Buddhism and Conflict

In recent years, we have seen Saṅghas in some Buddhist countries mobilize textual, moral and sociological justifications for a military solution to political/cultural issues, rather than negotiating power for democratic coexistence. This has been particularly prominent in Burma, Sri Lanka, and Thailand.

The OCBS has planned a research project into Pirivena education in Sri Lanka, looking at how their texts and curricula exercised ideological influence. It then asks the question how did the education they provided to young monks influence the social and political engagement and mobility of the Sinhala Saṅgha from 1800 – 2010: a period Lanka transited from a total colony to post civil war.

We believe such an analysis will make explicit the paradigm in which Sinhala Buddhism is currently rooted. This promises to open avenues to offer benefits to Saṅgha/civic authorities concerned with Sāsana reforms, political activists seeking Saṅgha contribution to wider socio-cultural development, and Peacebuilding and democratization process where the Saṅgha are most influential. Beyond application in Sri Lanka, results of this research could help other Theravada Buddhist states, like Burma, Kampuchea, and Thailand, which have parallel ethno-political conditions.

A suggested budget for this two year project would be approximately £100,000. This includes salaries, admin, and extensive fieldwork, along with dissemination of the results.