Are we responsible for the actions of others?

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

Re: Are we responsible for the actions of others?

Postby Hanzze » Thu Oct 04, 2012 3:30 am

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.


Dear Maarten,

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.


Not to much posts training: 4. Post/ 4.10. 10:28 am (accordiny messurement: 7 posts the last 24h) current value: 8. post
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: Are we responsible for the actions of others?

Postby Mr Man » Thu Oct 04, 2012 10:21 am

In the Maha-parinibbana Sutta the Buddha accepted food from Cunda but also instructed Cunda not to offer the food to others. Would this be an example of the Buddha taking responsibility for the actions of another?
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Re: Are we responsible for the actions of others?

Postby daverupa » Thu Oct 04, 2012 10:53 am

Mr Man wrote:In the Maha-parinibbana Sutta the Buddha accepted food from Cunda but also instructed Cunda not to offer the food to others. Would this be an example of the Buddha taking responsibility for the actions of another?


I think it's probably a mistake to use this episode as a solid example, simply because it's part of a narrative context that isn't teaching ethics so much as lauding the Buddha within a ritualized death narrative. To those hearing this story back in the day, this was an example of the Buddha's powers, not an ethical example to extrapolate and emulate.

I think that, instead, teachings such as the Sedaka Sutta explain the utmost in what concern for others entails.
    "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: Are we responsible for the actions of others?

Postby Mr Man » Thu Oct 04, 2012 11:21 am

daverupa wrote:
I think that, instead, teachings such as the Sedaka Sutta explain the utmost in what concern for others entails.
A beautiful sutta indeed.


With regard to the episode from the Maha-parinibbana Sutta I seem to remember there being a reference to the karmic implications of Cunda's offering somewhere. Any ideas of what I may be thinking of?
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Re: Are we responsible for the actions of others?

Postby daverupa » Thu Oct 04, 2012 11:30 am

Mr Man wrote:Any ideas of what I may be thinking of?


Ud 8.5 wrote:Then the Blessed One addressed Ven. Ānanda, "Ānanda, if anyone tries to incite remorse in Cunda the silversmith, saying, 'It's no gain for you, friend Cunda, it's ill-done by you, that the Tathāgata, having eaten your last alms, was totally unbound,' then Cunda's remorse should be allayed (in this way): 'It's a gain for you, friend Cunda, it's well-done by you, that the Tathāgata, having eaten your last alms, was totally unbound. Face to face with the Blessed One have I heard it, face to face have I learned it, "These two alms are equal to each other in fruit, equal to each other in result, of much greater fruit & reward than any other alms. Which two? The alms that, after having eaten it, the Tathāgata awakens to the unexcelled right self-awakening. And the alms that, after having eaten it, the Tathāgata is unbound by means of the unbinding property with no fuel remaining. These are the two alms that are equal to each other in fruit, equal to each other in result, of much greater fruit & reward than any other alms. Venerable Cunda the silversmith has accumulated kamma that leads to long life. Venerable Cunda the silversmith has accumulated kamma that leads to beauty. Venerable Cunda the silversmith has accumulated kamma that leads to happiness. Venerable Cunda the silversmith has accumulated kamma that leads to heaven. Venerable Cunda the silversmith has accumulated kamma that leads to rank. Venerable Cunda the silversmith has accumulated kamma that leads to sovereignty."' In this way, Ānanda, Cunda the silversmith's remorse should be allayed."


It's also in the Mahaparinibbana Sutta itself, some sections after the meal episode. (If I was a teacher, a student who submitted the Mahaparinibbana Sutta would be up on multiple charges of plagiarism.)
    "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: Are we responsible for the actions of others?

Postby Mr Man » Thu Oct 04, 2012 12:20 pm

daverupa wrote:
Mr Man wrote:Any ideas of what I may be thinking of?


Ud 8.5 wrote:Then the Blessed One addressed Ven. Ānanda, "Ānanda, "


It's also in the Mahaparinibbana Sutta itself, some sections after the meal episode. (If I was a teacher, a student who submitted the Mahaparinibbana Sutta would be up on multiple charges of plagiarism.)


Thanks :)
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Re: Are we responsible for the actions of others?

Postby Maarten » Fri Oct 05, 2012 8:03 am

Dear Hanzze,

Hanzze wrote:
Dear Maarten,

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.


I have seen this documentary, but I can't remember most of the details. I just remember it's about the Japanese brutally slaughtering a lot of doplhins.

Hanzze wrote:
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.


Thank you for this sutta reference, it is an excellent sutta!
the sutta seems to come down to:
Looking after oneself, one looks after others. Looking after others, one looks after oneself.

This makes sense to me, but in taking responsibility for the actions of the butcher even when one buys meat I think were going to far. We don't have any control over the (possible) intentional actions of the butcher, if we have any control it would be over our own intentions. Taking responsibility for the actions of others is like taking responsibility for a hurricane or an earthquake.
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