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The Weekend Australian - Review - - Contents - Yourview@ theaus­tralian.com.au

GEORDIE Wil­liamson has shown an acute in­sight into the love af­fair be­tween Nugget Coombs and Ju­dith Wright (‘‘Love blooms in the af­ter­noon’’, April 20-21). The pi­quant irony: two pub­lic in­tel­lec­tu­als who cleaved to the high­est realms of truth but were not pre­pared to com­pro­mise their dis­tin­guished sta­tus in a scan­dal. Di­vorce and re­mar­riage would have not have been po­lit­i­cally or so­cially ex­pe­di­ent. Yet it was not hypocrisy, for they were en­ti­tled to grasp as much pri­vate de­ceit as any or­di­nary peo­ple trapped in the same love­less cir­cum­stances. From my study, I view the new de­vel­op­ment of Wright and Coombs in Can­berra’s Mo­lon­glo Val­ley. Al­bert Ca­mus wrote: ‘‘Ploughed earth, and the fields be­gan to steam.’’ I un­der­stand his pre­science. Our ur­ban plan­ners are sub­tle; the ad­join­ing sub­urbs of Wright and Coombs are now meta­phys­i­cally locked in an eter­nal em­brace. Mike Fog­a­rty We­ston, ACT GEORDIE Wil­liamson gives per­cep­tive ap­pre­ci­a­tion to the re­mark­able doc­u­men­tary es­say Love & Fury, cen­tred on the 25-year re­la­tion­ship be­tween Ju­dith Wright and Nugget Coombs, which he iden­ti­fies as ‘‘an ABC tele­vi­sion doc­u­men­tary’’. How­ever, he doesn’t name its di­rec­tor: John Hughes, one of Aus­tralia’s most dis­tin­guished film­mak­ers, whose highly in­no­va­tive and el­e­gant work in doc­u­men­tary goes back more than 30 years. In re­view­ing a book, would Wil­liamson name the pub­lisher but not the writer? Sylvia Law­son New­town, NSW THE words Bud­dhism and Bud­dhist first ap­peared in In­dia about 500 years af­ter the death of the Bud­dha, when his main teach­ing of vi­pas­sana — in­sight med­i­ta­tion — was lost to that coun­try. The Bud­dha taught a non­sec­tar­ian tech­nique by which hu­mans could free them­selves from suf­fer­ing and lead peace­ful and har­mo­nious lives. He did not found a sec­tar­ian re­li­gion, and it is in­cor­rect to re­fer to Em­peror Asoka as a Bud­dhist (‘‘The king who pro­claimed peace’’, April 20-21). Asoka prac­tised the Bud­dha’s teach­ings, and was so im­pressed by the re­sults that he pro­moted the prac­tice through­out his realm and sent monks to teach it in neigh­bour­ing coun­tries, in­clud­ing Burma. This had lon­grange ben­e­fits for us to­day. The Bud­dha’s main tech­nique of vi­pas­sana med­i­ta­tion was lost from all coun­tries but Burma. The el­ders there, see­ing how vi­pas­sana had be­come cor­rupted in In­dia, taught it only to highly spir­i­tual monks, each of whom was to teach it to three or four dis­ci­ples. There was a tra­di­tion in Bud­dhist coun­tries that the teach­ing would be re­vived 2500 years af­ter the Bud­dha’s pass­ing, es­ti­mated to be 1954. To fa­cil­i­tate this, a 19th-cen­tury Burmese monk, Ledi Sayadaw, wrote books and pam­phlets ex­plain­ing the Bud­dha’s teach­ing, and be­gan teach­ing vi­pas­sana to monks and lay peo­ple. In the 1890s, he asked a farmer, Saya Tet, to be­come the first lay teacher. Be­fore his death in 1944, Saya Tet charged his dis­ci­ple Sayagyi U Ba Khin to re­turn the teach­ing to In­dia and from there spread it to the world. U Ba Khin was ac­coun­tant-gen­eral of Burma from 1947 to 1967, but the regime would not let him travel abroad. In 1969, his stu­dent SN Goenka trav­elled to Bom­bay to teach vi­pas­sana to his par­ents. Be­fore he died in 1971, U Ba Khin charged Goenka with the task given by Saya Tet. Vi­pas­sana is now prac­tised in most coun­tries. This is Asoka’s great­est legacy. Michael Cunningham West End, Queens­land To be con­sid­ered for pub­li­ca­tion, let­ters must con­tain an ad­dress and tele­phone num­ber for ver­i­fi­ca­tion. Let­ters may be edited for length and clar­ity.

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