Re: Self defense in Asian religions
I must admit I read mostly the taoist stuff in which I'm more interested. Although I think the Wen-tzu is slightly different (maybe others would say more practical) than leih tzu, chuang tzu, lao tzu and I would argue not strictly taoism as the original philsophy, I was intrigued by the common sense regarding war and hunting. In addition the parallels between religious beliefs are well highlighted and it made me realise something - Chrisitianity really suffers from the way the different books have been forced together (not only in the New Testament, but also the old and new). There is a lot of good sense in the bible, but it is shoved together with a lot of bigotted and militant rubbish. At least in many of the eastern religions the texts tend to be seperated and thus people are more able to be selective (for example, in Taoism Chuang Tzu and Lao Tzu can be considered as core writings forming the fundamental philosophy. Other writings, although part of 'taosim' are later writings and commentaries on previous thought, sometimes which are contradictory of this earlier writing. The structure of seperate books allows a justified seperation and distinction between what is the core teaching, and what is other people's thoughts later on.) Unfortunately the early Christian church did not want people to make a distinction between what Jesus taught and what they said.
Interesting points re the martial arts; I agree with the tenets and tend to believe that you relationship with your government is like a social contract. Thus there should be no 'obligation' to go to war unless the people fighting feel it is justified. The danger is that governments often try to mislead the public (maybe Blair and Bush should have read some of this stuff!)