Title

The Role of Socially Engaged Monks in Burma

Presenter Information

Hillary Matson

Document Type

Oral Presentation

Location

SURC 202

Start Date

16-5-2013

End Date

16-5-2013

Abstract

Violence, oppression, and religious-political tensions have been characteristic of Burma ever since the start of British colonialism around 1824. The turmoil that unfolded during the following years until the present has helped make activism and protest a central part of Burmese monastic life. This paper looks at how the combinations of religious traditions and political struggles have led Theravada Buddhist monks in a practice of socially engaged Buddhism. It also explores how these protests have been motivated by a military disturbance in the symbiotic relationship between monks and the laity. Interviews with socially engaged monks as well as records of major demonstrations are a couple of the methods used to help reveal patterns that indicate reason for involvement. Ultimately the junta’s suppressive rule has urged monks to use their understanding of compassion and loving kindness to support their lay community and become active in protest.

Faculty Mentor(s)

Jeffrey Dippmann

Additional Mentoring Department

Philosophy and Religious Studies

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The Role of Socially Engaged Monks in Burma

SURC 202

Violence, oppression, and religious-political tensions have been characteristic of Burma ever since the start of British colonialism around 1824. The turmoil that unfolded during the following years until the present has helped make activism and protest a central part of Burmese monastic life. This paper looks at how the combinations of religious traditions and political struggles have led Theravada Buddhist monks in a practice of socially engaged Buddhism. It also explores how these protests have been motivated by a military disturbance in the symbiotic relationship between monks and the laity. Interviews with socially engaged monks as well as records of major demonstrations are a couple of the methods used to help reveal patterns that indicate reason for involvement. Ultimately the junta’s suppressive rule has urged monks to use their understanding of compassion and loving kindness to support their lay community and become active in protest.