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PostPosted: Sat Feb 08, 2014 5:49 am 
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NOTE: I neither endorse nor condemn the controversial 969 movement. However, I would like to open discussion on it and see what people think.

The 969 movement has its genesis in Myanmar, which is primarily a Theravadin nation, so some on this board might see it as irrelevant to Mahayana/Vajrayana issues. However, I think it is relevant, because it relates to the uneasy interface between "Buddhism as a whole" and Islam, as well as other faiths.

Basic background:

The 969 Movement is a nationalist movement opposed to what they see as Islam’s expansion in predominantly-Buddhist Burma. The three digits of 969 "symbolize the virtues of the Buddha, Buddhist practices and the Buddhist community." The first 9 stands for the nine special attributes of the Lord Buddha and the 6 for the six special attributes of his Dharma, or Buddhist Teachings, and the last 9 represents the nine special attributes of Buddhist Sangha...

...The movement has inspired strong reactions within and beyond Myanmar. In the international media it has received criticism. The Straits Times writes that the 969 movement, which it says "is described as as Myanmar's 'neo-Nazi group'", is facing scrutiny for "its role in spreading anti-Muslim sentiment". The Straits Times also reports that Wirathu responded to recent anti-Muslim violence with pledges to work for peace but critics remain skeptical.

The movement is described as being anti-Muslim or Islamophobic. The movement's Myanmar Buddhist supporters deny it is anti-Muslim with Bhikkhu Wirathu stating it is a protective movement about targeting "Bengalis who are terrorizing ethnic Rakhine (Buddhists)...

Source:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/969_Movement

The symbol of the movement has been placed on Buddhist-run shops, taxis, restaurants, and other establishments. Proponents encourage other Buddhists to avoid Muslim-run businesses, which they see as threatening, and to patronize pro-969 establishments with this symbol:

Image

Time Magazine ran a controversial cover story last summer which featured a photo of Wirathu with the headline "The Face of Buddhist Terror." The issue was banned in Myanmar, supposedly not because of pro-Buddhist sentiments but because the government saw it as something that could stir up further unrest and violence.

There has been religious violence between Buddhists and Muslims on both sides. While Muslims represent a small percentage of Myanmar's population (5%-10%), some Buddhists are worried because in some cases, predominantly-Muslim areas have banned Buddhist ceremonies and observances. There is also a demographic issue, with Muslims having more children than Buddhists in Myanmar, and intermarrying with Buddhist Burmese women at a relatively high rate. Some claim the Muslims are more strident and observant of their traditions than the Buddhists in Myanmar, indoctrinating their children heavily when young. Another point is that Myanmar is surrounded by countries with large Muslim populations, and globally, Islam is increasing in numbers of adherents while Buddhism is decreasing. Thus, there are fears that the Buddhist traditions and characteristics of Myanmar could be threatened.

Buddhist-Islamic friction is, of course, not a new thing. Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia have seen Islamic-Buddhist tensions, and of course the destruction of the large Buddhist statues of Bamayan by the Taliban is well-known, vivid reminder of the way the Kushan-era Buddhism of Gandhara and Bactria has long been utterly displaced by Islam. Tibet has waged war against Islam in the past, and those familiar with Shambala literature may recognize the anti-Islamic slant of some such writings.

I do not advocate violence against anyone, nor do I have any special animosity against Islam. But at the same time I would like to see the Dharma of all three vehicles survive and thrive into the future, especially in areas that have long and living Buddhist heritages. All comment on this issue are welcome, as far as I am concerned, although this being a controversial issue, I would encourage everyone to remember and abide by Dharmwheel.net's terms and conditions of use, and avoid hot-headed or disparaging speech.

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Recommended reading material of recent interest:
Ch'eng-kuan on the Hua-yen Trinity
By Robert M. Gimello
http://ccbs.ntu.edu.tw/FULLTEXT/JR-BJ001/bj60469.htm


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 08, 2014 6:17 am 
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It's really not a new development as far as Burma goes.

The rhetoric about purity, both religious and ethnic, goes back to even the Pagan era (and you see parallel rhetoric all through Khmer and Siamese history), and was well documented during colonial times with regards to the new influx of Indians, Muslims, and Chinese. But ethnic (and by extension religious) mixing in particular also was a heated issue of debate during this time, and a Burman who married a non-Burman would almost always have some alteration in status for the Burmese partner and his/her children, with marriage to Hindus and Muslims conferring the lowest kind of status, Chinese a low status, and a higher kind of status to Europeans, and Japanese when they were in charge.

Another perennial theme in Burma is the inciting to violence by the word of a monk. More or less what has happened for centuries is, if a monk denounces a group or someone in particular, either by his own motivation or by corrupt motivation/bribe, if he is well respect the laity will generally act violently against them. There was a few incidents in the 50s when monks spoke out against movie theatres, and many were burned to the ground. Of course, there's also monks who famously tip over cars, but it's harder to get away with that.

Ven.Wirathu is therefore nothing new in Burma, he's definitely not the Bin Laden of Burma, he's just applying the same rhetoric that has been standard for some Burmese monks in Burma for centuries, to the issue of Burman/Buddhist decline (Burman = Buddhist in Burma, there's the popular phrase there, "To be a Burman is to be a Buddhist"). Clearly, any religious divide is intrinsically linked to a racial divide as far as Burma goes.

It's also definitely clear that the government is concerned, and the perception of them as upholding Buddhist principles and emulating the role of the now long gone kings is very important to them. It's very important that the issue not remain at the level of mob violence, since that'll just lead to more killing.

Also, at the same time that the Arakanese issue is ongoing, is the issue of tribal/hill independence movement, some of which are in guerilla phases. Burma, fundamentally, has rarely been united as it is today, just like any other country in Indochina. The minorities always have seen themselves as separate nationalities. I personally don't think that Buddhists need to have any attachment to internationalism. If a people is so distinct as to kill others who aren't like them (and certainly Arakanese have killed Burmans too), then they probably should be kept apart (just as a murderer is kept apart from society for its safety).

I really don't think that we should attach to national identities so much (which is part of the issue, with the Myanma renaming the country after their own ethnicity and all), and from the Buddhist perspective, for Buddhists own safety and prosperity, and that of other ethnicities and religions, in the case of Burma, splitting the country up might be the best idea.

And when the next election comes along, which will most likely be free and fair, you'll notice that the next government's main political divides will likely be along the lines of ethnic and minority interests, rather than Junta non-Junta interests as it has been for the last 50 years. If you're going to have a democracy, it's always easier with a homogeneous population, so giving into the demands of minorities and separating them might be the best solution. Really, the same applies to China. If they separated ethnically distinct regions they'd have a much easier time in the world, and their perception among other nations would improve, and if they were to transition to democracy, as everyone seems to be demanding, it would make the process much easier. Burma can thus take advantage of the benefits and the avoid the disadvantages of the generally universal human tendency towards asabiyyah.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 13, 2014 1:21 pm 
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So if I read the above correctly, racial purity within a body politic is the ideal. I seem to recall that as one of the principles of the Third Reich.
Far from making democracy easier, it is the very antithesis of it. Democracy works much better in racially and culturally diverse nations such as the US, Canada, Germany, France, etc. than in countries with non diverse populations. I'll avoid giving examples here. Google around for yourself.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 13, 2014 1:29 pm 
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Heterodox Garden wrote:
I do not advocate violence against anyone, nor do I have any special animosity against Islam. But at the same time I would like to see the Dharma of all three vehicles survive and thrive into the future, especially in areas that have long and living Buddhist heritages.
The three vehicles will thrive and survive if Buddhists act like Buddhists regardless of whether if Islam is annihilated or not.

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 13, 2014 2:12 pm 
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Here are three relevant DW threads on this and related topics:

viewtopic.php?f=47&t=13124

viewtopic.php?f=47&t=13169

viewtopic.php?f=47&t=13105

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viewtopic.php?f=114&t=13727


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 14, 2014 1:48 am 
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Jigme Tsultrim, it differs depending on whether minority groups are actively using violence to attain independence in a region that they historically have been a part of. I tend to think that the Kurds are a similar example. If in every country they live in, Turkey, Iraq, Syria, they engage in violent independence movements, it's probably a good idea to let them go. I don't think we can import western idealist internationalism in this regard everywhere, because the countries you list are ones where minorities are immigrants, rather than "border peoples," which is the case in Burma - these people are indigenous to the regions in which they live and are seeking independence. In Canada on the other hand, Aboriginals often have set up armed blockades not far from where I live demanding ownership of their land, and would shoot anyone who wants to pass. I don't think it would really harm the government of Canada to let them own their own land. The Third Reich had a wholly different philosophy - take over other people's land for your own people, not let them have it, which is what I am advocating.

This is actually just the right of self determination: "National aspirations must be respected; people may now be dominated and governed only by their own consent. Self determination is not a mere phrase; it is an imperative principle of action. . . . " - Woodrow Wilson


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 14, 2014 1:54 am 
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Sherab Dorje wrote:
The three vehicles will thrive and survive if Buddhists act like Buddhists regardless of whether if Islam is annihilated or not.


:good:

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 14, 2014 5:46 am 
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Quote:
Quote:
I do not advocate violence against anyone, nor do I have any special animosity against Islam. But at the same time I would like to see the Dharma of all three vehicles survive and thrive into the future, especially in areas that have long and living Buddhist heritages.
The three vehicles will thrive and survive if Buddhists act like Buddhists regardless of whether if Islam is annihilated or not.
Uh huh, because 'Buddhists' have been acting like 'Buddhists' instead of a buddha, that's why we are knee deep in mud now, no?

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 14, 2014 11:02 am 
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plwk wrote:
Uh huh, because 'Buddhists' have been acting like 'Buddhists' instead of a buddha, that's why we are knee deep in mud now, no?
No. It is because "Buddhists" have been acting like anything but Buddhists (ie like the Buddha) that we are knee deep in it now.

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