Buddhists Are Peaceful, Right?

Buddhist Monks Protest In BurmaHearing and reading about the attacks on Muslins, by Buddhists, in Burma is rather troubling. As a practising Buddhist I keep getting asked why this is happening. ‘Buddhists are peaceful people aren’t they?’ is a common question, and I find myself having to try to defend the entire faith. There is a misconception that Buddhists exist is some kind of parallel universe, unaffected by the goings on in the real world … wrong.

Buddhists are just people, they believe in a doctrine, that like many other religions, preaches peace, tolerance and understanding, but not at any price, and they are capable of all the normal human reactions to their environment.

I was going to try to put together a piece explaining what has happened in Burma and Sri Lanka to cause these much publicised violent incidents, but then in the course of my research, I happened upon a brilliant article on the BBC website, and decided to link to that, rather than try to rewrite such an excellent piece.

Here it is …

Of all the moral precepts instilled in Buddhist monks the promise not to kill comes first, and the principle of non-violence is arguably more central to Buddhism than any other major religion. So why have monks been using hate speech against Muslims and joining mobs that have left dozens dead?

read more …

I apologise to those of you who think this is a cheat, but I couldn’t have written it better, or more objectively, myself.

Nam Myoho Renge Kyo

Burmese Anger

Myanmar Buddhist MonksWith more reports emanating from Myanmar, Burma, regarding the violence between Buddhist and Muslin groups, it is difficult to see how any good can come from actions fuelled by anger or hatred.

But Nichiren wrote that wrath can be both good and bad. Self-centred anger generates evil, but wrath at social injustice becomes the driving force for reform. Strong language that censures and combats a great evil often attracts adverse reactions from society, but this must not intimidate or deter those who believe they are right.

Remember, a lion is a lion because he roars. Having said that, the roar should be one of strength rather than anger.

Anger that is misdirected or caused by illusion or misconception is a wholly bad thing and can be very damaging. So before you vent such anger on an unsuspecting victim, take stock and let that anger fade. Compassion is far more positive and will achieve far more in the long run.

With the sanctions imposed on Burma by the United Nations being set to be lifted this week, let us hope and pray that wisdom, courage and compassion hold sway and that the violence between people of the same nation will stop before any more death and destruction are caused.

Greater Sexual Equality – Sadly?

Afghan PolicewomanI was dismayed to hear the news this morning, that an Afghan policewoman killed a US NATO advisor in Kabul. It is believed to be the first ‘insider’, or Green on Blue attack to be carried out by a woman.

As with all crimes of violence, there seems to be, for me at least, and additional shock factor when the perpetrator is female. I am unsure quite why that should be, maybe it’s because I am old fashioned and still consider them the to be fairer sex.

Whatever the reason, it is very sad to hear about the incident in Kabul. One can only hope that it will prove to be an isolated incident and that it is an indication that the Taliban are finding it more difficult to carry out such attacks using men.

Following on from the news that The British troops stationed out in Afghanistan are to be withdrawn sooner than scheduled, due to the reported increased progress being made in the training of the Afghan troops and police forces, it makes one question, once again, what kind of mess we will be leaving behind.

The Root Of All Evil

Trump sticks two fingers up at local residentsMoney, or rather the love of money, is said to be the root of all evil. I think that is a little harsh on money, there are many, many roots of evil, but watching a program last night about Donald Trump did provide a deal of evidence to support the premise.

The much publicised Trump International Golf Links in Blamedie, Aberdeenshire was hailed as a shot in the arm for the local economy when it was planned in 1995. Mr Trump visited the area and made all the right noises about creating jobs and attracting tourists to the area.

What he, and his good buddy Alex Salmond failed to say, was that he was going to ‘sanitize’ the area, clearing residents from their land and family homes, in order to save his visitors from having to look out over ‘slums’ and ‘pig stys’ whilst playing golf on his new course.

He also failed to mention that far from sculpting the course to fit the rare and protected dune habitat, his course designers and architects would completely rebuild the area in order to force nature to fit the course.

In a documentary that mimicked ‘Local Hero’, a film about Scottish locals fighting against the development of the oil industry in their own back yard, You’ve Been Trumped takes us through the battles and underhand tactics used against a small number of locals.

If I were Scottish, and considering my choices in the upcoming independence referendum, I would be very concerned by the way that Alex Salmond has not only bowed to financial pressure, but literally sold his true fellow Scots down the river.

In a modern re-enactment of the infamous Highland Clearances, the Trump organisation, the Scottish government, the local constabulary and the Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen, left morals and decency back in the club house as they turned a blind eye to the use of strong arm tactics against defenceless residents.

Watch the documentary and then write to Trump or Salmond to tell them just where they can stick their mashie niblicks.

Where Is The Wisdom?

HH The Dalai Lama - Time to speak out?As a practicing Buddhist, I feel I can be rightly proud, that Buddhism has always been a peaceful philosophy. Apart from some of the political struggles in Sri Lanka, and the forceful annexing of Tibet by China, there has been little or no conflict involving Buddhists, until now.

The recent outbreak of looting and burning of Buddhist villages by Muslim protestors, in the Cox’s Bazar area of Bangladesh, appears to have been sparked by a photo of a burned copy of the Koran that was posted on Facebook. Presumably the image was posted by someone who has been identified as a Buddhist, the reports do not say.

It appears, from where I stand, that there is an escalation of religious based violence in the past few months. Is that just my impression, is it due to the ease with which we can get news from anywhere in the world, or are the inter-faith tensions becoming more obvious as the world politics change?

Whatever the situation, there seems to be a surfeit of Courage coupled with a dearth of Wisdom and Compassion, surely a recipe for on-going strife, violence and even war. It is beholding to the leaders on all sides to reduce the tensions through their wise words and deeds, rather than, as appears to be happening, the use of inflammatory speeches to incite further violence.

We are often hearing the Muslim leaders in this country, describing the Muslim faith as one of peace and understanding. Our own Dalai Lama has always gone to great pains to promote a peaceful message. Now is the time for these leaders to come together to defuse a very dangerous trend.

Don’t Tar Us All With The Same Brush

His Holiness, The Dalai LamaI was dismayed, earlier today, when I stumbled across the I Hate Buddhism page on Facebook. The page is a reaction to the violence against Muslims in Burma, with which I wholeheartedly disagree, but it paints a very bleak picture for any hope of peace.

What is really disturbing, is that, as a Buddhist myself, presumably I am also the subject of this torrent of hate. The Dalai Lama, surely one of the most revered and peace loving people on the planet, is also attacked and described as a devil.

Whilst I fully sympathise with the plight of the Muslims in Burma, I cannot, for the life of me, find any positive aspects of this or other similar sites on Facebook. I urge all people who are working so hard for world peace to report this page for inciting hatred, surely against the Facebook code of conduct.

The authors of the page have very valid grievances and deserve our prayers and help, but going about things this way cannot help their cause. Surely a more logical route to resolving the problem would be to call on the worldwide Buddhist community to put pressure on the Burmese to stop the atrocities.

P.S. Many thanks to Facebook for removing the page so promptly and also to all of you who reported the page.

Violence Solves Nothing

Anders Behring BreivikAs Norway strives to come to terms with the atrocities of the weekend, we should be very careful not to get into a ‘holier than though’ state of mind. Whilst the actions of Anders Behring Breivik are shocking and difficult to understand, we should remember that we have all been implicated in violent acts of one form or another.

Violence is wrong, no matter what name it is given. Be it liberation, peace keeping, stabilisation, whatever, it never solves the problem. It may change the situation, but it is never the solution.

Buddhism stresses the interconnectedness of all life. It is only the limited capacity of our senses that causes us to place so much stress on the separation and differences between ‘them’ and ‘us’.

Because of this interconnectedness, by using violence, we not only injure or destroy the other person, but also ourselves. Those who use violence and devalue others’ lives actually devalue and bespoil their own lives too.

Violence solves nothing, wisdom, courage and compassion are the only tools we can use to solve everything.

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