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Thread: Buddhist Jihad?

  1. #1

    Buddhist Jihad?

    I had sent a few questions to Jundo. He asked me to post them along with his answers here. This is one of them.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kaishin
    On a more disturbing note, there is an almost "jihad"-like theme in some, such as the Mahaparinirvana Sutra's stating that the laity should actually take up arms against detractors of the dharma.

    (in a follow-up I added): The "jihad" section is chapter five "the adamantine body" (snipping here, from http://www.zhaxizhuoma.net/DHARMA/Tripi ... ayana2.htm). I started looking closer at this after reading section on it in Paul Williams book on Mahayana philosophy. After reading again I'm not sure "protect" equates to "kill detractors" though...

    Quote Originally Posted by Mahaparinirvana Sutra Chapter 5
    The Buddha addressed Kąsyapa÷, "It is because of being able to protect and uphold the true Dharma's causes and conditions that one consummates the adamantine body. Kąsyapa, I in the remote past have protected the Dharma's causes and conditions, and so now I have consummated the adamantine body that is eternally abiding and indestructible. Good son, one who protects and maintains the true Dharma, who has not received the five precepts or cultivated the majestic deportment, should carry knife, sword, bow and arrow, spear, or lance, defending and upholding the precepts of the pure monk.""

    "The Buddha replied to Kąsyapa, "Good son, because of these causes and conditions, the monks, nuns, laymen, and laywomen must aid, promote, protect, and uphold the true Dharma. The reward for protecting the Dharma is vast and measureless. Good son, this is why the Dharma protecting laymen should take up blades and sticks to defend such a Dharma-keeping monk. If there are those who take and uphold the five precepts, they are not called people of the Mahąyąna.

    Those who do not take the five precepts in order to defend the true Dharma, they are called Mahąyąnists. The protectors of the true Dharma shall take up swords and weapons of war and act as guards for Dharma preachers."
    "
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    Hi Kaishin,

    I read those passages in two translations, and I believe that it is clearly speaking of ... not aggression or 'Jihad' ... but self-defense and protection of travelling monks from brigands, robbers and the like. The fact of the matter is that, at many times of Buddhism's history in India, it was quite dangerous for monks to travel on the roads. In fact, Buddhism no longer exists in India now because it was the victim of a true "Jihad" ... a holocaust at the hands of Muslim invaders that went on not for decades, but for several centuries, burning every temple and Buddhist school to the ground, killing any monk or nun or Buddhist layman who did not flee or convert to Islam. It truly makes what happened to the Jews in Europe small in scale.

    Thus, I have no doubt that, at various times in its history, the rules of "not taking life" were bent to allow some degree of self-defense and protection (and such remains the majority opinion today among most Buddhist clergy I know). In fact, one factor explaining why Buddhism disappeared from India but Hinduism remained is that the Hindus were much less passive and non-violent in the face of Muslim invasion.

    Gassho, J

  2. #2
    Senior Member Hoyu's Avatar
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    Re: Buddhist Jihad?

    The fact of the matter is that, at many times of Buddhism's history in India, it was quite dangerous for monks to travel on the roads. In fact, Buddhism no longer exists in India now because it was the victim of a true "Jihad" ... a holocaust at the hands of Muslim invaders that went on not for decades, but for several centuries, burning every temple and Buddhist school to the ground, killing any monk or nun or Buddhist layman who did not flee or convert to Islam. It truly makes what happened to the Jews in Europe small in scale.
    :shock:

  3. #3

    Re: Buddhist Jihad?

    I suppose someone with a clever enough tongue could interpret the passage a number of ways. We don't have to take the passage literally either. Consider the behavior displayed in those times when Treeleaf is defamed or if the teachers are perceived as having been slighted. Many stand ready with the weapons available and appropriate to the encounter, namely, words. We all know how potent a weapon words can be.

    My thought on the passage is that while we may refrain from the role of aggressor, this does not entail permitting aggression to stand unchallenged.

  4. #4
    Senior Member pinoybuddhist's Avatar
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    Re: Buddhist Jihad?

    Reading this reminds me of the Shaolin monks who seem to be known more for their kung-fu and (sadly) not for being Buddhist monks.

  5. #5

    Re: Buddhist Jihad?

    If you would like a taste of perhaps the main reason Buddhism vanished from India, please read a few pages from one of the only written diaries remaining from the period (quoted at in A.K. Warder's wonderful history, Indian Buddhism). This pattern continued for a few centuries, as Islamic invasions gradually spread through most of India (except a few places such as Sri Lanka). It may explain why a little self-non-self defense is tolerated in Buddhism ...



    URL IF YOU CANNOT READ THE ABOVE:
    http://htmlimg3.scribdassets.com/9a1...19bb94a26a.jpg



    URL IF YOU CANNOT READ THE ABOVE:
    http://htmlimg4.scribdassets.com/9a1...6932d01664.jpg

    From:
    http://www.scribd.com/doc/77658095/A...ndian-Buddhism

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 12-30-2012 at 02:21 AM.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Daijo's Avatar
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    Re: Buddhist Jihad?

    Humans are capable of horrible things.

    Humans are capable of beautiful things.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Shonin's Avatar
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    Re: Buddhist Jihad?

    "Reading this reminds me of the Shaolin monks who seem to be known more for their kung-fu and (sadly) not for being Buddhist monks." sorry I don't know how to properly quote

    Actually part of the vow of the Shaolin monks is to protect those who cannot protect themselves. Which ,as I had read it several years ago on the site for the Shaolin Temple in New York ( which may or may not still be around as there seemed to be an issue with getting monks from china to help the temple there), is why the Shaolin specifically train so hard in kung fu. It is part of their vows.

    II have seen quite a few times where it has been mentioned that for the right reasons the Precepts can be bent or broken slightly. If one is attacked or sees another being attacked, you don't just stand there and watch it happen. Violence is indeed a horrible thing and to be avoided. Sometimes it simply cannot be.

    My view is that our life and the life of "victims" is just as sacred as anything else. There is a difference between being non-violent as a general rule and always seeking other avenues.And using violence to stop something non-violence cannot. If it is within one's ability, I feel it is our duty to go in there and swing a fist or stick or whatnot. That doesn't mean go out and kill someone for attacking you or someone else. But using enough force to end the situation is totally different.

    Now, I'm not trying to say go out and play super hero. And we all have different levels of skill , many of us none at all. But if you CAN help. And there isn't another choice. Go for it. Nut be careful, don't go in with a big head. don't try to tv kung fu 5 dudes...they'll win.

    Also the mindset one holds about the situation and the attacker is important too. Me personally ,I don't like to intentionally bring harm physically to anyone or anything. I would hate to have to be in a fight and hurt another person or animal. There isn't always time to call the cops or for them to get to a situation before it gets very very ugly. If we can do our part then we should. But don't like the violence, or fell it is okay. Accept that there is another option. And respect "the enemy" as well.

    When I read "Art of War" over a decade ago. There were some passage specifically about that which i feel have influenced me greatly.

    In our world violence exists. and if every good person stops fighting back. Then we will all just get run over. Complacency in such things can be a very detrimental mindset.

    To me, this is what the above Sutra mentions. It's not saying start a Holy War. It's saying to defend the Dharma when it is attacked. When a monk/priest is being attacked help them.

    But that's just my view and is of course subject to change at any given moment.

    _/_

  8. #8
    Senior Member pinoybuddhist's Avatar
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    Re: Buddhist Jihad?

    Perhaps my use of the word "sadly" gave the wrong impression. Being a martial artist myself, I am not above the use of physical force when the need calls for it. It just seems to me (with emphasis on "seems") that the martial aspect of Shaolin has been more emphasized over the other aspects - at least in public. I mean, I went to Beijing and saw a performance of Shaolin monks in a theatre and all I saw was guys with shaved heads and robes jumping, kicking, swinging weapons and breaking iron plates with their heads. It was very entertaining and I did enjoy it very much - but I didn't get a sense of the other aspects of monastic life. Then again, I guess if I really wanted to learn about that I could have just gone to the monastery instead of the theatre.

  9. #9

    Re: Buddhist Jihad?

    We have a good look at many of these topics during our Jukai Preparations each year, when we reflect on the Precept of Preserving Life ... and related issues such as self-defense, military service, whether the Buddha ate meat or was a vegetarian, abortion and such.

    Here is last year's thread ...

    viewtopic.php?f=7&t=4269

    Gassho, J

  10. #10

    Re: Buddhist Jihad?

    Hello,

    just a quick note regarding Martial Arts and Shaolin ( and I am happy to repeat this every time this comes up). There is next to NO serious evidence that would create a real connection between Buddhadharma, Shaolin and Martial Arts before the 17th century. Obviously we even find murdering monk armies in Japan slightly before that, but that shouldn't give us any reason to retro-fit the core of dharma teachings, which are clearly about non-violence.

    Bodhidharma's role as a bad-ass kung-fu master only came to real prominence in the 19th century with the publication of a hugely popular series of fictional novellas.


    Gassho,

    Hans Chudo Mongen

  11. #11
    Senior Member Shonin's Avatar
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    Re: Buddhist Jihad?

    Pinoy,the shows performed by Shaolin monks are often used to generate funds for the temple as well as promote kung fu. As I understand it, and I could be incredibly mistaken, the point isn't to promote buddhism itself. As such, they pick something the majority of the public want to see. And many famous chinese celebreties have trained there including Jackie Chan and Jet Li.

    As far as going to the temple itself. I have heard most of it is off limits to non-chinese(perhaps non-asians?) as it is still viewed that Westerners don't have the correct mindset to study there. They do allow some groups of western shaolin kung fu students to study for a limited time. I think max is a month. and it's a group set up. Like group of people from school x. They stay in visitor quarters and can't fully tromp around the temple grounds. There are tourist areas though for anyone to visit..and of course donate while there.

    The two Shaolin temples in the US are located in Fla. and NY. And as I understand it, are a bit controversial in their existence among the chinese Shaolin monks. Some feel that there ways are not to be shared with us. We are "not ready", etc. I do believe the focus of both of the temples here in the US is kung fu , not the training of monks/priests. Hence why there was a problem convincing other monks to assist with the NEw York school.

    But that is information from a few years ago definitely. I am not sure the exact ins and outs of such things nowadays. It just happened to be something I was reading about around 7 years ago.


    Hans, I find it funny you mention that as I have seen more and more that it is now accepted that Bodhidharma is the originator of martial arts in general. At least among many martial arts students. A decade ago , I heard it said that the origin of martial arts was unknown. In more recent years it seems someone somwhere has found some sort of historical evidence that it originated with Bodhidharma. What the shaolin monks practice was actually developed by those monks over the centuries based on what he taught.So , no, as I understand it he wasn't directly the father of Sil Lum Kung Fu.

    But again, that is a point I could completely be wrong on, and it has been several years sinc eI have even thought to look into more recent discoveries and whatnot. So I can't readily dispute what you offer and could in fact be totally wrong.

    _/_

  12. #12

    Re: Buddhist Jihad?

    Dear Shonin,

    I don't have an axe to grind regarding this topic btw. , but the pseudo-academic in me sometimes makes himself known In the fun spirit of an open ended enquiry I would like to ask you to show me any academic papers or non academic source material that have actual hard textual or iconographic evidence showing that a man going by the name of Bodhidharma actually existed in China and taught actual martial Arts techniques as a way to practise Buddhadharma.

    I'd be thrilled to take a look at the evidence (though I don't read Chinese).

    When I was still practising martial arts ( I never had any talent but liked it nevertheless) I was fortunate enough to meet quite a few great teachers with decades of experience. Most of them had one thing in common....they just repeated what their teachers had told them and based their trust in the alleged facts on the effectiveness of their transmitted fighting techniques.
    And sadly a lot of what was and is being told in martial arts circles is simply spreading the legends of old through playing the authority card. Historically speaking a lot of what I heard was utter BS. Sorry to sound so harsh but it's often true.

    There can be no doubt that some major influences that led to the development of some of the most popular old Asian martial arts schools were heavily influenced by Indian traditions, but again I'd like to see any evidence linking it directly to one individual called Bodhidharma (who himself might have been a conglomerate of people, legends and historical developments).

    There might actually be a chapter on the topic in McRae's brilliant Seeing through Zen: http://www.amazon.com/Seeing-through-Ze ... 0520237986

    I recently watched two great German documentaries shot over a period of many years following two young guys (two independent documentaries) to China to pursue their Kung-Fu dream.

    Only one of them found a proper Buddhist teacher really connected with the main Shaolin temple, but both encountered merchandise worthy of Disneyland and loads of ordained people with shaved heads who knew next to nothing about Buddhadharma, but all had official Shaolin ceritficates or certificates from one of the countless Kung-Fu schools surrounding the temple and/or being connected to it.

    Gassho,

    Hans Chudo Mongen

    P.S. I currently don't have enough time and interest to delve deeper into the mysteries of Shaolin, however if I had the time I'd probably buy the following book. The University of Hawaii press is a great publishing house when it comes to Dharma and related topics. The reviews of this particular book make for a very interesting read as well: http://www.amazon.com/The-Shaolin-Monas ... 716&sr=1-1

  13. #13
    Senior Member Shonin's Avatar
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    Re: Buddhist Jihad?

    Well as I said, what I had read about it was years ago. And I could totally be wrong. I had just noticed that there seemed to be a trend in the last year or two of people claiming definitively he was the source. Where as previous to that I had always seen it said that the exact origins were unknown. Wish I could help you more with that though. Perhaps just do a quick search for the US Shaolin temple pages. Maybe they can directly answer any questions in terms of origin of their specific arts. and yeah, I have seen alot of silly crap too. On the other hand, I have seen some videos of some pretty amazing things as well. /shrug

    _/_

  14. #14

    Re: Buddhist Jihad?

    Dear Shonin,

    the Wikipedia entry for the connection between Shaolin/Bodhidharma and Kung-Fu seems actually quite well informed. The bottom line is that there is zero distinct proof that a person called Bodhidharma taught Kung-Fu until a daoist text pops up in the 17th century. None of the well known Zen masters of the T'ang and S'ung period mention this connection either, so we can safely assume that this is a skillful and convenient legend.

    "Though the Shaolin Monastery Stele of 728 attests to these incidents in 610 and 621 when the monks engaged in combat, it does not allude to martial training in the monastery, or to any fighting technique in which its monks specialized. Nor do any other sources from the Tang, Song and Yuan periods allude to military training at the temple.
    According to Meir Shahar, this is explained by a confluence of the late Ming fashion for military encyclopedias and, more importantly, the conscription of civilian irregulars, including monks, as a result of Ming military decline in the 16th century..."

    and

    "From the 8th to the 15th centuries, no extant source documents Shaolin participation in combat; then the 16th and 17th centuries see at least forty extant sources attest that, not only did monks of Shaolin practice martial arts, but martial practice had become such an integral element of Shaolin monastic life that the monks felt the need to justify it by creating new Buddhist lore.[18] References to Shaolin martial arts appear in various literary genres of the late Ming: the epitaphs of Shaolin warrior monks, martial-arts manuals, military encyclopedias, historical writings, travelogues, fiction, and even poetry.[18]"


    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shaolin_Kung_Fu

    Martial Arts teachers like to justify and elevate their own schools in the same way that a lot of Zen teachers need a literal understanding of lineage in order to strengthen theit authority.

    But actually the practise should be able to speak for itself, in the case of Shikantaza-Zazen it sure does IMHO Even if it had been "just" invented just twenty years ago I'd still practise it.



    Gassho,


    Hans Chudo Mongen

  15. #15

    Re: Buddhist Jihad?

    Well, an historical person named "Bodhidharma" may not have had very much connection to the founding of the Chan/Zen Lineage in China either ... assuming that there was actually even a flesh and blood "Bodhidharma who came from the West" at all ...

    There is passing mention of someone named "Bodhidharma" in one book of the period, and perhaps one text that might arguably be attributed to him (although, even then, the content seems more in the way of a general Mahayana teaching and not particularly "Zen"). Apart from that, the whole "Bodhidharma" story as Zen founder (like Kung fu founder) is seemingly a lovely "paradigm", a meaningful (and timeless) myth cooked up, polished up and embellished up by later generations ...

    http://www.thezensite.com/ZenEssays/Phi ... adigm.html

    That, of course, does not take away from the power of the symbol of "Bodhidharma", from what his story represents as a myth and teaching. Much like Moses (another religious figure who may or may not have actually lived in flesh and blood), his story stands for Liberation.

    However, now is a good time to pull out this fellow ... the wonderful Bodhidharma Action Figure. Dig the 6-Pack Abs! You don't get those just by sitting on a Zafu! Not without sit-ups too!



    Gassho, J

  16. #16
    Treeleaf Unsui Shokai's Avatar
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    Re: Buddhist Jihad?

    He Lives:

    In hope of reaching a non-goal

  17. #17

    Re: Buddhist Jihad?

    Quote Originally Posted by Shokai
    He Lives:

    In hope of reaching a non-goal
    Ah, well that doll represents the Bodhidharma who sat so long that his legs vanished (known in Japan as the rolly-polly "Daruma Doll"). It also shows the Bodhidharma who is said to have cut off his own eyelids lest he close them and fall asleep (turning to the first tea leaves, thus helping to explain the long connection of Zen and Caffeine) ...

    http://www.theteafaq.com/tea/informatio ... elids.html

    The connection of Bodhidharma to Tea is also quite fanciful, although the historical connection of Zen monks to tea is quite real.

    The Daruma Doll has been adopted in Japan as a symbol of "stick-to-it-iveness" and persistance without most folks realizing the connection to Bodhidharma. So folks undertaking a new project ... such as a politician in an election campaign, a student studying for university exams ... will paint in one eye upon starting the project, and the second eye if they make their goal!

    Gassho, J

  18. #18

    Re: Buddhist Jihad?

    As a Martial Artist (Shaolin Kung-Fu no less ) and someone interested in taking/recieving Jukai should either of these aspects of ones notself be considered incompatable or a reason to participate in one or the other activities?

    Sorry that is worded so oddly, the words above don't properly ask the question I have but they are as close as I can come right now :?

    _/_

  19. #19

    Re: Buddhist Jihad?

    Every warrior should have a code.

  20. #20

    Re: Buddhist Jihad?

    Quote Originally Posted by threethirty
    As a Martial Artist (Shaolin Kung-Fu no less ) and someone interested in taking/recieving Jukai should either of these aspects of ones notself be considered incompatable or a reason to participate in one or the other activities?

    Sorry that is worded so oddly, the words above don't properly ask the question I have but they are as close as I can come right now :?

    _/_
    No, not incompatible in the least! There is a Buddhist Precept on the Avoiding of Taking Life and a Precept on the Avoiding of Anger. But I believe that a good teacher of Kung-Fu would instill the same values.

    Shaolin is a Zen Temple, after all.

    Gassho, Jundo (husband of Mina, pictured below, Black belt in Shodokan and 2nd Degree Blackbelt in Aikido)


  21. #21

    Re: Buddhist Jihad?

    Gassho Jundo Sifu

  22. #22
    Senior Member Ekai's Avatar
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    Re: Buddhist Jihad?

    Quote Originally Posted by threethirty
    As a Martial Artist (Shaolin Kung-Fu no less ) and someone interested in taking/recieving Jukai should either of these aspects of ones notself be considered incompatable or a reason to participate in one or the other activities?

    Sorry that is worded so oddly, the words above don't properly ask the question I have but they are as close as I can come right now :?

    _/_
    Martial arts and living by the precepts are not separate but together as one. My martial arts training and being a Buddhist compliment each other in many ways. A true martial artist gives life to others versus taking life by living in a virtuous and wholesome way that treats others with kindness and compassion. Being a martial artist is 100% more than learning the techniques to kill or maim someone but is a goalless journey of growing from the inside and out while inspiring and motivating others to live in truth and harmony. An excellent martial arts teacher is more than instructor that teaches how to kick, punch and throw. They teach about life and help their students develop their mental, emotional and physical capabilities while inspiring to them to see the wonderful people they truly are from within.

    My martial art teachers have talked to us in detail about the use of force in a self-defense situation. If someone is attacking you, you can use equal amount of force back but once you have control of the situation the defense should stop. Being that I am a woman, if a larger, stronger man is trying to rape or kill me, I would use whatever self-defense techniques needed to get the heck out of there. I feel that anyone has a right to defend their life even if they are a Buddhist.

    Gassho,
    Ekai

  23. #23

    Re: Buddhist Jihad?

    I agree that everyone has right to defend their life. I think that most self defense is avoiding situatons that might require self defence. Precepts gives good direction on this. Also never defend possessions, let the police, lawyers and insurance companies do that.

    During buddhas time there was a lot of lawlessness and violence. Since monks didnt have possessions or sex they weren't. Targets of thieves or angry husbands or fathers.

    One of my favorite stories is buddha accepting the biggest murderer of his day as a monk.

  24. #24
    Senior Member Shonin's Avatar
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    Re: Buddhist Jihad?

    Hans, thanks for the info. I'll have to check it out the link in the near future.

    Jundo, I WANT THAT FIGURE!!!!! I just don't care for the price tag. :/

    _/_

  25. #25

    Re: Buddhist Jihad?

    Running is almost always the best way of self-defence!
    (Middle distance running would probably be best!)

    Get away from the situation and, as Rich says, don't be attached to possessions. A wallet is just a piece of leather with paper in it. It's not worth dying for.

    As Ekai says, martial arts is so much more than fighting. In fact, the best fighters never need to fight.

    Jigoro Kano (the founder of Judo) used to talk about Jita-Kyoei, "Mutual Welfare and Benefit"
    Morihei Ueshiba (the founder of Aikido) said this about Budo: "At that moment I was enlightened: the source of budo is God's love - the spirit of loving protection for all beings... Budo is not the felling of an opponent by force; nor is it a tool to lead the world to destruction with arms. True Budo is to accept the spirit of the universe, keep the peace of the world, correctly produce, protect and cultivate all beings in nature."

    Gassho,
    Pontus

  26. #26

    Re: Buddhist Jihad?

    Hi - this is probably off topic as I know nothing about martial arts - but just wondering if there is a link/history between Taekwondo
    and Buddhism. The only link I've found reading is to the Hwarang who were scholars and studied buddhism?

    I'm curious - because my son is working towards his black belt - and there is a definate buddhist flavour in his instructor's teaching.

    Thanks

    Willow

  27. #27

    Buddhist Jihad?

    Hello Willow!
    Yes, Taekwondo was influenced by buddhism, taoism and confucianism too.

    http://www.taekwondobible.com/3jky/3jky.html

    Gassho
    /Pontus

  28. #28

    Re: Buddhist Jihad?

    Thanks Pontus - will forward link to my son - might have a read myself 8)

    Willow

  29. #29

    Re: Buddhist Jihad?

    The one thing from that scanned text, is that they mistook Buddhism as idolatry. Even monks smashed statues at one time. So, who's wrong? They probably would have been less inclined to burn huts and fishing monks. but who knows?


    Gassho

    W

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