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Buddhism and peace

In our discussion of Buddhism as a religion of peace, Paul Simon mentioned unseemly scuffles among monks. There is worse than that, as a feature article in the New York Times (1/11/03) explains. Entitled "Meditating on War and Guilt, Zen Says It's Sorry", it opens "To many Americans, Zen Buddhists devote themselves to discovering inner serenity and social peace. But Zen has strong ties to militarism--indeed so strong that the leaders of one of the largest denominations in Japan have remorsefully compared their former religious fanaticism during Japan's brutal expansionism during the 1930s and 40s to today's murderously militant Islamists". The brutal reality of Zen Buddhism was revealed by a disillusioned Methodist missionary, Brian Victoria, author of Zen at War (1997) and Zen War Stories (2003). A photograph shows Zen monks, holding rifles, marching in formation under the eyes of an army officer as they undergo compulsory military training. Buddha, like Christ, must be wondering what has been done in his name.

Ronald Hilton - 1/15/03