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Buddhist Relief Mission Condemns Sl (r)

Subject: Buddhist Relief Mission Condemns Slorc Interference in Sangha   Matters

(This is a resubmission, as we had technical problems with the first posting.)

Buddhist Relief Mission
Supporting the Buddha Sasana Worldwide
266-27 Ozuku-cho, Kashihara-shi, Nara-ken 634, Japan
Tel: (07442) 2-8236   Fax: (07442) 4-6254
Ken and Visakha Kawasaki, Directors

Press Release                                     October 1, 1996

    On September 29, 1996, official Myanmar television reported that the
State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) believes that the National
League for
Democracy (NLD) is trying to agitate monks in the following ways:
    1)    sending members to monasteries frequently to befriend the monks
    2)    sending its members to be ordained as monks, thereby trying to
divide the loyalty of the monks.
    It was further announced that laws have recently been passed so as to
prevent the ordination of NLD members.  The  Central Monks' Committee
(Sangha Mahanayaka) was instructed to  contact all levels of  LORC offices
if any NLD member sought ordination. 

    Buddhist Relief Mission declares that these measures constitute a gross
interference in the  time - honored independent nature of the Buddhist
monastic order, the Sangha, and an outrageous abuse of the rights of Burmese
    According to Buddhist Law, which SLORC pretends to be protecting, no
laymen or government official has any authority or jurisdiction to determine
who can be ordained a monk.  That is a matter for the Sangha to decide, the
Sangha in this case being a minimum of five fully ordained monks (upasampada
bhikkhus).  No monk, even a member of the Central Monks Committee (in this
case a SLORC organized body), nor any layman, even from the Department of
Religious Affairs, has the right to exclude any ethnic group, caste,
occupation, or community from ordination.
    To be ordained a monk is a great event and a great privilege.  The
candidate should be encouraged to go forward with it.  To receive
ordination, one has but to approach the assembled Sangha in a humble manner,
to salute it, and to request ordination ("to be raised to the position out
of  ompassion"). 
    The candidate is asked, "Do you have a disease such as leprosy,
consumption, or epilepsy? Are you a human being? Are you a man? Are you a
free man? Are you without debts? Are you in the royal service? Do you have
your parents' permission? Are you a full twenty years of age?  Are you
complete as to bowl and robes?"  If the answers to these questions are
acceptable, the ordination can proceed.  Political affiliation is not
included in the stumbling blocks (antarayike dhamme) which can prevent
    Should any monk object to a certain candidate, he must provide the
Sangha with  a valid reason for his feelings or be reprimanded (and perhaps
even punished) by the Sangha for his bias.  If he has a good reason, his
objection will be taken into consideration by the Sangha.  Such a case will
be decided by the majority of the Sangha involved. 
    In the Buddhist Sangha, for more than 2500 years, there has been no
requirement of obedience to a superior.  Although a monk is expected to
display his courtesy and respect to senior monks, ultimately speaking, all
monks are individual ascetics who have not vowed obedience to anyone else
but the Sangha.  Throughout the Vinaya, the monks' rules of discipline, the
Buddha exhorts His disciples to assemble and to decide matters according to
the viewpoint of the majority.  The Sangha has a very systematic and
democratic nature due to the fact that in the Sangha, all members have equal
rights and
opportunities to determine and to administer affairs.  Furthermore,
decentralization of power is extremely important. In the process of
determining things, everyone's consent is sought, and the
majority vote is respected.  According to Buddhist philosophy and practice,
the right to rule
a society or a country is based on the consent of the subjects ruled.  This
is, very clearly, basic democracy. 
     Buddhist Relief Mission:
       deplores this latest  unwarranted and intolerable attempt by the
SLORC to manipulate and to control the Sangha in Burma.
       condemns the SLORC for violating the integrity of the Buddhist Sangha
and thus damaging the  Buddha Sasana, which has lasted for more than 2500
years for the welfare of the world. 
       demands that the SLORC immediately end its interference in
ordinations, which is clearly  motivated solely by its own unwholesome purposes.
       urges fellow Buddhists and members of other religions around the
world to join us in  condemning the SLORC for this serious abuse of freedom
and of religion.

Please write letters to:

(Retired) General Ne Win
1 Maykha (Ady) Rd.
Rangoon (Yangon)
BURMA (Myanmar)General Than Shwe 

Chairman of the SLORC 
Ministry of Defence
Rangoon (Yangon)
BURMA  (Myanmar)

Lt. Gen. Phone Myint, 
Minister for Home and Religious Affairs 
Kaba Aye
Rangoon (Yangon)
BURMA (Myanmar)

Ven. Dr. Walpola Sri Rahula Thera
Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of the Maha Sangha
Paramadhammacetiya Pirivena

The Supreme Patriarch of Thailand
His HolinessVen. Bhaddanta Nanasamvara
Wat Bovoranives Vihara
Banglumpoo, Bangkok 10200
Fax:  66-2-280-0343

His Holiness The Dalai Lama
Thekeheng Choeling 
McLeod Ganj 176219 
Dharamsala, H. P.

His Holiness Pope John Paul II
Apostolic Palace 
00120 Vatican City 
Fax:  39-698-5241

World Council of Churches
150 route de Ferney
P.O. Box 2100
1211 Geneva 2
Fax:  41-22-791-0361

Archbishop of Canterbury
Most Revd. and Rt. Hon. George L. Carey
Lambeth Palace
London, England SE1 7JU