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Buddhadharma : Winter 2018
BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY 111 AS MYANMAR, a country with a Buddhist majority, carries out genocide against its Muslim Rohingya population (amidst other campaigns of violence), the need to understand how and why Buddhists are engaging in violence is urgent. Despite the prevalent narrative, the reality of “the world’s most peace- ful religion” mobilizing to the drumbeat of war is not a new development. Against that backdrop, Michael Jerryson’s If You Meet the Buddha On the Road: Buddhism, Politics and Violence is part of a growing body of scholarship examining the historical and contemporary entanglements of Buddhists in war and oppres- sion. Jerryson, a professor of religious studies at Youngstown State University, analyzes how Buddhists justify or overlook violence, how they deal with the violence of blasphemy toward what they hold sacred, and how they cope in the face of trau- matic conflict. The unifying thread lies in illuminating and prob- lematizing the relationship Buddhists hold with violence. The book opens with a joke from Slovenian Marxist philoso- pher Slavoj Zizek, from his 2008 book Violence: There is an old story about a worker suspected of stealing: every evening, as he leaves the factory, the wheelbarrow he rolls in front of him is carefully inspected. The guards can find nothing. It is always empty. Finally, the penny drops: what the worker is stealing are the wheelbarrows themselves... If You Meet The Buddha On The Road: Buddhism, Politics, and Violence by Michael Jerryson Oxford University Press, 2018 240 pages; $99 The World’s Most Peaceful Religion? REVIEW MATTHEW GINDIN Neo Thousand- Armed Kannon, 2002 by Hisashi Tenmyouya ©TENMYOUYAHISASHI,COURTESYMIZUMAARTGALLERY