Monday, March 25, 2013

Let’s turn the crisis into an opportunity for a revival

The latest attacks against other beliefs by the BBS is an appropriate opportunity to focus on what is right and wrong and for those who can to guide their believers back into the religion they profess to believe in.
Just as a form of fundamentalist Islam is sweeping the world, after the born again Christian dogma has shaken the established Churches to the core, now the misunderstood un Buddhist fundamentalism of the BBS is time for the established order of Sri Lanka Buddhism to take stock of what is right and wrong and map out a path of a purer form of belief, devoid of the materialism that has taken over.
The problem with a purer form of one’s religion is that many of the establishment institutions come to be distractions, and in many cases a barrier to the advancement of belief. The reason is the power of patronage and wealth that these institutions have amassed over time, taking a direction that was never meant to be.
It is better to begin with comparisons. Let’s look at Vatican II that shook up the old Latin Mass religion and brought it down to earth, to be relevant to the modern person to understand and believe. It was followed by the Born Again period, which on reflection gave the Catholic Church the impetus to change. They are now going through the scandal of sexual abuse by Priests, resulting in the appointment of a new Pope who is likely to take the Church back to its roots, all signs of hope.
Taking a leaf from that, Buddhism, as it is practiced in Sri Lanka MUST change if it is to grow, and be meaningful to the believer. It has to be both practical and NOT hypocritical. After all the saying goes, the easiest way of making a good living in Sri Lanka, is to either start a Tuition Class or go meditate under a Bo Tree!
Taking the latter, over 1000 Buddhist temples have cropped up in the last 20 years, by monks taking over a Bo Tree, and building a temple round it acquiring land mostly illegally, at first. Look at the number of temples near paddy fields, where the area once acquired just around the Tree, is then filled up. It is illegal to fill up paddy lands, but no one will stop a Temple from filling paddy lands, and the owners more than likely are coerced into giving up their paddy lands to the Temple, as an act of piety and perhaps a chance of a better rebirth.
Competition by temples is the biggest threat to Buddhism. Any monk who is honest will tell you that people are fooled into patronizing temples that have more facilities believing they are better, thus forcing devout monks to engage in a business of raising money, effectively becoming beggars to build their dreams of perpetual life, forgetting that everything is just temporary, and spirituality is paramount. Have we forgotten to the need to meditate in a cave?

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