You really need to head over to LTO Cambodia: Wat Bo: Scenes of daily life, to examine the closeup images of Wat Bo’s mural of olden-days, everyday Cambodian life (colonial period, about 100 years old, at monks’ estimation). There are a lot of images, and LTO is a fine photographer. But what really makes this collection of photos wonderful is his description and surmises about what is going on, all done with reports to what the local monks had told him, and his own thoughts. I’ll reblog one image to get you over there:
Posts Tagged ‘buddhism’
I’ve been constantly checking my twitter feed lately. #RohingyaNOW Why? Because it’s almost the only place I can find news about what appears to be a straight-up genocidal attempt by some Burmese fascists. I’m not using that word metaphorically or rhetorically; I believe they qualify as fascists under most standard definitions of the word. These people are attempting to provoke a mass movement to expel or murder all non-Burmese and non-Buddhists from the country. Facing its own long-running Muslim minority problems in the South, Buddhist Thailand is doing its bit, too. Long the cooperative beneficiary of human trafficking from Burma into Thailand, security forces from both Thailand and Burma have attacked boats full of Muslim refugees fleeing the violence, sometimes drowning all those on board, other times pushing them away from Thailand’s coastlines, refusing them the obligatory offerings to refugees under International Law.
I do not have time at the moment for an extensive commentary on these issues, but want to add my voice to those who are pleading with the media, the United Nations, and others, to increase coverage, stand up for the victims of communal violence, and begin a process of restoration for victims of genocidal violence. A few points:
1. These are indeed “Burmese Buddhist Fascists.” They are opposed, apparently, first to the Rohingya, an ethnic minority and Muslim group largely in Western Burma. The fascists consider them illegal immigrants, though they have been in the area for many generations. They are not opposed to the Rohingya solely for reasons of ethnic difference, either: they are explicitly opposed to Muslims in general. Moreover, much of the most vocal leadership, and according to pictures from the most recent riots and murders, much of the on-the-ground leadership, is by Buddhist monks. Here’s Buddhist monk Wirathu, founder of the newly-formed Buddhist Fascist group ”969″, sermonizing against Muslims and encouraging a financial boycott of Muslim enterprises, while stoking fears of a Muslim takeover of Burma. It’s chilling:
Additionally, while the violence against Burma’s Rohingya and Muslims existed prior to the recent steps toward democratization indicated by the new participation of Aung San Suu Kyi and the NLD in politics (so lambasted in the monk’s speech, above), it seems to have worsened significantly since then. I do not have enough knowledge of the situation first-hand to confirm this, and am basing my perception here on discussions I had with various people who study Burma (both Burmese and non-Burmese) recently. If correct, it would be interesting to read Burma’s current case against the recent work of sociologist Michael Mann, Democracy’s Dark Side: Explaining Ethnic Cleansing. In that book, Mann (whose companion volume on Fascists is also compelling) argues that sudden democratization, mediated by a number of other necessary preconditions, can actually drive ethnic cleansing. I don’t necessarily endorse his views in either book, though I have found much of them compelling and very “good to think with.”
Regardless, Aung San Suu Kyi has been almost completely silent about the multi-year attack on Burmese Muslims. Some reports point out the great overlap between the primary sources of her political support (Buddhist monks) and the primary sources of these anti-Muslim fascists (Buddhist monks), such as this article, headlined, Myanmar: Aung San Suu Kyi’s “Saffron Monks” Stalk Streets With Machetes – Mass Slaughtering Refugees.
2. This is a political conflict about ethnicity and religion, not a religious conflict that has become political. This is a key distinction. When it is presented as ‘ethnic violence,’ or ‘communal violence,’ in the international media, or by UN officers, we imagine different lines than may actually exist. Watch the following video, which covers the aftermath of the anti-Muslim pogrom that took place in Meiktila on March 22. You’ll see two Burmese Buddhist laypeople interviewed. Read the rest of this entry »
It’s been a while since I’ve had a chance to post anything here; on the other hand, my book writing is going well. Here are some things that I wanted to post here, with very little commentary. Just getting caught up:
General Academic, and Religious Studies, Links
Ever curious about what the Religious Studies Book Review is really for? What it’s supposed to accomplish? Or, how to write one? Here’s the first third of a good essay on the topic! The Nature and Function of the Religious Studies Book Review (Part 1 of 3): Writing the Book Review
This excellent visualization of the relative isolation of various academic departments. Hint: anthro is very isolated!
As the financing and operation of the higher education industry becomes an increasingly heated topic, expect more radical discussions, or even (as here, pretty conservative discussions of radical topics) like this – “Do Faculty Strikes Work?” – in places like Inside Higher Ed.
Here’s a nice piece on “New Religious Movements” as an interpretive category. Good to read, for those interested in religion and innovation.
Good advice for the adoption of a ‘Five Year Plan’ strategy (with important distancing rhetoric from the USSR and the PRC!) for academic careers, from Kerim Friedman over at Savage Minds.
This brutal quote about Gender and Success in the Academy, from Kate Clancy’s excellent “The three things I learned at the Purdue Conference for Pre-Tenure Women: on being a radical scholar”:
To be clear, it’s not that academia weeds out the weak. The research on attrition for women and people of color indicates it’s not that women who leave are not confident, or are weak, but that they know their self-worth and have decided they’d rather take their toys to another sandbox where they’ll actually be appreciated.
But those of us who insist on playing with our toys in the academic sandbox need to be radicals. And I do think a lot of the ways we need to be radical involves how we perform our job: we need to set boundaries so that we aren’t always doing the service work no one wants, we need to make our passions our scholarly interests in the face of some who would invalidate it, we need to perform our confidence in front of people who might undermine us. We need to get tenure.
Those following the fascinating development of Ven. Luon Savath, Khmer Buddhist monk currently promoting “Engaged Buddhism” in Cambodia and receiving a lot of negative pressure from authorities as a result, will be interested to know that Ven. Savath has his own page, and hosts live and recorded lectures there.
Prof. Bryan Cuevas, whose work on death and the afterlife in Buddhism is the subject of a new book by him, is interviewed in an hour-long interview on the great site, New Books in Buddhist Studies!
General Funereal Studies
A good critique of the interminably stupid iGrief masquerading as compassion in the world, with the passing of Steve Jobs. I certainly wish the man no ill, and do not begrudge him compassion, but am more than a little disturbed at the hagiographical saint-making going on here, when videos like this one, below, are almost completely ignored.
A gorgeous HDR photo of a Japanese cemetery should be seen by all (from the astonishingly wonderful “Stuck in Customs“)
A small burial site found in Northern Vietnam, changing the way we think about pre-history.
Arch West, the inventor of Doritos, passed. Doritos were sprinkled on his grave. Rest in Powdery Flavor, Arch.
The great Khmer language scholar Khin Sok, also recently passed. The world of Khmer studies is considerably poorer for his passing. Rest In Peace, Lokkru.
Some Random Stuff
For my upcoming “Defense Against the Dark Arts” class, a book I’d like to read: “The Inquisitor’s Apprentice.”
And, a lovely piece from Ethnography.com on “love, duty, and marriage in a Thai novel,” on the novelist Siburapha’s “Behind the Painting,” originally published in 1938, and translated into English by David Smyth.
A new edition of Bhikkhu Ñanamoli‘s excellent rendition/translation of the great monk Buddhaghosa‘s Visuddhimagga: The Path of Purification, is available as a free pdf download from the Buddhist text website Access To Insight. I must admit that I find this book to be a sort of key to Buddhist philosophy. It’s amazing.
And it’s fantastic that this new edition is available as a free download.
Visuddhimagga — The Path of Purification: The Classic Manual of Buddhist Doctrine and Meditation, translated from the Pali by Bhikkhu Ñāṇamoli.“The Visuddhimagga is the ‘great treatise’ of Theravada Buddhism, an encyclopedic manual of Buddhist doctrine and meditation written in the fifth century by the great Buddhist commentator, Bhadantacariya Buddhaghosa. The author’s intention in composing this book is to organize the various teachings of the Buddha, found throughout the Pali Canon, into a clear and comprehensive path leading to the final Buddhist goal, Nibbana, the state of complete purification. In the course of his treatise Buddhaghosa gives full and detailed instructions on the forty subjects of meditation aimed at concentration, an elaborate account of the Buddhist Abhidhamma philosophy, and detailed descriptions of the stages of insight culminating in final liberation” [summary from the back cover of the BPS edition]. [PDF]
No real reviews here, but a short list on what I’ve been reading this Summer, and how I generally feel about the books or articles. What have you been reading? Anything I should know about? Let me know in the comments.
I’m pushing forward with my new schedule for Sounding posts, where I collect a variety of links on a shared topic (“Cambodia, Buddhism, or Religion,” e.g.) and make a few comments about them. Today is Buddhism day.
- Aung San Suu Kyi’s son to temporarily ordain as a Buddhist monk
- Meditation “Better than morphine?”
- “New Books in Buddhist Studies” online service
- Separation of Church and State, Equal Treatment, issues in Stupa on National Park Service land
- Why Hollywood should just stop making movies about ‘other people’s’ religions as backdrop.
Aung San Suu Kyi’s son to temporarily ordain as a Buddhist monk
Did you hear that Aung San Suu Kyi’s son is going to ordain as a Buddhist Monk? Apparently. The son, whose heartthrob status will probably only be increased by this honorable, celibate, act (he is a heck of a good-looking young man), will ordain, but the explicit purpose of his ordination is unclear. Very often, novitiate ordination is understood primarily as an act which makes merit for one’s mother, so it’s very clearly direct towards his mother. But the act also dovetails with a sense of opening possibility for a renewed National League for Democracy political party (NLD).
Looks like the new Pansukula ceremonies in Thailand are catching on elsewhere, though I have no idea if there’s any actual transmission, or if this is mere ‘morphic resonance.’
Book Launch: Volume 1 of Khmer Translation of Professor Ian Harris’ Cambodian Buddhism: History and PracticeIn notice on August 10, 2010 at 11:10 am
I just received an announcement that Professor Ian Harris, author of the excellent introduction to Cambodian Buddhism, Cambodian Buddhism: History and Practice, will be present at the book launch of the first volume of the Khmer language translation of this important work.
- The launch will take place at the Buddhist Institute of Cambodia, in Phnom Penh, near Hun Sen Park (ask older motodop drivers to go to the place where the “Yeak Gaich Kar” statue used to be; you’ll get there).
- The launch takes place on Wednesday, August 11, 2010, in the morning. The full program as released by the Buddhist Institute after the jump. I am thrilled to see that Chhum Kunthea is the translator of this book, and will reflect on the process of translating the book at this program; I had the great good fortune to meet Kunthea a few years back at a conference where we were both presenting, and found her to be immensely impressive; I’m certain she’ll be doing great things to watch for.
Now that you’re all excited, here are the links:
I was shocked out of my moment-to-moment autopilot routine last night when I read Peter Watts’ eulogy for (apparently) a family member from who he appears estranged. It was a gorgeous meditation on individuality, death, continuity, and acceptance, whether he intended those responses from me or not. I’m actually going to read it in the beginning of my class on introducing Buddhism in an hour (dealing with the whole anatman/anatta issue, which brings up the problem of what does exist if we don’t. Here’s an excerpt, but go read the whole (short) thing:
The physical death of that organism, all this time later, is purely theoretical to me. It has no mass or inertia, no charge positive or negative. Everything’s already cancelled out. Sow; Reap; Finis. And yet by all accounts this should be a momentous occasion, should provoke some kind of spontaneous visceral or emotional response. It doesn’t. So I’ve experimented with alternate perspectives to see if I can stir something up — and I think I’ve found a viewpoint I can sort of get behind.
If you can’t respect the government, respect the people. If the Queen is corrupt, at least find something to admire in her soldiers.
The heart, for example. A muscle that beat nonstop every second of every day since 1920, almost a century’s relentless rearguard against entropy itself. Three billion beats in that time; four supertankers filled to the brim; two battleships lifted clear of the ocean. Or the eyes: miracles of incompetent design, photoreceptors straining for light through a tangle of cabling laid on top of them, not tucked away behind as any more-than-half-witted designer would have done. Sight is mechanical, did you know that? No digital electronics: pure clockwork, that far down. The visual pigment is a kind of spring-lever affair; the photon hits it and the pigment passes that impact upstream with all the elegance of a game of whack-a-mole.
Nine decades of parsing the world through those haphazard bits and pieces is nothing to sneeze at either.
And from Vaughan at Mindhacks, this lovely reference to a nice piece by ABC Radio National with psychologist Karen Redfield Jamison on Love and Loss, including the transformation of grief into a diagnosis of mental illness, when it goes on ‘too long.’ (apparently, more than six months).