Can a Theravada Buddhist monk KILL in self defense ?

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Can a Theravada Buddhist monk KILL in self defense ?

Postby petergriffin608 » Thu Nov 08, 2012 2:53 pm

Hi, I am new to Buddhism and doing research on this.

Can anyone please tell whether Buddhist monks (Theravada school) are allowed to kill somebody who is trying to kill them. i.e. Can the monks kill in self defense. Which sutta has this please???
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Re: Can a Theravada Buddhist monk KILL in self defense ?

Postby Cittasanto » Thu Nov 08, 2012 4:10 pm

petergriffin608 wrote:Hi, I am new to Buddhism and doing research on this.

Can anyone please tell whether Buddhist monks (Theravada school) are allowed to kill somebody who is trying to kill them. i.e. Can the monks kill in self defense. Which sutta has this please???

Why the strange questions?
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Re: Can a Theravada Buddhist monk KILL in self defense ?

Postby David N. Snyder » Thu Nov 08, 2012 6:21 pm

You won't find any sutta that will justify killing even in self-defense for a monk or nun. Even for lay people, you can only find some possible ambiguous, implicit references. The Buddha did not prohibit kings (i.e., governments) from having an army, for example or for protecting the citizens.

It is a parajika (defense, expulsion from the Order) for a monk or nun to kill another human being. It is an offense (although not defeat) for them to kill an animal.
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Re: Can a Theravada Buddhist monk KILL in self defense ?

Postby LonesomeYogurt » Thu Nov 08, 2012 7:09 pm

David N. Snyder wrote:You won't find any sutta that will justify killing even in self-defense for a monk or nun. Even for lay people, you can only find some possible ambiguous, implicit references. The Buddha did not prohibit kings (i.e., governments) from having an army, for example or for protecting the citizens.

It is a parajika (defense, expulsion from the Order) for a monk or nun to kill another human being. It is an offense (although not defeat) for them to kill an animal.

It should be noted that while the Buddha did not necessarily prohibit standing armies, he didn't have much good to say about those who kill for a living:

SN 42.3 wrote:"When a warrior strives & exerts himself in battle, his mind is already seized, debased, & misdirected by the thought: 'May these beings be struck down or slaughtered or annihilated or destroyed. May they not exist': If others then strike him down & slay him while he is thus striving & exerting himself in battle, then with the breakup of the body, after death, he is reborn in the hell called the realm of those slain in battle. But if he holds such a view as this: 'When a warrior strives & exerts himself in battle, if others then strike him down & slay him while he is striving & exerting himself in battle, then with the breakup of the body, after death, he is reborn in the company of devas slain in battle,' that is his wrong view. Now, there are two destinations for a person with wrong view, I tell you: either hell or the animal womb."
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

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Re: Can a Theravada Buddhist monk KILL in self defense ?

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Thu Nov 08, 2012 7:28 pm

petergriffin608 wrote:Hi, I am new to Buddhism and doing research on this.

Can anyone please tell whether Buddhist monks (Theravada school) are allowed to kill somebody who is trying to kill them. i.e. Can the monks kill in self defense. Which sutta has this please???

Only out of compassion, and not literally.
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Re: Can a Theravada Buddhist monk KILL in self defense ?

Postby Cittasanto » Thu Nov 08, 2012 7:31 pm

If the intention is to kill it is not allowed!
If it is an accident it is an accident and would be a lesser offence or possibly no offence depending on the circumstance.

why all the questions?
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: Can a Theravada Buddhist monk KILL in self defense ?

Postby SarathW » Thu Nov 08, 2012 10:59 pm

Bikkhu Pesala - Good one. :clap: I have read this before. You got me to read it again.
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Re: Can a Theravada Buddhist monk KILL in self defense ?

Postby petergriffin608 » Fri Nov 09, 2012 12:55 pm

Cittasanto wrote:If the intention is to kill it is not allowed!
If it is an accident it is an accident and would be a lesser offence or possibly no offence depending on the circumstance.

why all the questions?


Why not??? You don't like questions??? I thought Buddhism was all about asking questions??? Cos, in Christianity, whom I was earlier, it's all about NOT asking questions, right?

Is that your picture in your avatar???
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Re: Can a Theravada Buddhist monk KILL in self defense ?

Postby petergriffin608 » Fri Nov 09, 2012 1:03 pm

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:
petergriffin608 wrote:Hi, I am new to Buddhism and doing research on this.

Can anyone please tell whether Buddhist monks (Theravada school) are allowed to kill somebody who is trying to kill them. i.e. Can the monks kill in self defense. Which sutta has this please???

Only out of compassion, and not literally.


Sorry, again I find this sutta also very vague, just like most of the others?

I am asking a very "practical" question. i.e. Can a Buddhist monk kill in self-defense??

This Kesi sutta offers nothing to answer that question.

Suppose a robber comes to the temple and finds the Buddhist priest and he attacks with a knife, what can the Buddhis priest do? Can he take a object and hit him. Can he kill him? Cos if he does not, the robber will kill the priest??

Ok, if the Buddha has not given a clear answer to the above, then can you at least answer this one: Can Buddhist lay people kill in self defense. Just substitute the monk in the above scenario with you. Robber comes to your home. He discovers you. He comes to kill you with the knife. Can you take the gun in your drawer and kill him??

So, even a Buddhist monk, might have to "kill" his attacker, as a means of self-defense, because if he does not, he will be killed. So, he will have to have intentions to kill, on order to save himself. This is a very practical situation.

I am talking about a practical situation like that. Has Buddha told what to do in a situation like that?? What has Buddha said about killing in self defense for laymen (i.e. Not Buddhist priests). Or has he NOT said anything on this?
Last edited by petergriffin608 on Fri Nov 09, 2012 1:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Can a Theravada Buddhist monk KILL in self defense ?

Postby Cittasanto » Fri Nov 09, 2012 1:05 pm

petergriffin608 wrote:
Cittasanto wrote:If the intention is to kill it is not allowed!
If it is an accident it is an accident and would be a lesser offence or possibly no offence depending on the circumstance.

why all the questions?


Why not??? You don't like questions??? I thought Buddhism was all about asking questions??? Cos, in Christianity, whom I was earlier, it's all about NOT asking questions, right?

Is that your picture in your avatar???

it is interesting that that is all you do, no introduction...
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: Can a Theravada Buddhist monk KILL in self defense ?

Postby Modus.Ponens » Fri Nov 09, 2012 2:18 pm

The answer is no. Monks who kill a person have to leave the sangha for the rest of their life, whatever the conditions are.

One of the fundamental rules of the Vinaya is that a monk can't even speak of the advantages of death, so the Buddha (or any of his noble disciples) never told any lay person that it was ok to kill in self defense.
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: Can a Theravada Buddhist monk KILL in self defense ?

Postby LonesomeYogurt » Fri Nov 09, 2012 5:04 pm

You're looking at this the wrong way, perhaps coming from a Judeo-Christian approach. The Buddha taught that killing was never skillful, in that it will never bring long-term happiness. So while I doubt that many would criticize you, a layperson, for killing in self-defense, the correct Buddhist response would still be to say, "Your action is your own, you will live with the results, and the results of killing are never free from suffering."

Buddhism isn't about what you "can" or "can't" do, it's about what will or will not bring happiness. If you're looking to be happy, in this life and in the next, the best thing to do would be to avoid killing any being for any reason. If you are a monk, however, killing will result in expulsion from the Sangha.
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: Can a Theravada Buddhist monk KILL in self defense ?

Postby CoreyNiles92 » Sat Nov 10, 2012 12:29 am

petergriffin608 wrote:
Cittasanto wrote:If the intention is to kill it is not allowed!
If it is an accident it is an accident and would be a lesser offence or possibly no offence depending on the circumstance.

why all the questions?


Why not??? You don't like questions??? I thought Buddhism was all about asking questions??? Cos, in Christianity, whom I was earlier, it's all about NOT asking questions, right?

Is that your picture in your avatar???


It's not so much about asking questions as it is experiencing life. Your question is can a Buddhist Lay Person kill someone? Yes they can, even a Monk can, but a Monk more than likely wouldn't, and if a Lay Person did they would be breaking the first precept and failing themselves. But would killing someone be mindful, or on the right path? No. Would dying be mindful or on the right path? More so than killing yes. So which of the two would you choose if given the option? One that preserves your life, and is not a mindful action, or one that might lead to your death, but allows you to remain mindful.

I think you already have it pretty clear in your mind whether it is okay to kill someone in self-defense or not, so asking anyone about it just leads to debate and argument. If you allow yourself to accept that maybe there are some things we just can't understand in black and white, then you open yourself to understanding the world as it really is.

In order to have true peace, or for the world to experience true love and unity. We all must view moral decisions objectively rather than subjectively. If every single person on earth followed their moral compass at all times, rather than allowing circumstance to guide them into morally ambiguous choices, there would be no wars, no greed, no lust, no envy, we would all be free of Samsara. Even if it may seem to you that your choosing not to murder in self defense is pointless, considering it only results in your death, and allows a murder to roam free. Consider the universe as a scale, every bad deed weighs it down, and every good deed raises it up, each time you choose not to do something bad, and do something good instead, you bring enlightenment to the entire world, and raise the universe up. If I could depart this world knowing I did more good for it than bad, I would be completely content with my life. I would prefer that to living in a morally ambiguous, dangerous world where I am so fearful of others that I hide away from them, and seek refuge in hedonistic pleasures to bring myself peace.
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Re: Can a Theravada Buddhist monk KILL in self defense ?

Postby Raksha » Sat Nov 10, 2012 1:33 am

The answer is no because if a monk or nun killed someone they would instantly cease to be a monk or nun, not to mention the other consequences. In the Mahayana it is a bit different because there exists a rather obscure rationale that allows a very advanced being to 'liberate' another being in one or two very particular circumstances, but even then I'm not entirely sure that a monk or nun could do this...for an answer you would have to enquire on Dharma-wheel.
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Re: Can a Theravada Buddhist monk KILL in self defense ?

Postby Dhammanando » Sat Nov 10, 2012 5:45 am

petergriffin608 wrote:Hi, I am new to Buddhism and doing research on this.

Can anyone please tell whether Buddhist monks (Theravada school) are allowed to kill somebody who is trying to kill them. i.e. Can the monks kill in self defense. Which sutta has this please???


If a bhikkhu is cornered by an attacker, it is not a Vinaya offence if he gives the attacker a blow, provided that it's only with the aim of escaping from him. If the bhikkhu attempts to kill the attacker and succeeds, then he is defeated (as other posters have mentioned). If he inadvertently kills the attacker while giving him a blow with the aim of escaping, then that too would be no offence, for only intentional killing of a human is a defeating offence.

The source is the Vinaya Pitaka's account of the 4th pacittiya rule in the Patimokkha's Sahadhammikavagga. For a modern exposition of this, click here and scroll down to 74:

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... h08-8.html
    ...and this thought arose in the mind of the Blessed One:
    “Who lives without reverence lives miserably.”
    Uruvela Sutta, A.ii.20

    It were endless to dispute upon everything that is disputable.
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Re: Can a Theravada Buddhist monk KILL in self defense ?

Postby Yana » Sat Nov 10, 2012 11:15 am

petergriffin608 wrote:
I am asking a very "practical" question. i.e. Can a Buddhist monk kill in self-defense??



No.

Precept No#1 No Harming Living Beings.
Life is preparing for Death
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Re: Can a Theravada Buddhist monk KILL in self defense ?

Postby Ben » Sat Nov 10, 2012 11:22 am

Yana wrote:
petergriffin608 wrote:
I am asking a very "practical" question. i.e. Can a Buddhist monk kill in self-defense??



No.

Precept No#1 No Harming Living Beings.


That is not the first precept, Yana.
Be careful you don't make the mistake of confusing Buddhadhamma with the dhamma of the Niganthas (Jains).
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Re: Can a Theravada Buddhist monk KILL in self defense ?

Postby Yana » Sat Nov 10, 2012 12:11 pm

Ben wrote:
Yana wrote:
petergriffin608 wrote:
I am asking a very "practical" question. i.e. Can a Buddhist monk kill in self-defense??



No.

Precept No#1 No Harming Living Beings.


That is not the first precept, Yana.
Be careful you don't make the mistake of confusing Buddhadhamma with the dhamma of the Niganthas (Jains).
kind regards,

Ben


Hi Ben,

But if that is not the first precept then it is still
one of the 5 precepts.
It says no harming living beings.
A Buddhist monk keeps the precepts.
And if you keep the precepts you wouldn't harm a living being.
Which means you wouldn't kill
Even for self defense.
By all means try to escape or temporarily disable the attacker.
Your intention is what matters,If your intention is to save the two of you then that would be better than just to save yourself.Also if you accidentally killed the attacker that wouldn't be as bad because you didn't intend to but making up in your mind that that person HAS to Die so i can save myself..

I'm sorry I don't know what Buddhammaa or Dhamma of the Nighanthas mean..
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Re: Can a Theravada Buddhist monk KILL in self defense ?

Postby Cittasanto » Sat Nov 10, 2012 1:01 pm

Hi Yana
be careful not to mix precepts up. You were only referring to the first precept of the five or eight by calling it the first! The third of the Bhikkhu rules is the one being asked about.
The first precept is regarding killing not no harm you need to go to the 10 wholesome actions for harm to be referred to in the advice to have a mind subdued by benevolence.
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
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"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: Can a Theravada Buddhist monk KILL in self defense ?

Postby perkele » Sat Nov 10, 2012 2:10 pm

Ben wrote:That is not the first precept, Yana.
Be careful you don't make the mistake of confusing Buddhadhamma with the dhamma of the Niganthas (Jains).

Cittasanto wrote:Hi Yana
be careful not to mix precepts up. You were only referring to...

I think anyone can understand what Yana is talking about. The first precept is about not killing. Maybe the "not harming" version is from the Jains? Or what has been confused here? I think you are confusing people by talking about confusion that you conceive of without clearing it up properly.
§1337.666 of the bhikkhu rules: "Shou shalt not confuse da precepts." :rolleye: :P

Good answers from LonesomeYoghurt and Ven. Dhammanando.
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