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The police seem necessary for any defiled society; but that doesn't mean being a police officer, who must follow laws objectively but also blindly, is necessarily right livelihood.

They are encouraged in the US to use violence, depending on what the laws say not what their hearts say, and are allowed to lie to make the job easier. What do the suttas say? What does your heart say?

  • You cannot force a police officer to overcome their ignorance. Focus on your own ignorance, not those around you. Unless you're a police officer and you're asking for advice on right livelihood. – Hugh Sep 22 '16 at 22:01
  • What are you talking about? Who said anything about forcing anything or police being anymore ignorant than anybody else? I am focusing on my own ignorance, that's why I'm asking the question. – Lowbrow Sep 23 '16 at 1:11
  • @Ulium if you are not a police officer how can such a question aid you on the path to enlightenment? Obviously I was talking about ignorance in terms of the three characteristics of existence, not simply not knowing what suttas say on a topic. The question looks a lot more like you want police to change their blind justice and you want to change the external world for the better hence the comment about making police overcome their ignorance. You can probably appreciate how the question looks even if you didn't mean it that way. – Hugh Sep 23 '16 at 7:51
  • @Hugh Why do I have to be a police officer to ask this question? How can your comment aid you on your path to happiness? Who are you trying to change? It wasn't obvious to me what exactly you meant by ignorance. I thought you meant intellectual ignorance because this forum can only directly show us intellectual concepts not moment by moment personal experience. I am not against the police and finally If you wanted to know my disires in the context of this question all you had to do is ask. I am not telling you what is right, I am asking. – Lowbrow Sep 23 '16 at 17:47
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this comes to me, im not 100% sure if my memories correct. One time, Lady Visaka (or other rich merchant in savatthi) was upset (or even crying) that king Pasendikosala denied her something. Buddha said to be under someone's authority is suffering, but being under the authority of sensual desires is much worst. When I get bullied (by bosses or any authority figures), my heart would think of this.

As far as view from authority figures, they have options not to break precepts.

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    When I'm confronted by an authority figure my little ego just has to think "who do you think you are"? I will try to replace my thinking with "to be under someone's authority is suffering, but being under the authority of sensual desires is much worst" I might find that useful to chant to myself too. – Lowbrow Sep 23 '16 at 2:18
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Anytime a police officer strikes or shoots with the intention of causing injury or death, it's bad Karma. Nevertheless, a police officer who follows Buddhism would not look for opportunities to gain gratification of violence, hiding behind the badge. He would go into a scene with the genuine intention of wanting to resolve the situation as peacefully as possible. He would try his best with words and tact until he has no other choice. Even when he resorts to force, he would not take any pleasure in doing so. He would do only what is required to take the suspect into custody.

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    indeed it's very taxable on kamma, a Buddhist wouldn't even come near this vocation, here's a vivid example youtube.com/watch?v=bXe3zAANry4 and one cannot be completely detached and equanimous, once a situation of personal danger emerges all asavas and anusayas get immediately activated due to attachment to self-view which we all share – Баян Купи-ка Sep 25 '16 at 10:12
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if one thinks of it human society is completely defiled with criminal activities being only one aspect, and doing almost any job, not just law enforcement and policing, and especially those requiring interaction with other people, involve activities, decisions and strategies incompatible with elements of the Buddhist ethics and ethics period

in many cases the very performance of job duties run into moral dilemmas

  • What about the reputed old days of the old pre-WW2 Soviet Union, where tens of millions of people were reputedly murdered/starved to death by secret police, etc? – Dhammadhatu Sep 22 '16 at 20:51
  • @Dhammadhatu Wow! Perhaps this is why I was never very keen on history. That's so horrible:( The police did that because of the law or was it more of a dog eat dog chaos thing? – Lowbrow Sep 23 '16 at 2:09
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    @Dhammadhatu not sure why you bring this up, is it because my alias is written in Russian? so how do you expect me to answer the question 'What about'? – Баян Купи-ка Sep 23 '16 at 6:02
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    all i can answer is that those butchers obviously weren't guided by the Dhamma or any morals period and must have ended up in the plane of deprivation, the bad destination, the lower realms, in hell, there's a very potent movie called 'Chekist' depicting those atrocities youtube.com/watch?v=_RQVSHfuPCQ – Баян Купи-ка Sep 23 '16 at 17:30
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    @Dhammadhatu I guess you're referring to the so-called Great Purge, and possibly Famines and/or Gulags. There is a History.SE if you have specific questions about topics like that. – ChrisW Sep 25 '16 at 20:43
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Life will always be filled with Dukkha. It's the very nature of being alive. Men and women who choose to be police officers take on a very special role in protecting our lives. Personally, I'm very thankful for their services despite a few bad apples. Because I'm not a police officer I won't give them advice on how to do their job. But i can give advice to other practitioners. The only men and women who are credited to give advice are those who have been on the field themselves. That being the case, I hope to direct my comment to practitioners to help soften their hearts towards our police.

  1. Our police officers are constantly living in danger just to keep us safe. And with all good deeds sometimes it can come with a costly price. It can be very difficult at times serving citizens as a police officer. Your job is to protect those from the many ugly faces of society. So when you and I go to sleep at night in our safe warm homes, there is a police officer risking his/her life just to keep us safe. And sometimes, they actually die. A wife lost her husband, a child lost her dad, a mom lost her son, and so on. Sometimes we forget that police officers are just people living under those badges. A few years ago some of them were class clowns, while others were drama nerds trying to get the lead parts in the school plays. Personally, I believe that many of the men and women who serve are doing well despite the many challenges they've faced. So how can we make their lives easier? The first thing we can do as Buddhist practitioners is show how much we love and care for our police officers! You may disagree with a few of their policies and practices, but only disagree through love and kindness. As Buddha said,

Hatred does not cease through hatred but through love alone they cease.

  1. Realize that if you were born with their body and mind, there would be no differences between you and them. Their lives would be your life. You would go through the same experiences they've faced in life. You would have the same name, health problems, mom and dad, struggles for acceptance as a teenage, etc... And eventually, you would become a police officer just as they did. And guess what? Their mistakes are also your mistakes too. How? Because everyone is only an extension of yourself. They only appear separate because they live in different bodies and minds, but ultimately, it's only you living under the many masks of life.
  2. Remember that at one point everyone was your mother in a previous life. This means that the police officer who is giving you a ticket is simultaneously your past mother. Keep in mind that at one point she was worried sick because you didn't come home until midnight. Sometimes, she even lost sleep because she worried about how well you were doing in school. And sadly, it's even possible she may have been the mother who buried you because you died at a young age. Just remember this is the very same person who only wished for your well-being and happiness. And although the officer may not remember his/her past life; at least we do.
  3. Finally, remember your Bodhisattva vows! You're purpose is to bring joy and happiness to world. Here is a Bodhisattva vow written by st. Shantideva,

"May I become food and drink in the aeons of famine for those poverty-stricken sufferers. May I be a doctor, medicine and nurse for all sick beings in the world until everyone is cured. May I become never-ending wish-fulfilling treasures materialising in front of each of them as all the enjoyments they need. May I be a guide for those who do not have a guide, a leader for those who journey, a boat for those who want to cross over, and all sorts of ships, bridges, beautiful parks for those who desire them, and light for those who need light. And may I become beds for those who need a rest, and a servant to all who need servants. May I also become the basic conditions for all sentient beings, such as earth or even the sky, which is indestructible. May I always be the living conditions for all sentient beings until all sentient beings are enlightened."


Extension: Should we not express what is truth or what we think is truth just because it might step on some toes?

It is because of our compassion and love for others that we are determined to help others. If you feel inclined to share truth for the benefit of all beings, than go for it. As William Shakespeare wrote,

"They do not love that do not show their love."

To name just four persons who've changed the world through love and kindness is H.H. the Dalai Lama, Thich Nhat Hanh, Saint Teresa of Calcutta , and Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. What's strange is that every person I just named has a group of enemies who hate them. Mother Teresa and Gandhi both have been attacked on multiple occasions just by sharing love. Did that stop them? No. So here are a few quotes on being active with your love.

"Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love." ~Mother Teresa.

"In doing something, do it with love or never do it at all" ~Gandhi.

"If you wish to experience peace, provide peace for another." ~ H.H. Dalai Lama.

"Our primary purpose in this life is to help others and if you can't help them, at least don't hurt them." ~ H.H. Dalai Lama.

An ounce of practice (service) is worth more than tons of preaching." ~Mahatma Gandhi.

"You have never really lived until you have done something for someone who can never repay you." ~Mother Teresa.

"Compassion is a verb." ~Thich Nhat Hanh.

Love is a double-sided sword. It's both internal and external. As Ajahn Brahms punch line go's,

It's cutting two carrots with just one knife."

  • Good job on saying what your heart says. I certainly hope I don't hate the police somewhere in my unawareness, I'm just trying to understand. I'm not trying to offend anyone. The truth or truth seeking can often offend. Should we not express what is truth or what we think is truth just because it might step on some toes? I don't know. Bodhisattva vow? I'm not a Bodhisattva..I try to be as selfish as I can so that I can become enlighted even though I am sure the Bodhisattva vow can teach me, you or anyone great selfishness because loving everyone is extremely good for the self. – Lowbrow Sep 23 '16 at 1:56
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Every modern/civilised government occupation has ethical guidelines. When government officials cease to be perceived as acting ethically (such as police in an emerging totalitarian state), it is obviously not the specific occupation (e.g. policeman) that is the problem but the entire government itself. In addition, democracy has also failed. For example, there are moral principles in Buddhism about how government should be conducted (both monarchy & democracy).

When this violent totalitarian government occurs, the general moral principles of Buddhism will dictate livelihood rather than an occupation (vocation) itself.

And what is the drawback of sensuality? There is the case where, on account of the occupation by which a clansman makes a living — whether checking or accounting or calculating or plowing or trading or cattle-tending or archery or as a king's man, or whatever the occupation may be — he faces cold, he faces heat, being harassed by mosquitoes & flies, wind & sun & creeping things, dying from hunger & thirst.

MN 13

  • It's not just the police but everyone in any society civilized or not, right? There is this view that I had myself when I was younger that is "If most people think it's right then that is what is right. I would think "How could 50000 Elvis fans be wrong?" Maybe some charismatic politician could get everyone to think there should be a law that everyone must listen to Elvis or go to jail. Then the police must enforce – Lowbrow Sep 23 '16 at 3:18
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    Sure. That is why I mentioned REAL history vs propaganda. Propaganda, for example, blames & praises individuals, such as Ceasar, Stalin, Hitler, Osama Bin Laden, Bush, Cheney, Obama, etc. But in real history, it takes a collective effort of many people to do evil things. All that is necessary is government fear & most people conform with the government to save themselves & act against a manufactured perceived threat. – Dhammadhatu Sep 23 '16 at 3:28

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