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Violence in sports and entertainment.

Obviously The Buddha was anti-violence as I am. Obviously war, murder, genocide all that stuff is easy: immoral. But what about violence in entertainment and sports? Is that also immoral/unskillful? Boxing opponents, for example, do intend to inflict pain and harm with their blows, but it doesn't necessarily always result in suffering. Similarly, sports like football and rugby are violent. It seems to me either one is against all forms of violence, including sports, or allows for certain types if they're controlled or for a game. How do you think The Buddha would come down on that?

Comments

  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran
    edited February 2014
    I had the misfortune of having to watch UFC(?) cage fighting while trying to watch the much gentler and gentlemanly sport of cricket a few months ago.

    Why anyone would want to participate or watch grown men and women having their faces split open and blood everywhere is beyond me? Each to their own I guess......
    lobster
  • I guess that's the question: is the violence unskillful/immoral if both parties agree and consent to the violence, such as in a competition?
  • howhow Veteran Veteran
    I have given Vinlyn a hard time in the past about enjoying pugilism
    but
    only when I'm not watching the "Walking dead".
    lobsterBhikkhuJayasarahorsebones
  • RodrigoRodrigo São Paulo, Brazil Veteran
    edited February 2014

    Obviously The Buddha was anti-violence as I am. Obviously war, murder, genocide all that stuff is easy: immoral. But what about violence in entertainment and sports? Is that also immoral/unskillful? Boxing opponents, for example, do intend to inflict pain and harm with their blows, but it doesn't necessarily always result in suffering. Similarly, sports like football and rugby are violent. It seems to me either one is against all forms of violence, including sports, or allows for certain types if they're controlled or for a game. How do you think The Buddha would come down on that?

    Well, maybe he would say that what matters is your actions and your practice, not the concepts you create about what people on TV are doing... :)
  • Is it just me or did we just discuss this?

    In my case, I've been boxing for two years and just recently took up Muay Thai kickboxing this last year. Like I said before, I see martial arts as purely sport and couldn't imagine using them against someone outside of the ring unless it was a dire situation. I think you only get problems when people use fighting to fuel their own desires (beat up the bully at school, show off how tough they are, etc.), or actually go into the ring with bad intent. But that's rare, most of the "tough guys" never have the discipline to make it to the point where they actually are allowed to fight in the ring.
    Bunkslobster
  • How do they minimize the injuries in martial arts tournaments? Do they wear gloves or foot pads?
  • None of these responses really answers my questions. Is that because it's too hard of a question to answer?
  • For monks they cannot even watch musicians play or theaters. But that's just for monks.

    If you are a layperson there is no one who can condemn you. You can do whatever you want.
  • vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran

    None of these responses really answers my questions. Is that because it's too hard of a question to answer?

    For me, this kinda comes down to an aspect of intent.

    If @how goes out to a bar tonight ( ;-) ), gets drunk, and gets in a punch-fest with some other bar patron whose woman he has been flirting with...has has clearly broken multiple Precepts. To me, that's bad intent.

    If, on the other hand, when Floyd Mayweather boxed Canelo Alvarez last fall, it was totally voluntary and they got a guarantee of $41 million and $5 million, respectively. Different intent.

    And if how says differently, he'll have to put up his dukes!

    (Just kidding, of course). (Gee I wish we had emoticons).

    how
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Moderator
    I think no one can answer because no one knows. If people did similar things in Buddha's time, he didn't seem to address it. The key, I think, is in causing harm. If the other person doesn't think they are being harmed, does harm exist? The best I can say is that I tend to agree with TNH and his mindfulness trainings. I'm not there, but I agree with what he says. I do think it can mean different things for different people of course. But I think overall, if one considers what he says, it answers part of that question. Of course, this isn't how Buddha taught it, but it makes the most sense to me in today's world and *for me* seems the closest to the type of advice we might hear from Buddha were he hear now.



    The Fifth Mindfulness Training: Nourishment and Healing
    Aware of the suffering caused by unmindful consumption, I am committed to cultivating good health, both physical and mental, for myself, my family, and my society by practicing mindful eating, drinking, and consuming. I will practice looking deeply into how I consume the Four Kinds of Nutriments, namely edible foods, sense impressions, volition, and consciousness. I am determined not to gamble, or to use alcohol, drugs, or any other products which contain toxins, such as certain websites, electronic games, TV programs, films, magazines, books, and conversations. I will practice coming back to the present moment to be in touch with the refreshing, healing and nourishing elements in me and around me, not letting regrets and sorrow drag me back into the past nor letting anxieties, fear, or craving pull me out of the present moment. I am determined not to try to cover up loneliness, anxiety, or other suffering by losing myself in consumption. I will contemplate interbeing and consume in a way that preserves peace, joy, and well-being in my body and consciousness, and in the collective body and consciousness of my family, my society and the Earth.

    JeffreyDharmaMcBum
  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran
    @karasti is right. None of us on here is fully enlightened so could not possibly know how a buddha would feel about combative sports.

    I can't imagine he would've condoned them though.
  • vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran
    Bunks, think about your sentence #2 and your sentence #3.
  • howhow Veteran Veteran
    edited February 2014

    Obviously The Buddha was anti-violence as I am. Obviously war, murder, genocide all that stuff is easy: immoral. But what about violence in entertainment and sports? Is that also immoral/unskillful? Boxing opponents, for example, do intend to inflict pain and harm with their blows, but it doesn't necessarily always result in suffering. Similarly, sports like football and rugby are violent. It seems to me either one is against all forms of violence, including sports, or allows for certain types if they're controlled or for a game. How do you think The Buddha would come down on that?

    @ClayTheScribe

    One way of looking at this question is...
    We all cause some life to die so that we may live another day.
    My method of staying attentive and paying homage to the full costs of staying alive is by trying to live as harmlessly as possible.
    IMO, a Buddhist practice that is course charted by whatever actions result in the least amount of harm, helps minimize a practitioner's time in ethically grey areas.

    I think the Buddha would simply ask
    Is it ceasing from evil?
    Is it doing only good?
    Is it purifying your heart/mind?
    lobsterkarasti
  • howhow Veteran Veteran
    edited February 2014
    vinlyn said:

    None of these responses really answers my questions. Is that
    because it's too hard of a question to answer?

    For me, this kinda comes down to an aspect of intent.

    If @how goes out to a bar tonight ( ;-) ), gets drunk, and gets in a punch-fest with some other bar patron whose woman he has been flirting with...has has clearly broken multiple Precepts. To me, that's bad intent.

    If, on the other hand, when Floyd Mayweather boxed Canelo Alvarez last fall, it was totally voluntary and they got a guarantee of $41 million and $5 million, respectively. Different intent.

    And if how says differently, he'll have to put up his dukes!

    (Just kidding, of course). (Gee I wish we had emoticons).

    @vinlyn
    Whether one becomes intoxicated on violence or booze, it is the resulting mindlessness that Buddhism is warning us about.
    And...
    your two examples of fist a cuffs both sound like equally testosterone fueled bouts for a prize that doesn't really explain why one intent is more or less worthy than the other.
    Flirtatious behavior compared to trying to push ones fists through another man's brains for money?..
    Hmmmmm...... which to choose?
  • But what about violence in entertainment and sports? Is that also immoral/unskillful?
    It depends.

    Sport is ritualised warfare and better than the real thing. Violence in film or games can be cathartic.
    We are not all gentle monks or peace loving women, some of us have the dukkha of excessive testosterone.

    Though I have trained with aggressive martial arts teachers, mostly they have increased discipline over other sports people. The most skilled fighters, once they reach a certain level of proficiency are often women.

    Being an aggressive person I like violence in films, Tom and Jerry, Roadrunner v Wiley Coyote, Pulp Fiction, Django Unchained, Daybreakers etc.

    Ultimately watching or participating in violence or sport sex or combat dharma conversations is not as skilful as thinking nice thoughts and living on moonbeams.
    However as a human being I am far from being a theoretical Buddha Dude [TM]

    . . . and now back to the blood fest . . .
    karasti
  • vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran
    how said:



    For me, this kinda comes down to an aspect of intent.

    If @how goes out to a bar tonight ( ;-) ), gets drunk, and gets in a punch-fest with some other bar patron whose woman he has been flirting with...has has clearly broken multiple Precepts. To me, that's bad intent.

    If, on the other hand, when Floyd Mayweather boxed Canelo Alvarez last fall, it was totally voluntary and they got a guarantee of $41 million and $5 million, respectively. Different intent.

    And if how says differently, he'll have to put up his dukes!

    (Just kidding, of course). (Gee I wish we had emoticons).

    @vinlyn
    Whether one becomes intoxicated on violence or booze, it is the resulting mindlessness that Buddhism is warning us about.
    And...
    your two examples of fist a cuffs both sound like equally testosterone fueled bouts for a prize that doesn't really explain why one intent is more or less worthy than the other.
    Flirtatious behavior compared to trying to push ones fists through another man's brains for money?..
    Hmmmmm...... which to choose?


    Anything can become "mindlessness". I have seen Buddhists at Buddhist temples that are just going through the motions with no real intellectual investment. That's mindlessness, too.

    The typical bar room brawl really involves nothing mindful and nothing heedful. It primarily involves thinking something that is forgotten within hours (unless you end up in the emergency room), over a woman that is likely nothing more than a hot date.

    Boxing is a profession (albeit it one that you don't like, and just because you don't like it is no reason to think other free-minded people shouldn't do it). It has pulled more than one poor minority person out of poverty (barroom brawls don't do that). A truly fine boxer develops and trains not only his body, but also his mind. Barroom brawlers don't inspire millions, boxers sometimes do (take Joe Louis as one example, or even Mohammad Ali).

    The world doesn't revolve around the world according to How. Or the world according to Vince. Or the world according to Buddhism (for that matter). What it really comes down is your world according to How, my world according to Vince, and the world according to whatever religion one happens to be a part of...or none.

    As a former educator, would I advise one of my students to become a boxer? No. But I would also say that it would be up to that student to make his own decision about the matter.

  • howhow Veteran Veteran
    @vinlyn
    Outside of our joking about how we both choose to be entertained by violence, do you ever question it?
  • vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran
    how said:

    @vinlyn
    Outside of our joking about how we both choose to be entertained by violence, do you ever question it?

    Yes, I have. In fact, when young I was quite opposed to boxing and wrestling, and such. But part of my evolution in thought -- in many areas -- is personal freedom. People who choose boxing as a profession are exercising personal freedom, and no one is forced to make a choice of boxing. People that plunk their money down for a ticket, or PPV, or HBO/Showtime are exercising their personal freedom. No one is forcing anyone to do any of those things.

    How many times have we said in this forum that Buddhism is not about designing other people's lives, it's about designing our own? And if that's something we believe and value, than we can't very well say, "Except for boxing," or "Except for __________."

    Of course, that concept can be taken too far.

  • BhikkhuJayasaraBhikkhuJayasara Bhikkhu Veteran

    Obviously The Buddha was anti-violence as I am. Obviously war, murder, genocide all that stuff is easy: immoral. But what about violence in entertainment and sports? Is that also immoral/unskillful? Boxing opponents, for example, do intend to inflict pain and harm with their blows, but it doesn't necessarily always result in suffering. Similarly, sports like football and rugby are violent. It seems to me either one is against all forms of violence, including sports, or allows for certain types if they're controlled or for a game. How do you think The Buddha would come down on that?

    Life especially in ancient times, was a violent struggle in itself. In many ways and in many places it still is today. Sports and entertainment is about that struggle, the basic human struggles we all share. For most people its not about the actual violence itself.

    Ill give an example that @how brought up, the walking dead. There are some who many like it for the the brain squishing violence, but myself and most others i bet watch it for the human struggle in a world gone to hell, where the most deadly enemy are other humans, not zombies.

    In terms of its morality.. Id say its all about intention. Combatants in these events are assumed to be doing these voluntarily and gettinf hurt is part of that activity. I think of the violence is done without negative intention( like doing an illegal maneuver to do extra damage, like the one guy did to the karate kid to take out his leg on order from thr sensai), then i don't see the immorality in it for the most part.
  • howhow Veteran Veteran
    @vinlin
    I am not sure if the op's question about how the Buddha would respond to violent sports changed anywhere to become an issue of libertarian attitudes.
    I thought I only read about how folks approached it according to their own practices.

    With this in mind, my difficulty with participating in violent activities is just reflective of what I notice in meditation where almost everything that arises can be seen to have been initiated or crafted from our past actions. We seem to think we can isolate certain behaviors or attitudes to certain events and times but in reality they all have their own inertial energies which help pattern who we are long after they have been set in motion.
    I don't debate whether there is some good that arises from any of them.
    I just question why I participate in activities that can also carry long term negative influences when those activities are all optional for me.
    The answers I get to such questions are not very pretty.










    ClayTheScribelobster
  • vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran
    how said:

    @vinlin
    I am not sure if the op's question about how the Buddha would respond to violent sports changed anywhere to become an issue of libertarian attitudes.
    I thought I only read about how folks approached it according to their own practices.

    With this in mind, my difficulty with participating in violent activities is just reflective of what I notice in meditation where almost everything that arises can be seen to have been initiated or crafted from our past actions. We seem to think we can isolate certain behaviors or attitudes to certain events and times but in reality they all have their own inertial energies which help pattern who we are long after they have been set in motion.
    I don't debate whether there is some good that arises from any of them.
    I just question why I participate in activities that can also carry long term negative influences when those activities are all optional for me.
    The answers I get to such questions are not very pretty.

    It seems to me that you are now asking me a question from a different perspective, and so let me address that issue.

    I suppose there are some people who might go to a sporting event and get the testosterone flowing and become violent. The trouble is, where I have read about such instances it seems to involve sports most of us wouldn't consider violent -- soccer, baseball, and so forth. And still, it's usually a very isolated situation. So, should we outlaw all sports? I don't think so.

    Some oddball might get violent after watching Lee Marvin beat up Jimmy Stewart. So should we ban "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence"?

    Some yahoo might get more gun crazy participating in skeet shooting. Should we outlaw shooting clay pigeons?

    In my high school, there would be occasional incidents of fighting after night time interscholastic basketball and football and baseball games. Should we not allow young people to play baseball?

    Some teens have gotten in fights over car racing. Should we outlaw driving?

    Some people get rough during sex. Should we outlaw sex?

    I haven't heard of any particular violence spreading to others after boxing matches, or wrestling matches. Probably more violence in your average pub. Should we outlaw pubs (which would be ironic since so many people on this forum want to legalize various drugs).

    And that's what I mean by where do you draw the line. Where does personal freedom end. Where does personal responsibility begin and end.







    ClayTheScribe
  • personperson Don't believe everything you think The Void Veteran
    I feel like there are two issues here. One is the physical aspect of harming another and the karma generated. Of course, in karma, intent is very important so there may be a lot of negative karma generated by beating up an old lady for her purse and very little for engaging in a mutual pugilism ceremony.

    The other is the mental aspect of violence. Remorselessly mugging the old lady is a darker stain on our minds than a competition. Within a competition, from mixed martial arts (MMA) to a game of scrabble, a feeling of competiveness that wants to defeat your opponent often arises to one degree or another. Depending on the level of your practice this feeling is also something to be removed and replaced with kindness.

    ***

    On an unrelated note comparing the violence in boxing vs the violence in MMA. The violence in MMA is often thought to be more extreme I figure because of the blood and more immediate type of violence. But looking at the longer term effects the type of injuries suffered from MMA are generally more superficial (cuts, bruises, even broken bones and torn muscles) whereas the longterm damage from boxing comes from the repeated blows to the head in the form of TBI. MMA knockouts happen quicker, the punches hit harder and aren't so repetitive.
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Moderator
    I think as we know more about how certain actions affect the body, especially the head and thus the brain, it's important to really consider things carefully. Of course, each person has the ability to choose for himself (for the most part anyone, some people feel they have less choice than we might think but that's another thing). But knowing what we are learning even very recently about head trauma and chronic concussions, it seems like one who makes a decision to say, box, or play high level football, or hockey, or whatever, is taking a hefty risk not just for themselves and their brain but with those things of the other person. Sure, maybe someone gets into boxing of their own volition. But if you are the one who lands the hit that gives them their 4th concussion and major brain injury, will it matter to you that they joined of their own will? It wouldn't to me, I guess.

    Also, I don't allow my kids to play football or hockey. It's something I struggle a lot with as a parent, I don't take lightly refusing to allow my children to do things like that. Also, even the least contact activity can cause a severe head injury. But as with all things, we weight the current information we have. They can do anything. But nothing that has a high risk of recurrent concussions. They aren't old enough to understand the possible long term, and life changing damage they can sustain from repeated injuries. Not worth it, IMO. And when you look into fighting, it's not worth it from both angles: the risk to yourself, and the risk of being the one to permanently injure someone else.

    I wonder that, sometimes, about people like Muhammed Ali. Obviously he was an amazingly gifted athlete/fighter. Would he choose the same thing knowing he'd be where he is now? Would all the football players? Others? I don't know. I don't know if they've been asked. What about all the people who landed big hits on Muhammed Ali? Or Junior Seau? And so on? If i was one of those people, I'd be feeling a heavy responsibility.
    Steve_B
  • vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran
    You make good points, Karasti. But I have to tell you that I have literally laughed lately when I have seen former pro-football players saying they had no idea that repetitive concussions could damage them long-term. Apparently it was only the football players themselves who didn't really know that.

    A former VERY high profile pro-football player used to be a parent at my middle school. I had a chance to see his ego at work, close-up. Trust me, he still would have played...no matter what.
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Moderator
    It reminds me a lot of smokers. Back in the day, people were told it was perfectly safe. Then it became clear it was not. And yet people were adamant (including my grandma who smoked 60 years, has congestive heart failure and COPD as a result and still denies the smoking was a problem) it didn't cause THEM a problem. Boat loads of denial. I imagine football players (and others) did/do the same thing. Considering the ages that people get involved in high level college and then pro sports, they still have that invincibility "It won't happen to me" thing going on.
  • vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran
    karasti said:

    It reminds me a lot of smokers. Back in the day, people were told it was perfectly safe. Then it became clear it was not. And yet people were adamant (including my grandma who smoked 60 years, has congestive heart failure and COPD as a result and still denies the smoking was a problem) it didn't cause THEM a problem. Boat loads of denial. I imagine football players (and others) did/do the same thing. Considering the ages that people get involved in high level college and then pro sports, they still have that invincibility "It won't happen to me" thing going on.

    Very true. I went through similar scenarios regarding smoking with my grandfather who raised me, as well as other relatives.

  • The answers I get to such questions are not very pretty.
    The body/mind complex is . . . complicated. I participate in violence, through watching. I find it stimulating, exciting, fun.
    Not a Buddha yet. Of course not.

    If I was a Jain or more committed to the dharma I would be far less participatory in internal or external conflict/combat.

    However I am far from fantasy perfection or even practical virtue. The Walking Dead, the sleep walkers and zombie Buddhists are everywhere. The only solution is to remove their heads and place a stake in their Hearts . . .
    http://www.headless.org/

    [Mr Cushion says Nothing]
  • yagryagr Veteran
    I believe that intention is the key. A monk who gives his meditating student a whack with a bamboo stick is performing a loving act with the intention of assisting his student. A fighter who gives his opponent a whack is performing an act with the intention of beating him or her. One is other centered while one is self centered.

    My goal is to be present and pay attention. If I am curious about whether or not some behavior is skillful or unskillful, I stop participating in the behavior for a period of time and then try again, paying very close attention to how I feel about it. For instance, I stopped watching television for thirty days. During this time I only read uplifting material and avoided conversations, etc., in which anything violent might crop up. Thirty days later I began watching television again. Just flipping through the channels I came across a couple of cop shows and after thirty seconds or less, I had to change the channel. The violence was too much to stomach.

    I believe that the society that we live in has desensitized us to violence. When we take a moment to counteract the effects of that desensitization, we discover how we really feel without the desensitizing effects.

    Though this is my first post, anything I write on any topic is the result of my own experience. If my opinion does not seem to align with Buddhist beliefs, please know that I am not trying to be divisive but am operating under the suggestion: But whatsoever, after due examination and analysis, you find to be conducive to the good, the benefit, the welfare of all beings. That doctrine believe and cling to, and take it as your guide.
  • vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran
    yagr said:

    ...A monk who gives his meditating student a whack with a bamboo stick is performing a loving act with the intention of assisting his student. ...

    I disagree with you completely here. No need for a monk to whack anyone when an instructive sentence or two will teach much better.

    ClayTheScribe
  • Steve_BSteve_B Far southwest corner of Indiana, USA Veteran
    Karasti, your beautiful perspective on repercussions really stands out. It's natural to think about the effect on me if I suffer injury in a violent sport. Far more rare is your sensitive perspective of the impact on the person who inflicted the injury.

    Neither of my kids ever had any interest in violent sports, fortunately, so I was never in your position of having to forbid. I certainly would have, though.
  • Obviously The Buddha was anti-violence as I am. Obviously war, murder, genocide all that stuff is easy: immoral. But what about violence in entertainment and sports? Is that also immoral/unskillful? Boxing opponents, for example, do intend to inflict pain and harm with their blows, but it doesn't necessarily always result in suffering. Similarly, sports like football and rugby are violent. It seems to me either one is against all forms of violence, including sports, or allows for certain types if they're controlled or for a game. How do you think The Buddha would come down on that?

    Buddha, before he was Buddha, went hunting. Then, when he saw the four sights, he became deadly serious and had no time for games. We haven't come to that stage yet; so, relax and enjoy. Just don't let the game take control of our thoughts, turning it unwholesome.
    ClayTheScribe
  • On the topic of violence and media, Eckhart Tolle says we watch those things because of our pain body. I know people have varying opinions on him, but he was, in part, drawing some of his conclusions from spiritual disciplines like Buddhism. What do you think?

    And thanks for all your replies, they left me with a lot to think about.
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