POETRY FORMAT, 26 Dec 2016

Maung Zarni – TRANSCEND Media Service

I wrote this poem as a holiday season’s gift to myself.  Xmas Day, 2016

I can’t be taken down.
For my feet have always been firmly on the ground.

My career can’t be destroyed.
For I have never pursued one.

My image can’t be tarnished.
For it has never been manufactured.

I am unafraid to fall.
For I have never attempted to climb.

I can’t be ostracised.
For I seek no external acceptance.

I am not given into applauses or flattery. .
For I know I am always less than the person that is being lauded or flattered.

I don’t hold on to anything, applauses or condemnations, achievements
or failures.

Nothing belongs to me.
And I am nothing beyond my present deeds.
For Nothingness reigns supreme inside.

I have no soul to corrupt;
nor is there a “core” to hold up as “incorruptible”.

I am only a stream of deeds and thoughts held together by memory.
Nothing lasts.
Not even that memory.

No regrets nor jubilations.

I too will pass
like another dust on this earth.


Dr. Maung Zarni is a Burmese activist blogger, Associate Fellow at the University of Malaya, a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace, Development and Environment, founder and director of the Free Burma Coalition (1995-2004), a visiting fellow (2011-13) at the Civil Society and Human Security Research Unit, London School of Economics, and a nonresident scholar with the Sleuk Rith Institute in Cambodia. His forthcoming book on Burma will be published by Yale University Press. He was educated in the US where he lived and worked for 17 years.


This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 26 Dec 2016.

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One Response to “Realities”

  1. Gary Corseri says:

    In my early 20s, I had a kind of revelation. Nothing earth-shaking, nothing mystical; merely a guide to keep myself out of the rat-traps of conventional thinking and hand-me-down “wisdom.” I wrote it in my journal: “I must learn to think in opposites.”

    The idea was to posit an opposite thought, a very different way of thinking, to what was generally accepted–even to ideas I had come to take for granted as eternal truths! I did not have to accept the opposite thought as “Gospel,” but I did “wrestle with the angel” of it. (A kind of Hegelian dialectic: thesis-antithesis-synthesis.)

    In his poem “Realities,” Dr. Maung Zarni walks us thru the process of “thinking in opposites”–proposes the Yin for every Yang, the Yang for every Yin, and shows us the Tao (the Way) for proceeding. And he does it “poetically,” making the process more entertaining and more memorable.

    Besides illuminating the process (bearing some resemblance to Johan Galtung’s process of dialoguing with one’s adversaries!) there are Dr. Zarni’s various “messages” to contemplate, perhaps dispute:

    “I am only a stream of deeds and thoughts held together by memory.
    Nothing lasts.
    Not even that memory.”

    We hope some things do last–even if they are fleeting in our moment in time! The cave paintings in Lascaux are estimated to be 10s of thousands of years old. Art may endure long after the perfidious deeds of politicians. Buddhists speak of Akashic Records where all deeds, all thoughts, in fact, everything that has ever occurred in the Cosmos, is recorded. Perhaps….Perhaps….