Thursday, December 29, 2011

Practice and potentially violent stuff...

Nathan writes about Yoga, Buddhism and guns.

Although I tend to support any efforts to reduce the number of guns in circulation, the larger issue is really one of approaching the violent seeds each of us carry within ourselves, and which also come together collectively in our communities and nations. Whether someone in my yoga studio or Zen sangha owns a gun is less important to me than how they handle violence in their lives. At the same time, it's difficult for me to forget the periods of history when large groups of Buddhists twisted elements of Buddha's teachings to support warfare and violent oppression. Given the collective energy here in the United States, it's possible something similar could happen in the future. 

 It's easy to say that "the wrong people have guns," "the wrong people" being people who are too crudely violent in themselves to be able to own one well.  And somewhere buried in that is the assumption that the state includes employees of the people who are themselves the "right people" to own weapons. We hope that is true somewhere within us, though history hasn't exactly been entirely supportive of this assumption.

I know one or two "gun nuts." They're  not "nuts" by any means when it comes to the care and feeding of their weapons, though I personally think they might have a few too many of them.I'm sure they differ on this point.

That said, I myself have generally been supportive of "weapon rights" but in the sense that weapon rights should be considered as overall expressions of 功夫 - the skill of one's self.   Nathan writes:

What's the overall impact of more guns on our communities? On each of us? On the environment? Can a society that upholds gun ownership as a collective response to potential violence also be aiming in the direction of overall non-violence? 

 As a guy studying a martial art, I can say that the study and skill of the art itself seems to have an inverse relationship to one's own tendencies toward aggression and violence. I do not think that is because I am so culturally superior to ...oh, insert the kind of "wrong person" who shouldn't be owning a gun or know how to comport one's self in unarmed fighting here.  Also, as an engineer, I appreciate the esthetics of the simplicity of design of a revolver, or the beauty of a katana. 

I'm not sure I buy the arguments commonly put forward by the right in this country, though let's face it, guns have been pretty instrumental in replacing some rather nasty regimes (far too often, with nastier regimes, alas).

But the gun isn't  our minds - the  associated ideas, concepts, beliefs, and emotions about guns are actually stuff inside our minds, and not the gun itself.  Wanting to remove guns from society to foster non-violence is like wanting to ban alchohol or other intoxicants from society to promote clear thinking - it is the policy equivalent of scratching your foot through your shoe.

Well, enough about that...I have some cooking to do. Gotta sharpen the santoku.


Radical Reminders said...

I tend to agree with you, that it isn't so much about the weapon itself but the person's propensity for violence/aggression. In my eyes, a person without a weapon who is unaware of his/her anger and unable to reflect on his/her own pain is much more dangerous than someone aware of his/her anger/frustration because the person aware, mindful, reflective, is able to honor his/her pain and contain it without externalizing the suffering to others.

Mumon K said...