Thursday, October 29, 2009

Cause and Effect: The War in Uddiyana


World-class researcher and reluctant scholar, Dr. Dan from Tibet O' Logic (that's the Irish version), has again graced the blogsphere's pixels with notice of Uddiyana -- a point of departure, really, as all world-class researchers are wont to claim -- provocatively entitled "Swat's Good Feng-shui." He takes particular notice of Ron Davidson's work on the theme, and appears to agree with Davidson that Swat = Uddiyana = Swat. By the way: the above photograph is interesting because it documents the speed at which events are taking place. Something that stood for thousands of years came to ruin within five short years.

 
Inevitably, Dr. Dan has been forced to take notice of religious desecration there, which apart from outraging all civilized people (make that civilly outraging all people), has raised the issue of cause and effect. After all, had the Taliban not gone about blowing up Buddhas, the lads in the below picture would not be sporting about in their off-road vehicles, blowing up the Taliban.


As these words are being written, the President of the United States is reportedly agonizing over whether or not he should send more troops to Afghanistan. The outcome of that decision will weigh heavily in Uddiyana, and it could be the factor that decides whether or not Buddhist cultural treasures in the region continue to exist.


In Dr. Dan's article, you will find links to information on the fate of the Swat Museum, seen above, and its priceless collections. With all due respect for regional sensitivities, I don't think this should be left up to Maulana Fazlullah's partisans. 


Maulana Fazlullah has brought misery and pain to the birthplace of Padmasambhava, and has inflicted hatred upon other human beings. He is the man who caused the destruction documented in the above photographs. 

As it happens, he is a deeply religious man who believes he is doing the right thing.


It might seem easy to feel anger toward him, but that doesn't help anything. Actually, if you understand cause and effect, you will feel deeply sorry for him. Similarly, one might be tempted to believe that if this fellow gets knocked off, it will somehow improve the situation. It won't. The man has followers because he speaks to their inner needs.


Again, as this is being written, the President of the United States is readying himself to sign legislation that enables us to offer money to individual members of the Taliban, in exchange for them switching sides. If this were about money, maybe that would help.


Alas, this is not about money. Maulana Fazlullah does not give people money to join the cause, yet those who do join are ready to fight and die at his command.

So, you ask... if we can't kill the leaders or buy the followers, what is left? Fortified villages? Green Berets? A hearts and minds thing? Sorry to say that won't work either. That cake has already been baked. Similarly, I don't hold out a lot of promise for police actions in the region, although that is what we will probably wind up doing.

Really, in the last analysis, the only thing we can truly depend on is cause and effect. As to the issue of whether or not we should speed that along... well, that is a deeper study of the human condition than I am prepared to make in this post. 

War is a terrible thing.





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10 reader comments:

Dan said...

I think it's curious you were just yesterday writing about a 105-foot high Maitreya getting built in Ladakh.

The thing is, there was a 100-foot Maitreya in Swat in ancient times, erected in the time of King Ashoka. (Cunningham's "Ancient Geography of India," p. 70.) It was made of wood — I wonder if they didn't need to splice several huge tree trunks together — not exactly the most permanent statue material there is, but then we can see what happens even to stone...

Just thought I would add that small bit.

TENPA said...

Thank you for visiting. If I had known you were coming, I would've picked up the place a bit.

Elsewhere, and I don't immediately recall where, I have commented to the effect of we should build a new one every time they destroy an old one.

I do believe that somebody in the region is doing something very much like that right now.

Fishy said...

It is difficult to know what to think about the war in Afghanistan.

More and more evidence seems to suggest that the U.S. and Allied Force's motivation for being there may be far less than altruistic...

Oil and Opium derived products are far too profitable... "The love of money is the root of all evil"

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/28/world/asia/28intel.html

http://consortiumnews.com/2009/102409b.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trans-Afghanistan_Pipeline

TENPA said...

Not only that, Fishy, but consider history: the British couldn't do any good there, the Soviets couldn't do any good there... what makes the U.S. think they're going to do any better?

I don't know what to think about it either. I just say prayers for everybody involved.

Anonymous said...

Believe what you want to believe but we need to rid the world of this scourge once and for all. Always remember that if it hadn't been for Patton's Third Army, the ovens never would've stopped burning. Sometimes when the evil is very great, war is the only option left. The Taliban need to be completely destroyed without a trace because that is precisely what they have in mind for us. Do you want to save Buddhism or what?

Dan said...

I think the Afghan (exiled for decades!) archaeologist Tarzi's story is especially interesting. Those who missed the story about his quest for (on basis of description by Chinese traveler Xuanzang), and final discovery last year, of fragments of the large (maybe 60+ feet) reclining Buddha in Parinirvana, ought to have a look at this story, which I think is one of the more detailed news reports about it:

http://www.rferl.org/Content/Archeologists_Find_Giant_Sleeping_Buddha_In_Afghanistan_/1197572.html

Tarzi dreams of reconstructing the sleeping Buddha on the basis of the newly found pieces, and I think that is a project that many people can get behind. Probably much more economical than reconstructing the standing Buddhas. (I've heard a Bamiyan art historian say reconstructing them would be obscenely expensive and an insult to the poor people who barely scratch out a living there...) And, well, what's also very important, it would (eventually, with peace) bring traveler's money back to this desparately poor area, which is receiving some, but very little aid money for its own reconstruction.

Fishy said...

@Anonymous: If the 'scourge' you are talking about is ignorance, suffering and selfishness, you are absolutely correct.
Otherwise, I think you are just playing Angulimala's game.

Anonymous said...

In this article you speak of cause and effect but fail to make that point that we are all interdependent and interconnected. To say that non taliban are not also responsible for the taliban is a bit silly and monotheistic. As i said according to Buddhism everthing is interdependent and interconnected. Also if this is the place of Padmasambava, maybe him being so masagonistic has something to do with it. But then again if one understands Vajrayana is blowing up a statue of a Buddha _intrinsictly_ bad?

TENPA said...

Try as I might, I cannot find a definition of "masagonistic," unless of course you are somehow referring to a really angry massage. Try tipping next time.

Surely you cannot mean "misogynistic," which refers to hating women, as Padmasambhava's foremost student was a woman, and in fact, truth be known, the first person to gain enlightenment by following his teachings was a woman.

Anonymous said...

Sorry i did mean misogynistic, The experience of Vajrayana was first expericened by indian male mahasiddhas. Sorry im forgeting about Vajrayogini, wasnt it nice how she gave teachings in human form (who experinced Vajrayogini) Please see my sarcasm.Tibetan Vajrayana is masogynistic. Hopefully as Vajrayana intereacts with the west our "feminists" will improve it . Please see my sarcasim.From this point of view like most westerm Buddhists, you seem to want me to believe that Yeshe Tsogyal is realised as . Dharmakaya as it is presented through Tibetan Vajrayana dosnt seem to be a valid expression of emptiness. We really need to improve Uddiyana.The understanding of male and female seems to be deluded. Please stop being one of Kundans sheep. Has Kundan ever taken birth as a Female? I not saying the Kundan has to, but to say that Tibetan Vajrayana is complete is a bit silly and dangerous hence my claim that Uddiyana is not so clean so to speak. Anyways thanks for reading.