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Self-defense explanation - Dhamma Wheel

Self-defense explanation

A forum for members who wish to develop a deeper understanding of the Pali Canon and associated Commentaries, which for discussion purposes are both treated as authoritative.

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greenjuice
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Joined: Tue Nov 12, 2013 11:56 pm

Self-defense explanation

Postby greenjuice » Wed Nov 13, 2013 4:34 am

This is what I know:

According to Buddhism, all intentional killing is wrong/ unwholesome. Intentional means desiring death to happen and causing it somehow (even by advice), and it is not the same as motivation, a killing can be intentional or intentional, and intentional killing can be motivated by this or that motivation, e.g. by anger, greed, compassion, etc. All intentional killing is unwholesome regardless of the motivation.

Unintentional killing is not unwholesome, even though it can be a consequence of some unwholesome act. But if someone unintentionally kills someone by doing someone that is not unwholesome, he has done nothing unwholesome, e.g. if one drops a brick or throws a rock without intending to kill or harm anyone, yet someone gets hit by the brick/ rock and dies, the person that has dropped/ thrown it has not done anything unwholesome.

Even if a killing is done unintentionally by doing an unwholesome act the killing itself isn't unwholesome, being that it wasn't intentional. The example given in the Tipitaka is a monk hitting another monk out of anger, which is an offense. So, if a monk hits another monk out of anger without the intention of killing him, but the monk that was hit dies from the blow, the monk that hit him hasn't committed the offense of killing but the offense of hitting a monk out of anger.

The rule mentioning the offense (Pc 74) is interesting, because commentary on it allows self-defense, of course, as long as there's no intention to kill. Thanissaro Bhikkhu, in his explanation of the Buddhist Monastic Code elaborates on that rule (like on all the other rules, including the first precept [listed Pj 3] from where I got the above information about Buddha's view on killing) and as the section "Non-offenses" gives this passage as explanation:

"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."

What I've been thinking about and what about I want to ask is this:

When ten unwholesome conducts are enumerated, it is not just killing that is named as the first bodily one, but "Here someone is a killer of living beings, he is murderous, bloody-handed, given to blows and violence, and merciless to all living beings." Blows and violence are, together with killing, named as the first bodily unwholesome conduct.

In the light of such enumeration, is there any explanation in the Tipitaka or early literature as to why is violence that lacks the intention to kill given leeway if it has a proper motivation, whereas the one that includes it isn't, even if it has the same motivation as the former?

marek
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Joined: Sun Apr 24, 2011 7:32 am

Re: Self-defense explanation

Postby marek » Thu Nov 14, 2013 7:01 pm

Hello.

I think, ultimately, you should not harm anyone by any means, even if your life was at stake, because that would be clinging.

Also, I think you are wrong about the unwholesome matter. For example, killing is an unwholesome act, wheter you do it with intention or not. I don't remember where, but Buddha tells exactly about this relationship between action and intention, there being 4 possibilities (wholesome-wholesome, wholesome-unwholesome, unwholesome-wholesome, unwholesome-unwholesome). And If you think about it, it doesn't make any sense. Something unwholesome can not change to something wholesome, just because the intention was different. Next time, pay more attention. You are responsible for all your actions (this was meant generally, not to you personally).

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greenjuice
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Re: Self-defense explanation

Postby greenjuice » Thu Nov 14, 2013 7:12 pm


marek
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Joined: Sun Apr 24, 2011 7:32 am

Re: Self-defense explanation

Postby marek » Fri Nov 15, 2013 4:16 am

I realised now this is a Classical Theravada subforum. As I am no expert in these matters, feel free to ignore me.

That's how I perceive it though. Even if it isn't unwholesome to harm someone in self-defense, that action would be born from clinging.

Also, even if accidental killing isn't unwholesome, I see 2 problems. 1. That interpretation gives rise to negligence. 2. I find it hard to believe that any action would go without consequences, whatever the intention was behind. Maybe the actor suffers similar fate in the future?

SarathW
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Joined: Mon Sep 10, 2012 2:49 am

Re: Self-defense explanation

Postby SarathW » Fri Nov 15, 2013 4:34 am

Hi Greenjuice
Answer to your question is depend on the level of the person’s progress.
Whether the person is just a Buddhist or an Arahant.
The way I understand an Arahant will not get angry or kill even in self defence.
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

suwapan
Posts: 28
Joined: Thu Feb 27, 2014 7:54 pm

Re: Self-defense explanation

Postby suwapan » Mon Mar 31, 2014 3:05 pm


Ananda26
Posts: 171
Joined: Fri Apr 04, 2014 2:41 pm

Re: Self-defense explanation

Postby Ananda26 » Tue Apr 08, 2014 2:58 pm



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