One City

One City


Buddhist Warfare?

posted by Greg Zwahlen

At Religion Dispatches is an article by Michael Jerryson, one of the editors of the just released book Buddhist Warfare. I haven’t read the book yet, but the article has some interesting points that are worth addressing. 

Buddhist Warfare.JPG
Jerryson writes that the book has already “apparently touched some nerves in the academic community before its release. Some have objected to the cover, which they feel is not an appropriate subject for Buddhism.”
I’d be interested to find out more specifically what people are objecting to–Jerryson’s vague summary seems a bit suspect to me. 
Based on his article (and the cover, which actually depicts a monk with a toy gun), my initial suspicion is that they are reacting to a dynamic that they are by now rather tired off, one that Jerryson seems to exemplify in the article: the Western naif with a remarkably idealistic view of Buddhism gets a wake up call and then delivers a hyperbolic, overstated critique in reaction. 

Jerryson writes that his “journey that began with an exploration of the peaceful aspects of Buddhism” ended up “chronicling portions of its dark side.”

One of Jerryson’s apparently shocking discoveries is that certain Thai Buddhist monks who have been subject to “violent militant attacks” by terrorists have procured guns to use in self-defense. This led him to investigate the history of Buddhism further, whereupon he discovered that over the last few thousands of years, Buddhists have been involved in all sorts of violent episodes.
Really, this is a surprise to anyone? If so, I’m glad that the book, which will probably (hopefully) prove to be less hyperbolic than the article, will provide careful documentation of the involvement in violence by Buddhists (including monks and clerics of various stripes) so that we can all leave that level of naivete behind.
But I also hope that we don’t jump to the equally facile conclusion that Jerryson suggests–that all religions are equally prone to violence–because I don’t think his evidence will establish that, and I don’t think that it happens to be true. Perhaps I am mistaken; I eagerly await the book.


Advertisement
Comments read comments(26)
post a comment
Richard

posted January 13, 2010 at 12:59 pm


I think that certainly Buddhism is a lot more non-violent than most religions but, as you said, it would be naive to think that all Buddhists are non-violent. What about the Samurai warriors who practiced Zen Buddhism? Rightly or wrongly there will always be people of faith who use violence for one reason or another.



report abuse
 

Jeff

posted January 13, 2010 at 5:28 pm


Violence by religious people is an unavoidable side effect of living in a dangerous world, even if only for justified defense of one’s own self and especially defense of others. It becomes even more inevitable when a religion gains political power. Christianity was non-violent for the first three hundred years of its history, actually more of a victim of violence during that time. As it gained political power violence on its behalf entered Christianity. Over the past few centuries with the loss of political power violence in the name of Christ has lessened considerably. If anything it has been reversed, countless thousands, perhaps millions of Christians have died or suffered violence for their faith at the hands of various ideologies in the past century. It continues to be a serious problem in Moslem countries, China, Burma, India (at the hands of Hindu nationalists), and Vietnam, even Sri Lanka! Christians face severe restrictions in Bhutan. Buddhist Japan martyred tens of thousands Catholic Japanese in the 1600’s and oppressed surviving secret believers for 200 years. Catholic Tibetan believers were flogged in the 1700’s for refusing to give divine honors to the Dalai Lama. Violence and political intrigue is found in the struggles between divisions of Buddhism in Tibet and Japan. Orders of martial Buddhist monks were political players in Japan and China. Buddhists made few objections and even supported Fascist Japan’s acts in the 1930’s and 40’s.
Nazism with its millions dead was a peculiar blend of German nationalism, race consciousness, Darwinism, and paganism. Hitler planned to eliminate Christianity once he was finished with the Jews.
Islam has been violent from the very roots of its history. Mohammed forcibly unified Arabia and massacred all the males in a Jewish settlement and parceled out the women, land and children to his followers. After his death his immediate disciples rode out to conquer the Middle East making non-Muslims second class citizens with limited rights. Muslim conquests and attempts to conquer in the name of spreading Islam continued for a 1000 years until turned back before the walls of Vienna in 1683. Yes, there was tolerance for Jews and Christians under Muslim rule if they accepted a second class position, followed the rules and didn’t rock the boat – much like African Americans under the Jim Crow laws in the South. The Catholic and Orthodox churches have lists of saints and martyrs killed under centuries of “tolerant” Muslim rule.
The current grand prize in violence goes to communist atheism (secularism on steroids) which has eliminated over 50 million and abused million of others since 1917. I think both Buddhism and Christianity if they adhere to their original visions can lead to peaceful, equable societies. I have my doubts about Islam if it follows its original template. Untrammeled secularism as seen in the French and Communist revolutions has weaknesses. Society needs healthy higher moral systems as seen in Buddhism and Christianity and Judaism to restrain human weaknesses. I don’t know if straight universal secularism is up to the job.
The USA has come up with a system that provides strong religious freedom and the participation by religious or nonreligious people in society and the right and freedom to promote their religious or secular values in the political and social arena. I’ve noticed that some people in this area of the blogosphere see liberal social and political ideas and their promotion as a logical extension of their Buddhist beliefs, but have a hard time with others promoting conservative beliefs as an expression of their faith!



report abuse
 

Christopher Mohr

posted January 13, 2010 at 5:49 pm


woohoo! Found an internet connection outside of work. Now on to my comments.
I have actually read the book. It’s very even handed but it does tend to dispel the myth that most in the modern West believe about Buddhism holding an absolute anti-war stance.
I wish he would have included Thornton’s work on Buddhist chaplains from the Itinerant School (which had chaplains attached to military units as early as the 1300’s, and perhaps Harris’s discussion of violence and war as Buddhist scripture addresses them. but on the whole, it is a balanced work, and I recommend it to all practicing Buddhists. It will challenge your view either way.



report abuse
 

Your Name

posted January 14, 2010 at 11:18 am


All of the Indic religions (Hinduism, Jainism, Hunduisn & Sikhism) have been far more tolerant and hence less violent than Christianity or Islam unlike what Jeff suggests.
Buddhists have been known for their peaceful beliefs which went to the extreme in Jainism in the form of Ahimsa.
Christians continue to delude them selves that Hindu nationalists (others in Asia) attack Christianity just because they are Christrians – Jeff the real reason is the intolernace of the Christian missonaries, their unfair crticism of Hinduism, their total show of disprespect in their sermons with the sole intention of ridiculing the Hindu faith with sole aim of converting the poor, illiterate and the needy – in fact they attack all non Christian beliefs. They are not their out of altruism – they want to increase their numbers.



report abuse
 

Alan

posted January 14, 2010 at 12:54 pm


I think one of the main things Budhism is historically known for is that it was never spread through violence as in holy wars. In fact many violent leaders and kings converted to Buddhism as a way to leave the life of violence and started ruling with a more even and loving hand. Sure, there have been sects of Buddhists that practice martial arts or defend themselves but self defense is apart of the Buddhist moral canon, just research it and you’ll find pieces that allow self defense of monks in such needed situations.
As for the samurai, they were a perversion and many monks and Buddhists of the time said so openly, with fear of death, but none-the-less. Buddhism has always maintained a self defense position when it comes to violence and that is admirable.
Conversion and lack of a Godhead ideology takes Buddhism outside the norm of religious goals which promote violence/force as a tool for such things as gathering followers or spreading “Gods” word. Buddhism is simply not in the same boat as most world religions in its foundational teachings and the use of violence/force in any form and for that I am grateful to the Buddha.



report abuse
 

Jeff

posted January 14, 2010 at 1:02 pm


Your Name,
Unfortunately, the target of most attacks in India are poor native christians rather than obnoxious foreign missionaries. Ten years ago one “obnoxious” foreign missionary was burned alive in his car by Hindu nationalists along with his 7 and 9 year old sons. More recently thousands of native Indian Christians were made homeless in the state of Orissa with homes and churches destroyed and families driven into forests and refugee camps by attacks of hindu fundamentalists. If you think the below documented behavior by hindu nationalists is justified in the light of Christian behavior, you have a peculiar idea of what constitutes justice.
http://www.indianexpress.com/news/kerala-offers-protection-to-orissa-christian/379382/
http://www.casttv.com/video/z04pf91/hindu-terrorist-attacks-on-orissa-christians-1-video
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/29/world/asia/29iht-29india.15727169.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Graham_Staines
http://topics.nytimes.com/topics/reference/timestopics/people/s/graham_staines/index.html
http://www.asianews.it/index.php?l=en&art=14257



report abuse
 

Anan E. Maus

posted January 14, 2010 at 1:27 pm


Buddhism and violence do not mix. Christianity and violence do not mix. Islam and violence do not mix.
People are taking the expression of Buddhism, Christianity, Islam and etc. to mean the expression of people who are born into those cultures.
There is no “Buddhist warfare” or “Christian warfare” or “Islamic warfare.”
The only warfare is by people who claim to be Buddhists, Christians or Muslims.
Those who engage in such practices, by definition, have left the path.
There are a handful of exceptions.
But, basically, either you stay on a religious path and reject directly participating in violence….or you reject the path you are on, take upon yourself some kind of secular belief system and engage in that.
The Crusades were not a religious endeavor. They were an endeavor of greedy, politically ambitious people, who had thrown away their conscience. Yes, some had actual positions in the Church, but they had (probably long ago) lost any real connection to Christianity.
There is religion in name only and there is the expression of the spirit of religion. Certainly, people who are Buddhists, Christians, and Muslims in name only can engage in war. And certainly they can try to spin that war as having a religious purpose…but that is just spin (lies) and has absolutely zero to do with Buddhism, Christianity or Islam.
People lie. People play games to get people on their side. People have been using religion in that manner for thousands of years. To declare that manipulation to be an expression of the religion…is just a surrender to the lies spun by some ancient rogue.



report abuse
 

Your Name

posted January 14, 2010 at 1:35 pm


So, “Buddhists” have committed myriad acts of violence and atrocities?
What is a Buddhist? Perhaps someone who follows the teachings of The Buddha?
If someone followed the Eightfold Path, they would not take life, or commit violence against others.
Therefore, I would say “Humans” have committed myriad acts of violence and atrocities. Perhaps they were very delighted in calling themselves Buddhists. But I could very well, fancy myself a FreeMason, commit some horrendous acts, and then someone could write a book about “FreeMason” violence. Let’s avoid this “noise”…choke, choke, I mean “book” and get back to meditating.



report abuse
 

clasqm

posted January 14, 2010 at 2:31 pm


Trevor Ling published “Buddhism, Imperialism, and War” over 30 years ago. Then, about fifteen years back, Brian Victoria gave us “Zen at War”. I haven’t read this book yet, but I gather it brings the narrative up to the present day.
What is it about Buddhists that makes us feel all shocked, shocked! at quite well-known data? But I guess denial is not just a river in Egypt.



report abuse
 

Susannah

posted January 14, 2010 at 2:52 pm


The idea that “religions are prone to violence” should be changed to “people are prone to violence.” It is religions that offer teachings, disciplines, practices and precepts for people move beyond violence and war. The concept of a “Bodhisattva warrior” is not about training the mind/body for war against an outside enemy; it’s about mental and physical discipline for the “inner warfare” within our own human nature. The same is true of Jihad in Islam. It’s about the inner battle for righteousness within the human mind/body. And it is true, that the vast majorities of members of the various religions of the world do not actually practice deeply the principles, prayers, commandments, and precepts of their religions.



report abuse
 

Ruggerio

posted January 14, 2010 at 3:28 pm


While I haven’t read the book, from the description here, I think the book will best remind us that the highest teachings of religions – here I include Buddhism as a religion for ease of discussion – are difficult for most people to achieve. Most “Buddhists” are not enlightened ones and attempt to follow precepts laid down by the Buddha and following Buddhist leaders. So we should not be totally surprised that there are and have been “Buddhists” who act in “non-Buddhist” ways. Also, it is unfair to talk about those who use “Buddhist” meditations to further their own advantages i.e. Samurai, as if they represent Buddhists. In all I think this book can best be a humbling recognition of the difficulty for us “mortals” to reach the higher levels of living that the enlightened ones show us is possible. Ciao



report abuse
 

Your Name

posted January 14, 2010 at 3:43 pm


OH, Susannah! The local Unitarian Universalist church has a signboard on the lawn outside. They posted a quote from Henry David Thoreaugh(sp.) “I must fight until I have conquered that within myself which causes war.” Onward Christian soldiers, huh? Idiots. Try: “I must make peaceful, that within me which causes war.” Which version do *YOU* prefer. As for the Christian apologists, go look up the Pope’s “Day of Reconcilliation” message from 2000/2001. (I forget exactly…). From Day 1, the Roman Catholic Church has engaged in crimes up to and including *GENOCIDE*…As Christ himself was Buddhist, this puts the lie to the false doctrines of Christianity. Christians *CLAIM* non-violent peacefulness, but even a glance at the Bible will show the Lie of Christianity….I agree. This book is most likely just more noise…



report abuse
 

Mykael

posted January 14, 2010 at 5:02 pm


“From Day 1, the Roman Catholic Church has engaged in crimes up to and including *GENOCIDE* . . . AS Christ himself was Buddhist . . . “. Oh, Really? From DAY 1? An ABSOLUTE LIE! . . . and a claim which you would have NO WAY of documenting, because you were not THERE on “DAY 1″. “Christ himself was Buddhist”? Exactly HOW did you come to THAT conclusion? Exactly WHAT “false doctrines” of Christianity . . . presumably in the NEW Testament . . . are you referring to?



report abuse
 

Lanka Silva

posted January 14, 2010 at 8:24 pm


Hello there
Please be calm and quiet about this – no one can shame the Buddha and the dhamma. Only the individuals those who do not follow the Buddha and the dhamma can be shamed or accused or attacked.
I agree with Your name and Anan. No person on this universe (not just Earth)who follows the dhamma taught by the Buddha would commit violence. Those individuals calling themselves and are called by the other “buddhists” or “followers of the relgion buddhism” (any one can call them selves or can be called anything by anyone) who have committed any violence are not the followers of the Buddha or the dhamma. They are “mindful”(=sathi) individuals (with everpresent Sathi).If “Buddhist” means those who follow the dhamma taught by the Buddha, then the picture on this book and the ideas conveyed by that book is only an imagination of another set of ignorant persons who think that they are very enlightened about the Buddha’s dhamma -the principles taught by the Buddha. Buddha never invented the dhamma -He only revealed the naturally existing dhamma that could not be seen by the ignorant – non enlightened people.
Dhamma is not like any other relious teachings- it is the very nature that exits on its own in the universe whether buddhists are there or not to follow itor protect it. Dhamma can not be destroyed because it is the truth about very existence of the nature of the things and beings as they are. If someone thinks that someone has to protect dhamma that is a delusion. Buddha taught the way / mehtods to understand this nature as it is and be enlightened (to see things and being as they are). Anyone who had not seen the dhamma as it is at the lowest level of understanding cannot be called a follower of the Dhamma or Buddha. Ther all are ignorant people – so can be called what they like themsleves.
Those who follow the dhamma are the only people or persons or individuals who can claim that they are buddhists or the followers of the dhamma taught by the Buddha. Anyone taking to violence (as much as killing a mosqutoe)is unmindful and is breaking the first principle and therefore becomes non-budhhist (whatever they call themselves and be in robes or temples or monasteries or whatever). Therefor, ther is no need to be agitated by the things tath are expressed in the book by image or word or what is said on the net or the blog. Those whom the writers of this book call buddhists are their own categorisation, naming and calling and thinking. No one need to agree with the ignorant idiots who think that they know it without actually expereincing the dhamma or with a deep understanding of the qualities of a buddha. This is anohter attempt by ignorant people to mislead the igonarnt people further. There is no medicine for the sickness of those who want to declare what they know as truth while not knowing that it is not the truth that they are talking about. This book may set fire to the minds of those who loss their calm at the flying sound of a butterfly or a sound of a water drop but not the minds of those who understand the real and true Buddha and the dhamma. Anyone who accepts and enjoys the words of such ignorant people go from either light to darkness or to darkness to darkness only. Those who want to become ignorant may read these books and will end up in darkness.
May the blessings of the dhamma and Buddha be on all beings in this universe for them to not succumb to such ignorant words as delivered in such books!



report abuse
 

Lanka Silva

posted January 14, 2010 at 8:33 pm


Ruggerio and Susannah
Uou understand much more than the writers of these books! Why you did not write a book is because you are more enlightened towards the truth of the universe than them. Bteer be quiet when you do not know the things as they are than making noise showing off one’s own ignorance!



report abuse
 

Your Name

posted January 15, 2010 at 5:36 am


think Jeff only knows one side of the coin. The truth is that the missionaries in collaboration with the converted natives also attack & provoke those that do not convert. The sites that you have included are the sites that were created by the Christian missionaries – I am sure the poor illiterate converts cannot produce them – they are tutored by the missionaries.
Why dont the missionaries try to convert the educated and the sophisticated – sure they have an agenda – increase the Christian population by any means
The Christian missionaries ae solely responsible for creating the schism between the converts and those that do not.
Historically the followers of the Indic religions have been very liberal and tolerant – the current attacks were triggered by the last straw. When will the missionaries learn – we are in the year 2010 and to keep on saying my religion is better than theirs is truly silly, idiotic and anachronistic



report abuse
 

Christopher Mohr

posted January 15, 2010 at 6:32 am


@All – You really should read the book before commenting on it. With all due respect to Lanka Silva’s opinion, the very same thing that LS rails against is exactly what Silva is putting forth. Ironically, Silva is showing ignorance (not having read the book) while decrying the ignorance of a book that they have not read. Dhamma is full of references to war and violence. Two quick examples – Cakkavatti Sihanada Sutta and Ajatasattu Sutta. In the first, the wheel-turning king (cakkavatti) as the Buddha describes him, must provide the right “watch, ward, and protection” for his people, his nation, and his army. This is part of the justification for Asoka and Dutt Agamani (both of whom spread the Dhamma by means of armed conflict). Asoka, even after converting still went to battle to protect and spread the Dhamma. Dutt Agamani went to battle to establish the nation of Sri Lanka, and he did so with a spear festooned with a relic of the Buddha. So much for never spreading Buddhism through violence. So much for Buddhism never being spread through holy war.
Back to Ajatasattu, shall we? The Sutta contains the Buddha’s comments concerning a war between two kings who were both advised by the Buddha, Pasenadi and Ajatasattu.. Buddha predicts (correctly) that Pasenadi will initially be beaten, but will eventually prevail. Why would Buddha get involved in thinking about such things, and making such a prediction if he was completely anti-war and anti-violence? If that were the case, he would have stayed out of that whole business. But instead, he declares that Pasenadi will win because Pasenadi is associated with all that is good, while Ajatasattu will lose because he is associated with all that is bad. In effect, Pasenadi will win because he is an instrument of Ajatasattu’s karma (he did, after all, kill his father and assume the throne). Whoa, back up. Did you just read that right? Yes you did. Victory on the battlefield is an expressed result of one’s karma. That’s canonical Buddhism discussing how an army will fare in war. So much for Dhamma being all about peace. So much for LS’s absolutist (and wrong) view that the true “followers of dhamma” would never commit an act of violence. If that were the case, no Buddhist would ever cut down a tree, pick fruits, eat vegetables or plants or animals.
Next let’s look at Vinaya. The language in which it is written contains numerous references to warfare or terms which are martial in nature. When a monk or nun commits certain actions, they are “defeated” and forced to leave the community. This term “defeated” is the same in Pali as the one for losing in combat. Why is the Buddha using combat terminology to describe punishment for wrong or evil acts (like, for example, when a certain monk was caught copulating with a monkey, the Buddha heard his case, and declared that anyone having sex with animals “is defeated and no longer in affiliation”). Why would he be defeated, rather than simply “no longer in affiliation”?
The key in warfare, as in all things in Buddhism, is intention, as Ven. Vipuladhamma and Ven. Vimaladhajja of Sri Lanka make clear. Ahimsa is not (as it is commonly thought) non-violence. It is the combination of “not” (the negation participle “a” or “an” in some lexical structures) + “to desire to harm” (himsa). Not desiring to harm is not the same as nonviolence, which involves the violation of another being, amongst other things. Central to this is deliberation working with one’s intention, and Kent presents a very, very good discussion of the topic in his chapter of “Buddhist Warfare”. Indeed, the aforementioned Sri Lankan monastics are clear about seeking to make sure the Sri Lankan soldiers are prepared mentally, so they have no INTENTION to kill, but only to save the lives of innocents and stop those who would by force try to cause suffering.
If life is lost in such times, then life is lost, but they make sure that the soldier’s intention was never to kill, or to get revenge, or anything of the sort. As one the reverends at my local temple (a former Marine who went into a life of ministry) once said, what is important is not to pray for victory, but to pray for a quick end to hostilities and a restoration of harmony. That is also the sentiment behind the samurai maxim “the sword that strikes down evil is the life-giving sword”. Sometimes, and only sometimes, it becomes necessary to stop one person who is causing suffering for myriad other people. Usually, those who are causing such suffering never listen to words, and cannot be persuaded to back down except by a show of force.
That is actually the intention behind the oft-quoted, but little understood Yodhajiva Sutta (recounted in Mahayana in the Brahmajala Sutra). Most simply assume it is Buddha discussing why one should not participate in war when it says no such thing. What the Buddha is talking about is that one should not GLORIFY war. And insofar as that would be an affirmation of a self (hence a wrong view), this is correct. You don’t glorify something that necessarily generates notions of a self and thereby causes harm (regardless of intention). But you don’t back down from what must be done to bring the community back to harmony. That said, Buddhism and the Buddhists who practice it have a better history and a better track record of not using violent means to solve conflicts. But better is not perfect, and that is what Jerryson and Juergensmeyer are presenting in each of the articles. Like I said before, they are very even-handed in their presenting material on this topic.
And LS, in that last comment, was that a veiled threat? As in, “better shut up about stuff you don’t know (or else)! It sounds kind of violent for one preaching that Buddhism is all about non-violence. Does that make you a non-Buddhist as well?



report abuse
 

sunny1

posted January 16, 2010 at 8:32 pm


The reason Bhutan doesn’t allow Christians or any other religion/culture to take root is because they want to retain their own culture/beliefs. It has worked for years and they want to keep it. Any country that measures its success by Gross National Happiness has something positive going for it as far as I can see. I hope they keep what they have rather than another colourless culture: McBhutan!
If you visit Bhutan you must to have the money to hire a personal guide because they don’t want our gross, greedy, violent, capitalist culture pushing it’s way into their lives.
As for violence in religion I think the fact that religion is a dogmatic, depersonalized, politicized system says it all. A spiritual system that relies on personal committment to a cause greater than individual egos coupled with respect for personal experiences (not someone elses dogma) is a totally different perspective and this is where you will find less violence and more compassion.



report abuse
 

Detached Observer

posted January 17, 2010 at 10:11 am


I am a Buddhist and also an imperfect human being. I strive to be Buddha-like just as Christians strive to be Christ-like.
I found the comments by Lanka Silva to be very judgemental. If we were all fully enlightened already then we would not be here discussing such issues. We are on a path, a journey, a spiritual quest and we all have much to learn.
Where is the tolerance for human expression? Can we not learn from many different sources of information, especially from literature that ignites a passion within us – positive or negative?
Instead of becoming defensive aboutwhat Buddhism is or isn’t or should be; or what other people purport it to be, let us try to become more Buddha-like in our own selves.
Live and let live compassionately.
Namaste



report abuse
 

Abambagibus

posted January 18, 2010 at 11:28 am


That Buddhists should sometimes get violent in reaction to the violence oftentimes perpetrated against them is beyond me. They all should go the way of the thousands of Tibetan monks who meditated on the transience of all while being murdered in the name of a state of mind that reckoned them spiritually irrelevant and itself made materially more permanent thereby. Of course, such a mind would have us believe that Buddhists are violent by nature, a belief that should render them even more irrelevant especially to those who would sit pacifistically while watching their family being murdered.



report abuse
 

William Yoong

posted January 22, 2010 at 7:35 am


I consider myself a Buddhist and trying to think in the way a Buddhist should do. Nevertheless, since I am a human being, I treasure my life as well as others’, not to mention the ones I love.
It is due to the above I find my answer to the above article hard to
conclude.
Certainly as a Buddhist we are taught to love “all living things” – but when someone pointing a gun on your head, I would have second thought.
It is undeniable to say that throughout the history of Buddhism wars were fought, but such wars have reduced considerably in the last 1000 years or so.
In the case of Buddhists in Thailand, no one can blame the Buddhists there to arm themselves with guns for protection, I presume. Since
bullets are meant for the Buddhists, they should at least given a
chance to protect themselves, their loved ones and their properties.
I believe the Thai Buddhists would not provoke a fight, as a normal Buddhist would be. But what can you do, friends, when someone is shooting at you without valid reasons.
A real Buddhist should not be afraid to die, but it must be for a
good cause.



report abuse
 

Curt Steinmetz

posted January 24, 2010 at 11:58 am


Jerryson hysterically claims to be the victim of a conspiracy led by the Dalai Lama (and other “Buddhist monastic intellectuals and western academics). The goal of this conspiracy is to spread “Buddhist propaganda” designed to trick unsuspecting westerners into believing that Buddhism is a “peaceful religion”.
However, if one actually examines what the Dalai Lama (and the other teachers similarly maligned) have written and said, one will find no sinister plot to misrepresent Buddhism. Rather one will find basic Buddhist teachings presented in much the same way as they have been since the time of the historical Buddha 2500 years ago.
Jerryson and his mentor/co-editor Mark Jurgensmeyer (who as a young man aspired to be a Protestant minister) are obviously men on a mission. Their mission is to obscure the very real differences that exist between religions that are inherently violent, and those in which violence is the exception that proves the rule. Bernard Faure actually points this out in his “Afterthoughts” which comprises the final chapter of the book “Buddhist Warfare”.
But I fear that Faure’s words are too diplomatic and will be lost in the noise. The intention of of the book Buddhist Warfare is to denigrate Buddhism. It is not a work of scholarship, but rather simply a bit of religious propaganda. How ironic is that?



report abuse
 

Christopher Mohr

posted January 25, 2010 at 6:00 am


Mr. Steinmetz – could you reference page numbers (preferably with quotes)? I read through the whole book and did not find anything resembling your suggestions. Maybe I missed them.
I simply did not find the book to be denigrating or maligning Buddhism, but rather the opposite: I found it to be a very even handed presentation of the same. Indeed, the chapters/articles by Demieville and Victoria show that clearly. The fact of the matter is that Buddhism is and has been much more violent and less peaceful than most have been led to believe. While Buddhism is, generally, more tolerant and less violent, it is not non-violent in history, doctrine, or practice, and not nearly as peaceful as it is generally made out to be.



report abuse
 

Thailand Breeze

posted February 26, 2010 at 12:16 am


One of the things that draw Westerners to Buddhism is compassion.
I like the way the Dalai Lama promote World peace.



report abuse
 

Curtis Steinmetz

posted March 16, 2010 at 5:47 pm


Christopher Moher: “Mr. Steinmetz – could you reference page numbers (preferably with quotes)? I read through the whole book and did not find anything resembling your suggestions. Maybe I missed them.”
Please refer to Jerryson’s religiondispatches.org article. This is where he really lets his hair down. This is the article directly referred to in the opening sentence of the post I was commenting on, and on which you have commented several times.



report abuse
 

Mike Castle

posted March 21, 2010 at 11:05 pm


I think Christopher’s point is still pertinent, even with the article. Curtis, your citing of Jerryson is a bit wild, even in respects to the article. Let’s look at how Jerryson’s hair “falls.” In the article, he states,
“Since the early 1900s, Buddhist monastic intellectuals such as Walpola Rahula, D. T. Suzuki, and Tenzin Gyatso, the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, have labored to raise Western awareness of their cultures and traditions. In doing so, they presented specific aspects of their Buddhist traditions while leaving out others. These Buddhist monks were not alone in this portrayal of Buddhism. As Donald S. Lopez Jr. and others have poignantly shown, academics quickly followed suit, so that by the 1960s U.S popular culture no longer depicted Buddhist traditions as primitive, but as mystical.
Yet these mystical depictions did not remove the two-dimensional nature of Western understanding. And while it contributed to the history of Buddhism, this presentation of an otherworldly Buddhism ultimately robbed Buddhists of their humanity.”
I see no words such as “conspiracy,” nor “sinister.” If there is anything subtle here, it is Jerryson faulting the failure of these great men to remove the two-dimensional packaging (not that they were the conspirators of such). I cannot fathom how you are reading this as Jerryson arguing about these people being tricky – nor do I see Jerryson trying to denigrate these people. In fact, what Jerryson says in the above quote has already been said by others (which he sources). You should read Donald Lopez’s Prisoner’s of Shangri-La, and Buddhism and Science.
The only hair being let down appears to be yours.



report abuse
 

Post a Comment

By submitting these comments, I agree to the beliefnet.com terms of service, rules of conduct and privacy policy (the "agreements"). I understand and agree that any content I post is licensed to beliefnet.com and may be used by beliefnet.com in accordance with the agreements.



Previous Posts

More blogs to enjoy!!!
Thank you for visiting One City. This blog is no longer being updated. Please enjoy the archives. Here are some other blogs you may also enjoy: Most Recent Buddhist Story By Beliefnet Most Recent Inspiration blog post Happy Reading!

posted 2:29:05pm Aug. 27, 2012 | read full post »

Mixing technology and practice
There were many more good sessions at the Wisdom 2.0 conference this weekend. The intention of the organizers is to post videos. I'll let you know when. Here are some of my notes from a second panel. How do we use modern, social media technologies — such as this blog — to both further o

posted 3:54:40pm May. 02, 2010 | read full post »

Wisdom 2.0
If a zen master were sitting next to the chief technical officer of Twitter, what would they talk about? That sounds like a hypothetical overheared at a bar in San Francisco. But this weekend I saw the very thing at Soren Gordhamer's Wisdom 2.0 conference — named after his book of the same nam

posted 1:43:19pm May. 01, 2010 | read full post »

The Buddha at Work - "All we are is dust in the wind, dude."
"The only true wisdom consists of knowing that you know nothing." - Alex Winter, as Bill S. Preston, Esq. in Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure"That's us, dude!" - Keanu Reeves, as Ted "Theodore" LoganWhoa! Excellent! I've had impermanence on my mind recently. I've talked about it her

posted 2:20:00pm Jan. 28, 2010 | read full post »

Sometimes You Find Enlightenment by Punching People in the Face
This week I'm curating a guest post from Jonathan Mead, a friend who inspires by living life on his own terms and sharing what he can with others.  To quote from Jonathan's own site, Illuminated Mind: "The reason for everything: To create a revolution based on authentic action. A social movemen

posted 12:32:23pm Jan. 27, 2010 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.