Violent sports

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

Violent sports

Postby pilgrim » Thu May 09, 2013 4:31 am

What do you think of Buddhists taking up sports like
1. Martial arts
2. Boxing/wrestling
3. Paintball/Airsoft
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Re: Violent sports

Postby James the Giant » Thu May 09, 2013 4:39 am

The intention in those sports is to have fun, exercise, develop skills, socialise.
If the intention was to kick some arse and be violent, that'd be a different story.
Then,
saturated with joy,
you will put an end to suffering and stress.
SN 9.11
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Re: Violent sports

Postby LonesomeYogurt » Thu May 09, 2013 6:51 am

One should be especially mindful during these activities so as to make sure that unwholesome aggression does not arise - however, if one accepts the risks and acts to mitigate them, sports like boxing or the martial arts can be fun and productive forms of entertainment and exercise.
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: Violent sports

Postby Ben » Thu May 09, 2013 7:03 am

pilgrim wrote:What do you think of Buddhists taking up sports like
1. Martial arts
2. Boxing/wrestling
3. Paintball/Airsoft


Fine. I see no ethical issue.
kind regards,

Ben
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Re: Violent sports

Postby Mojo » Thu May 09, 2013 7:06 am

Fighting sports where the goal is a knock out?

I've thought about this alot. From the fighter's point of view, I can see how the fight is the ultimate test of their training and respect their opponents and yet many fans pay to see the fight out of bloodlust. Is this a problem? If so, where does the karma lie? With the fighters or the bloodthirsty fans?

I have a friend who is a an amateur MMA fighter. I haven't been to a fight due to proximity and bad transportation - but even if that wasn't the case, I'm not sure that I'd wan't to go. People punching and kicking each other in the heads as sport bothers me. It would be less bothersome if there was headgear and more padded gloves. Even better, would just to be submission only grappling - no striking.
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Re: Violent sports

Postby Kim OHara » Thu May 09, 2013 7:53 am

Mojo wrote:I have a friend who is a an amateur MMA fighter. I haven't been to a fight due to proximity and bad transportation - but even if that wasn't the case, I'm not sure that I'd wan't to go.

I wouldn't go, either. I wouldn't want to give it even the token support of my presence. And I don't want to see it - what good does it do me to get caught up in violence, even as a spectator?
But I've got to admit that I have enjoyed fictitious violence, knowing it to be fictitious but allowing myself to go with the action and the story. Crouching Tiger was great and Shanghai Noon was very funny and the blood didn't stop me enjoying them.
Mojo wrote:It would be less bothersome if there was headgear and more padded gloves. Even better, would just to be submission only grappling - no striking.

Yes - I don't mind judo so much - but better still if there was no fighting at all.

:namaste:
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Re: Violent sports

Postby Ben » Thu May 09, 2013 8:01 am

I know people who do boxing as a form of cardio-vascular exercise.
I have in the past, and presently, know people who are involved in martial arts who do so for mental training, coordination and physical fitness.
Paintball is just people playing 'tag', albeit an elaborate form of it.
On the weekends I have been known to go to the archery range.
These activities are not intrinsically violent nor do the necessarily provoke unwholesome mind states in those who engage in them.
I think it was a wise man who once said "mind matters most", or something along those lines.
kind regards,

Ben
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Re: Violent sports

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Thu May 09, 2013 8:11 am

There are some grey areas here. Sports that inflict pain and injury on others is not wholesome exercise, even if human beings are able to consent to being hit or injured by participating in such sports.

Take a look at this extract from the Venerable Sayādaw's Gonasūra Dīpanī, and contemplate the motivation for wanting to engage in martial arts or other potentially aggressive sports.

The Evils of Horse-racing and Gambling

Many countries allow horse-racing, camel-racing, dog-racing, and so on. These race courses are centres for gambling. The jockeys who ride in such races should take heed of the following Pāli Text:

“Friend, I saw a hungry ghost when I descended from the Gijjagutta mountain. This flying ghost bore sharp, thorny hairs. Many thorns, like iron spikes, penetrated his body. They assailed his body, piercing him repeatedly. So this hungry ghost screamed aloud due to the pain. Oh monks! This victim is receiving the due result of his kamma. In the past existence he drove draught animals without mercy. He struck them with whips and spikes when he drove carts. So he is now suffering as a result. That person, when he was about to die, saw rebirth signs of pointed spears, iron sticks, thorny sticks. When he passed away he was reborn as a hungry ghost with thorny, sharp-pointed hairs on the body.” (Pārājika Atthakathā)

So jockeys competing in horse-races, camel-races, equestrian sports, etc., should heed the Buddha’s warning. Kamma has its just results. Drivers and riders must suffer for their evil deeds, either here or hereafter.

Gamblers and Spectators

In every evil deed, four factors incur guilt and blame. In the Book of Tens, four factors are mentioned for each of the ten evil deeds such as killing sentient beings:

“Attana ca pānātipāti hoti, parañca pānatipāte samādapeti,
pānātipāte ca samanuñño hoti, pānātipātassa ca vannam bhāsati.” (A v 305)

  1. He does the misdeed himself.
  2. He helps or urges others to do it.
  3. He allows it to happen or approves of it.
  4. He speaks in praise of it.
These four persons share the guilt and blame, and the corresponding consequences.

Those who harm animals, either in competitive sports or in transportation, make evil kamma. Gamblers belong to three of the four above-mentioned categories. All Buddhists should shun the ten evil kammas, such as killing, stealing, etc. Each evil has four factors. Spectators who consent to or approve of cruel and harsh treatment of animals, suffer in hell or are reborn as hungry ghosts. Many such cases are mentioned in the Pali texts. So spectators and gamblers should avoid all four factors of evil deeds by controlling the body and mind. Gamblers must give up the evil deed of betting that encourages, supports, and condones evil deeds done by others.
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Re: Violent sports

Postby Mojo » Thu May 09, 2013 2:08 pm

I have always enjoyed martial arts as a form of personal development and self defense. Sparring is good practice. I could even support an argument that full fledged MMA fights are a test of personal development and mastery of one's mma skills. I just wish it was not tested in front of crowds of non-practicioners...at the very least....as stated before I'm all for grappling. Exhibition judo or wrestling is fine in my book.
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Re: Violent sports

Postby Mojo » Thu May 09, 2013 2:17 pm

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:There are some grey areas here. Sports that inflict pain and injury on others is not wholesome exercise, even if human beings are able to consent to being hit or injured by participating in such sports.

Take a look at this extract from the Venerable Sayādaw's Gonasūra Dīpanī, and contemplate the motivation for wanting to engage in martial arts or other potentially aggressive sports.

The Evils of Horse-racing and Gambling

Many countries allow horse-racing, camel-racing, dog-racing, and so on. These race courses are centres for gambling. The jockeys who ride in such races should take heed of the following Pāli Text:

“Friend, I saw a hungry ghost when I descended from the Gijjagutta mountain. This flying ghost bore sharp, thorny hairs. Many thorns, like iron spikes, penetrated his body. They assailed his body, piercing him repeatedly. So this hungry ghost screamed aloud due to the pain. Oh monks! This victim is receiving the due result of his kamma. In the past existence he drove draught animals without mercy. He struck them with whips and spikes when he drove carts. So he is now suffering as a result. That person, when he was about to die, saw rebirth signs of pointed spears, iron sticks, thorny sticks. When he passed away he was reborn as a hungry ghost with thorny, sharp-pointed hairs on the body.” (Pārājika Atthakathā)

So jockeys competing in horse-races, camel-races, equestrian sports, etc., should heed the Buddha’s warning. Kamma has its just results. Drivers and riders must suffer for their evil deeds, either here or hereafter.

Gamblers and Spectators

In every evil deed, four factors incur guilt and blame. In the Book of Tens, four factors are mentioned for each of the ten evil deeds such as killing sentient beings:

“Attana ca pānātipāti hoti, parañca pānatipāte samādapeti,
pānātipāte ca samanuñño hoti, pānātipātassa ca vannam bhāsati.” (A v 305)

  1. He does the misdeed himself.
  2. He helps or urges others to do it.
  3. He allows it to happen or approves of it.
  4. He speaks in praise of it.
These four persons share the guilt and blame, and the corresponding consequences.

Those who harm animals, either in competitive sports or in transportation, make evil kamma. Gamblers belong to three of the four above-mentioned categories. All Buddhists should shun the ten evil kammas, such as killing, stealing, etc. Each evil has four factors. Spectators who consent to or approve of cruel and harsh treatment of animals, suffer in hell or are reborn as hungry ghosts. Many such cases are mentioned in the Pali texts. So spectators and gamblers should avoid all four factors of evil deeds by controlling the body and mind. Gamblers must give up the evil deed of betting that encourages, supports, and condones evil deeds done by others.



Thank you for posting this Bikkhu.
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Re: Violent sports

Postby alan » Thu May 09, 2013 3:34 pm

The sports I object to are those that are a complete waste of time.
Watching people kicking a ball around, for hour after hour, for example. What could be more boring?
These things seemed designed to sell beer, and placate the restless masses.
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Re: Violent sports

Postby binocular » Thu May 09, 2013 4:21 pm

Mojo wrote:I have always enjoyed martial arts as a form of personal development and self defense.

Sure. Although I think there may be more direct, more effective ways to reach the same goal, without martial arts.
Sooner or later, one's body's prowess will diminish, or one will be faced with a physically much more powerful opponent, or one with a gun. So in the face of this, it is prudent to consider other avenues of pursuing personal development and self defense.
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Re: Violent sports

Postby corrine » Thu May 09, 2013 5:38 pm

Don't violent sports endanger life? Do not these athletes shorten their lives and the lives of their opponents? Rodeo for sure hurts animals. Horse racing is known for horrific treatment of animals. I am just a person trying to live a life guided by Buddhist principles and I thought that included refraining from inflicting harm on other sentient beings. Watching others play with balls, as in tennis or baseball, may be boring, but I see no harm and there is a positive side effect of good exercise, at least for the participants.

Am I missing something that makes hurting others okay? I cannot even watch these things for a brief while without wincing from the obvious pain being felt by the participants. I cannot imagine the physical damage being done to participants. Hitting another being in the head as hard as one can is bound to cause injury.

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Re: Violent sports

Postby Lazy_eye » Thu May 09, 2013 6:52 pm

Difficult to generalize. There are probably some people whose tendencies towards aggression and anger might be fueled by martial arts. But then again, the same could be said for chess.
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Re: Violent sports

Postby Alex123 » Thu May 09, 2013 8:56 pm

Bhante,

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:There are some grey areas here. Sports that inflict pain and injury on others is not wholesome exercise, even if human beings are able to consent to being hit or injured by participating in such sports.


How bad is the kamma to enjoy watching (not participating in) violent sports such as MMA, Boxing, etc?
What kilesas are those?

Thanks,

Alex
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Re: Violent sports

Postby EmptyShadow » Thu May 09, 2013 10:05 pm

Here is an excerpt from the Bhikkhu Revata's book "The Disciple Within".
(the highlight is from me)
However, the debts paid for akusala (unwholesome) deeds are immense! They can be extremely
severe, punishing, drastic, intolerable and deadly. If we study the earlier lives of the Bodhisattva we
will see that, due to his immaturity during those existences, He harboured the defilements of greed,
hatred, delusion, stinginess, jealousy and conceit which put Him into debt. It was even up until when
He had already attained Enlightenment and, even up to The Buddha's final parinibbàna that debts
had to be paid in full! There was simply no way of getting out of it. The Buddha's afflictions of
backache, of headache, of diarrhea were such repayments.

In one of his past lives, the Bodhisattva was a well-known wrestler. Although he had already retired
due to age, his arrogance and conceit in thinking he was the only one still capable of retaining the
country's honour, he went into the ring and broke his opponent's back. Thus, even in His last existence
as the Enlightened One He suffered severe backache as a means of repaying His akusala kammic
debt.

In yet another one of the past lives, our Bodhisattva was a resident of a fishing village. During one
session he happened to take great delight in watching his relatives and fellow villagers beating in the
head to kill the fish that had been caught and hauled ashore. That debt of evil delight borne of lobha
was repaid by having to suffer headaches during the life as The Buddha. The Bodhisattva had merely
been enjoying the sight of the fish being killed. He had not taken part in the slaughtering itself. This
goes to show that even silent approval of akusala deeds will surely put you into kammic debt. Just
imagine the intensity of akusala being developed by the spectators at a boxing match or a bullfight!
They shout, they applaud, and they cheer the contestants to fight, to hurt, to beat and, sometimes even
to kill each other. They want one side to win; they wish the other side to lose.
How appalling! How
horribly frightening! They are accumulating akusala and kammic debts. Do you wish to be a participant
in such activities? As long as you have those defilements, which are the disciple within, you will
be encountering evil all the way. You will not be able to escape it. So, beware.
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Re: Violent sports

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Fri May 10, 2013 4:38 am

EmptyShadow wrote:Here is an excerpt from the Bhikkhu Revata's book "The Disciple Within".
(the highlight is from me)

Thanks for answering Alex's question. That is the best that anyone can do, that is, give specific examples from the Commentaries that are similar to the case being discussed. To know the specific result of the kamma of watching a boxing match is impossible, even for the one who enjoys it and knows his or her own thoughts and mental states at the time.

They may overlook many unwholesome thought-processes, and may not know what is wholesome or what is unwholesome. In general, deluded people think that what is enjoyable must be good. The defects of anger are plain enough, but the more subtle defilements like pride or heedlessness/intoxication, (pamāda) are harder to know as unwholesome states.

The Buddha later remarked, that when, as the bodhisatta, he saw an old man for the first time, "All intoxication of youth vanished from me." Young people in particular may be intoxicated with their strength and vigour, older folks are more likely intoxicated with their sense of superior knowledge. Men, when watching a boxing or wrestling match may be intoxicated by their masculinity, thinking that they are like the strong man in the ring, imagining that they might do the same to their enemies. A woman watching the same match might have different thoughts, perhaps fantasising how she could control such a strong man with her femininity.

I am not generalising that is how spectators think — I just gave a couple of examples of how akusala kamma might arise while watching violent sports like boxing or wrestling.

To get back to the original question of participating in such sports, if one's intention is to get healthy exercise, I think there are many much better ways such as digging an allotment to grow some organic food, or doing some manual labour to help an elderly person. There must be millions of better ways to get fit.
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Re: Violent sports

Postby Kim OHara » Fri May 10, 2013 10:25 am

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:To get back to the original question of participating in such sports, if one's intention is to get healthy exercise, I think there are many much better ways such as digging an allotment to grow some organic food, or doing some manual labour to help an elderly person. There must be millions of better ways to get fit.

Absolutely!
Including - if sport helps to get you moving - participating in competitive but non-violent sports such as tennis and squash. They may not do any good for the rest of the world like Bhikkhu Pesala's suggestions, but they don't harm anyone either. And they are also good for the development of mindfulness: being attentive to keeping on playing the sport rather than beating the opponent is good for your own and the opponent's enjoyment and (in my experience) for skill development. Not saying that you've got to want to lose, of course, but that playing well has to be more important than winning.

:namaste:
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Re: Violent sports

Postby santa100 » Fri May 10, 2013 1:40 pm

Combat sports are designed to "simulate" violent situations for one to train so that one's well prepared to make the best choice when "real" situations come up. As the saying goes "more sweat on the training field, less blood on the battlefield", if one trains correctly and properly, s/he'll be able to do a lot of good for the world. A typical example, with all those ongoing horrible gang rape and abuse incidents in India, it might be a good idea that the government starts training women some self defense to protect themselves..
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Re: Violent sports

Postby Alex123 » Fri May 10, 2013 4:26 pm

santa100 wrote:Combat sports are designed to "simulate" violent situations for one to train so that one's well prepared to make the best choice when "real" situations come up. As the saying goes "more sweat on the training field, less blood on the battlefield", if one trains correctly and properly, s/he'll be able to do a lot of good for the world. A typical example, with all those ongoing horrible gang rape and abuse incidents in India, it might be a good idea that the government starts training women some self defense to protect themselves..


That interesting perspective. Another thing: Is it possible to use combat styles to protect sangha, and aryans from harm that some deranged person can inflict on them?
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