Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Animal Farm and The Land of Vampires

All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others

In 1984, Winston was told by a thought criminal that there are two means to maintain persistence of dictatorship. The first is to make the people starve so that they couldn’t have time to think about politics. The second is to deprive the people of education so that the people could have no intellectual capacity to revolt against the government. In an essay that won a prize of my US school, I wrote that when I was in Burma, I saw myself as Winston Smith of 1984 and Neo of Matrix Revolution.

Burmese Buddhists had a very famous traditional story of Buddha. Buddha, himself had deciphered sixteen dreams of King Kosala last 2500 years ago. Burmese believe that these dreams are the omens for the events that have been happening in the country in modern days. One fearful scene of these sixteen dreams was that Kosala saw a village crow was worshipped by an entourage of Mandarin ducks who were royal birds with feathers of golden sheen. Buddha said this dream meant in distant future, there will be kings who were cowards and fools. Fearing revolt and revolution, they will elevate their footmen, bath-attendants, and barbers to nobility. These kings will ignore the real nobility of academicians in the country.Cut off from royal favor and unable to support themselves, bona fide nobles will be reduced to the services of the barbers who were deliberately raised to royalty by those wicked kings.

When I saw Su Su Nway, the winner of the Humphrey prize award in 2006, and her comrades were violently pulled out by thugs of the government in the Hle Dan demonstration this year, I felt that now the barbers were officially given a position in this country. The September Economist Journal showed this violent photo with a heading, “The Charter for thugocracy”. The word thugocracy could be a naïve term in the field of journalism and I wander if Buddha had already used this neologism in deciphering Kosala’s dreams.

I had a very close friend who had the habit of stealing and were somewhat belligerent in behavior. He used to borrow from me some money frequently at the time of my days of Burma. Just a few weeks before I came to America, he came to me and to my surprise, returned me some money and, in a proud voice, he said to me,” I had got a job in the Sunn Arr Shin ward committee (newly founded thug organization of the junta) and, now I had to attend the office every day. I asked him where his office was and he said it was in the same place with the ward SPDC office. This was one of my self-evident examples how thugs were raised by the government.

In her “Finding George Orwell in Burma, Emma Larkin’s Burmese friend, Aye Myint, said to her, “Animal Farm (a book also written by George Orwell before 1984’) is a Burmese book because we were ruled by the dogs and the pigs”. Emma Larkin probably thought that the dogs and pigs meant the current junta. Not exactly, what Aye Myint wanted to refer were those jobless, aggressive gypsies who permeated almost all the representative positions of the government authority in wards of the villages, towns, cities and the capital in the society of Burma. I was curious if George Orwell had known these sixteen Kosala’s dreams during his youthful days in Burma. However, his three classic novels, “The Burmese Days”, “The Animal Farm” and “1984” were in Aye Myint’s words, all modern Burmese books and a representative of a Burmese social life.

I remembered my most admirable Burmese author, the editor of the Burma Guardian Newspaper, Shwe U Dawn (the pen name that means the golden peacock), was awarded the National Literature prize because of his translated book of Animal Farm. However, he didn’t directly use the name, Animal Farm for his translated book title. Being so good in abstract things or probably a forerunner for late happenings in Burma, a title that was dreadfully disgusting in nature came out from his instincts, and the title was “The Land of Vampires”.




8 comments:

S said...

Yeah. But we have to defend and salvage Sasana as much as we can. We should not resign to these thugs. We need to educate them. We should do what we can. Never give up nor surrender and struggle until death. This is what a true man means. This is not for respect nor fame but simply it is a job to do.
May burmese can live in peace.
Voyager

mg said...

I wonder the Kamma philosophy allows myanmar people to accept "some animals are more equal than others".Kamma is looking like major occupant of Burmese Buddhism. If you can write something about Kamma related to this story,sounds good.

Teacher

S said...

The problem with Karma philosophy is that people try to guess the cause and effect and try to manipulate that. I think Buddha already mentioned that Karma is so complicated that it is already out of grasp of human being. Besides, Karma not only constitutes past ones, but present days deed.

So, for people, it is better to stick with basic principle of if you do good things, you might (not must) get good things and if you do bad things, you might get bad things. A lot of factor involves in cause and effect and if you want to understand it, you need to study Abidharma. Too much analysis without enough faculty and facts will paralyze the proper thinking.

Pleaes remember that just thinking alone will not go anywhere and we need to work to escape from material hardship and need to meditate to escape from Sansara.

May every burmese live in peace,
Sansara Voyager

MG said...

I don't believe that we need meditation as sine qua non to escape from Sansara.In narrow-minded Theravada Buddhism, this could probably be correct. In open-minded Mahayana Buddhism,we accept there is real potential of human beings by just getting insight into the real nature of the world by many circumstantial incidences.

Besides,as human potential is unlimited with the help of science in this century, we don't accept that there is something so superb in the universe that we are not able to think out. If the genetic principle ( Viza niyama), the seasonal environment principle (Utu Niyama) could now be entangled by
Science. There is no reason that the Kamma Niyama should not be disknoted.

Teacher

Anonymous said...

This post is to rebut previous post by mg.

First, the wording is spinned. The author implied that Theravada Buddhism is narrow-minded and Mahayana Buddhism is open-minded. More appropriate words should be
Theravada: traditonal school of Buddhism and
Mahayana: modern or progressive school of Buddhism .

Another assertion I would like to refute is that meditation is not necessary to escape from Sansara. The analogy is that
"one can become a surgeon by merely learning surgical textbooks without any practices and under circumstantial incidences."

Myo said...

two cents to mg,
disknoted -> unravelled.
cheer!
mna

MG said...

Thanks for your rebuttal.

I think the term " traditional" and " modern" are just for differentiating the time periods.

People see their tradition through the mirror of their ego and think that the tradition should be adored. On the other hand, they become narrow-minded to see the alternatives or to analyze the validity of their tradition.

I mean tradition is just the beauty in your ego but in its real trend is that we have the impending and intractable danger of falling into the hole of "narrow-mindedness".

The writer's attitude seems to urge escape from conventional acceptance of legitimacy of traditions to review them through the first party's experience or third party's examination.

The orthodox or Theravada Buddhism is not good in this kind of dissecting the real anatomy of Buddha's teaching.

I acknowledge my term would probably be not appropriate to conventional Burmese Buddhists but it is so taunting to be true.

Teacher

Anonymous said...

Hey Mg,

You shouldn't slander our tradition and religion.

Burmese Theravada tradition is as lovely as untarnished white tusks of a royal elephant.We are not narrow-minded to love and defend this tradition.

Take care,
Shwe Yoe