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NAMO TASSA BHAGAVATO ARAHATO SAMMASAMBUDDHASSA
NAMO TASSA BHAGAVATO ARAHATO SAMMASAMBUDDHASSA
NAMO TASSA BHAGAVATO ARAHATO SAMMASAMBUDDHASSA
Translation: May veneration be presented to the exalted one who is a Buddha and has achieved enlightenment by himself righteously. X3
The Riots In Burma And The Burmese Buddhist Monks
Now that you’re here, do yourself a favor and at least watch the video on this page.
This would seem to be the story that we’re all supposed to buy, that there is this “O Sama Bin Laden” styled Buddhist monk who has been whipping the Burmese people into a racist frenzy, so much so that they’re going out and rioting and killing the victimized and downtrodden “Rohingya” Muslims. The Venerable U Wirathu has never actually called himself the O Sama Bin Laden of Burma, although he doesn’t mind being called a “radical” because he knows that many consider him a “radical” for some of the things that he’s had to say. When the Time magazine article of July 13, 2013 (international edition) states that the O Sama Bin Laden of Burma is a title that he has taken you would perhaps be deceptively led to believe so.
The important question is, does the popular story line being fed to us really fit the known facts?
I will give just two examples that we will briefly revisit later :
When some Muslim pull a Buddhist monk off of his bike and dowse him with petrol and set him on fire in front of a Muslim Mosque, after an argument between a Muslim jewellery store owner and a woman and her husband who are both Buddhists, does this sound like something that was incited by whom when riots occur? The second major round of the riots recently occurred, as we shall soon discuss, after a Buddhist woman was later set on fire in Meikthila, some time after which a Muslim man was set on fire in the same town and filmed largely by the police. When this film is ever shown there is never any mention of course of the whole story. Mention at one typical site which has covered this discusses the argument in the jewellery shop but no mention of the Buddhist monk being set a blaze before any of this ever happened. The “969 squad” is talked of as if to imply that they are simply some sort of violent anti-Muslim gang handing out stickers, with no mention of the “786” Muslim movement (which we will touch upon shortly) that by far preceded it. (1) Other websites that I have seen report ” eye witness” accounts of things that would never add up to anything more than hearsay.
Again, when a Muslim man pours gasoline over a Buddhist woman and sets her on fire, and riots occur, just who is it that has “incited” what?(2)
Who should be admonished more, Buddhists who fail to realize the accomplishment of perfect patience and spiritual maturity when they riot and seek retribution after such an incident, or someone who commits such an act in the first place? When Muslim are taught by their Qur’an that non-Muslim are pretty much beneath anything that is to be considered human, is this not like the dehumanizing propaganda fed to solders regarding the enemy before they go off to war? If someone is perceived as less than human, are they not easier to kill?
There are those who will say something like “Well in spite of all of that, if they cause pain and suffering to another human being, then they’re not really Buddhist”.
My response? I’m sure that if they all had the very best of spiritual experience as Buddhists, with the best of spiritual maturity they would all get on their hands and knees and beg forgiveness for not being as humble and grovelling and submissive as ideal and perfect Buddhist would presumably be, while their Buddhist monk and anyone else of their congregation are set on fire!
The Qur’an teaches that the People of the book who are un believers (Christians and Jews) are the most vile of creatures (Qur’an 98:6), and polytheist and Idol worshipers whom the Muslim consider the Buddhist, are not even given that much as they are instructed that we will suffer a torment in hellish torture. From this sadistic teaching given by “Allah” to their prophet one may surmise; “Whats wrong with a little preview”? Whether or not this is the perspective of the nice Muslim couple who have invited you to a reading at the local book club is irrelevant to the point. If anyone is inclined to talk of how the Qur’an 5:32 teaches “that if an innocent is killed it is like killing the whole world”, and if you choose not to buy the assertion that this is a section lifted straight from the Jewish Talmud (a common claim), you might want to take a look at what Qur’an 5:33 the very next verse has for us as it tells us just who should be killed, and consider the many different ways that “making mischief in the land” can be construed such as advocating a religion other than Islam. This would be just one example of a violation that according to Qur’an 5:33 could get you killed and which is mentioned as an exception in Qurán 5:32. You see, what you or I consider an innocent person and what the Qur’an considers an innocent person are not necessarily the same thing. OOPS! You mean someone forgot to tell you that?
Remember that abrogation is taught in the Qur’an itself:
2:106 and16:101are the two verses usually sited for this. There are no peaceful portions of the Qur’an that have not been abrogated (set aside) by the intolerant and violent ones.
I have spoken to some who have the rather ill informed opinion that the violence against the Rohinga Muslim in Burma is comparable to the violence of Islam, or should be seen as a bad reflection on the Buddhist religion.
If any body would like to compare what is going on in Burma now with Islam, I would have to say that if there were a true comparison then there would probably be not many Muslim in Burma now to speak of to begin with. Most if not all would have been either killed or forcibly convinced to convert to Buddhism. I say this because for Islam there is the chance that you can keep your religion otherwise if you’re seen as a member of the “people of the book” (Jew, Christian or Muslim) by paying the ‘Jizya’, which is basically an extorted protection money type of tax. The Muslim as people of the book would of course be exempt from having to pay this as they are already Muslim. If there could be construed as a people of the book equivalent for Buddhism, it certainly would not include the religion of Islam, but would probably be something like Jainism, Tantric Hinduism, and Buddhism. Even in Malaysia, which can be seen as the most liberal Muslim country in the world (many Muslim don’t consider it a true Muslim country, because the political and financial sphere are not entirely in the hands of Muslim exclusively), in all but three jurisdictions I could be put in jail for a lengthy sentence and publicly whipped with many strokes of the cane for having what could be construed as the wrong kind of conversation with a Muslim, if it is thought that I was trying to convert him or her away from Islam.(3) According to article 160 of the Malaysian constitution if your born Malay or considered one of the indigenous tribes, you’re automatically considered a Muslim whether you like it or not! Try to willingly convert from Islam if you don’t think that it’s the religion for you, and you could quite easily find yourself thrown in jail for it. Negeri Sembilan is the only state which (officially) permits conversion. A convert must first apply to the Sharia Court for a declaration that he or she is no longer a Muslim; the convert will then be counseled for about a year by a Mufti. If, after this period, the convert still wants to convert, the judge may permit the application. This process is unique to the state; no other state allows Muslims to officially convert.(4) In most other Muslim countries though the crime of conversion away from Islam is punishable by death (Qur’an 4:89). Stoning someone to death is actually legal in Malaysia although currently not enforced.
Consider the fact that in the peaceful loving kindness, religious freedom department, this is the best that can be said that Islam has been able to offer the world (if you consider Malaysia for the reason already discussed to be a true Muslim country) in more than 1400 years!
In short, if Burma were an officially Buddhist country and if Buddhism were anything like Islam, the entire situation would not even exist as the whole matter would have been quite well resolved a la Islam style in a much different way, long before now.
Did you know that the Burmese “969” movement was in response to the Muslim “768” movement that has long been encouraging that the Muslim (primarily “Rohingya”) only do business with the Muslim and no one else? Why isn’t the mass media telling us about this fact?
In an interview with the Venerable U Wirathu:
Q: “In your sermons, you said that people must not support Muslim business marked with the sign “786” (a numeral used by Muslims on the Indian subcontinent representing a phrase in the Quran). Does it create discrimination, hatred and mistrust between communities”?
A: “Well, it is not the Burmese way, but a Muslim way and do they practice this [marking their shops with “786”]. So go around the town and see how many Muslims are visiting Burmese shops. If they support their own shops, why won’t we Buddhist [Burmese] do the same? If we support our Burmese shops, we will not have problems and it cannot be that bad. Look what happened in Meikhtila, if people support the Burmese gold shops then there would not have been an argument. [The unrest in Meikthila supposedly began as a fight between a Muslim gold shop owner and a Buddhist customer.] This kind of buying behavior doesn’t mean its discrimination. It can protect our people’s interests”.(5)
Not that the “969” initiative or he was telling people not to ever do any business with a Muslim, and while we’re at it, how is it that the Buddhist doing business with Buddhist is a bad thing, while Muslim doing business only with Muslim, “786” style is not ever mentioned in the mass media? Read the entire interview by clicking on the link in the reference and notes section number (5) and judge for yourself.
A Little history anyone?
The British retreated after the Japanese occupation of Burma after having armed these Bengali Muslims who used the gifted arms to wipe out entire Arakan villages. Historian Aye Chan gives details of how the Rohingyas destroyed Buddhist Arakanese villages (20,000 Arakanese including Deputy Commissioner U Oo Kyaw Khaing) instead of the Japanese. What is clear is that ever since 1940s the Rohingyas have been using arms and ammunition and are not necessarily the innocent victims that are being projected globally. If the Rohingyas claim that they were not armed by the British then they may wish to explain where they were if they were not in Rakhine areas as the British retreated when the British armed the Muslims against the Rakhine Buddhists in 1942. (6)
The Islamist arming and training of ‘Rohingya’ Muslim.
We know that as early as 2002 the Asia Times reported that Rohingyas were being trained by the militant and terriorist groups Jamaat-e-Islami in Bangladesh and Pakistan, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar’s Hizb-e-Islami in Afghanistan, Hizb-ul-Mujahideen (HM) in Jammu and Kashmir, and as well we have the Angkatan Belia Islam sa-Malaysia (ABIM) – the Islamic Youth Organization of Malaysia. Afghan instructors have been seen in some of the RSO camps along the Bangladesh-Burma border, while nearly 100 RSO rebels were reported to have undergone training in the Afghan province of Khost with Hizb-e-Islami Mujahideen. According to intelligence sources, Rohingya recruits were paid 30,000 Bangladeshi taka (US$525) on joining and then 10,000 taka per month. The families of recruits killed in action were offered 100,000 taka. The Rohingya Solidarity Organization (RSO), was founded by Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar’s Rakhine State and claims to be fighting for autonomy or independence for its people.The RSO was set up in the early 1980s when radical elements among the Rohingyas broke away from the more moderate main grouping, the Rohingya Patriotic Front (RPF). Led by a medical doctor from Arakan, Muhammad Yunus, it soon became the main and most militant faction among the Rohingyas in Bangladesh and on the border of Myanmar. Given its more rigid religious stand, the RSO soon secured the support of like-minded groups in the Muslim world. It is a fact also that the RSO have had their training camps right across the border in Bangladesh. (7)
Although perhaps little if any of this particular fighting has been known to have occurred in Myanmar, with so much of the interaction between the “Rohingya” back and forth between Bangladesh and Myanmar it is hard to see why there wouldn’t be a substantial influence as well for violent Islamic ideology and behavior. Setting unsuspecting “infidel” Buddhists on fire with gasoline would certainly suggest this.
In case anyone has any doubt about the history of Bengali Muslim killing Buddhists in Burma make sure you watch this short video, the history of such butchering as alluded to earlier is well established….
What? You mean the recent Time Magazine article showing the face of the Venerable U Wirathu as “The Face Of Buddhist Terror” didn’t mention any of this? But surely they’re the Plymouth Rock of objective news reporting …. aren’t they? I’ve heard some comment that this is Muslim self defence! Look guys, we are not talking about farmer Joe handing his rifle over to a concerned neighbor. Can someone show me a scrap of evidence that the “Rohingya” aside from after setting a Buddhist monk on fire or something of the sort, really ever have a need to be armed for common fear of roaming Buddhist aggressors, or for that matter armed and trained by militant and known terrorist groups? Should we believe that Time magazine was unable to acquire this sort of information as well as other information discussed in this article? The sad fact of the matter is that there are some very violent Islamists being trained in Bangladesh who have the goal of coming to Burma to carry out acts of violent provocation.(8) Burma is considered a country of idol worshiping infidel that is right on the border of Bangladesh, and to have a country of “idol worshiping infidel” right next door is something that is seen as an affront and challenge to the credibility of Islam by many. In response to this and given the fact that if they send them back to Bangladesh they will only be forcefully returned by Bangladesh, many are now living in refugee (displaced people) camps in Burma. Should the Burmese really be criticized for protecting their own citizenry? Should the conditions be made more attractive to encourage more? Burma is being blamed for Bangladesh not taking responsibility and indeed, encouraging the situation. It is indeed a very regrettable thing that many “Rohingya” Muslim have to suffer because of the actions of those in their own community who are intent on provoking violence. Thankfully, many are now leaving these camps for displaced people and are returning home to the communities that they once left.(9) The Burmese people in general, do not seem to be willing to allow Burma to become the new “Mecca” for Bangladesh immigration, and the Muslim aggressors are now posturing themselves as the victim cause celebre of Burma.
We should not forget that Islam’s religious standard of authority (the Qur’an) despite the denial of many and excuses that simply don’t work under the slightest of scrutiny, does teach that non Muslim should be either converted or killed (Qur’an 9:1-6 with 9:7), or if your deemed “people of the book” you might have a chance to pay the ”Jizya” (protection money) and live as a second class citizen (Qur’an 9:29). Many Muslim are either ignorant of their own Qur’an (something that many Muslim will even tell you), or thankfully choose not to take much of it too seriously while believing whatever story the ’moderate’ Muslim has been sold to believe as an excuse for all of this. Of course because it is the religious standard of authority of Islam (for most together with the Hadith and Sunnah) many do take it all very seriously.
Should any think that the Burmese are blind to the situation in Southern Thailand where although the Muslim in Thailand are also a minority over all, that there has been so much bloodshed of the Buddhists for the “crime” of being Buddhist (what the Muslim are taught to consider as “polytheist” and “infidel” ) that “Car bombs, home made grenades, assassinations and arson have become part of daily life in southern Thailand”…(10)
Volume 4, Book 53, Number 386: Narrated Jubair bin Haiya:
‘Umar sent the Muslims to the great countries to fight the pagans. When Al-Hurmuzan embraced Islam, ‘Umar said to him. “I would like to consult you regarding these countries which I intend to invade.” Al-Hurmuzan said, “Yes, the example of these countries and their inhabitants who are the enemies. of the Muslims, is like a bird with a head, two wings and two legs; If one of its wings got broken, it would get up over its two legs, with one wing and the head; and if the other wing got broken, it would get up with two legs and a head, but if its head got destroyed, then the two legs, two wings and the head would become useless. The head stands for Khosrau, and one wing stands for Caesar and the other wing stands for Faris. So, order the Muslims to go towards Khosrau.” So, ‘Umar sent us (to Khosrau) appointing An-Numan bin Muqrin as our commander. When we reached the land of the enemy, the representative of Khosrau came out with forty-thousand warriors, and an interpreter got up saying, “Let one of you talk to me!” Al-Mughira replied, “Ask whatever you wish.” The other asked, “Who are you?” Al-Mughira replied, “We are some people from the Arabs; we led a hard, miserable, disastrous life: we used to suck the hides and the date stones from hunger; we used to wear clothes made up of fur of camels and hair of goats, and to worship trees and stones. While we were in this state, the Lord of the Heavens and the Earths, Elevated is His Remembrance and Majestic is His Highness, sent to us from among ourselves a Prophet whose father and mother are known to us. Our Prophet, the Messenger of our Lord, has ordered us to fight you till you worship Allah Alone or give Jizya (i.e. tribute); and our Prophet has informed us that our Lord says:– “Whoever amongst us is killed (i.e. martyred), shall go to Paradise to lead such a luxurious life as he has never seen, and whoever amongst us remain alive, shall become your master.”(Al-Mughira, then blamed An-Numan for delaying the attack and) An-Nu’ man said to Al-Mughira, “If you had participated in a similar battle, in the company of Allah’s Apostle he would not have blamed you for waiting, nor would he have disgraced you. But I accompanied Allah’s Apostle in many battles and it was his custom that if he did not fight early by daytime, he would wait till the wind had started blowing and the time for the prayer was due (i.e. after midday).” (11) Why were the Pagans considered enemies? The Hadith itself tells you why. “Our Prophet, the Messenger of our Lord, has ordered us to fight you till you worship Allah Alone or give Jizya (i.e. tribute)”…
There are those who will tell us, “Well those are just scriptures that are being taken out of historical context”. Historical context would mean that was then and this is now. Are any of our Muslim friends willing to admit that there are parts of their Qur’an or Hadith that are “outdated”? Is it both the eternal word of their creator and sustainer God to be acted upon by Muhammad and his followers and something that can be taken into “historical context”? How would you differentiate between the two other than with one’s own subjective opinion? That would be the same subjective opinion that one uses when they drag a Buddhist monk from his bicycle and set him on fire. I’ve heard a story once that the older Meccan verses were for only the Muslim then but the later ones were for Muslim of all time. There isn’t the slightest scrap of scriptural teaching to substantiate this. Even if there were, the “ayah of the sword” discussed earlier was one of the very last ayah to be revealed to their Prophet prior to his death as many a Muslim site will show you when comparing the traditional order of the Qur’an to the chronological order. As it turns out many of the Muslim who are ready to kill the non believer unless they convert are actually aware of the difference between the two. As well, many also understand something called “abrogation” which is revealed in Qur’an 2:106, which instructs the Muslim to understand that a later verse voids and supersedes an earlier one. When one considers abrogation along with the fact that the Qur’an is written in traditional order not chronological order you find out easily that there is not a single verse that can be construed as peaceful that is left standing. Those who kill for the cause of “Allah” know that they don’t need a masters degree in Islamic studies to understand the simplicity of this. Why then are most Muslim not out killing for the cause of “Allah”? Fortunately many Muslim are not very knowledgeable about their own Qur’an, or many choose (thankfully) to follow their own good moral conscience instead.
Within the Buddhist teaching as a part of our scriptural standard of authority we have a sutta called the Kalama Sutta,where we are taught not to have this scriptural “fetishism”. Nor are we taught to convert or kill the un believer (neither as well if the circumstances are right, that we can keep some sort of “people of the book” second class citizens who pay the protection money called “jizya” in exchange for giving them the privilege of keeping their religious practice).
This is why you don’t hear of any accounts of Theravada Buddhists pulling Mahayana Buddhists from their vehicles and shooting them to death in the street, or Mahayana Buddhists blowing to bits a Theravada temple because one considers the other not a “true” believer. This is why you’re not reading any accounts of Buddhist suicide bombers, killing as many as they can along with themselves eager to be greeted by their 72 virgins in paradise.
I really don’t know know what more it would take for people to understand that even though you may have a next door neighbor or co worker who is a nice Muslim, and whom seem to have made a beautiful spiritual path of Islam, the orthodox driving force of Islam is not meant to be something that peacefully co exists with other religious beliefs. The simple truth is that it was founded on violence toward the un-believer, and not simply as “self defense” as is the popular claim. This is why in the world today we have what could be called a “split personality” disorder involving Islam where the fundamentalist and “moderate” both accuse each other of not being “true” Islam. As previously mentioned, it is to this worlds great benefit that many Muslim are either not knowledgeable of their own scriptural religious teaching, or choose with their own good conscience not to take much of it seriously. As a comparison, there are many Roman Catholics that I know who following their own good conscience don’t really believe that the pope speaks for them, and many have never read much of their own Bible. They still go to church and consider themselves good Catholics although the Roman Catholic church has policies and dogma based directly on that Bible that it could well be argued have a very detrimental effect on the wellness of humanity.
With the Qur’an and Islam though, the issues are far more serious up front than whether or not a Catholic in Nicaragua should use birth control or whether or not when they eat that little cracker and drink some wine at Sunday Mass it actually turns literally into the body and blood of Jesus. This is a general but worthy comparison as to why I believe many Muslim (even those well versed in the Qur’an) choose to believe that there is some sort of contextual error being made, doing so allows them to consider themselves Muslim in good standing without the troublesome and potentially dangerous practice of questioning the validity of Islamic scripture. For the un-believer (Infidel or Kufar) it is certainly easier to believe this type of “historical context” excuse of a story rather than confront the serious issues that are realized when one considers otherwise.
Much is made of the suggestion by the Venerable U Wirathu that Buddhists not marry Muslim, even though that is exactly something that is forbidden by the Muslim’s own Sharia law. Sharia law forbids the marriage of Muslim and non Muslim. It does not surprise me of course that there is no talk of that in this type of discussion. Would some suggest it would be better that someone engage in dishonesty and revert to some sort of Crypto-Buddhism instead? A limit on the amount of children? Yes, they are concerned about their culture being eventually threatened in a way that might be irreparable, and although draconian by Western standards the question here is whether or not they have the right to take such action whether or not some Western journalist or otherwise should like it or not. Although for other reasons, the Chinese government has such restrictions that are much harsher than anything being proposed, and I don’t see any outrage about it .
Some talk of the “role” that the Buddhist monks have had in these riots. What “role” would that be?
None that I can tell have been out chasing anyone down the street with a stick simply because they don’t like the Muslims so they must be talking about something that was said. Is it not proper Buddhist behavior to say something that others might find disagreeable?
Should Buddhists be silent about these relevant issues?
Not according to the example and teaching given by the Buddha in the Pali Canon that I know.
PTS: M i 392
Abhaya Sutta: To Prince Abhaya (excerpt)
 “In the case of words that the Tathagata (Buddha) knows to be factual, true, beneficial, but unendearing & disagreeable to others, he has a sense of the proper time for saying them”.
Of course, for some people, NEVER would be the proper time.
Another example of this is to point to the fact that during the Buddha’s ministry he was proactive in debating others who had a view that although was promoted in one way or another for the welfare of the many, was actually detrimental to the welfare of the many.
“Debating, the formal arguing or discussion of a thesis before an audience, has a long and distinguished history in Buddhism beginning with the Buddha himself. In text like the Sutta Nipata of the Pali Tipitaka, the Buddha says that the true monk argues with no one and keeps away from public debates. But in many other works in the Tipitaka he is portrayed as a vigorous and successful debater. It would seem therefore that at the beginning of his career the Buddha simply taught those who were interested in what he had to say, but later as his teachings came to be criticized or misinterpreted, he felt the need to explain, clarify and defend them. And this he did with remarkable virtuosity. So successful was he that he was accused of using magic to convert his opponents. In later centuries, Buddhist scholars success in debating played an important part in the winning of intellectuals to Buddhism. Sometimes the stakes were high. During certain periods those defeated in debate had to either become the victor’s disciple or commit suicide. Different Buddhist schools also debated with each other. The Chinese Mahayana monk Hsuan Tsang debated with the Savakayana monk Pragnadea in front of a huge audience and won. However it is specifically mentioned that after it was all over the two men remained good friends. The great Samye debate in Tibet in 792-4AD between the Chinese monk Hva-san and the Indian monk Kamalasida, which the latter finally won, meant that Tibet was to rely more on India than China for its Buddhism. Perhaps the most crucial modern debate took place in Panadura in Sri Lanka in 1873. Venerable M.Gunaranda took on the Reverend David de Silva in a two day debate and to everyone’s astonishment, thoroughly defeated his opponent. The victory marked the halt in Buddhism’s decline in the face of Christian evangelism and the beginning of a major revival”.(12)
To help round things out for us a bit now, I will offer you this……
It’s a link to a short story about how Buddhist monks have offered their monastery to shelter the displaced Muslim after the rioting in Lashio Burma. The rioting began after a Muslim man splashed gasoline on a Buddhist woman and set her on fire.(13)
While we’re at it lets not forget how the Burma anti-Muslim riots of 2013 started in the first place shall we?
“Tensions between Buddhist and Muslim ethnic groups flared into violent clashes in Meiktela on March 20th and continued until the 22nd, killing at least 40 and wounding 61 people. The violence started on March 20th after a Muslim gold shop owner, his wife, and two Muslim employees allegedly assaulted a Buddhist customer and her husband in an argument over a golden hairpin. The situation further escalated when a local Buddhist monk was dragged from his bicycle, doused in petrol, and burnt alive by six Muslim youths at a nearby mosque”. (14)
While you’re at it take a look at this, it’s a list of Muslim genocide, harassment, rape, assault and torture of Buddhists in Bangladesh, India and Burma/Myanmar these past few years. Most are in Bangladesh, although if you don’t know what that has to do with Burma, we’ll soon discuss that.
I know that many people at this point decide to stop reading this article because the list here looks very long.
Not to worry, I gave a long list just to emphasize that there’s a real demonstratable history here and not just the cherry picking of a few instances.
If you want to skip past this, feel free to do so.
(these are a few of the cases that have made it to English translation):
Really folks, I could go on for DAYS, but for the sake of brevity let’s cut to the chase as they say, and I’ll now just list a FEW of the more recent…..
Get the idea yet?
Have the “Rohingya’s” suffered any tragedy because of this violence in Burma? Of course they have(15). Have some individual Buddhist monks wrongfully (from an ideal spiritual perspective) incited ill will toward the “Rohinga’? Perhaps so.
This article however is designed to show that the notion being given by the mass media, that there are some wild eyed “Terrorist” Burmese Buddhist monks inciting riots against the innocent and victimized Muslim”Rohingya” who have never done anything wrong against their Buddhist neighbors, and who have never had anything but loving kindness in their hearts for their Buddhist neighbors, and that these Buddhist monks in Burma are simply a bunch of real meanies who have an irrational fear and ill will of their people and religious community is simply something that could use a more complete telling of the story.
Whenever we learn of his “holiness” the Dali Lama pontificating on his “holy” throne somewhere, pretending to be the pope of international Buddhism and Buddhists everywhere, instead of simply a high lama (teacher) of the Gelug or “Yellow Hat” Tibetan school (15) which is only one of the several Mahayana Tibetan schools, as to what he thinks of the situation in Sri lanka or Burma, we should remember this.
The Dali Lama has neither the common sense nor the brass pair to defend the Buddhist monastic community with a more balanced approach. Why? It’s because he has become more of a feel good politician looking to kiss everyone’s ass to try to help save Tibet from the Chinese government, and less of a Buddhist monk, that’s why. Where is the world wide condemnation of the Muslim murder and persecution right next door in Bangladesh toward the Buddhists and other non Muslim? Don’t expect to hear about it from his “holiness” the Dali Lama or any of the other politically correct mass media any time too soon.
Are you mind numb enough to believe that for some Burmese Muslim, this sort of behavior toward the Buddhist and other non Muslim in Bangladesh is not an encouragement for violence, given the fact that their religious scripture teaches them the supremacy of Islam and the inferiority of all other religious beliefs? Or do you not think that grabbing a Buddhist monk off of his bike and pouring gasoline on him and setting him on fire in front of a mosque, after a disagreement between some Muslim and Buddhist would qualify for such an analysis ?
Are any of us so ignorant to believe that the Buddhist in Burma are not aware of any of this, or the understandably perceived threat that allowing the Muslim in Burma any political hegemony whatsoever can possibly entail?
To give a further example of some of what this article discusses here, if you were to go to southern California and suggest to the locals that the violence of the drug wars and the economy in Mexico had nothing to do with the immigration issues and much of the drug violence in southern California, they would laugh at you at best. Do we need a masters degree in political science to realize that what happens with similar issues in one country can directly effect those issues involving the same communities right next door, across the border in another?
Many people seem naive of the fact that a place like Burma is not like America or Germany or France or Great Britain or Sweden or Russia or any other such a place. As an example, in Burma if someone is trying to rape your 12 year old daughter it certainly won’t be as simple as picking up the phone and dialing 911 or some other emergency number, afterward expecting the police to come promptly to take the miscreant to jail while attending to the task of filling out a police report in duplicate and triplicate! The reality of that fact does breed a quite different social culture that all in Burma are aware of.
Another thing to consider is the independently established fact that the military have had a role to play in the on going violence as well. The military has enjoyed playing different parts of the Burmese society against each other for their own perceived political advantage (17). Should this be considered the fault of the Buddhist monks in Burma as well? Of course not.
Why the one sided and biased story that completely ignores the facts to be had, is now so popular in the mass media and with a magazine like Time Magazine can be theorized in different ways. For one thing, it fits a very P.C agenda in that if you can sell a religion that is understandably considered as inherently peaceful as actually violent, then the easier it is to convince many that something understood as inherently violent is actually peaceful! Don’t forget that we’re all supposed to remember that Islam is a peaceful religion! The fact is, as the story regarding the Buddhist monks in Burma is usually told….. it’s simply not true. Now either we can acknowledge that or we can simply choose to ignore what has been discussed in this article, as I am sure many will.
Have a great day!
Bhikkhu aggacitto a.k.a. Brother Mark:)
All websites in this article including those in the Reference/Notes section have been linked for your research convenience.
6.Who Are the Rohingyas? by Dr. Aye Chan
It is interesting to note that at the “Internet Archive” an opinion is currently given instead of a description in the
“description” section for this, where it is claimed that because no affinity of the language that the “Rohinga”
speak is given to the Arabic or other Semetic languages, that the assertion of the
language being similar to Bengali is unreliable!
Talk of how for a reference an author is given and title but no publisher etc. It is also claimed in the
“description” section that the way Dr.Chan references other historians he is “insincere”, with no
explanation of course as to why this should be so. This goes to show the bias involved, instead of simply
letting the reader read the work and make a decision for themselves. Our opinion giver who is so desperate
to find a critique should have put this in the review section where he might have had the chutzpah to leave a
8.https://www.atimes.com/atimes/South_Asia/DI21Df06.html or the archived link: http://www.webcitation.org/6h6FcUqtn
12. J.N. Jayatilleke, The Early Buddhist Theory of Knowledge, London, 1963.
15.http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/guest-voices/post/aung-san-suu-kyi-the-rohingya-of-burma-and-the-challenge-of-faith/2012/10/24/31901eda-1e11-11e2-9cd5-b55c38388962_blog.html or the archived link: http://www.webcitation.org/6h6LKNo5U
Recently I had the privilege of being privy to a conversation that I hear more and more lately, that of the moral relativism of things. Of course it may not be billed that way mind you, but that’s the sum of it. More and more I hear talk of how many people just are not ready for democracy. They’ll talk of the failure of the Arab spring as an example, and the long history of countries that have never had the benefit of a Western styled democracy. At the end of it all, you’ll be hearing some very dangerous talk, when they start asking questions such as “…and just what is freedom really?” When you hear that one folks , pay very careful attention because it implies the opposite question that being … “and just what is slavery and oppression …really?”
First things first, we need to get over the notion that a peoples history will even most probably determine their future. If this were the case then the American revolution among other revolutions never would have happened. Why do some social movements that demand great change fail and others succeed? The fact that there was an Arab spring in the first place shows that there were many who were ready for change, before those who had more guns and ammunition got involved and killed many. The Tiananmen Square massacre a few years ago and the crushing of the student rebellion gives us another example to look at. It’s no small coincidence that the student rebellion didn’t work while the Chinese communist leadership were well aware that the students weren’t producing any of the appreciable economic wealth of the society, and nor did they have control of the militarily. The social revolutions that succeed are the ones that have a political and therefore a social credibility that can well weather the storm of those unwilling to make that change for any given number of reasons.
Writers, political activists, and students can all contribute to the overall victory, but without something more substantial there will be none. The only exception to this is if those writers, political activists and students have numbers that are so strong as to effect the economic community as producers and consumers.
The point would therefore be that things happen or not for definite reasons, other than people being very familiar with the way things are or that they are incapable of experiencing change in a lasting and meaningful way!
In a way if you think about it, this sort of talk can also be used as a method of calling people too stupid to know what’s good for them.
To bring this conversation a bit closer to home, recently I had the experience of being put out of the temple where I was staying.
They tried to say my Vinaya (monastic code) was not clean, that is, that I had violated my monastic code as a monk. This conversation lasted about two minutes. It was a sad fact that I knew my monastic code better than all of them.
The worst they could say was that 5 months ago I had a dispute with a laundry shop owner who ruined some bed sheets, or that it was reported to the sangha that I was seen at a sauna getting some sweat healthy on, I’ve never know anyone who had good meditation but were physically unhealthy. No wait! That ‘s right! They also mentioned that I was seen at a market place at night buying an apple! Oh NO! How scandalous!
O.K… So It’s good to be able to give a donation to the monks practice…but he just better not be seen spending any of it at the market!
All that they had left was to tell me that it was agreed that I would only stay three months (even though I was later told that I could stay for an eternity) and that well, basically they just didn’t like me anymore.
They were nice enough to give me three days, even though it was the middle of Vassa.
Would they care that our Vinaya is the standard for judging unskillful behavior, and with that in mind, they were actually breaking the 17th. Pacittiya of our own Patimokkha to do this?
Don’t bet on it. I will say on an upbeat note, that the Abbott himself is one of the very most loving kindness people I have ever met.
I feel consoled by the fact that some of history’s greatest visionary’s have been consistently told to take a walk by those that history would later judge as the truthfully ignorant.
It’s possible that there was some political influence involved in the decision, you know I hear I have inadvertently pissed of a member of the political elite. It takes a good deal of nerve to come and tell the Abbott that if he doesn’t put me out of the temple by way of calling a meeting of the board of directors, and if they don’t tell me to go, then they will go to the Ministry of Religion and take action against me and the Abbott! I could tell that the Abbott was concerned about his position.
In Cambodia, such an astonishing display of childish and petty behavior from the ruling elite would not be considered something unheard of. Things that would be considered laughably unrealistic anywhere in the civilized world here in Cambodia are fairly routine. As well, to be sure there are those monks who don’t seem to like me very much, and would have welcomed my departure. Why? One possible reason would be because my very presence as someone who is not cow towed to popular monastic opinion makes them inwardly question just why they are, and that must confuse and anger them. How sad.
Even today, when I buy medicine for the sick, food for the homeless and ice cream for the poor children at the temple, would a single austere and self convinced righteous monk offer to help in the effort? Of course not!
That’s o.k., who needs that? As long as they know how to recite the recital at the appropriate time and do all the things regarding procedure of the temple …no matter! After all, that’s what is really important, isn’t it?
Perhaps some of this is because while being raised here in Cambodia, they have become desensitized to the suffering of their own people in their society, so much so that with all that they can make on alms round in the morning most of these “Buddhist” monks would never even think to buy a poor homeless woman or hungry man a 50 cent package of noodles. How shameful.
I have offended some people its true, because I know that what we can feel necessary because it’s what we’ve been taught as the thing to believe is true, is not what the Buddhist teaching teaches us to understand as good for a spiritual teaching. As a matter of fact the Kalama Sutta expressly advises against it.
What we have is a monastic community of obedient and comparably well looked after house toms who have been intimidated by force and economic strife to be grateful for their position of humble servitude. With all of the pageantry of respect, we are not supposed to notice what becomes obvious with just a little mindfulness. This spiritual hospital patient type of situation is very apparent throughout Southeast Asia but nowhere as I have seen it in Cambodia. Monks are taught how to give a certain type of recital (chant would be an inaccurate but popular term) and how to perform their obligations to the laity for the most part, as clergy. Enlightenment? You don’t hear that talked about. What was the purpose of the Buddha? How do we better accomplish for ourselves what the Buddha’s mission was meant to help us accomplish? These topics of conversation you don’t hear from the monastics very much.
That certainly wouldn’t make them good social house toms..…now would it?
Authorities have found it easy to be afraid of the Buddhist monk. It is understood that a majority population of Buddhists are going to listen to what the monks say and advise. Are we to think that personal empowerment that would then be naturally made manifest as a social empowerment among people is something that the political elites would embrace and promote?
Not likely. They would be more inclined to want to let you know how much you need them.
This is why the people are encouraged to give respect to the monk but not to associate too much. As if the monk is to be kept like the bird in the gilded cage.
Here in Cambodia, temples are not even allowed their own street mailing address, that way the separation of the monk and the laity is kept, the exception of course would be when the laity come to the temple for their recital blessing or something that has been prejudged as allowable. The Dhammayuttika Nikaya false austerity is very useful for this as well.
Those that have read their Pali Canon Tipataka know that the Buddha himself was a very political and practical man for a teacher. As an example, allowing women into the monastic sangha was a very political and provocative thing for him to do. Did he first check with the authorities to see if it should be permissible? No. No, he did not, and for good reasons.
So…can we expect better from our own monastic community?
Yes we can, but it won’t happen if we believe that somehow the odds are against us as to what we can reasonably expect from ourselves if we want something better than a monastic community of house toms who have been so well indoctrinated that they dare not ever question anything that is established monastic thought or procedure.
Are there those who dare to wonder why it is that our Vinaya instructs the monk that the king is to pay homage to the monk, but that the monk not do likewise for the king?
Perhaps some of the monks here in Cambodia may ask themselves that critical question, if they can tear themselves away from Facebook or Instagram for a precious minute or two.
I will start to end this discussion with the thought that those who can have the nerve to think for themselves will always be an asset for themselves and society at large…while they’re busy walking around angering others for their absolute nerve to do so.
I want all of my fellow monastics to know that I wouldn’t write an article like this, if it were not for my love and concern for all of the monastic community, and all of the good that we can do.
Have a great spiritual day!
Bhikkhu Aggacitto a.k.a. Brother Mark:)