Author Topic: Self defense  (Read 13826 times)

sonamdhargey

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Self defense
« on: June 10, 2012, 08:57:05 AM »
I would like to know your thoughts about self defense as from a Buddhist point of view. When we are at a situation where it's he dies first or you die, and you are the victim, would you hurt or kill him to prevent them from harming you or killing you?

I read this article below and it made some sense. What do you think?

The Dalai Lama, himself, speaking at the "Educating Heart Summit" in Portland,
Oregon, when asked by a girl how to react when a shooter takes aim at a
classmate (May 15, 2001, The Seattle Times) replied: "If someone has a gun and is trying to kill you, it would be reasonable to  shoot back with your own gun.  Not at the head, where a fatal wound might result.  But at some other body part, such as a leg."

The logic is that it would be what the lamas refer to as “idiot compassion” to refrain from defending yourself under the foolish pretence you may hurt another. Of course you will! The rationale is: (a) if you fail to defend yourself you will be hurt, possibly permanently incapacitated or killed – you owe it to your family and loved ones to prevent this; (b) if you fail to defend yourself the attacker will be reinforced in their criminal behaviour and go on to attack and hurt others – if you don’t stop them and hopefully teach them a lesson; (c) the attacker’s karma is such that he has been brought under your hand for a lesson – administer it in accordance with your karma; and (d) how can you continue to do your Buddhist practices to attain enlightenment for the benefit of all sentient beings if you are distracted by injury, disability or you are dead?

When we defend ourselves we have to act in an uncivilised, even savage, manner because attempts to avoid or evade the necessity will have failed and we must match the attack of our attacker and prevent them attacking us or our loved ones or someone we have a duty of care towards. We employ the minimum force required by the situation to stop the attack and the possibility of re-attack.

To allow oneself or others to be attacked without the appropriate defence is not compassionate – it is foolish and dangerous.

bambi

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Re: Self defense
« Reply #1 on: June 10, 2012, 09:35:35 AM »
Well, it depends on the motivation of hurting or killing someone. Since I have the karma to have someone threatening to shoot and kill me, I will definitely react and do something about it. I am not harming him because I want to but because I had to.

There have to be four factors present to make the action of killing complete and therefore a negative act. There has to be the object of the action, the intention, the actual action itself, and that action has to be completed. If these four aspects of an action aren’t all present, then killing need not necessarily be a negative action.

For example, in the account of the previous life of the Buddha he was a sea captain. At that time a great fortune of jewels could be obtained by going out to sea, but it was also very dangerous and one could die. It was a risky adventure; one could return either wealthy or not at all. If one set out to sea, one needed a guide to lead the ship, a good person with experience. Buddha was such a sea captain in a previous life and his actual name was “Courage;” He led 500 merchants in a ship to obtain jewels but there was a very negative person on that ship who became very angry with everyone else. He thought that if he made a hole in the bottom of the boat, it would sink and all the merchants would die. He didn’t care if it killed him too. But Captain Courage saw this and thought, “If I kill him, then it will save the other merchants. The negative result of killing will come to me, but it doesn’t matter what happens to me. I have to save the 500 merchants and also the man from accumulating such negative karma.” With this motivation, Captain Courage hit this man on the head with an ax and he died. Because of the good motivation, this act did not lead to negative karma. He did kill one man but saved the lives of 500 people; therefore it was a
good action instead of a negative one. Though the act may be an act of killing, it may not be a negative action. This is because of the motivation that was involved.


http://www.rinpoche.com/teachings/conduct.pdf

Midakpa

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Re: Self defense
« Reply #2 on: June 10, 2012, 10:00:39 AM »
Killing is not recommended because of the heavy negative karma involved. Although you may get off being punished in this life due to self-defense, you cannot avoid the results of your karma in future lives. Therefore HH the Dalai Lama recommended shooting the legs. It's not as bad as killing.

Let me quote Lama Yeshe's reply to a similar question in the book "Becoming Your Own Therapist". Note that the holy beings are very consistent in their replies. This is because they have realized karma.

Q: What do you feel about a person killing another person in self-defense? Do you think people have the right to protect themselves, even at the expense of the aggressor's life?

Lama: In most cases of killing in self-defense, it's still done out of uncontrolled anger. You should protect yourself as best you can without killing the other. For example, if you attack me, I'm responsible to protect myself, but without killing you.

Q: If killing me was the only way you could stop me, would you do it?

Lama: Then it would be better that you kill me.


Positive Change

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Re: Self defense
« Reply #3 on: June 10, 2012, 10:28:23 AM »
I believe that if one is capable of defending oneself without causing the lost of life would be best... if it would result in having to kill, one will suffer the karmic repercussions even if the motivation was to prevent the other from killing. Karma is blind to such grey areas. How negative the result is determined by the intent, the act itself, the completion and the rejoicing in the act.

If we were to use self defense to justify killing, then killing during wartime should not have any negative karmic repercussions. And that I find is preposterous! For me personally, killing is killing and there is not one justifiable time to kill.

dondrup

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Re: Self defense
« Reply #4 on: June 10, 2012, 12:23:15 PM »
I would like to know your thoughts about self defense as from a Buddhist point of view. When we are at a situation where it's he dies first or you die, and you are the victim, would you hurt or kill him to prevent them from harming you or killing you?

I read this article below and it made some sense. What do you think?

The Dalai Lama, himself, speaking at the "Educating Heart Summit" in Portland,
Oregon, when asked by a girl how to react when a shooter takes aim at a
classmate (May 15, 2001, The Seattle Times) replied: "If someone has a gun and is trying to kill you, it would be reasonable to  shoot back with your own gun.  Not at the head, where a fatal wound might result.  But at some other body part, such as a leg."

The logic is that it would be what the lamas refer to as “idiot compassion” to refrain from defending yourself under the foolish pretence you may hurt another. Of course you will! The rationale is: (a) if you fail to defend yourself you will be hurt, possibly permanently incapacitated or killed – you owe it to your family and loved ones to prevent this; (b) if you fail to defend yourself the attacker will be reinforced in their criminal behaviour and go on to attack and hurt others – if you don’t stop them and hopefully teach them a lesson; (c) the attacker’s karma is such that he has been brought under your hand for a lesson – administer it in accordance with your karma; and (d) how can you continue to do your Buddhist practices to attain enlightenment for the benefit of all sentient beings if you are distracted by injury, disability or you are dead?

When we defend ourselves we have to act in an uncivilised, even savage, manner because attempts to avoid or evade the necessity will have failed and we must match the attack of our attacker and prevent them attacking us or our loved ones or someone we have a duty of care towards. We employ the minimum force required by the situation to stop the attack and the possibility of re-attack.

To allow oneself or others to be attacked without the appropriate defence is not compassionate – it is foolish and dangerous.

I fully agree with the article above.

As Buddhists we should apply the principles of non-killing and non-harming to others as well as to ourselves. In the scenario given, if we don’t defend ourselves we would be killed. On the other hand it is heavy negative karma if we inadvertently kill the other in the course of defending ourselves.  It is a difficult situation! 

The only reason why we are in this situation of someone wanting to kill us is because we had killed the other in our past lives!  Hence one way to purify this karma is to willingly let the other kill us in return. The other possibility is if the other can forgive us and forget about our karmic debt due.  In reality the second possibility is unlikely to happen.

Tammy

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Re: Self defense
« Reply #5 on: June 10, 2012, 03:23:26 PM »
I agree with Bambi, karma is created based on our motivation. If we kill for entertainment purposes this will give raise to heavy negative karma, but if we kill to defend ours and/or other people's lives, the karma arises from this should not be negative in nature.

Example - a mad man is trying to blow up an airplane in which you are one of the passengers. Suppose you have the ability to kill this man to prevent him from blowing up the whole airplane killing 200+ people, would you shoot this guy? I would ! because my motivation is to save the 200+ other passengers.

Down with the BAN!!!

thor

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Re: Self defense
« Reply #6 on: June 10, 2012, 04:06:05 PM »
Tammuz, the example you give is similar to the example of Buddha in his previous life as a sea captain. However I beg to differ on one point. The sea captain DID accrue some negative karma from his act of killing, but cause his motivation was so good, it was a very minimal amount of bad karma.

Another example: in larga dharma centres such as NKT, there are whose who receive sums of money to get by each month, whether it is a stipend or perhaps an allowance. Taking money from sangha is negative karma, don't you think? Then why do they do it? Because, the amount of positive karma that they can collect from serving the dharma centre overrides the small amount of negative karma they collect from taking sangha money.

Therefore the same applies to the question of killing, in my book

kurava

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Re: Self defense
« Reply #7 on: June 10, 2012, 10:55:37 PM »
I agree that Buddhists should not practise “idiot compassion”.

If we see someone with a gun aiming at us, we have 3 options :

1)   run and hide - we would truly be an idiot if we just stand there thinking it’s my karma and wait to be
        shot! Karma is dynamic, it changes with every moment of thoughts and actions.

2)   if  you have a gun , defend yourself  by aiming your gun at non fatal points. If our
        intention is not to kill, then the result of our negative karma will not so intense.

3)   if you really have no choice but to aim at the attacker’s fatal point ; you just
       accept the consequences of the action like in the story of Buddha quoted by Bambi. Once we accept     
       that, our experience of the result will be less painful  - similar to when we accept that we are sick we 
       shall willingly take the most bitter medicine with a much lighter mind.

yontenjamyang

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Re: Self defense
« Reply #8 on: June 11, 2012, 04:38:26 AM »
All mainstream art of self defense emphasizes to incapacitate the attacker(s) ie to disarm and/or to immobilize them with minimum harm done. That is the primary goal.

Sun Tzu "Art of War" says the highest strategy is to win without going to war ie to somehow immobilize the attacker in this case without shooting or even hurting.

So, in cases where someone attack us, we take the following strategy depending on who we are and what is our capabilities:

1) Run, hide or play dead if we do not have a weapon or skilled in self defense. Even if we do, these could steal be a choice or part of the strategy.
2) If we cannot do that, then retaliate with minimum impact to immobilize the attacker.
3) Worst case scenario, attack to kill.

The wanted outcome of the situation is for oneself to survive and to save others in that order of priority. A last resort is to sacrifice oneself to save others if only we can be sure that sacrificing oneself can result has that outcome.

vajrastorm

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Re: Self defense
« Reply #9 on: June 12, 2012, 04:11:39 PM »
An act of killing is still an act of killing ,though there may be mitigating factors like a sincere motivation of self defense and not an act of malice. It still incurs negative karma, maybe less than if it were an act of harmful intent. That's why Holy Beings like the Dalai Lama and Lama Yeshe consistently say to not kill even in self- defense.

Furthermore, one's mind should not be controlled by negative delusions, like anger and fear, when one has a gun and is poised to shoot in self-defense.The act of killing under such delusions make it a very negative act,with heavy negative karma.I'm not talking about 'idiot compassion' here. But when the mind is gripped by fear or anger, compassion flies out of the window.   
 

Positive Change

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Re: Self defense
« Reply #10 on: June 12, 2012, 05:04:35 PM »
Tammuz, the example you give is similar to the example of Buddha in his previous life as a sea captain. However I beg to differ on one point. The sea captain DID accrue some negative karma from his act of killing, but cause his motivation was so good, it was a very minimal amount of bad karma.

Another example: in larga dharma centres such as NKT, there are whose who receive sums of money to get by each month, whether it is a stipend or perhaps an allowance. Taking money from sangha is negative karma, don't you think? Then why do they do it? Because, the amount of positive karma that they can collect from serving the dharma centre overrides the small amount of negative karma they collect from taking sangha money.

Therefore the same applies to the question of killing, in my book

I disagree with you Thor when you say there is only a small amount of negative karma in taking sangha money. Perhaps the context in which you meant to illustrate this was to say "accepting" money from the sangha as opposed to "taking" from the sangha. I thought it best to address this less someone picks this up and thinks taking money from the sangha which to me constitutes stealing from the sangha is ok, because there is only a small amount of negative karma involved.

On the contrary,stealing money, as taking money implies, from the sangha is very serious and has dire negative karmic consequences. Not only does it impede the work of the sangha but the many that would be benefited from the use of the money either directly or indirectly. Imagine all that negative karma coming back to you in multiple folds! Definitely not a small amount.

dsiluvu

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Re: Self defense
« Reply #11 on: June 12, 2012, 08:53:12 PM »
Of course if it for self defence motivation it is permisable. Buddha taught us wisdom and compassion not just compassion  ;)

Even the Dalai Lama himself has given many explanations on this before...
If someone is charging at you and is about to kill you, definitely you need to do something to defend yourself. Not only are you defending yourself by you are also stoping the murderer from further collecting negative karma. Because by stopping or changing the whole course of action/the situation, you actually change the dynamics of the situation. If you have no choice and it means pulling the trigger to stop the killer, then I think it is only fair to say you did what you have to. You do collect some kind of negative karma but because four factors were not present to make the action of killing complete, therefore the negative karma will not be as heavy.

For any action to have it's full karmic course, there has to be these 4 factors involved and completed (the intention, the actual action itself, and that action has to be completed, and then you rejoice for your actions). However those incomplete action still collects negative karma though not as big. Hence we're lucky to have purification practices such as 35 confessional and Vajrasattva is there for us.

ratanasutra

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Re: Self defense
« Reply #12 on: June 26, 2012, 04:21:30 PM »
In spiritual path, self defense can be done if we do it reasonable, do not over react then it is acceptable. Example if someone physically hurt you but just a little, you won't go to take  gun to shoot them as this is not self defense.

The most importance thing is to remember whatever we do, do not kill anyone, otherwise we will create a negative karma from that.

As a buddhist, we realize that whatever that happened with us, we created it but use wisdom and compassion to solve and response towards it to stop the karma so that it could not continue to happen again in future.


Carpenter

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Re: Self defense
« Reply #13 on: June 26, 2012, 05:53:23 PM »
Quote
In a situation where there is a life or death choice for ourselves as well as our family, we should not be thinking of “what will this do to my karma?” You should simply defend yourself
as well as those you love at all costs.
Source from:
http://www.examiner.com/article/self-defense-and-buddhism


Same as what the above had said, self-defense which actually depends on what is our motivation, if we kill that person because of our selfish desire to live so that we can continue to enjoy our material lifestyle, then of course it is bad, the karma is heavy.

But if it is out of care, by looking in the bigger picture, if you don’t stop this person, he will kill more people, then the whole situation will be worse, then killing from self defense will still be ok, no doubt, certain level of negative karma will get, but if you can stop him from killing many people, but because of afraid of negative karma, we stood there and do nothing and let that guy kill, at this point, our karma will be much heavier, because we didn’t stop them when we can, it will be the same charge as that killer.




biggyboy

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Re: Self defense
« Reply #14 on: June 26, 2012, 06:07:41 PM »
What matter most here is as long as we do not hurt others even if we have to sacrifice oneself for the sake to save many others.  In my opinion, either way, both have negative repercussions in its own way though not all the 4 aspects of actions are completed. 

The most precious thing for a sentient being is his or her life.  Wealth and possessions are secondary. Since life is so important, a human being (in this case) will go through a lot of hardships and difficulties to protect his possessions in order to sustain his life.  This is so true for animals too for they have strong attachment to food and other things they perceive necessary in order to sustain their lives.  One should use the things that are of own possessions and not take others' possessions by force or by deceiving them. If one deprives others of their possessions, it will cause suffering and harm to both parties (either way).  The result of one’s actions will definitely come back to oneself.  Hence, one should avoid doing these negative actions and to accomplish the good of not doing so with much wisdom.