There is another thread on this (self-defense), but I couldn't draw any conclusions from it. I read this morning about a case of an Oklahoma woman defending herself from an intruder. You can hear the 911 call http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2009/12/09/earlyshow/main5949873.shtml
So with that situation, a few thoughts come to mind. Does she have negative karma for her actions of killing a man? Is that negative karma outweighed by her actions of saving her own life in the last possible measures of self defense?
In the other thread, what Buddha said seemed to have been more concerned with acting out of anger. Looking at the non-violence section of accesstoinsight, it seems that Buddha wasn' concerned with self-defense, but people who live lives of violence. We have to remember that violence and self-defense are two different things.
Violence: An act of aggression.
Self-defense: The act of defending yourself.
The idea of ownership outside of your body and mind is a reason for violence. As in property, friends, material items, and etc. This is my
property, these are my
friends, these material items belong to me
. And since we all have this idea of Mines, we come into conflict with each other which causes suffering. This is my material item, but you tried to steal it from me. Or he has something I don't. Or these are my friends, yet they didn't support me. Or this is my land, yet you are on it. All of this causes suffering and I understand that.
Then there is ownership of your body and mind which is a reason for self-defense. Murder, Rape, Assault, Imprisonment, these are things that attack the body. Even if we don't care about ownership of items outside the body, we are still attached to our bodies. Yet from what I read, we must get rid of this attachment. The body is temporary and to be attached to it is to grasp. Grasping causes suffering.
Now you could say that the woman who defended herself was defending her property, but that isn't taking account that the intruder knew she was there, and she was probably more concerned with protecting herself. An aged woman, she couldn't just run away. Also, there was no anger in her actions, as the 911 tapes show. She was sad, talked on the phone for 10 minutes, didn't want to kill the man, and cried and prayed when she did. She did do it to protect herself.
Yet, in the Pali Canon, there seems to be nothing about self-defense (according to my google searches
) and going by the lack of anything tangible in the other thread. Buddha seemed more concerned with the 'taking of lives', which implies murderers. People who actively take life, or rather people who actively react with violence. Buddha didn't seem concerned with someone defending himself, or at least I still haven't came across that yet.
With that said, taking life creates negative karma, yet I can only assume that taking a life out of fear for your own protection creates less negative karma than taking a life out of anger. Or maybe I am wrong on that. Maybe defending yourself is the same as attacking. Then there is the Middle Way. If we take that into account, then the opposite ends would be to either attack in violence, or to do no harm at all. The Middle Way would be self-defense; neither attacking, nor laying down to be attack.... Or maybe the opposite ends are attacking, and defending? Maybe laying down, doing neither is the Middle Way?
Hmm...Anyway, this post was more musing than anything. As said, I am a new student of Buddhism, so maybe the answers exist in a Sutta out there. Please correct if I am wrong about something, and feel free to make things clearer for me or suggest anything to read.
An attempt to clarify my rambling into questions:
1. Does Buddhism allow for self-defense, as long as it isn't done out of anger or fear, but out of wisdom.
2. Even if it is done out of wisdom, does that self-defense cause negative karma.
3. Is self-defense allowed by the Middle Way?
4. Does the 'Greater Good' exist in Buddhism?
PS: I found this- http://www.dharma.org/ij/archives/2002a/nonviolence.htm
. Will give it a deeper read through, but it seems to answer some questions...
Also, my internet may cut off at anytime since I am switching to fiber optic next week, so I may not be able to respond.