The Uses of God

February 17, 2018

Demonization, a key tactic in religion, is precisely the reductionism and making wicked of any political enemy. Of all the burning issues confronting the world today, nothing causes greater concern — and greater perplexity — than the force of religion in pursuing political aims. I make this...

Faith in Spirits Over Political Dreams in Myanmar

October 08, 2015

For many in Myanmar, spiritual guidance for economic prosperity is more important than democracy or politics. On a rainy September afternoon, hundreds of Burmese, mostly women and children, were jostling each other to get into a gated compound of a two-storey modern house in a Yangon...

Is Buddhist Militancy the Next Wave of Global Terrorism?

July 13, 2015

Existing strategies to counter Islamist militancy make little sense for being used to tackle Buddhist militancy in its early stage.  Is anyone paying attention to this? Buddhist militancy appears to be the next wave of terrorism in Asia—and it could go global. It’s been happening...

The Problem With Sex According to Buddhism

March 09, 2015

Those who join the Buddhist monastic order submit to an ethical code that aims to drive out lust, ill will and infatuation. According to the Vinaya Pitaka, the Buddha laid down the first rule for his monastic followers in response to the behavior of a monk named Sudinna, who gave in to his...

The Race to Save Mes Aynak (Part 2/2)

February 02, 2014

What will the fate of Afghanistan's culture be? Fair Observer’s Central & South Asia Editor, Will Calhoun, speaks to Brent E. Huffman about the efforts to preserve Mes Aynak — a vast and rich archaeological site in Logar Province,...

The Race to Save Mes Aynak (Part 1/2)

February 01, 2014

What will the fate of Afghanistan's culture be? Years of war have ravaged Afghanistan's archeological heritage. The demolition of the Buddhas of Bamiyan only presaged what would be a decade of destruction, smuggling, and looting of Afghanistan's rich...

The Immortal Bodhi Tree: Tibet and the Chinese Occupation

October 30, 2013

Tibet’s spiritual strength remains indomitable despite repression. According to Will Durant, the success of religion lies in the “persistent power over the human soul.” Religion helps us connect with reality in a different way; it focuses on experience and enables us to...

Who Betrays Whom? Buddhism and Monastic Politics in Modern Sri Lanka

May 24, 2013

The ever stronger monastic politics in Sri Lanka is fast changing the rules of power in the tiny island nation. Given the categorical departure of religion and politics, Theravada Buddhism in Sri Lanka maintains its apolitical entity and separation from the political sphere. Since the early...