Buddhism and War

An open and inclusive investigation into Buddhism and spiritual cultivation

Buddhism and War

Postby kmath » Wed Oct 16, 2013 3:11 am

There's a number of "Just War" theories out there and I wonder if people subscribe to any of them. Or if by undertaking the fifth precept, are you a strict pacifist? I'm curious to hear anyone's thoughts on the matter.

Thanks,

KM
Last edited by kmath on Wed Oct 16, 2013 3:43 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Buddhism and War

Postby David N. Snyder » Wed Oct 16, 2013 3:38 am

There are a number of threads about war and if being in the military is Right Livelihood or not. Here is one:
http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=13&t=12791

Or you can go to google and type in:
site:dhammawheel.com war

And there you will see quite a few threads on this subject.
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Re: Buddhism and War

Postby kmath » Wed Oct 16, 2013 3:41 am

David N. Snyder wrote:There are a number of threads about war and if being in the military is Right Livelihood or not. Here is one:
viewtopic.php?f=13&t=12791

Or you can go to google and type in:
site:dhammawheel.com war

And there you will see quite a few threads on this subject.



:thanks:
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Re: Buddhism and War

Postby kmath » Wed Oct 16, 2013 3:58 am

After reviewing some of the old discussion, I want to ask a follow up:

Many people said they might be willing to participate in the war as a doctor or in a similar role that does not require actual fighting. So those people, do you expect others to do the fighting for you?

I don't like the trend I see in Buddhism that allows for "passing the karmic buck" onto other people. For instance,

1. Not killing animals but still eating the meat
2. Monks asking lay people to cut into seeds, dig soil, etc.
3. And in this case allowing others to fight for one

It just seems karmically selfish, so to speak. If you want those things done, why not just accept the consequences of doing them yourself?
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Re: Buddhism and War

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Wed Oct 16, 2013 5:20 am

kmath wrote:I don't like the trend I see in Buddhism that allows for "passing the karmic buck" onto other people. For instance,

1. Not killing animals but still eating the meat
2. Monks asking lay people to cut into seeds, dig soil, etc.
3. And in this case allowing others to fight for one

It just seems karmically selfish, so to speak. If you want those things done, why not just accept the consequences of doing them yourself?
It's not a "trend" — the Dhamma has always been the same, and will never change.

If you urge others to do killing on your behalf, then you share in the kamma. However, if others kill for the sake of their own livelihood, without your wish or in spite of your wish, then that is their kamma, and you have nothing to do with it.

Monks are not permitted to ask lay people to cut seeds, dig soil, etc. They can only say that they need a foundation or a cesspit, or they can ask fruits to be made allowable for monks. Lay people don't have to follow the Vinaya rule regarding digging soil or eating fruit with seeds, which were only made to placate Jains who believed that soil and seeds were alive.

If there is a war, Buddhists can be medics or fire-fighters striving to protect life and property, not to destroy it. That way, they will make wholesome kamma.
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Re: Buddhism and War

Postby kmath » Wed Oct 16, 2013 5:34 am

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:Monks are not permitted to ask lay people to cut seeds, dig soil, etc. They can only say that they need a foundation or a cesspit, or they can ask fruits to be made allowable for monks. Lay people don't have to follow the Vinaya rule regarding digging soil or eating fruit with seeds, which were only made to placate Jains who believed that soil and seeds were alive.


This is a good answer to the questions I had about monks :twothumbsup:
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Re: Buddhism and War

Postby kmath » Wed Oct 16, 2013 5:35 am

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:It's not a "trend" — the Dhamma has always been the same, and will never change.


Perhaps "tendency" is a better word choice.
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Re: Buddhism and War

Postby David N. Snyder » Wed Oct 16, 2013 3:52 pm

kmath wrote:I don't like the trend I see in Buddhism that allows for "passing the karmic buck" onto other people. For instance,
1. Not killing animals but still eating the meat
2. Monks asking lay people to cut into seeds, dig soil, etc.
3. And in this case allowing others to fight for one
It just seems karmically selfish, so to speak. If you want those things done, why not just accept the consequences of doing them yourself?


Actually, I agree with most of what you have wrote. The exception is for monks and nuns, as Ven. Pesala pointed out. The monastics are held to a higher standard and have 227 and 311 precepts. Lay people have 5 and then 8 on uposatha days.

However, a good test of a formulation (see Immanuel Kant's first law) is to test if it were universal and applied to everyone. What if everyone were Buddhist? Who would man the slaughter-houses? So at least in my opinion, a vegetarian diet is at least an ideal form since no one would be able to eat meat if everyone were Buddhist.

And it is similarly the case with self-defense. Often we hear Buddhists say that they wouldn't defend themselves, that they would use the saw simile or call the police. But isn't calling the police approving of their actions? I am not suggesting or recommending anyone to take action on their own, but just noting that you cannot really complain about people who do defend themselves when you approve of police doing their work to defend you. Again, what if everyone were Buddhist? Who would be the police officers?
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Re: Buddhism and War

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Wed Oct 16, 2013 4:58 pm

David N. Snyder wrote:What if everyone were Buddhist? Who would man the slaughter-houses? So at least in my opinion, a vegetarian diet is at least an ideal form since no one would be able to eat meat if everyone were Buddhist.

If everyone were observing the five precepts, regardless of what label you gave them, no one could eat meat or fish, apart from road-kill. However, that is never going to happen, and it doesn't change the fact that mental defilements are stench, not the eating of meat. Nor does it mean that eating meat equates to killing living beings by proxy.
David N. Snyder wrote:Isn't calling the police approving of their actions?

That depends on what the police do. If someone is threatening to burn your house down, or to beat you up, the right thing to do is to call the police rather than taking the law into your own hands, or meekly surrendering to your fate. If they shoot the criminal while trying to arrest him, that is not your kamma just because you called the police. That was never your intention. You have every right to defend yourself, and if criminal actions are involved, it's best to let the professionals do it. Would you carry out surgery on your family members without calling a doctor?
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Re: Buddhism and War

Postby santa100 » Wed Oct 16, 2013 6:46 pm

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote: If everyone were observing the five precepts, regardless of what label you gave them, no one could eat meat or fish, apart from road-kill. However, that is never going to happen..

Greetings Bhante, according to DN 26 ( http://tipitaka.wikia.com/wiki/Cakkavattisihanada_Sutta ), it could happen. It talks about a possible future which the Ten Wholesome Deeds will disappear and people will become so evil that they start killing off one another like "wild beasts" until only a few survive. At this point those few surviving humans will begin to live virtuous life again. Will it happen? Well, it's up to each and everyone of us to decide the kind of future we'll live in..
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Re: Buddhism and War

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Wed Oct 16, 2013 7:00 pm

santa100 wrote:Will it happen? Well, it's up to each and everyone of us to decide the kind of future we'll live in.

No, it will never happen that everyone on earth will avoid killing. Even during the most auspicious time of the Buddha it did not happen, and it won't happen in the time of Maitreyya Buddha either. If everyone was already at least a Stream-winner, there would be nothing much left for a Buddha to do by way of teaching the Dhamma.

What we do does indeed alter our future, and it also has some influence on those around us, but we have to live in the real world, which will always be an imperfect place.
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Re: Buddhism and War

Postby santa100 » Wed Oct 16, 2013 8:27 pm

Thank you for the harsh reality Bhante.. :smile:
How about that pristine time when those Abhassara beings were reborn into our world with subtle and luminous bodies? Is it safe to say that there was no killing at least at that time? (DN 27 http://tipitaka.wikia.com/wiki/Agganna_Sutta )
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Re: Buddhism and War

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Wed Oct 16, 2013 10:06 pm

The Abhassara devas are celestial beings, not human beings, and if they were reborn on this world after they deceased from the Abhassara realms "with subtle and luminous bodies" they would not be human beings either, not by any sense of that term.

By the time that those beings evolved into human beings with males and females, indulging in sexual intercourse, then they might be called human beings, and there might be no killing at that time.

Such hypothetical scenarios based on the Aggañña Sutta are not the reality that we have to live with in this life, nor your descendants.
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Re: Buddhism and War

Postby santa100 » Thu Oct 17, 2013 1:01 am

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote: By the time that those beings evolved into human beings with males and females, indulging in sexual intercourse, then they might be called human beings, and there might be no killing at that time.


Wow, first it's the sexual indulgence, then the stealing, lying, and killing,.. those Abhassarans had no idea what they've evolved into.. :tongue:
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Re: Buddhism and War

Postby Kusala » Thu Oct 17, 2013 9:16 am

kmath wrote:There's a number of "Just War" theories out there and I wonder if people subscribe to any of them. Or if by undertaking the fifth precept, are you a strict pacifist? I'm curious to hear anyone's thoughts on the matter.

Thanks,

KM


Getting the Message http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... ssage.html

Excerpt:

A professional soldier once went to the Buddha and said that his teachers had taught the existence of a heaven awaiting soldiers who die in battle. What did the Buddha have to say about that? At first the Buddha declined to answer, but when the soldier showed the sincerity of his question by pressing him three times for a response, he finally replied:

"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."

-SN 42.3
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Homage to the Buddha
Thus indeed, is that Blessed One: He is the Holy One, fully enlightened, endowed with clear vision and virtuous conduct, sublime, the Knower of the worlds, the incomparable leader of men to be tamed, the teacher of gods and men, enlightened and blessed.

Homage to the Teachings
The Dhamma of the Blessed One is perfectly expounded; to be seen here and now; not delayed in
time; inviting one to come and see; onward leading (to Nibbana); to be known by the wise, each for himself.
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Re: Buddhism and War

Postby seeker242 » Thu Oct 17, 2013 12:26 pm

kmath wrote:After reviewing some of the old discussion, I want to ask a follow up:

Many people said they might be willing to participate in the war as a doctor or in a similar role that does not require actual fighting. So those people, do you expect others to do the fighting for you?

It just seems karmically selfish, so to speak. If you want those things done, why not just accept the consequences of doing them yourself?


I don't think anyone wants other people to go fight and kill other people. Not with regards to wise people anyway. A wise person would never "want those things done" to begin with. The ideal would be no fighting at all. But since that is not possible, helping those people who are fighting is a compassionate thing to do.

:namaste:
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Re: Buddhism and War

Postby Spiny Norman » Thu Oct 17, 2013 12:34 pm

kmath wrote:1. Not killing animals but still eating the meat
3. And in this case allowing others to fight for one

It just seems karmically selfish, so to speak. If you want those things done, why not just accept the consequences of doing them yourself?


I broadly agree. In the event of a war should I expect others to risk their lives in order to defend me, while saying "Oh, I'm a Buddhist, I couldn't possibly take a life."
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Re: Buddhism and War

Postby lyndon taylor » Thu Oct 17, 2013 2:11 pm

If we didn't go to war, Saddam Hussein would be president of the USA, Oh, what, that wasn't going to happen, then why did we go to war.
18 years ago I made one of the most important decisions of my life and entered a local Cambodian Buddhist Temple as a temple boy and, for only 3 weeks, an actual Therevada Buddhist monk. I am not a scholar, great meditator, or authority on Buddhism, but Buddhism is something I love from the Bottom of my heart. It has taught me sobriety, morality, peace, and very importantly that my suffering is optional, and doesn't have to run my life. I hope to give back what little I can to the Buddhist community that has so generously given me so much, sincerely former monk John
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Re: Buddhism and War

Postby Spiny Norman » Thu Oct 17, 2013 2:45 pm

lyndon taylor wrote:If we didn't go to war, Saddam Hussein would be president of the USA, Oh, what, that wasn't going to happen, then why did we go to war.


Sure, but what if the USA were invaded and you were called up to join the army and fight - would you refuse?
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Re: Buddhism and War

Postby lyndon taylor » Thu Oct 17, 2013 3:05 pm

yes....... The government has already told us we are being invaded, and we have to fight them with their tortillas and burritos!!!
18 years ago I made one of the most important decisions of my life and entered a local Cambodian Buddhist Temple as a temple boy and, for only 3 weeks, an actual Therevada Buddhist monk. I am not a scholar, great meditator, or authority on Buddhism, but Buddhism is something I love from the Bottom of my heart. It has taught me sobriety, morality, peace, and very importantly that my suffering is optional, and doesn't have to run my life. I hope to give back what little I can to the Buddhist community that has so generously given me so much, sincerely former monk John
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