Ethics

An open and inclusive investigation into Buddhism and spiritual cultivation

Ethics

Postby rosuto » Thu Jul 09, 2009 2:15 pm

Right Action. This is in all reality a rather sticky concept. Different cultures and societys will shape peoples view on this because of different circumstances. In 1 country, giving money to a beggar may be regarded as a noble things, as you are helping them out. Here in the US, many times your handout will go instead to contributing to that persons chemical abuses.

Now, what about following laws and decrees by government? To an extreme, you can refer to the Bosnian war. Serb soldiers were given orders brought down from on high where they were to take part in ethnic cleansing, killing thousands of men, women and children. Obviously someone not following that would be within the scope of right action. Now, what about a father that steals a loaf of bread to feed his starving family? Should this be regarded as an acceptable circumstance to break the laws of his country?

It is a find line sometimes to follow the laws of ones country, and the higher laws of ones beliefs. How exactly should that line be determined?
It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one's mouth and remove all doubt.
Abraham Lincoln
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Re: Ethics

Postby Guy » Thu Jul 09, 2009 3:01 pm

Hi Rosuto,

If you are concerned about giving a homeless person money because they might spend it on drugs, why not give them food or clothing instead?

As for the other situations, I don't know how I would react, I think it is impossible to tell unless I faced the situation myself.

With Metta,

Guy
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Re: Ethics

Postby David N. Snyder » Thu Jul 09, 2009 3:14 pm

Kamma works outside the guidelines of a government's laws. Take a look at this excellent post by Ven. Gavesako:

gavesako wrote:I listened to a talk between Ajahn Chah and a group of visitors headed by Sanya Dharmasakti (Chief Privy Councillor). Ajahn Chah was talking about the principle of kamma. Then one of the visitors, a military officer, asked about "doing one's duty" which might mean using violence sometimes. Ajahn Chah's reply was very direct: no matter if you call it "your duty" or not, if you use violence to kill living beings, it is definitely bad kamma. He emphasised that Dhamma and worldly laws are quite separate, that the law of kamma operates outside of the conventions of society. He kind of paused a little, because his visitors were high ranking Bangkok civil servants and officers, but then stressed again: you can't say that you haven't committed bad kamma by calling it "your duty". It may be necessary in order to keep law and order in society to use some harsh methods, but it is nevertheless within the sphere of kamma. He didn't make any flattering comments to them because of their social rank, he just gave them straight Dhamma using some down-to-earth similies.


I'll repeat this part again, because I think it so appropriate:

"worldly laws are quite separate, that the law of kamma operates outside of the conventions of society"

Governments quite regularly have unjust laws and the fact that something is legal or not does not make it "right."
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Re: Ethics

Postby rosuto » Thu Jul 09, 2009 7:42 pm

TheDhamma wrote:Kamma works outside the guidelines of a government's laws. Take a look at this excellent post by Ven. Gavesako:

gavesako wrote:I listened to a talk between Ajahn Chah and a group of visitors headed by Sanya Dharmasakti (Chief Privy Councillor). Ajahn Chah was talking about the principle of kamma. Then one of the visitors, a military officer, asked about "doing one's duty" which might mean using violence sometimes. Ajahn Chah's reply was very direct: no matter if you call it "your duty" or not, if you use violence to kill living beings, it is definitely bad kamma. He emphasised that Dhamma and worldly laws are quite separate, that the law of kamma operates outside of the conventions of society. He kind of paused a little, because his visitors were high ranking Bangkok civil servants and officers, but then stressed again: you can't say that you haven't committed bad kamma by calling it "your duty". It may be necessary in order to keep law and order in society to use some harsh methods, but it is nevertheless within the sphere of kamma. He didn't make any flattering comments to them because of their social rank, he just gave them straight Dhamma using some down-to-earth similies.


I'll repeat this part again, because I think it so appropriate:

"worldly laws are quite separate, that the law of kamma operates outside of the conventions of society"

Governments quite regularly have unjust laws and the fact that something is legal or not does not make it "right."


I understand that it may not make it "right". But at what point does it become "right" to outright disobey those laws? For instance, I think that the war in Iraq was not "right. Does that mean that I can therefore refuse to pay taxes which fund that war?
It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one's mouth and remove all doubt.
Abraham Lincoln
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Re: Ethics

Postby kc2dpt » Thu Jul 09, 2009 8:20 pm

You can do whatever you want.
And you will have to face the consequences of those actions.
The consequence for not paying taxes is fines and/or jail time.
The consequences for killing is bad kamma.
As far as I know, the kamma for paying one's taxes is not determined by what those taxes are then used for.
- Peter

Be heedful and you will accomplish your goal.
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Re: Ethics

Postby Ben » Thu Jul 09, 2009 10:23 pm

Hi Rosuto

I suggest you look at maintaining your precepts scrupulously.
But also recognize that, sometimes, such as taxes potentially going to fund a war in another country, you may not have any control over the contributions you have made.
If for example, you object to the war in Iraq, there maybe more skilful ways of registering your objection and doing concrete things to either express that objection or doing things for the benefit of those displaced and hurt by the war, than not paying your taxes.
Kind regards

Ben
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