This isn’t an easy post to write but I am troubled, and a big reason for starting my blog in the first place was as therapy and guidance for others based of my experiences. A few days ago one such experience really threw me and I am still troubled. I used a few of my techniques like absorbing knowledge from the Dharma and meditation but while I was calm and given new bits of wisdom, the topic that was troubling me still did not get resolved. I even decided to distract the mind with my usual primetime programming; I laugh, I cried and I forgot until it was all over and I remained troubled. So here we go.
I was one Facebook as a Washington Post article appeared on my newsfeed bring awareness about the current dispute in Burma between the Buddhist majority and the Muslim minority in the region. The monks were protesting efforts to give the Muslim people equal citizenship in Burma. Being American, black, and gay any discrimination bothers me so I was intrigued. I have always known about Buddhist/Muslim tensions that are centuries all, and have known of attacks started by both sides on each other. When I first became aware of the violent side of Buddhism I was troubled but after further research I came to understand we are all still in the cycle of Samsara; and while nonviolence and pacifism are the goal, it just might not be the cycle that person or those people are in with their birth and rebirth. I decided to share the article in a few of my Buddhist groups for their thoughts and maybe more information, as most of my groups have many international members ( the American people and press can look beyond many international issues unless it affects us ). Only one of the groups I am in allowed the post, and after the thread was over I realize it was for the best. A response by Buddhist Leaders around the world is at the bottom.
The thread was very long so I am going to really quickly go through a few things said and my general feelings about things. Most were in agreement with me that I was saddened Buddhist people were engaging in violence and intolerant behavior. I also expressed a kind of comfort in knowing even a Buddhist monk can have moments of failure as I did ( not a good way to think just for the record ). One individual did speak on his negative experience with Muslims and his distrust of Muslim people, with his comments quickly being admonished by the group. However one of the two administrators was displeased with the article and the potential for anit-Muslim rhetoric. The administrator decided to question me on my motives for the post and whether I had answers to the thousand years of Buddhist/Muslim tensions to avoid violence. I explained my motives were for discussion on the conflict and our feelings since the Dharma is our guiding light. I also said I did not have the answer nor do I in my regular life supply answers for people, preferring to follow the Buddha’s example of offering ideas and tools for critical thinking. He was displeased and began to send me private messages about not believing my motives and possibly trying to inflame the group. The second and main administrator came in to state we were judging the monks involved, I specifically didn’t back up my thesis which I’m still trying to figure out when and where I stated one, and I needed to do more research which really was why I posted and was my intent after the thread anyway.
I was troubled because both administrators were monks also, wearing the robes in their profile pictures. The aggression of both at me and other members for just asking questions and illustrating human behavior was in my opinion not in keeping with their role as teacher using compassion as their anchor. So now what? I was hurt by them continuing to censor discussion, and mostly because I began to see they wanted to sweep the conflict under the rug like many other religions do. I meditated and tried to move on but clearly it still weighs on me. Why bury our heads in the sand when there are many historical and current references to humans acting like humans who just happen to be Buddhist? Why not begin in our little group to cultivate an attitude of inclusion and loving kindness that is already a basic Buddhist principle; and teach those unfamiliar with the conflict the hows and whys adding in what can be used from the Dharma instead of the current violence?
I came to several conclusions after I decided to unfollow my own post, and soon after the Facebook group as a whole. I kept reading the administrators talk about judgment, mostly those not happy with the Monks behavior but later towards being anti-Muslim in general. I felt they were being judgmental by calling a few judgmental because no one was listening asking the clarifying questions needed to understand anyone. I also felt when one of the members explained to me I should just respect and accept what the administrators were saying because they were Monks, a rage in me. I am not one that sees clergy, politicians, doctors or anyone’s position as making them better or more worthy. I will accept only what you give me and they weren’t giving me reason to accept their words or behavior. But the main thing I learned, that really just combined all the lessons were this is Samsara.
Being alive, living with attachment, living with fears, and living with expectations will lead to misunderstands, anger, rage, and suffering. This is Samsara. I took some things personally because I let ego drive me for some of the exchanges. I also was feeling better than the monks because I felt I had a better understand of compassion and debate than them. My ego and attachment to self and being understood came down on me way more than them. This is a journey for us all and it was clear no one was getting it right during the entire altercation.
I can’t say if I was the only one changed by the thread. It started out changed for the worst, troubled, and really wanting to rebel in a bad way. Now it has given me insight on what is still needed in myself and in the world. But self first.
Update: I was supplied this link for the response to the conflict by Buddhist Leaders from around the world. Please click here.