Buddhist Teachings on Peace No Longer as Popular in New York

February 12, 2002

Source: The New York Times

On February 12, 2002, The New York Times reported that "barely six months ago, Buddhism -- Tibetan and Zen -- was on a phenomenal upsurge in the New York area, attracting eager students to rural monasteries and urban meditation centers. Then came the attacks on the United States and the American war in Afghanistan. Nonviolence is no longer in fashion, particularly in New York, where the scars go deep and wounds are still fresh months after the destruction of the World Trade Center... Messages of peace and compassion that once seemed attractive to New Yorkers are now anathema, Buddhists are discovering. As Buddhists prepare for several days of festivities this week in celebration of Losar, the Tibetan Buddhist New Year, and Tibetans from communities along the East Coast and Canada converge on the city, some sad and sober reckoning is going on... Robert Thurman of Columbia University, a Buddhist monk and a scholar of Buddhism, said a fear of terrorism had paralyzed or 'rendered seditious' peace movements or even expressions of nonviolence. That includes pleas from the 14th Dalai Lama, the leader of Tibetan Buddhists, the fastest-growing Buddhist school in the Western world, for a measured response to the atrocities of last September... Most troubling to many Buddhists in New York was the unexpectedly lukewarm response to a planned visit to the city in April by the Dalai Lama. He had intended to visit the trade center site and lecture on Buddhism as part of a tour of Europe, Canada and the United States... The tour was canceled at the recommendation of his government in exile in Dharamsala, a Himalayan town in India."