Tuesday, October 2, 2007
Empty Alms Bowls in Myanmar
I don't usually blog about politics. I don't know why exactly, because I care passionately. It might be because I feel that other people do it so much better than I can, or perhaps it's sadness and distaste for the idiotic and increasingly destructive polarization of our country.... But, as a person who spent her childhood in many Buddhist countries, as a person who is always reaching toward (and never reaching) the Buddhist ideal of not judging, of compassion, I have to mark this.
The photos express more than I can ever say, so I will just add this. In Southeast Asian Buddhist countries (where I grew up), people can earn merit (and so move closer to stepping off the wheel of rebirth, Samsara) by giving food to the monks. The monks, in their bright colors - saffron or cinnamon red - walk through towns and villages with their empty bowls and people give what they can. This is what the monks eat for the day and this simple daily giving and receiving is one of the pillars that supports the entire structure of these societies. So for the monks to walk, in mass, with their alms bowls turned upside down, was a huge statement. It said that this government had become so corrupted that it had gone beyond any possible redemption. I think, again, of the Buddhist monks in Vietnam who set themselves on fire to protest the war and how that inched us all toward rightness. I hope that, for these monks, it will be the same.
Namaste - The light in me honors the light in you.