Friday, May 30, 2008

Mae Tao Clinic

The Mae Tao Clinic (MTC), founded and directed by Dr. Cynthia Maung, provides free health care for refugees, migrant workers, and other individuals who cross the border from Burma to Thailand. People of all ethnicities and religions are welcome at the Clinic. Its origins go back to the student pro-democracy movement in Burma in 1988 and the brutal repression by the Burmese regime of that movement. The fleeing students who needed medical attention were attended in a small house in Mae Sot... Read more...


Mae Tao Clinic is a well-established facility offering comprehensive health care services, which always benefits greatly from the generous support of volunteers. One of MTC’s main principles, and reasons for its successes, is an emphasis on sustainability. For this reason, MTC requires that volunteers be available for a minimum of six months, with the exception being English teachers, and public health workers, who must be available for a minimum of three months. A longer stay is encouraged for all volunteers.

The types of volunteers beneficial to MTC include: doctors, public health workers, laboratory technicians, pharmacists, epidemiologists, social workers, health managers, and English teachers.

If you are able to make the time commitment, we warmly welcome your application at: Please forward a copy of your CV, and an estimate of the length of time and dates that you would be available to MTC. If we have a volunteer placement for you, we will then request two letters of reference, a copy of your passport, and a copy of your medical license if applicable.

MTC is unable to offer any financial support or accommodations, but living in Mae Sot can be accomplished on a fairly small budget.

Read Tom Buckley's blog about his experience as a volunteer at Mae Tao Clinic

Mae Tao Clinic's Annual Reports

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Jihad on Horseback by Nabil Kassem

Two years ago, Al Arabiya producer Nabil Kassem was asked to put together a documentary film on Darfur. What he witnessed there, and recorded in this film, were scenes of unspeakable brutality and untold suffering, scenes he thought would surely wake up an Arab public all too willing to let Darfur pass by. But 'Jihad on Horseback' never made it across the airwaves. Watch part 1 of the film to see perhaps the most provocative Arab documentary ever made.

To watch the film: Jihad on Horseback Part 1
and Jihad on Horseback Part 2

MAY, 2007. Two years on, Nabil Kassem is still profoundly affected by his experiences in Sudan. Back in 2005, the documentary film maker was given the job of producing a $50,000 film for Al Arabiya about the crisis in Darfur. What he witnessed there, and recorded in his film, were scenes of unspeakable brutality and untold suffering, scenes he thought would surely wake up an Arab public all too willing to let Darfur pass by. But such was the indictment his film made on the Sudanese government and Arab Janjaweed militias, the final cut of Jihad on Horseback (Jihad ala Al Jiyad) never made it across the airwaves. In this highly charged interview with Co-Editor and Publisher Lawrence Pintak, Kassem speaks of how with the help of a telephone Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir prevented the broadcast of perhaps the most provocative documentary film ever made by an Arab director. Listen here.

Pintak: The documentary has been very controversial. Why is that? What is so controversial about covering Darfur for an Arab media outfit?

Kassem: I think it was the testimonies I got in Chad from the refugees. I found a woman holding a baby, she’d been raped. And the baby belonged to one of the Arabic attackers. She told me that this son’s father was from the Janjaweed. I found too many pregnant women who’d been raped from the Janjaweed.

Controversial—I don’t think it’s controversial. I think the Arab countries, especially the Sudanese, who are following the government now, they’re not ready to see the truth. What’s going on there—it is the truth. You know why? Because if you are an American, and two million of your people are sent away and thrown in the desert with no food and no water, I think there is a problem.

You have to feel. You have to see. You have to say no.

Most of the Arabic—Sudan is Arabic—they are living and denying what is going on in Sudan for the African tribals, and they are Sudanese also.

Pintak: What about Arabs, what about Arab governments and Arab media?

Kassem: They’re living in denial also. They don’t want to see. I think they thought the conflict is between the African and Arabs there in Darfur. I think they have to know that the conflict is between one people who hold one identity—all of them are Muslim—and sharing the same religion. The African tribes are Sudanese and they have their Sudanese identity and passports, and the Arab tribes they are also Sudanese.



Documentary by Brien Steidel: The Devil Came On Horseback

Darfur: Covering the "forgotten" story

No issue in Arab journalism today is more controversial than how the region's media cover Darfur. From Arab Media & Society.

By Lawrence Pintak for Arab Media & Society (25/05/07)

Not Iraq, where, according to a new report from the Arab Archives Institute, 52 Arab journalists have lost their lives since 2001; not Palestine, where journalists are caught between Israel and the Palestinians and between Fatah and Hamas; nor Lebanon, where reporters have been in the cross-hairs of rival factions and governments.

Darfur is a hot-button issue in the newsroom not because of the physical danger but because the issue bores right to the heart of the mission of Arab journalism and the self-identity of those who practice it.

That was vividly apparent at a one-day workshop on the crisis organized by the International Crisis Group and hosted by the Center for Electronic Journalism at The American University in Cairo in April this year and it was evident again, two weeks later, at the 2007 Arab Broadcast Forum, the annual gathering of Arab television executives.

The central issue: "The Arabs see the victims are not Arabs, and we don't care," Khaled Ewais, Al Arabiya's political producer, told the Cairo gathering, which brought together reporters and editors from across the Arab world. Fayez el Sheikh Saleik, Khartoum correspondent of Al-Hayat, concurred: "Sudan is a marginal country when it comes to the Arab region."

Darfur "not a popular topic" in the Arab world

Some pointed to an even more insidious issue: In other regional conflicts, Arabs are the victims. In Darfur, Arab militias are the perpetrators. That's not a popular topic.

"The media are directly responsible for this crisis," an angry representative of the Liberation Front of Darfur told those assembled in Cairo. While few of the journalists were willing to go quite that far, there was widespread acknowledgement that Darfur has been the biggest untold story of the Arab world. Read More...

Also read Five Years On - Apr 2008 Report from Human Rights Watch and
Letter to the United Nations Security Council from Justice for Darfur

Human Rights Watch

Save Darfur

Eyes on Darfur

Darfur Peace and Development

Q&A on Darfur Crisis from Human Rights Watch

Saturday, May 24, 2008


To see the world as a continual flux, to see its dynamic nature, its perpetual impermanence, should not seem to be so very difficult to people who are used to discriminate. Yet most of those who even scientifically accept universal impermanence make a double exception, thereby breaking down their own logic. First of all there are those who are firmly convinced of the impermanent nature of all things, but who maintain at the same time an underlying substance that unchangingly supports the ever-changing phenomena. Secondly there are those who place themselves outside the field of observation, thus imagining to judge the phenomena objectively, as if they were the only fixed point in this raging ocean of change.

Touching the Essence by Bhikkhu Dhammapa

Picture: Stilt fishing in Sri Lanka -

Thursday, May 22, 2008

I am a guilty bystander

Ordinary Burmese people are dying even as we speak,
Yet - the world watches in helplessness.


Picture by: BBC at

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


There is an interesting simile which illustrates the nature of a fetter.

If there is a white bull and a black bull tied together by a rope, the question is asked, whether the white bull is a fetter to the black bull or the black bull is a fetter to the white bull. In fact neither is a fetter to the other; the fetter is the rope by which they are tied together. Similarly the desire we have for external objects is the fetter that binds us.

Nibbana as Living Experience by Lily De Silva

Picture by: Rickydavid@Flickr

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

death and birth gate

A gate is both an exit gate and an entrance gate according to the standpoint of the observer. If he sees anyone coming out of it he regards it as an exit gate. But if some other observer sees the same man entering through that gate, to that observer it is an entrance gate, yet in both cases it was the same gate that was made use of.

According to Buddhism birth and death are merely communicating doors from one life to another, the continuous process of consciousness being the medium uniting the different lives of man. As Dahlke says, "“Dying is nothing but a backward view of birth, and birth is nothing but a forward view of death. In truth, both are the same, a phase of unbroken grasping.”"

For full article, goto: Rebirth by V.F. Gunaratna

Picture: All Rights Reserved ® aml.2007

Monday, May 19, 2008


Effect of death on body
Man is a psychophysical unit, a mind-body combination, (náma-rúpa). The body and the mind co-exist in a close association with each other, like the flower and its scent. The body is like the flower and the mind is like the scent, and death is merely the separation of these two co-existing items. When a man is on the point of dying, his body and mind (náma-rúpa) are weak. It may be that right up to the point of death he was strong in every way, but at the very point of death he is weak. This is because from the seventeenth thought-moment reckoned backwards from the point of death, no renewed physical functioning occurs. This is just like a motorist releasing the accelerator before stopping, so that no more pulling power is given to the engine. Similarly no more material qualities born of kamma (kammaja rúpa) arise, while those which have already come into being before the stage of that thought moment, will persist till the time of death-consciousness (cuti citta), and then they will cease. As there is no more renewal of material qualities the whole process becomes weaker and weaker. It is like the fading light of an oil lamp when no more oil is found.

When the mind-body combination ceases to exist as a combination, neither body nor mind is destroyed or annihilated. These combining parts continue separately without a break, their respective processes of changing from one condition or state to another, from moment to moment, although the two processes have now parted company. The bodily part (like old clothes once worn but now discarded by the owner) will start a separate process of change, a process of gradual decay (rúpaí jirati—the body decays), but there is no annihilation. Matter is energy and cannot be lost or destroyed. The constitutes of the body, as mentioned in an earlier chapter, will change into the elements that composed it, some into “air” as gases, some into “water” as fluids and others into “earth” as minerals. The elements too cannot be destroyed or lost but only their form will change. In this manner the process of change will persist so far as the bodily counterpart of man is concerned.

Effect of death on mind
Now what of the mental counterpart (náma)? The mental counterpart also, like the physical counterpart, continues without interruption its process of changing from one condition or state to another, though no more in association with its physical counterpart. Thought, like matter, is energy and cannot be destroyed or annihilated. We have learnt that the mind is not
anything permanent or fixed, that it is not a unity but is a series (santati) of thoughts one following the other with such a rapidity that it gives the illusion of permanency and fixity. Death is no interruption to the progress of this series and no bar to the continuity of this process. This principle of thought following thought does not end with death, because in the last thought-process before death, the terminal thought-moment, known as maraóásaññá javana citta (death-proximate mind), though weak by itself and unable to originate a thought, derives a great potency by reason of the appearance of one of three powerful thought-objects that enter the threshold of the dying mind.

These thought-objects the dying man is powerless to resist. These powerful thought-objects are certain death signs and will be explained later. Thus the dying mind, although it lacks the power to originate a thought, gets a powerful push or drive by reason of the appearance of one of these three powerful thought-objects or death signs, and is thereby able to cause another thought to arise. This succeeding thought is paþisandhi viññáóa (rebirth consciousness or re-linking consciousness). Where it arises and how will be considered later.

For full article, goto: Rebirth by V.F. Gunaratna

Picture from: Human Anatomy Posters

Sunday, May 18, 2008


"Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life."

- Hermann Hesse, Wandering

To see photo essay on trees by Stuart Franklin, go to: In The Time of Trees

Friday, May 16, 2008

Burma cyclone devastation

A group of volunteers from around the world trying to help the victims of Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar raising:

(1) awareness of the plight of victims in the worst hit areas;
(2) funds to help bring water purification tablets, rice and other basic supplies.

They are in contact with people on the ground helping the victims. Help us help them!

Blog site: Moe Gyo - meaning thunder in Myanmar, reflects the speed of which help is needed in Myanmar in aftermath of recent catastrophic Cyclone Nargis.

BBC Forum: How should the world respond?

Picture: BBC

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Top 10 Most Under-reported Humanitarian Stories

Humanitarian Aid Restricted in Burma

Isolated from the outside world since the ruling military junta came to power in 1962, the people of Myanmar (formerly named Burma) suffer from the consequences of repression and neglect.

The crackdown on monks marching for democracy in September brought international attention to this long-suffering population, but it did not expose what ordinary Burmese go through every day. Faced with high malaria and HIV rates, the impoverished population is provided with little assistance—only 1.4 percent of the regime's budget supports health-care services.

In spite of the overwhelming need, there are few humanitarian aid groups working in the country and, for those on the ground, operating in an independent and impartial manner is difficult. Moreover, donor governments and agencies are reluctant to fund programs that might support the regime. Travel inside the country can require time-consuming visas, which can make responding to emergencies impossible and needs assessments challenging. In some regions, such as those gripped by armed conflict involving Karen and Mon rebels along the eastern border with Thailand, government restrictions have stymied humanitarian aid efforts, including MSF's.

Some of the largest gaps in health services are in the western Rakhine state, where MSF treated 210,000 people for malaria in 2006. Muslims from Rakhine state, known as Rohingyas, live in particularly precarious circumstances. Denied citizenship rights by the state, this group suffers numerous forms of abuse. MSF provides basic medical care and HIV/AIDS treatment to Rohingyas.

The slow response to the country's HIV/AIDS epidemic has fueled the spread of the disease. In Yangon, Rakhine, Kachin, and Shan states, MSF offers comprehensive HIV/AIDS programs, but these meet just a fraction of the need. While there is little independent information to shed light on the number of Burmese in clinical need of life-prolonging antiretroviral (ARV) treatment, of the UN-estimated 360,000 people who are living with HIV, only 10,000 are believed to be receiving ARVs. MSF provides ARV therapy to 8,000 of them. And even fewer have access to care for complicating diseases like tuberculosis. As a result, the UN estimates that 20,000 people die annually from HIV/AIDS.

Displaced Fleeing War in Somalia Face Humanitarian Crisis

As violence in Somalia escalated this year to some of the worst levels in over 15 years, both assistance for and attention to one of the most challenging and acute humanitarian situations in the world seemed to wane. Ethiopian troops and Transitional Federal Government forces, supported by international partners such as the United States and the European Union, clashed with a range of armed groups, including remnants of the Islamic Courts Union. The fighting caused an unknown number of civilian casualties and the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people from the capital, Mogadishu.......

Read more here: Most Under-reported Humanitarian Stories of 2007 by Doctors Without Borders

Picture by: Doctorw Without Borders

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

realm of knowledge

"O son of a noble family, in the Bodhisattvas' realm of knowledge, there is no place for speculations about the aeons; therein will not be experienced or known either long duration of Samsara or short duration of Samsara; nor will there be experienced or known either depravity of aeons or purity of aeons, or smallness of aeons or greatness of aeons, or multitude of aeons or diversity of aeons, or variety of aeons. For what reason is that so? Because, O son of a noble family, the Bodhisattva's realm of knowledge is pure in its very nature, is free from all the trammels of ideation, is beyond all the mountains of veiling obstructions. This knowledge arises in the pure intention of the Bodhisattvas and sheds its radiance on all the beings who will in time be led to spiritual maturity by different means according to their different dispositions.

In the same way, O son of a noble family, as in the disk of the sun the distinction of day and night cannot be found, nor does it reside there, but when the sun has set, night is known and experienced, and when the sun has risen, day is known and experienced - so also, O son of a noble family, in the Bodhisattvas' realm of knowledge (which is like unto the disk of the sun and) which knows not of ratiocination, one cannot find any thought constructions as to the aeons, nor can one find there any ideas about lives in this world, or about any paths (that one might walk). On the contrary, it is due to the fact that it takes time until all the beings have attained to spiritual maturity (ie, Buddhahood) that in the ratiocinationless realm of knowledge, ideas and calculations as to lives in the aeons, and as to the world in general, are found."

Samantabhadracaryapranidhana, Gandavyuha

Taken from: Tibetan Buddhism in Western Perspective by Herbert V. Guenther

Death of a Pioneer

Picture by: postpurchase@Flickr

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Everest Peace Project

Filmed on location in Nepal, Tibet, Israel, Palestine, Jordan, U.A.E, and the United States, the film chronicles the spectacular journey of 9 'peace climbers' from different faiths and cultures as they climb to the summit of the tallest mountain in the world. The focus is on Palestinian Ali Bushnaq and Israeli's Dudu Yifrah and Micha Yaniv. They come together and set aside their differences to forge a path of teamwork and cooperation to attempt to summit the world’s highest peak. This however, is easier said than done. Their nations have been embroiled in a brutal war for years; each believes they are on the right side of that war and each knows that on Everest the cooperation of your teammate is a matter of life and death.

"If I have done my job as a filmmaker - and I believe that I have - then people can expect to be educated, moved, and inspired by what they see on screen. I believe that it is through actions of peace that peace is spread, and I truly hope that this film will inspire people to create and accomplish their own actions across the globe." Lance Trumbull

Everest Peace Project Official Site

Saturday, May 10, 2008


“It’s more difficult to get publications to focus on issues that are more critical, that do not provide people with an escape from reality but attempt to get them deeper into reality. To be concerned about something much greater than themselves. And I think people are concerned. I think quite often, publishers don’t give their audience enough credit for that.

In fact, at the end of the day, I believe people do want to know when there’s some major tragedy going on; when there’s some unacceptable situation happening in this world. And they want something done about it. That’s what I believe. We must look at it. We’re required to look at it. We’re required to do what we can about it. If we don’t, who will?”

James Nachtwey

Read more: Could YOU be a war photographer?

The Face of War in a Child

The Face of War in a Child: Mark Brecke's photography and the crisis in Darfur

With a web address of, one is not quite sure what to expect. And at first glance of the home page, it becomes readily apparent that Mark Brecke is no wedding photographer. Amidst the soothing green background and the innocent script font is a black and white photo that tells the story of millions, a story of despair – complete and utter loss. Gazes are lowered, heads rest in hands as mothers wonder what to do, where to go, what is happening. Your eyes move to the children in the picture. You want to help, hug, tell them all it will be ok.

“Children are the hardest to see – the face of war in a child reads so different…” Mark softly says of the complex crisis in Darfur. From October to December 2004 Brecke lived in refugee camps on the eastern border of Chad, and for five of those weeks traveled the broken country of Sudan with members of the Sudanese Liberation Army (SLA), one of two rebel groups fighting the government-backed militia known as the Janjaweed. Armed only with a messenger bag containing a change of clothes, camera, first aid kit, bubbles, and a few pieces of paper quite resembling US twenty dollar bills, Mark lived, breathed and documented yet another war.

Read full article here:
The Face of War in a Child

Mark Brecke's Website

Friday, May 09, 2008

solitary obsession

Monet's solitary obsession:
"I am chasing a dream. I want the unattainable. Other artists paint a bridge, a house, a boat and that's the end. They've finished. I want to paint the air which surrounds the bridge, the house, the boat: the beauty of the air in which these objects are located, and that is nothing short of impossible. If only I could satisfy myself with what is possible!"

Picture: aml2007 ® All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, May 07, 2008



(An English translation):

As flowers are brilliant but inevitably fall,
who could remain constant in our world?

Today let us transcend the high mountain of transience,
and there will be no more shallow dreaming, no more drunkenness.

(An alternative English translation by Professor Ryuichi Abe):

Although its scent still lingers on
the form of a flower has scattered away

For whom will the glory
of this world remain unchanged?

Arriving today at the yonder side
of the deep mountains of evanescent existence

We shall never allow ourselves to drift away
intoxicated, in the world of shallow dreams.

Iroha from Wiki

Picture: aml2008 ® All Rights Reserved

Saturday, May 03, 2008

rude awakenings

The book finally arrives from Amazon...

"No one walks around the Buddhist holy land. Not today. They go by bus between the holy sites. And with good reason. But wildlife ecologist Nick Scott and Buddhist monk Ajahn Sucitto decide to do just that: to walk for six months and for over one thousand miles, sleeping out at night and living on alms food, just as Buddha would have done."

"Their journey takes us from the place of the Buddha's birth in Lumbini to the site of his enlightenment in Bodh Gaya. But to say where they went says little about the core of their experience of pilgrimage. For theirs is a journey into the heart of the human condition, a condition displayed in all its beauty and horror, compassion and violence, simplicity and complexity in the impoverished parts of India and Nepal through which they lead us. And it is a journey into themselves, a test, at times severe, of their commitment to what the Buddha taught."

Stephen Batcherlor in the Foreword

Rude Awakenings - Two Englishmen on Foot in Buddhism's Holy Land

Forest Sangha

Thursday, May 01, 2008

skillful practice

Once a mother and her child went to catch fish. Both of them were groping in the mud looking for fish when the child unknowingly grasped a snake and raised it up to show his mother. His mother knew the danger, but her mindfulness was equal to the situation so she said to the child, “That’s a fine fish, keep hold of it tightly and don’t let go. I will come to help you.” So the child held the neck of the snake tightly. As soon as his mother reached him, she hit the snake and killed it. Then she told her child: “That was not a fish, but a poisonous snake. If I had told you that before, you might have been afraid and let go of it. Then it would have turned and bitten you. So I had to use this method.”

This story is an allegory for people who practise Dhamma. In other words, if you merely read a lot of books on Dhamma, then you will try to jump from attã to anattã and end up not believing anything until you have no principles to hold on to. You must hold on to and use attã (self) while you are practising Dhamma through successively higher levels, in the same way that you take hold of a ladder and use it to go up step by step. As you pass each step, you leave it behind. You do not hold on to that rung and try to carry it with you. In that way, you climb up until you reach the room upstairs where you want to go. Then you leave the ladder behind without trying to hold on to it. You simply enter the room to rest and relax happily. This is the way with anicca, dukkha and anattã — ultimately you discard them. But you cannot discard them to begin with, because you
must depend on them as the means to go up step by step, discarding each successive step along the way until you are able to discard the lot, holding nothing.

Acharn Maha Boowa

Picture by: nealmueller@Flickr