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Buddhism in the News


Monday, November 16, 2009

Obama Calls for Aung San Suu Kyi to be Released.

Pro-Burmese Democracy leader and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi (right) with her former spiritual adviser, The Venerable Buddhist monk Thamanya Sayadaw who is now deceased).

By VIJAY JOSHI, Associated Press Writer Vijay Joshi, Associated Press Writer
Sun Nov 15, 9:11 am ET

SINGAPORE – President Barack Obama on Sunday told Myanmar's junta to free pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi during an unusual face-to-face interaction with a top leader of the ruling military. Obama delivered the strong message during his summit with leaders of 10 Southeast Asian nations, which included Myanmar Prime Minister Gen. Thein Sein. White House press secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters that Obama called on Myanmar to free his fellow Nobel Peace laureate Suu Kyi and other political prisoners, and end oppression of minorities.

A joint statement issued after the summit — the first ever between a U.S. president and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations — devoted a paragraph on Myanmar, a major irritant in relations between the two sides. But the statement did not call for the release of political prisoners, including Suu Kyi, who has spent 14 of the last 20 years under detention by the military regime. It only urged Myanmar to ensure that the elections it intends to hold in 2010 are "conducted in a free, fair, inclusive and transparent manner."

However, a direct appeal from Obama carries more weight as he is the most powerful leader to have conveyed the message directly to a top Myanmar official.

James: It's easy to feel compassion for the Burmese when we know that we are an extension of them, however, we must all be careful not to have pity toward them. Compassion is selfless in that it places the needs of others at the same level as our own and motivates us to give freely of our time, talents and resources to help ease that suffering a bit. Pity is feeling sorrow for someone's situation but then doing nothing about it. Or helping someone out of a feeling of obligation, which is based on your needs rather than those suffering. You're helping them to make yourself feel better because you silently judge them for being in the position that they are in. And when I say "you" I mean me as well. It is empty compassion. Pity comes from a place of believing that if the object of our pity were only like us then they wouldn't be suffering. As if we don't have a lot of suffering to deal with in our own regard!! Money and freedom aren't necessarily recipes for happiness and freedom from suffering.

True compassion should be extended toward the junta as well because true compassion is unbiased regardless of a person's actions. It's easy to pity the generals but not have genuine compassion because we've made the judgment that they are undeserving of relief from suffering. Yet who amongst us is free from delusion and unskilllful actions? We all have a lot of karmic rocks in our samsara backpack to carry around. We know that using violence, oppression and fear does not bring those leaders happiness. They are clearly suffering and true compassion seeks to ease suffering -- period. It has no prerequisites, no qualifiers, no judgments and no selectivity. There is a saying in America, "You can catch more flies with honey than you can with vinegar." Another saying goes, "A rising tide lifts all boats." In other words when we show compassion to all sides out of motivation to help all beings be free from suffering we realize that it helps all sides.

~Peace to all beings~

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1 comment:

Marco said...

Indeed, it is really true "when we show compassion to all sides out of motivation to help all beings be free from suffering we realize that it helps all sides". fence system

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