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Thread: the situation in burma

  1. #1

    the situation in burma

    Friends,

    If you're not familiar with what's going on in Burma right now, here's a brief overview:

    The military, which has ruled Myanmar in some form for 45 years, is facing the biggest challenge to its supremacy since 1988, when a student uprising was brutally put down by the army, killing at least 3,000 people.

    State media on Tuesday were filled with warnings by the junta of a crackdown, despite international appeals to the regime to show restraint.

    Deeply-respected Buddhist monks have spearheaded the protests and numbers on the streets have snowballed to at least 100,000 as the general public join in the movement.

    Restrained and peaceful, the monks clad in saffron and red robes have urged people not to chant political slogans as their processions snake through the main city Yangon, but to recite prayers of peace and compassion.

    "They are learning from the 1988 uprising, when there were so many different demands," said Aung Naing Oo, a Thailand-based Myanmar expert.

    The question for many analysts and diplomats is whether the junta has also learnt lessons from the 1988 massacre.

    "The military has a history of cracking down on the pro-democracy movement and has had no qualms about doing that in the past," Aung Naing Oo said.

    Most analysts agree that the protests show little sign of fizzling out.

    What began as a movement by democracy activists against a rise in the price of fuel in the middle of last month has now mushroomed to encompass monks, nuns, artists and celebrities.

    The demands have crystallized too. On Sunday, the monks' placards asked for dialogue with the junta, reconciliation and freedom for Aung San Suu Kyi, the democracy icon who has spent 12 of the last 18 years under house arrest.

    "[Protests] could peter out, but that's looking increasingly unlikely. You could see a sharp reaction from the government, which is more likely," said Mark Canning, the British ambassador in Yangon. "The obvious way out of this is to sit down with the various elements that are involved in all this and try and reach some sort of common ground."
    Does anyone know of anything we can do to help? Petitions we can sign? Hell, chants we can do? I just feel so useless in the face of a tragedy like this.

    Gassho.

  2. #2

    burma

    Hello Justin:

    Yes, this news is very bleak. When it comes to causes needing support, there is no shortage. This may be the latest, hottest political fire at the moment, and it's not the only one.
    There is no one particular right response.

    Koans arise naturally in daily life. The koan "How do I (should I, can I) respond to x"? I think it is natural to want to throw oneself into action. It is good to sit with the question and sit until the answer ripens within you. I find that this 'ripe' answer is the answer with my whole being. (This getting to 'ripe' doesn't necessarily take very long. All I know is when I respond with my head, over thinking, when I respond with my heart/emotiongs, under thinking. The ripe response does not have an after taste of ''what I really should have done is ...y.."
    It is good also to be appreciative of our response and efforts and those of others.
    It is heartbreaking to acknowledge our limits.
    (I think this is where repentence comes in with regard to vows/precepts. It also fleshes them out, they are no longer mental constructs, but real situations, and life/lives depend on them.)
    Being mindful right now--not running the faucet as you brush your teeth, hearing the birds outside the window, giving the cashier at the store a smile and some pleasantry--this daily life is just as important as making a call to a political action group, help send out flyers, etc.
    One sitting group I was with absolutely allowed no political e-mails to members.
    The head of the group made it clear: no politics. Members among themselves could take up various actions and interests, but the group itself, as a unified whole, took no position.

    I thank you for posting the topic, and for Jundo bringing it up in his blog.

    It's real life: it's where the Buddhist tires hit the road on the Middle Path.

    gassho,
    keishin

  3. #3
    There are links to news and petitions here ...

    http://www.buddhistchannel.tv/index.php


    Gassho, J

  4. #4
    here is a link to a blogger who is getting photos and some first hand accounts past the media blockout.

    http://ko-htike.blogspot.com/

    pictures can speak many words to get people involved and thinking about what to be done.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Rev R
    here is a link to a blogger who is getting photos and some first hand accounts past the media blockout.

    http://ko-htike.blogspot.com/

    pictures can speak many words to get people involved and thinking about what to be done.
    Also this blog: http://moemaka.blogspot.com/

    Myanmar military regime has stepped up its crackdown on the protest monks and public not only on the street but also inside the compound of Buddhist monasteries. It is learnt that early morning of today around 2:00 am, the armies has raided the monasteries in Rangoon and its suburbs.

    The cries and the shouting of monks were visibly heard as the soldiers forced their way into the "Ngwe Kyar Yan" monastery at South Okkalapa Township, beating, dragging and arresting them according to the neighbors at the monastery.

  6. #6

  7. #7

  8. #8
    I'm writing my senators and will be checking in at Amnesty International to see what they are recommending. . . just posting this vow online with the Sangha to ensure I carry out my intentions.

  9. #9
    Here is the link to take action as a part of amnesty international. As Harry is suggesting they are requesting that people write to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the web link contains the email and snail mail for the Foreign Affairs Minister.


    http://web.amnesty.org/pages/mmr-270907-action-eng


    I'm sending an email now and will be mailing a letter in the morning.

  10. #10
    Burma's main trading partner by far is China, by many accounts concerned about the fallout on the 2008 Olympics. Here is a list of corporate sponsors:

    http://en.beijing2008.cn/bocog/sponsors/sponsors/

    Pass it on.

    Louis

  11. #11
    I found an online petition to china from the U.S. Campaign for Burma, I also like Louis idea of writing the Olympic sponsors.


    http://www.democracyinaction.org/dia/or ... mePage.dwt

  12. #12
    My life as a student often has me so caught up in my own affairs that I can go for weeks without watching the news. This sometimes leads me to feeling like I live under a rock! It is this Sangha that made me aware of the turmoil in Burma, and encouraged me to look into the issue.

    Quote Originally Posted by HezB
    p.s. contacting your local Chinese Embassy requesting them to do all in their power to ensure the safety of the Burmese people is also an idea: the are protests in various places which are meeting at Chinese embassies because China hold most influence on the Burmese government.

    List of Chinese embassies worldwide:

    http://www.fmprc.gov.cn/eng/wjb/zwjg/2490/default.htm

    Regards,

    H.
    Thank you for this link, it inspired me to write to the Chinese Ambassador to Canada. I also send letters to the Canadian Ambassadors to China, and the Canadian Ambassador to Thailand and Burma. It is a very small step, but a step.

    Thank you all for your concern, and for the encouragement to get involved.

    Cheers,
    Kelly

  13. #13
    Hey some possible good news from Burma, it appears that a rift is forming between the Generals who run the military junta, they are rumors that the military may be dividing into two groups due to one of the generals be against firing into the crowds or attacking the monks. There are reports that his troops are now defending the protesters against the police other troops that are attacking the demonstrators.

    Check out this link, http://thebuddhistblog.blogspot.com/ -- there are more links there to the actual news stories.

    Lets keep up our hope and continue sending the emails and petitions.

  14. #14
    The Burma File: http://www.newsdeskspecial.co.uk/burma/
    1,000 monks now being held

    Troops cut off jeweled head of ancient Buddha

    Sporadic demonstrations were held throughout Rangoon today, but riot police and troops appeared to be under orders to hold their fire, probably because of the presence in the city of UN special envoy Ibrahim Gambari, writes Edward Loxton.

    One of the city's leading monasteries, Ngwe Kyar Yar, was raided by security officers during the early hours this morning, and about 200 monks were dragged from their beds and loaded into army trucks.

    Around 1,000 monks are now being held, either at Rangoon's notorious Insein prison or at a government ministry compound. Kangaroo courts have already been in session, handing out sentences of up to six years’ imprisonment, according to Burmese sources with prison contacts.

    It transpires that when troops first raided Ngwe Kyar Yar on Thursday, they plundered the monastery, seizing valuable offertory objects and cutting off the jeweled head of an ancient statue of Buddha.

    Opposition sources said today they had counted at least 200 dead in the three days of clashes. Several hundred people have been injured and many are now in hiding from the authorities.

    There are reports of protest demonstrations in several parts of the country, including Mandalay, the port city of Sittwe and some towns along the Thai border. Riot police and troops have confronted the demonstrators, including many monks, but have refrained from using force to disperse them.

  15. #15
    Most of the time my actions have the wrong effect. Most of the time my head is clouded with things that I should do. Unfortunately I am at a point in my practice where I am unsure of what to do. Today I sat on a mountain with the trees, birds and traffic below. If I truly want to help anyone, the only way I know how is to practice.

    Now. I smoke. It is a habit. I started about 1 and a half years ago. Now I could go through feeling guilty about smoking, but that of course doesn't do anyone any good. I was on the mountain and was about to light a cigarette. A man walked by and said (making a smoking action) "no" with an air of being the master of the mountain. I noticed him and I lit the smoke anyway. I could have gotten lost in thoughts about "Maybe he's right. Maybe I shouldn't be smoking." or "who is he to say I can't smoke" These thoughts came up. Now, I could have caused lots of trouble for myself if I dwelled on those thoughts. They could have accumulated like they have so many times before. I lit the smoke. I smoked it. I walked. I finished the cigarette and put the butt in my cigarette case, like I usually do.

    After coming down the mountain, I saw the man again. I had the feeling that he thought the fact that I smoke is terrible (at this time I wasn't smoking). I felt him focus on me and the fact that I had a cigarette that time before. I had some thoughts or feelings trying to manifest themselves into a rivalry of some sort. I just let them go and we walked by each other. Perhaps the man is tired of all the garbage that people leave on the mountain. Perhaps he's a health fanatic. Perhaps. But that really doesn't matter. His view was that I am a foriegner and therefore do not speak Chinese. Therefore, he will not stop and explain to me the reason why he thinks I should not smoke. Therefore, he will keep walking and I will keep smoking. Was his action correct?

    When it comes to doing what is right, the only way to do that is through practice. In my practice I am not at the point where I can write letters or take action. My practice at the moment is learning to be mindful.

    Perhaps I will go back to the mountain and pick up some of the garbage for samu

    Gassho Will

  16. #16
    I'm decided that I want to join the USCB ( United States Campaign for Burma) they have individual memberships, but also the opportunity to create a community chapter.

    Would anyone be interested in creating a Treeleaf Sangha chapter? I'm not sure how well things would work out considering how spread out we are, but it might be a great way we can join together for dana/Samu purposes. If anybody is interested let me know either via this forum or email me (address is on my profile) --- If enough people are interested I'll email the folks at USCB, and see if they are up for it. Perhaps it wont work because we are not a localized group. . . If not, those of us interested can just join as individuals. Just an idea but I'd like to keep moving ahead on this issue and not turn away from it.

    gassho,

    Greg

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by will
    Most of the time my actions have the wrong effect. Most of the time my head is clouded with things that I should do. Unfortunately I am at a point in my practice where I am unsure of what to do.
    If you witnessed a small child run into the middle of a busy road, your instinct likely would be to do something to save it. Most people would agree that doing so is the 'Right' or 'Moral' thing to do. Yet, years later, that child you saved could turn into a human monster, responsible for the deaths of many people and great suffering. Or, that child could become a great healer, responsible for helping many hundreds of other people. You do not know. In other words, we cannot see the distant results of our actions, no matter how well meaning.

    All we can do at any instant is ask ourselves whether, in our hearts, we believe our actions will likely do harm to ourselves and others, be helpful to ourselves and others, or be neutral. All we can do is take our best guess, following our hearts, knowing that helpful conduct will be perhaps more likely to be helpful, harmful conduct more likely to do harm. We should know too that no action will bring about results purely good or bad, for everything is a mix.

    When it comes to doing what is right, the only way to do that is through practice. In my practice I am not at the point where I can write letters or take action. My practice at the moment is learning to be mindful.

    Perhaps I will go back to the mountain and pick up some of the garbage for samu

    Gassho Will
    We do not know the consequences of our actions. Sometimes, taking no action is the right course, and taking action is the wrong course. (For example, at the time of the Tian'anmen slaughter, I was a lawyer in the US and had just come back from China. I helped get permits for demonstrators in the US, helped some of the student dissidents in the US with some immigration issues, even hooked up some anti-Castro groups in Miami with the Chinese students, thinking that the Cubans could teach the Chinese kids a thing or two on working the political system in Washington and media. When in law school in China, I had also taught a course on the American constitution, secretly, to a group of Chinese law students, one of which was killed or disappeared during Tian'anmen. I do not think my little class was anyhow responsible for Tian'anmen, don't get me wrong, but I may have helped along that bunch of kids getting themselves in trouble or killed. Years later, I came to regret it ... My reasons are complicated, but to make a long story short, I came to no longer believe that China was then ready for some naive form of democracy as the students were advocating at that time, that China did and still does require a firm hand and a slow evolution to reforms, that the students would have only brought chaos ... not democracy. If I had it to do over again, I do not think I would have done it the same way. My 'best guess' on how to act would have been different)

    Now, Will, for your situation ... our practice is 'non-doing', it is not 'not doing'. Sometimes, it is perfectly good for us not to involve ourselves in some things that other people involve themselves in (for example, sometimes our Buddhist response to political debate should be to take NO opinion ... having no stance IS a stance).

    However, our Practice should never be an excuse for running away, laziness and being passive. That is why "Samu' involves going out and taking what, we believe, is helpful action AND doing so in a way we somewhat resist. So, do not ever take Zazen as an excuse to sit on your fat, lazy ass.

    Yes, you should go back out to that mountain and pick up some garbarge. That, or some equivalent work that is rather against what you would want to be doing (e.g., riding your skateboard). Do it BECAUSE IT HURTS a little.

    Our Way is one of moderation, so no need to give your life to that mountain, quiting your job to become a park ranger. But, yes, you should do daily and weekly work that you believe helps people.

    Greg, if you believe that the USCB might be helpful conduct, please do gather information for us.

    Gassho, Jundo

  18. #18
    Greg, if you people that the USCB might be helpful conduct, please do gather information for us.

    Sorry Jundo, not quite sure what you're saying there?

    But, I'll send them an email in the morning asking if they think a community chapter would work for us.

  19. #19
    Hi Greg,

    Should read ...

    Greg, if you believe that the USCB might be helpful conduct, please do gather information for us.


    We also never now for sure what our fingers will type despite our mind's best intent.

    Gassho, J

  20. #20
    Okay, I guess I got the jist anyway.

    I'll write them in the morning, gotta get my butt into bed.

  21. #21
    Then, what is right action Jundo? Does that exist?

    Gassho Will

  22. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by will
    Then, what is right action Jundo? Does that exist?

    Gassho Will
    Hi Will,

    Yes, it most certainly exists. 'Right Action' is an action which we sincerely believe in our hearts is likely not to do harm, and hopefully to be helpful, to ourselves and others.

    In other word, 'Right Action' is usually seen as action which is intended to be in keeping with the Precepts. Since the Precepts are guideposts to helpful and healthful conduct, and since our heart is the only true judge of a person's intent, the heart defines 'Right Action'.

    If you are thinking that your Buddhist Practice will always tell you whether to order Item A or Item B on the Menu of Life, it will not. It might help you get a better grasp on what is 'harmful' and 'healthful' conduct (e.g., that promiscuous sex is very likely to be harmful, same for excessive smoking, meat eating, alcohol drinking), but it will provide few specific answers in many gray areas of life (Should I be a vegetarian or eat a little meat?). The heart can only make its best guess, I think.

    That is 'Right Action'.

    If you want more specific answers, with more black&whites and fewer gray areas, please talk to a Theravada practitioner, the Pope, a Wahhabi Muslim, or an Ultra-Orthodox Jew. They will give you much more specific 'do's' and 'don'ts'.

    Gassho, Jundo

  23. #23
    Someone wrote to ask about a person who thinks in their heart that they are keeping the Precepts, but may not be ... for example, some Buddhists who supported of the Japanese military during WWII and who equated killing Chinese in the war effort as no violation of the Precept against Killing.

    Guess what: It is another gray area!

    In their hearts, if they were sincere, we might say that they were maintaining the Precept.

    On the other hand, the interpretation is so extreme, that likely something is wrong. For example, they likely did not understand the true meaning of Peace and the value of human life. It is much like someone who is stretching the the Precepts to excuse unlimited drug use and promiscuous sex (hey, it happened during the Hippie 60's of Buddhism). They may be sincere, but it is likely that they have misunderstood the meaning of moderation and 'harm' to body and mind. So, there, they clearly overstepped the outer boundaries of the 'guidelines.' I think.

    Gassho, Jundo

  24. #24
    The latest from Ko Htike's Blog
    Telephone conversation with a members of public

    Er… they shot… people got killed. Er…but it seems like it wasn't as
    bad as yesterday in terms of number of deaths, however we will know
    the accurate picture tomorrow. Er… la another disturbing news is
    that er… I would like to know if you would inform BBC and CNN about?
    (sob!!!) They burned the injured protesters/civilian people in the
    YaeWay Crematorium la la . Er… the staff from crematorium told this,
    crying, to the people who went to the funeral service. Please let
    this known to CNN and BBC. Thank you!!
    From The Buddhist Channel
    Letter of Appeal from from Venerable Ajahn Sumedho
    The Buddhist Channel, Sept 30, 2007

    I am making a statement of support and sympathy for the heroic efforts of the Buddhist Monks, Nuns, Students, and all the Burmese Laypeople who are peacefully protesting against the injustice and oppression of the present government of Myanmar.

    It is very confusing and distressing to witness a government which claims to respect the Buddhist religion react to a peaceful protest in such a violent and brutal way.

    I have always held the Sangha in Burma with great respect. I ask the present government to listen to the Sangha and to seek a way of reconciliation in accord with the Dhamma which will be for the welfare and happiness of all.

    I send all my blessings to the peaceful protesters and my compassion to the Government of Myanmar which has strayed so far from the wisdom and compassion of the Lord Buddha.

  25. #25
    Jundo

    If you want more specific answers, with more black&whites and fewer gray areas, please talk to a Theravada practitioner, the Pope, a Wahhabi Muslim, or an Ultra-Orthodox Jew. They will give you much more specific 'do's' and 'don'ts'.
    I get it. Thanks.

    I truly do feel for this situation. My reaction is of shock and sadness, but I don't see how writing a letter will help. Maybe it will. Everyday I meet people and a lot of the time (especially in China) people tend to have a narrow view. Very black and white sometimes. Especially when it comes to "foriegners". This is something I've been dealing with for 5 years. Seeing how people just focus on something. Like I'm not a human being. My practice has helped in this respect, but everyday I see people spitting, and throwing garbage. It has really opened my eyes to how people can be. My practice most of the time is dealing with this. Dealing with the way people presume things because I have different skin color. Now, I live here quite carefree, but sometimes someone will focus on something I'm doing for no other reason than because I have a bigger nose and I find that I start to contract my attention at them instead of opening up. It has been a great leap for me to be able to not care what others think of me.

    Today I met some people on the mountain. We smiled at each other. I said Ni Hao. They obviously saw me as a foriegner. I kept walking.

    Through my practice I also influence my students to not have such a great divide between someone from a country other than China. My practice helps with this. The more intimate and human I can be, the more my students don't judge me by the color of my eyes. I have seen the progression from foriegner! foriegner! in my classes before to just Will now. Also my teaching has improved as well.

    I wasn't using practice as a reason to "sit on my fat ass" I am doing what I feel I should do from my experience. However, thank you for your words.

    Most of my days are spent sitting and studying the Dharma. However, today I specifically went to the mountain to practice with nature. To get out. I sat on a rock practicing for 15 minutes and made a video that I will post on the forum. I was open. Lately my practice has been different. My head, stomach and limbs are not so tense and I am not focusing on my thoughts as much. I used to live in my head all the time. Now that is clearing a bit, but I feel that I need to practice more before I can make any decision such as writing letters to Burma.

    Gassho Will

  26. #26
    Harry, Jundo et al

    I'm sure there are groups all over working to help out the people in Burma, after looking into things I'm not sure if forming a chapter would work out, it seems to work best for a local group. We can still work together to share information, and encourage each other to write letters, ect.

    I'm going to join individually and send some money, gonna forgo a new set of fiddle strings in order to send the $60 to help the people in Burma, I also think Amnesty International is a great organization for people interested in the issue of human rights, it offers a lot of opportunity to get involved and support people besides just sending money (writing letters, emails, ect).

    I used to get very frustrated and upset looking at the cruelty in this world, but now I just try to forge ahead and do the little that I can to help, clean my house, go to work, maintain my practice ect. Live moment to moment, nothing else is guaranteed.

    May you all be happy,

    Greg

  27. #27
    Hi,

    Some email questions I received today make it clear that I was not clear about something. I will talk about this as the subject of the 'Sit-a-Long with Jundo' blog talk today too.

    I said that 'our heart' is the final judge of whether something is 'Right Action', because we judge by the heart that some action is likely to avoid harm, and be helpful. I believe that. However, I should say too that our continuing Buddhist Practice, over days and months, reforms the heart and makes it a better judge ... it makes the heart more likely to be drawn to action that keeps the Precepts.

    So, for example, our Zazen allows us to become less angry, less self-centered, less greedy, more peaceful ... and all that results in a heart better able to live a life without anger, greed, sexual misconduct, etc. Something like that. The Precepts support our Practice, our Practice supports the Precepts (via changing our heart).

    Also, "following the heart" does not mean that "whatever we like goes" (one person asked if I meant that). Sometimes, for example, we must "bite the bullet" and strive to keep the Precepts even though it is not "fun", even though we might rationalize doing something else, even though my heart might go along. A bit of self-denial is good. So, for example, I avoid sexual misconduct even though my stupid "Little Stupa" in my pants is tempting me otherwise, and even though my brain will try sometimes to 'rationalize' such a breaking of the Precepts. Something like that.

    Gassho, J

  28. #28
    Hey Jundo,

    Would it be fair to say practice helps cultivate the intent to do no harm (or if the situation demands, as little harm as possible) and that through practice we can get to a point where the deliberation over right and wrong ceases and our natural reaction becomes not to cause harm?

    Rodney

  29. #29
    Some traditions (maybe the Vajrayana??) say that practice is a way of training one's intuition. So that when confronted with a choice, one is able to intuit the right thing to do. This sounds to me like a similar idea.

    Best,
    Bill

  30. #30
    Quote Originally Posted by Rev R
    Hey Jundo,

    Would it be fair to say practice helps cultivate the intent to do no harm (or if the situation demands, as little harm as possible) and that through practice we can get to a point where the deliberation over right and wrong ceases and our natural reaction becomes not to cause harm?

    Rodney
    Good timing! Please see today's talk on 'Sit-a-Long with Jundo'

    http://treeleafzen.blogspot.com/2007/10 ... right.html

    I don't know if the hard choices 'cease', as much as we become better judges. Life still presents us with new crossroads, moment by moment.


    Gassho, Jundo

  31. #31
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    I don't know if the hard choices 'cease', as much as we become better judges. Life still presents us with new crossroads, moment by moment.

    Gassho, Jundo
    Thank ya Jundo

    "Cease" was probably a bad choice of words. Such finality to it, plus it alludes to an elsewhere rather than right here, right now.

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