There is a little known incident in Mongolia from 1934 to 1944. Mongolia was taken over by the USSR who subsequently repressed all traces of Buddhism in the country. Of the 30,000 monks in the country and devote laity, and estimes of 17,000 monks were all killed. “Mongolia’s religious institutions were virtually all destroyed, their property appropriated, and the lamas either killed or secularized. Altogether, 2,265 monastery buildings were destroyed and over 71.5 tons of metal statutes shipped to the USSR for scrap.”
The results of foreign take overs of Buddhist countries is obvious to all observers, the most notable example in the mid 20th century being Tibet. Another terrible example, which also resulted from foreign influence, was the Cambodia of Pol Pot.
These and other situations occurred due to the unfortunate kamma of stronger more powerful countries taking over weaker and less defended countries by force. As the Wheel turns, it is arguable that this has been the case for all of time and will likely be the case until the world only consists of Mahatmas (Great Souls) for whom violent behavior is impossible.
More recent examples of violence in Buddhist countries can be seen in Sri Lanka where an ethnic guerilla group the Tamil Tigers waged a terrorist campaign to create an independent homeland for their ethnicity in the tiny island. The battles they fought from 1983 until 2009 almost succeeded, in 1995 a government was elected tried to allow Tamil controlled an autonomous region despite the history of horrendous terrorist attacks.
Several peace talks were made with the Tigers to try to resolve the situation in a peaceful manner, all of which were never successful and appeared to have given the Tigers more confidence in their victory. Only in 2006 when the Tigers controlled 15,000 km^2 was the army allowed to go on the offensive after the peace talks broke down, destroying the group and its last hideout by 2009.
Although the Buddhist governments of prior decades surely had noble intentions with their prior policies, we have to ask ourselves was their actions responsible? Did the lack of offensive capabilities in 1983 or 1990 condone and condemn to unimaginable suffering and thousands of more deaths as the conflict protracted longer then was necessary? To all observations of what has resulted since 2009 in Sri Lanka, it appears to be so. Myanmar, Thailand, and even India all have conflicts that are very similar to this to whom the authorities are unwilling or unable to bring to resolution.
On the issue of Buddhist violence, in 1997, the Dalai Lama was quoted that only when the last existence of a Buddhist teacher is threatened can violence be used to protect it: “if the situation was such that there was only one learned lama or genuine practitioner alive, a person whose death would cause the whole of Tibet to lose all hope of keeping its Buddhist way of life, then it is conceivable that in order to protect that one person it might be justified for one or 10 enemies to be eliminated — if there was no other way. I could justify violence only in this extreme case, to save the last living knowledge of Buddhism itself.”
We have to ask ourselves, is this attitude (or policy) justifiable? Is the sacrifice of 99.9% of all monks in a given country justifiable to the principle of non-violence? Or is this in truth an irresponsible attitude that leads to irresponsible kamma?
Furthermore, “In our own case, we don’t consider the loss of a monastery or a monument the end of our entire way of life. If one monastery is destroyed, sometimes it happens. Therefore, we don’t need to respond with desperate violence. Although under particular circumstances, the violence method — any method — can be justified, nevertheless once you commit violence, then counterviolence will be returned. Also, if you resort to violent methods because the other side has destroyed your monastery, for example, you then have lost not only your monastery, but also your special Buddhist practices of detachment, love, and compassion.”
What this sounds to me is that one monastery, one monument, or one monk is not very valuable to the Dalai Lama. Surely a monastery can be destroyed in the case of an earthquake, but in the case of Mongolia and Cambodia in the last century, the enemies of Dhamma never stop with just one monastery or one monk. They aim to destroy them all. If they do not kill more in any particular incident it is not because they regret their actions but because their are simply none left in the immediate vicinity. I don’t think the virtues of detachment, love, and compassion should mean giving license to violent actors to do whatever they want to you and everything you hold dear. For lack of a better term, “demonic” actions against monks can never be dismissed with “sometimes it happens.” Violence never “just happens.” It happens when a violent thought is executed by the body of a violent mind. Even if he is a saint, the Dalai Lama would make a terrible peace officer. This is why Kings in ancient Asian countries had the title ‘Defender of the Dhamma,’ it was their job to make sure the country remained Buddhist.
The idea that “counterviolence” will be returned to you by an aggressive assailant for defending yourself is also blatantly obvious, I’m pretty certain most school children over the age of five have that figured out. What remains unspoken is the absolute necessity for the victim of violence to be more violent then their attacker in order to stop the threat. Taking responsibility for oneself is responsible kamma. Not doing so is irresponsible. Bhikkhu’s certainly have an obligation not to kill others, as do all Buddhists, but that doesn’t mean not defending themselves or others from harm from either real or perceived threats.
At the 969 Movement we follow Venerable Wirathu’s lead on analyzing the actions of others and deciding what the right course of action is to protect our religion and our faith from being harmed by others. We must ask ourselves, what are the ways to reduce the threat of long term potential threats rather than what is the short term way to appease our enemies. We take the opposite view of the Dalai Lama. Instead of willing to sacrifice 99.9% of our peers, we won’t tolerate even .01% being violated. We hope you join us in these actions.Social tagging: buddhism > dalai lama > kamma > sri lanka