[Buddha-l] Dharmapala, redux

JKirkpatrick jkirk at spro.net
Tue Aug 3 09:36:25 MDT 2010

Hi Andy.

You seem to be in 'omnium gatherum' mode, since DeCaroli's book
had little to do with Buddhism re: war/violence/military
adventures. Seems to me that it belongs in a differrent
discussion. I cited it just because somewhere along the line a
brief discussion ensued about whether or not monks and or the
Buddha "believed/had faith in" spirits. I think DeCaroli did a
good job of showing that indeed monks and nuns (if not the
Buddha) indeed venerated spirits as part of the local cultures. I
liked that he brought in a lot of architectural evidence to
bolster his points. 
But my notice of the book wasn't meant to intervene in the
discussion about militarism. No disagreement here I'd guess,
about missionising religions taking local beliefs into account.
However, in his case, DeCaroli seems to have concluded that the
spirits (yakkhas especially) were not being taken into account
from outside, but that they were there from the start, precluding
the Buddhist enterprise and not viewed as aliens to be taken over
(as for exanple is said to have happened in Tibet with Buddhist
discourse taking over local 'demon' spirits as protectors).

You wrote, "But what benefit does Buddhism offer to a secular
regime?" I'd want to ask, what 'secular regime' are you referring
to here? Back in the times of the Buddha, there was no such
distinction as between sacred (theocratic) and secular regimes,
along the lines these terms are used today. 

Best, Joanna   

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