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PostPosted: Sun Dec 01, 2013 7:19 pm 
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Paul wrote:
dzogchungpa wrote:
I believe this thread was split from the great vegetarian debate in order to discuss why the Vinaya treats the intentional killing of humans so differently from the intentional killing of animals. As far as I can tell, the only explanation is that whoever wrote or compliled the Vinaya didn't thinking killing animals was a "big deal". What do the learned members of DW think?

As far as I am aware, the logic is that the closer a being is to being enlightened, the heavier the karma created by harming them. This is why harming a human causes more negative karma than harming an animal - and also why harming a Buddha or killing an arahant are two of the actions that send you directly to hell.


...but surely a Buddha knows no harm?

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 01, 2013 7:20 pm 
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Paul wrote:
dzogchungpa wrote:
I believe this thread was split from the great vegetarian debate in order to discuss why the Vinaya treats the intentional killing of humans so differently from the intentional killing of animals. As far as I can tell, the only explanation is that whoever wrote or compliled the Vinaya didn't thinking killing animals was a "big deal". What do the learned members of DW think?

As far as I am aware, the logic is that the closer a being is to being enlightened, the heavier the karma created by harming them...

I have heard that as well, but is that a Vinaya thing? What is the source of this idea?

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 01, 2013 7:30 pm 
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futerko wrote:
...but surely a Buddha knows no harm?

Good and Evil in Indian Buddhism: The Five Sins of Immediate Retribution - Jonathan A. Silk:
https://openaccess.leidenuniv.nl/bitstr ... ddhism.pdf

"drawing the blood of a buddha" is the relevant one.

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 01, 2013 7:31 pm 
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It is not a Vinaya thing.

Check out the 5 Acts of Immediate Retribution:

Five crimes with immediate retribution (Wyl. mtshams med pa lnga):

killing one's father
killing one's mother
killing an arhat
maliciously drawing blood from the body of a tathagata

creating a schism in the sangha

http://www.rigpawiki.org/index.php?titl ... etribution

and also these:

Five actions similar to the five crimes with immediate retribution (Wyl. mtshams med dang cha 'dra ba nye ba lnga)

to degrade through sexual misconduct one's mother who is also an arhat
to kill a 'securely abiding' bodhisattva
to kill an Arya on the path of learning
to misappropriate funds from the sangha
to destroy a stupa

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Last edited by JKhedrup on Sun Dec 01, 2013 7:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 01, 2013 7:36 pm 
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dzogchungpa wrote:
I have heard that as well, but is that a Vinaya thing? What is the source of this idea?

I'm making the assumption that the vinaya rules are based on the general concepts that are involved in karma, but then again there are all kinds of weird rules in the vinaya.

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 01, 2013 7:46 pm 
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Paul wrote:
I'm making the assumption that the vinaya rules are based on the general concepts that are involved in karma, but then again there are all kinds of weird rules in the vinaya.

Yes, some of the pacittiya rules seem quite odd, for example the one immediately preceding the one concerning the intentional killing of animals:
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60. Should any bhikkhu hide (another) bhikkhu's bowl, robe, sitting cloth, needle case, or belt, or have it hidden, even as a joke, it is to be confessed.

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 01, 2013 7:54 pm 
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dzogchungpa wrote:
Paul wrote:
I'm making the assumption that the vinaya rules are based on the general concepts that are involved in karma, but then again there are all kinds of weird rules in the vinaya.

Yes, some of the pacittiya rules seem quite odd, for example the one immediately preceding the one concerning the intentional killing of animals:
Quote:
60. Should any bhikkhu hide (another) bhikkhu's bowl, robe, sitting cloth, needle case, or belt, or have it hidden, even as a joke, it is to be confessed.


Although it is quite humorous to imagine the Buddha telling them off for playing practical jokes on each other!

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 01, 2013 8:25 pm 
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dzogchungpa wrote:
I believe this thread was split from the great vegetarian debate in order to discuss why the Vinaya treats the intentional killing of humans so differently from the intentional killing of animals. As far as I can tell, the only explanation is that whoever wrote or compliled the Vinaya didn't thinking killing animals was a "big deal". What do the learned members of DW think?


The scribes behind the various Vinaya texts represent a small minority of learned clerics with their own ideas of how ordained members of the community should behave. This needs to be kept in mind. Consider the following:

Quote:
    [S]cholars of Indian Buddhism have taken canonical monastic rules and formal literary descriptions of the monastic ideal preserved in very late manuscripts and treated them as if they were accurate reflections of the religious life and career of actual practicing Buddhist monks in early India. Such a procedure has, of course, placed archaeology and epigraphy in a very awkward position. If, then, archaeology and epigraphy are to be in the service of a “history” based on written sources of this kind, then they are going to have to “support and amplify” something that very probably did not exist: they are going to have to sit quietly in a corner spinning cloth for the emperor's new clothes.

    Gregory Schopen, “Archaelogy and Protestant Presuppositions” in Indian Monastic Buddhism Collected Papers on Textual, Inscriptional and Archaelogical Evidence (New Delhi, India: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers Private Limited, 2010), 3.


Looking at things historically, it would seem many early Buddhists in India took on a Jain-like approach towards killing, so much that even farming became regarded as a sinful profession. Trading was elevated as a decent profession, which reflects the alliance between the merchant class and Buddhist institutions. Killing animals was regarded as an issue, but it was never, as far as I know, regarded on the same lines as taking the life of a human being.

My opinion as to why killing humans is worse than killing animals is because for most humans the emotional impulses required to take the life of another human will likely be far stronger and deviant than when killing an animal. The quality of an action is determined by the state of mind in which it is carried out, which means in practice the stronger the afflictions, the greater the result. Unwholesome actions lead to suffering and wholesome actions lead to ease.

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 01, 2013 8:26 pm 
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Paul wrote:
As far as I am aware, the logic is that the closer a being is to being enlightened, the heavier the karma created by harming them. This is why harming a human causes more negative karma than harming an animal - and also why harming a Buddha or killing an arahant are two of the actions that send you directly to hell.


This is a rather anthropocentric perspective the belief is that humans are inherently closer to enlightenment.

Devas are superior to humans, yet killing them is still less serious for a human being than killing a human, according to the traditional Vinaya exegesis I have read.

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Last edited by Indrajala on Sun Dec 01, 2013 8:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 01, 2013 8:37 pm 
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Indrajala wrote:
Paul wrote:
As far as I am aware, the logic is that the closer a being is to being enlightened, the heavier the karma created by harming them. This is why harming a human causes more negative karma than harming an animal - and also why harming a Buddha or killing an arahant are two of the actions that send you directly to hell.


This is a rather anthropocentric perspective, and the belief is that humans are inherently closer to enlightenment.

Devas are superior to humans, yet killing them is still less serious for a human being than killing a human, according to the traditional Vinaya exegesis I have read.


Humans are meant to be in the best position to gain enlightenment AFAIK. Dunno how you kill a deva, anyway.

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 01, 2013 8:50 pm 
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Paul wrote:
Humans are meant to be in the best position to gain enlightenment AFAIK. Dunno how you kill a deva, anyway.


Yet there are well-known gods like Indra, Vajrapāṇi, Dhṛtarāṣṭra, Virūḍhaka, Virūpākṣa and Vaiśravaṇa who were present when the Buddha walked the earth, protecting him and the sangha. They heard the original teachings directly from the Buddha himself, unlike us with our fallible scriptures. They have long life and have a lot more opportunity to cultivate merit and wisdom than us. Devas have foresight, knowledge and abilities well beyond anything any ordinary human has, which is why they are included in the six remembrances (Buddha, Dharma, Sangha, generosity, morality and the gods).

Indra himself attained srotāpanna (stream-entry). That makes him a noble being by definition, i.e., enlightened.

An eminent monk of Bodhgaya once told me how he encountered on some remote mountain some goddesses who were present with the Buddha. Stop and consider what an advantage they would have.

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 01, 2013 9:19 pm 
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Indrajala wrote:
Looking at things historically, it would seem many early Buddhists in India took on a Jain-like approach towards killing, so much that even farming became regarded as a sinful profession. Trading was elevated as a decent profession, which reflects the alliance between the merchant class and Buddhist institutions.

Any kind of trading? Wouldn't trading in the products of farming, for example, be "encouraging" the sinful profession of farming, to use the kind of argument one often hears nowadays?
Indrajala wrote:
My opinion as to why killing humans is worse than killing animals is because for most humans the emotional impulses required to take the life of another human will likely be far stronger and deviant than when killing an animal. The quality of an action is determined by the state of mind in which it is carried out, which means in practice the stronger the afflictions, the greater the result. Unwholesome actions lead to suffering and wholesome actions lead to ease.

This makes some sense to me, but many actions are concomitant with a mixture of wholesome and unwholesome mental factors, I would think, e.g. killing a chicken in order to provide food. How does that work out?

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 01, 2013 9:25 pm 
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Indrajala wrote:
An eminent monk of Bodhgaya once told me how he encountered on some remote mountain some goddesses who were present with the Buddha.

This is interesting. Do you think that story is literally true? If so, I'd kind of like to meet this monk.
:smile:

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 01, 2013 9:27 pm 
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dzogchungpa wrote:
Any kind of trading? Wouldn't trading in the products of farming, for example, be "encouraging" the sinful profession of farming, to use the kind of argument one often hears nowadays?


As far as I know, it was not regarded as such, much in the same way that meat eating is a neutral act provided you never saw, heard or suspected the meat was produced for you specifically. Likewise, to trade in goods produced through harmful acts is a neutral act as you as an agent are quite removed from the actions behind the production of such goods.


Quote:
Indrajala wrote:
My opinion as to why killing humans is worse than killing animals is because for most humans the emotional impulses required to take the life of another human will likely be far stronger and deviant than when killing an animal. The quality of an action is determined by the state of mind in which it is carried out, which means in practice the stronger the afflictions, the greater the result. Unwholesome actions lead to suffering and wholesome actions lead to ease.

This makes some sense to me, but many actions are concomitant with a mixture of wholesome and unwholesome mental factors, I would think, e.g. killing a chicken in order to provide food. How does that work out?


It is an unwholesome act and one knowingly inflicts suffering on a being. The result will be suffering for the agent one way or another. The extent of that suffering will be determined by the potency of the afflictions behind the act.

Again, ignorance and a bit of desire to feed oneself being the motivating factors in the act of killing is quite different from, say, torturing a chicken to death for fun with a blowtorch.

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 01, 2013 9:28 pm 
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dzogchungpa wrote:
Indrajala wrote:
An eminent monk of Bodhgaya once told me how he encountered on some remote mountain some goddesses who were present with the Buddha.

This is interesting. Do you think that story is literally true? If so, I'd kind of like to meet this monk.
:smile:


By his own admission he was meditating up on some desolate mountain and he encountered them.

Such experiences are not so uncommon really among mystics and yogis.

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 01, 2013 9:31 pm 
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Indrajala wrote:
The scribes behind the various Vinaya texts represent a small minority of learned clerics with their own ideas of how ordained members of the community should behave.

There does seem to be a difference here between rules for managing unruly social behaviour and karmic consequences.

Indrajala wrote:
My opinion as to why killing humans is worse than killing animals is because for most humans the emotional impulses required to take the life of another human will likely be far stronger and deviant than when killing an animal. The quality of an action is determined by the state of mind in which it is carried out, which means in practice the stronger the afflictions, the greater the result. Unwholesome actions lead to suffering and wholesome actions lead to ease.

This makes sense, but the logic of this would seem to lead to the conclusion that if one could maintain one's equipoise while murdering humans then karma would somehow be lessened.
I suspect that the mind state of the "victim" may also contribute to the overall karmic result.

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 01, 2013 9:33 pm 
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Indrajala wrote:
It is an unwholesome act and one knowingly inflicts suffering on a being. The result will be suffering for the agent one way or another. The extent of that suffering will be determined by the potency of the afflictions behind the act.

Again, ignorance and a bit of desire to feed oneself being the motivating factors in the act of killing is quite different from, say, torturing a chicken to death for fun with a blowtorch.

Yes, but the desire to feed oneself and others is, or at least could be, a positive mental factor, no? Shouldn't that then produce a positive result, if it is sufficiently dominant in the mix?

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 01, 2013 9:42 pm 
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futerko wrote:
There does seem to be a difference here between rules for managing unruly social behaviour and karmic consequences.


In traditional Vinaya exegesis, there is a distinction made between inherently transgressive actions (killing, theft, etc.) and actions which are transgressive by virtue of being prohibited (consuming alcohol, eating past noon, etc.).

Quote:
This makes sense, but the logic of this would seem to lead to the conclusion that if one could maintain one's equipoise while murdering humans then karma would somehow be lessened.


However, ignorance of consequences is such that one would still be actively engaged in actions which inflict harm and suffering on others, the result of which is suffering for oneself in the future.

A surgeon cuts into the patient with the intent of healing them, and this is a meritorious act. The warrior cuts into the enemy with the intent of killing them, and this is a negative act.

It all comes down to intent. Self-defense is a complicated matter because the motivation might seem praiseworthy at first, but the act and its consequences ultimately dooming for the agent.

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 01, 2013 9:43 pm 
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dzogchungpa wrote:
Yes, but the desire to feed oneself and others is, or at least could be, a positive mental factor, no? Shouldn't that then produce a positive result, if it is sufficiently dominant in the mix?


No, because one is knowingly inflicting harm on a being with the intention to kill it.

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 01, 2013 9:55 pm 
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Indrajala wrote:
In traditional Vinaya exegesis, there is a distinction made between inherently transgressive actions (killing, theft, etc.) and actions which are transgressive by virtue of being prohibited (consuming alcohol, eating past noon, etc.).

I'm assuming intentionally killing an animal would be one of the inherently transgressive actions. If so, it seems odd that the rule about it is only a pacittiya. The rule concerning theft, e.g., is a parajika, i.e. one requiring expulsion from the order for life.

Btw, this distinction seems to correspond nicely to that made in law between malum in se and malum prohibitum.

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Last edited by dzogchungpa on Sun Dec 01, 2013 9:59 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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