Evil action and consiousness

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
binocular
Posts: 8259
Joined: Sat Jan 17, 2009 11:13 pm

Re: Evil action and consiousness

Post by binocular »

Sam Vara wrote: Tue Aug 04, 2020 11:25 am
binocular wrote: Tue Aug 04, 2020 11:18 am
Sam Vara wrote: Tue Aug 04, 2020 11:01 amThe assumptions are unlikely because the victims of sexual abuse are not objectively a threat to the abuser,
And that's how you're setting yourself up as the arbiter of reality.
Are you claiming that in cases of sexual abuse, the victim does objectively constitute a threat to the abuser?
I'm claiming that it is at least problematic to set oneself up as the one who decides what someone else may consider a valid threat or not.

As for the pattern:
In the early 1900's, were the Jews an objective threat to the Nazis? The Nazis felt threatened by them. Who are you to decide whether they were justified to feel threatened by them or not?

Specifically in cases of sexual abuse: The (prospective) sexual abuser might very well feel threatened by the (prospective) victim. Perhaps the (prospective) sexual abuser feels that they can't keep their peace of mind in the presence of a woman dressed in a particular way (and that therefore, they have to act in a particular way in order to get their peace of mind back, namely, by somehow overpowering the woman). I don't know how the mind of a (prospective) sexual abuser works, so I can't say anything more.


I said in my first post in this thread that the kind of reasoning sketched out in the OP seems to be typical for drug addicts. And later, in general, that feeling threatend by one thing or another is typical for unenlightened beings (which is a given for them, given that they don't know Nibbana, the Supreme Safety). If threats would exist objectively, arahants would feel threatened, too, but they don't, they can't, because they have reached Supreme Safety.

The OP was looking for a "more sympathetic way to address evil" and an effort "to understand what is it that people who perform evil acts are trying to do". The theory of performing evil acts out of feeling threatened surely is such a "more sympathetic way to address evil". This theory doesn't seem to be in line with the idea that evil actions are performed out of greed or hatred, but it is certainly in line with the idea that evil actions are performed out of ignorance/delusion.

Due to ignorance/delusion, the person doesn't know Supreme Safety, so they feel threatened by various things; in order to gain some sense of safety, they act in a way that some Buddhists describe as "evil", by eliminating whatever they see as a threat (such as by killing people and animals, or numbing feelings, thoughts with drugs).


But all in all, I think all this is really about which of the brahmaviharas (if any at all, or their near and far enemies) one is able or willing to practice toward perpetrators of evil actions.

It might be easier to have goodwill or compassion for the Nazis, drug addicts, or sexual abusers if one assumes that they are acting in some kind of self-defense, due to feeling threatened. Assuming that they're acting out of greed or hatred, one might at best have only equanimity for them.
If you can't build with them, don't chill with them.
binocular
Posts: 8259
Joined: Sat Jan 17, 2009 11:13 pm

Re: Evil action and consiousness

Post by binocular »

Bundokji wrote: Tue Aug 04, 2020 11:56 amFormulating evil action as an attempt to annihilate a perception of a threat might cause the individual to be more attuned with feelings associated with evil action and therefore avoid it. It depersonalizes evil by presenting it as a confused attempt to deal with inner forces that are not easy to comprehend using common sense rhetoric, therefore less guilt, less emotional tension and less evil.
Take this internet meme, for example:

Image
If you can't build with them, don't chill with them.
User avatar
Sam Vara
Posts: 7257
Joined: Sun Jun 05, 2011 5:42 pm
Location: Sussex, U.K.

Re: Evil action and consiousness

Post by Sam Vara »

Bundokji wrote: Tue Aug 04, 2020 11:56 am
Sam Vara wrote: Tue Aug 04, 2020 11:01 am Sure. some of the above is in line with what I have written and what I believe, but some of it is not.

The Buddha said that our unskilful behaviour is rooted in greed, hatred, and delusion.
I do not know if you agree, but training in morality is an aspect of the teachings that is associated with self-view. The Buddha spoke to us using our language, and when describing the roots of unskillful behaviour, as you stated, the Buddha used what appears to be condemnatory language, hence my opening statement to this thread:
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.
It is not clear why the Buddha's use of condemnatory language being similar to worldly ways is not accidental, or that there is more to it that what meets the eye.
Yes, the Buddha certainly used condemnatory language, as regards the actions, rather than the person. He appears repeatedly to have said that certain behaviours were unskilful, wicked, or evil. Note that he often points out that the results of these behaviours will be experienced in this life and in a way that is perfectly accessible to common sense. The drawbacks of sensuality in MN 14, for example. The bit that doesn't meet the eye is the bit accompanying post mortem rebirth.
While using fewer assumptions is often inline with clear thinking, it is not clear why describing certain behaviors as "unskillful" is not in itself an assumption or an over-simplification.
I guess it is just the clearest and most universally accessible means of expressing that truth that is consistent with Right View.
It is equally unclear why sages and wise people who transcended the world get back to us with teachings on morality?
I understood it to be an expression of the Buddha's compassion. Cultivating the skilful and abandoning the unskilful is the means to avoid suffering, and is a basis for the Holy Life.
This itself became a cause of skepticism about religions in general, that it is another attempt to make us behave through denying aspects of ourselves.
It might be, if wrongly grasped. I'm only familiar with Theravada Buddhism and Christianity, the former of which focuses upon our defilements and the latter encourages a consciousness of our own sin.
Formulating evil action as an attempt to annihilate a perception of a threat might cause the individual to be more attuned with feelings associated with evil action and therefore avoid it. It depersonalizes evil by presenting it as a confused attempt to deal with inner forces that are not easy to comprehend using common sense rhetoric, therefore less guilt, less emotional tension and less evil.
Sure. So might formulating evil as something that the devil whispers into our ear, and therefore requiring an appeal to God to cleanse us from our sin. It's just these approaches (even if they work!) are not what the Buddha taught, in AN 3.55 and many places elsewhere.
To defuse tension and attachments using more neutral language seems to work in the human realm.
Yes, that's why Western teachers in particular tend to downplay the language of defilements and evil, and talk about resting in awareness, etc. Note that sometimes, scaring the bejasus out of people also works.
User avatar
Bundokji
Posts: 3016
Joined: Mon Nov 24, 2014 11:57 pm

Re: Evil action and consiousness

Post by Bundokji »

Sam Vara wrote: Tue Aug 04, 2020 12:41 pm Yes, the Buddha certainly used condemnatory language, as regards the actions, rather than the person. He appears repeatedly to have said that certain behaviours were unskilful, wicked, or evil. Note that he often points out that the results of these behaviours will be experienced in this life and in a way that is perfectly accessible to common sense. The drawbacks of sensuality in MN 14, for example. The bit that doesn't meet the eye is the bit accompanying post mortem rebirth.
I agree, but condemning the action did not remove the person out of the equation through reference to experiencing the result of action in the future (self-continuity). Describing how the results will be experienced in this life (or another life) contradicts another common sense notion of "we can never accurately predict how things will turn out", a notion we often use to console ourselves when we perceive an imminent danger.
I guess it is just the clearest and most universally accessible means of expressing that truth that is consistent with Right View.
Yes it is pretty straightforward, but it does not make it unique or different in anyway. Its being used "universally" but its effectiveness is not self-evident.
I understood it to be an expression of the Buddha's compassion. Cultivating the skilful and abandoning the unskilful is the means to avoid suffering, and is a basis for the Holy Life.
I personally do not see anything holy about it. The idea of "holy" is not too different from the idea of "purity" which depends on its opposite ensuring its continuity.
It might be, if wrongly grasped.
Why would something that is too straightforward be difficult to grasp to begin with if it was indeed straightforward?
Sure. So might formulating evil as something that the devil whispers into our ear, and therefore requiring an appeal to God to cleanse us from our sin. It's just these approaches (even if they work!) are not what the Buddha taught, in AN 3.55 and many places elsewhere.
And yet, acknowledging that we are subject to forces that we do not fully comprehend is in line with the Buddha's teaching, ignorance being the root cause of unskillful action.
Yes, that's why Western teachers in particular tend to downplay the language of defilements and evil, and talk about resting in awareness, etc. Note that sometimes, scaring the bejasus out of people also works.
If both do not work perfectly, then at least one gives the evil doer the benefit of the doubt, and the other is based on moral assertions that is often disputed in the world.
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.
User avatar
Sam Vara
Posts: 7257
Joined: Sun Jun 05, 2011 5:42 pm
Location: Sussex, U.K.

Re: Evil action and consiousness

Post by Sam Vara »

binocular wrote: Tue Aug 04, 2020 12:01 pm
Sam Vara wrote: Tue Aug 04, 2020 11:25 am
binocular wrote: Tue Aug 04, 2020 11:18 am
And that's how you're setting yourself up as the arbiter of reality.
Are you claiming that in cases of sexual abuse, the victim does objectively constitute a threat to the abuser?
I'm claiming that it is at least problematic to set oneself up as the one who decides what someone else may consider a valid threat or not.
The truth of this turns on what you mean by the word "may". If you are speaking in terms of possibility, what a person could conceivably consider as a threat, then there is indeed no means of deciding. Delusional human minds can ("may") see anything as a threat. Deluded Germans can ("may") think that Jews threaten them, child abusers can ("may") see the sexual innocence of a child as something that has to be expunged. A person on a bad LSD trip "may" sit motionless in terror lest that fluffy rabbit toy pounces on them.

But the word "may" also means what one is permitted to do, or what they are justified in doing. Do you think that any of the above are justified, such that they "may" think it? In each case, their fears of being threatened are baseless. In terms of the Buddha's teachings, such people are not seeing things as they really are. Although I'm not happy with the terminology of "setting oneself up as the one who decides...", I'm quite happy to say that such people are deluded, in that the threat they think they perceive is no threat. This is in line with the Buddha's teaching: one who refrains from committing an evil act (killing the Jew, approaching the child, decapitating their girlfriend's fluffy rabbit toy) gains benefit, not harm.
In the early 1900's, were the Jews an objective threat to the Nazis? The Nazis felt threatened by them. Who are you to decide whether they were justified to feel threatened by them or not?
A particular Nazi might well have been objectively threatened by a particular Jew. Who knows? But presumably you are invoking Godwin here because of the nature and scale of the response Do you think it justified? That is, were they "justified" to the extent that they had to construct the apparatus of planned genocide?
Specifically in cases of sexual abuse: The (prospective) sexual abuser might very well feel threatened by the (prospective) victim. Perhaps the (prospective) sexual abuser feels that they can't keep their peace of mind in the presence of a woman dressed in a particular way (and that therefore, they have to act in a particular way in order to get their peace of mind back, namely, by somehow overpowering the woman). I don't know how the mind of a (prospective) sexual abuser works, so I can't say anything more.
Indeed. They might feel threatened by a victim. The important point, though, is that they are not threatened. Were they to master their urges and refrain from abuse, only good would happen to them. So whatever they are threatened by is not a real threat.
I said in my first post in this thread that the kind of reasoning sketched out in the OP seems to be typical for drug addicts. And later, in general, that feeling threatend by one thing or another is typical for unenlightened beings (which is a given for them, given that they don't know Nibbana, the Supreme Safety). If threats would exist objectively, arahants would feel threatened, too, but they don't, they can't, because they have reached Supreme Safety.
Some drug addicts rationalise their drug use in this way, but we can also see it in terms of lust. The effects of drugs are pleasant for the user. See my earlier comments to you and Bundokji as to whether all hatred can be collapsed into greed, or all greed can be collapsed into hatred. It's an interminable path of sophomoric semantics, and not what the Buddha taught in AN 3.55 and the like. Desiring one thing or another is also typical for unenlightened beings:
‘Life in any world is incomplete, insatiate, the slave of craving’: this is the fourth summary of the Dhamma taught by the Blessed One who knows and sees…
(MN 82).

It seems to be as fundamental to the Buddha as the other teachings that the world is swept away, has no protector, etc.
The OP was looking for a "more sympathetic way to address evil" and an effort "to understand what is it that people who perform evil acts are trying to do". The theory of performing evil acts out of feeling threatened surely is such a "more sympathetic way to address evil".
Not really. One could do as the Buddha did and acknowledge they had misplaced lusts.
Due to ignorance/delusion, the person doesn't know Supreme Safety, so they feel threatened by various things; in order to gain some sense of safety, they act in a way that some Buddhists describe as "evil", by eliminating whatever they see as a threat (such as by killing people and animals, or numbing feelings, thoughts with drugs).
Or due to ignorance/delusion, the person doesn't know nibbāna as presently visible, so they feel the allure of certain things; in order to gain some sense of satiation, they act in a way that some Buddhists describe as "evil", by grasping whatever they see as alluring..."

Do you see how this works yet?
But all in all, I think all this is really about which of the brahmaviharas (if any at all, or their near and far enemies) one is able or willing to practice toward perpetrators of evil actions.

It might be easier to have goodwill or compassion for the Nazis, drug addicts, or sexual abusers if one assumes that they are acting in some kind of self-defense, due to feeling threatened. Assuming that they're acting out of greed or hatred, one might at best have only equanimity for them.
It might be easier, but it might be easier to have that goodwill or compassion if one assumes that they are tormented by lust. Tanha covers both.

Equanimity at best? I thought that genuine equanimity is harder to sustain than the other three...
Last edited by Sam Vara on Tue Aug 04, 2020 2:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
Sam Vara
Posts: 7257
Joined: Sun Jun 05, 2011 5:42 pm
Location: Sussex, U.K.

Re: Evil action and consiousness

Post by Sam Vara »

Bundokji wrote: Tue Aug 04, 2020 1:16 pm
Sam Vara wrote: Tue Aug 04, 2020 12:41 pm Yes, the Buddha certainly used condemnatory language, as regards the actions, rather than the person. He appears repeatedly to have said that certain behaviours were unskilful, wicked, or evil. Note that he often points out that the results of these behaviours will be experienced in this life and in a way that is perfectly accessible to common sense. The drawbacks of sensuality in MN 14, for example. The bit that doesn't meet the eye is the bit accompanying post mortem rebirth.
I agree, but condemning the action did not remove the person out of the equation through reference to experiencing the result of action in the future (self-continuity). Describing how the results will be experienced in this life (or another life) contradicts another common sense notion of "we can never accurately predict how things will turn out", a notion we often use to console ourselves when we perceive an imminent danger.
No, I don't think condemning the action was an attempt on the Buddha's part to remove the person out of the equation. Those people in the sutta who were assailed by insects and the sun, and were speared and splashed with boiling oil or tortured by the king, were the same ones seeking sensuality. Results of actions are indeed uncertain, but we can be reasonably certain that adultery in a strongly patriarchal stratified society, or joining an iron-age army in times of warring kingdoms, will not turn out well.
Yes it is pretty straightforward, but it does not make it unique or different in anyway. Its being used "universally" but its effectiveness is not self-evident.
It's effectiveness will, apparently, become more self-evident as we make progress. It certainly seems more self-evident than the idea that all malefactors are attempting mental purification by means of eliminating a threat.
I personally do not see anything holy about it. The idea of "holy" is not too different from the idea of "purity" which depends on its opposite ensuring its continuity.
I meant the going forth, the training as a monk. Sīla is a foundation for concentration and insight.
Why would something that is too straightforward be difficult to grasp to begin with if it was indeed straightforward?
Delusion. It's a standard Marxist and Neo-Marxist claim that morality and religious observance serves the interests of the ruling class, but that's not the Buddha's teaching.
And yet, acknowledging that we are subject to forces that we do not fully comprehend is in line with the Buddha's teaching, ignorance being the root cause of unskillful action.
Indeed, so let's not deepen the ignorance by making up stories about it; that it comes out of a demigod's ear, or sits on a tasselled cushion, or whatever.
If both do not work perfectly, then at least one gives the evil doer the benefit of the doubt, and the other is based on moral assertions that is often disputed in the world.
Which do you think would be more disputed in the world? The Buddha's claim that one who is overcome and defeated by lust intends harm to himself and others; or your claim that a paedophile rapist is really attempting to purify his mind by means of expunging a threat to himself?
User avatar
Sam Vara
Posts: 7257
Joined: Sun Jun 05, 2011 5:42 pm
Location: Sussex, U.K.

Re: Evil action and consiousness

Post by Sam Vara »

binocular wrote: Tue Aug 04, 2020 12:38 pm
Take this internet meme, for example:

Image
From which, true or not, we cannot validly derive the idea that whenever one is a target, one is always a threat.
The (probably apocryphal) story about Clemenceau provides the counter-argument, and moreover acts as a riposte to daft postmodernist historians who believe any account to be as valid as any other. When asked what future historians would make of the First World War, he said, "Whatever they say, they won't say Belgium invaded Germany".
User avatar
Bundokji
Posts: 3016
Joined: Mon Nov 24, 2014 11:57 pm

Re: Evil action and consiousness

Post by Bundokji »

Sam Vara wrote: Tue Aug 04, 2020 2:19 pm No, I don't think condemning the action was an attempt on the Buddha's part to remove the person out of the equation. Those people in the sutta who were assailed by insects and the sun, and were speared and splashed with boiling oil or tortured by the king, were the same ones seeking sensuality. Results of actions are indeed uncertain, but we can be reasonably certain that adultery in a strongly patriarchal stratified society, or joining an iron-age army in times of warring kingdoms, will not turn out well.
Stories are portrayed in a way that supports premeditated conclusion does not necessarily make them an accurate description of reality. Using fear and greed obviously did not make people behave, in a way similar to grieve that does not change anything.
Yes it is pretty straightforward, but it does not make it unique or different in anyway. Its being used "universally" but its effectiveness is not self-evident.
It's effectiveness will, apparently, become more self-evident as we make progress. It certainly seems more self-evident than the idea that all malefactors are attempting mental purification by means of eliminating a threat.
It does not have to be either this or that. To explain evil action as an attempt to purify or neutralize a perception of threat does not make the action less harmful, but might trigger different solutions to dealing with the problem of evil, such as rehabilitation instead of punishment, or healing instead of condemning. It can also be beneficial to the victim through growing more accepting. Exaggerating our ability to control, on the other hand, became burdensome to the individual and society. Thinking of old age and sickness for example, an early acknowledgment of our limited ability to control help us cope better with the inconveniences of life when the inevitable eventually comes.
I meant the going forth, the training as a monk. Sīla is a foundation for concentration and insight.
Indeed, not an end in itself. Insight seems to go beyond good and evil, hence the uncertainty surrounding moral issues is due to lack of insight. When one lacks insight, it would be more inline of his/her level of understanding to acknowledge this lack of moral certainty, not to act as an Arahant when he/she is not.
Delusion. It's a standard Marxist and Neo-Marxist claim that morality and religious observance serves the interests of the ruling class, but that's not the Buddha's teaching.
I am not a fan of Marxism as well which replaces god with human! However, i am with acknowledging moral uncertainty for the ordinary human.
Indeed, so let's not deepen the ignorance by making up stories about it; that it comes out of a demigod's ear, or sits on a tasselled cushion, or whatever.
We do not deepen our ignorance by acknowledging it. We approach moral questions with humility instead.
Which do you think would be more disputed in the world? The Buddha's claim that one who is overcome and defeated by lust intends harm to himself and others; or your claim that a paedophile rapist is really attempting to purify his mind by means of expunging a threat to himself?
I feel your last statement is a bit defensive. First, i was suggesting (rather than claiming) a different approach to evil action that is more sympathetic. I did not provide examples of sexual abusers, paedophile rapist or whatever (you did), and i did not use the word "really" as i was not making moral assertions. What i am saying is that whenever there is doubt, it can be to the benefit of the accused. This is not very disputed in the world i think.

To give an example: anger can be seen as an evil action, but it can also be seen as too much caring. Highlighting this aspect of anger might teach us to care without getting angry.
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.
User avatar
Sam Vara
Posts: 7257
Joined: Sun Jun 05, 2011 5:42 pm
Location: Sussex, U.K.

Re: Evil action and consiousness

Post by Sam Vara »

Bundokji wrote: Tue Aug 04, 2020 6:26 pm
Stories are portrayed in a way that supports premeditated conclusion does not necessarily make them an accurate description of reality. Using fear and greed obviously did not make people behave, in a way similar to grieve that does not change anything.
I'm not sure of your point here. If you are saying that the buddha was not a good teacher in that his words did not motivate people to behave well, then some better examples would be appreciated.
It does not have to be either this or that. To explain evil action as an attempt to purify or neutralize a perception of threat does not make the action less harmful
Of course it doesn't. I'm not claiming that. I'm merely claiming that the Buddha's teaching doesn't need your interpretation.
Insight seems to go beyond good and evil, hence the uncertainty surrounding moral issues is due to lack of insight
It was due to his insight - seeing things as they really are - that the Buddha was able to speak without uncertainty in moral discourse.
However, i am with acknowledging moral uncertainty for the ordinary human.
I might be uncertain about how to treat someone due to the facts of the situation, but I'm pretty certain about the roots of wholesome and unwholesome actions.
We do not deepen our ignorance by acknowledging it. We approach moral questions with humility instead.
I think the buddha encourages us to acknowledge our ignorance, and to work to dispel it.
I feel your last statement is a bit defensive. First, i was suggesting (rather than claiming) a different approach to evil action that is more sympathetic. I did not provide examples of sexual abusers, paedophile rapist or whatever (you did), and i did not use the word "really" as i was not making moral assertions. What i am saying is that whenever there is doubt, it can be to the benefit of the accused. This is not very disputed in the world i think.
Not defensive at all. If your suggestion is to stand, then it needs to meet difficult cases such as psychopaths, predatory paedophiles, unrepentant recidivists, and the like. It doesn't do well with those.
To give an example: anger can be seen as an evil action, but it can also be seen as too much caring. Highlighting this aspect of anger might teach us to care without getting angry.
Sure. but so does seeing them as the Buddha suggested.
User avatar
Bundokji
Posts: 3016
Joined: Mon Nov 24, 2014 11:57 pm

Re: Evil action and consiousness

Post by Bundokji »

Sam Vara wrote: Tue Aug 04, 2020 7:00 pm I'm not sure of your point here. If you are saying that the buddha was not a good teacher in that his words did not motivate people to behave well, then some better examples would be appreciated.
Emphasizing goodness and denouncing evil is not purely Buddhist, nor makes the Buddha good or bad teacher. If the Buddha's teachings to be described as good, this has to be because they work. If something else works, or potentially works better, then there is no reason to reject it only because its not Buddhist. It can sound contradictory to the teachings citing some passages, but not contradictory citing other passages.

For example:
A worse taint than these is ignorance, the worst of all taints. Destroy this one taint and become taintless, O monks!
Describing ignorance (not knowing) as the worst of all taints provide a basis for looking at evil action through an investigative mind, not condemnatory one. An evil action has been done, because someone out there did not know. To reduce the lack of knowledge to the mere assertion of not knowing evil as evil is partly true, but explains nothing (hence not an ideal solution), because we can always ask why he/she does not know evil as evil and good as good.
Of course it doesn't. I'm not claiming that. I'm merely claiming that the Buddha's teaching doesn't need your interpretation.
I never claimed that the Buddha's teachings need my interpretation nor claimed that my input is an interpretation of the Buddha's teachings. A more sympathetic way to dealing with evil does not have to be contradictory to the Buddha's teaching though.
It was due to his insight - seeing things as they really are - that the Buddha was able to speak without uncertainty in moral discourse.
Indeed, hence he also taught that Let none find fault with others, and that no one in the world can be wholly blamed and wholly praised.
I might be uncertain about how to treat someone due to the facts of the situation, but I'm pretty certain about the roots of wholesome and unwholesome actions.
The way the roots explained provide basis for different degrees of sympathy. For example, humans made moral and legal exemptions for the mentally ill. The teachings tell us that volition has no independent existence, but dependently originated phenomena. While i acknowledge that condemnation can be effective in reducing harm, leniency can be also effective and in some cases more effective in reducing harm.
I think the buddha encourages us to acknowledge our ignorance, and to work to dispel it.
There is no disagreement here. At the same time, the mere condemnation of evil by someone who lacks insight is not necessarily a sign of wisdom. Almost everyone do that. It can be a sign of deeper ignorance. Muslim Jihadists are very assertive in their views of right and wrong.
Not defensive at all. If your suggestion is to stand, then it needs to meet difficult cases such as psychopaths, predatory paedophiles, unrepentant recidivists, and the like. It doesn't do well with those.
Possibly, those people have not been properly understood to begin with hence been given demeaning labels. When assessed case by case instead of grouping them, one can look at the conditions that led to evil actions by each of them.
Sure. but so does seeing them as the Buddha suggested.
What the Buddha suggested and what i am suggesting are not mutually exclusive.
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.
User avatar
Sam Vara
Posts: 7257
Joined: Sun Jun 05, 2011 5:42 pm
Location: Sussex, U.K.

Re: Evil action and consiousness

Post by Sam Vara »

Bundokji wrote: Tue Aug 04, 2020 8:14 pm Emphasizing goodness and denouncing evil is not purely Buddhist, nor makes the Buddha good or bad teacher. If the Buddha's teachings to be described as good, this has to be because they work. If something else works, or potentially works better, then there is no reason to reject it only because its not Buddhist.
I'm not sure how we would decide whether your proposal would "work" or not? What would the criterion for success be? You suggest plausibility twice in the OP, and my point is that it is less plausible than what we already have in the suttas.
Describing ignorance (not knowing) as the worst of all taints provide a basis for looking at evil action through an investigative mind, not condemnatory one
Sure. I have no problem with investigating evil action, our own and that of others.
I never claimed that the Buddha's teachings need my interpretation nor claimed that my input is an interpretation of the Buddha's teachings. A more sympathetic way to dealing with evil does not have to be contradictory to the Buddha's teaching though.
No, I'm not against sympathy, either. We don't need to speculate about people attempting to purify their minds by eliminating perceived threats in order to do that, though.
Indeed, hence he also taught that Let none find fault with others
It's difficult to find a categorical statement on this. There is this:
Let none find fault with others; let none see the omissions and commissions of others.
but there is also this:
Regard him as one who
points out
treasure,
the wise one who
seeing your faults
rebukes you.
Stay with this sort of sage.
For the one who stays
with a sage of this sort,
things get better,
not worse.

Let him admonish, instruct,
deflect you
away from poor manners.
To the good, he's endearing;
to the bad, he's not.
just a few pages away.
The way the roots explained provide basis for different degrees of sympathy. For example, humans made moral and legal exemptions for the mentally ill. The teachings tell us that volition has no independent existence, but dependently originated phenomena. While i acknowledge that condemnation can be effective in reducing harm, leniency can be also effective and in some cases more effective in reducing harm.
Again, I have no issue with your thoughts about leniency, sympathy, and understanding. My point is that these are just as readily available to someone who rejects your speculation about perceived threats as implausible.
Possibly, those people have not been properly understood to begin with hence been given demeaning labels
What labels do you think appropriate for a man who rapes children, enjoys harming others, or takes other people's property?
What the Buddha suggested and what i am suggesting are not mutually exclusive.
I'm sure they are not. I'm just suggesting that part of it - the bit about the interpretation of evil action - is implausible. You ask twice if it's implausible in the OP, but seem to have difficulty when I answer in the negative.
User avatar
Bundokji
Posts: 3016
Joined: Mon Nov 24, 2014 11:57 pm

Re: Evil action and consiousness

Post by Bundokji »

Sam Vara wrote: Tue Aug 04, 2020 8:54 pm I'm not sure how we would decide whether your proposal would "work" or not? What would the criterion for success be? You suggest plausibility twice in the OP, and my point is that it is less plausible than what we already have in the suttas.
I encountered an example in the news, just now, that supports the plausibility of my proposal, maybe not explicitly though. A tragic explosion hit the Lebanese capital earlier today. This is from the BBC news article on the incident:
And the blast will remind many of the bomb that killed Rafik Hariri. The Lebanese will be hoping that this latest blast will remain a human tragedy - an accident - and not a premeditated act.
https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-53656220

This whole thread is not about politics, but it makes you wonder why would the Lebanese be hoping for the blast to be an accident, not a premeditated act?
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.
User avatar
Sam Vara
Posts: 7257
Joined: Sun Jun 05, 2011 5:42 pm
Location: Sussex, U.K.

Re: Evil action and consiousness

Post by Sam Vara »

Bundokji wrote: Tue Aug 04, 2020 9:12 pm
Sam Vara wrote: Tue Aug 04, 2020 8:54 pm I'm not sure how we would decide whether your proposal would "work" or not? What would the criterion for success be? You suggest plausibility twice in the OP, and my point is that it is less plausible than what we already have in the suttas.
I encountered an example in the news, just now, that supports the plausibility of my proposal, maybe not explicitly though. A tragic explosion hit the Lebanese capital earlier today. This is from the BBC news article on the incident:
And the blast will remind many of the bomb that killed Rafik Hariri. The Lebanese will be hoping that this latest blast will remain a human tragedy - an accident - and not a premeditated act.
https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-53656220

This whole thread is not about politics, but it makes you wonder why would the Lebanese be hoping for the blast to be an accident, not a premeditated act?
Presumably they are hoping for the blast to be an accident because dealing with human error is easier than dealing with a terrorist incident. The former merely involves making good a piece of kit and re-writing risk assessments, the latter involves that plus a whole lot of policing, public relations, news management, diplomacy, legislation, punishment, and so on, plus the fear that it will happen again.
User avatar
Bundokji
Posts: 3016
Joined: Mon Nov 24, 2014 11:57 pm

Re: Evil action and consiousness

Post by Bundokji »

Sam Vara wrote: Tue Aug 04, 2020 9:35 pm
Bundokji wrote: Tue Aug 04, 2020 9:12 pm
Sam Vara wrote: Tue Aug 04, 2020 8:54 pm I'm not sure how we would decide whether your proposal would "work" or not? What would the criterion for success be? You suggest plausibility twice in the OP, and my point is that it is less plausible than what we already have in the suttas.
I encountered an example in the news, just now, that supports the plausibility of my proposal, maybe not explicitly though. A tragic explosion hit the Lebanese capital earlier today. This is from the BBC news article on the incident:
And the blast will remind many of the bomb that killed Rafik Hariri. The Lebanese will be hoping that this latest blast will remain a human tragedy - an accident - and not a premeditated act.
https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-53656220

This whole thread is not about politics, but it makes you wonder why would the Lebanese be hoping for the blast to be an accident, not a premeditated act?
Presumably they are hoping for the blast to be an accident because dealing with human error is easier than dealing with a terrorist incident. The former merely involves making good a piece of kit and re-writing risk assessments, the latter involves that plus a whole lot of policing, public relations, news management, diplomacy, legislation, punishment, and so on, plus the fear that it will happen again.
Or that a premeditated act is assumed to be something we fully understand, and usually dealing with it necessitates more evil in the name of correcting it. In the case of Lebanon, the act of correcting the known premeditated evil might be a civil or regional war. The good news is, initial investigations indicates that it is probably an accident, let us hope it remains this way :candle:
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.
User avatar
Sam Vara
Posts: 7257
Joined: Sun Jun 05, 2011 5:42 pm
Location: Sussex, U.K.

Re: Evil action and consiousness

Post by Sam Vara »

Bundokji wrote: Tue Aug 04, 2020 9:44 pm
Sam Vara wrote: Tue Aug 04, 2020 9:35 pm
Bundokji wrote: Tue Aug 04, 2020 9:12 pm

I encountered an example in the news, just now, that supports the plausibility of my proposal, maybe not explicitly though. A tragic explosion hit the Lebanese capital earlier today. This is from the BBC news article on the incident:



https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-53656220

This whole thread is not about politics, but it makes you wonder why would the Lebanese be hoping for the blast to be an accident, not a premeditated act?
Presumably they are hoping for the blast to be an accident because dealing with human error is easier than dealing with a terrorist incident. The former merely involves making good a piece of kit and re-writing risk assessments, the latter involves that plus a whole lot of policing, public relations, news management, diplomacy, legislation, punishment, and so on, plus the fear that it will happen again.
Or that a premeditated act is assumed to be something we fully understand, and usually dealing with it necessitates more evil in the name of correcting it. In the case of Lebanon, the act of correcting the known premeditated evil might be a civil or regional war. The good news is, initial investigations indicates that it is probably an accident, let us hope it remains this way :candle:
I don't think we ever fully understand the premeditated actions of other people, in so far as we are not party to the premeditations. That's why dealing with them is so difficult. This seems to have wandered far from the OP, and has little to do with the plausibility of evildoers attempting to purify their minds by expunging perceived threats.

I believe you live in the area? If so, here's hoping that you are safe and that things remain stable. :anjali:
Post Reply