The reaction to our research has revealed a deep unwillingness and unreadiness for Buddhist practitioners to address the intersection of Buddhism and extremism. Such resistance, I believe, stems from discomfort with the idea that there can be Buddhist extremists at all. The very idea that Buddhist practice can coexist with ideas of antidemocracy, bigotry, racism, and religious phobia (particularly toward Jews and Muslims) is deeply discouraging and shocking for those practitioners who are working toward inclusion and who embody the values of harmlessness and right speech.
Awesome work Brenna, about bloody time this was recognized.
We’ve been blocking nazi “Buddhists” on this site for years. Make no mistake, there is a growing wing of ultra-right extremist Buddhism, and it is present in a monastery or center near you! There’s a broad spectrum from outright nazis—like the anti-semitic monk (since disrobed) who filmed himself making a Hitler salute to a Buddha image—to the merely “concerned”. It touches on incel culture , anti-feminism , anti-vax , fans of Jordan Peterson , opponents of bhikkhuni ordination , transphobic and homophobic views , climate denial , and more. Hotbeds of right-wing extremism will include any monastery or order that denies the equality of women and insists on the absolute and unquestionable authority of its patriarchy.
The foundational principle of this in Buddhism is “elevationism”: we shouldn’t be concerned about “worldly” things, only about the Dhamma. This is code for “the proper state of the world is how I want it to be, and anything else is political”. One of their favorite lines is “don’t be attached to views”, which is code for “bow to my views”. They will compassionately empathize with your stress, and advise you not to “think too much”, which is code for “think what I think”.
Use your noggins, my friends. Don’t fall for the dark side. Know the difference between dhamma and dhamma .
Auspiciously this literally came into my feed a few minutes ago :Nazi Buddhists - by Harry Shukman - Scout . The first time I came across nazi buddhists is through dhammawheel. Its a cesspool of right wing buddhists based on my experience. That is where I came across the anti semitic monk who disrobed.
In terms of the quote Snowbird provided I would say a person has only to turn on the news about Burmese Buddhist monks encouraging and participating in violence about Muslims.
I’ve heard of Nazi Buddhists, but I don’t see how they could derive that from the suttas, at least the Theravada ones. So little is mentioned about gods and metaphysics. Not enough to twist. The rest is about is reducing dukha, I don’t see how that could be (extensively) built on for any kind of white supremacy.
It would be a really strange project, considering suttas like SN 22.49:
“Soṇa, when any ascetics and brahmins, on the basis of form—which is impermanent, suffering, and subject to change—regard themselves thus: ‘I am superior,’ or ‘I am equal,’ or ‘I am inferior,’ what is that due to apart from not seeing things as they really are?
Isn’t white supremacy just superiority conceit based on form?
Edit: As in, you have a bunch of people who regard themselves as superior because their body is a certain way. “My impermanent, suffering and non-self form is better than your impermanent, suffering and non-self form!”
The misunderstanding of karma that people “deserve” whatever comes to them is often used to justify social hierarchies and continued oppression of out groups.
A particularly “extreme” version of such out-group violence being justified by Buddhists is recorded in the Mahāvaṃsa. It reports how a group of monks flipped around the Yodhājīva Sutta to justify the slaughter of non-Buddhists.
They justify this based on a very strange reading of compassion based on a mahayana sutra although I suppose they could have used a ebt too with their mind boggling interpretation. To quote the article:
They cite the story told by Buddha about the compassionate boat captain who, after agonising deliberation, killed a robber threatening to murder his 500 passengers. This was a merciful act because it prevented not only a much greater loss of life but also stopped the robber from generating negative karma for himself.
This, the RWDS quartet say, is justification for racism. “Being compassionate to Africans and Jews doesn’t mean letting them destroy society,” says Dharmakirti. “It doesn’t mean letting them rape your women.” The gist is: if, as a white nationalist, you see other races as a threat to you, then it is compassionate to act in self-defence against them. But first you have to be believe in the conspiracy theory that Jews are sociopathic fifth-columnists and Africans are perverts.
The story of the boat captain supposedly from a Mahayana sutra namely Upayakausalya sutra which was cited here.
Hey, thank the mods, they do the hard yakka. Including, may I say Brenna during her time as mod.
There’s always a way, if you squint hard enough. But if you start with misogyny, there are a few passages to get you revved up. Then you can start to hate on queer folk, digging up a few obscure references and twisting them just the way you want.
The anti-semitism is a bigger leap. But again, if you start with the history of India and the Islamic invasions, you’ve got an excuse for Islamophobia, and anti-semitism is just next door.
At the root of modern extremism is the rejection of progress, a revulsion to the project of modernity itself, and a longing to return to a more pristine and pure time. A large part of that is rejecting the feminine, which entails the idea that equality means men accepting responsibility for sexual violence.
The archetypal founder of Buddhist fascism in the west is Julius Evola, who is a watchword in those circles.
Yea, I see these modern Buddhist fascists as promoting the same ideology of resentment as other modern right wingers. It’s actually quite ironic because Nietzsche was actually anti-fascist and criticized the Nazis as a worldview based on resentment.
I think ultimately this is all rooted in a fear of the other, fear of what is different, whether they are muslims, queer people or latin people. And you cannot have a hatred of the other without a sense of grasping at the self and at some larger concept of race or ethnicity. In other words, it’s greed, hatred and delusion all the way down.
Don’t be deceived folks, listen to the words that an ancient master of the Dharma said a long time ago…
Ah Ceisiwr I remember you from dhammawheel. Well I think there is just no comparison. I will quote here one of people that I follow:
I will sit down and break bread with the most overzealous pc-police, or “seize the bakery” Socialist. I won’t agree with the methodology, and I have deep concerns about the unintentional dangers they pose, but in general we are headed in the same direction. We are guided by similar stars.
I will not sit down with the Alt-right, with Nazi’s, with White-supremacists. We are not headed in the same direction. We are guided by entirely different stars.
I mean just today the specter of the right wing are hovering and that their shadow is covering the world. They are more powerful and dangerous.
Given the growth in support for socialism/communism in the west, the predominance of right wing extremism might be eclipsed. Regardless, I don’t want to get into which flavour of extremism is vogue at the moment. Extremism, be it left or right, should be condemned even if it’s just the non-triviality of wanting to steal other people’s bakery shops.
Communism is just as totalitarian and violent as Fascism was.