Buddhism has played a significant role in the current global rise in religious nationalism and violence, but the violent aspects of Buddhist tradition have been neglected in the outpouring of academic analyses and case studies of this disturbing trend. This book offers eight essays examining the dark side of a tradition often regarded as the religion of peace. The authors note the conflict between the Buddhist norms of non-violence and the prohibition of the killing of sentient beings and acts of state violence supported by the Buddhist community (sangha), acts of civil violence in which monks participate, and Buddhist intersectarian violence. They consider contemporary and historical cases of Buddhist warfare from a wide range of traditions - Tibetan, Mongolian, Japanese, Chinese, Sri Lankan, and Thai - critically examining both Buddhist textual sources justifying violence and Buddhist actors currently engaged in violence. They draw not only on archival material but interviews with those living and involved in war zones around the world.
The book enriches our understanding both of the complexities of the Buddhist tradition and of the violence that is found in virtually all of the world's religious traditions.