Tuesday, July 16, 2013
Nine Silent Bombs
I consider myself a pretty informed person; I read the news and try to stay current on world events. So why is it that I have heard virtually NOTHING about the bombing at the Mahabodhi Buddhist temple at Bodh Gaya? The attack was, and still is, so surreal that I honestly Googled the event before I began typing this because I have seen no press coverage. The only place I found ANY mention is at an international Hindu website called Hindustantimes.
Before I proceed any further, let me clearly state that I am not one of those Buddhists who think that Buddhism is the be-all end-all of contemplative practice, nor that Buddhist shrines are somehow more sacred than those of Muslims, Christians or Jews. I don't feel the need to take a pilgrimage to India, China, or Korea. (Not that there's anything wrong with these past times; they just don't interest me.) With that said, come on! Nine freaking bombs detonate at the site of the Buddha's enlightenment and no one makes a peep! What the...?
Where is the international dialogue, if not outage, about this? Why isn't Rachel Maddow covering this? Olberman, O'Reilly, anyone?! Seriously, I don't care who reports the event, but there are 350 million Buddhists in the world, you would think that this terror attack was newsworthy. Please correct me if I am wrong, for this is one of those instances where I hope I am.
Now I'm not saying that none of these journalists mentioned the attack, for there's no way I could keep track of all of their shows. That's not my point. What I want to highlight is that there has been little if any mention of the bombing--even among the Western Buddhist community. And I find that particularly disturbing, especially the last part. It's as if Western Buddhists, in their attempt to be so liberally aloof, so "detached," refuse to speak out lest they be accused of being "attached," the most dreaded insult for a Buddhist. Mock interior dialogue with snarky, nasally tone: Since nowhere is more sacred than anywhere else, I won't talk about the bombing. Only "attached" people differentiate between where the Buddha reached enlightenment and anywhere else on Earth.
What pretension! This is called the sickness of emptiness. Buddhism is not about lofty indifference, being perpetually optimistic, or allowing yourself to become a human doormat. It's about being fully human, not some jolly caricature of a statue. That means recognizing the empty nature of horror, but experiencing horror as horror, too. It's about recognizing human suffering, awakening to ours and all being's true nature, and responding to the pain in the world with compassion, wisdom, and intelligence. The last part of which means condemning violence.
I'm sorry if I sound bitter because I'm not. I'm simply confounded by the media's (and perhaps the world's) utter indifference to the attack. Perhaps it has to do with the event's proximity to the incorrigible Buddhist violence in Myanmar? Or because only two monks were injured (two too many, in my opinion) and none killed? Or that we are so numb to religious warfare that this event doesn't warrant coverage in the public's eyes?
I honestly don't know.
But what I do know is that silence can be a very dangerous thing. There is a time to be quiet and listen, and there is also a time to speak. This, I feel, is one of those latter moments. Fill the air with voices, with honest, objective coverage of this tragedy; let the truth be known lest the ensuing silence be filled with more bloodshed and violence.
Feel free to comment below.