I am a Buddhist and I take my practice very seriously, albeit with a chuckle at the absurdity of the world. I spent many years studying Tibetan Buddhism, and now I have a Zen Master in my adopted home of Japan, where I have lived for 18 years. I count many Burmese monks as friends and teachers.
Frankly, I feel extremely saddened by some of the choices that SOME of our Burmese Sangha have made. I realise the complexities and frustrations that exist in Burma, and that inevitably they have a way of boiling to the surface, when given a chance. But, we Buddhists, especially the Sangha, must adhere as closely as possible to the Buddha’s teachings, demonstrating Metta (loving-kindness) to ALL. If we don’t do so, and we engage in activities which result in suffering and violence, in what way can this be considered correct Buddhist practice? We must be better than that.
I have always viewed my work as a human rights and Free Burma activist, to be very much entwined with my practice as a Buddhist. All my efforts are done with an intention of compassion. Often, I am asked why I am involved in Burma, and I explain that it is simply that I want the children of a very dear Burmese friend, to have the opportunities that he didn’t have. Of course, I could just walk away, and certainly, my life would be much easier, but that is not the Buddhist thing to do.
I dream of a day when all the peoples of Burma are free of the suffering that this hideous regime has inflicted. We may disagree from time to time, but I encourage calm and free dialogue, so that we can build a road together which leads to a Burma we all wish to see.