Not all Buddhist monks are skin-heads.


We have all seen revolting images of Saffron-robed men with their clean-shaven heads, unashamedly and ignorantly calling for the expulsion of the Rohingya Muslims of Western Burma and repeating the Burmese military's institutionalized Islamophobia and hatred of the Muslims.

Having studied with a specialist in Nazism at Wisconsin, my reaction to these images was visceral.  As someone who grew up in a profoundly Buddhist environment of a culturally conservative Upper Burma or A-nyar  it was excruciatingly painful to watch Saffron-men morphing into skin-heads, with absolutely no Buddhist mindfulness.

So, it was a shot in my arm when I heard the words this monk preaching not just religious tolerance, but organic harmony among different major religions of the predominantly Buddhist Burma.  As a boy the monk met Mr Rashid, one of the most prominent student leaders of Indian ethnic origin, with a devotee of Islam and a very capable Burmese nationalist colleague of Aung San and U Nu.   He proudly recalled how U Rashid told him in English to "Be a good boy", as the distinguished statesman and Aung San's comrade, visited the monk's Upper Burma town of Myin Gyan.

The monk's speech - under 4-minutes - is well-worth your time.  

the most intelligent, strategic message from a genuinely Buddhist monk named Rev. Issariya, I have heard on religious HARMONY and COMPATIBILITY - not just this wish-washy liberal TOLERANCE business. 

In essence, this monk used concrete historical example of the love- and mutually respectful comradeship between the late U Nu, a devout Buddhist and the late Mr Rashid, a devout Muslim to spread his message: that in spite of different faiths, the politically defined Burmese of all ethnic and religious backgrounds, can live, integrate and work together. 

Emphatically, the Rev. urged the diverse religious and ethnic communities to forge inter-ethnic and inter-religious ties and solidarity. 

For nothing threatens successive military regimes of Burma more than inter-ethnic and inter-religious solidarity. He categorizes the present Thein Sein's civiliianized regime as the same bunch cut from this same fabric as the previous dictatorship. 

Therefore, he urged inter-ethnic solidarity and inter-faith ties as a matter of strategy to combat the present dictatorship of Thein Sein in reformist disguise.

Wise, moral, open-minded and strategic words.  

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