Originally Posted by Fuken
Originally Posted by Fuken
When I saw the crowds chanting "USA! USA!" all I could think was how much it looked like footage of people in the Middle East that get on the streets and chant and cheer whenever something bad happens to Americans. You can't solve violence with violence. It only creates more. This said as a former member of the US military (a few years before 9/11).
Yes Fendis, sometime all the veneer we like to paint ourselves with like sobriety, understanding, civility jump right out the window in favor of our innate tribalism. All technology aside we really are a relatively new species on this planet and we still have a long way to go for our bodies to catch up with our minds and hearts. I have no doubt that we will arrive there although we will be occasionally and painfully reminded of some of our less attractive human natures from time to time.
Just a personnal account...
Why don't I believe in violence?
My father did, he worshiped guns, lived to have the fun to kill as many animals as possible, enjoying the would be power it used to give him, my childhood was surrounded by all sorts of dead things, dears, birds, and the trace of blood on the kitchen floor. The day he turned the gun in our direction and we ran for our life...I really understood that this path was not mine. So young to have to realize this, I was nine.
Later I met an ex soldier, he did the Indochine war, another French mess...He told me about the day they were asked to clean a village, and to clean it in the morning, when everybody was sleeping. Sweeping lives with the blades of knifes. No rebels there just people, kids, women. And he had to do it, and he told me he ended up with the other guys running after even cats and dogs to enjoy the blood gushing out. He ws crying as he told me the story and he begged me to never do that.
Later again, I was in Syria ruled by the most terrible and cynical tyrant and what I witnessed and heard of was just...
Now, let me be clear, I say no to violence. I say NO TO VIOLENCE. I believe in the power of love, mercy, justice and fair trials. I believe in stepping in your enemy's shoes, in cultivating the ability to understand what they have been through. Crimes should be exposed. People should be protected. But anytime it is possible, life should be spared. French, English and American governements ( the same could be said of so many) have so much blood on their hands. They have exploited people and broken so many young dreams. And these guys would like us to swallow their dream of justice?
I say NO TO VIOLENCE.
Do as you like. If you say yes, I refuse to judge you. I would only urge you to look deeper into your life.
Taigu, with respect, I don't believe in violence, either, but that scenario I posted wasn't theoretical. You would never have chosen a soldier's life, which I respect. I however did, and in that world, these are the things I experienced. I was there on 9/11. I have fought all over the world. I saw terrible combat in Iraq. I'd like to be able to simply "say no to violence," Sensei, but that's awfully easy and sounds canned from where I'm sitting. (Not that I think it was intended that way.) The truth is that violence has been one of the defining factors of my life; the grim meat hook reality of it. This isn't just something I can turn off. So what do I do with that?
Karl, i very much respect your choice and I thank you deeply for your voice.It seems that we both had not much choice :lol: . Your experience is certainly something you can't turn off but you may develop compassion for that side of your life, you may embrace with shikantaza itself the things you witnessed and did. No judgement. So basically, you may do nothing with that, just a silent attention, a gentle nursing of this mess. You may also like Claude Thomas use this stream of energy to walk this earth and bear witness. There is no easy answer as you know so well. Sometimes, we have to use violence to protect others or ourselves. But we may cultivate again and again the aspiration to not give in so easily, the will to reach the very core of what is called violence, to tap into this energy and use it to practice the Dharma. Easy to say ...
Thank you again for this wonderful integrity and honnesty.
Just wanted to share a couple more blog posts that I found thoughtful:
http://thebuddhistblog.blogspot.com/201 ... iddle.html
http://buddhism.about.com/b/2011/05/04/ ... or-her.htm
Tomorrow, during our monthly Zazenkai, we will have people sitting Zazen in our Zendo in Tsukuba from Christian, Jewish and Muslim backgrounds, both Sunni and Shi'ite. We will sit together in peace.
I am going to repeat my views here and, if you want to hear me elaborate, please listen for my little talk during the Zazenkai tomorrow.
It is a personal view, as interpretation of the Precepts can vary. Some may believe that ALL taking of the life of sentient beings in any form, under any conditions is wrong.
In my case, I believe that it is sometimes necessary to take the life of persons who do harm if the taking is in order to save innocent lives. The taking is thus an act in preservation of life.
However, outright revenge is not justified, for it merely perpetuates hate. Where the death of Osama Bin Laden falls is not clear to me, but it seems that it was needed to prevent future loss of life, as Osama seems to have been plotting some other major attacks from information I have read today (he had several plots in the works).
Nonetheless, even if we must take a life to preserve life, we must do so with great hesitancy, only after seeking all other possible avenues. Furthermore, we must not act out of anger or vengeance, but simply to protect. Standing in the streets celebrating and waving flags (though understandable, I suppose) is ugly and just brings further hate and division.
You see, Osama Bin Laden is a victim too ... of greed, anger and ignorance. It is "greed, anger and ignorance" that are the real destructive forces here, and both Osama Bin Laden, as well as the people in the Twin Towers on 9-11, the soldiers on battlefields, and all others touched by these tragedies, are all victims. Under other Karmic conditions, any of us might have been "Osama Bin Laden". We must feel compassion even for (especially for) someone like Osama, who was a prisoner of his own anger and violent suffering. That does not mean that action to stop him was not right (including the taking of his life), but we should see that "greed, anger and ignorance" is the real root.
What is more, the person who takes a life, even if needed and justified in defense of the innocent (such as by a soldier or policeman) should reflect on the weight of his/her actions, and will bear the burden of having needed to do so.
In principle, any violence should be avoided because violence ... even if seemingly justified ... may plant the Karmic seeds for future violence.
Of course, the ideal is a society in which, finally, all of us can live peaceably, with mutual respect of our basic human rights.
Until that day, however ... it may sometimes be necessary for society to protect the innocent through taking life.
Just my view.
I would also like to comment on something Anista said ... and I need to speak as much from my personal political views here as from a personal Buddhist view.
There is some truth in this, I feel ... but only to a point.If you should stop them because of what they have done, why aren't they allowed to stop you for what you have done? You may not strap explosives on you, but you fill up B52's and carpet bomb entire cities (with civilians - just check the civilian death counts in Iraq for example). You have the Guantanamo, the Abu Ghraib, the Wikileaks incidents, waterboarding.
We should strive to live in a world where --all-- people and groups respect the basic human rights of all other people and groups, and all live peacefully together. However, unfortunately, we now do not live in an ideal world ... and no country is perfect. When my own country oversteps, I criticize it. I have opposed many wars which I thought were overreaching, unjustified or excessive, as well as its sometimes tolerating or engaging in many other abusive acts which, I felt, violate the basic humanity of people in other societies.
However, I happen to believe that, for all its sometime excesses, western-style democracies (despite being far far less than truly "democratic" and for all their serious imperfections) are a true achievement in human history. I say this in comparison to all the alternatives. To paraphrase Ben Franklin, democracy is the worst of all possible systems ... except for all the others, the dictatorships, religious theocracies, warring and horribly unequal monarchies, and the like. The potential for humanity to "finally get it right" is not based upon abandoning these western models, but on refining them and making them better (overcoming many of the excesses, blind materialism and waste of capitalism, for example).
In other words, I believe that military action in the defense of civilized western societies may sometimes be necessary to "preserve life" because the societies we are defending overall serve to "preserve life".
I do not believe that the policeman who uses force is equivalent to the murderer or rapist. Likewise, I do not think that Obama is just Osama, or that Roosevelt was acting from substantially the same motivations as Hitler. Roosevelt may have had many motivations, but to the extent he was fighting to keep western societies from falling under the iron thumb of fascism and genocide, I do not think that you can say that the Allies were just the moral equivalent of the Axis, or likewise that the western democracies are no better than Al Qaeda.
On the other hand ... was the firebombing of Dresden, Tokyo, Hiroshima and Nagasaki necessary as part of that defense of society ... or just barbarism itself? It is hard to say (there is a good argument to make that Hiroshima and Nagasaki actually shortened the war in Japan, saving lives.). I tend to feel that such extreme measures were wrong, and that there were better alternatives.
Yes, Osama and his band had some objections to U.S. foreign policy. Some of the criticisms may have had a reasonable basis. That being said, hijacking planes and flying them into buildings filled with thousands of fathers, mothers, husbands and wives is not justified thereby. It is thus proper for western societies to take steps to prevent such attacks from happening again.
I suppose that am very simple minded in my beliefs.