What would you do?

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

What would you do?

Postby Disciple » Sun Oct 21, 2012 3:42 pm

Apologies if this question offends anyone, but it is something I've been thinking about recently. Given the Buddha's stance on non violence, if someone came up to you and started physically assaulting you, what would you do about it? What would a good Buddhist do about it?
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Re: What would you do?

Postby Reductor » Sun Oct 21, 2012 3:56 pm

I'd defend myself, even if that meant the use of violence. But I'd refrain from using excess force.

In my opinion, a good Buddhist would refrain from hating his/her attacker, and refrain from causing undue harm, but would defend themselves never-the-less (unless they were a perfected arahant).
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: What would you do?

Postby LonesomeYogurt » Sun Oct 21, 2012 4:02 pm

I believe that monks are allowed to defend themselves physically in the Vinaya, although they are prohibited from killing or attempting to kill.
Gain and loss, status and disgrace,
censure and praise, pleasure and pain:
these conditions among human beings are inconstant,
impermanent, subject to change.

Knowing this, the wise person, mindful,
ponders these changing conditions.
Desirable things don’t charm the mind,
undesirable ones bring no resistance.

His welcoming and rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
- Lokavipatti Sutta

Stuff I write about things.
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Re: What would you do?

Postby Cittasanto » Sun Oct 21, 2012 4:18 pm

Disciple wrote:Apologies if this question offends anyone, but it is something I've been thinking about recently. Given the Buddha's stance on non violence, if someone came up to you and started physically assaulting you, what would you do about it? What would a good Buddhist do about it?

The Buddha said erradicate ill-will, he didn't say get punched about!
we are permited to defend ourselves so that we can get away, but this needs to be balanced in the mind with good-will. We should not give in to aggression and loose control of ourselves to the point when we intentionally harm i.e. become the aggressor.
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: What would you do?

Postby Cal » Sun Oct 21, 2012 5:57 pm

Cittasanto wrote:The Buddha said erradicate ill-will, he didn't say get punched about!

But he did say let yourself be sawn apart without ill will :-
Monks, even if bandits were to carve you up savagely, limb by limb, with a two-handled saw, he among you who let his heart get angered even at that would not be doing my bidding. Even then you should train yourselves: 'Our minds will be unaffected and we will say no evil words. We will remain sympathetic, with a mind of good will, and with no inner hate. We will keep pervading these people with an awareness imbued with good will and, beginning with them, we will keep pervading the all-encompassing world with an awareness imbued with good will — abundant, expansive, immeasurable, free from hostility, free from ill will.' That's how you should train yourselves.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.021x.than.html

Think I might need a bit more practice before being able to demonstrate that level of metta and equanimity...

Cal
Right Speech: It is spoken at the right time. It is spoken in truth. It is spoken affectionately. It is spoken beneficially. It is spoken with a mind of good-will. [AN 5.198]

Personally, I seem to gain the most insight when I am under the most pressure, when life is at its most unpleasant. There is something in me on those occasions which feels that there is nothing left but to be aware of 'this'. Ajahn Sumedho - Don't Take Your Life Personally, p288
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Re: What would you do?

Postby Mr Man » Sun Oct 21, 2012 6:41 pm

I'm not sure. I might cry or I might try and run away.
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Re: What would you do?

Postby cooran » Sun Oct 21, 2012 8:15 pm

Cal wrote:
Cittasanto wrote:The Buddha said erradicate ill-will, he didn't say get punched about!

But he did say let yourself be sawn apart without ill will :-
Monks, even if bandits were to carve you up savagely, limb by limb, with a two-handled saw, he among you who let his heart get angered even at that would not be doing my bidding. Even then you should train yourselves: 'Our minds will be unaffected and we will say no evil words. We will remain sympathetic, with a mind of good will, and with no inner hate. We will keep pervading these people with an awareness imbued with good will and, beginning with them, we will keep pervading the all-encompassing world with an awareness imbued with good will — abundant, expansive, immeasurable, free from hostility, free from ill will.' That's how you should train yourselves.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.021x.than.html

Think I might need a bit more practice before being able to demonstrate that level of metta and equanimity...

Cal

Hello Cal,

This Sutta is about Right Speech. The saw is simply a simile. It does not mean you should not protect yourself.

with metta
Chris
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---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---
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Re: What would you do?

Postby Cittasanto » Sun Oct 21, 2012 9:15 pm

Hi Cal,
and obviously the receiver of the limb hacking is overpowered!
Even in the worst situation you should not be over-powered by ill-will. he doesn't say just let it happen - or as Ajahn Chah might say "that is the equanimity of a log" (as opposed to "that is the equanimity of a water buffalo" when remarking about a monastic dwellings state.)
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: What would you do?

Postby Mr Man » Sun Oct 21, 2012 9:27 pm

This blog post from Ajahn Sucitto may be of interest: http://sucitto.blogspot.co.uk/2011/11/o ... nness.html

"In my case the trust in openness was most dramatically demanded of me when a group of bandits, brandishing axes and cudgels jumped me near Rajgir in Bihar, India. What do you do when four armed men have grabbed you, and in the heat of the moment, one is grimacing and waving an axe at your head? Fortunately there’s not much else to do but to stay open. For me, in that moment, the reflection arose that everyone has to die, and maybe this was my time. The only choice that was available was to go without fear. So instinctively, I bowed my head to the man with the axe and drew the blade of my hand across the top of my skull to indicate where to hit. ‘This won’t take long,’ I thought. The bandit paused and his energy and body language softened. I stepped forward, again offering my head. The heat in the situation dropped like a stone. The man with the axe looked confused and lowered his weapon, and the other men released my arms. I slipped my bag from my shoulders, placed it before them and slowly walked away. No kiss on the neck, but enough for me to trust the power of openness."
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Re: What would you do?

Postby BubbaBuddhist » Sun Oct 21, 2012 9:29 pm

Furthermore, monks hold higher and stricter standards of conduct than us laypersons. If I had to conform to bhikkhu standards I would fail within ten seconds after awakening in the morning.

No hypothetical for me; since I've begun studying Buddhism (I'm not presumptuous enough to call myself a Buddhist) I've defended myself at least a dozen times from various assaults ranging from drunken idiots to a couple of attempted muggings. I also once stopped a guy who was beating his wife, and administered some instant kamma to a schmuck who was abusing a cat and had the misfortune to do so within my sight. No remorse or second-guessing in any of these cases, though I've been the recipient of no end of nit-picking from so-called Buddhists who would rather work my program than their own. :tongue:

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Re: What would you do?

Postby Ben » Sun Oct 21, 2012 9:56 pm

BubbaBuddhist wrote:Furthermore, monks hold higher and stricter standards of conduct than us laypersons. If I had to conform to bhikkhu standards I would fail within ten seconds after awakening in the morning.

No hypothetical for me; since I've begun studying Buddhism (I'm not presumptuous enough to call myself a Buddhist) I've defended myself at least a dozen times from various assaults ranging from drunken idiots to a couple of attempted muggings. I also once stopped a guy who was beating his wife, and administered some instant kamma to a schmuck who was abusing a cat and had the misfortune to do so within my sight. No remorse or second-guessing in any of these cases, though I've been the recipient of no end of nit-picking from so-called Buddhists who would rather work my program than their own. :tongue:

BB


Agree. I probably would have done the same thing.
The use of force need not be accompanied by aversion. One can use force to restrain or stop someone from attacking you, from attacking others, and to protect the perpetrator from incurring evil kamma.
kind regards,

Ben
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Re: What would you do?

Postby Cal » Sun Oct 21, 2012 10:02 pm

Does anyone have any sutta references to back up the view that physical intervention is acceptable?

I heard the Ajahn Sucitto story before and feel that it really highlights the value of Buddhist practice and the development of equanimty in dealing with aggression. Good on him. :bow:

Best wishes
Cal
Right Speech: It is spoken at the right time. It is spoken in truth. It is spoken affectionately. It is spoken beneficially. It is spoken with a mind of good-will. [AN 5.198]

Personally, I seem to gain the most insight when I am under the most pressure, when life is at its most unpleasant. There is something in me on those occasions which feels that there is nothing left but to be aware of 'this'. Ajahn Sumedho - Don't Take Your Life Personally, p288
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Re: What would you do?

Postby David N. Snyder » Sun Oct 21, 2012 10:10 pm

There may be only this one specific reference which appears to directly allow self-defense:

In the Vinaya, Suttavibhanga, the 92 pacittiya (rules entailing confession), number 74 states:

74. Should any bhikkhu, angered and displeased, give a blow to (another) bhikkhu, it is to be confessed.

The factors for the full offense here are three.

1) Object: another bhikkhu.
2) Effort: One gives him a blow
3) Intention: out of anger.

Non-offenses: According to the Vibhaṅga, there is no offense for a bhikkhu who, trapped in a difficult situation, gives a blow "desiring freedom." The Commentary's discussion of this point shows that it includes what we at present would call self-defense; and the Commentary's analysis of the factors of the offense here shows that even if anger or displeasure arises in one's mind in cases like this, there is no penalty.

Summary: Giving a blow to another bhikkhu when impelled by anger, except in self-defense, is a pācittiya offense.

And another important point to the above is that that is the rule for monks. How much more leeway might lay people have? Not to kill of course, but certainly protect for self-defense.

See also: Self-defense
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Re: What would you do?

Postby Cittasanto » Sun Oct 21, 2012 10:19 pm

BubbaBuddhist wrote:Furthermore, monks hold higher and stricter standards of conduct than us laypersons. If I had to conform to bhikkhu standards I would fail within ten seconds after awakening in the morning.

No hypothetical for me; since I've begun studying Buddhism (I'm not presumptuous enough to call myself a Buddhist) I've defended myself at least a dozen times from various assaults ranging from drunken idiots to a couple of attempted muggings. I also once stopped a guy who was beating his wife, and administered some instant kamma to a schmuck who was abusing a cat and had the misfortune to do so within my sight. No remorse or second-guessing in any of these cases, though I've been the recipient of no end of nit-picking from so-called Buddhists who would rather work my program than their own. :tongue:

BB

Knowing your own shortcomming is good, then you can do something about them!
I have a soft spot for cats so partial agreement from me there.
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: What would you do?

Postby Cal » Sun Oct 21, 2012 10:30 pm

Thanks David, helpful. :anjali:

Best wishes
Cal
Right Speech: It is spoken at the right time. It is spoken in truth. It is spoken affectionately. It is spoken beneficially. It is spoken with a mind of good-will. [AN 5.198]

Personally, I seem to gain the most insight when I am under the most pressure, when life is at its most unpleasant. There is something in me on those occasions which feels that there is nothing left but to be aware of 'this'. Ajahn Sumedho - Don't Take Your Life Personally, p288
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Re: What would you do?

Postby Cittasanto » Sun Oct 21, 2012 11:25 pm

Parajika one also has the advise to resist sexual attack.
I think there is another reference in the Bhikkhuni only rules also?
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: What would you do?

Postby Bonsai Doug » Mon Oct 22, 2012 1:02 am

So where in all this would the famous Shaolin Monks fit? There's not much doubt as to their
self defense skills. Or are they too much of an aberration for this discussion?
Now having obtained a precious human body,
I do not have the luxury of remaining on a distracted path.

~ Tibetan Book of the Dead
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Re: What would you do?

Postby whynotme » Mon Oct 22, 2012 4:19 am

Bonsai Doug wrote:So where in all this would the famous Shaolin Monks fit? There's not much doubt as to their
self defense skills. Or are they too much of an aberration for this discussion?

Well, to me for monks mainly teach and learn martial art, the art to harm and to kill, is wrong action. There is case in Vinaya where monks did many wrong worldly actions, IIRC, include training fighting with weapon. Have checked, the thirteenth sanghadisesa

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Re: What would you do?

Postby Reductor » Mon Oct 22, 2012 4:21 am

A monk, presumably, has severed most of the big ties to the world, so of them I'd expect a lot more than I would of a married parent with young children, like myself. (of course I allow myself leeway - see how nice I am?)

The will to violence depends on how much attachment you have to the world.
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: What would you do?

Postby pegembara » Mon Oct 22, 2012 5:09 am

When attacked survival instinct will kick in resulting in a fight or flight response. The only ones who does not have such a response are those who has extinguish all clinging. To such a person, dead or alive- there is no difference.

One gone to the far shore
without clinging
without effluent
his task completed,
welcomes the ending of life,
as if freed from a place of execution.
Having attained the supreme Rightness,
unconcerned with all the world,
as if released from a burning house,
he doesn't sorrow at death.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
And what is right speech? Abstaining from lying, from divisive speech, from abusive speech, & from idle chatter: This is called right speech.
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