Buddhist Leader Says War Is Wrong Response to Terrorism

War, including the US’ current war on ter­ror­ism, is never an appropriate response to vio­lence, a Japanese Buddhist leader told the third World Buddhist Conference on Thurs­day.

“Retaliation…will only lead to yet another act of revenge and the start of the vicious circle. Peace can never be achieved by force,” the Ven­erable Dr Kyuse Enshinjoh, founder of Japan’s Nenbutsushu Buddhist sect, which sponsored the conference, said in his keynote address.

About 2,000 delegates from 14 countries at­tended the event, which began Thursday and ends Monday. Conspicuously absent were both China, the world’s largest Buddhist country, and Tibet, whose revered spiritual leader the Dalai Lama was not invited because Cambodia follows a one-China policy.

King Norodom Sihanouk opened the conference, hailing Buddhism as “the religion par ex­cellence of tolerance, peace, fraternity and mutual aid.”

In his speech, Enshinjoh said wars cause a loss of perspective. “Each side believes that they are always good, and their adversary al­ways evil.”

Because of this, no one is allowed to question the reasons for war or openly call for peace without being branded a traitor, he said. “As a result, top leaders are unable to make correct judgments. They rush in the wrong di­rection and eventually fall into misfortunes, tak­ing many people along with them.”

After the Sept 11, 2001, attacks in the US, US President George W Bush called his war a “crusade” to frame it as “a war of good against evil,” said the gaunt, red-robed monk. How­ever, “Looking from the opposite side, the attacks…can be viewed as an act of revenge against the United States.”

Islam, he said, was being misused by people with political ambitions.

Bawa Jain, secretary-general of the World Council of Religious Leaders in New York, said the conference was an important step to­ward making religion, especially Buddhism, a public voice for morality.

About 1,640 Nenbutsushu followers attended the conference. The Nenbutsushu is one of many Japanese sects and has about 100,000 followers, spokesman Kazuo Takayama said.

 

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