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David Lourie castigates the wrong side

by Visakha Kawasaki, Kandy, Sri Lanka, The Buddhist Channel, March 27, 2008

In “Dharma The Cat and the roar of the lion,” David Lourie’s commentary seems confused on several counts.  He seems dismayed with the wrong people when he castigates the non-violent monks of Burma and Tibet for what he terms “political agendas within the Sangha.”

Shouldn’t his indignation be directed towards the brutal policies of both the alien Chinese regime and the Burmese military junta? Both have used violence to enforce their detested and oppressive occupations and both are practicing ethnic cleansing of indigenous populations.

One of the leaders of the Burmese Sangha movement, Ven. U Gambira, is in solitary confinement in Rangoon’s notorious Insein Prison, where he has begun a movement amongst the political prisoners incarcerated there of chanting the Metta Sutta and radiating metta in meditation.

And who has been more of a consistent advocate of non-violence than the Dalai Lama over his long decades of exile from his beloved country and benighted people? How could the conduct of these two exemplary monks possibly be faulted? It is a serious matter for a layman to casually accuse them of somehow violating their Vinaya rules!

The monks and nuns of Burma and Tibet have been the victims of extreme violence by powerful government forces, army and police. Let us not blame the victims, let alone suggest they give up their robes! Can I ask, with the old union song, “Which side are you on?”

If someone insists on siding with powerful oppressors, he should at least spare a compassionate thought for the ordinary people they exploit and subjugate and for the courageous monks and nuns who dare to face the soldiers’ guns and the torturers’ prisons with their only protection being the loving kindness they radiate.

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