Overturn the Alms Bowl

You might be wondering how it is that the Buddhist monks in Burma are able to participate in anti government protests. Here is how.

On Sept. 18, monks in Mogok, upper Burma, gathered together at the Aungchanthar Monastery to decide whether or not to overturn their alms bowls: to declare a formal boycott of the country’s military regime, together with the rest of the Buddhist order — the Sangha — in response to a brutal attack on a group of their peers early in the month.

Burma’s Saffron Revolution

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7 thoughts on “Overturn the Alms Bowl”

  1. Thank you for the link so that we may be more fully informed. My prayers and hope of peace soon are with the people of Burma, as well as the rest of the world.

  2. Yes, thanks for the link Rev Mugo.

    At the end of the latest entry (Oct 5th 2007) there was something that caught my imagination:

    “Burma’s government is today more than ever at war on all fronts. But it is a war that it cannot win, because it is a war that it cannot end.

    That reminded me of the wheel of dependent origination, and that if you want to deal with suffering you’d best do it in a way that results in its cessation rather than its perpetuation.

  3. This is a useful comment by Dave Webb. As you would know, dependent origination is central to practice in Burma and the famous teacher of meditation, former Mogok Sayadaw, U Vimala, devised an innovative method of depicting the wheel that is familiar to people throughout the country. But the military leaders have never shown any inclination towards it.

    A European anthropologist wrote a book that is available for free online, comparing the beliefs and practices of the military and civilians in Burma. Maybe you would be interested to read it if you haven’t done so already; although it rambles, it has some good contents:


  4. Hello, Mugo-san.
    Thank you for the posting. felt encouraged to know there are those who live for the truth now matter how hard. A Japanese journalist/cameraman who was shot dead by a soldier in Burma, his feneral was done yesterday in Tokyo. All the films and a camera are gone, and said to have been taken by the army.
    My prayer goes to him and those others who live for the wholistic good. (well, sometimes it is too difficult for me to express what’s inside in English!)

  5. Many thanks to you all for posting your comments and contributions.

    I’m finding it good to educate myself and the book that Awzar thi points to is both interesting and informative. There is a lot to read. I’ll post a paragraph from the book which caught my eye this morning as I was scanning through the chapters. I see that the work is almost out of print.

  6. Thanks Awsar. There’s lots of food for thought in that publication and in your blog. Clearly the whole issue of Burma goes a lot deeper than the sound bites from the rolling news. I’m particularly interested in understanding the ruling regime, and how mind-sets can develop in people who probably start off with good intentions but end up killing peacefully protesting monks.

    Another quote, this time from the preface of that publication:

    “Indeed, as I describe in this book, many political prisoners are finding dignity, even today, in their prison experience through these practices [vipassana].”

    The word ‘dignity’ came up strongly in the context of my life the other day, and the importance of it, and the way that meditation has helped me in this respect despite external things which appeared to diminish my own sense of dignity. I’m not sure exactly what the word means, but it goes a lot deeper than mere self-esteem. Perhaps that’s one aspect of the symbolism of overturning alms bowls.

    Wishing you all well.

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