His excellency and the monk: A correspondence between nyanaponika thera and david ben-gurion

Contemporary Buddhism 10 (2):197-219 (2009)

Between the years 1956 and 1962 the scholar-monk Nyanaponika Thera and the first Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion have exchanged eight long letters. These letters—published here for the first time—expose the extent of Ben-Gurion's interest in Buddhism and reveal the Buddhist rhetoric used by one of Sri Lanka's most influential scholars. This rhetoric, which was generally well received by Ben-Gurion, was an exemplar of ‘Protestant Buddhism’. It is suggested that Ben-Gurion could relate to this image of Buddhism because it reflected his own vision of Judaism that had ‘protestant’ characteristics. The letters contain autobiographical notes, unpublished comments on the Buddhist concepts of Suffering and Rebirth, and a curious plan to invite Nyanaponika to Israel.
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DOI 10.1080/14639940903239769
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