What is the kamma for killing in self defense?

Is there any quote
from Sutta with
regards to above question ?

There is the case where a trifling evil deed done by a certain individual takes him to hell. There is the case where the very same sort of trifling deed done by another individual is experienced in the here & now, and for the most part barely appears for a moment.

Now, a trifling evil deed done by what sort of individual takes him to hell? There is the case where a certain individual is undeveloped in [contemplating] the body, undeveloped in virtue, undeveloped in mind, undeveloped in discernment: restricted, small-hearted, dwelling with suffering. A trifling evil deed done by this sort of individual takes him to hell.

Now, a trifling evil deed done by what sort of individual is experienced in the here & now, and for the most part barely appears for a moment? There is the case where a certain individual is developed in [contemplating] the body, developed in virtue, developed in mind, developed in discernment: unrestricted, large-hearted, dwelling with the immeasurable. A trifling evil deed done by this sort of individual is experienced in the here & now, and for the most part barely appears for a moment.

AN 3.99

3 Likes

“Bhikkhus, even if bandits were to sever you savagely limb by limb with a two-handled saw, he who gave rise to a mind of hate towards them would not be carrying out my teaching.”
https://suttacentral.net/en/mn28/10-10.640

and

"Monks, even if bandits were to carve you up savagely, limb by limb, with a two-handled saw, he among you who let his heart get angered even at that would not be doing my bidding. Even then you should train yourselves: ‘Our minds will be unaffected and we will say no evil words. We will remain sympathetic, with a mind of good will, and with no inner hate. We will keep pervading these people with an awareness imbued with good will and, beginning with them, we will keep pervading the all-encompassing world with an awareness imbued with good will — abundant, expansive, immeasurable, free from hostility, free from ill will.’ That’s how you should train yourselves.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.021x.than.html

2 Likes

I’ve heard a variety of takes on how to understand (and more to the point, apply) the MN21 teaching - not being at all certain, I remain open to different interpretations.

One point I’ve particular uncertainty about is whether taking self-defensive action, is necessarily hate-driven. It seems to me entirely possible that one may wish to actively prevent someone from doing terrible things while still having sympathetic feelings for them.

3 Likes

[quote=“Aminah, post:4, topic:5495”]
One point I’ve particular uncertainty about is whether taking self-defensive action, is necessarily hate-driven.[/quote]

I don’t think that it is necessarily so.

Though not actually self-defence as such, the Suttas and Vinaya both report an incident where a certain bad bhikkhu gets involuntarily removed from an assembly just before the Pāṭimokkha recital. The remover is none other than Mahāmoggallāna:

Then the Venerable Mahāmoggallāna grabbed that person by the arm, evicted him through the outer gatehouse, and bolted the door. Then he returned to the Blessed One and said to him: “I have evicted that person, Bhante. The assembly is pure. Let the Blessed One recite the Pātimokkha to the bhikkhus.”
AN8.20; Ud5.5; Pi-tv-kd19

As an arahant Moggallāna was without hate and yet it seems this didn’t block him from using main force when circumstances required it.

Then in the Bhikhupāṭimokkha, we have the 74th pācittiya rule which prohibits striking a bhikkhu (and in its detailed elaboration striking anybody else), but among its exception clauses is one where the action is adjudged no offence when “one gives a blow desiring freedom” (mokkhādhippāyo pahāraṃ deti). The commentary takes this to be striking robbers and suchlike in order to escape from them.

If it were the case that striking somebody were invariably an action prompted by hate, then the above Vinaya clause would in effect be giving sanction to an action that cannot be other than kilesa-driven. If this conclusion is unacceptable, then I think one must grant at least the possibility of delivering kilesa-free kicks and punches.

11 Likes

What about if
one while defending
accidentally kills , is there any unwholesome kamma ?
And in the case of
defending one’s own country ,
what type of kamma then?

Hello @James2997 ,

I think that it should not lead to any bad kamma, provided you are not rejoicing in the demise of the other person or take what happened the wrong way.

1 Like

Friend, nobody knows for sure the answers to your hypothetical questions. But if your actions are motivated by benefits your are likely to gain, then you will find an ego lurking there.

1 Like

There are circumstances
in reality where people sometimes will accidentally kills or force to kill by the certain things in reaction to the unforeseen situation , I don’t think this is simply hypothetical !

I would like to know
Is there in the vinaya any
quote with regards to it ?

Another thing is , First Precept is
to refrain from killing , to be
a buddhist one can’t join army
and other arm forces , right ?

Buddhism is a finger pointing at the Moon. People tend to mistake finger for the Moon itself.

With metta

1 Like

I agree with B. Dhamanando. An arahant will not be driven either by idealism or by hate, he will be driven by pragmatism. A self-defense act may be tainted by hatred, but it can also be 100% driven by pragmatism: to protect oneself (witch is as valuable as any other person, even more so if we are speaking about an advanced person that can help others by living more) or to protect another person, to produce a more beneficial result overall than not acting. The decision to not act is also an act of volition and therefore kamma.

Same as a self-defense act can be tainted by hate, a refusal to self-defense can be tainted by idealism and lack of wisdom, leading to a worse result overall than a self-defense act. By what else could the actions of an arahant be driven by if not by pragmatism ?

1 Like

According to Buddha’s teachings ,
not all action (kamma) produces Effects . Even if it is involved in killing , such as when an arahant killed himself and a person like Angulimala killed 999 peoples and still able to attained arahanthood and not being suffer for the consequences or any kamma distribution because there is no future life is possible for an arahant !
But , this is a rare case though .

Angulimala still had some of his bad kamma ripening in his last life [1]:

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angulimala

1 Like

Well , what about those 999 dead peoples which did not have any chance to get revenge then ?
Isn’t that’s unfair and very unfortunate, an extreme misery for them ?

It’s sad that those 999 people died, but this is samsara. There’s nothing you or I could do to change that.

Nor was there anything Angulimala could do to change it…

I often said to my wife (base on a Youtube viedo I watched a long time ago)

And recently I changed this to:

And I think it contrast nicely between taking the negative aspect of the truth (what has happened, what is already done, what you cannot change) and being open to it to either let go (of expectations) or turn it into the opportunity to do something good.

That is the " defects " in buddhism if one has to say , or a kind of limitations if not .
How does one reconcile with the inconsistencies in these matter if
families members of those killed
peoples came and questions buddhist fellow about buddhism talking about compassion , kamma , Loving kindness , law of cause and effect etc ?!
Can one tell them , oh , this is kamma anyway , we can’t do anything about it ?
This is really unfortunate for you !

We are veering dangerously off topic into a new land here.

May be it’s time to get this question onto a thread of its own?

/\

[quote=“James2997, post:12, topic:5495”]
According to Buddha’s teachings, not all action (kamma) produces Effects . Even if it is involved in killing , such as when an arahant killed himself and a person like Angulimala killed 999 peoples and still able to attained arahanthood[/quote]

The Buddha did not arise in the world to teach about results of kamma (even though this became part of his teaching to humanity). The Buddha arose in the world to teaching about how to end kamma. Therefore, it is possible for any evil doer to reform & end kamma by realising anatta.

Just this noble eightfold path—right view, right resolve, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right samādhi—is the path of practice leading to the cessation of kamma. AN 6.63

:seedling:[quote=“sukha, post:13, topic:5495”]
Angulimala still had some of his bad kamma ripening in his last life [1]:

However a resentful few could not forget that he was responsible for the deaths of their loved ones. Unable to win revenge through the law, they took matters into their own hands. With sticks and stones, they attacked him as he walked for alms.

With a bleeding head, torn outer robe and a broken alms bowl, Angulimala managed to return to the monastery. The Buddha encouraged Angulimala to bear his torment with equanimity; he indicated that Angulimala was experiencing the fruits of the karma that would otherwise have condemned him to hell. This illustrates the Buddhist belief that while the effects of karma are inescapable, the form that they take and the schedule on which they occur can be modified by later actions—in this case, Angulimala experienced physical suffering during the course of his last life, rather than experiencing torment in another birth for a much longer period of time.[/quote]

Personally, I think this is not the ideal story for discussing kamma. Buddhists debate a lot about this. How could a minor non-fatal non-disabling pelting with stones be the kammic retribution for murdering 99 innocent people? This is illogical to me.

Wikipedia is just a certain individuals personal interpretation of the story, in which the Buddha simply advised Angulimala the stoning was the results of his past kamma. In other words, I think it is wrong to infer there was a ‘quantification’ involved, in terms of ‘scales of justice’.

In reality, Angulimala had ended past kamma (internally) since he was an arahant that was incapable of suffering. Therefore, the kamma involved here was primarily that of the stoners.

In other words, imo, it is very wrong of Wikipedia to say the effects of karma are inescapable in a manner where the effects will come to fruition externally via the actions of a third party. This results in many Buddhists believing murder, rape, abuse, poverty, etc, are due to the victims past kamma. Imo, the effects of karma are only inescapable internally (rather than externally).

Regards :slight_smile:

2 Likes