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Buddhism in the News


Thursday, May 29, 2008

Burmese Monks Defy Ban on Private Relief Efforts.

Myanmar's military government, which has a relief hub just 10 miles north in the town of Bogalay, has not delivered aid to scores of remote villages like this across some of the most devastated areas of the Irrawaddy River delta. For now, the villagers' only hope is goods that arrive from time to time in an underground supply chain operated by Buddhist monks in Bogalay, who are defying the ban on private relief operations in the delta.

James: The Burmese Sangha has shown such courage and compassion toward the people from the protests last year to helping victims of the recent cyclone. They clearly understand the importance of compassion to the point of risking their own lives and safety to help as many people as they can. All despite many monasteries being destroyed and severely damaged.

Their efforts are even more noble when you consider that the monks themselves don't have a lot and usually rely upon the laity for their food. Yet here they are giving and helping in any and all ways they can. However, I'm not surprised being how centered in oneness that these monks know and practice. They intimately know the interconnected between all beings and that helping others is not different and no less important than helping oneself.

It is not an exaggeration to say that monks are trained to help the people. Their vows are quite centered upon working for the betterment and liberation of the people from suffering and their response to the aftermath of this disaster is a powerful expression of those values.

They are a cherished example for me in how to deal with severe suffering in my own life and in the lives of other people. The monks have suffered as much as the people and yet they are being pro-active and not wallowing in their sorrow. They are a wonderful example that helping others can help ease our own suffering. Too often when I am in deep pain and suffering I retreat from others into a place where I feel self-pity as if I am the only person suffering in the world. The monks are a beautiful reminder of why I do my best to follow the Dharma.

In the confusion of the aftermath of cyclone nargis many believe that it was the result of the "bad karma" of the victims. That, however, is somewhat short-sighted says one Burmese monk, "If the government would have warned people, they would not have died. So this disaster is not karma; it is a natural case of cause and effect by humans."

~Peace to all beings~

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Riverwolf said...

Thanks for always keeping us up to date on things like this. And yes, I'm always impressed with the monks. You always see them leading efforts to help others. They really seem to live out what they believe and bring real benefits to their communities.

Anonymous said...

After all, claims linking natural disasters to "bad karma" may be right, if only by a freak coincidence that points in a totally different direction -back home!:

Better to stick to old-fashioned, time-tested cause & effect relations that can be ascertained, prevented, and/or corrected if necessary (as the Burmese monk defends) than to speculate wildly on others´ perceived crimes and their imaginary and scientifically unsound retribution.

Rolling up our sleeves and taking care of business may be less fulfilling than finger-pointing, but it is infinitely more useful.

They call him James Ure said...


You're welcome. Yeah those monks are a great example and amazing people.


I agree that karma is somewhat apart of the disaster but that it's not the sole reason.

plutonica said...

This is beautiful... I feel like a lot of people misunderstand certain Buddhist concepts, like detachment. I just read a book entitled Distant Suffering (link to ebooks and audiobooks version), which actually promotes becoming somewhat attached to people and causes which are currently just distant reports from the media. The book says that this will encourage you to change things in distant places, to fight against injustice and make the world a better place. These monks seem to have achieved the right balance.

They call him James Ure said...


Yeah I think it's all about balance. In all things. When we become too detached we begin to lose understanding of others which can lead to a lessing of compassion.

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