Genocide in Burma: Monks and Perpetuation of Violence

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths - what can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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LonesomeYogurt
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Re: Genocide in Burma: Monks and Perpetuation of Violence

Post by LonesomeYogurt » Wed May 01, 2013 9:44 pm

binocular wrote:Given the ways of samsara, it seems inevitable that there comes a point where one has to defend one's religion even with violent means.
I doubt those monks want to cause harm; it just appears that the situation has progressed to the point where, for worldly intents and purposes, nothing except violent means can hope to resolve it.
Worldly intents and purposes cannot be ignored.
It would be better for the entire dispensation to disappear here and now than have it be sustained in the world through violence. Killing is never skillful, and each and every monk who recommends violence against the Royhinga, or anyone else, should be denounced and disrobed. I do not care in the least about "worldly intents and purposes" when they conflict with the Blessed One's teachings.
Gain and loss, status and disgrace,
censure and praise, pleasure and pain:
these conditions among human beings are inconstant,
impermanent, subject to change.

Knowing this, the wise person, mindful,
ponders these changing conditions.
Desirable things don’t charm the mind,
undesirable ones bring no resistance.

His welcoming and rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
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Re: Genocide in Burma: Monks and Perpetuation of Violence

Post by cooran » Wed May 01, 2013 10:49 pm

Killing is never skillful, and each and every monk who recommends violence against the Royhinga, or anyone else, should be denounced and disrobed.
Agree. Where are the Senior Bhikkhus of that Tradition? Why are they silent?

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Re: Genocide in Burma: Monks and Perpetuation of Violence

Post by charon » Thu May 02, 2013 6:45 am

A related BBC piece today:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-22362831

I always find it interesting when people seem shocked that Buddhist monks/lay populations are capable of violence – In the West, there is a pervasive romantic view of Buddhism as nothing but a peaceful philosophy/psychology/religion (interestingly, also endorsed and perpetuated by mass-media and consumerism). Buddhism, as practised by millions, is a man-made organised religion; a state religion in many cases.

When a powerful state religion is wielded as a political tool, especially in countries that are intrinsically hierarchical, the rule of the elite is given extraordinary strength. Look at the example in Thailand during the pro-democracy protests, a high-standing monk went on radio stating that it was fine to kill ‘communists’ and no negative karma would be gained.

Even if there is no direct order from the political elite in these countries, cultural prejudices and intolerance act in just the same way. The pogroms in Russia serve as an example that bears more than a few similarities!

Organised religion, both intentionally and unintentionally, has always had this side-effect, and Buddhism has never been an exception; it’s just our own conception and interpretation of our ‘Buddhism’, and more generally, the West’s romanticised projection colours the lens we look through.

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Re: Genocide in Burma: Monks and Perpetuation of Violence

Post by binocular » Thu May 02, 2013 1:11 pm

LonesomeYogurt wrote:
binocular wrote:Given the ways of samsara, it seems inevitable that there comes a point where one has to defend one's religion even with violent means.
I doubt those monks want to cause harm; it just appears that the situation has progressed to the point where, for worldly intents and purposes, nothing except violent means can hope to resolve it.
Worldly intents and purposes cannot be ignored.
It would be better for the entire dispensation to disappear here and now than have it be sustained in the world through violence. Killing is never skillful, and each and every monk who recommends violence against the Royhinga, or anyone else, should be denounced and disrobed. I do not care in the least about "worldly intents and purposes" when they conflict with the Blessed One's teachings.
cooran wrote:
Killing is never skillful, and each and every monk who recommends violence against the Royhinga, or anyone else, should be denounced and disrobed.
Agree. Where are the Senior Bhikkhus of that Tradition? Why are they silent?
If someone were to come to cause you and your loved ones harm, what would you do?
Would you just stand there and let them do it?
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Re: Genocide in Burma: Monks and Perpetuation of Violence

Post by Lazy_eye » Thu May 02, 2013 1:26 pm

binocular wrote: If someone were to come to cause you and your loved ones harm, what would you do?
Would you just stand there and let them do it?
I don't quite see how your line of questioning applies to the situation in Burma. The violence there, for the most part, is being carried out by a majority population against minorities.

Are you trying to build up an argument in favor of ethnic cleansing? Please clarify.

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Re: Genocide in Burma: Monks and Perpetuation of Violence

Post by householder » Fri May 03, 2013 3:57 am

Security's tight in my Muslim majority neighbourhood again. Well, the local Muslims' own security is anyway. I don't see much in the way of police presence at night. Some articles circulating online from journalists who have spoken to some of the local Muslims report that, if there is a conflict, they'll go to one of the local monasteries to bring sayadaws to resolve tension, rather than the police. In the recent bout of violence there were a fair few reports of monks intervening to calm things too.

After talking to a few people bearing 969 stickers in Yangon I'm not convinced each and every one who displays such stickers is a hardened Buddhist terrorist/militant in support of ethnic cleansing, although an uncomfortably high number continue to display some very unappealing attitudes towards Muslims (not so much Christians or Hindus). It's complex and would take up a small treatise to explain my limited and largely ignorant perspective. As for the 969 movement outside of Yangon (where it's a whole other world), I don't know and I'm not sure many others do either - ask 4 different people and you'll get 8 different answers.

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Re: Genocide in Burma: Monks and Perpetuation of Violence

Post by Paribbajaka » Fri May 03, 2013 4:18 am

binocular wrote:
If someone were to come to cause you and your loved ones harm, what would you do?
Would you just stand there and let them do it?
Lord Buddha wrote: "Hatred is never appeased by hatred in this world. By non-hatred alone is hatred appeased. This is a law eternal."
The Buddha very clearly discusses in the Pali Canon that a Buddhist SHOULD NOT kill in retaliation to killing. Even if this were a case of Muslim aggression Buddhists and especially monastics should not be involved in genocide like this. It is important to remember that in the Buddha's own lifetime his clan was eradicated by a rival clan, and he did not react with the slightest bit of ill will or violence. If these are followers of the Buddha, why are they acting in this way?
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Re: Genocide in Burma: Monks and Perpetuation of Violence

Post by binocular » Fri May 03, 2013 10:21 am

Paribbajaka wrote:The Buddha very clearly discusses in the Pali Canon that a Buddhist SHOULD NOT kill in retaliation to killing. Even if this were a case of Muslim aggression Buddhists and especially monastics should not be involved in genocide like this. It is important to remember that in the Buddha's own lifetime his clan was eradicated by a rival clan, and he did not react with the slightest bit of ill will or violence.


If these are followers of the Buddha, why are they acting in this way?
Maybe they are not enlightened, and so have to resort to worldly means for their self-protection.
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Re: Genocide in Burma: Monks and Perpetuation of Violence

Post by Coyote » Fri May 03, 2013 1:12 pm

binocular wrote:
Paribbajaka wrote:The Buddha very clearly discusses in the Pali Canon that a Buddhist SHOULD NOT kill in retaliation to killing. Even if this were a case of Muslim aggression Buddhists and especially monastics should not be involved in genocide like this. It is important to remember that in the Buddha's own lifetime his clan was eradicated by a rival clan, and he did not react with the slightest bit of ill will or violence.


If these are followers of the Buddha, why are they acting in this way?
Maybe they are not enlightened, and so have to resort to worldly means for their self-protection.
That doesn't mean it is permissible or that we should not call those who have ordained in the Buddha Sasana out on behavior that is immoral and that the Buddha strictly prohibited. Compassion and understanding for those who perpetrate violence, yes. But IMO we should not be silent and it is quite right to ask why the senior monks in Burma seem to be.

Just because we/they are unenlightened does not make us/them mindless robots or somehow unable to keep sila or act in the proper manner for a Bhikkhu. Plenty manage it, I'm sure.
"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."
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Re: Genocide in Burma: Monks and Perpetuation of Violence

Post by Lazy_eye » Fri May 03, 2013 1:22 pm

It's a moot point in any case, because Buddhists in Burma are not for the most part under attack. They comprise nearly 90% of the population, whereas Muslims add up to around 4%.

However, Muslim merchants do make a convenient scapegoat for opportunists seeking to exploit economic grievances.
Last edited by Lazy_eye on Fri May 03, 2013 6:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Genocide in Burma: Monks and Perpetuation of Violence

Post by Paribbajaka » Fri May 03, 2013 1:31 pm

Coyote wrote:Just because we/they are unenlightened does not make us/them mindless robots or somehow unable to keep sila or act in the proper manner for a Bhikkhu. Plenty manage it, I'm sure.
This. I'm sorry, but it is pretty clear that in a Buddhist worldview, violence is never the answer. Those who kill in the name of Buddhism, a thought system based on goodwill and non-harm, are hypocrites, plain and simple. This is ignoring the fact that much of the violence seems to be initiated by the sangha instead of them simply defending themselves.

I understand that real life can be messy, and that every Buddhist country throughout history has had standing armies, but it is especially reprehensible for monastics to engage in violence, as they have dedicated their lives to Buddhism and should certainly not be
a)killing
b)spreading racial or theological hatred
c)getting involved with worldly politics

They have all taken vows as such.

As far as defending home and family, Bhikkhu literally translates as beggar, monks have "left home", and are living the "homeless life" , and even get new names to signify the end of their lay life. If this is the case, what home and family are they defending (this may sound harsh, but once again all of the, have willingly taken this path.)
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Re: Genocide in Burma: Monks and Perpetuation of Violence

Post by Bhikkhu Cintita » Fri May 03, 2013 5:49 pm

A number of people involved in this thread have suggested that while some monastics in Burma have advocated violence few have condemned it. I want to point out the following recent statement by Ashin Nyanissara (Sitagu Sayadaw's):

https://www.facebook.com/notes/%E1%80%9 ... 1772747167

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Re: Genocide in Burma: Monks and Perpetuation of Violence

Post by Paribbajaka » Fri May 03, 2013 6:13 pm

Bhikkhu Cintita wrote:A number of people involved in this thread have suggested that while some monastics in Burma have advocated violence few have condemned it. I want to point out the following recent statement by Ashin Nyanissara (Sitagu Sayadaw's):

https://www.facebook.com/notes/%E1%80%9 ... 1772747167
It is very heartening to see this. It takes a lot of courageousness to stand up like this, and I am glad to see some Burmese bhikkhus doing so. Sadhu sadhu sadhu! :bow:
May all beings be happy!

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Re: Genocide in Burma: Monks and Perpetuation of Violence

Post by binocular » Fri May 03, 2013 6:34 pm

Lazy_eye wrote:
binocular wrote: If someone were to come to cause you and your loved ones harm, what would you do?
Would you just stand there and let them do it?
I don't quite see how your line of questioning applies to the situation in Burma. The violence there, for the most part, is being carried out by a majority population against minorities.

Are you trying to build up an argument in favor of ethnic cleansing? Please clarify.
Oh please.


When discussing such issues, there's the danger to take things out of context. My suspicion is that the situation slowly progressed to a boiling point. Perhaps at first, the Buddhists tried to be "good Buddhists," and have tolerated the abuse from the minority, thus enabling it and letting it grow. Until they couldn't be "good Buddhists" anymore.

It is said that three small things must not be neglected: a small fire, a small snake, and a small prince. It seems that the situation in Burma may have been a case of neglecting a small fire.

Coyote wrote:That doesn't mean it is permissible or that we should not call those who have ordained in the Buddha Sasana out on behavior that is immoral and that the Buddha strictly prohibited.
Noone said it is permissible. But them not being enlightened could explain why they act the way they do.

Compassion and understanding for those who perpetrate violence, yes. But IMO we should not be silent and it is quite right to ask why the senior monks in Burma seem to be.
There is the issue of instructing someone who is not one's student.

Just because we/they are unenlightened does not make us/them mindless robots or somehow unable to keep sila or act in the proper manner for a Bhikkhu. Plenty manage it, I'm sure.
The question is, for how long, under what circumstances.
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Re: Genocide in Burma: Monks and Perpetuation of Violence

Post by binocular » Fri May 03, 2013 6:39 pm

Paribbajaka wrote:
Lord Buddha wrote:"Hatred is never appeased by hatred in this world. By non-hatred alone is hatred appeased. This is a law eternal."
The Buddha very clearly discusses in the Pali Canon that a Buddhist SHOULD NOT kill in retaliation to killing. Even if this were a case of Muslim aggression Buddhists and especially monastics should not be involved in genocide like this. It is important to remember that in the Buddha's own lifetime his clan was eradicated by a rival clan, and he did not react with the slightest bit of ill will or violence. If these are followers of the Buddha, why are they acting in this way?
Perhaps those Buddhists there are not retaliating, perhaps they are not acting with anger and hatred.
One cannot just assume what the intention for another person's action is.
Every person we save is one less zombie to fight. -- World War Z

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