Saturday, June 5, 2010

Life is not a fairy tale

Question : (Unedited)
Dear Justinchoo

I have recently decided to start studying about buddhism and attempting to integrate it into my life, but I have a problem with the precept of non-violence. I understand of course that harming or killing of another being is wrong, but what if a person for example, is attempting to kill your spouse, then under this situation is violence accepted or still an offence?

My second question is that I am in training for join the army as a combat medical technician to try and help people around the world, but my actions could be seen to condone my collegues killing others.

Any advice you can provide would be very appreciated

Many Thanks


My comment:
Hi A...,

Thank you for asking me.

There is this very important concept in Buddhism reflecting the nature of this world.  The three characteristics of existence: impermanence, unsatisfactoriness, and insubstantiality.  Everything we experience in this world is subject to these three factors.  The world is full of imperfections and our lives are no better.  It is in this scenario that we are trying to live through our lives and inevitably we will have to encounter situations which make our choice in life difficult.  As such we are faced with the dilemma of making the most favourable choices, but not always the best ones.  

The Buddha advised us to follow certain moral principles which were universal in nature.  We try our best to follow them in the best of our ability, amidst the dangers surrounding us.  The Buddha's teachings were based on universal truths.  He reminded us that our actions will create subsequent reactions.  And that good actions will bring good results.  Whereas bad actions will create bad results.  It is up to us to ensure that we conduct ourselves in a wholesome manner so that our lives will yield good results.  Sometimes circumstances force us to respond in an unwholesome manner, but for the greater good of some other parties.  Although the action per se is not wholesome,  there is a mitigating reason that we are forced to act such.  In this type of difficult situations, we have to use our common sense and wisdom to decide.  Actually in time of acute emergencies, we are spared from the agony of calculated decisions, as we most probably will use our natural instinct to protect ourselves and our loved ones.

As for your second question, again be mindful of the second characteristic of existence, that is, the world is not perfect and we are subject to protect ourselves against the dangers of this imperfection.  As the saying goes: someone has to do the dirty job.  If you choose to join the army then you must also be prepared to be killed.  If you feel that you should not associate with occupation that has to do with killing, then the choice is yours.  

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