An Irreverent Activist and His Year’s End Gift to Himself

POETRY FORMAT, 25 Dec 2017

Maung Zarni – TRANSCEND Media Service

‘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.’


A Buddhist humanist from Burma, Maung Zarni is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace Development Environment, former Visiting Lecturer with Harvard Medical School, specializing in racism and violence in Burma and Sri Lanka, and Non-resident Scholar in Genocide Studies with Documentation Center – Cambodia.  His analyses have appeared in leading newspapers including the New York Times, The Guardian and the Times. Among his academic publications on Rohingya genocide are The Slow-Burning Genocide of Myanmar’s Rohingyas (Pacific Rim Law and Policy Journal), An Evolution of Rohingya Persecution in Myanmar: From Strategic Embrace to Genocide, (Middle East Institute, American University), and Myanmar’s State-directed Persecution of Rohingyas and Other Muslims (Brown World Affairs Journal, forthcoming). He holds a PhD (U Wisconsin at Madison) and a MA (U California), and has held various teaching, research and visiting fellowships at the universities in Asia, Europe and USA including Oxford, LSE, UCL Institute of Education) , National-Louis, Malaya, and Brunei. He is the recipient of the “Cultivation of Harmony” award from the Parliament of the World’s Religions (2015).


This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 25 Dec 2017.

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One Response to “An Irreverent Activist and His Year’s End Gift to Himself”

  1. Gary Corseri. says:

    A beautiful statement of Zen-Buddhist thought (or should I say, non-thought?). Here is being and awareness of a kind too rarely encountered in our Western-dominated world.

    A great challenge for the world as it is developing now–as a “singularity” of convergences of genetics, nanotechnology, robotics, A.I., and virtual reality overwhelms our current frames of reference over the next 20 years or so–will be the need to harmonize such Buddhist-Zen awareness with the linear-analytical world that has taken us to the abyss of Now.

    Shall we soar over the Abyss? Shall we plunge and be lost? Questions to ponder–with thoughtfulness and non-thoughtfulness….