Pacifism, Ethics and Dhamma

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths - what can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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Ceisiwr
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Pacifism, Ethics and Dhamma

Post by Ceisiwr »

Modus.Ponens wrote:
clw_uk wrote: Would you kill to save a child's life?
No.

If you want to create a new thread about objection of conscionce, please do. I will not debate, though. Only post my positions.

I then replied
Because it would subtract from your own, personal, goal of nibbna? Surely that's immoral?

I don't deny that killing is bad kamma, however the Buddha taught that there is black kamma, white kamma and grey kamma. Surely it's more noble to save an innocent and accept pain than to ignore the innocent in the hopes of having personal peace?
“No one in the world, Dhotaka,
can I release from doubting.
But knowing the most excellent Dhamma,
you will cross over the flood."


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Modus.Ponens
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Re: Pacifism, Ethics and Dhamma

Post by Modus.Ponens »

clw_uk wrote:
Modus.Ponens wrote:
clw_uk wrote: Would you kill to save a child's life?
No.

If you want to create a new thread about objection of conscionce, please do. I will not debate, though. Only post my positions.

I then replied
Because it would subtract from your own, personal, goal of nibbna? Surely that's immoral?

I don't deny that killing is bad kamma, however the Buddha taught that there is black kamma, white kamma and grey kamma. Surely it's more noble to save an innocent and accept pain than to ignore the innocent in the hopes of having personal peace?
This has to be viewed on two levels: on a buddhist cosmological level and on a secular level. I know you are secular, so you have to understand that we're not ever going to agree on this. So let's not turn this into a debate.

- On the buddhist cosmological level this life is but one in millions. And nibbana is so rare, hearing the teachings is so rare, the complete liberation from suffering so much better for me that I prefer to strive for it.
The obvious question is "What's in it for others?" Well, only the destruction of suffering is a permanent freedom and the supreme happiness. To help others do this, I will have to first know how to do it for myself. And the thing is that, in my view, it's best to permanently liberate a few beings from countless lives of deep suffering, than to alleviate the suffering of many without fully liberating them, because the relief is only temporary. Of course, in theory we should strive to help as much as we can. But if this "help" involves killing, then it interferes with a far superior goal: that of total and permanent liberation.

- On the purely secular level this is quite a thorny subject. It would be best to evaluate on a case to case basis. And I guess the type of person that is a conscientious objector but believes in nothing but the life we currently see, is quite a rare specimen. Probably a person whose main goal in life is to act with a pure heart. I'm not like that. I would defend the right of these people doing this, as long as there is a price for them to do it.

I am already paying a price, so to speak, by giving up my vote. This decision was recent and I intend to start doing voluntary work because of this. It's no joke to refuse to kill in order to defend innocents, me included. So I feel in debt.

But bear in mind that I'm not even eligible to fight in a war with guns.
"He turns his mind away from those phenomena and, having done so, inclines his mind to the property of deathlessness: 'This is peace, this is exquisite — the resolution of all fabrications; the relinquishment of all acquisitions; the ending of craving; dispassion; cessation; Unbinding.' " - Jhana Sutta
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Ceisiwr
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Re: Pacifism, Ethics and Dhamma

Post by Ceisiwr »

This has to be viewed on two levels: on a buddhist cosmological level and on a secular level. I know you are secular, so you have to understand that we're not ever going to agree on this. So let's not turn this into a debate.
I hope you noticed that I never split the issue, as I invoked Kamma. So lets discuss on your terms, rebirth and kamma accepted as a given.

- On the buddhist cosmological level this life is but one in millions. And nibbana is so rare, hearing the teachings is so rare, the complete liberation from suffering so much better for me that I prefer to strive for it.
So you are willing to allow others to suffer just so you can get ahead? You would refuse to violently oppose the holocaust, allowing millions to die, so that you can reach your goal?

The obvious question is "What's in it for others?" Well, only the destruction of suffering is a permanent freedom and the supreme happiness. To help others do this, I will have to first know how to do it for myself. And the thing is that, in my view, it's best to permanently liberate a few beings from countless lives of deep suffering, than to alleviate the suffering of many without fully liberating them, because the relief is only temporary.
The problem is you dont know what those people may become, perhaps as good as a teacher as Buddha was? As you said this human life is precious, so best maintain it for as many people as we possibly can. A dictator like Hitler had practically ensured his fate if rebirth is a fact, however his victims may have become something more. I do believe that the host of this website may not be here if a pacifist attitude was taken during WW2, I probably wouldnt be either for being gay, and so we wouldnt be having this illuminating discussion.

"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." - Edmund Burke
But if this "help" involves killing, then it interferes with a far superior goal: that of total and permanent liberation.
Once again, your personal peace seems to trump everything else.

If we view things in terms of Kamma, this theory doesnt necesarrily mean killing cant be justified. All it means is that certain actions have certain consequences. It seems the outcome of actions can be divorced from the morality of taking certain actions. I dont see how killing is always "wrong" If someone is willing to pay the Kammic price of generating grey kamma by killing a dictator like Hitler to save millions.
“No one in the world, Dhotaka,
can I release from doubting.
But knowing the most excellent Dhamma,
you will cross over the flood."


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Re: Pacifism, Ethics and Dhamma

Post by Ceisiwr »

As mentioned in another thread

"So you would allow the holocaust to roll on? As Buddhists we should be trying to reduce dukkha, not allow it to increase. Even if we allow for Kamma to be a real occurrence, surely it's more noble to kill another to protect an innocent and to accept your fate in hell or the animal world than to allow atrocities to occur? It seems that if someone is a pacifist just to escape punishment, then they aren't that moral at all.



Hitler could only be stopped via force and sadly using violence against him was the lesser of two evils. If a pacifist attitude was applied then the Jews would have been exterminated, millions of homosexuals would have been killed and the rest forced to live a life in fear. The Slavs and Roma would have all been killed with the rest enslaved.


Also democracy would be dead and tyranny would reign. The only religion allowed would be the Nazi cult worship of the fuhrer which Nazi Germany was developing as a replacement for other religions. Hitler wanted to build a thousand year reich, which would have meant a thousand years of darkness for humanity.


And that's just Europe, let alone what imperial Japan had in store for Asia or Fascist Italy for Africa."


So tell me, how is all of that moral? Is that a good price to pay for your own salvation? What if a billion lives were at stake, or a trillion, would you still do nothing then?
“No one in the world, Dhotaka,
can I release from doubting.
But knowing the most excellent Dhamma,
you will cross over the flood."


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Re: Pacifism, Ethics and Dhamma

Post by SarathW »

It is difficult to give a categorical answers for this sort of hypothetical and moral dilemma.
Different people will take different decisions based on their up bringing ,belief and experience.
I do not say any action is right or wrong.

For example the Jewish people who were saved from holocaust now involve with a ethnic cleansing war in Israel against minority Muslims.

:shrug:

https://answers.yahoo.com/question/inde ... 210AAUxVrX" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
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Re: Pacifism, Ethics and Dhamma

Post by mikenz66 »

Hi Craig

Is there some support for your position in the Buddha's teaching? As far as I know he only invoked reason, not force. His clan was wiped out towards the end of his life despite his pleading with King Pesanadi's son.

Recall the teaching
Beings are the owners of their kamma...

Certainly one should be compassionate and help where one can. The question is whether deadly force actually helps in the long term.

Sorry I am on a phone so can't easily prbide all the links.

Mike
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Re: Pacifism, Ethics and Dhamma

Post by Ceisiwr »

mikenz66 wrote:Hi Craig

Is there some support for your position in the Buddha's teaching? As far as I know he only invoked reason, not force. His clan was wiped out towards the end of his life despite his pleading with King Pesanadi's son.
There isnt any, this is coming from me. However Buddha only said what would happen if certain actions were taken, he left it up to us if we take certain actions. On that basis killing can be justified if a being is willing to kill for a noble cause and accept some of the negative Kamma. All it means is that a debt must be paid. Sacrificing my own peace of mind so that millions could be saved (a solider in WW2 would be an example) is a small price to pay, as the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.

For example if a mad man was about to wipe out humanity via nuclear bombs and I had a gun to his head, surely its moral to kill one man in order to save 7 billion humans?

Recall the teaching
Beings are the owners of their kamma...
As I said if i am willing to kill in order to stop the murder of a baby then thats my choice, I just happen to think that its a noble and moral choice.

Certainly one should be compassionate and help where one can. The question is whether deadly force actually helps in the long term.
Is the world better with or without the Third Reich?
Last edited by Ceisiwr on Sun Jan 11, 2015 2:49 am, edited 5 times in total.
“No one in the world, Dhotaka,
can I release from doubting.
But knowing the most excellent Dhamma,
you will cross over the flood."


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Re: Pacifism, Ethics and Dhamma

Post by daverupa »

daverupa wrote:For what it's worth, in a past life hanging with Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu folk, I read Jack Hoban's The Ethical Warrior, which addresses this topic directly but in terms of personal martial arts and individual interventions, expanding this approach to divide those who kill out of greed or hate or what have you from those who kill out of circumstantial necessity due to the fact of there being people of the first sort.

But while self-defense and larger nation-state defense are complicated issues, I think they are still usefully teased apart. I don't think a Buddhist Just War theory can have any traction at all, but individual and small-group defense is easily aligned with moral behaviors, given the proper motives.
Deadly force can be achieved as a function of the actions of another in a case where a given action would otherwise have rendered a lesser force, for example; we can permutate all manner of illusory scenarios to justify a given response, but the essential thing is flexibility with response.

Due to this, Just War is impossible; Just Skirmish may be possible (thanks for that term, Viscid). Such a Just Skirmish needs very careful setting up, however it can be done I think...
  • "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.

- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Pacifism, Ethics and Dhamma

Post by Ceisiwr »

For example the Jewish people who were saved from holocaust now involve with a ethnic cleansing war in Israel against minority Muslims.
The actions of Israel pales in comparison with the actions of the Third Reich and what they had planned not only for the Jews but for other minorities, as well as the rest of humanity.
Last edited by Ceisiwr on Sun Jan 11, 2015 2:52 am, edited 1 time in total.
“No one in the world, Dhotaka,
can I release from doubting.
But knowing the most excellent Dhamma,
you will cross over the flood."


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Re: Pacifism, Ethics and Dhamma

Post by Ceisiwr »

daverupa wrote:
daverupa wrote:For what it's worth, in a past life hanging with Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu folk, I read Jack Hoban's The Ethical Warrior, which addresses this topic directly but in terms of personal martial arts and individual interventions, expanding this approach to divide those who kill out of greed or hate or what have you from those who kill out of circumstantial necessity due to the fact of there being people of the first sort.

But while self-defense and larger nation-state defense are complicated issues, I think they are still usefully teased apart. I don't think a Buddhist Just War theory can have any traction at all, but individual and small-group defense is easily aligned with moral behaviors, given the proper motives.
Deadly force can be achieved as a function of the actions of another in a case where a given action would otherwise have rendered a lesser force, for example; we can permutate all manner of illusory scenarios to justify a given response, but the essential thing is flexibility with response.

Due to this, Just War is impossible; Just Skirmish may be possible (thanks for that term, Viscid). Such a Just Skirmish needs very careful setting up, however it can be done I think...

I have no idea what you just said, could you expand?

Thanks
“No one in the world, Dhotaka,
can I release from doubting.
But knowing the most excellent Dhamma,
you will cross over the flood."


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Re: Pacifism, Ethics and Dhamma

Post by daverupa »

As I see it, there's no way to get a Buddhist Just War theory off the ground, for various reasons. At the same time, an ethical combat can occur as an act of self-defense, as an act of defense of another or others, in various sorts of small-group situations.

So there are two overlapping routes to go from here: whether this ethical small-group activity can eventually justify a large-scale war; and, whether deadly force should be avoided at all costs or not, at any scale.

I think it cannot justify large-scale war because inflexibility is inevitable at those scales, and this forces compromises in action that must breach ethics; and, I think deadly force can occur in the absence of intention for it, as well as being complicated at the small-group level in other ways.
  • "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.

- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Pacifism, Ethics and Dhamma

Post by Ceisiwr »

As I see it, there's no way to get a Buddhist Just War theory off the ground,
Taking responsibility for action mixed with preserving as many beings in the human realm as possible.

So there are two overlapping routes to go from here: whether this ethical small-group activity can eventually justify a large-scale war; and, whether deadly force should be avoided at all costs or not, at any scale.

I think it cannot justify large-scale war; and, I think deadly force can occur in the absence of intention for it, as well as being complicated at the small-group level in other ways.

Tell me, how would you act in WW2? Would you be pro-war or anti-war?
“No one in the world, Dhotaka,
can I release from doubting.
But knowing the most excellent Dhamma,
you will cross over the flood."


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Re: Pacifism, Ethics and Dhamma

Post by Ceisiwr »

Is there some support for your position in the Buddha's teaching? As far as I know he only invoked reason, not force. His clan was wiped out towards the end of his life despite his pleading with King Pesanadi's son.
There is a difference between petty warring kingdoms and a force like Nazism. One just wants more land, the other has an ideological goal of exterminating humans which were viewed as being sub-human, life unworthy of life.


I realise this force was defeated in WW2 but ask yourselves how this movement was defeated. Was it through pacifism or through violence?


If such a force was to rise again (look at Golden Dawn in Greece) how should we combat it? Through laying down arms?
Last edited by Ceisiwr on Sun Jan 11, 2015 3:13 am, edited 1 time in total.
“No one in the world, Dhotaka,
can I release from doubting.
But knowing the most excellent Dhamma,
you will cross over the flood."


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Re: Pacifism, Ethics and Dhamma

Post by daverupa »

clw_uk wrote:
As I see it, there's no way to get a Buddhist Just War theory off the ground,
Taking responsibility for action mixed with preserving as many beings in the human realm as possible.
You fail to have omniscience; therefore you cannot attain this goal, but only imagine you are doing so with self-congratulations.
Tell me, how would you act in WW2? Would you be pro-war or anti-war?
False dichotomies are ridiculous. I would be pro-ongoing-discourse.
  • "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.

- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Pacifism, Ethics and Dhamma

Post by Ceisiwr »

You fail to have omniscience; therefore you cannot attain this goal, but only imagine you are doing so with self-congratulations.
No no, I don't claim to be omnipotent however by killing one person like Hitler you save many more.

False dichotomies are ridiculous. I would be pro-ongoing-discourse.
How on earth could you have on going discourse with someone like Hitler? Chamberlain tried that and it just lead to more and more land grabs for Hitler. Sadly some people only stop their evil through force, which sometimes means violence and killing.
“No one in the world, Dhotaka,
can I release from doubting.
But knowing the most excellent Dhamma,
you will cross over the flood."


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