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Buddhadharma : Fall 2015
80 buDDhaDharma: the practitioner’s quarterly fall 2 0 1 5 Buddhist nation, as they will eventually destroy our race and our religion. Once they become overly populous, they will overwhelm us and take over our country and make it an evil Islamic nation.” U Wirathu does not quote scriptures to support his views; it is unnecessary. Burmese Buddhists see him as a religious authority independent of scriptures. For U Wirathu, there is no anti-Muslim vio- lence in Burma; rather, there is a grow- ing effort to combat a Muslim invasion. The Burmese sangha, the sole author- ityonwhoisorisnotamonkintheir tradition, has not defrocked U Wirathu nor others in the 969 Movement and MaBaTha organization. New Regional Alliances to “Protect Global Buddhism” In this globalized world, conserva- tive Sri Lankans, Thais, and Burmese Buddhists have come together under the banner of protecting Buddhism. Buddhists in these three countries face changing demographics and declines in their majority populations. Conserva- tive Buddhists argue that this is because Muslims have larger families than their Buddhist counterparts. They also point to interfaith marriages: when a Muslim and Buddhist marry in South and South- east Asia, more often than not the Bud- dhist converts to Islam. This is largely due to religious and social pressures. There are no ramifications for leaving the Buddhist faith, but Muslims con- sider apostasy a blasphemous act that leads to hell. Such distinctions do not go unnoticed by members of the 969 Move- ment and BBS, which seek to create laws to curb such tendencies. A change in demographics does not justify the vio- lence or Buddhist fears, but it adds an important context to the perspectives of Conservative Buddhists. U Wirathu and other Burmese monks believe Muslims are part of a global financial network stretching from Saudi Arabia to Indonesia that seeks to over- throw Buddhist control in their country and others. This view is shared by mem- bers of the Sri Lankan BBS, who now collaborate with the 969 movement. After a visit to the 969 headquarters in early 2014, they invited U Wirathu to the Sri Lankan capital, Colombo. In September 2014, he addressed thou- sands of Sinhalese Buddhists and for- mally met with the Bodu Bala Sena. There was international outcry over this invitation and U Wirathu’s anti- Muslim rhetoric. In their defense, one of the cofounders of the Bodu Bala Sena, the Buddhist monk Kirama Wimalajothi Thera, exclaimed, “This is not a mul- tireligious country. This is a Sinhalese country.” Six months later, U Wirathu returned again to Sri Lanka, this time to help foster an international Buddhist alliance to protect global Buddhism from Islam and other threats. Thai Buddhists also have shown support for the 969 Movement and the ➤ continued from page 41 Treasure Vases Wealth Vases for Material and Spiritual Prosperity & Earth Vases to Protect the Environment Information available at: www.ewamchoden.org ewam Choden TibeTan buddhisT CenTer 254 Cambridge Avenue, Kensington, CA 94708 distance learning opportunities tibetan language courses: levels i, ii, and iii Fundamentals of Buddhism: a dharma course (No Tibetan required) tli Bookstore Best-selling Beginners’ package with effective instructional dVds Visit the tli weBsite Free study aids, info about classes, and more www.tibetanlanguage.org tiB etan language institute learn tiBetan & study Buddhism with daVid curtis Over 19 years’ experience teaching hundreds of students “Learning Tibetan from David Curtis is definitely one of life’s better experiences.” —K.J., VA David was named a Lama in 1992 and an Acharya in 2005. new!! Buddhism Courses