I am very happy to see your answer. You know, I had been looking for someone whom I can ask my questions about Buddhism for two years and now i`m very happy that I have finally found you.
After reading your answer, i`ve come to these conclusions, if any of my conclusions are wrong, please correct them:
1. Monks in NO conditions are allowed to kill (or act as apposed to the ten percepts) which means:
They are not allowed to defend themselves or their families (father, mother, sister or brother) against the murderers. They are not allowed to defend their country (If another country attacks their country, they only sit and watch or maybe also feel sorry for the people who have been killed.)
2. Lay people are in different conditions. Their actions on this matter (self-defense) can be optional. This means that if they want to be completely free from pain, they should kill nobody in any condition. (For example if a killer comes to his/her house and wants to kill him/her or his/her mother, if he/she wants to be free from pain (or reach nirvana), he/she should not defend him/her self or his/her mother.) But if they are ready to tolerate different pains, they are allowed to defend themselves or their countries. Because kamma will punish them for defending their family or their country.
Now, new questions have come to my mind.
I think putting â€œundertakeâ€ instead of â€œcommandâ€, is playing with words. To be honest with ourselves we must accept that Buddha said that if you want to reach nirvana, this is the way and you must act not opposed to the five percepts. If you do so, you won`t reach nirvana.
You have said: â€œKilling is unwholesome. The act of killing means a being has to die due to this act of killing. The law of kamma is amoral. It does not take mitigation for a lesser crime.â€
I think the percept of kamma is going â€œimmoralâ€ instead of â€œamoralâ€ in this case.
If, by killing a person you will be able to save the life of someone else why should that killing bring bad kamma for you? In fact that killing can even be called â€œwholesomeâ€.
You have said: â€œAs lay Buddhists, we are always confronted with this conflict of principles against the onslaught of worldly evils. That was ................................
Your last comment first: about quoting Tipitaka. I am sorry I am not skilled in interpreting and quoting the Tipitaka. What I share with you are mostly from the books I read and from the talks delivered by learned Buddhist speakers, especially by my late teacher, the Ven Dhammananda (http://www.ksridhammananda.com).
<<1. Monks in NO conditions are allowed to kill ...>>
Please remember in Buddhism there are no such terms as "MUST" or "ALLOWED". The Buddha merely lead us to the path of truth, embodied in the Noble Eightfold Path. It is up to us whether to follow or not. No one is forced to obey any commandment. If a person wishes to live as he likes, then he does not have to be a monk.
<<2. Lay people are in different conditions. Their actions on this matter (self-defense) can be optional....>>
As lay people we have to lead a balanced life based on wisdom. The wisdom to weigh the facts and consequences and then to make the best of the choices.
By just following the five precepts, one will experience a happier life, but not reach Nibbana. One will have to cultivate much much more to attain salvation.
<< The law of kamma is amoral. It does not take mitigation for a lesser crime....>>
It is like elctricity, if you touch a life-wire you are dead. The reason(s) for your touching is irrelevent.
If they want to fight the government, they just need to disrobe. No one is forcing them to be monks; but to be monks then they will have to keep their precepts strictly without any compromise.
"Self-defence" is a natural instinct of all life forms. As I said before, the reasons may be justified, but the act is a different issue. You may have saved your own life; but in the process you have killed one or many. That is why it is a very unsatisfactory condition to exist in this world...The First Noble Truth...Dukkha.
That is why he WAS the Buddha. He did not have to govern a country!!
Monks (genuine monks) are the holy order of the Buddha. They are the GUARDIANCE and TEACHERS of the Dhamma. That is their "profession". They "produce" peace of mind and contentment in life.