Buddhist Churches of America (BCA) has issued a statement in response to the Rohingya Crisis in Myanmar, which has seen more than 430,000 people flee violence in Myanmar over the last month following a militant crackdown. A number of Buddhist leaders, including His Holiness the Dalai Lama, have also spoken out against the alleged ethnic cleansing of the predominantly-Muslim Rohingya ethnic group in Myanmar.
The world news on the escalation of violence against the Rohingya Muslim minority in Myanmar is raising questions among people, especially non-Buddhists. Myanmar is a Buddhist-majority country. In the last three weeks since August 25 of this year, over 400,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled to Bangladesh to escape military violence described by the United Nations as ethnic cleansing and described by others as genocide.
No matter what this violence might be called, we deeply deplore the killings, torture, burning of villages and other actions against humanity occurring in Myanmar. What we are witnessing is not an isolated occurrence in our history. Similar events have been happening throughout the history of humankind. We cannot take ourselves out of this picture. We, lacking true wisdom, have been repeating our foolish actions over and over, generation after generation. Without realizing it, I, too, must be doing similar things to others in different ways. When I see and hear of this type of human crisis, I truly, truly understand why Dharmakara Bodhisattva had to establish the Primal Vow for all beings in order to free us from afflictions, pain, and suffering.
We do need to take some actions to stop our harmful behavior, if possible. The first step to doing this is going to the Buddha and listening to the timeless truth of the Primal Vow. The Vow is the dynamic activity of Enlightenment itself trying to reach us. Once we hear and deeply appreciate the Vow, we will be able to live in accord with the compassionate heart of the Buddha, seeing all beings as our brothers and sisters and fellow travelers to the Pure Land.
Let us pause and ponder the intent of the Vow established for all beings, and let us live our lives with the Buddha’s eyes and let us hope that all people will hear the Primal Vow.
—Rev. Kodo Umezu, Bishop, Buddhist Churches of America