Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Urgent Action - Leading Burmese Democracy Activist May Face Blindness

I recently received this email and I thought that the most appropriate thing to do was to post it in its entirety here.................

Dear friends,

We are extremely concerned for the safety of leading democracy activist Min Ko Naing, who is being held in Rangoon's notorious Insein Prison. He is suffering from a serious eye infection and may go blind because he is being denied medical treatment. It is reported that his eye condition has deteriorated to the point that he is unable to sleep or eat because of the pain the infection has caused.

Min Ko Naing has been in prison since August last year. He was arrested for leading protests in Rangoon. The protests triggered the biggest demonstrations in Burma since the 1988 uprising, but were brutally crushed by the dictatorship. We will never know how many were killed during the regime¹s brutal crackdown. Today, the situation in Burma remains as severe as ever. Arrests continue and torture is routine. Political prisoners are singled out for brutal treatment, including the denial of medical treatment.

Min Ko Naing is a leading democracy activist and one of the most famous student leaders from the 1988 uprising. He was arrested in 1989 and spent more than 16 years in prison. He was severely tortured and held in solitary confinement for most of his sentence. He was released in 2004 and despite constant threats and harassment by the regime, he has continued to campaign for freedom and democracy in Burma.

Please take action now. Visit
<http://www.burmacampaign.org.uk/mkn_action.html> and send an email to urge
the Burmese authorities to allow immediate medical attention to Min Ko Naing
and all political prisoners.

Thank you for your support.

Anna Roberts
The Burma Campaign UK

Monday, 28 April 2008

Christian Propaganda - Update

If you look at our Video Bar (right hand column, near the top) you will see that it has changed. As all of the Dalai Lama's talks on the Four Noble Truths can now be found on the "Dharma Studies - RESOURCES" page I thought that it was time to get rid of the "Christian propaganda" that has been interjecting itself into this feature since the beginning of March. Merely removing the keywords "Dalai Lama" has done the trick and now the talks are all on the Four Noble Truths but not specifically by his Holiness. Follow the link above if you're interested in the story behind this underhand subterfuge.

Saturday, 26 April 2008

Today's Meditation

Ken, one of our Sangha members, emailed this as a "round robin"to the rest of us and I thought that all of you out there would enjoy sharing it.

Do we need to make a special effort to enjoy the beauty of the
blue sky? Do we have to practice to be able to enjoy it?
No, we just enjoy it. Each second, each minute of our lives can be
like this. Wherever we are, any time, we have the capacity to
enjoy the sunshine, the presence of each other, even the sensation
of our breathing. We don't need to go to China to enjoy the
blue sky. We don't have to travel into the future to enjoy
our breathing. We can be in touch with these things right now.

Thich Nhat Hanh

Today's Meditation:
"Each second of our lives can be like this." Can it really be true that we can fill every single moment of our lives with wonder and appreciation for the beautiful things in our lives? Is it possible for us to live our lives in a perpetual state of gratitude and appreciation? To be honest, I believe it is. What's the secret of reaching that point? Lots and lots of effort, I think, in order to cast off our ideas of how we think things should be and accept things for the way that they are. Only then will we see the beauty in everything and everyone around us.
When we do reach that point, we'll start to see just how sacred is the life that surrounds us all the time, just how beautiful everything around us is. Emerson wrote once that we start to think that life would be great if we just lived in some exotic place like Venice, so we pack our bags and sell our stuff and move to Venice. When we get there, though, we find that Venice is very nice, but we're still the person we were before we left, and life is very much the same for us, no matter how exotic our surroundings. How we see the world is more important than what our surroundings look like.
Enjoyment and appreciation are matters of choice. "Wherever we are, we have the capacity to enjoy the sunshine." Wherever we are, and whenever we're there. It's pretty simple, yet so hard to put into practice. It takes work, and it takes constant effort. It takes opening our minds and our hearts to the possibility of seeing--truly seeing--our surroundings and all that they hold.
Why should we have to go somewhere else to be happy, when there's so much right where we are that could make us so, if only we were to allow it all to make us happy?

Questions to consider:
Which is more beautiful--a clear blue sky where you live,
or a clear blue sky where someone else lives?
What might make us think that things in other places are preferable to things where we are?
What kind of effort can we make to help ourselves to see more beauty,
and to see it more deeply when we do see it?

Friday, 25 April 2008

U.S. Senate Votes to Award Aung San Suu Kyi Congressional Gold Medal

After thousands of supporters urged their Senators to support this effort, the US Senate voted unamimously today to award Aung San Suu Kyi the nation's highest civilian honor, the Congressional Gold Medal. [The US House of Reps. has already voted 400-0]. Aung San Suu Kyi will be awarded the Congressional Gold Medal.

This is a historic vote because Aung San Suu Kyi is the first person in the 232-year history of the award to be granted the honor while imprisoned. And hopefully, with the vast international attention from this award, increased pressure will expedite her release.

By being awarded this honor, Aung San Suu Kyi joins the ranks of many great people in history including George Washington, Martin Luther King Jr., Elie Wiesel, and Mother Theresa.

The Burmese military generals have tried to isolate Aung San Suu Kyi from her own people and from the international community by keeping her under house arrest for over 12 years. However, the generals, who control around 400,000 soldiers, are losing a battle with a single, unarmed woman. Her only tools are courage and loving kindness, yet she has captured the hearts and loyalty of the people of Burma.

Congress usually only gives one or two awards per year, and sparingly to people in other countries. In the entire history of the award (George Washington was granted the first award), only 30 people from other countries have been granted the award.

In a world in which public heroes are few and far between, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is one of the greatest people of our time; she richly deserves this award, an award we hope will show the people of Burma they are not alone in their struggle.

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

In the Foot Steps of the Buddha

I came across this video "In the Foot Steps of the Buddha" on the Dharmaflix website - it's a documentary on a pilgrimage to the holiest places connected with the life of the Buddha, Buddhist shrines in India: Buddhagaya, Sarnath and Kusinagar............... Enjoy.

Friday, 18 April 2008

Zenkoji Temple Refuses Torch

TOKYO — A major Japanese Buddhist temple withdrew Friday from a plan to host the Beijing Olympics torch relay, citing safety concerns and sympathy among its monks and worshippers for Tibetan protesters facing a Chinese crackdown.
Zenkoji Temple has refused to serve as the starting point for the April 26 relay, said Kunihiko Shinohara, secretary-general of the Nagano city organizing committee for the event. The relay has drawn protests around the world against China's crackdown on Tibetan demonstrators.
"We respect the temple's decision. This means the starting point will change," he said after he met with Zenkoji monks.
Another city official, Koichi Yajima, said the monks were concerned about the safety of the temple and its worshippers should the relay spark the angry demonstrations it has brought in Europe and the United States.
An official at the temple's secretariat, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the temple and its worshippers were also concerned about the treatment of fellow Buddhists in Tibet.
"There have been a lot of talk about the Tibet issue and the public opinion is heightening," she said. "We are Buddhists just like them. We hear words of concern from many people every day."

Thursday, 17 April 2008

Where is that Torch?

As the Olympic Torch seems to have dropped out of the news, at least here in the UK, I thought you might like to know where it's been and where it's going to next.
Date City Country
March 25 Olympia Flag of Greece Greece
March 30 Athens
March 31 Beijing Flag of the People's Republic of China China
April 2 Almaty Flag of Kazakhstan Kazakhstan
April 3 Istanbul Flag of Turkey Turkey
April 5 St.Petersburg Flag of Russia Russia
April 6 London Flag of the United Kingdom United Kingdom
April 7 Paris Flag of France France
April 9 San Francisco Flag of the United States United States
April 11 Buenos Aires Flag of Argentina Argentina
April 13 Dar es Salaam Flag of Tanzania Tanzania
April 14 Muscat Flag of Oman Oman
April 16 Islamabad Flag of Pakistan Pakistan
April 17 New Delhi Flag of India India
April 19 Bangkok Flag of Thailand Thailand
April 21 Kuala Lumpur Flag of Malaysia Malaysia
April 22 Jakarta Flag of Indonesia Indonesia
April 24 Canberra Flag of Australia Australia
April 26 Nagano Flag of Japan Japan
April 27 Seoul Flag of South Korea South Korea
April 28 Pyongyang Flag of North Korea North Korea
April 29 Ho Chi Minh City Flag of Vietnam Vietnam

Then it's on to the Peoples Republic, not forgetting
June 19 Shannan Prefecture Tibet
June 20 Lhasa
So no trouble there then,

but if you want to see a fascinating insight into how Chinese public opinion is molded have a look at the China Daily Website.

Saturday, 12 April 2008

The other day I went along to the Newport Soto Zen group and, as usual, I took along a MP3 Dharma talk from our collection, it was "Impermanence" by Leigh Brasington. This talk went down extremely well with everyone so much so that they all wanted to hear it again at a future meeting! It's a really good take on the teachings, especially the first two Noble Truths, so I've decided to provide a streamed version on the Dharma Studies - RESOURCES page under the Audio section for "The First Noble Truth".

(It's really nice to do a post that's not about Tibet)

Friday, 11 April 2008

Olympic opening ceremony - Who's not Going

Gordon's not going,
Angela's not going,
Donald's not going,
Ki-moon's not going,
Desmond's not going,
Vaclav's not going,
Wangari's not going,
Stephen's not going,
Srgjan's not going,
George might not go,
Nicolas might not go,
Every leader in the EU might not go,
I won't be going, and any athletes won't be going again!

(anyone know of any others?)

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

Tibet & the Olympic Torch - a Buddhist Comment

Before I get into this post I want to reiterate the statement that I made in a previous post, "It is Not the purpose of this blog to campaign on political issues, however as a Buddhist site we will continue to promote peace and the welfare of all beings by any appropriate non-violent means".

All of the previous postings, on the subjects of first Burma and now Tibet, have been to promote dialogue and engagement, to arouse Local and International awareness of the situation faced by the Burmese and Tibetan peoples and to encourage the use of democratic, peaceful pressure on the various politicians and authorities involved. So why Tibet and Burma? Well, this is a Buddhist blog and they are both Buddhist countries. This site is not a journalistic powerhouse, a Times or Guardian online, and so we are concentrating on those subjects that fall within our area of interest and, whereas in Buddhist terms that territory is having concern and compassion for all beings with equanimity, we can only do so much within the pages of this site. So what is our remit? This blog is intended as a conduit for information on the Buddha's teachings and other matters of a general Buddhist nature, primarily for the use of the West Wight Sangha and other Buddhist groups on the Isle of Wight. Beyond this we try to look at things from a British slant to keep it relevant to people here in the U.K. and to make it of interest to visitors from around the World.

Talking of which, the torch came to London. Protests were enthusiastic but peaceful, the policing was what I believe is called "robust" and Gordon Brown looked a prat.

Talking about the police, didn't "our boys in blue" look great and what a brilliant job they did controlling the British public!

All this being said, one can already see that the actions of the protesters are producing a reaction. The ordinary Chinese citizen is having to wait many hours to see the TV pictures of the demonstrations, they are insulated from the World media and World opinion. Their information comes from state controlled sources, and as a nation China is suspicious of the "West". Typical feelings are that there is a plot to sabotage the games and belittle China. The Chinese are a proud people with a huge country and just starting to flex their economic muscle, they are becoming a major player on the World stage. All of these factors show that we must start talking, dialogue and engagement, recognition of the truth of what is really happening ...... friendship are the only things which will bring peace to Tibet, Burma, China and the World. If you push people they push back. if you force totalitarian regimes to react they react with force.

Maybe the last comment should be left to this little girl with a flag ............ the Union Flag is upside down, a signal of distress.

Sunday, 6 April 2008

Just in case anyone needs reminding

As the olympic flame comes to London..... a reminder of what has been happening in Tibet for years since the Chinese invasion........

(oh, by the way, the Petition now stands at 1,558,599 !)

Friday, 4 April 2008

There's A Kind of Hush (All Over the World)

Anyone noticed how quiet our politicians have been over Tibet recently?

China is on the fence - indicating an openness to talks with the Dalai Lama, while at the same time pressuring other governments to support its continuing crackdown. Each day, more leaders declare their stance. It's time to redouble our efforts - click here to send a personal message to your head of Government, urging support for dialogue with the Dalai Lama.

Thursday, 3 April 2008

Global Day of Action for Tibet

On Monday, March 31, thousands of people around the world marched, protested, prayed, chanted, and held solemn vigils in support of the people of Tibet. The events, organized by a network of local, national, and international Tibet groups, brought the Avaaz petition to Chinese embassies and consulates on every continent and caught the attention of the news media from Ireland and Austria to Rio and New Delhi.

Click here for some pictures from the Global Day of Action!

Olympic Flame comes to London

For those of you on the "North Island", on Sunday the 6th. the Burma Campaign UK and the Burmese community will be highlighting China's continued support for Burma's brutal regime by holding a peaceful protest as the Olympic Torch comes to London, opposite Downing Street, at junction of Whitehall and Richmond Terrace between 12:30-1:30

For those wishing to peacefully demonstrate their support for the people of Tibet and the Dalai Lama's calls for dialogue with the Chinese regime the final confirmed route for the London leg of the torch relay is as below. Protests are expected all along the route.

10:30am - Wembley
11:00am - Ladbroke Grove
12:20pm Notting Hill Gate
12pm - Oxford Street
12:30pm - China Town
12:40pm - Piccadilly Circus
12:50pm - Trafalgar Square
1:30pm - Southbank Centre
2:15pm - Somerset House
2:30pm - St Paul's
3pm - Potters Field and More London
4pm - Stratford
5pm - Canary Wharf
6pm - Greenwich

Olympics minister Tessa Jowell backed Mayor Ken Livingstone and his mayoral rival Boris Johnson in defending the right of pro-Tibet activists to stage demonstrations on Sunday, so long as they were peaceful.

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Tibet Petition - update

The petition has been delivered to Chinese embassies and Consulates World wide and will continue to be updated with all new signatures and re-delivered until talks begin. So, if you haven't already, you can still sign.

The petition currently stands at 1,471,964 !