Should Engaged Buddhists militate against abortion?

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Buddha Vacana
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Should Engaged Buddhists militate against abortion?

Post by Buddha Vacana » Sun Jul 17, 2016 1:29 pm

The title has it all: Should Engaged Buddhists militate against abortion?

santa100
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Re: Should Engaged Buddhists militate against abortion?

Post by santa100 » Sun Jul 17, 2016 3:51 pm

I don't think "militate" will work. But we can help propagating the Buddha's teaching so those who listen will know what to do. Even with the propagation, it should be done when the condition is right per MN 58

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Bhikkhu Pesala
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Re: Should Engaged Buddhists militate against abortion?

Post by Bhikkhu Pesala » Sun Jul 17, 2016 6:10 pm

Disregard the Faults of Others
Dhammapada wrote:“Disregard the faults of others, things done and left undone by others,
but examine the deeds done and not done by oneself.” Dhp v 50
  1. Do not perform abortion
  2. Do not urge anyone to have an abortion
  3. Do not condone it
  4. Do not speak in praise of it.
The word "militate" according to my dictionary means:-
WordWeb wrote:Have force or influence; bring about an effect or change
The connotation might be taken to mean "Use force or influence to bring about an effect or change, or to be militant in opposing it." Buddhists should not behave in such an intolerant way.

If there's a vote, they can vote against it. If they are asked for their opinion, they can express it. Otherwise, if it's none of their business they should keep their noses out of it.

If Buddhists feel motivated to reduce abortion, then they can work for, or support financially, various advisory services that work with women who need support to deal with an unwanted pregnancy, offer birth control advice, etc.
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Cormac Brown
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Re: Should Engaged Buddhists militate against abortion?

Post by Cormac Brown » Sun Jul 17, 2016 6:39 pm

It's a matter of choice, not a matter of obligation. The same applies to the whole path. If you want to benefit others you should encourage them not to destroy life. If you'd rather just focus on yourself and not have to bother with other people, then you don't have to deal with them at all.
"And to what extent, lord, is one a lay follower who practices for his own benefit but not that of others?"

"Jivaka, when a lay follower himself is consummate in conviction but does not encourage others in the consummation of conviction; when he himself is consummate in virtue but does not encourage others in the consummation of virtue; when he himself is consummate in generosity but does not encourage others in the consummation of generosity; when he himself desires to see the monks but does not encourage others to see the monks; when he himself wants to hear the true Dhamma but does not encourage others to hear the true Dhamma; when he himself habitually remembers the Dhamma he has heard but does not encourage others to remember the Dhamma they have heard; when he himself explores the meaning of the Dhamma he has heard but does not encourage others to explore the meaning of the Dhamma they have heard; when he himself, knowing both the Dhamma & its meaning, practices the Dhamma in line with the Dhamma, but does not encourage others to practice the Dhamma in line with the Dhamma: then to that extent he is a lay follower who practices for his own benefit but not for the benefit of others."

"And to what extent, lord, is one a lay follower who practices both for his own benefit & the benefit of others?"

"Jivaka, when a lay follower himself is consummate in conviction and encourages others in the consummation of conviction; when he himself is consummate in virtue and encourages others in the consummation of virtue; when he himself is consummate in generosity and encourages others in the consummation of generosity; when he himself desires to see the monks and encourages others to see the monks; when he himself wants to hear the true Dhamma and encourages others to hear the true Dhamma; when he himself habitually remembers the Dhamma he has heard and encourages others to remember the Dhamma they have heard; when he himself explores the meaning of the Dhamma he has heard and encourages others to explore the meaning of the Dhamma they have heard; when he himself, knowing both the Dhamma & its meaning, practices the Dhamma in line with the Dhamma and encourages others to practice the Dhamma in line with the Dhamma: then to that extent he is a lay follower who practices both for his own benefit and for the benefit of others." Jivaka Sutta AN 8.26 trans. Ven. Thanissaro
In another sutta, the Buddha states that the latter practitioner is the better of the two, but there is still no obligation to encourage others to practice. It's simply a matter of whether or not you want to be a great or middling practitioner yourself; of whether you're willing to put up with the inconvenience of others despising and criticising you for trying to help them, which is often what happens when you try to practise this second path. Bear in mind, though, that the Buddha does have higher praise for the one who is willing to follow this path.
“I in the present who am a worthy one, rightly self-awakened, am a
teacher of action, a teacher of activity, a teacher of persistence. But the
worthless man Makkhali contradicts even me, (saying,) ‘There is no
action. There is no activity. There is no persistence.’ "
AN 3.138, trans. Ven. Thanissaro

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Ben
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Re: Should Engaged Buddhists militate against abortion?

Post by Ben » Sun Jul 17, 2016 10:21 pm

Buddha Vacana wrote:The title has it all: Should Engaged Buddhists militate against abortion?
The question is problematic. I think there is an implicit assumption that you are making that one is a hypocrite if one doesnt 'militate' against abortion while at the same time seeking action on climate change. And if I am correct about the implicit assumption - I don't accept it.

A couple of things:
As I have mentioned elsewhere, "engaged Buddhism" is, or should be, a natural expression of one's practice and the arising of energy and compassion to seek change or action in one's wider contexts whether they be cultural, economic, environmental, political and social. As such, it is entirely private and personal and motivation is going to be contingent on conditions which may prioritise some issues over others. So, there is no 'should'.

As for 'militate' - we've seen from the history of Christian protests outside of abortion clinics and the killing of abortion centre staff and clients that it isn't an effective strategy.

My suggestion would be if you want to make an impact on the number of abortions taking place then a careful analysis of the societal causes and conditions which lead to abortion should be made, as a first step, before developing an effective strategy that targets those same causes and conditions.
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ihrjordan
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Re: Should Engaged Buddhists militate against abortion?

Post by ihrjordan » Mon Jul 18, 2016 12:39 am

I wouldn't go out of your way to try and abolish it, even though it is one of the worst things a human being can do in this life as the Buddha wasn't an SJW in regards to the Indian hierarchical system or ancient Indian women and servant rights and I feel we should focus on creating a more permanent change by uprooting our defilements. This way we may be like a pure stream of which any being may come and drink out of and reap benefit. Compare this to a dirty stream of which gives to other beings but the source of the water is dirty...so in the end would it really help anyone?

But if someone asks your opinion or if they are someone very close to you then I would strongly advise against it. Think about it: killing one's parent is considered one of the worst things a being can do and will unquestionably land one in hell. Killing one's child can't be much better.

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Re: Should Engaged Buddhists militate against abortion?

Post by Buddha Vacana » Mon Jul 18, 2016 5:23 am

Ben wrote: The question is problematic. I think there is an implicit assumption that you are making that one is a hypocrite if one doesnt 'militate' against abortion while at the same time seeking action on climate change. And if I am correct about the implicit assumption - I don't accept it.
Well, you are not correct.

Abortion is a big thing for my Catholic mother and she keeps speaking about it all the time, since she sees it as mass murdering, and I have even as a child participated in a demonstration against abortion laws. I of course agree with her about the unskillfulness of the act, but I am not obsessed about the issue as she is. I was wondering what *should* be the 'Engaged Buddhist' attitude in this case, according to people on DhammaWheel.

The question can be criticized, a better wording may be suggested, it's totally part of the discussion, but I am to this point not convinced it has to be "problematic." It calls for delineating the difference of approach between Buddhists and Christians on the matter.

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Re: Should Engaged Buddhists militate against abortion?

Post by Goofaholix » Mon Jul 18, 2016 8:54 am

I don't think we have the right to try and impose Buddhist morality on other people.

If we are going to militate against anything though I think it should be against the cause not the result, we live in a society where a lot of people think sex is just for fun rather than procreation, this is the risk they take.
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Re: Should Engaged Buddhists militate against abortion?

Post by Phena » Mon Jul 18, 2016 9:29 am

Goofaholix wrote:I don't think we have the right to try and impose Buddhist morality on other people.
Yes, excellent point Goofaholix. An extreme outcome of this is of course non-secular governments/societies, which are problematic.

While I don't agree with abortion, people need to take responsibility for their own actions (kamma).

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tiltbillings
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Re: Should Engaged Buddhists militate against abortion?

Post by tiltbillings » Mon Jul 18, 2016 9:31 am

Buddha Vacana wrote:The title has it all: Should Engaged Buddhists militate against abortion?
Absolutely not, but if you want to do something that would meaningfully reduce the number of abortions, then do what you can to make birth-control easily and readily available to whomever wants it. One of the most annoyingly hypocritical things about those who want to control women's reproductive choices by restricting abortions is that they will do little to nothing about those babies who are born into situations where they cannot be properly taken care of because of abortion and birth control restrictions.

It is ugly enough that Christians and their political lackeys are sticking their noses into women's vaginas and uteruses, telling women what they should and should not do with there own bodies and lives, but to have Buddhists join their ranks would be heart-breaking.
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Re: Should Engaged Buddhists militate against abortion?

Post by Phena » Mon Jul 18, 2016 9:47 am

tiltbillings wrote:It is ugly enough that Christians and their political lackeys ...
Yes, we absolutely need to avoid this scenario.

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Re: Should Engaged Buddhists militate against abortion?

Post by Cormac Brown » Mon Jul 18, 2016 10:15 am

tiltbillings wrote:...

It is ugly enough that Christians and their political lackeys are sticking their noses into women's vaginas and uteruses, telling women what they should and should not do with there own bodies and lives, but to have Buddhists join their ranks would be heart-breaking.
Isn't it much uglier that women are inviting doctors' noses in there, in a much less metaphorical sense, to murder their children?
Last edited by Cormac Brown on Mon Jul 18, 2016 1:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.
“I in the present who am a worthy one, rightly self-awakened, am a
teacher of action, a teacher of activity, a teacher of persistence. But the
worthless man Makkhali contradicts even me, (saying,) ‘There is no
action. There is no activity. There is no persistence.’ "
AN 3.138, trans. Ven. Thanissaro

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Mr Man
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Re: Should Engaged Buddhists militate against abortion?

Post by Mr Man » Mon Jul 18, 2016 11:06 am

Cormac Brown wrote: Isn't it much uglier that women are inviting doctors' noses in there, in a much less metaphorical sense, to murder their would-be children?
Is it murder?

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Bhikkhu Pesala
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Re: Should Engaged Buddhists militate against abortion?

Post by Bhikkhu Pesala » Mon Jul 18, 2016 11:52 am

Mr Man wrote:
Cormac Brown wrote: Isn't it much uglier that women are inviting doctors' noses in there, in a much less metaphorical sense, to murder their would-be children?
Is it murder?
I think that topic has been discussed enough elsewhere, in this thread and others.

It would be good to stay on topic. Presumably, one's opinion on whether or not one has a duty to try to oppose and prevent abortions will depend to some extent on whether or not one considers it to be the intentional killing of a human being. However, in most countries it is not called murder.
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Cormac Brown
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Re: Should Engaged Buddhists militate against abortion?

Post by Cormac Brown » Mon Jul 18, 2016 11:56 am

Mr Man wrote:
Cormac Brown wrote: Isn't it much uglier that women are inviting doctors' noses in there, in a much less metaphorical sense, to murder their children?
Is it murder?
If someone were to kill you, would it be murder? It's certainly panatipata, given that it's a parajika for a monastic to recommend abortion to a woman.

It's 100% clear that from a Buddhist perspective it'd be very good practice to encourage women not to have abortions.

Even further, it'd be very good practice to encourage people to avoid the issue altogether and stop having sex full stop; particularly on the part of those Buddhists who profess so loudly to care about climate change.
Last edited by Cormac Brown on Mon Jul 18, 2016 1:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.
“I in the present who am a worthy one, rightly self-awakened, am a
teacher of action, a teacher of activity, a teacher of persistence. But the
worthless man Makkhali contradicts even me, (saying,) ‘There is no
action. There is no activity. There is no persistence.’ "
AN 3.138, trans. Ven. Thanissaro

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ihrjordan
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Re: Should Engaged Buddhists militate against abortion?

Post by ihrjordan » Mon Jul 18, 2016 12:09 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
Buddha Vacana wrote:The title has it all: Should Engaged Buddhists militate against abortion?
Absolutely not, but if you want to do something that would meaningfully reduce the number of abortions, then do what you can to make birth-control easily and readily available to whomever wants it. One of the most annoyingly hypocritical things about those who want to control women's reproductive choices by restricting abortions is that they will do little to nothing about those babies who are born into situations where they cannot be properly taken care of because of abortion and birth control restrictions.

It is ugly enough that Christians and their political lackeys are sticking their noses into women's vaginas and uteruses, telling women what they should and should not do with there own bodies and lives, but to have Buddhists join their ranks would be heart-breaking.
Where do you get off saying that any pro-life group is attempting to control what women do with their bodies? I think everyone will agree that women should be allowed to do whatever they want with THEIR bodies, but they are in no way shape or form justified in harming ANOTHER beings body just because something unfortunate may have happened to them. Why does the fetus have to pay for what was essentially a wrong judgment on the parent or parents? And I'll agree that today's age knows no discipline when it comes to sexual affairs and very little consideration of the consequences.

Back in the Buddha's day sex was for pro-creation only and those who did it for sport or as an escape were typically criticized but sadly this is the norm nowadays. Westerners seem to think that if something feels good it must be worth doing and overdoing.

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ihrjordan
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Re: Should Engaged Buddhists militate against abortion?

Post by ihrjordan » Mon Jul 18, 2016 12:14 pm

Cormac Brown wrote:
Mr Man wrote:
Cormac Brown wrote: Isn't it much uglier that women are inviting doctors' noses in there, in a much less metaphorical sense, to murder their would-be children?
Is it murder?
If someone were to kill you, would it be murder? It's certainly panatipata, given that it's a parajika for a monastic to recommend abortion to a woman.

It's 100% clear that from a Buddhist perspective it'd be very good practice to encourage women not to have abortions.

Even further, it'd be very good practice to encourage people to avoid the issue altogether and stop having sex full stop; particularly on the part of those Buddhists who profess so loudly to care about climate change.
I wouldn't push any kind of anti-sex campaign, since if it feels good it must be good... we householders are far too finicky:
Socrates Wrote:
One of the disciples of Socrates (a great Greek philosopher) asked his teacher, "My Venerable Master, kindly instruct me how many times a house-holder can have copulation with his legal wife?"



Socrates replied, "Only once in his life time."



The disciple said," Oh my Lord! This is absolutely impossible for worldly men. Pray, kindly prescribe an easy path."



Then Socrates said, "A house-holder can have copulation once in a year."



The disciple replied, "O Venerable Sir, this is also a hard job for them. You must prescribe an easier course."



Socrates then replied, "Well, my dear disciple, once in a month. This is suitable. This is quite easy. I think you are satisfied now."



The disciple said, "This also is impossible, my revere master. Householders are very fickle-minded. Please prescribe an easier course."



Socrates said, "Twice in a month. But this will cause an early death."



The disciple said, "This also is impossible, for they cannot remain for a single day without sexual intercourse."



Then Socrates said, "Well said, my dear child. Do one thing now. Dig a grave and purchase a coffin and winding sheet for the corpse before hand. Now you can spoil yourself any number of times you like. This is my final advice to you."



This last advice pierced the heart of the disciple. He thought over the matter seriously and understood the importance and glory of Brahmacharya. He took to spiritual Sadhana in right earnest and attained Self-realization.

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Mr Man
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Re: Should Engaged Buddhists militate against abortion?

Post by Mr Man » Mon Jul 18, 2016 12:44 pm

Cormac Brown wrote:
Mr Man wrote:
Cormac Brown wrote: Isn't it much uglier that women are inviting doctors' noses in there, in a much less metaphorical sense, to murder their would-be children?
Is it murder?

If someone were to kill you, would it be murder?
If someone were to kill my unlawfully it would be murder.

Cormac Brown
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Re: Should Engaged Buddhists militate against abortion?

Post by Cormac Brown » Mon Jul 18, 2016 1:05 pm

Mr Man wrote: If someone were to kill my unlawfully it would be murder.
Are you more concerned about the laws of the land, or the laws of kamma? Abortion is, as already said, panatipata. Just because a nation makes breaking the Five Precepts legal doesn't mean that doing so ceases to have kammic consequences.

As the Buddha said, people who don't truly care about themselves will kill other beings; people who do, won't.

People who don't truly care about others won't advise them to stop killing other beings; people who do care, will.
“I in the present who am a worthy one, rightly self-awakened, am a
teacher of action, a teacher of activity, a teacher of persistence. But the
worthless man Makkhali contradicts even me, (saying,) ‘There is no
action. There is no activity. There is no persistence.’ "
AN 3.138, trans. Ven. Thanissaro

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Mr Man
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Re: Should Engaged Buddhists militate against abortion?

Post by Mr Man » Mon Jul 18, 2016 1:12 pm

Cormac Brown wrote:
Mr Man wrote: If someone were to kill my unlawfully it would be murder.
Are you more concerned about the laws of the land, or the laws of kamma?
I was more concerned with the way you were using the word murder. You seemed to be talking about murdering someone who was not "murder their would-be children".

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