When is a peaceful demonstration not a peaceful demonstration?

by Ven Dharmakara Bodha, Los Angeles, USA, The Buddhist Channel, March 29, 2008

In her latest letter, Visakha Kawasaki has once again twisted the words of another person in her attempt to propagate political agendas and behaviors that are inconsistent with the Buddha-dharma, attempting to further derail any meaningful discussion about what a peaceful demonstration actually requires of its participants.

David Lourie, myself, and others were horrified at the sight of Tibetan monks kicking in doors and breaking out the windows of Chinese shop owners, events that were covered by western media prior to the Chinese military's most recent crackdown in the region.

Let's first examine what a "peaceful demonstration" is from within Ghandian non-violent Satyagraha movement. A "satyagrahi" (one who practices satyagraha) refuses to inflict injury on others and must be willing to shoulder any sacrifice which is occasioned by the struggle which they have initiated, rather than pushing such sacrifice or suffering onto their opponent, always providing a face-saving "way out" for the opponents.

This understanding of what a peaceful demonstration represents is reflected in "Ahimsa", where participants are not simply requested to refrain from inflicting injury on others, it's demanded of them or they shouldn't be at the demonstration in the first place.

Doesn't this sound a lot like the Bodhisattva ideal?

Even though their respective countries have a long way to go before their dream is realized, both Mahatma Ghandhi and Martin Luther King were able to succeed because this was exactly what they advocated, not what we've seen being passed off as "peaceful demonstrations" by the pro-democracy movement. Many pro-democracy groups involved in the unrest in Tibet, as well as Myanmar, seem to ignore this and have no problem enabling the opposite to occur because they do not understand the principles behind Satyagraha, long enough what a peaceful demonstration constitutes.

The best example of this can be found in the words of John Ackerly, the president of the International Campaign for Tibet, who has recently stated that "Tibet's movement for justice and freedom cannot be reduced to the burning of Chinese shops," which is true, but in his statement he not only downplays the violent behavior of many participants in the demonstrations, but he also makes no mention of the fact that some of these Chinese shop owners had actually died a horrible death at the hands of these demonstrators.

Sure, it's easy for some people to turn a blind eye to this unfortunate event because many people see these Chinese shop owners as invaders of Tibetan culture and society. It's just as easy to justify this behavior by declaring that these demonstrations didn't occur in a vacuum, that they were the total sum of the frustrations faced by the people of Tibet, but at the end of the day MURDER is still MURDER, regardless of how one attempts to package the event or the fact that the Chinese government has done the same on a much larger and unimaginable scale.

Can we expect Visakha Kawasaki and other misguided individuals to understand this? Clearly not. Their understanding of what constitutes a "peaceful demonstration" is about as flawed as their understanding of the Buddha-dharma.
We Need Your Help to Train the
Buddhist AI Chat Bot
(Neural Operator for Responsible Buddhist Understanding)

For Malaysians and Singaporeans, please make your donation to the following account:

Account Name: Bodhi Vision
Account No:. 2122 00000 44661
Bank: RHB

The SWIFT/BIC code for RHB Bank Berhad is: RHBBMYKLXXX
Address: 11-15, Jalan SS 24/11, Taman Megah, 47301 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
Phone: 603-9206 8118

Note: Please indicate your name in the payment slip. Thank you.

Dear Friends in the Dharma,

We seek your generous support to help us train NORBU, the word's first Buddhist AI Chat Bot.

Here are some ways you can contribute to this noble cause:

One-time Donation or Loan: A single contribution, regardless of its size, will go a long way in helping us reach our goal and make the Buddhist LLM a beacon of wisdom for all.

How will your donation / loan be used? Download the NORBU White Paper for details.

For Malaysians and Singaporeans, please make your donation to the following account:

Account Name: Bodhi Vision
Account No:. 2122 00000 44661
Bank: RHB

The SWIFT/BIC code for RHB Bank Berhad is: RHBBMYKLXXX
Address: 11-15, Jalan SS 24/11, Taman Megah, 47301 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
Phone: 603-9206 8118

Note: Please indicate your purpose of payment (loan or donation) in the payment slip. Thank you.

Once payment is banked in, please send the payment slip via email to: editor@buddhistchannel.tv. Your donation/loan will be published and publicly acknowledged on the Buddhist Channel.

Spread the Word: Share this initiative with your friends, family and fellow Dharma enthusiasts. Join "Friends of Norbu" at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/norbuchatbot. Together, we can build a stronger community and create a positive impact on a global scale.

Volunteer: If you possess expertise in AI, natural language processing, Dharma knowledge in terms of Buddhist sutras in various languages or related fields, and wish to lend your skills, please contact us. Your knowledge and passion could be invaluable to our project's success.

Your support is part of a collective effort to preserve and disseminate the profound teachings of Buddhism. By contributing to the NORBU, you become a "virtual Bodhisattva" to make Buddhist wisdom more accessible to seekers worldwide.

Thank you for helping to make NORBU a wise and compassionate Buddhist Chatbot!

May you be blessed with inner peace and wisdom,

With deepest gratitude,

Kooi F. Lim
On behalf of The Buddhist Channel Team

Note: To date, we have received the following contributions for NORBU:
US$ 75 from Gary Gach (Loan)
US$ 50 from Chong Sim Keong
MYR 300 from Wilson Tee
MYR 500 from Lim Yan Pok
MYR 50 from Oon Yeoh
MYR 200 from Ooi Poh Tin
MYR 300 from Lai Swee Pin
MYR 100 from Ong Hooi Sian
MYR 1,000 from Fam Sin Nin
MYR 500 from Oh teik Bin
MYR 300 from Yeoh Ai Guat
MYR 300 from Yong Lily
MYR 50 from Bandar Utama Buddhist Society
MYR 1,000 from Chiam Swee Ann
MYR 1,000 from Lye Veei Chiew
MYR 1,000 from Por Yong Tong
MYR 80 from Lee Wai Yee
MYR 500 from Pek Chee Hen
MYR 300 from Hor Tuck Loon
MYR 1,000 from Wise Payments Malaysia Sdn Bhd
MYR 200 from Teo Yen Hua
MYR 500 from Ng Wee Keat
MYR 10,000 from Chang Quai Hung, Jackie (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from K. C. Lim & Agnes (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from Juin & Jooky Tan (Loan)
MYR 100 from Poh Boon Fong (on behalf of SXI Buddhist Students Society)
MYR 10,000 from Fam Shan-Shan (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from John Fam (Loan)
MYR 500 from Phang Cheng Kar
MYR 100 from Lee Suat Yee
MYR 500 from Teo Chwee Hoon (on behalf of Lai Siow Kee)
MYR 200 from Mak Yuen Chau

We express our deep gratitude for the support and generosity.

If you have any enquiries, please write to: editor@buddhistchannel.tv