This essay analyzes the result of in-depth interviews that the author conducted with Burmese Buddhist leaders, with a view toward building Buddhist theories of social conflict, reconciliation, and structural peace. Findings include their shared understanding of the deeply spiritual, inner-directed nature of conflict and reconciliation, and their highly divergent, contested understandings of the structural roots of human suffering in today’s globalized and interconnected world. To meet these structural challenges, this essay introduces the concept of structural awareness, which it defines as educated, enlightened consciousness to appreciate and act responsibly on the complex chains of causal relations in which well-intended action can inadvertently generate the suffering of others.

Author Bio(s)

Tatsu Arai, PhD, is a scholar-practitioner of peacebuilding with extensive experience in the Asia Pacific, the African Great Lakes, the Middle East, and the United States. He is currently a fellow at the Center for Peacemaking Practice, the School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution (S-CAR), George Mason University in Virginia, a research associate at the Toda Institute for Global Peace and Policy Research in Hawaii, and an associate professor of peacebuilding and conflict transformation at the School for International Training (SIT) Graduate Institute in Vermont. His recent publications include Creativity and Conflict Resolution: Alternative Pathways to Peace. Contact: tatsushi.arai@sit.edu Tel. 413.397.3226


Aung San Suu Kyi, British colonialism, Buddhist approaches, conflict transformation, cultural diversity, grounded theory, Muslim (Rohingya) communities, Myanmar, National League for Democracy (NLD), peacebuilding, Rakhine Buddhist, relationship-building, structural awareness, structural violence

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