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Thread: Perspectives on Non-Violence

  1. #1

    Perspectives on Non-Violence

    I was wondering what perspectives other people had on the Buddhist concept of Non-Violence (ie: how they apply the idea to different circumstances)?
    For example, does this equate to pacifism in times or war (eg: in cases of self defence or prevention of genocide)?
    I can think of other examples where a 'violent act' may be the more compassionate one (eg: putting a suffering animal to sleep).

    Relating the idea into the context of my own life, I practice a somewhat hands on and physical martial art (Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu) that some people may look on as violent. Analysing my own reasons for taking the sport up, it would seem that intention (in terms of Non-Violence) is just as important as the act itself. There are some people who seem to come with the determination to submit people no matter what the cost (ie: violent intention), whilst there are others who attend with the idea of helping themselves and others improve.
    What do other people think?

    Gassho,

    Simon.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Juki's Avatar
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    I do not believe that pacifism and self defense are mutually exclusive. My felling, and it just MY feeling, is that one should practice ahimsa (non-harm) to both self and others. To harm another is to harm yourself. To harm yourself is to harm others, by rendering you incapable of being able to fulfill the vow of saving all sentient beings. To allow yourself to be physically harmed is the same thing. Hence, pacifism as a primary course with the ingrained idea that you must always be available to help others (and may therefore be called upon to defend yourself from physical harm). Gassho, William

  3. #3
    Hi,

    The subject of self-defense comes up from time to time ... especially each year in our preparations for Jukai (Undertaking the Precepts Ceremony), as we reflect on the Precept on Preserving Life ...

    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...om-Taking-Life

    In a nutshell, the Suttas and Sutras offered many opinions on these questions (having been written, of course, by men of many opinions), and modern teachers are of many minds of this.

    Here is something I posted once ...



    From the opinions of Buddhist teachers from various traditions which I have read, I would say that almost all who saw the need for some response involving the taking of life saw it as a "necessary evil" ... not as a path or goal in any positive sense. Sometimes we must break a Precept to keep a Precept. And given modern warfare, most of the teachers were aware that this might include the unavoidable taking of civilian and other "non-combatant" lives in order to save a much greater number of lives.

    I believe that the following responses, some by the Dalai Lama, are representative of the diversity of opinion.

    http://www.tricycle.com/p/1487 (the comments which follow are also very interesting)
    http://www.tricycle.com/feature/war-...utside-the-box
    http://india.indymedia.org/en/2003/09/7833.shtml

    Thich Nhat Hanh may have been most representative of the "any violent response only leads to increased violence" opinion ...

    http://www.peaceiseverystepla.org/PeaceMessage.htm

    The Buddha also seems to have been of two minds on this. On the one hand, there are some writings in which he is framed to say that killing is never skillful.

    http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/a...ngmessage.html

    On the other hand, in other Sutta he did seem to countenance a nation having an army for certain limited purposes, and its discreet use.

    http://www.beyondthenet.net/thedway/soldier.htm

    http://www.urbandharma.org/udharma6/militarycanon.html

    Almost all the Buddhist teachers I can think of (including me too, for what it is worth) would say that we must also bear all the Karmic consequences of our volitional words, thoughts and acts, no matter whether we had a "reason" for killing or not.

    You may kill the cat, but you still likely have to pay the price in some way.

    A Tibetan teacher (Chagdud Tulku) relates this famous Jataka legend about a previous incarnation of the Buddha ...

    (In a previous life, the Buddha was Captain Compassionate Heart, sailing with 500 merchants. An evil pirate, Dung Thungchen (Blackspear) appeared, threatening to kill them all. )The captain, a bodhisattva himself, saw the [pirate]'s murderous intention and realized this crime would result in eons of torment for the murderer. In his compassion, the captain was willing to take hellish torment upon himself by killing the man to prevent karmic suffering that would be infinity greater than the suffering of the murdered victims. The captain's compassion was impartial; his motivation was utterly selfless.
    I am not sure about the effect of our Karma in lives to come ... but I do know that we likely will bear the effects of our actions in this life in some way. I have a friend, an ex-policeman, who had to kill someone in a perfectly necessary and justified act to save lives. Yet, my friend still carries that with him to this day.

    No, taking lives is never a "good" thing.
    It is important to remember too that Buddhists do not generally believe in "bad people", only in "people who do bad things" because they themselves are victims of greed, anger and ignorance within. The real evil doer is "greed anger and ignorance".

    Even if one is required to act in self-defense ... of one's own life, the life of another, or to protect society as in the case of a policeman or soldier ... one should best not feel anger even if forced to use force, one should nurture peace as much as one can, avoiding violence as much as one can, using violence as little as one can even when needed.

    Yes, most all flavors of Buddhism teach that, even should one be forced to break a Precept in a big or small way, one should bear the Karmic weight, reflect on having had to do so, seek as one can not to do so in the future.

    The case I usually mention is that friend of mine, a Buddhist policeman, who had to kill someone in the line of duty in order to save an innocent person held hostage. It was a perfectly justified, necessary shooting. However, from that day he always felt a kind of mental scar, a heavy weight ... even though he knew he had to do the right thing. He always felt the need to bring peace into the world in some measure to make up for what he had had to do.

    Gassho, Jundo (married to Mina, a 3rd Dan Blackbelt in Aikido)
    Last edited by Jundo; 04-05-2013 at 04:12 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  4. #4
    By the way, I always speak honestly about this ...

    It is my conviction (almost happened once, in fact... and having lived in drug and gun Miami much of my early life, it is not a mere hypothetical) that if I found an intruder in our house anywhere near my children or wife, I would hit him hard with a baseball bat, use a knife or any other weapon handy (I do not believe in guns in the house) ... hit him until I felt he was no longer a threat or until (if not sure) he stopped moving (when it comes to PCP and other drugs, that may take some effort) ... then chant for him after. I have no doubt.

    Although he may be a victim of greed, anger and ignorance ... I would not hesitate to stop an intruder including the use of deadly force if necessary.

    Having sat with this question each year as we reflect on the Precept on Preserving Life, I am comfortable with such an action under those circumstances, and I am willing the carry any Karma which may result.

    I don't think it good to play the saint "beyond" all such things, cause this world is ugly sometimes.

    Let us hope it never happens ... and that I am never forced to put this to the test.

    The Dalai Lama once famously said (speaking to a group of American school kids about what to do if an armed intruder were to come into the school) ...

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

    http://www.snopes.com/politics/guns/dalailama.asp

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 04-05-2013 at 04:21 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  5. #5
    Senior Member Nengyo's Avatar
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    I would not hesitate to stop an intruder including the use of deadly force if necessary.
    Let us hope it never happens ... and that I am never forced to put this to the test.
    This is pretty much the point I've reached in life. I try to take all of the precautions and security measures I can, deescalate conflict, and act a reasonably as possible to avoid violence.

    I also don't consider the practice of martial arts inherently violent, especially akido, judo, jujitsu, and wrestling. It is the intent that makes all the difference here. I view training in them as a way to master life, as I doubt I will be engaged in many more grappling matches in my life.
    "You yourself must strive. The Buddhas only point the way." - Shakyamuni Buddha

  6. #6
    Hi guys,

    I like to comment on this:

    I think we never can fully oversee the consequences of violence? Sometimes, after knowing all facts and reasons for others to go on the path of violence, we can get to the point where we maybe gladly would lie down our lives to end the cycle. I'm a Bosnia Vet and it will always stay with me weather the violence I used, carrying out orders, caused more harm than good? What are the consequences of taking a life and for those around the person that got killed by our hand? Can we ever fully oversee all and make such a decision? No, so we can never take a life based on our own decisions. Not in war, not in self defense and even not in death punishment of a criminal. A human never has the right to end the life of another human, no matter the circumstances. There is always another way.
    I’d like to share something on this, that happened in my life.

    I was in a NATO IFOR squad doing night patrolling close to Sarajevo once. We were wired and jumpy because of reports and briefings about danger levels in the area etc. Every shadow was a potential danger and as the night went on all of us got into a certain state of mind. In the early morning, I remember the sun coming out over the mountains, we came to a few houses built close together. Not a town really but more a road crossing. A small child was playing war and took an aggressive attitude towards us. He was just playing, came out running from the shadows with something in its hand. He was going to throw that something at us. Our guys in point saw him coming, never hesitated and gunned the poor kid down. I was the medic in the squad at the time and tried all I could to save the kid but failed in the end. People came out running and I sat on my knees near the shot kid watching mother and father take the it into their arms and then just walk away. Just walked away without a word! The image never left me since then.

    Turns out later that what the kid had in his hand, was a CocaCola can, wrapped in silver paper. A self made grenade to play war with, like his hero daddy. It turned out a deadly grenade all right. So much for self-defense split-second decisions, made by humans. Like Forrest Gump once said: that’s all I have to say about this.

    Goes to show we cannot take back what we do, even if the reasons for doing it were the right ones.

    Gassho

    Enkyo

  7. #7
    Thanks for sharing guys.

    I think that if someone attacked me and my life was in danger, I would do what is necessary. I don't necessarily think that person's right to life should carry more weight over mine in such a situation if they are trying to kill me. I guess I would just have to deal with the consequences of what I have done.
    Having said that I think violence should be the very last solution and should rarely (if ever) be used because (as Enkyo said) we cannot take back what we do.

    Gassho,

    Simon
    Last edited by simon; 04-06-2013 at 02:03 PM. Reason: typo

  8. #8
    Senior Member Jakudo's Avatar
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    I agree violence should be a last defence after all other venues have been exhausted, but sometimes situations arise that do not allow us the opportunity to explore other options, as seen in Enkyo's horrible situation above. If we keep a non violent intention, I guess that's the best we can do sometimes. I also believe if we try to keep a non violent intention in our lives we are less likely to develop the dis-ease of violence and fear, which can be easy to acquire with today's fear based media bombarding us daily. Just my 2 cents worth.
    Gassho, Jakudo
    Gassho, Shawn Jakudo Hinton
    It all begins when we say, “I”. Everything that follows is illusion.
    "Even to speak the word Buddha is dragging in the mud soaking wet; Even to say the word Zen is a total embarrassment."
    寂道

  9. #9
    I practice non-violence and physical gentleness, but will use force if necessary. Both my brother and I were trained to box by our father. He was a boxer and then a trainer and promoter in Britain back when it was very popular. All his brothers boxed, and we had to learn too. I was sluggish in the ring but had a hammer of a punch, my brother was very fast. I have taught my son to box... we use safety gear and have fun.

    Here is an old film of my uncle Vic losing a fight. http://www.britishpathe.com/video/al...ery/vic+herman

    Gassho
    Last edited by Daizan; 04-07-2013 at 07:54 AM.
    大山

  10. #10
    An article on Buddhist non-violence (already largely quoted in the Snopes article I previously linked to) which may surprise some folks ...

    --------------------------

    It's not so strange for a Buddhist to endorse killing
    The Dalai Lama's attitude to Bin Laden's death should not be too surprising – Buddhism is not as pacifist as the west fantasises

    Stephen Jenkins
    guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 11 May 2011


    The Dalai Lama said Osama bin Laden deserved compassion but his killing was 'understandable'.

    How could the Dalai Lama, who hesitates to harm mosquitoes, endorse killing Osama bin Laden? The terrorist deserved compassion, the Dalai Lama said, but "if something is serious … you have to take counter-measures". The apparent inconsistency here is with idealistic western fantasies of pacifist Buddhism, not with Buddhism itself. The power of those fantasies is so strong that it even affects Tibetans themselves. Some young refugees blame Buddhism for losing Tibet. Saying "we were warriors once," they invoke their history of empire and incorrectly think their ancestors did not resist Chinese invasion. Those fantasies also cause us to fail to appreciate how extraordinary the Dalai Lama is. We take his values as those of a typical Buddhist or a typical dalai lama, and he is neither.

    Buddhists work out their values through stories of Buddha's past lives, which show him in myriad roles, such as a battle-elephant or minister defending his besieged city. The following story is analogous to a terrorist situation. It is known throughout northern Buddhism. Communists even used it to rouse Chinese Buddhists to fight in Korea. The Buddha, in a past life as a ship's captain named Super Compassionate, discovered a criminal on board who intended to kill the 500 passengers. If he told the passengers, they would panic and become killers themselves, as happened on a Southwest Airlines flight in 2000. With no other way out, he compassionately stabbed the criminal to death. Captain Compassionate saved the passengers not only from murder, but from becoming murderers themselves. Unlike him, they would have killed in rage and suffered hell. He saved the criminal from becoming a mass murderer and even worse suffering. He himself generated vast karmic merit by acting with compassion.

    The story is double-edged. Killing protects others from the horrific karma of killing. At Harvard in April 2009, the Dalai Lama explained that "wrathful forceful action" motivated by compassion, may be "violence on a physical level" but is "essentially nonviolence". So we must be careful to understand what "nonviolence" means. Under the right conditions, it could include killing a terrorist.

    People fail to appreciate how extraordinary the Dalai Lama's commitment to nonviolence is. After all, he is a Buddhist and the manifestation of Avalokiteśvara, the deity of compassion. But Buddhist values are not simply pacifist, and Buddhist scripture and legend inform us that Avalokiteśvara readily takes a warrior's form when needed and supports the warfare of righteous kings.

    Buddhist cultures, including Tibet, have not historically been pacifist. The previous dalai lama strove to develop a modern military. So the current one's dedication to nonviolence should not be taken as a matter of course. He was influenced by Gandhi, a British-trained lawyer whose pacifism was rooted in Thoreau's Civil Disobedience. His nonviolent approach is exceptional for a Buddhist political leader and integrates Indian and western concepts of nonviolent struggle.

    The exaggerated image of pacifism projected on Buddhism (and Hinduism) was embraced and promoted by natives, as it conveyed moral superiority over colonialist oppressors and missionaries. Getting the message fed back by natives reinforced the original misconceptions. But the ultimate source is Euro-Americans themselves, weary of a century of warfare and longing for a pacifist Shangri-La. Buddhist cultural values were never so simplistic and practically served rājas, khans, and daimyō for millennia. The main reason Buddhists' history does not match our expectations, aside from them being as human as the rest of us, is that our expectations have been mistaken. Some think that fantasies of a pacifist utopia benefit the Tibetan cause. It can also be argued that they encourage communists to contemptuously dismiss western support for Tibet and obstruct Buddhists from engaging their values.

    The Buddhist world is racked with violence and it has never been more important to understand Buddhist ethics. These include never acting in anger; exhausting alternatives such as negotiation; striving to capture the enemy alive; avoiding destruction of infrastructure and the environment; and taking responsibility for how one's actions and exploitation cause enemies to arise. They also emphasise the great psychic danger to those who act violently, something we see in the large number of suicides among youth sent to these wars. Above all, rather than "national self-interest", the guiding motivation should be compassion.

    Since the Dalai Lama's first statement, it became clear that Bin Laden did not die in a firefight to avoid capture, but was shot down unarmed. The Nobel laureate made the news again, calling the killing understandable, but this time he equated the death with the hanging of Saddam Hussein, expressed sadness at the killing, and re-emphasised his commitment to nonviolence.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisf...ath-dalai-lama
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  11. #11
    Treeleaf Unsui/Engineer Kyonin's Avatar
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    Violence ends up creating more violence. That's something I truly believe.

    However, in the movie V for Vendetta, V says "violence can be used for good". And I share this point of view. I think about people like Hitler. He just had to be stopped and was beyond any negotiation or dialog. We all know how it all ended.

    As a martial artist myself (Aikido), I believe that we should keep peace for as long as we can. But if anyone threatens my family or myself, I wouldn't hesitate in trying to calm things down by any means necessary.

    That's why training is important. We prepare ourselves so we never use what we know.

    Gassho,

    Kyonin
    Please remember I am only a priest in training. I could be wrong in everything I say. Slap me if needed.

    The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one. Mr. Spock

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Kyonin View Post
    Violence ends up creating more violence. That's something I truly believe.

    However, in the movie V for Vendetta, V says "violence can be used for good". And I share this point of view. I think about people like Hitler. He just had to be stopped and was beyond any negotiation or dialog. We all know how it all ended.

    As a martial artist myself (Aikido), I believe that we should keep peace for as long as we can. But if anyone threatens my family or myself, I wouldn't hesitate in trying to calm things down by any means necessary.

    That's why training is important. We prepare ourselves so we never use what we know.

    Gassho,

    Kyonin
    I totally agree Kyōnin and as a fellow Aikidoka, I train to prepare myself to not do too much. I train to learn respect, restraint, and balance in the midst of violence.

    Gassho
    Shingen



    If you cannot find the truth right where you are, where else do you expect to find it?
    ~ Dogen Zenji

  13. #13
    The Bin Laden execution was one those moments when State power was undisguised . It was like a mob hit... shot between the eyes and dumped in the ocean. “That's what you get”. Seeing kids partying outside the Whitehouse cast a sickly light on it. I was horrified by Sept 11th, who wasn't ? I was just as horrified by the consequences, including the opportunistic implementation of a strategic vision, and the playing on color coded fears, so that a guy in the middle of North Dakota is so paranoid he wraps his house in plastic in case of poison gas. If Bin Laden had it coming , and no doubt he did, how about the authors of “Shock and Awe” ? He was a human being and I can't forget that. I also could not help feeling compassion for Gaddafi when he was pulled , confused, from a culvert, then dragged around in the dust to be beaten and shot by maniacs, who were no better than him in that moment. He was a monster, but in that moment he was a confused old man.

    The death penalty is barbaric. Killing in the midst of passion is one thing, but to coolly take someone who is completely under your power, bureaucratically process him, then kill him in a “procedure” with witnesses.... that is monstrous.

    ...Hmmmm sorry, got on a role there... got an opinion or two.

    Gassho Daizan
    大山

  14. #14
    Senior Member Jakudo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Daizan View Post
    The Bin Laden execution was one those moments when State power was undisguised . It was like a mob hit... shot between the eyes and dumped in the ocean. “That's what you get”. Seeing kids partying outside the Whitehouse cast a sickly light on it. I was horrified by Sept 11th, who wasn't ? I was just as horrified by the consequences, including the opportunistic implementation of a strategic vision, and the playing on color coded fears, so that a guy in the middle of North Dakota is so paranoid he wraps his house in plastic in case of poison gas. If Bin Laden had it coming , and no doubt he did, how about the authors of “Shock and Awe” ? He was a human being and I can't forget that. I also could not help feeling compassion for Gaddafi when he was pulled , confused, from a culvert, then dragged around in the dust to be beaten and shot by maniacs, who were no better than him in that moment. He was a monster, but in that moment he was a confused old man.

    The death penalty is barbaric. Killing in the midst of passion is one thing, but to coolly take someone who is completely under your power, bureaucratically process him, then kill him in a “procedure” with witnesses.... that is monstrous.

    ...Hmmmm sorry, got on a role there... got an opinion or two.

    Gassho Daizan
    I totally agree with you Daizan, I could not have said it better, thank you. What is the difference between justice and revenge?
    Gassho. Jakudo
    Gassho, Shawn Jakudo Hinton
    It all begins when we say, “I”. Everything that follows is illusion.
    "Even to speak the word Buddha is dragging in the mud soaking wet; Even to say the word Zen is a total embarrassment."
    寂道

  15. #15
    Going to have to disagree a little with Daizan. It goes without saying that I respect his opinion but when I read the post it seemed so it is either black and white to me. Comparing bin ladens demise to a mob hit misses the mark for me and seeing the people dance in the streets at his death was sad but not knowing the suffering they endured due to or because of him and terrorist events I can understand it. I have had a close and personal view of devastation caused by greed anger and ignorance due to my law enforcement career.

    As for the death penalty...I don't know. Could it be compassion?

    I do know this. My nine year has been telling me love is the key to all the problems of the world. My nine year old quoting MLK is wondrous to me . Interesting that she tells her dad this before I go to work.

    Is there love in using violence? In using force? How deep is compassion? I vow to keep practicing and to consider all possibilities

    Gassho to this thread. Respect to all the opinions

    Daido


  16. #16
    It is interesting to see some of the differing opinions on here.

    I'm not sure if the death penalty is compassionate. When talking about self-defence the preservation of one's own or others lives may be at stake. With regards to the death penalty the crime has already been committed and so to put someone to death for committing one seems more like retribution to me.

    I am not sure with regards to the case of Bin Laden as I am not sure of the facts. If it was a cold blooded kill planned in advance then I'm with Daizan on that one, it sends the wrong message to the world in my opinion.

    Gassho,

    Simon

  17. #17
    Senior Member Amelia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hbhippo View Post
    To kill to continue my own life is almost to say that my existence is more important than that of the person killed.
    Interesting perspective.

    I have been watching a lot of "The Walking Dead" lately. All this discussion of killing out of compassion, killing in self defense, and killing in anger are all exemplified in that show. It's interesting to watch the characters try to solve these moral dilemmas. Most of these kinds of decisions in the show were made split-second and the character didn't really know if it was right.

    We can talk about what we would or wouldn't do in a violent situation, but we won't really know unless we are in one.

    Quote Originally Posted by Daizan View Post
    The Bin Laden execution was one those moments when State power was undisguised . It was like a mob hit... shot between the eyes and dumped in the ocean. “That's what you get”. Seeing kids partying outside the Whitehouse cast a sickly light on it.

    ...I also could not help feeling compassion for Gaddafi when he was pulled , confused, from a culvert, then dragged around in the dust to be beaten and shot by maniacs, who were no better than him in that moment.

    ...Killing in the midst of passion is one thing, but to coolly take someone who is completely under your power, bureaucratically process him, then kill him in a “procedure” with witnesses.... that is monstrous.
    Yep

    Quote Originally Posted by simon View Post
    With regards to the death penalty the crime has already been committed and so to put someone to death for committing one seems more like retribution to me.
    And, even though justified by the state government, someone still has to live with killing that person.
    迎 Geika

  18. #18
    Treeleaf Unsui Yugen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Daido View Post
    Going to have to disagree a little with Daizan. It goes without saying that I respect his opinion but when I read the post it seemed so it is either black and white to me. Comparing bin ladens demise to a mob hit misses the mark for me and seeing the people dance in the streets at his death was sad but not knowing the suffering they endured due to or because of him and terrorist events I can understand it. I have had a close and personal view of devastation caused by greed anger and ignorance due to my law enforcement career.

    As for the death penalty...I don't know. Could it be compassion?

    I do know this. My nine year has been telling me love is the key to all the problems of the world. My nine year old quoting MLK is wondrous to me . Interesting that she tells her dad this before I go to work.

    Is there love in using violence? In using force? How deep is compassion? I vow to keep practicing and to consider all possibilities

    Gassho to this thread. Respect to all the opinions

    Daido
    My practice in Zen Buddhism has led me to be more open to the playing out of karma and the consequences of actions and less firm in judgements of things like the death penalty. I don't like the death penalty; but what of death row inmates who request execution to be relieved of decades of incarceration - which is a form of hell itself? There are no easy absolutes.

    In the case of Bin Laden, or other individuals who live violent lives, in terms of cause and effect, it is pretty likely that you will reap what you sow. You can have an opinion as to whether OBLs death was basically a "hit," but you also cannot deny that he reaped the karmic consequences of his actions and lifestyle. Cause and effect become indistinguishable. You can like/not like sanctioned assassinations and executions of whatever form, but what is relevant to me is the unerring and inevitable unfolding of karma. If you steal, kill, lie, or engage in acts of harm, it is inevitable that the seeds of your actions will near bitter fruit for yourself as well as others. These results may take many years to ripen; but they will inevitably present themselves. Piss off the USG the way OBL did and it is a pretty safe bet a clandestine operator will show up in the middle of the night and make you a gift of a double tap.

    Actions have consequences. Nature does not express preferences - things unfold according to unerring cause and effect.

    Karma unfolding. Policy discussions in the tea room.

    Deep bows
    Yugen
    Last edited by Yugen; 04-07-2013 at 10:05 PM.
    Please take all my comments with a grain of salt - I am a novice priest and anything I say is to be taken with a good dose of skepticism - Shodo Yugen

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by Yugen View Post
    My practice in Zen Buddhism has led me to be more open to the playing out of karma and the consequences of actions and less firm in judgements of things like the death penalty. I don't like the death penalty; but what of death row inmates who request execution to be relieved of decades of incarceration - which is a form of hell itself? There are no easy absolutes.

    In the case of Bin Laden, or other individuals who live violent lives, in terms of cause and effect, it is pretty likely that you will reap what you sow. You can have an opinion as to whether OBLs death was basically a "hit," but you also cannot deny that he reaped the karmic consequences of his actions and lifestyle. Cause and effect become indistinguishable. You can like/not like sanctioned assassinations and executions of whatever form, but what is relevant to me is the unerring and inevitable unfolding of karma. If you steal, kill, lie, or engage in acts of harm, it is inevitable that the seeds of your actions will near bitter fruit for yourself as well as others. These results may take many years to ripen; but they will inevitably present themselves. Piss off the USG the way OBL did and it is a pretty safe bet a jacked up operator will show up in the middle of the night and make you a gift of a double tap.

    Actions have consequences. Nature does not express preferences - things unfold according to unerring cause and effect.

    Karma unfolding. Policy discussions in the tea room.

    Deep bows
    Yugen
    Deep Bows


  20. #20
    I think the problem with the death penalty is that it has to be institutionalized and is therefore open to abuse (ie: can be manipulated bad as well as compassionate intentions).

    Also, if someone is requesting to be killed there is no way of knowing if that person has been put under undue pressure to do so (especially in the case of prison). The person being put to death may also be innocent.

    Just my thoughts on the matter.

    Gassho,

    Simon

  21. #21
    Treeleaf Unsui Yugen's Avatar
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    I do not disagree with you in any way. Point well taken.

    Deep bows
    Yugen
    Please take all my comments with a grain of salt - I am a novice priest and anything I say is to be taken with a good dose of skepticism - Shodo Yugen

  22. #22
    Treeleaf Unsui Yugen's Avatar
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    @Daizan: I understand your feelings about the manner in which OBLs remains were handled. I am reminded of the story of Achilles and Hector in the Trojan War - after Achilles killed Hector in single combat he dragged the latter's body behind his chariot back and forth before the walls of Troy, to the horror of Hector's family .... Achilles also suffered the opprobrium of his fellow Greeks for his behavior.

    Deep bows
    Yugen
    Last edited by Yugen; 04-07-2013 at 09:52 PM.
    Please take all my comments with a grain of salt - I am a novice priest and anything I say is to be taken with a good dose of skepticism - Shodo Yugen

  23. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by Yugen View Post
    My practice in Zen Buddhism has led me to be more open to the playing out of karma and the consequences of actions and less firm in judgements of things like the death penalty. I don't like the death penalty; but what of death row inmates who request execution to be relieved of decades of incarceration - which is a form of hell itself? There are no easy absolutes.
    I agree there are no easy absolutes, in fact I have never found an absolute position of any kind, only relative ones. But what I can do is be honest about what feels "right" in accordance with my reason, experience, and gut, and take a position. Zen doesn't mean never taking a position on social and political issues. It does mean I am not under the illusion of being objective in my views. I admired the forthright stand you took over gun violence, and the need for action on guns. Your position influenced my thinking, and that stand is appreciated.

    Gassho
    Daizan
    大山

  24. #24
    Treeleaf Unsui Yugen's Avatar
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    Daizan,
    I appreciate your thoughtful response. It's funny; I struggled with my post on firearms violence - it was reactive and emotional but to be honest my position has not changed one bit.

    Like you, for me there is a powerful social and engaged aspect of my practice. For me Zen is not something to be practiced only on a cushion, it is something to be lived, with passion and integrity. Often there is not a linear logic or objectivity to our positions.

    In the course of this journey I have learned that the choices as they are presented to us are often false dichotomies - capital punishment for example. We can have opinions for or against capital punishment but upon reflection for me the real issue is the philosophy pursued in the criminal justice system in the US - is the purpose of incarceration and sentencing punitive, corrective, or rehabilitative? I am very distressed at the fearful, vengeful attitude so prevalent in our society today. And the US has the largest prison population of any of the "industrialized" nations.

    My original post was motivated by my recognition of the working of karma, which does not often respect or observe the social and political positions we take or oppose others on. Recognizing karma unfolding has led me to be more circumspect in some cases and see the painful paradoxes in many issues we face today. In a few others it has led me to be very direct and urgent.

    Deep bows of respect and gratitude to you for your practice,

    Yugen
    Last edited by Yugen; 04-08-2013 at 12:32 AM.
    Please take all my comments with a grain of salt - I am a novice priest and anything I say is to be taken with a good dose of skepticism - Shodo Yugen

  25. #25
    Quote Originally Posted by Yugen View Post

    My original post was motivated by my recognition of the working of karma, which does not often respect or observe the social and political positions we take or oppose others on. Recognizing karma unfolding has led me to be more circumspect in some cases and see the painful paradoxes in many issues we face today. In a few others it has led me to be very direct and urgent.
    I'm a bit heretical in a way. Recognizing karma is iffy, because in the widest sense, there is nothing but karma. It is an absolute, and like all absolutes it disappears up its own backside without leaving a trace. So when I point to the working of karma in the world, I am by necessity being selective in that pointing, because it suits me. The buck just keeps stopping here at this heart. Can't help it.

    Maybe that makes no sense, or is a bit loopy, but that's ok. I am not denying karma.


    Deep bows and much respect.

    Daizan
    Last edited by Daizan; 04-08-2013 at 10:36 AM.
    大山

  26. #26
    Treeleaf Unsui Yugen's Avatar
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    Daizan,
    I think we pretty much are saying similar things - perhaps coming to it from
    our respective vantage points - and it is pleasing to hear it from another perspective. I respect your views a lot. They cause me to stop and reflect. Thank you.

    Deep bows
    Yugen
    Please take all my comments with a grain of salt - I am a novice priest and anything I say is to be taken with a good dose of skepticism - Shodo Yugen

  27. #27
    I get Daizan ( Kojito to me.) We have been hitting keybaords here and there for some time now. I see him as a gentle, lovely soul, expressing through words and painting sincerity and passion I usually share; and a serious practitioner too.
    The Osama thingy tears my heart. To me his name evokes images of people jumping to their death off very tall buildings....like Sysyfus I push that heavy rock only to watch it roll down on the other side when some how the name pops us. I forgive never forget.
    My problem with violence among others, as a Buddhist, is with the A word, I dare not mention it here. To me it is a violent act. It amazaes me how Buddhist can carry a dying lizzard out of the zendo to sunlight in solidariyt for the repetile and all beings, but remain indiferent over a cosmetic, quicky problem-solving but brutal, unnatural and inhuman act like that, demanding it be made available on demand.
    Never a word on it anywhere. The proverbial elephant in the zazen party.
    So, all other "violence condemnation" speech sounds empty.
    In gassho to all.
    "Know that the practice of zazen is the complete path of buddha-dharma and nothing can be compared to it....it is not the practice of one or two buddhas but all the buddha ancestors practice this way."
    Dogen zenji in Bendowa






  28. #28
    I would like to share with everyone my rather idealistic dream ... maybe even too radical for the taste of many.

    First, I would love to see developed countries such as the United States answer violence ... even something like the destruction of the World Trade Center ... by turning the other cheek, responding by spending the same billions of dollars in the military budget by building schools, hospitals, roads and other "good will" projects in the countries of our enemies, "killing them with kindness" instead of bullets. It would be an all out effort to win the hearts and minds of those who hate.

    Of course, I do not see this as a total answer ... and some situations will still need to be met with bombs and armies. That is just the reality. However, military force should be turned to only as a last last resort.

    In fact, I think this is very unlikely to happen ... maybe impossible.

    My second proposal is even more radical, and may offend some:

    Assuming medical and neurological science advances sufficiently far, I would like to see seriously violent criminals (I mean, the truly dangerous), upon being convicted by a jury of citizens, sentenced to a medical procedure such a brain surgery to remove the capability or desire to engage in violent acts. It would only be used after all procedures had been pursued, much as we enforce the death penalty now. They would be rendered harmless, possibly then even released.

    While my suggestion may sound frightening to some, I believe it much more civil and humane than tossing people into hell hole prisons and throwing away the key, as we do today.

    There is a famous book and movie called Clockwork Orange about a rapist who receives just such a treatment. While that story was ambiguous about the morality of such a medical procedure, I thought it a very good idea.

    Again, it would only be in limited cases, after all procedures, and only for the most violent of the violent.

    Someday in the future (although in fact, the technical ability may be right around the corner).

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 04-19-2013 at 03:04 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  29. #29
    Treeleaf Unsui Shokai's Avatar
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    Jundo;

    Clockwork Orange ? Careful how you date yourself.

    Actually, recent input indicates the surgery you suggest may soon be viable by injection or aural therapies. And, like you say, could be considered more humane than the existing penal system, Hey, let's start a petition !!
    gassho, Shokai, still learning the way and knowing nothing
    仁道 生開 - Jindo Shokai "Open to life in a benevolent way"
    Just another itinerant monk; go somewhere else to listen to someone who really knows.

  30. #30
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    IWhile may suggestion may sound frightening to some, I believe it much more civil and humane than tossing people into hell hole prisons and throwing away the key, as we do today.
    I totally agree Jundo! There are so many different conditions to why they did the things they did ... it is important to understand those conditions so we can help them and keep them out of those nasty prisions.

    Gassho
    Shingen



    If you cannot find the truth right where you are, where else do you expect to find it?
    ~ Dogen Zenji

  31. #31
    Junior Member George's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Assuming medical and neurological science advances sufficiently far, I would like to see seriously violent criminals (I mean, the truly dangerous), upon being convicted by a jury of citizens, sentenced to a medical procedure such a brain surgery to remove the capability or desire to engage in violent acts. It would only be used after all procedures had been pursued, much as we enforce the death penalty now. They would be rendered harmless, possibly then even released.

    While may suggestion may sound frightening to some, I believe it much more civil and humane than tossing people into hell hole prisons and throwing away the key, as we do today.
    One potential problem - and perhaps the reason people see it as frightening - is that by performing an act that changing a person's nature significantly we could be seen as essentially killing that original person, even if the process also creates a new person out of that act. We can see from instances of traumatic brain injury, for example from automotive collisions, cases where friends and family of a seriously injured person descibed them as being a 'different person' after the injury.
    My personal thoughts on this is that procedures such as brain surgery, or medical castration for some sex offenders, should be offered as an alternative to custodial sentences for some prisoners but only carried out with their consent.

    On the matter of the death penalty I am totally and utterly against it - although would not necessarily refuse a prisoners request to ask for euthenasia when facing a long term, or permanent, custodial sentence, as we should be looking at ways to ensure the safety of society with minimum further suffering to all parties, including the perpetrator of the offense.

    Gassho,
    George

  32. #32
    Quote Originally Posted by George View Post
    One potential problem - and perhaps the reason people see it as frightening - is that by performing an act that changing a person's nature significantly we could be seen as essentially killing that original person, even if the process also creates a new person out of that act. We can see from instances of traumatic brain injury, for example from automotive collisions, cases where friends and family of a seriously injured person descibed them as being a 'different person' after the injury.
    My personal thoughts on this is that procedures such as brain surgery, or medical castration for some sex offenders, should be offered as an alternative to custodial sentences for some prisoners but only carried out with their consent.
    I agree with the first part, that it would change the original person ... perhaps substantially. However, locking someone away in a violent, rape-filled, squalid prison for years also seems to change people significantly too.

    I also would be willing to perform the procedures "without their consent", just as now we lock people away (or execute them) without their consent ... based on a fair trial by jury, appeals and review.

    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  33. #33
    Hi Jenell,

    Can't speak for Yugen but the way I interpret what he is saying is that he isn't condoning the violent actions that relate to Bin Laden etc, just that actions have consequences. This doesn't make it justified, just that you reap what you sow. That's what I think he is saying anyway.
    I tend to agree with you about the brain surgery point. I can see what Jundo is saying in principle but the problem with such a punishment the principle upon such a proceedure should be administered appears to be abitrary. After all, how do you argue that one person should should get the treatment but that another should not? Also, if a person has been wrongly convicted of a crime and they have brain surgery, you cannot take back that mistake.

    Gassho,

    Simon

  34. #34
    Quote Originally Posted by Jenell View Post
    But then, of course, who gets to determine who is the most violent of the violent?
    I have to say I find this idea despicable.
    That makes two of us. I find it despicable too.

    It is just that I find it less despicable than dropping someone in a maximum security prison for life, let alone handing them the death penalty. In my vision, the recipient would be released back out in the world, able to marry and have kids, enjoy life peacefully, work and contribute to society. How is that "denying someone their humanity?" It seems like a restoration to me.

    I guess the people who will decide who is the "most violent of the violent" would be the same who do now, the judges and juries that hand out the death penalty or "50 years to life" in Jail.

    What I would really hope to see is a procedure that is reversible (yes, like that vasectomy that someone might later rectify). Then, we could also reduce the effect of wrongful conviction. Unfortunately, that is not something as easy to do now with the death penalty or wrongful incarceration in a hell hole prison.

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 04-19-2013 at 03:03 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  35. #35
    Hi Jenell,

    I would love to change the prisons, and the schools and the neighborhoods. I just spent the day listening to two episodes of This American Life that were stunning, both looking at a high school where students are subject to shootings and violence on almost a daily basis, a single school where 29 students were shot just last year. All the money and "good ideas" poured into the school have done little.

    http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radi...chool-part-one

    When I was a chaplain volunteer for a Zen group in a maximum security prison in Florida a few years ago, I had a small taste of what our prisons are like. Inhumane.

    I hope we can see a solution where, someday, violence can be regulated and controlled within the human brain so these individuals can be returned to productive life. For example, how about an implant that would be able to detect hormonal releases and neurological impulses associated with anger/violence and chemically counter-act them before the person has a chance to do harm? That seems a far cry from the "lobotomy" you think I am proposing. I would like to see violent individuals robbed simply of their tendency to extreme anger and violence, leaving the rest.

    In fact, I am sorry to say this ... but it is only a matter of time, and the technology is around the corner.

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 04-19-2013 at 04:40 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  36. #36
    Hi Jundo,

    You are starting to convince me a little more with what you are saying. However, I sense a slippery slope. If it is acceptable to physically change a person's brain so that they act a certain way, what's to stop people arguing about the same surgery being used to change someone's political views or any other part of someone's personality for that matter. The possibilities of missuse seem endless. Where do we draw the line?

    Gassho,

    Simon

  37. #37
    Quote Originally Posted by simon View Post
    Hi Jundo,

    You are starting to convince me a little more with what you are saying. However, I sense a slippery slope. If it is acceptable to physically change a person's brain so that they act a certain way, what's to stop people arguing about the same surgery being used to change someone's political views or any other part of someone's personality for that matter. The possibilities of missuse seem endless. Where do we draw the line?

    Gassho,

    Simon
    Yes, I agree.

    And what is to stop someone from sending political dissidents today to Siberia, prison camps, torture, mental hospitals, execution. Unfortunately, that goes on around the world now ... and is no better.

    What keeps this from happening (Guantanamo aside) in our Western countries? Why, a system of courts and trials with constitutional protections, appeals, checks. That is what prevents the "slippery slope" now, and what can prevent it in the future.

    Gassho, Jundo

    PS - VERY dangerous to disagree with me, Simon and Jen. I know a doctor who can change your mind ... literally!
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  38. #38
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    I would like to share with everyone my rather idealistic dream ... maybe even too radical for the taste of many.

    First, I would love to see developed countries such as the United States answer violence ... even something like the destruction of the World Trade Center ... by turning the other cheek, responding by spending the same billions of dollars in the military budget by building schools, hospitals, roads and other "good will" projects in the countries of our enemies, "killing them with kindness" instead of bullets. It would be an all out effort to win the hearts and minds of those who hate.


    Gassho, J
    I agree. Turning the other cheek is often a misunderstood passage. Though your comment expresses the correct meaning . Christ made the comment in response being hit by a soldier or a person who held greater social power than the one taking the hit. The common practice was to hit with the back of the hand, the way one would hit a dog. To turn the cheek wasn't to offer yourself to further subjugation, it was to take the hit and respond by turning to face your aggressor, this time offering the other cheek. Meaning, force them to hit you with the palm of their hand, as an equal. It's a powerful message about non-violent protest.

    The message doesn't say take it. It rather says to fight back on your terms, which are non-violent.

    And I've thought a lot about something Alan wrote in the request for Metta for Boston. He mentioned the suffering of one becomming the suffering of many. On a philosophical level, to stop the suffering of one (say the bomber in boston before the race), would stop the suffering of all those who died or were hurt and their families. And what happens if that requires ending someone's life?

    I don't have an answer. But on a personal level, I have been in a situation where I acted violently to stop someone from harming someone else. And though I struggle with the meaning of that situation, and others, I ultimately believe it was the right thing to do in that moment.

    Gassho,
    John
    Last edited by McGettigan; 04-19-2013 at 03:24 PM.

  39. #39
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post

    PS - VERY dangerous to disagree with me, Simon and Jen. I know a doctor who can change your mind ... literally!
    I retract my statement now! .

    Gassho,

    Simon

  40. #40
    Treeleaf Unsui Yugen's Avatar
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    Jennell wrote,
    "But who is meting out this karmic justice? If we do it it's not justice, it's revenge, isn't it? If we can't give life back to someone who deserves it because of great karma deeds and right living, then maybe we shouldn't think it's okay to take someone's life just because they deserve to die. Not for us to decide, not for us to act."

    Hi Jenell,
    I struggle with the idea of sanctioned killing, whether by drones, or special operations soldiers, or whatever. I struggle with the idea of killing, period. I am not addressing the issue of "who gets to decide" or anything of that type. I am just observing that karma is unerring - almost like the Newtonian principle of gravity - what goes up must come down. There is a corresponding physical or universal response to every action that restores equilibrium. It may not be immediate, or take place today or tomorrow or next year, but ultimately the universe restores equilibrium. I am not applauding or condemning how OBL was waxed or how his remains were handled - simply observing that I am not surprised he met the end he did.

    Simon's comments were in line with my intent -

    Deep bows
    Yugen
    Please take all my comments with a grain of salt - I am a novice priest and anything I say is to be taken with a good dose of skepticism - Shodo Yugen

  41. #41
    @ Jundo.

    I still see problems with regards to brain surgery. Democracies are not immune from missuse of power either (Guantanamo is a prime example, there are unfortunately too many others) and I feel this would open up a can of worms. Checks and balances can work in theory but gives too much trust to those in power (eg: they didn't stop Hitler from coming to power in democratic Germany). The same applies to prison of course but I see less complexity from the problems that come with it. The way I see it, there seems little appetite for reform of the prison system in the uk. Start changing the way people perceive justice. That would be a start.

    Gassho,

    Simon

  42. #42
    Utah Phillips wrote about Ammon Hennacy:

    ...he had to reach out and grapple with the violence, but he did that
    with all the people around him. These second World War vets, you know, on
    medical disabilities and all drunked up; the house was filled with violence,
    which Ammon, as a pacifist, dealt with - every moment, every day of his life.
    He said, "You got to be a pacifist." I said, "Why?" He said, "It'll save your
    life." And my behavior was very violent then.

    I said, "What is it?" And he said, "Well I can't give you a book by Gandhi -
    you wouldn't understand it. I can't give you a list of rules that if you sign
    it you're a pacifist." He said, "You look at it like booze. You know,
    alcoholism will kill somebody, until they finally get the courage to sit in a
    circle of people like that and put their hand up in the air and say, 'Hi, my
    name's Utah, I'm an alcoholic.' And then you can begin to deal with the
    behavior, you see, and have the people define it for you whose lives you've
    destroyed."

    He said, "It's the same with violence. You know, an alcoholic, they can be dry
    for twenty years; they're never gonna sit in that circle and put their hand up
    and say, 'Well, I'm not alcoholic anymore' - no, they're still gonna put their
    hand up and say, 'Hi, my name's Utah, I'm an alcoholic.' It's the same with
    violence. You gotta be able to put your hand in the air and acknowledge your
    capacity for violence, and then deal with the behavior, and have the people
    whose lives you messed with define that behavior for you, you see. And it's
    not gonna go away - you're gonna be dealing with it every moment in every
    situation for the rest of your life."

    I said, "Okay, I'll try that," and Ammon said "It's not enough!"

    I said: "Oh."

    He said, "You were born a white man in mid-twentieth century industrial
    America. You came into the world armed to the teeth with an arsenal of
    weapons. The weapons of privilege, racial privilege, sexual privilege,
    economic privilege. You wanna be a pacifist, it's not just giving up guns and
    knives and clubs and fists and angry words, but giving up the weapons of
    privilege, and going into the world completely disarmed. Try that."
    Peace,
    -Untei

  43. #43

    Please everyone, read Enkyo's post

    "I think we never can fully oversee the consequences of violence? Sometimes, after knowing all facts and reasons for others to go on the path of violence, we can get to the point where we maybe gladly would lie down our lives to end the cycle. I'm a Bosnia Vet and it will always stay with me weather the violence I used, carrying out orders, caused more harm than good? What are the consequences of taking a life and for those around the person that got killed by our hand? Can we ever fully oversee all and make such a decision? No, so we can never take a life based on our own decisions. Not in war, not in self defense and even not in death punishment of a criminal. A human never has the right to end the life of another human, no matter the circumstances. There is always another way.
    I’d like to share something on this, that happened in my life.

    I was in a NATO IFOR squad doing night patrolling close to Sarajevo once. We were wired and jumpy because of reports and briefings about danger levels in the area etc. Every shadow was a potential danger and as the night went on all of us got into a certain state of mind. In the early morning, I remember the sun coming out over the mountains, we came to a few houses built close together. Not a town really but more a road crossing. A small child was playing war and took an aggressive attitude towards us. He was just playing, came out running from the shadows with something in its hand. He was going to throw that something at us. Our guys in point saw him coming, never hesitated and gunned the poor kid down. I was the medic in the squad at the time and tried all I could to save the kid but failed in the end. People came out running and I sat on my knees near the shot kid watching mother and father take the it into their arms and then just walk away. Just walked away without a word! The image never left me since then.

    Turns out later that what the kid had in his hand, was a CocaCola can, wrapped in silver paper. A self made grenade to play war with, like his hero daddy. It turned out a deadly grenade all right. So much for self-defense split-second decisions, made by humans. Like Forrest Gump once said: that’s all I have to say about this.

    Goes to show we cannot take back what we do, even if the reasons for doing it were the right ones.

    Gassho

    Enkyo
    "[/QUOTE]


    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Enkyo, thank you so much for sharing something so deeply personal (and painful). This is very courageous of you. I must say that you have a much more intimate understanding of the consequences of the types of life and death decisions that are being discussed here than I do. I also have military experience but never deployed to a combat zone.

    Honestly, your story silences me, I do not feel I have anything deeper to offer. I can only express my gratitude to you for your efforts to save that child, for the support and understanding that you offered to your fellow soldiers and your compassion for the child's family and community. Truly heartbreaking. This is Samsara, in the midst of tremendous suffering tremendous compassion and the willingness to have our hearts broken.

    I hope that these words are of some small comfort to you but I am sure that they fall far short in the face of something so profound

    With Deep Gratitude,
    Arnold
    Last edited by arnold; 04-20-2013 at 03:23 AM.

  44. #44
    Quote Originally Posted by Enkyo View Post
    Hi guys,

    I like to comment on this:

    I think we never can fully oversee the consequences of violence? Sometimes, after knowing all facts and reasons for others to go on the path of violence, we can get to the point where we maybe gladly would lie down our lives to end the cycle. I'm a Bosnia Vet and it will always stay with me weather the violence I used, carrying out orders, caused more harm than good? What are the consequences of taking a life and for those around the person that got killed by our hand? Can we ever fully oversee all and make such a decision? No, so we can never take a life based on our own decisions. Not in war, not in self defense and even not in death punishment of a criminal. A human never has the right to end the life of another human, no matter the circumstances. There is always another way.
    I’d like to share something on this, that happened in my life.

    I was in a NATO IFOR squad doing night patrolling close to Sarajevo once. We were wired and jumpy because of reports and briefings about danger levels in the area etc. Every shadow was a potential danger and as the night went on all of us got into a certain state of mind. In the early morning, I remember the sun coming out over the mountains, we came to a few houses built close together. Not a town really but more a road crossing. A small child was playing war and took an aggressive attitude towards us. He was just playing, came out running from the shadows with something in its hand. He was going to throw that something at us. Our guys in point saw him coming, never hesitated and gunned the poor kid down. I was the medic in the squad at the time and tried all I could to save the kid but failed in the end. People came out running and I sat on my knees near the shot kid watching mother and father take the it into their arms and then just walk away. Just walked away without a word! The image never left me since then.

    Turns out later that what the kid had in his hand, was a CocaCola can, wrapped in silver paper. A self made grenade to play war with, like his hero daddy. It turned out a deadly grenade all right. So much for self-defense split-second decisions, made by humans. Like Forrest Gump once said: that’s all I have to say about this.

    Goes to show we cannot take back what we do, even if the reasons for doing it were the right ones.

    Gassho

    Enkyo
    Yes, thank you Enkyo for opening and sharing this tragedy with us. Unfortunately, I know too many veterans from various wars and police officers ... some close friends and family ... who can share like tales of being involved in innocents, children, killed in the heat of combat. They all carry scars, and will do so forever. Even those who believe it was unavoidable feel the weight. Such is the weight of Karma.

    I long ... I foresee ... a world in which our capability to do violence against each other has been evolved past. There will be a world without wars and violence.

    I do feel that some wars ... although tragic ... are needed to preserve life and society (which is also a way of preserving life). Having had my own relatives die in the Holocaust during WWII (Jews in Poland, my grandparents' family although I did not know them), I believe that some wars may be necessary to fight true evil. On the other hand, they must be avoided at every cost, and some wars ... over nationalism, religion, land which all could share ... are not excusable.

    I believe that you were there as a peace-keeper, a Bodhisattva's mission. You were protecting innocents. In the heat of the moment, an innocent was killed. It is tragic, it is something to carry always. It also may have been unavoidable in the circumstances, an accident on a terrible peace-keeping mission. It is my belief that one is truly not liable ... in society's law or Buddha Law ... for unintended actions short of true recklessness. Nonetheless, accident or not, we feel the weight of what was done.

    Gassho, Jundo
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  45. #45
    Imagining a world without violence would be like pretending that the ocean is just filled with dolphins...nope, there are sharks too...and they do have their function. Violence as a mean to keep things in balance is more than justified in my view. If you hit me or my wife I will surely hit you back...if not, guess wuat?...you will keep hitting me again. In deciding when violence is necessary and when it is not we may make some mistake such as the tragedy in Sarajevo the other reader was talking about; but tragedy...just like its opposite...is unavoidable.

  46. #46
    I also would want to suggest, if this child's death is weighing heavily in one's feelings, to sit for the child and all suffering children. Dedicating a recitation of the Heart Sutra is also good.

    On a practical note, I might suggest special effort to work with or donate to a charity or the like that is today helping suffering children. It is not possible to rescue that boy from Sarajevo, but it is still possible to assist countless children in war zones and other hard places around the world right now.

    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  47. #47
    this is a good topic, thank you. i dont consider myself somebody who handles situations with violence (not since highschool, atleast), so ive never worried much/given much thought about this.

    but on topics of war, and especially bin laden, and turning the other check, i have to really be watchful of things like this. i remember being glued to the tv in the late night hours when the manhunt for "bomber number 2" had begun, and also the next day when they had him sorrounded, and just watching in almost "revenge mode". im starting to think that maybe this is something inheritantly american (and possibly human), where sometimes the best of people want "blood" in the most extreme instances (like i dont know how id handle somebody hurting my mother, for instance).

    i had to really realize what i was doing and step back. it was becoming an almost sick form of entertainment for me. like the dali lamas take, and what other here have said about karma, it is the ones who did this karma (and im not even 100 percent sure who did it, i wasnt there and didnt see it, which makes my want for payback even more disfunctional).

    i think the best i can do is let their karma playout, how ever that may be, and have compassion to all involved, even the bombers and their families.

    gassho,
    justin

  48. #48
    Senior Member Amelia's Avatar
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    People are often annoyed with me when there's some kind of manhunt going on because I feel bad for the suspect running. I feel this strange empathy for the person suffering through knowing what they've done and unable to escape it or the consequences. Also because despite their crimes, they are people capable of love, just as we are all capable of hate. I imagined what it might have been like for that young man hiding in the boat, putting the gun in his mouth trying to kill himself, overwhelmed with what was happening. He might have had no idea what he was doing until after that bomb went off and he saw the results. Life is a video game to some people, traumatizing when it turns real.

    I've always wondered why seeing death makes people want more death.
    Last edited by Amelia; 04-22-2013 at 04:42 AM.
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  49. #49
    Quote Originally Posted by Amelia View Post
    People are often annoyed with me when there's some kind of manhunt going on because I feel bad for the suspect running. I feel this strange empathy for the person suffering through knowing what they've done and unable to escape it or the consequences. Also because despite their crimes, they are people capable of love, just as we are all capable of hate. I imagined what it might have been like for that young man hiding in the boat, putting the gun in his mouth trying to kill himself, overwhelmed with what was happening. He might have had no idea what he was doing until after that bomb went off and he saw the results. Life is a video game to some people, traumatizing when it turns real.

    I've always wondered why seeing death makes people want more death.
    Yes, Amelia. Buddhists tend not to see "bad people", but bad, harmful acts. There are nothing but victims all around ... victims of hate, anger, greed, violence. Even the harm doers acted because of the disease of hate and missing compassion within.

    Nonetheless, we must stop those who commit criminal violence to protect the lives of others.

    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  50. #50
    I am against any form of extreme violence, but isn't violence necessary for life to exist? Look at the animal kingdom and the way "it works". When a lion eats a gazelle it does not think "oh man...I wish I wouldn't have to devour you" Peace and violence are two sides of the same coin. Can you really imagine a world where there is only peace? It would be just as likely as a world where the sun is shining all day. The problem (especially when humans are involved) begins when peace and violence are out of balance. When is violence justified? That is probably a more difficult question to answer...think about the death penalty.

    Gassho, A

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