As I’ve noted previously on The Endless Further, extremists in Burma and Sri Lanka are misusing Buddhism to promote religious hatred and violence. In Burma (Myanmar) violence has left more than 200 dead and close to 150,000 homeless since persecution against the Rohingya Muslim minority began in the western state of Rakhine in June 2012. Human rights groups maintain that extremist Buddhist monks have helped incite violence and participated in rioting mobs. In Sri Lanka, Buddhist mobs have attacked Muslim neighborhoods – four people were killed in a clash between Buddhists and Muslims last month – unrest incited by the far-right Bodu Bala Sena (Buddhist Power Force) group.
Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, who turned 79 this past Sunday, July 6th, used the occasion of his birthday to call on Buddhists in Myanmar and Sri Lanka to halt violence against Muslim minorities. In front of a large crowd gathered on the outskirts of Leh, a town high in the Himalayas, Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader said,
I urge the Buddhists in these countries to imagine an image of Buddha before they commit such a crime.
Buddha preaches love and compassion. If the Buddha is there, he will protect the Muslims whom the Buddhists are attacking.”
These simple but powerful words need no further explication . . .
But I would like to point out once again that for too long, far too many Buddhists around the world have remained silent on this issue, and this is especially the case with well-known Buddhist leaders whose words influence many people. About this matter, silence is not skillful means, but rather a tool of complicity.