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Still Waters

Where did Buddhism get its reputation for peace?

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Still Waters

When teaching an undergraduate class on “Buddhism and Violence”, I usually start by asking students to rank religious groups in the order of how many followers they have in the British army. Typically Christians are at the top of students’ lists and Buddhists at the bottom.

This reflects an unconscious bias many of these students have regarding Buddhism – they assume that all Buddhists are peaceful and that a Buddhist isn’t likely to embrace a career that may well involve violence at some point.

So they’re always surprised to find out that there are more Buddhists in the British Army than Muslims and Sikhs put together – despite the relatively small number of Buddhists in Britain.

But why do so many people in the west associate Buddhism with peace?

https://theconversation.com/where-did-buddhism-get-its-reputation-for-peace-157206

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Manwon Lender
9 minutes ago, Still Waters said:

When teaching an undergraduate class on “Buddhism and Violence”, I usually start by asking students to rank religious groups in the order of how many followers they have in the British army. Typically Christians are at the top of students’ lists and Buddhists at the bottom.

This reflects an unconscious bias many of these students have regarding Buddhism – they assume that all Buddhists are peaceful and that a Buddhist isn’t likely to embrace a career that may well involve violence at some point.

So they’re always surprised to find out that there are more Buddhists in the British Army than Muslims and Sikhs put together – despite the relatively small number of Buddhists in Britain.

But why do so many people in the west associate Buddhism with peace?

https://theconversation.com/where-did-buddhism-get-its-reputation-for-peace-157206

Thanks for starting this thread, I am a Buddhist and while I don't have time at this moment I will respond later.

Peace

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spartan max2

 

Humans are the same wherever you go. As we see with all religions, no matter what the religious text actually tells you to do, we will find a way to justify bloodshed.

Quote

But Buddhists have been involved in violent conflicts pretty much since the religion first emerged. Justifications for such actions have typically been based on defending the Dharma (the Buddhist teachings), occasionally demonising or dehumanising the enemy to make it less karmically wrong to kill them.

 

A particularly uncomfortable example of this is found in the fifth century Sri Lankan quasi-mythological Mahavamsa chronicle, in which monks reassure a king that out of the millions he’d just slaughtered only two were Buddhists and the others were more like animals than humans.

 

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Manwon Lender
8 hours ago, spartan max2 said:

 

Humans are the same wherever you go. As we see with all religions, no matter what the religious text actually tells you to do, we will find a way to justify bloodshed.

 

There is a major difference between justifying blood shed, and participation in it because you believe the situation dictates it. For those of us that are Buddhist, we involve ourselves in Armed Conflict knowing it is aprehensable, and wrong because of the situation we find ourselves in. We also understand the effects it will have on our personal Karma and the repercussions and set back it will involve in our ultimate desire to reach Nirvana. 

Buddhism is not a religion, it is a philosophy designed to guide an individual not a group like organized religions are designed to do. However, while humans are biological the same every where they certainly are not the same i in all matters concerning how they view humanity and the World.

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Manwon Lender
Posted (edited)
10 hours ago, Still Waters said:

When teaching an undergraduate class on “Buddhism and Violence”, I usually start by asking students to rank religious groups in the order of how many followers they have in the British army. Typically Christians are at the top of students’ lists and Buddhists at the bottom.

This reflects an unconscious bias many of these students have regarding Buddhism – they assume that all Buddhists are peaceful and that a Buddhist isn’t likely to embrace a career that may well involve violence at some point.

So they’re always surprised to find out that there are more Buddhists in the British Army than Muslims and Sikhs put together – despite the relatively small number of Buddhists in Britain.

But why do so many people in the west associate Buddhism with peace?

https://theconversation.com/where-did-buddhism-get-its-reputation-for-peace-157206

Buddhism is not a religion, it is a philosophy and there are many different types of Buddhism across the world and in some cases the difference is vast. Buddha perfected a method where all people can reach an enlightened state is they choose to follow his teachings. However, since the Buddhas death ( Buddha is not a God he was a man ) and the spread of his teachings tthroughout the East some Buddhist Sects have chosen to not completely follow Buddhas teachings. They have instead, incorporated their previous religious beliefs into the Philosophy of Buddhas teaching. Now as a Buddhist, this is not viewed as right or wrong only different, however, it certainly does effect how Buddhism itself is viewed according to this topic.

In Western thinking Buddhism is viewed under a blank title, which doesn't account for the differences that actually exist within the Philosophy. This is the cause and effect that allows the misconception that Buddhism is a philosophy of peace, which it actually is depending upon the form of Buddhism one follows. The fact that Buddhists are found in many Military forces around the globe has nothing to do with Buddhism in general. This is because Buddhism is not designed to be an organized system of spirituality, it is actually a individual belief system unlike organized Spiritual and religious practices worldwide. The Buddha designed his philosophy and teachings this way intentionally, so that someone who walks the Buddhist path of spirituality does so alone. Because  Buddhism is actually a individual quest, designed to teach the individual how to change themselves and not others around them.

Keeping this in mind whether a Buddhist is a complete pacifist or involves himself in physical conflicts an individuals actions or the actions of a Buddhist sect does not actually effect the teaching or intended purpose of Buddhas intent. However, Buddha did teach Buddhism from the view of pacifism, and that was his intent so to speak. His teachings are designed to be a method where during the individual quest for enlightenment the only effect one should have on those met during ones journey is positive. If the individual chooses to stray from this path and involve themselves in violence they do so at personal risk. This is where the Buddhist Philosophy of Karma comes into play. Karma is basicly the a cosmic cause and effect ( good and bad ) that effects the individual based upon their actions.

If a Buddhists actions of good out weigh their actions that are considered bad during their life time according to the teaching of Buddha, the individual will progress forward towards enlightenment in there next reincarnation. If they are equally balanced they will remain at the same location they were at during their last life. If a individual actions of what is considered bad out weigh the good during their life time they will be moved backward in their progression towards enlightenment. Considering this if a Buddhist chooses for what ever reason to participate in violence, they do so understanding how it will effect their progression toward Nirvana or enlightenment.

So this decision is not made lightly, but depending upon the situation and the individual belief that such violence may ultimately result in the good of mankind some Buddhist are willing to sacrifice their personal forward progression along the path to enlightenment. But it must be made clear, that the participation in violence even if it is for the good of mankind will still effect the individual in a negative manner not a positive manner. This is why Buddhists are found in military forces around the world, and this is also different with respect to organized religions worldwide. Because unlike the organized religions violence is not viewed as a righteous or excepted method that is designed and allowed by their deities to destroy what those religious beliefs consider to be evil. 

I am going to take a break, this topic becthe subject of many books and I am not a teacher of the Buddhist Philosophy, I am a student adding what I have learned so far on this subject. However, hopefully others will add more to this dialogue, then I will participate further in this discussion. If anyone has additional questions for me, I will do my best to answer them. 

Peace

 

 

 

Edited by Manwon Lender
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Manwon Lender

More updated information is coming as I have time to post it, hope others will take part here also.

@Sherapy

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Hammerclaw

People forget history they didn't experience  personally, such as a Pacific war waged by an island nation of Buddhists. Buddhism, with all it's peaceful platitudes, is usually just a thin veneer overlaying more ancient and warlike religions and cultures.

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Sherapy
Posted (edited)
On 4/10/2021 at 12:25 AM, Manwon Lender said:

More updated information is coming as I have time to post it, hope others will take part here also.

@Sherapy

While I lean more on the Zen path of Buddhism for me, it is more of a skill set for the way I prefer to approach my life. It really compliments critical thinking quite well and is fact based and encourages skepticism and questioning and active listening etc. etc.  I do not sit at the Buddha’s feet and love that it isn’t necessary, anyhoo. and

I do not cling to any teachings, let alone believe Buddha was an actual person. I apply and tweak the teachings to fit my needs based on my life. Zen is not meant to inspire dogmatism or division. Zen is about living the life I do have, the appeal is there is no dogma or must do’s.  In other words.  Zen Buddhism to me is a way to work with the life I was dealt, I grew up with mitigating circumstances ( abuse)  that most never are faced with and I needed an example that emphasized facing anything, a way to get through everything, and find better ways and it has served me well so far and the aspects that do not I do not use. As you, the final say is my own, it is about me, for me. What works for me couldn’t work in the exact same way for another our life paths are unique. While I lean towards a non violent ethic, I have not lost my advocate spirit and will boldly stand for ideas that are unifying, compassionate and based in empathy.

I enjoyed reading how Buddhism works for you. I like a lot of your insights. Great job. Thanks for sharing. 

Edited by Sherapy
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Manwon Lender
54 minutes ago, Sherapy said:

While I lean more on the Zen path of Buddhism for me, it is more of a skill set for the way I prefer to approach my life. It really compliments critical thinking quite well and is fact based and encourages skepticism and questioning and active listening etc. etc.  I do not sit at the Buddha’s feet and love that it isn’t necessary, anyhoo. and

I do not cling to any teachings, let alone believe Buddha was an actual person. I apply and tweak the teachings to fit my needs based on my life. Zen is not meant to inspire dogmatism or division. Zen is about living the life I do have, the appeal is there is no dogma or must do’s.  In other words.  Zen Buddhism to me is a way to work with the life I was dealt, I grew up with mitigating circumstances ( abuse)  that most never are faced with and I needed an example that emphasized facing anything, a way to get through everything, and find better ways and it has served me well so far and the aspects that do not I do not use. As you, the final say is my own, it is about me, for me. What works for me couldn’t work in the exact same way for another our life paths are unique. While I lean towards a non violent ethic, I have not lost my advocate spirit and will boldly stand for ideas that are unifying, compassionate and based in empathy.

I enjoyed reading how Buddhism works for you. I like a lot of your insights. Great job. Thanks for sharing. 

Wow, I love the way you expressed yourself here I feel like I know you much better now!:nw: in reality I believe much like you do, and to hell with Dogmatism it serves no purpose for me either, in fact it isn't really a factor from what I have learned in Korean Buddhism, it's has more effect on the Japanese form of Buddhism. In Japan they never totally let go of their former Gods, they combined their previous beliefs and Buddhism to form a completely different version in many ways. Buddhism was introduced to Japan by the Koreans in 552, through a cultural exchange. https://asiasociety.org/education/buddhism-japan 

Their Buddhist belief system is a very traditional form based open the Dharma, the Nobel truths, and Buddhas teaching as outlined above, when Buddhism arrived in Korea it was excepted by the Kings on the Peninsula and over a few hundred years it was excepted, however later Buddhism in Korea had a dark age that lasted for almost 600 years where it never died but was only excepted in a more private setting. The Zen Buddhist tradition also exists today in Korea, I am not familiar when it was introduced, but it is practiced across the country, and along with the Korean traditional Buddhist beliefs the two dominate the Country as far as Buddhism is concerned. 

Thanks very much for your post, i always enjoy our conversations and your comments above make me fell like I know and understand you better, thanks for that my Sister!:tu:

 

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Abramelin
On 4/11/2021 at 8:14 PM, Hammerclaw said:

People forget history they didn't experience  personally, such as a Pacific war waged by an island nation of Buddhists. Buddhism, with all it's peaceful platitudes, is usually just a thin veneer overlaying more ancient and warlike religions and cultures.

Japan's official national religion is Shintoism, as far as I know.

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Hammerclaw
Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, Abramelin said:

Japan's official national religion is Shintoism, as far as I know.

Religion in Japan manifests primarily in Shintoism and in Buddhism, the two main faiths, which Japanese people often practice simultaneously. According to estimates, as many as 80% of the populace follow Shinto rituals to some degree, worshiping ancestors and spirits at domestic altars and public shrines. An almost equally high number is reported as Buddhist. Syncretic combinations of both, known generally as shinbutsu-shūgō, are common.     WIKIPEDIA

Monks With Guns: Discovering Buddhist Violence | Religion Dispatches

Toll rises in Myanmar amid clashes between Buddhists, Muslims - CNN

Edited by Hammerclaw

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Abramelin
8 minutes ago, Hammerclaw said:

Religion in Japan manifests primarily in Shintoism and in Buddhism, the two main faiths, which Japanese people often practice simultaneously. According to estimates, as many as 80% of the populace follow Shinto rituals to some degree, worshiping ancestors and spirits at domestic altars and public shrines. An almost equally high number is reported as Buddhist. Syncretic combinations of both, known generally as shinbutsu-shūgō, are common.     WIKIPEDIA

Monks With Guns: Discovering Buddhist Violence | Religion Dispatches

Toll rises in Myanmar amid clashes between Buddhists, Muslims - CNN

Yeah, that may all be true, but the Japanese soldiers were much more into bushido:

https://www.britannica.com/topic/Bushido

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Hammerclaw
2 minutes ago, Abramelin said:

Yeah, that may all be true, but the Japanese soldiers were much more into bushido:

https://www.britannica.com/topic/Bushido

That's like the code of chivalry for warriors, that supersedes moral codes and religions in times of battle. Thou shalt not kill doesn't apply in combat. Besides, one's Karma dictates where one will die. So, there is no conflict.

 

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Alchopwn
On 4/9/2021 at 10:59 PM, Still Waters said:

When teaching an undergraduate class on “Buddhism and Violence”, I usually start by asking students to rank religious groups in the order of how many followers they have in the British army. Typically Christians are at the top of students’ lists and Buddhists at the bottom.

This reflects an unconscious bias many of these students have regarding Buddhism – they assume that all Buddhists are peaceful and that a Buddhist isn’t likely to embrace a career that may well involve violence at some point.

So they’re always surprised to find out that there are more Buddhists in the British Army than Muslims and Sikhs put together – despite the relatively small number of Buddhists in Britain.

But why do so many people in the west associate Buddhism with peace?

https://theconversation.com/where-did-buddhism-get-its-reputation-for-peace-157206

Historically speaking, Buddhism has a much better track record for being peaceful than most religions.  Buddhism teaches peace and mainly practices it.  Of course there are some notable exceptions, such as the Shaolin Monks of China, the Ikko Ikki and Souhei of Japan, the Dob-dobs of Tibet, but their record still compares pretty favorably with other religions, even Confucianism.

On 4/12/2021 at 4:14 AM, Hammerclaw said:

People forget history they didn't experience  personally, such as a Pacific war waged by an island nation of Buddhists. Buddhism, with all it's peaceful platitudes, is usually just a thin veneer overlaying more ancient and warlike religions and cultures.

Actually no.  Japan during the Showa Period holds Shinto as its primary state religion.  Buddhism was held in high regard during the Tokugawa period, and was violently suppressed during the Meiji restoration due to its supposedly pro-Shogunate political position.  While Japan has a history of militant Buddhism far in excess of any other Buddhist country, they still compare favorably to pretty much every other religion or ideology you'd care to name.

The excesses of Japan during WW2 cannot be honestly laid at the feet of Buddhism, or even Shinto.  Even the idea of Bushido is grossly misunderstood in this context (it was an ideological artefact that is actually no older than the Meiji Restoration when you get down to the tin tacks of its pedigree).  The main reason for Japanese militarism was due to its separation of State and Military in its constitution, and its own brand of racist ultra-nationalism and yellow press journalism, which co-opted the Shinto cult of the Emperor for propaganda purposes.  As to the Japanese army's atrocities, these can be laid squarely at the feet of the appalling and inadequate training and discipline measures in the Japanese Army, which promoted full-on sadomasochism amongst the troops by administering  mutual daily beatings among the enlisted ranks, leading to some pretty psychotic and deranged behavior subsequently, including troops not being able to sleep if they weren't bruised all over.  This had nothing to do with Buddhism whatsoever, not even the Zen habit of monks hitting each other, despite the obvious comparison, and was entirely due to a lack of a proper number of trained NCOs to administer discipline during the rapid expansion of Japan's army.  The Army hierarchy actually lived in fear of the enlisted men.

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