Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Lady's Radical Buddhism

Life in this world links to a fascinating article by The Guardian's Madeleine Bunting, who says, "The Burmese heroine's Reith lectures expose our patronising attitudes to Buddhism, and injects fresh meaning into a concept we have abused" — Aung San Suu Kyi's idea of freedom offers a radical message for the west. An excerpt:
    She is taking her stand on an ideal to which the west has a tendency to claim copyright in the Enlightenment. What's more, freedom is an ideal which has been bastardised in recent years by the rhetoric of two disastrous American wars. Deftly, she lays out an understanding of freedom which owes more to Buddhism than western philosophy and, in so doing, injects a radical new meaning into an abused ideal. She is simultaneously quietly challenging western hubris and offering her global audience a new interpretation.

    She does this not by expounding on obscure Buddhist philosophy – there is only one explicit mention of Buddhism – but by translating her spiritual tradition into a wide range of western thinkers, poets and writers: Vaclav Havel, the Russian poet Anna Akhmatova, Ratushinskaya, Henley, Kipling and Isaiah Berlin. What is far more important to her than a sales pitch for a much misunderstood religion/philosophy is that her global audience connect to what she is saying and she helps by giving plenty of familiar reference points, slipping the unfamiliar in alongside. She weaves in Christian metaphors and concepts with the Buddhism, Russian poetry and the eastern European dissident tradition. It is a unique synthesis of east and west, only possible in someone deeply versed in both.
"The popular perception is of Buddhism as a form of calming therapy, much like a massage oil," writes Ms. Bunting. "That is to emasculate the force of a powerful philosophy with radical political implications."

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Blogger hoihoi51 said...

I think The people in Burma are the calmest, gentle people.
Aung San Suu Kyi would be a criminal..
Why did not she say the foreigner staying in the house?
Why did she make a speech on the street? They have permitted the speech in the plaza and facilities.
She violated their law.

what happen after 1948 under being given democracy?
freedom is good. however they need more time
I think they are doing well. she is treated as their hero's daughter

at first, many ppl are cheated by the propaganda of west that says evil the military regime.
I think Myanmar is quite different from North Korea and china. that is why she is not excuted. it says "just stay at home"

Do not make a speech on the road in the law of Burma. They offered a public speech place.
and do not stay with the foreigner without the permission.

by the way

6:54 PM  
Blogger The Western Confucian said...

I tend to agree. I have no beef with Burma or its government, and what you say is right. They are not monsters.

Still, Aung San Suu Kyi seems a noble soul, although her winning of the Nobel Peace Prize, placing her alongside mass murderers like Henry Kissinger and Barack Obama, dies sully her name a bit.

10:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm pleased to learn that the Pope shares my negative impression of Buddhism.

1:20 AM  
Blogger The Western Confucian said...

Whatever one thinks of real Buddhism, far worse is "[t]he popular perception is of Buddhism as a form of calming therapy, much like a massage oil."

For what its worth, this blog's namesake "publicly announced that he had come to China to supplement Confucian belief, and to attack the absurdity of Buddhism," according to Korean authoress Hahn Moo-Sook, quoted on the sidebar.

I go back in forth in my impression of the religion. One of my blogging colleagues, alearned American domiciled in Japan, wisely and positively compared Buddhism to our Western Stoicism.

7:25 PM  

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