I often carry a pocket knife with me and have been asked on many occasions whether this in fact has a negative karmic effect. After all the Buddha said “dwell with the rod laid down, the knife laid down”. However I do not believe the two are mutually exclusive.
My pocket knife is a tool, not a weapon and it would never be used to harm or even threaten anyone. Everything unfolds through karma, through the cause and effect of out intentions and actions. Therefore it is the intention that is they key. My training and beliefs mean I would never use my pocket knife to threaten or harm any living thing
No one would question how handy having a sharp and portable pocket knife can be. In Tibetan culture the knife is indispensable and essential to daily life. Men and women, boys and girls , all Tibetans carry knives. Often they are decorative but in more modern times the pocket knife has become more common. They are portable yet can still be appreciated for their style and design.
In Buddhism and Shinto knife ceremonies have great religious significance. The lay community use them in their daily lives. Food preparation, arts and crafts and many more all use knives of some sort. So let us not be blinkered to the usefulness of a sharp blade. For I do not believe it is strictly against our religious tenants.
Knives also have symbolic attributes. The Kila for example is used as a ritual tool meant to signify stability on a prayer ground during ceremonies. And as a tool for exorcism. To quote from Muller-Ebeling
“The tantric use of the phurba (kila) encompasses the curing of disease, exorcism, killing demons, meditation, consecrations and weather making.”
Over 2500 years ago the Gautama Buddha advocated being frugal. The first nuns and monks were taught to make their robes from simple fabric that was unwanted. That is u wanted cloth: scavenged from rubbish dumps and burial grounds. These might be remnants that had been chewed by rats or oxen, scorched by fire, soiled by childbirth or used as a shroud to wrap the dead.
Being frugal or thrifty is a way of life for us monks. It pervades most things we do and for our shopping habits it is no different. Looking for a bargain is not just the province of the lay community, but for people like myself as well. Recently while online shopping ( yes we do that too ) I discovered a wonderful place to buy pocket knives. It appealed to me greatly, it’s simplicity of design and purpose.
I was looking for Japanese Pocket Knives. These seem to me to best exemplify the style and form I was looking for in a pocket knife. A folding knife small enough to use as an every day carry all (EDC), but one with enough history to make it an object of beauty in itself.
After performing a suitable amount of research I decided on the Aogami Warikomi Brass Cased Knife. With it’s monogramed samurai engraved on the brass handle and a small 3 inch blade, it was perfect. This small pocket knife sharpens pencils fantastically. It’s almost organic, watching the fine blade slice through layers of soft wood to reveal the carbon lead tip. This little gem also works well for opening mail. Yes I still get snail mail..
A knife is only a weapon by intent and many find them a useful tool in life.