Maarten wrote:Take the animal rights activists who try to stop the whale hunters from killing whales. What they are doing is saving lives. This is a virtuous act, but does that make everyone who is not out there saving the whales immoral? I think not.
have you seen the movie The Cove. This is a very interesting movie in relation to your topic "Are we responsible for the actions of others?" , karma, sacrify and burden.
Such actions are (you call them "virtuous" above) are mostly out of a strong attachment, curiously all promotion actions have at least caused additional suffering. But we can not say, that it is a "not self created/caused" burden what such people actually have. When we look at this film, we see that he feels at least kind of guilty out of his previous actions (which have been well minded as well, but he saw that they have been not wise at least) which he tries to make undone in some ways.
So guilty feeling (which have its causes) + the idea that one can change his previous action = "compassionated action" (at least further unwise)
Another model of such motivations is substitutional - guiltiness which is caused be the attachment to a groupe or kin (selfdelusion at least)
Guilty feeling vicariously + the idea that one can change this situation or the believe that one needs to sacrify him self for the reputation of a group or kin = "compssionated action" (at least further unwise)
And there is one more constilation, like a smoker who has quite smoking: He feels sometimes the responsibility to bring others to quit, but if we don't quite of our own understandig it's just a matter of time that we fall back mostly more extrem as before. So one who might feel guilty that he has caused so much being to be killed for his peasure might feel that he needs to correct his previous actions in "saving" others which is actually nit possible. Its also a kind of hystery and fear of riping kamma, but rather to focus further on one self, they try to make some +points amoung others but still are turning on the wheel of suffering faster and faster.
There are less who take simply self responibilty which would be an act or real courage and simply ubstain from unwholseome action.
It is interesting that you exclude monks from the supply and demand chain. When they are asking for alms don't they participate in a supply and demand chain? Why shouldn't the monk refrain from accepting meat to try and stop the layperson from buying it?
Bhikkhus (and those who live a holy life) do as long as they are no Arahants still demand on the chain but very subtile and without forcing it in addition. They don't ask for alm's and they accept only food that is left (if done correctly), so not organised for them. There is no organised food, which is not harmful at least. So a monks abstains from organising food, what ever it should be. If it would be possible to organise food that is not harmful for other beings at least, there would be no need of Buddha Dhamma and to escape from the wheel of desire/hunger/thirst/becoming/being.
As a layman who still organises food, one would try to organise it more wholesome (step by step) till it might be real wholesome. Reducing desire mixed with knowledge and skill is the key, the rest is up to ones own condition or better possibility.
The Sedaka Sutta: The Bamboo Acrobat is for sure one of the best suttas in reagard of resposibility.
We are also somehow responsible to keep others from unwholesome actions and that is made by ecplaining Dhamma if it is possible, but we are not responsible for the effects of other beings deed, we can neither correct them, nor are we albe to make them undone. This is also in regard of our self. We have the thought that we are responsible for our "old/past" self but also here it does not make sence. The past person does not exist any more and we just have to carry effects of past the actions. So responsibility is a very present issue and we can use our knowledge and remember to act wisely in the present.
Just taking care/being responsible for the mother as Maha Ghosananda once said:
Take care of the present, and the future will be well. The Dharma is always in the present, and the present is the mother of the future. Take care of the mother, and the mother will take care of her child.
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