Mirror of Zen Blog

An Ethics for the Use of Cluster-Munitions


As if our urgent need for developing (binding) ethical frameworks regarding the coming tsunami of AI, or the critical need for digital-watermarking of Deepfakes against rampant disinformation in democracies not pressing enough, now we must declare quickly — NOW! — the ethics on the strategic use of cluster bombs by a rational and sane people merely to remove the perennial aggressor and annihilator from their lands.

This announcement today by the defense minister of Ukraine is a sane and rational argument for the use of such an insane device of war. And yet its necessity is blindingly clear of their need to employ such madness — as transparently as possible! — to prevent the deaths of its own soldiers, who only wish to put a stop to this war’s insanity, and go no further.

Such is the world we have come to live in again: even compassionate action can welcome such a device of war, if it saves more innocent lives, and shortens things. It’s a horrible feeling to have, noticing yourself somehow slightly celebrating this news today of the release of cluster munitions to Ukraine. Even despite these, oh, many years doing intensive retreat in Buddhist temples! Shit!

But please read through his reasoning to the end. It is something which I wish I did not feel in such agreement with, as a moral issue. Absolutely.

It is important to note that the russian federation has been indiscriminately using cluster munitions from day 1 of the unprovoked large-scale aggression. In February-March 2022 Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city with over a million population, was relentlessly bombarded by russians cluster munitions.
Our position is simple - we need to liberate our temporarily occupied territories and save the lives of our people. For this we need to inflict losses on the enemy - war criminals, rapists and looters - who are occupying our territories. The more losses we inflict on them the more lives of Ukrainian people we will be able to save.
It is in our interest to save the lives of our soldiers. This is why we will continue to do this using all lethal weapons available to us.
Regarding the cluster munitions, we have 5 key principles which we will abide by and which we have clearly communicated to all our partners, including the US. I have personally informed our US partners about these five principles in writing a long time ago.
  1. Ukraine will use these munitions only for the de-occupation of our internationally recognised territories. These munitions will not be used on the officially recognized territory of russia.
  2. We will not be using cluster munitions in urban areas (cities) to avoid the risks for the civilian populations – these are our people, they are Ukrainians we have a duty to protect.
    Cluster munitions will be used only in the fields where there is a concentration of russian military. They will be used to break through the enemy defence lines with minimum risk for the lives of our soldiers. Saving the lives of our troops, even during extremely difficult offensive operations, remains our top priority.
  3. Ukraine will keep a strict record of the use of these weapons and the local zones where they will be used.
  4. Based on these records, after the de-occupation of our territories and our victory these territories will be prioritised for the purposes of de-mining. This will enable us to eradicate the risk from the unexploded elements of cluster munitions.
    The Minister of Defence of Ukraine is by law acting as the Head of the national de-mining agency. In this capacity I will ensure the implementation of the relevant legal framework for the de-mining process after our victory.
  5. We will report to our partners about the use of these munitions, and about their efficiency to ensure the appropriate standard of transparent reporting and control.


In the Hours After Surgery

Screenshot 2023-07-07 at 22.01.06

I have wanted for some time to participate in Robert Thurman’s (ongoing?) talks on the Avatamsaka Sutra from Menla, Upstate NY. He started back during the mid-pandemic, after we had already attended all of his talks on the Vimalakirti Sutra — Ioannis, great Nikos, Anetta, and me. That was such a great experience, and I was recently inspired to make some space to absorb it again. I can’t promise I will stay with every single lecture — the talking and talking is already something I’m not accustomed to needing for arriving at absolute Truth. It’s already right here!

But Thurman’s flowing bodhisattvaship illuminates aspects of the Buddha’s teachings which I always find inspiring and faith-building, to be frank. I realise, while listening to him, how much I miss getting some “teachings” sometimes, rather than nearly always being employed as the “dispenser” of all the teaching all of the time, in our retreat situations and in the daily Community flow. Listening to him, I sometimes can perhaps miss my Teacher. It might be the only occasion for experiencing that, but this truly enlightened mentorship-quality emanating from a Robert Thurman just inspires again to be able to learn again, as a student, “at the foot of the Teacher”.

I registered recently, taking advantage of the need for lying positions to listen to Dr. Thurman’s insights into the practicing mind. He is always like listening to a great master, if certainly hyper-rational. But softly and humorously so, and he knows the total limits and disaster of language for communicating “it”.

That’s why he’s a Bodhisattva.

Someone here was filming for her family and shared this view with me of these hours back in my room after this little procedure:

Hyon Gak Sunim Post-surgery meditation: Dr. Robert Thurman on The Avatamsaka Sutra 현각스님 회복 화엄경 #zen

On Sangha and Healing and Margaret Mead on Civilization


The results are in. It’s time to act on this:

And a retreat is happening soon in the Zen Center. Time to go. Big Maxxx is the Attendant for the day. Just like a novice in the temple.
Authentic temple Zen.

The morning immediately following the surgery day, it is time to get the wound checked, and the prognosis.

Get the taxi to follow up with the doctor.

Sangha is civilization.

The concept of civilization is often associated with various tangible artifacts and advancements, such as tools, architecture, or systems of governance. However, anthropologist Margaret Mead presented a different perspective when she was asked about the first sign of civilization in a culture. Rather than focusing on material objects, she emphasized the significance of a healed femur bone.
In Mead's view, the animal kingdom provides a stark contrast to human civilization. When an animal breaks its leg, survival becomes nearly impossible. The inability to escape from danger, access water, or procure food renders the injured animal vulnerable to predators. Consequently, no animal lives long enough for a broken leg to heal naturally. Thus, the healing of a femur bone is a profound indication of civilization.
Why is a healed femur bone considered the first sign of civilization? Mead's explanation lies in the collective care and empathy demonstrated by a community. When someone breaks their leg, it is a moment of extreme vulnerability and danger. However, if the injured individual receives aid and support from others, they can overcome this critical period.
The act of caring for someone with a broken leg requires time, compassion, and a sense of responsibility towards others. Mead suggests that the healing process involves multiple steps. First, someone must have witnessed the accident and recognized the injured person's distress. Then, they would have provided immediate assistance, possibly by binding the wound and ensuring the person's safety. Finally, they would have stayed by their side, offering ongoing care and support during the recovery period.
By highlighting the significance of collective care, Mead emphasizes that civilization begins with the recognition of the suffering of others and the willingness to help. It is through acts of compassion and support that a community establishes its foundations of empathy, cooperation, and social cohesion. The healing of a broken femur, symbolizing the survival and recovery of an individual within a community, reflects the values and actions that underpin a civilized society.
Mead's perspective challenges the notion that civilization is solely determined by material progress or technological advancements. While such developments are undoubtedly important, they are built upon a deeper foundation of human connection and mutual aid. The healing of a broken femur bone serves as a metaphor for the care and support that individuals provide to one another, promoting the well-being and progress of society as a whole.
In conclusion, Margaret Mead's unconventional response to the question about the first sign of civilization reminds us of the fundamental importance of collective care. Civilization, she argues, is not solely defined by tangible artifacts or structures but by the empathy and support extended to those in need. The healing of a broken femur bone represents the compassion and responsibility that underpin a civilized society, highlighting the significance of human connection and mutual aid in fostering progress and well-being.

Leave Migrants to Capsize Unaided?


For what was to come, would it not have been morally optimal — in the end, and for the natives’ own self-preservation! — to let these migrants founder? Fetid with viral particles coming from Europe’s teeming cities, these mangy (but gun-toting) religious zealots would themselves become apex genocide-transmitters — bullet or viral bug — on the indigenous populations, going forward from helping with this distress visit. The entire machinery of soul-crushing despair would follow from this greeting: first, two wars, then pestilence, and ultimately the import of enslaved human beings.

“America’s original sin” takes root. At this very meeting. And everything uprooted for shopping malls, golf courses, casinos, cruises, and the ever-commercial spirit from these Spanish explorers seeking out better SUPPLY CHAIN routes for the better enrichment of Queen, of Empire, and investor-selfs.

Image: @LakotaMan1