Racism in Theravada?

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
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LuisR
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Racism in Theravada?

Post by LuisR » Tue Jun 19, 2018 2:34 pm

What does Buddhism say about racism? Have you ever experienced racism in Buddhism?

befriend
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Re: Racism in Theravada?

Post by befriend » Tue Jun 19, 2018 2:43 pm

Defining ones status by birth is wrong view according to Buddha. What made Buddha such a radical of his time was that he said it is actions which make one a Brahmin or noble one not by birth lineage.
Take care of mindfulness and mindfulness will take care of you.

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Nicolas
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Re: Racism in Theravada?

Post by Nicolas » Tue Jun 19, 2018 3:16 pm

Here are some sutta references:
Vasala Sutta (Snp 1.7) wrote: Not by birth is one an outcaste,
not by birth a brahman.
By action one is an outcaste.
By action is one a brahman.
Dhammapada chapter 26 wrote: Not by matted hair, nor by lineage, nor by birth does one become a holy man. But he in whom truth and righteousness exist — he is pure, he is a holy man.
Assalāyana Sutta (MN 93) wrote: [The brahman student Assalāyana] said to the Blessed One: “Master Gotama, the brahmans say, ‘Brahmans are the superior caste; any other caste is inferior. Only brahmans are the fair caste; any other caste is dark. Only brahmans are pure, not non-brahmans. Only brahmans are the sons & offspring of Brahmā: born of his mouth, born of Brahmā, created by Brahmā, heirs of Brahmā.’ What does Master Gotama have to say with regard to that?”

[The Buddha answers that brahman-women menstruate, give birth, and nurse children just like other women; that other places have different caste systems; that noble warriors, brahmans, merchants and warriors go to heavens or hells dependent on their ethical behavior, not their caste; that all castes can practice loving-kindness equally; that all castes can equally clean themselves through bathing; that all castes can equally produce fire from wooden sticks; that brahmans cannot be certain of the purity of their lineage.]
Vijaya Sutta (Snp 1.11) wrote: This two-footed thing is cared for,
filthy, evil-smelling,
filled with various carcasses,
oozing out here & there:
Whoever would think,
on the basis of a body like this,
to exalt himself or disparage another—

What is that
if not blindness?
Last edited by Nicolas on Tue Jun 19, 2018 3:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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DNS
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Re: Racism in Theravada?

Post by DNS » Tue Jun 19, 2018 3:19 pm

LuisR wrote:
Tue Jun 19, 2018 2:34 pm
What does Buddhism say about racism? Have you ever experienced racism in Buddhism?
Buddhist teachings on racism, caste, can be discussed here with Sutta references, but personal experiences are best discussed at the social, political forum:
https://dharmawheel.org/

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Sam Vara
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Re: Racism in Theravada?

Post by Sam Vara » Tue Jun 19, 2018 3:21 pm

I think there might be two distinct approaches to this. First, the Buddha rejected caste or skin colour as a basis for the worth of an individual, pointing instead to the actions and character.

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .than.html

For this reason, racism is without a factual basis; the person harbouring such thoughts would be delusional.

Second, the expression of racist thoughts could be seen as a form of incorrect speech, in that it would probably be motivated by anger or hatred towards a particular group. There might be a sort of "grey area" where someone speaks in good faith about human differences, and is unfortunately deemed by others to be racist. By extension of this principle, there could be definitions of racism (e.g. "institutional racism" or "unconscious racism") which would lead to the label of racism being applied where there is no racist intent on anybody's part. In such cases, the preconceptions and definitions are at fault, and not the speaker.

You might get a wider range of responses over on Dharma Wheel Engaged, for which there is a link at the foot of the page.

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Nicolas
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Re: Racism in Theravada?

Post by Nicolas » Tue Jun 19, 2018 3:34 pm

Another sutta reference:
Vāseṭṭha Sutta (Snp 3.9) wrote: Animals are divided by nature,
for their species differ, one from another.
[...]
While these species
have many distinguishing marks
made by nature,
human beings don’t
have many distinguishing marks
made by nature:
[...]
Their distinguishing mark is not made by nature
as it is for other species.
In human beings that’s not found
individually in their bodies,
but their identification is described
in terms of convention:
[...]
For this is a convention in the world:
the name & clan determined,
come into being from common consent,
here & there determined.
Taking a position unknowingly
for a long time obsessively,
those who don’t know
say that one is a brahman by birth.
Not by birth is one a brahman,
not by birth a non-brahman.
By action is one a brahman.
By action one is a non-brahman.

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