Archive for April, 2012

This essay presents a general and critical historical survey of the Burmese Buddhist alms-boycott (pattanikujjana) between 1990 and 2007. It details the Pāli textual and ethical constitution of the boycott and its instantiation in modern Burmese history, particularly the Saffron Revolution of 2007. It also suggests a metaethical reading that considers Buddhist metaphysics as constitutive of that conflict. Non-violent resistance is contextualized as a soteriologically transcendent (“nibbanic”) project in the common life of believing Buddhists—even those who, military regime and martyred monastics alike, defend a fidelity to Theravāda Buddhism from dual divides of a political and humanistic fence. Presented to the International Association of Buddhist Studies (IABS) conference, Taiwan, June 20-25, 2011. First published in the Journal of Buddhist Ethics, April, 2012: http://blogs.dickinson.edu/buddhistethics/2012/04/16/the-burmese-alms-boycott/

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Before Dawn, Dharamsala

Not to have found, or lost

Anything. The hours in burlap

improvised tents we sit in through darkness

games & joke & out-of-tune guitar to

draw the breath closer in the same

close skin we all crave.              Sunil

never gives sign of seeing himself

from a distance all night serving big brown

Germans dhal, rice & tea, his third thumb

corkscrewing out of his wrist          birth-wonder

we abort in the West.

Orion flexing above      dogs fighting in mud

madness is real and I’m not sure

what’s worse getting drunk on Indian whiskey

or waiting for the earthquake already long due.

Only raving Irish Baba tries to make it for real

comes down to town to recruit fools like me

help him drag supplies up high for the winter

another five-thousand feet, at snowline

immured in a cave, sunset, stark mad in his

dead-ordinary stark sane mind.        Milarepa

turned nettle-green Shiva was blue

and Baba is Hep. A yellow          the rest

of us lonely & trying     hooked on distances

on vertical time on all reasonable dharmas

though the opium is crude it’s cheaper than love

& his useless loose thumb is the most perfect

thing there is. In the morning we can expect

the eight cold hells and rituals of cobbled shame

giving out rupees      lusts & forgetfulness

knowing there is no time that nothing

taken nothing gained is the only

slow    sure    road out of town.

Dharamsala, January, 2001

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