Video of U Wirathu in Sri Lanka

A YouTube recording of U Wirathu in Sri Lanka with introductions by leaders of the Bodu Bala Sena. At one point he is introduced, in English, as the ‘Burmese Buddhist terrorist leader’ (clearly as a joke). Not much can be heard of U Wirathu in Burmese as a Sinhala translation is given as he speaks.

And with clear Burmese:

 

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U Wirathu: ‘There is a jihad against Buddhist monks’

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As reported by Al Jazeera the controversial Burmese Buddhist monk U Wirathu addressed 5000 monks and laymen in a packed sports stadium in the Sri Lankan capital Colombo on Sunday 28 September.

In his usual rhetoric he argued that Buddhists are being threatened by Muslims and he suggested a possible a union between the Sri Lankan Bodu Bala Sena (BBS), and the Burmese 969 movement:

To protect and defend the threatened Buddhist the world over, my 969 movement will join hands with the BBS…Buddhists are facing a serious threat today from jihadist groups…The patience of Buddhists is seen as a weakness. Buddhist temples have been destroyed. There is a jihad against Buddhist monks.

The wider issue being considered by the Sangha convention is the proposal to create a ‘Sinhala Buddhist State’ and Buddhist monks and Hindu representatives from several countries were due to take part.

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What will U Wirathu say in Sri Lanka?

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In an excellent article in the Democratic Voice of Burma Alex Bookbinder reports on the visit of the Burmese Nationalist monk U Wirathu (prominent in the Burmese nationalist and anti-Muslim ‘969’ movement) to the the ‘Buddhist Power Force’ (Bodu Bala Sena) in Sri Lanka. He is due to give a keynote speech on Sunday 28th September to an audience affiliated to nationalist Buddhist sympathies in Sri Lanka.

On the one hand, a Theravada Buddhist monk visiting and giving a lecture in a fellow Theravada Buddhist country, between which there have been stong religious ties for centuries,  should not deserve the most obscure footnote in Buddhist history. However, given the so-called 969 movements anti-Muslim rhetoric, and the similar arguments  by the Bodu Bala Sena, eyebrows will be raised. Are these monastics planning political participation:

In contrast to Burma, where monks are constitutionally barred from running for public office, a group of Sri Lankan monks formed the Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU), or National Heritage Party, to contest parliamentary elections in 2004. The JHU was a vocal supporter of Rajapaksa’s no-holds-barred assault against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in 2009, which ended the country’s 26-year civil war amid international condemnation and allegations of war crimes.

Political participation by Buddhist monastics is an extremely divisive issue. Should a monk be devoted to escaping from the cycle of existences, of which politics is a part, or should social injustice be envisioned as the one of the causes of suffering, therefore making it a legitimate target of Buddhist doctrine? These questions are brought into sharp focus by the dialogue between the Burmese 969 movement and the Sri Lanka Bodu Bala Sena.

It will be of some interest what U Wirathu says in Sri Lanka.

Edit: ‘Ven. Ashin Wirathu from Myanmar will participate in the Bodu Bala Sena’s Maha Sangha Council meeting at the Sugathadasa Indoor Stadium at 1.00 p.m. today (Sunday 28t/09/14).’ Reported Here.

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And some film of U Wirathu’s arrival in Sri Lanka:

 

Sulak Sivaraksa on 9/11

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Sulak Sivaraksa gave a speech on Thursday at the University of Wisconsin on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Famous for his engaged Buddhist message that dismantles traditional Buddhist hierarchies, he gave his own unique perspective on the causes and consequences of the attacks.
Born in Bangkok in 1933 he received his primary and secondary education in Thailand before studying at at Lampeter in Wales and completing a Law degree in London. In 1961, at the age 28, he returned to Thailand.
One of his main ideas is Buddhism with a small ‘b’. Buddhism should be stripped of its ritual element to go back to, or to accentuate, a supposed simple core of Buddhism. This is away from the civic and militaristic use of Buddhism. For Sulak  the core of Buddhism is personal and social transformation. It’s teachings can be used to solve contemporary problems.

In his speech on 9/11 he states the following:

‘For peace, we need an authentic economic system…The current system is built on structural violence. The project to build a new economic system begins at this moment….

The post-colonial world needs to become modern, not Western…The capitalist global economic system has been built on imperialism. The West has been separated from its roots since Columbus discovered America by asserting superiority over the people living here, and the notion became to look forward without looking back….

I was from an elitist background with an English education who believed the poor should follow us…It is only when I stayed with the poor that I realized that we oppress them unknowingly and that we have much to learn from them.

We need to stop blaming the other party and instead need to start identifying our own rigid and self-righteous views…We need to pay attention to the other’s viewpoint with deep listening, even if the other person’s view is based on wrong notions. Only if we listen without interruption can we move toward clarity and peace…

The choice is not between violence and inactivity when attacked…There are several other options: dialogue, law, negotiations, and diplomacy.

The capitalist myth of individual emancipation is not equal to the ‘we’. The community is made of the individual and the people around the person. Only through realizing the suffering of others can peace arrive.
Young people will save the world from the American empire and make it into an American republic with a small r.’
This final statement echoing his famous message of Buddhism with a small ‘b’.

Monk in Thailand begins ‘death by meditation’?

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As reported in the Bangkok Post, Luang Pu Pim, the abbot of Wat Weruwan in Thailand has laid in  a coffin, announcing that he will meditate until he dies. He is reported to have informed his followers that he was not committing suicide but that through mindfulness (sati) one could achieve ‘wisdom’ (paññā).

To state that this is ‘death by meditation’ is somewhat misleading. As one of the ten so-called recollections ‘mindfulness of death of death’ (maranassati) is a standard Buddhist meditation technique. It is of some interest to see such forms of meditation in modern Thailand.

Luang Pu Pim’s action has stirred debate on whether he has violated the Buddhism rule of “not showing off” in predicting the future, such as his own death. However his layman followers reject this saying that Luang Pu has never been a show-off, not since he built the temple in 1998. They say Luang Pu and the temple have never even made any Buddhist objects for sale.They were quite upset with the negative reports in the media about Luang Pu’s decision to end his life though meditation.

Controversy about Luang Pu Pim’s actions could be countered by suggesting the traditional nature of this form of meditation. Though not common these practices are given much textual authenticity. For example the Maranassati-sutta has the Buddha announcing:

Monks, mindfulness of death — when developed & pursued — is of great fruit & great benefit. It gains a footing in the Deathless, has the Deathless as its final end.

Further details have emerged here.

‘The National Office of Buddhism is now closely monitoring a temple in Chaiyaphum province after its 65-year-old abbot has announced to leave his body in three days and told his followers to cremate his dead body tomorrow.

The abbot is now lying in a coffin guarded by followers.Announcement by the abbot of Wat Weruwan temple in Chaiyaphum, Phra Kru Weruwn Chantharang-see, or Luang Por Pim, Tuesday night drew hundreds of followers and Buddhists to the temple to practise Dhamma and follow up the movement of the abbot.The Medical Council of Thailand also described the announcement is a blatant act to commit suicide.His announcement came as the World Health Organisation has declared the September 10 as World Suicide Prevention Day, in an awareness campaign to gain worldwide commitment and action to prevent the tragedy of suicide.

After preaching hundreds of followers and Buddhists flocking to the temple Tuesday night following  his announcement to leave his body (die) in three days was spread, Luang Por Pim gave his last words to followers that after his death on Thursday, they cremated his body in simple way on the same day with no ceremony.

He also said after cremation  his bones and ashes  must be buried on a slope ground beneath a tree and beside the mortuary.

Before he left the body, he ordered that nobody be allowed to go close to the mortuary where a coffin is placed and his body will lie there.

Then he entered the mortuary while his followers sealing the area with ropes and guarding the entrance barring any people to go in.

Announcement by the abbot alarmed both local government authorities and the National Office of Buddhism which was interpreting his announcement could regarded “excessive boast” or not.

If it was considered a boast, then the abbot could violate the Buddhism law  which prohibits Buddhist monks to boast of having capability to perform superstitious act.

Meanwhile local authorities are also worried if such announcement was an attempt to commit suicide.

If it is a suicide, then people surrounding him would be found guilty if they didn’t try to stop such attempt.

Authorities were sent to the temple to watch  the activities but they were not allowed to go near the mortuary where the abbot is lying in the 80×100 centimetres teak wood coffin.

Authorities said the abbot had earlier announced to leave his body in three days but he did not achieve.’

Monks Not Behaving Politically in Cambodia

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My students and I do not participate in politics. They already have politicians, and what I am doing is following the Buddha’s advice.

These are the words of Meas Sokhorn head monk of a central Phnong Peng temple in Cambodia. They follow threats that two members of his monastic community, Manh Sokreal and Nob Vanny, will be disrobed for taking part in political activities. The two are said to have invited land protestors into the temple grounds. It raises important issues about monastic involvement in politics and the interpretation of an offense entailing expulsion (pārājika) from the Buddhist monastic community. It is not at all clear how political activity would fit into this category of actions.

This is the latest of a series of political involvement by Cambodian monks, as reported in The Phnong Peng Post:

Last month, armed police raided the Wat Neak Vorn pagoda in Tuol Kork district after some of its monks attended an opposition demonstration that descended into violence at Freedom Park, while a week ago more than 100 monks turned out to protest at Sansam Kosal pagoda in Meanchey district after a Khmer Krom monk who took part in recent protests outside the Vietnamese Embassy was called to a meeting with district religious authorities.