The Fourth Chung Hwa International Conference on Buddhism: The Role of Buddhism in the 21st Century=第四屆中華國際佛學會議 -- 「佛教與廿一世紀」
中華佛學研究所=The Chung-Hwa Institute of Buddhist Studies
臺北縣, 臺灣 [Taipei hsien, Taiwan]
The Fourth Chung Hwa International Conference on Buddhism：The Role of Buddhism in the 21st Century, Organized by Chung-Hwa Institute of Buddhist Studies, DDMBA; January 18-20, 2002, Auditorium of Acemic Activity Center, Acemia Sinica. 第四屆中華國際佛學會議 -- 「佛教與廿一世紀」, 法鼓山中華佛學研究所主辦, 2002年1月18-20日, 中央研究院學術活動中心.
Buddhism in 21st Century; 佛教與廿一世紀
The earliest Buddhist texts make clear in many contexts that killing a living being should be seen as a bad (papa)，unwholesome (akusala) act. The follower of the Buddha's path is to avoid killing and develop the virtues of friendliness (metta) and compassion (anukampa, karuna). Does it follow from this that，according to Buddhist principles, killing any living being，whatever the circumstances, is simply wrong? Or is it possible in some circumstances to give a Buddhist justification for killing a living being? Might not the killing of a living being dying in great pain，with no hope of recovering，for example，be considered an act of compassion?
These are broad questions that impinge not only on individual morality but on the morality of society and the state，touching on such issues as abortion，euthanasia and capital punishment. The present paper seeks to explore and clarify how the various issues surrounding the killing of a living being have been analysed in especially Theravadin Buddhist texts. Drawing on the Pali commentaries the paper attempts in particular to set out an abhidhamma analysis of the various issues involved.
The Vinaya rules and the commentarial analysis of the notion of 'course of action' (kamma-patha) make clear that not all acts of killing are regarded as equally unwholesome; the killing of a living being may constitute a more or less weighty unwholesome act according to the kind of being killed and the circumstances of the killing. One also finds here the characteristic Buddhist emphasis on the intention or motivation that lies behind the act. From the abhidhamma perspective what makes an act wholesome or unwholesome is the state of mind at the time of carrying out the act. This leads to the question of which of the 89 abhidhamma classes of consciousness (citta) are associated with the act of killing.
The commentaries appear always to associate acts of intentional killing with the two classes of consciousness motivated by hatred (dosa) and delusion (moha)，and do not countenance the possibility that the eight classes of wholesome consciousness motivated by generosity (alobha) and friendliness (adosa) might be associated with intentional killing. Thus, that one could kill a living being out of compassion seems not to be admitted as a psychological possibility.
The final part of the paper considers the implications of this apparent exclusion of the possibility of killing when motivated by compassion. What mental states, from the perspective of the abhidhamma, might be occurring in someone who kills an injured animal in the belief that he is acting out of compassion? What of the canonical stories of the monks who committed suicide on the brink of the attainment of nirvana? Finally it is suggested that the general Buddhist understanding of the power and effects of metta must be taken into account in assessing the way Theravadin texts approach the issues surrounding the act of killing a living being.
1. Killing and Buddhist Ethics 2. The Vinaya Rules 3. The Commentarial Discussion 4. The Intention to Kill：The Abhidhamma Perspective 5. Compassion as a Motive for Killing 6. The Significance of Metta 7. Beyond the Theravada：The Sarvastivada and the Upayakausalya Sutra 8. Conclusion