Its a shame that the violence in Myanmar towards the Muslim/Rakhine population has not stop and continues to be more violent over time. What is worst is to see report like the one below telling us that monks, yes Buddhit monks, are carrying knives and assaulting people!
Buddhist monks and others armed with swords and machetes Friday stalked the streets of a city in central Myanmar, where sectarian violence that has left about 20 people dead has begun to spread to other areas, according to local officials.
Granted these are real monks and real people identifying themselves as Buddhists (instead of trying to frame them like those Reds trying to frame the army in Thailand), its a sad state of affair on the spirituality of this country and its people. The unfortunately fact is that everyone can call themselves Buddhists, but what should make the difference is the adherence to non-violence towards self and others, especially towards other human beings. The first of the 5 precepts for lay Buddhist is “to refrain from taking taking life”. Granted that this is a volunteered act and not a commandment, this is also a very important training for Buddhist especially towards another human being.
Sure, there are stories of killers who were converted to disciples of the Buddha and even gain enlightenment, but those were before they heard of the Buddhist teachings and before they accepted themselves as disciples. Here we have Buddhists, sometimes even using the reason such as to protect Buddhism, to justify their acts of violence. Buddhism doesn’t need you to kill or act violently to protect it, are you stupid? You protect Buddhism through self-reflection and helping others with your kindness, generosity and love and following the four noble truths.
Furthermore when so-called Buddhist monks join in the violence, it not only disregard the most important monastic codes, it also paints the monastic and the teachings in a bad name. One of the first four rules of major defeat in the monastic code of conduct states the following:
Should any bhikkhu intentionally deprive a human being of life, or search for an assassin for him, or praise the advantages of death, or incite him to die (saying,): “My good man, what use is this evil, miserable life to you? Death would be better for you than life,” or with such an idea in mind, such a purpose in mind, should in various ways praise the advantages of death or incite him to die, he also is defeated and no longer in affiliation.
It would be shame if nothing is done about those killer monks. Not only it shows that the monastics actually supports such actions, it also bring disrepute to the spiritual authority of the monastics and also to the Buddhist community at large. I mean how would the Muslims in Myanmar view Buddhists? With fear and loath and hate?
Actually, I think this is a good opportunity for the monastic and Buddhist community in Myanmar to come out publicly and denounce such acts of violence. They need to redeem the disrepute the teachings of the Buddha and help those in need and to protect them. Silence only shows acceptance and agreement to the violence.
The question now is whether the Buddhist institution in Myanmar is as gutsy in protecting the life and freedom of others as much as they tried to protect the freedom of themselves during the Saffron Revolution.