Sulak Sivaraksa – Thailand

Linked with Sulak Sivaraksa’s arrest raises free speech fears, and with Global problem-solving: A Buddhist perspective.

Sulak Sivaraksa is founder and director of the Thai NGO Sathirakoses-Nagapradeepa Foundation. Besides being the initator of a number of social, humanitarian, ecological and spiritual movements and organizations in Thailand, like the College SEM (Spirit in Education Movement) Sulak Sivaraksa is known in the West as one of the fathers of International Network of Engaged Buddhists INEB, which, in 1987 was established by leading Buddhists like the 14th Dalai Lama, the Vietnamese monk and peace-activist Thich Nhat Hanh and the Theravada Bhikkhu Maha Ghosananda. When Sulak Sivaraksa was awarded the Alternative Nobel Prize Right Livelihood Award he became known to a wider public in Europe and the USA. Sulak was chair of the Asian Cultural Forum on Development and has been a visiting professor at UC Berkeley, the University of Hawaii and Cornell … // … Sulak was a strong critic of deposed Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. He publicly accused Thaksin of adultery at rallies organized by the People’s Alliance for Democracy. However, he has never cited any evidence for his claims. During a protest on 26 February 2006, Sulak called Thaksin a pitifiul dog. Sulak’s comments were condemned by Somsri Hananantasuk, Chairperson of Amnesty International (Thailand), who said that such words could provoke violence. In 2007, he spoke out against proposals to declare Buddhism Thailand’s ‘national religion’ in the new constitution, arguing that to do so would exacerbate the existing conflict in southern Thailand … (full text).

Sulak Sivaraksa is the co-founder of the International Network of Engaged Buddhists and is counted with such luminaries as the Dalai Lama and Thich Nhat Hanh as one of the most important leaders of Engaged Buddhism. In Thailand S. Sivaraksa has established himself as an outspoken social critic, prolific author and a compelling speaker. His books in English include an autobiography, When Loyalty Demands Dissent‘and a book of essays titled Seeds of Peace. In Thailand his titles include, A Buddhist Vision for Renewing Society and Siam in Crisis. His most recent initiatives are Alternatives to Consumerism and the Spirit in Education Movement, both focused on offering alternatives to western cultural models. He is often called the father of Thai civil society … (full text).

Sulak Sivaraksa’s blog with his Bio.

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Sulak Sivaraksa – Thailand

Watch this video: Sulak Sivaraksa: Democracy in Thailand Speech 1/4, 5.02 min, Nov 24, 2008; and: Thailand’s best-known social critic arrested for royal insult, Nov 6, 2008.

His arrest in all languages:

… Mr Sulak was arrested at his home in Bangkok by Khon Kaen police on Thursday for making remarks deemed to constitute lese majeste during his speech to new students at Khon Kaen University on Dec 11 last year. The arrest warrant was issued in the northeastern province on Sept 22. Mr Sulak denied the charge after being taken to Khon Kaen for interrogation yesterday. Afterwards, the dean of the university’s law faculty, Kittibordee Yaipool, bailed him out. Lawyer Somchai Homla-or questioned the timing of the arrest as it took place after his client had criticised convicted former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra … (full text, Nov. 8, 2008).

(He became the Alternative Nobel Prize Right Livelihood Award) … for his vision, activism and spiritual commitment in the quest for a development process that is rooted in democracy, justice and cultural integrity (1995) …

He says also: We have more than enough programs, organisations, parties, and strategies in the world for the alleviation of suffering and injustice … Radical transformation of society requires personal and spiritual change first or at least simultaneously … People seeking to live spiritually must be concerned with their social and physical environment. (on Better World Links).

Find him and his publications on openDemocracy; on amazon; on his blog; on Google News-search (on 28.11.08 /concerning his arrest); on Google Video-search; on inauthor Google-search; on Google Book-search; on Google Scholar-search; on Google Group-search; on Google Blog-search.

… In particular, we strongly support the peaceful expressions of the loving-kindness and compassions for the Burmese society by the Buddhist monks across Burma. We also support their demands for the SPDC to offer their apologies to the monks:

  • To reduce all commodity prices, fuel prices, rice and cooking oil prices immediately,
  • To release all political prisoners including Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, and all detainees arrested in ongoing demonstrations over fuel price hike,
  • To enter into dialogue with democratic forces and ethnic nationalities for national reconciliation immediately, and
  • To resolve the crises and difficulties facing and suffering by the people,

… (full text).

He explains (about having no self): … The idea is to remind us that the so-called self is — something could be convenient, at the same time something could be great hindrance. See, my name is Sulak. I think it may be useful for you to refer to me as Sulak. But if I am attached to this name, I become so much involved with the name. When you say something nasty about the name Sulak, I become upset because I identify myself with that name — you see — are the same, you know. When you look at me, this is just a physical appearance. And sometimes you think that this is you. In fact, it’s an appearance — it consists of skin, bone, hair, head and so on, so forth — and we attach that to be you. In fact, it’s just an appearance. And sometimes you feel there is something inside, the so-called soul. But if you look deeply, there is no such thing as a soul either. So in Buddhism we are reminded everything could be useful, could be convenient and could be harmful if you are attached to it … (full interview text).

His Google download-books:

Three videos on Big PictureTV.

Sulak Sivaraksa in London, again, May 30th, 2007.

(Obviously his website and all videos on his blog have been closed) … But … Sulak Sivaraksa has a new blog to take his brand of commentary to an online audience. Made famous by his encounters with Thailand’s lese majeste laws in the 1980s and 1990s, Sulak has given his site the motto loyalty demands dissent. This is also the title of Sulak’s 1998 autobiography. (full text).

… The police say they are processing 32 cases of lese majeste – an unusually high number. (full text).

He is International advisory board member of the Karuna Center for Peacebilding.

… He has founded rural development projects as well as many non-governmental organizations dedicated to exploring alternative models of sustainable, traditionally-rooted, and ethically and spiritually-based development … Periodically, he has been persecuted for his social activism. In 1976, following a coup and the deaths of hundreds of students, he was forced to stay in exile for two years, during which time he was visiting Professor at Berkeley, Cornell and Toronto. In 1984, he was again forced to go into exile and not exonerated until his successful trial in 1993. Sivaraksa was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in both 1993 and 1994 … (full text).

… Sulak said he received a Special Branch police notice on Tuesday ordering him to stop printing, selling and disseminating the book “A Quarter of a Century of Thai Politics: A Thorn-filled Path”, published by Song Siam publishing house.He said the order claimed the book “may cause unrest and degrade good morals” in Thai society, a charge Sulak rejected. “I don’t know where and how many copies they have confiscated already.” He said the printing law cited in the police order dated from, the dictatorial era of 1941. “I also heard a rumour that they may come and arrest me,” said Sulak, who has twice been tried and acquitted on lese majeste charges. A source who asked not to be named said the whole affair was putting the Surayud administration in a negative light and may be part of a plan by some influential group seeking to undermine the interim government. (full text, Ocgt. 10, 2007).

He writes on THE POWER OF NON-VIOLENCE: If one must summarise Buddhism in one word, then it would be ahimsa or non-violence. In order to act non-violently, one must overcome the three poisons of the mind and sources of violence – greed, hatred, and delusion – through mindfulness and loving kindness. Non-violence does not mean inaction or omission. It requires continuous and active dialogue with others, and overcoming dualisms that pit “us” against “them”, human against subhuman. It is the recognition that, in Gandhi’s wise words, “An eye for an eye just makes the whole world blind.” Is it really greed for oil and power in the Middle East that is blinding Bush and Blair, with the disarmament of Iraq as the deceitful but easily refutable pretext for war? Is it hatred that enables them to render 23 million Iraqis, already facing a humanitarian crisis after ten years of economic sanctions, faceless and reduce them to one hated figure, Saddam Hussein? … (full text, 2003).

links:

The Sathirakoses Nagapradipa Foundation SNF is a legal body for five sister organisations: … Each function autonomously with its own board of directors, and with informal guidance from Ajarn Sulak when required. The board of SNF meets once a year to listen to reports from the sister organisations and discuss the policy of SNF and sister organisations. (Sulak Sivaraksa /Network):

More links:

No Muffling this Bold Old Man;

Idealist.org;

Monks push for Buddhism to be named Thailand’s religion;

Learn on wikipedia:

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