Author Topic: Buddhist Notion Of Justified War Or Violence.  (Read 331 times)

Offline Joka

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Buddhist Notion Of Justified War Or Violence.
« on: March 14, 2017, 10:19:03 am »
This probably has been discussed ad nauseaum but I am wondering in all the many Buddhist traditions if there is ever the notion of justified war or conflict.

Is there such a thing within the Buddhist belief system?

If there isn't one must wonder about the constraints or limitations of idealistic pacifism within the rest of the world where such idealist concepts generally are not the majority rule.

I imagine for a pacifist buddhist it is a constant struggle to reconcile those beliefs.
« Last Edit: March 14, 2017, 10:22:15 am by Joka »

Online IdleChater

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Re: Buddhist Notion Of Justified War Or Violence.
« Reply #1 on: March 15, 2017, 09:42:48 am »
It has been discussed, but seldom from the position you seem to be talking.

"Traditions" in Buddhism don't go to war.  Countries go to war, and "Buddhist" coutries aren't excepted.  Citizens in those countries, can and do go to war.  There are inevitably those who are Buddhists in their ranks.  Japan did so and so did Tibet.

I guess it becomes a situation where you're confronted with the choice to say to hell with your own karma and act for the good of your country, or not.

Beleif "systems" are just that.  They are systems of belief norms established by communities.  They usually reflect beliefs deeper than those of the religion in question.  For example, the Tibetan army went out to face the invading Chinese.  That would involve killing to dying.  There was a culture norm that established a belief that regardless of what the Buddha and lineage teachers taught about violence and killing, there comes a time when that must be done.  I doubt there was a great deal of soul-searching.  Sometimes you have to do things that will damage your karma and that, in itself is your karma, too.  You do what you have to do.

20 years ago, I encountered a yearling doe that had been run over by a car and had both hind legs broken damned-near  clean off.  I shot this animal dead, to put it out of its misery.  It's not in keeping with Buddhist teachings, but if it were to happen today, I wouldn't hesitate for one second to do it again.  Karma be damned.

I don't really buy into a lot of the Harry Hair Shirt hand-wringing that you see online about what to do in these situations.  If you have to go to war and kill, go.  If you have to put some poor doomed creature out of it's misery, don't loose sleep.  You may end up as an intestinal parasite in your next life, but you just might anyway.  If you have to leave your family in the middle of the night to seek enlightenment ..... it's your karma.

Offline stillpointdancer

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Re: Buddhist Notion Of Justified War Or Violence.
« Reply #2 on: March 16, 2017, 03:33:09 am »
I was born in 50's England, playing on 'tips', the name we gave to areas of bomb damage, sort of cleared, but nothing rebuilt yet. War was all around me, every adult in my extended family (rather large) had been to war, or suffered the blitz, or both. It was constantly on TV. Both my grandfathers had been in WW1, and I grew up knowing that WW3 wasn't far away. I often dreamed about Russian bombers flying overhead.

Luckily, National Service was over when I came of age, so I chose peace and flower power, bought a CND badge and became a teacher. My father was quite proud of this, but would have been prouder if I had put some service in before college. One of my sons has seen active service in a war zone, so I guess it's still in the genes. The more I read true accounts of ordinary people caught up in war, be it world war or Vietnam, or whatever, the more I am grateful to them for serving to protect me, and the more I am grateful that I didn't have to.

Before he died in hospital, my father's surgeon spoke about the wounds he had picked up from D-Day onward, to the invasion of Germany. I knew about most of them, but not the bullet wound...
“You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.” Franz Kafka

Offline Ron-the-Elder

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Re: Buddhist Notion Of Justified War Or Violence.
« Reply #3 on: March 17, 2017, 11:24:53 am »
Joka:  "I imagine for a pacifist buddhist it is a constant struggle to reconcile those beliefs."

From the Jataka Tales, thought to be stories to teach morality, we are told that Buddha, then called a Bodhisatta, in one rebirth was the son of a king.  He knew as a result of his upbringing & education that one day he would as a ruler have to deal with thieves, murderers, invading armies, and such in defense of his kingdom's people.  Having been in the hell realms during previous rebirths, he knew that he didn't want any part of the karmic consequences of such a role.  So, he pretended to be insane and as such incompetent to rule.

Also from The Jatka Tales The Buddha was once reborn as a hare, who happened along the path of a starving Tigress and her cubs.  The Tigress had gotten so weak from an injury while hunting a wild boar, what she could no longer hunt to feed her cubs.  Feeling overwhelming compassion for these suffering animals, Buddha offered up his flesh as an easy meal to feed the Tigress's starving cubs.

So, as you can see, one's decisions, when it comes to violence vs compassion is complex and kamma is always the teacher as to what the consequences of our intentional actions will yield as a result.

One of the most memorable examples of Buddha's teachings in this regard  is called "The Simile of the Saw" , which I recommend you read for yourself: 

"Monks, even if bandits were to carve you up savagely, limb by limb, with a two-handled saw, he among you who let his heart get angered even at that would not be doing my bidding. Even then you should train yourselves: 'Our minds will be unaffected and we will say no evil words. We will remain sympathetic, with a mind of good will, and with no inner hate. We will keep pervading these people with an awareness imbued with good will and, beginning with them, we will keep pervading the all-encompassing world with an awareness imbued with good will — abundant, expansive, immeasurable, free from hostility, free from ill will.' That's how you should train yourselves.

"Monks, if you attend constantly to this admonition on the simile of the saw, do you see any aspects of speech, slight or gross, that you could not endure?"

"No, lord."

"Then attend constantly to this admonition on the simile of the saw. That will be for your long-term welfare & happiness."

What Makes an Elder? :
A head of gray hairs doesn't mean one's an elder. Advanced in years, one's called an old fool.
But one in whom there is truth, restraint, rectitude, gentleness,self-control, he's called an elder, his impurities disgorged, enlightened.
-Dhammpada, 19, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.

Offline Weagean

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Re: Buddhist Notion Of Justified War Or Violence.
« Reply #4 on: May 01, 2017, 09:09:04 pm »
I don't think Buddhism teaches just war. Saint Augustine brought the just war theory to Christianity, Jesus spoke against violence. The Japanese Zen Buddhist somehow decided the enemy had very bad Karma and they were just part of their karmic debt. Losing their heads may have helped the reconciliation. If a Tiger is going to kill someone I believe it is permissible to save them, and stop the Tiger from more bad Karma, and kill the sucker. The Tibetans went out to meet the invading Chinese with guns. In this instance I believe the Chinese was the Tiger. It proved true. I don't believe Buddhism allows for war, peace must start somewhere, and throwing down your gun facing imminent death is a good start. Man can reason and justify anything, as mindful Buddhist I think we should see through it. Peace.

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