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Old 06-23-2011, 06:49 PM   #16
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There's nothing quite like the Crusades, say, in Buddhism's past. But I don't think the basic dynamics driving its historical spread are really all that different from those driving Christianity's spread in the West. Mostly, empires which were already Buddhist conquered peoples who then overwhelmingly converted (e.g. Funan conquest of the Mekong, Bod conquest of Tibet, Srivijaya conquest of Sumatra and Malaysia, Bagan conquest of Thailand and Laos, Khmer conquest of Cambodia), or else established emperors would convert then energetically commence promoting their new religion (Sui Dynasty in China, Maurya Empire in India). Also as in the West, monks became very politically powerful in most of these states (and again as in the West, Buddhist dynasties often overthrew "fellow" Buddhist dynasties with different intellectual and political alliances, then set about purging the remnants of the old order, re-codifying doctrine and abolishing "heresies," etc.). Religions, like other cultural institutions, simply don't spread that far without the concerted patronage of the powerful; it might be nice to fantasize about a Big Idea spreading like wildfire via grassroots across the globe for no reason other than its inherent beauty and undeniable truth, but that's never been how human history actually works (not saying you were suggesting otherwise). On the other hand, the alternative image of millions upon millions of cruelly intellectually suppressed individuals forced to convert at sword-point probably wasn't the typical historical reality anywhere, either; more often, people convert because they see their revered leaders convert, because it's more politically and financially expedient for them to do so, because they no longer derive significant social benefits from clinging to the old ways and affiliations, etc. etc.

Through much of Chinese history, specifically, you do find an interesting and relatively unique phenomenon of multiple official religions and philosophical systems existing quite comfortably alongside each other for many centuries on end, and at least in my experience, this remains a feature of Chinese religious life (yes, many Chinese still have 'religious lives') even today. So, maybe you worship at your ancestors' shrine this weekend, but then next weekend you'll make an offering at the local Buddhist temple, then the weekend after that it's off to see a Taoist priest presiding over your sister's wedding ceremony, and maybe on the way home you'll pause to burn some incense to the tudi (local god) of your village, whose 'shrine' is simply a tree at the edge of town. But obviously that sort of thing is a function of Chinese culture and thought, rather than of 'Buddhism'--which might or might not be inherently less absolutist than Christianity as an abstract set of propositions, but as a social and cultural institution, became a Major World Religion in the first place by doing what Major World Religions generally do, i.e., crowd out its competition over time through a variety of means, whose ethical soundness probably depends mostly on the beliefs and loyalties of the person doing the evaluating.
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Old 06-23-2011, 07:00 PM   #17
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In Bhutan, a Himalayan country, thousands of Hindus were expelled in the 90s, possibly because those people weren't Buddhist, which is the state religion.

UNHCR - Over 20,000 Bhutanese refugees resettled from Nepal
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Old 06-23-2011, 07:34 PM   #18
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^ The Lhotshampa (Bhutanese term for those Nepalis) are actually a pretty varied lot religiously; some are Buddhist, some animist, some Hindu. Personally I'd classify that situation as an overly aggressive response to widespread illegal immigration (of poor Nepalis seeking work into Bhutan), verging on if not outright veering into ethnic cleansing. The majority of those expelled were not legitimate Bhutanese citizens; however by some estimates up to a quarter of them were.

For a recent example of 'Buddhists behaving badly,' though I'm not keen on this kind of scorekeeping, you couldn't do much better than the Sinhalese paramilitary goons in Sri Lanka's long and bloody civil war that wound up a couple years back, IMO. I wouldn't characterize that conflict as primarily religious in nature, either, but FWIW, many of the ringleaders of those paramilitaries were Buddhist monks. Motivated much more by ethnic chauvinism than religious doctrine, to be sure, but sadly their position gave them 'natural' leadership status with a certain segment of the Sinhalese community.
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Old 06-25-2011, 11:04 PM   #19
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well, sure, on an individual level. but i don't know of any Buddhists who have marched into other countries and tried to convert people, or of wars fought in Buddhisms name.

i could also be completely wrong about this.



I don't know of any Buddhists who died fighting the Nazis.
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Old 06-26-2011, 12:01 AM   #20
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I don't know of any Buddhists who died fighting the Nazis.
There might have been some in this group:

442nd Regimental Combat Team Facts
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Old 06-26-2011, 02:47 AM   #21
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Zen at War - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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Old 06-26-2011, 07:51 PM   #22
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I don't know of any Buddhists who died fighting the Nazis.


what does this have to do with anything?
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Old 06-26-2011, 09:45 PM   #23
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what does this have to do with anything?
A critcism of pacificism perhaps.

"It wasn't a bunch of pansy-ass peace-loving Buddhists who defeated the Nazis. No it was red-blooded American Christians not afraid of little bloodshed who got the job done!"

At least that's how I read it. I could be wrong, and if so IH is free to correct me.
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Old 06-26-2011, 10:40 PM   #24
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I don't know of any Buddhists who died fighting the Nazis.
Disgusting
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Old 06-27-2011, 02:19 PM   #25
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Resisting Hirohito is less morally elevating than resisting Hitler apparently?
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Old 06-29-2011, 08:58 PM   #26
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I don't know of any Buddhists who died fighting the Nazis.


There goes my idea for a line of Dalai Lama action figures.
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Old 06-29-2011, 09:07 PM   #27
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I don't know of any Buddhists who died fighting the Nazis.
This is the greatest non-sequitur I've ever seen. I'm going to start using it in real life.
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