Buddhism and the Warrior

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Buddhism and the Warrior

Postby Vidyaraja » Sat Feb 23, 2013 10:26 pm

Buddhism as it is most often understood is that of a non-violent path based on compassion for all living creatures, but is there a Buddhism for the warrior? Of course historically we know of Shaolin monks, the connection of Zen and the Samurai, Japanese feudal lords like Uesugi Kenshin being devout Shingon practitioners, the Japanese Sohei and Yamabushi, and Tibetan, Mongol, and Qing/Manchu Buddhists who were warriors or engaged in warfare, and of course Siddhartha Gautama himself was a kshatriya. Are all of these merely perversions or is there room for a warrior lifestyle/mindset and Buddhism?

In the same vein, how far is Ahimsa supposed to be taken? In popular culture there are often portrayals of Buddhists who won't even kill an insect. Is this truly the reality for Buddhists, and if so what does one then do about such creatures as mosquitoes that could potentially spread deadly diseases? How is self-defense treated in Buddhism or defense of various entities like family, friends, the Sangha, or the kingdom/state?

Finally, are there particular branches of Buddhism that differ on this view point? I know modern Tibetan political conceptions often are centered around non-violence, but what about among the Theravada and various Mahayana schools?

I'd also be interested in hearing personal opinions. Thanks again!
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Re: Buddhism and the Warrior

Postby Konchog1 » Sat Feb 23, 2013 11:25 pm

My understanding is that in Theravada there is total pacifism, unless there is extremely great need for violence. In Mahayana/Vajrayana, there is total pacifism unless there is mere great need for violence.

Therefore, the existence of Shaolin monks and Japanese Buddhism's involvement with the Imperial war machine are heretical in eyes of many other Buddhists.

To summarize, generally violence is only permitted in self-defense as a last resort or out of a genuinely altruistic wish to help others as a last resort.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W083nSzx1Rc
Equanimity is the ground. Love is the moisture. Compassion is the seed. Bodhicitta is the result.

-Paraphrase of Khensur Rinpoche Lobsang Tsephel citing the Guhyasamaja Tantra

"All memories and thoughts are the union of emptiness and knowing, the Mind.
Without attachment, self-liberating, like a snake in a knot.
Through the qualities of meditating in that way,
Mental obscurations are purified and the dharmakaya is attained."

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Re: Buddhism and the Warrior

Postby odysseus » Sun Feb 24, 2013 2:18 am

I don´t have the article reference, but Lama Yeshe said something like "If it´s between you and me, it´s better that you kill me." But who is that brave anyway... A minimum of self-defence is always allowed, I guess.
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Re: Buddhism and the Warrior

Postby PorkChop » Sun Feb 24, 2013 3:10 am

I guess my question is are we talking renunciates or those who haven't renounced?
I think if we're talking lay people, defending others is a good thing, but aggressive campaigns of conquest are not.
It's when it's renunciates doing the soldiering that it seems to miss the point.
Shaolin fighting "monks" were not full monks from my understanding - didn't follow vinaya: ate meat, drank wine, fought, and married when away from the temple.
Don't know about Tendai warrior monks.
Samurai were typically put in temples so as not to wreak havoc on the populace, but were not in fact monks - merely trained zen in order to better handle their lifestyle.
In the Metta Sutta it is recommended that one should protect all, as a mother protects her child, I would think this would allow for protecting a country's borders.
Having trouble finding the reference, but I believe there is a Sutta where it is said that a king should protect the borders (maintaining an army).
In the Dighajanu (Vyagghapajja) Sutta I find it interesting that one of the occupations that the Buddha recommends working hard at is being an archer for the king.
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Re: Buddhism and the Warrior

Postby Indrajala » Sun Feb 24, 2013 3:11 am

Vidyaraja wrote:Buddhism as it is most often understood is that of a non-violent path based on compassion for all living creatures, but is there a Buddhism for the warrior?


Historically Buddhism has appealed to many warrior peoples. For example, the Khitan, Jurchen and Mongol steppe peoples were adept horsemen warriors who conquered vast amounts of territory, but at the same time they took an interest in Buddhism. I believe part of the reason for this is that there are multiple levels of truth in Buddhadharma, and practice isn't a matter of all or nothing. You can take refuge while forgoing precepts. As a layperson you can selectively take some precepts while not receiving the others. The philosophy is likewise available on differing levels. Moreover, the religious theatre that Buddhist traditions offer is especially meaningful. In particular, blessings and merit dedication.



Of course historically we know of Shaolin monks, the connection of Zen and the Samurai, Japanese feudal lords like Uesugi Kenshin being devout Shingon practitioners, the Japanese Sohei and Yamabushi, and Tibetan, Mongol, and Qing/Manchu Buddhists who were warriors or engaged in warfare, and of course Siddhartha Gautama himself was a kshatriya. Are all of these merely perversions or is there room for a warrior lifestyle/mindset and Buddhism?


Not formally. The first lay precept proscribes killing. That means primarily not committing homicide, but then it also entails not taking the life of insects and animals as well.

That isn't to say warriors haven't found Buddhism meaningful. Their profession is actually a wrong livelihood, but nevertheless like fishermen and butchers ideally nobody is rejected. You can still have opportunities to make merit and repent one's past transgressions in the hopes of securing an agreeable future.




In the same vein, how far is Ahimsa supposed to be taken? In popular culture there are often portrayals of Buddhists who won't even kill an insect. Is this truly the reality for Buddhists, and if so what does one then do about such creatures as mosquitoes that could potentially spread deadly diseases? How is self-defense treated in Buddhism or defense of various entities like family, friends, the Sangha, or the kingdom/state?


This is a big question and we can't really discuss an essentialist "Buddhism" here because in reality there is no such thing. There are Buddhisms in the plural. One is true for one tradition won't be true for another.

Generally speaking, though, at a state level a lot of Buddhist ideas are impractical. You can't run a justice system without employing violence. If you have no justice system, you'll have no rule of law. Likewise you need a standing army as a deterrent against aggressors. This is why in India the Brahmins came to dominate the upper echelons of state power rather than the Buddhists: they could offer sound political advice, while Buddhists generally could not.

In the real world of saṃsāra, forgiveness, non-violence and peace policies are often irrelevant to the cold hard realities of war, piracy and criminal enterprises. In saṃsāra violence is the golden rule and no matter how much we promote peace and loving kindness (we should), there will continue to be aggressors, tyrants and criminals.

Are we as Buddhists morally obliged to fight such forces? Well, we're not supposed to actually. To not exercise violence is virtuous, but not practical if you're running a state under the direct threat of enemies who happily will employ violence. A lot of core Buddhist ideas are politically impractical, which is why historically in many countries Buddhism existed to serve functions other than formulating useful policies for the state to pursue. There were other parties better suited to war and criminal justice than Buddhists.

At one level Buddhist institutions are, ironically, often beneficiaries of violence yet at the same time promote non-violence and renunciation of worldly pursuits. It isn't an easy position to be in. In saṃsāra nothing is so simple. The Mongols might have murdered tens of millions of people, but they invested some of their war booty in Buddhism. In Taiwan Buddhism exists largely because the communists were kept away by the threat of American intervention (the threat of violence). If the Nationalists on the mainland had defeated the communists, then Chinese and Tibetan Buddhisms would not have suffered as horribly as they did at the hands of the Chinese Communist Party.

You might argue that some faithful Buddhists might have fought the communists to save Buddhism, but then that would still be contrary to the basic teachings of the Buddha.
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Re: Buddhism and the Warrior

Postby Konchog1 » Sun Feb 24, 2013 3:34 am

Huseng wrote:Generally speaking, though, at a state level a lot of Buddhist ideas are impractical. You can't run a justice system without employing violence. If you have no justice system, you'll have no rule of law. Likewise you need a standing army as a deterrent against aggressors. This is why in India the Brahmins came to dominate the upper echelons of state power rather than the Buddhists: they could offer sound political advice, while Buddhists generally could not.
Well, there is the Sutra of Golden Light which in chapter twelve says things like:

When the lords overlook
Evil acts committed in their land
And to those who are unlawful
Fail to mete out befitting revenge,
Through neglect of unlawful deeds
That which is not Dharma will triumph.

Conflicts and clandestine acts
Will befall the region over and over again.
The lords of gods will be enraged
In the palatial dwelling of the Thirty-Three.

When a king overlooks the presence
Of evil doers in his region
Terrible clandestine acts
Will ruin and destroy that land.

Upon arrival of a foreign army,
The country will utterly succumb.
Resources and race too will fall away.
Those who amassed wealth
Through trickery and deceit
Will rob each other entirely of means.

When a king does not perform the function
For which kingship had been bestowed,
He demolishes his own realm
As the elephant lord destroys a lotus pond.


However, it merely implies the death penalty and is certainly the rare exception.
Equanimity is the ground. Love is the moisture. Compassion is the seed. Bodhicitta is the result.

-Paraphrase of Khensur Rinpoche Lobsang Tsephel citing the Guhyasamaja Tantra

"All memories and thoughts are the union of emptiness and knowing, the Mind.
Without attachment, self-liberating, like a snake in a knot.
Through the qualities of meditating in that way,
Mental obscurations are purified and the dharmakaya is attained."

-Ra Lotsawa, All-pervading Melodious Drumbeats
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Re: Buddhism and the Warrior

Postby lobster » Sun Feb 24, 2013 3:41 am

militant theravadins exist
http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/137812/william-mcgowan/buddhists-behaving-badly

If a peaceful group can be activated and perverted, be sure it will be . . . Must be the kali yuga or some such . . . :popcorn:
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Re: Buddhism and the Warrior

Postby Vidyaraja » Sun Feb 24, 2013 4:03 am

So could a warrior ever achieve enlightenment, or more specifically a warrior-ascetic (like the Japanese Sohei for a Buddhist example, or the Teutonic Knights for an example in another religion), a warrior who otherwise follows the rest of Buddhist vows and practices to the T? Or could an enlightened Buddhist theoretically engage in war without consequence? If samsara is conquered so to speak, if you have "reached the other shore" of the deathless state, what possible negative consequences could there be for being a warrior in such case? Karma no longer has any affect on a Buddha, correct?

Within the concept of ahimsa, is there a qualitative difference between different types of violence? For example, it seems to me that a ruthless murderer who kills for pleasure or profit would be infringing upon the concept more so than a warrior whose duty it is defend his people or who only engages in violence as a means of self-defense, a sort of ethical and controlled violence.

Another question that is related--can there be or is there currently a right-wing, aristocratic Buddhism? I notice that quite often (perhaps even nearly unanimously), especially among Westerners, Buddhism is associated with and attracts liberals/leftists, secular humanists, supporters of democracy, total equality, etc. Are there any trends of a right-wing, monarchical Buddhism? People often say that Buddha wanted to abolish the caste system, but I've heard it argued convincingly (by Ananda Coommaraswamy and others for example) that Buddha had no issue with caste itself but rather with "false Brahmins", Brahmins who no longer had the direct vision Buddha attained but were reduced to mere philosophical speculation and empty ritualism rather than true gnosis/prajna/bodhi, etc. Thoughts?
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Re: Buddhism and the Warrior

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Sun Feb 24, 2013 5:33 am

I am not a pacifist sort, I think there are times where one has to resort to violence to respond directly to violence in a non-pre meditated fashion - but I think from a Buddhist perspective these times are exceedingly rare, basically defending one's own safety and that of others in order to escape and keep on keepin' on, which in some extenuating cases might be violence, possibly even regrettable killing I guess. It's always acknowledged though. no matter what it's a terrible thing to do and it has it's consequences.

Generally "warriors" serve the interests of the powerful, and do lots of stuff that perpetuates suffering.. not do anything like self defense, however it is construed from their side. So I think that being a professional soldier or similar is always somewhat against Buddhist principle..however that doesn't stop a soldier from taking refuge as Huseng said, and certainly one shouldn't discourage it!

I have heard a few Buddhists on here espousing what sounds a bit like parts of Nouvelle Droite ideology, whether they'd call it that or not, so I think there are some Buddhists who get "right wing" in some ways. If you look at all the proto-fascist thinkers they were heavily into eastern mysticism for example. Personally, IMO it's Gross and largely indefensible. But hey, there's certainly precedent for it. I'm no fan of modern liberalism of and within itself, but I think it's normal that Buddhism would gravitate somewhat away from far right philosophies that basically worship this warrior ideal, and the many things that go along with it historically - allegiance to race, class etc., reliance on an idea of a cultural rebirth after the "dark times" - brought about of course by "the best" of men, Buddhism can certainly go in this direction..personally I hope it doesn't. Mostly where you see a convergence with Nouvelle Droite thought is with the Kali Yuga, and general reflexive disdain for modernity..people like Julius Evola were all about using the idea of the Kali Yuga as a justification for their nasty, hungry ideologies. I haven't seen any Buddhists that are nearly like this, just seen some shared areas of thought here and there.
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Re: Buddhism and the Warrior

Postby Konchog1 » Sun Feb 24, 2013 6:14 am

Vidyaraja wrote:So could a warrior ever achieve enlightenment, or more specifically a warrior-ascetic (like the Japanese Sohei for a Buddhist example, or the Teutonic Knights for an example in another religion), a warrior who otherwise follows the rest of Buddhist vows and practices to the T? Or could an enlightened Buddhist theoretically engage in war without consequence? If samsara is conquered so to speak, if you have "reached the other shore" of the deathless state, what possible negative consequences could there be for being a warrior in such case? Karma no longer has any affect on a Buddha, correct?
I don't believe so. As you say, Buddhas cannot generate karma. In fact, one stops generating karma upon reaching the Path of Seeing, whereupon one is able to perceive Emptiness. However, at that point one also realizes the non-duality of other people and oneself, therefore the thought of harming others for self serving reasons becomes impossible.

Vidyaraja wrote:Within the concept of ahimsa, is there a qualitative difference between different types of violence? For example, it seems to me that a ruthless murderer who kills for pleasure or profit would be infringing upon the concept more so than a warrior whose duty it is defend his people or who only engages in violence as a means of self-defense, a sort of ethical and controlled violence.
Oh sure, the karma is worse in the first case. Selfless intent behind a normally negative act even generates positive karma (according to the Mahayana iirc).

Vidyaraja wrote:Another question that is related--can there be or is there currently a right-wing, aristocratic Buddhism? I notice that quite often (perhaps even nearly unanimously), especially among Westerners, Buddhism is associated with and attracts liberals/leftists, secular humanists, supporters of democracy, total equality, etc. Are there any trends of a right-wing, monarchical Buddhism? People often say that Buddha wanted to abolish the caste system, but I've heard it argued convincingly (by Ananda Coommaraswamy and others for example) that Buddha had no issue with caste itself but rather with "false Brahmins", Brahmins who no longer had the direct vision Buddha attained but were reduced to mere philosophical speculation and empty ritualism rather than true gnosis/prajna/bodhi, etc. Thoughts?
Contrary to the prevailing opinion, yes it's possible. Buddhism has nothing to do with politics. Buddhism can fit nearly into many different world views. Furthermore, the Buddha was a prince and many historical Buddhists of note were kings (including many of the Mahasiddha).

Now this is just my opinion, but I believe the Buddha desired a caste-less meritocracy among the Sangha. Outside of the Sangha he didn't care if there was a caste system or not.
Equanimity is the ground. Love is the moisture. Compassion is the seed. Bodhicitta is the result.

-Paraphrase of Khensur Rinpoche Lobsang Tsephel citing the Guhyasamaja Tantra

"All memories and thoughts are the union of emptiness and knowing, the Mind.
Without attachment, self-liberating, like a snake in a knot.
Through the qualities of meditating in that way,
Mental obscurations are purified and the dharmakaya is attained."

-Ra Lotsawa, All-pervading Melodious Drumbeats
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Re: Buddhism and the Warrior

Postby Son of Buddha » Sun Feb 24, 2013 7:39 am

Buddhism is a warriors religion.

Buddhism teaches what is already on the mind of every soldier that has survived the battlefield.
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Re: Buddhism and the Warrior

Postby Sherab Dorje » Sun Feb 24, 2013 10:07 am

SN 42.3 PTS: S iv 308 CDB ii 1334
Yodhajiva Sutta: To Yodhajiva (The Warrior)
translated from the Pali by
Thanissaro Bhikkhu
© 1998–2013
Then Yodhajiva[1] the headman went to the Blessed One and, on arrival, having bowed down to him, sat to one side. As he was sitting there he said to the Blessed One: "Lord, I have heard that it has been passed down by the ancient teaching lineage of warriors that 'When a warrior strives & exerts himself in battle, if others then strike him down & slay him while he is striving & exerting himself in battle, then with the breakup of the body, after death, he is reborn in the company of devas slain in battle.' What does the Blessed One have to say about that?"

"Enough, headman, put that aside. Don't ask me that."

A second time... A third time Yodhajiva the headman said: "Lord, I have heard that it has been passed down by the ancient teaching lineage of warriors that 'When a warrior strives & exerts himself in battle, if others then strike him down & slay him while he is striving & exerting himself in battle, then with the breakup of the body, after death, he is reborn in the company of devas slain in battle.' What does the Blessed One have to say about that?"

"Apparently, headman, I haven't been able to get past you by saying, 'Enough, headman, put that aside. Don't ask me that.' So I will simply answer you. When a warrior strives & exerts himself in battle, his mind is already seized, debased, & misdirected by the thought: 'May these beings be struck down or slaughtered or annihilated or destroyed. May they not exist.' If others then strike him down & slay him while he is thus striving & exerting himself in battle, then with the breakup of the body, after death, he is reborn in the hell called the realm of those slain in battle. But if he holds such a view as this: 'When a warrior strives & exerts himself in battle, if others then strike him down & slay him while he is striving & exerting himself in battle, then with the breakup of the body, after death, he is reborn in the company of devas slain in battle,' that is his wrong view. Now, there are two destinations for a person with wrong view, I tell you: either hell or the animal womb."

When this was said, Yodhajiva the headman sobbed & burst into tears. [The Blessed One said:] "That is what I couldn't get past you by saying, 'Enough, headman, put that aside. Don't ask me that.'"

"I'm not crying, lord, because of what the Blessed One said to me, but simply because I have been deceived, cheated, & fooled for a long time by that ancient teaching lineage of warriors who said: 'When a warrior strives & exerts himself in battle, if others then strike him down & slay him while he is striving & exerting himself in battle, then with the breakup of the body, after death, he is reborn in the company of devas slain in battle.'

"Magnificent, lord! Magnificent! Just as if he were to place upright what was overturned, to reveal what was hidden, to show the way to one who was lost, or to carry a lamp into the dark so that those with eyes could see forms, in the same way has the Blessed One — through many lines of reasoning — made the Dhamma clear. I go to the Blessed One for refuge, to the Dhamma, and to the Community of monks. May the Blessed One remember me as a lay follower who has gone to him for refuge, from this day forward, for life."

Notes

1. Yodhajiva = "warrior."
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

"Now I will tell you the layman's duty. Following it a lay-disciple would be virtuous; for it is not possible for one occupied with the household life to realize the complete bhikkhu practice (dhamma).

"He should not kill a living being, nor cause it to be killed, nor should he incite another to kill. Do not injure any being, either strong or weak, in the world.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .irel.html

SN 1.71 PTS: S i 41 CDB i 133
Ghatva Sutta: Having Killed
translated from the Pali by
Thanissaro Bhikkhu
© 1999–2013
As she was standing to one side, a devata recited this verse to the Blessed One:


Having killed what
do you sleep in ease?
Having killed what
do you not grieve?
Of the slaying
of what one thing
does Gotama approve?

[The Buddha:]
Having killed anger
you sleep in ease.
Having killed anger
you do not grieve.
The noble ones praise
the slaying of anger
— with its honeyed crest
& poison root —
for having killed it
you do not grieve.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
"My religion is not deceiving myself."
Jetsun Milarepa 1052-1135 CE
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Re: Buddhism and the Warrior

Postby Vidyaraja » Sun Feb 24, 2013 6:59 pm

Konchog1 wrote:I don't believe so. As you say, Buddhas cannot generate karma. In fact, one stops generating karma upon reaching the Path of Seeing, whereupon one is able to perceive Emptiness. However, at that point one also realizes the non-duality of other people and oneself, therefore the thought of harming others for self serving reasons becomes impossible.


Does the realization of the non-difference between self and not-self or this and that, ie a non-dual realization or enlightenment, preclude the ability to defend one's self? You say the thought of harming others for self-serving reasons is impossible, but lets envision a scenario where a Buddhist monastery were attacked and an enlightened man, a true Buddha, was there. Are you saying it would be impossible for him to attack his attackers due to his experience of non-duality? Or if an innocent, say a child, were about to be killed, would a Buddha be unable to make the decision to defend the child due to his non-dual ontological state? Isn't a Buddha also absolutely free? Wouldn't this be a limitation to his absolute freedom?
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Re: Buddhism and the Warrior

Postby Sherab Dorje » Sun Feb 24, 2013 8:18 pm

Konchog1 wrote:
Vidyaraja wrote:Within the concept of ahimsa, is there a qualitative difference between different types of violence? For example, it seems to me that a ruthless murderer who kills for pleasure or profit would be infringing upon the concept more so than a warrior whose duty it is defend his people or who only engages in violence as a means of self-defense, a sort of ethical and controlled violence.
Oh sure, the karma is worse in the first case. Selfless intent behind a normally negative act even generates positive karma (according to the Mahayana iirc).
Actually the wholesome intention gives rise to a positive outcome, but the unwholesome act (killing) gives rise to a negative outcome. It may seem that overall there is a more positive outcome but really... Anyway, the problem with engaging in unwholesome actions is that you can never be guaranteed that your intention is wholesome. So you may (unintentionally) end up causing even more negative outcomes. Take a look at the example with Yodhajiva, he believed that his actions would generate a positive outcome, but the Buddha pointed out that his intention would be based in ignorance or anger due to the fact that he was unenlightened and would lead to rebirth in hell or as an animal. So... what makes you believe that your intention will be pure? How do you know that it will not be based in ignorance? That is why it is mainly a good idea to avoid unwholesome actions.
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Re: Buddhism and the Warrior

Postby Konchog1 » Sun Feb 24, 2013 9:44 pm

Vidyaraja wrote:
Konchog1 wrote:I don't believe so. As you say, Buddhas cannot generate karma. In fact, one stops generating karma upon reaching the Path of Seeing, whereupon one is able to perceive Emptiness. However, at that point one also realizes the non-duality of other people and oneself, therefore the thought of harming others for self serving reasons becomes impossible.


Does the realization of the non-difference between self and not-self or this and that, ie a non-dual realization or enlightenment, preclude the ability to defend one's self? You say the thought of harming others for self-serving reasons is impossible, but lets envision a scenario where a Buddhist monastery were attacked and an enlightened man, a true Buddha, was there. Are you saying it would be impossible for him to attack his attackers due to his experience of non-duality? Or if an innocent, say a child, were about to be killed, would a Buddha be unable to make the decision to defend the child due to his non-dual ontological state? Isn't a Buddha also absolutely free? Wouldn't this be a limitation to his absolute freedom?
Well, as Berzin puts it, upon realizing non-duality you do not think of 'my suffering' and 'their suffering'. Instead, there is 'suffering'. Same with happiness.

So I'd imagine in that situation, the Buddha would take the route of the least suffering which would be to kill the attackers.

gregkavarnos wrote:
Konchog1 wrote:
Vidyaraja wrote:Within the concept of ahimsa, is there a qualitative difference between different types of violence? For example, it seems to me that a ruthless murderer who kills for pleasure or profit would be infringing upon the concept more so than a warrior whose duty it is defend his people or who only engages in violence as a means of self-defense, a sort of ethical and controlled violence.
Oh sure, the karma is worse in the first case. Selfless intent behind a normally negative act even generates positive karma (according to the Mahayana iirc).
Actually the wholesome intention gives rise to a positive outcome, but the unwholesome act (killing) gives rise to a negative outcome. It may seem that overall there is a more positive outcome but really... Anyway, the problem with engaging in unwholesome actions is that you can never be guaranteed that your intention is wholesome. So you may (unintentionally) end up causing even more negative outcomes. Take a look at the example with Yodhajiva, he believed that his actions would generate a positive outcome, but the Buddha pointed out that his intention would be based in ignorance or anger due to the fact that he was unenlightened and would lead to rebirth in hell or as an animal. So... what makes you believe that your intention will be pure? How do you know that it will not be based in ignorance? That is why it is mainly a good idea to avoid unwholesome actions.
That's the Theravada view, but isn't the Mahayana view that the act would be purely virtuous?
Equanimity is the ground. Love is the moisture. Compassion is the seed. Bodhicitta is the result.

-Paraphrase of Khensur Rinpoche Lobsang Tsephel citing the Guhyasamaja Tantra

"All memories and thoughts are the union of emptiness and knowing, the Mind.
Without attachment, self-liberating, like a snake in a knot.
Through the qualities of meditating in that way,
Mental obscurations are purified and the dharmakaya is attained."

-Ra Lotsawa, All-pervading Melodious Drumbeats
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Re: Buddhism and the Warrior

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Sun Feb 24, 2013 9:53 pm

"The Warrior" is a different thing IMO than this self-defense scenario.

A scenario where you are forced to cause harm in order to produce what you believe to be the least amount of harm given an unforeseen, unplanned situation is totally different from what Warriors engage in in their capacity as warriors, be it the past or future. In fact, this kind of situation is more likely to be what civilians/householders would find themselves in moral quandary-wise...Warriors are trained to follow orders and kill the enemy, there is not supposed to be moral deliberation involved..if there were, they would not be effective warriors. You can bring up other instances of how warriors are said to act, but in those instances they are actually doing something other than acting as a warrior.

This kind of "I can kill because I am unattached" was embraced by the Samurai class and plenty of others at some times, at other times Zen was convenient thing to do in peacetime, personally I think it's bunk..and if you look at the society produced by these warriors (just like the middle ages and age of "chivalry") there is not that much to admire about them in terms of spiritual ethics, and there is a deep hypocrisy to unquestioningly engaging in violence against others on the authority of someone else (which again, is what it means to be a warrior to a large degree) from a Buddhist perspective it seems to me. There are some noble things about these times and cultures, but reverence for life isn't one of them IMO.

It seems to me that one has to seperate the fact that there might be times where violence has to be regrettably engaged in from the profession of actually being a warrior, one is just the difficult questions of life, one is wrong livelihood.
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Re: Buddhism and the Warrior

Postby Son of Buddha » Mon Feb 25, 2013 6:30 am

"gregkavarnos"]

SN 42.3 PTS: S iv 308 CDB ii 1334
Yodhajiva Sutta: To Yodhajiva (The Warrior)
translated from the Pali by
Thanissaro Bhikkhu
© 1998–2013
Then Yodhajiva[1] the headman went to the Blessed One and, on arrival, having bowed down to him, sat to one side. As he was sitting there he said to the Blessed One: "Lord, I have heard that it has been passed down by the ancient teaching lineage of warriors that 'When a warrior strives & exerts himself in battle, if others then strike him down & slay him while he is striving & exerting himself in battle, then with the breakup of the body, after death, he is reborn in the company of devas slain in battle.' What does the Blessed One have to say about


In Bhikkhu Bodhis translation tbe word warrior or soldier is never mentioned,he interpretes it as Mercenary,he even translates it as Yodhajiva the Mercenary.
With this said a Mercenary and a Soldier are 2 different things
A Warrior who kills for money is termed a Mercenary
A Soldier is one who fights to defend his family and his country
(unfortunately they are also used by kings for the conquest of land and riches too we called those soldiers "pawns".

So do you know the actual pali word they are translating?what is ots literal interpretation(warrior or mercenary?)
(since one word can literally change the entire meaning of the context?)

Also are you aware of the ship captain story in the jataka tales?
Also in the Digha Nikaya sutta 16(mahaparinibbana sutta)
a wicked king asks the Buddha if he will win if he attacks the Vijjian Buddhist nation,and the Buddha told him the Vijjians were strong in Dharma and where unified.and they would win the war.(giving 7 reasons)
The question begs how would the Vijjians win the war if the Dharma they are strong in tells them not to fight to begin with?

(2)also would warriors go to battle slain hell even if they already accepted Amitabha Buddhas 18th vow?
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Re: Buddhism and the Warrior

Postby Son of Buddha » Mon Feb 25, 2013 6:56 am

"Johnny Dangerous"]"The Warrior" is a different thing IMO than this self-defense scenario.

A scenario where you are forced to cause harm in order to produce what you believe to be the least amount of harm given an unforeseen, unplanned situation is totally different from what Warriors engage in in their capacity as warriors, be it the past or future. In fact, this kind of situation is more likely to be what civilians/householders would find themselves in moral quandary-wise...Warriors are trained to follow orders and kill the enemy, there is not supposed to be moral deliberation involved..if there were, they would not be effective warriors. You can bring up other instances of how warriors are said to act, but in those instances they are actually doing something other than acting as a warrior.


I take from this statement you have never been a soldier.

It seems to me that one has to seperate the fact that there might be times
where violence has to be regrettably engaged in from the profession of actually being a warrior, one is just the difficult questions of life, one is wrong livelihood.


Is it wrong livelihood to give ones life to defend those who cannot defend themselves?
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Re: Buddhism and the Warrior

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Mon Feb 25, 2013 8:28 am

Instead of making guesses about what I have or haven't done, which you have no inkling of, please just address what you disagree with.

Do you think the job of warriors is something other than killing? It's true that there are other duties, especially within empires that occupy countries, but the primary purpose of warriors throughout human history has been to go out and kill folks in the name of one thing or another, if you agree with the thing that killing is happening for then great. What is untrue about that? I am definitely not saying that violence is never neccessary, nor that soldiers never act altruistically, but the function of the job is what it is. Saying one is just "defending ones country" throughout history has been the slipperiest slope imaginable which has been used to justify all kinds of atrocities, so without some kind of qualification that is a terrible argument by itself.

Is it wrong livelihood to give ones life to defend those who cannot defend themselves?


Do you really believe this is what most soldiers do as an occupation? Soldiers work for governments and power structures, they may on an individual level do a number of very heroic things, but the actual function of the position has more to do with expanding the interests of the nation state, tribe, clan or whatever than it does 'defending the innocent' I'm not saying it doesn't happen by any means - i'm saying that whatever nonsense claims are made about the job itself, the purpose is not, and has likely never been "defending the innocent" by and large. As large scale warfare goes "defending the innocent" is usually about as convincing a claim as "spreading democracy" is. Warfare and it's ethics is obviously alot more murky than silly simplified categories like that.
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Re: Buddhism and the Warrior

Postby Sherab Dorje » Mon Feb 25, 2013 9:07 am

Konchog1 wrote:That's the Theravada view, but isn't the Mahayana view that the act would be purely virtuous?
No, that is the Mahayana view as outlined by Jigten Sumgon in Gonchig - The Single Intent the Sacred Dharma.
"My religion is not deceiving myself."
Jetsun Milarepa 1052-1135 CE
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