Capital punishment

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Capital punishment

Postby phil » Sat Mar 28, 2009 10:56 am

Hi all

I was astonished to read recently that 80% of Japanese are in favour of capital punishment and only 6% are opposed. I have so many Japanese friends and they are so gentle and moderate in their behaviour that it just doesn't fit. Personally, I suspect that it is most a matter of not thinking things through clearly. Would those in favour be willing to press the button themselves, or are they comfortable to allow others to earn the kamma that comes with intentional killing? (A bit similar to the vegetarianism issue, which I personally see as a human rights issue as much as an animal rights issue - we are so comfortable in allowing others to do the killing to feed our immoderate needs for a pleasing luxury of taste sensations. But that's another topic.)

BTW, do executions appear anywhere in the tipitika? I can't recall coming across that notion. I think there is a sutta in which the Buddha sees a groups of prisoners being dragged in chains, but doesn't interfere on the grounds that they need to work out their kamma. so it may be that as unpleasant as it may be to our sensibilities, that for both the executed and the executioner, there is kamma that is being worked out, so it is to be accepted from a strict understanding of the Dhamma. That *may* be the case.

Metta,

Phil

p.s should be pointed out that a problem in Japan is that there is no life sentence without parole.
Kammalakkhano , bhikkhave, bālo, kammalakkhano pandito, apadānasobhanī paññāti
(The fool is characterized by his/her actions/the wise one is characterized by his/her actions/Wisdom shines forth in behaviour.)
(AN 3.2 Lakkhana Sutta)
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Re: Capital punishment

Postby Fede » Sat Mar 28, 2009 12:23 pm

Then the Japanese system needs addressing.
They need different parameters to consider, in ordfer to make different choices.....

Opposed to it.
Completely and unequivocally. Without exception, I oppose it.
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Simplify: 17 into 1 WILL go: Mindfulness!

Quieta movere magna merces videbatur. (Sallust, c.86-c.35 BC)
Translation: Just to stir things up seemed a good reward in itself. ;)

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Re: Capital punishment

Postby kc2dpt » Sat Mar 28, 2009 2:25 pm

You posted this to Dhamma free-for-all. Is there a point of Dhamma you wish to discuss?
- Peter

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Re: Capital punishment

Postby Ngawang Drolma. » Sat Mar 28, 2009 6:38 pm

do executions appear anywhere in the tipitika? I can't recall coming across that notion. I think there is a sutta in which the Buddha sees a groups of prisoners being dragged in chains, but doesn't interfere on the grounds that they need to work out their kamma.
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Re: Capital punishment

Postby phil » Sat Mar 28, 2009 7:14 pm

Peter wrote:You posted this to Dhamma free-for-all. Is there a point of Dhamma you wish to discuss?


Ah yes. I think I confused "Dhamma free for all" with the "almost anything goes" lounge. Thanks Drolma, you pulled out a relevant Dhamma-related point. Any attitudes towards capital punishment expressed in the tipitaka. The issue of allowing others to take the kamma related to killing is also valid, I guess, but probably belongs in the lounge area.

Metta,

Phil
Kammalakkhano , bhikkhave, bālo, kammalakkhano pandito, apadānasobhanī paññāti
(The fool is characterized by his/her actions/the wise one is characterized by his/her actions/Wisdom shines forth in behaviour.)
(AN 3.2 Lakkhana Sutta)
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Re: Capital punishment

Postby Ngawang Drolma. » Sat Mar 28, 2009 8:45 pm

phil wrote:
Peter wrote:You posted this to Dhamma free-for-all. Is there a point of Dhamma you wish to discuss?


Ah yes. I think I confused "Dhamma free for all" with the "almost anything goes" lounge. Thanks Drolma, you pulled out a relevant Dhamma-related point. Any attitudes towards capital punishment expressed in the tipitaka. The issue of allowing others to take the kamma related to killing is also valid, I guess, but probably belongs in the lounge area.

Metta,

Phil


Hi Phil,

I don't think the Buddha suggested that we accrue negative karma by taking life, even if we think our intentions are wholesome. We may think it's wholesome, but we're inherently deluded.

:anjali:
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Re: Capital punishment

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Mar 29, 2009 2:31 am

Hi Drolma,
Drolma wrote:I don't think the Buddha suggested that we accrue negative karma by taking life, even if we think our intentions are wholesome. We may think it's wholesome, but we're inherently deluded.

I think that perhaps you didn't mean the "don't"...

Metta
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Re: Capital punishment

Postby Ngawang Drolma. » Sun Mar 29, 2009 3:04 am

mikenz66 wrote:Hi Drolma,
Drolma wrote:I don't think the Buddha suggested that we accrue negative karma by taking life, even if we think our intentions are wholesome. We may think it's wholesome, but we're inherently deluded.

I think that perhaps you didn't mean the "don't"...

Metta
Mike


Hi Mike :)

You're losing me. Why would the Buddha suggest that we take life?

Thanks
ND
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Re: Capital punishment

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Mar 29, 2009 3:59 am

Sorry I misread your sentence ... :reading:

Where you said:
"I don't think the Buddha suggested that we accrue negative karma by taking life.." I thought you meant to say:
"I think the Buddha stated that we accrue negative karma by taking life...", thinking that you used "suggested" with the meaning of "stated", rather than the meaning of "told us to"...

:thinking:
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Re: Capital punishment

Postby jcsuperstar » Sun Mar 29, 2009 4:46 am

im under the impression that if war, or capital punishment or any other form of brutality in the name of "justice" actually worked the world would have been perfect a long time ago. so many people have been killed and never once has it stopped crime, or murder, or terroism or any other form of crime from being in the world... you'd think we'd have figured this out by now
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Re: Capital punishment

Postby Ngawang Drolma. » Sun Mar 29, 2009 6:18 am

mikenz66 wrote:Sorry I misread your sentence ... :reading:

Where you said:
"I don't think the Buddha suggested that we accrue negative karma by taking life.." I thought you meant to say:
"I think the Buddha stated that we accrue negative karma by taking life...", thinking that you used "suggested" with the meaning of "stated", rather than the meaning of "told us to"...

:thinking:
Mike


I see, communication error. :anjali:

I meant the Buddha didn't tell us we should take life, for any reason.
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Re: Capital punishment

Postby cooran » Sun Mar 29, 2009 7:57 am

Hello all,

This may be of interest:

Tambadāthika
A public executioner of Rājagaha. He had copper-coloured teeth and tawny skin, and his body was covered with scars. He wished to join a band of thieves, but, for some time, the ringleader refused to admit him on account of his inordinately cruel looks. In the end he was admitted; but when the thieves were captured and no one could be found willing to kill as many as five hundred of them, Tambadāthika agreed to do it for a reward, and slew all his colleagues. He was afterwards appointed public executioner and held the post for fifty-five years. When he became too old to behead a man with one blow, another was appointed in his place, and he was deprived of the four perquisites to which he had, for so many years, been entitled - old clothes, milk porridge made with fresh ghee, jasmine flowers, and perfumes.

On the day on which he was deposed from office, he gave orders for milk porridge to be cooked, and having bathed and decked himself out, he was about to eat, when Sāriputta, out of compassion for him, appeared at his door. Tambadāthika invited the Elder in and entertained him hospitably. When Sāriputta began the words of thanksgiving, his host could not concentrate his thoughts, being worried by memories of his past wickedness. Sāriputta consoled him by representing to him that he had merely carried out the king's orders. At the end of the sermon, Tambadāthika developed the qualities necessary for becoming a Sotāpanna. When Sāriputta left, Tambadāthika accompanied him on his way, but on the way back he was gored to death by a cow.

The cow was a Yakkhinī who also killed:

Pukkusāti,
Bāhīya Dārucīriya
Suppabuddha
(DhA.ii.35; UdA.289).

The Buddha said he had been reborn in the Tusita world. DhA.ii.203ff.
http://www.palikanon.com/english/pali_n ... athika.htm

metta
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Re: Capital punishment

Postby David N. Snyder » Sun Mar 29, 2009 3:42 pm

phil wrote: I was astonished to read recently that 80% of Japanese are in favour of capital punishment and only 6% are opposed. I have so many Japanese friends and they are so gentle and moderate in their behaviour that it just doesn't fit.

Hi Phil,

From unscientific polls (such as those on Buddhist forums) it appears that most Buddhists are opposed to the death penalty. I suspect the First Precept and the fact that a former murderer, Angulimala, became an Arahant are the primary reasons many Buddhists who have studied the Suttas are opposed to the death penalty.

Yet, as you have seen, many Buddhist countries have and support the death penalty. I imagine this may change to increased opposition as Buddhists move more toward a study based approach instead of a ritualistic form of practice. Or maybe they have legitimate reasons for supporting the death penalty in some instances. It would be interesting to hear from Buddhists who support the death penalty. Most of the 'unscientific' polls show about 90% of Buddhists opposed to the death penalty, but these are on online forums where most are familiar with the Suttas.
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Re: Capital punishment

Postby kc2dpt » Sun Mar 29, 2009 4:17 pm

Drolma wrote:I don't think the Buddha suggested that we accrue negative karma by taking life, even if we think our intentions are wholesome. We may think it's wholesome, but we're inherently deluded.

I also thought you typo'd here.
It read to me like you were denying the Buddha taught killing creates negative karma. :jawdrop:
But now I see what you are saying.
The Buddha taught us to refrain from taking life, even if we think our intentions are wholesome. We may thing it's wholesome, but that sort of thinking is inherently deluded.
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Re: Capital punishment

Postby kc2dpt » Sun Mar 29, 2009 4:28 pm

Again, I really think it comes down to what you think it means to "be a Buddhist".

Is a Buddhist someone who is willing to put the teachings (as they have come down to us) into practice and see for themselves where they lead?

Or is a Buddhist someone who may feel influenced by some of what the Buddha taught, appreciates some of his teachings, but ultimately feels they and they alone can unravel what the scriptures really mean? Or someone who feels some scriptures contain wisdom while others can be safely ignored? Is this really keeping as open mind? Or is it allowing one's closed mind to filter and alter the teachings?

Isn't it more of an open mind to say "I don't know if I agree with all of this but I am willing to give it a try and see what happens"?

Is a mind that's only open to the possibility of others being wrong really open? Or should an open mind also be open to the possibility of oneself being wrong?

I practice Buddhism because I am open to the possibility that the way I've been living life to this point perhaps isn't the right way to peace, that maybe my instincts are wrong, that perhaps I am in fact deluded in very fundamental ways. Who am I to say rebirth and kamma aren't true? I don't really have an evidence one way or the other. I only have preferences and predilections and biases. In light of that, what's one view over another? If someone I admire and respect suggests I try a different view, why not give it a try?
- Peter

Be heedful and you will accomplish your goal.
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Re: Capital punishment

Postby Ngawang Drolma. » Sun Mar 29, 2009 5:26 pm

Peter wrote:
Drolma wrote:I don't think the Buddha suggested that we accrue negative karma by taking life, even if we think our intentions are wholesome. We may think it's wholesome, but we're inherently deluded.

I also thought you typo'd here.
It read to me like you were denying the Buddha taught killing creates negative karma. :jawdrop:
But now I see what you are saying.
The Buddha taught us to refrain from taking life, even if we think our intentions are wholesome. We may thing it's wholesome, but that sort of thinking is inherently deluded.


LOL, that would be a pretty weird thing to say. If I ever do start spouting non-sense, hopefully friends here will stop me :lol:

My sentence was unclear, here's a revision:

I don't think the Buddha recommended that we should accrue negative karma by taking life, even if we think our intentions are wholesome. We may think it's wholesome, but we're inherently deluded.
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Re: Capital punishment

Postby phil » Wed Apr 01, 2009 7:28 am

TheDhamma wrote:
phil wrote: I was astonished to read recently that 80% of Japanese are in favour of capital punishment and only 6% are opposed. I have so many Japanese friends and they are so gentle and moderate in their behaviour that it just doesn't fit.

Hi Phil,

From unscientific polls (such as those on Buddhist forums) it appears that most Buddhists are opposed to the death penalty. I suspect the First Precept and the fact that a former murderer, Angulimala, became an Arahant are the primary reasons many Buddhists who have studied the Suttas are opposed to the death penalty.

Yet, as you have seen, many Buddhist countries have and support the death penalty. I imagine this may change to increased opposition as Buddhists move more toward a study based approach instead of a ritualistic form of practice. Or maybe they have legitimate reasons for supporting the death penalty in some instances. It would be interesting to hear from Buddhists who support the death penalty. Most of the 'unscientific' polls show about 90% of Buddhists opposed to the death penalty, but these are on online forums where most are familiar with the Suttas.


Hi David

I would like to broach this subject with people and find out if despite the general lack of interest in Buddhism in Japan there isn't a kind of belief in karma at work, that people think murderrs are simply getting what they have earned. This would be a simplified understanding of karma of course. I would like to present people with the story of Angulimala, and the story that Chris offers in the post that followed yours.

My wife works for Amnesty International, and has had a very small amount of success in getting people to think by making them reflect on whether they would be able to push the button themselves. If they can't, how can they morally demand that others do?

I find it very puzzling really. I actually avoid the subject because it is always a little shocking to find that people who are otherwise so gentle and peaceful could support such a barbarous practice. Again, the lack of a life sentence without parole is a big part of the problem.

Metta,

Phil
Kammalakkhano , bhikkhave, bālo, kammalakkhano pandito, apadānasobhanī paññāti
(The fool is characterized by his/her actions/the wise one is characterized by his/her actions/Wisdom shines forth in behaviour.)
(AN 3.2 Lakkhana Sutta)
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Re: Capital punishment

Postby Mexicali » Fri Apr 24, 2009 5:16 pm

I simply don't see any justification for capital punishment. I used to hold the view that it was impermissible because the justice system is so corrupt and stacked against poor and brown people. Now I believe that even if we have undeniable proof of guilt, and there are no mitigating factors, capital punishment is still indefensible. Part of this has been the Buddhist understanding that we are not fundamentally any one thing, and thus an "evil" man can still change. But part has just been that there is no compelling reason to take a life in anything other than direct defense of self or others, and giving the state that right seems positively corrupt to me. Even the worst case, unrepentant child murderer (not that this description fits most death row inmates anyway) needs to be allowed to live out their life and be given the opportunity to reflect and change.

Incidentally, in China, the only heavily Buddhist country I've been to, people are enthusiastically pro-Death Penalty, even though in China you can get the death penalty for quite a few things short of murder. I don't really get it.
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Re: Capital punishment

Postby clw_uk » Fri Apr 24, 2009 5:30 pm

Capital Punishment is just revenge in IMO

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Re: Capital punishment

Postby pink_trike » Fri Apr 24, 2009 5:35 pm

The death penalty is a quite natural and easy idea to accept when people are pathologically alienated from the natural world, and when the world population is 6.5 billion and expected to increase to 9.5 billion in the next 45 years or so, and when life is reduced to a factory mentality. Life naturally becomes objectified and cheap under these conditions...just another disposable object among the hundreds of thousands of disposable objects that we're buried under. The death penalty is an integral, natural part of the psychotic logic of modern life. What's really crazy is being shocked by it. What did we expect?
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