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Chris Birke
02-20-2004, 05:18 PM
I was having a conversation with a friend where she said, unilaterally, violence is bad. I asked if there could be peace without violence. She teased me, saying that I was just being argumentative.

Then she said that, yes, there can be peace without violence. I asked her how we would know it, and she said we wouldn't, that it would simply be.

There is a relationship between violence and freedom.

When rocks collide, is it violent?

If it isn't violence, is it because the rocks (though seeming to vie for the same space) are incapible of intent? Is it because (though they lack intent) their seeming goal was actually the collision itself?

Is there violence in someone who is entirely alone. Would there be? Would it between them and their enviorment? Between them and different parts of themselves? Or would it simply go unnamed, as a reality of ours predicated on our social nature.

Without there is nothing, with, there is all.

//

So that's what I think, what do you think?

Chris Birke
02-20-2004, 06:37 PM
Apparently you think it generally has nothing to do with aikido ;D.

Anders Bjonback
02-22-2004, 07:08 PM
(Keep in mind that I'm Buddhist, so I'm answering the question from that point of view, misunderstandings of my own religion and all.)

I think the question should be whether we need to have violence in our hearts. I don't think we need it, even though the concept of peace's existence depends upon the concept of violence. But then again, if one looks at what underlies violence, one might find some good quality, like strength. Maybe it's not that we need to get rid of the violent impulse and everything associated with it, but maybe we could purify it and still have the pure quality that underlied it before it was poisoned. It's not that we need to kill negative qualities, it's that we need to cut the root of what makes otherwise positive qualities into negative ones.

I don't think, in general, that there cannot be peace without violence (how can there be peace without the absence of its opposite?). I think the goal for a society would be selflessness, "total peace," although, of course, it wouldn't be called peace because there wouldn't be the existence of violence to base its existence on.

I also think that peace isn't intrinsically good and violence intrinsically bad. If we use the absence of violence to re-affirm our sense of self, as an excuse not to look into ourselves and question things, then it is being misused. Although the action itself does have a component, I think it also has much to do with one's motivation. The Buddha himself in one of his former lives killed a sea caption and his crew (according to one of the stories of his past lives)because through the power of his mind, he could see that this man would kill many people and so have to suffer in the hell realms for many lifetimes. Out of his great compassion, and fully knowing that he would be reborn in the hell realms for this action, he killed the sea captain in order to prevent his future suffering and the suffering he would inflict on others.

Also, in Tibetan Buddhism, there is a wrathful deity, Vajrakilaya, who's compassion is said to exceed that of Avalokiteshvara, the Bodhisattva of compassion. This is because he is willing to go through the pain of hurting someone out of compassion, while Avalokiteshvara would not be.

For a more down to earth example, if a little kid reaches for a pot of boiling water, a mother's automatic reaction would probably be, out of concern for the child's safety, to slap the kid's hand away and scold him. Is this not violent? But which is more compassionate, to slap him and fully communicate that it's not a good thing to do, or to let the kid grab it and get scorched, learning his lesson the hard way? And yet, which is more violent--doing nothing or physically slapping the child's hand, scolding him? Which is the better action?

And if that person's attitude about violence is not only about physical acts but conflict in general (i.e., that the world would be better without conflict), then I would have to disagree further. Conflict is absolutely necessary for the development of a community. If people don't openly have conflict with one another in a community, there is no way for that community to grow.

Although I really don't understand enough about Buddhist philosophy, although my own views have not matured enough to make a good statement about this, I think that the idea that all our problems would be solved by having peace with no violence is wrong. That's because even in peace, if we're selfish, poisoned by attachment, aversion, and ignorance, we will still have problems. This goes much deeper than simple physical action.

I'm a conscientious objector (although I haven't officially declared myself as one yet), and yet I train in a martial art, aikido. Despite whatever we say, it still has that martial component to it, and to take it out would be a grievous mistake. Without seeing my own potential for violence, I can't see my own potential for peace. Without seeing what's negative within me, I cannot purify it and strengthen what is positive. To work on the positive while ignoring the negative is a form of denial, I think.

Now, of course, being violent in general isn't a good thing. I think that war and killing is abhorrent. It causes suffering for the killer and the killed. But being in denial, pretending to be peaceful while still poisoned by the ego, is also not a good thing.

Anders Bjonback
02-22-2004, 07:32 PM
Someone might have a misunderstanding about that story about Buddha's former life in which he killed the sea captain. People often use that as an example to show that things aren't black and white. However, how many of us have the power of foretelling the future, of knowing every cause for another person's action, and every consequence of our own? How would we know that our own violent act is doing more good than harm? If one is trying to follow the path of a Bodhisattva, trying to attain enlightenment for the benefit of all sentient beings, a violent act like killing generally goes completely against that. This story does not say that it's okay to kill someone else.

Taliesin
02-24-2004, 11:24 AM
I often think the term 'violence' is rather like the old description of an elephant. something that you can't quite define but know what it is when you come accross it.

For myself I would define violence as an emotionally driven and undisciplined application of force (the 'red mist' , lashing out in anger scenario) this is consitent with the psychological elments of arousal, weapon, target, trigger.

a more controlled application of excessive force I would normally describe as brutal (a cold blooded attack)

Given these criteria I would say that violence is always bad, brutality is always bad.

This still leaves a legitimate position whereby a controlled and proportionate application of force (or technique) can be applied.

Anders Bjonback
02-24-2004, 03:21 PM
If one defines the terms by the motivation behind them, then I guess one could say unilaterally that violence is bad or unbenificial, and peace good and beneficial. One could say that peace is not just an absence of war, but an active process of helping others, and violence is done out of hurtful intent.

Considering this, one could say that a violent act done out of compassion is not a violent act. But I think that the action itself usually does have a role. And how many people really have an entirely pure motivation behind any action, including phycial application of force?

As long as we are concerned with ourselves, our own ego, I don't think we can have an entirely pure motivation for anything. And there's no way to know all the causes behind the other person's action, or all of the effects of our own actions. For this reason, I would never kill another person, but I might use physical application of force.

Kevin Leavitt
02-29-2004, 01:32 PM
Anders,

Kevin Leavitt
02-29-2004, 01:44 PM
Anders,

Let me try again, my computer wigged out and posted when I hit return!

I too am a buddhist and I am in the military. Not only in the military, but a gun toting infantrymen on top of it. Not only that but a bonafide tofu eating vegan!

My friends see me somewhat as a walking contradicition!

Anyway, to the core of the matter. I have given the concept of bodhisattva a great deal of thought, and have many times wondered why as a Buddhist I am in the military.

Life works in strange, strange ways. I call it Karma!

I was in the military long before I knew I was a buddhist. I have toyed with the ideas of conscientious objection etc. Wondered if it is possible to be a card carrying buddhist committed to non-violence and still be a Infantryman.

First, it is an individual decision, another might not reach the same conclusion as I.

For me it is possible to dable in the arts of killing and violence. For me it is my karmic destiny. So far thankfully I have never been called to bear arms and kill directly.

What do I do to counteract my profession. I try and live my daily life as an example of compassion. I am a vegan, I teach and practice aikido. I raise my son to not hate and to see compassion in his actions. We don't play with guns in my house or what violent TV. I take my military training seriously and try and inspire those I leave to always use their skillls for good. For them to think out of compassion when the use weapons and force.

So, for me, I feel warranted in my actions of practicing violent martial arts. Much like you say, it is possible to act compassionately in violent manners. We must always prepare ourselves to make sure we do the right thing when our time comes to take action! I only hope whatever action I must use it is done with a smile.

Anders Bjonback
03-08-2004, 03:53 PM
Anders,

Let me try again, my computer wigged out and posted when I hit return!

I too am a buddhist and I am in the military. Not only in the military, but a gun toting infantrymen on top of it. Not only that but a bonafide tofu eating vegan!

My friends see me somewhat as a walking contradicition!

Anyway, to the core of the matter. I have given the concept of bodhisattva a great deal of thought, and have many times wondered why as a Buddhist I am in the military.

Life works in strange, strange ways. I call it Karma!

I was in the military long before I knew I was a buddhist. I have toyed with the ideas of conscientious objection etc. Wondered if it is possible to be a card carrying buddhist committed to non-violence and still be a Infantryman.

First, it is an individual decision, another might not reach the same conclusion as I.

For me it is possible to dable in the arts of killing and violence. For me it is my karmic destiny. So far thankfully I have never been called to bear arms and kill directly.

What do I do to counteract my profession. I try and live my daily life as an example of compassion. I am a vegan, I teach and practice aikido. I raise my son to not hate and to see compassion in his actions. We don't play with guns in my house or what violent TV. I take my military training seriously and try and inspire those I leave to always use their skillls for good. For them to think out of compassion when the use weapons and force.

So, for me, I feel warranted in my actions of practicing violent martial arts. Much like you say, it is possible to act compassionately in violent manners. We must always prepare ourselves to make sure we do the right thing when our time comes to take action! I only hope whatever action I must use it is done with a smile.
Wow.

Why are you an infantryman? I can understand different causes leading up to a certain ways of life, but why didn't this change when you found your belief system? I'm not attacking you or anything, just wondering.

I read "In Search of the Warrior Spirit" and found it to be a very eye-opening book. I don't agree with these people's paths, but I see that things aren't black and white.

A friend of mine from my sangha agreed with the war on Iraq, and even asked the military if he could do anything to help, despite his being a forty year old civilian. He has further shown me that things aren't black and white, although I personally would never kill another human being.

But I don't understand why you think it's your "karmic destiny." If there were no choice in out matters, if we had no choice in how to live our lives, had no way to change our karma, then how would enlightenment be possible? I think I may be drastically misunderstanding you, but it seems like you're justifying your way of life by saying "it's just my karma," like you don't have any choice in the matter. I can see where you're coming from with trying to live your life as compassionately as possible within your limits, considering your occupation, but don't you still have a choice with that occupation? Karma isn't predestination.

Maybe you feel, as my friend does, that you're doing the right thing by being a part of the military?

SeiserL
03-09-2004, 10:21 AM
IMHO, most people who enjoy their peace have it because somebody stands watch over them.

Taliesin
03-11-2004, 11:09 AM
Anders

There are a number of reasons why the mental element is important in any discussion about violence. The issue is intent and not necessarily motivation.

which is why categorised it as brutality and being worse than violence.

mental state is important - In the UK it makes the diffence of ehat you can be prosecuted for S18 GBH -(max sentence life imprisonment) and S20 GBH (max sentence 5 yrs).

In additon to that there is the 'future prevention' argument. it an attack is one of violence then maybe treatment and anger management training will do more to prevent future attacks, whereas if it wasone of brutality more sever measures would be appropriate.

other reasons are that if you only include the affect, then someone who breaks someones nose becuae they are having an epileptic fit would be as liable as someone who deliberately does the same thing. Responsibility must be judged from mental element (intent, recklessness ) these can be assessed through motive and objective factual evidence.

I therefore go back to my orignal position that violence is never justified, but use of technique or force can be.

Anders Bjonback
03-14-2004, 07:03 PM
Anders

There are a number of reasons why the mental element is important in any discussion about violence. The issue is intent and not necessarily motivation.
I'm unsure of your use of terminology--you're saying intent is different from motivation?Isn't motivation the reason for or the intent behind an action?

I think that the intent or motivation behind the action is more important, but the outcome also has a factor as well.

Anders Bjonback
03-14-2004, 07:35 PM
By "outcome" I meant the actual action itself--whether it was kicking someone in the shin, killing someone, or talking it out.

By the way, David, I agree with your intitial post, that violence, being undiciplined, emotionally driven application of force, is always bad, and that this leaves room for the application of force or techinque in some situations. However, for myself, I think I should look deeply into my own state of mind, motivation or intent before applying any sort of force. I think that if one really looks beneith the surface, most application of force is not done out of a pure motivation. Selfishness is usually present in some way or another.
Of course, all of this introspection would go out of the window in an actual situation. That would be the real test of how well I've trained myself. And I believe that if I used any sort of force, I accumulated some negative karma--the question is whether it was worth it.

Taliesin
03-15-2004, 07:27 AM
Anders

In response to your question yes there is a difference between intent and motive. Intent is what you want to do, motive is why. To use a UK example -racially motivated assault is penalised more seriously then 'normal' assault.

But it does show intent - I want to hurt/injure/damage you (intent) because you are Black, White, Indian, Hispanic, English, American etc (motive).

Which is why I used the word intent. As far as our own actions are concerned, we as martial artists should never use violence (at least what I regard as violence) because discipline in application should be instilled in us. However that still leaves the question of whether appication of force or technique is 'brutality' (again according to my definition) or merely reasonable/proportionate.

As far as how pure our own motives are - thats a fair point, but one i'm not in any position to debate unfortunately.

PS

I do emphasise that my arguments are based upon my personal understanding of the words violence and brutality - so you are free to accept, ignore, revere, or dismiss them out of hand as you wish.

Hope this clarifies things.

Mark Uttech
03-15-2004, 09:03 AM
Here in the West, aggressiveness is a type of virtue.Butin Nature, all things tend to aggressively reach out and expand. Buddhism is coming to some understanding by identifying with this natural expansion. The modern martial art of aikido does the same thing. I think a basic way to understand all of this is to imagine that we are dealing with a massive fire, close to the edge of the roof of hell.

Anders Bjonback
03-17-2004, 10:52 AM
Anders

In response to your question yes there is a difference between intent and motive. Intent is what you want to do, motive is why. To use a UK example -racially motivated assault is penalised more seriously then 'normal' assault.

But it does show intent - I want to hurt/injure/damage you (intent) because you are Black, White, Indian, Hispanic, English, American etc (motive).

Which is why I used the word intent. As far as our own actions are concerned, we as martial artists should never use violence (at least what I regard as violence) because discipline in application should be instilled in us. However that still leaves the question of whether appication of force or technique is 'brutality' (again according to my definition) or merely reasonable/proportionate.

As far as how pure our own motives are - thats a fair point, but one i'm not in any position to debate unfortunately.

PS

I do emphasise that my arguments are based upon my personal understanding of the words violence and brutality - so you are free to accept, ignore, revere, or dismiss them out of hand as you wish.

Hope this clarifies things.
Ah, okay. That does clarify things.

I hope no one thinks that I'm trying to push my view on other people. By talking about my views and reading other people's, and asking or answering questions, I feel like I come to reach a deeper understanding.