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Friday, March 02, 2007

Warrior Monks in Buddhism

I was reading my latest copy of the Buddhadharma magazine when I came across a reference to the Tendai school of Buddhism and being curious started reading about it online.

I began reading and soon found reference to "warrior monks" and had to chuckle. What was a "warrior monk" I wondered and read on. Apparently there was a time when different Buddhist temples in ancient Japan fought with each other and developed these "warrior monks" that would fight to defend their temple and attack other temples. Most of the violence erupted over political feuds surrounding imperial appointments to the top temples. On some occasions the "rival temple" was burned to the ground with their holy relics and statues inside.

If any of this sounds not very Buddhist then you're not alone. The idea of a "Buddhist warrior monk" is just well (for lack of a better term) bizarre to say the least. Can following the Buddha and engaging in violence be congruent?? Nope. Especially if you're an "ordained monk!!" Buddhist monks take a vow to never kill or use violence and lay people are highly encouraged to do the same.

Just another example of how fundamentalism can really screw up a religion.

Fascinating though.

This isn't the only example of militantism creeping into Buddhism in ancient Japan (such as the Samurai). However, one can not say that all Samurai were Buddhist per se. Many were just influenced by Buddhist philosophy and practices--especially meditation. Perhaps that is the case with these "warrior monks" as well.

UPDATE: Speaking of "militant Buddhism" I just read something about the DKBA. It stands for, "Democratic Karen Buddhist Army." Apparently it is the oldest and largest insurgent group in Burma.


Again, bizarre.

~Peace to all beings~

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38 comments:

Kuan Gung said...

I seen that and was taken back...curious world

Anonymous said...

I've actually heard worse about Japanese Buddhist monks. I don't have a link in front of me, but I've read before that when Christian missionaries first started arriving in Japan, they were rumored to have tortured them until they agreed to convert, or died.

Possibly, it's just a story. But if it's not, there's an explanation for this behavior: when the Christians began to arrive, the Emperor gave the Buddhist monks political authority. They were acting as agents of the Japanese imperial government, in other words, and the power corrupted them. It's like when the Pope found himself to be the de facto ruler of Europe--Catholicism was rife with corruption, simply because the mix of politics and religion was so corrosive.

Personally, when I hear stories like this, it reaffirms my belief that all religions should remain separate from political influences--their combination seems to invariably lead to disaster. It's also a good reminder that simply calling oneself a Buddhist doesn't mean that one is practicing Buddhism, and that we can learn from the mistakes of others.

~daur izre~

"James" said...

Kuan Gung:

Very curious world. This is why I find history so fascinating and led me to ultimately get a degree in World History.

Anon:

I agree that this is yet another example of the importance to keeping religion and the government separate.

Greenwoman said...

I don't know much about this militancy in Buddhist history or even in modern times. It doesn't surprise me that any group would get violent truthfully. Humans will be humans. We are not perfect...and our primal natures can be entrained (as we can see with the Taliban) and are certainly engaged when we feel threatened (reference the American's response to 911).

It is a rare human being who would lay down and die when under threat or when someone they love is threatened under the restraint of a belief system, no matter how noble. Nope...most of us, given a weapon at hand, we'll pound the offender into a puddle if we can. Our will to survive and to have our right to culture will always make it difficult for humanity to be urbane and to stick to our principles...

If you think about this instance of warrior monks a little deeper, you'll realize that monks were not born monks and there's always far more complex things going on in politics. It may sometimes have been about popularity with the emporers where the temples are concerned...but it would likely be that not just temples were threatened but also the villages surrounding them that they served. Japanese lifestyle was built on a system of honor with the nobility owning everything around them, including the human vassals of their lands. The temples of these lands are inextricably a part of this society...if you look at Buddhism from the perspective of the cultures it sprung to life in, you'll see that it would never have developed in exactly the way it did under the impetus of any other world culture....Nope...the profit of the message that Buddha taught was given to many other cultures as well. In North American, Buffalo Calf Pipe Woman brought such a message. In Europe and the mediteranian, it was Jesus. You do not see the discipline or the depths of compassion and dedication to a practice in these cultures as you do with Buddhism. I think that's a tribute to the type of people you find within Asian culture.

On another note, the roots of Buddhism incorporates the idea of reincarnation...originally death was seen as only another way of living and everyone knew without doubt that they would be reborn...there was no need to fear death and death was not seen as a crime unless it was done to someone through betrayal or dishonor. in fact the practice of sipiku or ritual suicide was a custom that was observed within this society, so while the warrior monks may seem totally out of context to the buddhism that the Dalai Llama teaches today, it did not always take that shape, nor did everyone practice it well....just like any other belief system.

Hugs...*smiles*

Just a few other tidbits to thrown in to the mix...*grins*

awouldbehipster said...

My understanding of Japanese Buddhism (Zen in particular) see their practice not as a moral code, but rather a way of liberation - or even a "Religion of No Religion". With this in mind, knowing that the Buddha gave the Eight-Fold Path to humanity as a way to attain enlightenment, it would not be too odd for one to no longer see a need for the path once they have already attained what they believe to be enlightened. This is just one way of looking at it.

I am not saying that I agree with this idea. I believe that lasting happiness and contentment are cultivated more generously through a life of non-violence. It is interesting, though, to see how our predecessors practiced in the distant past.

awouldbehipster said...

Please pardon the grammatical errors in my first post. I meant to say... "My understanding of Japanese Buddhism (Zen in particular) is that its practitioners see their practice..."

Thanks, James, for the great topic!

trinitystar said...

Although we would not like to think of Warrior Monks. Politics does seep itself into religions contaminating what ever it touches.

Perhaps for you and all to be a warrior is good ... not fight back ... but to know that it is ones fears that holds us back. To be a warrior gives us the freedom to BE. Hugs for you James. :o)

MethoDeist said...

I have found that fundamentalists in any belief system are simply belivers and rarely practitioners. By this I mean that they are consumed by the beliefs of the religion (or politcis, culture and so on) rather than actually practicing the basic precepts that the religion lays down.

Jesus taught about love, compassion and forgiveness. Buddha taught the same as well as non-attachment. Yet, practitioners of Christianity and Buddhism have and still do engage in the opposite of these most basic precepts.

Why?

I believe it is because they are not practicing Buddhism or Christianity but are simply believing. As such, they get nothing out of it and turn to these in on these beliefs to satisfy what they lack. The more deeply they go the more fundamentalist they become and then they live a life that is contradictory to the practice they claim to adhere to.

Those Buddhist monks were not true practitioners or followers of the Buddha but were simply going through the motions of practice but not truly practicing. The same goes for fundamentalist Christians in America today. They are not concerned with the two great commandments of Jesus to love God and love others. No, they focus on outdated laws that have no application to our modern lives and ignore some of the most important teachings of Jesus.

Any belief can be turned towards fundamentalism but it us usually religion that leads to violence because of how it is dealing with the big issues that we have in life.

A sad aspect of history but one that can be learned from especially today. The practice side of Buddhism has helped me greatly. As one who is a Deist but is involved in Christianity and Buddhism, I am amazed that there are those that fail to understand the essence of their respective religions and never experience the beauty that they have right before them.

MethoDeist

"James" said...

Green Woman:

Oh yes indeed. Most of the blood shed in this world has been over religion I'd venture to say. And Buddhism has been no exception. When people become so attached to beliefs they begin to believe that they are right and everyone else is not only wrong but worthy of death as they are "less then human."

I agree that most of us would use force to save a life and I don't always think that is wrong. I think It's compassionate to save an innocent being but I think we have an obligation to try and wound and incapacitate rather then kill.

You are right that when religion and politics mixes it seems to taint both badly. I just find these kinds of stories fascinating.

Excellent contribution friend. ;)

Hipster:

Yes, it is interesting. Very. I just think that it is very hard to find peace when living a life of violence. I'm not perfect though either. I don't engage in violence but I (like everyone) have my issues that I struggle with.

Trinity:

I agree that we can be a warrior without engaging in violence. Great point. We can we warriors of mindfulness and peace. Dedicated to courageously facing confusion, delusion and attachment.

Deist:

I like your distinction between followers and practitioners. Great points in your comment.

I agree with you that people use religion to try and justify their ignorance, hatreds and judgements.

We all have to be on-guard so that we do not turn into blind followers.

Great comment. Thanks for adding to this post.

David said...

Very interesting ! The Dalai Lama is always always very careful to say "We don't want anymore Buddhists".

He wants people to understand the dharma in their own socio-religous contexts. The practices of peace, love, meditation, non-violence are transcendant of a dogma or a context.

If someone starts to think, "what's all this buddhist talk ?" It creates a paranoia, and an "us and them" and this only causes problems.

The reality is, everyone you meet is part of your extended family, there is no them.

Your Japanese story is such a great example of this kind of delusion of the mind. Thanks for pointing it out.

"James" said...

David:

The practices of peace, love, meditation, non-violence are transcendant of a dogma or a context.

Sadiq Alam said...

:) interesting read indeed.

blessings.

They call him James Ure said...

Sadiq:

Thank-you. :) It was fascinating doing the research for this post.

Anonymous said...

If the Dalai Lama is such a good example, why does he persecute Shugden practicioners. He is a political leader of Tibet, and not a Buddhist leader. If he really was, he would practice what he teaches.

peter said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
peter said...

hmm, i think this discussion is a symptom of a very modern world view, dividing religion and politics (whereas to be a Buddhist is neither strictly speaking religious, nor is it apolitical, rather being a Buddhist implies an engagement with "Life" in its entirety.)

have none of you heard of the shaolin temple?

- founded in China in the 5th century, and only later in the 18th century exported to Japan, these monks lived in some very dangerous times and would often need to defend not only themselves, but also to protect others - a very important aspect of Mahayana Buddhist practise. the Buddhist aspect of their combat would allow them to maintain am inner balance and to engage an enemy without hatred or anger, given that they didn't have the luxury that we have - living in far more "sanitised" society where we pay taxes which contribute to paying soldiers to do our fighting for us!

anyone who has ever studied a martial art, particularly one from the east, would understand how the practise of combat within this environment can lead one to develop respect for one's opponent. the development of competence in such an engagement can also help one to overcome one's fears. the emphasis in most eastern martial arts involves developing both mental and physical stability and balance - and in fact this very division of mental/physical is also a symptom of modern western dualistic thinking.

a warrior takes everything as a challenge rather than as a blessing or a curse, and as there is no difference between the subject and object, nor between the mind and the body, then the warrior's training leads to the most skillful response to anything that may try to throw them off balance.

They call him James Ure said...

Peter:

The thing that I like about martial arts is that they emphasis disarming your opponent rather than killing them unless necessary.

It makes sense that it was developed by monks wanting a self-defense mechanism without having to worry about killing.

peter said...

- that's a very good point.

if we take seriously the idea that there is no subject/object dualism, then the same techniques can be used to disarm an internal threat, eg. an urge to get angry, or a craving for something we are addicted to.

certainly this is an aim, but i think it is perhaps a part of a greater whole - for example when we see an 80 year old practising tai chi for its health benefits rather than as a form of self-defense.

Rock T. Rex said...

I think Peter made a comment that resonates with moi...haha...

as for the anon who mention'd the things he disagrees with....

Well, my friend, I say this:

Tis easier to Look at another and lay fault with...But is it so easy to look in the Mirror?

So hold that sharp tongue or find yourself a hypocritical mess...a conundrum, so 2 speak...

Tis better to keep silent, witness, & then learn for oneself, then to lambast or criticize another individuaL...No more judgmentaL Responses, please...

I hate nothing more than Ignorance and shallow-minded thinkers//commentators, who think it's so easy to point out the weakness in others, but know not to shut their mouths and keep 2 themselves...

Sharing only what is useful...

And rather than make such a Random, Blanket Trolling Statement, why not posit it in such a manner, that your comment will do less to incite and rather to enlighten and promote inquiry and thoughtfulness?

Perhaps, you wouldn't leave such a comment anonymously, and put forth a LiL' more effort into being more tactful in ur use of words, mine friend...Peace be with you, and be weLL

tenshi said...

I am personally conflicted about the issue of violence in principle. If I do not believe in violence, then am I just taking advantage of the peaceful environment given to me by other people who have used violence to attain it?

If you're a monk and your entire community is threatened is it wrong not to defend it? Or if you have a belief against non-violence, would you act in violence to prevent others from having to do so?

tenshi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rock T. Rex said...

Look, Violence is in Anger, in Barbaric Fashion, when you are stripping the other person of Self-Defense, when you are taking advantage of an opponent that is either non-threatening, or "innocent" of your actions...

Violence is NOT just a PhysicaL Phenomenon, but also, PsychologicaL & VerbaL abuses...which often can be FAR MORE damaging than any PhysicaL act...with PhysicaL Violence, u suffer the abuse, and the PhysicaL pain either heals, or u move on...

It's not the Physical aspects of Violence that is SO Venomous...but the Psychological effects that it has on EVERYONE...

Those who witness Violence, become in a sense, exposed to its poisonous reaches...

To Protect oneself, using Self-Defense, is NOT Violent...

FOr it is truly the ONLY Sensible thing to do...

Just because you have taken a VOW of Non-Violence, doesn't mean u HAVE to become a Martyr, all of a sudden, because, even Jesus, as great as a mythic figure he was, doing SUCH an honorable thing as to Symbolically "absolve" our Sins, he himself could not STOP the Violence that Continues to this very day...

And why is that?

Human nature, of course...we are a violent species, this cannot be helped, for it is in our genetic programming, which, for the past God knows, Twenty thousands of years, it has helped in our SurvivaL, however, we've not seen this day, to realize that War & Inhumane destruction has nothing to do with survival...It is in our best interest to evolve, as a Whole, to recognize, that the only way we'll survive as a species, in a Peaceful manner, is to Develop our Compassion...One day, when we look back on this age, we'll have seen two potential outcomes...

One, where we continue down the Path of Self-Destruction...

Nuclear Fallout, Mass Manipulation, Mass Riot, Mass Thievery & Looting, Raping & Pillaging, all the ugliest faces we may wear...

OR

We develop our compassion...to the point where Fear & Violence no longer exist...All the Violent "genes" or Individuals will have either been wiped out, or died off, since those individuals would not have been privy to Reproduce...

Our Society will naturally have Self-Pacified...

We'd no longer look down on one another...

And this whole "Rat" Race thing, will be a thing of the past...

In the Future, it will be Harmonious Contributions and Co-Existence, not to mention, working together to "Share" Resources & Assistance with one another...

When one falls, another will be there to lend a hand...

And strict consequences for Violent Offenders...

If you've not seen "the Day the Earth Stood STiLL" either the Original or the Re-make, I suggest u watch it, to understand...

Things are the way the are, because, it could not be any other way, perhaps, all this violence, will mark the passing of an Old, More archaic model & Age of Humanity, that was Barbaric and Uncivilized...

Perhaps, the Age of Humanity's Renaissance will come to pass, after all, if we ALL open our minds & Imaginations, to envision a BETTER TOMORROW...

Where Love, Compassion, Caring, Fun & Laughter are the mark of a well-developed individual...

Rock T. Rex said...

And in the end, you can say "this" Religion, Or "that" Religion, did this or that, at one point...

What is Religion, but just a "Mask" For its particular followers?

Why blanket statement and Blame the Religion, when in fact, it is the Followers who "act" or "enact" albeit, Blindly, narrow-mindedly, and choosing only to see what they want to see?

So perhaps, it's not the Religion, but those who would use the Guise of Religion, to enact their Ignorant, False, misled Beliefs, Foolish and full of Folly as it may be...?

Then, do not blame Religion...

Blame us, we are the ones Responsible, no one told us to create that Religion, to start to justify killing others?

We did, for our own Guilt & Conscience...

So it's time we shed the "Mask" and acknowledge the truth:

That we must not allow ourselves to be duly blinded by our Dogmatic, Rigid, Unimaginative Minds & Thoughts...FOr it can lead to our Undoing...& DownfaLL...

Be weLL, Brothers & Sisters, we are aLL We've got, and to Shed Awareness...would be the Highest Victory for us aLL...For Humanity

Ramon said...

A soldier like all others is subject to the law of Karma and will not escape the Karmic fruits of taking the life of a sentient being even with the noble intention of protecting his country and his people. A soldier’s Karmic sacrifice is killing in defense of his country allowing his people to progress through their long samsaric journey until all have fulfilled the necessary conditions and are ready to let go the cycle of birth, decay and death. Until then, the King has to rule, the soldier has to fight, the farmer has to farm, the teacher has to teach, and the trader has to trade and so on. But they are all expected to honor the soldier’s sacrifice by following the way in order for them to progress on the path. -Major General Ananda Weerasekera

Jason said...

Hi- I stumbled upon this blog while having a discussion about Buddhism with my wife. In a nutshell, she embraces everything about Buddhism except the non-violence tenant. I thought there were warrior monks, and while looking it up, landed here.

I have many questions about Buddhism so please forgive my ignorance. No offense is implied or intended.

Is it true about non-violence tenant? Is martial arts considered violence to a Buddhist? I believe there's a reverence towards nature in Buddhism- but isn't nature also violent, whether intentional or non-intentional? Can martial arts practice in addition to building control and peace within oneself also bring about justice?

If I wanted to start learning about Buddhism, where should I start? Looking online, I'm overwhelmed by the multitude of different sects, beliefs and the terms / language. Looking for some guidance- any help is appreciated. Thank you! -Jason

They call him James Ure said...

@Jason...Sorry it took me some time to get back with you. Indeed non-violence is a tenet of Buddhism. That said even the Dalai Lama has said that we all have a right to non-violence, which is why I think martial arts was invented.

I'm not a martial arts expert but from what I've understood of the Asian tradition it is to only be used in self-defense. Interestingly, Kung Fu was started in the famous Zen Buddhist Shaolin monastery, China.

The previous Dalai Lama stated this regarding violence against Tibet:

“.…we should make every effort to safeguard ourselves against this impending disaster. Use peaceful means where they are appropriate; but where they are not appropriate, do not hesitate to resort to more forceful means” (emphasis added)."

http://bit.ly/b7ESTw

"How could Tibetan Buddhists engage in violence? Jampa Tenzin, a former guerilla and monk, explained,

“Generally, of course, non-violence is good, and killing is bad…But each and every thing is judged according to the circumstances of the situation, and, particularly in Buddhism, according to the motivations….In order to save a hundred people, killing one person may be acceptable…Individual, or self, motivation is obviously not allowed….

“…unless we did something sooner or later we couldn’t practice religion…Dharma [had to] prevail and remain…even by violent means.”

The current Dalai Lama believes that self-defense is appropriate in certain situations but that if necessary we should go for disablement and not death. For example, if we have to shot an invader to ones home to prevent harm to innocent children then he advise to shoot for the leg or other non-critical injury.

Nature is indeed violent but it is said that animals have a harder time releasing themselves from suffering because of (in part) their deep instinct to kill. Humans are seen as having a greater potential to over-come violence than animals.

Overall though (like anything in Buddhism) it's about motivation, intention and reasoning behind the actions that matters most; rather than the actions themselves.

As for where to start in study of Buddhism I would start with a basic tutorial on the tenets. I'd start with something basic like, "Buddhism: Plain and Simple by Steve Hagen.

When it comes to meditation I'd recommend, "Mindfulness in Plain English" by . The nice thing about this book by Ven. Henepola Gunaratana (besides being plain and easy to grasp) is that it's FREE!! Here's the link:

http://bit.ly/hqNo

Rock T. Rex said...

Follow your own Intuition, don't be held back by Dogmatic Principles, be Flexible, and know what fits with you, be like Bruce, be Judicious, like the SOURCE, Buddha himself said, if it doesn't make sense to you discard and ignore it, the REAL Truth is Within, Buddhism is nothing but the AFTERMATH, his followers figuring out their OWN Ways, so you must Find your OWN Way, though many guides be there to help along the way, you must reflect what is your purpose, and learn the Peaceful Quietude of the SouL and its Cessation, the ending of Vicious Cycles, and TRUE Violence is not the PhysicaL aspect, but the INTENT............if you controL the INTENT you ControL the ACTION, Buddhism is nothing more than an EscatalogicaL Response, kinda like an Investigative Experience, and EACH IndividuaL'S Experience is UniQuELY YOURS.............

If you need help, speak more with your wife, and just Start w/Baby Steps.................

If you're not interested in the HOLIER than THOU attitude, I recommend you look into the Various Elements of YOGI aka Yoga...........Buddha himself used the Yoga Meditative Posture, himself.........the Two A-OKay Signs while sitting in FuLL Lotus Position.............That's a Yoga Pose, Look it up.................

All these "SECTS" that Sprout aLL over may DEFINITELY be Inspired, but do NOT get HUNG up on the Name, just like Bruce, he did not want something that could be "fixed" but Fluid, Dynamic and ONE with NATURE.............

So if it isn't NATURAL, it's not ReaL...................

Follow your intuition, you are the best Detective to the Mysterie(s) that is YOU.................

So, you are here to Discover, who you are, and why you are here, Correct?

It's a Grand Mystery that is absoulutely Fantastic & Amazing...................

Don't be Distract'd..................

Don't GET Distract'd...............

Learn to Clear your Mind, be StiLL, and FIND StiLLneSS in Movement, and VICE Versa, SpirituaL Progression thru STILLNESS, and that is JUST the BEGINNING...................

The rest wiLL come NaturaLLY, so don't Fret, Fretting just gets you EXCITED, and that's not Clarity nor Calm, nor COMMANDING.............

Be Calm, Collect'd & Commanding, as humanly POSSIBLE.............

Above aLL, be GOOD & SMILE, Occasionally, so you can deaL with the TravaiLS of Life & LIVING............

Be Kind, above aLL Else, and be FORGIVING..........if anything, that's what ya need to Remember.................

If you need anything more, just E-mail anyone who wiLL help on your Self-Journey of Self-Discovery and MagickaL>MysticaL Musings and the Unknown of your OWN Mind & HEART.................

dd1nonly2k@gmail.com or loctaip@hotmail.com

Hollah, if you need anything else................I'll offer only what I know, but the rest, One Young THIRSTY Quenching MIND, wiLL DO, hehS.........................

LateRS...................

Rock T. Rex said...

Follow your own Intuition, don't be held back by Dogmatic Principles, be Flexible, and know what fits with you, be like Bruce, be Judicious, like the SOURCE, Buddha himself said, if it doesn't make sense to you discard and ignore it, the REAL Truth is Within, Buddhism is nothing but the AFTERMATH, his followers figuring out their OWN Ways, so you must Find your OWN Way, though many guides be there to help along the way, you must reflect what is your purpose, and learn the Peaceful Quietude of the SouL and its Cessation, the ending of Vicious Cycles, and TRUE Violence is not the PhysicaL aspect, but the INTENT............if you controL the INTENT you ControL the ACTION, Buddhism is nothing more than an EscatalogicaL Response, kinda like an Investigative Experience, and EACH IndividuaL'S Experience is UniQuELY YOURS.............
If you need help, speak more with your wife, and just Start w/Baby Steps.................
If you're not interested in the HOLIER than THOU attitude, I recommend you look into the Various Elements of YOGI aka Yoga...........Buddha himself used the Yoga Meditative Posture, himself.........the Two A-OKay Signs while sitting in FuLL Lotus Position.............That's a Yoga Pose, Look it up.................
All these "SECTS" that Sprout aLL over may DEFINITELY be Inspired, but do NOT get HUNG up on the Name, just like Bruce, he did not want something that could be "fixed" but Fluid, Dynamic and ONE with NATURE.............
So if it isn't NATURAL, it's not ReaL...................
Follow your intuition, you are the best Detective to the Mysterie(s) that is YOU.................
So, you are here to Discover, who you are, and why you are here, Correct?
It's a Grand Mystery that is absoulutely Fantastic & Amazing...................
Don't be Distract'd..................
Don't GET Distract'd...............
Learn to Clear your Mind, be StiLL, and FIND StiLLneSS in Movement, and VICE Versa, SpirituaL Progression thru STILLNESS, and that is JUST the BEGINNING...................
The rest wiLL come NaturaLLY, so don't Fret, Fretting just gets you EXCITED, and that's not Clarity nor Calm, nor COMMANDING.............
Be Calm, Collect'd & Commanding, as humanly POSSIBLE.............
Above aLL, be GOOD & SMILE, Occasionally, so you can deaL with the TravaiLS of Life & LIVING............
Be Kind, above aLL Else, and be FORGIVING..........if anything, that's what ya need to Remember.................
If you need anything more, just E-mail anyone who wiLL help on your Self-Journey of Self-Discovery and MagickaL>MysticaL Musings and the Unknown of your OWN Mind & HEART.................
dd1nonly2k@gmail.com or loctaip@hotmail.com
Hollah, if you need anything else................I'll offer only what I know, but the rest, One Young THIRSTY Quenching MIND, wiLL DO, hehS.........................
LateRS...................

--
Loc

Anonymous said...

Are these the Buddist Warroir Monks who made Japanese Chess (Shogi)!?

Daemon said...

@"James"
"I think It's compassionate to save an innocent being but I think we have an obligation to try and wound and incapacitate rather then kill."

I would highly suggest reading a book called Ender's Game, it is a well-written work of fiction that goes far in explaining the basis for a moral code that many in the military share.

Wounding and "incapacitating" cause suffering, generally more prolonged suffering than killing the enemy outright. This is the basis for the principle of "military necessity" under the Laws of Armed Conflict (LOAC) that bans hollowpoint bullets, napalm, poisoned weapons etc. Additionally, a wounded enemy is still capable of fighting back, one only needs to reference the US Medal of Honor citations to see how much can be accomplished by mortally wounded individuals.

I cannot honestly call myself a Buddhist, I take refuge but have not committed myself to the precepts... but I can speak as a person in the military who studies, thinks and desires to always learn more and help those around him do the same. I challenge your notion that trying to wound rather than kill is the best way of adhering to the precepts.

So here is a rough list of what I have found helpful in my own struggle to live by the precepts despite my profession of arms:
-I will attempt never to kill in anger, or to take joy in killing, but to take life with compassion.
-I will always seek to minimize the number of people I kill, even at risk to myself.
-I will seek to become as masterful as I can at my job, knowledgeable of all the forms the violence that I may be asked/ordered to commit, so that when I do kill I can do so while creating as little suffering as possible.
-I will remember, with all the compassion that I can muster, those who I have harmed and pray for their path towards enlightenment.
-I will be the master of my self, so the violence I commit does not spill beyond its accomplishment and harm those who have no part in it, namely my family and friends.

I welcome a dialogue, trolls make me chuckle, and I find the Socratic method a consistently helpful means by which to grow.

They call him James Ure said...

@Daemon. In talking about wounding rather than killing; I was mostly talking about invaders or attackers. I would first try to incapacitate them to where I could tie them up for appropriate agencies to append them.

If, however, the attacker doesn't stop after the initial wounding then I would go for the kill but not until I tried the first method.

I'm sure wounding is indeed more painful than killing outright. However, killing causing a lot of suffering for the families left behind -- not to mention the mental turmoil and suffering for the killer.

Also, wounds heal but there is no returning back from death. I do believe wars and soldiers are different as we can't allow dark armies to take over the world.

Anonymous said...

Hello Everyone...I am Buddhist, AND I am in the military.

PLEASE read the text at this link: http://www.beyondthenet.net/thedway/soldier.htm

I believe it may answer many of these difficult questions. Thank You, and Be Well my friends.

Anonymous said...

@James
This is a decent and humane idea, but unfortunately its practicality is limited.

From a legal standpoint, your intent when using any sort of weapon must be to stop the agressor from continuing whatever harm or possible harm they are/can commit, and shooting to wound rather than kill would seem to fit within this. Unfortunately the legal system can only tolerate so much gray, and when any actual harm is done, even in "self-defense," the one who has done the shooting is usually cast very negatively and often faces consequences for "merely" trying to defend themselves in a non-lethal manner. An example being that folks with certain revolvers had the idea to load shot pellet loads, then heavy shot loads, then finally regular bullets... but were found guilty of putting too much thought into defending themselves and such practice is now discouraged... folks are now advised to just load standard ammunition or ammunition specifically sold as "defensive" ammunition (which is usually HIGHLY lethal hollow-point) and essentially to shoot to kill in order to save themselves from legal retribution. Its perverse, but true. Go take a concealed-carry class and ask some of the "old hands" about it.

On a more practical level, I can argue from experience that while we would like to believe we are capable of rational thought, acting in line with our principles when threatened with real harm is generally not something most folks other than the HIGHLY trained are able to do... and even then, they screw up too! Just see what happened with the SF cop who shot an unarmed man last year. If threatened I will shoot to hit center of mass... its the most likely to stop said attack and least likely to harm anyone other than the attacker. Arms and legs are very hard to hit, especially while both people are moving.

Killing is indeed brutal on the human psyche, we're generally not equipped for it unless conditioned or ill. There is an excellent book called "On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society" by Dave Grossman, a former Army Green Beret, that explores some of the turmoil involved.

Anonymous said...

I read that Buddhist warriors came into being to protect sacred artefacts in the temples from large bandit hordes. At one point in history one of china's emporers was a buddhist. He made the temple wealthy. Poverty was wide spread. TO the agree that bandit hordes with hundreds of members were formed. Thess bandit hordes attacked the temples which is where shaolin monks come form.

Rock T. Rex said...

^_^ SoundS* more like zee "have" and zee "have" notS:

:P if there were *true* EquaLiTY:

weLL* not "equaLiTY" but "Freedom" in Ubiquity, dah?

Gosh, it's *strange* 2 read these "responses" from this "thread" from so Long *ago* dah?

anyhow, we *evolve* and "change"

Somewhat, the most Important thiNG*

is 2 come back 2 "Center"

Don't worry about "living" up 2 "anyone" ELSE'S:

*Standard* u just need 2 "follow" thine OWN* Intuitive "instinctS"

Just like "buddha" he had 2 "find" his own way, ah, so he may have "shared" his "journey" and WisdomS* hard'earn'd:

But, that makeS* him no "authority"

we each, need 2 be 'inspired" instead, 2 do what we "must" day 2 day, Moment 2 Moment:

Let's just be *practicaL*

we can *think* 4 ourSELVES:

and we do not need some "arbitrary" ControL* Thought "System"

We need *freedom* 2 FLOW:

and "LESS" RESTRICTIONS:

more "wisdom" and Respect of "one" boundarieS* dah?

anyhow, we are all "connect'd"

so 2 "violate" one, is 2 violate "SELF" is 2 *hurt* SELF:

in da "end" that'd be Stupid:

why would we "Hurt" OurSELVES* by hurting one another?

It's Self-Evident, and we do not "need" 2 get in2 "supra" NaturaL* Just da "ULTRA" Mundane, wiLL do, w/e is most "practicaL" dah?

Take CareS* ya'LL:

about zee "warriorS" u plant a "Seed" and zee "CircumstanceS" of zee "Scenario" and Environment, dictate what type of "Fruit" or "FlowerS" BLOOM:

agreed....................?

;))))))))))))))))))))

David Chadwick said...

Linked to this today on cuke.com with a link to the Brian Victoria page. Thanks. - dc

JW said...

Thanks to everyone for sharing their thoughts and for the author of this post, who provided us with the vehicle to express our various views on the problem of violence seen from the lens of Buddhist practitioners.

I see nothing particularly surprising about warrior monks. First because experience shows that religious creed and the development of spiritual practice, even at a temple, church, or mosque, can easily diverge from the wisdom of scriptures.

Secondly, when we think about killing, I don't know if we can really differentiate between good killing and bad killing, justified or unjustified, necessary or not necessary. It seems to me there is just killing, and this is very much part of the universe all of us seem to inhabit.

Soldiers who are asked to kill to "defend" something, usually really to "attack" something, something feared (whether it be political ideology, destruction of their way of life and culture, or some perceived territorial or economic threat).

The officers who command them are usually authorized to kill if the soldiers do not obey, so who is really responsible for the killing? The political leaders who support or empower the military, are they not responsible in the very same way? Are not ordinary citizens responsible in some way for what is done in the name of their country, belief, or religion? The more one looks the harder it is to assign responsibility for violence. Cause and effect are so greatly intertwined in every human action.

So as we go deeper into understanding this thing called killing, there are really many forms of killing. A pacifist vegan may insist on non-violence, and yet, what of insects that are repelled even by "non toxic" methods so that a crop may be yielded? If this not an indirect form of killing?

Throughout many temples in Asia there is an image of Avalokiteshvara, shown with a thousand arms, usually one holding a weapon. This is so that the bodhissatva can ward off "hungry ghosts", or the manifestations of greed and insatiability. And what motivates more human violence than greed and fear of running out of what we want or need?

If we can act non-violently it is only through careful reflection on our own truest nature, and by perceiving that by harming others we are harming part of what we are, if not directly harming ourselves. There may be times when violence occurs in our lives as an accute episode, even with fatal outcomes, but the violence which is present there is already present in the mind and action of every living being.

To be born in the hell realms as a consequence of a lifetime of harmful karma is not punishment, it is a lesson. It is the hard school of enlightenment. But I think we would be deceiving ourselves greatly to believe that because we adhere to the precepts that our capacity, the seeds of violence, if you will, are always present and take time to purify.

When we recognize we have nothing really to lose by dying, the ultimate consequence of violence, the motivation to act violently in self defense is weakened just as every illusion is weakened through enlightened being. Violence is much more than a sporadic act or event: it is a fundamental component of what we experience in samsara, a reality of our world and species, and neither monks nor laypeople are exempt from this if we really look at it.

No matter how non violently we think we are living, we are all responsible equally for all the violence in the world. Some people experience this more or less than others, but unless we see that non-violence is a myth I think we as practitioners will merely be deluding ourselves from the true meaning of what it means to adhere to the precept of no harm.

Clearly we should walk the path of no-harm, but can anyone truly claim to have walked that path? There may indeed be some, but they only got there by experiencing now or in past existence, the futility of violent action.

Alec Kenney said...

I'm ready

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