Buddhism, vegetarianism, and the ethics of intention

November 22, 2014

smile pigOne of the most attractive things about Buddhism is that it considers ethics to be based on the intentions behind our actions. This perspective is radical in its simplicity, clarity, and practicality.

When our actions are based on greed, hatred, or delusion, they’re said to be “unskillful” (akusala), which is the term Buddhism prefers over the more judgmental terms “bad” or “evil” — although those terms are used too, albeit mostly in the context of poetry. By contrast, when our intentions are based on mindfulness, compassion, and wisdom, they’re said to be skillful (kusala).

For many people accustomed to systems of morality based on commandments, rewards and punishments, the Buddhist ethical perspective is liberating and … Read more »

An open letter to President Obama from the Buddhist Teachers Network

November 5, 2014

"Official portrait of Barack Obama" by Pete Souza, The Obama-Biden Transition Project - http://change.gov/newsroom/entry/new_official_portrait_released/. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Official_portrait_of_Barack_Obama.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Official_portrait_of_Barack_Obama.jpgTO PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA


Dear President Obama,

We as 381 Buddhist Teachers in America represent a large community that is deeply concerned about the growing anti Muslim violence in Myanmar and across Asia, and the plight of the 1.3 million Rohingyas, many forced to live against their will in inhumane internment camps and permanent ghettoized communities. We know you have been supportive of all Burmese people and have encouraged peace and reconciliation across the nation. Your upcoming visit to Burma is an important opportunity to strengthen your capacity as a peacemaker. We urge you to once again … Read more »

Buddhists and violence

September 17, 2013

Aaron AlexisIt’s been reported that Aaron Alexis, the former U.S. Navy reservist who went on a shooting spree on a naval base, leaving 13 people dead, including him, was a Buddhist.

This isn’t of course the first time a Buddhist has acted violently. While Buddhism generally has a peaceful history, Buddhist institutions have persecuted non-Buddhists and those from other Buddhist traditions and have sometimes supported war (Japan in the Second World War is a notable example). And Buddhist individuals have committed pretty much every violent act you can imagine, for their own personal reasons, whether that’s greed, hatred, or, in Alexis’ case apparently, mental illness.

Is it possible, in the face of all this, to say … Read more »

Violent raid breaks up Burma mine protest

December 3, 2012

Thomas Fuller, New York Times: Security forces in Myanmar mounted a violent raid on Thursday against Buddhist monks and villagers who have been protesting the expansion of a copper mine. The crackdown was the largest since the civilian government of President Thein Sein came to power 20 months ago.

Witnesses said dozens of monks and other protesters were injured when the security forces used incendiary devices that set fire to protesters’ encampments outside the offices of the Chinese company in charge of the project. The company has a partnership with the powerful military in Myanmar, formerly Burma.

Photos from Burmese online news sites showed …

Read the original article »

Ethnic hatred tears apart a region of Burma

November 30, 2012

Thomas Fuller, New York Times: The Buddhist monastery on the edge of this seaside town is a picture of tranquillity, with novice monks in saffron robes finding shade under a towering tree and their teacher, U Nyarna, greeting a visitor in a sunlit prayer room.

But in these placid surroundings Mr. Nyarna’s message is discordant, and a far cry from the Buddhist precept of avoiding harm to living creatures. Unprompted, Mr. Nyarna launches into a rant against Muslims, calling them invaders, unwanted guests and “vipers in our laps.”

“According to Buddhist teachings we should not kill,” Mr. Nyarna said. “But when we feel …

Read the original article »

Bangladesh vows to uphold religious harmony

October 8, 2012

Unprecedented violence against the country’s Buddhist minority has outraged Bangladeshis. Officials say they detect the hand of extremist groups in what appears to have been a pre-planned attack.

Bangladeshis appear to have been stunned by the weekend attacks against the country’s Buddhists, who have lived there for generations without any known confrontation with their majority Muslim counterparts.

“Never before in our history have places of worship of a religious minority been ravaged on such a large scale and in so deliberate a manner,” Mahmuz Anam, editor of The Daily Star wrote. “And this happened against a community who are among the most peaceful …

Read the original article »

Of a sustained Buddhist extremism in Sri Lanka

October 5, 2012

Raashid Riza, Sri Lanka Guardian: The last few months have seen a rapid increase in anti-Muslim sentiment amongst sections of the political class in Sri Lankan society. The situation has yet to deteriorate to the extent that the default image of a Sri Lankan Muslim is one represented by an anti- Sri Lankan or anti-Buddhist element. But the trend that is developing is truly alarming and surely points towards such an inaccurate mental image.

The rise of extremist Buddhists in Sri Lanka is truly disturbing and does not bode well to the sense of national resilience that the government is trying to foster …

Read the original article »

Bangladesh vows to protect Buddhists after attacks set off by Facebook photo of burned Quran

October 1, 2012

AP: Hundreds of Buddhists who fled their southern Bangladesh villages in the wake of attacks by Muslims started returning home Monday amid heightened security and more than 160 arrests.

The Buddhists moved to safety after an overnight weekend attack in which thousands of Bangladeshi Muslims burned at least 10 Buddhist temples and 40 homes in anger over a Facebook photo of a burned Quran.

Army soldiers, paramilitary border guards and police were deployed, and the government has banned all public gatherings in the troubled areas near the southern border with Myanmar, said Lt. Col. Jaed Hossain, a military commander who was helping to install tents for …

Read the original article »

Buddhism’s dirty secret

September 19, 2012

One of the things that makes Buddhism an attractive spiritual path for people in the west is its historical track record as a peaceful religion. You’ll often hear western Buddhists say that Buddhism has never had any holy wars, for example. But there’s a but…

Certainly, there’s nothing in the Buddha’s teaching to support violence. In essence, Buddhism is a religion of peace whose teachings have no place even for “righteous anger” or violence as a means of self-defense. As the Buddha said,

“Monks, even if bandits were to savagely sever you, limb by limb, with a double-handled saw, even then, whoever of you harbors ill will at heart would not be upholding my

Read more »

Spiritual help for violence victims

August 16, 2012

Sanjeev K Ahuja,, Hindustan Times: The terror-struck managers, supervisors and engineers at Maruti Suzuki’s Manesar plant — who witnessed violence at the factory premises on July 18 — have been attending meditation and spiritual classes at the Brahma Kumari Om Shanti Retreat Centre (ORC) since July 30. ORC members have also delivered discourses for the workers, who were arrested on the first day of the attack, in Gurgaon jail.

“The first batch of 35-40 managers attended a two-day workshop on July 30-31. ORC director BK Ashsa Didi also addressed the staff.

Besides meditation, the workshop also stresses upon how workers should overcome fear and improve inter-personal relations,” said BK Sanjay of ORC.

“A total of … Read more »