Book Review: Buddhist Warfare

Buddhist Warfare
by Michael Jerryson and Mark Juergensmeyer
Published by Oxford University Press

I was really interested in reading this book. I had read a couple reviews and thought it’d be worth checking out. I always prefer to hear both sides of a story, and as we all know, there are always two sides to a story.

The description, and intent, of the book says, “Though traditionally regarded as a peaceful religion, Buddhism has a dark side. On multiple occasions over the past fifteen centuries, Buddhist leaders have sanctioned violence, and even war. The eight essays in this book focus on a variety of Buddhist traditions, from antiquity to the present, and show that Buddhist organizations have used religious images and rhetoric to support military conquest throughout history.”

I did feel like this book was more of an attack on Buddhism than it was an exposè on violence in the Buddhist realm. I understand the idea behind it, to tear down the veil and mysticism and bring Buddhism down to earth for those that are “hypnotized” by the peacefulness of the religion. I also felt like the writers/ editors compiled this stuff to intentionally smear those involved in Buddhism. The funny thing is though, those “in the know” already know there is, and has been, violence in Buddhism.

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Samurai Mind Training for Modern American Warriors– Huh?

From Time

Not long ago at Fort Bragg, N.C., the country’s largest military base, seven soldiers sat in a semi-circle, lights dimmed, eyes closed, two fingertips lightly pressed beneath their belly buttons to activate their “core.” Electronic music thumped as the soldiers tried to silence their thoughts, the key to Warrior Mind Training, a form of meditation slowly making inroads on military bases across the country. “This is mental push-ups,” Sarah Ernst told the weekly class she leads for soldiers at Fort Bragg. “There’s a certain burn. It’s a workout.”

Think military and you think macho, not meditation, but that’s about to change now that the Army intends to train its 1.1 million soldiers in the art of mental toughness. The Defense Department hopes that giving soldiers tools to fend off mental stress will toughen its troops at war and at home. It’s the first time mental combat is being mandated on a large scale, but a few thousand soldiers who have participated in a voluntary program called Warrior Mind Training have already gotten a taste of how strengthening the mind is way different — dare we say harder? — than pounding out the push-ups.

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