non-violence in extreme cases.

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths - what can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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dhammastudier
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non-violence in extreme cases.

Post by dhammastudier »

i've always wondered about the extent to which non-violence could be practiced in hypothetical situations. a realistic example would be that you have a gun, some person is going to kill your whole family/sangha/friends/etc. and all you have to do is shoot them. is that ok or not?

beyond real ones like that what if some fictional oppressive regime sporting some oppressive terrible desert religion took over most of the world and the last hope was a country that was mainly buddhist and non-violent. for some reason this country is able to change the course of the whole thing and save the world from domination. would it be bad karma for them to fight back to keep the world from falling into darkness and to preserve the dharma? or let's go even further and say the dharma is gone from the world except for one monk who could re-introduce it if he fights off one person who wants to kill him to stop this? sounds childish but think about it! would it be better for him to do no harm :meditate: and let buddhism die and the billions of people that need the dharma to escape samsara be lost or should he fight to help them :jedi: ???

i've even heard someone giving a talk at a buddhist temple say that if someone was going to kill a group of innocent people and asked you where they were, that it would be bad karma to lie! clearly this is wrong. i think people get extreme in literal interpretations sometimes and situations like that are a little easier to decide but when it comes to war it's kind of tough! what do you guys think? when, if ever, is it ok to fight?

obvoiusly there is the fact that there are thousands of universes and if the dharma died on earth then a buddha would be born on another planet in another universe where all of our souls would go anyway so maybe that's the key to thinking that this planet is so dire in preserving the teachings...
PeterB
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Re: non-violence in extreme cases.

Post by PeterB »

In the unlikely but possible event that someone was about to kill my family and all other options were exausted and I somehow had a gun..yes I would shoot them.
Kenshou
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Re: non-violence in extreme cases.

Post by Kenshou »

I think it's good to keep in mind what the purpose of these restrictions are, including non-violence. Which I would say is, the well-being of the self and others. So, weather in an extreme or everyday situation, if it stands to be beneficial for others, I wonder if a precept violation might not be the right way to go. Adhering unwaveringly to restrictions without thinking through the implications is too simplistic, I think, reality isn't always so clear-cut.
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Tex
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Re: non-violence in extreme cases.

Post by Tex »

zac wrote:i've always wondered about the extent to which non-violence could be practiced in hypothetical situations. a realistic example would be that you have a gun, some person is going to kill your whole family/sangha/friends/etc. and all you have to do is shoot them. is that ok or not?
My understanding is that kamma is intentional action -- the act of intentionally killing a person will bring about the appropriate kamma-vipaka even if your reason for killing that person was to protect someone else. Clearly there will be times when we might willingly break any of the precepts if we judge the consequences of not breaking the precept to be worse.

It's worth noting that the Buddha cautioned that trying to understand the full workings of kamma and kamma-vipaka would lead to madness and vexation (http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;).

I think the idea is to have a working understanding of cause and effect, and of wholesome and unwholesome, and to use our best judgment in real life situations.
"To reach beyond fear and danger we must sharpen and widen our vision. We have to pierce through the deceptions that lull us into a comfortable complacency, to take a straight look down into the depths of our existence, without turning away uneasily or running after distractions." -- Bhikkhu Bodhi

"No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it's not the same river and he's not the same man." -- Heraclitus
PeterB
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Re: non-violence in extreme cases.

Post by PeterB »

I am reminded of the story of the writer Lytton Strachey who was a pacifist. During WW1 he was questioned as to the genuineness of his pacifism as was normal, by a magistrate " What would you do Mr Strachey if a German soldier was attempting to rape your sister " he said. " I would endevour to insert myself between them " said Strachey who was openly gay..
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bodom
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Re: non-violence in extreme cases.

Post by bodom »

PeterB wrote:In the unlikely but possible event that someone was about to kill my family and all other options were exausted and I somehow had a gun..yes I would shoot them.
Agreed.

:anjali:
This is our foundation: to have sati, recollection, and sampajañña, self-awareness, whether standing, walking, sitting, or reclining. Whatever arises, just leave it be, don’t cling to it. Whether it’s like or dislike, happiness or suffering, doubt or certainty... Don’t try to label everything, just know it. See that all the things that arise in the mind are simply sensations. They are transient. They arise, exist and cease. That’s all there is to them, they have no self or being, they are neither ‘us’ nor ‘them’. None of them are worthy of clinging to.

- Ajahn Chah
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dhammastudier
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Re: non-violence in extreme cases.

Post by dhammastudier »

peter b.

i feel the same way. i wonder wwbd?
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dhammastudier
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Re: non-violence in extreme cases.

Post by dhammastudier »

PeterB wrote:I am reminded of the story of the writer Lytton Strachey who was a pacifist. During WW1 he was questioned as to the genuineness of his pacifism as was normal, by a magistrate " What would you do Mr Strachey if a German soldier was attempting to rape your sister " he said. " I would endevour to insert myself between them " said Strachey who was openly gay..
that's hilarious!
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dhammastudier
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Re: non-violence in extreme cases.

Post by dhammastudier »

Kenshou wrote:I think it's good to keep in mind what the purpose of these restrictions are, including non-violence. Which I would say is, the well-being of the self and others. So, weather in an extreme or everyday situation, if it stands to be beneficial for others, I wonder if a precept violation might not be the right way to go. Adhering unwaveringly to restrictions without thinking through the implications is too simplistic, I think, reality isn't always so clear-cut.
yeah that's basically how i feel. adhering to close can make you a monster or a saint depending on situations you are put in...
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dhammastudier
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Re: non-violence in extreme cases.

Post by dhammastudier »

Tex wrote:
zac wrote:i've always wondered about the extent to which non-violence could be practiced in hypothetical situations. a realistic example would be that you have a gun, some person is going to kill your whole family/sangha/friends/etc. and all you have to do is shoot them. is that ok or not?
My understanding is that kamma is intentional action -- the act of intentionally killing a person will bring about the appropriate kamma-vipaka even if your reason for killing that person was to protect someone else. Clearly there will be times when we might willingly break any of the precepts if we judge the consequences of not breaking the precept to be worse.

It's worth noting that the Buddha cautioned that trying to understand the full workings of kamma and kamma-vipaka would lead to madness and vexation (http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;).

I think the idea is to have a working understanding of cause and effect, and of wholesome and unwholesome, and to use our best judgment in real life situations.
yeah and he was right! it's a never ending cycle of thought!

yeah i guess it's all about our internal scales.
Mukunda
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Re: non-violence in extreme cases.

Post by Mukunda »

zac wrote:i've always wondered about the extent to which non-violence could be practiced in hypothetical situations. a realistic example would be that you have a gun, some person is going to kill your whole family/sangha/friends/etc. and all you have to do is shoot them. is that ok or not?

beyond real ones like that what if some fictional oppressive regime sporting some oppressive terrible desert religion took over most of the world and the last hope was a country that was mainly buddhist and non-violent. for some reason this country is able to change the course of the whole thing and save the world from domination. would it be bad karma for them to fight back to keep the world from falling into darkness and to preserve the dharma? or let's go even further and say the dharma is gone from the world except for one monk who could re-introduce it if he fights off one person who wants to kill him to stop this? sounds childish but think about it! would it be better for him to do no harm :meditate: and let buddhism die and the billions of people that need the dharma to escape samsara be lost or should he fight to help them :jedi: ???

i've even heard someone giving a talk at a buddhist temple say that if someone was going to kill a group of innocent people and asked you where they were, that it would be bad karma to lie! clearly this is wrong. i think people get extreme in literal interpretations sometimes and situations like that are a little easier to decide but when it comes to war it's kind of tough! what do you guys think? when, if ever, is it ok to fight?
If you already have the gun, that speaks quite a bit of your mind set.

At some point one has to ask them self "Do I want to save the world, or myself? Am I prepared to do what it takes to escape samsara, or do I expect to make it a bit more bearable?"

One doesn't have to lie in order to not answer a question that may endanger others. They simply refuse to answer.

"He abused me, attacked me, defeated me, robbed me!" For those carrying on like this, hatred does not end.
"She abused me, attacked me, defeated me, robbed me!" For those not carrying on like this, hatred ends.
Hatred never ends through hatred. By non-hate does it end. This is an ancient truth. - from the Dhammapada.
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Alex123
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Re: non-violence in extreme cases.

Post by Alex123 »

The hard thing is the acceptance of kamma and its result...

Being attacked may be a result of bad kamma. Certainly according to Abhidhamma all unpleasant bodily feelings are results of unwholesome kamma.

So, are you going just to make bad kamma for yourself?


I remember reading a story of a son being killed in the eyes of his anagami mother. She didn't even blink or do anything. That is great achievement!

I know this is hard to do, and I am not capable of that kind of perfection (to have no anger or attachment whatsoever) - yet.
"Life is a struggle. Life will throw curveballs at you, it will humble you, it will attempt to break you down. And just when you think things are starting to look up, life will smack you back down with ruthless indifference..."
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bodom
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Re: non-violence in extreme cases.

Post by bodom »

Alex123 wrote:I remember reading a story of a son being killed in the eyes of his anagami mother. She didn't even blink or do anything. That is great achievement!
Wow that sounds really horrible actually.


:anjali:
This is our foundation: to have sati, recollection, and sampajañña, self-awareness, whether standing, walking, sitting, or reclining. Whatever arises, just leave it be, don’t cling to it. Whether it’s like or dislike, happiness or suffering, doubt or certainty... Don’t try to label everything, just know it. See that all the things that arise in the mind are simply sensations. They are transient. They arise, exist and cease. That’s all there is to them, they have no self or being, they are neither ‘us’ nor ‘them’. None of them are worthy of clinging to.

- Ajahn Chah
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Alex123
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Re: non-violence in extreme cases.

Post by Alex123 »

bodom wrote:
Alex123 wrote:I remember reading a story of a son being killed in the eyes of his anagami mother. She didn't even blink or do anything. That is great achievement!
Wow that sounds really horrible actually.


:anjali:

She had no attachement to the body and things of this world. That is an awesome achievement.

Lets not forget anatta and dukkha, we can't control what happens. So why get said when things go this or that way? Samsara is dukkha after all. It is rotten to the core. "We" are all going to die anyways, so why make bad kamma by hurting "someone" (even if that someone is an attacker?).
"Life is a struggle. Life will throw curveballs at you, it will humble you, it will attempt to break you down. And just when you think things are starting to look up, life will smack you back down with ruthless indifference..."
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bodom
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Re: non-violence in extreme cases.

Post by bodom »

Alex123 wrote:
bodom wrote:
Alex123 wrote:I remember reading a story of a son being killed in the eyes of his anagami mother. She didn't even blink or do anything. That is great achievement!
Wow that sounds really horrible actually.


:anjali:

She had no attachement to the body and things of this world. That is an awesome achievement.
Im gonna take a stab in the dark and say you dont have children?

:anjali:
This is our foundation: to have sati, recollection, and sampajañña, self-awareness, whether standing, walking, sitting, or reclining. Whatever arises, just leave it be, don’t cling to it. Whether it’s like or dislike, happiness or suffering, doubt or certainty... Don’t try to label everything, just know it. See that all the things that arise in the mind are simply sensations. They are transient. They arise, exist and cease. That’s all there is to them, they have no self or being, they are neither ‘us’ nor ‘them’. None of them are worthy of clinging to.

- Ajahn Chah
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