The Buddha's Jihad! :D

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Rita_Repulsa
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The Buddha's Jihad! :D

Post by Rita_Repulsa »

smcj wrote:
The premise that keeps Buddhists from becoming jihadis is the idea that samsara/the world cannot be perfected as per the 1st Noble Truth. There is no making the world some sort of utopia, either politically or personally. Dharma is about improving oneself (which incidentally will improve the world to a degree).
Hi gang! I came across this statement and wanted to discuss this to the best of my knowledge and ability.

Now, while I can see smcj having a point here about the First Noble Truth preventing the violent spread of enlightenment if we're talking about Theravada, I'm not sure this is the case for Mahayana, which has quite a few Pure Lands. In fact, I'm not sure the First Noble Truth prevents aggressive proselytism of awakened bliss at all. It seems, to me, that what prevents this is more likely the bounds set on violence in the Buddhist canon, period. I can't speak for Theravada or Vajrayana traditions, but to my knowledge the Mahayana stance on religious violence could be summed up as "don't start holy wars... but, after every other avenue has been exhausted, finish them."

We have here in the Mahaparinirvana Sutra words such as these:
"O good man! Because the icchantikas are cut off from the root of good. All beings possess such five roots as faith, etc. But the people of the icchantika class are eternally cut off from such. Because of this, one may well kill an ant and gain the sin of harming, but the killing of an icchantika does not [constitute a sin]."

... So, when some commie or Muslim icchantika comes waltzing along, telling you to quit kneeling and making good karma but instead to stop or face torture or execution, Buddha tells us here what to do about that. (I think there was also an injunction somewhere in this same sutra about defending the Dharma from those who try to destroy it, but I can't find it at the moment. I could be mistaken.) I hail from the Nichiren tradition, so we also have staements like this to work with:

I can hardly express my joy on learning of your safe return from Kamakura. I have also received your news about the beheading of the Mongol envoys. How pitiful that they have beheaded the innocent Mongol envoys and yet failed to cut off the heads of the priests of the Nembutsu, Shingon, Zen and Ritsu sects, who are the real enemies of our country!

Buddha, Buddhism, and its sages don't seem to have a problem with defensive holy wars. :thumbsup:

:guns: :sage: :guns:
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Lazy_eye
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Re: The Buddha's Jihad! :D

Post by Lazy_eye »

Well, for starters, who decided that communists or Muslims are "icchantikas"? Since when is icchantika synonymous with "adversaries" or "people who do bad stuff?" That seems a very perilous line of reasoning.

You're perhaps familiar with the story of Angulimala?
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Re: The Buddha's Jihad! :D

Post by dharmagoat »

A famous quote is from Harada Daiun Sogaku:
[If ordered to] march: tramp, tramp, or shoot: bang, bang. This is the manifestation of the highest Wisdom [of Enlightenment]. The unity of Zen and war of which I speak extends to the farthest reaches of the holy war [now under way].
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zen_at_War
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Re: The Buddha's Jihad! :D

Post by Losal Samten »

The icchantika is a Yogacara and Tathagatagarbha sutra concept which is invalidated by Madhyamaka.
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Re: what?

Post by gloriasteinem »

The reason Islam has Jihad is that there are multiple verses in Koran about how important it is to kill Jews and Christians, and other non muslims said in very literal way. These verses can be found online and I wouldn't even bother to dirty my post with them.Thus the Koran says "kill non muslim and other faith people" while Buddhism teaches to not kill or harm.
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Re: The Buddha's Jihad! :D

Post by Schrödinger’s Yidam »

Christians are supposed to turn the other cheek. That doesn't mean that they do.

I can't source it, but the old teaching about not trying to cover the world with leather, but just putting on your sandals comes to mind as an example of what the OP is about.
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Re: The Buddha's Jihad! :D

Post by dzogchungpa »

smcj wrote:I can't source it, but the old teaching about not trying to cover the world with leather, but just putting on your sandals comes to mind as an example of what the OP is about.
Shantideva, Bodhicharyavatara:
To cover all the earth with sheets of leather—
Where could such amounts of skin be found?
But with the leather soles of just my shoes
It is as though I cover all the earth!
(Padmakara translation)
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tingdzin
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Re: The Buddha's Jihad! :D

Post by tingdzin »

This is a huge topic that his forum has hosted many discussions of; perhaps the OP might want to research a few of them. The following is an attempt to distill some salient points of the issue.

:soapbox:

The overall thrust of Buddhism, and of Buddhist scripture, of most schools and in most cultures, has overwhelmingly been weighted in favor of non-violence. There is no scriptural rationale for Holy War, unless one culls a very few phrases from the ocean of Buddhist scripture to create one. This ocean is vast enough -- particularly if one accepts the Mahayana canon -- that one could find somewhere within its depths many quotes that, taken in isolation, would seem to justify a lot of very weird behavior.

Sectarianism among Buddhist schools. sometimes leading to violent conflict, has been a feature of Tibetan Buddhism at various times in its history, generally because 1) powerful secular rulers of rival clans or foreign groups adopted one or another school to further its political interests, or 2) a certain school came to believe that the Buddha's truth was contained in words of which they alone had the proper understanding, which justified forced conversion of the institutions of other schools. Violence based on the belief that one's own group has a monopoly on the truth is a worldwide phenomenon, even if much more common among Abrahamic religions.

Kings who professed Theravada Buddhism used to war on each other, but it was never about religious ideology.

I don't know much about the history of sectarianism in Japan, so I'll leave that to other posters. It seems to me, however, that Nichiren was, if not unique, then certainly exceptional in his acceptance of violence as a proper Buddhist means. Again, I don't know much about Nichiren Buddhism, but is his teaching accepted by them as the ultimate authority, even when it goes against the grain of most Buddhist thought over the centuries? If so, why?

The Zen quote, by the way, implies nothing about using violence to further Buddhism, but rather describes the attitude that Zen soldiers should take as soldiers. Whether or not this was proper is a different matter.

Defensive violence is another question, and also not a simple one. Were the Burmese monks who rallied the Burmese people against British imperialism and fearing wholesale forced conversion to Christianity, acting properly or not? What about the Tibetan Khampas who fought against the Chinese, or the Mongol Buddhists who warred on the Bolsheviks (also unsuccessfully, leading to an almost complete destruction of Buddhism in Mongolia)? The Bhutanese are widely condemned for evicting Nepali immigrants, but they feared being overwhelmed by a Nepali/Bengali, Hindu/Marxist political system. Given what happened in Sikkim a few decades ago, can one say their fears were groundless?

I don't have final answers to this question, which is becoming more and more urgent as the world grows more and more crowded, but it seems to me that thoughtful Buddhists, particularly those who live safely far from zones of conflict, should avoid the twin extremes of either condemnation of all violence under all circumstances, or putting lipstick on a pig by attempting to find religious justification for ugly behavior, and labeling those who oppose us a inhuman and worthy of destruction.

END :soapbox:
Last edited by tingdzin on Fri Nov 06, 2015 4:41 am, edited 1 time in total.
Caodemarte
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Re: The Buddha's Jihad! :D

Post by Caodemarte »

I always thought icchantika was a kind of snarky Buddhist joke, since an icchantika is defined as somebody who can't have or realise the Buddha Nature that everybody has because they keep insisting that everybody does not have Buddha Nature! So there icchantika! That will serve you.

Like everybody else Mahayana, Vajrayana, Theravada countries have long histories of religiously sanctioned state and non-state warfare against non-Buddhists and Buddhists. The current pogroms against non-Buddhists in Burma and Sri Lanka in the name of Buddhism are current examples.

By the way the only religion I can think of that was deliberately spread by force of arms was Christianity ("The Cross or the Sword!") in Europe. Islam, as a religion, was not spread by force and for the first 100 years or so into the age of conquests the conquered were not allowed to become Muslims and get those tax breaks and other benefits. Islam was seen as only for the victorious Arabs. The Koran and Islam, which defines itself as the House of Peace in contradiction to the outside chaotic House of War, specifically forbids non-defensive war like most Christian sects with about the same result in political history (every war for loot becomes one for self-defense!). Like most conquerors Muslims were after the usual loot, rapine, murder, and destruction. This is one of the many reasons that ISIS does not want converts, it wants dead people or slaves, mostly other Muslims, and ludicrously claims to be acting in self-defense.

Of course, the Koran and Islam do not issue general calls for unceasing warfare against Jews and Christians (who, in fact, have better status than the "pagans") any more than Christianity does. There were a few Popes who came very close to calling for the painful death or conversion of every Muslim, Jew, pagan, or Christian heretic by unceasing warfare. Like Islam and Buddhism, Christianity does have have its extremists.
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Re: The Buddha's Jihad! :D

Post by tingdzin »

It is politically correct, ridiculous revisionism to say that Islam was never involved in forcible conversion. It is true that in the earlier centuries of Islam, the Arabs would have preferred fewer conversions and more people paying the unbeliever tax, but since then, there have been too many historical examples of situations where the choice was conversion or death to be easily enumerated. A little serious research, even on the Internet, can verify this.

I'm not going to claim that Muslims as people are worse than others, but let's not go to the other extreme.
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Re: The Buddha's Jihad! :D

Post by Caodemarte »

Please note that nobody to my knowledge has said that Muslims have never been involved in forcible conversion. However, it is not a general characteristic of older or more current Islamic civilizations. Christianity, however, has generally been marked historically by forcible conversion. I have done a fair amount of non-"internet based" historical research in comparative religions and as far as I have been able to see forcible conversion is not a general characteristic of Islamic civilizations (there are many examples of it, but far, far less than in Christianity), partially because it makes little Koranic sense ("There is no compulsion in religion.") and quite sensibly, why would you encourage, let alone force, the conquered to become equals with you, the conquerors? There is no religious need to do so (many Christians have historically argued that the there is a positive need to convert everybody, even your slaves, by any means including force, the non-believers). If it were different, the Turks would have converted and left behind large numbers of European converts all the way up to Vienna. Instead we see only one example of apparently voluntary mass conversion in Bosnia (apparently the Bogomils, regarded as heretics by the Catholic church, went over en masse). Please note that I am not talking about religious persecution and attacks ("pagans" did not fare well, Muslim heretics were usually killed off pretty gruesomely, churches were sacked, etc.). None of this means that Muslims are nicer or worse than anybody else. It does means that the medieval Catholic writers, who are the origin of a lot of these beliefs, were projecting on to Muslims the motive ("The Cross or the Sword!") they would claim to justify war.

Communism and Christianity have historically been marked by much forcible conversion. Islam, like Judaism, has not. In what Christians call the Old Testament (also with minor variations accepted by Muslims) there are many stories about religiously sanctioned conquest and mass murder etc., but relatively little about forcible conversion of non-Jews (since religion was seen as contract between God and one defined groups of tribes it would make little sense).

This is one of the reasons that the Spanish conquests were known for their relatively high level of tolerance by medieval standards. Jews (and the occasional Christians) rioted in order to turn some cities over to the Muslim conquerors. They knew they would get a better deal (second class status is better than dying or forcible conversion to many). None this has to do with "political correctness" or saying that Muslims (or Christians for that matter) are better or worse than anybody else or have less or more murderous people under religious cover than Buddhists or Hindus. For example, the fact that ISIS wants to kill me and not convert me does not make them better people! Similarly, the fact that the Nazis did not want to convert their victims, but to kill them, does not make them nicer either.
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Re: The Buddha's Jihad! :D

Post by tingdzin »

Caodemarte wrote:Islam, like Judaism, has not.
(been marked by much forcible conversion).

What do you mean "much". Let's see . . . right off the top of my head I can tell you that in the bloodbath that followed partition, uncountable numbers of Hindu women were kidnapped and forcibly converted to Islam. Before that, the Poshtuns and other Afghans used to raid India whenever they could for plunder (which is perhaps the main reason the Sikhs became militant), and again kidnapped and forcibly converted non-Muslim women as a usual practice. This was still going on during the Raj to some extent, and is continued nowadays by Boko Haram in the Sahel, and against the Yazidis in Syria. About 1910, the new ruler of the Afghans marched into the far northern part of what is now Afghanistan and forcibly converted to Islam a whole ethnic group that had continued a pre-Islamic,, pre-Buddhist, pre-Hindu system of beliefs. Previously, the land had been called Kafiristan "Land of the Unbelievers", but afterwards it was given the new title Nuristan, "Land of Light". When the Muslims rebelled against the Ch'ing Dynasty in Xinjiang, in the 19th century, the soldiers of the defeated garrisons were given the choice of conversion or death (I think that probably counts as "force"). Certain Turkic rulers on the Central Asian steppe insisted that all of their subjects convert to Islam. If a non-Muslim man wants to marry a Muslim woman pretty much anywhere in the world, he has to convert (people who are shocked by the proposed law in Burma against non-Buddhists marrying Muslim should realize that this is just replying in kind to a longstanding Islamic practice).

These are just examples I can relate without cracking a book or even going to a search engine. If you really want to insist that forcible conversion is an aberration in Islam, you had better start studying a little more Asian history.
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Re: The Buddha's Jihad! :D

Post by Caodemarte »

Thank you for your recommendation, but I have already done years of research and analysis and I will stand by my comments about forced conversion not being a general characteristic of Islamic civilisations. I don't think you will find any qualified professor of Islamic history disagreeing.

By relatively little in this context I mean noticeably less (not none) than those civilizations that we would characterise as having a general ideological policy. Be sure what we mean here. I think your text adequately explains why historians and political scientists would not classify most of what you describe as a general policy of forcible conversion (plunder, rapine, slavery, etc. yes). (Just a note that Boko Haram is about as Islamic as the Lord's Resistance Army is truly Christian.)
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Re: The Buddha's Jihad! :D

Post by DGA »

tingdzin wrote:I don't know much about the history of sectarianism in Japan, so I'll leave that to other posters. It seems to me, however, that Nichiren was, if not unique, then certainly exceptional in his acceptance of violence as a proper Buddhist means. Again, I don't know much about Nichiren Buddhism, but is his teaching accepted by them as the ultimate authority, even when it goes against the grain of most Buddhist thought over the centuries? If so, why?
Can't speak to the Nichiren aspect of your question, but I can say generally that the history of sectarianism in Japanese Buddhism is, too often, an ugly one. This has much to do with the way in which Buddhist institutions fulfill roles that would be assigned to civil society outside of Japan; Buddhist institutions were built up in part as political and social institutions, for better and in some ways for worse.
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Re: The Buddha's Jihad! :D

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Re: The Buddha's Jihad! :D

Post by Lazy_eye »

What the frak is being spilled from the clouds in the upper left? Does the Pentagon know about this? :o
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Re: The Buddha's Jihad! :D

Post by Berry »

smcj wrote:
I can't source it, but the old teaching about not trying to cover the world with leather.....
Its from Shantideva's Bodhisattvacharyavatara Ch 5 v. 13:

12. Unruly beings are as unlimited as space:
They cannot possibly all be overcome,
But if I overcome thoughts of anger alone
This will be equivalent to vanquishing all foes.

13.Where would I possibly find enough leather
With which to cover the surface of the earth?
But (just) leather on the soles of my shoes
Is equivalent to covering the earth with it

14.Likewise it is not possible for me
To restrain the external course of things
But should I restrain this mind of mine
What would be the need to restrain all else?
Leave the polluted water of conceptual thoughts in its natural clarity. Without affirming or denying appearances, leave them as they are. When there is neither acceptance nor rejection, mind is liberated into mahāmudra.

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Re: The Buddha's Jihad! :D

Post by Herbie »

Rita_Repulsa wrote: Buddha, Buddhism, and its sages don't seem to have a problem with defensive holy wars.
There's no holiness about wars, whether defensive or not. If you are attacked then why should buddha, buddhism or any alleged sages be of any concern? those may be of concern as long as you are not attacked and just posting in a forum.
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Re: The Buddha's Jihad! :D

Post by tingdzin »

:anjali: O.K. Caodemarte, I guess we can agree that, historically, use of forced conversion in Islam has fallen somewhere between an aberration and a general policy, but that the incidence of "plunder, rapine, and slavery" -- as well as the imposition of the jizyah on non-Muslims -- would clearly fall more towards the latter end of the spectrum.

Meanwhile, I am genuinely curious about Nichiren's take on the matter of force in religion, as well as those of his modern followers. My limited reading about Nichiren Buddhism on this forum has convinced me that I am not going to get anything resembling a consensus from the Nichiren posters here, but at least I'd like to read a sampling of opinion.

DGA, do you know of any easily accessible digital summaries of sectarianism in Japanese Buddhism?
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Re: The Buddha's Jihad! :D

Post by DGA »

I don't know any surveys, but I can direct you to some historical studies if you'd like. Paul Groner's work on the founding and rebuilding of the Tendai school in his biographies in Saicho and Ryogen (especially Ryogen) are relevant if you want to understand the relation of the state and the sangha in Japan, and the role of the so-called "warrior monks" and shogunate. Groner also goes into detail about the role of inter-sect debate protocols. For instance, Hosso and Tendai priests would be summoned to debate each other in the court of the emperor basically for entertainment.

Families get tied to particular schools and sects temples through the danka system, meaning that part of your family identity is tied to what temple you belong to, where your ancestors are buried, and so on.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Danka_system

Anyway, as regards your question on Nichiren--many of the contemporary schools of Japanese Buddhism, such as the Pure Land schools, Nichiren, Soto and Rinzai Zen, the so-called "single practice" schools, emerged in a period of serious social turmoil. Each of these schools offered in a different way a prescription for practice that was suitable for what was really felt to be mappo, the Dharma-ending age. I think this emergence of a diffusion of Buddhist sects out of a sense of social urgency has left a kind of imprint too. This has to be taken into account when understanding Nichiren, I think, whose writings are also incoherent without a handle on what Zhiyi was up to.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zhiyi

but I digress. I'd put your question to the Nichiren subforum and see what comes up. There are some very knowledgeable posters there.

I'm grossly and shamefully overgeneralizing. It's a complicated issue.
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