Is Buddhism Violent?

TL;DR: No, it’s not.

Violence committed by a handful of “monks” in Burma cannot be used as an example of “Buddhist violence.” Most Buddhists see these acts in the same way most Christians see members of the Westboro Baptist Church. Their behavior alone invalidates them from being Buddhist, just as worshiping the devil would invalidate someone from being a Christian or a Muslim.

Imagine if a group of “atheists” went out and announced, “We accept Jesus as our Lord and savior!” while still claiming to be atheist. Would it then make sense to conclude that atheism is a Christian philosophy? Of course not. Anyone can claim to be anything, but if their actions are not in tune with the philosophy they supposedly adhere to, those people cannot be used as a representation of that philosophy.

The canonical Buddhist texts take a very clear and strong stance against any form of violence or hatred. Additionally, you won’t find any discourses in the texts that condone violence or hatred. If a person intentionally and repeatedly inflicts harm on other sentient beings, that person cannot rightfully call themselves a Buddhist.

“Hatred is never appeased by hatred in this world. By non-hatred alone is hatred appeased. This is a law eternal. There are those who do not realize that one day we all must die. But those who do realize this settle their quarrels.”
Dhp I 5-6

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