Moral dilemma from Anthology of Sorcery

In the book there’s this short story:

There’s a story that the Buddha told of a former life

where he detected that someone was going to kill everyone aboard the ship they were sailing on. The only way that he could stop this person was to throw the would-be murderer overboard, killing him in the process.

The Buddha defended this as a compassionate act because though he did kill someone himself, he saved many lives on the ship and the killer from the negative karma of murder.

Would you do it?

I thought about this for some time now and… I don’t know, really. I’d have to be put in the situation to find out; but I try to “grow up” and get a higher perspective. Was it really the only option? Is the karma even a thing? Weren’t those saved people just some prick politicians that would fuck lives of millions up?

This kinda reminds me of the burning times where people believed killing was compassionate too, to save both the community and the witches from hell by cleansing them by fire.

It’s basically the trolley problem but without the absolute certainty of looming death. In that particular scenario that Buddha described, I feel like it would be a lot to commit murder based on a “feeling”.

Were I in that situation, I would personally look to less drastic action, like tying the person up and guarding them day and night until we reached a safe port, rather than outright killing them.

But then that opens the path of future possibility where, if you were wrong in your initial feeling and actually persecuted the person for nothing, perhaps they would be so enraged that they would break free and kill everyone on the ship for revenge…

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