Hozan Alan Senauke — founder of the Clear View Project, one of the founders of Think Sangha, vice-abbot of the Berkeley Zen Center, former executive director of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship, and author of the brand new book Heirs To Ambedkar: The Rebirth of Engaged Buddhism in India – has a new piece up at Buddhadharma: The Practitioner’s Quarterly Online entitled “The Fire This Time: A Look at the Religious Violence in Burma”.
Here’s a snippet:
Burma seems headed into a maelstrom of intercommunal conflict. And this may very well fit the purposes of still-powerful generals and politicians whose vision is to create a strong nationalist entity with a Burmese Buddhist identity. Ethnic confrontation in Burma challenges many of our cherished ideas of a “peaceful” Buddhism and religious fellowship. We know that the Buddha’s teaching and example are profoundly nonviolent, but for those of us inside and outside Burma who may have idealized a Buddhist-based nonviolent movement for democracy and human rights there, violence in Rakhine State and elsewhere is a discouraging reality.
And this is not confined to Burma. A decade of conflict between Buddhists and Muslims in southern Thailand has left more than 6,000 dead and 10,000 injured. In Sri Lanka, after the murderous suppression of a Hindu Tamil minority in the north by Singhalese Buddhist nationalist military, tensions between Buddhists and Muslims have taken center stage. In the modern era, we see again and again that where a national state and religious identity merge, nothing wholesome will emerge.
I wrote a substantial post about Engaged Buddhist icon Aung San Suu Kyi’s silence and lack of action on this matter back in 2012, and a report from the Myanmar Muslims Genocide Awareness Convention in 2013. In addition, Joshua Eaton and I collaborated in 2012 on an open letter from Buddhist teachers and scholars and others on Islamophobia at buddhistletteronislamophobia.wordpress.com. (Joshua authored the letter — though a few of us offered little tweaks and edits — and I put together the website and helped him get the word out and generate signatures.) That same year I also added my name to “A Joint Buddhist-Muslim Statement on Inter–Communal Violence in Burma”, authored by my friend Bill Aiken at SGI-USA.