them or that they would surely come to harm.
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230
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