Blog (20 Oct 2007)

Thoughts on Burma and Pakistan

Just as I was mulling over what to write about the junta’s crackdown of peaceful protests in Burma / Myanmar that occurred last month, another grave, international incident!

The terrorist attacks were a clear attempt to assassinate Benazir Bhutto hours after her return from extended exile and proves that the situation in Pakistan is in danger of seriously spinning out of control. The man supposedly in power, Gen. Musharraf, has already shown his incapacity to protect his allies, and now this.

We can only hope that the people in positions of power (“the high mountains”) are able to use this tragedy to unite the people of Pakistan and resist the architects of chaos who wish to undermine unity and order in Pakistan. The earlier Musharraf relinquishes either the presidency or his position as the head general of the Pakistan army, the better. But does he have will and courage to do so? The rest of the world is certainly watching, with great trepidation, on what the near future holds for this nation that certainly deserves more from their leaders.

But to the situation in Burma / Myanmar: I have been watching the events unfold in this oppressed nation with deep concern, for I had the opportunity to do some interpretation for a couple of gentlemen from Burma / Myanmar in May and early September. (As there is no one at the Overseas Department that can interpret Burmese, the task falls to English interpreters.)

I remember how the first gentleman, who was taking the Head Minister’s Qualification Course, spilled his soul in broken English to his discussion group (mostly composed of Japanese classmates) on his experience in the Myanmar army fighting insurgents on the “borderlands” and how he never wanted to kill again.

I remember how the eyes of the second gentleman lit up when the minister who officiated his Besseki pledge mentioned the name of Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi. I could only imagine what this softspoken man had been through but could perceive his silent, overwhelming desire to make his country a better place.

I wonder now about the fate of these two gentlemen and the small Tenrikyo community in Burma / Myanmar that is facing a knot of grand proportions that most followers in this generation will never have to face. Are they safe? Were they swept away by the unrelenting and merciless current of history?

I read recently that Miki Nakayama — Founder of Tenrikyo, known as “Oyasama” or “beloved Parent” to her adherents — taught Tenrikyo as a path to reform humanity itself, for attempts at social, political, economic reform do not always effectively deal with the real source of the world’s problems.

Yet today, in the 170th year since Tenrikyo began, the path is still quite powerless and seems incapable of even making many of its own followers happy, let alone the entire world, which was Oyasama’s motivation during the 50 years in which she walked the earth as the living “Shrine of God the Parent.”

The world is never short of countries in danger or in the midst of collapse: Myanmar, Pakistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Sudan, and North Korea are only a few examples of such nations. Even the most prosperous nations in the world cannot adequately fulfill the needs of every man, woman, and child within its borders.

Where do Tenrikyo followers go from here? Isn’t there more we could do in this world?

As I ponder these questions I can only hope—and pray—that something good will come out of the grave circumstances in which the people of Burma—and Pakistan—find themselves in today.


*Note: Although I may work for Tenrikyo Church Headquarters, the content of this blog is the responsibility of mine alone and does not necessarily reflect or represent the opinions or stance of my employer.

Links to Tenrikyo Resource Wiki pages added on May 29, 2014.