The history of Buddhism during the twentieth century may conjure up several iconic images relating to the struggle against oppression. For example, a now iconic photo taken in 1963 shows a Vietnamese monk resorting to self-immolation as a form of protest against the ill-treatment of Buddhists in his country. This photo became well known for its powerful demonstration of nonviolent resistance in the face of oppression. On a happier note, many older generations can still remember when the Buddhist leader, the Dalai Lama, successfully escaped to India in order to avoid persecution during the early stages of the Tibetan uprising. If these events were before your time, then you must remember when the Dalai Lama won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989 for establishing peaceful diplomatic relations with enemies of the Buddhist religion. These events serve as authentic examples of the Buddhist struggle for peace. Although, the Buddhist religion teaches strict non-violence as a central tenet, even the most conservative of Buddhist monks cannot help feeling belligerent when faced with destructive termite pests.
Religious matters always inspire controversy. Religion is one of those topics that cannot be discussed in a civil or constructive manner. However, one incident involving the destruction of a buddhist temple raised important questions concerning a common moral dilemma that practicing Buddhists are sometimes forced to face. Back in 1988, a group of Buddhist monks ignored their religious vow to abstain from committing violent actions after their temple had fallen apart due to an aggressive termite infestation.
A mountaintop in eastern China contains several Buddhist Temples, one of which is known as the Putuo Palace. Over sixty percent of the Palace’s wood-constructed exterior had sustained direct forms of damage from termites. At the time, the temple had sustained enough damage to warrant the use of steel cables in order to provide structural support to the temple. The voracious termites consumed a quarter of the seventy seven pillars decorating the temple’s entrance, and four enormous carvings of temple guardians had been rendered hollow by voracious termites. After enduring long periods of repeated termite attacks, the monks contacted a pest control operator in order to have the pests eradicated. Even after the infestation began, the monks intended to adhere to their philosophy concerning respect for all forms of life on earth. In the end, the destruction of their palace finally prompted the monks to sacrifice a few karma points in order to save their temple from total destruction.
Are you surprised that the monks were able to resist calling a pest control service after the termite infestation was discovered?