Saturday, February 25, 2012

CAMBODIAN MONK BRINGS HIS ACTIVISM TO MONTREAL'S KHMER COMMUNITY

“The more they stop me, the more I am strong and stand up. Again and again, more and more,” he said.
On Saturday, Sovath called on Canadians to support land activists and victims, not just with donations, but also through advocacy and petitions to the Canadian government. Sovath’s message of peaceful action resounded through the audience.
“Before, when I was small, I wanted to do something, but I was too scared and I felt alone, so I was discouraged and I lost hope,” said Sarom Om, a Khmer Canadian living in Montreal for 29 years. “If we see someone who stands up, who has confidence, that will help people who want to stand up and help and it will continue like that.”

REPORTED BY

Cambodian monk and human rights activist Venerable Loun Sovath speaks to the Khmer Canadian community at Wat Buddha Sodhara in Montreal. Photo by Heather Stilwell.

REPORTED ON


February 25, 2012
Long ago in the foothills of the Himalayas, a young Prince Siddhartha left the safety of his palace and set off on a journey to overcome suffering. Upon realizing that the root of all suffering was greed, the newly enlightened Buddha dedicated his life to teaching compassion and sympathy to others.
More than 2,500 years later, a Cambodian monk is adding a modern twist to a journey of his own.
Venerable Loun Sovath maintains that Buddhism, human rights, and democracy are intertwined philosophies. He is an outspoken activist, documentary filmmaker, and poet – and earlier this month he boarded a plane to deliver his message of peace to Canada.
“It is very difficult working for human rights and democracy in Cambodia,” said Sovath in Montreal. “I came here because I want Khmer people in solidarity to help each other.”
Sovath is well known among Khmer Canadians, many of whom left Cambodia as early as 1975 to escape the brutal Khmer Rouge regime. Last Saturday at Wat Buddha Sodhara in Saint Laurent, Sovath spoke to Montrealers about Buddhism, human rights issues in Cambodia, and a monk’s role in fighting injustice.
“I’ve never ever seen such an inspirational speech like this,” said event organizer Samnang Chuop. “People can listen to him talk for hours and hours.”


Sovath spoke in particular about corporate land acquisitions and violent forced evictions in Cambodia - an escalating problem as the country rapidly develops.
Few Cambodians have official titles for their land, a legacy of the Khmer Rouge who outlawed land ownership in 1975. As a result, land disputes are common and often result in evictions to make way for urban development or agro-business.
While some of the evicted are compensated, rights groups like Amnesty International continue to document violent evictions and the detainment of protestors, often women and children. On Jan. 26, Cambodian human rights organization LICADHO reported at least five incidents in which armed forces opened fire during protests in the two months prior.
Sovath became personally invested in the land issue after police shot and injured both his brother and nephew during a land dispute in Chi Kreng community, Siem Reap Province in 2009. Four days later he had already produced a documentary on the issue and was using it “to educate the people to know the power of themselves.”
Though his activism is peaceful, Sovath continues to be threatened by government and police officials. Even high-ranking religious officials claim he is violating the monastic code. He is banned from all pagodas and is in danger of being defrocked. Still, Sovath continues his work tirelessly.
“The more they stop me, the more I am strong and stand up. Again and again, more and more,” he said.
On Saturday, Sovath called on Canadians to support land activists and victims, not just with donations, but also through advocacy and petitions to the Canadian government. Sovath’s message of peaceful action resounded through the audience.
“Before, when I was small, I wanted to do something, but I was too scared and I felt alone, so I was discouraged and I lost hope,” said Sarom Om, a Khmer Canadian living in Montreal for 29 years. “If we see someone who stands up, who has confidence, that will help people who want to stand up and help and it will continue like that.”
“I’ve lived in Canada 20 years. I love this country,” said Sok Siven. “I want my Cambodia, my Khmer people, to have a life like me in Canada also.”
Sovath’s Canadian trip will include stays in Montreal, Toronto, Calgary and Ottawa.

6 comments:

  1. Dear friends,

    after trying to explain you the different between selfish motivation, affected motivation, attached motivation and that what the Buddha had taught (Right Intention), after trying to explain the way out of suffering and the wrong way that leads to more harm so many times, I am now sure to give my self the certificate of being a very silly person.

    Trying to speak about faith, to one without faith is wasted time and silly. Trying to speak about virtue to one without virtue is wasted time and silly. Tying to speak about higher knowledge to somebody without knowledge is wasted time and silly. Trying to speak about generosity to a greedy person is wasted time and silly. Trying to speak with a fool about wisdom is wasted time and silly.

    Therefor I need to give my self the certificate of being the greatest fool, greater as a fool could be.

    May those with ears and eyes come in contact with the good teaching of the Buddha and realize the way to happiness for them self.

    _()_

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  2. Dear Hannzze;

    It seems you have positioned yourself higher than Lord Buddha. You regards others as fool while your self-conceited attachment is the incredible fool.

    Enlightened Buddha distinguished human beings into 4 groups without prejudice on them...but your statement above is not the Buddha's way and it sounds so prejudice.

    A wise one will not state like yours, I assure.

    With Metta,

    Dhammaduta

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  3. Dear knight Dhammadutta,

    that you see how fool I am I replay one more time. Look people attached to their views are not able to read what is written. They just see their prejudice.

    I wrote that I am the biggest fool and you interpret that I put my self higher as the Buddha.
    That is very normal that people are attached to their views and to think that one would be able to change that is the thought of a fool.

    I had just reflected how fool I am and you are right if you say a wise one would not do so. Yes a fool is not a wise one. But even somebody declares him self as a fool the ordinary man takes it personal, not reading what is written or told.

    So even this statement is the statement of a fool.

    Its like if there is a dog with a wound. The fool out of compassion, but without wisdom (actually its just pity not compassion) likes to help the dog. But the dog is caught in his view. He was beaten all the time so he scares everything and his wound hurts. If you touch the wound to get it healed, to clean it from dirt, the dog out of his prejudice will bite.
    Why is that so? Because he is caught in his feelings caused by prejudice. If he would be able to hold on a little, look what is really going on, reflect on if he gains something beneficial for him self, he would overcome his fear and anger and would not bit.
    But if there is no trust and there is a traumatic situation the dog would even bit those who care about.

    For the dog the reaction is naturally according to his awareness and understanding. So it would be wrong to say that the dog acts like a fool, he just acts in line with his understanding. But the one who knows how a traumatized dog normally acts is a fool if he goes on to help the dog.

    So there are just two wise possibilities. One let go of the dog, as he is not able to help or he just waits till the pain of the dog is so big that he would have even lost the interest to bit and seeks for any possible help.

    I am sure you would not understand the message again, but maybe there are some with lesser dust in the eyes and can learn for them self's out of this lesson.

    _()_

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  4. Regarding your opinion that this was not what the Buddha taught:
    Dukkathàsutta Unpleasant talk

    Bhikkhus, five kinds of talks are unpleasant varying from person to person. What five?

    Bhikkhus, a talk on faith is unpleasant to one without faith,. a talk on virtues is unpleasant to an unvirtuous, a talk on learnedness is unpleasant to one without learning, a talk on benevolence is unpleasant to a miser, a talk on wisdom is unpleasant to a stupid.

    Bhikkhus, why is a talk on faith unpleasant to one without faith?

    Bhikkhus, one without faith hearing a talk on faith becomes ill tempered, angry, retorts angrily and shows aversion. What is the reason? He does not see the attainment of faith in him and does not experience joy and delight on account of faith. Therefore to one without faith a talk on faith is unpleasant.

    Bhikkhus, why is a talk on virtues unpleasant to an unvirtuous?

    Bhikkhus, an unvirtuous one hearing a talk on virtues becomes ill tempered, angry, retorts angrily and shows aversion. What is the reason? He does not see the attainment of virtues in him and does not experience joy and delight on account of virtues. Therefore to one without virtues a talk on virtues is unpleasant.

    Bhikkhus, why is a talk on learnedness unpleasant to one without learning?

    Bhikkhus, one without learning hearing a talk on learning becomes ill tempered, angry, retorts angrily and shows aversion. What is the reason? He does not see the attainment of learning in him and does not experience joy and delight on account of learnedness. Therefore to one without learnedness a talk on learnedness is unpleasant.

    Bhikkhus, why is a talk on benevolence unpleasant to a miser?

    Bhikkhus, a miser hearing a talk on benevolence becomes ill tempered, angry, retorts angrily and shows aversion. What is the reason? He does not see the attainment of benevolence in him and does not experience joy and delight on account of benevolence. Therefore to a miser a talk on benevolence is unpleasant.

    Bhikkhus, why is a talk on wisdom unpleasant to a stupid?

    Bhikkhus, a stupid one hearing a talk on wisdom becomes ill tempered, angry, retorts angrily and shows aversion. What is the reason? He does not see the attainment of wisdom in him and does not experience joy and delight on account of wisdom. Therefore to a stupid a talk on wisdom is unpleasant.

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  5. And to understand what I had told here in a Cambodian cultural context here the story "Mahā Īsī Proh Khlā"

    The Great Hermit Saves the Tiger’s Life


    Once a tiger was sleeping in front of a snake’s hole, The snake came out, bit and killed the tiger. Meanwhile a great hermit out on a journey happened to wander past that place. Because his heart was so kind, he revived the tiger back to life.

    The tiger, whom the great hermit had cured, said, “I was well and fast asleep. Why do you awaken me? Because of that I need to eat you.”
    The great hermit replied: “You had been sleeping in front of a snake’s hole, and the snake bit you and you died. I have restored your life. Why do you want to eat me?”

    The tiger and the great hermit had a dispute with each other. Hence they asked the jackal for help. The tiger and the great hermit explained what the dispute was. The jackal thought: “If I judge that the tiger loses the case, I won’t be able to depend on his power in this forest anymore.” That the jackal judged the case like this was due to his bias caused by love or desire (chandāgati).

    The great hermit did not accept this resolution. Then they found a cow judge and told him what happened. The cow judge reckoned that, “If I do not help the tiger, he will hate me and eat me.” So the cow helped the tiger to win. His judgment was biased by fear (bhayāgati).
    Then the great hermit asked a monkey for help. The monkey thought: “In the past, a man had fallen into the well and my father helped him; however that crafty man ate my father.” The monkey’s judgment was clouded by hatred or enmity (dosāgati).

    The fourth judge was a buzzard. He thought to himself, “Currently I often get my food from the remains of a tiger’s meal. If I decide against the tiger, he will be angry with me. How will I be able to get my food from him?” The buzzard’s judgment was biased by his greed or desire (lophāgati).

    The great hermit disagreed again and he went to a tree spirit who thought, “People walking in the forest and taking shelter always break and cut off the leaves.” So the tree spirit judged in favor of the tiger. His judgment was biased by delusion or stupidity (Mohāgati).
    But the great hermit did not accept this judgment. He asked Judge Rabbit for help and explained what happened again to the rabbit. The great hermit said, “This tiger who was sleeping in front of the snake’s hole was killed by the snake’s bite. I returned him to life by using my magic charm. However he is ungrateful. Now he wants to eat me anyway. Please, sir, consider this case and help me.”

    The tiger explained: “While I was comfortably sleeping, the great hermit awakens me. Consequently I am tempted to eat him. He did not accept this. He asked the jackal, the cow, the monkey, the buzzard and the tree spirit for help; and all these judges decided for me. Please help me.”

    Hearing the great hermit’s and the tiger’s explanations, Judge Rabbit considered them, relying on his intelligence. He gave the following order: “Let the great hermit and Brother Tiger go back to where this incident happened, and I will judge it again.” They also agreed and went back there.

    When the great hermit and the tiger approached that place, the tiger went to sleep on the snake’s hole again. After a while the snake came out, bit the tiger who then died. Then Judge Rabbit advised the great hermit, “Please look at that tiger. Due to his ingratitude he has died of his own accord. From now on, don’t be so generous to a tiger.” This judgment of Judge Rabbit was based upon his independent, fair and honest way of thinking.



    May you clean your eyes for your self and my I start as well.

    _()_

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  6. អង្គការលើដែលជាក្រុមឃាដករជីវិតខ្មែរប្រមាណបី
    លាននាក់បានបន្សល់ទុកនៅផ្លែផ្កាគឺរាជនិងរដ្ឋ​អំណាចខ្មែរសព្វថ្ងៃនេះ។

    អាស្រ៍យហេតុដូច្នេះហើយទើបបានជាសាលាក្តី
    ខ្មែរក្រហមត្រូវបានពួកវារំខានយកជើងរាទឹក
    គ្រប់ពេលដើម្បីលាក់ការពិតលាក់ឈ្មោះ លាក់មុខមាត់ក្រុមពួកវាដែលជាឃាដករ ប្រឆាំងមនុស្សជាតិ។

    ដើម្បីសង្រ្គោះជាតិខ្មែរឲ្យរុងរឿងមានយុត្តិធម៌ បានសុខសន្តិភាពពិតប្រាកដ គឺត្រូវតែមានអគ្គមគ្គុទេសខ្មែរថ្មី ដែលដុះចេញអំពីខ្មែររងគ្រោះគឺផ្ទុយអំពី រាជនិងរដ្ឋអំណាចសព្វថ្ងៃដែលដុះចេញអំពី អង្គការលើខ្មែរក្រហម។

    ប៉ារីស៍ព្រឹកថ្ងៃទី២៨កុម្ភៈ២០១២
    អក្សរភាសាខ្មែរ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

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