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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Buddhism and sinful killing

Buddhism and sinful killing

Mr.E.M.G. Edirisinghe, in the Opinion section of The Island, 21-3-10, titled "Why I am a Vegetarian", states that there are, quote:" according to Buddhism five requirements for killing to be a sin". They are quote: ‘(1) that animal should have life (2) the one who intends taking its life should know that it has life. (3) he should have the intention (mens rea) to kill, (4) he must have a plan to kill it, and (5) it should die as a result of the execution of that plan". The first two criteria are oxymoronic, as is the fifth. One would not kill anything that is dead or one knows to be dead! The third is a moral concept which is universally accepted. It is noteworthy, that he explains it in Latin, in parenthesis, rather than in Pali! The fourth is that killing must be premeditated to be a Buddhist sin of killing.

He explains that "Otherwise it may lead to any other sin but not to the sin of taking the life of a living being.

His view of Buddhist teaching on "eating "flesh" is as follows: "Eating flesh itself is no sin. However, eating flesh of an animal slaughtered by another person could be an indirect promotion of animal slaughter. However, absence of intention to promote slaughter could minimize the gravity of committing a sin".

Of course , this is tantamount to absolving the individual of habituation to a harmful food, drug or anti-social behaviour, because the facilities for it are provided for by someone else!

There are preachers and teachers of Buddhism who present the teachings of the Buddha, from the Theravadian Buddhist canonical scriptures known as Tripitaka, as they understand them. There are also pundits who see a basis for every branch of knowledge, from mathematics, science, and logic, to history and philosophy, in Buddhism. These dissertations usually make assumptions which strain both intelligence and rationality. There are also many, who following the exhortations of the Buddha that one should think for oneself, express their own thoughts and views as authentic tenets of Buddhism.

Mr. Edirisinghe, no doubt, belongs to the last mentioned group. For one of average intelligence, it must seem that what he says is clearly disingenuous, illogical nonsense. Again, is there some basis for his views in Buddhist scriptures?

Mahinda de Silva

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