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Dhamma Wheel • View topic - Buddhist Violence Doesn't Exist

Buddhist Violence Doesn't Exist

An open and inclusive investigation into Buddhism and spiritual cultivation

Re: Buddhist Violence Doesn't Exist

Postby mettafuture » Thu Jun 06, 2013 7:52 pm

Sam Vara wrote:Other examples would be the "vegetarian" who is OK about eating chicken and fish, and will eat meat if refusing it would offend their host, etc. They are indeed "no true vegetarian", regardless of what they call themselves, and if we allow that some things can over-ride self-definitions, then we can try to convince our opponent that the monks in question are "no true Buddhists". It's difficult, however, when rioters and killers are wearing saffron robes and are attempting to justify their actions in terms of accepted Dhamma!

I agree, and this distinction is very relevant.

Vern Stevens wrote:
mettafuture wrote:
Vern Stevens wrote: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 course not.

I'd like to clarify your answer as perhaps the wording of my question was confusing. Dropping the question form, I'd say that I should have compassion and empathy for the monks involved despite their unskillful actions. Does your response state that I should not?

No it doesn't.

Vern Stevens wrote:The more a philosophy or religion is splintered into factions, the more difficult it is for some people to identify who is "truly" what; the waters get muddied.

Not entirely. To trace the doctrinal source of Christianity, there's the Bible, for Islam there's the Koran, and for Buddhism there's the Tipitaka. And it can be easily shown that The Book of Mormon, The Nation of Islam, and the Mahayana Suttras were all later additions, and are not, technically, canonical sources.

Dan74 wrote:
mettafuture wrote:
Dan74 wrote: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.

If that's the case, then they are deluded. If that's the case, then they are deluded. Or they're just ignoring the teachings that speak against violence. Or they never took the Dhamma that seriously to begin with.

Eureka!

viewtopic.php?p=248391#p248391

Kamran wrote:Buddhists have committed a lot of terrorism and other violence as well.

No they haven't.

Kabouterke wrote:Well, of course Buddhism has a violent side.

Where is the violence in the Tipitaka?

People have a violent side, but Buddhism does not.

The religion clearly doesn't call for it, just as it's difficult to justify the Crusades with the Bible.

It's not difficult at all.

"Anyone who blasphemes the name of the Lord is to be put to death. The entire assembly must stone them. Whether foreigner or native-born, when they blaspheme the Name they are to be put to death."
-- Leviticus 24:16

Kabouterke wrote:You're kind of asking two questions at once:
1. Does the religion outright call for violence?
&
2. Has the religion been used for a justification for violence?

We shouldn't confuse these two questions: #1 does not mean that #2 isn't possible.

Hitler used evolution to justify the extermination of the "inferior." Should this used against evolution, or does it have anything to do with the science of evolution theory? Absolutely not. Just because #2 is possible doesn't mean that it can be used against something, unless that something clearly endorses the actions it inspires.

Buddhism is not unique in the fact that it calls for non-violence.

But it is unique in that it doesn't, once, condone any form of violence.

As I said in the post above, most people are aware that the New Testament speaks strongly against violence and presents a strong message of brotherly-love, compassion and acceptance.

"God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might 10 on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you."
-- 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10
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Re: Buddhist Violence Doesn't Exist

Postby Kabouterke » Thu Jun 06, 2013 8:17 pm

Coyote wrote:
Kabouterke wrote:
You're kind of asking two questions at once:
1. Does the religion outright call for violence?
&
2. Has the religion been used for a justification for violence?

We shouldn't confuse these two questions: #1 does not mean that #2 isn't possible.

Buddhism is not unique in the fact that it calls for non-violence. As I said in the post above, most people are aware that the New Testament speaks strongly against violence and presents a strong message of brotherly-love, compassion and acceptance.

That doesn't mean Christianity hasn't been used for some of the worst violence with world has ever seen in the past and the present. History and current world politics shows that Buddhism falls into the same category.



The difference is that there is no clear explicit teaching on non-violence from a Christian perspective other than in personal conflict, and "just war" justifications have been hanging around since the 3rd century or so. Can the same be said of Buddhism?
Thats not to say that the OPs statement is correct. Clearly there are people who identify as Buddhist who have committed violent acts motivated by Buddhism and justified them with Buddhism. That is enough in most people's eyes to be "Buddhist violence". Surely it is a matter of duty to ensure that violence does not become associated with the Dhamma (as opposed to "buddhism")?

Also: "Monks, even if bandits were to savagely sever you, limb by limb, with a double-handled saw, even then, whoever of you harbors ill will at heart would not be upholding my Teaching. "

Given that most of us, excluding Anagami's, would and do harbor ill-will against those who harm us, does that mean they are not "true Buddhists"? Clearly one can go against the teaching and consider themselves Buddhist. What is the standard exactly? If it is the 5 precepts, then would an alcoholic not be considered Buddhist? What about someone who lies occasionally? Steals a pen from work ect.?


Yes, the same can be said for Buddhism, as I hoped to show the above. Not only is there an established precedent of using Buddhism for cultural, political and economic means, but there have been a number of widely accepted policies developed in Buddhism using certain sutras. If you somehow think that violence can only be called "Buddhist violence" if it has been specifically called for by the religion by certain texts or sects or whatever, then we can't consider the Crusades as an example Christian violence. I would like to point out that the just war theory is also nothing that can be found directly in the Bible. It is a theory that was interpreted -using the Bible and biblical scholarship- and propagated in philosophical and theological circles in its time. It would be just as hard to find something that direclty provokes violence in the New Testament as in Buddhsit sutras. The parallels between radical Buddhism and radical Christianity are exactly the same.

The warrios monks that I mentioned above were not just some weird curiosity out of Buddhist history. This was the way of life in medieval Eastern Asian and they numbered in the thousands. And yes, they specifically trained in violence and killing in the name of Buddhism. It was a firmly established practice and it was justified by protecting "the one true Dharma" as well as maintaining economic and political dominance. And, if you look at the link I provided, this is example is certainly not the only one of its kind.

Almost all major world religions disown extremist acts of terrorism or violence committed in its name. Orthodox Islam rejects the terrorism, Christianity rejects the crusades and witch hunts done in its name, mainstream Hinduism in India also rejects the destroying of Mosques and the killing of Muslims along its border, and mainstream Buddhists also reject acts of violence committed in it's name. None of these acts, according to orthodox interpretations, are explicitly called for by their religion. So how are the acts of extremism committed by Buddhists any different?
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Re: Buddhist Violence Doesn't Exist

Postby Kabouterke » Thu Jun 06, 2013 8:28 pm

mettafuture wrote:
Kamran wrote:Buddhists have committed a lot of terrorism and other violence as well.

No they haven't.

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

mettafuture wrote:
Kabouterke wrote:Well, of course Buddhism has a violent side.

Where is the violence in the Tipitaka?

Where are the Crusades in the Bible?

mettafuture wrote:People have a violent side, but Buddhism does not.

People have a violent side, but Christianity does not.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddhism_and_violence

mettafuture wrote:
The religion clearly doesn't call for it, just as it's difficult to justify the Crusades with the Bible.

It's not difficult at all.

"Anyone who blasphemes the name of the Lord is to be put to death. The entire assembly must stone them. Whether foreigner or native-born, when they blaspheme the Name they are to be put to death."
-- Leviticus 24:16


Old Testament. And, I hardly doubt that any Jew would advocate such a policy.

mettafuture wrote:
Kabouterke wrote:You're kind of asking two questions at once:
1. Does the religion outright call for violence?
&
2. Has the religion been used for a justification for violence?

We shouldn't confuse these two questions: #1 does not mean that #2 isn't possible.

Hitler used evolution to justify the extermination of the "inferior." Should this used against evolution, or does it have anything to do with the science of evolution theory? Absolutely not. Just because #2 is possible doesn't mean that it can be used against something, unless that something clearly endorses the actions it inspires.

Then let's stop holding the Crusades above Christianity's head.


mettafuture wrote:
Kabouterke wrote:As I said in the post above, most people are aware that the New Testament speaks strongly against violence and presents a strong message of brotherly-love, compassion and acceptance.

"God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might 10 on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you."
-- 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10

What does this have to do with anything? What they prophesy their God will eventually do cannot be construed to be instructions for its followers. "They will be punished" doesn't mean 'Go out and carry out my will."
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Re: Buddhist Violence Doesn't Exist

Postby mettafuture » Thu Jun 06, 2013 9:13 pm

Kabouterke wrote:If you somehow think that violence can only be called "Buddhist violence" if it has been specifically called for by the religion by certain texts or sects or whatever, then we can't consider the Crusades as an example Christian violence.

Yes you can. The Bible is packed with acts of violence and intolerance.

It would be just as hard to find something that directly provokes violence in the New Testament as in Buddhist sutras. The parallels between radical Buddhism and radical Christianity are exactly the same.

It's curious how you try to focus attention on the New Testament when making your posts. You're likely doing this because you know that the Old Testament is full of incredibly hateful verses like these.

“If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads."
-- Leviticus 20:13

Most Christians also acknowledge the Old Testament as the "Word of God." But, for the sake of discussion, let's say there are some who only read the New Testament. The New Testament preaches the same kind of intolerance against those who don't accept Jesus. See 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10.

Almost all major world religions disown extremist acts of terrorism or violence committed in its name. Orthodox Islam rejects the terrorism, Christianity rejects the crusades and witch hunts done in its name, mainstream Hinduism in India also rejects the destroying of Mosques and the killing of Muslims along its border, and mainstream Buddhists also reject acts of violence committed in it's name. None of these acts, according to orthodox interpretations, are explicitly called for by their religion. So how are the acts of extremism committed by Buddhists any different?

Because there aren't any verses like this in the Tipitaka that can be used by extremists to justify their actions.

"[Remember] when your Lord inspired to the angels, 'I am with you, so strengthen those who have believed. I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieved, so strike [them] upon the necks and strike from them every fingertip.'"
-- Quran 8:12

Kabouterke wrote:
mettafuture wrote:
Kamran wrote:Buddhists have committed a lot of terrorism and other violence as well.

No they haven't.

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

If a Japanese doctor says "I'm a Russian airplane pilot", should we automatically believe him/her? As I said in my OP, 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.

Unlike the Christian bible, the Tipitaka doesn't have any verses that can be interpreted or used by extremists to justify violence against another person, therefore - people who do violent acts in the "name of Buddhism" cannot truly be classified as Buddhists, just as a Japanese doctor can't suddenly say that he/she is a Russian airplane pilot without fitting the definition of one.

And I don't see a single verse from the Tipitaka on that Wikipedia page.

People have a violent side, but Christianity does not.

"If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned."
-- Jesus, John 15:6.

Kabouterke wrote:
mettafuture wrote:
Kabouterke wrote:The religion clearly doesn't call for it, just as it's difficult to justify the Crusades with the Bible.

It's not difficult at all.
"Anyone who blasphemes the name of the Lord is to be put to death. The entire assembly must stone them. Whether foreigner or native-born, when they blaspheme the Name they are to be put to death."
-- Leviticus 24:16

Old Testament. And, I hardly doubt that any Jew would advocate such a policy.

But people have. See The Crusades.

Kabouterke wrote:
mettafuture wrote:
Kabouterke wrote:Well, of course Buddhism has a violent side.

Where is the violence in the Tipitaka?

Where are the Crusades in the Bible?

Within conservative interpretations of egregious verses like these:

"Anyone who blasphemes the name of the Lord is to be put to death. The entire assembly must stone them. Whether foreigner or native-born, when they blaspheme the Name they are to be put to death."
-- Leviticus 24:16

Christianity and Islam inspire violent acts because their texts are full of violent acts.

Where is the equivalent in the Tipitaka ?

Kabouterke wrote:
mettafuture wrote:"God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might 10 on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you."
-- 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10

What does this have to do with anything? What they prophesy their God will eventually do cannot be construed to be instructions for its followers. "They will be punished" doesn't mean 'Go out and carry out my will."

But it can be interpreted that way.

Where are the discourses in the Tipitaka that can be interpreted in this way?
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Re: Buddhist Violence Doesn't Exist

Postby Coyote » Thu Jun 06, 2013 9:31 pm

People can debate endlessly whether the New Testament condones war or violence in general. It's really irrelevant to those Christians who do not consider the new testament the be all and end all of Christian doctrine :shrug: . Whatever your personal opinion is on the matter it is not a clear cut issue, as the posts on this thread show. The same cannot be said of Buddhism, or at least Theravada Buddhism. There is no canonical Theravada text that condones violence as far as I am aware, unless in personal self-defence. This is an important distinction when talking about historical violence propagated by monks.
I still think the important question comes down to how "a Buddhist" is defined, and what one has to do in order to be/not be considered one. If later or Mahayana texts advocate violence, not that they do, would this be considered Buddhist? Why would this be any less Buddhist than those who teach a subtle atman or other teachings that contradict the Tipitaka.?

Also there is the difference in individuals promoting or inciting violence, and trying to pin Buddhist violence on Buddhism itself, which as I understand it, is the OPs main problem with the idea.
Last edited by Coyote on Thu Jun 06, 2013 9:54 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Buddhist Violence Doesn't Exist

Postby binocular » Thu Jun 06, 2013 9:43 pm

mettafuture wrote:Christianity and Islam inspire violent acts because their texts are full of violent acts.

To be sure, there is plenty of violent acts in the Tipitaka as well. All those chilling descriptions of aging, illness and death, oceans of blood and tears.


"They will be punished" doesn't mean 'Go out and carry out my will."

But it can be interpreted that way.

Where are the discourses in the Tipitaka that can be interpreted in this way?


Perhaps some could take AN 4.111 to extremes, for example:

/.../
"And if a tamable person doesn't submit either to a mild training or to a harsh training or to a mild & harsh training, what do you do?"

"If a tamable person doesn't submit either to a mild training or to a harsh training or to a mild & harsh training, then I kill him, Kesi."

"But it's not proper for our Blessed One to take life! And yet the Blessed One just said, 'I kill him, Kesi.'"

"It is true, Kesi, that it's not proper for a Tathagata to take life. But if a tamable person doesn't submit either to a mild training or to a harsh training or to a mild & harsh training, then the Tathagata doesn't regard him as being worth speaking to or admonishing. His knowledgeable fellows in the holy life don't regard him as being worth speaking to or admonishing. This is what it means to be totally destroyed in the Doctrine & Discipline, when the Tathagata doesn't regard one as being worth speaking to or admonishing, and one's knowledgeable fellows in the holy life don't regard one as being worth speaking to or admonishing."
/.../
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Re: Buddhist Violence Doesn't Exist

Postby binocular » Thu Jun 06, 2013 9:50 pm

Coyote wrote:Also there is the difference in individuals promoting or inciting violence, and trying to pin Buddhist violence on Buddhism itself, which as I understand it, is the OPs main problem with the idea.

Speaking in terms of principles, if people would be strictly practicing Buddhism, then Buddhism would die out in a few generations. Now that's an oddly self-defeating characteristic of a religion: in order to keep Buddhism alive, it must not be practiced too strictly.
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Re: Buddhist Violence Doesn't Exist

Postby mettafuture » Thu Jun 06, 2013 9:55 pm

binocular wrote:
mettafuture wrote:Christianity and Islam inspire violent acts because their texts are full of violent acts.

To be sure, there is plenty of violent acts in the Tipitaka as well. All those chilling descriptions of aging, illness and death, oceans of blood and tears.

Those descriptions aren't "violent." They're reality. It's a fact that were are all subject to old age, illness, and death.

Perhaps some could take AN 4.111 to extremes, for example:

By using the words of a horse trainer to justify murder?

"If a tamable horse doesn't submit either to a mild training or to a harsh training or to a mild and harsh training, lord, then I kill it"
-- Kesi, who was a horse trainer, not the Buddha.

"It is true, Kesi, that it's not proper for a Tathagata to take life. But if a tamable person doesn't submit either to a mild training or to a harsh training or to a mild & harsh training, then the Tathagata doesn't regard him as being worth speaking to or admonishing."
-- The Buddha's response, which was an advocation of silence, not violence.
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Re: Buddhist Violence Doesn't Exist

Postby Dhammanando » Thu Jun 06, 2013 11:19 pm

mettafuture wrote:Because there aren't any verses like this in the Tipitaka that can be used by extremists to justify their actions.

"[Remember] when your Lord inspired to the angels, 'I am with you, so strengthen those who have believed. I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieved, so strike [them] upon the necks and strike from them every fingertip.'"
-- Quran 8:12



There are in the Suttas about thirty occurrences of the adverb sattadhā, meaning ‘sevenfold’. In the Jātaka verses these mostly occur in connection with some miscreant (usually Devadatta) getting zapped by the utterance of a saccakiriyā (e.g., “Etena saccavajjena, muddhā te phalatu sattadhā!” — “By this utterance of truth may your skull explode into seven pieces!”) spoken by one of the Buddha’s future leading disciples. In the first four Nikāyas they mostly occur in connection with the axe-wielding yakkha Vajirapāṇī threatening to use his axe to the same effect. The persons thus threatened are those of the Buddha’s interlocutors who resort to dishonorable debating tactics and the like. Now in none of these cases does the Buddha ever say to Vajirapāṇī: “Hey, yakkha, just buzz off, will you! Shoo! Go away!” On the contrary, he takes advantage of the yakkha’s strong-arm tactics by warning his interlocutor that he’s going to get it if he doesn’t mind his manners.

    Then the Blessed One said to Ambaṭṭha the Brahman: ‘Then this further question arises, Ambaṭṭha, a very reasonable one which, even though unwillingly, you should answer. If you do not give a clear reply, or go off upon another issue, or remain silent, or go away, then your head will split into seven pieces on the spot. What have you heard, when Brahmans old and well stricken in years, teachers of yours or their teachers, were talking together, as to whence the Kaṇhāyanas draw their origin, and who the ancestor was to whom they trace themselves back?’

    And when he had thus spoken Ambaṭṭha remained silent. And the Blessed One asked the same question again. And still Ambaṭṭha remained silent. Then the Blessed One said to him: ‘You had better answer, now, Ambaṭṭha. This is no time for you to hold your peace. For whosoever, Ambaṭṭha, does not, even up to the third time of asking, answer a reasonable question put by a Tathāgata, his head splits into seven pieces on the spot.’

    Now at that time the yakkha Vajirapāṇī stood over above Ambaṭṭha in the sky with a mighty iron axe, all fiery, dazzling, and aglow, with the intention, if he did not answer, there and then to split his head into seven pieces. And the Blessed One perceived the yakkha Vajirapāṇī, and so did Ambaṭṭha the Brahman. And Ambaṭṭha on becoming aware of it, terrified, startled, and agitated, seeking safety and protection and help from the Blessed One, crouched down beside him in awe, and said: ‘What was it the Blessed One said? Say it once again!’


And so for the purpose of opening Ambaṭṭha's eyes to the Dhamma, the Buddha accepts with alacrity the aid of a thuggish axe-wielding yakkha. Unlike some of his modern western admirers, the Lion of the Sakyans (as one would expect of a kṣatriya) is no advocate of simple-minded hippie pacifism.
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Re: Buddhist Violence Doesn't Exist

Postby Lazy_eye » Thu Jun 06, 2013 11:36 pm

I don't think one has to be a simple-minded hippie pacifist to oppose the pogroms that are going on in Burma -- or the participation of certain elements among the Buddhist clergy. That's simply a matter of basic morality. If the Venerables involved think they are demonstrating their enlightenment in this way, or delivering some sort of Dhamma lesson, then enlightenment has no meaning and the Dhamma is nonsense. One might just as well join the Mafia.
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Re: Buddhist Violence Doesn't Exist

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Jun 06, 2013 11:38 pm

Greetings,

Dhammanando wrote:In the Jātaka verses these mostly occur in connection with some miscreant (usually Devadatta) getting zapped by the utterance of a saccakiriyā (e.g., “Etena saccavajjena, muddhā te phalatu sattadhā!” — “By this utterance of truth may your skull explode into seven pieces!”) spoken by one of the Buddha’s future leading disciples

.....

Unlike some of his modern western admirers, the Lion of the Sakyans (as one would expect of a kṣatriya) is no advocate of simple-minded hippie pacifism.

Perhaps this speaks more of the authors of the Jātaka verses and their degree of enlightenment with respect to that of the Tathagata.

:buddha1:

If there's grounds for violence in a mind rooted in non-greed, non-aversion, non-delusion, I've not discovered it.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Buddhist Violence Doesn't Exist

Postby mettafuture » Thu Jun 06, 2013 11:52 pm

Dhammanando wrote:Then the Blessed One said to Ambaṭṭha the Brahman: ‘Then this further question arises, Ambaṭṭha, a very reasonable one which, even though unwillingly, you should answer. If you do not give a clear reply, or go off upon another issue, or remain silent, or go away, then your head will split into seven pieces on the spot.

Did the Buddha ever split anyone's head "into seven pieces", or instruct his disciples or followers to perform such an act?

Unlike some of his modern western admirers, the Lion of the Sakyans (as one would expect of a kṣatriya) is no advocate of simple-minded hippie pacifism.

I never said he was, but I highly doubt he was an advocate of violent murder either.
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Re: Buddhist Violence Doesn't Exist

Postby Kabouterke » Fri Jun 07, 2013 12:11 am

Lazy_eye wrote:I don't think one has to be a simple-minded hippie pacifist to oppose the pogroms that are going on in Burma -- or the participation of certain elements among the Buddhist clergy. That's simply a matter of basic morality. If the Venerables involved think they are demonstrating their enlightenment in this way, or delivering some sort of Dhamma lesson, then enlightenment has no meaning and the Dhamma is nonsense. One might just as well join the Mafia.


Honestly, I don't really think spreading the Dharma is the first thing on their minds.

I would like to give them the benefit of the doubt and think that all Buddhist monks and nuns, of whatever sect, are the old, docile but jolly men and women that brought Buddhism to the West, who came with an unflinching desire to spread the dharma. As much as I would love share the opinion of the OP and believe that somehow Buddhism is somehow a notch above the rest, being a social policy analyst, I can't allow myself to ignore the fact that in Theravada countries especially, Buddhism still has enormous political and social influence and power. There are monks who want to work their way up and use their position to exert influence.

In some Theravada countries, Buddhism is a highly salient element of identity and politics. It forms the basic foundations of ethnic identities. The distinctions between religion, politics and ethnic group gets blurred, such as the adoption of Buddhism as the official religion of Myanmar. Believe me, they didn't pass that legislation just because they like to meditate a lot. There are also upwardly mobile and ambitious monks who have their own agenda and get themselves into politics. Some of these monks go on to lead movements and because of their highly respected position in society, and because they share the same ethnic hatred in society, they gain followers. They start taking actions against the other group, legal or not, and the other group starts feeling marginalized and threatened. Et voilà, you've a religiously-charged ethnic conflict. You see this wherever on earth there are mutli-national or mutli-ethnic societies especially if they have strongly religious populations, and even more so if they have different religious sects or religions. Myanmar, for instance, has basically somehow managed to hide from the past 50 years of economic hypergrowth that other countries in the region have experienced. I mean, as you've probably heard, Coca-cola is finally making its first foray into the country. While their employment and literacy rate isn't too shabby, their level of general education and quality of life is still very low. You put multiple highly-diverse ethnic groups in the same borders to fight over a limited amount of resources, and all of those factors only reinforce the likelihood of religiously-based conflict. If you live out in the country, you are illiterate and you have no true formal education, it doesn't matter what the sutras say or not, because you probably don't have access to them (if you can read them): you look up to the monks at your temple as speaking the truth, whether it is in line with Buddhist orthodoxy or not. And so violence gets carried out in Buddhism's sake, even if the act itself flies in the face of Buddhist teaching. So, I don't really understand what the use is of playing semantics "Well now, was this reaaaaally Buddhist violence? Because technically speaking, it can't exist." It doesn't matter if it can't, those extremists are committing violence in the name of Buddhism, whether the majority of people approve of it or not.

But, we've really got to stop thinking that Buddhists or Buddhism exists in some sort of political/economic/social vacuum. We just have to realize that Buddhism is a religion, just like any other, and that its body of followers are also susceptible to human tendencies, just like any other.
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Re: Buddhist Violence Doesn't Exist

Postby Dhammanando » Fri Jun 07, 2013 12:20 am

retrofuturist wrote:Perhaps this speaks more of the authors of the Jātaka verses and their degree of enlightenment with respect to that of the Tathagata.


For anyone interested, here is a link to the Paṇḍara Jātaka, wherein Sāriputta, then lord of the nāgas, slays Devadatta, then an evil ascetic, with the approval of the Bodhisatta, then lord of the garuḍas.

http://www.sacred-texts.com/bud/j5/j5011.htm

If there's grounds for violence in a mind rooted in non-greed, non-aversion, non-delusion, I've not discovered it.


Non-delusion (amoha, paññā) in the Jātakas is for the most part represented as a sort of Solomonic shrewdness and acuity in analysing and understanding situations and people, coupled with a practical prudence that enables a Bodhisatta to deal optimally with life's vicissitudes. Sometimes an optimal outcome cannot be achieved while keeping one's hands clean, in which case the Bodhisatta takes a proportionalist approach (much as dhammika rājās are expected to do). As the Bodhisatta is as yet unawakened, we shouldn't expect his paññā to be of the level that permanently eradicates kilesa and the harmful actions that issue from kilesa.
    ...and this thought arose in the mind of the Blessed One:
    “Who lives without reverence lives miserably.”
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Re: Buddhist Violence Doesn't Exist

Postby mettafuture » Fri Jun 07, 2013 12:35 am

Kabouterke wrote:As much as I would love share the opinion of the OP and believe that somehow Buddhism is somehow a notch above the rest, being a social policy analyst, I can't allow myself to ignore the fact that in Theravada countries especially, Buddhism still has enormous political and social influence and power. There are monks who want to work their way up and use their position to exert influence.

A large group of mathematicians go out and start killing and oppressing people in the name of Calculus. Would it make any sense to categorize these acts as "Calculist violence", or would it be more appropriate to say that a group of people, who in no way represent what Calculus stands for, are going out and using Calculus to justify their hostile, political agenda?
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Re: Buddhist Violence Doesn't Exist

Postby Lazy_eye » Fri Jun 07, 2013 12:39 am

Kabouterke wrote:But, we've really got to stop thinking that Buddhists or Buddhism exists in some sort of political/economic/social vacuum. We just have to realize that Buddhism is a religion, just like any other, and that its body of followers are also susceptible to human tendencies, just like any other.


Hi Kabourteke,

I found your analysis informative and helpful in understanding why such situations have arisen, and from a sociological point of view it seems to me you're correct. I don't dispute the fact that Buddhism has a political/economic context, or that its body of followers is subject to human frailties.

It's true that the statement "Buddhist violence doesn't exist" presents some ambiguities. I think we can make the topic under discussion a little more focused if we ask instead: "is committing violence consistent with the Buddha's teachings?" For a serious practitioner or follower this is really the significant question. All kinds of people can call themselves Buddhists; this in itself says nothing about the quality of their engagement with Dhamma.

Political and social realities don't exempt clerics from their responsibility to present the Buddha's teachings accurately. And I think it's important to note here that we are not simply talking about the normal push-and-pull that can be expected in religious communities. We are talking about a really egregious conflict with the most basic tenets of Buddhism. A monastery could be reasonably expected to discipline or expel a monk who was found to be running a brothel or trafficking in liquor; should we not expect the same for those who organize hate campaigns or participate in acts of murder?
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Re: Buddhist Violence Doesn't Exist

Postby Kabouterke » Fri Jun 07, 2013 12:50 am

Lazy_eye wrote:
Kabouterke wrote:But, we've really got to stop thinking that Buddhists or Buddhism exists in some sort of political/economic/social vacuum. We just have to realize that Buddhism is a religion, just like any other, and that its body of followers are also susceptible to human tendencies, just like any other.


Political and social realities don't exempt clerics from their responsibility to present the Buddha's teachings accurately. And I think it's important to note here that we are not simply talking about the normal push-and-pull that can be expected in religious communities. We are talking about a really egregious conflict with the most basic tenets of Buddhism. A monastery could be reasonably expected to discipline or expel a monk who was found to be running a brothel or trafficking in liquor; should we not expect the same for those who organize hate campaigns or participate in acts of murder?


Hi. Yeah, I definitely think you're right. The acts that are being carried out in the name of Buddhism are much more egregious than just "minor offences", and have been clearly go against the Buddha's teachings. I think we can all agree on that at least. :tongue: But, my work focuses on (mostly European) ethnic conflicts, and to tell you the truth... I don't know how you can get a group to reprimand itself when a part of society actively supports those efforts, even if it is a small minority.

It's like the cluster of terrorist attacks in the West between 2000-2010.... people were crying out for Islam to take a stand, pick up the flag and be on the forefront of weeding terrorism out of the religion. But, it's really difficult to even find one person or group of people who everyone would respect and listen to.
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Re: Buddhist Violence Doesn't Exist

Postby mettafuture » Fri Jun 07, 2013 1:09 am

Lazy_eye wrote:I think we can make the topic under discussion a little more focused if we ask instead: "is committing violence consistent with the Buddha's teachings?"

This is indeed a more nuanced way to look at this topic.

As far as I've seen, evidence to support such a correlation has yet been presented.

A monastery could be reasonably expected to discipline or expel a monk who was found to be running a brothel or trafficking in liquor; should we not expect the same for those who organize hate campaigns or participate in acts of murder?

If that monastery was established in accordance with Vinaya Pitaka, absolutely.
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Re: Buddhist Violence Doesn't Exist

Postby Kabouterke » Fri Jun 07, 2013 1:27 am

mettafuture wrote:
Kabouterke wrote:As much as I would love share the opinion of the OP and believe that somehow Buddhism is somehow a notch above the rest, being a social policy analyst, I can't allow myself to ignore the fact that in Theravada countries especially, Buddhism still has enormous political and social influence and power. There are monks who want to work their way up and use their position to exert influence.

A large group of mathematicians go out and start killing and oppressing people in the name of Calculus. Would it make any sense to categorize these acts as "Calculist violence", or would it be more appropriate to say that a group of people, who in no way represent what Calculus stands for, are going out and using Calculus to justify their hostile, political agenda?


With all of these milliosn of posts I've written today, I tried to show that I actually agree with you. I don't believe they are real Buddhists. But you said it yourself, they oppress people in the name of Buddhism. They did it in the name of Buddhism, full stop. There's just no debating about that. As far as politics, news and conflict goes, it's what's done in the name of Buddhism that counts. Yeah, I think it would be fantastic if the Muslim minorities in Myanmar were wise enough to say "Well, I understand the Buddhism very well, and I know that Buddhist violence technically can't exist, so I am just not going to retaliate my aunt who just got murdered because she accidentally bumped into a monk and knocked his offerings onto the floor. And they totally stripped us of our rights and negated our religion. And they sometimes come and totally destroy our families' houses and all, and systematically execute our political and social leaders, and they say they do it in the name of Buddhism, but you know, that doesn't really exist. So let's all just cool down."

Even if the Muslim minorities were that wise, it just doesn't matter at that point if such a thing as Buddhist violence existed. You retaliate on the other group. For them, for everybody it was "Buddhist violence": it came from a group that is Buddhist. Someone says they burned your house down in the name of Buddhism, you have all the reason in the world to believe what they say. In these situations, content is completely irrelevant and has everything to do with the name. The only thing they have in their heads is "We, the Muslims" must retaliate on "They, the Buddhists." EVEN IF you weren't religious, you'd still retaliate and it would be called "Muslim" or "Buddhist" violence. Their religion is inseparable from the ethnic group. You've really got to put your head in their society for a minute. It's kind of like that "one drop" policy you Americans had back in the day. It doesn't matter if you are actually black or not, if your great-great-grandfather was black, you were black, too. It doesn't matter if the person who killed your Aunt was a practicing Buddhist or not, it was done by them, one drop, and they are the Buddhists and is therefore "Buddhist violence."

We can sit here and talk about what should be, but unfortunately politics just hasn't worked like that.... ever.
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Re: Buddhist Violence Doesn't Exist

Postby Kabouterke » Fri Jun 07, 2013 1:44 am

mettafuture wrote:
Lazy_eye wrote:I think we can make the topic under discussion a little more focused if we ask instead: "is committing violence consistent with the Buddha's teachings?"

This is indeed a more nuanced way to look at this topic.

As far as I've seen, evidence to support such a correlation has yet been presented.



Is it necessary to find evidence of that? I think everybody here's in agreeance that committing violence is not consistent with Buddha's teachings.
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