Los Angeles Buddhist- Catholic Dialogue
March 14, 2001
Present: Ven. Ani Kelsang Chitta, Rev. Kusala, Ven. Sumana,
Ven. Karuna Dharma, Fr. Alexei Smith, Sr. Thomas Bernard,
Fr. Will Connor, Anita Merwin, Ralph Barnes, Gordon Gibb,
We began our dialogue with a discussion of the destruction
of the great statues of the Buddha in the Bamiyan valley in
Afghanistan. The dialogue expressed its shock and sadness
that such destruction was occurring.
Kerze: pointed out that iconoclasm, the destruction of images,
was a movement that occurred in Christianity around the
and 9th centuries stimulated, in large part, by
the challenge of Islam and its insistence that neither God
nor any of his creation should be made into an image. Iconoclasm
was objected to on the Christian theological grounds that
God had given himself an image in Jesus Christ so it was
permissible to also create images.
Fr. Alexi: discussed
the history behind the movement and its condemnation in
Sumana: discussed the rich history of Buddhism in Afghanistan
and how, in centuries past, there were thousands of monks
living there and it was a center of Buddhist education.
Fr. Connor: raised
the fact that Muslim organizations and communities around
the world condemned the action.
In Indonesia, Ven.
Karuna Dharma said, Muslims are restoring and caring for the
great Buddhist shrine at Borobudur.
that the Taliban seem to believe that through conformity
one can find peace but in the end that kills what they
want to preserve. There is a corporate responsibility
and we benefit from each other in acts of thoughts, words,
Ven. Sumana: reflected
that we accept the humanity of the Taliban and sympathize
with the people of Afghanistan. For centuries, the statues
were kept and cared for by Muslims until today.
In India recently, there was a mosque in a holy place,
birthplace. Mosques had been destroyed there before. The
Taliban claim thats why they destroyed the statues.When
students from the Assembly of God visited Wat Thai, a
student said she could not take off her shoes to go inside
the temple because she would insult her god. We still
how to respect each other Ven. Sumana concluded. That is
why our dialogue is so important.