Question about the first precept

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Question about the first precept

Postby CoreyNiles92 » Sat Nov 03, 2012 1:35 am

I was wondering, does murdering someone without the intention of doing so break the first precept? An accident for example.

Also, even with the intention, if you murder someone in self defense in a situation where you're left no other choice, would this break the first precept?

And one more, say the Buddha lived in a village, and the village was threatened to come under attack by barbarians, would the Buddha allow for safeguarding the village and it's inhabitants? Would those protecting him and his disciples be breaking the first precept by doing so? What would Buddha say about this? Would he simply allow himself and his disciples to die, as to not break or encourage the breaking of the first precept?
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Re: Question about the first precept

Postby LonesomeYogurt » Sat Nov 03, 2012 1:56 am

Killing someone on accident is not a violation of the first precept. In order for an act to be considered "killing," five conditions must be met:

There is a living being.
There is the perception that the being is a living being.
There is the volition thought of killing.
The killing is carried out.
The being dies.

Thus, accidentally stepping on an insect fulfills the first condition and the last two conditions, but not the others.

Killing in self-defense, however, meets all criteria and thus is a violation of the first precept.
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.
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Re: Question about the first precept

Postby santa100 » Sat Nov 03, 2012 4:33 am

In self defense, one doesn't have to go so far as killing the attacker. One just needs to neutralize his ability to attack. So with mindfulness and skillful means, it's still possible to protect one's own safety without the presence of the third condition, the volition to kill, thus avoiding the violation of the first precept.
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Re: Question about the first precept

Postby Yana » Sat Nov 03, 2012 7:13 am

Hi,

You know what, i have often thought about this...i know it's hard but i wouldn't kill someone even in self defense..there are many ways to subdue an attacker very rarely would you need to kill someone..if it came down to kill or be killed i'd rather be killed to be quite honest..who wants to have that sort of guilt lying around or pay for that sort of bad kamma.No thanks i'll pass.I have better things to do in my present and future awaiting lives.
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Re: Question about the first precept

Postby Ben » Sat Nov 03, 2012 7:45 am

santa100 wrote:In self defense, one doesn't have to go so far as killing the attacker. One just needs to neutralize his ability to attack. So with mindfulness and skillful means, it's still possible to protect one's own safety without the presence of the third condition, the volition to kill, thus avoiding the violation of the first precept.


In a perfect world.
Sometimes, the only way to neutralize an attacker from killing oneself or others or to mitigate an immanent threat is to use lethal force.
Unfortunately, its an unfortunate fact of life.
kind regards,

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Re: Question about the first precept

Postby polarbuddha101 » Sat Nov 03, 2012 7:49 am

There are many non-lethal defense strategies that can be employed before one decides to kill. Avoid rather than check; check rather than hurt; hurt rather than maim, maim rather than kill; for all life is precious, nor can any be replaced. If you live in bear country, carry bear spray (a more potent form of pepper spray), i.e. there are methods to defend yourself without killing someone. Have a wholesome day!

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Re: Question about the first precept

Postby Ben » Sat Nov 03, 2012 7:53 am

polarbuddha101 wrote:There are many non-lethal defense strategies that can be employed before one decides to kill. Avoid rather than check; check rather than hurt; hurt rather than maim, maim rather than kill; for all life is precious, nor can any be replaced. If you live in bear country, carry bear spray (a more potent form of pepper spray), i.e. there are methods to defend yourself without killing someone. Have a wholesome day!

:anjali:


I couldn't agreemore, pb, in a perfect world.
"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: Question about the first precept

Postby CoreyNiles92 » Sat Nov 03, 2012 8:54 am

What if you were drafted to a war, and found yourself fighting in a trench with your allies when a group of enemies storm in firing their weapons towards you, pepper spray wouldn't even phase them in such a frenzy, and you would be killed a hundred times over before reaching them to subdue. If you choose to allow them to murder you, you also choose to add greater risk of death to your allies by allowing their numbers to be reduced in your death.
---------------------------
Let's say Buddha and his disciples were inhabiting a village that was threatened by a group of barbarians, with promise to massacre the entire village once they arrive. A group of mercenaries shows up, offering their protection from the barbarians, with no time to evacuate would Buddha be justified in hiring mercenaries to safeguard the town? Or would he allow himself and his disciples to be murdered as to avoid breaking the first precept. Knowing they will not have rebirth, and the world would be rid of enlightenment for ages to come.
---------------------------
How about this morally ambiguous philosophical question, I've had trouble with this one myself.

Imagine being thrown into a scenario where you hold in your hands the fates of eleven lives, you are presented two options, inescapable, you must choose one of the two.

You stand atop a platform above a railway station, with a lever in front of you. There is a train heading down the track towards a brick wall, if it collides with the wall ten people within will die. You have the ability to change the tracks, allowing the train to avoid the wall and continue along on a safe track sparing 10 lives. The catch is that a man has fallen unconscious on this track, and you don't have the time to run down to help him, would you pull the lever and choose this mans fate yourself, sparing 10 innocent lives. Or would you allow nature to run it's course and not involve yourself, allowing 10 innocent people to die.

This one has stumped me for a while, but I seem to always end up at allowing the train to hit the wall, as I do not see it fit for me to intervene, stealing a mans life. But in allowing nature to run its course, I am effectively allowing 10 innocent people to die when I have the chance to save them. In both cases I'm allowing causalities, but only in one am I directly causing it. I have an issue with placing value on a life, therefore would not be able to easily distinguish the value of ten lives compared to one life.
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Re: Question about the first precept

Postby Mr Man » Sat Nov 03, 2012 9:21 am

Ben wrote:Sometimes, the only way to neutralize an attacker from killing oneself or others or to mitigate an immanent threat is to use lethal force.
And by doing this the precepts have been left behind.
Unfortunately, its an unfortunate fact of life.
It is a choice.
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Re: Question about the first precept

Postby Ben » Sat Nov 03, 2012 10:07 am

Mr Man wrote:
Ben wrote:Sometimes, the only way to neutralize an attacker from killing oneself or others or to mitigate an immanent threat is to use lethal force.
And by doing this the precepts have been left behind.

I don't think so.

Mr Man wrote:
Unfortunately, its an unfortunate fact of life.
It is a choice.

And sometimes in life you will need to make some very difficult choices.
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Re: Question about the first precept

Postby Cittasanto » Sat Nov 03, 2012 10:38 am

If the intention is there to kill then it is a violation.
if there is no intention there is no violation.
Your village example has an intent on defence, and it is assumable that it is short notice attack. the buddha allowed for self defence in-order to get away from the situation.
CoreyNiles92 wrote:I was wondering, does murdering someone without the intention of doing so break the first precept? An accident for example.

Also, even with the intention, if you murder someone in self defense in a situation where you're left no other choice, would this break the first precept?

And one more, say the Buddha lived in a village, and the village was threatened to come under attack by barbarians, would the Buddha allow for safeguarding the village and it's inhabitants? Would those protecting him and his disciples be breaking the first precept by doing so? What would Buddha say about this? Would he simply allow himself and his disciples to die, as to not break or encourage the breaking of the first precept?
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
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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: Question about the first precept

Postby Mr Man » Sat Nov 03, 2012 11:57 am

Ben wrote:
Mr Man wrote:
Ben wrote:Sometimes, the only way to neutralize an attacker from killing oneself or others or to mitigate an immanent threat is to use lethal force.
And by doing this the precepts have been left behind.

I don't think so.

Of Course they have.

To mitigate (a perceived) immanent threat is a Blair like argument. What if a Buddhist monk was to give the same advice (in relation to a specific threat) or was to follow that advice?
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Re: Question about the first precept

Postby LonesomeYogurt » Sat Nov 03, 2012 2:53 pm

CoreyNiles92 wrote:What if you were drafted to a war, and found yourself fighting in a trench with your allies when a group of enemies storm in firing their weapons towards you, pepper spray wouldn't even phase them in such a frenzy, and you would be killed a hundred times over before reaching them to subdue. If you choose to allow them to murder you, you also choose to add greater risk of death to your allies by allowing their numbers to be reduced in your death.

The correct Buddhist response would have been to refuse service in the first place, so this question is hard to answer accurately.

Let's say Buddha and his disciples were inhabiting a village that was threatened by a group of barbarians, with promise to massacre the entire village once they arrive. A group of mercenaries shows up, offering their protection from the barbarians, with no time to evacuate would Buddha be justified in hiring mercenaries to safeguard the town? Or would he allow himself and his disciples to be murdered as to avoid breaking the first precept. Knowing they will not have rebirth, and the world would be rid of enlightenment for ages to come.

The Buddha would not have hired them, no. An arahant is incapable of killing or causing others to kill.
You stand atop a platform above a railway station, with a lever in front of you. There is a train heading down the track towards a brick wall, if it collides with the wall ten people within will die. You have the ability to change the tracks, allowing the train to avoid the wall and continue along on a safe track sparing 10 lives. The catch is that a man has fallen unconscious on this track, and you don't have the time to run down to help him, would you pull the lever and choose this mans fate yourself, sparing 10 innocent lives. Or would you allow nature to run it's course and not involve yourself, allowing 10 innocent people to die.

The sad fact of life is that every human being dies. The choice is whether or not you want to be the one who kills them.

Mr Man wrote:Of Course they have.

To mitigate (a perceived) immanent threat is a Blair like argument. What if a Buddhist monk was to give the same advice (in relation to a specific threat) or was to follow that advice?

I agree that it's a technical violation of the first precept, but you can hardly blame someone for such an action in a situation where their life is truly on the line. Often, what an arahant would do is not always possible for laypeople who have family obligations or other reasons to defend with violence. It's not ideal but it is at least understandable.
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: Question about the first precept

Postby Hickersonia » Sat Nov 03, 2012 7:13 pm

Okay, I read the Angulimala Sutta [MN 86] yesterday and this question made me think of it again.

Text here: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

The story in the sutta is basically that a vicious killer resides in this particular area where the Buddha is passing through and the Blessed One (by his super-normal powers) prevents the bandit from catching up to Him, even as he runs his darnedest and the Buddha maintains a walking pace, then even stops altogether.

In the end, the murderous Bandit is converted, and receives the going forth.

What I'm getting at is, if the preposterous situation of the original post had actually occurred, not only would the Buddha have not ordered any killing, but he would have quite probably converted, and even ordained the killers, making arahants of them and saving everyone in the village by his transcendental powers.

In other words, don't underestimate the Buddha too much -- he would never be presented with so few options as we, in our more limited state, would perceive.
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Re: Question about the first precept

Postby Cittasanto » Sat Nov 03, 2012 8:43 pm

Hickersonia wrote:In other words, don't underestimate the Buddha too much -- he would never be presented with so few options as we, in our more limited state, would perceive.

Image
:anjali:
there are always options we may just not see them.
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: Question about the first precept

Postby David N. Snyder » Sat Nov 03, 2012 10:28 pm

Not too long ago here in Vegas a man was robbing a store with a sword and threatening people within the store. Several police arrived on the scene. When negotiations failed, a police officer-sharp-shooter -- shot the sword out the suspect's hand. Upon hearing the gun shot, the other officers all fired, killing the suspect.

:computerproblem:

It is not the recommended place to aim since the hand moves too much, but would have prevented the death of the suspect had the other officers refrained from shooting. Law enforcement officers are taught to aim for the middle torso, since it is the largest part of the body and has the least movement and to shoot only when their life or another person's life is in danger.
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Re: Question about the first precept

Postby C J » Wed Nov 07, 2012 6:19 am

CoreyNiles92 wrote:Also, even with the intention, if you murder someone in self defense in a situation where you're left no other choice, would this break the first precept?


Don't forget the fact that you may face this situation as a result of an earlier bad deed you did. So it may be the time you suffer. You can choose to kill the attacker, then you accumulate more bad kamma. So you will have to face similar situations further more. Choice is always yours, I would look some other ways to escape, as the last option I could injured the attacker rather than killing. But if my obligations in this life is far more important for me, for example caring for my infant, I may choose to kill the attacker if no other escape mechanisms worked. I'm the one who has to suffer bad kamma in the future, not my child living without a father, I would except that. But I will keep in mind that my bad kamma is right behind me and it will come as twice more powerful next time. Sooner or later I will have to suffer.
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