The ethics of being indifferent about whether one harms others

Buddhist ethical conduct including the Five Precepts (Pañcasikkhāpada), and Eightfold Ethical Conduct (Aṭṭhasīla).
binocular
Posts: 7585
Joined: Sat Jan 17, 2009 11:13 pm

Re: The ethics of being indifferent about whether one harms others

Post by binocular »

Sam Vara wrote:
Tue Mar 24, 2020 1:41 pm
Social scientific or philosophical accounts of how the world is meant to be are not particularly relevant here in talking about kamma.
I was offering a sketch of an explanation as to why one's moral obligation (?) might cease when one is surrounded by others who can potentially do equal harm to one.

At least in popular Buddhism, there is a defense of self-defense; but also in the Vinaya (monks are allowed to defend themselves). And as long as Buddhism permits self-defense, cessation of moral obligation toward others is on the table to be discussed.
That's why your frequent strategy of "Buddhism doesn't really work for me, because of this theory that I can link to..." might be gratifying, but doesn't help.
My only reason for not being a Buddhist and "why Buddhism doesn't work for me" is that it appears to be nothing but a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Whatever social, philosophical etc. theories I mention is just to understand Buddhist philosophy through contradistinction with other philosophies. I am knowledgeable enough to take that route. I stand in the middle of the road ... and get hit by traffic from both sides ...
You are describing a situation in which kamma has already arisen. If Dick or Harry has got themselves into a situation where they perceive people around them as threats, then that's their kamma right there.
Conceiving of life as a life-or-death competition is kamma?

(How many Buddhists do you know who tacitly operate with this concept of life? It seems to me that many do. I hadn't given much thought to Social Darwinism, for example, until I came in contact with Buddhists.)
If Dick or Harry are cognisant of the situation but adhere to a view in which they don't want to protect their interests first, they create different kamma.
Of course, if they do believe in kamma, then this changes what they consider to be "self-interest", and can differ from what is ordinarily considered "self-interest".
That's why I'm personally wary of stuff like "Mutually Assured Destruction" and its application. And all other social "scientific" or personal convictions as to why "Buddhism can't work". Views.
In order to notice those views to begin with, what better way than to put views in contradistinctive relationships?

User avatar
Sam Vara
Posts: 6644
Joined: Sun Jun 05, 2011 5:42 pm
Location: Sussex, U.K.

Re: The ethics of being indifferent about whether one harms others

Post by Sam Vara »

binocular wrote:
Tue Mar 24, 2020 2:16 pm
Sam Vara wrote:
Tue Mar 24, 2020 1:41 pm
Social scientific or philosophical accounts of how the world is meant to be are not particularly relevant here in talking about kamma.
I was offering a sketch of an explanation as to why one's moral obligation (?) might cease when one is surrounded by others who can potentially do equal harm to one.

At least in popular Buddhism, there is a defense of self-defense; but also in the Vinaya (monks are allowed to defend themselves). And as long as Buddhism permits self-defense, cessation of moral obligation toward others is on the table to be discussed.
Of course. That's been dealt with, in the sense that what differentiates the approach based on kamma from the one based on moral obligations is intention. There is the intention to save oneself, and the intention to help others.
My only reason for not being a Buddhist and "why Buddhism doesn't work for me" is that it appears to be nothing but a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Sure. Buddhism appears to be like this; and Buddhists appear to be like that; and people appear to be thus; etc. Binoculoka.
I stand in the middle of the road ... and get hit by traffic from both sides ...
You mean there is a chatroom where people discuss how awful everything is in vaguely social scientific terms, and you cheerily remind them of the path to peace? :D
Conceiving of life as a life-or-death competition is kamma?
Sure. Conceiving is intention. The point is not so much that it is a view which is unsupportable or wrong, but that by clinging to it you seem to frustrate your own understanding. If you take Social Darwinism (whatever you conceive that rather odd term to mean) to be axiomatic, then you have to reject any aspect of the Dhamma which does not accord with it. That's a choice you make.
How many Buddhists do you know who tacitly operate with this concept of life? It seems to me that many do. I hadn't given much thought to Social Darwinism, for example, until I came in contact with Buddhists
I've no idea; I've never been interested in "Social Darwinism" in that context. It's about as interesting to me as the colour of the underwear favoured by Buddhists. Samvaraloka. (If you think it is of sufficient interest, you might want to start a new thread. Summarise why the Buddha and a representative handful of Theravadan commentators are Social Darwinists. It's probably too broad a topic to deal with here...)
In order to notice those views to begin with, what better way than to put views in contradistinctive relationships?
I don't know of any better way - for the sophomore. Make sure there is a scene-setting opening paragraph, and a well-structured etc., etc.

sentinel
Posts: 2961
Joined: Sun Jun 04, 2017 1:26 pm

Re: The ethics of being indifferent about whether one harms others

Post by sentinel »

retrofuturist wrote:
Tue Mar 17, 2020 12:41 am

... so if there is no intention, then it falls outside the realm of kamma.
Hmm , i guess that does not means there isnt any consequences in reality .
Quality is not an act, it is a habit.

binocular
Posts: 7585
Joined: Sat Jan 17, 2009 11:13 pm

Re: The ethics of being indifferent about whether one harms others

Post by binocular »

Sam Vara wrote:
Tue Mar 24, 2020 3:19 pm
Sure. Buddhism appears to be like this; and Buddhists appear to be like that; and people appear to be thus; etc. Binoculoka.
*sigh*
(Things must be really easy for naive realists, for they have no perceptions, they only see The Truth ...)

I just hope Nanavira was right and that (paraphrasing) success in spiritual practice doesn't depend on being able to explain it to someone else and making them understand.
Sure. Conceiving is intention. The point is not so much that it is a view which is unsupportable or wrong, but that by clinging to it you seem to frustrate your own understanding. If you take Social Darwinism (whatever you conceive that rather odd term to mean) to be axiomatic, then you have to reject any aspect of the Dhamma which does not accord with it. That's a choice you make.

No, this is not an accurate account of my situation.
Summarise why the Buddha and a representative handful of Theravadan commentators are Social Darwinists.
No, I don't think those are the Social Darwinists. I do believe that the way actual Buddhists purport as Buddhism or Dhamma something quite different as is taught in the suttas is relevant. Unlike you, I can't simply write it all off as them being "flawed humans".

I grew up in a culture where the whole point was to keep up appearances; to make a point of pretending one believes something while not believing it; to preach one thing and do another, and never admit to the dichotomy.
This was not about people being flawed or hypocritical, no, this was something entirely different, this was deliberate, a strategy for survival. And if people in one religion/culture can do it, why not in others? And when people in some other religion of one's interest show the same pattern, it is in place to investigate this, until one comes to the bottom of it and one's mind comes to peace about it.

User avatar
Sam Vara
Posts: 6644
Joined: Sun Jun 05, 2011 5:42 pm
Location: Sussex, U.K.

Re: The ethics of being indifferent about whether one harms others

Post by Sam Vara »

binocular wrote:
Wed Mar 25, 2020 2:29 pm
Sam Vara wrote:
Tue Mar 24, 2020 3:19 pm
Sure. Buddhism appears to be like this; and Buddhists appear to be like that; and people appear to be thus; etc. Binoculoka.
*sigh*
(Things must be really easy for naive realists, for they have no perceptions, they only see The Truth ...)

"Naive realist" has become a bit of a generic term of disparagement, but I see no signs of it in this thread. I'm not sure how it relates to ethics.
I just hope Nanavira was right and that (paraphrasing) success in spiritual practice doesn't depend on being able to explain it to someone else and making them understand.
Well there is of course the notion of the paccekabuddha so he is on firm ground there, but again, I don't see how this relates to anything. Whose spiritual practice are you referring to?
No, this is not an accurate account of my situation.
You may not agree with it, but I'm not trying to convince you of anything.
No, I don't think those are the Social Darwinists. I do believe that the way actual Buddhists purport as Buddhism or Dhamma something quite different as is taught in the suttas is relevant.
Ah, that's what you might want to start a new thread on, then.
I grew up in a culture where the whole point was to keep up appearances; to make a point of pretending one believes something while not believing it; to preach one thing and do another, and never admit to the dichotomy.
Didn't we all! It's what we make of it, though, isn't it?
...until one comes to the bottom of it and one's mind comes to peace about it.
Good luck, and let us know how you get on! :anjali:

binocular
Posts: 7585
Joined: Sat Jan 17, 2009 11:13 pm

Re: The ethics of being indifferent about whether one harms others

Post by binocular »

Sam Vara wrote:
Wed Mar 25, 2020 2:53 pm
"Naive realist" has become a bit of a generic term of disparagement, but I see no signs of it in this thread. I'm not sure how it relates to ethics.
A naive realist has no sense of perception (what to speak of seeing perception as an active process), no point of view; he believes that things are as he sees them (apart from a few optical and other illusions). It's self-confidence par excellence. This extends to their ethical reasoning; in effect, they believe that their ethical reasoning is objective, impersonal, unbiased. That just like they are sure that that thing they sit on is a chair, so they are sure that Harry is a bad person.
(It's hard to describe from the outside, because a naive realist wouldn't say "Things are the way I see them", but "This is how things are.")
I kind of envy naive realists; seeing things in such clear-cut, black-and-white terms sure makes life a lot easier.
I just hope Nanavira was right and that (paraphrasing) success in spiritual practice doesn't depend on being able to explain it to someone else and making them understand.
Well there is of course the notion of the paccekabuddha so he is on firm ground there, but again, I don't see how this relates to anything. Whose spiritual practice are you referring to?
You keep talking about "Binoculoka", in a disparaging manner, and I am constantly frustrated by trying to explain my perspective to you. It's in relation to this that I recalled that passage from Nanavira. Besides, the Buddha wasn't able (or willing?) to explain himself or his teaching to just anyone either, and that didn't diminish his buddhahood.
Good luck, and let us know how you get on!
Thanks, but luck shouldn't play a major role in it. It should be down to kamma. (Because if it's not dependent on kamma, then one might as well play the lottery or visit a magician.)

User avatar
Sam Vara
Posts: 6644
Joined: Sun Jun 05, 2011 5:42 pm
Location: Sussex, U.K.

Re: The ethics of being indifferent about whether one harms others

Post by Sam Vara »

binocular wrote:
Thu Mar 26, 2020 1:49 pm
Sam Vara wrote:
Wed Mar 25, 2020 2:53 pm
"Naive realist" has become a bit of a generic term of disparagement, but I see no signs of it in this thread. I'm not sure how it relates to ethics.
A naive realist has no sense of perception (what to speak of seeing perception as an active process), no point of view; he believes that things are as he sees them (apart from a few optical and other illusions). It's self-confidence par excellence. This extends to their ethical reasoning; in effect, they believe that their ethical reasoning is objective, impersonal, unbiased. That just like they are sure that that thing they sit on is a chair, so they are sure that Harry is a bad person.
(It's hard to describe from the outside, because a naive realist wouldn't say "Things are the way I see them", but "This is how things are.")
I kind of envy naive realists; seeing things in such clear-cut, black-and-white terms sure makes life a lot easier.
I know what naïve realism is, thanks; I said I saw no sign of it in this thread, which is about ethics. Where is evidence of naïve realism?
You keep talking about "Binoculoka", in a disparaging manner, and I am constantly frustrated by trying to explain my perspective to you.
There's no need to feel frustrated. "Binoculoka" is not disparaging; it merely serves to point out that much of what you post is indeed a perspective, and that other more skilful and auspicious perspectives are available.

binocular
Posts: 7585
Joined: Sat Jan 17, 2009 11:13 pm

Re: The ethics of being indifferent about whether one harms others

Post by binocular »

Sam Vara wrote:
Thu Mar 26, 2020 3:03 pm
I know what naïve realism is, thanks; I said I saw no sign of it in this thread, which is about ethics. Where is evidence of naïve realism?
People being confident that "things really are the way they see them" rings no bells?
"Binoculoka" is not disparaging;
You'll have to try harder to convince me of that.
it merely serves to point out that much of what you post is indeed a perspective,
Of course it's a perspective. It's meant to be a perspective. I even sometimes use the assertive communication style to make utterly clear that I'm talking about perspectives. But when in Rome ...
and that other more skilful and auspicious perspectives are available.
Not sure about that. A perspective isn't something that one can just grab off a shelf and put to use. And you have so far not shown to be someone willing to build something from basic elements, especially not a view or an attitude.

User avatar
Sam Vara
Posts: 6644
Joined: Sun Jun 05, 2011 5:42 pm
Location: Sussex, U.K.

Re: The ethics of being indifferent about whether one harms others

Post by Sam Vara »

binocular wrote:
Wed Apr 01, 2020 9:40 pm
Sam Vara wrote:
Thu Mar 26, 2020 3:03 pm
I know what naïve realism is, thanks; I said I saw no sign of it in this thread, which is about ethics. Where is evidence of naïve realism?
People being confident that "things really are the way they see them" rings no bells?
Sorry, no. I haven't looked at this thread for quite a while. Can you point me to it, or quote?
You'll have to try harder to convince me of that.
I don't need to. The terms binoculoka and SamVaraloka are intended to show that people have different perspectives, and you seem to have grasped that quite nicely. How you interpret the intention behind it is your affair, not mine. It's instructive, as it relates both to the fact that some lokā are full of disparagement; and also to the title of this thread. Having determined for myself that my intention is not disparaging, I'm content to let you get on with it.
A perspective isn't something that one can just grab off a shelf and put to use
Yes,I think it takes varying amounts of effort and time, depending on where we are.
And you have so far not shown to be someone willing to build something from basic elements, especially not a view or an attitude.
Sorry, I don't understand this bit. Do you mean that I personally didn't build my views that way? That I somehow inherited them entire? And what has that got to do with Buddhist doctrine, which you wished to restrict this thread to?

MettaDevPrac
Posts: 193
Joined: Mon Jan 27, 2020 3:44 am

Re: The ethics of being indifferent about whether one harms others

Post by MettaDevPrac »

A musical reflection on being indifferent about whether one harms others:



Coronavirus rhapsody
- MettaDevPrac

binocular
Posts: 7585
Joined: Sat Jan 17, 2009 11:13 pm

Re: The ethics of being indifferent about whether one harms others

Post by binocular »

Sam Vara wrote:
Wed Apr 01, 2020 10:09 pm
The terms binoculoka and SamVaraloka are intended to show that people have different perspectives, and you seem to have grasped that quite nicely.
I haven't "grasped" that, nicely or otherwise. I've been going on and on about perspectives, owning one's view, and the assertive communication style that goes with this pretty much since I started posting here. But it seems to go right past people! In fact, apparently, in order to be religious/spiritual, one must dogmatize like an infallible pope, externalize, objectify, believe one is above and beyond mere views and opinions, above and beyond mere experiences and subjectivity, and instead assume one is The Arbiter of Reality, especially that of other people, talk as if everything that comes out of one's mouth or from under one's fingers is The Absolute Truth and everyone better fall in line with it or else!

Use the assertive communcation style, own one's view, note one's perspective, anchor one's speech in one's experience and circumstance, and one gets dismissed as aggressive, selfish, or a ninny who has nothing but mere opinions, views, whereas the proper, advanced, serious religious/spiritual person is beyond views and has Tha Truth!

Yeah, I "grasped that nicely", and otherwise!

User avatar
Pondera
Posts: 1361
Joined: Thu Aug 11, 2011 10:02 pm

Re: The ethics of being indifferent about whether one harms others

Post by Pondera »

"Monks, I will teach you the level of a person of no integrity and the level of a person of integrity. Listen & pay close attention. I will speak."

"As you say, lord," the monks responded.

The Blessed One said, "Now what is the level of a person of no integrity? A person of no integrity is ungrateful & unthankful. This ingratitude, this lack of thankfulness, is advocated by rude people. It is entirely on the level of people of no integrity. A person of integrity is grateful & thankful. This gratitude, this thankfulness, is advocated by civil people. It is entirely on the level of people of integrity."

{II,iv,2} "I tell you, monks, there are two people who are not easy to repay. Which two? Your mother & father. Even if you were to carry your mother on one shoulder & your father on the other shoulder for 100 years, and were to look after them by anointing, massaging, bathing, & rubbing their limbs, and they were to defecate & urinate right there [on your shoulders], you would not in that way pay or repay your parents. If you were to establish your mother & father in absolute sovereignty over this great earth, abounding in the seven treasures, you would not in that way pay or repay your parents. Why is that? Mother & father do much for their children. They care for them, they nourish them, they introduce them to this world. But anyone who rouses his unbelieving mother & father, settles & establishes them in conviction; rouses his unvirtuous mother & father, settles & establishes them in virtue; rouses his stingy mother & father, settles & establishes them in generosity; rouses his foolish mother & father, settles & establishes them in discernment: To this extent one pays & repays one's mother & father."
https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .than.html

This is a disease which preys primarily on our elders. Chances are your parents or grandparents are in that vulnerable section of society who could very well die by contracting this disease.

If a healthy young person refuses to take what we know to be effective and necessary precautions in this surreal time we are living in, then he or she is of no integrity.

I don’t know what the Buddha has to say about the kamma of integrity, but the Buddha says I can’t pay my mother back even by carrying her on my shoulders for one hundred years, etcetera, etcetera.

The young and healthy have a duty to the elderly in this strange and horrible time. They must follow certain precautions or they will live to see the day when they are the direct reason for killing someone who devoted many years of their life to raising a human being.

Every young person knows they have a high chance of surviving this disease if they contract it. Every young person knows the elderly and predisposed do not. Not every young person cares if they will pass it on to someone in the vulnerable percentage. Those who do not care lack integrity. They lack a real conscience.

What is the kammic penalty is for lacking integrity? Probably not good. But the sutta I’ve suggested doesn’t go as far to say as much.

This pandemic is a wake up call. We are seeing the kammic consequences of wrong livelihood - of capturing, slaughtering, and trading animals in unsanitary conditions. In some ways this virus is our kammic inheritance for allowing such practices to flourish not only in Wuhan - but all over the world.

Look at the fact that pollution is now somewhere like half of what it used to be. Is it just a coincidence that we have been raping the world for the last one hundred years and now we are all quarantined to our houses? No luxury cruises? No flights to Paris? Oil barrens in Texas going bankrupt? The whole damn world going bankrupt?

This is a wake up call. The young and healthy will come out alive on the other side of this. What will be left, I don’t know. Will it be business as usual when all is said and done? Probably. Until the next Spanish flu hits.

User avatar
Pondera
Posts: 1361
Joined: Thu Aug 11, 2011 10:02 pm

Re: The ethics of being indifferent about whether one harms others

Post by Pondera »

I have one more thing to say about the kamma of not caring.

I work as a Security Guard. I look after 250 acres of land with beautiful trees and architecture scattered throughout. It’s a mostly abandoned psychiatric facility and the trees and buildings are all around 80 to 100 years old.

Beautiful architecture. An actual privilege to work there and take care of the interests of my client.

Since the school year has been cancelled in my province we’ve seen a drastic incline of vandalism and graffiti.

And what is the content of this graffiti? “Phuck Covid-19” “Covid-19 this” “Covid-19” that.

I’m extremely disappointed in the youth of today and I struggle to understand the reasoning behind their actions. Are they confused? Scared? Is this their idea of “contribution”?

I don’t know. But I do know that someone has to remove this graffiti from these iconic 100 year old brick buildings. It’s a pain in the arse to look at and it’s disappointing.

I’d hate to be those kids two years from now when people who were their elders have died from this pandemic only to think, “wow. I was spray painting ridiculous things on 100 year old buildings. I was defacing iconic architecture while people were dying of pneumonia and heart attack.”

I don’t get it. But I hope at one point the kamma of their actions will manifest as some form of guilt and remorse.

I myself was a rebellious teenager once. But I have to say that ALL OF US are experiencing this situation for the first time. I hope that, live or die, we are all proud of how we conducted our selves in this dire, and new reality.

User avatar
Sam Vara
Posts: 6644
Joined: Sun Jun 05, 2011 5:42 pm
Location: Sussex, U.K.

Re: The ethics of being indifferent about whether one harms others

Post by Sam Vara »

binocular wrote:
Sat Apr 11, 2020 6:15 am
Sam Vara wrote:
Wed Apr 01, 2020 10:09 pm
The terms binoculoka and SamVaraloka are intended to show that people have different perspectives, and you seem to have grasped that quite nicely.
I haven't "grasped" that, nicely or otherwise. I've been going on and on about perspectives, owning one's view, and the assertive communication style that goes with this pretty much since I started posting here.
If you get the bit about recognising that we have different perspectives, different worlds of experience, then you have indeed grasped it.
In fact, apparently,
Ah, yes, fact and appearance... :anjali:
Use the assertive communcation style, own one's view, note one's perspective, anchor one's speech in one's experience and circumstance, and one gets dismissed as aggressive, selfish, or a ninny who has nothing but mere opinions, views, whereas the proper, advanced, serious religious/spiritual person is beyond views and has Tha Truth!
Fact or appearance?

binocular
Posts: 7585
Joined: Sat Jan 17, 2009 11:13 pm

Re: The ethics of being indifferent about whether one harms others

Post by binocular »

Sam Vara wrote:
Sat Apr 11, 2020 8:30 am
Fact or appearance?
There you go. When in Rome!!

Post Reply