many in the world politic have been dumbstruck by Aung San Suu Kyi’s seemingly tone deaf lack of response over what is generally considered now to be a genocide of the Rohingya Muslim population in Burma renamed Myanmar by the military junta. Buddhist publications have been writing about this very non-Buddhist movement, led by violent Buddhist monks. Buddhist by name only, certainly not in the moral or ethical philosophy. Buddhist leaders have been speaking out, though it has seemed off the radar. i posted over a year or so ago an essay by well knownBuddhist teacher Jack Kornfield about this tragedy. Rohingya have not had any officially recognized citizenship in Burma even though they have had a presence there for generations.the stakes though have been raised by the increase in horrific violence against the Rohingya by this rogue Buddhist order and military actors, and their mass fleeing (hundreds of thousands of refugees) from harm along with Suu Kyi’s now vocal denial that this atrocity is even happening. she has now skipped a UN appearance due to increasing criticism, further isolating herself.
i had read a while back that the Dalai Lama, a fellow Nobel Peace Laureate, had contacted her regarding this issue to no avail. he has now also issued a letter.
what has caused this fall from grace for Suu Kyi who her self underwent oppression and decades of house arrest, receiving the Nobel Peace Prize for her steadfast nonviolent protest and moral authority against violent oppression by the military junta, to upon release and rise to power, only ignore horrific violence against the Rohingya? i heard a news story on the radio that her father, in fact, was quite dismissive of the Rohingya when he was in power and believed they shouldn’t be considered citizens or have the rights that come with that recognition.
has the apple not fallen far from the tree? are we seeing a different side to Suu Kyi? only time will tell, but meanwhile the Rohingya are suffering from targeted violence at an increasing rate and Suu Kyi has betrayed both the Nobel Peace Prize given to her and her image as a Buddhist leader.
may there be peace and an end to this suffering. 🙏🏻📿
the ideology of White Supremacy is at its foundation, within its very core, violence. the moment one race has been placed in a position of superiority to another, thereby diminishing the humanity of the other race, an act of violence has taken place. whether it manifests in thought, word, deed, through a platform of economics, institutions, laws, politics, it is violence. whether under the label is White Nationalist, Neo-Nazi, Nazi, Confederate, or Alt-Right, it is violence. there is no such thing as a “peaceful” White Supremacy rally.I have to remain hopeful that hearts can be awakened, but we don’t awaken them by sympathizing with the true enemies which are delusion, fear, aggression and hate, or excusing the violence that manifests from these sicknesses. we must name the suffering, shining light into the dark abyss which is racism, which includes an honest and real look at this country’s foundation, its history, and our own privilege. so many want to claim they are pro-life. this is a moment to prove it. one cannot claim pro-life, yet sympathize with, excuse or ignore an ideology of death. and although they may not recognize it and we may not want to see it, those who identify with the White Supremacist ideology are also victims of its destructive power. there are no winners in hate. so, we must stand firmly as an ally to life and those who have and are suffering at the hand of the destructive and dark force of racism.
the basic Buddhist understanding of life is one of interdependence, that we have no independent self, that many co-arising conditions have come together to manifest this body and life. this is the case with all things, including all people. as it has been often quoted and re-quoted (to paraphrase) we are related to each other biologically, to the earth chemically, and to the entire Universe atomically. all have their rightful and honored place in this web-like tapestry of Life.
understanding this, how can anyone say that one thing is more important or superior to another?
this is Achilles Heel of the White Supremacist movement, the White Nationalists movement, the Nazis, the Neo-Nazis, the KKK, the Alt-Right movement, and all the other racist movements that have sprung up through time over and over pitting one group of people against another manifesting in physical violence, economic/structural/institutional violence, and political violence.
They are all eventually doomed. Why? Because they act contrary to Life itself which is at its foundation interdependent and always changing. Yet, these movements rise up again and again – sometimes hiding under a rock sheltered in darkness, until finding home once more in fragile egos and closed hearts. This is why it is so important that we stand as allies to Life and to all who are oppressed. Life acts through us, and sometimes in spite of us, so it is each one of us who have to wake up, listen, stand, speak, write, create art, practice and serve, as allies to Life and all who are oppressed finding themselves on the receiving end of the fear, anger, bigotry, racism, aggression and violence that has found its way into the light. We MUST be engaged. Naming the darkness and what lies beneath it, so that we can defeat it, without becoming it.
in this moment our greatest enemies are what we call in Buddhism, The 3 Poisons – our tendency to avoid the discomfort of our situation of this life by either grasping (greed), being aggression (hatred), or lost in our ignorance (delusion – ignorance is NOT bliss). these are the driving reactive force for those who would put themselves above others, the roots of the fear and anger we see motivating racism and these hostiles groups. we counter these by authentically engaging life in all of its challenge and discomfort with an open heart through practicing The 4 Immeasurables, which are lovingkindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity. these aren’t to be confused with being “nice” as we may think. compassion can be fierce, cutting and precise. we need the fiercest compassion at this time.
the rock has been turned over again and what has been hiding underneath once more is in the light. what will we do? the world is watching and history will record these moments.
The other person is not our enemy.
Our enemies are misunderstanding,
discrimination, violence, hatred,
Thich Nhat Hanh
I love this teaching. It is deceptively challenging. On the face of it, most would probably agree (though some may not). However, when put into practice, I think most of us will find we fall short of honoring these wise words.
In a time such as now, when so much feels at stake and emotions are heightened (and for good reason), the easier path is to assign blame to one person or a group of people and go in for the kill. It is easier to have a face to direct our anger, our grief, our confusion. It even feels good! However good this feels in the short term, and however much it may motivate and seem to contribute to a resolution, in the long run it remains a delusion and contributes to cyclical suffering, fueling the very enemies we are working to defeat.
We will only be successful in our struggle, in this movement, when our motivation to act is fueled by a fierce compassion, born of a love that seeks the end of suffering for all beings, even those who act in harmful ways and contribute to the suffering we are fighting to liberate from.
This is the challenge of our time. In an era where we seek targets to blame and scapegoats for our suffering, can we with fierce compassion, work for the very solid cause of defeating fascism, defeating racism, defeating homophobia and transphobia, defeating policies that dismiss the poor, the sick, the elderly? Can we do this without demonizing individuals, even as we tirelessly work for their removal from positions of power, and work against the harmful policies and suffering their ideology causes? Buddhism and other contemplative practices say we can. And in fact, when we do we are honoring our true nature and not adding to the suffering. When we act out of fierce compassion, born from love, we upend the true enemies we seek to defeat: confusion, discrimination, violence, hatred, and anger. And in doing so, we are planting seeds toward the long arc, contributing to the end of suffering for all people. Then we are acting as bodhisattvas in this world. And this world, especially now, needs as many bodhisattvas as it can get.
doing lovingkindness meditation today for so many at the receiving end of horrific violence including Egypt today, and Syria. sitting with the darkness of such anger and violence, in contrast to the Palm Sunday message of Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem on the humble donkey as a prince of peace, as opposed to a king of war.
the transformative message of the deep and lasting power (love) present in openness and vulnerability – seemingly powerlessness – is still waiting to take hold. it has to take hold in each of our hearts first…
#LovingKindness #metta #meditation #love #vulnerability #peace #PalmSunday #Jesus #war #violence #anger #darkness #light #TheLongArc #PlantingSeeds
Sitting with this quote, recently: “Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent” (by Isaac Asimov) and I thought, “Should we expand our definition of violence?”
I think we often view violence through a rather restrictive lens of war and aggressive, physical assault.However, is it truly too far a reach to suggest that words or actions that cause harm, injury, or death are also a form of violence?
Isn’t it violent to legislate healthcare out of the reach of the elderly, the poor, the ill?
Isn’t it violent to deprive food from children and the elderly, by cutting the programs on which they depend?
Isn’t it violent to marginalize an “other” (fill in the blank) virtually placing a target stirring fear and hate?
The poor, the elderly, the ill, the undocumented, the marginalized (including Muslims and LGBTQ) are easy targets for leadership that is incompetent.
We harm or we benefit.
So, what do we do?
We bear witness.We speak up.We speak truth to power.We stand and we walk in solidarity with those who suffer, the marginalized and oppressed.
But perhaps, even more importantly…
We begin with ourselves, and our own hearts and minds.Am I willing to work for resolutions in my own life that best benefit the big picture, the long arc?Am I willing to call upon my most creative and innovation potential to benefit all those around me and not just myself?Am I willing to serve?Am I willing to be vulnerable?Am I willing to understand and embrace empathy?Am I willing to love?
calling all the healers, it is your time…
to those willing to pause before reacting, to breathe before speaking, it is your time…
to those willing to lay down their weapons whether they be guns or words, it is your time…
to those willing to keep their hearts open to vulnerability and their eyes open to pain, it is your time…
this call is for you, the healers – the willing.
those willing to do and embody what is needed now to heal and not further perpetuate suffering. those who are willing to stand in the face of fear, confusion and anger to transform them, rather than be ruled by them.
even as we may understand that there are at times specific needs for military or law enforcement, let us also bring a counter balance to those who call for more guns, more violence, more anger, and more fear.
may we bring healing through our work, through our art, our words, our every breath.
“We’ve entered this new era, and we have to be planning for healing just as carefully as others are planning for destruction.” – Omid Safi
BY OMID SAFI(@OSTADJAAN), ON BEING COLUMNIST
Friends keep asking me where we find hope in these turbulent times. We don’t. We don’t find hope. We generate it.
Hope is like sanctity and community. Hope doesn’t descend down to us from heaven. It rises to heaven from right here on Earth.
As Warsan Shire says, it hurts everywhere, everywhere. As Parker Palmer says, even the healers are wounded healers.
We need to have a national and global conversation about faith that prepares us to carry on the work of healing so that we can be prepared when these atrocities hit us. This is the new normal. There are going to be Paris attacks, Beirut attacks, Baghdad attacks, Nigeria attacks, and more in the months and years to come. The work of healing is needed now, more than ever.
The atrocities are “events.” The healing has to be an ongoing, everyday journey. This healing work actually has to come before the atrocities, through the atrocities, and after the atrocities.
We’ve entered this new era, and we have to be planning for healing just as carefully as others are planning for destruction.
We’re simply, by necessity, now in an era of global processes of healing. As others have said, we’re all wounded, so we’re wounded healers now.
Everyone hurts — though not all hurt in the same way. Everyone has a role in healing — though not everyone is ready to heal.
turn, as I do so often, to the very heart of our faith traditions for hope. I remember the Qur’an saying that the ease, the healing, comes not after the difficulty but with it.
We cannot wait to be wounded before we turn to heal. We have to anticipate the healing, generate the healing, raise up the healing.
I remember Rumi’s words:
The wound is where the light enters you.
I see wounds. I see the wounded. And I see the wounders (who often carry their own wounds).
In an age when violence is broadcast widely, when the quickest way to fame is to say something vacuous and pungent How do we make the healing visible? How do we recover love as a public virtue? In the midst of this tragedy, I keep searching for hope, still my own heart to keep generating hope For myself For my children For all of us Where do we find hope? Mostly hope, courage, resistance are invisible. Hope’s never linear, rarely public, usually tender and private. Every now and then, we see examples of hope that become visible.
I want to shine a light on these moments — to remember, to rejuvenate, to recall — when the goodness shines on through, and reminds us of the need to keep generating hope.
Let me share one such moment from Paris. The moment of light is from a husband, Antoine Leiris, whose wife, Hélène Muyal-Leiris, was killed in the attacks. In his response, there is grace and dignity. It reminded me of Mamie Till, holding an open-casket funeral for her son Emmett, both for the world to see her suffering become public, and also to say that she had no time to hate, and would devote herself steadfast to seeking justice.
The husband released a statement to the ISIS terrorists: You have taken away the love of my life, a beautiful woman. You seek to get me to hate you, but I will not give you that satisfaction. I will not give you the satisfaction of having your hatred be mirrored in my heart. You, and your action, will not determine the kind of human being I will strive to be.
Here’s the transcript of the message from the husband, posted on Facebook. The original message was in French, here is an English translation:
“On Friday night you stole the life of an exceptional being, the love of my life, the mother of my son, but you won’t have my hatred.
I don’t know who you are and I don’t want to know — you are dead souls. If this God for which you kill indiscriminately made us in his own image, every bullet in the body of my wife will have been a wound in his heart.
So no, I don’t give you the gift of hating you. You are asking for it but responding to hatred with anger would be giving in to the same ignorance that made you what you are.
You want me to be afraid, to view my fellow countrymen with mistrust, to sacrifice my freedom for security. You have lost.
I saw her this morning. Finally, after many nights and days of waiting. She was just as beautiful as when she left on Friday night, just as beautiful as when I fell hopelessly in love over 12 years ago.
Of course I’m devastated with grief, I admit this small victory, but it will be short-lived. I know she will accompany us every day and that we will find ourselves in this paradise of free souls to which you’ll never have access.
We are two, my son and I, but we are stronger than all the armies of the world.
I don’t have any more time to devote to you, I have to join Melvil who is waking up from his nap. He is barely 17-months-old. He will eat his meals as usual, and then we are going to play as usual, and for his whole life this little boy will threaten you by being happy and free. Because no, you will not have his hatred either.”
Here is what we often do not understand about the power of nonviolence in an uber-violent world. Nonviolence is not so much about “turning the other cheek” or responding to violence with a refusal to return violent action. That is simply the start. It is, simply, the minimum. It is actually more profound, as the widower husband says:
“So no, I don’t give you the gift of hating you. You are asking for it but responding to hatred with anger would be giving in to the same ignorance that made you what you are.”
Real nonviolence is the adamant insistence that we will choose to live a life of dignity, beauty, and meaning. That we will not get drowned in a whirlpool of hatred and violence.
The father ends by saying that he would say more, but that he has to go take care of his toddler, a toddler that now only has one parent to raise him.
Yes, we have children to raise,
parents to love,
friends to hug,
neighbors to reach out to,
inner-cities to heal,
and refugees to shelter.
There is real work to be done, genuine healing, which we have to generate.
The truth is actually much harder, and more beautiful than a simple refusal to return violence for violence. That would be akin to cursing a dark night already devoid of stars.
To curse the darkness, to bring more anger and rage into this world, is to let the terrorists win. It is to let the terror inside our own hearts win.
Healing begins by a commitment to letting light shine. We have to generate this light, this hope this healing and mirror it to each other. Let your light shine. Let’s heal each other, fellow wounded healers. We are in this together. http://www.onbeing.org/blog/omid-safi-where-do-we-find-hope-after-paris/8164