Monks With Guns: Discovering Buddhist Violence
he publication of Buddhist Warfare, a book I co-edited with Mark Juergensmeyer, is a bittersweet experience as it marks the culmination of a journey that began with an exploration of the peaceful aspects of Buddhism only to end up chronicling portions of its dark side. This journey, which consumed much of the last six years of my life, began in 2003 when my wife and I spent a little over a year in Thailand. It was then that I began to research Buddhist social activism which was going to be the topic of my dissertation.
Buddhists do not fight without belief, and the hideous massacres that they are carrying out against defenseless Muslims in East Asia stem from their belief that no one else who has attained the degree of enlightenment and is less than an ant, and the killer does not form a mental image of the murdered (as Their students teach us who promote the Law of Attraction and the Power of Being), because it does not even exist, so there is nothing wrong with killing it to preserve the balance of the universe.
Consider the principle of Buddhist clerics in killing opponents! They claim that killing those who do not believe their beliefs is a kind of mercy killing in order to purify themselves in **** and transfer their souls to the realm of truth, for it is in fact not considered murder. It is no different from wiping out a terminally ill beast. This is a dangerous excuse that they hide behind in order to harvest human lives, especially Muslims, as they did and do in Thailand and Burma.
There is another principle by which Buddhist monks justify killing their opponents, which is the belief of Buddhism that existence is just an illusion, and that truth is only perceived by attaining nirvana (i.e., annihilation in God). Accordingly; For everyone who does not believe in Buddhism and is not enlightened by its light, then killing him in this life is not a real killing. Because it is an accident in the realm of illusion. These victims, who were slaughtered by monks, are referred to in Buddhist theology as “icchantika”, meaning: veiled from the light
In the book "Sostitamati Baribricha" - which is described as the guide to "how to kill with the sword of wisdom" - the enlightened "Manjushri" of the Buddha shows that the slain is only a name and an idea, and if the killer is able to clear his mind of these thoughts and names during the killing, then this is not considered murder Rather, there is no killing, nor a murderer on the face of the truth, because “there is no sword, karma, or punishment,” but rather it is a matter of imagination .
Since my initial realization in 2004, I began to look critically at my earlier perspective on Buddhism—one that shielded an extensive and historical dimension to Buddhist traditions: violence. Armed Buddhist monks in Thailand are not an exception to the rule; they are contemporary examples of a long historical precedence. For centuries monks have been at the helm, or armed in the ranks, of wars. How could this be the case? But more importantly, why did I (and many others) hold the belief that Buddhism=Peace)?
It was then that I realized that I was a consumer of a very successful form of propaganda. 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.
Thupten Tsering, the co-director of “Windhorse,” encapsulates the effects of two-dimensional portrayal in a 1999 interview with the New York Times. “They see Tibetans as cute, sweet, warmhearted. I tell people, when you cut me, I bleed just like you.”
In an effort to combat this view and to humanize Buddhists, then, Mark Juergensmeyer and I put together a collection of critical essays that illustrate the violent history of Buddhism across Mongolia, Tibet, Japan, China, Korea, Thailand, Sri Lanka, and India.
Our intention is not to argue that Buddhists are angry, violent people—but rather that Buddhists are people, and thus share the same human spectrum of emotions, which includes the penchant for violence.
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