Abhidharma Question about Killing

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Seeker12
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Abhidharma Question about Killing

Post by Seeker12 »

In the Theravada Abhidharma tradition, apparently it's said,
This set of definitions keys the kamma-pathas quite precisely into the Abhidhamma system of classes of consciousness. The fact that intention to kill is accompanied by only painful feeling and has as its roots hate and delusion means that it can only be constituted by two of the standard list of eightynine classes of consciousness: the two classes of sense-sphere consciousness rooted in hate and accompanied by unhappiness.

The possibility that the intention to kill might ever be constituted by one or other of the eight classes of sense-sphere consciousness rooted in lack of greed, lack of hate, and lack of ignorance is apparently simply excluded. In other words the intention to kill is understood as exclusively unwholesome, and the possibility that it might ever be something wholesome prompted by thoughts of compassion is not countenanced.
In other words, it seems basically that the message is that the intention to kill is never not afflicted but is exclusively unwholesome, without exception.

In the Mahayana, at times we see that a bodhisattva may - or even must - perform a lower non-virtue if necessary from a higher point of view.

Patrul Rinpoche, here (https://www.lotsawahouse.org/tibetan-ma ... iderations), says things like, "Even though you may hold vows of ethical conduct, if some sentient beings would be greatly aided and benefited solely by your committing a negative action, then, for the sake of others, and since it would be a training in spiritual accomplishment, you should act, committing any of the ten negative actions."

Other masters say similar things, for example Longchenpa though I will not take the time to find a citation here at the moment.

My question is: is this something that finds support within the Abhidharma materials in the Mahayana traditions in a way that is simply not present in the Theravada Abhidharma material? Are there any citations anyone knows of in Mahayana Abhidharma material that discusses this point? I'm not really looking for writings from various masters (Longchenpa, Patrul, Jigme Lingpa, etc) but rather ideally looking for more 'primary' or close to primary sources, if that makes sense.

I hope the intent of my post is clear. Thank you.
I pray to the divine mother Tārā:
Through not realizing our innate nature to be dharmakāya,
Our minds remain under the influence of destructive emotion;
Protect all of us who wander aimlessly in saṃsāra.
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Könchok Thrinley
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Re: Abhidharma Question about Killing

Post by Könchok Thrinley »

Well, you will still undergo the karmic reprecussion even if you kill with the intention of benefitting beings and saving lives. So there is no disagreement I'd say.

The disagreement is in case of a question if it is ever permissable to kill. Here Mahayana holds that yes and Hinayana that no.

At least this is my understanding.
“Observing samaya involves to remain inseparable from the union of wisdom and compassion at all times, to sustain mindfulness, and to put into practice the guru’s instructions”. Garchen Rinpoche

For those who do virtuous actions,
goodness is what comes to pass.
For those who do non-virtuous actions,
that becomes suffering indeed.

- Arya Sanghata Sutra
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Astus
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Re: Abhidharma Question about Killing

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'The noble Cloud of Jewels states clearly that it is permissible to kill someone who is about to commit an action of immediate retribution. And also, in the monastic code of the disciples, a basis for a root downfall that is done out of compassion, such as to set free deer and so on, is said not to be a downfall.'
(The Training Anthology of Śāntideva, p 165-166)

'There are also certain naturally objectionable acts such that, when they are performed by a bodhisattva with a particular kind of skillful means, he or she not only remains free of any offense but also generates a great amount of merit. An example would be a situation in which a bodhisattva sees a thief or a robber who is intent upon killing many hundreds of living beings—great persons [such as] listeners, solitary realizers, or bodhisattvas—for the sake of a small amount of material wealth, [making this person] someone who is preparing to commit many instances of an immediate misdeed. Having seen this, [a bodhisattva] then forms the following thought with his or her mind: “Even though I shall have to be reborn in the hells for depriving this living being of his or her life, it is better that I should be reborn in a hell than that this sentient should end up in the hells because of having committed an immediate misdeed.” After a bodhisattva who has had such a thought determines that his or her state of mind toward this living being is either virtuous or indeterminate, and after developing a single-minded attitude of sympathy about the future while experiencing [a sense of] abhorrence, he or she then deprives [this living being] of his or her life. [Having done this, a bodhisattva] will not only remain free of any offense but will also generate a great amount of merit.'
(The Bodhisattva Path to Unsurpassed Enlightenment, I.10.2.10.11)
1 Myriad dharmas are only mind.
Mind is unobtainable.
What is there to seek?

2 If the Buddha-Nature is seen,
there will be no seeing of a nature in any thing.

3 Neither cultivation nor seated meditation —
this is the pure Chan of Tathagata.

4 With sudden enlightenment to Tathagata Chan,
the six paramitas and myriad means
are complete within that essence.


1 Huangbo, T2012Ap381c1 2 Nirvana Sutra, T374p521b3; tr. Yamamoto 3 Mazu, X1321p3b23; tr. J. Jia 4 Yongjia, T2014p395c14; tr. from "The Sword of Wisdom"
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Seeker12
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Re: Abhidharma Question about Killing

Post by Seeker12 »

Astus wrote: Thu Oct 06, 2022 8:47 am 'The noble Cloud of Jewels states clearly that it is permissible to kill someone who is about to commit an action of immediate retribution. And also, in the monastic code of the disciples, a basis for a root downfall that is done out of compassion, such as to set free deer and so on, is said not to be a downfall.'
(The Training Anthology of Śāntideva, p 165-166)

'There are also certain naturally objectionable acts such that, when they are performed by a bodhisattva with a particular kind of skillful means, he or she not only remains free of any offense but also generates a great amount of merit. An example would be a situation in which a bodhisattva sees a thief or a robber who is intent upon killing many hundreds of living beings—great persons [such as] listeners, solitary realizers, or bodhisattvas—for the sake of a small amount of material wealth, [making this person] someone who is preparing to commit many instances of an immediate misdeed. Having seen this, [a bodhisattva] then forms the following thought with his or her mind: “Even though I shall have to be reborn in the hells for depriving this living being of his or her life, it is better that I should be reborn in a hell than that this sentient should end up in the hells because of having committed an immediate misdeed.” After a bodhisattva who has had such a thought determines that his or her state of mind toward this living being is either virtuous or indeterminate, and after developing a single-minded attitude of sympathy about the future while experiencing [a sense of] abhorrence, he or she then deprives [this living being] of his or her life. [Having done this, a bodhisattva] will not only remain free of any offense but will also generate a great amount of merit.'
(The Bodhisattva Path to Unsurpassed Enlightenment, I.10.2.10.11)
Thank you for the citations, that's good to know. I don't know that I fully understand the first one though - I don't understand how setting a deer free is a root downfall.
I pray to the divine mother Tārā:
Through not realizing our innate nature to be dharmakāya,
Our minds remain under the influence of destructive emotion;
Protect all of us who wander aimlessly in saṃsāra.
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Astus
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Re: Abhidharma Question about Killing

Post by Astus »

Seeker12 wrote: Thu Oct 06, 2022 2:55 pmI don't understand how setting a deer free is a root downfall.
Goodman writes in the note for that sentence: 'If deer have been captured by a hunter, setting them free could be considered stealing; but, according to Śāntideva, this would not be a violation of the monastic code.'
1 Myriad dharmas are only mind.
Mind is unobtainable.
What is there to seek?

2 If the Buddha-Nature is seen,
there will be no seeing of a nature in any thing.

3 Neither cultivation nor seated meditation —
this is the pure Chan of Tathagata.

4 With sudden enlightenment to Tathagata Chan,
the six paramitas and myriad means
are complete within that essence.


1 Huangbo, T2012Ap381c1 2 Nirvana Sutra, T374p521b3; tr. Yamamoto 3 Mazu, X1321p3b23; tr. J. Jia 4 Yongjia, T2014p395c14; tr. from "The Sword of Wisdom"
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Seeker12
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Re: Abhidharma Question about Killing

Post by Seeker12 »

Astus wrote: Thu Oct 06, 2022 3:07 pm
Seeker12 wrote: Thu Oct 06, 2022 2:55 pmI don't understand how setting a deer free is a root downfall.
Goodman writes in the note for that sentence: 'If deer have been captured by a hunter, setting them free could be considered stealing; but, according to Śāntideva, this would not be a violation of the monastic code.'
Ah, ok, thank you that makes sense.
I pray to the divine mother Tārā:
Through not realizing our innate nature to be dharmakāya,
Our minds remain under the influence of destructive emotion;
Protect all of us who wander aimlessly in saṃsāra.
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PadmaVonSamba
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Re: Abhidharma Question about Killing

Post by PadmaVonSamba »

Seeker12 wrote: Wed Oct 05, 2022 8:47 pm In the Mahayana, at times we see that a bodhisattva may - or even must - perform a lower non-virtue if necessary from a higher point of view.
The thing is, suppose you are in a situation where you have to stop a being from killing. Maybe it’s a shooter in a school, maybe it’s a tiger that is attacking villagers. Whatever, and your only means is by killing them.

Will you still face the karmic consequences involved in killing? Yes. The text is correct. And generally (especially in Theravada) one tries to avoid negative karma for obvious reasons.

But, as a Bodhisattva, you are willing to undergo the negative consequences of your negative actions, in order to prevent not only more acts of killing by the killer, but also, to prevent that being from doing any more killing. Stopping them from killing also benefits them.

So, even though you may end up experiencing some type of “Buddhist hell” you go ahead and do it anyway, you sort of “face your punishment” you might say, and hopefully, presumably this will not be such a terrible ordeal if you are practiced at not attaching to the “self”. In other words, you may experience hot spikes or whatever, but just as with thoughts that arise when meditating, you let them pass right through you without concern.
In theory, anyway.
EMPTIFUL.
An inward outlook develops outward insight.
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Seeker12
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Re: Abhidharma Question about Killing

Post by Seeker12 »

PadmaVonSamba wrote: Fri Oct 07, 2022 5:29 pm
Seeker12 wrote: Wed Oct 05, 2022 8:47 pm In the Mahayana, at times we see that a bodhisattva may - or even must - perform a lower non-virtue if necessary from a higher point of view.
The thing is, suppose you are in a situation where you have to stop a being from killing. Maybe it’s a shooter in a school, maybe it’s a tiger that is attacking villagers. Whatever, and your only means is by killing them.

Will you still face the karmic consequences involved in killing? Yes. The text is correct. And generally (especially in Theravada) one tries to avoid negative karma for obvious reasons.

But, as a Bodhisattva, you are willing to undergo the negative consequences of your negative actions, in order to prevent not only more acts of killing by the killer, but also, to prevent that being from doing any more killing. Stopping them from killing also benefits them.

So, even though you may end up experiencing some type of “Buddhist hell” you go ahead and do it anyway, you sort of “face your punishment” you might say, and hopefully, presumably this will not be such a terrible ordeal if you are practiced at not attaching to the “self”. In other words, you may experience hot spikes or whatever, but just as with thoughts that arise when meditating, you let them pass right through you without concern.
In theory, anyway.
Yes, I have thought similar. It's maybe a bit like how if you have black represent evil/affliction/etc, and white represent goodness/etc, then the act of killing itself is still sort of a black act, but it is surrounded by quite a lot of white. This would generally relate to the salt crystal sutta, as well, in that the negativity related to the act might ripen in a miniscule way given the amount of merit produced, similar to how a salt crystal would be basically negligible if dropped in a large lake.

I've generally thought that it may be that with unsurpassed buddhahood, actually all of the levels of vinaya fit without contradiction, but in terms of the path, the higher trumps the lower basically when there is a conflict between two levels.
I pray to the divine mother Tārā:
Through not realizing our innate nature to be dharmakāya,
Our minds remain under the influence of destructive emotion;
Protect all of us who wander aimlessly in saṃsāra.
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