Political involvement of the Sangha

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
Cassandra
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Re: Political involvement of the Sangha

Post by Cassandra » Fri Mar 22, 2013 6:41 am

convivium wrote:
Isn't "justice" a highly personalized view?
we can commonly agree on what is just and unjust on the grounds of whether or not basic needs or primary goods are being met or fairly distributed.
Yes I think I agree with you on that

householder
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Re: Political involvement of the Sangha

Post by householder » Fri Mar 22, 2013 9:09 am

So some examples for discussion relating to the escalating situation in Meiktila. I have a vested interest in monitoring this situation closely for various reasons, and at the moment I don't believe anyone on either side, nor official or unofficial accounts. It's an utter and dangerous mess!

New York Times reporter's Twitter feed today:
Thomas Fuller ‏@thomasfullerNYT 2h
Myanmar police seem unwilling or unable to stop violence in Meiktila. Mizzima report: http://www.mizzima.com/news/inside-burm ... ktila.html

Thomas Fuller ‏@thomasfullerNYT 2h
Buddhist monk in Meiktila, Myanmar, threatened photographer from the Associated Press with a sword. Photog handed over camera memory card.

Thomas Fuller ‏@thomasfullerNYT 4h
Myanmar rioting update (5): Buddhist monks appear to be leading mob torching Muslim houses in Meiktila Friday, say reporters on the ground.

Thomas Fuller ‏@thomasfullerNYT 4h
Myanmar rioting update (4): Rioting is spreading to surrounding villages; Muslim homes torched.

Thomas Fuller ‏@thomasfullerNYT 4h
Myanmar rioting update (3): Monks seized memory cards from news photographers, according to Burmese photog for Western news agency.

Thomas Fuller ‏@thomasfullerNYT 4h
Myanmar rioting update (2): Journalists report being harassed by Buddhist monks in Meiktila.

Thomas Fuller ‏@thomasfullerNYT 4h
Myanmar rioting update (1): Meiktila continues to burn. Reporter for local newspaper said he saw 15 charred bodies on the streets Friday AM.
On the other side: http://www.mizzima.com/news/inside-burm ... ktila.html
Outspoken Buddhist monk Shwe Nya Wah Sayadaw, who went to Meiktila to help dissolve the tensions, told Mizzima that he thought that the sectarian clashes might be related to political maneuvering, though he did not want to speculate who might be behind it.

He called on the local authorities, residents and Buddhist monks to prevent the riots. “They should not neglect the issue as though it is not related to them,” he said. “That is the message that I tried to convey.”
There's accusations flying on all sides and let's not forget that this is a highly charged situation as well as what's NOT being reported or is bearing little mention - locals offering safe refuge and support for each other, regardless of religion, and trying to defuse tensions where they can.

One Buddhist group is accused by certain advocates of being an extremist group and calling on Facebook for violence and property destruction. A different set of advocates claims the same group are providing safe passage and refuge for Muslims at risk.

Like I say, an utter mess!

Cassandra
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Re: Political involvement of the Sangha

Post by Cassandra » Fri Mar 22, 2013 9:30 am

What on earth is happening to Asian Buddhist regions which were once living in peace with other races and religions is beyond me.

householder
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Re: Political involvement of the Sangha

Post by householder » Fri Mar 22, 2013 9:45 am

Cassandra wrote:What on earth is happening to Asian Buddhist regions which were once living in peace with other races and religions is beyond me.
Was always a bit of a veneer here. In Yangon people, especially tourists who aren't here for very long, wax lyrical about the fact that downtown there are several churches, mosques, Hindu temples etc. all in a very close area, which is supposedly an illustration of commingling and tolerance etc. But you don't have to speak to many people for very long to unveil some very strong prejudices that they have been conditioned to hold, particularly when it comes to Islam and Muslims. It's shocking but I don't blame them at the same time - spend even a little bit of time here and you'll see how dysfunctional the place is on almost every level, starting with the education system...

Coyote
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Re: Political involvement of the Sangha

Post by Coyote » Fri Mar 22, 2013 10:32 am

convivium wrote:
Isn't "justice" a highly personalized view?
we can commonly agree on what is just and unjust on the grounds of whether or not basic needs or primary goods are being met or fairly distributed.
Disagree with this. What I meant by unjust was exactly as polarbuddha put it. Also there's a sutta that deals with a number of virtues that a king should have - honesty, caring for less well off members of society ect.
"If beings knew, as I know, the results of giving & sharing, they would not eat without having given, nor would the stain of miserliness overcome their minds. Even if it were their last bite, their last mouthful, they would not eat without having shared."
Iti 26

householder
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Re: Political involvement of the Sangha

Post by 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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Dmytro
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Re: Political involvement of the Sangha

Post by 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.
Anumodana :namaste:

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pilgrim
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Re: Political involvement of the Sangha

Post by 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.

householder
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Re: Political involvement of the Sangha

Post by 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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Dmytro
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Re: Political involvement of the Sangha

Post by 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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convivium
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Re: Political involvement of the Sangha

Post by 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.
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

householder
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Re: Political involvement of the Sangha

Post by 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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convivium
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Re: Political involvement of the Sangha

Post by 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

householder
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Re: Political involvement of the Sangha

Post by 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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convivium
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Re: Political involvement of the Sangha

Post by 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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