Would the Buddha kill a human for the greater good?

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SilaSamadhi
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Would the Buddha kill a human for the greater good?

Post by SilaSamadhi » Sun Sep 22, 2019 4:46 pm

Imagine that moments after his full awakening, the Buddha encountered on the road a murderer, intent on killing him, and the Buddha's only option to survive was to kill the murderer. Considering the incredible benefit to humanity from the Buddha's continued existence and opportunity to teach, compared to the life of a hell-bound murderer trapped in ignorance, delusion, and ill-will, would the Buddha not choose to kill the murderer?

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Re: Would the Buddha kill a human for the greater good?

Post by Sabbe_Dhamma_Anatta » Sun Sep 22, 2019 5:07 pm

Nope!
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santa100
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Re: Would the Buddha kill a human for the greater good?

Post by santa100 » Sun Sep 22, 2019 5:14 pm

SilaSamadhi wrote:Considering the incredible benefit to humanity from the Buddha's continued existence and opportunity to teach, compared to the life of a hell-bound murderer trapped in ignorance, delusion, and ill-will, would the Buddha not choose to kill the murderer?
Actually an almost exact scenario did happen and see the good ending at Angulimala Sutta

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Sam Vara
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Re: Would the Buddha kill a human for the greater good?

Post by Sam Vara » Sun Sep 22, 2019 5:22 pm

SilaSamadhi wrote:
Sun Sep 22, 2019 4:46 pm
Imagine that moments after his full awakening, the Buddha encountered on the road a murderer, intent on killing him, and the Buddha's only option to survive was to kill the murderer. Considering the incredible benefit to humanity from the Buddha's continued existence and opportunity to teach, compared to the life of a hell-bound murderer trapped in ignorance, delusion, and ill-will, would the Buddha not choose to kill the murderer?
I don't think so. Remember that in the moments after his full awakening, the Buddha had not yet committed to teaching the Dhamma. And even if he had (i.e. the encounter with the murderer had been after Brahma Sahampati's intervention as per SN 6.1) then there would have been much that the Buddha could have done to prevent a murderer from killing him. And quite apart from all the supernatural stuff about passing through walls and flying through the air (all good ways to elude murderers!) would any human's kammic predisposition have been so bad that they could have killed a Samma SamBuddha?

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SilaSamadhi
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Re: Would the Buddha kill a human for the greater good?

Post by SilaSamadhi » Sun Sep 22, 2019 5:29 pm

santa100 wrote:
Sun Sep 22, 2019 5:14 pm
Actually an almost exact scenario did happen and see the good ending at Angulimala Sutta
Not quite "almost exact scenario" since in my scenario, the Buddha had a choice between killing the murderer and being killed himself - before he had the chance to teach his newly-discovered dharma.

In the Angulimala story, no such choice was necessary or made.

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SilaSamadhi
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Re: Would the Buddha kill a human for the greater good?

Post by SilaSamadhi » Sun Sep 22, 2019 5:31 pm

Sam Vara wrote:
Sun Sep 22, 2019 5:22 pm
there would have been much that the Buddha could have done to prevent a murderer from killing him.
Sure, but my focus in this question is precisely on a scenario where there is no choice: the Buddha either kills the murderer, or is killed by the murderer and thus prevented from teaching his newly discovered dharma.

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Re: Would the Buddha kill a human for the greater good?

Post by DNS » Sun Sep 22, 2019 5:40 pm

SilaSamadhi wrote:
Sun Sep 22, 2019 5:31 pm
Sam Vara wrote:
Sun Sep 22, 2019 5:22 pm
there would have been much that the Buddha could have done to prevent a murderer from killing him.
Sure, but my focus in this question is precisely on a scenario where there is no choice: the Buddha either kills the murderer, or is killed by the murderer and thus prevented from teaching his newly discovered dharma.
No, the Buddha would not kill under any circumstance. If he were in the above situation, it would mean he was not really a samma-sam-buddha, as it would be his kamma that he is killed under that circumstance and not a buddha like Gotama, who teaches the masses.

There is a Mahayana story about the buddha killing in a past life, but not in the final existence as Gotama.
Mahayana past life story wrote:The Buddha, in a past life as a ship's captain named Super Compassionate, discovered a criminal on board who intended to kill the 500 passengers. If he told the passengers, they would panic and become killers themselves. With no other way out, he compassionately stabbed the criminal to death. Captain Compassionate saved the passengers not only from murder, but from becoming murderers themselves. Unlike him, they would have killed in rage and suffered hell. He saved the criminal from becoming a mass murderer and even worse suffering. He himself generated vast karmic merit by acting with compassion.
Note, however, the above quote is a Mahayana story, which tends to be more open to skillful means. And even then, it is a past life story, not Gotama's final life.

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Re: Would the Buddha kill a human for the greater good?

Post by dharmacorps » Sun Sep 22, 2019 6:06 pm

Other than the reference to the Angulimala sutta, and some of the Jataka Tales, there are several suttas where people were intent on killing the Buddha (including his cousin, the evil monk Devadatta). He never reacted with anger or violence of any kind. The question you are asking may be a thought experiment more than anything else, but it is hard to seriously consider it if you have read the pali canon and are familiar with the Buddha we see there.

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SilaSamadhi
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Re: Would the Buddha kill a human for the greater good?

Post by SilaSamadhi » Sun Sep 22, 2019 6:12 pm

DNS wrote:
Sun Sep 22, 2019 5:40 pm
There is a Mahayana story about the buddha killing in a past life, but not in the final existence as Gotama.
Very interesting story. It states that far from being an unskillful and counter-productive act, the killing performed by the Buddha in this case yielded merit for him!

Thus the story reflects a position within Mahayana that even killing a human, if done without dosa (rage/ill-will), yields no negative results. In fact, if driven by meritorious intention, it will be a meritorious act generating positive results.

Is that position accepted within Theravada as well?

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cappuccino
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Re: Would the Buddha kill a human for the greater good?

Post by cappuccino » Sun Sep 22, 2019 7:05 pm

SilaSamadhi wrote: Thus the story reflects a position within Mahayana

Is that position accepted within Theravada as well?
No, Mahayana is a bit crazy

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Re: Would the Buddha kill a human for the greater good?

Post by cappuccino » Sun Sep 22, 2019 7:08 pm

Buddha knew why beings find themselves in hell

He said, therefore, he wouldn't be found in hell

Since he would never kill
Last edited by cappuccino on Mon Sep 23, 2019 2:36 am, edited 2 times in total.

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SilaSamadhi
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Re: Would the Buddha kill a human for the greater good?

Post by SilaSamadhi » Sun Sep 22, 2019 7:30 pm

cappuccino wrote:
Sun Sep 22, 2019 7:08 pm
He said, therefore, he wouldn't be found in hell
To end up in hell, you need to incur dark karma, which in would result from acting with attached intentions, that is in this case out of dosa.

If a noble disciple kills without dosa or any other affliction, I don't see why that would send them to hell according to standard Theravada teachings.

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cappuccino
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Re: Would the Buddha kill a human for the greater good?

Post by cappuccino » Sun Sep 22, 2019 7:34 pm

karma is based on intention, not motivation

nobles would never kill

santa100
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Re: Would the Buddha kill a human for the greater good?

Post by santa100 » Sun Sep 22, 2019 7:40 pm

SilaSamadhi wrote:The Buddha had a choice between killing the murderer and being killed himself - before he had the chance to teach his newly-discovered dharma.
The choice to kill someone? That's not even a choice for an arahant, let alone a SammasamBuddha. If it was true that there were only 2 choices, then the Angulimala Sutta would have a very different ending. Remember it was a SammasamBuddha who not only had gained mastery in insight knowledge but also the supernormal powers. And say even if He didn't attain any of the supernormal powers, remember He came from the Warrior Class and was one who had no equal in hand-to-hand combat back in the days He was a young Prince living in the Palace. Subdueing the murderer without killing him would've been a simple walk in the park for someone of such capability.
SilaSamadhi wrote:Thus the story reflects a position within Mahayana that even killing a human, if done without dosa (rage/ill-will), yields no negative results. In fact, if driven by meritorious intention, it will be a meritorious act generating positive results.

Is that position accepted within Theravada as well?
Care to provide the exact Mahayana text that specifically stated that "killing a human, if done without dosa (rage/ill-will), yields no negative results. In fact, if driven by meritorious intention, it will be a meritorious act generating positive results."??

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SilaSamadhi
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Re: Would the Buddha kill a human for the greater good?

Post by SilaSamadhi » Sun Sep 22, 2019 10:31 pm

santa100 wrote:
Sun Sep 22, 2019 7:40 pm
Care to provide the exact Mahayana text that specifically stated that "killing a human, if done without dosa (rage/ill-will), yields no negative results. In fact, if driven by meritorious intention, it will be a meritorious act generating positive results."??
I learned of it from DNS's comment, but a quick search turns up multiple references to this story:

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfr ... dalai-lama

http://venyifa.blogspot.com/2008/09/sto ... ptain.html

That last one mentions it is taken from "Skill in Means Sutra, pp. 73-74". I don't personally know that sutra, but it's apparently also known as Upayakausalya-Sutra and cited by wikipedia.

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