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Buddhist Violence Doesn't Exist - Dhamma Wheel

Buddhist Violence Doesn't Exist

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths. What can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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mettafuture
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Buddhist Violence Doesn't Exist

Postby mettafuture » Wed Jun 05, 2013 9:07 pm

The headline of a Washington Post article reads, "Deep-seated prejudice, radical Buddhist monks fuel violence against Myanmar’s Muslims."

The anti-religious have tried to use this and similar stories to fuel the idea that Buddhism "has a violent side." But is this a fair assessment?

, the oldest collection of Buddhist texts, takes a very clear and strong stance against any form of violence or hatred. Additionally, you won't find any discourses in the Tipitaka that condones violence or hatred. If a person intentionally and repeatedly inflicts harm on other sentient beings, that person cannot rightfully call themselves a Buddhist, let alone a monk.

Imagine this scenario: A group of "atheists" go out and say "We accept Jesus as our Lord and savior." Would it make sense to then conclude that "atheism" is a Christian philosophy? Of course not. Anyone can claim to be anything, but if their actions are not in tune with the philosophy they supposedly adhere to, those people cannot be used as a representation of that philosophy.

Most Buddhists see the violent "monks" in Myanmar in the same way most Christians see members of the . These thugs should not be used as examples of "Buddhist violence" because their behavior alone disqualifies them from being Buddhist, just as worshipping Satan would disqualify someone from being a Christian or a Muslim.

"Hatred is never appeased by hatred in this world. By non-hatred alone is hatred appeased. This is a law eternal. There are those who do not realize that one day we all must die. But those who do realize this settle their quarrels."
--

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cooran
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Re: Buddhist Violence Doesn't Exist

Postby cooran » Wed Jun 05, 2013 9:13 pm

Hello mettafuture,

I think they try to be Dhamma-followers - but are deluded on this matter (and perhaps other things).

All of us are deluded until we become enlightened.

Better to concentrate on our own thoughts and behaviour than to judge and discuss the behaviour of others.

With metta
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---

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mettafuture
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Re: Buddhist Violence Doesn't Exist

Postby mettafuture » Wed Jun 05, 2013 9:47 pm


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retrofuturist
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Re: Buddhist Violence Doesn't Exist

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Jun 05, 2013 10:48 pm

Greetings Mettafuture,

This may be a by-product of monasticism being regarded sometimes as an equivalent of a 'welfare state' in Asia.

Some people become bhikkhus because that's the only way they can see themselves receiving requisites, education and such.

To that extent, some may not have fully bought into the Dhamma (incl. non-violence) and are in it more for the worldly support.

Metta,
Retro. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

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mettafuture
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Re: Buddhist Violence Doesn't Exist

Postby mettafuture » Wed Jun 05, 2013 11:39 pm


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Dan74
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Re: Buddhist Violence Doesn't Exist

Postby Dan74 » Thu Jun 06, 2013 12:06 am

The thing is we often act unskillfully and do not repent because we don't see it as unskillful. I suspect most of these monks, don't blatantly break the precepts but actually perceive themselves as guardians of the Dhamma.
_/|\_

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Vern Stevens
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Re: Buddhist Violence Doesn't Exist

Postby Vern Stevens » Thu Jun 06, 2013 1:01 am

Members of all religions or philosophies have had to distance themselves from "radical" or "extreme" factions which allege or are believed to represent them. However, am I not supposed to look on to the actions of these people with compassion and empathy, recognizing that their actions are arising from their suffering however off course they may be? Of what benefit is it to me to judge their behavior? How does that help me with my practice? Why concern myself with "their bad" but "we" aren't? It sounds to me, a novice, like ego and division.
“What we think, we become.“ - The Buddha

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Lazy_eye
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Re: Buddhist Violence Doesn't Exist

Postby Lazy_eye » Thu Jun 06, 2013 1:32 am

The Buddha's disciples were forthright with each other. If a bhikkhu started saying things that were contrary to the Dhamma, other bhikkhus would tell him so and try to show him why. Bhikkhus who promote hatred and killing are misrepresenting the Dhamma. To say so plainly does not necessarily require us to be angry or rancorous or entertain bad mind states.

I can feel compassion for , the monk who thinks "killing is forgivable" and that Muslims should be wiped out "like snakes". It must be very flattering to have a following and be a person of influence. It is gratifying to feel that one is a hero protecting one's people. From his interviews we can see he has found ways to rationalize the violence and he probably even believes his own distortions and lies. All this is very human, very predictable. I cannot be sure that in his position I would not also become corrupted in this way.

Nevertheless, his actions are harmful and contrary to the Dhamma, and I don't think it is somehow wrong or overly "judgmental" for a Buddhist to point this out. To use an analogy, if I logged on to this board and started claiming that the Buddha endorsed intoxicants as a tool for awakening, surely somebody would correct my interpretation.

If I'm out walking and happen to notice that a distracted pedestrian is about to cross into the path of an oncoming truck, should I just let the person get hit? Is that the more compassionate choice?

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Vern Stevens
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Re: Buddhist Violence Doesn't Exist

Postby Vern Stevens » Thu Jun 06, 2013 2:10 am

Fair enough. Thanks. :anjali:
“What we think, we become.“ - The Buddha

pegembara
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Re: Buddhist Violence Doesn't Exist

Postby pegembara » Thu Jun 06, 2013 3:28 am

And what is right speech? Abstaining from lying, from divisive speech, from abusive speech, & from idle chatter: This is called right speech.

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Doshin
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Re: Buddhist Violence Doesn't Exist

Postby Doshin » Thu Jun 06, 2013 7:27 am

Knowing about dhamma, does not imply knowing dhamma

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mettafuture
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Re: Buddhist Violence Doesn't Exist

Postby mettafuture » Thu Jun 06, 2013 8:18 am


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Sam Vara
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Re: Buddhist Violence Doesn't Exist

Postby Sam Vara » Thu Jun 06, 2013 9:49 am


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Vern Stevens
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Re: Buddhist Violence Doesn't Exist

Postby Vern Stevens » Thu Jun 06, 2013 10:46 am

“What we think, we become.“ - The Buddha

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Vern Stevens
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Re: Buddhist Violence Doesn't Exist

Postby Vern Stevens » Thu Jun 06, 2013 11:08 am

“What we think, we become.“ - The Buddha

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Dan74
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Re: Buddhist Violence Doesn't Exist

Postby Dan74 » Thu Jun 06, 2013 11:23 am

Last edited by Dan74 on Thu Jun 06, 2013 10:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.
_/|\_

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Kamran
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Re: Buddhist Violence Doesn't Exist

Postby Kamran » Thu Jun 06, 2013 4:04 pm

Buddhists have committed a lot of terrorism and other violence as well.
"Silence gives answers"

Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi

Kabouterke
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Re: Buddhist Violence Doesn't Exist

Postby Kabouterke » Thu Jun 06, 2013 6:21 pm

Well, of course Buddhism has a violent side.

Nowadays, Buddhism is, whether directly or indirectly, one of the contributing factors in some of the world's major ethnic conflicts. It plays a direct role in forming the "cleavage lines," sharpening differences ethnic groups... For example, Sinhalese and the Tamils in Sri Lanka. One of the major factors that initially sparked the escalation of the conflict between the Buddhist majority and minority Muslim minorities, was the fact that Buddhism was used as a political tool to enforce the dominance of the Buddhist Bamar ethnic group. By enstating Buddhism as the only official state religion in Myanmar, you effectively negate the needs or demands of any other ethnic group that doesn't participate in that religion. There is also tons of rhetoric using Buddhism such as the duty of people to "protect the religion," etc.

Historically speaking, though, Buddhism has had a huge dose of violence and you could literally find hundreds of examples of Buddhist violence in history. You only have to think of the Sohei "warrior monks" of Heian Japan for a good example. These monks' primary function was to keep on the look out and charge out at anyone approaching their monastary from rival sects or political groups.

It's just a fact that Buddhism has a violent side. Buddhists, after all, are humans just like the members of any other religion. The religion clearly doesn't call for it, just as it's difficult to justify the Crusades with the Bible. Nowadays people speak of Buddhism as if it was the last religion on earth not have have become embroiled in politics, violence and war. But that's just looking at the world through rose colored glasses.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddhism_and_violence
Last edited by Kabouterke on Thu Jun 06, 2013 7:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Kabouterke
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Re: Buddhist Violence Doesn't Exist

Postby Kabouterke » Thu Jun 06, 2013 6:36 pm


Coyote
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Re: Buddhist Violence Doesn't Exist

Postby Coyote » Thu Jun 06, 2013 7:48 pm

"If beings knew, as I know, the results of giving & sharing, they would not eat without having given, nor would the stain of miserliness overcome their minds. Even if it were their last bite, their last mouthful, they would not eat without having shared."
Iti 26


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