Reformation : Best ‘Punishment’

During last evening’s movie screening (of the film ‘Angulimala’) cum Dharma discussion for NUS Buddhist Society’s Dharma camp (at Shuang Lin Monastery), a participant asked something along this line –  ‘If Batman keeps arresting Joker, keeping him in Arkham Asylum, while he keeps getting away to harm others, shouldn’t Batman just kill him once and for all?’ Killing should be a last resort – only when it can save many in one desperate moment with no other alternatives.

I answered, ‘You might kill a person, but you can’t kill his delusion or non-repentance.’ The death sentence is not the solution; reformation is. Beneath that diabolical grin, there is Buddha-nature waiting to be found. Folks who don’t believe in rebirth will think they have successfully snubbed out evil by execution, but they have probably merely deferred its recurrence in time, in another life. Many would think Batman is just as criminally insane as Joker, for letting him ‘off’ alive after nabbing him, but the gritty caped crusader sticks by his principle of non-killing firmly. That’s partly what makes him the hero, instead of another villain.

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