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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Re: Pacifism, Ethics and Dhamma

Post by Ceisiwr »

I'm not denying that non-violence isnt affective and that its not desirable, it is. However certain extreme circumstances, such as WW2, need more drastic measures.
Last edited by Ceisiwr on Sun Jan 11, 2015 4:58 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 mikenz66 »

It might be helpful to review some previous threads, some of which actually discuss Buddhist ideas....

http://dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=21602" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
http://dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=16&t=668" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

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Re: Pacifism, Ethics and Dhamma

Post by Ceisiwr »

The number of pacifists unwilling to kill are so small in number that from the standpoint of fighting a war or other mass killing endeavor they are insignificant.
But with enough propoganda that figure could grow, to the detriment of humanity as a whole. Non-violence is desirable, but as evil Janeway says;

"When diplomacy fails, then there is only one alternative, violence. Force must be applied without apology".

We tried diplomacy before WW2, it didnt work and so violence was used (albiet with some necessary apologies afterwards).
“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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chownah
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Re: Pacifism, Ethics and Dhamma

Post by chownah »

clw_uk wrote:
The number of pacifists unwilling to kill are so small in number that from the standpoint of fighting a war or other mass killing endeavor they are insignificant.
But with enough propoganda that figure could grow, to the detriment of humanity as a whole. Non-violence is desirable, but as evil Janeway says;

"When diplomacy fails, then there is only one alternative, violence. Force must be applied without apology".

We tried diplomacy before WW2, it didnt work and so violence was used (albiet with some necessary apologies afterwards).
Seems that you want to start the story at a time when the trouble has already developed. You want to present a scenario where violence is already occuring or is imminent and then talk about the position of pacifism being a hindrance to solving the problem. What if we start the story before the violence is imminent.....start the story in for example pre-war germany and consider if the population had 25% of the people being pacifist. By pacifism here I do not mean simply that they are against having a war but what I do mean is pacifism as a proactive view of how society changes and keeping a constant eye on things to be sure that society changes in a way to avoid violence. In this story scenario being anti pacifist would be increasing the likelihood of violence while being pacifist would be decreasing the liklihood of violence.
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Re: Pacifism, Ethics and Dhamma

Post by culaavuso »

clw_uk wrote: We tried diplomacy before WW2, it didnt work and so violence was used (albiet with some necessary apologies afterwards).
This depends what is meant by "tried diplomacy" and "before WW2":
[url=http://www.gutenberg.org/files/15776/15776-h/15776-h.htm]The Economic Consequences of the Peace[/url] by John Maynard Keynes wrote: The comments on this of the German Financial Commission at Versailles were hardly an exaggeration:—"German democracy is thus annihilated at the very moment when the German people was about to build it up after a severe struggle—annihilated by the very persons who throughout the war never tired of maintaining that they sought to bring democracy to us.... Germany is no longer a people and a State, but becomes a mere trade concern placed by its creditors in the hands of a receiver, without its being granted so much as the opportunity to prove its willingness to meet its obligations of its own accord. The Commission, which is to have its permanent headquarters outside Germany, will possess in Germany incomparably greater rights than the German Emperor ever possessed, the German people under its régime would remain for decades to come shorn of all rights, and deprived, to a far greater extent than any people in the days of absolutism, of any independence of action, of any individual aspiration in its economic or even in its ethical progress."
A different approach to diplomacy may have resulted in a very different outcome. The actuality isn't simply a question of diplomacy or non-diplomacy, but the details of how diplomacy is conducted.

Similarly, approaches such as psychological warfare blur the line between war and diplomacy in a way that simplistic reduction to an either-or proposition does not adequately address.
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Re: Pacifism, Ethics and Dhamma

Post by Ceisiwr »

Seems that you want to start the story at a time when the trouble has already developed. You want to present a scenario where violence is already occuring or is imminent and then talk about the position of pacifism being a hindrance to solving the problem.
Are we ever in a situation when violence isnt already occurring or isnt imminent?

What if we start the story before the violence is imminent.....start the story in for example pre-war germany and consider if the population had 25% of the people being pacifist.



By pacifism here I do not mean simply that they are against having a war but what I do mean is pacifism as a proactive view of how society changes and keeping a constant eye on things to be sure that society changes in a way to avoid violence. In this story scenario being anti pacifist would be increasing the likelihood of violence while being pacifist would be decreasing the liklihood of violence.
chownah

But thats and Ideal scenario isnt it.
“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 »

A different approach to diplomacy may have resulted in a very different outcome. The actuality isn't simply a question of diplomacy or non-diplomacy, but the details of how diplomacy is conducted.

I dont disagree with Keynes that the treaty of Versailles was ill advised, and that economic ruin gives rise to extremism (religious or political). We can take the case of Golden Dawn in Greece as a case and point. Now I do think that WW1 was a pointless war, however WW2 wasnt. Even though mistakes lead to the phenomenon of Nazism, once it was there it had to be dealt with and the fact remains that a pacifist attitude to Hitler would have lead to misery.


A pacifist is essentially someone who lays downs arms and refuses to defend himself. By that definition most of Humanity would have been exterminated or enslaved by now. When the SS comes rolling over the hill, dont resist.
“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 chownah »

clw_uk wrote:
Seems that you want to start the story at a time when the trouble has already developed. You want to present a scenario where violence is already occuring or is imminent and then talk about the position of pacifism being a hindrance to solving the problem.
Are we ever in a situation when violence isnt already occurring or isnt imminent?

What if we start the story before the violence is imminent.....start the story in for example pre-war germany and consider if the population had 25% of the people being pacifist.



By pacifism here I do not mean simply that they are against having a war but what I do mean is pacifism as a proactive view of how society changes and keeping a constant eye on things to be sure that society changes in a way to avoid violence. In this story scenario being anti pacifist would be increasing the likelihood of violence while being pacifist would be decreasing the liklihood of violence.
chownah

But thats and Ideal scenario isnt it.
The point is that pacifism promotes non-violence and just becaues pacifists will not forsake their ideals and kill people in a war does not mean that they are acting to the detrement of society. Pacifism exerts a good influence on society and it is unreasonable to think that people should jetison thier pacifism when the going gets tough.....there are plenty of people ready willing and able to feed the war machine without bothering the pacifists....and if the number of pacifists should grow then this will be an even better influence on society. I think the problem is that some people want to be passive and allow themselves to be dominated because of the threat of violence...but this is not pacifism....pacifism is not passive necessarilly and what is needed to help guide society is a very active form of pacifism.
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Re: Pacifism, Ethics and Dhamma

Post by Opanayiko »

You may call it Pacifism, but for us Buddhists, it is the First precept, "To not take the life of any living being."
You speak of Ethics, and as if any violence had a 'point'.
Buddha taught us to protect our morality, our virtue, our precepts. Above all else.
See Thanissaro's talk 'Don't lose your goodness.'
"All things can be lost, our wealth, our family, even our lives, but only through the loss of virtue can you be reborn in a hell realm."
See "the simile of the saw"

In direct response to you clw_uk: Life is Dear to every person, retaliation never leads to happiness. Tranquility should be preserved. Fools, unaware that evil rebounds, through evil acts they hurt themselves. As flies leap into fire and burn, their own executioners they become. You should pursue the path that purifies, restrain your body, speech and mind.

And remember, friend:
"Hatreds never cease through hatred in this world;
Through love alone they cease.
This is the eternal law."
-Dp 5
:anjali: Namo Tassa Bhagavato Arahato Sammā Saṁbuddhassa :anjali:

By oneself is evil done,
by oneself defiled,
by oneself it’s left undone,
by self alone one purified.
Purity, impurity on oneself depend,
no one can purify another.
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Re: Pacifism, Ethics and Dhamma

Post by Spiny Norman »

clw_uk wrote: If we view things in terms of Kamma, this theory doesnt necesarrily mean killing cant be justified.
I really struggle with hypothetical questions like this because I don't think any of us really knows how we would respond in extreme circumstances.

Many years ago I served as a machine-gunner in an Army Reserve infantry battalion. Fortunately it's a very unlikely scenario here in the UK, but if the innocent were being slaughtered by insurgents or invaders and I was asked to work a machine-gun again, yes, I probably would.
Or maybe I would be overcome with fear and run away - who knows? :shrug:
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Re: Pacifism, Ethics and Dhamma

Post by Aloka »

Although the title of this thread has "Dhamma" in it, I didn't see very much about Dhamma when skimming through the posts.

I found this essay on the Liberation Park Website. It was written in 2003 by Santikaro (who used to be a monk and was the late Bhikkhu Buddhadasa's translator)
“Just War” is an Oxymoron

The pervasive conditioning of our culture leads people to ask variations of the question, “What is the Buddhist position on “Just War”? The answer is simple, bewilderingly simple for many.

There is no Buddhist position or doctrine of “Just War.” None. Zero. “Just War” makes no sense in a tradition dedicated to moral decency, non-harming, compassion, and wisdom.

War happens. Buddhism does not deny such facts. It tries to understand how war happens. But Buddhism never accepts or legitimizes war as necessary or “just.” One naturally defends oneself when attacked. One may prevent someone from doing harm to others. Neither, however, justify harming the alleged or imagined perpetrator/aggressor.

Kings, rulers, ministers, and governments often fall back on war as a crude means to their ends. This reflects a lack of intelligence, creativity, and courage in solving problems. The ends, even when decent and just, never justify the violence of war.

War is never peace. We often hear that the latest war, and this is repeated with each new war, is fought for the sake of peace. Governments and media claim that war now (over which they shed crocodile tears) will be the way to a more lasting peace. But whose peace? The peace that the victors would supervise, of course. Peace on their terms, enforced on others at gun and missle point. That hypocrisy is built into the rhetoric of war, since almost no one would support war otherwise. So we have Orwellian newspeak: war is peace. Such claims cannot make war just, no more than lies can create truth. Like "just war" theory which opens the floodgates: every war is justified as just, by those who wage it!

Since the Buddha’s time, Buddhist societies have indulged in war, yet no serious attempt has been made to legitimize or justify such wars. Buddhism understands them as motivated by anger and hatred, fear, greed (e.g., for land, oil, power), and ideology, but never wisdom or justice.

War happens. It is never desirable or beneficial. Too many innocents die, property is wasted, hatreds and feuds are prolonged, and we accustom ourselves to beastly behavior. There is no place in the Buddhist concept of “nobility” for war. It is never morally legit. It isn’t even a “necessary evil.” It is merely the bad policy of shortsighted, cowardly, selfish, and ill-informed leadership.

Scriptures show the Buddha …

* Intervening between two sides to prevent bloodshed, then reconciling them (Rohini River).

* Arguing to to a king that a planned invasion will fail and not achieve the king’s goals (Ajatasatru’s invasion of the Vajjian Confederacy).

* Recommending non-violent policies as a wiser solution than war (Kutadanta Sutta).

* Analyzing the sources of conflict and showing how to remove or transform the causes (numerous cases).

Never is war recommended, justified, or blessed. That is left to the sort of priests who perform animal sacrifices and practice magic.

Over the centuries, the Buddhist hierarchies that have entangled themselves with state patronage and failed to ethically critique the abuse of power have nonetheless never stooped so low as to pervert the Buddha’s basic message on the subject.

Vengeance is never appeased by vengeance.

By non-vengeance alone is vengeance conquered.


“Non-vengeance” is the opposite of vengeance, anger, and hatred, that is, kindness, compassion, forgiveness, and peacefulness. By conquering the vengeance within we can overcome its behaviors outside.

War happens. It is never desirable or beneficial. Too many innocents die, property is wasted, hatreds and feuds are prolonged, and we accustom ourselves to beastly behavior. There is no place in the Buddhist concept of “nobility” for war. It is never morally legitimate. It isn’t even a “necessary evil.” It is merely the bad policy of shortsighted, cowardly, selfish, and ill-informed leadership.

http://www.liberationpark.org/bpf/just-war-oxy.htm
:anjali:
Last edited by Aloka on Sun Jan 11, 2015 9:08 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Pacifism, Ethics and Dhamma

Post by Reductor »

Thank you for that, Aloka.
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Re: Pacifism, Ethics and Dhamma

Post by Ceisiwr »

Pacifism exerts a good influence on society and it is unreasonable to think that people should jetison thier pacifism when the going gets tough.....there are plenty of people ready willing and able to feed the war machine without bothering the pacifists...
So it's fine as long as others can do the dirty business for you?


.and if the number of pacifists should grow then this will be an even better influence on society.
Which is an ideal divorced from reality. We are simply dumb apes, with a few who see Dhamma. On that basis war is unavoidable.
“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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Ceisiwr
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Re: Pacifism, Ethics and Dhamma

Post by Ceisiwr »

Opanayiko wrote:You may call it Pacifism, but for us Buddhists, it is the First precept, "To not take the life of any living being."
You speak of Ethics, and as if any violence had a 'point'.
Buddha taught us to protect our morality, our virtue, our precepts. Above all else.
See Thanissaro's talk 'Don't lose your goodness.'
"All things can be lost, our wealth, our family, even our lives, but only through the loss of virtue can you be reborn in a hell realm."
See "the simile of the saw"

In direct response to you clw_uk: Life is Dear to every person, retaliation never leads to happiness. Tranquility should be preserved. Fools, unaware that evil rebounds, through evil acts they hurt themselves. As flies leap into fire and burn, their own executioners they become. You should pursue the path that purifies, restrain your body, speech and mind.

And remember, friend:
"Hatreds never cease through hatred in this world;
Through love alone they cease.
This is the eternal law."
-Dp 5


So would you vote against intervention in WW2?

You would allow the gas chambers to be filled with more and more Jews, gays, Slavic women and children?


Also invoking Kamma doesn't seem to work, since Kamma simply states that such an action will bear said fruit. It doesn't state that we shouldn't take such an action. On that basis killing can be allowed.
Last edited by Ceisiwr on Sun Jan 11, 2015 12:34 pm, 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 »

I really struggle with hypothetical questions like this because I don't think any of us really knows how we would respond in extreme circumstances.

No of course not, however thought experiments like this allow us to examine our ethics in greater detail.
Last edited by Ceisiwr on Sun Jan 11, 2015 12:13 pm, 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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