Buddhism and War

An open and inclusive investigation into Buddhism and spiritual cultivation

Re: Buddhism and War

Postby kmath » Thu Oct 17, 2013 5:34 pm

Spiny Norman wrote:
kmath wrote:1. Not killing animals but still eating the meat
3. And in this case allowing others to fight for one

It just seems karmically selfish, so to speak. If you want those things done, why not just accept the consequences of doing them yourself?


I broadly agree. In the event of a war should I expect others to risk their lives in order to defend me, while saying "Oh, I'm a Buddhist, I couldn't possibly take a life."


:thumbsup:
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Re: Buddhism and War

Postby cooran » Thu Oct 17, 2013 8:39 pm

Hello all,

This may be of interest:

Buddhism and The Soldier
http://www.beyondthenet.net/thedway/soldier.htm

With metta,
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---
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Re: Buddhism and War

Postby kmath » Fri Oct 18, 2013 2:03 am

cooran wrote:Hello all,

This may be of interest:

Buddhism and The Soldier
http://www.beyondthenet.net/thedway/soldier.htm

With metta,
Chris



" 'Seeha Senapathi Sutta' of Anguttara Nikaya-5 shows how, one of the army commanders named 'Seeha' went to Buddha to clarify certain doubts on the Dhamma and how the Buddha advised him without requesting him to resign from the Army or to disband the army. Having clarified his doubts on the Dhamma, Commander Seeha requested Buddha to accept him as a deciple of the Buddha. But Buddha instead of advising him to resign from the army advised thus

'Seeha, it is proper for a popular person of your status to always think and examine when attending to affairs and making decisions ' Seeha, the commander became a sotapanna (stream enterer = first fruit of the Path) having listened to the Dhamma, but remained in the army as a commander."

-- Buddhism and The Soldier

Is this right? He became a sotapanna while he was an army commander?
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Re: Buddhism and War

Postby David N. Snyder » Fri Oct 18, 2013 2:55 am

kmath wrote:Is this right? He became a sotapanna while he was an army commander?


Good question! According to SN 42.3 quoted on the first page of this thread, a soldier is headed for hell. But here apparently a soldier attains stream-entry? And we know that a stream-entrant cannot be headed for the lower realms. So these two suttas appear to be conflicting. Perhaps someone who knows more information or what the Commentaries say in regard to these 2 suttas, can shed some light on which is correct?
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Re: Buddhism and War

Postby santa100 » Fri Oct 18, 2013 4:27 am

From AN 5.34, Siha Sutta ( http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html ), notice general Siha asked a general question about the fruits of "someone" who practices generosity (He didn't specifically ask about himself). And so the Buddha also gave an answer about the five fruits without mentioning the general's name. It's also common to see in the Nikayas that the devas in the heavenly worlds are not immuned from their past negative kamma. All the pleasures they enjoy in the heavenly world will not last forever. Then they'll fall back into the lower realms to repay their past kammic debts just like anyone else..
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Re: Buddhism and War

Postby David N. Snyder » Fri Oct 18, 2013 4:47 am

But a sotapanna does not go back to the lower realms, ever.

Then The Blessed One gave a graduated sermon to the general Siha such as talking on giving gifts, virtues, heavenly bliss, the dangers of sensuality, the defiling nature of folly and vanity and the benefits of giving up. When The Blessed One knew that the mind of the general Siha was ready, tender, free from obstructions, exalted and pleased, he gave the special message of the enlightened ones such as unpleasantness, the arisisng of unpleasantness, the cessation of unpleasantness and the path leading to the cessation of unpleasantness.

Just as a pure cloth free of any impurity would take the dye evenly, in the same manner the pure stainless eye of the Teaching appeared to the general Siha seated there itself- “Whatever arisen thing has the nature of ceasing".


http://awake.kiev.ua/dhamma/tipitaka/2S ... ggo-e.html

Anguttara Nikaya book of eights (page 1135 in Bhikkhu Bodhi's recent translation)
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Re: Buddhism and War

Postby rohana » Fri Oct 18, 2013 5:41 am

We can't really draw too many conclusions here; we don't know whether general Sīha is actually going to war. Plenty of people in the military never see an actual battlefield. I'd guess as a Sōtapanna, if it actually came to a situation where he would either have to kill or encourage killing, he would not do it.

I think we need to be careful of generalizing too much from what little background information we get from the Suttas. For example, if you look at the Tālaputa Sutta, it's not saying that "everyone in the entertainment industry is going to hell", but something more nuanced. The Buddha tells us exactly what conditions could lead Tālaputa to a bad rebirth: a)being intoxicated and heedless himself and b)promoting intoxication and heedlessness. So, is it the case that many actors/actresses could be promoting unskillful behaviour? Probably. But are all actors/actresses being unskillful to the extent that it leads them to a bad rebirth? I don't think we can categorically say that.

It's the same issue with the military. Is the military generally a conducive place for cultivating skillful conduct? No. But we cannot make any categorical statements and ultimately it has to be considered on a case-by-case for every individual in the military.
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- It. p 43
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Re: Buddhism and War

Postby greenjuice » Mon Nov 18, 2013 3:16 am

Being that there is nothing unwholesome in defense of self (and presumably others), Buddhists can participate in war as combatants, although I doubt that a non-buddhist army would want Buddhists in their ranks, being that the defensive action of a Buddhist is restricted by it's lack of intention to kill. A Buddhist army would be a very strange one, when compared to all other in our known history.
Last edited by greenjuice on Sat Nov 23, 2013 6:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Buddhism and War

Postby kmath » Mon Nov 18, 2013 3:23 am

greenjuice wrote: A Buddhist army would be a very strange one, when compared to all other in our known history.


:jumping:

But I'm not sure why you assume there is nothing "unwholesome" about self-defense. That's one of the issues being debated here.
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Re: Buddhism and War

Postby greenjuice » Mon Nov 18, 2013 4:02 am

But I'm not sure why you assume there is nothing "unwholesome" about self-defense.

According to Tipitaka, there isn't.

Vinaya rule Pacittiya 74 says that if one does violence to another out of anger, that is a pacittiya offense. Of course, if one does violence to another with the intention to kill him, and he dies, that is a breach of the first precept, regardless of the motivation.

Regarding the mentioned Pc 74 rule, Tipitaka says that if one does violence to another out of self-defense, it a non-offense, even if anger arises in one's mind.

Also, even if the attacker dies, that is not a breach of the first precept if there was no intention to kill him.
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Re: Buddhism and War

Postby hermitwin » Mon Nov 18, 2013 5:12 am

Everyone has a role to play.
Do you do every thing your self ?

My gardener keeps the garden, my taxi driver drives the car.

It would be too idealistic to expect everyone to do the same things or not to do certain things .

There will always be butchers and soldiers regardless of what you do.

Choose your role and play it well.
If I keep 5 precepts, I don’t kill animals, but I still eat meat.

It is not about passing the buck but accepting the reality of the world we live in.

Would I prefer a world where no animals are killed for meat and there is no need for soldiers?
YES.

Is that going to happen ?
NO.



kmath wrote:After reviewing some of the old discussion, I want to ask a follow up:

Many people said they might be willing to participate in the war as a doctor or in a similar role that does not require actual fighting. So those people, do you expect others to do the fighting for you?

I don't like the trend I see in Buddhism that allows for "passing the karmic buck" onto other people. For instance,

1. Not killing animals but still eating the meat
2. Monks asking lay people to cut into seeds, dig soil, etc.
3. And in this case allowing others to fight for one

It just seems karmically selfish, so to speak. If you want those things done, why not just accept the consequences of doing them yourself?
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Re: Buddhism and War

Postby kmath » Mon Nov 18, 2013 9:48 pm

greenjuice wrote:
But I'm not sure why you assume there is nothing "unwholesome" about self-defense.

According to Tipitaka, there isn't.

Vinaya rule Pacittiya 74 says that if one does violence to another out of anger, that is a pacittiya offense. Of course, if one does violence to another with the intention to kill him, and he dies, that is a breach of the first precept, regardless of the motivation.

Regarding the mentioned Pc 74 rule, Tipitaka says that if one does violence to another out of self-defense, it a non-offense, even if anger arises in one's mind.

Also, even if the attacker dies, that is not a breach of the first precept if there was no intention to kill him.



Touche greenjuice, touche.

However, is true that because an action is allowable by Vinaya, it is therefore wholesome?
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Re: Buddhism and War

Postby greenjuice » Mon Nov 18, 2013 10:16 pm

If one is a Theravadin, then it follows that one accepts the Tipitaka as correct.
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Re: Buddhism and War

Postby Modus.Ponens » Mon Nov 18, 2013 11:19 pm

kmath wrote:
Spiny Norman wrote:
kmath wrote:1. Not killing animals but still eating the meat
3. And in this case allowing others to fight for one

It just seems karmically selfish, so to speak. If you want those things done, why not just accept the consequences of doing them yourself?


I broadly agree. In the event of a war should I expect others to risk their lives in order to defend me, while saying "Oh, I'm a Buddhist, I couldn't possibly take a life."


:thumbsup:


Once you start realising how deep in samsara crap you are, how far the way out is and, especialy, how nobody else around you have any clue of this, you won't even think of going to war to change this world. This world is unchangeable, unless there's a spiritual revolution. I can't see that happening in the near future. So, sorry folks, but I'm not going to compromise my golden opportunity in order to kill others to try making the world a better place _ which I think is a bizarre idea to begin with.
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: Buddhism and War

Postby Modus.Ponens » Mon Nov 18, 2013 11:23 pm

kmath wrote:
cooran wrote:Hello all,

This may be of interest:

Buddhism and The Soldier
http://www.beyondthenet.net/thedway/soldier.htm

With metta,
Chris



" 'Seeha Senapathi Sutta' of Anguttara Nikaya-5 shows how, one of the army commanders named 'Seeha' went to Buddha to clarify certain doubts on the Dhamma and how the Buddha advised him without requesting him to resign from the Army or to disband the army. Having clarified his doubts on the Dhamma, Commander Seeha requested Buddha to accept him as a deciple of the Buddha. But Buddha instead of advising him to resign from the army advised thus

'Seeha, it is proper for a popular person of your status to always think and examine when attending to affairs and making decisions ' Seeha, the commander became a sotapanna (stream enterer = first fruit of the Path) having listened to the Dhamma, but remained in the army as a commander."

-- Buddhism and The Soldier

Is this right? He became a sotapanna while he was an army commander?


It's very important to consider that most of the endings of the suttas in the Agamas don't mention this one or that one geting to stream entry or to arahatship. Please correct me if I'm wrong, sutta experts, so my memory doesn't misinform other people. So this general attaining sotapanna may be devoid of truth.
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: Buddhism and War

Postby SarathW » Tue Nov 19, 2013 12:11 am

This link may help with this discussion.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... ssage.html
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Re: Buddhism and War

Postby greenjuice » Tue Nov 19, 2013 2:32 am

That text is pretty biased towards pacifism, Thanissaro just mentions in passing the fact that Buddha approved of self-defense and continues to advocate his view. Also, in his book about Buddhist Monastic Code, he rather reluctantly mentions the non-offense part of the Pc 74 rule, which states that violence done in self-defense is a non-offense, giving a shortest summary possible to an important question like that, he gives more room e.g. for the non-offense part of rules against lighting a fire to warm oneself and against hiding another's belongings as joke.
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Re: Buddhism and War

Postby kmath » Tue Nov 19, 2013 2:36 am

greenjuice wrote:That text is pretty biased towards pacifism, Thanissaro just mentions in passing the fact that Buddha approved of self-defense and continues to advocate his view. Also, in his book about Buddhist Monastic Code, he rather reluctantly mentions the non-offense part of the Pc 74 rule, which states that violence done in self-defense is a non-offense, giving a shortest summary possible to an important question like that, he gives more room e.g. for the non-offense part of rules against lighting a fire to warm oneself and against hiding another's belongings as joke.


Way to go greenjuice! This is great.
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Re: Buddhism and War

Postby Jason » Fri Nov 22, 2013 2:19 am

kmath wrote:There's a number of "Just War" theories out there and I wonder if people subscribe to any of them. Or if by undertaking the fifth precept, are you a strict pacifist? I'm curious to hear anyone's thoughts on the matter.

Thanks,

KM


No, I wouldn't consider myself a strict pacifist, although I do hold to a predominately non-violent philosophy.

It's often assumed that Buddhists must be strict pacifists. But the Buddha never forbade kings or soldiers, even those actively engaged in warfare, from becoming lay-followers, so it certainly wasn't a requirement (although he certainly didn't approve of their actions, either). He also didn't say that one shouldn't defend oneself when necessary. Buddhism is nothing if not pragmatic, and it's understood that we're potentially going to be confronted with situations where we may feel the need to, or automatically react with, some level of violence and force. That's one reason there's no offense for a monk who, "trapped in a difficult situation, gives a blow 'desiring freedom'" (Pc74).

Nevertheless, pacifism as a baseline for conduct is definitely inline with the first precept and the principle of harmlessness. In fact, I think Thanissaro Bhikkhu makes a pretty good case for this aspect in his essay "Getting the Message." Matthew Kosuta also makes a relatively good case for this in his paper, "The Buddha and the Four-Limbed Army: The Military in the Pali Canon."

All in all, I think non-violent solutions to any conflict should be exercised until it's no longer tenable, and then I think the least amount of force/violence should be used when all else fails.
"Sabbe dhamma nalam abhinivesaya" (AN 7.58).

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Re: Buddhism and War

Postby greenjuice » Tue Dec 10, 2013 4:34 pm

It should be noted that Buddhism isn't vague on the subject. No killing is ever wholesome. You can be a soldier and go to war and do violence, but if you intentionally kill anyone, you have broken the first precept, which is always unwholesome.
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