Saturday, July 16, 2011

A Pleasant Conversation (Part 3 of 4)

Question (Unedited)

Hi again my dear friend,
I hope you are fine. Let`s go straight to the discussion.

In our last discussion you said
That is why he WAS the Buddha.  He need not have to govern a country!!
I don`t understand. I didn`t say that Buddha needed to govern a country. I said if he was to govern a country how would he have ruled that country? It`s strange to me, you are making governing a country like a taboo. What`s wrong with governing a country? Or maybe Buddhists think that a country doesn`t need a governor?
I myself think if the government acts in proper ways, most of the problems of people will never even come to be.

You have said
The monks are the GUARDIANCE and TEACHERS of the Dhamma (Buddha's teachings).
I ask
If they are the guardiance of Dhamma why aren`t they allowed to defend themselves and Dhamma when the government wants to destroy them?

You have said
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.
The final goal of those who follow Buddhism is to reach nirvana. If a lay person defends himself then he will create bad kamma for himself. Then this action is opposite to the final goal. Thus, Buddhist wisdom tells you not to defend yourself.

You have said
It is not unwholesome to save the life. It is unwholesome to kill.  In the final analysis one has to use WISDOM to decide.  It is not a clear-cut yes/no option.

Imagine a situation in which a criminal is beating an innocent person. You have two choices ahead of yourself. You may either pass away or stay to defend the innocent person. If you pass away you have lowered your spirituality [I mean the Brahma-Vihara, the Karuna (Compassion)] and thus you have caused bad kamma. If you defend that innocent, according to your saying, you will again cause bad kamma for yourself. In conclusion, in both choices you will cause bad kamma for yourself and bad kamma is inevitable. What should one do in these situations?

Like Hindus and Jainists, Buddhists believe in ahimsa, the compassionate principle of not harming others. Many Buddhist scriptures provide examples of ahimsa in practice.
For example, five years after becoming enlightened, Siddhartha returned to his home town. His mother's
tribe, the Koliyans, was at war with the father's tribe, the Shakyas, because of a dispute over irrigation water for their farms. Siddhartha interposed himself as a battle was about to begin. He explained to them that water was not worth the life of even a single person, and the war ended.
One question: If they hadn`t come to an agreement, what would Siddhartha have done then? Don`t you agree that by acting so, Siddhartha showed his interset in taking part in politics? (I mean to use his power in politics in order to spread the Dhamma and peace like what Ashoka did.)

One text from the TherevAda Pali Canon (originally written in Pali, a Sanskrit dialect, in ancient India) tells of a king who refused to resist invaders. He threw open the gates of the city, were captured, and thrown in a dungeon. In the dungeon, he focused his mind on kind thoughts toward his captor. As a result, the captor was seized by so much physical pain that he released the king, who regained his throne.

The weight of Buddhist scriptures favors a pacifist understanding of ahimsa.
s Upaya-kaushalya sutra (Skillful Means) tells the story of a Bodhisattva who saved hundreds of people by killing a murderous thief.
Other Mahayana scriptures explain that such a defensive killing prevents the murderer from bringing more bad karma on himself, and creates good karma for the defender, providing that the defender acts in the spirit of compassion.

One question: Doesn`t the Therevada Tradition of Buddhism agree with Mahayana in this case?

The Brahmajala Sutra is a Mahayana text providing ten major rules and fortyeight minor rules of good conduct. The very first rule prohibits killing. But other rules requires Buddhists to protect all living things and to protect the Buddha, the Sangha (the Buddhist community), and the Dharma (law or teaching). So Buddhists have interpreted the Brahmajala Sutra to require them to use force when necessary to protect...............

My comment:
Hi A,

You certainly is very persistent to get a "yes" or "no" answer.  It is very difficult to make a stand like that.  I must admit that what I commented were just my understanding of the Buddha's teachings.  I may be wrong and stand corrected.  I am here to share my understanding of the Buddha's teachings.  It does not mean that I am a real expert at it, although this site use the term "Expert".  Let's keep it as friendly discussions and hope we can learn from each other.

I wholeheartedly agree with you.  I never said otherwise.  What I inferred was that if we wanted to be involved with worldly affairs then we had to live a layman's life and not to become a monk.

It is in the Vinaya rules...227 rules for monks.

If you study my comments carefully, you would notice that there are two separate issues: protecting self and action against others.  We must also bear in mind the workings of kamma.  Our previous bad kamma may be the cause of our present problems.  There may be other ways to resolve our problems.  "Life and death" situations are mostly hypothetical assumptions.  Most of us are fortunate enough not to have to face such scenario.

You have to decide for yourself.

My first paragraph stands.

Such question will never be "satisfactorilly" answered.

 One question: What`s the idea of TTB about the rule for protecting all living beings in Mahayana?
I practise according to the Theravada tradition.  I am in no position to comment on Mahayana text.  By the way the (Theravada) Tipitakka has a "Brahmajala Sutta" (click here:

Well, this much I can comment.  If you are happy with them, you are most welcome to post further questions.  By the way, may I know where you are located?

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