The religion says absolute pacifism in the face of any threat. But is
this the Dharma of the Buddha, or just wishful thinking of those who
want to believe there is no conflict in life and everyone has a touchy
feel-y out look. Perhaps neither are the case and my own practice
just has yet to penetrate a higher reality.
My personal experience has lead me to view Dharma's defense policy the following.
Human rebirth is the first plane of sensuality. The first of 'desirable' rebirth according to the Buddha. To my knowledge even though human life is free from the day to day life and death violent struggle of the animal kingdom it still has its limitations. Unfortunate situations that we have to deal with and over come that is part of our karma as a human being. The relavence following the eight fold path is not to run from our responsibilities but to learn to meet them to the good and benefit of everyone. Also not to run from our obstacles but also to use the path to rise above to the good and benefit of every one. Going through them this point can be seen; never once is there a hint to 'role over and give up'
The eight fold path are inter connecting qualities which, in my view, teach and individual to grow in independence, conviction, knowledge, and emotional good health. It is a tool to teach us how to learn, self actualize,and so forth.
'Right understanding' yields knowledge of what is everyones benefit, what causes suffering,and what causes freedom from suffering.
'Right intention' develops positive thoughts; loving friendly thoughts, desiring for every one to meet with happiness of body and mind, success, abundance of being, and find away through the self created craving which imprisons them to suffer. The Buddha taught many times to spend a portion of each day radiating loving friendly thoughts, cultivating them, and making them a main stay. The power of positive thoughts has huge power to heal physical wounds as well as emotional. Both our own emotional wounds, and others. The more the habit is fostered, the deeper and easier this line of thinking flows freely.
'Right action, speech, livelihood' are defined by combining right intention with right understanding my teacher says. These foster tranquility to the degree of sincerity they are kept; and tranquility fosters the virtue part of the path to the degree it is cultivated due to seclusion from un wholesome states of mind. It is an ever deepening spiral going deeper and deeper.
I like the idea of seeing it as combining right understanding with right intention. Situations are never black and white, right and wrong are never obvious. The path yields an 'intuitive' answer the more it is developed. So following the precepts blindly, and dogmaticly rigid is not exactly, in my mind, what the Buddha instructed.
'Right effort' Is working the mind through trial and error. The ups and downs of practice require effort to maintain; as certain intentions foster
concentration while other applications of mind foster pain. This effort and persistence in the pursuit of what we have never experienced, do not know to be even possible. Like working to break the sound barrier for the first time, or putting a person on the moon. We steadily work for new levels of growth, while at the same time deepening what we already know to be possible.
'Right mindfulness' focuses on the investigation of phenomena, constantly reapplying our awareness on the here and now.
'Right concentration' is the application of the mind to shedding our attachments to the self created worlds, with in worlds, with in worlds our mind makes when it identifies with form, feeling, perception as a static self. The greater we shed these identifications the greater of concentration, tranquility, joy,rapture, and mental stability. The Buddha says those 'worlds' have fame and loss of fame, gain and loss of gain. They are an un-winnable cycle of 'samsara'.
All those factors when developed of course foster 'right understanding', 'right intention' which brings us full circle once again. At no point do they suggest 'giving up' 'running away' 'abandoning our duties' or leave us feeling helpless.
It gives us a strategy to be pro-active in life, developing our potential and welfare. The more we develop in emotional maturity, strength of conviction, insight the more of a power position we are in to effect deep and lasting change. To know what that change should be, and how to develop it to the good and benefit of all.
That strength of concentration, insight of understanding suffering and its cause, prolific conduct, emotional health of positive thought is the armor, sword, and shield of Dharma.