War in Buddhism

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kalden yungdrung
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War in Buddhism

Post by kalden yungdrung »

Tashi delek DW members,

Ahimsa is a very well known term in Buddhism.

Therefore a Buddhist does not kill fundamental. But in some Buddhist countries war did happen.

- Now is/raises the question, when is in a Buddhsit country war according the Buddhist ethics permitted and when not allowed ?
- Or is it maybe not at all allowed ?

KY
The best meditation is no meditation
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Boomerang
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Re: War in Buddhism

Post by Boomerang »

A being of sufficient wisdom and spiritual power could use a war as skillful means. For world leaders who are not mahasiddhas, it's probably better to not wage war.
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Aemilius
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Re: War in Buddhism

Post by Aemilius »

There is, or there was, sutta/sutra in the Sravakayana pitaka called Questions of General Simha. There the General Simha says:
"I am a soldier, O Blessed One, and I am appointed by the king to enforce his laws and to wage his wars. Does the Tathagata, who teaches kindness without end and compassion with all sufferers, permit the punishment of the criminal? ..."
It seems that this highly important sutra has disappeared from the canonical texts (?) It now exists only in the translations of Paul Carus http://www.sacred-texts.com/bud/btg/btg52.htm

The question of the use of violence has been discussed in the Mahayana Mahaparinirvana sutra, for example in the chapters Four (On Long Life) and Five (On the Adamantine Body). In Chapter Five, page 49, the Tathagata says:
"... That is why I allow those who uphold the precepts to be accompanied by the whiteclad people (upasakas, non-monks) with sword and staff. Etc..."
http://www.nirvanasutra.net/convenient/ ... e_2007.pdf
svaha
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kalden yungdrung
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Re: War in Buddhism

Post by kalden yungdrung »

Aemilius wrote:There is, or there was, sutta/sutra in the Sravakayana pitaka called Questions of General Simha. There the General Simha says:
"I am a soldier, O Blessed One, and I am appointed by the king to enforce his laws and to wage his wars. Does the Tathagata, who teaches kindness without end and compassion with all sufferers, permit the punishment of the criminal? ..."
It seems that this highly important sutra has disappeared from the canonical texts (?) It now exists only in the translations of Paul Carus http://www.sacred-texts.com/bud/btg/btg52.htm

The question of the use of violence has been discussed in the Mahayana Mahaparinirvana sutra, for example in the chapters Four (On Long Life) and Five (On the Adamantine Body). In Chapter Five, page 49, the Tathagata says:
"... That is why I allow those who uphold the precepts to be accompanied by the whiteclad people (upasakas, non-monks) with sword and staff. Etc..."
http://www.nirvanasutra.net/convenient/ ... e_2007.pdf

Thanks for your reply.

- What do you think is the punishment of the " criminal " allowed. in case of war against a nation ?

Well we have criminals who kill and they were for short executed in Thailand.
Thailand does not support the death penalty at the moment.
That kind of crime we know as should be punished by the national law.

Also is told that a Buddhist should act not against the national law as a citizen.

But to go on war against another non Buddhist nation that is not so clear to me......

KY
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Re: War in Buddhism

Post by Jesse »

kalden yungdrung wrote:Tashi delek DW members,

Ahimsa is a very well known term in Buddhism.

Therefore a Buddhist does not kill fundamental. But in some Buddhist countries war did happen.

- Now is/raises the question, when is in a Buddhist country war according the Buddhist ethics permitted and when not allowed ?
- Or is it maybe not at all allowed ?

KY
You need to remember first off, Buddhist ethics are not rules, or commandments. They are there to help our spiritual path. As human beings we are free to choose as we please. If your asking when it's OK in 'Buddhism' to wage war or kill -- the answer is when our level of ignorance allows us to do so. (There will always be strong karmic consequences for killing, there is no such thing as right and wrong.)

A completely enlightened person would probably never kill anything(assumption). Most Buddhist's do not fit that description though. I think all people should defend their own lives, and their families/friends lives.
The cost of a thing is the amount of what I call life which is required to be exchanged for it, immediately or in the long run.
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boda
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Re: War in Buddhism

Post by boda »

Jesse wrote:it's OK in 'Buddhism' to wage war or kill -- the answer is when our level of ignorance allows us to do so.
Where exactly did you learn this?
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Re: War in Buddhism

Post by Jesse »

boda wrote:
Jesse wrote:it's OK in 'Buddhism' to wage war or kill -- the answer is when our level of ignorance allows us to do so.
Where exactly did you learn this?
It's obvious. Buddhism doesn't give commandments. Buddhism is a path to freedom. Do you think murderers aren't allowed to be Buddhists? Do murderers not have Buddha nature? Because, I assure you every last one of us is indeed a murderer.

If you defend your family in a war, does that make you unable to practice Buddhism anymore? How about if you did it so your country isn't destroyed, along with everything you know? Since naturally Buddhist's are all at different levels of realization, of different temperaments and in different circumstances, Buddhism can't and as far as I am aware, has never made a stance about what to do with your life. It only makes suggestions and offers instructions on getting to the other side of the river. It does however, explain the karmic consequences of doing such things.

If you are at the point you can let another destroy you without any anger toward that person, and not feel any fear of your own demise, and have only compassion for your aggressor, you don't need to ask this question, but this is the ideal behavior in Buddhism. It's just not realistic.
The cost of a thing is the amount of what I call life which is required to be exchanged for it, immediately or in the long run.
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boda
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Re: War in Buddhism

Post by boda »

Jesse wrote:It [Buddhism] only makes suggestions and offers instructions on getting to the other side of the river.
So where in the instructions does it say that waging war and killing is okay for "getting to the other side of the river"?
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Re: War in Buddhism

Post by Jesse »

boda wrote:
Jesse wrote:It [Buddhism] only makes suggestions and offers instructions on getting to the other side of the river.
So where in the instructions does it say that waging war and killing is okay for "getting to the other side of the river"?
Please read the entirety of what I wrote before making assumptions.
The cost of a thing is the amount of what I call life which is required to be exchanged for it, immediately or in the long run.
-Henry David Thoreau
boda
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Re: War in Buddhism

Post by boda »

Jesse wrote:
boda wrote:
Jesse wrote:It [Buddhism] only makes suggestions and offers instructions on getting to the other side of the river.
So where in the instructions does it say that waging war and killing is okay for "getting to the other side of the river"?
Please read the entirety of what I wrote before making assumptions.
Right, it's not okay for getting to the other side of the river.
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Re: War in Buddhism

Post by Jesse »

boda wrote:Right, it's not okay for getting to the other side of the river.
It certainly won't help, but Buddhism does not have any stance towards the matter. Philosophy and pondering what's right and wrong will never give due respect to the nature of the world, when Buddhist's are caught in a war and forced to defend themselves, it's entirely permissible.

Now if only people gave this much credence to not killing other 'lesser' forms of life we might get somewhere.
The cost of a thing is the amount of what I call life which is required to be exchanged for it, immediately or in the long run.
-Henry David Thoreau
boda
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Re: War in Buddhism

Post by boda »

Jesse wrote:Buddhism does not have any stance towards the matter.
Hmm... I seem to recall a Buddhist training rule against killing. That suggests a particular outlook on the matter. :tongue:
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Re: War in Buddhism

Post by Jesse »

boda wrote:
Jesse wrote:Buddhism does not have any stance towards the matter.
Hmm... I seem to recall a Buddhist training rule against killing. That suggests a particular outlook on the matter. :tongue:
Then you are also not allowed to walk outside, clean your house, swat the mosquito on your neck, etc.

You seem to have no sense of grey area, or be able to distinguish between training's and commandments.
The cost of a thing is the amount of what I call life which is required to be exchanged for it, immediately or in the long run.
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Re: War in Buddhism

Post by Jesse »

Is War Always Wrong?

Buddhism challenges us to look beyond a simple right/wrong dichotomy. In Buddhism, an act that sows the seeds of harmful karma is regrettable even if it unavoidable. Sometimes Buddhists fight to defend their nations, home and family. This is not "wrong." Yet even in these circumstances, to harbor hate for one's enemies is still a poison. And any act of war that sows the seeds of future harmful karma is still akusala.

Buddhist morality is based on principles, not rules. Our principles are those expressed in the Precepts and the Four Immeasurables -- loving kindness, compassion, sympathetic joy and equanimity. Our principles also are kindness, gentleness, mercy and tolerance. Even the most extreme circumstances do not erase those principles or make it "righteous" or "good" to violate them.

Yet neither is it "good" or "righteous" to stand aside while innocent people are slaughtered. And the late Ven. Dr. K Sri Dhammananda, a Theravadin monks and scholar, said, "The Buddha did not teach His followers to surrender to any form of evil power be it a human or supernatural being."
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boda
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Re: War in Buddhism

Post by boda »

Jesse wrote:You seem to have no sense of grey area, or be able to distinguish between training's and commandments.
You imply that one can be following the path (towards the "other side of the river") while killing in war?
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Re: War in Buddhism

Post by Jesse »

boda wrote:
Jesse wrote:You seem to have no sense of grey area, or be able to distinguish between training's and commandments.
You imply that one can be following the path (towards the "other side of the river") while killing in war?
Yes you can.
The cost of a thing is the amount of what I call life which is required to be exchanged for it, immediately or in the long run.
-Henry David Thoreau
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Paul
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Re: War in Buddhism

Post by Paul »

Jesse wrote:
boda wrote:
Jesse wrote:You seem to have no sense of grey area, or be able to distinguish between training's and commandments.
You imply that one can be following the path (towards the "other side of the river") while killing in war?
Yes you can.
Of course. It is a downfall of bodhisattva vows to not engage in negative actions when bodhichitta motivation would require it. The famous example is the Buddha killing a robber who would have murdered many people on a ship at sea. A wartime parallel could be killing soldiers who were trying to kill a village full of civilians.
Look at the unfathomable spinelessness of man: all the means he's been given to stay alert he uses, in the end, to ornament his sleep. – Rene Daumal
the modern mind has become so limited and single-visioned that it has lost touch with normal perception - John Michell
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Re: War in Buddhism

Post by boda »

Paul wrote:It is a downfall of bodhisattva vows to not engage in negative actions when bodhichitta motivation would require it. The famous example is the Buddha killing a robber who would have murdered many people on a ship at sea. A wartime parallel could be killing soldiers who were trying to kill a village full of civilians.
From here: http://isme.tamu.edu/ISME07/Meadors07.html
While on board a ship, Shakyamuni [Buddha] discovers that there is a robber intent on killing all five hundred of his fellow passengers. Shakyamuni ultimately decides to kill the robber, not only for the sake of his fellow passengers but also to save the robber himself from the karmic consequences of his horrendous act. In doing so, the negative karma from killing the robber should have accrued to Shakyamuni but it did not...
And most disturbing:
Sentient beings possess the five good roots such as faith, but the icchantika has eternally severed those roots [via a gross moral transgression]. Thus, while it is a fault to kill an ant, it is not a fault to kill an icchantika.
According to some Mahayana Buddhist scriptures, the icchantika is the most base and spiritually deluded of all types of being. The term implies being given over to total hedonism and greed.

So apparently for some Buddhists killing icchantika is ok. Yikes!

Anyway, in the scenario about fighting soldiers intent on killing a village of civilians, I'm no war expert but civilians are not usually considered a good strategic target, particularly when there are enemy soldiers in the same vicinity. That suggests that the enemy command is irrational, and apparently amoral. That being the case, it would seem reasonable to assume that if the enemy soldiers were to disobey their command to kill the village full of civilians, they would be killed themselves for desertion or dereliction of duty. In this way the enemy soldiers could be just as innocent as the civilians they were ordered to kill, yet it's "ok" to kill the enemy soldiers but not the civilians.
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Re: War in Buddhism

Post by Paul »

boda wrote:Anyway, in the scenario about fighting soldiers intent on killing a village of civilians, I'm no war expert but civilians are not usually considered a good strategic target, particularly when there are enemy soldiers in the same vicinity. That suggests that the enemy command is irrational, and apparently amoral. That being the case, it would seem reasonable to assume that if the enemy soldiers were to disobey their command to kill the village full of civilians, they would be killed themselves for desertion or dereliction of duty. In this way the enemy soldiers could be just as innocent as the civilians they were ordered to kill, yet it's "ok" to kill the enemy soldiers but not the civilians.
You're aware of the many atrocities that happened on the Eastern Front in WW2 like the Khatyn massacre, right? And that's just one of endless examples of people willingly doing things that accrue terrible karma in war - from the leaders to the commanders on the ground to the individual soldiers.
Look at the unfathomable spinelessness of man: all the means he's been given to stay alert he uses, in the end, to ornament his sleep. – Rene Daumal
the modern mind has become so limited and single-visioned that it has lost touch with normal perception - John Michell
boda
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Re: War in Buddhism

Post by boda »

Paul wrote:
boda wrote:Anyway, in the scenario about fighting soldiers intent on killing a village of civilians, I'm no war expert but civilians are not usually considered a good strategic target, particularly when there are enemy soldiers in the same vicinity. That suggests that the enemy command is irrational, and apparently amoral. That being the case, it would seem reasonable to assume that if the enemy soldiers were to disobey their command to kill the village full of civilians, they would be killed themselves for desertion or dereliction of duty. In this way the enemy soldiers could be just as innocent as the civilians they were ordered to kill, yet it's "ok" to kill the enemy soldiers but not the civilians.
You're aware of the many atrocities that happened on the Eastern Front in WW2 like the Khatyn massacre, right? And that's just one of endless examples of people willingly doing things that accrue terrible karma in war - from the leaders to the commanders on the ground to the individual soldiers.
What do you suppose would have happened to any soldier who refused to follow their orders in the massacre?
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