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Eye for an eye

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libertygrl
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Posted 03/07/12 - 6:26 PM:
Subject: Eye for an eye
Does vengeance bring closure? What do you guys think?
thedoc
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Posted 03/07/12 - 8:19 PM:

There are too many variables for an easy answer, if the other feels that their act was justified then the vengeance will be returned, and returned, ad infinitum. As we see in many parts of the world now. Only vengeance that is complete and total will end the cycle, but I do not believe that will bring closure, that would come from forgiveness and reconciliation.
libertygrl
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Posted 03/07/12 - 8:44 PM:

so, would you say, then, that vengeance never brings closure? never ever?
thedoc
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Posted 03/07/12 - 9:21 PM:

For some, if the act of vengeance carries no effect on the consceince it may bring closure, but I don't think that everyone can carry out an act of vengeance without some regret.

The Tunnel
October 12th, 2009 . Posted in 101 Zen Stories

Zenkai, the son of a samurai, journeyed to Edo and there became the retainer of a high official. He fell in love with the official’s wife and was discovered. In self-defense, he slew the official. Then he ran away with the wife.

Both of them later became thieves. But the woman was so greedy that Zenkai grew disgusted. Finally, leaving her, he journeyed far away to the province of Buzen, where he became a wandering mendicant.

To atone for his past, Zenkai resolved to accomplish some good deed in his lifetime. Knowing of a dangerous road over a cliff that had caused the death and injury of many persons, he resolved to cut a tunnel through the mountain there.

Begging food in the daytime, Zenkai worked at night digging his tunnel. When thirty years had gone by, the tunnel was 2,280 feet long, 20 feet high, and 30 feet wide.

Two years before the work was completed, the son of the official he had slain, who was a skillful swordsman, found Zenkai out and came to kill him in revenge.

“I will give you my life willingly,” said Zenkai. “Only let me finish this work. On the day it is completed, then you may kill me.”

So the son awaited the day. Several months passed and Zenkai kept on digging. The son grew tired of doing nothing and began to help with the digging. After he had helped for more than a year, he came to admire Zenkai’s strong will and character.

At last the tunnel was completed and the people could use it and travel in safety.

“Now cut off my head,” said Zenkai. “My work is done.”

“How can I cut off my own teacher’s head?” asked the younger man with tears in his eyes.

Monk2400
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Posted 03/08/12 - 1:06 PM:

great story doc. a classic. this shows that both vengeance isn't always that easy to accomplish and redemption is possible.

Unless there is a very strong law and moral code the fully describes the rules and limits of valid vengeance, it will always deteriorate into a vicious circle, until one or both sides are utterly annihilated.

Japanese history would make a good case study for this idea. Vengeance was a moral imperative for samurai, and often sanctioned by authorities. But there is always someone who disagrees about the original affront and its justification for vengeance. OTOH, if you slaughter the whole family and all relatives, no one can revenge them, case closed.

8)
thedoc
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Posted 03/08/12 - 4:19 PM:

Monk2400 wrote:

OTOH, if you slaughter the whole family and all relatives, no one can revenge them, case closed.

8)



Yes but with todays 'Family, Friends, and Relatives' plans, eliminating all the potential threats could be an all day job.
Thinker13
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Posted 03/09/12 - 2:32 AM:

Vengeance cannot bring the closure. Even if you kill the entire family of your enemies, you carry enormous Karmic burden within and if you believe that Karma is a theory which might be true then there are bound to be repercussions and comeuppances in incarnations to follow which might seem final but would never be and it would be a really really long time after you find yourself free from this entangling 'eye for an eye' melodrama.


For a person like me who is fine without Karma being a rock-solid theory (Though I use it to discuss on many spiritual things.) there is a burden on psyche which comes with vengeance. Whether there is an after-life or not, whether there is another incarnation or not, the load and guilt borne out of having butchered someone or even having harmed someone because of the urge to take revenge is too much for me. It would be such a perturbation of my mind that I would not be able to live peacefully no matter how many meditations I try or how many poor people I feed to.

What then would bring a closure?

Forgiving brings closure in my opinion. In many cases you will observe that wicked perpetrators have their destiny set well in advance before they have even committed crime and they meet grave misfortune on their own. Though this might bring some satisfaction to the sufferer but it's not what actually brings the closure. Even slight remnants of ego that the perpetrator suffered because he had made me suffer brings further bondage and attachment to the subject in various other actions and consequences thereafter. The final closure is forgiving which should dissolve any stains from our conscience.


It's easier said than done but definitely many times better than 'eye for an eye' in my opinion. You observe than many movies and books publicize 'eye-for-an-eye'; though it's Karmic but I personally believe that Karmic retribution is nature's cycle and need not necessarily be exercised by someone who suffered. I feel that justice comes by its own means and in due time and it comes no matter whether the person who was injured is there to witness it or not.
Monk2400
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Posted 03/09/12 - 1:52 PM:

We might also point out that an 'eye for an eye' as a political principle is different from vengeance. And is more practical and justifiable as fair and equitable, although how it is determined in all cases of affront is open to question.

8)
libertygrl
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Posted 03/15/12 - 10:01 PM:

lots of good points, fellas.

an anecdote for you. once, many years ago, an ex-friend and soon to be enemy of my then-husband hacked into our home computer where we were running our own server. he stole all of my websites off of the computer, and told my husband that the only way i would get them back was for him to deliver the server over to the guy who stole them. in other words, he took my websites hostage (which would have included the couch had it yet been created) and the ransom was our home computer.

well, i won't get into the details of the mad chaos that ensued. the only reason i bring this up is that we were chatting about it sometime later with yet another friend who was not involved with it at all, only hearing about it now as a casual outsider. he told my husband that what he should have done is gone over to the guy's house, no weapon in hand, just his own bare hands, and fully beat the crap out of the guy. go to jail afterward, he said, do your two weeks jail time or whatever they give you, and sleep well from there on out.

and the feeling i got from this guy, to hear him tell it like that, was that he would most certainly have done it if it had been his wife and his server under attack, and that he would not have lost a minute of sleep over it. and this, like any act of violence, would of course be easy to believe coming from anyone with no clear sense of empathy or conscience. but the desire for vengeance actually often arises out of good conscience, and clear empathy for the victim. the desire to make right a wrong.

Thinker wrote:
I feel that justice comes by its own means and in due time and it comes no matter whether the person who was injured is there to witness it or not.

i totally agree. there's a saying that the best vengeance is to live a happy life. one of my favorite sayings, actually. to take in stride whatever harm was intended you and let it roll right off you as best you can. certainly something to be admired. i am someone who does believe in karma, and i can definitely see how an act of vengeance could put some holes in one's karma. surely you lose sight of yourself in some way, in the act. thus the expression "blinded by vengeance".

the code of the samurai is a very interesting and relevant point. no one expects the samurai to feel guilty about avenging a crime, any more than we expect our local police officers to feel guilty about arresting someone who stole from us. but nowadays, vigilantism is frowned upon, and we have designated the roles in society for dishing out punishments for crimes. should the judges and jury feel a lack of closure for the sentences they dispense? i'm assuming they don't, or surely we would be hearing quite often about the emotional distress caused by judicial work.
Thinker13
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Posted 03/16/12 - 12:22 AM:

and this, like any act of violence, would of course be easy to believe coming from anyone with no clear sense of empathy or conscience. but the desire for vengeance actually often arises out of good conscience, and clear empathy for the victim. the desire to make right a wrong.



It could be debatable. It all boils down to what we mean by 'good'. As we have often suggested about enlightened beings that they're the one who know what is good, it's very difficult at times to know what is good for us, ordinary mortals; still we have to take a call at times.


My contention against this urge being good is: It's a part of hurt-heal-hurt-heal cycle and it does not actually show a way out of pain and suffering. A wiser person would never encourage this kind of vengeance as you mention in anecdote but it's just my opinion. smiling face
JrnymnX
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Posted 03/18/12 - 1:12 AM:

libertygrl wrote:
Does vengeance bring closure?

I would hope that one would achieve closure before pursuing vengeance. [Too indulgent?]

thedoc wrote:
For some, if the act of vengeance carries no effect on the consceince it may bring closure, but I don't think that everyone can carry out an act of vengeance without some regret.

Its a wonder some ancient philosopher didn't come up with some pithy saying about the double edged cost of vengeance, but then again maybe they have and I've never encountered it. In any case, if we are using closure as a surrogate for peace then I would have to conditionally agree, or disagree depending on how you look at it.
If someone is at the point of considering premeditated vengeance they are not at peace. They may be able to give themself a greater measure of peace than would be offset by their new/increased/reassigned regret.

Monk2400 wrote:
Unless there is a very strong law and moral code the fully describes the rules and limits of valid vengeance, it will always deteriorate into a vicious circle, until one or both sides are utterly annihilated.

The problem I see with this is that both laws and moral codes (how distasteful it is to lump those two together) are external things. While they may be useful for telling someone what the wealthy or society want to have happen we're already at a situation beyond that. The desire for vengeance arises after laws and moral codes have been contravened. In this place beyond laws and beyond moral codes what good are they to us. We don't use maps from the flat earth days to navigate the Vegas Strip.

Thinker13 wrote:
...you carry enormous Karmic burden within...

I get the general thrust of karma, but not the specifics. Is it possible that denying a act of vengeance within your grasp could leave you with a greater karmmic burden? If for example the murderer you let go goes on to kill many, many more innocents would you not share in this Karmic burden?

Thinker13 wrote:
...there is a burden on psyche which comes with vengeance...

But should there be? We are all of us, sovereign beings. (Yes you can argue that most are not, but that is their sad choice.) The things that make us feel this burden, these laws and moral codes, are things that we have made. They are our tools. When they do not suit their purpose...
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Posted 03/18/12 - 3:33 AM:

Jrnymnx wrote:
Is it possible that denying a act of vengeance within your grasp could leave you with a greater karmmic burden? If for example the murderer you let go goes on to kill many, many more innocents would you not share in this Karmic burden?



This is a very good question but I think it stretches the scope of original question as well. This is a thought experiment: If I let go a murderer I am not really allowing him to inflict more pain. No. More than that: In an emergency situation as shown in many movies, it might be indispensable to kill the murderer when before your very own eyes he is going to kill many more and in that case it's not just venegeance but also the call of duty; but otherwise, I feel if you could just get a murderer arrested, and if he ends up getting some punishment it's not really going to create further killings.In my humble opinion, unless you clearly explain the situation, the two things i. e. venegeance and further killings by the same murderer seem disparate to me.
Thinker13
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Posted 03/18/12 - 3:41 AM:

Thinker13 wrote:

...there is a burden on psyche which comes with vengeance...


Jrnymnx wrote:
But should there be? We are all of us, sovereign beings. (Yes you can argue that most are not, but that is their sad choice.) The things that make us feel this burden, these laws and moral codes, are things that we have made. They are our tools. When they do not suit their purpose...





We're sovereign at the root, where all of us are essentially same 'self' and from that viewpoint we're not doing anything and nothing is happening and it's all play, but if we are identified with one projection of this ultimate self which we addressed with 'I' or 'me', then, the course of action which leads us towards liberation from this limited self follows through the 'forgiving', in my opinion.


If you are using word 'sovereign' in some distinct sense here, do let me know and then I might be able to answer more clearly. smiling face


The state where we are sovereign this 'burden on psyche' doesn't arise but neither does 'an urge to take revenge.'
JrnymnX
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Posted 03/18/12 - 10:10 AM:

Thinker13 wrote:
This is a very good question but I think it stretches the scope of original question as well.

You're the one that brought up Karma. wink But to rephrase my original scope stretcher, can the future actions of another impact your karma?

Thinker13 wrote:
This is a thought experiment: If I let go a murderer I am not really allowing him to inflict more pain. No.

You're allowing him to draw his next breath and everything that follows after. If he chooses to inflict pain he does so because you've allowed him to.

Thinker13 wrote:
In my humble opinion, unless you clearly explain the situation, the two things i. e. venegeance and further killings by the same murderer seem disparate to me.

They are disparate. It was a hypothetical situation constructed only to ask if the future actions of another, one who is alive only at your sufferance, can impact your karma.

Thinker13 wrote:
If you are using word 'sovereign' in some distinct sense here, do let me know and then I might be able to answer more clearly.

I'm using sovereign in a very western sense where I am sovereign over me, you are sovereign over you, etc. The implication being then that there is no universal self to invalidate my being me and my ruling me. The idea of a universal self may not be nihilism in a strict sense, but they use the same zip code, imo.
Monk2400
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Posted 03/18/12 - 12:16 PM:

JrnymnX wrote:

The problem I see with this is that both laws and moral codes (how distasteful it is to lump those two together) are external things. While they may be useful for telling someone what the wealthy or society want to have happen we're already at a situation beyond that. The desire for vengeance arises after laws and moral codes have been contravened. In this place beyond laws and beyond moral codes what good are they to us. We don't use maps from the flat earth days to navigate the Vegas Strip.


True law and morality is established in and flows from each individual's heart. Mere external compulsion is not true law, but a form of oppression. Yes, in a society, laws must be decided and asserted 'externally' at the outset, but once they take root in the people's hearts, then they can fulfill their potential.

Any law in the heart is there to temper the passions, to allow the rational portion of the human spirit to command the reactionary side of human nature. When someone kills your friend/family, it may be natural, for some, to immediately desire killing the killer (for others it will be a descent into grief). A law, written on the hearts of people, will temper extremes--for the bloodlusty it will justify vengeance within certain agreed limits; for the weak it will demand noble action; and for society at large it will caution the people from taking actions whose outcomes and consequences are known and accepted.

We say vengeance arise after laws are broken, but only because we, in the west, have no law that allows vengeance. If it were part of our system of justice, we would feel quite differently.

8)
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Posted 03/18/12 - 11:24 PM:

JrnymnX wrote:

You're the one that brought up Karma. wink But to rephrase my original scope stretcher, can the future actions of another impact your karma?



Alright. Definitely the future actions of another might impact your Karma. To keep my suggestion simple:

A. Your intention in killing the murderer is to help reduce further killing: You gain positive Karma: Golden chains.

B. Your intention is to take revenge: Negative karma: Chains of iron.

C. Your intention is to forgive to erase Karma: Creates some positive Karma but erases most of it if at all you're successful in forgiving: Lesser Karmic accumulation than situation 'A'.





You're allowing him to draw his next breath and everything that follows after. If he chooses to inflict pain he does so because you've allowed him to.



What if he chooses to live a better life? What if he undergoes a spiritual transformation? Have you read about Angulimala who got converted after an encounter with Gautama Buddha? Even if rare it's a possibility. Isn't it? I acknowledge the other possibility as more of a possibility though.



They are disparate. It was a hypothetical situation constructed only to ask if the future actions of another, one who is alive only at your sufferance, can impact your karma.



I get it. It indeed made me think more.smiling face



I'm using sovereign in a very western sense where I am sovereign over me, you are sovereign over you, etc. The implication being then that there is no universal self to invalidate my being me and my ruling me. The idea of a universal self may not be nihilism in a strict sense, but they use the same zip code, imo.



In that sense, since there is no Karmic scripts being created it pretty much depends on your personal choices.If you don't subscribe to the ideas of hell or heaven, you're in the command to live your life the way you want to as long as you are smart enough to get through myriads of laws and moral codes people around you have subscribed to. wink
henry quirk
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Posted 03/19/12 - 8:46 AM:

Enemies: as one can, kill them all.

Seems to me, one should worry less about the placeholder ('revenge') and more about the act (how to successfully end the other guy).

The moral, ethical, philosophical, questions, conundrums, etc.: a dog chasing its own tail.
JrnymnX
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Posted 03/19/12 - 4:04 PM:

Monk2400 wrote:
True law and morality is established in and flows from each individual's heart.

Perhaps you are right on the morality count, but this true law of which you speak? Never heard of it. If morality is born of the warmest, touchy-feeliest places of a persons heart then the laws are born of the coldest, greediest, most fear ridden places of a person, where ever they might reside.

Monk2400 wrote:
Mere external compulsion is not true law, but a form of oppression.

Thats law for you. The only reason some laws reflect morality is because ancient rulers realized that if they carved their oh, so wise laws down in stone tablets everyone would realize what swell chaps they were, i.e. greedy for glory. Other reflections were probably the result of one king or another waking up one night in a cold sweat realizing that if all the peasants in all the villages revolted at the same time he wouldn't have enough guardsmen to save his greedy ass (fear).


Monk2400 wrote:
Any law in the heart is there to temper the passions, to allow the rational portion of the human spirit to command the reactionary side of human nature.

I fortunately have never found myself in a situation where I would want and was able to exact revenge. But I have had ample time to calmly deliberate a number of cases where I have found the results of an actual criminal occurrence that has been handled by the legal system where I reside to be sadly lacking in what I feel was an appropriate response.

Monk2400 wrote:
We say vengeance arise after laws are broken, but only because we, in the west, have no law that allows vengeance. If it were part of our system of justice, we would feel quite differently.

It is interesting, perhaps even telling, that when we speak of vengeance most automatically assume we are speaking of retaliatory murder. Our legal systems are all about vengeance. (Very confusing to conflate our legal system with our justice system. Our courts are where law happens, nothing to do with justice.)

Suppose the brawny thug from down the street one day walks into your yard and steals your shiny new automobile while you watch from the safe confines of your home. You call the police and give your anonymous tip and he's caught. Trial comes and he is put away for ten years because he's a repeat offender. You've had your vengeance served to you by the legal system.

Sometimes the law falls short in delivering us justice. That's when we (could/should?) want our own revenge. That's when we have to decide if we have so sold our souls into the idea of civilization and so subjugated our sovereign will to the collective will that we will docilely accept the judgement of people who were not wronged and do not care.
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Posted 03/19/12 - 4:48 PM:

Thinker13 wrote:
What if he chooses to live a better life? What if he undergoes a spiritual transformation?

Then he does so because you've allowed him to. I suppose this could affect your karma positively in the same way? (That's almost a question since I know so little about how Karma is supposed to work.)
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Posted 03/19/12 - 4:54 PM:

henry quirk wrote:
The moral, ethical, philosophical, questions, conundrums, etc.: a dog chasing its own tail.

As pointless as it may be it still amuses the dog and the dog will chase it again, even if its been caught before.
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Posted 03/20/12 - 1:58 AM:

JrnymnX wrote:

Then he does so because you've allowed him to. I suppose this could affect your karma positively in the same way? (That's almost a question since I know so little about how Karma is supposed to work.)



I also think so. The Karma is intriguing and often quite puzzling as a theory and there are many questions for which I have tried to find answers. zen
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Posted 03/20/12 - 2:17 AM:

Jrnymnx wrote:

Monk2400 wrote:

True law and morality is established in and flows from each individual's heart.


If morality is born of the warmest, touchy-feeliest places of a persons heart then the laws are born of the coldest, greediest, most fear ridden places of a person, where ever they might reside.


In my humble opinion, both morality and Law are borne out of calculations. Tao-Te-Ching also says that when natural flow and love dwindle then arise rituals and codes. Where there is a code there is a mind and calculations. There might be a soft touch of heart as far as morality is concerned but LAW is harsh and codified trazer which strikes you whenever you cross the limits specified by the LAW-makers.


Jrnymnx wrote:

Monk2400 wrote:
Mere external compulsion is not true law, but a form of oppression.


Thats law for you. The only reason some laws reflect morality is because ancient rulers realized that if they carved their oh, so wise laws down in stone tablets everyone would realize what swell chaps they were, i.e. greedy for glory. Other reflections were probably the result of one king or another waking up one night in a cold sweat realizing that if all the peasants in all the villages revolted at the same time he wouldn't have enough guardsmen to save his greedy ass (fear).


I agree.


Jrnymnx wrote:

Monk2400 wrote:

Any law in the heart is there to temper the passions, to allow the rational portion of the human spirit to command the reactionary side of human nature.


I fortunately have never found myself in a situation where I would want and was able to exact revenge. But I have had ample time to calmly deliberate a number of cases where I have found the results of an actual criminal occurrence that has been handled by the legal system where I reside to be sadly lacking in what I feel was an appropriate response.


I am interested in knowing more about such cases. Could you please come up with just one example?


As an aside: I am curious about your forum name 'JrnymnX'. What does it mean and how did you assume it?


JrnymnX
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Posted 03/20/12 - 9:50 AM:

Thinker13 wrote:
I am interested in knowing more about such cases. Could you please come up with just one example?

Paul Bernardo. Multiple sexual assaults, abductions, tortures, and murders. He will be eligible for parole in 2020 after serving 25 years in prison.

Now if one were the soft hearted type who doesn't like killing vermin and thought prison were enough, I would still argue that this sentence wasn't enough for the least, single one of these charges. The effect of these types of assaults are life-long for the victims. Why should his sentence end during his life when their torment won't end in theirs?

Edited by JrnymnX on 03/20/12 - 8:10 PM. Reason: clarity
JrnymnX
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Posted 03/20/12 - 10:02 AM:

Thinker13 wrote:
In my humble opinion, both morality and Law are borne out of calculations.

Morality establishes itself in the very young, when minds are still innocednt, honest and trusting. This is why morality is much more in tune with justice.
Laws are the product of adult minds. Jaded, rationalizing, self-deceiving, greedy, fearful minds. This is why laws are out of tune with justice.

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Posted 03/20/12 - 5:10 PM:

Those who are unfit to be part of society should be seperated from society, but society should not be expected to pay for that seperation.
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