Current Events 2010 01 15

Item 1 Buddhist Warfare

A new book is soon to be available called Buddhist Warfare. It is written by scholars. Richard Harrold on his blog My Buddha is Pink and some of the commenters there have done a fine job of discussing the potential ramifications and implications involved in such a book and it’s questionable title. Here and here.

I made a couple of points in comments that I wish to reiterate and amplify on this announcement. From the introduction to the book (available on-line) I noted:

They also use the Aum Shunrikyo group in Japan as a messianic”Buddhist” group and make comments about that. It was a cult clearly and anyone who’s done research on it knows they took a lot of Shintoism and old Japanese Fascist Nationalism as part of their platform as well as the psychopathic ravings of the leader. To label this as representative of Buddhism is more than misleading.

Shoko Asahara, the group’s leader “…declared himself “Christ,” Japan’s only fully enlightened master and the “Lamb of God.” His purported mission was to take upon himself the sins of the world.” His influences were as much of a Christian nature as anything else.

There was also some discomfort over the use of an image of a child monk holding a toy gun. I won’t repeat the whole comment I made previously but a couple of points about the current situations in South Asia need to be kept in mind.

As for violence in south Asia, the child monks like the rest of the population in Nepal had been coerced by the Maoist insurgents there for many years. There are small factions of these Maoist insurgents that come into my state in Uttarakhand too. They are vicious and will wipe out whole villages of unarmed people who don’t co-operate with them. They also have taken children to become soldiers. At present the reformed elements of the Maoists run the gov’t in Nepal, elected, but they still have the same undercurrent. They are trying to expand into north India in a big way and in the NE are becoming successful. The situation there is tense as the recent visit of HH Dalai Lama demonstrated. Security had to be extreme because of all these insurgent factions (Maoists, Naxalites, organized criminal elements, drug lords, etc)
If kids there, monks or not, have toy guns or even real guns it is due to political influence and even coercion by these insurgent forces. And fear.

Another small point:

Much of the example they give in China has as a lot to do with martial culture there (Sun Tzu kind of thinking) as well as the influence of Confucianism. None of these other influences seem to be accounted for.

As well in Japan, as my previous post pointed out, the doctrine of Bushido was adopted centuries ago. It included the Chinese influences mentioned above as well.

The incredulity that emerges when the fact of Buddhist people being involved in violent situations is brought forward resides not only in a “popular misconception” among non-scholars but among scholars themselves apparently.

Of course Buddhists have been violent in the past because when you live in a Buddhist society and the politicians or some factions decide to go to war, the war is on your doorstep or even in your house. People who’ve never lived in a religious society just don’t get that. State religions, whether recognized officially or not, immediately mix politics with religion. Are these “thinkers” are just realizing that Buddhists live in a broader context than just some rarified utopia?  Are they trying to deal with that piece of reality and their own anger at the delusions they’ve been laboring under in the guise of disabusing popular misconceptions?  One of the contributors is Bernard Faure. I am currently reading his book “Unmasking Buddhism” wherein he attempts to disabuse numerous other “popular misconceptions” about Buddhism. (I’ll review it when I’m done but thus far it seems to be about in-group taunting of other scholars opinions)

It is not as though Buddhism has not been associated with violence or fighting. But the violence has in most cases been politically motivated and sustained. The author in the introduction brings in the term “Nationalism” and discusses it’s relevance.

“Nationalism” is a political term. In every situation cited by every author of the book this “Nationalism” is a decisive factor.

Participation in violence by anyone is a complex situation. Buddhism itself as impetus for such participation doesn’t fly. So Buddhist Warfare as a title or even concept strikes me as an oxymoron. A bit of sensationalism to strike up a buzz about the book.

As an aside a certain scholar who blogs from Tasmania has suggested on Facebook that this collection may be “simply a case of publish or perish”.

I’ll not go further with this since I intend to get a copy of this book for review.

Item 2 Pat Robertson

What Pat Robertson said when he referenced Haiti has nothing to do with Haiti and everything to do with his own narcissistic and psychopathic delusions.

Item 3 Haiti

Check this link:

Helping Haiti: Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi speaks to Danny Fisher-list of agencies that can help.

I recall the massive earthquake in Pakistan and the more recent one in Bhutan because I felt the aftershocks of both. In both instances we ran out into the road with our neighbors in case it got worse and buildings were damaged. It’s scary when the ground beneath your feet is no longer solid. Even if you’ve never felt such a thing for even a second just try to imagine it. Nothing to hold on to. Nowhere to stand. A couple of million people are contending with that feeling right now.


4 comments on “Current Events 2010 01 15

  1. It is perplexing, isn’t it? The Burmese military rulers claim to be Buddhist and they take first prize on being rabidly violent.

  2. Pingback: uberVU - social comments

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