Wednesday, 28 March 2018

The power of Anicca, Dukkha, and Anatta.... not even worth empires!


The Irrawaddy's obituary of Ne Win, the dictator who plunged Burma into military rule in 1962, notes the following detail:

"U Ne Win was alone in his residence and U Chit Hlaing and U Tin Aung Hein wanted to bring up the current state of political affairs in the country but were unable to do so since U Ne Win did not want to discuss anything related to politics. They politely listened to the former dictator as he spoke about religion and Buddhism.

They were surprised when U Ne Win confessed that he would not have staged the coup in 1962 if he had studied Buddhism and meditation earlier in life. Ne Win elaborated further if he had known Anicca, Dukkha and Anatta—the three Dharma aspects of life—at the time, he would not have seized power."


To many Westerners, it may seem something of a contradiction to go from the highest echelons of power to a life of voluntary simplicity and poverty. However, for over a thousand years of Burmese history as our reference, it is not uncommon. Not only did past kings go in and out of monkhood before or after their rule, but even within the last century, some Burmese heads of state have as well.