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Часть 6. Этот мир и другие миры
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Mercy Killing

Mercy and Killing can never go together.

ACCORDING to Buddhism mercy killing cannot be justified. Mercy and killing can never go together. Some people kill their pets on the grounds that they do not like to see the pets suffer. However, if mercy killing is the correct method to be practised on pets and other animals, then why are people so reluctant to do the same to their beloved ones?

When some people see their dogs or cats suffer from some skin disease, they arrange to kill those poor animals. They call this action, mercy killing. Actually it is not that they have mercy towards those animals, but they kill them for their own precaution and to get rid of an awful sight. And even if they do have real mercy towards a suffering animal, they still have no right to take away its life. No matter how sincere one may be, mercy killing is not the correct approach. While the consequences of this killing are different from killing with hatred towards the animal, Buddhists have no grounds to say that any kind of killing is justified.

Some people try to justify mercy killing with the misconception that if the motive or reason is good, then the act itself is good. They then claim that by killing their pet, they have the intention to relieve the unhappy animal from its suffering and so the action is good. No doubt their original intention or motive is good. But the misguided act of killing which occurs through a later thought, requires some degree of cruelty or hard-heartedness which will certainly bring about unwholesome results.

Avoiding mercy killing can create inconvenience to many. Nevertheless, the Buddhist religion cannot justify mercy killing as completely free from bad reactions. However, we must add that to kill without any greed, anger or hatred has less bad reaction than to kill out of intense anger or jealousy.

It must be remembered that, a being (human or animal) suffers owing to his or her bad karma. If by mercy killing, we prevent the working out of one’s bad karma, the debt will have to be paid in another existence. As Buddhists, all that we can do is to help to reduce the pain of suffering in others.

Killing for Self-Protection

The Buddha has advised everyone to abstain from killing. If everybody accepts this advice, human beings would not kill each other. In the case where a person’s life is threatened, the Buddha says even then it is not advisable to kill in self-defence. The weapon for self-protection is loving-kindness. One who practises this kindness very seldom comes across such misfortune. However, people love their lives so much that they are not prepared to surrender themselves to others; in actual practice, most people would struggle for self-protection. It is natural and every living being struggles and attacks others for self-protection but the karmic effect of the aggression depends on their mental attitude. During the struggle to protect himself, if a man happens to kill his opponent although he had no intention to kill, then he does not create bad karma resulting from that death. On the other hand, if he kills another person under any circumstances with the intention to kill, then he is not free from the karmic reaction; he has to face the consequences. We must remember that killing is killing; when we disapprove of it, we call it ‘murder’. When we punish man for murdering, we call it ‘capital punishment’. If our own soldiers are killed by an ‘enemy’ we call it ‘slaughter’. However, if we approve a killing, we call it ‘war’. But if we remove the emotional content from these words, we can understand that killing is killing.

In recent years many scientists and some religionists have used the expressions like ‘humane killing’, ‘mercy killing’, ‘gentle killing’ and ‘painless killing’ to justify the ending of a life. They argue that if the victim feels no pain, if the knife is sharp, killing is justified. Buddhism can never accept these arguments because it is not how the killing occurs that is important, but the fact that the life of one being is unnaturally terminated. No one has any right to do that for whatever reason.

The Buddhist Stand on the Death Sentence

THE Buddhist concept on the Death Sentence is clear. We must not only respect the law of the country but we must also strictly obey it.

Religion and law can be seen as two different aspects of life. Buddhism, as a religion teaches man to be good, to do good and do no evil. However, as a religion, none of its members have the power to punish anybody who has defied its precepts to commit evil—to steal, to rape, to commit murder or to traffic in drugs. Any Buddhist who chooses to defy the law of the country by committing serious crime will have to be punished by the laws of the country and not by the religious body.

As buddhists and as human beings, we are full of compassion for suffering humanity but compassion by itself does not go far enough to be of help. Compassion does not help to restrain a person who has chosen to go against the law of the country. The laws of the country must be respected and upheld to the very letter. If law stipulates that for committing a serious crime you must pay for it by having your life taken away from you, then the process of law must take its course. Buddhism cannot interfere with the normal enforcement of the law. The only line of action, members of our religion can take is to ask for compassion and plead for clemency to be extended to an accused.

The laws of our country are democratically enacted by the people themselves through the certain electioneering process. The people elect their representatives to serve as Members of Parliament. In Parliament the Members debate and promulgate laws for the smooth administration of the country. Without specific laws, then we have to revert back to the law of the jungle where might is right. Although in effect, Members of Parliament enact the laws, they do so as representatives of the people. If we, the people, enact the laws, we have no choice but to comply implicitly with our laws. If anyone chooses to defy them, then they must pay for it.

This may sounds harsh but laws of such nature existed even in the time of our lord Buddha, well ever two thousand five hundred years ago. In those days there were kings and rulers who had to administer the country where good and bad people existed as they do now.

From time immemorial, human nature being what it is, society consisted of good people. Religion teaches and guides every human being to lead a good and noble life to gain eventual spiritual attainments. Religion does not condone evil. Even though a religionist may infringe a religious precept, religion should not advocate harsh punishment. Religion cannot sentence a person to death for any fault but the law can. It was reported that during the Buddha’s time, even monks who committed serious crimes, were sentenced to death. The Buddha did not and would not interfere with the normal enforcement of the law. The Buddha’s view was that if a ruler failed to carry out his functions to punish a criminal for committing a serious offence, the ruler would not be considered as one fit to administer the country. Similarly if a ruler was to be indiscriminate and punishe his subjects who were innocent without good reason, he would also be considered as one who would be unfit to rule. These qualifications were given a long time ago but the advice and injunctions given by the Buddha stand good even for the present day.

Buddhism does not subscribe to the taking of a life, human or animal, under any circumstances but if someone chooses to transgress the established laws of a country he or she has to pay the penalty—even if the penalty is a death sentence. One of the important moral codes of Buddhism is to obey the laws of a country. If the law decrees that a war is on and that all able-bodied men are to be conscripted as soldiers to the country, a Buddhist must comply with the law. If as a Buddhists, we feel strongly enough that we should saves lives and not to destroy lives, the channel open for us is the democratic process to approach political leaders to cause the affected laws to be amended but if the consensus was against any change, we have no choice but to obey the law. The law is supreme. Of course, f we do not wish to join the army, the other option is for us to become monks and nuns and retire into to a monastery and work for our spiritual advancement. If we choose to remain in society, then we must be prepared to sacrifice ourselves for the good of that society.

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Часть 6. Этот мир и другие миры

Редакция перевода от 01.07.2015 20:17