[Buddha-l] buddha-l Digest, Vol 103, Issue 6

Dog of Mars caodemarte at yahoo.com
Sun Sep 15 16:55:59 MDT 2013

I'm not sure there is any transnational Buddhist identity, at least in any politically meaningful sense, although there are often recognized cultural ties. Surely the Buddhists of different nations have shown themselves as happily enthusiastic to kill the Buddhists of other nations as Christians have to kill Christians.

Perhaps an example of how Buddhism and nationalism can fuse in the modern world can be found in Sri Lanka.

Sinhalese Buddhist nationalist monks (who are not all Sinhalese monks, I hasten to add) have argued that the only pure Buddhism left exists only in Sri Lanka (with a less pure echo in Thailand ) and is guarded only by the Sinhalese, who are under siege. Here the nation exists in order to protect and guard Buddhism. Hence extreme nationalist violence is a religious duty as there is little difference between "protecting"  the Sinhala nation and true religion in their eyes. The monk murder of a Sinhalese Prime Minister in 1959, the 1980s pogroms, recurrent mass slaughter, and the current anti-Muslim rancor all have been justified in these terms. It can be argued that much of this comes from the conscious  adaptation and adoption of US Protestant missionary attitudes and US nationalist vocabulary in the 1880s under the stimulus of Col. Olcott, although it is clearly well rooted in Sri Lankan Buddhist history as well.

If the bulk of  monks in Sri Lanka practiced meditation or other practices recommended by Buddha perhaps the militants would have less time to incite or practice murder.

James A Stroble <stroble at hawaii.edu> wrote:

> On Sat, 14 Sep 2013 23:23:38 -0400
> "Dan Lusthaus" <vasubandhu at earthlink.net> wrote:
>> That was not the issue.
> I have been thinking back to an earlier discussion, where the "right
> speech" of the eight-fold path came up.  Unfortunately, I don't know
> how to apply it in this situation. 
> I would repeat my earlier reference to the move "The Matrix" and point
> out that Morpheus and Neo are fighting, again, but this did not seem to
> resonate the first time.  
> But the nationalism and religion question intrigues me.  I am of the
> opinion that religion gets co-opted by nationalist interests in most
> cases, but I get the feeling Dan is of the contrary opinion.  But in
> the case of Buddhism, it seems that the assertion of Buddhism as a part
> of a national identity is what is at stake, not Buddhism per se.  Maybe
> I am not very aware of any such trans-national Buddhist identity, but
> it does not seem that the Sinhalese are all that concerned about the
> Tibetan struggle, or the Burmese about the Thais. This suggests to me,
> at least, that nationalism is the prime mover in such struggles, and
> religion only a convenient prop.  
> -- 
> Yours, 
> James Andy Stroble
> Leeward Community College
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