Violence-enabling Mechanisms in Buddhism

Brian Daizen Victoria


This article is premised on the claim that all of the world’s major religions, Buddhism included, contain within them numerous malleable doctrines and associated practices that, under certain situations and circumstances, can be reconfigured or transformed into instruments that either actively or passively condone the use of violence against those identified as threats, and/or the death of those fighting against them. What makes these doctrines and practices, designated as 'violence-enabling mechanisms', so difficult to identify is that on the surface these entities appear to have little or nothing to do with sanctioning violence. Accompanied by ample concrete historical examples, this article asserts that such enabling mechanisms are to be found in all of Buddhism’s major traditions and schools, from the ancient past up through the latest newspaper headlines. It offers a challenge to all who believe that Buddhism is solely a religion of peace.

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