Thursday, June 29, 2017
The Concerns of the Sangha with regards to allegations – are they warranted?
The President has been informed about unprecedented allegations against Buddhism by persons unknown and reasons unknown and this has been extensively reported in the Media this morning. See link for details of the claims
Firstly, what would we expect the President of this Country to do? All he really can, is to advise the public, all citizens of this Country, to refrain from making unsubstantiated claims on Social Media etc and more accurately plead for sanity as we JUST cannot control social media or even ban it, as the issue will snowball in a different direction, and create further problems, far more than they will potentially solve.
If truth were to be told, there are allegations, unfounded or with evidence against EVERY religion in social media, as there are people who have an agenda. Civilized people only make founded observations and should NOT make it personal unless substantial evidence is available.
Take the case today, when a senior Cardinal of the Catholic Church has been accused of pedophilia and action is about to be taken against him. This is against a priest and NOT the Church, except some intimation that the Church itself was remiss at not doing enough to prevent its repetition once discovered.
It is therefore IMPORTANT to keep these issues in perspective and have a clear head when making these Press Statements about the insults to the main religion in Sri Lanka, obviously by people of other faiths, who would under the normal course of events NOT have much fondness for Buddhism. It must be noted that there are enough and more Buddhists, Clergy included who take umbrage at other religions and are NOT happy about conversions!
Conversions of adults should not be one that people should get unduly flustered about, as it happens in all directions, where Buddhist become Christian and Christians become Buddhists, however there is a difference where a Muslim person wants to become a Buddhist or Christian they face even more antagonism by other Muslims, than Buddhists do if a Buddhist converts to Christianity. Have you heard of any violations if a Christian becomes a Buddhist amongst the Christian Community? Well then similarly a Buddhist should not get overly antagonistic if it works the other way.
We should therefore apply the rules or laws equally and not make special cases for people to exploit. In short, NO ONE should be allowed to unfairly criticize other religions, without cause, however one must be cognizant of the fact that in this era of social media, it is difficult to bring offenders to justice.
The best means to counter any religious intolerance is NOT by force, but by living by example so that one’s religion is one to be emulated and NOT branded insincere or downright sinful. In that respect there is greater pressure on any MAJORITY religion whether it is Buddhism in Sri Lanka or Christianity in UK, to live by example of the precepts of the religion.
Lately due to behavior that is NOT in keeping with an elder of the faith, these practitioners have set bad examples, that is used by other religions as examples of religious behavior. It is then up to the Maha Sangha to take a stand against that person or Priest and Counter any suggestions that they may be in cahoots and are also in agreement with his despicable behavior.
It is incumbent upon the Buddhist Clergy in Sri Lanka therefore to live and behave by example so that they do NOT sound like hypocrites. If this is the case they can easily deflect any suggestions or innuendo made against Buddhism as merely being the work of fundamentalists of other religions which even those religions DO NOT condone, and so would be vilified by one and all.
I am not sure how the President will handle this thorny problem as the Kotte Declaration requests that the President take steps to stop this attack on the principle religion of Sri Lanka, without any rational basis for such attacks.
How can the President practically stop it, if he is unable to pin point who is making allegations? He cannot directly confront parties to ask for explanation.
Personally, from experience I know when a can of worms is shaken, the worms try to sneak out and cause even more problems, and instead of shutting out the issue, it just gets worse and you don’t know where else it will raise its ugly head. The old adage says let sleeping dogs lie, but in this case is the problem so grave, or is it just the perception of a few and NOT the many?
It is a matter for the Buddhist Sangha to immediately take a position that is acceptable to all or at least to a quorum before reaching out to the President for help. I am unsure if this has only affected the Kotte Sangha Saba or if it is a widespread perception. It is important to be PROPORTIONATE in acting on this fear or reality.
Personally I fear this is overkill, giving license to perpetrators to continue, as they are obviously having the desired effect on the target audience as their cajoling is to make them react, so they can use the REACTION for their benefit, rather than if it is completely pooh poohed as the work of some nut cases, then perhaps it will just die down. I rather suspect the advice the President will give is to simply ignore it, and NOT to exacerbate an issue out of proportion.