Not long ago, I shared about a missive I had the privilege of collaborating on with my friend Joshua Eaton: an open letter from Buddhist teachers and scholars and others on Islamophobia. Joshua authored the letter — with a few of us offering little tweaks and edits — and I put together a website for the letter and helped spread the word and generate signatures. The letter was motivated by recent news reports out of Burma and Thailand, as well as by the month of Ramadan (during which it appeared).
Shortly after that, I posted about another letter — this one authored by another friend, Bill Aiken of SGI-USA, and expanded in scope beyond Ramadan to the widespread inter–communal violence in Burma.
A third letter has now appeared, and is due to be published in Burmese newspapers this week. Our friends at Tricycle: The Buddhist Review‘s Awake in the World blog have the text in English. A graphic appears below and can be enlarged by clicking on it…
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 Dharma,
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 Lanka/USA
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 Laureate Tibet/India
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.