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Four Ways to Celebrate Aung San Suu Kyi’s Freedom

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NY Times/Soe Than Win/Agence France-Presse

“Please use your liberty to gain ours.”
Aung San Suu Kyi

As wonderful as it was to see Aung San Suu Kyi finally being released from house arrest this past weekend, let’s remember that there are still at least 2,200 other political prisoners in Burma. As Alan Senauke, founder of the Clear View Project, wrote in an article posted on Shambhala SunSpace,

It is up to our worldwide community of conscience, hand in hand with Burma’s democracy activists, to use this opportunity and Daw Suu’s political skills to best advantage. There are still more than 2200 political prisoners in facing torture and long years in Burma’s prisons, including student leader Min Ko Naing, labor rights activist Su Su Nway, Saffron Revolution leader U Gambira, comedian/social critic Zargana, and many, many others. Among these political prisoners we have identified nearly 250 monks and nuns.

Time and again, Daw Suu made a choice to forgo her own freedom so that she could work toward the liberation of all her countrymen and women. (Did you know that when her husband, Michael Aris, was dying of cancer in 1999, she refused a chance to travel to Europe to visit him because she thought she might not be allowed back into Burma?)

The best way to celebrate Daw Suu and honor her legacy is for us to continue to act in this struggle for freedom and human rights in Burma.

Here are four things you can do to help:

1) Call for freedom for ALL of Burma’s prisoners of conscience

This page on Amnesty International’s website gives you a template for a letter to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), calling on them to exercise their influence and press Myanmar’s authorities to release all prisoners of conscience.

2) Write to the UN Secretary General

The Burma Campaign UK provides this online letter to call on United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to take the lead on Burma and renew efforts to pressure Burma’s generals to release all political prisoners.

3) Adopt a Monk

The intention of this project, sponsored by the Clear View Project, is to call attention to the false imprisonment of the monks and nuns in Burma. The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners of Burma (AAPPB) reports that when the international community shines a light of attention on particular prisoners, their lot improves. When one prisoner’s life improves, hope is restored. By sending regular letters on behalf of the monk or nun that you “adopt” and also providing some funding to assist with their food and medicine, you can make a difference. Find out more about Adopt a Monk here.

4) Support Freedom of Press in Burma

The Irrawaddy News Magazine is one of the few journalism outposts that provides the real story from inside Burma. It is a nonprofit media group that needs grants and donations from international supporters in order to continue its work to be an independent media voice. You can learn more and donate here.

bodhisattvas in the trenches

by Maia Duerr
Buddhist monks praying for peace in Thailand, May 2010

This is the full first year that The Jizo Chronicles has been up and running, so it’s a good time to look back at what’s been going on in the world of socially engaged Buddhism in 2010. (To get an idea of what’s ahead for 2011, look at the Calendar of Events that we maintain here.)

It’s been quite a year, actually.

  • This was the year we lost Robert Aitken Roshi, fierce and dear Zen teacher, founder of the Diamond Sangha, and co-founder of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship.
  • Mindfulness and meditation continue to find applications in all kinds of interesting realms, from technology (like the first-ever Wisdom 2.0 conference) and education. 84,000 dharma doors indeed.

In my own life, I continue to be blessed with being in such a close relationship with Roshi Joan Halifax and Upaya Zen Center, and Upaya’s chaplaincy program. I don’t have to go more than a few dozen steps from my front door to be able to sit in the beautiful zendo there, and to hear teachings from  Joanna Macy, Fleet Maull, Ouyporn Khuankaew, Jimmy Santiago Baca, Sharon Salzberg, Kaz Tanahashi, Norman Fischer, and Father John Dear (all visited Upaya this past year). I’ve also appreciated my long-distance dharma relationship with Shosan Victoria Austin of the San Francisco Zen Center and the sangha there.

My practice continues to deepen and I am ever more aware of the subtle power of the dharma to transform suffering into joy. As the old year comes to a close and the new one begins, I wish you and your loved ones great peace, great equanimity, and great compassion.

I’m sure I missed a lot in the above recounting. Please let me know your experience and memories of engaged dharma practice this past year… leave a comment below.


by Maia Duerr

The last “Quote of the Week” for the year is reserved for Robert Aitken Roshi, who passed away on August 5th of this year.

This one is short and very much to the point… may we let it support our practice in the coming year:

“Our practice is not to clear up the mystery.
It is to make the mystery clear.”



If you enjoyed this post, I invite you to visit my other website: The Liberated Life Project — a personal transformation blog with a social conscience.


Peace on Earth

December 25, 2010
by Maia Duerr

Peace on Earth and Good Will to All!


Art by Mayumi Oda, Upaya Zen Center Christmas Tree

Wishing you and your loved ones a blessed holiday season…

in kindness,



by Maia Duerr

Okay, this looks like a real gem. Coming from Al Jazeera in partnership with the Democractic Voice of Burma, here is a roundtable with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. The dialogue includes [text from Al Jazeera]:

  • Maung Zarni, a Burmese dissident and an academic research fellow at the London School of Economics. His first-hand knowledge of Burma allows him to share his insights of armed conflicts, resistance, and the Burmese military.
  • Mary Kaldor is professor and co-director of Gobal Governance. She has written extensively on global civil society, how ordinary people organise to change the way their countries and global institutions are run.
  • Timothy Garton Ash is a historian, political commentator and regular colomnist for the UK newspaper The Guardian. He is professor of European studies at Oxford University. His main interest is civil resistance and the role of Europe and the old West in an increasingly western world. In 2000, Aung San Suu Kyi invited Professor Garton Ash to Burma to speak to members of her party, the National League for Democracy, about transitions to democracies.



If you enjoyed this post, I invite you to visit my other website: The Liberated Life Project — a personal transformation blog with a social conscience.

About Maia

I've been practicing and studying the Buddha way since 1994, and exploring the question "What is engaged Buddhism?" since the late 90s. As former executive director of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship and editor of its journal, Turning Wheel, I had the honor of meeting and working with many practitioners of engaged dharma, including Roshi Joan Halifax, Joanna Macy, Alan Senauke, and Robert Aitken Roshi. I write about socially engaged Buddhism on my blog, "The Jizo Chronicles," as well as on the theme of personal and collective freedom on my website, "The Liberated Life Project." Through my Five Directions Consulting, I offer support to individuals and organizations who aspire to integrate awareness into their work.

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