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Buddhadharma : Summer 2008
57 summer 2 00 8 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly On September 22, monks surged through barriers blocking off Aung San Suu Kyi’s home in Rangoon. Still under house arrest, Suu came outside to receive their blessings. They stood before her and chanted: May we be completely free from all danger May we be completely free from all grief May we be completely free from poverty May we have peace in heart and mind As monks took to the streets in greater numbers, they were flanked by thousands of ordi- nary Burmese. This was more than the junta could stand. On September 26, protest leaders— ordained and lay—were arrested. Burmese troops and the paramilitary Union Solidarity and T he rains of late September fell on a hun- dred thousand monks in saffron robes as they marched through the streets of Burma chanting the Metta Sutta, the sutra of loving-kindness, turning their minds and prayers toward democracy and the nonviolent transformation of the military regime that has ruled Burma for forty-five years. Once again Bur- mese monks had taken up the practice of patam nikkujjana kamma, or “overturning the bowl,” boycotting alms from the military junta and their families, ritually denying the junta leaders refuge from the destructive karma of their own greed and brutality. In Burma, where monks and nuns are so deeply trained in meditation, Buddhist scholar- ship, and the peaceful acceptance of life’s suffer- ings, this was an extraordinary act. It was “grace under pressure,” to borrow novelist Ernest Hem- ingway’s definition of courage, a sentiment echoed by Burma’s opposition leader, Aung San Suu Kyi. WillJleachalansenauke Courage that comes from refusing to let fear dictate one’s actions could be described as “grace under pressure”—grace which is renewed repeatedly in the face of harsh, unremitting pressure. —Aung San Suu Kyi