October 11, 2007

Blood, Robes, and Tears

TIME has a piece on the Burmese protests from which comes the title of this post. When in our recent past have Buddhist monks other than the Dalai Lama been so prominent in the American consciousness? Maybe not since Vietnam.

Apparently Mandalay didn't suffer the same treatment the rest of the country did. Read about it in "Buddha's Peace Prevailed."

ASEAN issues a statement condemning violence to Buddhist monks in Burma. From the article by George Yao, foreign minister of Singapore:

When Western countries cheered us for speaking out, it worried us. Strident calls to bring down the regime showed a lack of understanding of the problem. It cannot be assumed that out of the ashes, a new resplendent Myanmar will automatically rise. It is clear that the old path the country's military government persists in following cannot work. But the way forward is not so clear either.

As in Indonesia, the Burmese Army played a major role in the founding of the state. It was Aung San, the father of the current opposition leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, who founded that army. He remains a national icon and part of his prestige has passed on to his daughter. Ironically, the institution that her father established has become her tormentor.

Legislators from around the world criticize the abuses of the Myanmar regime. Japan, which had a journalist, Kenji Nagai, killed by the regime during the protests, is going to drastically cut aid to Burma, but apparently it won't do any good.

A Buddhist congresswoman, Rep. Mazie Hirono (D), was sworn into office in Hawaii. She didn't swear in on any kind of book, saying:

I don’t have a book. … But I certainly believe in the precepts of Buddhism and that of tolerance of other religions and integrity and honesty.What happened to separation of church and state and religious tolerance?

UPDATE: A surprise fundraiser for Mongolian monk / monk in Mongolia Konchog Norbu is being organized over at Tibetan Buddhist Altar (run by Tulku Urgyan Tenpa Rinpoche.) And don't think it's easy being a monk in Mongolia until you've walked a few miles in his shoes. . . Speaking of which, did you know Tibetan shoes are identical, so there's no danger of putting your left foot in your right shoe? (This link is from a Chinese site promoting Tibetan tourism.) And speaking of Mongolia and shoes, check this out.

I've also been reading the blog By My Hand and Heart Alone... which is run by Buddhist Relief, born in the wake of the incredible suffering unleashed by Hurricane Katrina (and the government's reaction / nonreaction to it.) Buddhist Relief's spiritual director is Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo, who happens to be one of Konchog Norbu's teachers And she has a CD out! More than one actually. You can buy them here or hear some tracks and clips here and here. Very political and stickin' it to the man. Anybody who isn't stickin' it to the man these days has some creepy agenda and owns ExxonMobil and Halliburton / Blackwater stock.

Auntie of Dear Denver tells some cool stories based on the Jataka Tales.

- Philip Ryan, Web Editor

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