Friday, June 28, 2013

Talk given by Sayadaw U Silanandabhivamsa on Sunday, December 29th, 2002

တရားေတာ္ကိုလည္း ၾကည္ညိဳစြာဖတ္ရင္း ဆရာေတာ္ဘုရားၾကီးရဲ ႔ အဂၤလိပ္စာ ကၽြမ္းက်င္ပိုင္ႏိုင္မႈကိုလည္း အံ့မခန္းျဖစ္ရပါတယ္။

Talk given by Sayadaw U Silanandabhivamsa on Sunday, December 29th, 2002

Today is my 75th birthday according to the Myanmar Calendar [which is a luni-solar-socio-religious calendar]. According to the Gregorian Calendar, my birthday fell on December 16th. Since you [the devotees] requested to hold a Pu Zaw Pwe (Paying respect ceremony) on my birthday, I said, “If that’s your wish, so be it.”

I suffered a mild stroke on the early part of this year [2002 A.D.]. I’m still feeling some effects of that [stroke]. But, generally speaking, I have recovered [and can discharge my normal duties]. The time when I had the stroke, there was apparently nothing out of the ordinary. At the daily morning prayer session, I missed a few words here and there. That’s the only unusual thing that I remembered about that time. I did not notice that I had suffered a mild stroke. In the afternoon, I did some walking and doing some chores. Well, towards the evening, the resident monk [at TMC] said, “Sayadaw, you don’t seem well. [You need urgent care]” and arranged [some devotees] to take me to the [Kaiser Permanente] hospital [in San Jose]. After four days [of treatment], I was discharged from the hospital. Although I had a stroke, I believe nothing serious happened. One side of the face [cheek] looked slightly “distorted” [disoriented] for a while. It’s now back to normal.

However, after that, there were irregularities in my blood pressure. It swung up and down, and for quite some time, I did not feel cool and calm. Now, my blood pressure has stabilized for a while; it’s back to normal, also. During that time, [due to side effect of the medication] I suffered some depression. I faced some difficulties during that depression period. Now, it has also gone away.

During those times, what thoughts came to my mind? I pondered about old age. I pondered about sickness. In this age, 75 years is considered “quite old”. As one becomes old, one appears to lose “congruity, harmony, and balance”. One feels bodily ailments past 60. When you’re over 70 and turn 75, it’s worse.

I remembered reading this story [in the scriptures]. King Kawrabra told Venerable Rahtapal, “I am now 80 years old. When I take a step, I land up in a spot different from the one that I had intended. Things like that are happening.” In fact, I had read that story a long time back, but at that time I could not and did not relate the events [since I had good health] and did not pay much attention to the meaning. Now, I can relate it with own experience. There are times when I take a step, I land up in a spot different from the one that I had intended. Those are signs of old age. Then, there’s some loss of memory. That is due partly to old age, and partly due to the mild stroke. Some words do not come out easily out of my mouth [in the midst of a talk].

What is that [one suffers] after old age? Sickness. No one can evade sickness [totally]. No matter how much one takes care of oneself, one can still fall sick [without advance notice]. I tried my best to take care of my health [and take medication prescribed by my physicians]. I did not know why I had a stroke. May be, because of the high blood pressure. May be, some other factors that I don’t know. Well, we can also say that “disease [or ailment] can [seemingly] appear at will.” So, I also pondered about sickness.

No one can avoid old age and sickness. No beings can avoid these two natural phenomena. All of you, the devotees listening to this dhamma talk, have noticed some degree of old age. Some people believe that one gets old only when one reaches a certain age, say 50 or 60. That’s not true. According to Abhidhamma, all moments starting from the conception in the mother’s womb are moments of aging. When we were young, we used to say that we are growing up. That, in reality, is gradual aging. Aging is a natural phenomenon that no being can avoid. So, can you also avoid aging? You cannot.

Plastic surgery is quite popular as a means of making people look better and younger. Plastic surgery may be able to make your old body [and face] better looking, but can it really prevent the natural phenomenon of aging? It’s not possible. As one lay on the operating table [or chair] for plastic surgery, one is in fact aging [even momentarily]. It is important for one to think about aging. What if one fails to think of aging? One might feel haughty and proud [say of one’s youthful appearance]. To prevent such [false] pride, one should ponder about aging. Aging is akin to “firing a shot that no one can evade”.

Sickness is also a “no-miss” shot aimed at all beings. One can look after one’s health, and even claim that one is healthy. The natural phenomenon of sickness still exists for all beings. So, one should contemplate seriously about both aging and sickness. Then, [false] pride of youth and good health will lessen and eventually go away.

After sickness, what else? [Every one will face] death, for sure. No one knows for sure when one will die, but it’s try that every one is getting closer to death [with each passing moment]. Traditionally, people say that old people are closer to death, and young people are farther from death. Really, that’s not true. Age – young or old -- does not matter for dying. Some die when they are young. Some die when they are old. So, one should ponder that “since every one is bound to die one day, one should always be aware of the natural phenomenon of death”. Why is that important? After one dies, one will be reborn. Unless one attains arahantship in this very life, one is sure to be reborn [and have a new life]. In the subsequent lives, do you want to be reborn in the good [abodes/planes of existence], or do you want to be reborn in the woeful states? In other words, do you want to have good future lives? Naturally, you would want to be reborn in a good abode. No one wants to be reborn in the woeful states.

But, whether you are reborn or not in a good abode depends on your actions, your kamma. Have you performed good actions, or bad actions? Please think [and answer] carefully. If you have done good deeds, you will generally be reborn in the good abodes; that’s a [logical] conclusion. If you have done bad deeds, you are bound to be reborn in the woeful states. When someone says, “I’m afraid of dying”, it really means, “I’m afraid of being reborn in a woeful state.” So, what should you do to ensure that you will be reborn in a good abode and not the woeful states? From this moment, one should plan and perform as many meritorious deeds as possible. If you accumulate the kusalas, the potential and momentum of the kusalas can propel you to be reborn in the good abodes; that’s what we believe. You should practice what the late [Tipitakadara] Mingun Sayadaw preached: “Right now from this moment, before we age, let’s do the meritorious deeds. Right now from this moment, before we get sick, let’s do the meritorious deeds.
Right now from this moment, before we die, let’s do the meritorious deeds.”

That’s why it’s important to perform meritorious deeds diligently. When we say accumulate kusalas, one should not think only about doing grand deeds. Seemingly small good deeds that you perform daily also constitute kusala. It is much more important to do such daily kusala acts rightly and consistently. Say your prayers in front of a Buddha’s statue, recite the parittas (protective verses), practice vipassana (insight) meditation, and so on. If you do those acts daily, you will be assured of a good next life. Just staying status quo will not guarantee of a good next life. It is important to realize the natural phenomenon of dying; it’s much more important to make sure that you will be reborn in a good abode after death. Only if you continuously contemplate on the nature of aging, sickness, and death, will the [false] pride decay and you will accumulate lots of kusala.

Isn’t it true that birthday is considered a happy event [a time to be happy.]. When one gets birthday presents, one feels happy. In a sense, it’s true. But, on one’s birthday, it is important for one to also think this way, “I was born. I will grow old. I will get sick. Eventually, I will die. Before I get old, before I get sick, before I die, I am resolved to accumulate meritorious deeds as much as possible.” And, one should also keep the resolution. Then, one is assured of a good abode [after death]. So, on this 75th birthday celebration, let us contemplate on the nature of old age, sickness, and death, and as in the verses we mentioned a while ago,

“Right now from this moment, before we age, let’s do the meritorious deeds.
Right now from this moment, before we get sick, let’s do the meritorious deeds.
Right now from this moment, before we die, let’s do the meritorious deeds.”

try to do and accumulate meritorious deeds before we get old, before we get sick, and before we die. If you practice that way, there is a high chance that you will be reborn in a good abode. So, all those who are here for the celebration should think deeply about this dhamma talk and practice accordingly. I urge you not forget to prepare to accumulate kusala -- your “personal possessions”. With this simple rejoinder, I conclude this dhamma talk.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Times က ေဆာင္းပါးရဲ႕ ဘာသာျပန္ပါ

Times က ေဆာင္းပါးရဲ႕ ဘာသာျပန္ပါ
The Face of Buddhist Terror ဘာသာျပန္ (By Zin Minn Htet)
ေရးသူ Hannah Beech

ရုပ္တုတစ္ခုကဲ့သို႔ တည္ျငိမ္ေအးခ်မ္းေနေသာ မ်က္ႏွာရွိသည့္ "ဗမာဘင္လာဒင္" ဟုအမည္တြင္သည့္ ဆရာေတာ္က သူ၏တရားေဟာျခင္းကို စတင္လိုက္သည္။ သူတုိ႔၏ ေနာက္ေက်ာတြင္ေခၽြးမ်ား က်ေနေသာ ပရိသတ္ ရာေပါင္းမ်ားစြာက လက္အုပ္ခ်ီလ်က္ရွိသည္။ ညိဳေမွာင္ေသာ သကၤန္းကို ၀တ္ဆင္ထားသည့္ ဆရာေတာ္ႏွင့္အတူ ဂါထာေတာ္မ်ား ညီညာစြာ ပူေဇာ္ရြတ္ဆိုသံမွာ ျမန္မာႏိုင္ငံ၏ ဒုတိယအၾကီးဆံုးျမိဳ႔ျဖစ္ေသာ မန္းတေလးျမိဳ႔ရွိ ေက်ာင္းတုိက္အတြင္း ပ်ံႏွံလ်က္ရွိသည္။ ထုိျမင္ကြင္းမွာ ျငိမ္းခ်မ္းေသာအသြင္ ေဆာင္ေနေသာ္လည္း ဦး၀ီရသူ၏တရားမွာ အမုန္းတရားမ်ားႏွင့္ ျပည့္ႏွက္ေနသည္။ "ဒီအခ်ိန္က ျငိမ္ေနရမဲ့ အခ်ိန္မဟုတ္ေတာ့ဘူး'' ဟု သက္ေတာ္ ၄၆ ႏွစ္ရွိေသာ ဆရာေတာ္က မိန္႔သည္။ သူ၏ မိနစ္ ၉၀ ၾကာေသာ တရားေတာ္မွာ ဗုဒၵဘာသာအမ်ားစုႏိုင္ငံရွိ မြတ္ဆလင္လူနည္းစုကို ရွံဳခ်မွဳမ်ားႏွင့္ ျပည့္ေနသည္။ "ခုအခ်ိန္က ကြ်န္ေတာ္တို႔ေသြးေတြ ဆူပြက္ရေတာ့မယ္ အခ်ိန္ပဲ"

ျမန္မာႏိုင္ငံတြင္ ဗုဒၵဘာသာတုိ႔၏ေသြးမ်ား ဆူပြက္ေနသည္။ ထုိနည္းတူ မြတ္ဆလင္တို႔၏ ေသြးမ်ားစြားလည္း ေျမက်ခဲ့ရသည္။ လြန္ခဲ့သည့္ႏွစ္မွစ ဗုဒၵဘာသာလူအုပ္ၾကီးမ်ားက လူနည္းစုတုိ႔ကို ပစ္မွတ္ထားလ်က္ရွိသည္။ အစုိးရ၏ အဆုိအရ မြတ္ဆလင္လူမ်ိဳး ဒါဇင္ႏွင့္ခ်ီ ေသဆံုးခဲ့ရသည္ဟု ဆုိေသာ္လည္း ႏုိင္ငံတကာ လူအခြင့္အေရးအဖြဲ႔မ်ား၏ ခန္႔မွန္းခ်က္ကေတာ့ ေသဆံုးသူမွာ ရာေပါင္းမ်ားစြာ ရွိသည္ဟု ဆိုသည္။ ထုိအၾကမ္းဖက္မွဳ အမ်ားစုမွာ ျမန္မာႏုိင္ငံ၏ အေနာက္ဖ်ားရွိ ရိုဟင္ဂ်ာဟုေခၚေသာ ႏုိင္ငံမဲ့ မြတ္ဆလင္မ်ားအေပၚ ၾကဴးလြန္ခဲ့ျခင္းျဖစ္သည္။ UN ကေတာ့ ၄င္းတို႔ကို ကမာၻေပၚတြင္ အဖိႏိွပ္အခံရဆံုး လူမ်ိဳးစုဟု ဆိုသည္။ ထိုအၾကမ္းဖက္မွဳမ်ား ျမန္မာႏိုင္ငံ၏ အလည္ပိုင္းသို႔ ပ်ံႏွံလာေသာအခါ ဦး၀ီရသူ၏ မ်ားစြာ ပ်ံႏွံလြယ္ေသာ တရားေဟာမ်ားလည္း စတင္လာသည္။ ထိုအစြန္းေရာက္ ရဟန္းက လူဦးေရ သန္း ၆၀ ခန္႔ရွိေသာ ျမန္မာႏုိင္ငံရွိ ၅ ရာခုိင္ႏွဳန္းေသာ မြတ္ဆလင္မ်ားက ႏုိင္ငံေတာ္ႏွင့္ ယဥ္ေက်းမွဳကို ျခိမ္းေျခာက္ေနသည္ဟု ျမင္သည္။ " သူတို႔က ေမြးဖြားႏွဳန္း အရမ္းျမင့္တယ္။ ကၽြန္ေတာ္တို႔ (ျမန္မာ)အမ်ိဳးသမီးေတြကို ခိုးယူေနတယ္။ မုဒိန္းက်င့္ေနတယ္" ဟု ၄င္းကမိန္႔သည္။ " သူတို႔က ကၽြန္ေတာ္တို႔ ႏိုင္ငံကို သိမ္းပိုက္ခ်င္ေနတယ္။ ကၽြန္ေတာ္ကေတာ့ ဒါမ်ိဳးအျဖစ္မခံႏိုင္ဘူး။ ျမန္မာႏုိင္ငံကို ဗုဒၵဘာသာႏုိင္ငံအျဖစ္ ကြ်န္ေတာ္တို႔ ထိန္းသိမ္းရမယ္။ "

ဒီလို အမုန္းစကားမ်ားက လူမ်ိဳး ၁၃၅ မ်ိဳးရွိျပီး ရာစုႏွစ္၀က္ခန္႔ေသာ စစ္အာဏာရွင္စနစ္ေအာက္မွ လူးလြန္႔လာစႏိုင္ငံ၏ ႏူးညံျပီး ကြဲသွ်လြယ္ေသာ ႏုိင္ငံေရးစနစ္ကို ျခိမ္းေျခာက္ေနသည္။ အစုိးရ အရာရွိအခ်ိဳ႔ကလည္း ရိုဟင္ဂ်ာ အမိ်ဳးသမီးမ်ားကို ကေလးႏွစ္ေယာက္ထက္ ပိုမယူရန္ ကန္႔သတ္သည့္ ဥပေဒ ျပဒါန္းရန္ ၾကိဴးစားေနၾကသည္။ ထို႔အျပင္ ႏုိင္ငံ၏ ေျမာက္ပိုင္းရွိ ခရစ္ယာန္အမ်ားစု ကခ်င္မ်ားႏွင့္ အစိုးရတပ္မေတာ္တို႔ တုိက္ခိုက္မွဳမ်ားမွာလည္း ဘာသာေရးပဋိပကၡေၾကာင့္ ပိုဆိုးခဲ့ရသည္။

အစြန္းေရာက္ ဗုဒၵဘာသာအယူအဆမ်ားမွာ အာရွ၏ အျခားေနရာမ်ားတြင္လည္း ပ်ံႏွံလာေနသည္။ ယခုႏွစ္တြင္ သိရိလကၤာရွိ အဆင့္ျမင့္အရာရွိမ်ားပါ၀င္ေသာ ဗုဒၵဘာသာ အမ်ိဳးသားေရးအဖြဲ႔မ်ား ၾသဇာတက္လာျပီးေနာက္ ဘုန္းေတာ္ၾကီးမ်ားက ဦးေဆာင္ျပီး မြတ္ဆလင္ႏွင့္ ခရစ္ယာန္ဘာသာ၀င္တို႔၏ ပိုင္ဆုိင္မွဳမ်ားကို ဖ်က္ဆီးလ်က္ရွိသည္။ မြတ္ဆလင္သူပုန္ထမွဳေၾကာင့္ လူေပါင္း ၅၀၀၀ ခန္႔ အသက္ဆံုးရွံဳးခဲ့ရေသာ ထိုင္းႏိုင္ငံေတာင္ပိုင္းတြင္လည္း ထို္င္းေတာ္၀င္တပ္မေတာ္က ျပည့္သူ႔စစ္မ်ားကို ဖြဲ႔စည္းလက္နက္တပ္ဆင္ေပးယံုမွ်မက ဘုန္းေတာ္ၾကီးမ်ား ဆြမ္းခံၾကြလ်င္ စစ္သည္မ်ားက လံုျခံဳေရးလိုက္ေပးေနသည္။ ထိုသို႔ ဘုန္းေတာ္ၾကီးမ်ားႏွင့္ စစ္သားမ်ား ပူးတြဲေနမွဳမ်ားက မြတ္ဆလင္လူနည္းစု၏ မယံုသကၤာျဖစ္မွဳကို ပိုဆိုးေစသည္။

ီႏိုင္ငံတစ္ႏိုင္ခ်င္းစီရွိ အစြန္းေရာက္ ဗုဒၵဘာသာမ်ား ေပၚေပါက္လာမွဳမွာ သီးျခားသမုိင္းမ်ားရွိေသာ္လည္း အင္တာနက္ကို ပိုမိုအသံုးျပဳလာႏုိင္သည္ႏွင့္အမွ် Facebook ပို႔စ္တစ္ခုခ်င္း Twitter တြီတစ္ခုခ်င္းႏွင့္အတူ ပ်ံႏွံေနေသာ ေကာလဟာလမ်ား အာဂါတတရားမ်ားက မီးထုိးေပးလ်က္ရွိသည္။ အၾကမ္းဖက္မွဳမ်ားက ႏိုင္ငံနယ္နမိတ္မ်ားကို အလြယ္တကူပင္ ျဖတ္ေက်ာ္ပ်ံႏွံလ်က္ရွိသည္။ ဇြန္လအတြင္းတြင္ သိန္းေပါင္းမ်ားစြာေသာ ျမန္မာလူမ်ုိဴး ေရြ႔ေျပာင္းလုပ္သားတုိ႔ အလုပ္လုပ္ရာ မေလးရွားႏုိင္ငံတြင္ ဗုဒၵဘာသာျမန္မာအမ်ားအျပား အသတ္ခံရမွဳမွာ ျမန္မာႏုိင္ငံရွိ မြတ္ဆလင္တို႔ ေသဆံုးမွဳအတြက္ လက္စားေခ်ျခင္း ျဖစ္ႏုိင္ေၾကာင္း မေလးရွား တာ၀န္ရွိသူမ်ားက ဆိုသည္။

ဟိႏၵဴအမ်ိဳးသားေရး၀ါဒီမ်ား၊ မြတ္ဆလင္စစ္ေသြးၾကြမ်ား၊ ခရစ္ယာန္အစြန္းေရာက္မ်ား၊ ေအာ္သိုေဒါက္ဂ်ဴးမ်ား အစရွိေသာ ဘာသာေရးအစြန္းေရာက္မ်ားကို ေလ့လာရာတြင္ ဗုဒၵဘာသာကို အမ်ားအားျဖင့္ ခ်န္လွပ္ထားေလ့ရွိသည္။ ကမာႅလူအမ်ားစုအတြက္ ဗုဒၵဘာသာမွာ ျငိမ္းခ်မ္းျခင္း အၾကမ္းမဖက္ျခင္းတို႔၏ သေကၤတျဖစ္သည္။ ထိုအယူအဆမ်ားကို လြန္ခဲ့ေသာ ႏွစ္ ၂၅၀၀ ခန္႔က ေပၚထြန္းခဲ့ေသာ ေဂါတမဗုဒၵျမတ္စြာဘုရားက ေဟာၾကားေတာ္မူခဲ့သည္။ သို႔ေသာ္ အျခားဘာသာမ်ားကဲ့သို႔ပင္ ဗုဒၵဘာသာ၀င္မ်ားႏွင့္ သူတို႔၏ ဘုန္းေတာ္ၾကီးမ်ားမွာလည္း ႏုိင္ငံေရးႏွင့္ အစြန္းေရာက္အမ်ိုးသားေရး၀ါဒတို႔၏ လြမ္းမိုးမွဳကို ခံရေလ့ရွိသည္။

အာရွသားတုိ႔ အင္ပါယာအုပ္စိုးမွဳႏွင့္ ဖိႏွိပ္ခ်ဳပ္ခ်ယ္မွဳတို႔ကို တြန္းလွန္ခဲ့စဥ္က ဗုဒၵဘာသာဘုန္းေတာ္ၾကီးမ်ားလည္း ကိုလိုနီစနစ္ဆန္႔က်င္ေရး လွဳပ္ရွားမွဳတို႔တြင္ ပါ၀င္ခဲ့သည္။ အခ်ိဳ႔က အစာငတ္ခံ ဆႏၵျပခဲ့ၾကသည္။ အသားမရွိ အရိုးေပၚအေရတင္ ပံုရိပ္မ်ားက အမ်ားျပည္သူအတြက္ သူတို႔၏ စြန္႔လြတ္မွဳကို ျပေနသည္။ အထင္ရွားဆံုးပံုရိပ္မွာ လြန္ခဲ့ေသာ ႏွစ္ ၅၀ ခန္႔က ေတာင္ဗီယက္နမ္ အစိုးရ၏ ဖိႏွိပ္မွဳကို ဆန္႔က်င္သည့္အေနႏွင့္ မိမိကိုယ္ကို မီးရွိဳ႔ဆႏၵျပခဲ့ေသာ ဆရာေတာ္ Thich Quang Duc ၏ မီးမ်ား၀ါးမ်ိဳေနလ်က္ ထို္င္ေနေသာ ပံုရိပ္ပင္ ျဖစ္မည္။ ၂၀၀၇ ခုႏွစ္တြင္လည္း ျမန္မာဘုန္းေတာ္ၾကီးမ်ားသည္ မေအာင္ျမင္ေသာ ဒီမိုကရက္အံုၾကြမွဳတစ္ခုကို ဦးေဆာင္ခဲ့သည္။ အာဏာရွင္အစိုးရကို ဆန္႔က်င္ေသာအားျဖင့္ သပိတ္ေမွာက္ကိုင္ေဆာင္ထားကာ ျငိမ္းခ်မ္းစြာ စီတန္းဆႏၵေနေသာ ရဟန္းတို႔၏ ပံုရိပ္မွာ ကမာၻ၏ အားေပးမွဳကုိ ရရွိခဲ့သည္။

သို႔ေသာ္ ဘယ္အခ်ိန္တြင္ လူမွဳေရးတက္ၾကြမွဳမွ ႏုိင္ငံေရး စစ္ေသြးၾကြမွဳသို႔ ေျပာင္းလဲသြားသနည္း? မည္သည့္ဘာသာမဆို မူလအဆိုအမိန္႔တို႔ႏွင့္ မကိုက္ညီေသာ အေတြးအေခၚမ်ားေၾကာင့္ အဖ်က္စြမ္းအားစု တစ္ခုအျဖစ္သို႔ ေျပာင္းလဲသြားႏိုင္ စျမဲျဖစ္သည္။ ယခုအခါသည္ ဗုဒၵဘာသာ၏ အလွည့္ပင္ ျဖစ္သည္။

The Face of Buddhist Terror (Times)

When Buddhists Go Bad
By Hannah Beech / Meikhtila, Burma, and Pattani, Thailand

His face as still and serene as a statue’s, the Buddhist monk who has taken the title “the Burmese bin Laden” begins his sermon. Hundreds of worshippers sit before him, palms pressed together, sweat trickling silently down their sticky backs. On cue, the crowd chants with the man in burgundy robes, the mantras drifting through the sultry air of a temple in Mandalay, Burma’s second biggest city after Rangoon. It seems a peaceful scene, but Wirathu’s message crackles with hate. “Now is not the time for calm,” the 46-year-old monk intones, as he spends 90 minutes describing the many ways in which he detests the minority Muslims in this Buddhist-majority land. “Now is the time to rise up, to make your blood boil.”

Buddhist blood is boiling in Burma, also known as Myanmar — and plenty of Muslim blood is being spilled. Over the past year, Buddhist mobs have targeted members of the minority faith. The authorities say scores of Muslims have been killed; international human-rights workers put the number in the hundreds. Much of the violence was directed against the Rohingya, a largely stateless Muslim group in Burma’s far west that the U.N. calls one of the world’s most persecuted people. The communal bloodshed then spread to central Burma, where Wirathu lives and preaches his virulent sermons. The radical monk sees Muslims, who make up at least 5% of Burma’s estimated 60 million people, as a threat to the country and its culture. “[Muslims] are breeding so fast and they are stealing our women, raping them,” he tells me. “They would like to occupy our country, but I won’t let them. We must keep Myanmar Buddhist.”

Such hate speech threatens the delicate political ecosystem in a country peopled by at least 135 ethnic groups that has only recently been unshackled from nearly half a century of military rule. Already some government officials are calling for implementation of a ban, rarely enforced during the military era, on Rohingya women’s bearing more than two children. And many Christians in the country’s north say recent fighting between the Burmese military and ethnic Kachin insurgents, who are mostly Christian, was exacerbated by the religious divides.

Radical Buddhism is also thriving in other parts of Asia. This year in Sri Lanka, Buddhist nationalist groups with links to high-ranking officialdom have gained prominence, and monks have helped orchestrate the destruction of Muslim and Christian property. And in Thailand’s deep south, where a Muslim insurgency has claimed some 5,000 lives since 2004, the Thai army trains civilian militias and often accompanies Buddhist monks when they leave their temples to collect alms, as their faith asks of them. The commingling of soldiers and monks — some of whom have armed themselves — only heightens the alienation felt by Thailand’s minority Muslims.

Although each nation’s history dictates the course radical Buddhism has taken within its borders, growing access to the Internet means that prejudice and rumors are instantly inflamed with each Facebook post or tweet. Violence can easily spill across borders. In June in Malaysia, where hundreds of thousands of Burmese migrants work, several Buddhist Burmese were killed — likely in retribution, Malaysian authorities say, for the deaths of Muslims back in Burma.

In the reckoning of religious extremism — Hindu nationalists, Muslim militants, fundamentalist Christians, ultra-Orthodox Jews — Buddhism has largely escaped trial. To much of the world, it is synonymous with nonviolence and loving kindness, concepts propagated by Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha, 2,500 years ago. But like adherents of any religion, Buddhists and their holy men are not immune to politics and, on occasion, the lure of sectarian chauvinism.

When Asia rose up against empire and oppression, Buddhist monks, with their moral command and plentiful numbers, led anticolonial movements. Some starved themselves for their cause, their sunken flesh and protruding ribs underlining their sacrifice for the laity. Perhaps most iconic is the image of Thich Quang Duc, a Vietnamese monk sitting in the lotus position, wrapped in flames, as he burned to death in Saigon while protesting the repressive South Vietnamese regime 50 years ago. In 2007, Buddhist monks led a foiled democratic uprising in Burma: images of columns of clerics bearing upturned alms bowls, marching peacefully in protest against the junta, earned sympathy around the world, if not from the soldiers who slaughtered them. But where does social activism end and political militancy begin? Every religion can be twisted into a destructive force poisoned by ideas that are antithetical to its foundations. Now it’s Buddhism’s turn.

Mantra of Hate
Sitting cross-legged on a raised platform at the New Masoeyein monastery in Mandalay, next to a wall covered by life-size portraits of himself, Wirathu expounds on his worldview. U.S. President Barack Obama has “been tainted by black Muslim blood.” Arabs have hijacked the U.N., he believes, although he sees no irony in linking his name to that of an Arab terrorist. Around 90% of Muslims in Burma are “radical bad people,” says Wirathu, who was jailed for seven years for his role in inciting anti-Muslim pogroms in 2003. He now leads a movement called 969 — the figure represents various attributes of the Buddha — which calls on Buddhists to fraternize only among themselves. “Taking care of our religion and race is more important than democracy,” says Wirathu.

It would be easy to dismiss Wirathu as an uneducated outlier with little doctrinal basis for his bigotry, one of eight children who ended up in a monastery because his parents wanted one less mouth to feed. But Wirathu is charismatic and powerful, and his message resonates. Among the country’s majority Bamar — or Burman — ethnic group, as well as across Buddhist parts of Asia, there’s a vague sense that their religion is under siege, that Islam has already conquered Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Afghanistan — all these formerly Buddhist lands — and that other dominoes could fall. Even without proof, Buddhist nationalists fear that local Muslim populations are increasing faster than their own, and they worry about Middle Eastern money pouring in to build new mosques.

Since Burma began its reforms in 2011, with the junta giving way to a quasi-civilian government, surprisingly few people have called for holding the army accountable for its repressive rule. This equanimity has been ascribed to the Buddhist spirit of forgiveness. But Burma’s democratization has also allowed extremist voices to proliferate and unleashed something akin to ethnic cleansing. The trouble began last year in the far west, where clashes between local Buddhists and Muslims claimed a disproportionate number of Muslim lives. Machete-wielding Buddhist hordes attacked Rohingya villages; 70 Muslims were slaughtered in a daylong massacre in one hamlet, according to Human Rights Watch. The communal violence, which the government has done little to check, has since migrated to other parts of the country. In March, dozens were killed and tens of thousands left homeless as homes and mosques were razed. Children were hacked apart and women torched. In several instances, monks were seen goading on frenzied Buddhists.

In late March, the transport hub of Meikhtila burned for days, with entire Muslim quarters razed by Buddhist mobs after a monk was killed by Muslims. (The official death toll: two Buddhists and at least 40 Muslims.) Thousands of Muslims are still crammed into refugee camps where journalists are forbidden to enter. I was able to meet the family of 15-year-old Abdul Razak Shahban, one of at least 20 students at a local madrasah who were killed. Razak’s own life ended when a nail-studded plank was slammed against his skull. “My son was killed because he was Muslim, nothing else,” Razak’s mother Rahamabi told me, in the shadow of a burned-out mosque.

Temple and State
Dreams of repelling Islam and ensuring the dominance of Buddhism animate the Bodu Bala Sena (BBS), Sri Lanka’s most powerful Buddhist organization whose name means Buddhist Strength Army. At the group’s annual convention in February in a suburb of Sri Lanka’s capital Colombo, more than 100 monks led the proceedings, as followers clutched Buddhist flags, clasped their right hand to their chest and pledged to defend their religion. Founded just a year ago, the BBS insists that Sri Lanka, the world’s oldest continually Buddhist nation, needs to robustly reclaim its spiritual roots. It wants monks to teach history in government schools and has called for religious headscarves to be banned, even though 9% of the population is Muslim. Said BBS general secretary and monk Galaboda Aththe Gnanasara Thero at the group’s annual meeting: “This is a Buddhist government. This is a Buddhist country.”

Hard-line monks, like those in the BBS, have turned on minority Muslims and Christians, especially since the 26-year war against the largely Hindu Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam insurgency ended four years ago. After President Mahinda Rajapaksa, a conservative, was elected in 2005, Buddhist supremacist groups became more powerful. In recent months, their campaign of intimidation has included attacks on a Muslim-owned clothing store, a Christian pastor’s house and a Muslim-linked slaughterhouse. Despite monks’ being captured on video leading some of the marauding, none have been charged. Indeed, temple and state are growing ever closer in Sri Lanka, with a monk-dominated party serving as a coalition member of the government. In March, the guest of honor at the opening ceremony for the BBS-founded Buddhist Leadership Academy was Sri Lanka’s Defense Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, the President’s brother, who said, “It is the monks who protect our country, religion and race.”

Alms in Arms
In Thailand’s deep south, it’s the monks who need help — and in their desperation some have resorted to methods contrary to Buddhism’s pacifist dogma. The southern provinces of Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat used to be part of a Malay sultanate before staunchly Buddhist Thailand annexed the region early last century. Muslims make up at least 80% of the area’s population. Since a separatist insurgency intensified in 2004, many Buddhists have been targeted because their positions — such as teachers, soldiers or government workers — are linked to the Thai state. Dozens of monks have been attacked too. Now the Thai military and other security forces have moved into the wat, as Thai Buddhist temples are known, and soldiers go out each morning with monks as they collect alms. “There’s no other choice,” says Lieutenant Sawai Kongsit. “We cannot separate Buddhism from guns anymore.”

Wat Lak Muang, in the town of Pattani, is home to 10 Buddhist monks and around 100 soldiers. The sprawling compound’s main stupa has been taken over as an operational command center for the Thai army’s 23rd battalion, with camouflage netting wrapped around the central base of the holy structure. Each year, thousands of Buddhist volunteers receive training at this wat to join armed civilian militias charged with guarding their villages. Prapaladsuthipong Purassaro, who was a monk for 16 years and now tends the temple, admits that when he wore monastic robes, he owned three pistols. “Maybe I felt a little bit guilty as a Buddhist,” he says. “But we have to protect ourselves.”

If Buddhists feel more protected by the presence of soldiers in their temples, it sends quite another signal to the Muslim population. “By inviting soldiers into the wat, the state is wedding religion to the military,” says Michael Jerryson, an assistant professor of religious studies at Youngstown State University in Ohio and author of a book about Buddhism’s role in the southern Thailand conflict. “Buddhists will never think we’re Thai people,” says Sumoh Makeh, the mother of a suspected insurgent who, with 15 others, was killed by Thai marines in February after they tried to raid a naval base. “This is our land but we are the outsiders.” After all, Muslims too are running scared in the deep south. More of them have perished in the violence than Buddhists, felled by indiscriminate bombings or whispers that they were somehow connected to the state. (By proportion of population, however, more Buddhists have died.) Yet monk after monk tells me that Muslims are using mosques to store weapons, or that every imam carries a gun. “Islam is a religion of violence,” says Phratong Jiratamo, a marine turned monk. “Everyone knows this.”

It’s a sentiment the Burmese bin Laden would endorse. I wonder how Wirathu reconciles the peaceful sutras of his faith with the anti-Muslim violence spreading across his Bamar-majority homeland. “In Buddhism, we are not allowed to go on the offensive,” he tells me. “But we have every right to defend our community.” Later, as he preaches to an evening crowd, I listen to him compel smiling housewives, students, teachers, grandmothers and others to repeat after him: “I will sacrifice myself for the Bamar race.”

The Buddhist spirit of forgiveness, though, still exists in the unlikeliest of places. In 2011, Watcharapong Suttha, a monk at Wat Lak Muang, was doing his morning alms, guarded by soldiers, when a bomb detonated. The lower half of his body is covered in shrapnel scars. Now 29 and disrobed, Watcharapong is still traumatized, his eyes darting, his body beset by twitches. But he does not blame an entire faith for his attack. “Islam is a peaceful religion, like Buddhism, like all religions,” he says. “If we blame Muslims, they will blame us. Then this violence will never end.”

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Wednesday, April 3, 2013


Tender eyes see only a light
Tender ears hear only crying
Tender hands feel the soft blanket
Tender lips let out a wail
Tender nostrils smell the milk
On the baby’s cot are three soft toys
And carved on the headboard are five words
A god has been born

Monday, August 20, 2012

2010- ဇန္န၀ါရီရဲ႕ ကႏၵီသင္တန္း အမွတ္တရ ပံုရိပ္

ၾကာေတာ့ ၾကာခဲ့ၿပီ။
ျပန္လွန္ေလ်ာမိတဲ့ ဓါတ္ပံုေတြကေတာ့
အမွတ္ရ ႏုပ်ိဳေနဆဲလား

စြယ္ေတာ္အလွ ကႏၵီကို သြားခဲ့ၾကတယ္။
ရင္ဘတ္ခ်င္း စည္း၀ါးညွိ
တို႔တစ္ေတြ စႏၵကုမာရဆုိတဲ့
ျပဇာတ္တစ္ပုဒ္ကို အတူကခဲ့ၾကတယ္။
ေက်းျဖစ္သူက ျဖစ္၊ မင္းသား၊ ဘုရင္၊ ရေသ့၊
ေျမြႏွင့္ ႀကြက္တို႔အျဖစ္ ဇာတ္ရုပ္ေဆာင္ခဲ့ဖူးေလရဲ႕
ေခတ္သစ္ရဲ႕ နကုလမာတာနဲ႔ နကုလပိတာ၊
အလတ္ဆတ္ဆံုးေသာ ႏွလံုးသားပုိင္ရွင္
Ken & visakha တို႔ဆီမွာ Ten-Stepေတြနဲ႔
အမွားမ်ားစြာ ကေလးဘ၀ ျပန္ေရာက္ခဲ့ၾကေပါ့။
ျပန္မဆံုနုိင္ေတာ့တဲ့ ၂-ႏွစ္ဆိုတဲ့
ျပန္သူျပန္၊ က်န္သူက်န္နဲ႔

ဒီဓါတ္ပံုေလးကေတာ့ မင္းတို႔ ငါတို႔အတြက္