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Warrior Monks: The Untold Story of Buddhist Violence (I) A Response by Brother Mark:)

Posted by Brother Mark:) on November 23, 2014

 

NAMO TASSA BHAGAVATO ARAHATO SAMMASAMBUDDHASSA
NAMO TASSA BHAGAVATO ARAHATO SAMMASAMBUDDHASSA
NAMO TASSA BHAGAVATO ARAHATO SAMMASAMBUDDHASSA


Translation: May veneration be presented to the exalted one who is a Buddha and who has achieved enlightenment by himself righteously.
X3

 

 

 

Warrior Monks: The Untold Story of Buddhist Violence (I)

A Response by Brother Mark:)

The book “Buddhism and Warfare“ is actually a good read, and among other links that I give in this article, because all of the sources referenced for this article published at the loonwatch site, are given or listed in this book, the main one discussed being the Nirvana sutra. All sources discussed or referenced in the notes section of the article here being reviewed are given a link in the reference section to this article. If anyone is serious about comparing the Abramic faiths to Buddhism, I as a Buddhist monk, would like to encourage the honest and forthright effort to do so, which is why these links are given. The game here is a simple one, if some can somehow, someway, convince others that  a religion like Buddhism which has usually been understood  and understandably so, as a peaceful religion can be portrayed as actually a violent religion, then perhaps a religion which has usually been understood and understandably so, as a violent and oppressive religion can perhaps be portrayed as actually a peaceful one!

I should think that there is a tremendous difference between saying that a certain type of scripture is authentic but is being taken out of historical context and stating that the scripture being discussed is heretical to the Buddha’s teaching and not even recognized as canonical by many Buddhists including the Theravada (orthodox) school.

‘Suppose a monk were to say: “Friends, I heard and received this from the Lord’s own lips: this is the Dhamma, this is the discipline, this is the Master’s teaching”, then, monks, you should neither approve nor disapprove his words. Then, without approving or disapproving, his words and expressions should be carefully noted and compared with the Suttas and reviewed in the light of the discipline. If they, on such comparison and review, are found not to conform to the Suttas or the discipline, the conclusion must be: “Assuredly this is not the word of the Buddha, it has been wrongly understood by this monk”, and the matter is to be rejected. But where on such comparison and review they are found to conform to the Suttas or the discipline, the conclusion must be: “Assuredly this is the word of the Buddha, it has been rightly understood by this monk.”
- DN 16 Mahāparinibbāna Sutta – The Great Passing, The Buddha’s Last Days

From the book “War and Buddhism” quoted as the main source for this article:
“While most of the contributors locate violence within Buddhist traditions, Brian Victoria’s chapter disavows a relationship between Buddhisms and violence. For Victoria, Buddhists who perform acts of violence are not acting as Buddhists; Buddhisms, in this scenario, remain unsoiled by the trappings of human frailty. Victoria’s stance is shared by other Buddhologists and Buddhist studies scholars, many of whom (like Brian Victoria) are current or former monks. An example of this comes from the Sri Lankan Buddhist monk and religious studies scholar Mahinda Deegalle, who raises a similar argument in his article “Is Violence Justified in Theravada Buddhism?” Deegalle confronts a difficult passage in the Mahāvamsa, one in which a Buddhist monk consoles the Sinhalese king Duttagamani (Pāli: Duttagāmanī, Sinhala: Dutugämunu) for killing “evil unbelievers”; the monk explains that the acts carry no more weight than killing animals. Deegalle argues that this passage is not a Buddhist justification for violence—rather, that it is heretical to the teachings of the Buddha”.
Thankfully for the Buddhist the Mahavamsa is not considered canonical Buddhist scripture by any school or sect of Buddhism. If one should want to compare religious scripture I would remind any concerned of the difference between a contextual argument and someone having the understanding that given the evidence to examine, that something is not a justifiable representation of a certain teaching. The Abramic faiths are the ones that involve themselves in the divine scriptural fetish approach not Buddhism. Take a look at our Kalama sutta (1) sometime if any reader of this article review has any doubts. Here is the article with my comments in bold dispersed throughout. My reference notes will be in bold blue, so as not to be confused with the reference notes of the article being reviewed.
Behold, for I will now take this piece of ridiculous Islamic apologist propaganda section by section, and reveal it for the misleading and cheap effort of trying to be clever that it really is.
 

Warrior Monks: The Untold Story of Buddhist Violence (I)

By Danios on July 29, 2012 in Feature, Loon Politics

This is a part of LoonWatch’s Understanding Jihad Series.
The basic plank of Islamophobia can be summed up as follows:

Islam is uniquely violent compared to other world religions.
Of course, it’s just not true. In previous articles, I’ve taken a Thor-sized hammer to shatter this myth by proving that Judaism and Christianity are scripturally and theologically just as violent, if not more so. The Bible is far more violent than the Quran, and both the Jewish and Christian traditions have been just as problematic.
It’s also not true from a historical perspective.
Take Judaism for instance: According to the foundational narrative in the Bible, for instance, the Hebrews were persecuted in Egypt, forcing them to flee to Palestine. When they found the Promised Land to be already occupied by the native Canaanites, Moses and the Jews invoked their warrior god to mercilessly slaughter the indigenous population in what can only be called a genocidal holy war.
The Jewish kingdoms were then overrun by outsiders. Eventually, the Jews came under the rule of Antiochus IV Epiphanes, who sought to replace Judaism with his own religion. The Jews revolted and overthrew him, leading to the emergence of the Jewish Hasmonean Dynasty. Just previously facing down the barrel of religious oppression, the Jews did not lose a beat and immediately set out oppressing non-Jews. By force of arms, they sought to expand their borders and to ethnically cleanse the land of infidels, either killing non-Jews, forcibly converting them to Judaism, enslaving them, or simply running them off the land.
This Jewish kingdom fell as well, and the Jews would have to wait until the twentieth century to rule again. They faced several centuries of oppression and finally ethnic cleansing at the hands of the Nazis, but eventually regrouped in Palestine. Just yesterday having chanted “never again!”, they seamlessly transitioned to the task of ethnically cleansing Palestine of its non-Jewish population.
Although it’s true that Jews have been on the receiving end of oppression for a great deal of history, it’s also true that they have oppressed when in a position of power. Is oppression then a matter not of religion but simply of opportunity?
Christians had more opportunity for violence than any other religious group on earth, and it is therefore unsurprising that, from a sheer numbers perspective, they have been responsible for the most acts of warlike aggression than any other. It is true that Jesus himself never engaged in violent action, but again, this seems to be an issue of opportunity rather than moral repulsion to violence: he was never in a position of political power and was in fact killed by the authorities. But, according to the Biblical narrative, Jesus will return to earth as a conquering warrior king, flanked by a massive army of earthly and heavenly beasts. He will then kill all his enemies.
The early Church was not pacifist as many modern-day Christians claim. Instead, the early Church fathers enlisted themselves as prayer warriors for the imperial Roman armies. The very minute Christianity rose to power with the conversion of the Roman Emperor Constantine, war in the service of empire and religion was adopted wholesale. Once persecuted by pagans, Christians now set out to destroy paganism in Europe. They sent forth armies to conquer new lands in the name of Christ. Eventually, almost all of Africa, Australia, Europe, South and North America–as well as huge swaths of land in Asia–came under the boots of Christian soldiers. Even today, the Religious Right in the U.S. leads the country down the path of war.
Not a single inhabited continent was spared by the Christian conquerors, so it is very difficult to accept the idea that Islam is somehow uniquely violent.
Of course, there is no denying that Islamic history had its fair share of violence. Just as the Christian Church came under the tutelage of the Roman state, so too did many ulema ingratiate themselves to the rulers. Expansion of the state was religiously justified, and the armies of Islam poured out of the Arabian Peninsula, conquering lands from China to Spain.
Islamophobes often complain that Islam gobbled up a significant part of the Christian world, which is true. Yet, the Christians themselves had conquered these lands aforetime. Is this simply not a case of Christians crying foul play when another religious group does to them what they did to the rest of the world?

So…Two wrongs make a right… right?

It seems clear that Westerners of the Judeo-Christian tradition have no leg to stand on when they single out Islam.
But, what about Eastern religions, such as Buddhism? Is violence merely a problem of the three Abrahamic faiths, as some would have us believe?

I am no apologist for Christianity, but a key question here would be how much compassion and loving kindness a religion’s Scripture demonstrates as well. Are we talking about simply violence or the encouragement and mandate to kill unbelievers? Saying that there are other core religious texts that have much violence as well really does not do much to level the field here. If anything this whole above section here is a good testimony for what is usually termed the separation of church and state. Something that Christianity and Judaism have been able to acclimate to but which Islam has sadly not. State power and Islam are both integral to each other, which is why sharia law is such an important part of Islam. It is for no small reason that year 1 of the Islamic calendar begins with the conquering of Mecca and not the time of Muhammad’s first revelation, or anything of the sort.

Westerners imagine a stark contrast between supposedly violent Muslims on the one hand and pacifist Buddhists on the other. When we recently linked to a story about Buddhist oppression of the Muslim community in Burma, an Islamophobe quipped:
So, Buddhists acting like Muslims for once?
This remark reveals a profound ignorance of history. Stereotypes notwithstanding, the Buddhist tradition is no stranger to violence. This little known story is retold by Professors Michael Jerryson and Mark Juergensmeyer in the book Buddhist Warfare. Jerryson writes:
Violence is found in all religious traditions, and Buddhism is no exception. This may surprise those who think of Buddhism as a religion based solely on peace. Indeed, one of the principal reasons for producing this book was to address such a misconception. Within the various Buddhist traditions (which Trevor Ling describes as “Buddhisms”), there is a long history of violence. Since the inception of Buddhist traditions 2,500 years ago, there have been numerous individual and structural cases of prolonged Buddhist violence. [1]
shield[s] 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 (and that other religions, such as Islam, are more prone to violence)?

I would gladly invite all to read his work that is being referenced here, where he gives no chronological reference for this type of statement. In one of the works of this compilation, Paul Demeieville himself with his work “Buddhism and War” casts doubt on the extent to which many of these monks of feudal China could have been considered actual Buddhist monks.(2) In order to consider this a “long historical precedence” given the overall work here of “Buddhism and Warfare” being referenced, you would have to draw a line between feudal China and modern day Southern Thailand.

Just what is actually being referred to as “at the helm” or “in the ranks”? I would invite people to actually read this book which was used as the book with all of the source information referenced. (3)

Buddhism and Warfare
Contents
Contributors, ix
Introduction, 3
Michael Jerryson
1. Buddhism and War, 17
Paul Demiéville

2. Making Merit through Warfare According to the
Arya-Bodhisattva-gocara-upa
yaviṣaya-vikurvana-nirdesa Sutra, 59
Stephen Jenkins

3. Sacralized Warfare: The Fifth Dalai Lama and the Discourse of
Religious Violence, 77
Derek F. Maher

4. Legalized Violence: Punitive Measures of Buddhist Khans in
Mongolia, 91
Vesna A. Wallace

5. A Buddhological Critique of “Soldier-Zen” in Wartime Japan, 105
Brian Daizen Victoria

viii
contents

6. Buddhists in China during the Korean War (1951–1953), 131
Xue Yu

7. Onward Buddhist Soldiers: Preaching to the Sri Lankan Army, 157
Daniel W. Kent

8. Militarizing Buddhism: Violence in Southern Thailand, 179
Michael Jerryson

Afterthoughts, 211
Bernard Faure

Appendix, 227
Bibliography, 229
Index, 241
If anyone would like to compare the religious history of Buddhism to that of the Abramic faiths I would welcome the comparison. Take a look at number 8. This I believe is the worse that can be said for the religious expression of Buddhism throughout this entire book. Certainly, Buddhist m0nks who are members of the military and are at the same time, Buddhist monks is something that the author of this particular piece is good enough to mention as being directly against the Buddhist scriptural teaching. It is even a offense of our Patimokkha (the catechism of our Vinaya or “monastic code”) for a monk to teach dhamma to someone wearing a weapon(4). Number 5? The Japanese military used Buddhist language to help motivate their soldiers. Seriously folks, they have to try pretty damn hard to make the Buddhist religion itself, seem to only the gullible, a violent and war faring religion, or anywhere on the same playing field as something like Christianity or Islam.

He then answers his own question:
Buddhist Propaganda
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.
It should be clear that such “propaganda” need not necessarily be construed as something sinister. Proponents of other religions–including Judaism, Christianity, and Islam–will, for obvious reasons, often give a positive spin to their faith traditions. Many Buddhists believe their history to be relatively peaceful, because they view their religion to be so. This is no different than Muslims claiming that Islam is “the religion of peace”.
The difference is that the politics of the War on Terror have caused the religion of Islam to be put under heavy scrutiny. Therefore, there is great incentive to refute Muslim “propaganda”, an incentive which simply does not exist for Buddhist “propaganda”. The enemy, after all, is Muslim, not Buddhist. Thus, Buddhism flies under the radar, and Buddhist “advertising” is taken at face-value.

O.K. let’s have a quick quiz back in reality land:
Yes there’s violence in many religious scripture, including Buddhism if you look hard enough, but just when was the last time you read of a Christian or a Hindu or a Jew or Buddhist blowing him or herself up in a market place, or stabbing the piss out of some commuters in Japan, or demolishing a train station with as many others possible in Russia, or beheading someone in the street in the U.K., to name just a few examples, while yelling that their God is greater? Was it the politics of the war on terror that did this? Come to think of it, why is the war on terror necessary in the first place? Is it because all religious scripture has some violence in it? If this is so, then why aren’t the Christians taking turns with the Muslims for a public beheading or the Buddhists having a go at it with the Chinese government with some public stabbing or explosive dismantling? Why is it that the Tibetan Buddhists aren’t blowing the living crap out of the Chinese government but instead have to concern themselves with the Muslim religious minority stabbing to death citizens in the streets of rural China? Have the “politics” of the war on terror somehow created the war on terror?….really? Seriously, just what “politics” is this man talking about that have caused Islam to be put under heavy scrutiny? When someone beheads another, or kills as many as possible while quoting the Qurán or al Hadith, does anyone think that this just might do the trick?

Buddhism’s relative inconspicuousness shields it from the harshest blows of public criticism. Case in point: the Bible and the Quran are well-known and easily accessible to the public. Finding the violent verses in them is just a click away on the internet. Meanwhile, Buddhist scriptural sources are more obscure, at least to the average Westerner. Most people don’t even know what scriptures Buddhists follow, let alone what is contained within them.
As a consequence, many modern-day Buddhists believe that their scriptural sources are in fact devoid of violence, that this is a problem only of the Bible or the Quran. But, Prof. Stephen Jenkins points out that this is just not the case. In fact, “Buddhist kings had conceptual resources [in the religious texts] at their disposal that supported warfare, torture, and harsh punishments.” [2]
For example, the Nirvana Sutra, a canonical Buddhist text, narrates a story about one of Buddha’s past lives: in it, he kills some Hindus (Brahmins) because they insulted the Buddhist sutras (scriptures):
The Buddha…said…”When I recall the past, I remember that I was the king of a great state…My name was Senyo, and I loved and venerated the Mahayana sutras…When I heard the Brahmins slandering the vaipulya sutras, I put them to death on the spot. Good men, as a result of that action, I never thereafter fell into hell. O good man! When we accept and defend the Mahayana sutras, we possess innumerable virtues.” [3]
The 19th. Chapter is being referenced here. This is simply not true. The Nirvana Sutra does not say this at all. Take a look at what the Nirvana Sutra actually does say…

Nirvana Sutra Chapter 19:

 “Then Bodhisattva Manjushri said to the Buddha: ‘Any Bodhisattva who takes in such
persons, protects them, and makes them aspire to Enlightenment and makes them not retrogress from it and who, for this purpose, transgresses against the precepts, cannot fall into Avichi Hell’. At that, the Buddha praised Manjushri, saying: “Well said, well said! I recall that in days gone by I was born in Jambudvipa as a great king named Senyo. He loved the Mahayana sutras and respected them. He was pure and good, and there was no coarseness in him; no jealousy, no stinginess could find any room inside him. What issued forth from him was loving words, words that spoke of good. He always protected the poor and the lonely; with him there was no end of giving and of making effort. At that time, there was no Buddha, no sravakas and pratyekabuddhas. I, at that time, loved the Mahayana vaipulya sutras. For 12 years I served the Brahmins, catering fully to their needs. After that, when giving and peace had been gained, I said: “O you teachers! You should now aspire to unsurpassed Enlightenment.” The Brahmins said: “O great King! There is no such thing as the nature of Enlightenment; the same is the case with the Mahayana sutras. O great King! How is it that you wish to make us equal to the Void”? O good man! I, at that time, greatly respected Mahayana. I heard the Brahmins
slandering the vaipulya. Having heard this, I did away with my life. O good man! I have never once fallen into hell because of this [i.e. despite this]. O good man! When we accept and protect the Mahayana sutras, we have innumerable virtues” .

Also we have…

Nirvana Sutra chapter 22

“O good man! You say that the Tathagata, in days gone by, killed a Brahmin. O good
man! “The Bodhisattva-mahasattva would not purposely kill an ant” [a large, winged black ant]. How could he kill a Brahmin? “The Bodhisattva always, through various means, gives unending life to beings.” O good man! Now a person who gives food gives life. When the Bodhisattvamahasattva practises the danaparamita, he always gives beings unlimited life. O good man! By upholding the precept of non-harming, one gains a long life. When the Bodhisattva-mahasattva practises the shilaparamita, he gives all beings unlimited life.

Porf. Paul Demieville writes:
We are told that the first reason [to put the Brahmins to death] was out of pity [for them], to help the Brahmans avoid the punishment they had accrued by committing evil deeds while continuously slandering Buddhism. [4]

“We are told that the first reason”….told by whom?

Here we arrive at a disturbing theme found in Buddhist thought: “compassionate killing”. Killing is normally forbidden because it is done with evil intent (hatred, vengeance, etc.), but if it is done with “compassion”, it becomes something permissible, even praiseworthy.
“The Buddhist does the unbeliever a favor by killing him, ‘an act of charity’ “

I’ll be giving the link for the reading of the Nirvana Sutta (something the author of this article being reviewed here does not do) in the reference section. (5)
In the Zen sect in Japan, they interpreted the argument for taking another’s life as “attempting to bring the other’s Buddha nature to life” (Buddha nature exists in virtually every living being), “by putting an end to the passions that lead astray…”
It is true, that during the Second World War, the Japanese military was fond of using Buddhist language to encourage the kamikaze as well as the war effort in general. This hardly qualifies as the “Zen sect”.

They make killing an act of charity. [5]

The reference given here at # (5) is this :

We also find more subtle justifications for killing in Buddhist literature.
First, we find statistical justification; killing is permitted if, in killing one man
alone, one saves many. For example, this was the case with a particular Brahman
who had converted to Buddhism. While he was traveling with a caravan,
he approached a canyon where five hundred outlaws were ready to ambush.
The one outlaw who seemed to have had some previous relations with the
Brahman was sent by his companions on reconnaissance. Taking advantage
of this opportunity, the outlaw warned the Brahman of the impending danger
to the caravan. The Brahman made the following argument: if I warn my five
hundred traveling companions, they will not miss the opportunity to kill the
“snitch” outlaw. They would incur considerably painful karmic retributions
from this act. If I say nothing, it will be the five hundred outlaws who kill the
caravan and reap the terrible fruits of this crime. Consequently, the Brahman
decides to kill the outlaw who had warned him. Not seeing him return, the
other outlaws decide not to attack the travelers. Thus the Brahman takes upon
himself the karmic consequences of the killing, while saving both the outlaws
and the travelers. Apprised of the situation after the killing, the outlaws and the
travelers convert. It is therefore for the good of nine hundred and ninety-nine
people that he killed one. Therefore, his killing was an act of charity.131

However when you look up the reference that the author of the work being given as the source for this himself gives (Reference note # 131), this is what you find…..

131. Completely Falsified Sūtra on the Salvations Given by the Buddha, T. 156, vii,
161b–162a.  (emphasis mine)

Why didn’t “Danios” of LoonWatch fame tell any of us this? What is interesting here is that the author of the original piece being referenced here would include this , but then give this revealing reference in the reference section. The only reason that I can surmise for this is that the author was willing to include this as support for his perspective, while knowing that most would not bother to look up the reference. This way he is would be less likely to be accused of some sort of fraudulent academic behavior.

The Nirvana Sutra Ch. 22 also has this…

Nirvana Sutra Chapter 22

“O good man! You asked if one could gain this “bhumi” or not when one has killed a
Brahmin. O good man! I already gained it. Out of love, I took his life. It was not done with
an evil mind. O good man! For example, a father and mother have an only son. They love
him greatly and act against the law. At that time, the father and mother, out of fear, drive
one away or kill. Though they drove [him] away or killed [him], they had no evil mind. In just the same way, the Bodhisattva-mahasattva acts likewise for reasons of protecting Wonderful Dharma. Should beings slander Mahayana, he applies kindly lashings, in order to cure them.
Or he may take life in order that what obtained in the past could be mended, thus seeing to it that the law [Dharma] could be accorded with. The Bodhisattva always thinks: “How might I best make beings aspire to faith? I shall always act as is best fitted to the occasion.” The Brahmin fell into Avichi Hell after his death. He gained three thoughts. The first thought was: “Where have I come from to be born here in this way?” And the realisation dawned on him to the effect that he had been born there from the world of men. His second thought was: “What is this place where I have now been born?” The realisation dawned that this was Avichi Hell. The third thought [then] arose: “Through what causal concatenations have I been born here?” He then came to realise that things had taken this turn because of his slandering of the vaipulyaMahayana sutras and by his not believing, and by his being killed by the king – thus had he been born there. Thinking in this way, respect arose towards the Mahayana vaipulya sutras. Then, after his death, he was born in the world of Tathagata Amrta-Drum. There he lived for 10 kalpas. O good man! I thus, in days gone by, gave this person a life of 10 kalpas. How could it be said that I killed him?”

There is a contradiction here between the 19th. chapter that was previously referenced and what we find here in the 22nd. chapter. This is the only section of all of it that would indicate that the Brahmin were killed as opposed to the king taking his own life.
It is clear then that either there are and have been different versions of this story most probably misconstrued one way or another while there was the oral telling of it, or what is being spoken of is referring to the view of killing as a non-purposeful act, as an attempt to rationalize what has already occurred, and it’s kammic consequences in this instance upon this Brahmin after the fact.

This is of course a disturbing belief to most of us. As Prof. Bernard Faure puts it: “‘Killing with compassion’…remains a dubious oxymoron.” [6] One is reminded of the odd Christian belief that a Christian soldier can love his enemies even as he kills them. Of what relevance is such “love”?
Jenkins writes:
If he does so with compassionate intentions, a king may make great merit through warfare, so warfare becomes auspicious. The same argument was made earlier in relation to torture, and the sutra now proceeds to make commonsense analogies to doctors and to parents who compassionately inflict pain in order to discipline and heal without intending harm. [7]
He goes on:
General conceptions of a basic Buddhist ethics broadly conceived as unqualified pacifism are problematic. Compassionate violence is at the very heart of the sensibility of this sutra. Buddhist kings had sophisticated and practical conceptual resources to support the use of force…The only killing compatible with Buddhist ethics is killing with compassion. Moreover, if a king makes war or tortures with compassionate intentions, even those acts can result in the accumulation of vast karmic merit. [8]
There was a second reason to kill the infidels: to defend the Buddhist faith. Prof. Demieville writes:
The Buddha’s second reason for putting them to death was to defend Buddhism itself. [9]

This is a statement by the author referenced, with no scriptural substantiation. The Nirvana sutra says no such thing. Any objective reading of this article will demonstrate a great deal about these these types of statements. The author referenced conjures a theory, and it is then reiterated by the author of this piece as something factual.
This is a slick propaganda attempt to slander the Buddha.

In Buddhist scripture, the Buddha never puts anyone to death. It should read, “In one of the potential versions of this story, in a previous lifetime perhaps the second reason”….

Faure notes:
Another oft-invoked argument to justify killing is the claim that, when the the dharma [i.e. the Buddhist religion] is threatened, it is necessary to ruthlessly fight against the forces of evil…promoting the need for violence in order to preserve cosmic balance… [10]

“Another oft-invoked argument to justify killing is the claim”…
Oft- invoked by whom?
Once again…. This is a statement by the author referenced, with no scriptural substantiation. The Nirvana sutra says no such thing.

What about the first precept of Buddhism, which forbids murder? Demieville writes:
In another passage, this same sutra (scripture) declares that there is no reason to observe the five precepts [the first of which is the taking of life], or even to practice good behavior, if protecting the Real Law is in question. In other words, one needed to take up the knife and the sword, the bow and the arrow, the spear and the lance [to defend the faith]. “The one that observes the five precepts is not a follower of the [Mahayana]! Do not observe the five precepts–if it concerns protecting the Real Law…” [11]

The Nirvana Sutra reads:
The [true] follower of the Mahayana is not the one who observes the five precepts, but the one who uses the sword, bow, arrow, and battle ax to protect the monks who uphold the precepts and who are pure. [12]

Here we can behold yet another fallacy peddled here about this sutra, for this sutra says no such thing.

Here is what this sutra actually reads…

Chaprter 5 Nirvana Sutra

“O good man! One who upholds Wonderful Dharma does not receive the five
precepts and practise deportment, but protects with the sword, bow, arrow, and halberd those bhiksus who uphold the precepts and who are pure.”

It is simply acknowledging the fact that there are those who have not received the 5 precepts (the precepts given to the laity) and will look to defend the monastics. By the way, the monastics receive 220 precepts by way of the Patimokkha.

The dye is cast for defense in the name of religion. Elsewhere in the Nirvana Sutra, we are told of a king who goes to war in defense of rightly-guided monks:
To protect Dharma [Buddha’s teachings], he came to the defense of the monks, warring against the evil-doers so that the monks did not suffer. The king sustained wounds all over his body. The monks praised the king: “Well done, well done, O King! You are a person who protects the Wonderful Dharma. In the future, you will become the indispensable tool of Dharma.” [13]

Chapter 19 of the Nirvan sutra is being referenced here, which… surprise! Says NO such thing…not even close.

This king too was Buddha in a past life; Buddha declared:
When the time comes that the Wonderful Dharma is about to die out, one should act like this and protect the Dharma. I was the king…The one who defends the Wonderful Dharma receives immeasurable recompense…
Monks, nuns, male and female believers of Buddha, should exert great effort to protect the Wonderful Dharma. The reward for protecting the Wonderful Dharma is extremely great and immeasurable. O good man, because of this, those believers who protect Dharma should take the sword and staff and protect the monks who guard Dharma…

“This king too was Buddha in a past life; Buddha declared”:
The Nirvana Sutra says NO such a thing.
It would go against basic Buddhist theology to think that one would be a Buddha but then reborn as a king, and then reborn as a Buddha again.

Even if a person does not observe the five precepts, if he protects the Wonderful Dharma, he will be referred to as one of the Mahayana. A person who upholds the Wonderful Dharma should take the sword and staff and guard monks. [14]
Demeiville notes:
Along these lines, the Buddha sings the praises of a king named Yeou-to, who went to war to defend the bhiksu (monks). [15]

What is being referenced here again, is page 41 of “Buddhism And War” by Paul Demeiville (Reference note #130), and what is being refereed to is the same story already discussed about the Brahmin who supposedly was a king who had some Brahmin killed for insulting the dhamma. Either the author of this article was unaware of this or perhaps simply took the opportunity to find a different way to repeat this story that has already been discussed as a doubtful part of the Nirvana sutra.

The general idea is that “[h]eresy must be prevented and evil crushed in utero.” [16]
As for the Brahmins whom Buddha killed, they were in any case icchantika, those who neither believe in Buddha or Buddhism–historically, the Buddhist equivalent of infidel. Buddha says in the Nirvana Sutra:
If any man, woman, Shramana, or Brahmin says that there is no such thing as The Way [i.e. Buddhism], Enlightenment, or Nirvana, know that such a person is an icchantika. Such a person is one of [the demon] Mara’s kindred [Mara = the Lord of Death]. Such a person is not of the world… [17]
An icchantika is “sinful…[because] he does not act in accordance with the Bhuddas’ injunctions.” [18] “Because the icchantika lacks the root of good,” he “falls into hell.” [19] In fact, “it is not possible…for the icchantika not to go to hell.” [20] The icchantika is “the lowest” and “has to live for an eon in hell.” [21]
Putting to death unbelievers carries no sin or bad karmic result. Demieville writes:
Regardless, these Brahmans were predestined to infernal damnation (icchantika); it was not a sin to put them to death in order to preserve the Real Law. [22]
There are in fact three grades of murder, in increasing order of seriousness, but killing infidels is not one of them. The Nirvana Sutra reads:
The Buddha and Bodhisattva see three categories of killing, which are
those of the grades 1) low, 2) medium, and 3) high. Low applies to the class of insects and all kinds of animals…The medium grade of killing concerns killing humans [who have not reached Nirvana]…The highest grade of killing concerns killing one’s father, mother, an arhat, pratyekabudda, or a Bodhisattva [three ranks of Enlightenment]…
A person who kills an icchantika does not suffer from the karmic returns due to the killings of the three kinds above. O good man, all those Brahmins are of the class of the icchantika. Killing them does not cause one to go to hell. [23]

The 22nd Chapter of the Nirvana Sutta is being referenced here. This is what the 22nd Chapter of the Nirvana Sutta actually states:

Nirvana Sutra Chapter 22

O good man! A person who kills an icchantika does not suffer from the karmic returns due to the killings of the three kinds named above. O good man! All those Brahmins are of the class of the icchantika.
For example, such actions as digging the ground, mowing the grass, felling trees, cutting up corpses, ill-speaking, and lashing do not call forth karmic returns. Killing an icchantika comes within the same category. No karmic results ensue. Why not? Because no Brahmins and no five laws to begin with faith, etc. are involved here [Maybe: no Brahmins are concerned with the “five roots” of faith, vigour, mindfulness, concentration, and Wisdom]. For this reason, killing[of this kind] does not carry one off to hell.

True, but the kamma being considered neutral, would not bring one any good reward either. Compare that to religious scripture that either reveals that great example of Godly goodness as one who seems tirelessly occupied at times with killing infidel, or religious scripture that rewards the killing of infidel with guaranteed paradise! (6)
The Buddha says in the Nirvana Sutra that icchantika’s status is lower than that of the ants:
[T]he icchantikas are cut off from the root of good…Because of this, one may well kill an ant and earn sin for doing harm, but there is no sin for killing an icchantika.” [24]

We also have….

Nirvana Chapter 22
“O good man! When, for example, a son dies and the father and mother have to part
from their son whom they love, their hearts so ache that they feel that they themselves will die too. It is the same with the Bodhisattva. When he sees an icchantika [person of the most deluded, twisted views on life] falling into hell, he himself wishes to be born there, too. Why so? Because this icchantika, as he experiences pain, may gain a moment of repentance when I speak to him of Dharma in various ways and enable him to gain a thought of good. Hence, this stage is called that of an only son.
“O good man! As an example: all a father and mother have is their only son. Asleep
or awake, while walking, standing, sitting or reclining, their mind is always on their son. If any sin occurs, they give kindly advice, and the boy is thus guided not to do evil again. It is the same with the Bodhisattva-mahasattva, too. When he sees beings falling into the realms of hell, hungry ghosts, and animals, his mind is ever upon them and not away from them. He may see them doing all kinds of evil, and yet he does not become angry or punish them with evil things.
Hence, this stage is called the “bhumi” of an only son.”

In addition to issues of faith and unbelief, the Buddhist tradition offered sophistic justifications for killing and war:
[H]ow can one kill another person when…all is emptiness? The man who kills with full knowledge of the facts kills no one because he realizes that all is but illusion, himself as well as the other person. He can kill, because he does not actually kill anyone. One cannot kill emptiness, nor destroy the wind. [25]

Oh No! They sure got us with this one…..

What is being referenced here is a piece of metaphysical philosophy commentary purportedly made by a Mahayana medical doctor in the Mahaprajnaparamitopadesa which is a massive commentary of the Prajnaparamita both believed to have been written around 1 C B.C.E. In it everything is construed to consist of thought forms … including human beings, which of course has nothing at all to do with the advocating of killing people.

Furthermore, killing is sinful because of the evil it creates inside the killer’s mind. But, a true yoga master can train his mind to be “empty” even while he kills. If the killer has “vacuity” of thought, then the murder “did not undermine the essential purity of his mind” and then there is nothing wrong with it. [26] In other words, killing can be excused if it is done by the right person, especially a “dharma-protecting king”.

The Sutta being referenced here says no such a thing. If you follow the reference being given here (26), over to the source being referenced, (again, “Buddhism And War”  by Paul Demeiville, pg.42) you see that the story being discussed is that of king Ajatasatru, who attempted to take the life of his father before converting to Buddhism.

The Buddhist canonical and post-canonical texts not only provide the religious justifications for war and killing, but provide examples of meritorious holy figures who engaged in it, examples for all Buddhists:
Celestial bodhisattvas, divinized embodiments of the power of enlightened compassion, support campaigns of conquest to spread the influence of Buddhism, and kings vested with the dharma commit mass violence against Jains and Hindus. [27]
This statement is made in the work referenced, however no offering of substantiation is made by the author.

From the source referenced here at reference #27…..
In these textual sources, we see dharma-inspired Buddhist kings who “have a disturbing tendency for mass violence against non-Buddhists.” [28]
The king’s Sanskrit name, Pradyota, means “Radiance,” a typical name for a king suggesting that he has an overabundance of rajas, dynamism, a quality kings are
supposed to embody. The epithet Caṇḍa means Pradyota the Cruel, just as the
great Aśoka was called Caṇḍa-Aśoka. He is a stock character in Buddhist lore.
Zimmermann tracked him down in the Mūlasarvāstivāda Vinaya and describes
him as “a mean little bald guy” who would kill anyone “on the spot” who said
the word “fat.” He was also said to have massacred 80,000 Brāhmaṇas. He
appears elsewhere in Sarvāstivādin avadāna literature in ethical tales focused
on violence. In one case, he threatens to kill a Buddhist teacher, and in another,
he savagely beats a young novice monk who presumes to teach the women of
his court.

Zimmermann notes that the king is described as ruling according to
dharma, even though he is also seen as dangerously violent. This illustrates
the usual Buddhist attitude of ambiguity toward kings. Aśoka, according to
Buddhist legend, slaughtered 18,000 Jains, among other atrocities, well after
he became “Dharma-Aśoka.”17 Some note that he renounces such violence
after this pogrom takes the life of his own brother; nevertheless, Aśoka continues
to commit horrible acts of violence even after this episode. In the literary
accounts, dangerous Buddhist kings have a disturbing tendency for mass
violence against non-Buddhists. The Buddhist historian Tāranātha records, for
instance, that the great King Harṣa trapped and burned alive “12,000 experts
of the doctrine of the mlecchas [foreigners].”

Stories from historians or Buddhist legend don’t actually qualify as Buddhist scripture.
Yes, according to the Mūlasarvāstivāda Vinaya it would seem as if the king named Pradyota, was certainly not a nice guy and I myself would doubt that he should be considered a practitioner of good dhamma.Thankfully the general theme of Buddhist scripture compared to this Tibetan Vinaya ( Vinaya meaning discipline or “monastic code”)  is not the type of thing that is considered usual encouraging fare for Buddhists.

Buddhist Warfare provides many other examples of the theological justifications for waging war and killing, but these shall suffice us for now: they provide the religious basis for Buddhist holy war: (1) Killing those who slander Buddhism as a necessity; (2) Anyone who rejects Buddhism is by default slandering it; (3) Killing infidels carries no sin; (4) In fact, it is not really killing at all.
These are not merely theoretical justifications found buried in religious texts. Instead, these beliefs were acted upon historically, and continue to be so in the contemporary age. The historical record is something we will explore in part II.

(1) Killing those who slander Buddhism as a necessity; (2) Anyone who rejects Buddhism is by default slandering it; (3) Killing infidels carries no sin; (4) In fact, it is not really killing at all.
(1) This has not at all been demonstrated, in the slightest.
(2) This is yet again, another false statement, not taught as scripture or protocol.
(3) True, if by no sin one means neither good nor bad, according to the reading of one of many Mahayana sutra.
(4) Again, simply not true.
Extrapolations sympathetic to the author’s purpose for writing this article are being made here and nothing more with one, two and four.

“These are not merely theoretical justifications found buried in religious texts”.
Actually, the author here is correct, but only because the material this article is offering are not theoretical justifications for anything in the first place.
* * * * *
Disclaimer:
Prof. Michael Jerryson issues the following disclaimer:
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.
I could not agree more with Jerryson here. My intent here is not to demonize Buddhism, but rather, to underscore the reality that all religious traditions, not just Islam, have had their fair share of violence. This includes Buddhism.
It’s certainly something uncomfortable for me criticizing a religious tradition in this way, but it seems necessary to dispel the enduring myth that Islam holds a monopoly on violence.

Out of thousands of Mahayana Sutras yes, if you look hard enough, you can find justification for violence. Can this really be compared to what is to be found in the Christian Bible or the Qur’an?

“Buddhism’s relative inconspicuousness shields it from the harshest blows of public criticism. Case in point: the Bible and the Quran are well-known and easily accessible to the public”.
“Finding the violent verses in them is just a click away on the internet. Meanwhile, Buddhist scriptural sources are more obscure, at least to the average Westerner. Most people don’t even know what scriptures Buddhists follow, let alone what is contained within them.”
“Buddhist scriptural sources are more obscure”…
There is a lot more to Buddhist scripture than what the Christian Bible or Qur’an have to offer. If the Christian Bible or Qur’an were mostly filled with wise loving kindness and compassion with just a verse or two here and there that could be construed as condoning violence, then you would have a proper comparison. Instead, what you have is the complete opposite. For the history part of this , how can anyone compare Buddhist countries going to war in S.E. Asia with each other, or Chinese monks covertly supporting a rebellion against the secular government in feudal China, or how some of the monks supported one side or another in the Korean conflict as examples, with on the other, vast religious armies going to war with and killing as many as need be that stood in their path, for the purpose of conquering as much land in the name of their God as possible? To try to compare the two is simply nothing short of laughable.
Again, as I say, if any one would like to compare anything that any of these chapters discuss or any perspectives of the circumstances regarding any of it to anything that the Abramic faiths have offered the world for the past few thousand years…I welcome it.

I would also like to take this opportunity to distance myself from those who are using the violence in Burma to further Buddhaphobia. Such claim that “people are ignoring what is happening to Muslims in Burma”, which is certainly true, but we all know that if the shoe were on the other foot–if it were Muslims in Burma oppressing Buddhists–then many of these Muslims would be the silent ones, or even be justifying such oppression (as I have seen many Buddhists doing now).
What is it other than rancid hypocrisy when some Pakistanis are up in arms about Muslims in Burma, but absolutely silent about the oppression of religious minorities in their own country?
How easily these people are able to transfer the same hatred against Islam that is directed toward them on a daily basis to Buddhism!

With that last part being said here,what I believe to be the authors token offering of an objective voice is duly noted.

What I have learned about religions is the following:
#1: Adherents of a religion will cry foul when their coreligionists are the victims of oppression, but will remain silent or even justify such oppression when their coreligionists are the perpetrators of such oppression. This includes Jews, Christians, Buddhists, and Hindus–as well as Muslims.
To this, I recall the words of the Prophet Muhammad, who said: “Help your brother, whether he is an oppressor or he is oppressed.” The people asked him: “It is right to help him if he is oppressed, but how we should help him if he is an oppressor?” Muhammad replied: “By preventing him from oppressing others.”

“The people asked him: “It is right to help him if he is oppressed, but how we should help him if he is an oppressor?” Muhammad replied: ‘By preventing him from oppressing others.’ ”
This would be accomplished how? “Compassionate killing” perhaps? The Qur’and hadith of Islam give no other option for preventing the “oppressor” (whomever that may be considered) from oppressing but by conversion or death.


#2: The corollary to #1 is that religious groups will cry foul when they are oppressed by another religious group, but as soon as they themselves come to power, the very next minute they set to the task of oppressing the religious other. Yesterday, the Jews were ethnically cleansed by the Nazis; today, they ethnically cleanse the Palestinians. It is such a seamless transition–it happens with such mechanistic automatism and absolute obliviousness–that it is something quite amazing to witness.

But what does their own scripture say?
Sahih Hadith
Abu Huraira reported Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: The last hour would not come unless the Muslims will fight against the Jews and the Muslims would kill them until the Jews would hide themselves behind a stone or a tree and a stone or a tree would say: Muslim, or the servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me; come and kill him; but the tree Gharqad would not say, for it is the tree of the Jews.

Sahih Muslim 41:6985, see also Sahih Muslim 41:6981, Sahih Muslim 41:6982, Sahih Muslim 41:6983, Sahih Muslim 41:6984, and Sahih Bukhari 4:56:791

In case anyone should otherwise suggest, this is only one of many such violence encouraging and violence mandating scripture to be found in the core Islamic scriptural texts of Islam, primary among them being the Qurán and Hadith.

#3: Following from #2, it becomes obvious that humans oppress when they are given the opportunity to do so. It is not their religious creed that matters so much but rather whether they have opportunity or not.

Religious creed doesn’t hurt though, now does it?

#4: No major world religion is vastly different from the other when it comes to its propensity to inspire violence.

That’s why throughout history Buddhists have presumably always been seeking to conquer and kill and subjugate others in the name of Buddha….really?

#5: Instead of using religious violence to demonize particular faiths–instead of using it as a battle ax to split open heads–we should hold in our hearts a continuous candlelight vigil to end inter-religious violence–holding hands with Jews, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus–and start seeing each other as fellow human beings.

Please show me just where in the scripture of Islam anywhere it says any such a thing. Have any of us wondered why it is with Christianity or Islam when you’re talking about paradise you’re always talking about the Christian or Muslim V.I.P club where only their special religion is allowed?
O.K. So let’s get this straight, shall we? We should all hold hands here now, but when it comes time to face that eternal music…it’s only us! The creator deity of the universe has decreed that you as an unbeliever will be horrifically tortured for all eternity! Oh,but no wait, let’s um, we can all…. hold hands now! Certainly even a child can see through this game. People in this scheme are seen as being truly only worthy of their God’s love if they are one of the true believers. As a non Christian or non Muslim you are seen by the Christian or Muslim as morally inferior. I believe it’s a lot easier to kill someone whom you are indoctrinated into believing is your moral inferior, don’t you? I am glad to say that the Buddhist religion does not have a “V.I.P. club”for entry into what we would consider “paradise”.

Now let’s forget for a moment that there are parts of this Nirvana scripture (the Suttra used to reference much of this article, and which was used for the above extrapolations), that have been misquoted and used to say things that no Buddhist scripture has said anywhere. Let’s take a look at the overall uniformity of teaching involved, and let us use the scriptures of Buddhism and the Islamic Hadith as respective teaching as a comparison, this is fair because unlike the Christian Bible or Islamic Qurán, you have here an example of where both the Buddhist suttras and Islamic Hadith have thousands.

Abu Huraira reported: The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “A prostitute saw a dog lolling around a well on a hot day and hanging his tongue from thirst. She drew some water for it in her shoe, so Allah forgave her.”
Source: Sahih Muslim 2245

Now what if I being armed with this Hadith, were to go into a Mosque and suggest that Allah as they call it, would forgive the sins of all prostitutes if they only give water to a thirsty dog, or that my sins would be forgiven (including of course, the supposedly terrible sin of being a non believer) if I only give water to a thirsty dog, they would all laugh me out of the Mosque, I’m sure. Yet this is one approach that the author of this piece would have you buy, even if all of what is being said about the Nirvana Sutra should be considered true, and only if you are gullible enough to do so.

“Even if thieves carve you limb from limb with a double-handed saw, if you make your mind hostile you are not following my teaching”.

The Venerable Gotama

Pali Canon, Sutta Pitaka, Majjhima-Nikkaya Kamcupamasutta, I ~ 28-29

Brother Mark:)

Danios was the Brass Crescent Award Honorary Mention for Best Writer in 2010 and the Brass Crescent Award Winner for Best Writer in 2011.

Footnotes:
[1] Jerryson, Michael K., and Mark Juergensmeyer. Introduction. Buddhist Warfare. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2010. 3. Print.
[2] Jenkins, Stephen. “Making Merit through Warfare and Torture.” Buddhist Warfare. By Michael K. Jerryson and Mark Juergensmeyer. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2010. 59. Print.
[3] Nirvana Sutra, Chapter 19.
[4] Demieville, Paul. “Buddhism and War.” Buddhist Warfare. By Michael K. Jerryson and Mark Juergensmeyer. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2010. 41. Print.
[5] Ibid., 44.
[6] Faure, Bernard. “Afterthoughts.” Buddhist Warfare. By Michael K. Jerryson and Mark Juergensmeyer. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2010. 212. Print.
[7] Jenkins, 68.
[8] Ibid., 71.
[9] Demieville, 41.
[10] Faure, 212.
[11] Demieville, 41.
[12] Nirvana Sutra, Chapter 5.
[13] Ibid., Chapter 19.
[14] Ibid.
[15] Demieville, 41.
[16] Ibid., 39.
[17] Nirvana Sutra, Chapter 22.
[18] Ibid., Chapter 24.
[19] Ibid., Chapter 34.
[2o] Ibid., Chapter 39.
[21] Ibid., Chapter 40.
[22] Demieville, 41.
[23] Nirvana Sutra, Chapter 22.
[24] Ibid., Chapter 40.
[25] Faure, 213.
[26] Demieville, 42.
[27] Jenkins, 59.
[28] Demieville, 63.

References and notes for this article

1.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kalama_Sutta  or the cached page: http://www.webcitation.org/6UJZwY12Z   I believe would be a good place to start.

2. Demieville, Paul. “Buddhism and War.” Buddhist Warfare. By Michael K. Jerryson and Mark Juergensmeyer. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2010. 41. Print. Page 35

For the download of “Buddhism and war” by Paul Demivelle: http://www.sjsu.edu/people/shantanu.phukan/courses/rels142/s1/Demieville-Buddhism%20and%20War.pdf
Cached page: http://www.webcitation.org/6UIUjQPSc

3.For the PDF of the book “Buddhist Warfare” which is a compilation of different articles and essays: http://www.khamkoo.com/uploads/9/0/0/4/9004485/buddhist_warfare.pdf
Cached page: http://www.webcitation.org/6UIUMlm7f

 4. Patimokha: rules entailing acknowledgement /Sekhaya: Rules of training/Part Three: The 16 dealing with teaching dhamma. #60. I will not teach Dhamma to a person with a weapon in his hand who is not ill: a training to be observed. Numbers 58 and 59 are the same other than the word ‘staff” and ‘knife’ used respectively instead of the word ‘weapon’.

5. For a download of the Nirvana Sutra: http://www.nirvanasutra.net/convenient/Mahaparinirvana_Sutra_Yamamoto_Page_2007.pdf
Cached page: http://www.webcitation.org/6UIUVS0xU

6. Christian Bible, New Testament Book of Acts
chapter 5 and the Qur’an Surra 61:10 – 13 would be two examples (one of each) of what I discuss here.

 

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