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Sri Lanka & Myanmar: The face of Buddhist extremism

September 24, 2013   ·   46 Comments

Myanmar

An unholy partnership between peace advocating Buddhism and nationalism has been taking place in Sri Lanka and Myanmar. This new phenomenon of Buddhist extremism or radical Buddhism is sweeping through Asia, shattering all stereotypes about the religion.

Buddhism is typically perceived as a peace loving religion where monks in saffron coloured robes with shaved heads, spend most of their time meditating. Buddhist monks in Sri Lanka and Myanmar have begun a campaign of intolerance which has the two nations gripped in a violent frenzy against non-Buddhists.

Sri Lanka

Buddhist extremism first reared its ugly head in Sri Lanka in early 2012 when the Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) began advocating an aggressive stance against Muslims. The BBS meaning the power of the Buddhist force is a Buddhist extremist group that has been steadily gaining popularity on the island. In Sri Lanka about 70% of the population are Sinhalese Buddhist.

The BBS have even released a statement boldly declaring “This is a government created by Sinhala Buddhists and it must remain Sinhala Buddhist. This is a Sinhala country, Sinhala government. Democratic and pluralistic values are killing the Sinhala race.” The anti-Islam campaign has gone as far as calling for a ban on halal products.

During Maghreb prayers on August 10, Buddhist extremists attacked the Molawatte mosque in Colombo, the capital city. The attackers stormed the mosque, smashing windows and injuring five people in the process. The attacks were triggered by long standing conflicts over the location of the mosque which was built too close to a Buddhist temple.

Despite the decision to relocate the mosque by the Minister of Religious Affairs, the mosque was still targeted. There was chanting amongst the masses saying, “this is a Sinhala Buddhist country and the Muslims and mosques should be thrown out.”

According to Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu, Director for the Centre of Policy Alternatives, a Sri Lankan NGO, “This attack was obviously planned. It was perpetrated by ring-wing extremists groups infiltrated by Buddhist monks who resent Muslims. They accuse Muslims of trying to convert everyone. They see Muslims’ high birth rate as a threat to the country. But above all, they are jealous of the fact that a Muslim upper middle class has been flourishing in certain industries namely in fashion and textiles.”

Muslim-owned shops were also attacked in April. To date none of the perpetrators have been held accountable.

Last month UN Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay visited Sri Lanka where she expressed concerns over the recent attacks on religious minorities. President Mahinda Rajapaksa has been downplaying the events and has yet to act in stopping the aggression towards Muslims.

Sinhala Buddhist nationalism seems to have flourished under Rajapaksa’s leadership. These feelings of resentment resonate with those that triggered the Sri Lankan civil war 30 years ago. Sadly, it is obvious that the Sri Lankan government has not learnt its lesson. Should the current situation continue to escalate, Sri Lanka could be doomed to repeat history.

Myanmar

Ashin Wirathu

Ashin Wirathu, a Buddhist monk has been inciting religious intolerance and violence against the Muslims who mainly consist of the Rohingya. Wirathu left school at 14 to train as a monk and became involved in the 969 movement in 2001. The 969 movement refers to the nine special attributes of the Lord Buddha, six core Buddhist teachings and the nine attributes of monkhood.

His organisation’s mantra speaks of people who “live in our land, drink our water and are ungrateful to us…we [Buddhists] will build a fence with our bones if necessary to keep supremacist Muslims out.”

Wirathu was sentenced to 25 years imprisonment 2003 for inciting religious hatred but was released in 2010 along with other political prisoners. He has since been slowly gaining a large following all over Myanmar.

Wirathu in his speeches claims that Muslims are the “enemies” of Buddhism and that the Buddhist religion along with its followers, mainly the women had to be protected from the Muslims in the country.

According to several news reports, he is “proud to be called a radical Buddhist.” He has even referred to himself as the “Burmese Bin Ladin.”

When questioned about his radical beliefs, Wirathu claimed “You can be full of kindness and love, but you cannot sleep next to a mad dog…I call them troublemakers because they are troublemakers.” Many have labelled Wirathu’s propaganda as the “ramblings of a sociopath.”

Wirathu’s anti-Islam campaign has resulted in lynch mobs rioting and attacking Muslims. In March there were attacks against Muslims in the state of Meikhtila which lasted 3 days. By the end, there were more than 40 casualties and the homes and stores of Muslims were looted and torched, leaving 10,000 people displaced.

On 21st July, a car bomb exploded during a Buddhist ceremony in Mandalay, Myanmar’s second biggest city. The blast took place about 18 metres away from where Wirathu was and wounded at least 5 people. Although no one has taken responsibility for the blast, fingers are being pointed at Muslims who are seeking revenge against Wirathu.

Early this month, the State Sangha Maha Nayaka Committee established to oversee the country’s Buddhist monkhood issued a directive to curb the growing influence of monk-led movements that incite violence against the Muslims.

Since last year some 237 people have been killed and more than 150,000 have been displaced, the majority being Muslim. Many feel the government is not doing enough to protect its Muslim citizens. Despite the Burmese’s irrational fear of Buddhism disappearing, with just 5% of the population being Muslim there is little chance of Islam taking over.

Thich Quang Duc

Before radical Buddhism began stirring in Asia, Buddhist monks have long been viewed as symbols of peaceful resistance in their fight against colonisations, wars and oppressive governments. One of the most notable figures is Thich Quang Duc.

Thich Quang Duc

On 11 June 1963, Thich Quang Duc, a Vietnamese Buddhist monk sat in the middle of a busy Saigon street in front of the Cambodian Embassy and set himself alight in protest of the repression against Buddhists by the then South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem. Under Diem, Buddhists were restricted from openly practicing their religion, serving in the army and were routinely discriminated against.

When Thich Quang Duc and several other monks demanded religious equality, Diem brushed them off, claiming that no such “discrimination” was taking place.

This famous photo snapped by Malcolm Browne caught the attention of the international community. In reference to the photo, President John F. Kennedy said, “No news picture in history has generated so much emotion around the world as that one.”

Following Thich Quang Duc’s self-immolation, there was increased international pressure on Diem. However, Diem never implemented any reforms. Following further deterioration in the dispute, Diem was eventually assassinated in a coup on 2 November 1963, less then 5 months after Thich Quang Duc’s self-immolation.

This form of protest still continues, especially in Tibet where Buddhist Tibetans continue to face ethnic cleansing by the Chinese government for over 50 years.

Backlash

In July there was a protest in Jakarta the capital city of Indonesia, Islamic hardliners called for a jihad against Myanmar. Protesters from the Islamic Defender Front (FPI) were carrying banners that read “FPI is ready to wage jihad. Go to Myanmar and carry out jihad for your Muslim brothers.” There have been several calls for jihad against Myanmar in the last year.

More recently, Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami Arakan, an Islamic group declared Burma a new front for jihad. The group which has ties to al-Qaeda is comprised of members from Burma, Indonesia, Bangladesh and Pakistan.

After more than a year of fighting, the Dalai Lama finally spoke out against the attacks in Myanmar. He condemned the killings and pleaded with monks to stop their rampage towards Muslims, “Buddha always teaches us about forgiveness, tolerance, compassion…if from one corner of your mind, some emotion makes you want to hit or want to kill, then please remember Buddha’s faith. We are followers of Buddha.”

Although she has fought for the rights of the Burmese people for decades, one wonders if Aung San Suu Kyi is aware that the Rohingya are part of Myanmar and also deserve the right to live in peace. As the face of Myanmer, Aung San Suu Kyi has yet to make any comments about this issue and has been accused of ignoring the problem.

Mantra of hatred

Myanmar buddhist extremism

These monks have been exposed to the violence which engulfed their countries for decades. For years, the monks fought through peaceful means but recently seem to have changed their mantras to “fight fire with fire”.

In order to get their message across, monks have swapped their prayer beads for Molotov cocktails.

They have the power to make change happen just like Thich Quang Duc but there are those who abuse that power by channeling it towards violence and discrimination.  Some where along the way, the line was crossed. The line between spiritual and political has become blurred.

Photo credit: druidabruxux, R.Sterken, druidabruxux & Atlasshrugs

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Gaanashree Wood

Asia editor at the World Outline. Gaanashree has a postgraduate diploma in Legal Practice (LPC) from the College of Law. She also holds a LLB (Law) and LLM in Public International law from University of Leicester and has a BSc in political science from Manchester Metropolitan University. Her main interests are South East Asian politics, foreign policy and women’s rights. She is currently working for various non-profit organisations specialising in conflict resolution and refugee aid.

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44 comments
StelEn1
StelEn1

Muslims are killing cows and enjoying in streets for their Eid festival.  These things are not very welcome in traditional Buddhist countries.  Also Muslims are destroying Buddha statues in Sri Lanka.  They say its in their religion to destroy all statues.

Chandrasekhara
Chandrasekhara

FREE ONLINE E-Nālanda Research and Practice UNIVERSITYchandrasekhara.tipitka@gmail.com
RectorJagatheesan Chandrasekharan

3. Khaggavisàna Sutta. -

The Rhinoceros.

ART OF GIVING


68 With aroused effort to attain the highest, with a mind not sticky and lazy,
Thoroughly given up and with firm endeavour, fare alone like the single horned rhinoceros.

1) CLASSICAL PALI

68. âraddhaviriyo paramatthapattiyà
Alãnacitto akusãtavutti,

Daëhanikkamo thàma khalåpapanno

Eko care khaggavisàõakappo.

2) CLASSICAL SINHALA

55' )) ksjdrKhg meusKsu msksi mgka .kakd,o jshH! we;af;aus" yel2ZMk is;a ke;af;us' luzue,s is;a ke;af;aus' i:sr jshH! we;af;us' Yrsr Yla;sfhkao [dK Yla;sfhkao hqla; jqfhus' mfia nqÈ jsus'

Charlie_From_Asia
Charlie_From_Asia

One more thing, You have to Cherry Pick Extreme Buddhists leaders in those third world countries. I wonder have you ever have a chance to interview with Immans from Pakistan? or Even so called modern Muslims countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia?  That would be very interesting. 



Charlie_From_Asia
Charlie_From_Asia

Ms.Wood, 

The first question you have to ask yourself is why would "the British" never recorded Roingya a.k.a Bengali from Burma? After all, they ruled Burma for more than a century.

The second question is "Why would Bangladesh government never accept Roingya people? After all, so called poor Roingya people only speak Bengali language. Why would not they accept their own people?

You have your degree in political science and law degree. I am sure you can find out easily where the problems lie. Is this religious problems or immigration problems? 

Please don't spin the issues between Buddhists vs Muslims issues here. This is between Rahkine Buddhists vs Rohigaya a.k.a Bengali. 


Peace be upon you,

jayantha23
jayantha23

helps here for extremist achieve their goal which is only one religion theory, that is Muslims, Look what happen in Africa last hundred years, look what happening in France, England almost all Europeans countries. They have planned to take over these countries by increasing population. So under these circumstances if anybody think we can stop this Muslim extremism it is Joke .I am good Buddhist never kill a chicken in my life. But I will not surrender myself to an extremist just because I am a Buddhist and I will not let my meditation stop a violent person in front of me. So my opinion is it is to think practical way. Muslim extremist know all other religion is peaceful, they are not drive by a religion that will go to haven (GOD),

Michael Jaquish
Michael Jaquish

Peace be upon you, Zarook. As an American Buddhist I have no alternative than to embrace all Muslims with compassion and love as my brothers and sisters. I try to remind myself every day during my meditations that most Muslims are not "radicals", simply spiritual beings on a journey to enlightenment who desire peace more than anything else. I thank you deeply for stepping forward and renouncing violence and I encourage you to do this again every day. Please urge all your Muslim friends to do the same. We must stand together to drown out the loud voices of violent extremism if we truly desire to create a more loving, compassionate and peaceful world.


mhussain982679
mhussain982679

The barbaric Burmese terrorist military regime is fully terrorizing against Rohingyas and other minorities by using all kind of forces, Intelligent department , Police forces and much more supporting to the terrorist organization of the Bengali Mogh RNDP and ALP groups.

Zarook
Zarook

We muslims should not and cannot blame the Religion "Buddhism" just because a bunch of Extremist Buddhists or extremist organisations like BBS, Hela Urumaya etc. in Sri Lanka or Asin Wirathu and his henchmen in Myanmar. As a muslim I have many Buddhist friends and we are still friends. So let us not blame the good buddhists. We have to work together to destroy these Monsters in our midst to save our countries. In case of Sri Lanka it is clear even to the layman on the street that present government is fully supporting Buddhist extremism and encouraging religious hatred. Moreover there is also enough evidence some foreign governments too assist such organisations. So it is all an national/international conspiracy.

Athithan
Athithan

The Sri Lankan state and the Sinhala buddhist nationalist discourse have long utilized its buddhist aura to render international public opinion in favour of its practices, it is used to shield the role Sinhala buddhism have in state violence and genocide against tamils. Holding respect for the religion does not prevent me from seing such inhumn practices. The danger it is used to generate sympathy for a genocidal state which utilizes a forsaken form of chauvunistic nationalistic Buddhism to attain its various goals. So this is by no means making an statement about Buddhism , but about being able to see buddhism aligned with politics and nation-state as practiced in certain historical and socio-political context for what it is. "betrayal of Buddhsim" is for sure but the buddhit clergy in sri lanka will deeply contest this, so the arguments has to be made with them and shun them from the Global buddhist embrace.

Athithan
Athithan

Unfortunatley the practice of the SInhala state centered buddhist is in every manner contradictionary to the generel principle of Buddhism, and do not misunderstand me i have great respect for the learnings of Buddha and buddhist philosophy and have also some buddhist roots. Tamil societies and civilization was around 1000 years ago a hotbed for Buddhism, and its through their mercantile practices, expeditions and trade that buddhism along with other Indic based influences spread with force to south east asia, the first to spread buddhism in CHina even were two Tamil Monks, Bhogar and Bodhidharman. But due to my theoretical awe of the religion i cannot ignore or blind myself to the practical manifestations of it, being inevitably enmeshed in politics.

Athithan
Athithan

A interesting and good article which illuminates the violent and often genocidal practices of buddhism and the need to look at buddhism in its context. One point of remark is the manner the author employs the concept of Buddhism and chavunistic Nationalism. She tends to treat it in the Sri Lankan context as something which developed last year with the rising attacks on Muslim. In this regard it is crucial to view these attacks in a historical context. The attacks on muslims and religious minorities is a ramification and extension of the state sponsored Sinhala buddhist nationalism which since independence articulated itself as opposed to Tamils and Dravidians. Angarika Dharmapala from the latter years of the 19th century where the forerunner for An agressive Sinhala BUDHHIST nationalism, which were anti anyone who were not SInhala speaker and Buddhist. In 1915 it targeted mostly Tamil speaking or knowing Indian Muslims in the south. From 1960s onwards Buddhism has become integral part of a state sponsored chauvunism and genocide towards the Tamil People. In the state promoted dominant nationalist discourse and practice Buddhism had a pivotal role, and through state sanction the clergy got enmeshed in these rasicst practices. Buddhist monks have long accompanied state sponsered Colonization processes in Tamil lands and by blessing and serving soldiers during genocidal counter insurgency offensives against tamils in Tamil areas. State violence got legitimized through the buddhist agency. My point is Buddhist sinhala nationalism is not new at all in Sri lanka, and it got developed as a result of the state enacted " Discriminatory and genocidal practices" towards the Tamil Nation. One cannot absolve the Tamil experience from being subject to SInhala Buddhist Nationalism, and it is not new. It is rather that Sri Lanka was the locus for the development of modern Buddhist Nationalism based on religion and concepts of Ethnicity.   Regards 

Athithan

Michael Jaquish
Michael Jaquish

As an American Buddhist following the path of the Bodhisattva I have dedicated my life to reaching out to others with compassion and love, not hate and duality (which separates instead of unites).  These Buddhist Monks who participate in violence are not Buddhist extremists, they are simply not Buddhists. The first rule of Buddhism is 'DO NO HARM'. After that, all of Buddhism revolves around compassion and avoiding attachment to things , people and concepts, such as nationality through the diminishment of 'self' and ego. Those with Buddhist backgrounds who have been swept up in the nationalist movements sweeping Asia have chosen to walk away from The Dharma, plain and simple. 

The stereotype image of nonviolence still applies to Buddhism. Violence never produces anything but violence. World peace will never come until we all discover inner peace. As tempting as it may be at times to submit to ego attachment to nationality or concepts and commit violence, this is NOT the path of the Dharma. 

Every disaster contains an opportunity. This disaster offers the opportunity for Buddhists to re-evaluate what it means to be on the Dharma Path. TRUE Buddhists need to be very vocal in denouncing the actions of these alleged Buddhists who are committing non-Buddhist acts of violence. 


StelEn1
StelEn1

Main fundamental of Buddhism is to attain Niravana through mediation practice.  Buddhist fundamentalist is a person who would do just that. Buddhist extremist is a person who would go to the extreme to achieve the fundamentals of Buddhism.  In that case he would try extremely harder to achieve Niravana.

Can someone explain to me how these monks are Buddhist extremists?

Also why this article dont mention hundreds of Buddhist statues and Viharas were destroyed by Islamic extremists.



icestar202
icestar202

@jayantha23Buddhism has never been about conquering lands or converting people. It is superior because of the emphasis of non-violence, compassion and wisdom.

The Buddha had taught that Buddhism will be destroyed and forgotten eventually. By practicing violence to retaliate against unjust circumstances, people are only bringing forward the destruction of Buddhism. Violence only breeds more violence. Whatever suffering that we think exists is only an illusion. The Buddha taught that life is suffering. We should use the suffering to spur ourselves towards Enlightenment instead of using violence to entrap ourselves deeper in samsara. 

dnsrth
dnsrth

It has been reported that there are many thugs supported and funded by Western Government agencies,  are wearing yellow robes and terrorizing other religious activists to discredit Buddhism. Some of the very media people who are highlighting these too are in the payroll of these agencies. 

JohnLThornton
JohnLThornton

The first precept of Buddhism is to avoid killing or harming living beings.

The simple truth is this; the people who are committing these acts of violence against 'non-Buddhists' may shave their heads and wear saffron robes, but they are not practising Buddhism.


jayantha23
jayantha23

Why not you right about the Christians who just got killed Pakistan. Why don’t you right about bohemian Buddha statue which destroyed by the Muslim extremist in Afghanistan. why don't you right about Muslim extremism which try to killed non believers of Muslim religion. It is time to use fire for fire .In history most of the Buddhist countries now has become Muslim Countries like Afghanistan. No one (Media ) give a dam about it. every one afraid of Muslim extremism. Muslim extremism is Organized .They practice violence. So Is it wrong other parties practice violence to protect them when no one ells protect them????

Michael Jaquish
Michael Jaquish

@jayantha23 I respect your opinion. Unlike you, I speak from the peace of America. You on the other hand, are on the front lines of the conflict. And you correct about the threat Islam presents to the rest of the world. I recall a story though, about a monk who was imprisoned and tortured for 10 years in Tibet by Chinese. When he was released, he left Tibet and went to visit the Dalal Lama in Darmsalla, India. The Dalai Lama asked him what he feared the most while in prison. The monk replied, "I feared I would stop loving my captors".

This, my brother, is the Dharma in action.


chitrasena1
chitrasena1

@Michael Jaquish Daily dozens are being killed due to clashes between Shia and Sunni moslims paricularly in Iraq,Pakistan and other middle east countries. They hanged Rizana who is a minor, undermining the fact that most civilised countries do not hang a minor. what myth is to expect kindness and compassion from a group of people who seems to be so fond of blood shed. There was news item that the number of deaths due to violence exceeded 1000 in the last month in Iraq. Do not expect intelligent people to believe when somebody utters some nonsense with an American label . Everbody knows who America is or at least what American  imperialism is. 

StelEn1
StelEn1

@mhussain982679 If there are any Barbarians in todays world they are the Muslims.  There is no compassion for man or animal in this religion.  No freedom for other religions.  Not a single temple allowed in Islamic countries.  True Barbarians

WalterL
WalterL

@Athithan I see it as mainly politics under the cover of Buddhism and nothing else.

WalterL
WalterL

@Athithan I totally agree with you. However, what they practice is not Buddhism. The worst enemy of Buddhism is not other religions but those who act violently claiming to be Buddhists. Just like you everyone watching from outside come to the conclusion that what you see in their actions is Buddhism. Far from it, in fact it is exactly the opposite.

Michael Jaquish
Michael Jaquish

@Athithan

Good points, Athithan. I was unaware of the nationalistic co-opting of Buddhism that you say has taken place in Sri Lanka. Perhaps this latest series of events will point out how erroneous such a practice is and help bring it to an end. However, human beings being as they are, there will always be those who co-opt religion and concepts and distort them to fit their own agendas.  

StelEn1
StelEn1

@jayantha23 Afghanistan, Indonesia, Pakistan, Malaysia, Maldives all were Buddhist countries.  These Buddhists practised non violence and they were killed.  Non violence has its limits.

WalterL
WalterL

@jayantha23 The article is for the purpose of protecting the genuine teachings of Lord Buddha from those who claim to be Buddhists but practice exactly opposite of His teachings. Only those who do not either care or understand real Buddhism will be disturbed when the truth is revealed. It is our duty to practice Buddhism as it has been preached by Buddha not the perverted interpretations of so called racist monks. 

Michael Jaquish
Michael Jaquish

@chitrasena1 @Michael Jaquish:Greetings, Chitrasena. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this important issue.  This is not an American VS "the world" issue, it is a global issue. All human beings have a right to speak out on the issue of atrocity, regardless of what country they happen to reside in. 

Of course you are correct in your observations of Muslim violence. You do not speak like a Buddhist aware of the suffering caused by duality (the us VS them perspective) so I presume you are not a follower of the Dharma, at least, at the present moment. What I will say is that the problem of human violence against one another is being addressed from a number of different directions. Some believe that using violence against violent groups is the answer and some (like me) believe that this solution only adds to human suffering rather than reduces it. 

Religion is without doubt responsible for much of the violence human beings have inflicted upon themselves over the centuries but even without religion, human beings would likely continue to attack one another as long as the self-centered ego aspect is allowed to dominate our behavior. The question here is, 'when are human beings going to learn from past mistakes?' We already know where the path of violence leads.

It is easy to practice non-violence, love and compassion for all beings during times of peace. That philosophy has no value though, unless it can be allowed to shine when times are filled with darkness and suffering. THAT is when the Dharma is needed the most.  In any conflict one party has to agree lay aside grievances and cease the violence in order to bring the conflict to an end. Egos keep that from happening. The Buddha saw this and that is why he said that the destruction of self (ego) is the only path to reducing suffering.

Every disaster is an opportunity to discover something new about your self. The question of, "who am I?" is more likely to be answered in difficult times than during times of relative calm. A true follower of the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama knows the answer to this question is one of nonviolence regardless of the threat to ones personal safety because life is like a brief lightening strike and what is important is not how long we live, but HOW we live. 

Michael Jaquish
Michael Jaquish

@StelEn1@mhussain982679  

"If people are intent on using religion to motivate terror or violence, they'll find an excuse there no matter what the actual text says," says David Rodier of American University in Washington, D.C., who is an expert on the world's religions. Like the Koran, he says, most holy scriptures are filled with stories of war and warriors, and these images have been used throughout history by some members of every faith to justify bloodshed. 

The majority of Muslims in the world insist their religion is a religion of peace but they also agree the Koran gives them permission to fight back if they are attacked. Self protection should not be extended to the kind of senseless violence we see Muslims committing in Myanmar at the present time though, so as we see happening with all religions from time to time, adherents to Islam there are choosing to ignore the teachings of their own religion and allowing their souls to be consumed with anger and hate.



Michael Jaquish
Michael Jaquish

@WalterL @Athithan  

Correct, WalterL. This situation illustrates clearly why all countries need to have a wall of separation between religion and the State. 

WalterL
WalterL

@StelEn1 @jayantha23 Short and sweet, you seem not to understand real Buddhism. If you think you do please show me and everyone else where Buddha preached violence. The uniqueness of Buddhism is non-violence.

Michael Jaquish
Michael Jaquish

@StelEn1@Michael Jaquish@WalterL@chitrasena1The Buddha himself (Siddhartha Gautama) said that Buddhism could likely eventually die out because of the ego-centered nature of most human beings. I do not see that happening now, in fact, there is growing interest in Buddhist philosophy all around the world it seems. But you are correct, it could happen at least in some regions. 

The real question though is this; is death a reason to trade a life lived with the compassion of the Dharma for an existence of suffering generated by an ego-centered life? Life is a brief lightening strike at best but we delude ourselves into thinking it is more permanent and important than it is. This allows the ego to control our lives by attachment to wrong beliefs and that is what separates us and creates hatred. As a Buddhist, I do not fear death, I fear a life lived without love for all beings.




StelEn1
StelEn1

@Michael Jaquish @WalterL @chitrasena1 But Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Malayasia, Maldives all Buddhsist countries.  They were thinking like you and Muslims destroyed them.  Buddhists will be destroyed if they adhere to Buddhism too much.

WalterL
WalterL

@Michael Jaquish @WalterL @chitrasena1 

Thanks Michael. I was born to a Christian family and was a 'born again Christian' until I started asking questions from myself. I have discovered teachings of Buddha and am more than impressed. Trying hard to become a better practitioner. Regards.

Michael Jaquish
Michael Jaquish

@WalterL @Michael Jaquish @chitrasena1  

Thank you for your kind words and understanding, Walter. It pleases me to know there are those like yourself who are allowing their light of awareness and peace to shine. Each of us has a responsibility to enlighten others as well.

In the Dharma.

-Michael the Monk (Author: A Monk Without a Monastery)

WalterL
WalterL

@Michael Jaquish @chitrasena1 I commend Michael Jaquish on his understanding of Buddha Dharma. Thank you for expressing it for the benefit of other readers. The greatest insult to Buddha is when His teachings are ignored and acts of 'so called Buddhists' are not any different to the acts of Medieval Christians who killed those who disagree with their way of belief. Even Christianity has evolved and is not as violent as it used to be.

Michael Jaquish
Michael Jaquish

Greetings, @JedifarceSmith 

You are right. History is filled with examples of how Buddhism has been hijacked by those with violent agendas, just as we see taking place now in Burma and Sri Lanka.  None of this changes the fact that the very heart of Buddhism resides in the four words: "First, do no harm."

Anyone who actually studies the words and teachings of The Buddha cannot help but come to the conclusion that he was first and foremost the world's greatest advocate of non-violence. If one chooses to really follow the dharma (his teachings) one must therefore renounce ALL violence against ALL beings, not just human beings. 

If 'Western' Buddhists are greater advocates of the non-violent teachings of The Buddha perhaps it is because being relatively new to the philosophy, they see clearly some aspects of Buddhism that other, older cultures may have lost sight of.

However, the Dalai Lama has not done this and HE is Asian. He continues to renounce violence at every opportunity. For most practitioners in the West, the Dalai Lama is the premier leader of Buddhism. 


JedifarceSmith
JedifarceSmith

For many westerners given their limited comprehension of buddhism, dont understand in many eastern asia cultures buddhism and violence are not polar opposites. History proves warrior monks have existed, feudal Japan is one such example while the present day shaolin monks are another. It is only in the soft western cultures that foolishly believe buddhism is completely nonviolent.

Michael Jaquish
Michael Jaquish

@JohnLThornton @Michael Jaquish @mhussain982679 @WalterL @StelEn1 @jayantha23 

This is right action, JohnLThornton. Our Muslim brothers (and Christian and Jews). Need our love and compassion more than ever right now because the best way to defeat the efforts of some to paint Buddhism as violent is to reach out in love. Does this open us up to violence by misguided individuals? Yes. Many have perished over time selecting this option. But far more have perished choosing the path of violence. Those on the Path of The Dharma know that the only way to defeat violence is with love.  

And yes indeed, every disaster is an opportunity. The allegations of violence being perpetrated by Buddhists is a huge opportunity for true, practicing Buddhists to reveal to the world what the heart of Buddhism really is.

I belong to a humanitarian aid organization called 'Our Humanity in the Balance' that is struggling to find a way to spread these messages to those in Sri Lanka as we speak. This situation is attracting the attention of people and groups all over the globe.

-In the Dharma

JohnLThornton
JohnLThornton

@Michael Jaquish @mhussain982679 @WalterL @StelEn1 @jayantha23 Thank you Michael for your thoughtful contribution.  I think your comments help illustrate why (in my mind, anyway) there may be countries which claim to be Christian, Islamic or Jewish. But surely, no country (or its residents) could claim that a nation was Buddhist?

I live next door to a mosque and, in light of what has been happening in Sri Lanka and Burma, I will make a concerted effort to offer love and compassion to my Muslim neighbours.

Michael Jaquish
Michael Jaquish

@mhussain982679 @WalterL @StelEn1 @jayantha23 Greetings, mhussain982679,

For your enlightenment, I will explain to you why Buddhism is not barbarism and terrorism even if 100,000 people have died (which I doubt) at the hands of those alleged to have been Buddhist. Unlike the monotheistic religions of the Jews, Christians and Muslims, Buddhist have NO commandments in the writings of the Awakened One (Buddha) judging others or telling others they will burn in hell. Monotheists use their Bible and Koran to justify killing in the name of God all the time, as you and the world is aware. NO ONE WAS EVER KILLED IN THE NAME OF THE BUDDHA. This is because there are NO teachings in the Dhammapada (the words of Lord Buddha) that justify violence in any form. Do not believe me though, read it for yourself.

The fact is, countless Buddhists have died throughout history rather than raise a hand in self defense. This is why Buddhists are no longer found in regions they were once found in like Afghanistan. No... Buddhism is ALL about compassion, NOT violence. The simple reason is, true, practicing Buddhists know there is no 'self' to defend. Selflessness is attained by loving and caring for OTHERS, not yourself. The more compassion one has for others, the closer one comes to enlightenment because the more diminished the ego (self) becomes. The Buddha attained enlightenment when he destroyed his ego (self) completely. All that was left was the connection he had with all other beings. And in that connection he saw the true nature of all things.

True practioners of Buddhism understand this.

WalterL
WalterL

@mhussain982679 @WalterL @StelEn1 @jayantha23 Sorry, I don't agree with you but excuse you for having that opinion. If there is one religion that is totally peaceful that is Buddhism. Unfortunately the actions of 'so called Buddhists' against the teachings of Buddha make it appear to be a violent religion like most other religions. Buddhism is being destroyed by these 'so called Buddhists', some in robes as well.

mhussain982679
mhussain982679

@WalterL @StelEn1 @jayantha23 Buddhism is barbarism and terrorism by all means because they have killed over 100,000 Rohingyas in 1942 and in 2012 too.Further more you can see whole Burma killing the innocent ethnic minorities.. 

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