Burma’s Aung San Suu Kyi, democracy activist and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, offered a glimpse into her personal Buddhist practice and understanding in a recent live interview at the Irawaddy Literary Festival.
When asked, “I’ve learned to understand Buddhism is a peaceful and serene religion. But how does Buddhism play out politically?” Suu Kyi responded:
“I don’t think Christians are quite Christian in their political lives,” Suu Kyi replied with a smile. “So Buddhists are not necessarily Buddhist in their political life, or even in social life. People ask me, ‘Are you a Buddhist?’ My answer would be I’m studying to be one, to be a better Buddhist. I’d like to say I’m a good Buddhist, but I’m not in a position to say I’m a good Buddhist as I’m trying to learn to be one…
“I was born into a Buddhist family. Buddhism is rooted in a practical cause. It’s about the discovery of what the human mind and human beings are like. The more I meditated, the more I learned of how true to life Buddhist teachings were.
“For example, I’m very fond of the teaching that explains how to distinguish a good man from a bad man. A bad man always exaggerates his good points and minimizes the good points of others. A good man does it the other way around. And a bad man will always exaggerate everything people say to him in gratitude. It’s a very simple bit of teaching. I’ve found that very human. And believe me, I can tell a good man from a bad man.”
Read the full account here of Aung San Suu Kyi’s interview, including a bit about her meditation practice.