Intruders (BnE) and Non Violence

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
DonnieRage
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Intruders (BnE) and Non Violence

Post by DonnieRage » Tue Sep 10, 2013 4:06 pm

I was having a discussion with my dad and my younger brother recently about people breaking into our house. Of course they were saying how they would just "blast the f***er in the face" and I was trying to convince them that they probably wouldn't do that even though they say it. I was also bringing up things like 'thou shalt not kill' (they're both "christians"). My thought was maybe I'd cap them (the intruder) in the knee and toss them out the house, but in hindsight this still a very violent thing to do. Would it be an issue among buddhists? How should/could someone handle a situation like that non-violently?
Last edited by DonnieRage on Tue Sep 10, 2013 4:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.

daverupa
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Re: Intruders (BnE) and Non Violence

Post by daverupa » Tue Sep 10, 2013 4:13 pm

There may be confusion over violence in terms of motive, and violence in terms of physical force being directed against someone.

In the first case, no action is wholesome with a violent, i.e. aggressive, intention.

Since the Vinaya allows a monk to 'give a blow desiring emancipation' from an assailant, however, I find that the second case of physical violence done as an expression of self-defense with an eye towards emancipation from and/or restraint of an attacker to be generally acceptable.

However, gray areas arise in terms of what sort of force must be present in order to warrant this or that force in response; wise reflection should apply, local laws will apply.
  • "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]

DonnieRage
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Re: Intruders (BnE) and Non Violence

Post by DonnieRage » Tue Sep 10, 2013 4:48 pm

"Give a blow desiring emancipation" Would this apply politically (like to those in tibet, for example)? I know the Dalai Lama advises against violence, but it seems peaceful protest and even extreme self violence (like self immolation) have very little effect overall. Throughout my life I've often thought that when it comes to situations like that you have to "speak their own language" which with totalitarian states, is normally violence :( This is actually an issue that's caused me a little bit of stress as I come from a radical anarchist background, and I'm trying to work non-violence into my life. It's obvious to me that peaceful protest works to some extent (majority of the civil rights movement) but then you're waiting around for those in rule to decide they just don't want that power anymore.

Thanks in advance for any feedback
:thanks:

daverupa
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Re: Intruders (BnE) and Non Violence

Post by daverupa » Tue Sep 10, 2013 6:03 pm

We seem to have jumped from breaking and entering to questions about large-scale social mobilization and political protest...

I think these are different realms, with different contexts where violence could get expressed. One is a home invasion, the other is largely a chosen engagement or series of engagements. The earlier Vinaya reference does not seem to apply to those latter cases.

"But then you're waiting around..."

Patience is the highest austerity...
  • "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]

DonnieRage
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Re: Intruders (BnE) and Non Violence

Post by DonnieRage » Tue Sep 10, 2013 8:32 pm

Great response. Momma always told me patience is a virtue. Thank you.

dagon
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Re: Intruders (BnE) and Non Violence

Post by dagon » Wed Sep 11, 2013 1:02 am

DonnieRage wrote:I was having a discussion with my dad and my younger brother recently about people breaking into our house. Of course they were saying how they would just "blast the f***er in the face" and I was trying to convince them that they probably wouldn't do that even though they say it. I was also bringing up things like 'thou shalt not kill' (they're both "christians"). My thought was maybe I'd cap them (the intruder) in the knee and toss them out the house, but in hindsight this still a very violent thing to do. Would it be an issue among buddhists? How should/could someone handle a situation like that non-violently?
Hi Donnie

:soap: warning

At one point in my life I used to be a prison officer and so got to know a lot of people who committed offences against people and the laws of the land.

At that time 85% of the inmates were there for drug and drug related offences; 10% where there because they had serve psychological conditions; and 5% were there because their clinging, grasping and desires were no matched by a work ethic or economic opportunities. What is clear that all of them were suffering and their action are explained by DO and the 4NT. What should be remembered that all of them are people and some of our friends on the forum may well have been them before they straighten their lives out! They could also be you kids, siblings, friends or even yourself in the future if your life happened to go the wrong way or you made some really stupid decisions in your life.

When someone steals from ME they take MY possessions from ME without MY permission. When someone breaks into/invades MY house they also invade MY sanctuary and MY sense of security (being MY ability to isolate MY self from the external world). Can you see the problem here – it is the identification of self that causes most of MY suffering rather than the loss of possessions.

Most people that would potential break into your house are looking to support a drug habit/addiction. It is for this reason that most of those I spoke to said the “best” houses to break into were those where there were drugs and alcohol. Why, simply because there was the chance of prompt satisfaction of their wants/needs; less chance of getting caught (easier to walk out with a packet of drugs rather than a 54 inch TV); less chance of it been reported ….. Yep drugs cause people all sorts of problems. You have to admit that the 5th precept helps you to lead a happier life, not following it can lead to all sorts of suffering.

One of the inmates that I got to know very well as serving 14 years for armed holdups. I asked him where he had got the gun that he used – “I robed someone’s house that I knew had guns, I knew that what was in the house was no use to me apart from that gun”.

If you have guns in the house then you have something of real value to the 5% of professional crims as well as those who are the supply end of the drug trade. If you have a gun in your house you have one of three intentions
• to use it out side of the home (except for target shooter all potential uses are against Buddhist teachings).
• have it there to threaten anyone who breaks into your house (that has the risk of having it used against you)
• intend to use it to shoot intruders – note intention/ karma !!

One of the rational fears that people have about home invasions is the risk of violence been perpetrated against them or other occupants. If you look at the cause of the violence in most of the cases you can reduce the risk of this happening.
Most criminal would prefer not to come face to face with their victims because it increases their chance of being caught/convicted. If you block their exit then the chance of you coming to physical harm increases.

Where criminals premeditate violence against members of the household it is normally because the believe that will get them something of higher value and believe that the additional risks of their actions will reward them more than the higher risk to themselves. Normally what they are after is drugs (hard to find) or liquid high value and low volume items (cash and jewelry). What is work remembering is that dead men cannot spend money and injured people cannot enjoy their lives.

If we want to prevent crime then the best answer is; loving kindness, compassion, joy and equanimity. How this would look in practice would be that instead of spending hundreds of thousands of $ a year in putting people in goal; we would recognize that drug addictions are a medical issue not a criminal justice issue. We would have our tax payer dollars spent on medical interventions or even better addressing social and mental health problems before drug abuse/addiction happens. A vote to take money away from social problems and to being tough on crime - is a vote to increase crime and increase the possibility that you will become a victim.

Remembering that the person entering you house is probably doing so for a drug related reason; remembering that most people have drug related problems as a result of what they have suffered in their lives and are trying to escape from that suffering do you feel that it is appropriate to inflict harm on that person. That is not to say that I believe that it should excuse the individual from the consequences – The Buddha taught us that we are responsible for outcomes of intentions. None of us can get away with what we do; karma has a 100% conviction rate. Yes if you can get them arrested that is good – if for no other reason it maybe their best chance of getting the help that they need. If you do something to the intruder will that assist your practice, is it wholesome, will it further bind you in bad karma?

If you accept that what has been stolen is not you then you aid your practice, if you can develop kindness, compassion and equanimity to the intruder then you have gain far more of real worth that could have been taken away from you.

Metta

paul

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JeffR
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Re: Intruders (BnE) and Non Violence

Post by JeffR » Wed Sep 11, 2013 3:48 am

If you have a gun in your house you have one of three intentions
• to use it out side of the home (except for target shooter all potential uses are against Buddhist teachings).
• have it there to threaten anyone who breaks into your house (that has the risk of having it used against you)
• intend to use it to shoot intruders – note intention/ karma !!
For the sake of discussion: on the third item, intent to use it to shoot intruders; Couldn't it be use to "Give a blow desiring emancipation"?

Guns weren't around in the time of the Buddha, so it couldn't be addressed. It is generally viewed in much of modern society that a shot below the waist is an intention to incapacitate. Wouldn't this be acceptable in self defense?
(I don't know how I feel here. I lean towards not using or possessing the gun, but would like to hear balanced opinions.)

-Jeff
Therein what are 'six (types of) disrespect'? One dwells without respect, without deference for the Teacher; one dwells without respect, without deference for the Teaching; one dwells without respect, without deference for the Order; one dwells without respect, without deference for the precepts; one dwells without respect, without deference for heedfulness; one dwells without respect, without deference for hospitality. These are six (types of) disrespect.
:Vibh 945

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Ben
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Re: Intruders (BnE) and Non Violence

Post by Ben » Wed Sep 11, 2013 4:12 am

JeffR wrote:
If you have a gun in your house you have one of three intentions
• to use it out side of the home (except for target shooter all potential uses are against Buddhist teachings).
• have it there to threaten anyone who breaks into your house (that has the risk of having it used against you)
• intend to use it to shoot intruders – note intention/ karma !!
For the sake of discussion: on the third item, intent to use it to shoot intruders; Couldn't it be use to "Give a blow desiring emancipation"?

Guns weren't around in the time of the Buddha, so it couldn't be addressed. It is generally viewed in much of modern society that a shot below the waist is an intention to incapacitate. Wouldn't this be acceptable in self defense?
(I don't know how I feel here. I lean towards not using or possessing the gun, but would like to hear balanced opinions.)

-Jeff
Not in Australia. In fact, you would be denied a gun licence in Australia if your reason for obtaining one was for self defence. If you are really worried about home security then instead of purchasing a gun - perhaps invest some money on making your home a little more secure so as to make break-in extremely difficult or impossible.
kind regards,

Ben
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR

e: ben.dhammawheel@gmail.com..

dagon
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Re: Intruders (BnE) and Non Violence

Post by dagon » Wed Sep 11, 2013 4:31 am

JeffR wrote:
If you have a gun in your house you have one of three intentions
• to use it out side of the home (except for target shooter all potential uses are against Buddhist teachings).
• have it there to threaten anyone who breaks into your house (that has the risk of having it used against you)
• intend to use it to shoot intruders – note intention/ karma !!
For the sake of discussion: on the third item, intent to use it to shoot intruders; Couldn't it be use to "Give a blow desiring emancipation"?

Guns weren't around in the time of the Buddha, so it couldn't be addressed. It is generally viewed in much of modern society that a shot below the waist is an intention to incapacitate. Wouldn't this be acceptable in self defense?
(I don't know how I feel here. I lean towards not using or possessing the gun, but would like to hear balanced opinions.)

-Jeff
Hi Jeff

Fair question – I assume that anyone one having a gun in their hand would have the same level of training that I have had. What I was taught that you shoot for the largest body mass especially at close range.

Buddha also taught that we should obey the laws of the country. In most countries possession of a fire is illegal without permits and shooting people is frowned upon (!!!!!).

I think what the OP was suggesting was the use of other skills to kneecap an intruder. In my view this would still be excessive and disproportional in most cases. Making a blow to stop someone killing you can easily be defended in that you are stopping someone committing one of the most serious offences. Deliberately maiming someone to protect the ownership of property is another story.

also what Ben said

metta

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JeffR
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Re: Intruders (BnE) and Non Violence

Post by JeffR » Wed Sep 11, 2013 5:05 am

I'm looking for views on the morality from a Buddhist prospective. Here in the US gun ownership is high and some states (e.g. Florida) encourage killing people who appear threatening.

I grew up with guns in a family that hunts and was taught "though shalt not kill"; aim for the legs. A brother that was in law enforcement encouraged aiming for largest part of the body if your life is in immediate danger. He was trained to always shoot for the largest part of the body.

I lean towards not using a gun at all, even when threatened, the two handed saw simile comes to mind. However, I have a wife and kids so letting myself be shot and killed when I could prevent it by doing grave harm to the one about to shoot me seems like a selfish move. My family needs me and would want me to do what it takes to be around a bit longer.

It seems to me that if I was to cap someone in the knee, it really wouldn't matter whether I did it with a golf club, bullet, or karate kick. The intention, result and kamma is the same.

More directly in response to the OP:
Remaining calm and unafraid while doing no harm, no matter what, would be the way to handle an intruder. If they're in the house, get out through a window or back way and call the police from the neighbor's.
Therein what are 'six (types of) disrespect'? One dwells without respect, without deference for the Teacher; one dwells without respect, without deference for the Teaching; one dwells without respect, without deference for the Order; one dwells without respect, without deference for the precepts; one dwells without respect, without deference for heedfulness; one dwells without respect, without deference for hospitality. These are six (types of) disrespect.
:Vibh 945

DonnieRage
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Re: Intruders (BnE) and Non Violence

Post by DonnieRage » Wed Sep 11, 2013 5:33 am


If we want to prevent crime then the best answer is; loving kindness, compassion, joy and equanimity. How this would look in practice would be that instead of spending hundreds of thousands of $ a year in putting people in goal; we would recognize that drug addictions are a medical issue not a criminal justice issue. We would have our tax payer dollars spent on medical interventions or even better addressing social and mental health problems before drug abuse/addiction happens. A vote to take money away from social problems and to being tough on crime - is a vote to increase crime and increase the possibility that you will become a victim.

Remembering that the person entering you house is probably doing so for a drug related reason; remembering that most people have drug related problems as a result of what they have suffered in their lives and are trying to escape from that suffering do you feel that it is appropriate to inflict harm on that person. That is not to say that I believe that it should excuse the individual from the consequences – The Buddha taught us that we are responsible for outcomes of intentions. None of us can get away with what we do; karma has a 100% conviction rate. Yes if you can get them arrested that is good – if for no other reason it maybe their best chance of getting the help that they need. If you do something to the intruder will that assist your practice, is it wholesome, will it further bind you in bad karma?
:thumbsup:

Thank you dagon!

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Ben
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Re: Intruders (BnE) and Non Violence

Post by Ben » Wed Sep 11, 2013 5:36 am

Hi Jeff,

I think my recommendation above of mitigating risk of break-in by investing in making your home more secure and less appealing as a break-in target is probably my preferred option and is consistent with Buddhist teachings. But if you do find yourself being subject to a home invasion - I would recommend that you remove yourself and your family to outside the property and call the police. If you can't do that, then stay calm.
I might be naive but I don't think that it ever ends well when armed home-owners confront intruders. The intruder already has some very dark kamma to face as a result of the forced entry, intimidation and theft. Stepping into a situation that is highly charged and unpredictable - you leave yourself open to the possibility of reaping the bitter fruit created by acting out of intense fear and anger.
kind regards,

Ben
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR

e: ben.dhammawheel@gmail.com..

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seeker242
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Re: Intruders (BnE) and Non Violence

Post by seeker242 » Wed Sep 11, 2013 11:09 am

To kill someone simply because they broke into your house would be a direct violation of the precepts. The gravest of sins. Of course it depends on the situation but people usually break into houses to steal property. Is your television, computer or money really worth more than a man's life? Certainly not! If he wants your television or money, just give it to him! If you do that and they get what they want and leave, the situation is resolved and no one is harmed. The end result is that you no longer have the TV or money that you had. But so what? Those are just materiel things anyway. Only a fool would defend their television with lethal force. Why would you even need to use non-lethal force to defend your television? It's just a television. It means nothing and has no value whatsoever from Buddhist perspective. Now if your own life was in danger, that would be a different situation. However, it's quite possible that trying to defend your meaningless property or television could easily put your life in danger to begin with, whereas it would not be in danger if you had not tried to defend it and just let them take it.

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Re: Intruders (BnE) and Non Violence

Post by DNS » Thu Sep 12, 2013 3:21 am

Interesting discussion and good responses above. The one scenario I haven't seen mentioned yet is this:

What about the home invader who is not interested in stealing your money, your televisions, your jewelry. He and his accomplices break in to kill you and your family. Now the situation is changed quite a bit. It is not simply a case of letting him in, letting him take some things and leaving you and your family alone. He is coming in to kill. You can use the saw simile for yourself, but are you willing to use the saw simile for your spouse and children? Tough decisions . . .

Yes, it is rare, but it does happen. Not too long ago a group of criminals did a home invasion, raped and killed the wife and daughter of a physician. The physician was tied up in the basement and they set the house on fire. The doctor was able to escape and survived. His wife and daughter were murdered.

The obvious best course is to call the police and escape out the back with your family. But what if there is no opportunity to escape? Do you potentially use deadly force to save your family members? Perhaps you might be advanced enough to apply the saw simile for yourself, you have no selfishness; but how about your family members? Do you leave them to fend for themselves? Tough choices, with no real correct or easy answers.

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Re: Intruders (BnE) and Non Violence

Post by barcsimalsi » Thu Sep 12, 2013 4:49 am

David N. Snyder wrote:Interesting discussion and good responses above. The one scenario I haven't seen mentioned yet is this:

What about the home invader who is not interested in stealing your money, your televisions, your jewelry. He and his accomplices break in to kill you and your family. Now the situation is changed quite a bit. It is not simply a case of letting him in, letting him take some things and leaving you and your family alone. He is coming in to kill. You can use the saw simile for yourself, but are you willing to use the saw simile for your spouse and children? Tough decisions . . .

Yes, it is rare, but it does happen. Not too long ago a group of criminals did a home invasion, raped and killed the wife and daughter of a physician. The physician was tied up in the basement and they set the house on fire. The doctor was able to escape and survived. His wife and daughter were murdered.

The obvious best course is to call the police and escape out the back with your family. But what if there is no opportunity to escape? Do you potentially use deadly force to save your family members? Perhaps you might be advanced enough to apply the saw simile for yourself, you have no selfishness; but how about your family members? Do you leave them to fend for themselves? Tough choices, with no real correct or easy answers.
What if one shoot the invaders not because of aversion, but see it as responsibility and compassion towards both the victims and invaders. By killing the invaders, one save one's family and also prevent the invaders from making bad karma for themselves.

One may break the first precept by doing so but i just can't think of a better options.

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