During my fifty plus years of engagement in Thailand, I have spent time with many brave people ranging from Colonel Chang of the Thai Communist Suppression Organization to Kru Oh, the indefatigable lady educator, who guides our English teachers through the difficulties of directing our educational program in the remote village of Baan Ta Klang. A recent article by Jeffrey Sng in Nikkei Asia entitled Thailand’s Octogenarian Intellectual Rages On provided a wonderful biography of the Buddhist non-violent activist, Sulak Sivaraksa who stands above others in his bravery. Shown below, the 88 year-old Buddhist monk and renowned non-violent advocate of individual freedoms, does not know any boundaries regarding his views.
Sulak was born in 1932 which was the year a political revolution resulted in abandoning the monarchy and creating the constitutional monarchy of Thailand which remains in place today. He is shown below in his military uniform when he attended a Roman Catholic boy’s school. The Thai people are partial to military costumes which might be the result of the many years of military governments. Sulak was ordained a junior monk at age 12 and has remained an ardent Buddhist leader for the remainder of his life.
In 1963, Sulak became the founding director of The Social Science Review which was Thailand’s first intellectual journal. The journal led in the development of “Socially Engaged Buddhism” which resulted in the overthrow of a military dictatorship in 1973. Sulak puts “his money where his mouth is” when advocating the principles of democracy. As shown below, he is being arrested one of the four times he has been charged with lesse majeste or offending the monarchy. Ironically, his walking stick is the one used by Pridi Phanomyoung, co-author of the 1932 Thai constitution, which stripped the monarchy of absolute power.
Engaged Buddhism has served as a foundation to unseat each of the overthrown governments since 1973 with the objective of the establishment of a true democracy. Sulak has played a role in each of them which I have witnessed either on the ground or on television. The one shown below in front of a cartoon image of Thaksin Shinawatra was structured to overthrow Thaksin’s freely-elected government as he could not keep his hands out of the country’s coffers.
The spiritual leader can speak most anywhere and draw a crowd. As you can see below, his manner of dress and the ever-present walking stick are always the same though the head gear can vary.
Clearly, Sulak is supportive of the students seeking to overthrow the current government of Prime Minister Prayut. Prayut is unwilling to leave his military coup government that has rigged elections to create the illusion of having formed a democratically elected government. The student demonstrations have waned a bit due to the resurgence of the pandemic in Thailand. However, as shown below, the Thai police are clearly not winning the hearts and minds of the people.
Well, this octogenarian “Enlightened Monk” is on course to create a nirvana whereby the people can freely elect a government to fairly manage and represent the interests of the people. Sulak has reached an age where he is largely indifferent to what can be done to him such that he can pursue his cause with confidence and complete candor. Individuals such as this iconic man are rare at a time that most countries in this world could use someone like him. A Mahatma Gandhi, Sulak Sivaraska or Abraham Lincoln do not come around that often.
We had these pieces custom-made in Thailand of Sterling Silver. The clean lines and simple design of our logo make a perfect piece of jewelry; whether it be French hook earrings, a necklace pendant or our smaller stud earrings.