Political involvement of the Sangha

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Re: Political involvement of the Sangha

Postby householder » Fri Mar 22, 2013 12:03 pm

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/23/world ... .html?_r=0

The most chilling part:

"Journalists said they feared for their safety after Buddhist monks, one of them wielding a sword, forced them to hand over the memory cards in their cameras.

On Thursday, Buddhists, including monks from nearby monasteries, led a rampage through the Muslim quarter of the city of Meiktila seeking to avenge the death of a monk the day before, according to a news photographer who witnessed the fighting."


Utterly inexcusable if true (arguably hard to get your facts wrong when it comes to whether or not the person was in the robes of a Buddhist monk and whether or not they were threatening you, and with what), and in my view this is more than a case of 'it's just a few bad monks, ignore them and focus on the good ones'.

Remember that in Myanmar monks are influential and hold significant sway with the majority Buddhist populace. If it's true that some local monks are inciting and spearheading the violence, this is not something that can be ignored by any side.

Whilst so far I've read of several prominent monks calling for calm (with Aung San Suu Kyi so far only telling the police to 'act in accordance with the law' and making no public statement, which is par for the course for her these days), I've not seen any read of the senior Sangha of any order specifically denounce the actions of these idiots (and that's what they are - they're not deserving of the title of 'monk'). I'd imagine, however, that once these reports are verified and more widely circulated, action will hopefully be taken.

Outside in my street tonight they're laying preparations for a senior monk to give an outdoor talk - the whole street will sit on mats and listen. I'm in a majority Muslim neighbourhood so I'm very keen to attend, take my friend who will translate and listen to what the senior monk will teach.

EDIT: Twitter reports are that many local monks have taken in hundreds of homeless/hurt people from all sides into their monasteries. That's more like it and we need to be seeing these engaged and shining examples of compassion being reported as well.
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Re: Political involvement of the Sangha

Postby Dmytro » Fri Mar 22, 2013 12:39 pm

householder wrote:Twitter reports are that many local monks have taken in hundreds of homeless/hurt people from all sides into their monasteries. That's more like it and we need to be seeing these engaged and shining examples of compassion being reported as well.


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Re: Political involvement of the Sangha

Postby pilgrim » Fri Mar 22, 2013 12:53 pm

Let's not forget that in SE Asian countries, just about any guy can ordain as a monk or novice. You could step out of prison yesterday and be in robes today.
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Re: Political involvement of the Sangha

Postby householder » Sat Mar 23, 2013 3:02 am

Current speculation is that the 'monks' are government-hired thugs in disguise. Wouldn't put it past this regime (despite international swooning over 'transition to democracy' blah blah blah, the generals still run the show...)
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Re: Political involvement of the Sangha

Postby Dmytro » Sat Mar 23, 2013 4:10 am

householder wrote:Current speculation is that the 'monks' are government-hired thugs in disguise. Wouldn't put it past this regime (despite international swooning over 'transition to democracy' blah blah blah, the generals still run the show...)


IMHO, these events reflect that the generals don't run the show. This reminds me of post-communist transition period in Ukraine.
During the transition, there's an inevitable period of chaos and anomia, with the new structure being built on the basis of the innate cultural forces.

Evidently in the new situation Myanmar Sangha suddenly needs to acquire strong management and public relations skills. I hope there are some wise people who will understand this.
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Re: Political involvement of the Sangha

Postby convivium » Sat Mar 23, 2013 4:46 am

i love hearing what westerners think monks in third world countries should and shouldn't do. i spend too much time on the internet.
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Re: Political involvement of the Sangha

Postby householder » Sat Mar 23, 2013 4:52 am

convivium wrote:i love hearing what westerners think monks in third world countries should and shouldn't do. i spend too much time on the internet.


So people who follow a set of religious teachings, wherever they are in the world (in my case I live in Myanmar), shouldn't question the actions of those who are ostensibly part of a religious clergy, tasked with both safeguarding and promoting those teachings, when they are allegedly involved in very high-profile matters such as what is going on at the moment?

EDIT: Not accusatory or inflammatory - seeking different perspectives on the matter.
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Re: Political involvement of the Sangha

Postby convivium » Sat Mar 23, 2013 5:23 am

i never said you shouldn't question it; but just question your questioning, and the limits of your knowledge. ethics are complicated. even if you live in burma, it doesn't mean you know what's going on in burma. are you staying near mahabandoola in yangon?
Just keep breathing in and out like this. Don't be interested in anything else. It doesn't matter even if someone is standing on their head with their ass in the air. Don't pay it any attention. Just stay with the in-breath and the out-breath. Concentrate your awareness on the breath. Just keep doing it. http://www.ajahnchah.org/book/Just_Do_It_1_2.php
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Re: Political involvement of the Sangha

Postby householder » Sat Mar 23, 2013 5:31 am

convivium wrote:i never said you shouldn't question it; but just question your questioning, and the limits of your knowledge. ethics are complicated. even if you live in burma, it doesn't mean you know what's going on in burma. are you staying near mahabandoola in yangon?


Nope - I was in downtown but not anymore. Part of the problem here is that nobody knows what's going on and - if past history is any indication - it's doubtful whether anyone ever will!
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Re: Political involvement of the Sangha

Postby convivium » Sat Mar 23, 2013 5:36 am

even where you are now, you can't possibly see what's going on beneath civilian clothes, or at night, or behind closed doors...
Just keep breathing in and out like this. Don't be interested in anything else. It doesn't matter even if someone is standing on their head with their ass in the air. Don't pay it any attention. Just stay with the in-breath and the out-breath. Concentrate your awareness on the breath. Just keep doing it. http://www.ajahnchah.org/book/Just_Do_It_1_2.php
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Re: Political involvement of the Sangha

Postby convivium » Sat Mar 23, 2013 6:00 am

just because people wear robes in burma doesn't mean they aspire to be buddhas. in burma there are three options: join the junta, the sangha, or e.g. have a family with a pre-established business in line with the junta. in western eyes, it seems like these monks should be following vinaya, and how dare they etc. but really people are people, and in darkness people don't often see a lot of choices.
Just keep breathing in and out like this. Don't be interested in anything else. It doesn't matter even if someone is standing on their head with their ass in the air. Don't pay it any attention. Just stay with the in-breath and the out-breath. Concentrate your awareness on the breath. Just keep doing it. http://www.ajahnchah.org/book/Just_Do_It_1_2.php
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Re: Political involvement of the Sangha

Postby Nyorai » Sat Mar 23, 2013 8:32 am

polarbuddha101 wrote:Monks can speak about right and wrong in line with the dhamma. Osama and the U.S. government committed unskillful deeds from the perspective of the dhamma. Any killing, any stealing, and any lying is unskillful. Hence, monks should stay out of politics because governments will almost certainly always be engaged in killing and stealing and lying. However, monks can remind people, be they presidents, kings, popes, or peasants about what is skillful and what is unskillful, about what when undertaken leads to longterm harm and suffering and what when undertaken leads to longterm welfare and happiness. The fact is that a samana has seen (on some level presumably) that this world is not worth clinging to and so they leave the world (of everyday life) and work to abandon their craving and clinging.

:thumbsup: this is right livelihood of monks. Their simple lifestyle and simple attire already are very good example for people to reflect on peace and joys. One of the political situation mentioned in the sutta was the sakya clan being horrendorously attacked and killed and Buddha knew it would happen and did not stop it due to very deep karmic feud involved :bow:
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Re: Political involvement of the Sangha

Postby householder » Sat Mar 23, 2013 12:41 pm

An interesting article on the 969 movement.

http://www.asiasentinel.com/index.php?o ... Itemid=208
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Re: Political involvement of the Sangha

Postby Dmytro » Sat Mar 23, 2013 2:10 pm

First-person speech of Wirathu:

http://youtu.be/RJAPKavKb_U
http://hlaoo1980.blogspot.com/2013/03/b ... alist.html

Following is president Thein Sein’s “Declaration of Emergency” in the race-riots-torn district of Meik-hti-lar consisting the townships of Meik-hti-lar, One-dwin, Ma-hlaing, and Thar-zee.

Declaration of Emergency

1. Because of the dire situations preventing the restoration of law and order in the Meik-hti-lar Township of Meik-hti-lar District in Mandalay Division the Act-144 has been declared since 20 March 2013 so that the peaceful existence and the security of the people can be restored.

2. But the violent unrests have been spreading widely and imposing of the Act-144 alone is not sufficient enough to restore the civil administration in the townships of Meik-hti-lar, One-dwin, Ma-hlaing, and Thar-zee of the District of Meik-hti-lar. To restore law and order in said townships as quickly as possible I declare Emergency in the district of Meik-hti-lar from today in accordance with the Sub-Act (A) of the Act-412 of the Constitution of Union of Myanmar.

3. Tatmadaw (Burma Army) will be brought in to help restore law and order in the Meik-hti-lar District in accordance with the Sub-Act (A) of the Act-413 of the Constitution of Union of Myanmar.

4. This Declaration of Emergency will be in effect from today till another related order is issued.

5. This order has same authority like a law.

Thein Sein
President
Republic of the Union of Myanmar

http://hlaoo1980.blogspot.com/2013/03/a ... -race.html
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Re: Political involvement of the Sangha

Postby householder » Mon Mar 25, 2013 9:37 am

Wirathu, 969 and associated sentiments are real, visible downtown and have quite a bit of local support. The next few days/weeks will be interesting. Twitter/local rumour is that the township I live in will get attacked tonight... in reality it's highly unlikely but vigilance still required.
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Re: Political involvement of the Sangha

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Mon Mar 25, 2013 12:09 pm

There are similar problems in Sri Lanka

These shameless political Buddhist monks are doing great damage to Buddhism by using and urging violence against others.
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Re: Political involvement of the Sangha

Postby Ron-The-Elder » Mon Mar 25, 2013 12:37 pm

This is why I think that activism is to be avoided in Buddhism. Even that type of activism taught by Tich Nat Hahn back in the 1960s. I know this is very controversial, but The Individual Practice has to be our focus, not trying to change the world (others). In my estimation the whole Bodhisattvah movement to "save" others is misdirected. :buddha1:
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Re: Political involvement of the Sangha

Postby Mr Man » Mon Mar 25, 2013 12:52 pm

Hi Ron-The-Elder
How about Buddhists being "activists" but not being "Buddhist activists"? As lay followers do we have duty to participate in our society?
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Re: Political involvement of the Sangha

Postby Cassandra » Tue Mar 26, 2013 5:49 am

Ron-The-Elder wrote:This is why I think that activism is to be avoided in Buddhism. Even that type of activism taught by Tich Nat Hahn back in the 1960s. I know this is very controversial, but The Individual Practice has to be our focus, not trying to change the world (others). In my estimation the whole Bodhisattvah movement to "save" others is misdirected. :buddha1:


I must say I tend to agree with this. From the little I know of Buddhism, it doesn't seem like active involvement in politics is for a monk, even if it is for the right cause. A person ordains for seclusion, and their own personal liberation.

That doesn't mean a monk should not voice his opinion and have a stance on right and wrong. But changing the world and battling one's inner demons are two different ideals. I see this as a clash of interests in two fundamental concepts: Should I find peace for myself or should I try to find those starving kids something to eat. I don't see it is possible to pursue both goals at the same time due to their contradictory nature.

This is where I struggle. I feel selfish to sit in a corner and turn a blind eye to so much pain in the world without doing something about it. :shrug:
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Re: Political involvement of the Sangha

Postby Heaviside » Tue Mar 26, 2013 7:00 pm

Seems to me that there is a difference between being politically involved and carrying a machete (as news report from Myanmar indicate some Buddhist monks are doing)! But is the conflict actually between Buddhists and Muslims---or is that simply a rubric for other issues? :shrug:
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