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Lecture 10

Lecture 10 South Asian Religions and Nonviolence Oct 16.docx

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McMaster University
Religious Studies
Ann Pearson

South Asian Religions and Nonviolence Oct. 17/13 Sources for peace-making “Mischievous people often use religious faith for their own interests and to create conflict. We have to look at the real message of all these traditions.” -- the Dalai Lama Ahimsa A term shared by all Indic traditions: Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, Sikhism Term from Sanskrit root hims, from verb ‘to kill, injure, strike”; prefixed with a privative “a” = “absence of desire to kill or harm” Ahimsa in the Jaina tradition Historical founder: Mahavira Vardhamana (c. 540-468 BCE) Acaranga Sutra [5th C. BCE] “Injurious activities inspired by self-interest lead to evil and darkness. This is what is called bondage, delusion, death, and hell. To do harm to others is to do harm to oneself.” ‘You are he whom you intend to kill! You are he over whom you intend to tyrannize!’ “We corrupt ourselves as soon as we intend to corrupt others. We kill ourselves as soon as we intend to kill others.” Two paths: one for monks/nuns, one for laypersons Monastics: the ‘five great vows’; laity: the lesser vows (anuvrata) All: nonviolence, truthfulness, not-stealing, sexual restraint, non-possession Four types of violence acknowledged Intentional Non-intentional Related to profession Self-defense But all types of violence have karmic consequences for the agent. Traditionally, ahimsa to be practised in 4 ways: Restraint of the mind Control of the tongue Carefulness on roads Eating in daylight Thus, Jains to use care in: Movement Speech Eating placing and removing things Elimination Jains are strict vegetarians (vegans); also avoid honey, figs, alcohol, silk, etc. Buddhism and nonviolence The Buddha, c. 563-483 BCE “Victory creates hatred. Defeat creates suffering. The wise ones desire neither victory nor defeat… anger creates anger… he who kills will be killed. He who wins will be defeated… revenge can only be overcome by abandoning revenge.” Buddhist teachings emphasize Individual spiritual self-transformation Analyzing causes of our behaviour (in order to change harmful thoughts/ behaviour) Notions of wheel of life, and dependent arising The true ‘weapons of mass destruction’: Greed [overcome with charity/hospitality/giving] Hatred [overcome by love/compassion] – “Hatred is never appeased by hatred in this world. By nonhatred alone is hatred appeased. This is the eternal law.” [Dhammapada] Delusion [overcome by mindfulness, insight (insight & compassion are considered to be the 2 most important virtues to budhists), and detachment] -Mindfulness is about being present & paying attention Consider relationship of nonviolence to the: The four noble truths 1. Life is suffering. “Birth is suffering, decay, sickness and death is suffering. To be separated from what you like is suffering. To want something and not get it is suffering.  In short, the human personality, liable as it is to clinging and attachment, brings suffering.” 2. The origin of suffering is craving or (selfish) desire. Craving leads to rebirth, bound up as this is with the search for pleasure and restless greed. It is craving for sensuality,
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