The Buddhist State of Exception



The recent discourse of Buddhism and violence is clearly provocative. Part of this is due to Buddhism’s global image, which has been aligned with the concept of peace. However, in contrast to this image, Buddhism, like other religious traditions, has a robust history of adherents who commit suicide and engage in conflicts and wars. Buddhist monasteries have served as military outposts, monks have led revolts, and Buddhist principles have served as war rhetoric for heads of state. Some of these acts of violence draw upon Buddhist scriptures; some others invoke Buddhist symbols.1 While violence manifests in different forms, the most visible determinant of the violence is Buddhists’ relationship with the state. As Ian Harris notes in his ‘sixfold typology,’ Buddhist-inspired violence can come from the state or in reaction to the state. One political mechanism that enables Buddhist-justified violence on either side of the spectrum is the ‘exception to the rule.’


Ultimate Truth Buddhist Tradition Tactical Position Buddhist Monk Conventional Truth 
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© Michael Jerryson 2016

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