Criticism of Buddhism
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|Criticism of religion|
Criticism of Buddhism, much like the criticism of religion in general, can be found from those who disagree with or question the assertions, beliefs or other factors of various schools of Buddhism. Some Buddhist denominations, many predominantly Buddhist nations, and individual Buddhist leaders have been criticized in one way or another. Sources of criticism can come from, for example, agnostics, skeptics, "anti-religion" philosophers, rationalists, proponents of other religions, or by Buddhists espousing reform or simply expressing dislike.
Inconsistencies in Buddhism 
Some practitioners argue that the criticisms levied against the Buddhist religion draw on examples from sub-traditions not in consonance to Buddhist principles. These meta-critiques are similar to those from by practitioners in other religious traditions. The lack of evidence of any original teachings or global authority on "true" Buddhism makes it difficult to substantiate these claims outside of practitioner circles.
Arguments of secular origin 
Recently, there has been some overlap between the criticism of doctrinal and historical inconsistencies in Buddhism and those based on rationalist, evidentialist, secular or skeptical approaches to the issue. For example, Sam Harris, a prominent proponent of New Atheism and practitioner of Buddhist meditation, claims that many practitioners of Buddhism improperly treat it as a religion, and that their beliefs are often "naive, petitionary, and superstitious", and that this impedes their adoption of true Buddhist principles. Similarly, the former Buddhist monk Stephen Batchelor has penned several books (most notably Buddhism Without Beliefs and Confession of a Buddhist Atheist) on how Buddhism in modern times as well as traditionally – leaden with supernatural or unempirical beliefs regarding karma, rebirth, merit transference and the like – has obscured the originally secular but mystical system of psycho-spiritual self-improvement that the Buddha intended and taught.
Doctrines, leaders and institutions 
Some critics claim that Buddhist adherents and leaders have been materialistic and corrupt with an improper interest in wealth and power rather than pursuit of Buddhist principles. There have been a number of well-publicised sex scandals involving teachers in emerging Western Buddhist groups, even though the Vinaya expressly forbids any sexual activity among Buddhist monastics.
War and violence 
In his edited volume Buddhist Warfare, Michael Jerryson argues that Buddhism has been connected to government since its genesis. This "inability to conceive of a state without Buddhism alludes to a kind of religious nationalism", and this is found in a variety of Buddhist conflicts. In medieval Southeast Asia, there were a number of Buddhist states, including the Pagan Kingdom, the Sukhothai Kingdom, and the Kingdom of Polonnaruwa. In Sri Lanka especially modern monks frequently involve themselves in nationalist politics,. Sri Lankan peace activists such as A. T. Ariyaratne have however also drawn on Buddhism for inspiration.
East Asian Mahayana Buddhists also often received state support. The Zen priest Brian Daizen Victoria documented in his book Zen at War how Buddhist institutions justified Japanese militarism in official publications and cooperated with the Japanese Army on the battlefield. In response to the book, several sects issued an apology for their wartime support of the government.
Christopher Hitchens summarized these issues as a specifically Buddhist desire to "put their reason to sleep, and to discard their minds along with their sandals". In 2010 Hitchens wrote for the cover of Confession of a Buddhist Atheist, "...Stephen Batchelor adds the universe of Buddhism to the many fields in which received truth and blind faith are now giving way to ethical and scientific humanism, in which lies our only real hope."
Buddhists also have a record of both passive and active nonviolence, often reflected by national culture. In Burma, monks have advocated nonviolence during the 2007 anti-government protests amongst many other occasions; Engaged Buddhism arose in Vietnam as a means of protest prior to the Vietnam War. (see pacifism) Though more recently, Buddhists in Burma have been accused of ethnic cleansing of minority Rohingya Muslims.
The Buddha is quoted in the Dhammapada for saying, "Life is dear to all. Comparing others with oneself, one should neither kill nor cause to kill." Yet the Dhammapada also contains many militaristic metaphors and analogies such as correlating "conquerors of the battlefield" to "conquerors of the self," that suggest another layer of interpretation on its stance on war and violence.
Accusation of violence 
After the 2008 unrest in the Tibetan area of the PRC, the official Chinese government stance has been that the Dalai Lama helped to orchestrate the unrest and violence. A Chinese Ministry of Public Security spokesperson claimed searches of monasteries in the Tibetan capital had turned up a large cache of weapons, including 176 guns and 7,725 pounds of explosives.
Buddhist self-criticism 
Critical Buddhism is a branch of Japanese Buddhist scholarship which aims to reform Buddhism through critical examination of its practices and philosophy.
Many individual schools of Buddhism are criticized by other practitioners as spiritually insincere or not attached to the original teachings of the original Buddha, including Sōka Gakkai, the Nichiren Shōshū, the Dhammakaya Movement, and participants in the Dorje Shugden controversy.
Marxist criticism 
Several critics have criticized Tibet for maintaining a feudal society that exploited peasants and treated them like serfs. The current Dalai Lama, however, has stated that he is in favor of a Buddhist synthesis with Marxist economics, as he believes that internationalist nature of Marxism shows compassion to the poor, which is in line with Buddhist teachings, while capitalism is concerned only with gain and profitability.
Feminist criticism 
Buddhism has been criticized because it treats women, particularly women monks, as inferior to men. Most schools of Buddhism have more rules for bhikkunis (nuns) than bhikkus (monk) lineages. Buddhists explain that in the time of the Buddha, nuns had such problems like safety if they were to be ordained the same way as monks who traveled around in the forest and between cities. Thus, more rules have to be created for nuns, for instance: nuns are forbidden to travel alone.
Sometimes in religion there has been an emphasis on male importance. In Buddhism, however, the highest vows, namely the bhikshu and bhikshuni ones, are equal and entail the same rights. This is the case despite the fact that in some ritual areas, due to social custom, bhikshus go first. But Buddha gave the basic rights equally to both sangha groups. There is no point in discussing whether or not to revive the bhikshuni ordination; the question is merely how to do so properly within the context of the Vinaya.
Catholic criticism 
In 1997, before becoming Pope Benedict XVI, then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger criticised western Buddhism as "a spiritual autoeroticism" that "appears as a possibility of touching the infinite and obtaining happiness without having any concrete religious obligations."
See also 
- Bulssi Japbyeon
- Criticism of religion
- Secular Buddhism
- Buddhist terrorism in South and Southeast Asia against Muslims
- *Christine J. Nissen, (2008), "Buddhism and Corruption", in People of virtue: reconfiguring religion, power and moral order in Cambodia today, Alexandra Kent (Ed.), NIAS Press, p. 272-292.
- *Jerryson, Michael (2010). Buddhist Warfare. Oxford University Press. p. 4-5.
- Dawkins, Harris, Hitchens and Daniel Dennett have been described as the "Four Horsemen" of the "New Atheism". See 'THE FOUR HORSEMEN,' Discussions with Richard Dawkins: Episode 1, RDFRS - RichardDawkins.net and » Blog Archive » The Four Horsemen of the New Atheism
- Killing the Buddha by Sam Harris
- Laird, Thomas (2007). The Story of Tibet: Conversations with the Dalai Lama. Grove Press. p. 278.
- Kieschnick, John (2003). The impact of Buddhism on Chinese material culture. Princeton University Press. pp. 12–13.
- Tarling, Nicholas (1992). The Cambridge History of Southeast Asia: From early times to c. 1800. Cambridge University Press. p. 245.
- Rinpoche, Samdhong (2006). Samdhong Rinpoche: uncompromising truth for a compromised world : Tibetan Buddhism and today's world. World Wisdom, Inc. pp. 139–140.
- Mabbett, Ian W. (1985). Modern China: the mirage of modernity. Taylor & Francis. p. 112.
- Michael Downing. Shoes Outside the Door: Desire, Devotion, and Excess at San Francisco Zen Center. Counterpoint, 2002.
- Bell, Sandra (2002). "Scandals in Emerging Western Buddhism". In Charles S Prebish & Martin Baumann. Westward Dharma: Buddhism Beyond Asia. University of California Press. pp. 230–242. ISBN 0-520-22625-9.
- Jerryson, Michael and Mark Juergensmyer (2010). Buddhist Warfare, ch. 1, "Introduction."
- Ananda Abeysekara, "The Saffron Army, Violence, Terror(ism): Buddhism, Identity, and Difference in Sri Lanka". Numen 48.1 (2001).
- Zen at War (2nd ed.) by Brian Daizen Victoria / Rowman and Littlefield 2006, ISBN 0-7425-3926-1
- God Is Not Great, p 204. Atlantic, New York, 2006
- Vernon, Mark (March 10, 2010). "The new Buddhist atheism". The Guardian. Retrieved October 24, 2011.
- Hitchens, Christopher. "Review of Confession of a Buddhist Atheist". Amazon.com. Retrieved October 26, 2011.
- "Rights Group: Myanmar Unrest Is 'Ethnic Cleansing'". ABC News.
- Buddhist Quotes
- Juergensmeyer, Mark, Margo Kitts and Michael Jerryson, (2013). The Oxford Handbook of Religion and Violence, ch. 2, "Introduction," p.56
- "China Steps Up Attacks, Brands Dalai Lama Supporters 'Scum of Buddhism'". Fox News. 2008-04-02. Retrieved 2010-08-11.
- Goldstein, Melvyn C. (1991). A history of modern Tibet, 1913-1951: the demise of the Lamaist state. University of California Press. p. 5.
- Goldstein, Melvyn C. (2009). A history of modern Tibet: The calm before the storm, 1951-1955. University of California Press. p. 440.
- Florida, Robert E. (2005). Human Rights and the World's Major Religions: The Buddhist tradition, Volume 5. Praeger. p. 190.
- Luo, Zhufeng (1990). Religion under socialism. M.E. Sharpe. p. 40.
- Friendly Feudalism - The Tibet Myth
- The Dalai Lama Answers Questions on Various Topics
- Keyes, Charles F. "Mother or Mistress but Never a Monk: Buddhist Notions of Female Gender in Rural Thailand", American Ethnologist, Vol. 11, No. 2 (May, 1984), pp. 223-241.
- Gutschow, Kim (2004). Being a Buddhist nun: the struggle for enlightenment in the Himalayas. Harvard University Press. p. 207,225,240.
- Lucinda Joy Peach (2001), "Buddhism and Human Rights in the Thai Sex Trade", in Religious Fundamentalisms and the Human Rights of Women, Courtney W. Howland (Ed)., Palgrave Macmillan, p. 219.
- Janell Mills (2000), "Militarisim, civil war and women's status: a Burma case study", in Women in Asia: tradition, modernity, and globalisation, Louise P. Edwards (Ed.), University of Michigan Press, p. 269.
- Campbell, June (2002). Traveller in Space: Gender, Identity and Tibetan Buddhism. Continuum International Publishing Group. ISBN 0-8264-5719-3.
- Women in Buddhism (English)
- Berzin Summary Report Human Rights and the Status of Women in Buddhism
- Schmidt-leukel, Perry (2009). Transformation by Integration: How Inter-faith Encounter Changes Christianity. SCM Press. ISBN 9780334043171.