Monks back on the streets of Burma
October 31, 2007 5:55 AM   Subscribe

Monks march again in Burma. Approximately one hundred Buddhist monks marched in protest oif government policies in the central city of Pakokku yesterday. One monk who spoke to journalists claims more marches will be organized. Will we see a resurgence of the mass marches--and crackdowns--of August and September?
posted by schroedinger (18 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I think it's far more likely we'll see the few who managed to avoid the first wave of crackdowns be rounded up and disappeared. The military junta gives every indication that they couldn't give a fuck what their citizens - let alone the rest of the world - think about the matter.
posted by Ryvar at 6:05 AM on October 31, 2007 [1 favorite]

As much as I hope and hope and hope that the monks prevail and the junta topples, I fear the worst. The strategy of getting soldiers to turn their guns on their generals has worked in the past, but its extremely risky.
posted by Kattullus at 6:10 AM on October 31, 2007

It i now in China's sphere4 of influence and they say they will do nothing about it. We are now back to a sort of cold war, with two spheres of influence.
posted by Postroad at 6:33 AM on October 31, 2007

I believe that only God's interference can save them. Because the junta couldn't care less, China doesn't give a rat's patoot, and monks...while revered and beloved...are not bullet proof.

Still, I hope they succeed.
posted by Peecabu at 6:39 AM on October 31, 2007

Given that there's not really a God in Bhuddism, I'm not sure that leaving it to God's interference gives them much hope...
posted by algreer at 7:21 AM on October 31, 2007

monks...while revered and beloved...are not bullet proof.

I beg to differ

Nowhere, unfortunately, is it implied that monks are jailed-indefinitely-proof.
posted by Ryvar at 7:22 AM on October 31, 2007

algreer said: Given that there's not really a God in Bhuddism, I'm not sure that leaving it to God's interference gives them much hope...

Yeah, I know...I suppose my rhetoric was a little overstated, when what I was trying to say was that their situation was, for all intents and purposes, hopeless.
posted by Peecabu at 7:43 AM on October 31, 2007

John Pilger - The Politics of Hypocracy.
And from the thread further down the front page: Israeli Military Aid to Burmese Regime.
posted by adamvasco at 8:11 AM on October 31, 2007 [1 favorite]

Hypocracy - Hypocrisy
posted by adamvasco at 8:14 AM on October 31, 2007

Hey, I like "Hypocracy" better - kinda describes the system of government that all governments tend to boil down to. Nice unintentional word coinage!
posted by not_on_display at 8:46 AM on October 31, 2007 [1 favorite]

Given that there's not really a God in Bhuddism...

Buddhism is a pretty diverse thing, and it used to be even more so. Various kinds of Buddhism have all kinds of gods, demons, spirits, arhats, you name it. People in the west seem to have this monolithic image of Buddhism as some kid of cross between Zen and portrayed by Alan Watts and 19th-century British rationalism, kind of an Indian version of Ethical Culture. But I assure you, it can be as theistic and supernatural as any religion. Many Burmans, monks included, believe in amulets and maleficent spirits called nats. When questioned, Burmans will label it "superstition," but it's all part of the same belief system. Like most people, Buddhists are pretty adept at modulating their world view to suit the demands of the moment. (Sorry, this "Buddhism is non-theistic" thing is a hot button with me.)
posted by rodii at 8:49 AM on October 31, 2007

Israel supplying military aid to Burma?! All those British/American/French companies profiting?! Scum.

/continuing derail - I stand corrected rodii! Good hot button. I was only going my experiences learning meditation at the Nottingham Buddhist Centre (run by Friends of the Western Buddhist Order if my memory serves me right). Could you give some examples of theistic Buddhist traditions, rather than superstitious ones?
posted by algreer at 9:43 AM on October 31, 2007

I can't really, because the line between "theistic" and "superstitious" is a very problematic one, at least in Southeast Asia. Where some scholars (and the locals that buy their narrative) separate beliefs into "Buddhism" and "superstition," that's basically a Western way of partitioning things (actually, going back to Comte and positivism, there's a three-way breakdown into "superstition," "religion," and "science." Until western scholars started popularizing Buddhism back in the west, folks in SE Asia just didn't think in thise terms.

Similarly, "theistic" vs. "non-theistic" is one of those issues that monotheists care about, but it was never a huge issue in Indian traditions. There are "theistic" and "non-theistic" variants of Hinduism, and all kinds of positions in between. There are gods, or there is some impersonal but still supernatural principle behind everything, or there's "just" cause and effect but that's somehow imbued with cosmic rightness, or there's something else. The fact that there s something is what's important, not what its status in the supernatural pantheon is.

So the Buddha has been construed as just a man, a teacher; one in a succession of cosmically ordered buddhas; a god; something higher than a god, some kind of almost abstract cosmic principle.. and on and on. Mahayanist traditions definitely shifted the needle over toward the cosmic, with arhats and bodhisattvas and demons and tathagatagarbha and the whole nine yards, and then some later traditions shifted back to a more austere idea of things. And these traditions all coexist alongside another even today. So Pure Land Buddhism believes that Amida is an eternal, all-powerful, all-wise being "but not a god," and Zen isn't (much) interested in any of that, but they're all Buddhism. The whole dynamic of western monotheism--do you or do you not belive in this being as the one explanation for everything?--just isn't there in the Indic tradition.

Whew... longest thing I've written in MeFi in years. Shutting up again now.
posted by rodii at 12:22 PM on October 31, 2007 [2 favorites]

Thanks, rodii. Feel free to ramble on this topic anytime it seems appropriate. My personal position is that, when it comes to things beyond the ordinary world of our usual senses, what names we use or descriptions we choose, don't matter too much. We're trying to describe things that defy description, and any such thing has an implicit "something like" in front of it.

As for the issue of bullets and monks: Monks are bullet proof, indeed, they are death-proof. It only makes them stronger. As for the soldiers and government: Karma is a bitch. It is inescapable. They're doing a good job of building their own little karmic black hole. Perhaps they will reincarnate as laboratory animals, or sewer rats.
posted by Goofyy at 5:16 AM on November 1, 2007

India’s Burma Problem
posted by homunculus at 4:20 PM on November 1, 2007

Suu Kyi meets her political party
posted by homunculus at 3:17 PM on November 14, 2007

Burma Continues Arrests of Activists
posted by homunculus at 3:18 PM on November 14, 2007

Leading Monk Charged with Treason
posted by homunculus at 11:58 PM on November 15, 2007

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