Who are the Extremists in Sri Lanka – Christianity, Islam or Buddhists?
Attack on Buddhism/Buddhists & Buddha is nothing new. The Buddhists are easy prey because both Christianity & Islam are institutionalized faiths with powerful funding, powerful countries & powerful organizations to back them. From ‘Age of Discovery’ the Papal Bulls, Christianization of lands to Islamization of lands, every Buddhist occupied land from Persia to Indonesia was stolen from them by the sword. A stark contrast to the spread of Buddhism without a sword or forced conversion. The philosophy that spread is killing institutionalized religions that thrive on rules, regulations and monthly tithe. The dana or giving is all that the Buddhist philosophy promotes. If you cannot destroy the enemy externally attempt to do so within is the latest strategy to co-opt born Buddhists wearing Buddhist robes & employed to distort Buddha’s teaching & take people along a wrong path. Their karma will haunt them. Buddhists are referred to as ‘racists’ ‘extremists’ ‘fundamentalists’ ‘militants’ ‘terrorists’ & even ‘clowns’. Obviously, some people are very annoyed with the teachings of Buddha. Fundamentalism is described as “A person who takes their religion so literally and to such extremes that they contradict the very basis of their faith. They typically believe in a literal, verbatim interpretation of their scripture”. The last part is interesting. This means people are complaining about Buddhist fundamentalists or extremists taking their scripture to the extremes… in other words they are against the Buddhists reaching nirvana – the ultimate extreme! That is rather odd isn’t it!
In short, those that refer to people following the extremist side of their religion are called fundamentalists or extremists. Those that are claiming Buddhists please answer how Christianity or Islam spread across the world, how they took over entire lands & how they forcibly converted, how iconoclasm a foundation of their religion resulted in destruction of non-Christian/non-Islamic ancient artefacts and marvels? Are these not the same vandalisms we see taking place in 21st century? While over 600 years separates Buddhism from Christianity & close to 1000 years separates Buddhism from Islam there is no shred of evidence to prove Buddhism spread by force or with sword. The extremisms of Christianity & Islam is nowhere found in Buddhism though the paid press and propagandists make every effort to show otherwise.
Religious extremism derives from what cults or groups take out from the very books of their faiths. Whether it is in context or out of context there is not a single word found in Buddhas teachings to attack or kill another but there are plenty of verses that can be taken from Islam & Christianity which is what is being used for political Islam and militant Islam today and Christians are doing same. While both Islam & Christianity EXTREMISM is taking whatever ‘out of context’ verses for their extremism – if Buddhists are described as extremists based on their faith it only means Buddhists give up all materialism to attain nirvana. It is quite laughable when people describe Buddhists as ‘extremists’ because extremism of Buddhism is quite the opposite of extremisms of Islam & Christianity.
Not a single word in the Dhammapada tells any Buddhist to kill. Not a single word in Buddhas teachings have separated or categorized people or told Buddhists how to treat non-Buddhists. Buddhism spread by word of compassion and not by any weapon or force. This is what makes Buddhism stand out from how Christianity & Islam spread. This is why there are well-funded efforts to present notion that Buddhism is violent though nothing in Buddhist texts speak of violence whereas enough of clauses and statements can be taken out from Christianity & Islam to show violence.
What are the quotes from the Bible that speak of extremity which encourages people to follow extremes! Just imagine Christian fundamentalists following these commandments to the word!
“Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth; I have not come to bring peace, but with a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s foes will be those of his own household. He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy.”
(Matthew 10:34-37 from Prince of Peace)
“I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, she must be silent.”
(St Paul’s advice in 1 Timothy 2:12 and used to argue against women priests)
“This is what the Lord Almighty says … ‘Now go and strike Amalek and devote to destruction all that they have. Do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.’ “
(endorsing genocide, from 1 Samuel 15:3)
“Do not allow a sorceress to live.”
(Moses’s call to kill witches, in Exodus 22:18)
“And every one who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundred-fold, and inherit eternal life.”
(Matthew 19:29 a lot of inducement)
“Happy is he who repays you for what you have done to us / He who seizes your infants and dashes them against the rocks.”
(Psalm 137 on revenge)
You can kill a woman if she seizes a man’s private parts without his permission: Deuteronomy 25:11-1: If two men are fighting and the wife of one of them comes to rescue her husband from his assailant, and she reaches out and seizes him by his private parts, you shall cut off her hand. Show her no pity.
“Wives, submit to you husbands as to the Lord”
(God’s test of Abraham in Genesis 22, in which Abraham is made to offer his son Isaac as a sacrifice; endorsement of female subservience in Ephesians 5:22)
“Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the cruel.”
(1 Peter 2:18)
“I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent.”
(1 Timothy 2:12 St. Paul’s advice)
“For nation will rise up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places: all this is but the beginning of the sufferings.”
“Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s.”
“…the women should keep silence in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be subordinate, as even the law says. If there is anything they desire to know, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church”.
(1 Corinthians 14:34-35) – shameful for a women to be in Church
“Let a woman learn in silence with all submissiveness. I permit no woman to teach or have authority over men; she is to keep silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. Yet woman will be saved through bearing children, if she continues in faith and love and holiness, with modesty.”
(1 Timothy 11:15) – so women are good to only give birth to children!
“I tell you, on the day of judgment men will render account for every careless word they utter; for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”
(Matthew 12:36-37) – when killing is justified
Now let’s imagine Islamic fundamentalists/extremists following their commandments to the word! No wonder that Islamic terrorists are screaming ‘Allahu Akbar” and terrorizing the world.
The Quran contains at least 109 verses that call Muslims to war with nonbelievers for the sake of Islamic rule.
“The notion of jihad martyrdom is extolled in the Quran, Quran verse 9:1-11. And then in the Hadith, it’s even more explicit. This is the highest form of jihad — to kill and to be killed in acts of jihad.”
“And slay them wherever ye find them, and drive them out of the places whence they drove you out, for persecution [of Muslims] is worse than slaughter [of non-believers]… but if desist, then lo! Allah is forgiving and merciful. And fight them until persecution is no more, and religion is for Allah.”
(authorizes killing of others and encourages fighting until religion of Allah prevails)
“Fighting is prescribed for you, and ye dislike it. But it is possible that ye dislike a thing which is good for you, and that ye love a thing which is bad for you. But Allah knoweth, and ye know not.”
(showcases violence as virtuous while contradicting fighting is for self-defense)
“I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore, strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them”
“I have been ordered by Allah to fight with people till they bear testimony to the fact that there is no God but Allah.”
“The person who participates in Allah’s cause (namely, in battle). . will be recompensed by Allah either with reward or booty or will be admitted to Paradise.”
“Wherever you find infidels kill them; for whoever kills them shall have reward on the Day of Resurrection.”
“The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His messenger and strive to make mischief in the land is only this, that they should be murdered or crucified or their hands and their feet should be cut off on opposite sides or they should be imprisoned; this shall be as a disgrace for them in this world, and in the hereafter they shall have a grievous chastisement”
Ibn Ishaq/Hisham 484:
“Allah said, ‘A prophet must slaughter before collecting captives. A slaughtered enemy is driven from the land. Muhammad, you craved the desires of this world, its goods and the ransom captives would bring. But Allah desires killing them to manifest the religion.’”
Buddhism does not have ‘commandments’/orders. His Teachings were not revealed by coercion or ordering. His Ten Precepts are to be taken voluntarily for one’s own benefit and for that of others. A Buddhist goes to the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha for guidance (sarana) not refuge.
The course Buddha has advised Buddhists to follow are
Thou art well advised not to take the lives of living beings.
Thou art well advised not to take what is not given.
Thou art well advised not to engage in sexual misconduct.
Thou art well advised not to commit perjury (speak falsely when questioned as a witness).
Thou art well advised not to speak divisively (separating those who are united).
Thou art well advised not to speak harshly (offensively).
Thou art well advised not to speak frivolously.
Thou art well advised not to covet.
Thou art well advised not to harbor ill-will.
Thou art well advised not to hold wrong-views
The other 5 Precepts preached by Buddha are
Abstain from taking life unnecessarily
Abstain from taking things not given
Abstain from immoral actions
Abstain from false speech
Abstain from intoxicating liquors and drugs
Abstaining is not an order. Karma awaits that chooses not to. It is however, their choice. The decision to do good or bad is a person & the good & bad karma will follow as a result.
Non-violence is at the heart of Buddhist thinking and behaviour. There is not a single line in 423 verses (Dhammapada) on the Buddha’s doctrine that refer to fighting, violence or killing. Never has Buddhism waged wars or killed in the name of Buddhism. The Buddha denounced all forms of violence.
In times when priests told people that God can be approached through them only and priests were dominating and applying rules upon people, and the Truth was to be found only through them, Buddha showed how people could find the Truth on their own.
The Buddha asked loving-kindness to be extended not only to men, but even to all animals. His doctrine was that we suffer misery because we are self. Our unlimited desires lead to misery. The way out is to give up the self. Just as the body changes our mind, consciousness changes. Selfishness comes from holding on to self. If we know that there is no self we will be happy. He spoke against animal sacrifice. He said that God is a superstition invented by priests.
“Conquer the angry one by not getting angry; conquer the wicked by goodness; conquer the stingy by generosity, and the liar by speaking the truth”
“The one who has conquered himself is a far greater hero than he who has defeated a thousand times a thousand men.”
“Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it.
Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many.
Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books.
Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders.
Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.”
“All that we are is the result of what we have thought: it is founded on our thoughts and made up of our thoughts. If a man speak or act with an evil thought, suffering follows him as the wheel follows the hoof of the beast that draws the wagon…. If a man speak or act with a good thought, happiness follows him like a shadow that never leaves him.”
“To enjoy good health, to bring true happiness to one’s family, to bring peace to all, one must first discipline and control one’s own mind. If a man can control his mind he can find the way to Enlightenment, and all wisdom and virtue will naturally come to him.”
“It is better to conquer yourself than to win a thousand battles. Then the victory is yours. It cannot be taken from you, not by angels or by demons, heaven or hell.”
“An insincere and evil friend is more to be feared than a wild beast; a wild beast may wound your body, but an evil friend will wound your mind.”
“In the sky, there is no distinction of east and west; people create distinctions out of their own minds and then believe them to be true.”
If Buddhists were to take compassion to the extremes as advocated in the teachings of the Buddha the world would indeed be a beautiful place and nature, flora and fauna would be protected.
There are no lines in Buddha’s teaching calling Buddhists to take up arms, to indulge in violence, to kill (except in self-defence).
So who are the extremists/fundamentalists and how dangerous are those that take to the extremes of their scriptures?
Both Christianity and Islam divided the world between believers and nonbelievers, who is to be saved and who is to be damned. Both have declared wars in the name of their religion.
Both continue to uphold the sanctity of the Church and State (though they claim contrary). Those that recall the Dark Ages, Reformation would realize that 2.3 Christian population of Europe was murdered. The Napoleonic Wars, African slave trade which claimed 10million, the colonial conquests saw the murder of 20m in the Americas alone. It is estimated that the 20th century alone killed 250million people of which Muslims are said to be responsible for less than 10million. Christians have much to account for. World War 1 claimed 20m, 90% inflicted by Christians. World War 2 claimed 90m 50% inflicted by Christians. The 6m Jews were killed by Christians and not Muslims! There is no end still. America is the only country ever to have used nuclear weapons twice upon one country. Today, many Christians are realizing the truth and are taking a more practical view to life which cannot be said of the increasing militant/political Islam now being aggravated by West using as a geopolitical intervention tool.
Buddhists must refuse to be shouted down by well-funded propaganda. Buddhists have not caused historical or contemporary deaths using religion that run into millions by both Christianity & Islam. Isolated cases promoted via media denouncing Buddhism and Buddhists should not be accepted because none of their actions quote Buddhist texts unlike Christianity/Islam.
There have been no bloody wars to spread Buddhism. Therefore, those that ridicule Buddhists as fundamentalists/extremist are essentially laughing at Buddhists taking the teachings of Buddha and the Dhammapada to extremes and in reality it is something to be proud of because what is wrong in treating all equally, in finding the Truth, to love nature and not indulge in animal sacrifice and find oneself. Perhaps the clowns that ridicule Buddhists need to read about Buddhism first!
The world would be dangerously compassionate if Buddhist extremism prevailed!
“All tremble at violence; all fear death.
Putting oneself in the place of another,
one should not kill nor cause another to kill.”
Shenali D Waduge