Sunday, March 24, 2013

Buddhism - A good time for reflection considering the State of the Nation

The Mahanayaka’s of the main Nikayas are now getting together to come out with a common platform to re arraign the moral direction of Buddhism in Sri Lanka. With Buddhism not believing in a deity, it is important that they assert how the majority of Buddhists who believe in the Gods are permitted to accept them in the context of their beliefs. It is even more important to highlight to their fellow countrymen how un-Buddhist we have become. We must encourage the practices of the temperance movement to withhold from ANY form of alcohol, or tobacco, drugs or any narcotic, even Bulath as currently practiced by the Sangha. Further giving away possessions, and not amassing more, should be stressed, so that the competition of building bigger and better temples is stopped forthwith.
We are a declining population, with fewer people entering the Sangha. In 10 years there will NOT be sufficient monks to maintain the temples, so we SHOULD NOT build anymore, even though each priest wants to be the Lokuhamuduruwo of a temple that he just takes over, by, in my experience, camping by a Bo tree, and quietly encroaching on the land around!
These are just a few of the major issues confronting Buddhism, which must be practically addressed before even getting into the BBS problem. If the matters referred to above can be resolved the BBS issue will die a natural death. It is important that Buddhism re asserts its moral ground from the depths of amorality it has plunged to, not least by the practices of Buddhists in the name of religion. Behavior has to be changed, and even thought processes. We must stop being hypocritical and practice what we preach rather than breakdown the Bana they give soon after saying it. This has reduced the practitioners of Buddhism, as a result of this hypocrisy. Most Sinhala Buddhists never go to Temple to offer a personal pooja, many just go to participate in an event to be seen to be pious.
It is often said that the Sinhala Buddhists, are neither Sinhala or Buddhist but a unholy mix of the two into a distasteful one of a disgraceful human in the guise of being pure. I trust that the outcome of the elders meetings of the Nikayas is to assert the basic values of Buddhism, first and foremost, and allow a non religious nationalist element to perpetuate the wholesomeness of the Sinhala Language and then secondarily of the Sinhala culture, that can be embraced by Sinhala people who are Buddhist, Christian, Muslim, and Hindu. Monks should concentrate only on the Buddhist part, and let laity manage the Sinhala part.
If this clear distinction is made, we can go forward as a Nation, as one, and not fall into meaningless religious factions looking after our own interests.
If an American embraces Buddhism, he is an American Buddhist, that is he is an American Patriot first and only secondly his religion, trying to separate the two. So if he is called to serve his nation in war, he can be a conscientious objector, saying his religion does not permit him to go to war! And face the legal consequences.
In the same vein, we must be Sri Lankan first, and then proclaim whatever our belief system is. We can be an Atheist or Agnostic, but both those are discriminated even more than Muslims or Christians.
One has to be very careful in Stating that Sri Lanka is a Buddhist Country. I know the Sinhala Buddhists wish to assert that with only 70% strictly falling into that technical category today, including the non-practicing ones. That assertion immediately throws 30% of the Country, commanding 60% of the wealth in the country into second class status. That is a recipe for disaster, however populist it may sound to the 70%! The Country will be shaken to the core, with such an assertion, and a new constitution MUST be enacted to make that change.
Until that is done we are a multiracial, multi-religious country. The BBS by that definition has NO place in that equation, and should possibly be actively discouraged by the Mahanayakas in their parley as being contrary to all principles of Buddhism and nationhood, and amicable relations. If they do not they will be trapped in a meaningless religious straitjacket they cannot get out of.
It is my belief that it is incumbent upon the leaders of Buddhism to assert their supremacy over Buddhism in Sri Lanka, and inform the people of Sri Lanka that BBS is not representative of any particular religious belief but a nationalist racist right, led by a few un- Buddhist monks using the natural fear of ignorant people to arouse, feelings, passions and misuse them for personal gratification, a most un Buddhist plan. In the same vein all religion based political parties must be banned.
I believe this assertion will do Buddhism in Sri Lanka a lot of good, assert its basic uniqueness and piety as well as its tolerance of all other beliefs. If by example they are able to show the value of being a Buddhist, they will also prevent the move of Buddhists disgruntled by what they see happening in their temples, to get back to the beliefs that they were taught at their Daham Pasalas, but sadly not practiced by the Sangha.
Most of the fear of being overwhelmed by other religions, threats by others and even to Buddhism will disappear. Buddhism, it’s pure form has nothing to fear. It is the mere breakdown of the philosophy by its misuse by the practitioners that is at fault. Only if that is admitted by the Mahanayakas will they be able to take the religion back to the basic teachings, even of Theravada Buddhism and ensure its perpetuation and further growth. Only THEY CAN DO IT, NOW IS THE TIME

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