(Washington DC, May 15, 2013) – Today the U.S. Campaign for Burma (USCB) expresses its dismay over President Obama’s decision to welcome Burma’s President Thein Sein to the White House on Monday, May 20, 2013, just days after President Thein Sein failed to effectively manage the multiple dangers Rohingya internally displaced persons (IDPs) face from the oncoming cyclones and security forces, ignoring months of warnings about the danger they face in low-lying areas during cyclone season, and not holding security forces accountable for their role in attempting to ethnically cleanse the Rohingya from Burma.
This trip follows a troubling downward trend in Burma: hundreds of new political prisoners, ongoing war against the Kachin, breakdown of several ceasefires, ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya, escalating anti-Muslim violence, denial of humanitarian aid, pandemic land confiscation, and a complete lack of justice and accountability.
Thursday, May 16, 2013
Thursday, April 18, 2013
By Gianluca Mezzofiore, IB Times, March 26, 2013
Yangon, Myanmar -- Buddhist Monk Saydaw Wirathu, the self-styled "Burmese bin Laden", has called for a national boycott of Muslim businesses in Myanmar in a controversial video that emerged on YouTube. Your purchases spent in 'their' (Muslim) shops will benefit the Enemy," says Wirathu. "So, do business with only shops with 969 signs on their facets".James: Saydaw Wirathu goes on to call Muslims "savages." He calls himself the "Burmese bin Laden" which is ironic considering Osama bin Laden was Muslim. This man may call himself a disciple of Buddha but he is a charlatan, an impostor. All he does is inject the poison of hatred into the minds of impressionable followers. Buddha taught that hatred is a poison that only creates greater suffering for both the hated and hater. A wise saying states, "Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die." The Buddha himself said, "Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned."
Buddha did not teach antipathy between opposing groups. One day the Buddha was in discussion with King Pasenadi, the king of Kosala, which is in the modern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, about love. The Buddha advised the king to love even those not within his kingdom. "The prosperity and security of one nation should not depend upon the poverty and insecurity of other nations. Majesty, lasting peace and prosperity are only possible when nations join together in a common commitment to seek the welfare of all." Quote from the book "Old Path, White Clouds" by Thich Nhat Hanh.
Saydaw Wirathu should also head the example of Buddhist ruler, King Ashoka. Ashoka was a powerful ruler in ancient India who fought many wars against his enemies and imposed his rule upon them with force. After awhile, however, the king became vexed by war and realized that it only fueled further war and hatred. It was in this time of great contemplation that Ashoka embraced Buddhism--soon he was transformed from a warrior to a man of peace and reconciliation. In embracing a spirit of co-operation with his enemies, he found that his kingdom thrived as he realized war not only brought death and poverty to his enemies, but to his own people, as well.
Saydaw Wirathu is not a Buddhist--not in practice. He may wear the robes of a bhikku, but he is not spreading the Buddha's message of inclusion, compassion and tolerance. He knows that the Burmese people are desperate for leaders in a country where the government is more of an enemy than a friend, so he exploits that disillusionment. He is exploiting the Burmese reverence for monks to spread his dark campaign of terror. In his twisted mind, Saydaw Wirathu understands that it's easier to sow the seeds of hatred for immigrants and minorities groups in times of poverty. He understands that in times of extreme poverty, it's easy to get people to blame others for their predicament, which history shows is usually directed at minority populations.
It is my hope, that his power and influence will wane as people become aware of his true intentions. The best way to heal ignorance and fear is through awareness and education. Please, speak out and warn your fellow Buddhists of this charismatic yet dangerous man. Ask them to compare his teachings and pronouncements with those of the Buddha. They will quickly find that Saydaw Wirathu is the more like Mara than Buddha. I do not wish ill upon Saydaw Wirathu. My heart aches for him because he is clearly suffering, but I will not stand silent while he attempts to drag others down into his pit of pain.
PHOTO CREDIT: AK Rockefeller website...read more about this racist monk at AK Rockefeller (link).
Friday, April 12, 2013
Sunday, April 07, 2013
Tuesday, April 02, 2013
***The following post is about my personal experiences meditating after a back injury. I am not a meditation teacher, but if something I write within this post helps you, then wonderful. I realize that the meditation described below isn't "approved" by all Buddhists. However, if you are here to lecture everyone that this technique isn't accepted by your tradition, or to criticize those who use it as misguided, then I merely ask that you refrain from commenting. This isn't a post suggesting that everyone should follow this meditation technique. Nor, is it a post meant for the average practitioner. This is a post about how to maintain a meditation practice after a severe back injury. I thought it might interest fellow meditation practitioners who suffer from chronic, back pain.*** -JamesA year ago, I tore a spinal disc while changing a flat-tire. Ever since then I have endured chronic back pain, which has hindered my mediation sessions. In my personal experience, sitting in meditation has never been free of some physical discomfort, and such sensations are to be expected. In the past, I've been able to mindfully view the aches as normal reactions from a frail body, and usually, the intensity and level of distraction of the pain diminished with a return to deep breathing. I was usually able to view it as simply another sensation that came and went throughout meditation.
It's a different story now. Today, if I attempt meditation on the cushion my back screams with extreme pain. At the same time, folding my legs triggers severe, sciatic nerve pain down my right leg. Obviously, this isn't an average ache that can be dealt with by deep breathing alone to relax the muscles of the body. Thus, I had to stop meditating for awhile, which was discouraging, until I read something from my teacher, Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh in his book Peace is Every Step about aches, pains and meditation. "If you prefer, you can sit in a chair with your feet flat on the floor and your hands resting in your lap."
So, today, I tried sitting in a straight-back chair on a memory foam cushion (link). In addition, I added a contoured, lumbar support pad for my back that people often using driving (similar to the red one in the image below):
I think the most important part is keeping a straight back. To quote Suzuki Roshi from Zen Mind, Beginners Mind, "the most important thing in taking the zazen posture is to keep your spine straight." Otherwise, slumping or hunching over seems to constrict a free-flow of breath, and for me, meditation just isn't as beneficial if I can not breath freely and normally. In my experience, it is the breath that melts away the obstacles to mindfulness that my mind and body often impose. If I need to sit in a straight-back chair to achieve this aim, then so be it. It has the blessing of my teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh, whose expertise and wisdom is unquestionable.
It's not for everyone, but chair meditation has been a lifesaver, and I didn't feel it was any less helpful. If fact, I felt a greater sense of connection to my body than I have felt in awhile. Usually the only feeling I felt when meditating recently was breath-taking pain. For the most part, that is gone and I'm finally free again to simply sit and breath. I think this type of meditation would be very beneficial to elderly practitioners who can't sit on the floor but want to continue their meditation practice. However, like I said, I'm not a meditation teacher, so what works for my injury might not work for others.
Tuesday, March 26, 2013
Just finished a deep meditation. The tethers of the ego give-way with each breath until full transcendence of the mind dawns. Gone are the petty concerns of society and the unrealistic expectations of the "self." No longer can the mind hide in the cul-de-sac of delusion. That is all shattered until there is nothing but your true nature...boundless and free. Those are true moments of freedom where there is nothing left to do but bask in the perfection of being at one with all....nothing to add, or subtract. No agendas...no places to hide...just being. Pure and true. All is one...and one is all.
Friday, March 15, 2013
“There is surely nothing other than the single purpose of the present moment. A man's whole life is a succession of moment after moment. There will be nothing else to do, and nothing else to pursue. Live being true to the single purpose of the moment.”