We are trapped within a variety of cages of complexity and ideas, to which some of us will remain forever shackled. Each cage is uniquely finessed for each inmate. Some are permitted to look out beyond the bars of their cage. Others have a dark curtain draped over their cage. Some have no bars on their cage, but stay within it, regardless. Others are chained to the cage, but have stepped outside of it, afraid to step back in. Occasionally, there are those who fly freely within and outside of the cages. And the rare ones get to soar beyond the room of cages itself towards complete, immaculate liberation…
I just scrolled through all my posts on Facebook the past few days, and I felt sad. There is so much unnecessary cruelty in the world. I try my best to bring awareness, so that people with voices will speak out. We all have to speak out! Enough violence! Enough abuse of the planet! Enough greed! Enough hate! Enough war! Enough prejudice! Enough! Enough! Enough!
Unless you have been anaesthetised, I think we all share in a very palpable fear that we, as humans, have not made the best decisions for our future. There is both an equal amount of frustration, apathy and confusion that is clouding us from making the bold decisions that we need to make, to bring a future suitable for our grandchildren. There is no time to lose, and we need to be firm in our commitment to each other, regardless of creed, to build bridges between those we feel do not understand us. We must be self-aware and see our own mistakes equally to the mistakes we see in others. We must all accept that we are flawed, but there is always another sunrise upon which to build an improved, better world.
Vision, compassion and wisdom are not some folksy terminology: They are paramount expressions of noble human activity. ACTIVATE THEM!
It is easy to sigh, throw up our arms and despairingly say, “What a world we live!”
BUT, it is important that we shine light where there is darkness. We must be strong and show courage as individuals to stand up against ideologies of hate. We must demonstrate love and compassion, so that those void of such qualities are made aware of the futility and inferiority of violence and intolerance.
We must all be much, much better than those who choose to destroy!
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.
On December 7th, I was fortunate enough to attend a symposium in Tokyo, organised by the Burma community here. The guests of honour were 88 Generation student leaders, Min Ko Naing and Ko Jimmy. Both these men have been instrumental players in the pro-democracy movement in Burma, and as a result, they have both suffered extremely lengthy periods in prison.
Their role in Burma’s future will be very important. Min Ko Naing is considered the most influential opposition leader in the country, after Aung San Suu Kyi.
A Burmese friend of mine arranged for me to chat with Ko Jimmy privately for a brief five minutes. Unsurprisingly, he informed me that the reforms had produced little change for the majority of the people in Burma, and that it was vital that amendments are made to the 2008 Constitution. He also reiterated his continued commitment to non-violent protest.
Never take your freedom for granted. There are so many around the world dying for such privileges. If you should turn your eye for even a second, you may discover that it has been snatched away in a blink.
Be engaged in your world, be vigilant and always fight for the values you believe in strongly. Beneficial change never comes from apathy. Rather, apathy is the poison from which so much bad begins to seed.
Define your freedom and overcome all tyranny which would deny it. Equally, abandon ideologies that enforce tyranny upon others.
The right kind of freedom manifests out of mutual understanding and respect, acts of compassion, the willingness to share and the termination of greed. It is when people’s fundamental human rights are not impinged upon, so that they may live full, secure, happy lives with their families. It is when the voice of those with grievances can speak out without fear. It is in the ability to be able to participate in choosing the direction of a community or country through fair, honest elections. To be able to soar in creative endeavours and utilise fully our talents. To be a part of something that enhances the world positively. It is in knowing that our life means something.
We face uncertain, turbulent times, and everyone must be alert and participate in creating a future that is more just, fair, ecologically sensible and free.
– El-Branden Brazil
“An injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” – Martin Luther King Jnr.
Throughout the world, great injustice and suffering is being perpetrated with impunity. Rather than be divided, we must bring ALL our communities together and join hands in solidarity, speaking loudly and clearly that WE will NEVER tolerate or permit any crime that impinges on the human rights of any individual.
Apathy towards fighting for what is right is the excuse of the lazy and the disengaged, who fail to fully comprehend how precious, fortunate and fragile their sense of security is.
If you can pass through life without becoming a victim of state brutality, prejudice, poverty, conflict, hunger and disease, you are blessed. Just don’t take your good fortune for granted, whilst turning away from the suffering of others.