should a practicing buddhist own a gun?

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Training of Sila, the Five Precepts (Pañcasikkhāpada), and Eightfold Ethical Conduct (Aṭṭhasīla).

should a practicing buddhist own a gun?

Postby jason c » Wed Jun 06, 2012 10:50 pm

in an age where most of us live close to a grocery store, and not isolated in the back country, is there any reason a practicing buddhist should own a gun? just purchasing a gun seems to be a breech of morality, ie; supporting those who manufacture weapons.
metta ,
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Re: should a practicing buddhist own a gun?

Postby manas » Wed Jun 06, 2012 11:08 pm

If I was living in an outlying area, with my kids, I would want a weapon in case I needed to defend them from attack. But in a built up suburban area, I agree that it seems unneccessary to own one. But afaik, while it is wrong livelihood to earn one's living by selling weapons, owning one for personal use in an emergency isn't the same thing as trading in them. Just as Buddhists are allowed to purchase meat from a butcher, but aren't allowed to earn their living by being one. As for what the suttas say about a layman owning a weapon - I can't answer that one, and would be interested to hear if anyone knows.

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Re: should a practicing buddhist own a gun?

Postby David N. Snyder » Wed Jun 06, 2012 11:30 pm

Over at Dharma Wheel (Mahayana) there was a long discussion about guns; it got pretty heated at times and the moderators closed the thread several times (currently it is closed).
http://www.dharmawheel.net/viewtopic.php?f=66&t=4884

My view is sort of in the middle:

Though I am a gun owner, I do not support the wide proliferation of firearms. Guns are not for everyone. There are some gun-nuts who believe everyone should be armed. There are a number of people who should not own guns, including those with mental health issues, ex-convicts, felons, those prone to marital strife, short-tempers, etc., and of course those who simply don't have a need or interest. I do not advocate that everyone should have a gun. But for some there may be an interest and necessity or simply a sport to shoot at paper targets.
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Re: should a practicing buddhist own a gun?

Postby Modus.Ponens » Wed Jun 06, 2012 11:46 pm

No.
And the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus, saying: "Behold now, bhikkhus, I exhort you: All compounded things are subject to vanish. Strive with earnestness!"
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Re: should a practicing buddhist own a gun?

Postby Ben » Thu Jun 07, 2012 12:41 am

I went through a similar quandary some years ago when taking up target shooting (archery). My intention was to participate in the sport of target shooting - not arming myself for defence, offence or hunting.
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Re: should a practicing buddhist own a gun?

Postby Reductor » Thu Jun 07, 2012 1:06 am

This is my position too, Ben.

People primarily buy guns either to kill or to target shoot (much more seldom is the bare desire to collect). Unless you have the second firmly in mind, don't buy a gun. Don't buy a gun with some vague notion about what you'll be doing with it.

For example, my father is a target shooter. He loads his own ammunition, and tracks loads and their accuracy with great care and precision. For him, each firearm has a personality and this collection of firearms is impressive. His knowledge is extensive. It is the exercising and expanding of this knowledge that gives him pleasure.

Yet even with so many firearms and so much skill, he very seldom kills anything; not on moral principals, but because it's to much bother for him, since he finds it inconvenient to clean carcasses, and doesn't care much for the meat anyway.

So, can a practising Buddhist own a firearm? Sure, if it's acceptable for him to own anything at all, since owning and shooting firearms doesn't necessitate a violent intent, nor even the intent to form such an intent in the future.
Michael

The thoughts I've expressed in the above post are carefully considered and offered in good faith.

And friendliness towards the world is happiness for him who is forbearing with living beings. -- Ud. 2:1
To his own ruin the fool gains knowledge, for it cleaves his head and destroys his innate goodness. -- Dhp 72

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Re: should a practicing buddhist own a gun?

Postby daverupa » Thu Jun 07, 2012 1:39 am

Lay down the rod; just so all armament, yes?
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: should a practicing buddhist own a gun?

Postby Hanzze » Thu Jun 07, 2012 2:29 am

jason c wrote:in an age where most of us live close to a grocery store, and not isolated in the back country, is there any reason a practicing buddhist should own a gun? just purchasing a gun seems to be a breech of morality, ie; supporting those who manufacture weapons.
metta ,
jason

I do not see any reason for it even for a non practicing person. I guess it's a very American appearance, conquering, defending and endless fear (out of bad conscience).

The most effective gun is "letting go", it defends the enemy so effectively that he never returns.

I thought it's maybe also a good place to show gratitude to my brother, who brought a very dhammic teaching into my mind, when I was a young boy of 12. It was nearly normal that very boy used to carry a weapon (mostly a knife) because there has been gangs and the social standard of the people around have been very low.
He was a young policeman (not religious at all) at this time and one day he told me (I guess he was informed by my mother) that it is not good to carry a weapon because people fear you and they do not like to fear. Even at a time a crime, people who carry weapons are easier victims or acting wrong as those who do not. If somebody like to have something or steal something, let him. If you think that you need to defend it, you might lose much more (and life is just the smaller lose, than you could lose your innocence).
Even having the biggest weapons, its just a question of time, till one is conquered in return. Its very important to give others not the feeling of fear.
Just that! *smile*
...We Buddhists must find the courage to leave our temples and enter the temples of human experience, temples that are filled with suffering. If we listen to Buddha, Christ, or Gandhi, we can do nothing else. The refugee camps, the prisons, the ghettos, and the battlefields will become our temples. We have so much work to do. ... Peace is Possible! Step by Step. - Samtach Preah Maha Ghosananda "Step by Step" http://www.ghosananda.org/bio_book.html

BUT! it is important to become a real Buddhist first. Like Punna did: Punna Sutta Nate sante baram sokham _()_
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Re: should a practicing buddhist own a gun?

Postby pilgrim » Thu Jun 07, 2012 6:04 am

There were Buddhist soldiers and warriors even during the Buddha's time, no? Eg General Siha,
Owning a gun and using it irresponsibly are separate issues. If the answer to your question was a plain No, the police and army of several nations might just as well be disbanded.
edit...having said that, I do not like guns and would not encourge ownership or possession unless there is a real good reason for self protection.
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Re: should a practicing buddhist own a gun?

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Jun 07, 2012 6:27 am

pilgrim wrote:There were Buddhist soldiers and warriors even during the Buddha's time, no? Eg General Siha,
Owning a gun and using it irresponsibly are separate issues. If the answer to your question was a plain No, the police and army of several nations might just as well be disbanded.
edit...having said that, I do not like guns and would not encourge ownership or possession unless there is a real good reason for self protection.
I have my 94 year old mother's rifle my grandfather gave to her when she was 14. I kill tin cans with it. As an instrument of sef protection, it would be rather impractical. My chain saw, compressed air nailer and a couple of other tools that I use regularly are potentially as dangerous/lethal if mis-used.
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: should a practicing buddhist own a gun?

Postby Cittasanto » Thu Jun 07, 2012 6:45 am

Lay down the stick & club.
Owning a gun? what it the intention behind its ownership?
if it is to intimidate, harm or kill then, no.

appart from collecting, the only reason to have one is if the military required supply of own weapons for service due to be done, and as that is not the case anywhere....
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
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Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: should a practicing buddhist own a gun?

Postby Ben » Thu Jun 07, 2012 6:55 am

Cittasanto wrote:appart from collecting, the only reason to have one is if the military required supply of own weapons for service due to be done, and as that is not the case anywhere....


What about the healthy pursuits of target shooting and trap shooting??
kind regards,

Ben
"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: should a practicing buddhist own a gun?

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Jun 07, 2012 6:57 am

Cittasanto wrote:Lay down the stick & club.
Owning a gun? what it the intention behind its ownership?
if it is to intimidate, harm or kill then, no.

appart from collecting, the only reason to have one is if the military required supply of own weapons for service due to be done, and as that is not the case anywhere....
Thank you for sharing your opinion, but it is one I do not share.
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: should a practicing buddhist own a gun?

Postby Hanzze » Thu Jun 07, 2012 7:01 am

pilgrim wrote:There were Buddhist soldiers and warriors even during the Buddha's time, no? Eg General Siha,
Owning a gun and using it irresponsibly are separate issues. If the answer to your question was a plain No, the police and army of several nations might just as well be disbanded.


There is a saying: "Imagine there is war and nobody takes part"

What is a responsible use of a gun? Use it as a art object? Yes of cause Pilgrim, we can use everything in the right way.

Image

Image

Image

edit...having said that, I do not like guns and would not encourge ownership or possession unless there is a real good reason for self protection.

To get ride of the reason of fear is what practice is about, to suggest that there are other ways of protection beside of Sila and heedfullness is would lead aside of the path. They are illusions and just the common ways of unwholesome reaction.

Of cause it is simply the idea of self and the desire to protect it (what ever one identifies as self, I, mine, me) which leads to fear.
Just that! *smile*
...We Buddhists must find the courage to leave our temples and enter the temples of human experience, temples that are filled with suffering. If we listen to Buddha, Christ, or Gandhi, we can do nothing else. The refugee camps, the prisons, the ghettos, and the battlefields will become our temples. We have so much work to do. ... Peace is Possible! Step by Step. - Samtach Preah Maha Ghosananda "Step by Step" http://www.ghosananda.org/bio_book.html

BUT! it is important to become a real Buddhist first. Like Punna did: Punna Sutta Nate sante baram sokham _()_
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Re: should a practicing buddhist own a gun?

Postby Hanzze » Thu Jun 07, 2012 7:23 am

Ben wrote:
Cittasanto wrote:appart from collecting, the only reason to have one is if the military required supply of own weapons for service due to be done, and as that is not the case anywhere....

What about the healthy pursuits of target shooting and trap shooting??
kind regards,
Ben

What is healthy with it? Beginning from it's very roots, it's a playfully training for a propose and it's not for the sake of right concentration.

What does one feel if he hits the center? Victory? Pride?

There I need to think on another story with my brother about 10 years later. He joined shooting club of the police and was very successful (even state champion) and full into it. I was visiting him and he took me on the shooting range. I don't like guns, but well. Then he liked me to try it, never had a real weapon in my hand. Uhh, I had real respect. Then he wanted me to shoot at the target which was in the form of a human. I did not like to see or even imagine that, so I just focused on the center. Bang, bang, bang. I could not see what was the result and was not interested. I even did not ask and leave them alone. Later on I was wondering why my brother did act so strange toward me and did not speak. After a while I heard him talking with his friend: "He even does not know what a Glock is, comes here and excels my leading club standard."
I knew it was no good idea... so just a kind of final confirmation.
Last edited by Hanzze on Thu Jun 07, 2012 7:26 am, edited 1 time in total.
Just that! *smile*
...We Buddhists must find the courage to leave our temples and enter the temples of human experience, temples that are filled with suffering. If we listen to Buddha, Christ, or Gandhi, we can do nothing else. The refugee camps, the prisons, the ghettos, and the battlefields will become our temples. We have so much work to do. ... Peace is Possible! Step by Step. - Samtach Preah Maha Ghosananda "Step by Step" http://www.ghosananda.org/bio_book.html

BUT! it is important to become a real Buddhist first. Like Punna did: Punna Sutta Nate sante baram sokham _()_
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Re: should a practicing buddhist own a gun?

Postby rowboat » Thu Jun 07, 2012 7:26 am

Image

:candle:

The weapons industry is an unsupportable evil. In the holy life there is no place for a gun.
Rain soddens what is covered up,
It does not sodden what is open.
Therefore uncover what is covered
That the rain will not sodden it.
Ud 5.5
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Re: should a practicing buddhist own a gun?

Postby Cittasanto » Thu Jun 07, 2012 7:31 am

Ben wrote:
Cittasanto wrote:appart from collecting, the only reason to have one is if the military required supply of own weapons for service due to be done, and as that is not the case anywhere....


What about the healthy pursuits of target shooting and trap shooting??
kind regards,

Ben

Do these support or hold the possibility to support the continuation of consciousness or the development of consciousness that leads to unskilled states of mind?
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
Upāsaka Cittasanto
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: should a practicing buddhist own a gun?

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Jun 07, 2012 7:33 am

Cittasanto wrote:
Ben wrote:
Cittasanto wrote:appart from collecting, the only reason to have one is if the military required supply of own weapons for service due to be done, and as that is not the case anywhere....


What about the healthy pursuits of target shooting and trap shooting??
kind regards,

Ben

Do these support or hold the possibility to support the continuation of consciousness or the development of consciousness that leads to unskilled states of mind?
No more and no less than bowling.
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: should a practicing buddhist own a gun?

Postby reflection » Thu Jun 07, 2012 7:33 am

There is not really a "should" or "should not". It's up to you. And as said, it is all about the intention.

If you have it with the reason of possibly hurting someone, even if it is an intruder, the intention may be partly out of ill will towards that intruder. That wouldn't be a wise thing to do. A Buddha wouldn't act that way out of self defense.

And let alone all the troubles it may cause if the intruder himself also had a gun.


But again, you make the choice.
But I must say I feel lucky people in my country do not have that choice (generally).
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Re: should a practicing buddhist own a gun?

Postby pilgrim » Thu Jun 07, 2012 7:36 am

Hanzze wrote:
There is a saying: "Imagine there is war and nobody takes part"


That would be wonderful, in an ideal world. But the reality is that it is not. I can think of many, many reasons why Buddhists ( or any person for that matter) should not own a gun or any weapon, but in reply to the OP's question, I cannot give a blanket NO. If I live in a place where there is great social unrest, violent crime,in a country with civil war, genocidal regime, bands of roving marauders or such, I can understand why a person would wish to keep a weapon at home or carry one if he needs to venture out for food. Unless one fancies oneself to be enlightened and have no further craving for existence. :tongue:
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