Hi gang! I came across this statement and wanted to discuss this to the best of my knowledge and ability.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).
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.