Thanks to The Worst Horse, I decided to stay in last night and watch CNN Special Investigations Unit: Buddha’s Warriors. The show looks like a test run for God’s Warriors, a potentially more touchy subject about religious extremists from Christian, Jewish and Muslim perspectives.
Buddha’s Warriors focused on contemporary stories of political oppression and resistance in Tibet and Burma (Myanmar). These are two societies which are predominantly Buddhist, and so Christiane Amanpour asks: “How do people who are committed to love, kindness and nonviolence confront severe political oppression?”
Anyone who’s been reading Buddhist blogs has seen a lot of ink spilled over recent violence in Tibet and the Saffron Revolution in Burma. Christiane Amanpour does a good job of presenting different perspectives on the issue, presenting interviews with the Dalai Lama, Lhasan Tsering and Tenzin Tsondue. There is a split between pro-autonomy versus full-independence, or between nonviolent versus violent struggle. This division within the Buddhist community is real, no matter how much it breaks my heart, and I was glad to see these different sides present their story. From the Burmese perspective, there was less conflict of opinion: it seemed everyone agreed in a non-violent approach.
Over on the Worst Horse, there was some dissatisfaction with the presentation of Buddhism. On my part, I was content with the portrayal. While I can imagine that the shots of esoteric practices and meditation might have weirded out some viewers, or fed into Oriental exoticism (and don’t get me started), I’m thankful that Buddhism was essentially presented as a simple religion of love and kindness. I won’t argue with that.
Apparently there is a Part 2 tonight!
Update: There was no second part, just a rescreening.
Update (August 6): The following three articles were posted online along with the feature advertisement for Buddha’s Warriors.