It is a sad thing to me, that so many people are confused in their perception of Buddhism… boy does that sound arrogant! I should distill that down to their perception that Buddhism is and always has been entirely peaceful. And it’s really amazing to see the dancing that happens when you see – no, sorry, history -and the present – tell us otherwise.
Today I had the great good fortune to have such a discussion with coworker. Her first response was anger – you’re wrong! Then rationalization – well… they weren’t Buddhist wars; ‘real’ Buddhists don’t wage war. Then thoughtfulness -I’ll have to do more reading about that. And when I replied that I was sorry for shattering her perception of Buddhism. Her reaction – Buddhism is all about shattering your illusions and picking yourself back up. That has to be the coolest response.
It saddens me though, that people perpetuate the whole “Buddhism has never been involved in war” none sense. How is it Buddhist to be wrapped up in so much illusion? Should the people who lead us in our Buddhist exploration not be explicit about these issues? Do they avoid them or gloss them over? Or deny it outright like at the Zen Centre here? And when they do deny it out right do they only do that because of their own education that did not adequately address that? It’s problematic whatever the reason. However… much like my yoga experience, it has driven me to study further and learn more about this so that I can enter into the thoughtful discussions with people – like this coworker – who will go there.
The other really interesting this is that Buddhism is about embracing the whole – the light and the dark, good and evil – to be a bit dualistic about it. You can’t have the light without the dark – isn’t that what the Buddhas teach? Don’t get attached to the light and reject the dark or you miss the whole point. The meaning it has is no more than the meaning we -with our illusory minds- imbue. That’s it – so to with history. We can learn from it by accepting it or we can stay illusory and fail to grow.