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Thread: New York Times article on "Radical Buddhism in Myanmar"

  1. #1
    Treeleaf Unsui Yugen's Avatar
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    New York Times article on "Radical Buddhism in Myanmar"

    Please take all my comments with a grain of salt - I am a novice priest and anything I say is to be taken with a good dose of skepticism - Shodo Yugen

  2. #2
    What I wrote last time this came up ...

    --------------------

    All genocide and ethnic cleansing, religious strife and anger and violence is to be condemned. End of story. We should all live together, and this world has space and resources sufficient for all if we wisely share ... Jews and Palestinians, Sunni and Shi'ite, Catholic and Protestant, Serbs and Croats and all the rest.

    Depending on who the "Buddhists" are, "Buddhism" is no less free of such abuses than Christianity, Islam, Hinduism or Judaism. In my understanding, in South and Southeast Asia, there are great and historical ethnic tensions as in so many parts of the world. In Thailand too, some Muslims sometimes attack Buddhists, some Buddhists attack Muslims ... Sad and to be condemned, no matter who is on the receiving end of the hate.

    http://www.newenglishreview.org/blog.../blog_id/32983

    Sri Lanka is another example of Buddhism all tied up in ethnic and civil war.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-17816285

    However, let me say that, perhaps, the "Buddhists" of many places in Asia are "Buddhist" in the very same way that folks are any religion anywhere. The Buddhist priests of these areas ... especially the rank and file ... are typically illiterate or barely educated farmers and peasants themselves, not necessarily educated even in "Buddhism" beyond surface beliefs and practices. The way the religion is practiced is not much different from the way religions are practiced about anywhere, and they look at "Buddha" as their god and the Suttas (which most are really not capable of reading, let alone understanding) as their sacred "Holy Book" above all others. Religion becomes all mixed together with "our people" "our tribe" "our beliefs". For this reason, the articles linked to above are a bit misleading, as they give the impression that this is the reality for all "Buddhists" or "Buddhism" in these cultures. It is not so, not any more than all of Islam is represented by Al Qaeda or all Christianity by the situation in Northern Ireland. Most of the rest of the Buddhist Sangha ... not only the senior Buddhist establishments in these countries, but Buddhists around the world ... do condemn any ethnic violence.

    What is more, there is the tangled historical question of what actions are aggressive and what are (although perhaps in a mistaken way) defensive. These fights are about land, water rights, population pressures, ethnic tensions ... and it does not matter that the people involved might be "Buddhists" or wear robes or anything else.

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 06-20-2013 at 06:10 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  3. #3
    Treeleaf Unsui Yugen's Avatar
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    This is very helpful Jundo, thanks. As people here in my hometown ask me about my ordination and training, some long held notions of what / who Buddhists are and what they believe are being challenged. My responses are not very elegant or informed, so I generally keep my mouth shut and listen. I am reading "The Making of Buddhist Modernism," so I have some idea of what is happening in the west and the United States, where the currents of many intellectual, spiritual, and religious traditions mingle.... but South Asian politics and culture I know very little about.

    Deep bows
    Yugen
    Please take all my comments with a grain of salt - I am a novice priest and anything I say is to be taken with a good dose of skepticism - Shodo Yugen

  4. #4
    It's a sad thing to read about. Especially the first slide about following a period of prayer with a rant about an "enemy." The sad tradition of definitions being bent and stretched to fit around words that once called for peace. It's the tragic cornerstone of our history that such small differences, like lines on a map or the shades of our skin, can lead to a call to arms. And in the end these atrocities and degradations become the burdens and legacies of children who first came into this world free from prejudice.

    I don't mean to be naive. But I simply believe there is, and always will be, a stronger case for love and forgiveness than there ever will be for war and hate. And though obscene, I believe the late Iain Banks said it best. "Fuck every cause that ends in murder and children crying."

    Gassho,
    Mc.

  5. #5
    I dont understand how a religion build on the beliefs as Buddhism is, where life is ment to be seen as peaceful, could spawn such acts. Violence, anger, and all those actions and emotions are supposed to be let go of. The core beliefs of the religion are being broken in these acts. I guess i may not know as much about Buddhism then I had once thought, but I find it hard to call these people that do this Buddhists.

    Gassho,

    James

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Cumminjd View Post
    I dont understand how a religion build on the beliefs as Buddhism is, where life is ment to be seen as peaceful, could spawn such acts. Violence, anger, and all those actions and emotions are supposed to be let go of. The core beliefs of the religion are being broken in these acts. I guess i may not know as much about Buddhism then I had once thought, but I find it hard to call these people that do this Buddhists.

    Gassho,

    James
    In most of Asia, for ordinary people, Buddhism is just their religion ... not much different in flavor or emphasis from how ordinary people around the world practice their religions. Buddha is their god and the temple is their church. The average Buddhist individual in Asia would not be able to tell you much more and would not feel much different about Buddhism than the average Christian could tell you about or feels about Christianity. All religions preach peace and love, but also have the potential for violence. Buddhism is no different. I would say, in defense of Buddhism, that compared to many world religions, Buddhism has been a particularly tolerant, peaceful path throughout most of its history. Cases like this are relatively rare. Nonetheless, they exist.

    Westerners tend to have a rather idealized image of Asian Buddhism and Buddhists. Really, one is just dealing with people and institutions, societies and tensions like anywhere in the world. "Buddhism" can be used in an "us" against "them" way like any belief system (although, again, cases just as this which turn to real violence have been a rare exception).

    Put an angry, racist, violent individual in Buddhist robes and shave his head ... and one may simply end up with an angry racist with robes. A skinhead in a priest's vestments.

    Fortunately, put 10,000 clerics in a room (of all kinds, of any major religion), and I believe the vast vast majority will be gentle, kind, loving folks who generally practice what they preach. Unfortunately, in any group, there will always be a handful who do not. Even more unfortunately, the ones who do harm get all the attention sometimes, grab the headlines, causing people to forget that they are the rare exception.

    I think Buddhists from all over the world join together on this issue ...

    To Our Brother and Sister Buddhists in Myanmar,

    As world Buddhist leaders we send our lovingkindess and concern for the difficulties the people of Myanmar are faced with at this time.... We wish to reaffirm to the world and to support you in practicing the most fundamental Buddhist principles of non-harming, mutual respect and compassion.

    These fundamental principles taught by the Buddha are at the core of Buddhist practice:

    Buddhist teaching is based on the precepts of refraining from killing and causing harm.
    Buddhist teaching is based on compassion and mutual care.
    Buddhist teaching offers respect to all, regardless of class, caste, race or creed.
    We are with you for courageously standing up for these Buddhist principles even when others would demonize or harm Muslims or other ethnic groups. It is only through mutual respect, harmony and tolerance that Myanmar can become a modern great nation benefiting all her people and a shining example to the world.
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/1...n_2272336.html

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 06-21-2013 at 03:49 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  7. #7
    I dont understand how a religion build on the beliefs as Buddhism is, where life is ment to be seen as peaceful, could spawn such acts. Violence, anger, and all those actions and emotions are supposed to be let go of. The core beliefs of the religion are being broken in these acts. I guess i may not know as much about Buddhism then I had once thought, but I find it hard to call these people that do this Buddhists.
    I think you could say the same about Christians involved in warfare too.

    As Jundo says, cultures and nations that are considered Buddhist means that many people will not actually be practicing as such (or not in the way we would consider) but rather observing rituals and liturgy that have been part of their upbringing much as many Christian people do in the UK.

    I cannot even begin to understand what is happening in Myanmar but there must be a lot of fear and suffering on all sides. Whenever difficulties arrive it is all too easy to stir up hatred against groups of immigrants as we have seen in Europe with the rise of far right groups during hard economic times. Whether Buddhist or not, the appeal of easy solutions and scapegoats can be hard to resist.


    Gassho
    Andy

  8. #8
    It's not Buddhism. Rabid nationalism, neolithic tribalism, racism, bigotry, ignorance, hatred and greed...but not Buddhism.
    May all beings everywhere plagued with sufferings of body and mind
    quickly be freed from their illnesses.
    May those frightened cease to be afraid
    and may those bound be free.
    May the powerless find power
    and may people think of befriending one another.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Myosha's Avatar
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    Pretending an "us-and-them" scenario is real shows how misilluminated these 'children' are.

    It's only life and death; impermanence.

    This too shall pass.


    Gassho,
    Edward
    Practice with humility, respect all beings, avoid attachments, give rise to prajña from your own awareness, put an end to delusions - Hui-neng

  10. #10
    Senior Member Joyo's Avatar
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    It has been my experience, being raised Christian, and having all Christian family members, that violence happens in supposedly peaceful religions because people stray so far from the original teaching, that their beliefs become muddied and far from the reality of where their path first started on. People easily let the ego start to lead. Tolerance, love, peace, and remaining humble becomes dull when one can instead appear super spiritual or enlightened or superior in some way.
    Last edited by Joyo; 06-23-2013 at 04:11 AM.

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