All Movements Go Too Far

When people I talk to adoringly refer to Buddhism as the “best” religion, I like to remind them of the underbelly of the institution.  As Bertrand Russell (a prominent mathematician, philosopher and atheist) pointed out “All movements go too far”.  The article and link below remind us that Buddhism is a movement and does not always live up to the Buddha’s teachings.

Institutions are formed out of the good intentions of people. But as time goes on, a movements mission is always undermined by the need to preserve itself.  In Buddhism this is a particular problem.  It is a fact that divisiveness is a necessary tool for perpetuating an institution.  In contrast, Buddhism, at its essence, seeks to reconcile the whole with the individual. The self preservation objectives of an institution are necessarily an obstacle to this path.

And so we discover the need to clean out our assumptions bucket and release our attachments, especially to Buddhism!

An Open Letter from the Buddhist Community on Islamophobia

By Danny Fisher on July 31, 2012

As disciples of the Buddha who live in the West, we would like to take the holy month of Ramadan as an opportunity to express our growing concern about Islamophobia, both within our governments and within the Buddhist community worldwide.

In North America and Europe, the past decade has seen peaceful Muslim communities targeted by hate crimes, police profiling, and even challenges to their basic human rights of free religion and free assembly. The New York Times reports that the New York City Police Department infiltrated peaceful Muslim groups across the Northeastern United States for indiscriminate surveillance. The Islamic Center of Murfreesboro in Murfreesboro, Tennessee has faced vandalism, arson, and legal challenges opposing their new mosque, while France and Belgium have outlawed wearing niqāb in public over concerns about immigration, the status of women, and the diluting of European culture.

read more…

5 thoughts on “All Movements Go Too Far

  1. Maybe the author ought to take a look at the history of Islam in South Asia. Buddhist culture was violently wiped out from Northern India and Central Asia by Muslims who don’t grant “the idolators” equal human value, not even today. Take a look at the Saudi penal code (if we can consider this as a model for an Islamic State), for example: compensation for the murder of a non-muslim, non-member of the abrahamic fates is ranked as the absolute lowest on the scale (men and women separate naturally).

    I don’t mean to excuse or justify the violent actions of individuals, whether they identify as Buddhist or not, but what I’m challenging is the hypocrisy with which the letter speaks with. I can tell you and everyone else reading this that it does not represent the views of at least one “disciple of the Buddha in the West”.

    My biggest problem is with how its so effortlessly equates the situation in South Asia to the one in the West. Yes of course, once a situation has escalated to the level of naked violence, its insignificant where and by whom its done by. A kick to the head hurts as much in Siberia as it does in the Serengeti.

    I took a quick look at the list signatories of this misguided letter and noticed that most if not all live in first world nations, protected by strong institutions, economic advantages and ultimately the might of western arms.

    Buddhists in other places, situations and times have not been so lucky. Can we find it ourselves to consider this history before descending to a so familiar holier-than-thou judgement

    And yes, this is coming from a so-called “Western” Buddhist.

  2. Pingback: Manchester Buddhist Convention – the gentlest of radicals and a great social reformer by Jaya Graves | Manchester Buddhist Convention 13 October 2012
  3. Pingback: Interracial Love, Multicultural Families: | Interrace Today

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