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Buddhists/gun control

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QUESTION: Hello Alex,Here in America there is talk of gun control.I haven't read anyting where Shakyamuni Buddha said it was ok to have,use or produce guns. What is the Tibetan buddhist view on gun control?Kind Regards ,Tom

ANSWER: Hi Tom,
Shakyamuni lived and taught long before guns were invented. There is no doubt that he taught against any sort of violence, or anything that facilitates it or encourages it. Being an arrowmaker, for instance, was considered wrong livelihood.
Tibetan Buddhism has over the centuries accomodated itself rather to political realities, and it widely accepted that in some circumstances the use of weapons for defence can be justified.
Humans being humans, however, one might be forgiven for wondering if this justification has sometimes been abused.
I hope that helps a bit.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Hi Alex,How come Shakyamuni Buddha didn't make use of or advocate the use of weapons in the political realities he found himself in?He was weaponless and surrounded by warring kings and political intrigue(violence) not to mention those who wanted to kill him. Kind regards,Tom   What is meant by "one might be forgiven for wondering if this justification has sometimes been abused".

Answer
Hi Tom,
You write: "How come Shakyamuni Buddha didn't make use of or advocate the use of weapons in the political realities he found himself in?"

Because violence breeds more violence. You'd think any child could grasp that, but somehow we find it hard.

You ask about my: "one might be forgiven for wondering if this justification has sometimes been abused."
Accepting that in some extreme circumstances the use of weapons or violence *can* be justified can easily be the thing that takes us over the edge an on to the slippery slope where it gets used regularly for purposes of exploitation, gain, political advantage, to indulge in prejudice and hate and so on.

Does that make sense?

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Alex Wilding

Expertise

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.

Experience

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.

Education/Credentials
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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