One of the things I find myself struggling with is the fact that you can’t always combat violence with passivity. One of the reasons for this is the obvious fact that violence can end the life of the passive, who therefore no longer has the opportunity to defend or express his position and ideas. And so, it seems that while violence is never the answer in an enlightened situation or society, what about in an unenlightened situation or society?
Ah, I think we are on to something here.
I read somewhere that Jesus advocated turning the other cheek in the “ideal” situation, but that he advocated other methods if one is not in such an ideal situation.
In a very real sense, if the enlightened—who will naturally lean towards non-violence—allow themselves to all be killed off by the unenlightened, then, at the end of the day, there will only be unenlightened people around, and no one to help them become more enlightened and learn to not need violence the way they think they do as unenlightened beings.
Does this mean that I advocate violence? I’m not sure, really, but I will tell say this much: If I had a daughter, say, and someone was going to kill her unless I killed them, I would kill them in a heartbeat. Does that make it right? I do not know, nor would I care in such a situation.
The point here is that I think that it is unwise, and perhaps even a bit unproductive, to lay down a commandment such as “it is wrong to kill,” because that is not that simple. Of course, maybe a truly enlightened person would not look at the death of my child as such a bad thing, because it is the way of the world, but I think that this is an incorrect understanding of enlightenment and “acceptance of reality.” It is one thing to accept reality and not be deluded by illusion, but it is quite another thing to accept as good and right actions that are controlled by illusion. If those who pursue and see the truth of enlightenment look at “samsara”—and those things that cause it—as essentially “wrong” and “bad,” then the actions that result from samsara cannot be seen as “good” or “right.” Otherwise, there would be no reason to try and help people escape the cycle of samsara, right?
I think what this points out is that it is extremely difficult—and fraught with problems—to declare an absolute moral tenet, for morality itself is relative and in the realm of illusion.
The interesting point to consider is whether it is right or wrong to try to apply enlightened ideology to an unenlightened situation or society.
It’s the same sort of issue of whether it would be wise to go out into a raging battle in a war without armor or protection, and try to reason with the combatants about the evils of war. That doesn’t seem very wise to me. You would get killed pretty quickly, and if you did have wisdom to share with the world, it sure wouldn’t be shared anymore.
From my personal notes, 7/16/00