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General Buddhism => The Dharma Express => Topic started by: Dharmakara on November 07, 2015, 01:00:55 am

Title: Race and Racism
Post by: Dharmakara on November 07, 2015, 01:00:55 am
“Not by caste, race, or creed, or birth is one noble, but by heart alone is one a noble being.”

Race is the concept that some communities of people have physical and psychological traits significantly different from those of other communities. The concept of race has now largely been abandoned by science as being too imprecise and difficult to define. Racism is the belief that some communities of people have physical and psychological traits that that make them significantly inferior or superior to other groups. Some examples of racism are the Nazi ideology of ‘the master race,’ the Dutch Reformed Church’s apartheid theology and the Southern Baptist Church’s doctrine that the enslavement of black people was ordained by God, now repudiated. Some have argued that the Hindu caste system is a form of racism.

The Buddha was probably the first person in history to express doubt about the concept of race and to explicitly condemn racism. In the famous Vāseṭṭha Sutta of the Sutta Nipāta he says: ‘Consider grass and trees. Although they do not speak of it, the different species amongst them can be seen. Consider insects ... quadrupeds, reptiles ... fish ... and birds. Although they do not speak of it, the different species amongst them can be seen. Amongst these beings the differences are manifold and clear whereas amongst humans they are insignificant. Not in hair, head, ears, eyes or mouth, not in nose, lips, eyebrows, neck, shoulders, abdomen or back, not in buttocks, chest, male or female sexual organs, hands or feet, not in fingers, nails, calves, thighs, colour or voice do the differences constitute a species as they do in other beings. The differences amongst humans are insignificant.’ (Sn. 601-11)

Due to the heinous nature of racism, I thought it might be a good idea to examine to topic from two perspectives, the first being from the of the Buddhist perspective as contained within an excellent publication entitled "Buddhism and the Race Question" by G.P. Malalasekera and H.N. Jayatilleke (both professors from the University of Ceylon) that was originally published by UNESCO in 1958 and then again later republished as a BPS Wheel publication in 1974: (

The second perspective comes from an ongoing experimental exploration of racism within an academic setting with a long history of having been used through the years, although it originated with a teacher and her 3rd grade classroom, widespread knowledge of the experiment of it didn't enter into mainstream media until it was showcased as an episode of the Oprah Winfrey Show in 1992: (

It's also quite interesting to examine this experiment through the years with different age groups and in different geographic locations. Although having so many videos of the same experiment might seem a bit much like over-kill, each video is quite revealing it its own way --- for example, the video below is actually from the earliest period with the third grade classroom, having occurred shortly after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.: (

This later video is the same experiment with students from an American university: (

And then again in the United Kingdom with a much more varied collection of participants as recorded in a BBC documentary: (
Title: Re: Race and Racism
Post by: question everything on November 07, 2015, 10:26:43 am
Hi Dharmakara, have been reading this article: (

 Not sure this is the truth or propaganda?, such is the poor quality of content these days, it makes me sad to read such a story, perhaps a sign that Buddhism should distance itself from politics, we do not have to talk politics under this convention. All beings are equal.
Title: Re: Race and Racism
Post by: Dharmakara on November 07, 2015, 12:10:39 pm
Hi QE.

Unfortunately, and as sad as it is to have to say so, the article actually conveys the truth of the current insanity that's been over-taking some sections of the Sangha, not only in Myanmar, but also in Sri Lanka, where another militant group known as the Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) has been causing the same problems: ( (

Even sadder still is the fact that this type of behavior and rhetoric also has the tendency to bring about retaliation against innocent Buddhists in other countries --- for example, in 2012 when radicalized and extremist Muslim groups attacked Buddhist temples and villages in Bangladesh: (
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