Problems with the very idea of a Buddhist Nation and a Buddhist Race

buddha

One of the ways in which we may explore notions of nation, race and religion in the Buddhist context is in terms of ‘class’ (vara), and ‘caste’ (jāti). In the Vasala-sutta the Buddha clearly states that an outcaste is not an outcaste nor a Brahmin a Brahmin because of birth, but because of their actions and conduct. One’s birth is not important, how one acts is.

‘Whosoever is angry, harbors hatred, and is reluctant to speak well of others (discredits the good of others), perverted in views, deceitful — know him as an outcaste.’

(kodhano upanābhi ca pāpamakkhī ca yo naro,
vipannadi
ṭṭhi māyāvī taṃ jaññā vasalo iti)

[…]

‘Not by birth is one an outcaste; not by birth is one a brahmin. By action one becomes an outcaste, by action one becomes a brahmin.’

(na jaccā vasalo hoti na jaccā hoti brāhmaṇo,
kammanā vasalo hoti kammanā hoti brāhma
ṇo)

It seems to me that this is one approach that we might take when we seek in Buddhism answers to questions related to national and ethnic identity. It is part of the debate of what I have termed ethnocentric Buddhism and how it is shaped and critiqued in Buddhist culture.

In the following is a translation of the opinions of a Burmese Buddhist monk, Venerable Candima, relating to these questions, and using this approach as a Buddhist response to counter extreme views within the Burmese Buddhist Sangha. Such extreme views in the above example are clearly described as ‘perverted in views’ (vipanna-diṭṭhi). In fact, to be led astray in extreme views and opinions is a common theme throughout Buddhist history, and a major hindrance on the Buddhist path.

 

Nationalism and Buddhism

‘Nationalism and Buddhism are in fact totally different. For example, the Buddha and Devadatta are of the same Kshatriya (warrior or ‘royal’) class. But when the Buddha chose his two chief disciples he chose Ashin Moggallana and Ashin Sariputta who are both of the Brahmin class instead of Ashin Devadatta, who was of the same class and his cousin. The Lord Buddha never considered race and nationality important, he only considered the importance of the three virtues – ethical conduct, concentration and wisdom (sīla, samādhi, paññā)

There is no teaching (dhamma) of the Buddha in which he advises us to be proud about our race and nationality, or to cling to nationalistic ideas. Buddhism is for everyone living in the 31 planes of existence (bhūmi). In contrast, nationalism is only for one race or nationality. The two of them shouldn’t be mixed at all. There is no reason for the Buddha, who sees ultimate reality, to preach about these things or to preach about being attached to one’s race or religion. Such things are concerned with corrupt thoughts based on the ‘self’, ‘being’ and the ‘viewpoint of the individual’.

In Myanmar (Burma) there are lots of Venerable Monks in the Sangha who are learning and practicing the Dhamma. Even though these monks do not like all these things about extreme nationalism and disagree with the  Safeguarding National Identity Law, which has nothing to do with the Sangha. They are trying to not get involved in current issues.

Observing these monks who are putting all their effort and might into the Safeguarding National Identity Law is like seeing them making the original situation of an unstable Burma even worse. It does not help in any way by adding more conflict to destabilize a country already suffering from ethnic/civil war and poverty. In a way they are pushing Burma towards the deep hell of poverty and violence.

Indeed, the  Safeguarding National Identity Law must be serving and benefiting the power-grabbing military generals who only care about remaining in control.’

 

အမ်ိဳးသားေရး၀ါဒ နဲ႔ ဗုဒၶ၀ါဒ
***********************

အမ်ိဳးသားေရး၀ါဒ နဲ႔ ဗုဒၶ၀ါဒဟာ ေျဖာင့္ေျဖာင့္ႀကီး ဆန္႔က်င္ပါတယ္။ ဥပမာ – ေဂါတမဗုဒၶ နဲ႔ ရွင္ေဒ၀ဒတၱ တုုိ႔ဟာ သာကီဝင္မင္းမ်ိဳးမွ ဆင္းသက္လာသူမ်ား ျဖစ္ၾကပါတယ္။ ဒါေပမယ့္ ဗုုဒၶဘုုရားရွင္က အဂၢသာဝကႏွစ္ပါးကုုိ ေရြးခ်ယ္ရာမွာ ရွင္ေဒဝဒတ္ကုုိ မေရြးခ်ယ္ဘဲ ျဗဟၼဏအႏြယ္မွ လာတဲ့ ရွင္သာရိပုုတၱရာ နဲ႔ ရွင္ေမာဂၢလာန္ တုုိ႔ကုုိသာ ေရြးခ်ယ္ခဲ့ပါတယ္။ ျမတ္စြာဘုုရားရွင္ဟာ အမ်ိဳးအႏြယ္ကုုိ မၾကည့္ပါဘူး။ သီလ သမာဓိ ပညာ ဆုုိတဲ့ အရည္အခ်င္းကုုိသာ ၾကည့္ပါတယ္။

ျမတ္စြာဘုုရားရဲ႕ တရားေတာ္မွာ အမ်ိဳးမာန္၊ အမ်ိဳးစြဲ ထားဖို႔ ေဟာခဲ့တဲ့ တရား မပါဝင္ပါဘူး။ ဗုဒၶရဲ႕ ၀ါဒက (၃၁) ဘုုံမွာ ရွိၾကတဲ့ သတၱဝါအားလုုံးနဲ႔ သက္ဆိုင္ပါတယ္။ အမ်ိဳးသားေရး၀ါဒက လူမ်ိဳးတမ်ိဳးနဲ႔သာ သက္ဆိုင္ပါတယ္။ ဗုဒၶ၀ါဒ နဲ႔ အမ်ိဳးသားေရး၀ါဒကုုိ မေရာေထြးသင့္ပါဘူး။

ရုုပ္နာမ္ ပရမတ္ကုုိ ထြင္းေဖါက္ျမင္ေတာ္မူတဲ့ ဘုုရားရွင္အေနနဲ႔ အဝိဇၨာဖုုံးတဲ့ ပုုဂၢိဳလ္ သတၱဝါ ပညတ္အျမင္အေပၚ အေျခခံတဲ့ လူမ်ိဳးစြဲ ဘာသာစြဲကုုိ ေဟာရန္ အေၾကာင္းမရွိပါဘူး။

ျမန္မာႏုုိင္ငံမွာ ပရိယတ္နဲ႔ ပဋိပတ္အလုုပ္ကုုိသာ အားထုုတ္ေနေတာ္မူၾကတဲ့ ဆရာေတာ္ သံဃာေတာ္ မ်ားစြာ ရွိၾကပါတယ္။ ထုုိဆရာေတာ္ သံဃာေတာ္မ်ားဟာ ရဟန္းသဃာမ်ားနဲ႔ လားလားမွ် မသက္ဆုုိင္တဲ့ မ်ိဳးေစာင့္ဥပေဒကုုိ မႀကိဳက္ေပမယ့္ ရွဳတ္ရွဳတ္ရွက္ရွက္ ကိစၥေတြမွာ ဝင္မပါခ်င္တာေၾကာင့္သာ ကင္းကင္းရွင္းရွင္း ေနေတာ္မူၾကတာပါ။

မ်ိဳးေစာင့္ဥပေဒအတြက္ သဲသဲမဲမဲ ႀကိဳးပမ္းေနၾကတဲ့ ရဟန္းသံဃာ တခ်ိဳ႕ကုုိ ျမင္ရေတာ့ ႏူရာဝဲစြဲ လဲရာ သူခုုိးေထာင္း ဆုုိသလုုိ မၿငိမ္းခ်မ္းႏုုိင္တဲ့ ျမန္မာႏုုိင္ငံကုုိ ပုုိၿပီး မၿငိမ္းခ်မ္းေအာင္ ဆင္းရဲတြင္း နက္သထက္ နက္ေအာင္ တြန္းပုုိ႔ေနသလုုိပါပဲ။

မ်ိဳးေစာင့္ဥပေဒဆုုိတာ ထုုိင္ခုုံၿမဲေရး ပဓာနတရား လက္ကုုိင္ထားၾကတဲ့ စစ္ဝါဒီတစ္စုုအတြက္ေတာ့ အႀကိဳက္ေတြ႕မယ့္ ဥပေဒျဖစ္မွာ ေသခ်ာပါတယ္။

အရွင္စႏၵိမာ (မြန္စိန္ေတာရ)

 

 

One thought on “Problems with the very idea of a Buddhist Nation and a Buddhist Race

  1. Pingback: Problems with the very idea of a Buddhist Nation and a Buddhist Race | Dr Ko Ko Gyi's Blog

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