talktruthful.com Writing the TRUTH fearlessly….. and see if I care who likes it or not!
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
I was taking a walk recently to the market place with my fellow students and teachers at the language school that I am attending, when I told one of my teachers, “You know, the security guard has a problem with me over at the market place”. You see, a few days earlier I had tried to enter into this small market place, and security threw me out! As it turns out, there are some people here in Cambodia who don’t think that a monk belongs in the market place, or for that matter, in an internet cafe working on his blog, or for that matter in the most compromising and scandalous situation of being seen at the local Caltex gas station having a cup of coffee, or in front of a bar having a Coke Light while counseling an older male friend while women are present at the same table!
The security guard threw me out again. For all the dedicated excitement, you would think that I was in the local K.T.V. sex club getting my johnson face waxed while belting out my rendition of Kashmir. There’s nothing in our Monastic code nor is there any law against a monk visiting a market place, and if there are those who want there to be one then they should go through the proper procedure of having a bill presented to Parliament and having it made so. So the question is , how do such people get away with this and why was there a police officer sitting right there on both occasions and did nothing even though I was being discriminated against unlawfully as a Buddhist monk?
First I shall discuss where much of this romanticized and fraudulent form of austerity comes from and then the sad situation of why people get away with this sort of behavior.
The Dhammayutti Sect and False Austerity
The Dhammayutti (also Dhammayutt or Dhammayuttikaya)
sect was created initially as a reform movement back in 1833 by Prince Mongkut who was the son of king Rama the second, because he didn’t think that the monastic community was austere enough. This was eventually recognized as an official sect of Theravada Buddhism with Thailand’s Thai Sanga act of 1902.(1) Throughout the years the Dhammayutti sect have helped to establish austerities that have never been a part of the Pali Canon teaching. As an example, when in Thailand you will notice that the monks go on alms round without any shoes even though there is nothing in the monastic code of the Buddhist monk to do so. Why? It’s simple really. The more of a show the Dhammayutti can put on with all of their posturing of austerity, the more “holier than thou” they look. The laity don’t and aren’t being encouraged to study their own teaching, and if they ever are it’s not an independent and objective inquiry that is being had. What this leads to is a situation where the rest of the monastic community believes that there is now the need to follow this bogus austerity routine so that they will be as much respected as the dhammayutti. So the monks are now encouraged to live a life as if they are the proverbial bird in a gilded cage. Isolated from the rest of the community, as if they are social eunuchs who are cut off from the rest of a productive society. Whether in Cambodia of Thailand or Burma or any other country, this false austerity has been allowed to infect the Buddhist community because otherwise the people would instead realize the tremendous spiritual ability that they themselves have. If that happens then some of the monastic community might fear that they will no longer be needed.
That’s the “Cambodian way”, the “Thai way”, the “Burmese way” etc. excuse.
Not valid. Take a look at the kalama Sutta (2) sometime. This is considered a very critical sutta in the Pali Canon, and for good reason. This is where the Buddha teaches something called critical thinking ability. This is where the Buddha teaches not to simple rely upon “tradition”, for a spiritual teaching. When you say, it’s the Cambodian way etc. this is to say that it’s Cambodian or some other countries tradition. The Buddha wisely knew better and so should we. Where are the teachers? You would perhaps think that if there was a situation where the Abbot of a temple were asked about something, or someone complained about something, the Abbot of a temple would certainly set the matter straight according to the actual teaching…right? Not so fast! Let’s remember that the government authorities have the day so in these S.E. Asian countries, not the Abbot or any of the monks. So, if some properly placed bureaucrat decided that you don’t belong as Abbot of that temple, or that you as a monk should be defrocked and thrown in jail for having the nerve to be seen at some sort of demonstration or political event that they don’t approve of, that’s exactly what might happen. Given this situation, where do you think the gravity is when it comes to upholding certain aspects of a teaching that may be unpopular because the population at large (which would include these government bureaucrats) have been taught religious myth, as opposed to the actual teaching? Consider also, that the Abbots here in S.E. Asia are more often than not required a P.HD in public administration, and not anything else, which ensures that they can be relied upon to be good diplomats, so they may very well be that less inclined to “make waves”, and although there can be a theoretical exception like perhaps anything else, for the before mentioned reasons this is usually not the case. I would like to make a special mention here of appreciation for those members of the Monastic community who willingly make themselves the exception to the general rule.
Do you not think that a monk should not be involved in politics? It would be wrong of course for a monk to endorse a particular candidate for public office because different monks may or may not approve of that particular candidate. However let’s remember as one example, that when the Venerable Gotama allowed women to become monks, this was a decision that had political consequences and of that fact I’m sure he was very aware.
How are we to be concerned with the wellness of humanity, but in no way ever to think or act politically? That would be like wanting a cook in a restaurant to cook a certain meal but scolding him or her for wanting to have a say so in what type of food to buy to fix it! Should all monks go and live in a cave somewhere and seek to isolate themselves from the rest of the world? I know of nothing in our teaching that would suggest that.
How many of our congregation I wonder are aware of the fact that when they give a Buddhist monk money that they are in the context of what is written, and only what is written in our Monastic code (Vinaya), in violation of what is allowed to the Buddhist monk? Taking only this portion of the Pali Canon into consideration, as some such as the Dhammayutti will do will demonstrate this. Strictly speaking, this is because the monk isn’t allowed gold or silver, and that is what was used as money at the time of the Buddha:
The pali Canon Patimokkha Part 2 : The Silk Chapter
18. Should any bhikkhu accept gold and silver, or have it accepted, or consent to its being deposited (near him), it is to be forfeited and confessed.
19. Should any bhikkhu engage in various types of monetary exchange, it (the income) is to be forfeited and confessed.
There are other things that are to be considered of course, such as not only the Kalama Sutta where one is instructed not to necessarily follow tradition or even scripture as a sole excuse for a spiritual teaching but the Abhaya Sutta: To Prince Abhaya of our Pali Canon (3) where the term kamma (Sanskrit karma), even though it means action, is given the practical definition by the Buddha as meaning one’s intention, as two examples of what can be further considered when discussing the topic of what a Buddhist monk should or shouldn’t do. The point here is that there is a big difference between taking all of the teaching into consideration on the one hand and on the other making up things that were simply never there in the first place and promoting it as the “authentic” teaching!
To give one of many such an example let’s look at the fact that in Thailand most monks do not wear shoes of any sort. Why? Because it’s not anywhere in the Vinaya or Patimokkha not to do so, but Dhammayutti tradition. That’s why. How many are aware that it is not against the monastic code of a monk to touch a woman, unless it is being done with a lustful mind?(4) If the monks are even taught their own scriptural teaching in the first place, they would know this but it would hardly matter. You see, many know that if they don’t simply do what is expected of them, then the largely ignorant laity who have been taught their Buddha dhamma by way of gossip and wisper, will not respect them as well as the Dhammayutti who have been sure to make a big show of their “austerity”. If that happens then their support will dwindle and so may their ability to eat and properly care for themselves. In the final analysis, what we are talking about here is the combination of both selfishness on the part of those who know of the true spiritual liberating ability of the Buddha dhamma, and the perpetually stoked fire of sheer ignorance based on a concern for their own well being.
There will always be those who believe that they must worship at the alter of austerity.
They seem unaware that the Buddha himself found enlightenment only after realizing that austerities would not realize the goal that he was striving to accomplish.
This is why, with the exception of the first four rules of defeat, the most severe penalty to accomplish from violating any of the precepts is to have something confiscated or to be put on probation.
If a monk were on probation for the rest of his life, so what? He can’t go anywhere alone? He might enjoy the company!
I remember when I was in Thailand and there was an urban legend of a monk who once defecated in his alms bowl and then ate it. Supposedly this was to show that just like the Venerable Gotama he was able to surpass any sensual desire including the sensual desire to enjoy the taste sensation of food.
However, for a taste of reality land, we need to go to the Parin-nibbana sutta of the Digha Nikaya (5) where we know that it is stated that the Venerable Gotama was served his last meal by Kunda the householder and that it was his favorite meal.
Obviously he enjoyed it well enough that he apparently was not anywhere near indifferent to it, because it was his favorite meal.
So here we once again have the reality of the teaching versus austerity fantasy land.
How about the notion that it is the Buddha’s teaching that a monk not eat (aside from a the five tonics and life long medicines) from midday until daybreak of the next day?
In the Latukikopama Sutta (M.N. 66) the Buddha said that there were many disadvantages to going for alms at night.
Latukikopama Sutta M.N. 66
“…that monks wandering for alms in the pitch dark of the night have walked into a waste-water pool, fallen into a cesspool, stumbled over a thorn patch, or stumbled over a sleeping cow. They have encountered young hooligans on the way to or from a crime.”
Kitagiri Sutta M.N. 70
“Once when the Buddha was touring in the region of Kasi together with a large Sangha of monks he addressed them saying: ‘I, monks, do not eat a meal in the evening. Not eating a meal in the evening I, monks, am aware of good health and of being without illness and of buoyancy and strength and living in comfort. Come, do you too, monks, not eat a meal in the evening. Not eating a meal in the evening you too, monks, will be aware of good health and….. and living in comfort.’ ”
We see here therefore that the monks were once used to going on alms round in the evening, but that they were at a certain point discouraged from doing so.
Nowhere does it state anywhere in the Pali Canon Tipataka that the monk should stop eating in the afternoon and should not resume until midday. Nowhere.
You may find a false reference here and there such as Vinaya 4.86 but upon investigation you will find that what I say is true.
Would any care to suggest that the Buddha Gotama didn’t know the difference between afternoon and evening?
For the real kick in the pants I will now discuss what must be considered for many as the bedrock of Buddhist monk austerity, that being the vow of celibacy.
This is what we find at the accesstoinsight.org website:
◊ The first offence of all the 227 listed rules of the Patimokkha concerns a bhikkhu engaging in sexual intercourse. It remains a hot issue, perhaps even more so today, going by the number of sexual scandals that rock the Buddhist religious world in both the East and the West. As Venerable Thiradhammo writes:
“While some of the guidelines may seem somewhat rigid or prudish, it is important to reflect upon the volatility and durability of rumour, even if untrue. The incessant sex-scandals in religious circles may provide a sufficient incentive to encourage the greatest measure of prevention and discretion.” (HS ch.13)
The rule was originally laid down because of Venerable Sudinna. He was the son of a rich merchant, who left home to become a bhikkhu only after great opposition from his family. He went away to practice Dhamma and when he came back to visit sometime later, his parents were overjoyed to see him and plotted to lure him back into the lay life again. They invited him for a meal and then laid out their wealth in front of him, piled up in two huge heaps of gold, while the wife he had left behind dressed herself in her most irresistibly alluring way. Venerable Sudinna remained unmoved by all of this. After telling them to throw the gold away in the river, he called his former wife, “Sister.” Nevertheless, when his elderly mother pleaded with him at least to give them an heir, he foolishly gave in and had sexual intercourse with his former wife.
This First Defeater Offence is summarized:
“A bhikkhu who engages in any form of sexual intercourse is Defeated.” (Paar. 1; See BMC p.45)
Every form and variety of sexual intercourse with sexual penetration — whether genital, oral or anal, whether with woman, man or animal — is forbidden. The penalty is the heaviest one of Paaraajika or Defeat.
But is it true? No. Something has quite conveniently been left out.
What is being used here for a reference is not the actual Pali Canon’s Vinaya or Pattimokha but the Buddhist Monastic Code written by the Venerable Thanissero.
What does the actual scripture have to say?
Translated from the Pâli by
T. W. Rhys Davids
The Mahâvagga, I-IV
Oxford, the Clarendon Press
Vol. XIII of The Sacred Books of the East
1. Whatsoever Bhikkhu who has taken upon himself the Bhikkhus’ system of self-training and rule of life, and has not thereafter withdrawn from the training, or declared his weakness, shall have carnal knowledge of any one, down even to an animal, he has fallen into defeat, he is no longer in communion.
“…or declared his weakness”…
Declaring your weakness is not renouncing the training. Therefore it is possible for a monk to have sex and remain a monk by way of declaring his weakness prior to the sexual contact. I am sure that there must be some monks who are aware of this fact.
Why is this? I believe that this most probably is the result of the situation at the time of the early Monastic Sangha (community), where a monk who would ever acknowledge his weakness to a woman would be absolutely humiliated to do so. This was used as a way of tempering sexual activity in the Monastic Sangha. When the Sangha grew in size, it then became impractical. A more standardized approach was then needed to prevent monks from simply using it as a loophole.
Independent Vs. Group thinking.
Herd mentality has a better chance where people are not even fairly studied in the concept of critical thinking ability. Critical thinking would give rise to independent research, which in turn would make a population less susceptible to the group mentality. The group or “heard mentality” is necessary for the comfortable control of the population because it makes their control more reliable. The reason why therefore force has to be used by them as a means of demonstrated cohersion is because they all know that if the group think turns on them and starts to run in a different direction, other that what would be beneficial to them, then the group think that they have fostered may very well become their worst enemy when the chickens come home to roost! All of a society’s sweet puppet masters risk this and are well aware of this untidy fact. Therefore truly independent thinking must be routinely discouraged and marginalized. If they believe that force must be utilized for a proper demonstration then you can believe that is exactly what will be done. In the case of the monastic Sangha, force can take on many forms, including the social ostracizing and shunning of monks and other individuals who can read their own religious scripture and have the nerve to think for themselves.
Why exactly is it then that the very core of the Buddhist teaching that instructs us to engage in an investigative procedure, to keep an open mind that will not allow the relic of a cultural excuse to stand in the way of the obtaining of spiritual knowledge, now has succumbed to the very prejudice that has been specifically taught against in the teaching itself?
I believe that if one gives any serious study to the Pali Canon, one will find that the overwhelming theme is one that encourages the practitioner to develop their natural potential for a heightened state of personal awareness. Collectively this becomes a heightened state of social awareness, which in turn naturally becomes a perceived threat to authority.
Social empowerment has never been high on the list of those who weld such privileged authority, and accordingly adherence to a different understanding that is more pliable and advantageous to authority will undoubtedly be encouraged at every opportunity.
Notes and References
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
I on the contrary, believe that a presumption is not necessarily just simply one’s opinion and nothing more than that nor an illogical thing, and if one should wish to consider such a presumption “inflammatory” then they should be welcome to do so. If after reviewing the evidence below, if any of you still believe that such a presumption is not supported well enough, I will simply ask that you go back to your cartoon styled candy land of self delusional self denial, and kindly stop masquerading as an intelligent human being.
If you find the above statement “inflammatory”, I’m sure that when (to name here just but two brief examples) you find that your house of religious observance has been vandalized with red crosses and Christian slogans painted with red spray paint, or that a Christian Priest has urinated on your religious shrine and vandalized it with permanent marker, you might very well feel this to be “inflammatory” in a way that is substantially more meaningful than as a way of saying that you’ve gotten your feelings hurt because you don’t like what someone has said.
Can any Christian reading this inform me of any similar act of disrespect committed by a professed Buddhist or Buddhist monk? You will be a long time looking for that. Go ahead and research to your heart’s content….I’ll be waiting.
Another example? How about an entire stadium of South Korean Christians praying that their Christian God destroy all Buddhist temples in Korea? Find me a Buddhist prayer service where we pray that all the Christian churches or the houses of worship of any faith are demolished … look as hard as you may…you won’t.
Why do Christians do such things? It’s the same reason that a Muslim man can walk into a restaurant, scream that his God is great, and start murdering people.
Wait a minute you say! “Not all Christian or Muslim are like that! True. I have known many peace loving Christian and Muslim. The point is, when you worship a God that you believe can murder and torture people for whatever self-righteous reason, and that’s o.k. because he’s your God, and that is your epitome of all that is pure and good, that’s an invitation for bad things to happen ala Jewish or Christian or Muslim style.
But can’t Buddhists go astray and do wrong also? Yes, of course. But when your murdering God displays it as a virtue of his righteousness and certainly not a moral slip up, that can but only make it all so much easier.
Does the language sound strong? “Inflammatory” perhaps? Deal with the truth. As an example to be found in the New Testament, Acts Ch.5, a husband and wife are both murdered by the Christian “holy”spirit for selling some land and then lying about how much they sold it for, instead of coughing it all up for the apostle Peter.
The Apostle Peter in this section, even gloats about the fact that one was taken out feet first and that the other was soon to follow! This is an example of why the Abramic lineage of religion has a God that is worshiped out of fear while they pay lip service to love. The very little that we may know about the life of Jesus from the New Testament, if to be believed can in no way invalidate this. After all, if you believe in the Trinity, then Jesus is in the same car as his father and holy spirit, both of whom are known in the Christian Bible as guilty of murder, only well um… you know… they would rather not you know….call it murder. Perhaps they would rather use the wholesale discounter term and call it “liquidation”, or perhaps the C.I.A. type of reference to those who have been “neutralized” would be better for them to help sterilize the concept well enough.
When they speak of Jesus however, all of a sudden he should be seen as more separate than the same! Do they believe in their “Trinity” or not?
The reason why I discuss this is because comparatively, urinating on a religious shrine or decapitating a Buddha statue or vandalizing a Buddhist temple with some red spray paint is small potatoes! I’m sure that Christians who behave this way are well aware of that fact as it may even give some encouragement. After all, if your God can righteously murder (oops! I mean “neutralize”) untold masses of humanity throughout the course of history whether it’s by flood or raining fire or whatever the method for the perceived crime of disobedience or immortality, or if it should simply choose to kill a husband and wife for telling a lie, what’s some mere Buddhist temple burning or vandalizing?
Here’s a short list of some of the more recent examples with the sources given in the notes and reference section.(1) After this we will have a video presentation for your viewing pleasure. Watch as a stadium of Christians in South Korea pray to their Christian God that the Buddhist temples are all collapsed (destroyed).
1982 May.A man by the name of Myông Chinhong organizes religious gatherings in Seoul to publicly denounce Buddhism. He erects a banner “Jesus Heaven, Buddhism Hell!” He claims to have once been a Buddhist monk who has “repented,” though no records can be found to support the claim of his ordination. Using this claim, he puts up posters claiming: “A Dharma Hall is a hall of demons.”
1983 March 1. During a Christian revival meeting held on the occasion of Korean Independence Day observations, a woman falsely claims to have been the daughter of a famous Zen master and revered national independence hero, Paek Yongsông. She makes statements denouncing Buddhism.
1984 February. Red crucifixes are painted on priceless temple wall paintings at Muryangsa Temple and Ilsônsa on Samgaksan Mountain outside Seoul. Dirt is smeared on the paintings and on a statue of the Buddha located outside one of the temples. A large ancient carving of the Buddha chiselled into stone is damaged with axe-like instruments.
May. Ignoring the pleas of Buddhist leaders, the Roman Catholic Church invites Pope John Paul II to visit South Korea to celebrate the bicentennial of the church in Korea. This event happens to fall during the annual national Buddha’s Birthday holiday celebrations. Because it is the first ever visit of a Roman pontiff to South Korea, and because the Vatican announces that 93 Koreans and 10 French missionary martyrs will be beatified as saints during the visit, the visit becomes a major national event. It is the first time that a canonization ceremony is held outside of Rome and the largest number ever canonized at one time. This ceremony gives Korea the fourth largest number of Catholic saints in the world. When the Pope tours the country, in the days immediately preceding and during Buddha’s Birthday, there are immense traffic jams which diminish attendance at Buddhist events in several key cities. Buddhist leaders protest the timing of the event as “disrespectful” and “in bad taste” because the Korean and Roman Catholic Churches schedule the mass beatification ceremonies to take place during Buddha’s Birthday celebrations, a day sacred to Buddhists and a national holiday.
November. In an official Korean textbook, Buddhism is called ” a fading religion.”
1985 April. Four major daily newspapers accept and publish advertisements which assert that the content of the Buddhist scriptures are “selfish” in intent.
May. A Protestant minister named Kim Jingyu publicly claims to have once been an ordained monk in the Chogye Order. Though there is no record of his ever having been a Buddhist monk, he hangs up banners which read “Why I Became a Protestant Minister,” and organizes meetings to denounce the Buddhist faith.
September. An individual by the name of Kim Sônghwa organizes a series of mass gatherings to denounce Buddhism in the cities of Pusan, Taegu, Kwangju, and Taejon. (This individual and his wife Kim Mija regularly advertise their mission to convert the “25 million Buddhists of Korea” in the Christian Newspaper Kitokkyo Shinmun, July 1996).
October. An unidentified man disrupts a Dharma talk at the Nûngin Zen Center by driving nails into the tires of believers’ automobiles parked outside. The perpetrator also pours corrosive chemicals into various car engines. An accomplice meanwhile uses portable amplification equipment to sing Gospel songs up at the Buddhist gathering, located on the third and fourth floors.
1986 December 6. Several days before the annual Buddha’s Enlightenment celebrations, the Taejôkkwangjôn, the main Dharma Hall, a large building of ancient origin at Kûmsansa Temple is completely burned to the ground in an event which makes top news throughout the nation. The Hall is listed as National Treasure Number 476, and is the central hall in a temple which is a regional headquarters and major monastic training center for the Chogye Order. A man active in a local church is apprehended at the scene, but is released because the police claim that, since the fire consumed everything, there is “no evidence.” Although he admitted to the crime, he is released without being charged. Discounting widespread opinion and belief, local police claim that “religious heretics” are not suspected. However, in an unprecedented move, the Korean government pays to have the building quickly rebuilt. It is widely believed that this unusual action was undertaken to preempt the possibility of interreligious strife.
1987 December. A fundamentalist Christian by the name of Yang Shinha from the Tamna Church on Chejudo Island is apprehended after setting fire to two temples – Kwanûmjôngsa and Taegaksa – completely burning them to the ground.
1988 September 25. In the early morning hours, a fire is set at Pômôsa Temple in Pusan, a major monastic training center of the Chogye Order and regional headquarters. The fire completely destroys the Myôngbujôn (Chijang Bodhisattva Hall- a funeral hall), taking with it 16 priceless altar paintings of the Buddha. The paintings were considered treasures and the hall a registered Cultural Asset. The cause of the fire is unknown but deemed “highly suspicious” by Pusan city authorities.
December 8. Several days before the annual Buddha’s Enlightenment celebrations, the Chônggagwôn, the main Dharma Hall on the Kyôngju campus of Dongguk University is completely burned to the ground. Arson is suspected but no one is apprehended.
1989 January. A stone lantern and pagoda is destroyed and statements attacking Buddhism are painted on the temple’s gates Okch’ôn Am Hermitage located in the Sôdaemun (Hongûndong), Seoul.
March. Several individuals enter Kupok Am Hermitageon Samgaksan Mountain on the outskirts of Seoul and destroy a stone lantern and stone pagoda, seriously damage a Ch’ilsônggak (Big Dipper Hall), and paint red crucifixes on a large gilded Buddha statue.
April. Five to six individuals destroy a Buddha statue and paint red crucifixes on a large outdoor Ma-ae Buddha figure carved into the rock on Samgaksan Mountain on the outskirts of Seoul. In all, some 10 temples are severely damaged or desecrated in the days immediately before and after the national Buddha’s Birthday holidays.April. The Hyangmok Committee of the Seoul City Government gathers military reserve forces under its control for a (taesônghoe) church service. Some of the members are compelled to attend even though they are not Christian.
July 29. The huge main Dharma Hall and a temple dormitory at Potasa Temple, Oksudong, Sôngdonggu, Seoul are completely burned to the ground. A 23-year old follower of the Taesônjillihoe (Great Conversion Truth Church) is arrested at the scene. Damage is estimated at $1.1 million according to the Chogye Order report.
October 27. The huge Taeunjôn, the main Dharma Hall, and a temple dormitory at Pohyônsa Temple in Taegu are completely burned to the ground. Though the modern buildings were erected in 1985, the police determine that each building must have suffered an “electrical short circuit,” and no further investigations are conducted.
1990 May 2. Two men break into the Buddhist Broadcasting System (BBS, the first Buddhist radio station in Korea) in Seoul, two days before it is due to begin broadcasting a combination of popular music and Buddhist teaching and cultural programs. They tie up two guards, and proceed to destroy all of the radio station’s recording and transmission equipment. They smash expensive electronic gear and tear up several state-of-the-art recording booths. At one point, they use a statue of the Buddha as a battering ram to break through several plate-glass recording booth windows and use the Buddha’s head to damage computer equipment, sound boards, reel-to-reel decks, and screens. Damage is estimated in the millions of dollars, and delays the opening of the station by several months. No arrests are ever made.
November. A man by the name of Myông Chinhong falsely claims to have been a Buddhist monk some 20 years before, and organizes mass spiritual revivals under the heading, “Why I Became a Minister.” In the course of his “revivals,” this purported “ex-monk-turned minister” makes inflammatory and abusive statements about the Buddhist religion. There is no record of his ever having been ordained a monk, or living in any temple. (See May 1982)
Students and parishioners at a Christian theological school in Pusan misinterpret an ancient, traditional Buddhist death ceremony as being “slanderous” of Jesus Christ. The name of the ceremony, for many centuries called “Yesu-jae,” sounds similar to the Korean pronunciation and Korean spelling of “Jesus” (Yesu), though the Chinese characters are unrelated to Christian vocabulary or sacraments. (It is a traditional merit-making ceremony in anticipation of death). The students and parishioners mail a letter of “warning” to Buddhist leaders at several area temples, schools, and organizations. The letters slander Buddhist teachings, and are plastered on the walls of Buddhist temples and organizations throughout the city of Pusan.
1991 April. Yun Ch’anggyu and Shim Yôngch’o, teachers at the Taesông High School in Kôch’ang, direct their students (many of them Buddhist) to recite Biblical passages and sing Christian hymns in class. In the same month, the Buddha statue of the Buddhist student club at Ch’ôngju University is vandalized.
Sept. 23. Pudo Am Hermitage at Tonghwasa Temple is destroyed by fire.
Oct. 15. Haeundae Buddhist Mission Bldg in Pusan is destroyed by fire.
October. The huge main Dharma Hall (Taeunjôn) at Pongwônsa Temple in the Shinch’on district of Seoul is totally destroyed by fire. The hall was registered as Seoul city Cultural Asset Number 68. This temple was the headquarters of the T’aego Order, the second-largest Buddhist sect in Korea at the time of the incident. A guard at the temple testified to seeing two men flee into the mountains behind the temple as the building burst into flames. Local police conclude that there is no evidence, that there was probably an “electrical short circuit,” and the fire was quickly declared “an accident.” Three large Buddha statues and altar portraits considered treasures are destroyed.
November. Military reserves stationed in Kyôngnam Province (many of them Buddhist) are forced to attend a Protestant revival meeting, presumably by a superior officer.The Kwanûmjôn, the Kwanûm Bodhisattva Hall and a large Dharma Teaching Hall (Sôlpôpchôn) at Sôngjusa in Changwôn city are completely burned to the ground.
P’yo Ch’ajong, a member of the Pedel Church in Pusan, publicly declares that the world-famous Sôkkuram Buddha statue is a subject of “idol-worship” and the product of “a heretical religion”. He attempts to damage the priceless statue, but is stopped. The Sokkuram Buddha was declared a “World Cultural Treasure” by Unesco in 1995, and has twice been renovated and preserved with Unesco financial and technical involvement.
1992 April. The Main Dharma Hall on the Kyôngju campus of Dongguk University is completely burned to the ground a second time. The event makes national news. No arrests are made.
December. An unknown assailant cuts the two arms off a statue of Maitreya Buddha at Puljosa Temple in Wonju. Various temple artifacts are burned and over 100 threatening phone calls are made to the temple office.1993 February. Colonel (battalion commander) Cho Pyôngshik of the 17th Tank Battalion, claiming a lack of warehouse space, has the Dharma Hall on his base dismantled. The gilded statue of the Buddha is taken from the Hall, burned, and openly discarded behind the mountain. Taejon. The event makes national news.
April. Within two months of Cho’s actions, the Dharma Hall and stone lantern are damaged at Kimhae Air Base.
The Yôngdo Church in Pusan organizes to prevent a temple from being built beside them, claiming that they “cannot accept the construction of a place of idol worship” near them.
May. At Hyundai High School, all students are required to attend church services, and their attendance at these services is reflected in their school records.
Lee Yun-sun, a teacher at the Paegun Primary School in Uidong, Seoul, teaches the Christian Bible in his class and declares that any Buddhist children in the class are “followers of the Satan,” and excludes them from certain class activities.Professor Im In-hûi rejects the admission application of a Buddhist student. He claims he was only following the orders of the board chairman of Taejôn Junior College Lee Pyông-ik.Lotus lanterns prepared for Buddha’s Birthday celebrations are destroyed at Pongguksa Temple and Chonjôngsa Temple in the Chôngnûng district of Seoul.
July. An assailant severely damages the Buddha statue and other Buddhist artifacts in a Buddhist meeting room at Sônggyungwan University in Seoul. Valuable religious objects are not stolen but thrown into a garbage basket.
1994 May. Before and after Buddha’s Birthday, various acts of vandalism and desecration are inflicted upon the properties (especially the richly painted gates) of Daesôngsa Temple and Kwanûmsa Temple in the Saegômjông and Shinch’on districts of Seoul. Approximately 30 acts of vandalism against Buddhist temples in Seoul are recorded during this period.The Rev. Yu Sûng-hwan of Yuchongni Church declares that Buddhism is “idol worship.” He forcibly attempts to “convert” the abbot of Sudosa Temple to Christianity, even mentioning Korean President Kim Young-sam, a Presbyterian.
According to Dr. Pyôn Sôn-hwan, “the thoughtless speech and behavior of this minister who understood that the government was protecting Christianity simply because Kim Young-sam is an elder and the alleged remark by the President that he would make ‘hymn songs reverberate throughout the Blue House’ at the time of the presidential election damaged confidence in the government that was supposedly based on the principle of religion and state (politics).
June. A fundamentalist Christian enters Mirûk Chôngsa Temple in Kwangju and damages the Buddha statue and Dharma Hall.
1995 September. A fundamentalist Christian by the name of Pak Oh-Sun is apprehended after entering and causing serious damage to five temples on Chejudo. He burns Buddha statues at the temples, in addition to other damage.A Protestant minister is apprehended after painting a large red cross onto the altar painting behind the Buddha at Mu-ûi sa Temple in Kangjin, Chollanamdo. He is released without charges. Later an unknown person carves a crucifix below the same Buddha image.
1995-96. Students belonging to a fundamentalist Christian group begin an aggressive campaign of proselytizing on the campus of Dongguk University (Seoul), Korea’s main Buddhist university. The students proselytize directly in front of a large statue of the Buddha – the campus symbol and central meeting-point – making anti-Buddhist statements and handing out Christian literature to ordained sangha members.
1996. President Kim Young Sam attends services at a Protestant church located on the nation’s central military base at Kyeryôngsan Mountain. In an event which sends shock waves throughout Buddhist and Catholic circles in Korea, many troops based there are compelled to attend the service in order to create the appearance of a larger number of Protestant troops. (Many of the troops are not Protestant Christians, and many are not even Christian.) Moreover, people attending services at a nearby temple and Catholic church are placed under virtual “house arrest,” their religious sanctuaries being encircled with troops while the President makes what is deemed a “preferential” visit to the Protestant chapel. Those inside the Buddhist temple and Catholic church were made to remain inside for several hours while President Kim completed his visit. Buddhist and Catholic leaders lodge strong protests. Some Buddhist leaders perceive the President’s actions as a license, a virtual “green light” for abusive actions to be taken against them, citing the centuries-old tradition in Korea of leaders signalling, through thinly-veiled actions, the unstated “allowances” that the government will make for actions which coincide with “non-legislateable” policies.
1996. The long-awaited tentative plans related to the new Education Law are announced by the government’s Education Reform Committee. The plans are based on the educational system of the Renewal Church of Christ, and include plans to establish (with government money) a special graduate school for the education and training of Christian ministers. Buddhists lodge strong protests, which are initially ignored. Eventually the Committee agrees to restate their objectives at a later date.The Wônmi ward office of Puch’on city near Seoul sends official letters to several Buddhist kindergartens, primary schools, and other Buddhist organizations and temples. Language in the letters beseeches them to find “the peace of God and the comfort of Jesus Christ.The swastika – for centuries a symbol of good fortune throughout Asia, and also a Buddhist symbol of the same – is replaced on many flagpoles in Seoul with crucifixes. A large red crucifix is painted in a concrete shelter used by Buddhist monks for meditation, located one hundred meters above Hwagyesa Temple on Samgaksan Mountain on the outskirts of Seoul.A school teacher by the name of “Lee” at Songwu Primary School in P’och’ôn, Kyônggi Province, urges students to attend church services as part of their lessons. She forces them to sing certain Christian hymns in class to confirm their attendance, and does other “missionary work” in her capacity as schoolteacher.
April 6. Fires are set to the Abbot’s quarters, the lawn (dried from the recent spell) and nine other places (out-buildings) at Pulguksa Temple in Kyôngju, the most famous Buddhist temple in Korea, seen on travel posters everywhere.According to the report filed with the headquarters of the Chogye Order, a Mr. Kim Yông-shik was caught on the spot and reported to the police. The police transferred him to a Taegu city mental hospital. Although he admitted to the crime as “a follower of another religion,” he was released without being charged because there was no material evidence.
April 19. Two temples on Samgaksan Mountain on the outskirts of Seoul are severely damaged by fires which are set within an hour of each other. The two-year-old large bell platform at Samsông Am Hermitage is burned to its foundation. The assailant(s) also cause damage to the Main Dharma Hall, burning holes in the locked doors while trying to gain access to the sanctuary containing the temple’s main Buddha statue. Damage to the ruined bell platform is estimated at $250,000 according to police.
April 20. Two recently-constructed Dharma Halls at Pônwôn Chôngsa Temple are burnt to the ground, and another is severely damaged by flames, just after midnight. The Nahanjôn enshrined 519 wood statues of arhats and bodhisattvas, each of which was painstakingly hand-carved and hand-painted over a period of seven years. Damage at Pônwôn Chôngsa Temple is estimated at $5.6 million according to the local police. The unfinished buildings were not insured.
April 21. The next day, fire is set to the Taejôkkwangjôn, the main Dharma Hall at Hwagyesa Temple, also located on Samgaksan Mountain, within a short walk of Samsông Am Hermitage and Pônwôn Chôngsa Temple. Damage is minimal. Two police guarding the temple fail to catch the assailant, who is interrupted in his task when a monk spots him while walking to the outhouse. (1st attack on Hwagyesa, home of the Seoul International Zen Center and living quarters of more than twenty North American and European monks and disciples of most successful Korean Buddhist international teacher, Master Seung Sahn (Haengwôn Sûngsan sônsa).
May 12. Arsonists attack the main Buddha statue in the Taejôkkwangjôn at Hwagyesa Temple in Seoul for the second time. A lit candle is placed in a box of papers and wisk brooms under the main altar. The fire is quickly extinguished by a passing monk. At the time, more than 30 police and army are patrolling the temple in plainclothes in broad daylight, but fail to apprehend the assailant. (2rd attack on Hwagyesa)
May 14. Two days later, again with over 30 police and military patrolling the temple, a massive fire is set beneath the main Buddha statue in the Taejôkkwangjôn at Hwagyesa Temple in Seoul for the third time. Superb altar paintings, ornate woodcarvings and traditional wall paintings are lost. Damage estimated at about $775,000 according to the police.
(3rd attack, 1 building seriously damaged).
May. Rev. Pae Sông-ho, a Protestant minister, enters the main Buddha Hall at Ch’ôngryongsa Temple in Chinhae on the southern coast of the peninsula. He swings a microphone over his head like a bolo, smashing the main Buddha statue and damaging beyond repair the altar paintings hanging behind the main altar. Witnesses who apprehend him hear him shouting abusive statements about “idol worship” and that “now [he] will go to heaven for destroying these craven images.” Though taken into custody by police, the minister is released within hours with no charges filed by the local authorities. Damage to the Dharma Hall is extensive.
May 22. Two days before Buddha’s Birthday, the main Dharma Hall at Mangyông Am Hermitage in Sôngnam, a city bordering Seoul, is burned to the ground. Christian fundamentalists active in the area are suspected but not investigated.
In August 2008 an estimated 60,000 people, including about 7000 monks, rallied in front of the Seoul city hall to protest religious discrimination.(2)
Whenever I speak with my Christian friends about these activities they seem to have been living in a bubble of a secluded mind world, however, if you were to ask some of these same people about the Christian churches burned to the ground in the middle east, they of course will know exactly what you are talking about!
2010 In October 2010, students from Church Equipping Worship School posted a clip on YouTube professing a hope that God would destroy a Buddhist temple in Seoul. Later they claimed being taught such by God.”This place (Bongeunsa Temple) will be demolished and God will win it back….Useless idols (Buddha’s statue) here made me really sad,” the student said in the clip.(3)
Following public outrages sparked by the video, Reverend Choi Ji-ho and students from the school went to Bongeunsa Temple to apologize for the comments made by the student.
That was a nice gesture, but one must ask themselves just what would influence this sort of thing?
Try the fact that Christianity teaches that the Christian is the only one truly favored by God and that the rest will be deserving of anilation or an eternity of being horrifically tortured.
November 2011, near the Haewundae in Busan, Korea. Four Buddhist temples reported vandalism and invasion by the Korean Christian community, as they spray painted red lacquer on the hands and faces of the Buddha statues.(4)
November 2011, the stele that accompanied the stupa of National Preceptor Jigwangguksa of Beopcheonsa temple, Korean National Treasure No. 59 was vandalized. A giant cross was drawn across the five meter stone statue and was opened to public on a christian man’s Facebook and twitter page.(5)
October 4th, 2012, an arson tried to burn down the Gakhwangjeon Hall of Hwaomsa Temple in Gurye County, Korea. Fortunately, the fire only made a small damage to the gate of the hall due to quick actions of the monks and the fire prevention restoration made in 2008.(6)
August 20th, 2012 a Protestant pastor, Seong, vandalized the dharma hall of Donghwasa Temple. This pastor self-proclaimed that he was from the Soon Bok Eum Church, was caught urinating in the dharma hall on a Buddhist shrine and vandalizing the Buddhist portraits with a permanent marker. His poor actions were captured on the CCTV of the dharma hall.(7)
Here now is the video of a stadium full of Christians praying that the Buddhist temples in Korea should be destroyed….
What will be the response from some so well steeped in self denial? I’m waiting for someone to tell me next that because they weren’t acting like real Christians, they were in fact not Christian at all, and therefore can’t really say that any Christians were actually involved in any of this! Remember that the next time a fundamentalist Muslim goes on a killing spree and others try to convince you that such actions aren’t really you know, the real Islam and somehow have nothing to do with Islam, and so you shouldn’t call them Islamic terrorists!
The new administration of the first woman ever elected to the Presidency of South Korea, Park Geun-hye, has aimed to help contribute to the suppression of Protestant attacks against Buddhists in South Korea, with increasing calls for religious cooperation in the country under her administration. This is a certainly a good thing. Park Heun-hye is an atheist, and it is very telling that it has taken the presidency of an atheist (8) not that of a Jesus loving Protestant Christian like Lee Myung-bak (who is seen giving the opening message in the above video where they all prayed for the destruction of the Buddhist temples in South Korea) to help calm things down a bit. A few years back the atheist President Park Heun-hye was the first South Korean President that I am aware of to give a message on the day observed by Buddhists as the Buddha’s birthday.(9) I’m sure that her efforts have been well appreciated by all peace loving people regardless of their religious affiliation. Something that I’m sure has helped is the understanding that if any of these fools should go and vandalise or burn down a Buddhist temple or shrine, they might have very well actually been prosecuted.
I do hope that now that she is no longer in office as President, that it all now will not return to business as usual.
It is my belief that because of their scripture and history it doesn’t take a lot of encouragement for either Christians or Muslim in particular to become violent, because as previously mentioned, the Abrahamic God that is worshipped by them has a long history of “righteous” violence that the Christian is taught never to question. As a last thought on this, I will say that if America were to elect someone like Pat Robertson, (the Christian evangelical preacher who ran for the Republican nomination a few years back) as President then there is no good reason why America would not experience the same unfortunate circumstance. As they would not of course be legal in South Korea the Buddhist temple burnings and vandalism would not be legal in America either.
We need to watch and be mindful of these Christians, and in case anyone should suggest otherwise, the fact that Buddhists or anyone for that matter can perhaps fall prey to the temptation of such unwarranted violence does not alleviate the matter.
I sincerely wish everyone reading this, a blessed and prosperous spiritual life.
Bhikkhu Aggacitto a.k.a. Brother Mark:)
Notes and references:
The following is an incomplete listing of defamations, acts of vandalism and arson attacks against Buddhist temples and facilities in South Korea which have occurred since 1982 and which have earned the attention of the news media and the dismay of the Buddhist population in the country.
Buddhism under Siege 1982-1996 : Fifteen Years of Incidents Against Buddhism in South Korea including at least twenty temples or Buddhist shrines seriously damaged or totally destroyed by arson since 1986.
Dong A Ilbo daily newspaper (Seoul), May 2, 1990, p. 1
Pulgyo Shinmun weekly newspaper (Seoul), May 28, 1996, p. 4
Pôp Po Shinmun weekly newspaper (Seoul), May 15, 1996
Hyôndae Pulgyo weekly newspaper (Seoul), May 22, 1996
Kitokkyo Shinmun weekly newspaper (Seoul), July, 1996 advertisement
(Other major dailies and such weeklies as the Haedong Pulgyo and regional papers have not been consulted at this time.)
We have also corroborated and compared reports of incidents with records maintained in the headquarters of the Chogye Order in Seoul and the official written police report on the incidents at Hwagyesa, Pônwôn Chôngsa and Samsông Am (Hermitage).
(The modified McCune-Reischauer system of transliteration as appears in the Korea Journal of the Korean National Commission for Unesco is utilized for Korean names)
3.”Pastor apologizes for anti-Buddhist slur”. Ucanews.com. 2010-10-27. Archived from the original on December 7, 2011. Retrieved2012-03-06.