Evil action and consiousness

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
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Bundokji
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Evil action and consiousness

Post by Bundokji »

From my personal observations, we often deal with the problem of evil not with sympathy, but with condemnation. A more sympathetic way to address evil is to try to understand what is it that people who perform evil acts are trying to do.

Evil is often associated with annihilation. Its shadow seems to be purity. Would it be plausible to interpret evil action as an attempt to purify consciousness through annihilating a perception of an external threat?

Also earlier today, i did some reading on the idea of "consciousness of sin" which is mentioned in the bible. While the idea of sin has no place in Buddhism, cessation of some type of problematic consciousness has its place in the Buddhist doctrine.

Do forum members find the above parallels and interpretations plausible? Are there references in the suttas in support or against the above?

Thank you for your contribution :anjali:
And the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus, saying: "Behold now, bhikkhus, I exhort you: All compounded things are subject to vanish. Strive with earnestness!"

This was the last word of the Tathagata.
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Sam Vara
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Re: Evil action and consiousness

Post by Sam Vara »

Bundokji wrote: Sat Aug 01, 2020 11:34 am
Evil is often associated with annihilation. Its shadow seems to be purity. Would it be plausible to interpret evil action as an attempt to purify consciousness through annihilating a perception of an external threat?
It might be, but it would involve some mental gymnastics in order to explain some types of evil. Sexual abuse, for example. There's not much of a threat to the abuser, either perceived or actual.
binocular
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Re: Evil action and consiousness

Post by binocular »

Given the topic, Godwin's Law doesn't apply:
Bundokji wrote: Sat Aug 01, 2020 11:34 am From my personal observations, we often deal with the problem of evil not with sympathy, but with condemnation. A more sympathetic way to address evil is to try to understand what is it that people who perform evil acts are trying to do.

Evil is often associated with annihilation. Its shadow seems to be purity. Would it be plausible to interpret evil action as an attempt to purify consciousness through annihilating a perception of an external threat?
That's how drug addicts think, for example.
When their previous high has worn off and the discomfort of deprivation sets in, they try to "purify" their mind by taking drugs again.
If you can't build with them, don't chill with them.
binocular
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Re: Evil action and consiousness

Post by binocular »

Sam Vara wrote: Sat Aug 01, 2020 12:04 pmIt might be, but it would involve some mental gymnastics in order to explain some types of evil. Sexual abuse, for example. There's not much of a threat to the abuser, either perceived or actual.
Under the premise that sexual abuse is about power, the threat is in the prospective abuser feeling disempowered by the other person somehow.
If you can't build with them, don't chill with them.
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cappuccino
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Re: Evil action and consiousness

Post by cappuccino »

As long as evil has yet to ripen,
the fool mistakes it for honey.
But when that evil ripens,
the fool falls into
pain.


Balavagga: Fools
Last edited by cappuccino on Sat Aug 01, 2020 12:37 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Bundokji
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Re: Evil action and consiousness

Post by Bundokji »

Sam Vara wrote: Sat Aug 01, 2020 12:04 pm
Bundokji wrote: Sat Aug 01, 2020 11:34 am
Evil is often associated with annihilation. Its shadow seems to be purity. Would it be plausible to interpret evil action as an attempt to purify consciousness through annihilating a perception of an external threat?
It might be, but it would involve some mental gymnastics in order to explain some types of evil. Sexual abuse, for example. There's not much of a threat to the abuser, either perceived or actual.
It would be annihilating unpleasant self-image or feeling which the act of sexual abuse is supposed to relief.
And the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus, saying: "Behold now, bhikkhus, I exhort you: All compounded things are subject to vanish. Strive with earnestness!"

This was the last word of the Tathagata.
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cappuccino
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Re: Evil action and consiousness

Post by cappuccino »

Bundokji wrote: Would it be plausible to interpret evil action as an attempt to purify consciousness?
evil is from impurity


the impurity of lust, of hate, of delusion
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Bundokji
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Re: Evil action and consiousness

Post by Bundokji »

binocular wrote: Sat Aug 01, 2020 12:16 pm Given the topic, Godwin's Law doesn't apply:
Bundokji wrote: Sat Aug 01, 2020 11:34 am From my personal observations, we often deal with the problem of evil not with sympathy, but with condemnation. A more sympathetic way to address evil is to try to understand what is it that people who perform evil acts are trying to do.

Evil is often associated with annihilation. Its shadow seems to be purity. Would it be plausible to interpret evil action as an attempt to purify consciousness through annihilating a perception of an external threat?
That's how drug addicts think, for example.
When their previous high has worn off and the discomfort of deprivation sets in, they try to "purify" their mind by taking drugs again.
Your example about drug addicts makes sense. It reminds me of a personal account of an American Buddhist who was a drug addict. He said that in his mind, figuring out the right cocktail of drugs was the closest thing to nibbana.
And the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus, saying: "Behold now, bhikkhus, I exhort you: All compounded things are subject to vanish. Strive with earnestness!"

This was the last word of the Tathagata.
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cappuccino
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Re: Evil action and consiousness

Post by cappuccino »

Bundokji wrote: in his mind, figuring out the right cocktail of drugs was the closest thing to nibbana.
Air conditioning is the closest thing


Nirvana is "the cool state of mind"
Last edited by cappuccino on Sat Aug 01, 2020 1:10 pm, edited 5 times in total.
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Bundokji
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Re: Evil action and consiousness

Post by Bundokji »

cappuccino wrote: Sat Aug 01, 2020 12:34 pm
Bundokji wrote: Would it be plausible to interpret evil action as an attempt to purify consciousness?
evil is from impurity


the impurity of lust, of hate, of delusion
So, do you agree that the idea of evil in a way is inseparable from the idea of purity, and the relationship between the two necessitates the annihilation of one and eternalism of another?
And the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus, saying: "Behold now, bhikkhus, I exhort you: All compounded things are subject to vanish. Strive with earnestness!"

This was the last word of the Tathagata.
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cappuccino
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Re: Evil action and consiousness

Post by cappuccino »

Bundokji wrote: So, do you agree that the idea of evil in a way is inseparable from the idea of purity
impurity leads to greater impurity


purity leads to greater purity



Matthew 25:29
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Bundokji
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Re: Evil action and consiousness

Post by Bundokji »

cappuccino wrote: Sat Aug 01, 2020 12:43 pm
Bundokji wrote: So, do you agree that the idea of evil in a way is inseparable from the idea of purity
impurity leads to greater impurity


purity leads to greater purity



Matthew 25:29
Why this is not following the extremes considering the interdependence between the two?
And the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus, saying: "Behold now, bhikkhus, I exhort you: All compounded things are subject to vanish. Strive with earnestness!"

This was the last word of the Tathagata.
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Sam Vara
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Re: Evil action and consiousness

Post by Sam Vara »

binocular wrote: Sat Aug 01, 2020 12:20 pm
Sam Vara wrote: Sat Aug 01, 2020 12:04 pmIt might be, but it would involve some mental gymnastics in order to explain some types of evil. Sexual abuse, for example. There's not much of a threat to the abuser, either perceived or actual.
Under the premise that sexual abuse is about power, the threat is in the prospective abuser feeling disempowered by the other person somehow.
Yes, that's the kind of mental gymnastics I meant. Accepting the premise that all sexual abuse is about power, and then accepting that abuse occurs because the abuser somehow feels disempowered. Like an old shed held up by poles and planks, with enough extra premises any proposition can be made to stand up.
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Sam Vara
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Re: Evil action and consiousness

Post by Sam Vara »

Bundokji wrote: Sat Aug 01, 2020 12:32 pm
Sam Vara wrote: Sat Aug 01, 2020 12:04 pm
Bundokji wrote: Sat Aug 01, 2020 11:34 am
Evil is often associated with annihilation. Its shadow seems to be purity. Would it be plausible to interpret evil action as an attempt to purify consciousness through annihilating a perception of an external threat?
It might be, but it would involve some mental gymnastics in order to explain some types of evil. Sexual abuse, for example. There's not much of a threat to the abuser, either perceived or actual.
It would be annihilating unpleasant self-image or feeling which the act of sexual abuse is supposed to relief.
All volition is annihilating some feeling, but to call it an "external threat" is a bit too baroque for my taste.
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Bundokji
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Re: Evil action and consiousness

Post by Bundokji »

Sam Vara wrote: Sat Aug 01, 2020 1:08 pm All volition is annihilating some feeling, but to call it an "external threat" is a bit too baroque for my taste.
I called it external in an attempt to link it to consciousness, or this sense of subjective unity. From this vantage point, everything can be seen as external if you understand what i mean.
And the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus, saying: "Behold now, bhikkhus, I exhort you: All compounded things are subject to vanish. Strive with earnestness!"

This was the last word of the Tathagata.
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