Capacity For Violence In War

thumbnail
Milo, modified 3 Months ago at 3/21/22 1:34 PM
Created 3 Months ago at 3/21/22 1:34 PM

Capacity For Violence In War

Posts: 371 Join Date: 11/13/18 Recent Posts
Hi all,

Recently I've watched the unfolding war in Ukraine while also listening to talks by TNH, a teacher I hold in high esteem.

TNH was very renowned for his pacifism. In my own practice, I try to avoid harm to sentient beings as a factor for wholesome practice and goodwill. I am vegetarian and will go so far as to relocate every spider that finds its way into a bathtub to a new home.

Watching these events has caused me to reflect that although I do practice non harm intentionally, in a case of the true extremity of a war, I might compromise this, to the detriment of practice for the sake of practicality. TNH faced this situation and nonetheless embraced radical pacifism.

My question for you is, in the case of war, how far would you go to preserve the wholesome factor of non harm? What would you do, for instance, if you found yourself drafted or otherwise called on to fight?

Thanks all!
thumbnail
Papa Che Dusko, modified 3 Months ago at 3/21/22 3:07 PM
Created 3 Months ago at 3/21/22 3:07 PM

RE: Capacity For Violence In War

Posts: 2435 Join Date: 3/1/20 Recent Posts
I would not think twice in case my country was attacked like this. Protecting our families and our own homes is very important. One must not allow bullies to just walk into your country and take over. You would not allow a thief to take over your home, would you? Why? Well, they will just be encouraged to take the next country also! 

I would kill with Metta anyone on my path, even the Buddha!!! 

BTW, even if you are in war and have a weapon, there will be plenty of opportunities to stop others to make unnecessary violence on, lets say, captured enemy soldiers. Some folks might do them harm, even kill them where they stand and you could stop them and instead bring those poor fuckers to your commanding center. These can be used for a later prisoner exchange.

You can also help those around you in case of panic or if they are badly wounded to stop them from bleeding to death. If folks go into panic they will run away from their positions which means the enemy might break through easily and get behind the line of your fellow soldiers unaware of this happening. Its important to hold the line and in case people go into panic it's very important to calm them down. This can save many lives! 

BTW, not all bullets or grenades you send hit the target. On many occasions, you don't even see the enemy soldiers unless its a close street fight. In nature, bushes, forests you don't see them often, especially if on the mountains and hills with lots of trees, so you just make sure to shoot and make lots of noise emoticon and keep your head down! 

What we see now is just fucked up! This fight is the worst as its happening inside the cities, amongst civilians!!! If at all possible I would focus on pushing the enemy forces back into the countryside and create trenches and bunkers! Then hold them there, away from the cities! I hope Ukraine forces are already establishing some sort of a secondary line with deep trenches and bunkers in the free zone just in case they get pushed out more towards the West side of the country!

This war is beyond Ukraine and is meant to show the middle finger to the entire NATO party! It's a terrible tragedy! 

May all beings be free from suffering, may all beings awaken, may all be happy! 
Adi Vader, modified 3 Months ago at 3/21/22 9:45 PM
Created 3 Months ago at 3/21/22 9:45 PM

RE: Capacity For Violence In War

Posts: 118 Join Date: 6/29/20 Recent Posts
Before awakening pick up weapons to defend yourself, family, country

After awakening pick up weapons to defend yourself, family, country.

During awakening try and avoid actions that disturb shamatha. To be a pacifist and see enemy soldiers rape, loot and pillage your village, town, city is probably very very disturbing for shamatha. That depends on your sankharas (learnt constructs that construct experience). Honour your own sankharas, understand them, work with them.

​​​​​​​War is an extreme example. The above principle applies to any adverse situation.
thumbnail
Milo, modified 3 Months ago at 3/21/22 11:49 PM
Created 3 Months ago at 3/21/22 11:45 PM

RE: Capacity For Violence In War

Posts: 371 Join Date: 11/13/18 Recent Posts
Thanks. I understand the perspective RE: selecting (If possible) the conditions of practice according to one's sankharas/formations and individual need and ability. I don't disagree. For various reasons I suspect I could tend to become extremely remorseless towards an enemy in a war situation without some effort not to totally abandon path. Perhaps that is why I put a lot of effort into non-harm. War would obviously be among the most extreme non wholesome states we could encounter and we may have no choice but to engage with it and do our best. I do think TNH has something to say to people like me, even if we might not follow it to such an extreme of radical pacifism in reality.
thumbnail
Milo, modified 3 Months ago at 3/22/22 12:13 AM
Created 3 Months ago at 3/22/22 12:09 AM

RE: Capacity For Violence In War

Posts: 371 Join Date: 11/13/18 Recent Posts
I understand. In my mind war on some level also represents a collective failure to cultivate peace in the heart of your opponent, and it's important to keep that perspective even if you must admit defeat and are forced to take up arms against him. I understand this might have to remain a private conviction during war times as it could be perceived as weakness and harm morale. Nonetheless I think it is important so I don't dismiss TNH entirely.
Martin, modified 3 Months ago at 3/22/22 1:44 AM
Created 3 Months ago at 3/22/22 1:42 AM

RE: Capacity For Violence In War

Posts: 443 Join Date: 4/25/20 Recent Posts
Milo,

I think it is true that, if we are lucky, we do the best that we can, which may be different for each of us. Gandhi apparently said, 'There are many causes I would die for. There is not a single cause I would kill for.' That has seemed reasonable to me for most of my life, but my life is not over yet and it might not seem that way to me in other circumstances. Though we can hold intentions, the future is uncertain. When someone says that they would fight out of compassion, I have to respect the sincerity of their compassion. Both approaches can be aimed at minimizing the most suffering for the most people.

You might find this video on the subject by Angelo Dillulo interesting. I liked what he had to say.

edit: forgot the link
​​​​​​​https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SzxiS8LOch0
thumbnail
Milo, modified 3 Months ago at 3/22/22 2:11 AM
Created 3 Months ago at 3/22/22 2:11 AM

RE: Capacity For Violence In War

Posts: 371 Join Date: 11/13/18 Recent Posts
Thanks for your words and the video. Good stuff.
thumbnail
terry, modified 3 Months ago at 3/22/22 1:45 PM
Created 3 Months ago at 3/22/22 1:45 PM

RE: Capacity For Violence In War

Posts: 2185 Join Date: 8/7/17 Recent Posts
aloha milo,

   I was drafted, and went to war. I went in semi-patriotic and went out with a permanent contempt for the american government. When the navy and I parted company, it was acknowledged that I was not assisting the war effort. When I was mustered out at treasure island, the clerk processing my papers was a member of the movement for a democratic military (as she told me) and she personally assured that I got an honorable discharge, against the express wishes of the command structure.

   Nothing sucks more than war. The only thing we have done right since world war 2 was avoid this very situation. Now the slow moving catastrophe of climate change will take a back seat once again to more active modes of human self destruction.

   They are putting weapons in the hands of children, milo. People are once again being used as geopolitical pawns, zelenskyy offering "his" people up as a sacrifice to "democracy." Germany and japan rearming, and incidentally germany extending the life of brown coal fired electric plants, belgium extending their nuke powered plants. Major major rollbacks at the latest incremental move by putin to reestablish tsarism. Could have responded that way to crimea, its been baby steps all the way and a clear trjectory. The militaries of the world are itching to try systems and tactics that have been on the shelf too long, war is overdue. And citizens are ready to cut loose.

   According to globally agreed upon paris accords we must reduce carbon emissions by 47% by 2030, seven years from now, to avoid catastrophic climate change (which may already be irreversible). Now these targets are even further out of reach. Can't worry about that stuff now, there's a war on

   The ukrainians should lay down their weapons and refuse to move or fight. Display their courage thereby without the guilt and evil of fighting back. Passive, nonviolent resistance under a less polarizing leader. Don't negotiate with putin, the man is a monster pure and simple. Zelenskyy was elected as appeaser but now has "grown" into the role of superhero, playing and being played by the media, hobnobbing with world leaders and swelling visibly.

   Images of citizens "forcing" tanks back by sheer force of will remind me of the praying mantis who tried to stop an oxcart. You can't appeal to putins better nature. When the time comes, the tanks will roll over people without even noticing.

   Ukrainian men should be willing to stay suffer and die, but not fight. And arjuna should have told krishna that he wasnt gonna study war no more.

   Patriotism and nationalism only divide us, there is no merit there at all. 

   There is nothing worse than war. Becoming a monster is not a good response to aggression. Lay down your life, but not that of others.

   We're all gong to die anyway. We don't have to take "them" with us.

   If russia nukes the west, lets not nuke them back.

terry
thumbnail
terry, modified 3 Months ago at 3/23/22 2:11 AM
Created 3 Months ago at 3/23/22 2:11 AM

RE: Capacity For Violence In War

Posts: 2185 Join Date: 8/7/17 Recent Posts
"forced to take up arms"

(sigh)

posted this already but it is so apropos...

buffy st marie used to sing this song in the early seventies to viet nam vets...the vets would be in uniform missing limbs in their wheelchairs and were wheeled up to the front row where she sung this in their faces:


THE UNIVERSAL SOLDIER


He's five feet two and he's six feet four
He fights with missiles and with spears
He's all of 31 and he's only 17
He's been a soldier for a thousand years

He's a Catholic, a Hindu, an athiest, a Jain,
a Buddhist and a Baptist and a Jew
and he knows he shouldn't kill 
and he knows he always will
kill you for me my friend and me for you

And he's fighting for Canada, 
he's fighting for France,
he's fighting for the USA,
and he's fighting for the Russians 
and he's fighting for Japan, 
and he thinks we'll put an end to war this way

And he's fighting for Democracy
and fighting for the Reds
He says it's for the peace of all
He's the one who must decide 
who's to live and who's to die
and he never sees the writing on the walls

But without him how would Hitler have 
condemned him at Dachau
Without him Caesar would have stood alone
He's the one who gives his body 
as a weapon to a war
and without him all this killing can't go on

He's the universal soldier and he 
really is to blame
His orders come from far away no more
They come from him, and you, and me
and brothers can't you see
this is not the way we put an end to war
thumbnail
terry, modified 3 Months ago at 3/23/22 2:22 AM
Created 3 Months ago at 3/23/22 2:22 AM

RE: Capacity For Violence In War

Posts: 2185 Join Date: 8/7/17 Recent Posts
before awakening, follow precepts, practice nonviolence

after awakening non violent
thumbnail
Milo, modified 3 Months ago at 3/23/22 4:04 AM
Created 3 Months ago at 3/23/22 3:21 AM

RE: Capacity For Violence In War

Posts: 371 Join Date: 11/13/18 Recent Posts
Thanks Terry. I knew a guy who was special forces in Vietnam. He claimed they were ordered to burn villages so contractors could profit from building them up again, so I understand your experience. Even a defensive war is unwholesome, though I don't know that I could stomach simply letting people be slaughtered in practice (My own life is one thing). I suspect the "highest return" on one's energy in the long run is to direct it towards preventing the next Putin from arising in someone's heart to begin with. A war averted before it starts is the best outcome available. Once violence is deployed so the seeds of the next conflict are sown.
thumbnail
terry, modified 3 Months ago at 3/23/22 10:40 AM
Created 3 Months ago at 3/23/22 10:40 AM

RE: Capacity For Violence In War

Posts: 2185 Join Date: 8/7/17 Recent Posts
the measure of success in the viet nam war was "the body count"...

high body counts were rewarded, low body counts punished...

the more civilians you killed, the higher the body count...


it was a battle for their hearts and minds, and millions of hearts and minds were destroyed...


i heard ricky gervais tell a joke about thich quang duc, the zen monk who immolated himself in prtotest of american policy...he said that after the event, thich quang duc was known to his friends as "crispy" duc...


I was not personally in country but became very close to those who were...I lived with a guy for years who was a pow, shuttled from village to village in tiger cages to be spat and shat upon...


if you can stomach ot, this tells the story>>>

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=beGWhCH4HVs
thumbnail
Milo, modified 2 Months ago at 3/29/22 12:29 AM
Created 2 Months ago at 3/29/22 12:29 AM

RE: Capacity For Violence In War

Posts: 371 Join Date: 11/13/18 Recent Posts
For those who are interested in this thread, I actually found a video where TNH addresses these questions directly:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o-pv9-suY50

Pretty practical response.
thumbnail
terry, modified 2 Months ago at 4/1/22 12:37 PM
Created 2 Months ago at 4/1/22 12:37 PM

RE: Capacity For Violence In War

Posts: 2185 Join Date: 8/7/17 Recent Posts
imagine the buddha in the octagon...
thumbnail
terry, modified 2 Months ago at 4/1/22 12:52 PM
Created 2 Months ago at 4/1/22 12:52 PM

RE: Capacity For Violence In War

Posts: 2185 Join Date: 8/7/17 Recent Posts
nonviolence, like love, is a state of mind...

there are no direct answers to moral dilemmas...

​​​​​​​try this one:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5imQHNr_24U
Martin, modified 2 Months ago at 4/1/22 4:06 PM
Created 2 Months ago at 4/1/22 4:06 PM

RE: Capacity For Violence In War

Posts: 443 Join Date: 4/25/20 Recent Posts
It's interesting also to consider the simile of the saw, which is described well by Doug Smith, my go-to guy on all things sutta, here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IbNoSWB7q8k

​​​​​​​Specifically, the Buddha is said to have insisted that there was no occasion in which anger is a good idea, even if one is being sawn into pieces by bandits with a two-handled saw. So, if, as suggested by TNH, there could be a situation in which violence is called for, the Buddha (in the Octagon -- Thanks, Terry) would be doing that violence without getting angry (black and white TV images of David Carradine in Kung Fu are coming to mind). For those of us who are long-distance spectators of war, it's perhaps a good idea to check whether our support for violence, or equally, our opposition to violence, is accompanied by anger, and see what happens when we look without anger. Perhaps a more nuanced or multifaceted response arises. 
thumbnail
terry, modified 2 Months ago at 4/1/22 9:17 PM
Created 2 Months ago at 4/1/22 9:17 PM

RE: Capacity For Violence In War

Posts: 2185 Join Date: 8/7/17 Recent Posts
I have trouble making a distinction between non violence and opposition to violence...

I oppose violence, evil, unkindness, and toxicity of all kinds...

sometimes what is normally a poison can be medicinal in small, targeted  doses...

anger should be self-directed and self-limiting...


I loved tnh's line about how our ideals are like navigating by the north star...you are following the star in order to go north, not to arrive at the star...we all do the best we can, even the bad ones among us, and it is wise to keep that in mind when contemplating violence...


people would say when the unvaccinated were overwhelming hospitals that we should refuse to treat them, and I thought that ignorance needs treatment as much as any other disease...children hate shots, and we dose them anyhow regardless of their dismay...


there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that refusing to fight in the face of pressure and condemnation takes the greatest courage...


rapists and murderers are always the war winners...our progenitors...humans have always faced selection pressure for male aggression...perhaps killing off a few million young men would do the race a favor, like therapeutic phlebotomy...unfortunately wars kill an ever higher percentage of civilians, who after all are cheaper to expend than trained soldiers...


the us is going to fight this war to the last ukrainian! and we would be happy to do our bit for the war effort by fracking more gas to replace russian gas...we'll out do them in gas production, after they embarassed us by having thicker and longer missiles...
thumbnail
terry, modified 2 Months ago at 4/2/22 2:49 AM
Created 2 Months ago at 4/2/22 2:49 AM

RE: Capacity For Violence In War

Posts: 2185 Join Date: 8/7/17 Recent Posts
from the tao te ching, trans feng


​​​​​​​
Forty-two

The Tao begot one.
One begot two.
Two begot three.
And three begot the ten thousand things.

The ten thousand things carry yin and embrace yang.
They achieve harmony by combining these forces.

Men hate to be "orphaned," "widowed," or "worthless,"
But this is how kings and lords describe themselves.

For one gains by losing
And loses by gaining.

What others teach, I also teach; that is:
"A violent man will die a violent death!"
This will be the essence of my teaching.

 


Sixty-eight

A good soldier is not violent.
A good fighter is not angry.
A good winner is not vengeful
A good employer is humble.
This is known as the Virtue of not striving.
This is known as ability to deal with people.
This since ancient times has been known as the ultimate unity with heaven.


 Seventy-four

If men are not afraid to die,
It is no avail to threaten them with death.

If men live in constant fear of dying,
And if breaking the law means that a man will be killed,
Who will dare to break the law?

There is always an official executioner.
If you try to take his place,
It is like trying to be a master carpenter and cutting wood.
If you try to cut wood like a master carpenter, you will only hurt your hand.


 
thumbnail
terry, modified 2 Months ago at 4/2/22 3:25 PM
Created 2 Months ago at 4/2/22 3:25 PM

RE: Capacity For Violence In War

Posts: 2185 Join Date: 8/7/17 Recent Posts
thumbnail
terry, modified 2 Months ago at 4/2/22 3:30 PM
Created 2 Months ago at 4/2/22 3:30 PM

RE: Capacity For Violence In War

Posts: 2185 Join Date: 8/7/17 Recent Posts

Breadcrumb