Buddhism is peaceful?

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Buddhism is peaceful?

Postby waimengwan » Fri Oct 12, 2012 8:31 am

I recall the time of the Fifth Dalai Lama there was a war between the Gelugpas and another faction. And an American many years back asked about that particular incident, I was stumped, I felt someone just tripped me and I thought to myself is Buddhism really about peace. Yes the Gelugs were cornered in a way so the history wrote.

How do we as Buddhist reconcile about that war that occurred during that period of time? Yes Dalai Lama may not have orchestrated the war, and was reacting to it or his assistants were involved but the Dalai Lama would have knowledge of it. So that was was a war based on the truth? Or I must again apply the story of the ship captain, that it was for the greater benefit.

Would be very interesting to get all your thoughts on this. This is not to glorify that the Gelug overcame a rival faction I just like to hear your thoughts since everyone says the Gelug board is dead boring and uninteresting lol.
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Re: Buddhism is peaceful?

Postby JKhedrup » Fri Oct 12, 2012 8:38 am

This books is fantastic for understanding this and other periods of Tibetan history:
http://www.thestoryoftibet.com/
The author had many hours of conversations with His Holiness about Tibetan history and made them into a book.

It is true that during the time of the Great Fifth the Kamtsang (Karma) Kagyu in particular suffered. But the in the same period the Nyingma and Gelug traditions flourished, as the 5th Dalai Lama was also a great adept of many of the Nyingma systems, and even revealed many terma (treasure teachings).

At the time certain factions within the Gelugpa and Karma Kagyu hierarchies were vying for political control in different regions of Tibet. The unfortunate result was that the Gelug faction won and many Kagyu monasteries were closed.

For me this is especially problematic because although I translate for a Gelug geshe and practice mostly Gelug teachings, I also have a very strong connection with the Karma Kagyu and attend teachings of HH Karmapa whenever I can.

When people ask me about how such events could have taken place in a peaceful Buddhist country my response is that in Tibet human beings had the same afflictions as everyone else- attachment, anger and ignorance. It just so happens that at the same time they held the most complete corpus of Buddhist Mahayana teachings from India.
A foolish man proclaims his qualifications,
A wise man keeps them secret within.
A straw floats on the surface of water,
But a precious gem placed upon it sinks to the depths
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Re: Buddhism is peaceful?

Postby dzoki » Fri Oct 12, 2012 9:05 am

JKhedrup wrote:When people ask me about how such events could have taken place in a peaceful Buddhist country my response is that in Tibet human beings had the same afflictions as everyone else- attachment, anger and ignorance. It just so happens that at the same time they held the most complete corpus of Buddhist Mahayana teachings from India.


And in fact people that really held those teachings had mostly no part in politics, sectarian clashes etc. but spent their time in hermitages and caves. Yes Tibetan history, just like history of any other nation is full of strife, falsehood and conflict, but at the same time there were some exceptional individuals who despite (or because) of all this attained bhumis and even budhahood. Anyway history does not exist, so we should not get carried away over it.
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Re: Buddhism is peaceful?

Postby JKhedrup » Fri Oct 12, 2012 10:57 am

In the book History of Tibet His Holiness explains how he reconciles the two seemingly divergent worlds of profound Tibetan spirituality with its political intrigue. I found his insights very helpful in my own understanding of Tibetan history.
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But a precious gem placed upon it sinks to the depths
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Re: Buddhism is peaceful?

Postby lobster » Tue Oct 16, 2012 7:54 am

Should be in for some interesting Dharma as the Buddha comes west . . .
http://youtu.be/cydkTy6GmFA
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Re: Buddhism is peaceful?

Postby waimengwan » Tue Oct 16, 2012 7:58 pm

Thanks for sharing everyone, yeah even during Buddha's time the Sakyas were massacred and people still carried out patricide and so forth. Alongside the enlgithened beings there were many unenlightened ones at the same time.
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Re: Buddhism is peaceful?

Postby wisdombeing » Wed Feb 06, 2013 2:13 pm

I am an idealist and a pretty kindergarden buddhist so bear with me. I have always considered Buddhism to be peace and light, and that we strive for loving kindness. However, after a few years learning about Buddhism, specifically the vajrayana school, i find that there is a lot of conflict and nasty words for people who have different practices. I don't want to discuss the different practices but would like to focus on the different attitudes. People who say they love HH the Dalai Lama but can be so derogatory and offensive is just contradictory to Buddhism, in my limited view.

Peace to me is also peaceful behaviour to our fellow Buddhists. I mean even in general, Buddhists are not so rude to Christians, who are a different faith, but why are people so nasty to their own? Forget about wars with blood and guts, how about just peaceful coexistence and yes, loving kindness?
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Re: Buddhism is peaceful?

Postby Jikan » Wed Feb 06, 2013 2:34 pm

wisdombeing wrote:I am an idealist and a pretty kindergarden buddhist so bear with me. I have always considered Buddhism to be peace and light, and that we strive for loving kindness. However, after a few years learning about Buddhism, specifically the vajrayana school, i find that there is a lot of conflict and nasty words for people who have different practices. I don't want to discuss the different practices but would like to focus on the different attitudes. People who say they love HH the Dalai Lama but can be so derogatory and offensive is just contradictory to Buddhism, in my limited view.

Peace to me is also peaceful behaviour to our fellow Buddhists. I mean even in general, Buddhists are not so rude to Christians, who are a different faith, but why are people so nasty to their own? Forget about wars with blood and guts, how about just peaceful coexistence and yes, loving kindness?


I agree that sectarianism and practices predicated in sectarianism are vile indeed, completely counterproductive. Let's all just get along...

:group:

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Re: Buddhism is peaceful?

Postby kirtu » Wed Feb 06, 2013 4:44 pm

JKhedrup wrote:In the book History of Tibet His Holiness explains how he reconciles the two seemingly divergent worlds of profound Tibetan spirituality with its political intrigue. I found his insights very helpful in my own understanding of Tibetan history.


I forgot about how HHDL reconciles Tibetan spirituality and political intrigue (reconciles ? I'm not sure that is correct). But it is a serious issue that war and murder were historical features in the Tibetan Buddhist landscape. It's not sufficient to say that unenlightened followers did these things. The lineage holders should have stopped them when they could have (and it's clear they they couldn't always stop these events but other events are not so clear).

So there is a significant issue here (just as for Christianity and Islam for example and now in our own time fundamentalist Hinduism and fundamentalist Buddhism [a la Sri Lanka]).

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Re: Buddhism is peaceful?

Postby kirtu » Wed Feb 06, 2013 4:56 pm

lobster wrote:Should be in for some interesting Dharma as the Buddha comes west . . .
http://youtu.be/cydkTy6GmFA


Well Western Europe has rejected violence, more or less, and has become decidedly pacifist compared to it's previous incarnations (to the consternation of the warmongering USA). The major klesha for Europeans is sex and their major obstacle is materialism. In the US it's sex and power. The western world is becoming more peaceful overall. It remains to be seen how the rest of the world reacts to that although for the past 50 years the entire world has become more peaceful overall.

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Re: Buddhism is peaceful?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Wed Feb 06, 2013 6:04 pm

kirtu wrote:So there is a significant issue here (just as for Christianity and Islam for example and now in our own time fundamentalist Hinduism and fundamentalist Buddhism [a la Sri Lanka]).
Don't forget Burma!
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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Re: Buddhism is peaceful?

Postby kirtu » Wed Feb 06, 2013 6:21 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:
kirtu wrote:So there is a significant issue here (just as for Christianity and Islam for example and now in our own time fundamentalist Hinduism and fundamentalist Buddhism [a la Sri Lanka]).
Don't forget Burma!


There's fundamentalist Buddhism in Burma? Ah yes - directed against a Christian tribe/people. I did forget about that.

Just when we're beginning to get the Imams and Rebbe's working together Buddhists have to go in for aggression and fundamentalism in some places .... :shrug:

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Re: Buddhism is peaceful?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Wed Feb 06, 2013 6:36 pm

kirtu wrote:There's fundamentalist Buddhism in Burma? Ah yes - directed against a Christian tribe/people.
Directed against the Rohingya Muslim minority*.

*Be warned the link contains very graphic images of violence.
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
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Re: Buddhism is peaceful?

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Wed Feb 06, 2013 6:38 pm

All you can do is try to not judge a religion by the people who fail miserably to practice it.
"Just as a lotus does not grow out of a well-levelled soil but from the mire, in the same way the awakening mind
is not born in the hearts of disciples in whom the moisture of attachment has dried up. It grows instead in the hearts of ordinary sentient beings who possess in full the fetters of bondage." -Se Chilbu Choki Gyaltsen
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Re: Buddhism is peaceful?

Postby kirtu » Wed Feb 06, 2013 6:51 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:
kirtu wrote:There's fundamentalist Buddhism in Burma? Ah yes - directed against a Christian tribe/people.
Directed against the Rohingya Muslim minority*.

*Be warned the link contains very graphic images of violence.


And this was just in the news too. Amazing how I could be deaf to terrible suffering like this.

In the case of Burma - did the patriarchs or major Buddhist council condemn this violence?

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Re: Buddhism is peaceful?

Postby kirtu » Wed Feb 06, 2013 6:58 pm

Johnny Dangerous wrote:All you can do is try to not judge a religion by the people who fail miserably to practice it.


That's true but in the case of Tibetan Buddhism we are talking about some people who are supposed to be on the bhumis or are actual emanations of Buddhas who failed to act. That's the problem. Secondly even very low realization nonetheless results in a situation where one can't accept violence against others (unless greater harm is actively being committed). At one point there were supposed to be Gelug and Drikung armies roaming around killing opponents and there were militaries that supposedly acted on behalf of the Sakyas as well. In Mongolian Buddhism there was also violence directed against shamans sometime after 1800 apparently.

These *were* exceptions in history but they shouldn't have happened to begin with.

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Re: Buddhism is peaceful?

Postby shaunc » Thu Feb 07, 2013 2:07 am

Just out of interest. Could someone name me a mainstream religion that has not had practitioners involved in war time atrocities. I'd be very interested in learning more about it.
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Re: Buddhism is peaceful?

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Thu Feb 07, 2013 2:45 am

kirtu wrote:That's true but in the case of Tibetan Buddhism we are talking about some people who are supposed to be on the bhumis or are actual emanations of Buddhas who failed to act.


It may help to realize that when we read about history, we are usually only observing a very, very tiny part of all of the infinitely intertwined events taking place at any given time period, and that it is often our imaginations which fill in all of the missing pieces.

Wars or disputes sometimes turn out to be over things which are not obvious. Consider the recent history of Northern Ireland. If one says it was "catholics vs. protestants" , there may be circumstantial truth to this, but really, the situation was much more involved than that, on many levels.

There are always problems. That sums up the first noble truth! Monks at war, teachers in sex scandals, whatever.
"how can Buddhists do this?"
We loathe hypocrisy, because hypocrisy contradicts the idea of purity
that we conjure up in our imaginations and cling to.
I think, better than clinging to that,
is to see the insidiousness of samsara , like a weed with tenacious roots that dig in everywhere
and make a resolve to practice that much more.
It just shows you how hard it is to overcome grasping and clinging...even for realized beings!!!
It is very motivating, if you look at it that way.
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Re: Buddhism is peaceful?

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Thu Feb 07, 2013 3:30 am

:good: as usual!

It's kind of like when you lose your temper or something and people say "that's not very Buddhist" with a smirk...what those people don't get is that that's the point. I mean why would we bother if all our garbage was already sorted? I know it sounds incredibly trivial to compare to what we are talking about here, but the idea is the same.

I guess the seperate but related question is a relative, is Buddhism "peaceful" in comparison to other religions?

Well, that bar is set pretty low!!
"Just as a lotus does not grow out of a well-levelled soil but from the mire, in the same way the awakening mind
is not born in the hearts of disciples in whom the moisture of attachment has dried up. It grows instead in the hearts of ordinary sentient beings who possess in full the fetters of bondage." -Se Chilbu Choki Gyaltsen
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Re: Buddhism is peaceful?

Postby kirtu » Thu Feb 07, 2013 4:06 am

shaunc wrote:Just out of interest. Could someone name me a mainstream religion that has not had practitioners involved in war time atrocities. I'd be very interested in learning more about it.


That's not the issue. The issue was that high lamas were seemingly unable to keep their putative followers from committing war and murder in their name. And secondly some lamas who were supposed to know better also took part.

However, Jains have not (to my knowledge) waged war. This is not the question you framed however.

Overall a better history of Tibet and Central Asia is badly needed in part to address these questions.

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