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Buddhism and Guns

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  • #16
    Meaning of Asava - translated as outflow, influx, effluent, taint, canker...etc

    Dear Mara, so what is the meaning of "effluent" as it was "originally intended" that you found out from Ajahn Brahm's talk (which is different from your earlier remarks?)

    I had forgotten that I wrote previously (about a Harvard psychology experiment) that: "...Ajahn Brahm talked about the Pali word "asava" as "outflow" - the tendency of consciousness to seek out sensory stimulation and explore the world outside. Interestingly, other translators like Bhikkhu Bodhi used the word "influx". I prefer "outflow"...."

    I have since a slight change of understanding.

    Bhante Dhammadipa (a Czech Bhikkhu) brought up an interesting idea of "asava" at a Hong Kong University lecture in March. He mentioned an ancient commentary saying that "outflow" and "inflow/influx" always go hand in hand. When I thought about it, it makes perfect sense: ... Whenever our mind seeks out external stimulus through the 5-sense portals because it "craves for delights due to not-understanding (i.e. ignorance)" <read MN-01 Mulapariyaya Sutta or listen to Ajahn Brahm's MN-01 talk>, it is an "outflow". Inevitably the mind's grasping also drags in some "influx", and this "inflow" has karmic effect on our consciousness because of our "clinging". All these fluxes ended for the arahants since there is no more cravings & clinging.

    Thus I think both Ajahn Brahm's take on "asava" and Bhikkhu Bodhi's choice of "influx" are OK. It's a shift of perspective. However, I still prefer Ajahn Brahm's explanation as more useful to guide one's meditation. If we understand our mind will tend to rush out, then "mindfulness" is to be vigilant and stand on guard: as soon as the mind is on the prowl again, "do not forget" to bring it back to the center of stillness, the mind-object of samatha.

    Not sure if this discussion about "asava" is pertinent to a thread about "guns".

    Suffice to say every thought, speech and action driven by desire, aversion (fear/anger/hatred) or delusion has karmic consequence. Our volitional choice of owning a gun or not has karmic consequence. That's indisputable.

    Based on Conditioned Origination, "this therefore that". One thing will lead to another. If there is no gun, there is no bullet to come out of it. A gun can be stolen, misplaced, found by curious kids, misfire, etc. If a gun is in the house, there are possible use and misuse of the object, causing injury or death, intentionally or not.

    I don't ever think about owning a gun. Never had my hands on a gun in my life. That's my karma. I hope to keep it that way. However, for people living in an extreme high gun-crime region, who are we to judge if their survival do not depend on owning a gun? But that's their karma. Australia wisely passed legislation to remove most guns in their country. Good for Australians. Canada shares a long and porous border with USA, so does not have the benefit of the Pacific Ocean that Australians enjoy. Still, most Canadians do not consider guns a desirable object.


    • #17
      Greetings Franz. I really don't think I can add to the discussion any further. I described the link to Ajahn Brahms talk, which Mahisha has posted in his response, because my comments about "effluent" we're not informed by a study of scripture. Hence I felt that it was important to let people decide for themselves by going to an expert source.

      With Metta


      • #18
        Dear Amy:

        Guns have only one purpose; to cause harm. The harm may be defensible such as a person using a gun to feed themelves, protect their home from invasion, but harm still occurs. The Buddha encouraged us to have not "no views, " but to have Right View, and part of right view, IMO, is nonharming.

        The US gun culture has caused there to be so much of a proliferation of guns that many people that otherwise feel no attraction t guns feel as though they need to have a gun. More guns, however, has just lead to more violence. More guns now means that people in conflict take up a gun, instead of resorting to less harmful means of dispute resolution. Countries that have strict controls on guns owned by the public have demonstrably lower levels of violence in these countries. The connection between guns and violence and death is clear and convincing.

        The Buddha came from a warrior clan in north India; surely he was familirr with weapons, such as the bow and arrow. Yet, the Buddha's teaching implores us to use skillful means in order to defuse conflict.

        The problem in the United States is that there are now so many guns in the country, and so many guns available to anyone, even teenagers in American cities, that a gun ban simply is unachievable, such as was done in Australia. It is a problem that in my view is likely beyond repair. So many people will die, because of so many guns available. Yet, in our practice, we must encourage peacemaking, and encourage ourselves and others to resort to conflict resolution vs. the use of violence when conflict arises. Having guns has just made it so easy for people that are angry or deluded to kill another person. Why use compassionate words, or mindfulness, when a gun is so readily available? A campaign over 10-20 years might be a successful way to rid the country of guns, and control their ownership, but there is about zero interest in the present Congress, and the country, to undertake such an effort to rid the country of a scourge that has lead to so many deaths.


        • #19
          I disagree with much of the above post.

          Firstly, we needn't change the world, only the way we relate to it. Guns are not the problem. People without a moral compass or background are the problem, especially in the US where systematic degradation of spiritual organizations has run rampant over the past few decades.

          Secondly, the comparison between the US and European countries is always apples and oranges. There are vastly more people in the US than any European nation. Many of the guns in the US are not of US origin and are funneled in by drug cartels from other countries.

          Thirdly, guns do have purpose other than harm. They are by far used mostly for recreational target shooting at stationary paper targets as competitive sport or non-competitive recreation.

          Lastly, Congress cannot legally disarm the population, hence their seeming unwillingness to take guns away.

          We must have right view, yes. This includes the view that this is samsara, not utopia.



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