Do Osama bin Laden and George W. Bush share a similar worldview — the need for Godly people to destroy evil by any means necessary? Are they fighting the same holy-war-between-good-and-evil? This struggle between good people (us) and bad people (them) is quite attractive as a simple way to make sense of the world. But Hitler and Stalin also were trying to perfect the world by destroying their view of evil elements: Jews, landlords, and so forth. From a Buddhist perspective, such a black-and-white way of thinking tends to be delusive because each term is dependent on its opposite: We don’t know what is good until we know what is evil, and we can’t feel we are good unless we are fighting against that evil. Buddhist teachings imply an alternative way of understanding religious-inspired terrorism and state terrorism.
David R. Loy is Besl Family Professor of Ethics/Religion and Society at Xavier University in Cincinnati. His specialization is Asian and comparative philosophy, especially Buddhism. His books include Nonduality: A Study in Comparative Philosophy; Lack and Transcendence: The Problem of Death and Life in Psychotherapy, Existentialism, and Buddhism; A Buddhist History of the West: Studies in Lack; The Great Awakening: A Buddhist Social Theory; and most recently Money, Sex, War, Karma: Notes for a Buddhist Revolution. He also is qualified as a Zen teacher in the Sanbo Kyodan tradition.
Sponsored b the Asian Studies Program in the College of Arts and Sciences. This program is made possible through the generous support of the Presidential Initiative Fund for the Humanities.