Buddhadharma: The Practitioner's Quarterly

The World’s Most Peaceful Religion?

If You Meet The Buddha On The Road: Buddhism, Politics, and Violence by Michael Jerryson

Oxford University Press, 2018 240 pages; $99

AS MYANMAR, a country with a Buddhist majority, carries out genocide against its Muslim Rohingya population (amidst other campaigns of violence), the need to understand how and why Buddhists are engaging in violence is urgent. Despite the prevalent narrative, the reality of “the world’s most peaceful religion” mobilizing to the drumbeat of war is not a new development.

Against that backdrop, Michael Jerryson’s If You Meet the Buddha On the Road: Buddhism, is part of a growing body of scholarship examining the historical and contemporary entanglements of Buddhists in war and oppression. Jerryson, a professor of religious studies at Youngstown State University, analyzes how Buddhists justify or overlook violence, how they deal with the violence of blasphemy toward what they hold sacred, and how they cope in the face of traumatic conflict. The unifying thread lies in illuminating and problematizing the relationship Buddhists hold with violence.

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