SuttaCentral

Nazism and Buddhism


#1

Has anyone made any essays on the comparison and corruption of Buddhism in Nazi Germany? I still see leaks of this philosophy in modern scholars of the subject. This person https://youtu.be/fmRjgTkTldA Jason Jorjani seems to be leaning in this direction, saying that evidence suggests the Buddha was from Iran, Iran I guess being a caucasian area at that time period being that the Greeks had conquered that area during that time period. Also saying that the Buddha was speaking out more against Zoraster/Zarathusra and monotheism than the Brahman tradition of India. Julius Evola was a philosopher who seems to have originally distorted these views, but is there anyone who has clarified their assumptions in detail since? This seems to be a subject that really needs a critical analysis, and I’m not well versed enough in the suttas to take on the task.


#2

This discussion could also extend to Aung San Suu Kyi’s recent acceptance of the military power in Burma in regards to banishing the Muslim Rohingya. A somewhat relatable issue, but deserves some light nonetheless


#3

Any form of ethnic nationalism would be incompatible with the Buddha’s teachings. His criticism of Brahmanist supremacism based on birth and their proto racist views of lower castes would be the canonical source for such a modern critique.


#4

As the flower of a lotus,
Arisen in water, blossoms,
Pure-scented and pleasing the mind,
Yet is not drenched by the water,

In the same way, born in the world,
The Buddha abides in the world;
And like the lotus by water,
He does not get drenched by the world.


#5

I have a terrible memory for sources. But in the last few months I have read quite a few accounts of history that set the i formation straight.
Bhante @sujato s book sects and sectarianism, set out a clear chronology. I’ve also been looking at trade (& therefore information) routes from east to west (eg silk road) and history shows a wonderful transportation along this route of all kinds of ideas, and actually shows how buddhist thought took hold in areas including Afghanistan and Iran.

I suggest this might be a fruitful place to look for further information.

Metta


#6

Could you please explain what you mean by “comparison and corruption of Buddhism in Nazi Germany”?


#7

This may be helpful

Bryant, E., & Patton, L. (Eds.). (2004). The Indo-Aryan controversy: evidence and inference in Indian history . Routledge. Here


#8

Parpola, A. (1988). The coming of the Aryans to Iran and India and the cultural and ethnic identity of the Dāsas. Studia Orientalia Electronica , 64 , 195-302.


#9

just one quote from Julius Evola’s “Doctrine of Awakening the attainment of self mastery according to the earliest buddhist texts”

The man who was later known as the Awakened One, thaf is, the Buddha, was the
Prince Siddhattha. According to some, he was the son of a king; according to ofhers, at
least of the most ancient warrior nobility of the Sākiya race, proverbial for its pride: there was a saying, "Proud as a Sākiya."5 This race claimed descent, like the most illustrious and ancient Hindu dynasties, from the so-called solar race—sūrya vamsa—and from the very ancient king Ikśvāku.6 “He, of the solar race,” one reads of the Buddha.’ He says so himself: "I am descended from the solar dynasty and I was born a Sākiya,"8 and by becoming an ascetic who has renounced the world he vindicates his royal dignity, the dignity of an Aryan king.’’ Tradition has it that his person appeared as "a form adorned
with all the signs of beauty and surrounded by a radiant aureole."10 To a sovereign who meets him and does not know who he is, he immediately gives the impression of an equal: "Thou hast a perfect body, thou art resplendent, well born, of noble aspect, thou hast a golden colour and white teeth, thou art strong. All the signs that thou art of noble birfh are in thy form, all the marks of a superior man."11 The most fearsome bandit, meeting him, asks himself in amazement who might be “this ascetic who comes alone with no companions, like a conqueror.” - And not only do we find in his body and hearing the characteristics of a khattiya, of a noble warrior of high lineage, but tradition has it that he was endowed with the “thirty-two attributes” that according to an ancient brahmanical doctrine were the mark of the “superior man”—mahāpurisa-lakkhana—for whom “exist only two possibilities, without a third”: either, to remain in the world and to become a cakkavatti, that is, a king of kings, a “universal sovereign,” the Aryan prototype of the “Lord of the Earth,” or else to renounce the world and to become perfectly awakened, the Sambuddha, “one who has removed the veil.’” Legend tells us that in a prophetic vision of a whirling wheel an imperial destiny was foretold for Prince Siddhattha; a destiny that, however, he rejected in favor of the other path.14 It is equally significant that, according to tradition, the Buddha directed that his funeral rite should not be that of an ascetic, but of an imperial sovereign, a cakkavatti.15 In spite of the aittitude of Buddhism toward the caste problem, it was generally held that the bodhisatta, those who may one day become awakened, are never horn into a peasant or servile caste but into a warrior or Brāhman caste, that is to say, into the two purest and highest of the Aryan castes: indeed, in the conditions then prevailing, the warrior caste, the khattiya, was said to be the more favored.’


#10

Ah yes the Nazis!

As an aside… I remember, as a boy, after reading books like these…

image

Asking my mother why she was painting this on the door to our house… :laughing:


#11

Hi Westbury08,

When i read the OP and listened to Jason Jorjani’s interview, i did not hear any mention of Nazism hence i raised the question, but then when i searched his name on Youtube, i found that he was associated with Richard Spencer and the alt-right which might explain where you found the connection with Nazism.

Historical interpretations can be endless, but it is not uncommon to find that the founders of major religions are usually traced back to noble tribes. When the Buddha taught that by deed one becomes an outcast or Brahman, it does not mean that people are born equal considering that favorable births are not completely random and to a large extent the result of good deeds in previous lives.

Can we consider the arya sangha a different race of men? in my view, this is very plausible considering that Buddhism can be compatible with evolution where the average man differs from other animals only in degree, but not in kind. If some individuals are able to transcend Kama loka, which is by definition a supramundane attainment, then what they share with normal humans is merely physical appearance.

I personally don’t see anything intrinsically wrong with what you quoted by Julius Evola.


#12

I’m not an expert on this, but my understanding of Evola is that his takeaway from Buddhist texts were that all people are inherently unequal, and that there is a divinely ordered hierarchy between “races”.

Of course, Evola put white Europeans at the top of this hierarchy, which is probably why Evola is a favorite philosopher of alt-righters and white supremacists.

Traditionally, European scientific racism (aka awful pseudoscience) has been centered on form, i.e. because of genetics people conceive “I’m better”. IMO, Evola tried to do something similar but, but instead of using pseudoscience, he used spiritual ideas to create a hierarchy of races. Something along the line that white Europeans had inherited a ‘divine spark’ from an ancient race.

Meanwhile, the Buddha actually taught things like:

[SN 22.49] …“Soṇa, there are ascetics and brahmins who—based on form, which is impermanent, suffering, and perishable—regard themselves thus: ‘I’m better’, or ‘I’m equal’, or ‘I’m worse’. What is that but a failure to see truly? Based on feeling … perception … choices … consciousness, which is impermanent, suffering, and perishable, they regard themselves thus: ‘I’m better’, or ‘I’m equal’, or ‘I’m worse’. What is that but a failure to see truly? …

It’s just not possible to ground any racist or supremacist ideology in Dhamma. If you think you’re better than others because of some feature of your body/mind, you’re simply not seeing clearly.

Except Evola is an influential fascist philosopher, popular among modern white supremacists who try to give their terrible ideology a veneer of intellectual respectability.

It makes sense to be highly skeptical of Evola and the people who push his ideas, IMO.


#13

It’s just not possible to ground any racist or supremacist ideology in Dhamma. If you think you’re better than others because of some feature of your body/mind, you’re simply not seeing clearly.

Then what is the point of teaching black and white kamma and their relationship to rebirth (which is future form and mind)?

Except Evola is an influential fascist philosopher, popular among modern white supremacists who try to give their terrible ideology a veneer of intellectual respectability.

It makes sense to be highly skeptical of Evola and the people who push his ideas, IMO.

Maybe he is influential among westerners. I did not read any of his writings, but i knew that Ven Nanavira Thera was influenced by his book “Doctrine of awakening”.

The human mind is purposive, so as a general rule, i don’t believe in anything that is agenda free in relation to worldly truths. I am equally skeptical about history in general and how its usually written by victors. I am not old enough to witness first hand Nazis or fascists in action, but the victors of WW2 which i came to witness do not seem very benign or ethical, and demonizing the Nazis or fascists (as a unifying and consoling belief in our post modern virtues) seem to be no longer working, evident by the rise of populism nowadays.

In the video shared by the OP, Jason Jorjani spoke about the non-binary relationship between good and evil, which i believe to a large extent to be true.

Please, forgive my pessimism about human nature.


#15

This is totally ahistorical and baseless.


#16

Are you proposing that the Buddha taught a racist/supremacist ideology?

Are you suggesting that, for instance, that the Holocaust didn’t happen? Or that the Nazis weren’t that bad?

Could be I’m totally misreading you here, please clarify :slight_smile:


closed #17

This topic and the ensuing discussion is neither light hearted or EBT based.
Further, it has drifted into one of our ‘no-go’ zones regarding subject matter. This is not the place to further Nazi or white supremacist views, nor to sow disharmony by dancing on the edges of the line between acceptable and not acceptable.

As such the topic is being closed.
May all beings be free of suffering :pray: :dharmawheel:


#18

I assume that you, faujidoc1, grew up in Asia. When I was a young woman I travelled from the UK to India. Had I not made that journey it would have taken much longer for me to discover that it has other meanings than the single one that Hitler gave it.

The swastika or sauwastika (as a character, 卐 or 卍, respectively) is a geometrical figure and an ancient religious icon in the cultures of Eurasia. It is used as a symbol of divinity and spirituality in Indian religions.[1][2][3] In the Western world, it was a symbol of auspiciousness and good luck until the 1930s when it became a feature of Nazi symbolism as an emblem of the so-called Aryan race. As a result of World War II and the Holocaust, most people in Europe and the Americas associate it with Nazism and antisemitism.[4][5]
(Full Wikipedia article here.)