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Buddhists/Buddhism and war


According to the sutras one should not kill nor create the conditions for killing. Does this mean one should be a complete pacifist? Yet, I know there have been Buddhists, including a few of my ancestors, who have fought and killed in war. Is killing in war or self-defense different?

The problem with karma is that it is like a powerful current in a river. Once started, it tends to spiral out of control. The details surrounding and associated with a "bad" act of course affect how severe its consequences are: the motivation, the joy or otherwise taken in the act, the extent, the beings affected. Killing in self-defence is of course still killing, but not as bad as killing for wealth. Killing in war is usually done to increase the wealth and power of the ruling class, so that is worse than self defence. Most of the time, the ruling classes involved in a war are committing very heavy bad karma, but the individual soldier often has little choice in the matter. There *is*, I believe, such a thing as an "honourable soldier", but I have a feeling that they are relatively rare. In most cases we are not able to judge.


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Alex Wilding


I have practiced and studied Tibetan Buddhism in the Kagyu and Nyingma traditions since the early 1970s, and have a good knowledge of theory, history and of the struggles of trying to practice the teachings, including meditation, while leading a normal, modern life. I am also available to provide background information for journalists.


I have been a practitioner since the early 1970s; have run a small Buddhist centre in the English Midlands and was vice-president of Kagyu Benchen Ling e.V. in Germany, for whom I managed three large Buddhist summer-camps. More importantly, I maintain a habit of personal practice. I am the "owner" of the Kagyu list at Yahoo.

My first degree was an M.A. from Oxford. I later obtained a Master of Philosophy degree for a research thesis in "Initiation in Tibetan Buddhism" from Leicester University. I also have engineering and educational qualifications.

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