Author Topic: Mahayana Killers  (Read 1060 times)

Offline NiagaraGrrl

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Mahayana Killers
« on: September 10, 2016, 05:16:42 pm »
A speaker from a Zen monastery closed by saying, "Mahayana allows for killing in the name of compassion, for instance, when a crazy man runs into a movie theater."
  I was appalled but bided my time and some months later during face-to-face with the head of that monastery I brought up that quote. Sadly he didn't refute the assertion. All Zen-sternly he growled, "That takes Wisdom!"
   What say you, oh e-sangha siblings?
   

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Offline Ron-the-Elder

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Re: Mahayana Killers
« Reply #1 on: September 11, 2016, 07:15:21 pm »
Hi, NiagraGrrl.

Buddha was very clear on this point.

As he advised in The Simile of The Saw that it was far better to have our arms sawed off than to act violently, because the consequence was rebirth in the hell realms, an environment too horrible to even imagine. 

Quote
"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."

That is what the Blessed One said. Gratified, the monks delighted in the Blessed One's words.


source:  http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.021x.than.html



Regarding Violence:

Quote
129. All tremble at violence; all fear death. Putting oneself in the place of another, one should not kill nor cause another to kill.

130. All tremble at violence; life is dear to all. Putting oneself in the place of another, one should not kill nor cause another to kill.

131. One who, while himself seeking happiness, oppresses with violence other beings who also desire happiness, will not attain happiness hereafter.

132. One who, while himself seeking happiness, does not oppress with violence other beings who also desire happiness, will find happiness hereafter.

133. Speak not harshly to anyone, for those thus spoken to might retort. Indeed, angry speech hurts, and retaliation may overtake you.

134. If, like a broken gong, you silence yourself, you have approached Nibbana, for vindictiveness is no longer in you.

135. Just as a cowherd drives the cattle to pasture with a staff, so do old age and death drive the life force of beings (from existence to existence).

136. When the fool commits evil deeds, he does not realize (their evil nature). The witless man is tormented by his own deeds, like one burnt by fire.

137. He who inflicts violence on those who are unarmed, and offends those who are inoffensive, will soon come upon one of these ten states:

138-140 Sharp pain, or disaster, bodily injury, serious illness, or derangement of mind, trouble from the government, or grave charges, loss of relatives, or loss of wealth, or houses destroyed by ravaging fire; upon dissolution of the body that ignorant man is born in hell.

141. Neither going about naked, nor matted locks, nor filth, nor fasting, nor lying on the ground, nor smearing oneself with ashes and dust, nor sitting on the heels (in penance) can purify a mortal who has not overcome doubt.

142. Even though he be well-attired, yet if he is poised, calm, controlled and established in the holy life, having set aside violence towards all beings — he, truly, is a holy man, a renunciate, a monk.

143. Only rarely is there a man in this world who, restrained by modesty, avoids reproach, as a thoroughbred horse avoids the whip.

144. Like a thoroughbred horse touched by the whip, be strenuous, be filled with spiritual yearning. By faith and moral purity, by effort and meditation, by investigation of the truth, by being rich in knowledge and virtue, and by being mindful, destroy this unlimited suffering.

145. Irrigators regulate the waters, fletchers straighten arrow shafts, carpenters shape wood, and the good control themselves.


source:  http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/kn/dhp/dhp.10.budd.html



« Last Edit: September 11, 2016, 07:21:36 pm by Ron-the-Elder »
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 stillpointdancer

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Re: Mahayana Killers
« Reply #2 on: September 12, 2016, 03:14:43 am »
Hi, NiagraGrrl.

Buddha was very clear on this point.

As he advised in The Simile of The Saw that it was far better to have our arms sawed off than to act violently, because the consequence was rebirth in the hell realms, an environment too horrible to even imagine. 

Quote
"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."

That is what the Blessed One said. Gratified, the monks delighted in the Blessed One's words.


source:  http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.021x.than.html



Regarding Violence:

Quote
129. All tremble at violence; all fear death. Putting oneself in the place of another, one should not kill nor cause another to kill.

130. All tremble at violence; life is dear to all. Putting oneself in the place of another, one should not kill nor cause another to kill.

131. One who, while himself seeking happiness, oppresses with violence other beings who also desire happiness, will not attain happiness hereafter.

132. One who, while himself seeking happiness, does not oppress with violence other beings who also desire happiness, will find happiness hereafter.

133. Speak not harshly to anyone, for those thus spoken to might retort. Indeed, angry speech hurts, and retaliation may overtake you.

134. If, like a broken gong, you silence yourself, you have approached Nibbana, for vindictiveness is no longer in you.

135. Just as a cowherd drives the cattle to pasture with a staff, so do old age and death drive the life force of beings (from existence to existence).

136. When the fool commits evil deeds, he does not realize (their evil nature). The witless man is tormented by his own deeds, like one burnt by fire.

137. He who inflicts violence on those who are unarmed, and offends those who are inoffensive, will soon come upon one of these ten states:

138-140 Sharp pain, or disaster, bodily injury, serious illness, or derangement of mind, trouble from the government, or grave charges, loss of relatives, or loss of wealth, or houses destroyed by ravaging fire; upon dissolution of the body that ignorant man is born in hell.

141. Neither going about naked, nor matted locks, nor filth, nor fasting, nor lying on the ground, nor smearing oneself with ashes and dust, nor sitting on the heels (in penance) can purify a mortal who has not overcome doubt.

142. Even though he be well-attired, yet if he is poised, calm, controlled and established in the holy life, having set aside violence towards all beings — he, truly, is a holy man, a renunciate, a monk.

143. Only rarely is there a man in this world who, restrained by modesty, avoids reproach, as a thoroughbred horse avoids the whip.

144. Like a thoroughbred horse touched by the whip, be strenuous, be filled with spiritual yearning. By faith and moral purity, by effort and meditation, by investigation of the truth, by being rich in knowledge and virtue, and by being mindful, destroy this unlimited suffering.

145. Irrigators regulate the waters, fletchers straighten arrow shafts, carpenters shape wood, and the good control themselves.


source:  http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/kn/dhp/dhp.10.budd.html


So what if you could trip the guy up and stop him shooting people long enough for security to deal with him? Would you do that Ron?
“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: Mahayana Killers
« Reply #3 on: September 12, 2016, 06:50:53 am »
Quote
stillpointdancer:  "So what if you could trip the guy up and stop him shooting people long enough for security to deal with him? Would you do that Ron?"


Great questions as always, but as always there is more than one answer.

First, what I related to the O.P. was what Buddha taught, which is what, if we are truly taking refuge in The Triple Gem (The Buddha, The Dhamma, and The Holy Sangha), as Buddhists we are studying, practicing, verifying and validating, and then there is what we would do out of our education, conditioning and training.

Let's revisit what Buddha taught, which is what I attempted to communicate:

Buddha stated very clearly:  "Violence leads only to a continuing cycle of violence."  In the Angulimala Sutta he explains by analogy, "The only way to stop (violence) is to stop!"

Quote
The Sutta says:

Now Angulimala took up his sword and shield and buckled on his bow and quiver and he followed behind the Blessed One.

Then the Blessed One performed such a feat of supernormal power that the bandit Angulimala, going as fast as he could, was unable to catch up with the Blessed One, who was walking at his normal pace. Then he thought: "It is marvelous! Formerly I caught up with even a galloping elephant and seized it; I caught up with even a galloping horse and seized it; I caught up with even a galloping chariot and seized it; I caught up with even a galloping deer and seized it. But yet, though I am going as fast as I can, I am unable to catch up with this monk who is walking at his normal pace." He stopped and called "Stop, monk! Stop, monk!"

"I have stopped, Angulimala. Do you stop, too."


Quote
(The Blessed One:)
"Angulimala, I have stopped for ever,
Foreswearing violence to every living being;
But you have no restraint towards things that breathe;
So that is why I have stopped and you have not."


IMHO the story told in this sutta and the moral of this sutta regarding the murderer Angulimala is quite clear. The sutta goes on to tell of Angulimala's conversion to The Way of Peace as taught by Buddha, and we come to understand that Buddha's approach even with mass murderers was to ask only that they stop causing harm.  It is a story which every Buddhist student and practitioner benefits from reading and commiting to memory.

As for our previous to Buddhist education, conditioning and training with regard to violence:  If we were raised in a family and culture of violence to deal with correction of behavior and defence of nation, then it will be very difficult to respond otherwise when confronted with violence.  As a Vietnam War Vet, last in the combat arena in 1966, and having served in the active reserves till 1974, I still am conditioned to sit near an exit that I have checked for clearance, still identify pieces of furniture, which I can choose to use as weapons of defense, and still make mental plans to rush anyone armed, or brandishing a weapon should such an event of threatening violence arise.

This admission convinces me that I am not as yet unbound and released, nor enlightened, but merely educated in Buddha's Way. 

As such, here is my current leaning resulting from self education in Buddha's teachings regarding delaing with violence.: 

If there is a choice and I have a chance to act for the benefit of others by preventing harm to them; to the perpetrator by preventing him from causing harm to others; and to my mundane self by avoiding causing any harm, or allowing any harm to others, then I believe, but have not yet experienced that I would have the courage and conviction to act by "restraining" the perpetrator, or by "delaying" or "distracting", or by creating a "diversion" to prevent him/her from causing harm as you suggested.  In such a way I am promised by The Buddha to avoid the hell realms, which otherwise I would earn by acting violently towards any perpetrators of violence and as referenced in "The Simile of The Saw", "The Angulimala Sutta", and repeatedly in The Dhammapada.

So far, such an occasion to act nonviolently has not arisen, but in these times of terrorist acts and violent political protests there is always the potential.  The choice to end violence from our side is ours and ours alone.  We have been educated and conditioned by Buddhist teaching, and trained by members of our sanghas such that:  "The only way to stop is to stop!"  (re. violence)

reference:  http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/hecker/wheel312.html

« Last Edit: September 13, 2016, 11:47:48 am by Ron-the-Elder »
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 stillpointdancer

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Re: Mahayana Killers
« Reply #4 on: September 12, 2016, 02:47:22 pm »
Ron, good answer as always. As you say, there are no simple answers, but it's pretty obvious that the world would be a much better place if more people did restrain from violence. My father, despite being a WW2 vet and taking part in the D-Day landings, was the least violent person I have known. It was from choice not training, and I think we all have a chance to make the right choice.
“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 NiagaraGrrl

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Re: Mahayana Killers
« Reply #5 on: September 12, 2016, 05:08:58 pm »
Thank you for your reply, Ron-the-elder. I found the simile of the saw especially pertinent. I'm also trying to find something that's specifically Zen that illustrates how unskillful it is to kill, preemptively or not. But I'll keep looking for that.

I'm also looking for something more basic than I can find so far in the way of a translation of the story of Angulimala. The first time I heard that story, and in one particular version, a really primal-sounding translation (awkward in English, for one thing) had Buddha saying to Angulimala, "I have stopped. It is you who have not stopped." The power in the meaning of that statement was able to stop Angulimala enough that he lost a great deal of his ignorance on the spot. The power in the reality of that simple statement - not "I have stopped hurting people" (heck, Mahatma Ghandi did that, and millions of lesser known folks as well), but just, "I have stopped" - the reality that statement describes is the apparent magic of being able to walk at a normal pace but have a running man not be able to catch one. It comes from a mind which no longer compares itself to anything at all. A mind that is everywhere and does not need to go there. It is, in my judgement so far, light-years from "I have stopped hurting people." Have you seen any translation like that? I'm going to continue looking until I find it again.

Offline Ron-the-Elder

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Re: Mahayana Killers
« Reply #6 on: September 13, 2016, 11:44:20 am »
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 PuerAzaelis

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Re: Mahayana Killers
« Reply #7 on: September 13, 2016, 05:23:25 pm »
Is it not the middle way to know when to act and when not to? Or how? Hi all.
To understand everything except one’s own self is very comical. Kierkegaard, Concluding Unscientific Postscript

Offline Ron-the-Elder

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Re: Mahayana Killers
« Reply #8 on: September 13, 2016, 09:33:05 pm »
Quote
stillpointdance:  "My father, despite being a WW2 vet and taking part in the D-Day landings, was the least violent person I have known."


Surprisingly to children and fans of war stories, both books and movies, it is quite common for those who have actually been in combat to understand, appreciate and embrace the wisdom of non-violence as a life-choice.  Hollywood heroes, directors, and producers, who profit from their sales and displays of violence as a resolution to life-problems and conflicts will no doubt bear the consequences as do all those who cause harm with the use and promotion of violence.

One of the beneficial services that Buddhists and other practitioners of harmonious life-styles can choose to provide to the general public is non-violence.  In another life, in another state, but in this  country I was fortunate to work with The Quaker program in U.S. Prisons called simply:  "Alternatives to Violence:

http://www.quakersintheworld.org/quakers-in-action/42

This is a program in which I suggest all Buddhists should consider participating.    I was amazed at how it was received by an otherwise intractable prison population.  Every prisoner with whom I came in contact could relate to The Angulimala sutta, and easily understood its message even though formulated over two thousand years ago.
« Last Edit: September 13, 2016, 09:37:50 pm by Ron-the-Elder »
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 NiagaraGrrl

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Re: Mahayana Killers
« Reply #9 on: September 18, 2016, 04:06:32 pm »
Hi, NiagraGrrl:

Here are several commentaries, which reference Angulimala and may have what you are looking for:

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/hecker/wheel312.html

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.086.than.html

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.086.than.html


I can start with that, thanks. Actually, I started with it shortly after you posted it, which I can do on my phone, but on my phone I can't get the quote thing pulled in :smack:. So saying I read it had to wait. But thanks.

Offline NiagaraGrrl

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Re: Mahayana Killers
« Reply #10 on: September 18, 2016, 04:21:45 pm »
Is it not the middle way to know when to act and when not to? Or how? Hi all.

Hi PuerAzaelis.  I don't think that's the middle way. The middle way is to live between luxury - what the Buddha grew up with - and extreme deprivation in the name of spiritual discipline, as when he had been living on three - or maybe it was six - grains of rice a day. After some time of that overly-strict diet, when a cowherd girl offered him a bowl of fresh yogurt and he ate it, and experienced a flush of mental and physical strength, he developed his teaching that the way of living that is half-way between the two extremes is best for spiritual practice.

There is a lot about Not acting in Zen, due to a time-honored observation that much of the trouble of the human race comes from acting just for the sake of acting, because Somebody should do Something, and so we act. To learn to withhold from acting out of that kind of ego-driven impulse is to begin to be more skillful. And it is the middle way that one treads while learning this skillfulness. But that's the only connection I can think of right off between the middle way and when to act or not.

Offline NiagaraGrrl

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Re: Mahayana Killers
« Reply #11 on: September 19, 2016, 05:01:22 pm »
Hi, NiagraGrrl:

Here are several commentaries, which reference Angulimala and may have what you are looking for:

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/hecker/wheel312.html

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.086.than.html

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.086.than.html


I can start with that, thanks. Actually, I started with it shortly after you posted it, which I can do on my phone, but on my phone I can't get the quote thing pulled in :smack:. So saying I read it had to wait. But thanks.


When I first saw the story of Angulimala, it was well before easy internet access. Hard copy all the way. I don't know how far I'll have to search now to find chapter and verse, but here's something I found pretty quickly:  http://intentblog.com/story-buddha-dacoit-angulimala-reminder-how-religion-transforms-man/
"One day, Angulima found the highway deserted. He was waiting for his prey when he saw a monk passing by. He was none other than Lord Buddha. Angulima chased the monk for a long time but mysteriously the monk was always one step ahead of him.
Angulimal shouted, "Stop moving." The monk replied, "I am not moving, I am at rest. It is you who is in constant motion because of your discontent."

Now that's a lot more like what first got my attention with this story. Here's another one:

http://www.indianscriptures.com/gurus/buddhist-masters/angulimala-or-ahimsaka
Through his inner eye Buddha knew that Angulimala would be committing the most grievous sin of killing his mother. He knew that he had sufficient potential to be liberated due to his past spiritual stature and it was his Guru Bhakti which led him to commit such heinous crimes. He decided to seek him out before his mother reached him. Calmly and confidently he began walking towards Angulimala. People who came into contact with him dissuaded him fearing for his safety but the Buddha continued on his journey of compassion and tolerance. When he neared Angulimala, he raised his sword to kill him but surprisingly he could not catch up with him even though the Buddha was only a few steps away from him. No matter how fast he ran he could not catch Buddha. Finally in exhaustion he shouted at the ascetic to stop. Buddha then turned and benevolently told him that he had stopped but it was Angulimala who was ever moving and had to stop. Suddenly knowledge dawned on him that this was no ordinary ascetic and the weapons dropped from his hands. He rushed and fell at the feet of Buddha and resolving to give up evil he prayed for deliverance from his sins and entry into Buddha’s order of Monks.

One More:
http://www.revolvy.com/main/index.php?s=Angulimala
"But although Angulimala was running as fast as he could, he couldn't catch up with the Buddha who was walking calmly. "The Blessed One willed a feat of psychic power such that Angulimala, though running with all his might, could not catch up with the Blessed One walking at normal pace" (MN 86, translation from Thanissaro Bhikkhu). This bewildered Angulimala so much that he called to the Buddha to stop. The Buddha said that he himself had already stopped, and that it was Angulimala who should stop. Angulimala asked for further explanation, after which the Buddha said that he had stopped of being what he is trying to be so called Nirvana."
[hmm, what does that mean? Stopping 'being' anything that one is trying to 'be' - that would be that last step toward Nirvana - although perhaps awkwardly phrased. Is that what it means? I think something like that but can't demonstrate it. Yet.]

Well I have to stop for now. As an aside, one thing I seriously distrust is website after website using the exact - or even nearly exact - wording and phrasing without crediting where the information came from. Over and over I see it. I just breeze on by those folks, in search of the actual source.

And I will keep on my search...

 


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