Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Buddhism and Politics

Should Buddhist monks take part in political affairs?

U Kovida: Burma has a long history of monks being actively engaged in political affairs when it comes to the welfare of the people. Because everyday we eat food donated to us by the Burmese peoples, the majority are poor and oppressed. Sure, we Buddhist monks should not be attached to anything or anyone. But we did not live in total isolation. We monks remain in contact with the other members of the society. If someone perform any action, which disturbs the peace and harmony of the society, how can you have peace and harmony within yourself?
As you know, I am not politicians. I am not political partisans. We monks are not favoring one group or one side, or one party. We are not seeking power. We seek peace and freedom for our people and to relieve their suffering. You know, politics is not dirty; politics cannot be dirty, only politicians can be dirty. I think politics is very simple, only politicians are complex and complicated. I think politics is really about how we live together as human beings.

What is the relation between Buddhism and politics or democracy?

U Kovida: The teachings of the Buddha are known as Buddhism in western countries that is called Dhamma in pali language. His teachings are not only for a particular person or a particular group, but for everyone to follow in their daily life. So how can we separate politics from Dhamma? Can there be a truly democratic politics without Dhamma in the broad sense? I don't see them as separate. As I see is, we have never needed the Buddha's teaching more than now in the political area. Neglect of Buddha's teaching is one of the fundamental causes of problems. And religion and politics should not be used to cheat the people.
After Siddattha became a Buddha, he devoted his precious life to serving humanity without any personal motive whatsoever.
In the pacifist movement the Buddha was the great pioneer. The Buddha is a great benefactor of humanity. He not only taught non-violence and peace, he intervened personally in the field of battle, as the dispute between the Sakyas and Koliyas over the waters of the Rohini.
In the days of the Buddha, as today, there were rulers who governed their countries unjustly. The Buddha spoke of ten rules for kings. Of course the term "king" of old should be replaced today by the term "government". The Buddha had gone beyond all worldly affairs, but still gave advice on good government.
And the institution the Buddha established was the Sangha or monastic community, which functioned on largely democratic lines. Within this society, individuals were equal, whatever their social class or caste origins. The only slight difference in status depended on seniority of ordination. Individual freedom or enlightenment was achieved by individual practicing meditation. The Sangha or monastic community has the most democratic constitution. The Buddha also was only one of the Sanghas. At the most, he was like a Prime Minister among members of the Cabinet. He was never a dictator. Twice before he died, he was asked to appoint some one as the head of the Sanghas to control it. But each time he refused saying that the Dhamma or his teaching is the Supreme Commander of the Sangha. He refused to be a dictator and refused to appoint a dictator.
The Buddha's way is not to force people to do what they did not like to do although it was good for them. Therefore, Buddhism is a democratic movement that upholds democracy in religion, democracy in society, and democracy in politics. Even could be better to say that Buddha's teachings are more democratic than democratic system.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Never in history had a woman done so little and gained so much publicity and fame; it just shows how powerful the Western media is. The truth is she cannot quit now. She did not lift a finger when Burmese people were suffering immensely under the thug ShuMaung, with nom de guerre of NeWin. There had been thousands of democracy activists, true leaders of democracy, men, women and minors, who were imprisoned, tortured, mained and killed. Yet the English neocolonialist media completely ignored them;worse, the British govt of the time was so hypocritical, for the late thug ShuMaung was welcome to UK and allowed to buy property in London. He had a house in Wimbledon. Burmese people are like children, so innocent, honest and gullible. They did not know that SuuKyi had married an Englishman and became MRS. MICHAEL ARIS. How could she have done that? AungSan fought the British for independence, and he paid with his life. After colonising Burma,IN 1886, English coloniser started drawing boundaries within the unitary kingdom of Burma to instill divide-and-rule, marginalising the Burmans and favouring the so-called ethnic minorities. They let in Christian missionaries, particularly Baptists to christianise atheist Karens. Most of the Karens are Buddhist. About a third became Christians and their allegiance changed to the coloniser English. In 1947, English sympathisers of the karens who fought on the side of the British against the Japanese engineered the massacre of the cabinet of AungSan. He and his brother U BaWin were two of the 8 who were assassinated, with the help of English. Burmese never know the truth. They love AungSan, absolutely adored him, quite deservedly. It is unbeleivable that considering what the former enemy state, England ,did to her father she married an Englsihman. it was sheer treason. Her late father AungSan must be truning in his grave. Her brother AungSanOo immediately disowned her. Since then they had been estranged. In 1988, SuuKyi wnet to Burma to care for her terminally ill mother Daw KhinKyi; he refused to lead the students when they asked her to lead. Only when she saw hundreds of thousands of people demonstrating against the then BSPP regime, carrying AungSan's picture, she jumped on the bandwagon of democracy; sheer opportunist! English media got into top gear to promote her, assisted by her godmother Lady Gore Booth,an arch imperialist. Then SuuKyi, Mrs. Aris, got Nobel Prize. For what? Exactly. Burmese, who had no understanding of the machination of the English to promote 'their woman', who was literally under an Englishman, to recolonise Burma by proxy. No wonder the military was so stubborn about releasing her. Americans and Europeans do not know or understand true Burmese history. In fact AungSanOo should have been chosen, in which event Burma would have gained freedom and democracy a long time ago. He had been maligned and his political career was nipped in the bud. He did M.Sc in electrical Engineering at Imperial College, London. Later he went to America to work. he wanted to overthrow the BSPP regime after his MSc degree in 1971. But he was not allowed to become a lecturer at the Rangoon Institute of Technology. What a tragedy for Burma. He arrived in Burma a few days later after his sister SuuKyi. If only he was the first to arrive, history would have been very different. Later, MR. ARIS aka AungSanSuuKyi asked Western governments to impose sanctions on Burma. Many ordinary Burmese lost their livelihood. She is waiting for power. It will be an ultimate insult to Burmese honour. THE WORLD HAS NOT BEEN GIVEN THE TRUTH, WHICH IS STRANGER THAN FICTION.