One day here on this SE i had an comment to one of my answers suggesting that it is rather discomforting or hard to accept that Buddhists have chosen death as their choice in difficult situations like Genocides,War,Racial conflicts and etc against killing for survival.

But there are some war stories too. As i did not had a chance to learn all sides of this interesting question i thought to ask a question and openly invite the community to share their version of teaching on this matter. Feel free to add your ow personal experience too.

so the questions are...

  • What does different schools and traditions of Buddhism teach about reacting to an offensive or a war?

This offensive can be a one against Buddhism,race,country or any other social aspect.

  • Is there a Buddhist offense?

1 Answer 1


What does different schools and traditions of Buddhism teach about reacting to an offensive or a war?

The going to war is in many cases beyond your control and even if it is it is governed by norms and even law. Say another country declares war then you might not be able to do nothing. This these case if you have exhausted the avenues to stay away you might have to participate. This is not justifiable by the Dhamma but you have to comply with the laws of the land. Also be mindful of the Karmic repercussions and try to do somethings to counteract this perhaps like Metta Bhavana, helping the wounded, etc. when you can.

If you look back at Buddha's time, even his devoted disciples hard to go on war. E.g. Ajatashatru. This is a worldly norm. You can not endorse them, as any for of offensive is not endorsed in Buddhism, but they cannot be avoided and eradicated.

Is there a Buddhist offense?

Within the Dhamma offensives are not justified.

But there are instances like Dutugamunu who when to war to save Buddhism. This is not endorsed by the teaching of the Buddha as a King wars and punishments according to regulation and norms are inevitable. These are more of individual action and retext in most cases and cannot be called Dhamma offensive. If you are willing to suffer the Karmic consequences, then offensive in the pretext of Dhamma is the choice of the person making the decision, which can be individually or collectively endorsed, but this endorsement is not in the Dhamma but by the people.

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