Turning the bowl over: when Buddhism takes sides. In Myanmar, recently monks took to the streets to protest. This alone is already an exceptional event, as monks should not be concerned with politics, but only with Dhamma, the Buddhist teaching. These days, however, much more is happening. Images of Buddhist monks overturning the offering bowl begin to circulate. This gesture, called patam nikkujjana kamma, is an incredibly strong signal in the Buddhist religion. It is worth more than any UN condemnation. The monastic regulation (Vinaya) provides that monks depend on donations from the lay population. Every morning in Myanmar, lines of monks can be seen wandering neatly through the villages. They hold a bowl in their hands, in which people put their food as a donation. In this way the monks maintain contact with the outside world, do not get distracted by dealing with ordinary matters (such as cooking), maintain a sense of humility, and allow people to perform an act of generosity that can help spiritually elevating themselves. According to Buddhism, an act of Dana (generosity), must be accompanied by Sila (morality) to be perfect. Generosity without morality, therefore practiced only for personal gain, does not produce any positive effect (positive Kamma).When a monk overturns the bowl, it means that he refuses the donation. This happens when the donor, in this case the army, does not have the necessary moral qualities to obtain merit from their donation. This is a very serious condemnation for the army. In Christian terms, it could be compared to a priest who refuses to give the Eucharist to a high state official. It is also an extremely rare event. In the 2500 year history of Buddhism this has happened very few times:the last in 2007, during the famous saffron revolution, in which many monks lost their lives to the Burmese army.

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