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How can you condemn monks who chant Metta Sutta walking past army guns?

by Visakha Kawasaki, Kandy, Sri Lanka, The Buddhist Channel, Sept 23, 2007

I write with regards to "Blindness and the many levels of motivation" by Dharmakara Boda on Sept 21, 2007.

Unfortunately, Ven. Dharmakara Boda is convinced that he knows that the Burmese monks in Pakkoku “were ‘motivated’ to take hostages and set cars on fire, which is an overt act of aggression.” Perhaps Ven. Dharmakara Boda should give Burmese monks the benefit of the doubt, but he is too hasty to condemn where he doesn’t know anything of circumstances.

Monks were tied to a lampost and publically beaten in Pakkoku but perhaps he didn't know that background information. Furthermore, if a monk has acted improperly, there are procedures stipulated in the vinaya for dealing with that. It is not appropriate for Ven. Dharmakara Boda, halfway round the world, to condemn the monks of Burma for actions he really knows nothing about, apart from some headlines in the popular press.

According to eyewitness reports, here’s just a sample of what was happening today in Burma:

“Amarapura, Mandalay Division; around noon - Over 700 monks from Maha Gandayone Monastery marched through the street in rows of three in Amarapura Township. A witness said that a leading monk held a religious flag while another monk held an alms bowl turned upside-down at the forefront of the demonstration. About two dozen police officers and members of the junta-backed Union Solidarity and Development Association followed the protesting monks on motorbikes, the witness said. He added that residents turned out to support the monks."

“Pegu, Pegu Division; about 1 p.m. - About 100 monks in Pegu marched in a peaceful demonstration in the rain from about 1 p.m. to 2 p.m., on Friday, according to a local witness. The monks marched from their monasteries to Shwemawdaw, a famous pagoda in Pegu town while chanting the “Metta Sutta” (the Buddha’s words on loving kindness).

A source also said monks in three cars tried to travel to Rangoon but were stopped by authorities at Htaukkyant Gate on the outskirts of Rangoon.”

In 1988 thousands of unarmed people – students, farmers, teachers, housewives, labor leaders and Buddhist monks were shot by the Burmese army.

Today we received news that the SPDC has ordered the army to be prepared to fire at demonstrators when the command is given. Hospitals have been told to clear their wards.

The monks have vowed not to back down. The almsbowls remain overturned. Will metta prevail or will the generals order a bloodbath?

I must ask Ven. Dharmakara Boda how he dares to question the morality of the noble monks of Burma who dare to walk chanting the Metta Sutta past the guns of the Burmese army once more.


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