Sunday, February 10, 2008

The choice of Burmese II: Tolerance for the Kingdom of Ends

If you want to see this same process at work in a less virtual community, study the second largest Muslim country in the world. The largest Muslim country in the world is Indonesia and the second largest is not Saudi Arabia, Iran, Egypt or Pakistan. It is India. With some 150 million Muslims, India has more Muslims than Pakistan. But here is an interesting statistic from 9/11: there are no India Muslims that we know of in al-Qaeda and there are no Indian Muslims in America’s Guantanamo Bay post-9/11 prison camp. And no Indian Muslims have been found fighting alongside the jihadists in Iraq. Why is that? Why do we not read about Indian Muslims, who are a minority in a vast Hindu-dominated land, blaming America for all their problems and wanting to fly airplanes into the Taj Mahal or the British embassy? Lord knows, Indian Muslims have their grievances about access to capital and political representation. And interreligious violence has occasionally flared up in India, with disastrous consequences. I am certain that out of 150 million Muslins in India, a few will one day find their way to al-Qaeda- if it can happen with some American Muslims, it can happen with Indian Muslims. But this is not the norm. Why?

The answer is context- and in particular the secular, free-market, democratic context of India, heavily influenced by a tradition of non-violence and Hindu tolerance. M.J. Akbar, the Muslim editor of the Asian Age, a national Indian English language daily primarily funded by non-Muslim Indians, put it to me in this way: “ I will give you a quiz question: Which is the only large Muslim community to enjoy sustained democracy for last fifty years? The Muslims of India. I am not going to exaggerate Muslim good fortune in India. There are tensions, economic discrimination, and provocations, like the destruction of the mosque at Ayodhya [by Hindu nationalists in 1992]. But the fact is , the Indian Constitution is secular and provides a real opportunity for economic advancement of any community that can offer talent. That’s why a growing Muslim middle class here is moving up and generally doesn’t manifest the strands of deep anger you find in many non-democratic Muslim states.

Thomas L. Friedman in The world is flat (Paperback edition), P.622

Dear U Sit Mone (Mr. Hate War),

In BC 300,the one who ruled a larger empire than any Indian King appeared in India Continent. His name was as we Burmese are well acquainted, King Ashoka. He won the whole India Continent not only by his warrior's talents in military fighting but at the later times of his onslaught of wars, he also won the hearts of the people by the "moral code of conduct”, to make people willingly accolade him as "Dhamma Shoka" that means "the king who relieves anxiety of the people by Dhamma". You will probably notice his real winning of a war over the hearts of people start at this beginning, "Sit Mone" (hating the war).

On his way to the crowning ceremony, Ashoka had to kill his own 99 brothers. He was tremendously horrified by seeing carnage and millions of war victims on his victorious return from the kingdom of Kalinga (Orissa in modern India).He was sleepless for many nights replete with repent for what he had done. He later realized that he had been thoroughly wrong to choose the military and war as the way for his freedom from fear of losing his life, his property and his power. The more wars he made to psychologically instill the people to be fearful of his military acts, not only was the growth of fear there in the people but there grew the fear for himself.

The earliest leadership theories of the world believe that the leadership is a nature rather than nurture meaning a leader has the inborn traits to lead the people. This kind of theory is very easy to be accepted by our Burmese Buddhist leaders as it is somewhat supporting their simple belief of Karma. The great philosopher like Aristotle, even though he didn't deny it is trait-related, he said leadership is "nurture rather than nature". However, in the 21st century, the theoreticians get another brilliant finding, "leadership is neither nature nor nurture but it is only a choice".

Knowing his choice of war as a wrong code of conduct, Ashoka now picked up a correct choice, the moral code of conduct of Buddhism as his nation-building process and his enlightened way of freedom from fear. He was the greatest person in Buddhism history to make Buddhism as a world religion, sending Buddhist monks missionaries to many other parts of the world. His emissaries of his own son Ven Mahaindha and his own daughter Ven Sanga Maitta to Sri Lanka ever created the culture, beliefs and religion of South East Asia today. And why did Asokha choose Buddhism as the moral code of conduct? What moral code of conduct from Buddhism he particularly choose for his nation building process of India to relieve the anxiety of people by Dhamma of Buddha. What is the Dhamma of Buddha that relieved the anxiety of India at this golden Asokha's time?

If you have ever travelled in the modern day Pakistan and Northern India, you will find the rock edicts of Ashoka to reflect those memorable days of a great King of Mauryan dynasty. One of the edicts read this moral code of conduct that Ashoka adopt for his nation building process:

"A man must not do his reverence to his own sect or disparage another man without reason. Depreciation should be for specific reason only, because the sects of other people all deserve reverence for one reason for another.

By thus acting, a man exalts his own sect, and at the same time does service to the sects of other people. By acting contrariwise, a man hurts his own sect, and does disservice to the sects of other people. For he who does reverence to his own sect while disparaging the sects of others wholly from attachment to his own, with intent to enhance the splendor of his own sect, in reality by such conduct inflicts the severest injury on his own sect" (Edict XII)

The choice of "tolerance" made India and Buddhism deferential all over the world. Today India's flag was at the centre with Ashoka Chakra (Ashoka's dhamma)with a wheel with 24- spokes reflecting that Dhamma is involved in 24 hour nation building process of India on egalitarian basis(No sect has the right to be dominant over other sects with the core paradigm of "tolerance" at the center for all the sects of the nation)

I like the military leaders of Burma to see the change of "choice" of Ashoka as an example. They have not yet even committed the atrocious wars of a massacre of millions of people or ever committed fratricide as if Asokha had done in his overprotection of fear. Even this barbarian King had moved to a good choice, "tolerance" and became to win the hearts of the people to be ever recorded forever in the world history. Why not they as already cultivated Buddhists had now a choice for "tolerance" acknowledging to the people that they have "hated the choice of war" to relieve the anxiety of the people to become the first Burmese Dhamma Shoka in the history of our modern nation.

This is the summary I like to chant by learning India and Dhamma Shoka:

War is the code of conduct of barbarian Ashoka.
Tolerance is the choice of code of conduct of Asokha to become people's Ashoka.

The difference between heaven and earth is just a flash of mindfulness, in this moment in Burma's history, a choice for tolerance.

Apamadaina Samadaitha (Don’t lose your mindfulness in doing good merits)
Nun Khaymar

Let us suppose, then, that an intolerant sect has no title to complain of intolerance. We still cannot say the tolerant sects have the right to suppress them. For one thing, others may have a right to complain on behalf of the intolerant, but simply as a right to object whenever a principle of justice is violated. For, justice is infringed whenever equal liberty is denied without sufficient reason. The question, then, is whether being intolerant of another is grounds enough for limiting someone’s liberty. To simplify things, assume that the tolerant sects have the right not to tolerate the intolerant in at least one circumstance, namely when they sincerely and with reason to believe that intolerance is necessary for their own security. This right readily follows enough since, as the original position is defined, each would agree to the right of self-preservation. Justice does not require that men must stand idly by while others destroy the basis of their existence. Since it can never be to men’s advantage, from a general point of view, to forgo their right of self-protection, the only question, then is whether the tolerant have a right to curb the intolerant when they are of no immediate danger to the equal liberties of others.

…..Whether the liberty of the intolerant should be limited to preserve freedom under a just constitution depends on the circumstances. The theory of justice only characterizes the just constitution, the end of political action by reference to which practical decisions are to be made. In pursuing this end, the natural strength of free institutions must not be forgotten, nor should it be supposed that tendencies to depart from them go unchecked and always win out. Knowing the inherent stability of a just constitution, members of a well-ordered society have the confidence to limit the freedom of the intolerant only in special cases when it is necessary for preserving equal liberty itself.

The conclusion, then, is while an intolerant sect does not itself have title to complain of intolerance, its freedom should be restricted only when the tolerant sincerely and with reason to believe that their own security and that of the institutions of liberty are in danger. The tolerant should curb the intolerant only in this case. The leading principle is to establish a just constitution with the liberties of equal citizenship. The just should be guided by the principles of justice and not by the fact that the unjust could not complain. Finally, it should be noted that even when the freedom of the intolerant is limited to safeguard against a constitution, this is not done in the name of maximizing the liberty. The liberties of some are not suppressed simply to make possible to a greater liberty of others. Justice forbids this sort of reasoning in connection with liberty as much as it does in regard to the sum of advantages. It is only the liberty of the intolerant which is to be limited, and this is done for the sake of EQUAL LIBERTY under a just constitution the principles of which the intolerant themselves would acknowledge in the original position.

John Rawls in A Theory of Justice, P.216


CNT said...


The post is very fine.I have two cents to add for your interpretation of Sokha. Sometimes you interpret Sokha as anxiety, and in one place you said "freedom from fear".It could be more consistent if you used "freedom from anxiety".

Moe Hein said...

I don't like foreigners to be the wise men for our country.I strongly deny the outsider's accounts.They are not trust worthy. The fate of our country should be decided ourselves as the insiders who know the most about it.

NKhm said...

Dear CNT,

Thanks so much for your suggestion.
Citing abaikdhamma (supreme dhamma),anxiety and fear are all together put under the title of Cettatika (forerunner of mind).They are all together classified in a single category that is hostility.

The principle can be easily comprehended: "There is no anger happening without fear,without fear no malicious intent (hostility) happens".You think you are so aggressive, arrogant with a fighting spirit like a warrior or gallant.Not so many people know, great armies are set up because they have a great lot of fear.

May all creatures be free from fear,
Nun Khaymar

Anonymous said...

For the admirers of India
Is India tolerant of sects?Really???