Notion Of Justified War Or Violence.

A forum for discussion of Buddhist ethics.
User avatar
Joka
Posts: 79
Joined: Tue Mar 14, 2017 6:54 pm

Re: Notion Of Justified War Or Violence.

Post by Joka » Wed Mar 15, 2017 4:49 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Joka wrote:
Malcolm wrote:
That very much depends. In most cases, I think Buddhists will flee such a situation or resist nonviolently— for example, Tibet
Flee to where? Where in the world does sanctuary from all of this exist?

The type of world we are living in makes nonviolent resistance either impotent for change or an impossibility.
You have to be kidding. Nonviolence is the only avenue for resistance against oppression unless you are prepared to destroy whole economies.


This leads me to believe that sometimes war or fighting is necessary and can be justified.
As I said, Buddha stated that virtuous nations have a right to defend themselves.


Another reason I created this thread because in ancient past Buddhist warrior monks like the Sohei fought very passionately for what they believed in.
This is a Japanese corruption of Buddhadharma.
Whole entire economic systems have become tools of exploitation, slavery, oppression, and tyranny. Economic systems are not immune to conflict.

If virtuous nations have a right to defend themselves and nations are comprised of individuals then I would think virtuous individuals have a right to defend themselves as well, no?

Somehow I think Japanese people would disagree.

User avatar
Queequeg
Global Moderator
Posts: 5717
Joined: Tue Jul 03, 2012 3:24 pm

Re: Notion Of Justified War Or Violence.

Post by Queequeg » Wed Mar 15, 2017 5:37 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Another reason I created this thread because in ancient past Buddhist warrior monks like the Sohei fought very passionately for what they believed in.
This is a Japanese corruption of Buddhadharma.
Don't over generalize.
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

I think each human being has things to find out in his own life that are inescapable. They’ll find them out the easy way or the hard way, or whatever.
-Jerry Garcia

User avatar
Malcolm
Posts: 28034
Joined: Thu Nov 11, 2010 2:19 am

Re: Notion Of Justified War Or Violence.

Post by Malcolm » Wed Mar 15, 2017 5:54 pm

Joka wrote:
Whole entire economic systems have become tools of exploitation, slavery, oppression, and tyranny. Economic systems are not immune to conflict.
Sure. South Africa, The US under slavery, etc.
If virtuous nations have a right to defend themselves and nations are comprised of individuals then I would think virtuous individuals have a right to defend themselves as well, no?
The notion of "rights" is completely divorced from the notion of karma. A king has an obligation to protect his nation, but this not an endorsement of violence.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... 2.html#ch2

Somehow I think Japanese people would disagree.
Buddhist monks are not permitted to kill human beings. If they do so, they immediately lose their status as monks.

That being said, the so-called warrior monks is a big and complicated subject. If you wish to educate yourself about it you can read Teeth and Claws of the Buddha: Monastic Warriors and Sohei in Japanese History by Adolphson.
Buddhahood in This Life
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔


[A]nything at all that is well spoken is the word of the Buddha.

-- Ārya-adhyāśaya-sañcodana-nāma-mahāyāna-sūtra

The different sūtras in accord with the emptiness
taught by the Sugata are definitive in meaning;
One can understand that all of those Dharmas in
which a sentient being, individual, or person are taught are provisional in meaning.

-- Samadhirāja Sūtra

binocular
Posts: 374
Joined: Fri Apr 05, 2013 3:58 pm

Re: Notion Of Justified War Or Violence.

Post by binocular » Wed Mar 15, 2017 6:46 pm

Joka wrote:What is a Buddhist to do say in the presence of a group of people that above all else desire power and will do anything to keep that power including all spectrums of human unspeakable acts or behaviors?
Buddhists probably say that such is karma, with everything that entails.
Does the Buddhist sit on their hands and feet sitting idle?
If you're a Buddhist, what's your answer to that?
Joka wrote:The type of world we are living in makes nonviolent resistance either impotent for change or an impossibility. Like I said before, nonviolence and nonaggression is a noble maximum highest ideal to aspire towards but I don't think it is an option for every environment, scenario, or situation.
Discussions about just war and self-defence not rarely wander off into unrealistic examples.

When you observe real-life scenarios, it's evident that not just anything happens to just anyone. For example, you can't get charged with drunk driving if you don't drink and drive. And your bank-robbing buddies don't come to blackmail you if you don't team up with some people to rob a bank to begin with. Some things just don't happen.

Often in these discussions the scenario of being a good German hiding Jews from Nazi persecution is brought up. While this is certainly an intensely charged scenario -- when does it happen? Do you have to hide persecuted people?

The fact is that in real life situations, it is often possible to strategize and act in a non-violent way, and this de-escalates the situation. Taking that route often requires what for ordinary people is self-effacement, and because ordinarily, people resent that, then situations often escalate.

It's usually in abstract moral thought-experiments that things look bleak and all black-and-white, while in the real life, there are often options available.
This leads me to believe that sometimes war or fighting is necessary and can be justified.
The question is, whether those fighting such wars believe themselves to be innocent and morally superior, and also spiritually superior; and whether everyone else is supposed to think this way of them.

Wars don't seem to usually start over night. Usually, there seems to be a period of political conflict and negotiation prior to going to war. And prior to the period of political conflict and negotiation, there are political, cultural, or individual clashes. IOW, it seems there were opportunities early on for preventing the escalation of the conflict.
Another reason I created this thread because in ancient past Buddhist warrior monks like the Sohei fought very passionately for what they believed in.
Everyone fights very passionately for what they believe in -- and look where that gets us.

shaunc
Posts: 693
Joined: Fri Jan 11, 2013 8:10 am

Re: Notion Of Justified War Or Violence.

Post by shaunc » Wed Mar 15, 2017 8:20 pm

There's quite a few Buddhist countries in the world. They've all got a military, police force and judicial system.
That tells me that buddhist or not sometimes you've got to do what you've got to do.
Unfortunately it's a real world we live in not a Buddhist utopia.

User avatar
Tiago Simões
Posts: 928
Joined: Fri Oct 03, 2014 8:41 pm
Location: Portugal

Re: Notion Of Justified War Or Violence.

Post by Tiago Simões » Wed Mar 15, 2017 10:08 pm

Joka wrote:
Malcolm wrote:This is a Japanese corruption of Buddhadharma.
Somehow I think Japanese people would disagree.
Most japanese never liked the sohei, they were controversial back then as well. They were mafia disguised as monks

User avatar
Matt J
Posts: 723
Joined: Tue Aug 03, 2010 2:29 am

Re: Notion Of Justified War Or Violence.

Post by Matt J » Thu Mar 16, 2017 2:42 am

Are you saying that Tibet also did not resist violently? Or have an army it used for violent means?
Malcolm wrote:
That very much depends. In most cases, I think Buddhists will flee such a situation or resist nonviolently— for example, Tibet
"The essence of meditation practice is to let go of all your expectations about meditation. All the qualities of your natural mind -- peace, openness, relaxation, and clarity -- are present in your mind just as it is. You don't have to do anything different. You don't have to shift or change your awareness. All you have to do while observing your mind is to recognize the qualities it already has."
--- Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche

smcj
Posts: 5756
Joined: Wed May 29, 2013 6:13 am

Re: Notion Of Justified War Or Violence.

Post by smcj » Thu Mar 16, 2017 3:04 am

Another reason I created this thread because in ancient past Buddhist warrior monks like the Sohei fought very passionately for what they believed in.
I'm told (sorry, can't source it) that originally you could not be a monk and a soldier. Professional killers were excluded from the sangha.
I support Mingyur R and HHDL in their positions against Lama abuse.

madhusudan
Posts: 187
Joined: Thu Sep 19, 2013 5:54 pm

Re: Notion Of Justified War Or Violence.

Post by madhusudan » Thu Mar 16, 2017 1:17 pm

“If someone has a gun and is trying to kill you, it would be reasonable to shoot back with your own gun.”
Dalai Lama XIV

binocular
Posts: 374
Joined: Fri Apr 05, 2013 3:58 pm

Re: Notion Of Justified War Or Violence.

Post by binocular » Thu Mar 16, 2017 2:17 pm

madhusudan wrote:“If someone has a gun and is trying to kill you, it would be reasonable to shoot back with your own gun.”
Dalai Lama XIV
What if you don't have a gun? Should you go and obtain it?

Should you prepare yourself in advance -- by obtaining a gun -- for the case that someone does come at you at some point in the future?

User avatar
Joka
Posts: 79
Joined: Tue Mar 14, 2017 6:54 pm

Re: Notion Of Justified War Or Violence.

Post by Joka » Thu Mar 16, 2017 6:13 pm

binocular wrote:
Joka wrote:What is a Buddhist to do say in the presence of a group of people that above all else desire power and will do anything to keep that power including all spectrums of human unspeakable acts or behaviors?
Buddhists probably say that such is karma, with everything that entails.
Does the Buddhist sit on their hands and feet sitting idle?
If you're a Buddhist, what's your answer to that?
Joka wrote:The type of world we are living in makes nonviolent resistance either impotent for change or an impossibility. Like I said before, nonviolence and nonaggression is a noble maximum highest ideal to aspire towards but I don't think it is an option for every environment, scenario, or situation.
Discussions about just war and self-defence not rarely wander off into unrealistic examples.

When you observe real-life scenarios, it's evident that not just anything happens to just anyone. For example, you can't get charged with drunk driving if you don't drink and drive. And your bank-robbing buddies don't come to blackmail you if you don't team up with some people to rob a bank to begin with. Some things just don't happen.

Often in these discussions the scenario of being a good German hiding Jews from Nazi persecution is brought up. While this is certainly an intensely charged scenario -- when does it happen? Do you have to hide persecuted people?

The fact is that in real life situations, it is often possible to strategize and act in a non-violent way, and this de-escalates the situation. Taking that route often requires what for ordinary people is self-effacement, and because ordinarily, people resent that, then situations often escalate.

It's usually in abstract moral thought-experiments that things look bleak and all black-and-white, while in the real life, there are often options available.
This leads me to believe that sometimes war or fighting is necessary and can be justified.
The question is, whether those fighting such wars believe themselves to be innocent and morally superior, and also spiritually superior; and whether everyone else is supposed to think this way of them.

Wars don't seem to usually start over night. Usually, there seems to be a period of political conflict and negotiation prior to going to war. And prior to the period of political conflict and negotiation, there are political, cultural, or individual clashes. IOW, it seems there were opportunities early on for preventing the escalation of the conflict.
Another reason I created this thread because in ancient past Buddhist warrior monks like the Sohei fought very passionately for what they believed in.
Everyone fights very passionately for what they believe in -- and look where that gets us.
I've studied Buddhism for many years however I am new to actually practicing it and embracing it. Formerly I only studied it from a historical angle academically. I am a huge fan of world history. I created this thread seeking a Buddhist answer and analysis of this subject.

As I said previously, non-aggression and nonviolence is the highest ideal where I'll go one step further saying that violence, conflict, or warfare shouldn't be glorified in massive celebration. War, violence, and conflict of all kinds should be avoided at all costs. I see all three as the option of last resort. My problem however is the Buddhist perfectionist view that violence, war, or conflict is always avoidable at all times. It would be nice if we lived in such a perfect world where that was true but I just don't view the real world that we live in to be like that. I think on some rare occasions violence and fighting is necessary especially against those that would do others harm.

The needs of the many outweighs the needs of the few and sometimes those few make life or existence unbearable for a majority to simply live and exist. Is it not an act of compassion or enlightenment to fight for the oppressed and against tyrants of all stripes?

User avatar
Joka
Posts: 79
Joined: Tue Mar 14, 2017 6:54 pm

Re: Notion Of Justified War Or Violence.

Post by Joka » Thu Mar 16, 2017 6:18 pm

shaunc wrote:There's quite a few Buddhist countries in the world. They've all got a military, police force and judicial system.
That tells me that buddhist or not sometimes you've got to do what you've got to do.
Unfortunately it's a real world we live in not a Buddhist utopia.
And that is one of the points I'm addressing. I'm glad others also see this fact.

User avatar
Joka
Posts: 79
Joined: Tue Mar 14, 2017 6:54 pm

Re: Notion Of Justified War Or Violence.

Post by Joka » Thu Mar 16, 2017 6:38 pm

tiagolps wrote:
Joka wrote:
Malcolm wrote:This is a Japanese corruption of Buddhadharma.
Somehow I think Japanese people would disagree.
Most japanese never liked the sohei, they were controversial back then as well. They were mafia disguised as monks
Can you explain that further?

User avatar
Joka
Posts: 79
Joined: Tue Mar 14, 2017 6:54 pm

Re: Notion Of Justified War Or Violence.

Post by Joka » Thu Mar 16, 2017 6:40 pm

smcj wrote:
Another reason I created this thread because in ancient past Buddhist warrior monks like the Sohei fought very passionately for what they believed in.
I'm told (sorry, can't source it) that originally you could not be a monk and a soldier. Professional killers were excluded from the sangha.
I would like to see the source on that. I understand if you can't.

User avatar
Nemo
Posts: 835
Joined: Thu Jan 21, 2010 3:23 am
Location: Canada

Re: Notion Of Justified War Or Violence.

Post by Nemo » Thu Mar 16, 2017 6:43 pm

Sometimes the best course of action if losing. Being brave does not only mean fighting and winning. Winning always comes with a cost.

User avatar
Joka
Posts: 79
Joined: Tue Mar 14, 2017 6:54 pm

Re: Notion Of Justified War Or Violence.

Post by Joka » Thu Mar 16, 2017 6:46 pm

Nemo wrote:Sometimes the best course of action if losing. Being brave does not only mean fighting and winning. Winning always comes with a cost.
Can you extrapolate on that more? I think that I understand what you're saying but more would be helpful.

smcj
Posts: 5756
Joined: Wed May 29, 2013 6:13 am

Re: Notion Of Justified War Or Violence.

Post by smcj » Thu Mar 16, 2017 7:10 pm

My problem however is the Buddhist perfectionist view that violence, war, or conflict is always avoidable at all times.
Actually you've got that wrong. The phrase "Buddhist perfectionist view" is an oxymoron. The first and most basic view is that samsara, here meaning secular life, cannot be perfected. There can never be any utopias, either personal or societal. This is covered by the 1st Noble Truth; "all is unsatisfactory/suffering".
It would be nice if we lived in such a perfect world where that was true but I just don't view the real world that we live in to be like that. I think on some rare occasions violence and fighting is necessary especially against those that would do others harm.
Yeah, sure. But that doesn't meant that there is no negative karma involved.

The point being that we have the luxury of not being in that situation right now. How wonderful! So we should make the best of it by making as much progress on the spiritual path. In no small part that is what will keep us from being reborn in such an ugly type of situation. That's the Shravakayana approach. But beyond that there is an imperative to make the best possible use of our lives in the light of such suffering. What is truly important in life? To party? To have a family? Sakyamuni left his family to look for a deeper Truth.
The needs of the many outweighs the needs of the few and sometimes those few make life or existence unbearable for a majority to simply live and exist. Is it not an act of compassion or enlightenment to fight for the oppressed and against tyrants of all stripes?
In the traditional Tibetan Lam Rim they talk about a certain hell realm where it consists of soldiers that kill each other and then are revived again and again and again. Obviously here "revived" means reincarnated. So winning a battle simply means having sown the karma to lose the next life's battle. Who wants to get stuck in a cycle like that?
I support Mingyur R and HHDL in their positions against Lama abuse.

User avatar
Grigoris
Global Moderator
Posts: 17359
Joined: Fri May 14, 2010 9:27 pm
Location: Greece

Re: Notion Of Justified War Or Violence.

Post by Grigoris » Thu Mar 16, 2017 7:37 pm

Joka wrote:I ask because of practical reasons regarding the world we live in that is entrenched in violence and conflict.
It's also "entrenched" in ignorance, so why do you not ask about notions of justified stupidity and foolishness in Buddhism?
"My religion is not deceiving myself."
Jetsun Milarepa 1052-1135 CE

"Butchers, prostitutes, those guilty of the five most heinous crimes, outcasts, the underprivileged: all are utterly the substance of existence and nothing other than total bliss."
The Supreme Source - The Kunjed Gyalpo
The Fundamental Tantra of Dzogchen Semde

User avatar
Joka
Posts: 79
Joined: Tue Mar 14, 2017 6:54 pm

Re: Notion Of Justified War Or Violence.

Post by Joka » Thu Mar 16, 2017 7:43 pm

Grigoris wrote:
Joka wrote:I ask because of practical reasons regarding the world we live in that is entrenched in violence and conflict.
It's also "entrenched" in ignorance, so why do you not ask about notions of justified stupidity and foolishness in Buddhism?
Yes, there is ignorance also. I agree.

User avatar
Palzang Jangchub
Posts: 981
Joined: Wed Dec 12, 2012 10:19 pm
Contact:

Re: Notion Of Justified War Or Violence.

Post by Palzang Jangchub » Thu Mar 16, 2017 8:00 pm

In the Upāyakauśalya-sūtra, there is a Jataka tale about how Buddha Shakyamuni, in a previous life as the ship captain Greatly Compassionate, kills a bandit before he can murder others.
Stephen Jenkins, [i]On the auspiciousness of compassionate violence[/i] wrote:[...] Captain Compassionate is faced with the knowledge that a thief intends to kill the five hundred merchant-bodhisattvas riding in his ship. He gives this long reflection. If he tells the merchants, they will kill the thief and so suffer the bad karmic results. So, forming the compassionate intention to take the negative results upon himself, the ship captain stabs the thief to death with a short spear. In this way, he skillfully benefits the potential mass murderer by saving him from eons in the hell realms. In fact, the thief is reborn in a heaven. [Perhaps this is an early source for the idea seen later in tantric contexts that a compassionate killer can direct the continuum of their victim to a heavenly rebirth.]
Download the full article here: http://bit.ly/2nwAvY7

Obviously this justification has led to historical examples. Certain Tibetans were flown to Colorado and rained by U.S. forces in mountain warfare, and then dropped back into Tibet (though whether they were trained simply to harass and not win is a matter of some debate).

Garchen Rinpoche, along with other monks and lamas, joined the Army for the Defense of the Doctrine in Kham after the Chinese Communist army invaded Tibet. They had rifles. In one of the 14th Dalai Lama's autobiographies, Freedom in Exile, he recounts how American planes dropped weapons for Tibetans to use from high altitude, sometimes with disastrous consequences.
Elliott Sperling, [i]'Orientalism' and Aspects of Violence in Tibetan Buddhism[/i] wrote:In its popular presentation to much of the modern world, the complex mix of ideas and doctrines in Tibetan Buddhism is often reduced (of late, by the Tibetan exile community) to an essential emphasis on love and compassion. As a result, a more balanced picture of the role of Tibetan Buddhism in the political world over the centuries has been lost to large numbers of people along the way. One might almost imagine that Tibetan Buddhism is a rather suicidal sort of faith, one whose adherents would rather see it perish than lift a hand in violence. That, frankly, has not been the case in Tibetan history. It was not the position of the Fifth Dalai Lama, who supported the use of military force in defense of Gelugpa interests. (And we may note that during his time the survival of Tibetan Buddhism in general was not at issue, just the welfare and authority of Ganden Phodrang). It was certainly not the position of the Thirteenth Dalai Lama, who actively sanctioned armed Tibetan attacks on the Qing forces in Lhasa that were attempting to assert Qing rule in Tibet just before the dynasty’s collapse.¹⁹ Ultimately the reduction of Tibetan Buddhism, as far as its modern, international image is concerned, to a doctrine of nonviolence of the absolutist sort must be seen in light of the Tibetan exile assimilation of common images about the East, in much the same way as was the case with the generation of Gandhi and Nehru.

A fairly clear clue to this is found in the two versions of the Fourteenth Dalai Lama’s autobiography My Land and My People (1962) and Freedom in Exile (1990). In both works the Dalai Lama writes of the influence he felt from Gandhi’s life and philosophy when he visited the Rajghat. In the later version he specifically notes that the visit left him convinced that nonviolence was the only path for political action. While in the earlier one he states that he was determined never to associate himself with acts of violence, what “associate” means in this context must be tempered by further remarks in both versions of his autobiography. In the second the Dalai Lama tells of his escape and of the protection afforded him by armed guerillas—freedom fighters, he calls them—including at least two CIA-trained fighters. However, in the first he is more specific about his interests and concern for these Tibetan soldiers:
HH the 14th Dalai Lama wrote:In spite of my beliefs, I very much admired their courage and their determination to carry on the grim battle they had started for our freedom, culture, and religion. I thanked them for their strength and bravery, and also, more personally, for the protection they had given me … By then I could not in honesty advise them to avoid violence. In order to fight they had sacrificed their homes and all the comforts and benefits of a peaceful life. Now they could see no alternative but to go on fighting, and I had none to offer.
While the mention of Gandhi in both versions reveals the influence of a general, modern attitude to the Indian leader prevalent throughout the world at the time of the Dalai Lama’s visit to the Rajghat, the quote from the earlier autobiography reveals a sentiment largely in line with more traditional Tibetan (and even Tibetan Buddhist) attitudes on political violence. The influences that have led the Dalai Lama to threaten to resign his leadership role if Tibetans act violently toward Chinese in Tibet were not yet there; indeed, one can hardly imagine the Dalai Lama making such a statement to the soldiers who guided him to safety in 1959.

Frankly, the adoption of ahimsa as an overriding principle represented a significant change in attitude from that of previous Dalai Lamas and from the policies of Ganden Phodrang. Most likely, the Dalai Lama came to adhere to it in a gradual manner. Only in India, in a milieu in which stereotypical ideas about the Orient and India were part of the intellectual environment, did it take on the centrality that people now associate with it. The Dalai Lama, as a human being in the world, certainly was influenced by this new environment that postulated nonviolence as one of the primary virtues—if not the highest of them—that an “Oriental” sage could espouse.

This is not necessarily to imply anything cynical or manipulative about the Dalai Lama’s adoption of nonviolence as a leading principle. This is simply to place the Dalai Lama in history as a human being and as a party to intellectual and other currents that flow through the modern world. It is the assimilation of images and stereotypes espoused by Westerners and non-Westerners (including Tibetan exiles) that has placed the Dalai Lama within a constructed myth of eternal holy men practicing eternal virtues and eternal verities.
Read the full article here: http://info-buddhism.com/Orientalism_Vi ... rling.html

In the docu-bio film on Garchen Rinpoche's life, For the Benefit of All Beings, Drikung Kyabgön Chetsang Rinpoche explains that if an enemy meets the 10 conditions, it is permissible to kill them, but that this is unlike ordinary killing with malice in one's heart. It must be done with only compassion as the motivation. In tantra such wrathful activity is known as "liberating."

Garchen Rinpoche states that he thought he could not sit idly by while people were being killed and monasteries and their contents were being destroyed. Rather than allow these soldiers to accrue such negative karma, he would try and stop them. "If I had to go to hell, so be it." He states that his chief concern was, indeed, the safety of the Dalai Lama and allowing for his flight into exile. Thus Garchen Rinpoche is one of the many soldiers or freedom fighters the Dalai Lama refers to in his above quote.

He spent nearly 20 years in prison after surrendering with the rest of the Tensung Mak, and after his release eventually visited with the Dalai Lama in India. When they met, rather than ask for empowerment as most would, he requested the Bodhisattva vows since he thought that perhaps he had tainted or broken them by combating the Chinese Communist soldiers.
Image

"The Sutras, Tantras, and Philosophical Scriptures are great in number. However life is short, and intelligence is limited, so it's hard to cover them completely. You may know a lot, but if you don't put it into practice, it's like dying of thirst on the shore of a great lake. Likewise, a common corpse is found in the bed of a great scholar." ~ Karma Chagme

དྲིན་ཆེན་རྩ་བའི་བླ་མ་སྐྱབས་རྗེ་མགར་ཆེན་ཁྲི་སྤྲུལ་རིན་པོ་ཆེ་ཁྱེད་མཁྱེན་ནོ།།
རྗེ་བཙུན་བླ་མ་མཁས་གྲུབ་ཀརྨ་ཆགས་མེད་མཁྱེན་ནོ། ཀརྨ་པ་མཁྱེན་ནོཿ

Post Reply

Return to “Ethical Conduct”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 11 guests