Violence in order to do good for someone in the long-run?

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Violence in order to do good for someone in the long-run?

Postby Jon. S » Sun Jan 12, 2014 11:16 pm

A friend and I were discussing whether it's correct to inflict violence upon someone if it benefits them in the long-run, and his argument was that the Buddha explicitly taught non-violence. Of course, I disagree, but I can't seem to find any references in the cannon to support my argument. What do you all think? Is there any sutta that addresses this issue? It seems to me something more like the Mahayana idea of "skillful means", Upaya.
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Re: Violence in order to do good for someone in the long-run

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Jan 12, 2014 11:24 pm

It depends what you mean by "violence" but perhaps this sutta is helpful:
Now at that time a baby boy was lying face-up on the prince's lap. So the Blessed One said to the prince, "What do you think, prince: If this young boy, through your own negligence or that of the nurse, were to take a stick or a piece of gravel into its mouth, what would you do?"

"I would take it out, lord. If I couldn't get it out right away, then holding its head in my left hand and crooking a finger of my right, I would take it out, even if it meant drawing blood. Why is that? Because I have sympathy for the young boy."

"In the same way, prince:

[1] In the case of words that the Tathagata knows to be unfactual, untrue, unbeneficial (or: not connected with the goal), unendearing & disagreeable to others, he does not say them.

[2] In the case of words that the Tathagata knows to be factual, true, unbeneficial, unendearing & disagreeable to others, he does not say them.

[3] In the case of words that the Tathagata knows to be factual, true, beneficial, but unendearing & disagreeable to others, he has a sense of the proper time for saying them.

[4] In the case of words that the Tathagata knows to be unfactual, untrue, unbeneficial, but endearing & agreeable to others, he does not say them.

[5] In the case of words that the Tathagata knows to be factual, true, unbeneficial, but endearing & agreeable to others, he does not say them.

[6] In the case of words that the Tathagata knows to be factual, true, beneficial, and endearing & agreeable to others, he has a sense of the proper time for saying them. Why is that? Because the Tathagata has sympathy for living beings."
...
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
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Re: Violence in order to do good for someone in the long-run

Postby culaavuso » Sun Jan 12, 2014 11:37 pm

The Abhaya Sutta (the relevant part was quoted in the previous post) combined with an honest evaluation of alternative courses of action and one's intentions seems appropriate.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn45/sn45.008.than.html
SN45.8: Magga-Vibhanga Sutta wrote:And what is right resolve? Being resolved on renunciation, on freedom from ill will, on harmlessness: This is called right resolve.
... (snip) ...
And what, monks, is right action? Abstaining from taking life, abstaining from stealing, abstaining from unchastity: This, monks, is called right action.


Often when an act is perceived as "violent", it involves the elements of ill will, harmfulness, or taking life.

Also, it is common for acts perceived as "violent" to be motivated by greed, aversion, or delusion or a lack of equanimity regarding the choices of others.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an03/an03.069.than.html
AN3.69: Mula Sutta wrote:Monks, there are these three roots of what is unskillful. Which three? Greed is a root of what is unskillful, aversion is a root of what is unskillful, delusion is a root of what is unskillful.
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Re: Violence in order to do good for someone in the long-run

Postby Cittasanto » Mon Jan 13, 2014 8:50 am

The two that sprung to mind have been shared :) but maybe this quote (cant remember who by) would be useful?

who are we to judge when violence is necessary?
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
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Re: Violence in order to do good for someone in the long-run

Postby Aloka » Mon Jan 13, 2014 9:00 am

Jon. S wrote:A friend and I were discussing whether it's correct to inflict violence upon someone if it benefits them in the long-run, and his argument was that the Buddha explicitly taught non-violence. Of course, I disagree, but I can't seem to find any references in the cannon to support my argument. What do you all think? Is there any sutta that addresses this issue? It seems to me something more like the Mahayana idea of "skillful means", Upaya.


Hi Jon,

Can you explain how inflicting violence would benefit another person and give an example, please ?

Kind regards,

Aloka
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Re: Violence in order to do good for someone in the long-run

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Mon Jan 13, 2014 9:42 am

Jon. S wrote:Of course, I disagree, but I can't seem to find any references in the cannon to support my argument.

Cannons are designed to inflict damage and injury. The Buddhist canon, on the other hand, is all about non-violence.

Although it is allowable to impose manual chores on novices to discipline them, it is not allowable to beat or strike them, nor to deprive them of food.

The Buddha sometimes used speech that is displeasing to others, for example in the Aggikkhandhopama Sutta, so there is some justification for using harsh and critical speech, provided it is aimed at benefit, not spoken out of anger. In doing so, one should be very careful about one's motivations.

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Re: Violence in order to do good for someone in the long-run

Postby binocular » Mon Jan 13, 2014 11:18 am

Jon. S wrote:A friend and I were discussing whether it's correct to inflict violence upon someone if it benefits them in the long-run, and his argument was that the Buddha explicitly taught non-violence.

There is use of force, and there is violence.

In the story mentioned earlier about the child who has gravel stuck in his throat: to take the gravel out of his throat would require use of force.
Many medical procedures require use of force - such as putting a dislocated joint back in place, pulling a rotten tooth, surgery.
There are many other situations where force must be used in order to prevent greater harm. Such as when rescuing an animal out of a trap, where force needs to be applied to restrain the struggling animal to be able to remove the trap with minimum injury to the animal.

In contrast, violence is when force is used with the intention of greed, anger and delusion.

So externally, we cannot always easily distinguish whether a particular action is merely use of force, or whether it is an act of violence.
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Re: Violence in order to do good for someone in the long-run

Postby Disciple » Thu Jan 16, 2014 8:25 pm

Aloka wrote:
Jon. S wrote:A friend and I were discussing whether it's correct to inflict violence upon someone if it benefits them in the long-run, and his argument was that the Buddha explicitly taught non-violence. Of course, I disagree, but I can't seem to find any references in the cannon to support my argument. What do you all think? Is there any sutta that addresses this issue? It seems to me something more like the Mahayana idea of "skillful means", Upaya.


Hi Jon,

Can you explain how inflicting violence would benefit another person and give an example, please ?

Kind regards,

Aloka


Jews in concentration camps?
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Re: Violence in order to do good for someone in the long-run

Postby StandBright » Fri Jan 17, 2014 1:13 pm

An common situation: Self-defense and defense of other sentient beings

I have unfortunately been in the situation where I struck one human in order to prevent her from not just striking, but possibly killing, another human.
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Re: Violence in order to do good for someone in the long-run

Postby clw_uk » Fri Jan 17, 2014 1:19 pm


Aloka

Can you explain how inflicting violence would benefit another person and give an example, please ?



Although no addressed at me, I would say the fight against fascism save not only the Jews but also the rest of humanity from a terrible future (if hitler had won)


Although fighting is unwholesome, and comes from aversion and is bound with dukkha

Buddha said that fighting was unwholesome and would lead to pain for both sides (mentally, spiritually and physically) yet he didnt say it cant be justified. You just have to be willing to accept the consequence (dukkha)
“Happy is the man who has broken the chains which hurt the mind, and has given up worrying once and for all.” Ovid
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Re: Violence in order to do good for someone in the long-run

Postby culaavuso » Fri Jan 17, 2014 9:41 pm

clw_uk wrote:Buddha said that fighting was unwholesome and would lead to pain for both sides (mentally, spiritually and physically) yet he didnt say it cant be justified. You just have to be willing to accept the consequence (dukkha)


If it is to be justified, it seems if the consequence is the arising of dukkha then that justification must not be in terms of putting an end to dukkha. Thus the justification is not in line with the teachings of the Buddha, because all the Buddha taught was dukkha and the cessation of dukkha.

SN22.86
SN22.86: Anuradha Sutta wrote:Very good, Anuradha. Very good. Both formerly & now, it is only stress that I describe, and the cessation of stress.


Likewise in MN63:
MN63: Cula-Malukyovada Sutta wrote:And what is declared by me? 'This is stress,' is declared by me. 'This is the origination of stress,' is declared by me. 'This is the cessation of stress,' is declared by me. 'This is the path of practice leading to the cessation of stress,' is declared by me. And why are they declared by me? Because they are connected with the goal, are fundamental to the holy life. They lead to disenchantment, dispassion, cessation, calming, direct knowledge, self-awakening, Unbinding. That's why they are declared by me.


Regarding specific teachings given about fighting, even in response to an attack from others, there are also good references in the suttas.

MN21
MN21: Kakacupama Sutta wrote:Monks, even if bandits were to carve you up savagely, limb by limb, with a two-handled saw, he among you who let his heart get angered even at that would not be doing my bidding. Even then you should train yourselves: 'Our minds will be unaffected and we will say no evil words. We will remain sympathetic, with a mind of good will, and with no inner hate. We will keep pervading these people with an awareness imbued with good will and, beginning with them, we will keep pervading the all-encompassing world with an awareness imbued with good will — abundant, expansive, immeasurable, free from hostility, free from ill will.' That's how you should train yourselves.


SN3.15
SN3.15: Sangama Sutta wrote:Killing, you gain
your killer.
Conquering, you gain one
who will conquer you;
insulting, insult;
harassing, harassment.


SN42.3
SN42.3: Yodhajiva Sutta 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.
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