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.