Question: In this world, we encounter many destructive people and practices. How do we properly defend ourselves against them?
There is one important thing, as human beings we have the ability to think. Suppose there is an animal, it might be remaining with kids or cubs. Whatever it is, if you are going towards the animal, the animal is unable to think whether you are a friend or a foe. It doesn't have the discrimination capacity. Based on the instinct of fear it will instantly attack you, so that's what happens. But it is human beings who can plan, who can think. You see even in this human world also, in jurisdiction a planned murder is totally different to when a person tries to defend himself - it is totally different. When you are faced with such danger when you have to defend yourself that is alright, that is no problem. But just out of our own greed or madness we should not be destroying other creatures. That is the responsibility we need to exercise.
Suppose amongst human beings also if one person is more sane and another person behaving insanely, in a foolish way, in a less dignified way, the more dignified person would try to cool that person, try to make him understand. Only when everything else fails one will have to take the action of defending one's own. If you are physically in danger, you always have a right to defend yourself at that time. But even when you are not acting out of greed, it is we human beings, we try to attack other things, other creatures. We try to destroy indiscriminately, we do not think.
Here is a simple example, based on this question, that you will all understand. In ancient times in India, Saints andYogis used to wear tiger skin and sit on a tiger skin when practicing meditation. This has been a traditional practice, hence so many people have asked me this question: "Why is it that you are not using a tiger skin? Why is it that a Saint, a Yogi has to use a tiger skin?" In my opinion, in my answer, long, long ago human beings perhaps were not as greedy as they are today. Hunting used to be done by a royal clan or the hunting clan and they knew to maintain the ecological balance. Gradually as the time has passed human beings have become totally greedy, they have gone into total destruction. So today if we think of sitting on a tiger skin it may be unacceptable to human values. It is not proper to kill an animal so that I have to sit on a tiger skin. Because for meditation what is needed is to control the mind - we can sit on a gunny bag and do the meditation. So I am trying to give an example of human greed and human responsibility, so we can all understand.