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A lotus in a sea of fire

Since March, at least 11 Tibetan nuns and monks have set themselves on fire in protest of Chinese repression

 

 

Since March, 11 Buddhist monks and nuns have set themselves on fire to protest China's policies toward Tibet. On Friday, the Tibet Post reported that a former monk set himself on fire, and his condition and whereabouts were unknown.

Roshi Joan Halifax of Upaya Zen Center reflected on the self-immolation of Buddhist monks during the 1960s:

I remembered the image of the first monk who immolated himself. His body in flames, he sat still in his own inferno, a "lotus in a sea of fire." ... I believe that the precepts protected him as he gave his flesh to the flames. In taking his own life, he knew he might save many. And it takes keen and radical discernment, as well as great love, to make such an offering to others. Breaking the precepts, he kept the precepts.*

(From the introduction to For a Future to Be Possible: Buddhist Ethics in Everyday Life by Thich Nhat Hanh.)

The Karmapa has asked the monks and nuns to stop.

The Dalai Lama has neither endorsed nor condemned the practice, but has said he believes it is a desperate response to "cultural genocide" by the Chinese.

Arundhati Roy, the Pulitizer Prize-winning author of "The God of Small Things:"

"I hope that the people in the Occupy movement are politically aware enough to know that their being excluded from the obscene amassing of wealth of US corporations is part of the same system of the exclusion and war that is being waged by these corporations in places like India, Africa, and the Middle East. Ever since  the Great Depression, we know that one of the key ways in which the US economy has stimulated growth is by manufacturing weapons and exporting war to other countries."

I breathe in the thick oily smoke that must result when human flesh soaked in gasoline, both internally and externally, burns.

I breathe out peace.

May it reach all beings. May I help bring it to them. I don't know how, I know only that stating the intention is a step.

The precepts:

*1) To abstain from killing
2) To abstain from stealing
3) To abstain from false speech
4) To abstain from sexual misconduct
5) To abstain from intoxicants

Read more about the recent self-immolations
from Reuters here
from London's Daily Mail here
from the (Chinese) People's Daily online here

Photo by Malcolm Browne won the 1963 Pulitzer Prize.

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Comments

thank you

this brought tears to my eyes.

Breaking the precepts, he kept the precepts.
Beautiful.

His Holiness hasn't outwardly been against or for, however he has said that the emotions that drives one to self-immolate is the same that drives people to kill.

I am not at a computer, I will find the article for you.

Angela

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