My Burmese teacher Sayadaw U Pandita wrote, “Compassion must lead to action. Furthermore, wisdom is required so that action may bear useful fruit.” I think of the all sorrows that have fallen on Burma resultant from decades of oppression: human rights abuses, ethnic cleansing, rape, forced labor, land confiscation and the imprisonment of political activists including the Sangha and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi whose 63rd birthday is on June 19. Now Burma has suffered immeasurably from a natural disaster, made exponentially worse by the junta’s stubborn refusal to help its own people. If compassion and wisdom are to flower there, we have to help cultivate them with our own practice and action.
It is deeply troubling to see how many of the 2.4 million Burmese afflicted by the cyclone still lack the basics of survival. This week, U.N. officials raised concern that there are 10,000 pregnant women without any access to medical care among the cyclone victims.