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Killing questions Was: What does killing mean?

To: talk.religion.buddhism,alt.religion.buddhism.tibetan,alt.zen,alt.philosophy.zen,alt.buddha.short.fat.guy
From: egg@panix.com (Arnold Vance)
Subject: Killing questions Was: Re: What does "killing" mean?
Date: 31 Jul 2001 14:17:50 -0400

Namdrol, this post neatly evokes some killing questions I've been having.

>"Lee Dillion"  wrote in message
>>
>> > Also, in the bodhisattva yana, killing, and all other non-virtues are
>> > considered from the point of view of intention. If someone should
>refrain
>> > from protecting innocent sentient beings from being slaughtered if it
>means
>> > killing the agent of the slaughter, this is considered to be a far
>greater
>> > non-virtue than killing the said agent.
>>
>> I think this is an interesting point to explore.  Could you give a quote
>from
>> a Mahayana sutra where this latter idea is placed in context?
>
>Not right off hand-- but if you examine Asvaghosa's account of the Buddha's
>past lives, this is the source for the famous story where in one of Buddha's
>past lives he was a sea captain who knew, telepathically that one of his
>passangers was going to slaughter all of the merchants on board for their
>wealth, and so, in order to prevent such a misdeed and in order to prevent
>the theif from going to hell, summarily dispatches him.

How did he also know that the wealth acquired by the merchants was free
of illness? (bad karma) Iow, how could he know the merchants themselves
were not thieves posing as honest and innocent businessmen? May one presume
he had access to all karma?

More generally:
If certain killing is "less damnaging" in some circumstances than certain
other killing under the same circumstances, from a karmic position,
how can one know who is more innocent (or guilty) than someone else,
from a karmic position, without having access to all of karma itself?
My understanding is that karma is not knowable, at least in full.

More generally:
If certain negative action is "better" in some circumstances than certain
other negative action under the same circumstances, from a karmic position,
how can one know which is "less damnaging", from a karmic position, w/o
having access to all of karma itself?

>There are also apparently Mahayana sutras that justfy the use of weapons to
>defend Dharma against non-Buddhist assailants-- probably written around the
>time of Hun incursions into Northern India.
>
>
>> And I am assuming from your other posts to Punnadhammo that you are not
>> attempting to justify killing in the way DT has been attempting - rather,
>you
>
>Never. It is never good to deprive a sentient being of life.

And exactly what life is/isn't sentient? 

More generally:
What types of life may not be taken?

Life takes life. So it's clear life may be taken to perpetuate life, naturally.
All life feeds off all other life. All life is feeling.

>> are making the valuable point that there are different levels of
>non-virtuous
>> action and that one may have to pick between the least non-virtuous when
>> confronting a killer.  Is this correct?  If so, I don't disagree despite
>all
>> the noise and misdirected fury from DT.
>
>That is what I was attempting to point out.

The "when confronting a killer" is loaded. What made the killer a killer?
That is what bothers me. What made conditions conducive to that?
And what is it leading to?


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