Saturday, June 22, 2013

Dhamma Or Ethnic Buddhism


Buddhism is my religion and has been for nearly 43 years. I consider the Buddha to have been the greatest mind in human history. I believe that the Dhamma is the closest humanity has come to ethical and spiritual perfection. I have been teaching Dhamma for about 25 years and  I have never got tired of it, and I still discover aspects of  it that I had not noticed before. As an outgrowth of all this I have also developed a deep interest in Buddhist societies and cultures and have been fortunate enough to visit nearly every region where Buddhism prevails. During my travels I have generally found Buddhists to be open, gentle, generous and kindly folk.
But I am not blind. As samsaric beings Buddhists have their defilements just as people of other faiths do. They are capable of being stupid and greedy, prejudiced and uncaring, provoked and provoking, self-centred and inflexible, tradition-bound and superstitious. They practice their religion as often as they fail to practice it – just as people of other faiths do. Despite this there has long been the illusion in the west that Buddhists, unique amongst humanity, practice their religion with complete fidelity - that because the Buddha taught gentleness, understanding and love, Buddhists follow these teachings unfailingly. Well, it looks like those with such  illusions might be about to be  disillusioned. It started some years ago with news reports of Sri Lankan monks being involved in racist politics and ethnic violence. The Dorje Shugden and the Karmapa rumpus had little impact on public opinion because of the obscure issues involved, although they shocked and perhaps disillusioned some western Tibetan Buddhists. Then the riots in Tibet gave a rather un-Shrangri La picture of the troubles in that country. Now it’s the ethnic riots in Burma. I quite understand that thoughtful people are deeply disturbed by these happenings. I am too. But there is an added dimension to the reports about these as opposed to troubles  beyond the Buddhist world. And it is this. Commentators and observers continually express their surprised to discover that Buddhists, monks included, can be provoked to violence, that they have chauvinistic feelings, that they are capable prejudices, and that they can resort to violence.
On the one hand this disillusioning worries me. Why? Because it tends to happen that when an illusion gives way to reality there is often a strong reaction in the other direction. When the deluded finally see the real situation they do not blame themselves for being unrealistic, they blame that which they were previously deluded about. I suspect that Buddhists, and by implication Buddhism, previously held  so unrealistically high is  gradually going to be put down far lower than it should be. 
On the other hand I am not  entirely unhappy that a more realistic view of Buddhists and Buddhist lands is beginning to emerge. Why? Because I have long seen the danger, not to say the foolishness, in the  “ethnic” approach to Dhamma. When a western monk in the west asks to be addressed as ahjan or gelong, saydaw, roshi or sensei rather than their English equivalent he is identifying himself, not just as a Buddhist, but with a particular ethnic expression of Buddhism. When they chant in the Tibetan or the Burmese or the Chinese way the same impression can be created.  When you tie yourself to a particular culture or country you involve yourself in people’s minds with that culture or country. And when that country or culture looks bad people see Buddhism as bad. Dhamma is universal, it transcends culture and ethnicity. The practice of the Dhamma is not the special preserve of any particular ethnic group. Let us practice the Buddha’s teaching, not Thai Buddhism, not Tibetan Buddhism, not Burmese Buddhism or any other culturally-specific expression of the Dhamma. Let us practice the Dhamma with a minimum of cultural trappings.  

51 comments:

404 said...

A beautifully conceived article. I sometimes ask myself :what would Gautama Buddha think of this person, this event, this sangha, or this action?" The Buddha left behind a record of his Dhamma, and yet (with some schools)we have drifted so far from what he intended. There are schools of Buddhism that claim his teachings are no longer relevant, and that the Buddha's Dhamma was supplanted by 'higher teachings.' We now have monks inciting violence, in direct contradiction to his Vinaya. You're right, Bhante, the answers to these modern challenges are right in front of our noses, and we need only look to his Dhamma to see them.

Rahula Thor said...

How shall Buddhists response when they themselves are persecuted, oppressed, or terrorized?

yuri said...

I am sorry for the post I sent last night in the previous discussion - I've found that part of it could be seen as rather offensive and has removed the whole comment. What you say in this post is fair enough. Ethnic identity should no longer bother those who call themselves Buddhists. Generally speaking, I feel that involvement in political conflicts is not part of the Path. This world cannot exist without conflicts. By changing ourselves we can shake off dependence on this world of anicca, dukkha and anatta. Of course, guided by metta and karuna we can and should oppose injustice and help people in need, but the methods should not be militant. Only peaceful and without even a hint of hatred. Thank you very much for tolerating my comments for so long. Probably the reason for our differences is that I am not religious and what is important for me is not Buddhism as it exists now in this world but the Teaching of Buddha and Buddhist practice. I am sure they are not fully identical. Thank you for so many interesting materials published in your blog and all the best to you. Namaste!

Rahula Thor said...

Ashin Wirathu never condoned violence.On the contrary, he has provided shelter for Muslims.

Binod Kumar said...

Dhamma practiciners are also human they are also subjected to miseries led by society and now a days universal peace is under danger by zionist regime worldwide. as far as my knowledge i firmly beleive that buddhism is not blind religion like others it is a way to get themself liberated from such zionist ideology
Namo Buddhaya

j d said...

Binod, "Dhamma practicioners are also human they are also subjected to miseries led by society"
You obviously need a scapegoat!
No criticism on China and what has happened in Tibet. Not much attention directed at Buddhists attacking Moslems living on the very fringes of society.
No mention of the fires burning out of control in Indonesia, the complete destruction of forests where myriad wild life live and now people in Singapore can hardly breath because of the pollution!
So much happening wake up and look around!
Or detach yourself completely and keep quiet!

paulmalone said...

Another thought provoking post, bhante. The situation in Myanmar sure is worrying, but as you mentioned, far from the first time that Buddhist have acted against the Dhamma. Have Buddhist leaders spoken out somehow, a concerted voice, condemning the actions of those Buddhists reported to be inciting violence and social unrest, persecuting religious and ethnic minorities?

MBenson said...

There is no such thing as a Buddhist human being, or a Christian human being, or an atheist human being, etc. There are only human beings, which are all bound by their past actions. If there was such a thing as a Buddhist human being, a Christian human being, an atheist human being, etc. then they would all act the same way under all circumstances. They would all have some permanent, definable characteristic(s) and articles such as the one referred to would never appear because being "Buddhist", for instance, would prevent one from being violent at all times. It is plain to see that has never been the case.

What is plainly the case is that human beings attach themselves to being, to viewpoints, and to non-being, and then proceed to make themselves miserable as a direct result of that attachment. Individuals have to work out on their own how to detach from that process. Because they are individuals, they have differing levels of understanding and are attracted to different aspects of the various teachings of the Buddha and/or other teachers. The transition period between initial attraction to a spiritual teaching and the final realization of that teaching is very long and there is a corresponding period of muddled thinking and inappropriate actions. Multiply this by six billion and the result is bound to be confusing, but we should not be surprised by the confusion, as it is unavoidable.

Homage to the Blessed One, who finally realized that there is a way out of this misery, and was able to communicate it to others. That those others are imperfect, and bound by the rules of khamma is no reflection on him.

yuri said...

I very much agree with MBenson's comment and it made me write once again :). The term "Buddhist" has now a very loose meaning. Mostly it is used for people who belong to Buddhist religion by birth or by conversion, whatever their thoughts, words or actions. And so it becomes possible to use such a title for an article as "Buddhist Terror", which is absurd if we think about Buddha's teaching. Buddhists are now counted in hundreds of millions but Buddha knew better when he said: "Few among men are those who cross to the other shore. The rest, the bulk of men, only run up and down the hither bank." And that bulk of men also includes many of those who call themselves Buddhists and even people in saffron robes. I think that too strong involvement in politics and other worldly affairs, being judgemental, angry and militant could be among the reasons.

ye hlaing said...

In Reply to Rahula Thor

There is no hard evidence or whatsoever that he or his disciples physically get involved in violence.. But, mind you I'm a Buddhist and I'm from Myanmar. I have listened to many of his hate speeches against Muslims.. That is why here is the term "incite". He is a disgrace to Buddhists in Burma basically and the Buddhists all around the world..

Soe am i said...

If anyone were a sincere follower of the dhamma, they would already be alarmed at what U wirathu and the ironically named "969" movement preach. Like ye Hlaing points out, the harmful speech which incites others to break at least 2 of the 5 fundamental precepts and probably more in the vinaya rules for monks already would disqualify him as a member of the sangha.

One may not say "go drive out those so and so people, kill them, raze their homes if you have to" or "with whatever means necessary go drive out those so and so people" or even "go drive out those so and so people". Even if violence were not explicitly condoned in words, fanning conflict, through fear, tale bearing(of atrocities by others), goes against the buddha dhamma. If we look without prejudice, we can see the consequences of such speech.

Back to the original point in the post, if U wirathu's words were to be compared to the texts in the dhamma, there would not be a trace of similarity, in meaning or in purpose. His words and actions do not point to the noble way, or keep one on the path to it.

I still do hope that his affinity to get so close to the buddha-dhamma will somehow make him reflect on his own impermanent views.

Jonathan Chen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jonathan Chen said...

One thing I'm not too comfortable with the headline of Times Bhante is its sensationalism and the often misplaced portrayal of Buddhists by the West as passive pacifists. The mix becomes more complex when religion becomes intertwined with the state. Not to mention, the separation of religion and state is still found wanting in certain religions.

yuri said...

"There are many evil characters and uncontrolled men wearing the saffron robe. These wicked men will be born in states of woe because of their evil deeds." - Dhammapada. Even it the early days of Buddhism there were such "Buddhists" including monks. I wouldn't say they are disgrace to Buddhism and Buddhists because THEY ARE NOT TRULY BUDDHISTS, whatever they think of themselves or call themselves. The message of Buddha was lost on them. The lesson could be not to condemn such people (it is so easy and gratifying)) but ask oneself - do I really understand the message of Buddha, do I really follow the Noble Way?

jeff chang said...

May all be well and happy.

jeff chang said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jeff chang said...

The monk's face does not show any kindness or love.

opendigital said...

Dear Bhante,
In this case, I see maybe there has been a miscommunication and misunderstanding between Bhikkhu Wirathu and foreign media in especially Time magazine. Probably due to the language barrier.

For example: Time magazine said that Monk Wirathu referred to himself as Myanmar/Burma bin Laden. But based on open letter Bhikkhu Wirathu, he said that he did not call himself as Myanmar bin Laden but Facebook users call him with that name.

For me, I think only a crazy person who identifies himself with bin Laden.

Another example, In an interview with The Myanmar Times, Bhikkhu Wirathu used the term anti-Muslim extremist but foreign media more often said to be anti-Muslim. I thought it was 2 different words.

Once again, in my opinion, maybe this happened because of language barriers, causing miscommunication and misunderstanding.
Majority of people outside Burma (Myanmar), who do not understand the language of Myanmar (I don’t know if you can), only understands English and depend on translator, it is very easy for misunderstandings due to language.

As I write this article I used my native language (not Myanmar) and translated by Google Translete, So, please forgive me if any mistake words.

Here I give you the address of the open letter Bhikkhu Wirathu to Hannah Beech. Again, probably because of the language it look not to good.

http://hlaoo1980.blogspot.com/2013/06/shin-wirathus-open-letter-to-times.html
or

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=553799754661678&set=a.445129605528694.104366.439724399402548&type=1&theater


The last, of course as Buddhist we can not deny that there are great dangers in our community just like Buddha said in Anagata-bhayani Sutta (Anguttara Nikaya 5. 77-80)

Thank you

paulmalone said...

Opendigital: thanks for posting the link to the translation of his letter.

Translation aspects aside, what was clear was the type of emotive language he used--how sweet he though the reporter was, and how she turned out to be the worst type of guest, treacherous, a dirty mind, and so forth. I suspect he might manipulates his followers in a similar way: please him or be condemned. No expert, but I guess people might label him a cult leader.

In all fairness, I think you might be right about a poor choice of publication to allow an interview. Still, was he really so seriously misquoted? I wonder.

Ken and Visakha said...

Thank you for your measured words.

There has been all too much vitriol about the issue.

The real situation is certainly grim enough. Tens of thousands of Rohingyas in miserable camps and actual consideration of disallowing Buddhist women to marry Muslim men! Ah, but why would we expect Burmese, under military rule since 1962, to know anything about human rights?

It should be significant that the military junta confined this monk some years for his anti-Muslim campaign. Now he is perhaps useful to them so he is let loose to preach hatred and bigotry.

The issue has to be who "owns" Buddhism, which ethnicity can rightfully claim to represent the religion? It's ironic, is it not, that the Buddha himself was an Indian?

Has there been any monk in modern times disrobed for inciting others to violence? We recall the Thai monk Kittivutto said very publically that "To kill a communist is no sin" and that there was nothing done.

brahmavihara said...

I remember in 1998 I first heard the words Osama Bin Laden and nuclear weapons, used in the same sentence. At the time, Bin Laden was on the run back to Afghanistan after he had made himself unwelcome in Africa, being clearly associated with bombings in Nairobi Kenya, and also Sudan. We now know that Bin Laden went on to mastermind 9/11 and pretty much launch the upswing of Islamic terrorism of recent times, particularly against Western Nations. I can’t help but wonder whether the Buddhist Monk on the cover of Time magazine has been portrayed as, somehow, the equivalent status as Mr Bin Laden, and whether by doing so, this person, Buddhist monk or otherwise, whatever he has or has not done, has been charged, tried and found guilty by Time and the international media, in his absence. There are a number of dynamics at play here. I don’t think I have time or space to discuss them all here, but I will list my concerns, if I may.
Firstly, and no bad reflection on our Burmese friend who posted this, (re: The Time Monk in question)“I have listened to his hate speeches against Muslims” I want to examine this phrase because “hate speech” has just been redefined in the modern lexicon to mean, (let’s say for example in this instance) anything that is said by a non-Muslim that a Muslim hears and disapproves of, even if it is true! You might think, this is a joke; however the international wheels are in motion, largely backed by the UN and seemingly by all western governments to bring into legislation policies that can criminalize a non-Muslim person for saying something that in the opinion of someone (Muslim, in this instance) is offensive. Even if it accords with what “all the scholars agree” is truthful. Of course this is also applicable for any other minority or any other disaffected person or another that feels similarly. But the main instigators of this global push are The OIC (Organization for Islamic Conference) via the UN. This is actually establishing an aspect of Islamic Sharia law as an equivalent to Democratic law(s) with prosecution able outcomes in non- Muslim Countries. What sort of fallout does this have for Buddhists, and Buddhist culture?
Whatever the truth of what may be going on in this clash between Buddhists and Muslims in Myanmar, if we look at its neighbour Thailand, we can see that since 2004 in the three southern provinces, something like five thousand mainly Thai Buddhists, have lost their lives to Islamic insurgents, intent on ethnically cleansing these provinces of non-Muslims. The statistics of what’s happening there mask the true horror of the tactics these insurgents are using. Has this situation made the cover of Time Magazine? Have you ever seen it on the news or in a newspaper? My guess is probably not. Will this same peninsular of land (greater Thailand) where the legendary past masters of the Thai Forest Monastic school of Buddhism, such as Ajaan Sao, Ajaan Mun and Ajaan Chah walked on their morning alms round, or to and from their respective meditation caves, be able to ensure the safety of its Sangha beyond even those three troubled southern provinces in the foreseeable future? I wonder. Do you?

Alessandro S. said...

Shravasti Dhammika wrote:
«When a western monk in the west asks to be addressed as ahjan or gelong, saydaw, roshi or sensei rather than their English equivalent he is identifying himself, not just as a Buddhist, but with a particular ethnic expression of Buddhism. »

I once read of the Buddha answering two brahmin brothers that the Dhamma was not to be taught in the "high language" (i.e. in Sanskrit) but in the local language people speak. I then think of the Thai monks of the closest monastery and of their Pali chanting. Pali has effectively become to them what Latin is (or was) to the Catholic Church: a sacred language that no-one understands, that awes but separates, that makes monks look like initiates to an esoteric cult rather than missionaries of the Buddha's teaching.
I think the Sangha ought to let go of it's affection to Pali chanting: Pali should only be in their minds when they translate the Master's teachings in the language the lay people's speak.

Does Ven. Dhammika see any good in keeping with the tradition of Pali chanting?

Dhamma said...

I do not know about Wirathu or the incidents in his country, so I cannot speak about this
article.

But there is an important and worrying issue - corrupt monks.We need to get to the root of this problem.

I have observed that if the
Vinaya rules are obeyed,we wont see these issues in our Buddhism.There are sincere monks,there
are also some people donning the robes but flouting the rules.And there is an other self-
conceited set that declares that the Vinaya rules are old-fashioned,they belong to ancient
India,they say these rules are not for them - this is the modern and elite stock.It is this
last type that is most harmful.How many of us would question a monk if he is not going on his
daily alms round?How many of us expect the monks to be wanderers like the Buddha?Did the Buddha spend his whole life in one place?Did not the compassionate Buddha lead a sincere life of certain standards?Did not his direct disciples survive on daily alms?

It is not the Sangha or an individual that should be blamed.The laity is the real culprit.We have made the monks similar
to inheritors of trust funds, provided them with Viharas,settled them into comfortable
lifestyles,and in the pretext of some conference/research on Buddhism or other we sponsor them
trips to every place on the globe .This breed of bogus monks are ruining Buddhism.The sincere
and good monks are unable to survive because of this ensconced group.

And this group with its lay coterie will do everything-it will ridicule and put forth many reasons to dismiss the Vinaya rules.If any person expects the Dhamma to survive,please support honest monks only,please study the Vinaya rules,please understand the intention of the rules
and value them as quality controllers.It is very important that we observe and reevaluate the
monks we are attached to ,this time by putting aside our long held notions.Unless we change the way we act,we have no right to complain.

May the householders support the genuine monks.May the
monks who obey the Vinaya and are earnest,protect and uphold the Dhamma.

Shravasti Dhammika said...

Dear Alessandro, I rather like Pali chanting. A period of chanting before meditation can really clear the mind, it can evoke a degree of devotion, and when done properly, can be quite beautiful. However, when there is little more than chanting, when sermons are filled with Pali technical terms, when more of the teaching is about how to ‘respect’ the monk by adopting Burmese, Thai, Sri Lankan, Tibetan, etc. manners, customs and etiquette towards him, then I think Dhamma is being mistaken for one or another culture’s version of Buddhism. And I am certain that this does and is holding back the spread of the Dhamma outside Buddhism’s traditional lands.
Sometimes you actually have to (gently) remind Burmese or Thai monks that the Buddha was an Indian, that Buddhism came to their lands centuries after it had spread to other lands, and that their ways of doing things were never done at the time of the Buddha.
Recently in Indonesian I discovered that a lay man there had began teaching that monks MUST do everything the way it was done at the time of the Buddha. I was asked what I thought about this idea. I said; “An interesting idea. Such a monk should never ware glasses because there were no glasses in ancient India and he wouldn’t need glasses anyway because he would never read a book, there being no books at the time of the Buddha. If he got sick he would refuse all modern drugs and medical interventions because they were all unknown in ancient India. I don’t know how we could arrange it but of course we could not give him any Indonesian food but would have to import food from India to feed him. And it goes without saying that he would have to refuse to travel in a car, bus, train or plane because they did not exist in ancient India. Like the monks during the Buddha’s time he would have to walk everywhere. He could never travel overseas either because he could not own a passport. And his life in Indonesia would be rather complicated because he would refuse to have or use an Indonesian ID card.” I proceeded like this for some time and it seems to have changed the minds of quite a few people in the audience who were previously impressed by this lay man’s idea. To reiterate the point made in my blog post – let us focus on, emphasize, and give precedence to the Dhamma rather than to any one culture’s expression of Buddhism.

yuri said...

Dear Shravasti Dhammika, I solidarise with your comment concerning various cultural versions of Buddhism, but a few details... Books were there in Buddha's India - though not in the shape we know them now, but reading matter was there - Vedas, Mahabharata, Ramayana. About using cars... Some kinds of carriages and carts were there, though Buddha indeed refused to use them and travelled on foot. I do not think your opponent meant to copy living style of those times but rather the attitude of monks to worldly things and matters.
75. "One is the quest for worldly gain, and quite another is the path to Nibbana. Clearly understanding this, let not the monk, the disciple of the Buddha, be carried away by worldly acclaim, but develop detachment instead." (Dhammapada) Meddling with politics is surely not the way to Nibbana as one becomes attached to this or that side of the conflicting political forces.
If we speak of cultural traditions then they also can be seen in regional versions of Buddhist religion. Theravada monks, whatever their origin, wear yellow robes hardly different from those used at the time of the Buddha. Is this so necessary? Does the shape or colour of the robes have deep spiritual significance? Again I'll quote the Dhammapada: "142. Even though he be well-attired, yet if he is posed, calm, controlled and established in the holy life, having set aside violence towards all beings – he, truly, is a holy man, a renunciate, a monk."

Ken and Visakha said...

T don't think anybody wants to define hate speech as speech at which someone else takes offense.

The key is, ignoring the coding involved intended to shield the agitator, what follows.

The monk in question has compared (all) Muslims to mad dogs and said that they cannot be tolerated, let alone deserve our metta or karuna.

After his talks, violence has followed, mosques and homes have been burned, people have died.

Extreme hate speech and calls for ethnic cleansing (or keeping the xxxx in their place) really don't vary much from place to place -- just change the epithets, substitute another ethnicity, language, or religion and the all-purpose call to purify the mother/fatherland or go back to the good old days sounds much the same.

Prejudice against "them" may be a human characteristic but the Buddha's teaching aims to take us beyond such ignorance and one essential step on the Noble Eightfold Path is Right Speech.

Alessandro S. said...

Thank you for your reply, Venerable Dhammika. I find it convincing and to the point.

And thank you too, Ken and Visakha. I appreciate your kind and wise words.
Metta Karuna to all.

brahmavihara said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YwXl60s3abk

Soe am i said...

I tried to watch another video for U Wirathu, where he seemed to be giving a sermon. I immediately sensed I would need to recall the brahma viharas as I began to squirm inside at every mention of the buddha, dhamma and sangha in what was a calmly delivered nationalistic speech associating every emphasis of the triple gem with nationalism, a very worldy, concept.

The anagata-bhayani sutta warns of monks who are lacking in the practice corrupting the teachings?

Whatever individuals or media or authorities try to influence our perceptions, views, the true danger seems to lie in our own minds. Do we cling to fear, discrimination, misery, hatred or embrace kindness, compassion, cohesion, peace?

Kennethwongsf said...

I spent the first 20 years of my life in Burma, so I can still speak, read, and write Burmese fluently. Perhaps there could have been miscommunications between TIME's reporter and Wirathu (I doubt it, but it's a possibility I'll concede). What's undeniable, however, is the obvious message of hate and discrimination Wirathu preaches in his sermons. His anti-Muslim views are on plain display in this widely circulated talk (http://youtu.be/DAmwTX-qH5s). What's more troubling to me is that Burma's Sangha Nayaka (as the country's official monastic authority is known) has done nothing to curb his speeches, rein him in, or discipline him.

Historically, Burma's Sangha has always been the one providing guidance to the public. This is why the rise of Wirathu's brand of nationalistic Buddhism is so damaging. He can influence the attitude of his followers, and obviously he has done so with his poisonous preachings.

The pitfall, I think, is that many Burmese monks view their faith as an extension of their racial, cultural, national identity. Hence, TIME article is, to them, an insult to their faith, race, and culture. I wonder if they remember that the whole point of Buddhism is to let go of one's ego--the notion of self, and the racial, cultural, regional attachments that come with it.

John Allan said...

Good post,
Some cynical and dangerous manipulation is going on in Myanmar re monks and sectarian violence which lumps the anti mulin "969" group with 'the saffron monks network" who are linked with Suu Kyi and the freedom movement.
Even the conservative official Sangha council in Burma have said that the actions of the ‘monk’ Ashin Wirathu leading the ‘969’ org. are wrong and that he should stop…. Not many news stories report that.

http://uscampaignforburma.org/about-us/action/18-archived-news/2993-buddhist-monk-organization-warns-public-to-keep-out-of-sectarian-violence.html Saffron Monk Network spokesman not the ‘Sangha Council.’

http://www.irrawaddy.org/archives/37860 Thi article -firstly profiles the 969 sectarian violence promoters and the second half interviews head of ‘Saffron monk network’ which opposes 969 group and questions who is behind it = funding it?
Contrasting the brutal attacks on villagers and monks protesting a Chinese Copper mine and the ‘hands off approach of military to the 969. Saffron monk network has links to Aung san Suu Kyi

http://www.mizzima.com/news/myanmar/9546-buddhist-monks-visit-yangon-mosque
This shows saffron monks network leader visiting Yangon Mosque to show solidarity and support of Muslim Burmese and refute the ‘they are all terrorists’ rhetoric.

There are reports that incorrectly link 'saffron monks network' to the violence to erode western confidence in Aun san Suu Kyi.
This sort of attack on Suu Kyi rides on the back of her intervention after military brutally cracked down on protest by villager and monks at a Chinese backed Copper Mine http://www.irrawaddy.org/archives/29274 http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-11-30/an-suu-kyi-demands-apology-for-burma-mine-crackdown/4402202

Seems to me that forces are at work to try to erode or destroy her support in the west by incorrectly linking the saffron monks network to the 969 violence. Also trying paint her as an apologist for the military and the Chinese. Of course she has to deal with the realpolitik she finds herself in while trying to stop people being hurt or killed in a situation that was already a done deal, Where she still only has very little actual power.

What i interesting to me is that military and police attacked the 'saffron monks network' monks and villagers protesting the Copper mine but didnt attack the 969 who were attacking the Muslim people. Who paied for the ten of thousands of 969 anti muslim DVD's circulated before the big attacks on muslims?
john from Australia

ATP said...

Greetings, blessings, may you have good health and abundant happiness:

I find it disgusting, abysmal and depressing that these so-called Buddhists have resorted to physical violence. Many times in these Buddhist countries and areas, the fact that an individual was born there labels them as a Buddhist, when the fact of the matter is they are relatively poorly trained in the Dhamma, let alone proper understanding and practice of the same.

Blogger said...

sad news:bomb blasts in MahaBodhi Temple

Blogger said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Blogger said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Blogger said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shravasti Dhammika said...

When Buddhism is threatened some way or another quite understandably Buddhists likewise feel threatened. What are they to do? Once the Buddha was asked what might cause the Dhamma to disappear in the future. He answered; “If it disappears it will be because people do not practice and develop the Four Foundations of Mindfulness (Samyutta Nikaya, Satipattanasamyutta, sutta 25). On another occasion someone asked the same question and the Buddha replied; “Earth, water, fire or air cannot cause the Dhamma to disappear. It is foolish people (mogha purisa) right here who will make it disappear.” (Samyutta Nikaya, Kassapasamyutta, sutta13). So the Buddha’s answer was clear. If foolish people who call themselves Buddhists outnumber or have more authority than people who genuinely practice Dhamma then Buddhism might be endangered. But for as long as monks and lay people cherish the Dhamma in their hearts, as long as they practice meditation, love, kindness, wisdom, and generosity, no power on earth can cause the Dhamma to disappear. Nothing does more harm to the Dhamma than those who say they want to protect it but fail to practice it. Likewise, nothing does more to promote Buddhism and make it attractive than people who demonstrate it in their thoughts, speech and actions.

Bodhisurfer said...

'... But for as long as monks and lay people cherish the Dhamma in their hearts, as long as they practice meditation, love, kindness, wisdom, and generosity, no power on earth can cause the Dhamma to disappear. Nothing does more harm to the Dhamma than those who say they want to protect it but fail to practice it. Likewise, nothing does more to promote Buddhism and make it attractive than people who demonstrate it in their thoughts, speech and actions.'

well said. lets try to lead by example people :-)

Blogger said...

Thanks :)

yuri said...

Dear Shravasti Dhammika, I feel that Buddhism and Dhamma are not quite synonymous. Many see Buddhism as a kind of socio-political force (something on the lines of Christianity) as well as another system of beliefs and cultural traditions in this world. This approach has very little to do with Dhamma. To say that Buddhists should cherish the Dhamma in their hearts means to turn it into a religion. The only devotion Buddha recognised was learning and practising Dhamma. But what should Dhamma practice consist of? You give a list and all you include is important, but a few very important things are missing - say, moral purity, or cultivating detachment - "Neither opposing anything, nor attracted to anything..." Metta, Karuna and Mudita are great states - but Upekkha should never be ignored as a factor of enlightenment. If it IS ignored then the door to Nibbana will be securely locked. And the great aim of a follower of Buddha will not be achievable... Your concluding sentence is good - Buddha insisted that monks should live up to what they preach. Though the problem can also be with what is being preached, as this discussion has shown.

Tenzin Lhamo said...

Sorry to say but you are not very honest or correct in your article. First and foremost, the Buddhist *terrorists* in Burma are the same Buddhist line you are following, so perhaps you should be a bit more understanding. Secondly, what you wrote so nastily about Shugden and Karma: they are two totally different matters. Shugden has nothing to do with pure Buddhism whilst the Karmapa (our karmapa, not the Chinese invention they are parading around the globe) is a very highly educated and we believe also, incarnated young Lama. You have no idea, it looks like, what caused the great strife in Burma..you have no idea what the Buddhists in that country have to live with at the hands of Muslims. You have no idea that it is apparently not newsworthy to beam all around the world that the Buddhists were taking all and every abuse in burma with a kind heart but that at a certain moment they could no longer hold their tongue: that moment was when a 8 year old Buddhist girl was raped and murdered by a bunch of Muslims. You also have no idea what is going on In Tibet, I can see that very much in the way you write, and therefore I dismiss your whole article as a lot of hot air and nothing else. Grow up. Stop feeling important. Stop writing about matters you do not know a thing about. Become Humane ...and first and foremost: join a Human Rights organization instead of writing nonsense. Learn about the real peoples suffering in this world and then, perhaps then, you can serve in a better way.

Tenzin Lhamo said...

Sorry to say but you are not very honest or correct in your article. First and foremost, the Buddhist *terrorists* in Burma are the same Buddhist line you are following, so perhaps you should be a bit more understanding. Secondly, what you wrote so nastily about Shugden and Karma: they are two totally different matters. Shugden has nothing to do with pure Buddhism whilst the Karmapa (our karmapa, not the Chinese invention they are parading around the globe) is a very highly educated and we believe also, incarnated young Lama. You have no idea, it looks like, what caused the great strife in Burma..you have no idea what the Buddhists in that country have to live with at the hands of Muslims. You have no idea that it is apparently not newsworthy to beam all around the world that the Buddhists were taking all and every abuse in burma with a kind heart but that at a certain moment they could no longer hold their tongue: that moment was when a 8 year old Buddhist girl was raped and murdered by a bunch of Muslims. You also have no idea what is going on In Tibet, I can see that very much in the way you write, and therefore I dismiss your whole article as a lot of hot air and nothing else. Grow up. Stop feeling important. Stop writing about matters you do not know a thing about. Become Humane ...and first and foremost: join a Human Rights organization instead of writing nonsense. Learn about the real peoples suffering in this world and then, perhaps then, you can serve in a better way.

brahmavihara said...

It must be so "interesting" to post these blogs and then wait for the comments to roll in. So I say thanks again for these interesting posts Thanks Bhante, I believe we all benefit from these dialogues. I would agree with tne notion that the Dharma is indestructible, after all it is put simply, just the way things are whether known or not. The Buddha Sasana is another thing, namely the true exposition of the Dharma that is able to be communicated to the unlearned. I am having a little difficutly seeing how the Buddha Sasana's longevity is wholy reliant on those that are following the Buddha's Noble 8 fold path scrupulously. Surely the example of the Islamic invasions of Gandhara and Taxila (Afghanistan and Pakistan) would demonstrate that the Buddhist population of those countries were in Dharma terms at least, spiritually bankrupt. IE The buddhist population was completely destroyed in those areas. Does that mean they were all unworthy practicioners of the Dharma? If so, I find it hard to believe, and also surely the Buddhist population is virtually always mixed, with mostly learners and statistically fewer Ariyas, of whatever level. We know that some of the population of these previous Buddhist kingdoms were able to escape and reestablish The Buddha Sasana elsewhere, probably India, but this does not really clarify wether these individuals included Ariyas or not. I agree with the overall premise of your post, ie that the practice of Buddhism should try to be free of cultural and ethnic discolorations, except it is hard to see how the Buddha Sasana can be protected from destruction geographically, unless the Lay Buddhist population takes the appropriate measures to protect it whatever they may be. Its all very well to say that escape from oppression is the best and only way to protect the teachings, but what happens if this option is not available. This seems to be the global reality with the spectre of global Islamization. This virtually guarantees that The teachings will come under oppression and probable destruction if this growing trend(Global Islamization) comes to fruition. What little mercy is shown to theistic religions by Islamic law, is not likely to be observed with the Buddhist teachings should this global Islamic state comes into being.

Walter said...

I think the story of the cobra in the Venerable's recent post "You Can Give a Little Hiss" can be used to illustrate what's going on.

People born into Buddhist societies are taught the basic morality of Buddhism. In such societies which have been rather conservative and closed to outside influences, the common people can be quite simple-minded (usually perceived as "kind", "honest" and "generous"). Hence, in the face of exploitation by certain segments of society, whether real or imagined, feelings of being aggrieved develop (as in the cobra being rough handled by the half-blind woman).

So some well-meaning person or persons might suggest, "Don't be silly and suffer in silence. You can always give a little hiss, you know." When this "little hiss" proved to be ineffective, what will happen is very likely a building up of resentment, then hate. Then the "little hiss" will turn into a "little bite", then a "big bite", then mayhem, depending on how the situation develops.

brahmavihara said...

Below are two items regarding the bombing of The Maha Bodhi Temple, as always almost the last to respond are Buddhists themselves. Imagine the global mayhem and bloodletting if the Kaba at Mecca had been bombed! And while I remember, the three Southern Thailand provinces that have been "ethnically cleansed" of their Buddhist populations have been granted the use of Sharia Law.
What a "great win" this is for all those friends of Buddhist Thailand and what a complete failure of Western media for steadfastly ignoring this Jihad. There is no province of Thailand that does not at least one Mosque within its borders. I can only Imagine that the Jihadis will be emboldened by their win in the south and will start to focus elsewhere!

http://www.politicalislam.com/blog/bombing-the-buddhists/

http://www.hindustantimes.com/India-news/Bihar/We-bombed-Bo.

brahmavihara said...

Sorry all but the Hindustantimes link I posted above seems to be a generic link. This is the link that should have been posted.
http://www.hindustantimes.com/India-news/Bihar/We-bombed-Bodh-Gaya-Indian-Mujahideen-on-Twitter/Article1-1090040.aspx

Blogger said...

Dear Ven.Dhammika,

I came across something disturbing,in Sri Lanka commoners are worshiping Avalokiteshvara as Maithreya Bodhisattva.The head of a Theravadin monastery wrote that it a refreshingly welcome aspect of Theravada Buddhism to worship Maitreya Bodhisattva alias Avalokiteshvara alias Natha Deva,who can hear the prayers and cries of all beings and relieve them from suffering.I understand that in the past Mahayana did exist in SL and other countries but how come worship of Natha,Vishnu,Skanda,Pattini,Suniyam,Vibishana,Nats,spirits etc. is still going on despite there being a great number of Pandita-Monks who can interpret the concept of Devas/Non-human beings correctly?And even more shocking thing is that the non-triple gem elements are venerated in Brahmanical standards like offering abhiseka,naivedya,etc. and Bhikkus are performing these rituals.It is very alarming to see Mahayana/Bhakti ideology growing stronger in southern countries.In most Theravadin places it is not uncommon to see Guan Yin statues.Is Deva/Yaksha/Bodhisattva/Buddha(eg.Amitabha/Dhyani Buddhas) worship allowed for a good Buddhist?Can you give us a perspective on what exactly is happening?Is there at least one place where Theravada in practiced as it is claimed in theory?Please do answer. :)

Ken and Visakha said...

Disturbing? Shocking? Alarming? Maybe we need an Inquisition to root out all heresies?

Personally, I find intolerant, fundamentalist Buddhists saddening. But that's just me.

Blogger said...

Dear Ken and Vishaka,

I must have said surprising instead of all the above words.Anyway,every man is entitled to believe whatever appeals to him but what I found surprising is that Bhikkus holding degrees in Buddhist philosophy are promoting strange schemes(worshiping Devas/Bodhisattas/Yakkas/Buddha/Spirits etc. can save a person from suffering).It reminded me of Arittha's heresy ( Alagaddūpama Sutta ).I asked these questions so that Ven.Dhammika can help me understand this anomalous situation and the Buddha's view on such ideas.

Shravasti Dhammika said...

Dear All, I am in semi-retreat now and will be until early November. So there will be few posts until then and I will not be responding to your comments. Tune in again in early November.

Great Journeys said...

Thanks for the post. If you really wanna know about any religion then you must go and visit some people who are really associated with that religion. So you must go and join Chinese people to know about this in detail.
Regards:
China Road Map