Saturday, September 17, 2011

Buddhism and Killing: Get a Stun Gun Free

Buy Six Stun Guns, Get One Free!

This Week's Special - Get a 900,000 Volt Rechargeable Stun Gun FREE when you purchase any combination of 6 or more stun guns. Just put one or more of the 900,000 Volt rechargeables in your cart along with other stun guns of your choice totaling 7 or more, and when you get to the checkout you will see a discount for $9.99, which is equal to the cost of one of the 900,000 Volt models. Order Today- This offer is valid just for a few days!  (an ad from today’s Internet)

The Practical Buddhist Responds

The precepts are not commandments. Buddhism has no moral absolutes. Still, a Buddhist has a hard time justifying killing anybody, under most circumstances. It’s a little easier to make a case for killing creatures that have “breath and consciousness” like cows and pigs,  but the precept leads some Buddhists to embrace vegetarianism. Some won’t swat a fly. It’s a continuum.

But who needs seven stun guns? Are they hostess gifts or stocking stuffers? Or maybe you want a different model for each day of the week?  We live in a cowboy culture of violence and excess. In my home state of Arizona, earlier this year, a crazy gunslinger mowed down a group of humans including a beautiful little girl and a congresswoman. Right after, state legislators were talking about carrying guns to work  and some wanted to liberalize our gun laws even more, for “protection.”

Yes, the Buddha would probably feel a little better about a stun gun than a semi-automatic 9 mm. But perhaps only a little. One is designed to control through intense disabling pain, the other though intense disabling pain and death.  I am sure he would shake his holy head at the idea of buying six stun guns so you can get one free.

The following article summarizes the First Precept.


The First Buddhist Precept: To Abstain From Taking Life

The First Precept in the Pali Canon

In Pali, the first precept is Panatipata veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami; "I undertake the training rule to abstain from taking life." According toTheravadin teacher Bikkhu Bodhi, the word panarefers to breathing, or any living being that has breath and consciousness. This includes people and all animal life, including insects, but not include plant life. The word atipata means "striking down." This refers to killing or destroying, but it can also mean injuring or torturing.

The First Precept in the Mahayana Brahmajala Sutra

The Mahayana Brahajala (Brahma Net) Sutra explains the first precept this way:
"A disciple of the Buddha shall not himself kill, encourage others to kill, kill by expedient means, praise killing, rejoice at witnessing killing, or kill through incantation or deviant mantras. He must not create the causes, conditions, methods, or karma of killing, and shall not intentionally kill any living creature.
"As a Buddha's disciple, he ought to nurture a mind of compassion and filial piety, always devising expedient means to rescue and protect all beings. If instead, he fails to restrain himself and kills sentient beings without mercy, he commits a major offense."

No comments: