SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Rioting Monks?

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Mar 29th, 2008 | BANGKOK, Thailand -- Buddhist monks hurling rocks at Chinese in Tibet, or peacefully massing against Myanmar's military, can strike jarring notes.

These scenes run counter to Buddhism's philosophy of shunning politics and embracing even bitter enemies — something the faith has adhered to, with some tumultuous exceptions, through its 2,500-year history.

But political activism and occasional eruptions of violence have become increasingly common in Asia's Buddhist societies as they variously struggle against foreign domination, oppressive regimes, social injustice and environmental destruction.

More monks and nuns are moving out of their monasteries and into slums and rice paddies — and sometimes into streets filled with tear gas and gunfire.

"In modern times, preaching is not enough. Monks must act to improve society, to remove evil," says Samdhong Rinpoche, prime minister of the Tibetan government-in-exile and a high-ranking lama.

"There is the responsibility of every individual, monks and lay people, to act for the betterment of society," he told The Associated Press in Dharmsala, India, discussing protests in Tibet this month that were initiated by monks.

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http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5jNMFh8qJoftjGy06Yn5jivowTGPAD8VN8CV80

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