Colombo, Politics and Governance, Religion and faith

The Buddha Sasana: Sri Lanka’s biggest NGO?

Sometimes words are used so often and so uncritically that they not only lose communicative value but those who utter them and those who hear them no longer know what they mean.  We really don’t know what ‘democracy’ means, do we?  Decency, anyone?  How about justice?  Love?  There are thousands of such words and terms including ‘people’,  ‘sustainability’, ‘development’ and ‘hegemony’, but I am thinking of a name, an acronym, a term, a phenomenon, a curse and an agent, all rolled into one.  NGO.

Non-Governmental Organization.  I first heard it in May 1988 at the Marga Institute, while engaged in a study of development assistance, its sources and destinations.  It didn’t take long for acronym to comfortably replace term.  And so we had NGOs and INGOS (i.e. those NGOs that were ‘international’ in character), repositories of wealth, residences for all kinds of shady creatures and especially internally displaced and thoroughly confused self-styled Leftists.

A study on the ‘NGO Sector’ commissioned by the Asian Development Bank and carried out in 1996 revealed that most NGOs were mom-and-pop affairs, veritable cottage industries that benefited slick operators who could string together a few words of English and that even those outfits that were engaged in advocacy were in fact engaged in various projects which in various ways undermined the national interest and sought to entrench conditions of dependency.  They were the Zamindars of the late 20th and early 21st Centuries, a friend of mine opined, based on a study of the phenomenon in Bangladesh.

It didn’t take me long to realize that for all the ‘civil society’ posturing of such entities, NGOs were essentially businesses.  They don’t really fall between ‘state’ and ‘private sector’, they belong to the latter.  Those in NGOs would like to be an alternative to the state and indeed operate as though they are even though in reach, delivery, scope and range of operations they are but glorified maranaadara samithi and as ridden with corruption as any state institution.  Or any corporate entity, for that matter.

Let’s take this acronym apart.  ‘O’ is for ‘Organization’.  N-G is for Non-Governmental.  Thus anything that cannot be categorized as a government institution/body would theoretically be an NGO. Every corporate is an NGO. From the most powerful and visible multinational to the petti-kade at the street corner and the maalu laella and the paththara laella are countless NGOs.

But let’s ask a simple question.  What is the biggest NGO in Sri Lanka?  ‘Big’ has to be understood in terms of budgets, scale of operations, reach and spread, range of activities, overall impact in multiple spheres etc.  Some outfits can have a major impact although small and a lot of NGOs that made a lot of money touting federalism and feeding the LTTE can in this sense be called ‘big’.  In physical terms Sarvodaya is big, some would say.  The thrift and credit cooperative movement, better known by its Sinhala acronym, SANASA, is as big or even bigger considering impact and reach.  SANASA is a network of over 8000 community based thrift and credit cooperative societies and is therefore ‘bigger’ than Cargills Food City, which has a little more than 100 outlets.  The underworld and especially those sections engaged in drug trafficking is ‘big’. The LTTE was big.

There’s another ‘big’ one that I am sure most would miss: religious organizations.  These are also non-governmental organizations technically speaking and any insult by association is unintended, let me state at the outset.  Some of them operate in quite the same way perhaps because intent and interests are similar.  We have hundreds of evangelical outfits that are an embarrassment to Jesus Christ (given methodology of operation and the utter lack of humility and a corresponding lack of respect to other faiths) going about sowing anger and hatred in the zealous urge, paradoxically, to spread ‘the word of the lord’, using the cover of ‘religious freedom’ and abusing the general tolerance of Buddhists and Hindus in this country.  This is something quite absent in supposedly ‘secular’ countries that nevertheless privilege the Christian faith/religion through constitutional edict, education and cultural policies and ‘national’ iconography).

And yet, all such operations, big and small, vile and benign, identifiable or utterly incongruous with the life and philosophy of Jesus Christ, are in every sense ‘tiny’ compared to what is arguably the largest NGO in Sri Lanka: the Buddha Sasana.

If we are talking about ‘potential’, then the Buddhist order can if it puts mind to it, make all other NGOs and much of the state irrelevant.  Indeed, given that it is an advocacy outfit (again, no insult intended but just employing NGO terminology to make a point) it has the strength of numbers, intellectual weight and all the advantages of history, heritage, social acceptance, mobilizing ability etc to out advocate halmessas or, to use street lingo, haal-kaeli like the Centre for Policy Alternatives, National Peace Council, MIRJE and poorer and wannabe versions of these shady outfits.  Indeed if there is any entity that has what it takes to supplant the state (the perennial wish of the Colombo 3/7 NGO boys and girls), it is the Sasana. And this can be good and it can be bad, but that’s an issue we shall come to later.

This is why the rare occasions that the Most Venerable Mahanayaka Theros make comment on issues of national import we need to sit up and take notice.  This is why, for example, the Government got quite jittery when the Mahanayaka Theros of the Siyam, Amarapura and Ramanya Nikayas announced that a special convention of the Maha Sangha would take place on the 18th in Kandy and issued a special statement regarding the arrest of General (Rtd) Sarath Fonseka.  The statements contained a liberal dose of the NGO buzz words pertaining to democracy, rule of law, good governance etc etc.  On the face of it, this is a good sign.

On the other hand, even a cursory delving into the politics of that particular issuance of statement would be enough to dampen whatever enthusiasm one may have had regarding the Buddha Sasana asserting itself on behalf of and for the betterment of the general citizenry. To begin with, the Most Venerable Mahanayaka Thero of the Malwatu Chapter was motivated by political loyalties and not a general concern for democracy, decency etc.  C.A. Chandraprema quite eloquently and quite convincingly argued earlier this week that if that were the case, the Venerable Thero ought to have chided Fonseka for irresponsible statements, lack of decency, absence of basic civility and most seriously his frivolous, adventurist and utterly irresponsible act of jeopardizing the security of every member of the Army’s 58 Division and potentially compromising national security as well.  It is not a question of trying to hide wrongdoing (something that is quite unpardonable), but the real threat constituted by the fact that even a lie uttered by a person who was commanding the troops in the last phase of the battle could potentially override other evidence and would in any case cause untold embarrassment to the state and the citizens in all international forums.  Needless to say the enemies of Sri Lanka salivated.  The Venerable Mahanayaka of the Malwatu Chapter was silent.

The complaint here is about inconsistency.  There have been numerous instances where the Mahanayaka Theros have issued statements, retracted them, showed disagreement among themselves etc.  There have been numerous instances where the Mahanayake Theros have been scandalously silent when the nation faced grave dangers.  The signing of the Indo-Lanka Accord (J.R. Jayewardena and Rajiv Gandhi) and the signing of the Ceasefire Agreement (Ranil Wickremesinghe and Velupillai Prabhakaran) didn’t see an informed, well-argued and united response from the Venerable Mahanayaka Theros.

If there is genuine interest in things like democracy, good governance and the rule of law, then there should be a constant and consistent engagement in relation to these issues on their part.  What we are seeing is ad hoc, politically motivated, and almost knee-jerk like missives coming from these leading Bikkhus.

Indeed, I believe they have to do much more than this.  Recently I met a devout Christian who writes to newspapers occasionally and defends uncivilized and hate-filled acts of evangelical zealots as ‘that’s politics, if politicians can bribe people into conversion, this is similar; just another device to win people over to a particular ideology’. He had no ‘charity’ Christian or otherwise to treat the customs and practices of other religious faiths with any degree of respect or tolerance. He blurted out that the Dalada Perahera was nothing but an expression of Buddhist Nationalism. He virtually spat it out.  He also said, ‘Buddhism is in decline because the haamuduruwos are corrupt and because Christianity is a more compelling doctrine’.I don’t think Buddhism is in decline, but if its all about corruption then the Christian faith would have died long ago, not just in Sri Lanka but all over the world for the high priests of that faith have caused suffering and orchestrated more bloodbaths than all Buddhists put together from the time of the Buddha have.  As for the issue of one doctrine being more compelling, that’s a matter of opinion.  Still, the learned gentleman got me thinking.

The Mahanayaka Theros preside over, as I mentioned earlier, the biggest NGO in the country.  The Buddha Sasana does not require, unlike these other NGOs, any foreign funds.  The Venerable Mahanayaka Theros oversee a massive economy, such is the wealth at their disposal.  This material wealth amazingly complemented by human resources for the Sasana is not made of just the clergy but the upasakas and upasikas as well, large numbers of whom can be mobilized quickly and effectively. Yes, for the good and the bad, for the betterment of society or the celebration of extremism and bigotry.

Just as Christianity is a doctrine of liberation that has also been perverted in practice to cause suffering to the very people that Jesus sought to help, just as Marxism, a doctrine that too sought to engineer emancipation, was employed in ways that caused suffering, so too Buddhism, a philosophy that advocates the sathara brahma viharana (kindness, compassion, rejoicing in another’s joy and equanimity) can be manipulated to similarly destructive ends.  Of course people would argue, like that kind Christian gentlemen, that that would not be ‘Christian’, just as certain Marxists would say ‘no, that’s not Marxism’ and Buddhists would similarly say ‘the Buddha never advocated this and therefore this is not Buddhism’, but that’s just being academic and silly.

The statements and posturing of the Buddhist prelates on account of Sarath Fonseka’s arrest therefore should be seized by all Buddhists as an ideal occasion to question and redefine the position and role of the Maha Sangha in these times when the nation, having extricated itself from a destructive war, attempts to move forward.

Let there be consistency. Let there be a conscious effort to avoid becoming pawns of politicians and political projects. Let there be, most importantly, vigilance so that the Mahanayakas don’t become pawns of those treacherous little mom-and-pop NGOs and their anti-national agenda.  Let there be a better and more efficient employment of resources to uplift the poor and underprivileged, a condition that necessarily requires submission to proper auditing procedures (a practice that all religious bodies should submit to).

The bottom line: a return to the dhamma.  There has to be humility to acknowledge that the Christian gentlemen has a point (even though he does not have the eyes to see the same ‘wrong’ in institutions professing his faith), that there is corruption, veering away from the path Lord Buddha advocated, an unhealthy fascination with things material and a parallel distancing from engagement with the core tenets of the doctrine, including the considerable sections of the canon devoted to developing a just and peaceful social order.

The Buddha Sasana is an enormous and unique resource.  And given its dimensions, we must acknowledge that in the wrong hands it can cause harm to society.  As a Buddhist and therefore a member of the Sasana, I humbly call upon the Most Venerable Mahanayaka Theros to consider a Dharma Sangayana. It is long overdue.  If this is not done, let there be no doubt, the Sasana will become a pawn of the NGO gang, which is clearly anti-Buddhist.  Let the Most Venerable Mahanayaka Theros take note.

[Editors note: An edited version of this article appears in the Daily Mirror today.]

  • NGO-wallah

    We are all political creatures, or ‘pawns’ (as the author describes it) of this particular ideology or that – whether in civil society, NGOs, the market place, religious organisations, academia, whatever. And ideology defines what we mean by terms such as democracy, good governance, justice, etc. In calling for auditing, the author himself is calling for ‘good governance’ – a so-called ‘NGO buzz word’. So what’s the big deal and why point fingers at one particular group accusing it of being political? The author’s own politics comes out very clearly in this article!

  • Arahath

    As much as I agree with Mr Malinda Seneviraytne that even Christianity has a history of corruption and evil, I disagree that we cannot apply the past sins of fathers on his sons. Our Budhhist history is studded with corruption and evil and we will not point firnder at the MAhasanga for past mistakes.

    The problem in Sri Lanka is a problem of the present . Our Mahasanga is corrupt. Todays Daily MIrror shows a senior Buddhist Monk in a close alliance with a known political under world thug.

    You quite correctly say that,”these times when the nation, having extricated itself from a destructive war, attempts to move forward.”. Yes moving forward does not mean that the Rajapakse family owns Sri Lanka and that Politicle opponents are victimized, Mahasangha held at gun point and that we watch Evil abound over and over. The Mahasanga has mature monks that have a strong conscience and of much learning.

    As for being porns of NGO’s , what nonsense are you talking. If you look at the RAjapakse regime anyone who stand up to them like Sarath Fonseka is labelled a traitor, An LTTe supporter, A western Allie, or like your self a porn of the NGO’s!! . But keep in mind that during the first presidential racr Rajapakse called the UNP as Alli – Kotti sandanaya. But you and I know that it was MR who paid money to Prabhakaran and blocked the Tamils voting and history tells the rest of the story. Who had the Kotti sandanaya? It was none other than the High and Mighty MR him slef!! I would challenge you to raise your voice against the regime and check for your self if you will not get the same medicine.
    So

    In short what you saying is very clear. This country is only for Sinhala Budhhists WHO LICK THE BACKS of the Rajapakses. Anyone else is worthy of death. Hitler comes to my mind!!.

  • Malinda – you state that “….If this is not done, let there be no doubt, the Sasana will become a pawn of the NGO gang, which is clearly anti-Buddhist.” Why do you limit this to the “NGO gang”? There is also the possibility of the Sasana becoming (or, as you point out, already become) pawns of various political ‘gangs’ (who, in my view are also clearly anything but Buddhists). Sauce for the goose…???

    In any event, there are all sorts of ‘Buddhist’ practices going on in this country that have clearly nothing to do with the Four Noble Truths or The Eightfold Path and if the Sangha was concerned with the purity of the practices, then they should have stepped in a long time ago. Yet another member of the ‘NGO gang’ (and the biggest one according to you) in need of reform???

  • Dammrakkitha

    Buddhism Betrayed? Late scholar Tambiah did not create the line. He barrowed it from the 1947 commission of inquiries. But the book is still prohibited in the island even for academic reference. When Ven. Professor Walpola Raahula wrote Bhikkshuwakage Urumaya and called for the re-entry of the Bhikkshus to active politics, the so called Sásana got intellectual legitimacy for politics till then which was only a historical claim as in the Mahawamsa.

    I am glad a neo-nationalist like Malinda has turned to spiritual realities. Because to be a Buddhist is to be Vichakshana – analytical. If the Maha Naayákas could wake up and give leadership to the nation to turn to Páli Buddhism then I believe the (I) NGOs will not have any agenda because Buddhism is based on Compassion even to the Thamil nationalists. Then power-sharing, non-violent politics and honesty in state governance will not be alien NGO mantras. Unfortunately, Theravada practiced in SL has failed to convince this to the Sinhalas. Is it the problem of Theravada Buddhism or the Sinhalas? Perhaps Malinda can lead us in this discovery…

  • dingiri

    When the Mahanayakas take an opinion that is not in keeping with Malinda’s thinking (or what he is paid to think) they are being “scandalously silent” or irresponsible. When they are in agreement with his masters actions they are “patriotic”. If the President is going to decide what the Mahanayakas think in future it is not going to bode well for them or for the country.

    Why cant Malinda just accept that there is a moral question of wheter Fonseka should be sent to prison or not. The President thinks he should. The Mahanayakas think otherwise. Why not hear both points of view and let the people decide for themselves without badmouthing them using the now dreaded N word.

    Also, there is no point badmouthing NGOs just for being NGOs. Most of them are doing work that should be really carried out by the government like looking after orphans, drug addicts and the aged. Drilling tube wells for remote villagers, improving their scholls and buying them fishing boats. All funded with money from the evil west who according to those like Malinda are out to destroy us. There are also other NGOs who function more like lobby groups but the lobbying is again for changes that (they and others think) would benefit society. If an NGO exhorts the government not to arrest people arbitrarily for their political views or actions that is not necessarily evil. If the NGO exhorts the government to seriously investigate dissapearences that again is not evil. Most of the population understands this except for the government and the servile jounalists who are paid to defend their every action.

  • dingiri

    Maybe Malinda and Rajapakse are confused about the meaning of “democracy” and “decency”. It shows in their actions. But I think the larger population has a fair idea of what the words mean. At least enough to know that what is happening around them is neither of these.

    Rajapakse responded to the Tissanayagam sentencing by saying that the mistake he made was to “politicise his cause”. Of course it is politics when people take a stand about unreasonable sentences being passed on people who have not hurt or harmed anyone. Do Mahinda and Malinda think only they can have political opinions? The difference between their politics and others’ is that their politics is of the self serving variety. Where they materially benefit from their principles and ideals.

  • Sony

    Hello Malinda

    A very good article. Could you please tell me how to obtain a copy of the following study?

    “A study on the ‘NGO Sector’ commissioned by the Asian Development Bank and carried out in 1996 …”
    BTW, Susantha Goonatilake’s book “Recolonization: Foreign Funded NGOs in Sri Lanka” is the only research based book I have seen on Foreign-Funded NGOs. The following is an excerpt from the back cover of the book.
    “The author maintains that focused NGO penetration into the country began in the 1980s, simultaneously with the growth of the authoritarian state. He contends that their subsequent activities in Sri Lanka have had a deep and visible impact on civil life: from restructuring the state, to demobilizing the armed forces, to privatizing foreign relations, to controlling key segments of academia and media. […] Through these case studies the author highlights his basic premise: that the work of foreign funded NGOs actually undermines local civil institutions and that they project an implicit agenda for decolonization.”

  • Vee

    Buddha Sasana is in the correct hands.You are in the wrong path criticizing it. You too talk just like an NGO for a little political /personal gain. You are simple a crook.

  • Arahath

    Sony … for your reference

    Dr. Susantha Goonatilake has taught or researched among others at the University of Exeter, University of Sussex, UK; Columbia University; New York; New School for Social Research, New York; Institute of Developing Economies, He has worked at the UN and has also been a senior consultant for all the UN organs dealing with knowledge and science issues. He is presently attached to the Center for Studies of Social Change, New School for Social Research , New York .

    Who enjoys NGO benefits and runs down same…has to be a Sri LAnkan

  • justitia

    Foreign NGOs function on funds donated by ordinary citizens of mainly western nations with large per capita incomes.These nations are mostly christian and most of their citizens donate a little of their monthly income to ‘charitable causes’, and among these are voluntary organisations which function for the welfare of citizens of mainly third world countries,especially in eradicating ill health,establishing social amenities at village level, such as water supply,educational facilities, good farming practices etc.,eradication of diseases such as leprosy,tuberculosis etc. Only brave persons who have brains and brawn take up these challenges. Fund collection for these NGOs are done by soliciting by mail,TV advertisements,lecture tours etc with photos,videos etc. Some NGOs encourage/achieve ‘adoption’ of orphans for a small sum each month.
    I do not think that religious organisations, both local and foreign should be lumped together with these.Men and women of the countries of origin of these NGOs often volunteer to donate their services for limited periods in countries they function in.Princes William and Harry worked for short periods in poor african countries as volunteers for NGOs thereby inspiring others to do so. The daughter and son in law of a lankan born professor have volunteered to teach in a poor african country,away from their western country of adoption. I do not think that Buddha Sasana is an NGO in the common meaning of the term – it may apply in a broader sense as the author implies.Personnel of these NGOs are prohibited from entering into political or religious dialogue/opinion in the host countries. These NGOs submit annual audited accounts to their hosts in their respective countries. I do not think that the mahasangha is influenced in any way by personnel of the foreign NGOs.

  • lion

    Please carefully use the words. I mean when you say Maha Sanga is corrut either you don’t know the real meaning of the word or you ae ignorant. Certain individuals in any society can be corrupt or what ever it be doesn’t mean the society is so. Especially when you say Maha Sanga that includes all buddhist monks from Buddha’s days to today.

  • Hiran

    Malinda, which NGO are you representing? do not disgrace the noble religion or the Sinhala. You are misusing/ abusing the Sinhala Budhists. That is why Sri Lanka is in such a bad shape.

  • Veedhur

    When Arahath Mahinda brought buddhist teachings to Sri Lanka from foreign soil, didn’t he undermine the government of Sri Lanka at that time??

  • yapa

    Dear Veedhur;

    Teaching truth, instead of mythical rituals/religions they believed, do you consider as undermining anything? Further, the head of the government himself accepted Buddhist teaching. It was not a forcible conversion.

    Thanks!

  • arahath

    Dear Lion

    My apologies. I did not mean that the Maha Sanga is corrupt. I meant that some elements in the System are corrupt. Sorry my mistake.My apologies.

  • arahath

    When Arahath Mahinda brought Buddhism to Lanka there were no Buddhists in the nation. He converted the nation and today Buddhism is almost extinct in the nation of Birth. We need to be open to the fact that religion goes through evolutions and that need to be understood.

  • ordinary lankan

    lets go for the last sacred cow – is not the so called Government itself an NGO? a mere facade for the power of money?

  • ordinary lankan

    we forget some important facts

    Buddhism is not extinct by any means in this country – we received it directly from the Buddha himself who visited us on no less than 3 ocassions. Long before Arahant Mahinda.

    this was the foundation for individual Buddhist practice in the country – and this practice continues … just take some time off and visit a meditation centre – and see for yourself what true practice is. there are no sthupa’s, no statues and no priests in these places – simply individual effort – very simple and very direct and honest. In fact even some monks who are interested in meditation now come to these places –

    it is v imp not to speak till you have all the facts marshalled.

    with metta

  • Sinhala_Voice

    I am a Sinhala by ethnic origin and a Buddhist by world view. My view is that World Views and Administration of the State should not be mixed up at ALL.

    The so called SECULAR MODEL. Therefore, I also support the statement of GIVING FOREMOST PLACE TO BUDDHISM be removed from the constitution. This event gives ample example as to WHY it is NOT practiced. And WHY IT DOES NOT WORK. THIS IS JUST JARGON TO MIS-LEAD THE BUDDHIST SINHALA PUBLIC. Which on the other side GIVES SINHALA-BUDDHIST AN UNDUE, UNWARRANTED BAD NAME and BAD PUBLICITY WITHOUT DOING ANYTHING BAD AND WITHOUT DOING ANYTHING WRONG.

    IT IS THE BUDDHIST AND SINHALA-BUDDHIST WHO HAS TO INVEST AND KEEP BUDDHISM IN VIEW. NOT THE STATE NOT ANYBODY ELSE.

    The government MUST do it’s job irrespective of what world view is in question to ensure the rights of THE INDIVIDUAL are protected.

    Because as a state you can ONLY guarantee the rights of individuals.

    At the same time the Sangha has a right to gather in peace and discuss anything they like….It could be the weather, politics, state affairs THAT IS THEIR DEMOCRATIC right.

    If someone on the other hand say that people has NO RIGHT TO GATHER AND PROTEST to Government then this is NOT DEMOCRACY IN PRACTICE.

    On the other hand the ELDERS OF THE 4 THERAVADA SECTS should have equally criticised Fonseka for creating problems for the state based on his personal feelings and inadequacies (Look at his letter of resignation).

    PLEASE NOTE THAT BUDDHA OUR GURU AND GURU OF THE DOCTRINE NEVER APPOINTED ANY LEADER AFTER HIS DEMISE. AND WHAT A WELL THOUGHT OUT MOVE THIS WAS FROM THE FULLY AWAKENED ONE– SIDDHARTHA GAUTAMA BUDDHA.

    THe MAHANAYAKES ARE ONLY ELDERS OF THE 4 SECTS.

    The Buddhist Education system needs to be re-vitalised and there needs to be more interaction between the members of the order of Sangha and the lay followers. Then ONLY the true Dhamma can prosper.

    Every world view has moved from the place of origin to other areas. Look at Christianity, Islam and Hinduism for that matter…..Hinduism is less because it is a cultural movement as well that is why it is more less concentrated in India.

    I support this 100%
    “As a Buddhist and therefore a member of the Sasana, I humbly call upon the Most Venerable Mahanayaka Theros to consider a Dharma Sangayana. ”

    By the way I believe Mahinda Rajapakse should be the President but this action taken by him can not be supported. As it is anti-democratic.

  • myownopinion

    Organized religion has vested interests anywhere in the world. It’s not limited to the Buddha Sasana in Sri Lanka. No world faith today necessarily represents the original teachings of its master.

    So why is Malinda, a self-styled political analyst, taking up the case against the Buddhist establishment in this country at this moment. After all, it’s not as if it seriously deviated from the right path all of a sudden.

    Now, it’s easy to spot the political motivations behind this. The Maha Sangha, who have up to now generally given their blessing to the powers that be, have taken a different stand vis-a-vis the Fonseka arrest, and left ruling-party backers like Malinda with no choice but to attack it any which way they can.

    Probably emboldened by the result of his long-drawn debate with Dayan Jayatilleke over devolution, he has ventured to take on the one institution no major political movement in this country has dared to. He definitely has overreached himself, as the Buddhist community at large is not about to rally behind him against the prelates.

    What he seems to have forgotten is that devolution and religion are two different matters. People are emotionally so attached to religion that they are prepared to not only accept it as it is, but also defend it when it looks threatened. Especially after the state media have been whipping up nationalist sentiment over the past few years, the masses are in no mood to let a Harvard-educated guy call the bluff of what in their eyes is part of the very essence of being Sri lankan.

  • mov

    Good debate.

  • ordinary lankan

    yes rather good debate

    dear Malinda
    are you the same person who wrote long ago – last night I took a walk with Rabindranath …. I like that person much better

    dont strengthen and develop your hatred – you need to read some Buddhism yourself – concept and reality by Nanananda and Violence and Disruption in society by Elizabeth Harris –

    these works show the fatal flaw in using concepts of any kind in dealing with reality – not only do you depart from an empirical perspective but you will also get swallowed by the very concept you create – so be careful

    the curse – as you call it – is YOU and certainly myself – it must be confronted within – the time that you spend in this country – why not learn some buddhism?

    with metta

  • SL Civilian

    Every person, institution (govt. ngo, sasana, church, mosque etc.) under the sun are imperfect. By the same token the Mahanayakes, NGOs et al are imperfect. If these people say that something is wrong e.g. stealing public money or repressing people because of what they hold as true etc. it is good to analyse those and remedy those than finding fault with them for not being CONSISTENT = PERFECT. NO one is perfect! Criticism given in good faith helps to improve our status.

  • Tmama

    Malinda,

    You have raised a hornets nest of issues that are very necessary and pertinent in the context today.

    One guy hd opined that to remain a Buddhist should one observe Pansil .

    If one swots a mosquito, harbour carnal thoughts on women, lie for gains [advertise products etc.], take intoxicating drinks,drugs or pills, fiddle expenses, take bribes, should they go into the non Buddhist register,that some section of buddhist faith wanted to want to bring about.

    I replied that I personally did not think so.

    IN Buddhism one does not need to commit a crime to suffer for it [Chethanahan Bhikkawe Kamman Wadami]. Murderers who plot at a distance are adding up their Karmic forces. Because one can’t lie to oneself. I heard that even Siddhartha’s mother Mahamaya observed Atasilin at thetime of Siddhartha’s birth that is before Buddha’s teachings were available.

    Pansil is shared across many religions across India at the time of Buddha. One learned monk explained to me that everyone who believed the three precepts Anithya, Dukka Anathma are Buddhists.

    IN my private surveys, I found almost 99 % believe in these three i.e

    – Anithya, – death is certain, even life of Earth and Sun etc. are finite, scientific thinking Darwin, Human Gnome etc. has made many stories of a all powerful GOd made world an irrelevancy

    – accept Dukka that is one has not chosen one’s decaying body and place, environment in life and hence always yearn for things one does not come to possess after much hard work and thus may yearn and suffer, and

    – accept that there is no hell or heaven awaiting us after death.

    In the medieval world people believed they can expiate sins by making large gifts to the Temple or Church. That is the secret of the power of religions. That is why Cardinal Wolsey amassed riches to build Hampton Court or you see so many massive stupas in Sri Lanka. That practice is not that prevalent today. Most people believe the effort, the introspective analysis required to achieve Nirvana should be carried out within the time span one has as a human being.

    In actual Buddhist teachings Anthma concept is explained as ‘Nacha so Nacha anyo’ Rebirth is not you – but only the product of your yearnings, murderous thoughts, carnal cravings or greed or even yearnings to build a better world, universal heath care etc. Good and bad yearnings extend sansara.

    So possibly there are far more Buddhists in the sensate, numerate, literate world [but not in the animal world]. Remember certain human beings say in the armed forces maybe living in conditions nearer animal world constantly harbouring thoughts of ‘kill’ or be killed may be for understandable self protection reasons and for higher ideals of humanity but that is a form of hell.