March 18, 2011

Would Buddha kill Hitler?

Duh. (See quote at bottom).

Can War or Murder be Moral?

I’ve covered this sort of “tough love” question before. It always comes back to intention: is your action about yourself, or is it service for the benefit of others? Is your action about the letter of the law, or the spirit of kindness?

I’ve made such remarks about activism and veganism being angry, sometimes, too. Their cause may be just, but the means must be peaceful, not just the ends.

Easier said than done for myself, and all of us: that’s why Buddhists call meditation, that fundamental, simple technique for creating peace, “practice.” ~ ed.


Excerpt from Chogyam Trungpa’s Collected Works:

…Sometimes, if he is brave enough, your husband might say to you: “Isn’t there some blame on your side as well? Mightn’t you also have to join in and do something about it?” Or if your wife is brave enough, she will tell you that the situation might have something to do with both of you. If your spouse is somewhat timid and intelligent, he might say, “Both of us are to blame.” But nobody says, “It is you who has to change.” Whenever anybody does say, “It’s your problem, not anybody else’s,” you don’t like it at all. We have a problem with relative bodhichitta here.

The text says: “Drive all blames into one.” The reason you have to do that is because you have been cherishing yourself so much, even at the cost of sacrificing somebody else’s life. You have been cherishing yourself, holding yourself so dearly. Although sometimes you might say that you don’t like yourself, even then in your heart of hearts you know that you like yourself so much that you’re willing to throw everybody else down the drain, down the gutter. You are really willing to do that. You are willing to let somebody sacrifice his life, give himself away for you. And who are you, anyway? So the point is that all blames should be driven into oneself. This slogan is the first slogan connected with viewing your whole life as part of the path of relative bodhichitta.

This slogan does not mean you should not speak up. If you see something that is obviously destructive to everybody, you should speak out. But you can speak out in the form of driving all blames into yourself. The question is how to present it to the authorities. Usually you come at them in an aggressive, traditionally American way. You have been trained to speak for yourself and for others in the democratic style of the “lord of speech.” You come out with placards and complaints: “We don’t like this.” But that only solidifies the authorities even more. There could be a much better way of approaching the whole thing, a more intelligent way. You could say, “Maybe it’s my problem, but personally I find that this water doesn’t taste good.” You and your friends could say, “We don’t feel good about drinking this water.” It could be very simple and straightforward. You don’t have to go through the whole legal trip. You don’t have to use the “lord of speech” approach of making public declarations of all kinds, “Freedom for all mankind!” or anything like that. Maybe you could even bring along your dog or you cat. I think the whole thing could be done very gently.

Obviously, there are social problems, but the way to approach that is not as “I – a rightful political entity,” or as “me – one the important people in society.” Democracy is built on the attitude that I speak out for myself, the invincible me. I speak for democracy. I would like to get my own rights, and I also speak for others’ rights as well. Therefore, we don’t want to have this water. But that approach doesn’t work. The point is that people’s experience of themselves could be gathered together, rather than just having a rally. That is what you do in sitting practice.

In an extreme case, if I happened to find myself in the central headquarters where they push the button that could blow up the planet, I would kill the person who was going to push the button for the bomb right away and without any hesitation. I would take delight in it!

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