Ensuring the Safety of Buddhist Monks in Cambodia

by Ven. J.M. Dharmakara Boda, Los Angeles, California, The Buddhist Channel, Dec 25, 2007

Although I consider the Human Rights Watch in New York to be one of the more balanced and accurate of agencies, I have to question their failure to mention certain aspects related to the protest which went unmentioned in their article ( http://www.buddhistchannel.tv/index.php?id=53,5627,0,0,1,0) --- specifically the original report of monks having thrown rocks, not only their plastic water bottles, and that these rocks had been supposedly carried to the scene by the monks themselves.

Buddhists should never take the issue of human rights lightly, but there is a problem here and it's called "premeditation" in the legal sense of the term.

Within the Buddhist tradition, one does not fight aggression with aggression, no sooner than one fights fire with fire --- one fights aggression through open and compassionate dialogue, doing so with equanimity, even after one has been abused or mistreated.

One needs to look no further than the Dhammapada for confirmation: "He abused me, he beat me, he defeated me, he robbed me --- in those who harbour such thoughts hatred will never cease."

Just as the Dhammapada goes on to say that hatred does not cease with hatred, the same can be said when dealing with acts of aggression, that aggression does not cease with aggression, but that it only creates more aggression, ensuring that more suffering and hostility will soon follow.

There appears to be a "disconnect" in the reasoning of some members of the Buddhist community, where they attempt to justify aggression and retaliatory behavior.

While the deteriation of a peaceful demonstration never occurs within a vacuum, if aggression and retaliatory behavior is allowed to spread, enabled by passion and a misguided understanding of the Dharma, then the senior monks and mahanikayas of the various monastic communities will only have themselves to blame, as they will surely find it hard to arise from the ashes of self-destruction, especially if those ashes are the direct result of passion instead of compassion.

Such statements shouldn't be taken the wrong way --- the principle of cause and effect applies not only to what one says and physically does, but it also applies to what one fails to say and physically do --- there is no merit in throwing bottles and rocks, no sooner than there is merit in taking hostages and setting cars on fire, which occured in Myanmar.

When asked, the Buddha summed up his teachings in one verse (or gatha):

"To cease from all evil actions,
To generate all that is good,
To cleanse one's mind:
This is the constant advice of the Buddhas."

To those who believe otherwise, please keep in mind that the Buddha is "Buddha" because of the Dharma; the Sangha is "Sangha" because of the Dharma; and the Dharma is changeless in time and space.

Nothing good arises from aggression and retaliatory behavior, where it becomes not only impossible to cleanse one's mind of the passions from which this behavior arises, but also where one's justifications or excuses for such behavior are nothing more than a spirit of denial.
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