Bhikkhu Bodhi on War and Thanissaro's rebuttal

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Which view do you agree with most (on this issue)?

Bhikkhu Bodhi
39
49%
Thanissaro Bhikkhu
40
51%
 
Total votes: 79

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Bhikkhu Bodhi on War and Thanissaro's rebuttal

Post by DNS » Thu Aug 21, 2014 8:20 pm

In the current Inquiring Mind issue, there is an article featured by Bhikkhu Bodhi on War.
http://www.inquiringmind.com/
Spring 2014

Due to possible copyright issues, I won't copy and paste the entire article here but hopefully many of you receive this publication.

edit:
October 2014 update:
Here is the link to the full original article by Bhikkhu Bodhi, now showing in full online:
http://www.inquiringmind.com/Articles/WarAndPeace.html
In the Fall issue there are some responses from Thanissaro Bhikkhu and Bhikkhu Bodhi and B. Alan Wallace. Those are shown in full in the Fall 2014 issue here:
http://www.inquiringmind.com/Articles/B ... tters.html

edit:
Some of this only available here:
https://archive.org/stream/InquiringMin ... 0/mode/2up

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Re: Bhikkhu Bodhi on War and Thanissaro's rebuttal

Post by Cittasanto » Thu Aug 21, 2014 8:27 pm

Thanks for sharing.
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Re: Bhikkhu Bodhi on War and Thanissaro's rebuttal

Post by DNS » Thu Aug 21, 2014 8:34 pm

The tricky part is not letting such a view go down the slippery slope as say George W. Bush and other leaders have done. Bhikkhu Bodhi makes it clear he is not condoning those actions in any way.

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Re: Bhikkhu Bodhi on War and Thanissaro's rebuttal

Post by Mr Man » Thu Aug 21, 2014 9:06 pm

Was Thanissaro Bhikkhu response published in the same magazine?

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Re: Bhikkhu Bodhi on War and Thanissaro's rebuttal

Post by Mr Man » Thu Aug 21, 2014 9:11 pm

I don't know about the tone but I would certainly lean more to Thanissaro's view, as an ideal,

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Re: Bhikkhu Bodhi on War and Thanissaro's rebuttal

Post by Ben » Thu Aug 21, 2014 9:30 pm

Thank you David.
In life we are often confronted with intractable moral dilemmas, personally and collectively.
This, I think, is acknowledged by Bhikkhu Bodhi. Sometimes we have to make very hard decisions and go through with harder actions.
Sometimes doing nothing in the face of aggression under the explanation of 'non harm' makes us complicit with evil.
Kind regards,
Ben
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Re: Bhikkhu Bodhi on War and Thanissaro's rebuttal

Post by Bhikkhu Pesala » Thu Aug 21, 2014 9:34 pm

Buddhism: I undertake the precept to abstain from killing and injuring living beings. (However if I do kill, I will inherit the results of my actions)

Christianity: Thou Shalt Not Kill. (However, that doesn't seem to stop Christians from killing).

The Buddhist texts indicate that undertaking the five precepts was not compulsory or even obligatory for Buddhists. After meeting the Buddha, some took refuge, others took refuge and undertook the precepts, others did both and offered life-long support to the Saṅgha. Others did none of those things, but still had some respect for the teachings and benefited from them.

Soldiers, farmers, and others may not be able to fully abstain from killing or injuring (e.g. soldiers killing combatants in warfare, police shooting violent criminals to prevent them killing others, or farmers castrating bulls to make them docile). No pious Buddhist would like to do such deeds, but not all Buddhists are Stream-winners or pious, nor are they all monks.

The pursuit of sensual pleasures leads to conflicts. If one can totally renounce that pursuit, life will be smoother, but the average lay person, or the average monk/nun for that matter, will inevitably come into conflict sometimes.
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Re: Bhikkhu Bodhi on War and Thanissaro's rebuttal

Post by Anagarika » Thu Aug 21, 2014 9:43 pm

Perhaps these articles developed in light of what we are seeing with the actions of groups like ISIS, where a group of people are acting to destroy innocent others, many of the dead innocent children. I still cannot get out of my head the photo from last week of a father holding up his young daughter, whose head had been severed by an ISIS terrorist.

As we look at world history, most (99.9 %) wars have been triggered by greedy, hateful, deluded men. However, how do we apply an absolutist position to the kind of killing that we are seeing in Iraq, and other countries being invaded by groups like ISIS? I agree with Ven. Thanissaro that with the First Precept as our guide, 99 percent of the violence in the world can be avoided or mitigated. Still, I am unsure what kind of alternative approaches or "out of the box" strategies can be applied to a group that is objectively killing innocents for reasons that are incomprehensible and vile.

My sense is that Ven. Bodhi's view is directed toward the 1 percent. That is the sticky wicket, and in my view, diplomacy, peacemaking, and mediation have no effect on deluded and violent groups that will cut the heads off of children in order to terrorize a group of innocents.

I recall the old "slippery slope" argument: the idea that once we deviate from an absolute ethical standard, we then slide into further, deeper unethical action. However, the slippery slope presumes that men and women cannot reason, cannot reach consensus on actions that are ethical, reasoned and appropriate. So long as we apply the precepts as diligently and as carefully as possible, that we consult the wise among us, that we look deeply into our own hearts and the hearts of the wise and the compassionate, there will be that 1 percent of cases where the selective use of wise action is the preferred alternative to inaction.
Last edited by Anagarika on Thu Aug 21, 2014 11:35 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: Bhikkhu Bodhi on War and Thanissaro's rebuttal

Post by SarathW » Thu Aug 21, 2014 9:48 pm

The is no if and buts.
Do not kill!
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Re: Bhikkhu Bodhi on War and Thanissaro's rebuttal

Post by cooran » Thu Aug 21, 2014 9:49 pm

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:Buddhism: I undertake the precept to abstain from killing and injuring living beings. (However if I do kill, I will inherit the results of my actions)

Christianity: Thou Shalt Not Kill. (However, that doesn't seem to stop Christians from killing).

The Buddhist texts indicate that undertaking the five precepts was not compulsory or even obligatory for Buddhists. After meeting the Buddha, some took refuge, others took refuge and undertook the precepts, others did both and offered life-long support to the Saṅgha. Others did none of those things, but still had some respect for the teachings and benefited from them.

Soldiers, farmers, and others may not be able to fully abstain from killing or injuring (e.g. soldiers killing combatants in warfare, police shooting violent criminals to prevent them killing others, or farmers castrating bulls to make them docile). No pious Buddhist would like to do such deeds, but not all Buddhists are Stream-winners or pious, nor are they all monks.

The pursuit of sensual pleasures leads to conflicts. If one can totally renounce that pursuit, life will be smoother, but the average lay person, or the average monk/nun for that matter, will inevitably come into conflict sometimes.
Thank you, Bhante.

With metta,
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Re: Bhikkhu Bodhi on War and Thanissaro's rebuttal

Post by Sokehi » Thu Aug 21, 2014 9:59 pm

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:Buddhism: I undertake the precept to abstain from killing and injuring living beings. (However if I do kill, I will inherit the results of my actions)

Christianity: Thou Shalt Not Kill. (However, that doesn't seem to stop Christians from killing).

The Buddhist texts indicate that undertaking the five precepts was not compulsory or even obligatory for Buddhists. After meeting the Buddha, some took refuge, others took refuge and undertook the precepts, others did both and offered life-long support to the Saṅgha. Others did none of those things, but still had some respect for the teachings and benefited from them.

Soldiers, farmers, and others may not be able to fully abstain from killing or injuring (e.g. soldiers killing combatants in warfare, police shooting violent criminals to prevent them killing others, or farmers castrating bulls to make them docile). No pious Buddhist would like to do such deeds, but not all Buddhists are Stream-winners or pious, nor are they all monks.

The pursuit of sensual pleasures leads to conflicts. If one can totally renounce that pursuit, life will be smoother, but the average lay person, or the average monk/nun for that matter, will inevitably come into conflict sometimes.
An excellent post Bhante, thank you for that
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Re: Bhikkhu Bodhi on War and Thanissaro's rebuttal

Post by DNS » Thu Aug 21, 2014 10:13 pm

Ben wrote: Sometimes doing nothing in the face of aggression under the explanation of 'non harm' makes us complicit with evil.
Yes, I agree. As Bhikkhu Bodhi touched on a little bit in the example of the police officer.

To provide a specific example; what if a mad man is slaughtering people at a crowded shopping mall with an automatic firearm. Does a police officer (or possibly other person armed with a firearm) simply watch the mayhem? Should he shoot the mad man and avoid all the killings and loss of innocent lives? Or should he sit and meditate and extend his metta to the victims? I believe most of us would say that the police or other [lay] person should shoot the killer if there is a clear shot and no chance for further loss of innocent life. And extending this to the national or international level, if it is clearly a mad man like Hitler or Pol Pot then such actions might be justified.

It is similar to the trolley moral dilemma except that in this case, flipping the switch does not send the train to the one innocent person, but rather to the one guilty killer.

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Re: Bhikkhu Bodhi on War and Thanissaro's rebuttal

Post by Mr Man » Thu Aug 21, 2014 10:39 pm

David N. Snyder wrote:
Ben wrote: Sometimes doing nothing in the face of aggression under the explanation of 'non harm' makes us complicit with evil.
To provide a specific example; what if a mad man is slaughtering people at a crowded shopping mall with an automatic firearm. Does a police officer (or possibly other person armed with a firearm) simply watch the mayhem? Should he shoot the mad man and avoid all the killings and loss of innocent lives? Or should he sit and meditate and extend his metta to the victims? I believe most of us would say that the police or other [lay] person should shoot the killer if there is a clear shot and no chance for further loss of innocent life. And extending this to the national or international level, if it is clearly a mad man like Hitler or Pol Pot then such actions might be justified.

It is similar to the trolley moral dilemma except that in this case, flipping the switch does not send the train to the one innocent person, but rather to the one guilty killer.

Surely you mean a hypothetical example? If it is just a fictitious event I would have the police office radiate metta and the mad man come to his senses and then take refuge.

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Re: Bhikkhu Bodhi on War and Thanissaro's rebuttal

Post by Mkoll » Thu Aug 21, 2014 11:07 pm

David N. Snyder wrote:
Ben wrote: Sometimes doing nothing in the face of aggression under the explanation of 'non harm' makes us complicit with evil.
Yes, I agree. As Bhikkhu Bodhi touched on a little bit in the example of the police officer.

To provide a specific example; what if a mad man is slaughtering people at a crowded shopping mall with an automatic firearm. Does a police officer (or possibly other person armed with a firearm) simply watch the mayhem? Should he shoot the mad man and avoid all the killings and loss of innocent lives? Or should he sit and meditate and extend his metta to the victims? I believe most of us would say that the police or other [lay] person should shoot the killer if there is a clear shot and no chance for further loss of innocent life. And extending this to the national or international level, if it is clearly a mad man like Hitler or Pol Pot then such actions might be justified.

It is similar to the trolley moral dilemma except that in this case, flipping the switch does not send the train to the one innocent person, but rather to the one guilty killer.

In that scenario, it's still picking the "least worst" choice. It's not the morally right thing to do (and doing nothing is not morally right either), but may be the best of bad options.

It's like being stuck between a rock and a hard place. Damned if you do, damned if you don't. That sort of thing.
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Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa

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Re: Bhikkhu Bodhi on War and Thanissaro's rebuttal

Post by thepea » Thu Aug 21, 2014 11:12 pm

I thought even encouraging one to kill is not acceptable?

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