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Burma: The Heartbeat Is Still Alive Underground

by Dr. Clarissa Pinkola EstÚs, The Moderate Voice, February 13, 2008

Washington, USA -- Lest we forget in the ruts many of us seem somewhat lost in these days, that of the dirt track race of tired horses we’re following, a/k/a the Presidential nomination process… meanwhile there are others in many parts of the world, who are striving just to speak aloud without being ‘disappeared’ by government thugs.

In late 2007 in Burma, (renamed Myanmar, by the current despotic regime,) thousands of monks poured into the streets of Yangon and other cities, to ask for mercy for the poor of Burma.

Impoverished Burmese who, already having half of nothing, were further penalized by the government’s sudden overnight doubling of the price of cooking fuel. For those literally living from what little can be pulled from overgrazed ground, this was like doubling the price of heating fuel in the midst of a bitter winter in a laid-off factory town like Detroit. Half again of more than nothing.

So, the monks, normally introverted teachers and exemplars who renounce the glitter world, sent their message to the regime… a message ‘in the air’ that would hang in the air for eons afterward… a message more damaging to the dictatorship in a Buddhist land, than burying landmines…

The monks publicly displayed a moral authority higher than the government’s ultra-greedy military authority.

Not that being a higher authority than the dictatorship would be that difficult, for Than Schwe, the self appointed dictator of Burma specializes in bottom feeding, cocaine trade skimming, theft of indigenous people’s lands, plundering Burma’s treasury for his own use, as in his vulgar displays of ill-gotten wealth by overstuffing his well fed daughter with diamonds at her most recent wedding.

The good news: The pro-democracy activist movement continues outside the borders of Burma. This is made of persons like you and me who hold ongoing vigil for Burma. It is made of people far closer in who speak up for the Burmese in any conversation having to do with China, India and other nations who merit from Burma’s suppression. It comes from those who are actively involved in trying to help the poor of Burma.

The group of helpers, prayers, writers and artists include Burmese in exile, Buddhists worldwide who might have taken up Burma as a special prayer, nuns and priests of non-Buddhist religions, as well as any soul who has a grasp of the issues who can write, tell, create, in ways that keeps the stories of today’s Burma showing above ground.

One such organization both inside and outside Burma, is the All Burma Monks’ Alliance, a pro-democracy group… keeping in mind that ‘pro-democracy’ does not mean in Burma what it may mean to Europeans and Westerners. In Burma, democracy may far more mean being rid of the huge Jaba-like squatter, Than Schwe,

and thereby opening a pathway for allowing the will of the people to turn toward the care and safety of the people, a will that wont allow desecration of humane principles, that will instead give opportunity instead of ordering the people to desecrate their own people.

The thorny news: When and IF Burma comes up as a topic, sometimes people across the world too often want to argue and fight instead of discuss and problem solve how to re-orient, dissolve, transform, or destroy the regime in Burma. Trade and import sanctions to a country of poor people may give the impoverished another bowl of dust, and nothing more. Viz sanctions against medicine imports for the ill children and vulnerable in the mideast. Inhuman. And, no effect on any dictatorial regime…

For by psyche’s definition: a malevolent dictatorship has no conscience.

A question to be considered: Can a nation of religious believers, ones who are dedicated to non-violence, within their religious strictures, over turn, change or moderate a vicious and violent regime?

In Burma the monks who were tortured, ‘disappeared,’ bludgeoned to death, drowned, hung, beaten during late 2007, were simply pouring into the streets out of compassion for the poor who had been jacked around for the 1000th time by Than Schwe.

The monks walked with soft eyes and with their food bowls turned upside down, to show that they would no longer receive alms from the military or the military families. They would refuse alms from the military.

In Buddhism, one receives the equivalent of ‘grace’ in this world, and in the life to come, by taking compassionate care of the gentle monks and nuns.

By the monks saying, we will no longer accept your alms, your food, they were not only saying: You shall find no grace through us with your filthy deeds.

The monks were saying, the defilement of being a part-time Buddhist who kills and maims and impoverishes others at the order of Than Schwe by night, could not participate properly in the holiness of Buddhism during the day. One or the other. The men of the military, Buddhists themselves, would have to choose.

In this sense, the monks were demonstrating one of the essential moral principle of Buddhism: non-violence. And for this, and this alone, many monks and nuns and Burmese lost their lives, as the “Buddhists in name only,” smashed the heads of the holiest of the holy people in Burma.

According to this article, the common people of Burma are “said to be attending, and passing around Video CDs of, monks’ lectures that are bold in their discussions about bad kings and about the regime’s planting of bogus monks into the Sangha. The best hope for regime change may continue to lie, as hope for reform always has in Burma, with the Sangha’s moral authority”…

Some who are cynical say, Who remembers Burma? That’s so over.” These many months after, I would say, Anyone who remembers the love of humanity carried by the monks and nuns of Burma, and the people of Burma

….and anyone who clearly know the difference between the bloated and grasping Than Schwe and forty-thousand half-naked, robed people living out their most precious debt of honor to the poorest amongst them.

Those are the memorial candles that will never be extinguished.



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