Sunday, July 07, 2013

The Temple and The Tree

Scene outside Bodhgaya temple complex in Bihar after explosions (7 July)

Four explosions were detonated today at the Mahabodhi temple complex in northern India, the site that houses the Bodhi Tree where the Buddha attained his enlightenment.  Neither the temple nor the tree itself were reportedly damaged by the blasts, although two people were injured.

While no one has yet taken responsibility for the attack, suspicion has fallen on a home-grown Islamist group, Indian Mujahideen.  The group, designated as a foreign terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department, has been blamed for dozens of deadly bomb explosions throughout India since 2005 according to CNN.

What the bombers may not realize, however, is that their attacks do not demean Buddhism, if that were even their motive, but actually reinforce the Buddha's teachings.  Everything in this world is impermanent, the Buddha taught, and that would include both the Mahabodhi temple complex and the bodhi tree, not to mention the historical Buddha  himself.  Just as Tibetan monks wipe away an intricate sand mandala shortly after its completion, wiping away the temple and the tree is a recognition of impermanence.  

Further, even if terrorists did not destroy the complex, it still would pass away with time, just as all phenomena does.  The most ancient structures, from the pyramids of Egypt to Stonehenge, are already degraded remnants of their past glory, and eventually even they will crumble to dust. 

It would be going too far to thank the bombers for their actions, which are reprehensible in their intention to destroy life and create fear and suffering, but they have provided a lesson that all Buddhists recognize.


Liz Chesney said...

Well said. I'm a new follower and enjoy your blog. Thanks for the positive sentiments.


Shokai said...

Thanks, Liz!