In this message to Buddhadharma’s
readers, Jack Kornfield talks about the response of Western Buddhist leaders to
the ethnic violence incited by Burmese monks and abbots.
It is an amazing time of positive transformation in
Burma, now called Myanmar, from a severe and crippling military dictatorship to
some real movement toward freedom and democracy. After seventeen years, Aung
San Suu Kyi is out of house arrest, carrying a spirit of metta and dignity that
is breathtaking. And President Obama recently visited Burma and gave a strong,
wise, and encouraging speech. It’s heartening to see smiling photos of Barack
Obama, Aung San Suu Kyi, and Hillary Clinton together.
But when dictatorships are lifted, old unresolved ethnic
tensions can reappear. There are many such conflicts in Burma, and recently the
worst involves terrible persecution and violence against Muslims, especially
the Rohingya people living near the border of Bangladesh. To our horror,
certain Buddhist monks and abbots have encouraged the anti- Muslim violence.
And others have been afraid to condemn it.
As a concerned response, a few Western teachers and I
drafted an open letter to the monks and nuns of Burma and got our friendly
world Buddhist leaders to sign on. The letter was published in several of the
most widely read Burmese papers. It is a loving and deeply concerned appeal
reminding the Burmese Buddhists of their noble dharma heritage and reaffirming
the principles ofnonviolence,
compassion, and mutual respect. Stand up for these truths, we say.
We all need to be reminded of our commitment at times,
and as friends of the people of Burma we want to support the best and most
beautiful of the Burmese Buddhist tradition as they do the hard work to
transform their society from half a century of repression to genuine freedom.
Wish them well and send your prayers.
Buddhist teachers release letter encouraging
Burmese Buddhists to treat Muslims with compassion
In response to ongoing
sectarian violence between Buddhists and Muslims in Burma’s Rakhine state,
several prominent Buddhist teachers — including Thich Nhat Hanh, Jack
Kornfield, Bhikkhu Bodhi, and Norman Fischer, among others — have signed their
names to a message that will appear in Burmese newspapers this week. The letter
urges Burmese Buddhists to practice non-harming, compassion, and mutual respect
“Buddhist teaching is based on
the precepts of refraining from killing and causing harm,” the letter says in
part. “Buddhist teaching is based on compassion and mutual care. Buddhist
teaching offers respect to all, regardless of class, caste, race or creed.” You
can read the rest of the letter here:
WORLD BUDDHIST LEADERS
RESPONSE TO THE GROWING ETHNIC VIOLENCE AGAINST MUSLIMS IN MYANMAR
To Our Brother and Sister
Buddhists in Myanmar,
As world Buddhist leaders we
send our lovingkindess and concern for the difficulties the people of Myanmar are
faced with at this time. While it is a time of great positive change in Myanmar
we are concerned about the growing ethnic violence and the targeting of Muslims
in Rakhine State and the
violence against Muslims and others across the country. The
Burmese are a noble people, and Burmese Buddhists carry a long and profound
history of upholding the Dharma.
We wish to reaffirm to the
world and to support you in practicing the most fundamental Buddhist principles
of non-harming, mutual respect and compassion.
These fundamental principles
taught by the Buddha are at the core of Buddhist practice:
Buddhist teaching is based on
the precepts of refraining from killing and causing harm. Buddhist teaching is
based on compassion and mutual care. Buddhist teaching offers respect to all,
regardless of class, caste, race or creed.
We are with you for
courageously standing up for these Buddhist principles even when others would
demonize or harm Muslims or other ethnic groups. It is only through mutual
respect, harmony and tolerance that Myanmar can become a modern great nation
benefiting all her people and a shining example to the world.
Whether you are a Sayadaw or
young monk or nun, or whether you are a lay Buddhist, please, speak out, stand
up, reaffirm these Buddhist truths, and support all in Myanmar with the
compassion, dignity and respect offered by the Buddha.
We stand with you in the
Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh Nobel
Peace Prize Nominee Vietnam
Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi President
Buddhist Global Relief (world’s foremost translator of the Pali Canon) Sri
Dr. AT Ariyaratne Founder
Nationwide Sarvodaya Movement Ghandi Peace Prize Laureate Sri Lanka
Ven. Chao Khun Raja Sumedhajahn
Elder, Ajahn Chah Monasteries Wat Ratanavan, Thailand
Ven. Phra Paisal Visalo Chair
Buddhika Network Buddhism and Society Thailand
Ven. Arjia Rinpoche VIII Abbot
Tibetan Mongolian Cultural Center Mongolia/USA
Ven. Shodo Harada Roshi Abbot
Sogenji Rinzai Zen Monastery Japan
Achariya Professor J Simmer
Brown Chairperson Buddhist Studies Naropa Buddhist University USA
Ven. Ajahn Amaro Mahathera
Abbot Amaravati Vihara England
Ven. Hozan A Senauke
International Network of Engaged Buddhists Worldwide
Younge Khachab Rinpoche VIII
Abbot Younge Drodul Ling Canada
Ven. Sr. Thich Nu Chan Kong
President Plum Village Zen temples France/Vietnam
Dr. Jack Kornfield Vipassana
Achariya Convener Western Buddhist Teachers Council USA
Lama Surya Das Dzogchen
Foundation International Vajrayana Tibet/USA
Ven. Zoketsu N. Fischer Soto
Roshi Fmr. Abbot largest Zen community in the West USA/Japan
Tulku Sherdor Rinpoche Director
BI. Wisdom Institute Canada
Professor Robert Tenzin C.
Thurman Center for Buddhist Studies Columbia University USA
HH the XIV Dalai Lama Nobel
Though not able to be reached in time to sign this letter, HH the Dalai Lama
has publicly and repeatedly stated his concern about the Rohingya Muslims in
Myanmar. He urges everyone to continue to practice non-violence and retain the
religious harmony that is central to our ancient and revered culture.
This is at least the third
letter from Buddhist teachers condemning the violence in Burma — an open letter
from the Buddhist community on Islamophobia was released during Ramadan,
and a second
letter, written by Bill Aiken of Soka Gakkai International and signed by
Buddhist and Muslim teachers, was published in October.