Invitation to Help Stop “Buddhist Terror”

By Melanie Klein, BSC Director

Dear Boulder Shambhala Community,

Amidst the great suffering in the world today, one conflict, known as the “Buddhist Terror,” continually pulls at my heart. In Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, up to an estimated one million people, the Rohingya, have been cruelly driven from their homes. Many have been killed, and the survivors have fled across the border to Bangladesh where they now reside in the largest refugee camp in the world. Stunningly, extremist Buddhist monks have played a role in this devastation, supporting the attacks in a deeply confused defense of Buddhism and ethnic dominance.

Richard Reoch, former president of Shambhala and current Personal Envoy of Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, recently returned from a visit to this refugee camp as part of an international interfaith delegation. Richard met with survivors in the camp and documented his encounters with both refugees and those assisting them. It’s quite something to imagine how it would feel to say “I’m a Buddhist,” as he did, to those suffering at the hands of agents of a Buddhist nation. You can read more about Richard’s travel and this subject generally in an article he wrote for the Shambhala Times (there are two parts) as well as at Richard’s website.

While this is all deeply dispiriting, Richard reminds me that not only can we hold everyone—both victims and perpetrators—in our hearts, we can do two important things:

1. We can each sign an appeal that will be presented to Myanmar’s top monastic council urging them to defend the Buddhist principles of non-harm. This will add strength to the courageous voices of Buddhist monks in Myanmar speaking out against the violence. The Buddhist Humanitarian Project, which launched the appeal, seeks 250,000 signatures. There are hundreds already. I signed up as the representative of the Boulder Shambhala Center—we can all sign up as citizens of the world. Please add your name! Here’s what the appeal letter says, including the list of signatories to date.

2. We can each send a personal heart-gift to fund essential supplies for the refugees. While the UN has secured pledges from various governments, public support is also needed—especially as the monsoon season approaches.

It is the Boulder Shambhala Center’s intention to host an interfaith gathering here in Boulder this autumn where Richard Reoch can share more about this work and help us join him in finding ways to properly and bravely protect the buddhadharma, mitigate the karmic consequences of extremist views, and promote the well-being of the Rohingya people.

With thanks for your continual generosity,

Melanie Klein
Executive Director
Boulder Shambhala Center