# Akon and Buddhism in Sri Lanka

The Government on Tuesday (March 23rd) announced its decision to deny an entry visa to singer Akon who was scheduled to perform next month in Colombo with co-singers, J-Sean and Kelly. The basis for the denial of Akon’s visa was a music video of the singer, containing a clip of scantily clad models dancing against the back drop of a Buddhist statue. The Government’s decision has been ratified by the Cabinet. The announcement came soon after the MTV/MBC head office was attacked by a group of armed thugs attached to a notorious politician for organizing the event.

Prior to the attack, a group of Buddhist Monks expressed their dismay over bringing down someone like â€œAkon” who had insulted Lord Buddha and Buddhism in his music videos, an allegation the singer vehemently denies.

It is against this dramatic backdrop that I wish to express my views on the whole Akon drama. As a follower of the Buddhist Philosophy, I don’t think anything can undermine or undervalue the greatness of the Buddhist philosophy or the respect for Lord Buddha.

Among the primary concepts of Buddhist philosophy is “The Middle Way,” the practice of avoiding extreme views and lifestyle choices.Â  Lord Buddha had also taught the importance of Tolerance and Equanimity (Upeksha), and had demonstrated them in his personality.

Buddhist literature describes the manner in which the Lord Buddha treated women like Sundhari Paribrajika and Chinchimanavika, even those who vilified him in public. Lord Buddha did not chase them out of the Monastery nor did the Buddha ask them to be arrested or charged in court. The Buddha simply maintained silence and demonstrated compassion to those who insulted him. That was the example the Lord Buddha set to his followers: tolerance and compassion to those who defame you.

Lord Buddha opened the door of his Sasana to everyone including murderers, thieves, prostitutes and the lower castes. According to Buddhist texts â€œLady Patachara” who was in a weak mental state following the death of her family, did not have a cloth on her body when she came running towards the Monastery where the Lord Buddha resided. Although Patachara was in a state of shock, the Lord Buddha expressed his compassion to her.

This was not the only instance where an artist has been accused of releasing material prejudicial to ethnic groups and religious harmony. Late King of Pop, Michael Jackson was also criticised for his lyrics in the song, â€œThey Don’t Really Care About Us” which contained a phrase, â€œJew me, sue me everybody do me, kick me, kike me,Â don’t you black or white me” which was dubbed â€œanti-semitic.” Jackson later apologized for the lyrics and later changed them for his single.

Singer Akon now says that he was not aware about the statue being on his set, when he shot the video. Following the decision by the Government to deny entry visa to Akon, the disheartened singer has released a statement saying, â€œI would never set out to offend or desecrate anyone’s religion or religious beliefs.Â  I myself am a spiritual man, so I can understand why they are offended, but violence is never the answer and I am disheartened to hear about what happened in Sri Lanka”.

I feel that the Government’s decision to deny a visa to Akon on the grounds of blasphemy is unwise and not according to the principles of the Buddhist Philosophy. The Government was gracious enough to invite the Leader of the Myanmar Junta who’s alleged to have committed atrocities against civilians and Buddhist Monks in Myanmar. It’s also amusing to see the very person who staged a demonstration outside the Kelaniya Temple vilifying General Sarath Fonseka when he paid a visit to the temple, contesting the upcoming Parliamentary Election.

In my view it’s not Akon who has insulted the Lord Buddha and his teachings. It is the Noble Buddha Shrawakas (followers) living in this â€œParadise Island” that have insulted the Lord Buddha and his teachings by our double standards!

• wijayapala

Dear tis-a-small-world,

I completely agree with you. Sri Lanka should open its doors to all the refuse of the West bringing the eloquent “Sexy Bitch” lyrics.

I am looking forward to the day when all Sri Lankans- Sinhala, Tamil, Muslim- refer to women as “bitch” or “hoe” and thus become a truly enlightened society.

• Burning_Issue

This is just a tip of an iceberg; there is much more to come from the Sinhala Buddhist Nationalists! I know that I will offend many genuinely decent Sinhala Buddhists by pointing this out.

The Sinhalese very rightly accused the Tamil masses for not rising up against the LTTE terrorism. But that very Sinhala masses are silent on the face of rising Sinhala Buddhist extremism. Ironically, the Tamil Hindus will be safe as long as they do not ask for separation, but both the Muslims and Christians watch your back!

• Sam

Yes, AKON is a the light of enlightenment, perhaps we can follow his example and have simulatd sex on stage with 14 year olds, run about bashing female fans and steal cars just like AKON; that sounds like an awesome thing to do and it will certainly propel as forward culturally and we will be on par with the far more advanced west. Perhaps we can also make our own music video and play it on all our TV stations which show ”bitches and hos” dancing with G strings around a statue of Jesus or Mary mother of Jesus and show it off in Negombo where Catholics are in a majority… or maybe a video of the same with “bitches and hoes” dancing half naked around a statue of Prophet Muhammad and show it off in Kalmunai where Muslims are in the majority? That would be only fair and it we would be demonstrating out commitment to freedom of speech/expression and become a REAL democracy.

• Burning_Issue

Dear Wijayapala,

“I am looking forward to the day when all Sri Lankans- Sinhala, Tamil, Muslim- refer to women as “bitch” or “hoe” and thus become a truly enlightened society”

We both agree that, generally the Sri Lankans are not stupid people. We bring up children teaching the values that we know and practice; they should be able to sift through anything that is thrown at them and judge for themselves as to what is right and wrong.

Where would one draw the line in terms of protecting a society in this digital age? In my view the society should rise above all this and become strong; this is where the focus should be on and not at banning anything and everything; it is pathetic.

• Nihal Fernando

Dear Mr Wijayapala – I quite agree with you. In the western world the woman is only a conceivable material.with some utility values but our buddhist way we have been taught to respect them. The mothehood of a woman is only second to Buddhahood and we have have great reverance on them. We do not want any man black or white to come to our shore and display his male chuvinism calling “Sexy Bitch” in a public performance.with or without Buddha’s statue. They also have a lot of four letter words in their raps that are even detested by some in America.

• SomewhatDisgusted

Wijayapala,

That’s orthogonal to the point. The *reason* expressed for denying visa is insult to Buddhism, not crudity or uselessness.

• 2nd Southerner

We all know how the buddha is portrayed in the west; the statues, pictures, figures are all placed in inappropriate places and disrespected. Our tolerance levels are tested here. We email each other and others back home how the buddha is treated in the western world. We condemn how the buddha is treated. We try to reach out to the western media and appropriate authorities that what is being done to the buddha is inappropriate and disrespectful to our religion and little attention is given to us.

So in a way it is good that he got denied.

Him being unaware of a statue being there on his set is just plain irresponsible. Still think he should offer an apology that holds more value than a lousy PR statement if he really wants to come down to SL.

• Shamed Lankan

To Nihal Fernando and Wijayapala: Here’s a novel idea: If you and your friends don’t want to see Akon, don’t go see him! But how about letting other, more open-minded people make up their own minds with you doing it for them? I realize promoting independent thinking is frowned upon – and probably illegal – in Mahinda Rajapakse’s Sri Lanka, where the government determines what people should see, hear and listen to.
By the way, Nihal, the way you describe Sri Lankans’ attitude toward women, one would think that domestic abuse, sexual violence and other crimes against women don’t exist in Sri Lanka. I have no idea under which rock you live, but let me assure you, Sri Lanka is not immune from violence against women. And it has nothing to do with rap lyrics or images in a music video.
It’s because of people like you that Sri Lanka will always be a backward, Third World nation.

• Praveen

I believe the best way to respect Gautama Buddha and all Buddhas of the past is to put their teachings into practice. The Buddha is not somewhere up in the sky shaking his head in disapproval at Akon’s video…he has left his plane of existence for good. All that remains are his teachings and the practice of Vipassana that he has showed us. I think we should focus on bettering ourselves rather than impose regulations upon others.

• yapa

For our idiots denying visa to Akon is a much significant issue than insulting the Lord Buddha. All are voicing for Akon, why is this enthusiasm? Why this much of fuss? Are these paid agents of Akon?

I think most want to show that they are full of post-modern ideas. I don’t see any other reason to rally round an insignificant man for us. Why there is no such enthusiasm to bring down a great scientist like Stephen Hawking? Soon I think these idiots will pay homage to brats like Akon instead of Lord Buddha or Jesus Christ.

Also there is a popular tendency in many of the “modern thinkers” and Buddhism bashers to quote Buddhist teaching itself to undermine Buddhism. This is a case of “Urage malu urage ange thiyala kepeema” (Cutting pork keeping on the pig itself). They quote Buddhist teaching out of context for its destruction. This is a very common crude method used by superficial thinkers. They have no creativity to find a better way to bash something. Their ulterior motive is clearly visible and they have no capacity even to hide it.

See how these moderners have excited when some thing against their will is taken place. Are these not fundamentalists than who threw stones at MTV. They (stone thewers at MTV) at least threw stones against something bad happened to a part and parcel of their lives. The cyberspace stone throwers and media stone throwers are throwing their stones for a man whose name was never known before a couple of weeks ago.

These modern fundamentalists think that even a crow cannot fly over their heads. They protest against them.

These are not more than modern parrots who do not know anything more than what they were taught. They are repeatedly uttering what they were taught by their masters. No, they are just tape records or CD’s which play when their masters push their buttons.

Thanks!

• yapa

“Ironically, the Tamil Hindus will be safe as long as they do not ask for separation, but both the Muslims and Christians watch your back!”

Please do not try to create another non existing irrelevant issue out of this incident.

Thanks!

• BUddhi

Those who support for Akon,
Buddha Statues can be purchased from anywhere in the world. Most people are keeping it as a decoration.
Has anyone see that jesus is keeping as a decoration ?
because only few people are fellowers of buddhism and treat as their religion.
My its constitution Sri lankan government must protect buddhism and this type of actions are part of it.
Those who are wishing a free country please tell me where it is exit? every country in the world are having their own protection sytem their own law and etc. If any Sri Lankan not happy then you can immigrate to the so called free country.

• Nihal Fernando

Shamed Lankan – Freedom of speech/expression, hullabaloo does not mean anybody can visit our country and display vulgar, outlandish, gross, barbaric performance to down grade our own cultural values. Our tolerance has been taken as our weakness by many of the Westerners that want to subjugate Sinhala to whims and fancies of their Christian idelogy. I do not mean to say that we do not have domestic violence, sexual abuse of women in our country. There are of course some incidents here and there. Let alone the Buddha statue but why should we so taken up so much with this Akon guy when he calls a woman “Sexy bitch” in his rap-crap? Will his presence take us to a forward march.

• Sinhala_Voice

HEY ALL THOSE LIBERALS>>>>

Why don’t western countries allow free drugs ??????

I guess the issue here is the same.

We have certain values in our country. And Akon does not stack up to any of those.

I doubt whether Akon can do a tour in Malaysia or Pakistan or India or Saudi Arabia or Indonesia or the Vatican City ……

The reason why Akon should be not allowed to tour is that this type of people are against the ETHOS of Sri Lanka. If they are Sri Lankan we have to tolerate them BUT we don’t have to import these RUBBISH from overseas to Sri Lanka.

HAVING A BUDDHA STATUE IN THE BACKGROUND IS NOT THE ISSUE HERE.

• Raji

“Will his presence take us to a forward march.”

Apparently some Sri Lankans believe he is some sort of messiah judging by the screaming and shouting witnessed after the government denied him a visa. The funniest was some lady on TV saying that her basic human rights were violated when Akon was denied a visa… Frankly I think there are far, far better artists that Sri Lanka should have over.

• Patriot

Some of the comments above talk abt nude women etc. Well the very people must realise that a huge majority of the urban youth (Mostly Bhuddists and christians since hindus and muslims grow up with strict religious backgrounds) fill up the clubs in near to naked clothes end up with some random person overnight. If none of you have ever been to the Hikka festival, well i would say you go experience it once before you bleat on about Akon and his attraction to women.

• devotee

Sam, one word of correction, there is no image or statue of Prophet Mohamed PBUM, muslim do not have statue, image or symbol. muslims pray Almighty Allah alone. and we are commanded to respect others religion because non-muslims might insult Allah in ignorance. so I respect other’s religion but I do have a question to my beloved buddhist brothers and scholars. Did Lord Buddha ever request to erect his statue in any places especially streets and park? I ask this question from my buddhist friends I did not get a clear answer Please, answer it with possible quotation.

• People must learn to respect religions, religious philosophy and related culturo-religious symboles. Bikini clad women dancing before a religious symbol is not and cannot be the western way of apreciating freedom of expression!!!

• wijayapala

Dear Burning_Issue

I left you a message, I don’t know whether you saw it:

http://www.groundviews.org/2010/02/27/living-secular-in-the-%E2%80%98sinhala-buddhist-republic%E2%80%99-of-sri-lanka/

I know that I will offend many genuinely decent Sinhala Buddhists by pointing this out.

If you define “decent Sinhala Buddhists” as those who support concerts featuring dry-humping 14-year olds on stage, then no you probably have not offended them!

both the Muslims and Christians watch your back!

I did not not observe the Catholic Church or the Ulema protest the visa denial. How do you think they look at this episode?

We bring up children teaching the values that we know and practice; they should be able to sift through anything that is thrown at them and judge for themselves as to what is right and wrong… this is where the focus should be on and not at banning anything and everything; it is pathetic.

In that case, why not follow this course to its logical conclusion and unban things that are banned in the West? What about child pornography? After all, if the children are brought up with proper values, they will naturally avoid these things and we have nothing to worry about.

• wijayapala

Dear Shamed Lankan,

It’s because of people like you that Sri Lanka will always be a backward, Third World nation.

And if you were in charge, Sri Lanka would be a backward, Third World nation where women are referred to as hoes.

Out of curiosity, do you happen to be a bitch (sexy or otherwise)? As a staunch Akon supporter, I will protest the govt’s censorship by using his language on this forum. I trust that only the Sinhala Buddhist extremists here will have a problem with this.

• wijayapala

Dear SomewhatDisgusted,

You are focusing on the cause, I am focusing on the effect.

Personally I didn’t find the video insulting to Buddhism. There have been far worse episodes in Sri Lanka such as the racist fishmongers in Trincomalee setting up Buddha next to their stalls.

In any case, Buddha statues lack substance in the sense that they do not portray what Siddhartha Gautama looked like. A Muslim friend of mine once correctly pointed out that Buddha was not depicted in human form for several hundred years after his death.

• eddy

Akon is a clown used by some with agendas. Musicians should not get invlove in politics. The decision to stop is fair and just.We have enough of clowns and terrors, we need peace loving and reasonable people without ulterior motives.Keep the agendas going with more clowns.Runnin g short of ideas. To me Akon you are only so good for yourself. I would not give a hoot mate. [Go] off and go help your mates in Iraq and Afganistan.

• wnamal

What is the big deal about Akon. I live in the West and came to know about Akon only after this new item. If you are a Buddhist coutry first practice what you preach. Journalist have been killed (not singing). Prageth Ekanaligoda has been kidnapped and his family is waiting for him. Sarath Fonseka who nearly died for the country is now in a so called luxury house languishing (Rajapakaya is taking revenge). Politicians are fielding actress to get the poor peoples votes. Here we are talking about Akon. The TV is full of junk local and international. So what is the big deal about Akio. It is just hypocracy. That is why the rogues will come to power again after the April elections. Sri Lanka is a land of Hypocrites. It is an ashame on the Buddha. People are talking nonsense including Akon. Ashame on you. Talk something useful.

• Lord Basilisk

Most of the people think Akon is a god and that they should respect him. For my part I would miss a show from Akon rather than angering my brethren following Lord Buddha.

• ramona therese fernando

Huge differences between Maha Sanga remaining “tight-lipped” in the Akron case, and a small % of them garrulously vocal in the political arena.

Being “tight-lipped” in the Akron case meant that the Maha Sanga was not inciting violence or even preaching against the shaking of flesh in front of the icon of Buddha. That a few stones and some anger was hurled at the office means that some of Buddha’s followers want to protect their religion, culture and heritage from that what is drapaved. Now this is a far cry from strapping bombs and blowing up oneself and/or others, but even this can be seen as the cry from the majority of persons of a country to protect that which is in their best interests, both morally and responsibly towards themselves, their families, their ancestors and their descendants.

So therefore, if the Sri Lankan government has decided to protect the national interests for the majority of her persons in true democratic style, and not give a visa towards an artist where a culture of religious perversion has been only too obvious, it is then for the best for the majority of her persons of her nation.

Another question must be also asked. Will this artist’s performance in Sri Lanka be of any financial benefit to the nation? Unlike building stadiums for cricket matches where an income generated from cricket enthusiasts from around world will bring in much needed foreign exchange, and furthermore it will encourage a healthy sporting activities in the nations and especially for the youth, it is then difficult to see how Akron’s visit to Sri Lanka will generate any funds.

Akron’s visit will generate funds in this way:

â€¢ Lankan fans (mostly pro-western), and who enjoy that kind of rapping music will buy tickets

â€¢ Money of such fans living in Sri Lanka (money coming from the GDP pool in Sri Lanka) will go towards paying Akron and his team. Money will not be re-invested in Sri Lanka, but come back to the US.

â€¢ Sisera which will get some share of the profit will build up their station and maybe re-invest in more rapping music and artists.

â€¢ 0.1% of people buying tickets for this concert will come from outside and therefore generate 0.1% of profit from tourists coming all the way from other countries to watch this artist in Sri Lanka. Statistically it is seen that most tourists come and want to come to Sri Lanka for the Buddhist and Hindu heritages and the allurement of their ancient cultures.

How much better will it be if Sisera spent this money in developing the local artistic scene.

• ramona therese fernando

Sorry, i meant Akon!

• SomewhatDisgusted

Dear Wijayapala,

I agree with you on the effect and couldn’t care less for Akon or his slimy undulations and it probably is a good thing that neither the fellow nor his vile act is coming to Sri Lanka. However, it’s the cause that is under discussion. In that regard, what is your opinion on the reaction of the “angered Buddhists”? The very term seems an oxymoron and I do wonder how these so-called Buddhists relate it to the system of beliefs they are trying to teach others and what the Buddha himself would have to say about their actions? I truly feel sad that the name of such a great individual is being used to justify irrational and bigoted reactions.

Dear “Self-appointed holy guardians of Buddhism”,

As much as I love to hear how you consider yourselves to be guardians of ultimate truths, I sometimes do wonder why you don’t put your words into action, achieve Nirvana, and look at the rest of us deluded souls with some compassion? Surely, those privy to holy truths can easily convince us blasphemous mongrels by achieving Arahat status at the very least, and maybe doing a “yama maha pelahara” (a fire/water illusion emanating from the body) or perhaps use a little bit of “irdi balaya” (teleportation) to travel about and perhaps enlighten poor Akon? I ask because you insist on protecting your beliefs, but neither seem to understand not be able to demonstrate the truth of your claims either in practice or even at the very basic level of being compassionate and understanding.

All I see here is self-righteous anger, entirely reminiscent of the Taliban and other assorted Jihadists who went ballistic over that cartoon of Mohammed. At least they have an excuse for not being able to achieve anything in this earthly life, they have to die and be embraced by god after all. What in heaven’s name is your excuse?

• Michael

Personally, I don’t think Akon has got any talent and I am definitely not a fan. I wouldn’t have gone to his concert even if his visa was approved.

But I am seriously anxious about my own liberty, when the government gets to impose its own nationalism upon its people. I didn’t like it when they banned The Da Vinci Code in Sri Lankan cinemas, and I don’t like it when they denied Akon visa.

Problem is, most Sri Lankans don’t seem to care too much about personal liberty. Look at who they elected as President.

• Michael

Though the Da Vinci Code issue was not nationalistic, it was still a restriction on liberty that presupposed a lack of intelligence on the part of the public.

• Rohana Arambewala

First of all writer has shown the understanding and knowledge of Buddhism in great depth and that is admirable. There is also a limit to tolerance as Buddha has himself shown and preached us. I am not going into these details as I am not knowlegable as some of you in buddhism.

It is sad to see some people have used this opportunity to attack the government for personal vandetta and their own griviences. We only have to look at what is at stake here.

This is not the first time Sri Lankan governments in the past has taken decisions to deny visas for various reasons, for example UNP govt under Ranil expelled a British journalist within 24 hours for pointing out the faults in his 2002 CFA. Other UNP and SLFP govts have done so. Also only last year present govt cancelled the Visa of a prominent Minister of a European government. It is the govt’s right to do so for various reasons.

Like other govts around world has either refused or cancelled visa to many prominent people including this so called Akon. His tour to Australia was cancelled last year as the govt refused a visa due to his past history especially because of his criminal activities against underage girls. I never saw or heard Australians crying fowl. Majority of people in a country elect a govt and then the govt takes decisions according to their believes and that is what is expected from them. By doing this you always expect the extremes of the losing party to be annoyed as they have become a frustrated lot.

Now this writer also jumped the gun by accusing the govt. for various acts ignoring the fact it was the JHU who was responsible first for these attacks and then other parties affiliated to the govt and now criminal minister Mervin. But the writer has ignored or refused to acknowledge that a group has accepted responsibility for the attack and the Police have charged few in connection with this.

I also like to ask these people what happens to anyone if they mention anything about “ALLAH” let alone statues? Millions around the world will be screaming about how wrong it is? how many days the person will live after that? This is not Sinhala Buddhist extremism and only extremists against Sinhala buddhists trying to make it as that. It is so sad to read some comments as if Sri Lanka is the worse country in the world and Sinhala Buddhists are the worse mankind in the world. But then this called buddhis is giving the opportunity for these extrmists a reason to scream.

• Tis-a-small-world

Dear mr.rohana arambewala, first of all i would like to thank you for expressing your views on this article. I would like to answer to certain questions pointed by you. With regards to the fact i accused the government, i havent mentioned anywhere in my article that the government is responsible for attack on MTV. You have attributed these attacks to JHU. Well since 2005 the JHU have been supporting the govt of president Rajapaksa and many of the JHU starlwarts are contesting the election from UPFA. So the government is indirectly responsible if the JHU is involved in an attack. The JHU have already denied their hand in this attack. My problem with the government is, why did they issued a visa to the leader of the Myanmar Junta who is responsible for many attrocities against buddhist monks and buddhists? and rejected a visa to Akon on grounds of blasphamy? If the government can reject Akon? Then why did they accept the Burma Leader? Why double standards? So I really didnt jump to accuse the Government nor I am misinformed of what I’m talking.

• Shamed Lankan

@wijayapala: I dpn’t have to govern Sri Lanka for it to be a backward Third World nation. You guys are doing a wonderful job of making it so. I hate to point it out to you, but you do live in a backward Third World nation and you always will. Sri Lanka is [the way it is] because of the likes of you. You may think otherwise, but no matter how much you [Edited out] try, you will never ever even be able to rise to be a mediocre country.

• Human

@Shamed Lankan “but you do live in a backward Third World nation and you always will. Sri Lanka is [the way it is] because of the likes of you. You may think otherwise, but no matter how much you [Edited out] try, you will never ever even be able to rise to be a mediocre country.”

I’m opposed to the violence directed at Akon and all for him performing in Sri Lanka â€” but your comments are really offensive. Whatever Sri Lanka is I’d rather live there than anywhere else. If that’s living in a “backward Third World” nation then be it.

• Heshan

SomeWhat Disgusted:

“I agree with you on the effect and couldn’t care less for Akon or his slimy undulations and it probably is a good thing that neither the fellow nor his vile act is coming to Sri Lanka”

But the funny thing is that with all the publicity generated by the Akon incident, more people in SL will probably end up watching his video online (if only due to sheer curiosity), than if it were the case that he simply came, gave his concert, and left. It reminds me of the censorship of tamilnet. Those who wanted to visit the site still found a way.

• yapa

“If the government can reject Akon? Then why did they accept the Burma Leader? Why double standards? So I really didnt jump to accuse the Government nor I am misinformed of what I’m talking.”

Tis- A – Marvelous Argument.

These learned writers don’t understand the differences between these two persons.

Will you be treated and accepted equally as Mahinda Rajapaksha or Ranil Wickramasinghe anywhere in the world? Do you expect you to be treated so?

Tis- A-Marvelous world!

Thanks!

• yapa

“As much as I love to hear how you consider yourselves to be guardians of ultimate truths, I sometimes do wonder why you don’t put your words into action, achieve Nirvana, and look at the rest of us deluded souls with some compassion? ”

I guessed some people would end their journey here.

Most of the anti- Buddhists want us to be tolerant for any bloody thing, to be in meditation until we are massacred, try to achieve Nirvana until they come and put their shit on our door steps. This is the kind of Buddhists they want.

Anti-Buddhists want Buddhist to behave the way they (anti-Buddhists) want. Please preach the people of your category:anti-Buddhists. We very well know how to react and behave according to the situation. (You must have heard of Contingency Theory)

(Above is a very crude and very popular argument among not much educated commons. People who have no creativity have to copy such arguments. Shame!)

Thanks!

• Tis-a-small-world

Dear yapa, well with regards to akon and burma leader. Akon is a singer and burma leader is a leader of a country. Akon is a convicted robber, have been accused for his erotic behavior with underage girls and was accused of insulting buddha in his video. The burma leader is accused of mass scale atrocities against buddhists and buddhist monks. So in that way i dont see a difference between the two of them. And I’m brainy enough to understand the diferance between President Rajapaksa and Ranil Wickramasinghe. As i am an ordinary citizen, i dont expect myself to be treated like the m. But if the Goverment is so concerned about people defaming buddhism, then it should have rejected the visa for Burma leader for his record against buddhits in myanmar. Dear yapa as an ardent buddhist if you agree with the government’s decision to reject visa to akon, in the same way you should disagree with the govt for giving visa to burma leader. Although you have objected my views, i respect your views. Thanks for your involvement in constructive debate!

• Sohan Fernando

What’s truly terrible is this: it seems to me we have made statues more important than people and values?

I mean, the primary reason for the ban SHOULD have been the disgusting behavior (whether in action, words, or anything else) on many of his videos or performances, regardless of whether or not any of that took place in front of a statue.

Otherwise, in effect we are saying that we don’t mind and we will allow disgusting dehumanizing of women or anyone, or any other sexual or other immorality and bad values that he is accused of; but if any of this is in front of a religious icon then we will be up in arms so to speak. That’s rather absurd isn’t it?

What do we think the religious leaders depicted by any such statue, would say about such an attitude? The best and only way to respect God or one’s god or gods or religious leader, is not by respecting statues of him/them, but by respecting his/their teachings and values.

So why is it that the authorities who banned this, and some of the people who were against him, seem more upset about an alleged insult to a particular religion in an incident of 2 seconds, rather than being upset about a far more clear insult spanning many videos and performances, that is an insult to family values; an insult to morality; an insult to the reverence deserved by the Human Being and the human body?

Don’t misunderstand me, I am NOT saying it was alright to have such behavior in front of such a statue, IF it was in fact intentional. I am not saying that. I am just pointing out some priorities. Statues cannot ever be given the same amount of importance as people or moral values.

now going a little offtrack, there are immoral VIPs who are invited to all kinds of events, or even made the chief guest of such things. If Akon’s morals are in fact despicable so as to ban him from coming here (and from the little I’ve read, ignoring the statue incident, I might be inclined to agree with such a banning) then we are fools and hypocrites if we are so blind that we don’t see that we are inviting people far worse than Akon to our other events. Let’s get some consistency shall we? and first get our priorities straight.

• wijayapala

Dear SomewhatDisgusted,

In that regard, what is your opinion on the reaction of the “angered Buddhists”? The very term seems an oxymoron and I do wonder how these so-called Buddhists relate it to the system of beliefs they are trying to teach others and what the Buddha himself would have to say about their actions? I truly feel sad that the name of such a great individual is being used to justify irrational and bigoted reactions.

“Angry Buddhism” has been in SL for a long time. In fact, I can’t think of another Buddhist country outside SL where kings who used force to defend Buddhism were extolled in literature.

This “angry,” defensive mentality of the Sinhala Buddhist probably explains why Buddhism survived only in SL and nowhere else in South Asia, and why SL has the oldest continuing tradition of Buddhism in the world.

• Heshan

Mahinda Rajapakse is good friends with all of the anti-Buddhists.

“On 27 September 2007, the military junta that has governed Myanmar for 60 years, ordered the repression of the monks, who were only seeking respect for human rights and greater democracy in the country: Monasteries were raided, monks were arrested, many were killed or forced into exile.

Ashin Issariya – one of the founders of the Alliance of All Burmese Monks (Abma) – reports: “The generals have not ceased to insult and punish monks and the Buddhist religion. More than 270 religious are still held for their alleged political activities”.

http://www.asianews.it/news-en/The-Burmese-junta-continues-the-persecution-of-Buddhist-monks-16968.html

———————————————

Here is Mahinda Rajapakse shaking hands with the Burmese leader:

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_BKEsPchLV78/SvwEjM_T_YI/AAAAAAAABEY/Y3rsNRhyfGQ/s1600/mahinda_general_than_shwe.jpg

Here is Mahinda Rajapakse shaking hands with the Chinese leader:

http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2008-08/08/xin_19208050806349532409917.jpg

http://theblackcordelias.files.wordpress.com/2009/01/dalai-lama1.jpg

Why has Mahinda Rajapakse denied him a visa?

Colombo rejected visa to Dalai lama

http://www.lankanewspapers.com/news/2009/8/47253_space.html

• ramona therese fernando

Huge differences between the GOSL interacting with the Burmese government and The GOSL endorsing a visa for Akon. No double standards here as the two entities cannot be compared.

It is the right of the people of Sri Lanka to have a government which will interact with every other government in the world it feels it would server her people best. Sri Lanka can learn from Burmese socialist styles, and Burma can learn the way Sri Lanka conducts her democracy. Also the two countries can share Buddhism as their main religion and Burma can learn (and has learnt) from Sri Lanka, the organizational structure of the Maha Sanga, and their role to play within any society.

Akon, on the other hand, is an individual artist with no advantage towards Sri Lanka, her cultural scene or financial scene. Now if Akon was going to perform some kind of charitable work for the victims of the tsunami or veteran soldiers, or for the IDP’s, then apology from him and some kind of enrollment in Buddhism classes might be have been permissible. But if he is just there to entertain for the sake of a few rapping fans, and for the distinction of this world famous artist perform in Sri Lanka, then no amount of conversion and lessons on Buddhism will satisfy the poor common person who only wants to live a life of peace within the precepts of Buddhism.

I might add, though, that Akon’s song “Lonely” is very moving.

• longus

To devotee;There is no sermon or discourse by the Buddha in which he has recommended erection of statues in order to worship him.It can be taken as a later addition in order for the devotees to observe reverence in him,which is amply portrayed in the “Samaadhi Statue” in Anuradhapura.But it doesn’t mean the practice should be discontinued as the statue has become an integral part of the fabric of the Buddhist culture.

May be the symbol has overtaken the true message of Buddhism,but who are we to pass judgements on people’s beliefs?Do we have a right to ridicule the beliefs of people.Nobody has a right to insult.

To Yapa;Your last comment strikes the nail on the head.If you want to question a religion or a belief system their is a way of doing it.A scientific opinion of a belief with facts is always welcome in Buddhism.There are number of books written in this context.

I invite you to read the two books “The Greatest Show On Earth” and “God Delution” written by the famous writer Dorkins.

• ramona therese fernando

Huge differences between the GOSL interacting with the Burmese government and the GOSL endorsing a visa for Akon. No double standards here as the two entities cannot be compared.

It is the right of the people of Sri Lanka to have a government which will
interact with every other government in the world it feels it would serve her
people best. Sri Lanka can learn from Burmese socialist styles, and Burma can
learn the way Sri Lanka conducts her democracy. Also the two countries can shareBuddhism as their main religion and Burma can learn (and has learnt) from Sri Lanka, the organizational structure of the Maha Sanga, and their role to play within any society.

Akon, on the other hand, is an individual artist with no advantage towards Sri
Lanka, her cultural scene or financial scene. Now if Akon was going to perform
some kind of charitable work for the victims of the tsunami or veteran soldiers,
or for the IDP’s, then apology from him and some kind of enrollment in Buddhism classes might be have been permissible. But if he is just there to entertain for the sake of a few rapping fans, and for the distinction of this world famousartist perform in Sri Lanka, then no amount of conversion and lessons on Buddhism will satisfy the poor common person who only wants to live a life of
peace within the precepts of Buddhism.

I might add, though, that his song “Lonely” is very moving.

• Heshan

Ramona Therese:

Yes, Sri Lanka has learned from Burmese socialist styles. The levels of repression and oppression parallel each other very closely indeed. If Sarath Fonseka had been elected President, we might have seen a military government in SL, such as one finds in Burma right now.

• SomewhatDisgusted

Dear Wijayapala,

This “angry,” defensive mentality of the Sinhala Buddhist probably explains why Buddhism survived only in SL and nowhere else in South Asia, and why SL has the oldest continuing tradition of Buddhism in the world.

In other words, a meme that is willing to kll, and which is in effect, no different from any other religion? So what good does this continuing tradition do its adherents if they are as violent and chauvinistic as the rest?

• yapa

Dear Sohan Fernando:

“The best and only way to respect God or one’s god or gods or religious leader, is not by respecting statues of him/them, but by respecting his/their teachings and values.”

If you don’t have the best go for the second best!

I think you know the value of “Freedom of Choice”. Isn’t this profound western principle applicable in this eastern scenario?

Thanks!

• yapa

Dear Tis-a-small-world

“But if the Goverment is so concerned about people defaming buddhism, then it should have rejected the visa for Burma leader for his record against buddhits in myanmar.”

These are two incomparable things. It is like comparing a coconut to an apple. You must understand the subtleties running behind these issues.

Thanks!

• yapa

Dear Sohan Fernando;

“Statues cannot ever be given the same amount of importance as people or moral values.”

Many people of today are so much used to this materialistic and consumerist worldview that they they see only the material value of every thing. They don’t see the underlying non material value attached to them.

A Buddha statue is no more a piece of clay after it is Transform into a Buddha statue. Buddhist don’t pay homage to a piece of lay, but pay a great respect to a Buddha statue, because they invariably identify the “Non-Material values attached/added. They have the very natural inherent intuition to identify them, which many of our learned people of today are lacking. They have no sense organs to identify such subtleties. A man is not just his physic. A man is a totality or a composition of physical, mental, moral, spiritual, social and political….etc. ,etc. components. People’s needs are a complex mixture of them. One cannot grossly say that physical needs are always more important than others. In some cases and instances others may become more important than physical needs. We go to temple, kovil, church or to mosque not because we get some material benefits.

You may know that our kings risked their lives to protect the sacred Tooth Relic and Pathra Dhatuwa (Begging bowl used by the Buddha). These sacred things were more valuable than their lives to them. They have understood the underlying values of these “material” things.

It is very easy to argue in favour of material values, because almost all can see and feel them: they are tangible. It is not that easy to see or feel these non material things. But it doesn’t mean they are non existent or unimportant. If anybody thinks so most of the time they are not capable to capture and understand such subtleties. I think post modern man of today was unable to identify these underlying values even under their sophisticated electronic microscopes. It is not the fault of the microscope but I think is of the viewer.
With the eyes blinded by the materialism they don’t see what is lying in the glass strips held under the microscope. I think this is a tragedy faced by the modern day “Homo_Sapien”.

Thanks!

• yapa

Dear longus;

Thanks for the information. I read about a half of “The Greatest Show On Earth”, I will try to read both. Thanks again!

• The Secret Agent

“Freedom of speech/expression, hullabaloo does not mean anybody can visit our country and display vulgar, outlandish, gross, barbaric performance to down grade our own cultural values” – Nihal Fernando

F’do, Do you have a young sis or a friend-girl? If so, ask her to dress-up quite normally (not like a sexy bitch!) and simply take the 5.10pm bus to Galle from the main Fort bus terminal – the one hat runs right down the southern Sinhala-Buddhist hearland. Ask her not to sit but remain standing through-out the journey and then get a report on her commuter experience?

How almost every male commuter makes good advantage of the jam-packed conditions of the local buses to do the perverted press-on on women much to their despair of the ladies – and how the vitims scramble to sit down at the first available seat. Public exposure of genitals (often by lifting their sarongs), public masturbation and similar displays are common behaviors by Sri Lankan men – and these perversions have been going on for decades, on a daily basis, without any actions by officials (they often are the worst offenders). Hardly ever are there such perverted behaviors among communters of public transposrtation in the US or in Europe. Your chracterization that “yes, abuses here and there occur in Sri Lanka” is a gross trivilization of the daily perverse behaviors of Sri Lankan men. And let’s not even get into the worst kinds of sexual perversions that occur at the famous Freshman ragging at Sri Lankan universities – a sicko form of induction for new comers unique only to Sri Lanka’s higher education system!! Bravo, purtitan Sinhalese-Buddhists!

I can write a book about the social perversions of Sri Lanka backed by photographs, and testimonials of victims compiled over many years by a supra state organization. Your attempt to project your society as holier-than-thou in comparison to the West/US’s open sexual expressions – only makes yours the most hypocritical in the world. Ask your sis or friend-girl who the real hypocrites are and stop exposing your sheer hypocritical nakedness.

• Heshan

“and why SL has the oldest continuing tradition of Buddhism in the world.”

What is it that’s particularly stunning and glamorous about Sinhala-Buddhism that sets it apart from other forms of Buddhism? The Buddha himself never wrote anything. So this “tradition” regardless of how old it is can only consist of ideas that were passed down orally and at some point transcribed. Ideas which were mostly borrowed from Vedanta and modified extensively so that everyone from the village witch to the court jester could understand them. If you are really proud of a tradition of borrowed ideas, so be it. Each to his own!

• Anvil

“our chracterization that “yes, abuses here and there occur in Sri Lanka” is a gross trivilization of the daily perverse behaviors of Sri Lankan men. ”

That’s right, keyword being SRI LANKAN men… what, you don’t think Sinhalese Christian men rape, eve tease, steal, lie, loot, kill or do anything depraved? You don’t think Sri Lankan Muslim men do any of that? You don’t think Tamil Hindu men do any of that? Look at what Catholic priests are up to in Negombo, Wattala and other parts of the country (and the rest of the world) and one just has to go hmmmm. Pointing fingers at just the Sinhalese Buddhists is not going to work….

• well said, secret agent!! akon coming to sunny lanka will have no impact on our daily travels in packed buses and trains….the indignities we, as women have to suffer, no matter what we wear (long skirts and shapeless blouses, even)…the perverts in this country will carry on, akon or no akon!
for the doubters, never mind the trains, take the 138 bus at rush hour!!
also how many music videos have been shot in brazil with christ the redeemer statue looking down on them???? lots. haven’t heard of protest there though, despite it being a mostly a christian country…

• yapa

Dear The Secret Agent;

“How almost every male commuter makes good advantage of the jam-packed conditions …………………………………….sheer hypocritical nakedness.

May be all true and we have enough hooligans, still we don’t need any other outside hooligan/s to be imported to make it in excess of them or to make Sri Lanka a brothel house for foreign criminals.

Akon is a Cultural Hit Man! (Secret Agent?)

Let him live in his country with all sorts of criminal acts with 14 yr old girls or whoever it is and let us live the way we want in this troubled country. Why anybody wants to catch fish here? We are not going to catch fish by force in others’ territorial waters.

Sri Lanka is not a brothel house to entertain all sorts of bastard. It is welcome Sri Lanka safeguarding and holding its dignity high with a good back bone.

Thanks!

• yapa

Dear Sohan Fernando;

“Statues cannot ever be given the same amount of importance as people or moral values.”

Why then modern people like give an enormous value and price for “Mona Lisa”, Isn’t that only a little bit of valueless paint on a piece of paper/cloth?

World is not flat to understand easily. It is a complicated ball most of the time stuck in the throats of many. It is not easy to swallow as we think! Even if we swallow it with difficulty, it is not easy to digest.

Thanks!

Thanks!

• BalangodaMan

I agree with Secret Agent: Please someone correct me if I’m wrong, but I heard that in SL there is no concept of rape within marriage.

To Wijayapala,

If you do not see that the expression ‘angered Buddhist’ is an oxymoron either you do not understand what an oxymoron is, or you do not understand what ‘a Buddhist’ is.

I think SL’s problem is, we use a lot of internationally/commonly used words (like ‘Buddhism’) without really understanding what they mean – eg. democracy, freedom, freedom of expression etc. We pride ourselves that SL is a Buddhist country but ironically most Buddhists in SL do not understand what it is.

An ‘angered Buddhist’ is someone who thinks he/she is a Buddhist, who has failed to successfully apply and benefit from the teachings of Buddhism in their lives, or more probably never tried to apply the teachings, or never wanted to try to be a Buddhist. Such a person had Buddhism thrust upon him/her by an accident of birth, rather than through reasoned choice. An ‘angered Buddhist’ does more harm to the reputation of this great ancient philosophy than a 2 second film edit that the film editors were unaware of. Clearly the producers of the AKON video had no intention of insulting – if the location for the shoot was selected for the existence of the Buddha statute they would have shown more of it. The same cannot be said about you Wijayapala – you know, or ought to know what Buddhism is about, and your refusal to acknowledge the values of Buddhism is a lifetime’s intentional living insult to Buddhism – far more damaging than a 2 second unintentional edit by someone who could not have known.

• Laughing Lankan

greetings everyone!!!

its’s amazing to see these comments!!! the ideology and thinking of some are…… what can i say seriously shows how screwed up our mindset is!!! after all this is just a song… if Akon’s sexy bitch song is the problem then are you going to ban it from being played in the radio stations?? or is this the very first song that has come out referring to a woman as bitch??!!

if you’re saying the reason for the ban is women in bikinis dancing in front of the statue of Lord Buddha then what about the souvenir with the tattooed picture of Lord Buddha on the bare back of a woman made available to tourists by the Ministry of Tourism????

and some are trying to bring in an ethnic issue into this as well… and the dude who says “hindus and muslims are brought up in strict religious backgournds”.. what bullshit is that?? seems like he hasn’t been to a night club in colombo…

cut the crap ppl… its not akon who has to be banned rather these stupid third grade ideologies we see amongst us!!!

• The Secret Agent

To Anvil: “Pointing fingers at just the Sinhalese Buddhists is not going to workâ€¦.”

Nearly 100% of commuters of the 5:10 evening Fort-Galle bus are Sinhalese Buddhists puritans. Nonetheless, not only Tamil, Hindu and Muslim men but the world over there are perverts. My point is not so much about human frailties but about the sheer hypocrisy of Sinhalese Buddhists who perpetually try to project a holier-than-thou image to the world and yet behave in the most perverted of ways.

To Yapa: “May be all true and we have enough hooligans …”

So you think that every man who does the press-on is a hooligan and not a sexually repressed Sinhala-Buddhist man, huh? Go ask your sis, wife or girl-friend. And furthermore, you think that every univ. senior who demand that the freshmen do the “crotch-train” at ragging is also a hoologan? Perhaps you live not in Sri Lanka but in La-la land. Get real, my friend go in front of the mirror and accept your true Sinhala-Buddhist reality! [Go to the WHO site and look at the sad social statistics for Sri Lanka: infant motality; sexual abuse; rape; suicides; drug use; child prostitution; – and you will know the hell hole you and your leaders have created on the hellish-paradise.] On a more concilliatory note, kindly tryto be open minded and know that the West (and especially the US) are not what you guys think – yes, there’s lots of crap here, but by large these societies though primarily Jewish-Christian, the people are much more Buddhist-like than the Sinhalese-Buddhists of Sri Lanka. You guys are shouting from your rear-ends having never lived (for long times) and experienced these societies – I have for very many decades – lived both in the US and SL.

Best – and my apologies if hard feelings!

• ivan

Akon and Buddhism in Sri Lanka: A Monk’s Response

by Bhikkhu K. Tanchangya, The Buddhist Channel, Mac 28, 2010

Kandy, Sri Lanka — An article titled “Akon and Buddhism in Sri Lanka” under a pseudo name should not have been published in the Buddhistchannel, to say the least. Not only that the write-up is not coherent at all with the actual reasons why the Sri Lankan government was forced to deny a visa to someone called “Akon” but also the title itself is very outrageous.
The writer from Colombo who didn’t even have the guts to publish the write-up under his real name gave a pretty long discourse on “Buddhist Philosophy” in support of Akon and deplored the action of the SL government and the people of Sri Lanka as if Akon possesses all the virtues mentioned in his “Buddhist Philosophy” while the peoples who opposed don’t!
Yes, Lord Buddha did open the door of his sasana for everyone including “murderers, thieves (Akon is a convicted car thief!), prostitutes and the lower castes” but He also did not condone any such virtues as disrespect and indifference towards the sasana, a fact which the writer even does not know. Devadatta with his group of disciples and the group of seven monks who often showed disrespect and total disregard towards the sasana were deplored by the Buddha himself even to the extent that they were called “ignorant bugs and trouble makers destined for hell”.
Trying to justify someone’s disrespect and utter disregard for the sasana on the basis of twisted “Buddhist Philosophy” is nothing but lame. The importance of Buddhist Tolerance and Equanimity (upekkha) lies not in passive mode as such but in how one reacts to situations with Wisdom and Understanding (paÃ±Ã±a). When some anti-Buddhist quarters manufacture biscuits in Lord Buddha’s figure and bikinis with Buddha’s images, when ignorant movie makers show the Lord Buddha’s statue under the most disrespectful and provocative places like bars, resorts and hotel rooms — how someone like Tis-a-small-world, who might not be a Buddhist him/herself, would advise the Buddhists to react and protest such activities???!!!
As responsible and practicing Buddhists, we cannot keep quiet in the name of Tolerance and Equanimity. Let us not show our stupidity to the world by asking â€“ what is there in an image or statue?! If you can understand why Muslims and Christians protest at the slightest depiction of their religious leaders and scriptures in an unbecoming way, why can’t you understand why Sri Lankan Buddhists did what they did?!
The denial of visa to Akon was not merely on the basis of “a music video of the singer, containing a clip of scantily clad models dancing against the back drop of a Buddhist statue” as the writer has sweepingly stated. The Sri Lankan media has widely reported two facebook groups, one of which attracted more than 15,000 members within few days, opposing the proposed concert by Akon.
The members of these groups have distributed and widely publicize some information together with graphic photos and videos about Akon which do not fit into the Sri Lankan cultural setup. First of all, Akon is a convicted car thief. He has also generated a heated controversy in America and elsewhere for simulating a sex scene with and violently humping a 14 year-old girl on an open stage (Akon later downplayed the public outcry by saying he didn’t know that the girl was underage!). The singer has also come under fire for violently throwing a teenage boy off the stage into the crowd injuring some fans.
And secondly, his songs contain vulgar and culturally unpleasant lyrics as typical to all such R&B music. The objections therefore seem more of a cultural and moral nature that religious. Thirdly, the music video of the singer which generated protest from the Buddhist quarter was coinciding with his subsequent tour to Sri Lanka underlying the subtle message that the singer is above religion.
Now Akon’s denial that he was not aware about the statue being on his set when he shot the video was an outright lie, for he must have been blind for not seeing such a huge Buddha statue under which he shot his video with his scantily clad female dancers. Photo shots of the singer with the Buddha statue behind him, perhaps discussing the details of the scene, surrounded by the producers and dancers of the music video have emerged over the internet.
By consciously lying his ignorance about the Buddha statue being on his set, Akon was not only showing his further utter disregard for Buddhist feelings without apologizing but he was also systematically misrepresenting the religion to which he belongs when he said that he himself was a spiritual man. Akon can be worshipped by the sexualized West as a star but not in the East, at least not in Sri Lanka. Indeed, Akon further should feel himself lucky for being able to get away lightly from the rage of the Buddhists by his lie.
The organizers of the proposed concert at first tried to calm down the public protest by saying that they had prior support and permission from the Ministry of Tourism, a report which has later been rejected by the Ministry itself as a lie. In the midst of the crisis, some insensitive quarters even went onto air by saying that the music video in question was nothing at all because in the West Buddha statues are treated as mere decorations and ornaments!
Perhaps the peoples of the Buddhist world have been too tolerant and too compassionate for keeping silence over such display of the Lord Buddha as an object of mere decorations and beautifications of households and commercialized businesses!
The government of Sri Lanka certainly has other options to promote tourism in the country other than bringing down someone who has obviously insulted the country’s major religion and who obviously has no affinity to local culture and tradition. Those who have been debating for the concert as a major chance of promoting tourism in the country are utter nonsense. The task of promoting tourism in the country belongs to the ministry of tourism, not to some business minded people who are more worried about losing such a major opportunity of filling up their pockets than losing a tourism opportunity for the country.
The organizers of the concert have not given up their hope yet, so are the people who oppose it but the government should not take any step that would hurt the feelings of so many people who are deeply involved in the religion for which Akon has no feelings

• niranjan

Yapa,

“Let him live in his country with all sorts of criminal acts with 14 yr old girls or whoever it is and let us live the way we want in this troubled country.”- ” what is the “way we want” that you are talking of? or is it the way you want?
You have a right to your opinion as much as others have to theirs.

• Anvil

“Nearly 100% of commuters of the 5:10 evening Fort-Galle bus are Sinhalese Buddhists puritans.”

And how would you know that nearly 100% of the commuters of the 5:10 evening are “Sinhalese Buddhist puritans” ? Have you done a survey?

“My point is not so much about human frailties but about the sheer hypocrisy of Sinhalese Buddhists who perpetually try to project a holier-than-thou image to the world and yet behave in the most perverted of ways.”

No different to the Sinhalese Christians who think they are better than everyone else simply because they are Christian – but engage in child abuse, rape, the drug trade, murder, violence etc etc. Just look at what the Sinhala Catholic priests get up to in Negombo itself and you’ll see…talking about God/morality/allegedly superior christian culture but doing the most nasty, deprived things to other human beings

• Anvil

“So you think that every man who does the press-on is a hooligan and not a sexually repressed Sinhala-Buddhist man, huh? ”

They could just as likely be sexually repressed Sinhala Christians desperate for some contact with women, having been brought up in a puritan Christian family that puts worshipping Jesus Christ ahead of anything else. Or a sexually repressed Tamil Hindu man. Or a sexually repressed Tamil Christian man. Or a sexually repressed man. And as a point of interest, I have met lots of western Christians who are far, far better Christians than a lot of the rabid ignorant Sinhalese Christians that inhabit Sri Lanka. I think this cuts both ways and in different angles so it’s a not helpful to look at it through one prism.

• niranjan

“The Poya day ban on serving liquor in tourist hotels though politically sensitive must be looked at with level heads. While good Buddhists will abstain from alcohol or flesh eating, those are maters of morality or private choice. It does not make sense to force them down the throats of people holding different views.”
“The recent Akon affair is another case in point. Most reasonable people will agree that the rap star, whom the majority of Lankans have not heard of was not deliberately seeking to denigrate Buddhism. But we in our wisdom have decided to deny him a visa to enter the country allowed some goons to throw stones at the ofices of MTV/Sirasa quite forgetting the role that the Tourist Board and Sri Lankan Airlines played in promoting the event.” Moderation must be the name of the game, Island Editorial, Sunday 28 March 2010.-

many thanks Manik and the Sunday Island for the well thought out, rational argument on the use of liquor on Poya days and the Akon affair that you have put forward in the Editorial from which I have quoted above.

• rajivmw

Wiyajapala,

“This angry, defensive mentality of the Sinhala Buddhist probably explains why Buddhism survived only in SL and nowhere else in South Asia, and why SL has the oldest continuing tradition of Buddhism in the world.”

I take your point. It’s only thanks to my (mildly) angry father that I was not brought up to be a Christian like my mother.

The problem is that we seem to be left with a whole lot of anger and precious little Buddhism. I wonder if the former is now in fact the gravest threat to the latter.

• BalangodaMan

To Ivan,

There is a BIG difference between Christianity/Islam and Buddhism.

Christians/Muslims’ religions are primarily based on devotion. Therefore, their reaction to desecration is consistent with their belief system.

Buddhism is not a devotional belief system. It primarily teaches cultivating detachment from the forces that make us have negative feelings (eg. anger).

Therefore, a Christian/Muslim who gets angry at their idols being desecrated is correctly behaving like a good Christian/Muslim.

A Buddhist who gets angry is demonstrating that he is a failed Buddhist.

The Buddhist establishment in SL, if true to Buddhist teachings, should use the AKON issue and the reaction to it as an opportunity to demonstrate to the 70% so-called Buddhists what Buddhism is and how it can benefit us, rather than write articles that misrepresent Buddhism for political gain.

• Punitham

I know that some Buddhists are ashamed of some other Buddhists. True Buddhists even don’t say that they protect Buddhism.

The ‘some other Buddhists’ have been failing a simple test in Sri Lanka post-independence too conspicuously.

A faith is to live by and not to be used as a mere label.

Isn’t the 62-year slide down the slippery slope due to trying to worry about the label? Had it not been for the ‘some other Buddhists’ , most of the non-Buddhists may have voluntarily become Buddhists.

• SomewhatDisgusted

Dear rajivmw,

“The problem is that we seem to be left with a whole lot of anger and precious little Buddhism. I wonder if the former is now in fact the gravest threat to the latter.”

As usual, you’ve expressed the key issue pithily. I fear that I’ve been quite strident in expressing my views but this is precisely the problem.

Dear BalangodaMan,

A Buddhist who gets angry is demonstrating that he is a failed Buddhist.

Exactly! What good is labeling oneself a Buddhist and insisting to the world that you are superior (as some have been doing here) when your actions convey the exact opposite idea? Is the goal to use Buddhism to live a good life? Or to label oneself a Buddhist and believe it for the sake of believing it

Can at least one of these individuals who harp on about the superiority of their belief demonstrate this superiority through their actions in some way? Perhaps by becoming an Arahat? Or at the very minimum, through words and actions which are worthy of emulation? If not, how is one to differentiate Buddhism from any other random, bigoted belief system?

• ramona therese fernando

Dear Laughing Lankan,
The most purest and sustainable ideologies belong to the third-graders. When one is 7 years old, and at the age of reason, one is at an unadulterated stage of ideologies.

3rd graders see the world in their mommy, daddy, baby sibling who has to be looked after by them, older siblings they have to look up to, grandparents who are revered, aunties and uncles who entertainband that mommy and daddy love each other(an anything else an aberration to their well-being).

Indeed 7-year olds are at the peak of human involvement in the sustainable universe. Thrid graders see Life in all of its Noble Truths: from the distinction of Human Life right to the Divinity of Nibbana.

They are of an instinctive knowledge that Human life, being the greatest of all life, will propel one into eternal bliss. 3rd-graders wish all life forms were as happy as they are, and in that wish they propel other forms of life(in the earthly and heavenly realms) into the human world; the life-form that is most enabled to attain the eternal bliss of Arahanthood.

• yapa

“what is the “way we want” that you are talking of? or is it the way you want?”

It is not the way I or you want BUT the way WE want. I am talking about COMMON GOOD not INDIVIDUAL GOOD!

I think you are aware of it.

Thanks!

• ramona therese fernando

And government in different lands has different ideologies- that is their right as democracies and civilized entities.

Now Western governments work on different concepts compared to Eastern ones. For example The US has great freedoms which they induced onto her citizens for the sake of assimilating so many different tribes of the earth (and thus in bringing in to their nation the world’s wealth). UK and places had to also have all these freedoms as this is the way they had to recover after their global colonizations – how else were they to understand and sustain their place on the world stage if they didn’t give in to all other cultural entities?

Unfortunately only the odder ones thrive in the West, and the dignified ones remain in their own lands, or if they do go to the west, provoke some discomfit to the common man of these lands.

“Are these dark skins trying show us that they are somehow more cultured and civilized than we are?” it is queried in implausible astonishment. “Oh no,” it is concluded, “Akron is more correct to what we believe dark races and their religions should act like.”

Now with our long 3,000 year old history, ideologies are then therefore quite different, and the government is right is safeguarding the dignity of her native religions for the better of the majority of her citizens.

• BalangodaMan

re. failed Buddhists – academic research

Why doesn’t the academic and scientific establishment in SL conduct academic research/survey to test the extent to which the various religious groups and secular people actually are in their adherence to the faith they swear by? For example, the subjects can be shown items and their reaction can be measured. The results will I think be extremely valuable for shaping the future of our country, no?

• Ramona t. f.,

Re:

“Unfortunately only the odder ones thrive in the West, and the dignified ones remain in their own lands, or if they do go to the west, provoke some discomfit to the common man of these lands.”

I’ve met thousands of foreigners/immigrants in the US who are not odd at all & relatively great models for “good humans” – from what I can tell. Either you’ve had extremely bad luck with immigrants in the West or perhaps you have not traveled or lived in the West – or at least the US – that much.

Also, virtually everone in the US is a relative/offspring (great-great grandchild, etc.) of an immigrant or an immigrant – since the entire country (aside from Native Americans who were here when the country was started) is a result of immigration.

Also, re: the post prior, re” “eternal bliss of Arahanthood, 7 year olds, etc…”, the eternal bliss of arahanthood may be a myth. With Buddhism running the show in Sri Lanka for thousands of years, shouldn’t the island be full of blissful arahants by now? Does not seem to be the case.

A related question would be – is blissful arahanthood enough for a nation? Would that provide for food, shelter, health care, defense, competetive & useful education, meaningful & rewarding living, for millions of people? Well, we don’t know, because SL has failed to prove that – except for the monks, Buddhism is not capable of ensuring a good life (on earth) for millions of people (also, I do not count Burma or the Khemere Rouge/Cambodia or any of the other Buddhist countries at this point or in the recent past as being able to provide a good life for the majority of their citizens – even their favored citizen – the politically & religiously favored majorities). One exception may be Japan. Japan was able to achieve their success due to incorporating positive & useful elements of the West into their own country – as far as I can tell. I think the best way to ensure both the survival of Buddhism in a country & general development in other areas is to separate Buddhism from the government, allow secular life to grow, so that entrepenuers & educators & military & all other areas of regular/non-religious life are able to develop new solutions to current problems – pull in good ideas from rest of the world – w/ out Buddhism or a Buddhist Gov getting in the way (granted, this is now not related to the Akon issue, but how that was handled shows the current general approach to anything “foreign” from SL gov/propelled by Buddhists).

As far as I can see, there are no theocratic nations that people from around the world are excited about moving to, that are providing well for themselves & are a good example for the rest of the world. Reason being, I think, the current major religions – all initially conceived over a thousand years ago, are unable to compete well with the combination of freedom of thought & democracy & capitalism – all new inventions (in their current form, post-establishment of US).

(gotta go to work, will check back on this comments section later this week)

– S

• BalangodaMan

Ownership of Buddhism: Another thought. This AKON matter arises from the delusion that somehow SL owns Buddhism and it’s ideals (even though it came from a foreign country).

However, let’s for a moment accept the status quo – ie. that most of the people are offended when people in other cultures regard Buddhist symbols in a different context (in the West the Buddha statue symbolised peace and tranquillity, hence a fixture by the pool in this video) and wish to ban their use. Here’s an analogy: Supposing there is a country somewhere where the people have been conditioned from childhood to revere the left hand (yes, the left hand. perhaps their god is left handed, or his messiah was – for the purpose of this analogy). The left hand is sacred to them. So, for example, they shake hands with their left hand. They wave with their left hand to indicate goodwill and friendship. Wouldn’t these people be hugely offended when they know that in SL many people wash their bottoms with their left hand?

What if they want to ban bottom washing in SL as our practice is an insult to their beliefs?

• devotee

I like to see the useful comments rather than blatant abuse of words in this forum I like to see constructive criticism of the policies.
I like the comments of Yapa on the value of teachings of Buddha than his statue. black sheeps are there in every community. I as a non-Buddhist often appreciated some of the good characters. I do not know whether they originated from the culture or religion.
it is very obvious that cultural is eroded immensely due to multiple factors example lack of spirituality, corrupted mass media as in this case of songs by scantily clad ladies and third class subcontinent films, drama and culture incompatible dances and so forth, we see the effects of them in day to day life, teen agers fighting each other, teachers, father molesting the students and daughters ransoms, abductions and taking revenge etc..lack of law enforcement and injustices are other area concerned politicians are too busy with elections than allocating time for services. I can barely see any one doing that today.

• ramona therese fernando

I’ve been living in the West, especially the US for a goodly number of years, sir, 🙂 joined the common person in the West and have been made aware of their intents, purposes and interests.

They would prefer, it seems sir, that their culture, religion and ethnicity be preserved. And as immigrants they get together into their own ethnic groups and preserve their own identities. Oh, they do strive diligently to do what their government preaches, for in it, they are made aware of more affluent lifestyles. But thus far, and no further, it is for them. “It is our personal prerogative who we choose to join, and that is our inalienable right,” they say.

The big cities have a good amalgamation of races , but Jerry Springer and others make perverse play on the amalgamations of thus mingled thoughts and cultures (and poverty also).

I believe Sri Lanka does have a huge number of Arahants, but since of 1505, when the Portuguese first set foot in Sri Lanka, the numbers have dwindled . Sir Lanka will be soon providing decent lifestyles to her citizens. Unfortunately it took 60 years since independence for that (they were getting over the after-effects of colonial rule, but now stand a good chance).

They are living good decent, simple Buddhistic lives in Burma, and Cambodia would be too, if not for American interference. And Japan assimilated into the West after the ignominy of their terrible war. Oh yes, they learned the Western systems very fast. How long the West systems will be able to be sustained, I ask? Even at this time, Obama is moving towards a more socialistic form of government. Very correct too, and that is what the common man of America and the rest of the “common”globe desires.

As for the 7-years oldsâ€¦â€¦.. we have to look to the beautiful and divine ideologies on the faces of our children, and then greater understanding will descend.

Sri Lanka is no theocratic nation, but the majority of her citizens prefer to live within the precepts of their religious beliefs.

And for this common man of Sri Lanka, so enamored of their religious beliefs, they are the backbone of the Nation. For it is through their hard work that comes the greater part of the Nation’s GDP.

• wijayapala

rajivmw & SomewhatDisgusted,

I neglected to mention a key point that the anti-Akon violence was NOT a spontaneous event orchestrated by ordinary Buddhists. It was very clearly motivated by political elements hostile to Sirasa TV (i.e. Mervyn Silva). That Akon’s music video included a 2-second shot of the Buddha was only the pretext for the perpetrators to justify what they did.

• yapa

Correctionâ€¦..

It is not Kalana Senevirathna and sholud be Kalana Senaratne who wrote the article
“Aroused by Akon’s Sexy Bitch: the Rise of Sinhala-Buddhist Fundamentalism?”

Thanks!

• wijayapala

Dear Balangoda Man,

Therefore, a Christian/Muslim who gets angry at their idols being desecrated is correctly behaving like a good Christian/Muslim.
“A Buddhist who gets angry is demonstrating that he is a failed Buddhist.

Implicit in your above statement is that Buddhist doctrine preaches greater tolerance and aversion to anger than Christianity or Islam; by modern ethic standards it is the superior belief system.

Be that as it may, the world revolves around what is real and not what is merely doctrine. If Buddhists historically did not get “angry” when their faith was threatened, there probably would be no Buddhism today. I think we would much rather be “failed Buddhists” than not Buddhists at all, although I can definitely only speak for myself.

• wijayapala

The results will I think be extremely valuable for shaping the future of our country, no?

How so?

• Atheist

Dear Secret Agent,

Pssst, let me fill you in on a secret:

I agree with you that Sri-Lankan women/girls/children face sexual harassment on public transportation. I, for one, have never travelled on a bus/train that is filled with 100% Sinhala Buddhist ridership. Even in Sri-Lanka, I’ve always lived in multi-ethnic communities, except when I lived in Jaffna. Going back to the multi-ethnic setting in which I grew up, I know that every woman/girl/child faced some sort of sexual harassment while going about town. So, in that context, none of us were able to point out the ethnicity/religion of the perverts involved.

Since you care so much about women’s rights, I think you should stand up for women in Judeo-Christian societies as well. For example, I am sure you know about the 1989 Montreal massacre in which fourteen women were murdered on campus by a misogynist who blamed his failures on feminists. Though feminism has brought women much emancipation from male domination, there is still inequality in the workplace and in society. Unfortunately, sexual harassment and misogynistic violence is still a reality in the West.

By the way, secret agent, I am just as repelled by racism as I am by misogyny. Aren’t you? In my observation, the two go hand in hand.

• wijayapala

Punitham,

Had it not been for the ‘some other Buddhists’ , most of the non-Buddhists may have voluntarily become Buddhists.

Or, had it not been for the ‘some other Buddhists,’ most of the Buddhists may have involuntarily become non-Buddhists.

• Malinda Seneviratne

Here’s a question:

Does anyone know of a single Christian (OF ANY DENOMINATION) who publicly protested (IN ANY FORM) the banning of the films ‘The Last Temptation of Christ’ and ‘The Da Vinci Code’?

Malinda

• yapa

The cause for all this hatred running through this web really is not Akon or denial of visa to him. This happened due to the irresponsible writing of Kalana Senevirathna and tis-a-small-world.

Thanks!

(This should have been posted before my last post: Correction…..)

• SomewhatDisgusted

Dear Malinda,

“Does anyone know of a single Christian (OF ANY DENOMINATION) who publicly protested (IN ANY FORM)…”

Are the Christians the role models for the Buddhists?

• Hey Ramona,

We definitely live in too different Americas, & perhaps even two different worlds (or our perceptions of the world have been shaped by two radically different sets of filters), check below:

Re:

“I’ve been living in the West, especially the US for a goodly number of years, sir, joined the common person in the West and have been made aware of their intents, purposes and interests.”

There is no one “common person” in the US, & thus there is no one intent, purpose or interest there, you’d have to clarify as to what all that means or what you think it means.

“They would prefer, it seems sir, that their culture, religion and ethnicity be preserved.”

There is no one culture, religion, or ethnicity to be perserved anywhere – specially not in the US (except maybe items directly related to the Constitution – but that’s more of a well definited organizatonal document than a culture/guideline for culture). Out of those two items – culture & religion are temoporary things, by-products of living. There is no eternal cutlure of religion, & thus those items are impossible to preserve – ask the Ancient Syrians, Ancient Egyptians, Ancient Zoroastrians/Persians, Ancient Romans, etc., etc. – if by some magical situation you get the chance. Re: ethnicity – that’s a delusion – much like race. People obsessing over trivial matters such as a language or a religion (both human inventions from a certain period of time), or something even more trivial like skin color & the few people who want to rule the rest using these “differences” as organizational items to control the rest, help make it easier to make war, etc.

And I could continue w/ responses to the rest of your post, but, they would be similar to above – we definitely see the world very differently. So I think I’ll just leave things there. I am sure both of us mean well (well, at least I am sure I mean well :).

– S

• corrections:

“culture & religion are temoporary things, by-products of living. There is no eternal cutlure of religion”

culture & religion are temporary things, by-products of living. There is no eternal culture OR religion

• yapa

Dear Sujewa Ekanayake;

Can you please point out some eternal things for the benefit of humble and ignorant frogs like us who haven’t been outside this eastern well since our birth.

Thanks!

• tis-a-small-world

Dear Yapa,
“The cause for all this hatred running through this web really is not Akon or denial of visa to him. This happened due to the irresponsible writing of Kalana Senevirathna and tis-a-small-world.”
I completely disagree with you regarding that. The cause for all this hatred running through this web is the “intolerance and ignorance” of certain readers like “You” who have repeatedly blasted commentators of my article for expressing their opinion. Your failure to respect other’s views cannot be justified by accusing Me or Kalana Senaratna for producing our articles.
Mr.Yapa, you must also remember that the Article 10 of the Constitution gives both me and Kalana Senaratna the “Right to freedom of Thought and Religion” as well as “The right to Freedom of Speech, Expression and Publication” Article 14(1)(a).
Thanks!

• tis-a-small-world

Dear Malinda Seneviratna,
Christians Not Protesting the Ban on “Da vinci code” is their problem. if they did not want to protest for the Ban, it’s their choice and as a person who respects the beliefs of other religions, I respect their stand.
You must remember that Buddhists are allowed to question their beliefs and what is taught, as well as point out mistakes. Lord Buddha has clearly mentioned in the Kalama Sutra. For more information please refer to, page 3 of “Budhun Wadala Dharmaya” by venerable Walpola Rahula. When a young samanera pointed, Arahath Sariyuth that his robe was touching the ground, Arahath Sariyuth excepted this and appreciated the young samanera for informing him. This is just a simple example taken from the Buddhist Literature. Therefore Buddhists are allowed to ask questions regarding what’s being taught as well as to point out mistakes. According to what I know other religions do not provide for their followers to question or point out mistakes. Thats where the greatness of Buddhism and the Lord Buddha lie.
Based on this liberty, we raise our voices when “the principles” of our noble philosophy “Buddhist Philosophy” is being challenged. One reason that the Government denied a visa to Akon is because he “insulted buddhism with his video. But the Government granted visa to the leader of Burma Than Shwe whose responsible for mass scale atrocities against Buddhists and Buddhist Monks. In my view the Than Shwe has done more damage to Buddhists than Akon. By granting visa to Than Shwe and denying visa to Akon we have challenged the principles of Buddhism and Lord Buddha.
I wish to thank you for taking your time to read my article and comment on it as a veteran writer and a journalist!

• yapa

Dear tis-a-small-world;

Law is your only guide line?You don’t care about morality, ethics, virtues, customs, traditions etc…etc…? You have no belief/heed about ethical or moral conduct?

Thanks!

• yapa

Dear tis-a-small-world;

Say for instance that issuing of visa to Than Shwe is wrong. Just because this do you think government doing the same wrong for the second time is right? If the government does the correct thing at least at the second time, shouldn’t it be appreciated?

That is how I understand with my little brains and little education.

Thanks!

• yapa

Dear tis-a-small-world;

I have some comments about your reference to Kalama Sutta and Rahula Samanera incident. I will have no internet facilities for a couple of days from now on. Give me a few days. However, there is a small belief among Sinhala Buddhist Villagers that if a serpent is caught from the wrong end, it bites. also they say Dhamma also is same, and pave way to destruction.

Thank you for giving an opportunity to discuss Kalama Sutta, which gives profound guide lines for decision making, to distinguish right from wrong and good from bad. The readers will be able to see a marvelous epistemological experience.

Thanks again for giving the opportunity, will meet in a couple of days.

• SomewhatDisgusted

Dear Wijayapala,

“Implicit in your above statement is that Buddhist doctrine preaches greater tolerance and aversion to anger than Christianity or Islam; by modern ethic standards it is the superior belief system.”

A quote by H.L. Mencken seems appropriate here: “We must respect the other fellow’s religion, but only in the sense and to the extent that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children smart. ” 🙂

Frankly, I feel that by modern day standards, or at least as far as science goes, blind “belief” systems in general are obsolete.

” I think we would much rather be “failed Buddhists” than not Buddhists at all, although I can definitely only speak for myself.”

Fair enough. As long as one’s belief is kept to oneself and not foisted upon others, that’s decent. It’s when that boundary is crossed that problems start.

I will also grant that compared to other religions, Buddhism is a far more palatable religion to many because it’s seen as a gentle, peaceful and harmless religion. However, that is precisely what seems to be coming into question in Sri Lanka.

Also, why compare the barbaric past where the British invaded Sri Lanka with a bible in one hand and a gun in the other. Those days are long past. Concepts such as freedom of religion have taken root. Shouldn’t the “Angry Buddhist” adjust accordingly?

As to whether it’s better to be a failed Buddhist. I don’t mean to be harsh, but I feel most Buddhists are failures by default because they fail to be self-critical. Instead, they accept their own doctrine as the holy, indisputable truth while snickering at others for their own blind beliefs. A good point to start critically evaluating Buddhism, before professing superiority, would be to actually read the arguments *against* Buddhism. The problems are legion. (Although perhaps less so than for the Abrahamic ones. They indisputably take the crown for self-contradiction)

• Hey Yapa,

(it’s a busy work day so i’ll try to keep this quick)

Re:

“Can you please point out some eternal things for the benefit of humble and ignorant frogs like us who haven’t been outside this eastern well since our birth.”

I don’t see anything significant – at least not cultural, or highly developed human inventions – that can be called eternal. Even aspects of the universe – the earth, the sun, etc. are believed to one day come to an end. But that could be billions of years from now – so, on the human scale – nothing significant/advanced/human made seems eternal. Or, going lower (time wise) than that, even w/ in one human lifetime (let’s say less than 100 years) much change happens. So, what’s a good way to deal with conflicts that arise when a person has to deal with ideas coming out of an older civilization comes into conflict with ideas that come out of a new civilization (i think this is one of the questions at the core of a lot of discussions here – eastern vs. “western” ways of doing things, what path is best, etc.) – i think the best way to go is to see what elements from both places can work well at a given moment for solving a given problem (also may be a good idea to keep track of even currently useless elements from each civilization in case they become useful later). Without blind attachment to one set of ideas just because they come from the land that you were born in, or the land that you live in, or, as probably the buddha said – ’cause a teacher tells you that they are important :). Anyway, impermanance & temporary-ness of things needs to be taken into account & also the fact that all human inventions are human inventions, thus a part of the heritage of all humans, whether they believe that they are a part of a special tribe at war with the rest of the humans or not.

Also, two items that you may find interesting/possibly positve:

There’s a new documentary about the buddha airing on PBS later this month in the US. They’ll have a DVD of it for sale on Amazon, etc.

Just saw a positive article about recent changes in Jaffna on Time.com.

And, do you know much about Lokayata philosophy (our discussion about eastern vs. western philosophy & research related to it turned up lokayata)? There isn’t much available on the web about it. Apparently it was an ancient Indian school of philosophy that predates “modern” Hinduism, also perhaps one of the extremes that Buddhism refers to. Seems like it was a completely atheistic & maybe rational (by our current standards) philosophy that perhaps predates the Greeks & their use of such ideas. Anyway, figured you might have heard something about it in the SL – in Sinhala or Pali or Tamil references/from such sources. Let me know if you know anything or where to find out more about it. Thanks.

– S

• ordinary lankan

I was listening to Ajahn Brahmawanso last night – pl visit the Buddhist society of Western Australia website – and he said something very much in point –

he said religion is not about who is right and who is wrong – it is about peace – and it is difficult to have peace when you get involved in all kinds of arguments – especially if they are not essential and not very useful and only cause irritation and pain of mind – in these cases it is much better to remain silent –

peace he said is really about honesty – knowing deep down how imperfect and human we are – and being willing to allow and help others learn their own lessons in their own time – you cannot really get another person to adopt your point of view – he will do it if he is ready – not otherwise.

armed with this peace you can go on to develop great reserves of patience, tolerance skill and understanding and wisdom. you can then use words with great care, great love and great effect ….

so we should not forget what is true religion when debating about a ‘religious-social – cultural’ issue

• Burning_Issue

Dear Wijayapala,

I have seen your posts to me; unfortunately, I am tied up with work at the moment. I will certainly write to you as to why Sri Lanka will never achieve its full potential without a common Sri Lankan identity. the concepts of a common Sri Lankan identity and Sinhala Buddhist owning Sri Lanka are mutually exclusive.

Yes, Minorities are somewhat subjugated at present; there is no doubt about that. The Tamils are being compelled to conduct there state businesses in Sinhala Language even in places like Jaffna. This was the case in the 70s; policemen taking statements in Sinhala, and people had to endorse them without even comprehending them! The government is making development plans for the North & East without involving the Tamils or Muslims. Basically, One is better off being a Sinhala Buddhist in Sri Lanka than belonging to a minority group.

• BalangodaMan

To Wijayapala,

“rather be “failed Buddhists” than not Buddhists at all,”

A failed Buddhist is not a Buddhist! You do not become a Buddhist just because your parents are Buddhists though such an erroneous convention is customary in SL. Buddhists all over the world are appalled by these ‘angered Buddhists’. In the rest of the world, Buddhism is synonymous with pacifism, tranquillity, tolerance, peace. The world is confused when we say SL is 70% Buddhist and yet we have one of the highest murder rates per capita in the world!

I know many real Buddhists who were not born Buddhist but trained for years through meditation and hard work to become less sensitive to those things that make us angry. They worked hard to become Buddhists. I heard a real Buddhist explained this on TV the other day with this: “I can feel anger, but I am not angry’.
That is real Buddhism.

• ramona therese fernando

Dear ordinary lankan,
it’s not about merely peace within this forum or any other, but about the peace within the hearts of our countrymen.

The peace of that time-honoured morality that will guide her through troubling times – through blood, sweat and tears; through war and upheavals; through anarchy and madnesses; poverty and insecurity. The peace that only can come through deep commitments towards the greater dimensions of this Land.

And if that other errs, that it be made known to him. Not through encouragement of his erring, but by moral discourse as within the contexts of the Holy Sutras.

Hence it is thus fitting that the truth be expounded by them, the Bikkhus, the keepers of the tenent of the faith(as in their legitimate dismay and dutiful protests), and the visa denied, by them, the government, the keeper of the realm.

• Malinda Seneviratne

True, Christians should not be the role models for Buddhists. I am opposed to throwing stones. I think the approach should have been different. On the other hand, are Christians supposed to be above criticism?

I am amused when people act like they are anything-goes liberals as long as that which they hold sacred is left alone but suddenly wear the coat of ‘victim of intolerance’ when that territory is stepped on. In other words, those who want me to be tolerant but are themselves intolerant are not making much of an argument. does not sanction intolerance on my part, but still amuses me no end.

• ordinary lankan

Neither buddhists nor christians are above criticism – nor for that matter is the dhamma itself. The Buddha my teacher encouraged critical thinking and we in Sri lanka had the tradition of being critical of our own (and for that matter any other) tradition. According to Martin Wickramasinghe we lost this critical habit after the chola colonization when the elite started imitating sanskrit and picked up brahmin dogma. The present absence of critical thinking in our Buddhism is thus traced to the 13th century. Today there is more dogma – although there is a definite current of change as well.

It takes humility and character to be able to learn from anyone. I am now going beyond akon and stone throwing etc. we dont have to be intellectuals to figure out where we should stand on those matters. I am more concerned about surrendering our birthright to be critical to anyone – whether this be the institutionalized Sangha or the Govt.

Let what is caesar’s be given to caesar. I have no issue with that. But what belongs to our conscience – our morality and our humanity – that cannot be given to anyone. we need to listen to diverse points of view – and if we listen enough and go deeper than our habitual hostilities we will see that there is in fact a common core of human values that is equally affirmed and shared in both east and west.

we have our own unique ways in which we express and actualize our values in this country. They are important because they have depth – and we must reach for it and grasp the core. the west may emphasize freedom of expression – we say that what is expressed should be freedom and not slavery. what is the use of a freedom if we are not free within?

In the east we emphasize the internal freedom – the west emphasizes external freedom – they emphasize rights – we emphasize community –

the difference is one of culture and emphasis – we are not opposed – we do share a common core – but it is also important to point out the element of cultural aggression involved in bringing what is sacred (the buddha statue) to the level of profanity.

those who do this in fact insult everything that is sacred – and they can just as easily desecrate Jesus or Mohammed. The mindset is the same. If so why should we make this a buddhist v christian thing. all right thinking religious people must affirm what is sacred and unite on the point that this is bad art and also an act of cultural aggression. what is below accepted levels of decency in the east is also generally below that in the west.

it is the petty sectarian squabbling that prevents a consensus and agreement at a higher level. we must reach for this – buddhism has more friends today all around the world than 100 years ago. even in christianity and islam young and old are searching for the truth that goes beyond labels and beyond the narrow prisons of organized religion

if we drop the fight and struggle and get serious we can avoid the pitfalls of ego and pettiness and focus on the essentials

• SomewhatDisgusted

Dear Malinda,

“In other words, those who want me to be tolerant but are themselves intolerant are not making much of an argument. does not sanction intolerance on my part, but still amuses me no end.”

Agreed. Christians are well-known for their bigotry and became infamous for it during the dark ages. I was hoping the Buddhists would not strive for the same distinction.

To quote this nice line from Mark Twain: “The easy confidence with which I know another man’s religion is folly teaches me to suspect that my own is also”

• niranjan

Yapa,

“If the government does the correct thing at least at the second time, shouldn’t it be appreciated?”- The “correct thing” is your opinion and not the opinion of some others. What may look to you like a “correct thing” is the “wrong thing” to others.

Does the state practise morality, ethics, virtues, customs, traditions?

• niranjan

The real reason for not granting a visa to Akon is that the Government did not want a western(USA) artiste to perform in Sri Lanka. The Governments apparent antiwestern leanings are laid bare by this move. Burma on the other hand is an anti western country. Therefore, the Government had no problem about issuing a visa to the General.
The real reason for not granting the visa was ideological.

• ordinary lankan

Does the state practise morality, ethics, virtues, customs, traditions?

very interesting question – here is my gentle suggestion

Let’s not ridicule any country â€¦
All States (without exception) are in a state of disgrace
They all have a dirty backside which is hidden from view
Sometimes this backside is flaunted in public
without truly understanding the nature of all backsides
and what is more â€¦
this is regarded as a sign of POWER

So please tell me what’s new?

Nothing!

I believe in the individual

Just as I love myself with all my imperfections
I love others with their imperfections
Just as I have no pretensions and sentimentality about myself â€“ I have no pretensions and sentimentality about others
Just as I believe in my capacity for wisdom and compassion
I believe in the capacity of others for wisdom and compassion
Someone once said: I am human â€“ and nothing human is alien to me
So do not alienate yourselves from others â€“ you alienate yourself

• nelunh

wasnt the dalai lama refused a visa too

• American Buddhist convert

Hello everyone 🙂

I would consider myself a devout Buddhist. Ive been practicing Buddhism for over 3 years, the source I have developed confidence in is the Pali Suttapitaka translated by the venerable Bhikkhu Bodhi.

That being said, I dont like Akons music, but I am alarmed at the conduct of the individuals who threw rocks and vandalized cars and buildings in response to Akon’s video. Especially the monks who seemed to support this behavior. It is precisely because of that kind of behavior by Christian fundamentalists in my own country that I became Buddhist. Even if all monks in Lanka were to behave like the pro-war JHU monks, I would still have confidence in the Blessed Ones teachings because no-where does he support this kind of behavior, or even thinking.

I wonder if they have read even the first sutta of the Digha Nikaya? or the simile of the saw from the Majjhima?

My concern in being opposed to Sri-Lanka rejecting Akons visa is not because of any love for akons music on my part, but my concern for the health of Buddhism in Sri-Lanka , and freedom of speech and thought for all Sri-Lankans.

For those of you who think Buddhism is widely disrespected in America, you couldn’t be more wrong. Of all religions Buddhism is the most respected, precisely because when Buddhism is insulted or attacked, Buddhists DONT RESPOND. so please please please Sri-Lanka; dont throw away your greatest strength.

Are Buddha images used as decorations in America? Well yes. Is this done with the intent to insult Buddhism? Of course not. A paranoid mind creates its own bad kamma.

Also. do you realize that it was western culture that contributed the “Buddha” image to Buddhism? It was introduced by the Greeks, who were the first foreign converts to Buddhism, yes even before the Sri-Lankans. When the Greeks in north western India converted, they simply took their favorite god; Apollo, and turned him into the “Buddha” . Didn’t you ever wonder why Buddha images have a top knot of hair, while the suttas clearly state that he shaved his head like every other monk and nun?

Instead of getting angry about statues work towards peace and harmony in Sri-Lanka. meditate, work towards liberation.

Much metta.

• ordinary lankan

Thank You ABC …. beautiful sentiments –

from the horse’s mouth
get back to work
dear lankans –
inner work

• ramona therese fernando

Dear American Buddhist Convert,

Buddhism in America being widely practiced does not mean it is diligently practiced in the pure Theravada form it is in Sri Lanka. Buddhism in America is an individualistic approach mixed in with many other philosophies, without the 2,500 years of historical and cultural foundations that Sri Lanka has.

Many American Buddhists see the great philosophies of Buddhism and relate it to their Western cultural backgrounds. They see the values of Buddhist meditation, for reasons of stress reduction, for example, and relate the principles of Buddhism to the Western renaissance philosophers. Rarely do you see American families and communities becoming Buddhists, just individuals. America remains a predominantly Judeo-Christian country, culturally, if not religiously.

True they accept all other faiths â€“ Sri Lanka does that too, but the backbone of America is the Judeo-Christian culture of the masses of America.

Now while stone throwing might not look very good for its pure form of Theravada Buddhism, many Buddhists and the Maha Sanga in Sri Lanka condemn such acts. Indeed the Maha Sanga has condemned a few previous violent, bomb throwing and assassinating Buddhist priests. However there should be a greater condemnation by them so more of these acts would not happen in the future. The truth is that crowds (even religious ones) can at times get rowdy as is seen with any crowd protests in any part of the world.

But that alone cannot take reason back from the main point of what is happening with the Akon case. Sri Lanka is very rigid in her cultural scene.

In America, relations between people start very young, usually in High School, and that causes too much trauma and problems for their society. I was listening to the news about the 15 year old recently who committed suicide. This girl’s suicide was the result of intense sexual jealousy and rage by the others who could not bear her beauty and allurement with members of the opposite sex (this girl was a recent Irish immigrant).

Now in Sri Lanka, most schools do not have co-education. School kids wear uniforms. Attracting and alluring members of the opposite sex, while yet there, as it is normal for any young persons, yet has a tried and tested, time- honoured path that it follows. Therefore when the average Sri Lanka sees the Akon videos, many do not want their young people to follow the ideals of those freedoms of expressions. They are dismayed when they see money being made out of perversion, and especially with the use of their revered icon. Simple thoughts, but complex reasoning when her history, culture, aspirations, hardships in life and love for Sri Lanka’s peoples are considered.

It is true that Sri Lanka, like all other places, has her own porn. But this is her own time-honoured porn, which the people understand within the contexts of their own psyche. This type of porn usually comes out of dire poverty. Akon’s perverted video on the other hand does not come from reasons of dire financial needs. Freedom of expression has been used for promoting prevision for reasons of making of money.

You mentioned the Greecian statue. Is it to say that the Westerners understood Buddhism even before the Sri Lankans and are therefore more correct in making judgments against my land?

I have heard of the comparisons in race and ethnic identity by Westerns concerning this noble and holy religion. I have heard comments here in America that our priests drop their unnecessary robes, and Palia and Sinhala chanting and Sinhala culture and follow the only its pure philosophy. I was troubled when I heard comments by Americans when they told our priests that they were wasting their knowledge being stuck to a culture alien to the Western mind and it was more fitting that they opened their minds to other more progressive cultures. I was even more troubled when I heard it said that Buddhism was a waste in Sri Lanka and that it was the Western mind who could only understand the truth for what it is truly worth.

Dear American convert, let it be known that previous to 1504, Buddhism was practiced in all of its purity in our land. If distortion did occur, it was an unfortunate response to over 500 years of Western colonization.

• niranjan

Ramona,
“Dear American convert, let it be known that previous to 1504, Buddhism was practiced in all of its purity in our land.”- can you please give facts to back this statement?
Remember none of us was alive at that time.

• BalangodaMan

Dear Romona,

American Buddhist Convert (ABC) has already explained that his conversion to Buddhism is as a rejection of the Christian background he was born into. Therefore, knocking America in response to his/her excellent contribution is pointless.

Having said that, there are a few ideals that is valued the world over today. Ok, these are much spearheaded by the West and for good reason too. They are, freedom of thought, freedom of expression, civil liberties etc. Yes the introduction of these ideals in backward countries (such as Afghanistan, SL) is a big shock to the system. As it is in SL. This is because we are so far behind. But with widespread travel and communication it is the natural direction the world is going. We can’t put the Genie back in the bottle! Neither do we want to, unless we want the world to retreat back to the dark ages (poverty, disease, injustice, destruction).

The vision you have of the future for SL strikes me more like Talibanic as well as well as the paranoia that ran in Nazi Germany, as well as the restrictions on individuality in Communist Soviet Union. That is, a long way from Buddhism as understood worldwide (though apparently not in SL according to you).

Perhaps your vision of Buddhism should be rebranded by some other name to avoid confusion. I can’t think of a term but it should convey ‘intimidatory’ and ‘controlling’ as opposed to Buddhism that ‘liberates the individual’ and is conciliatory.

To amplify what ABC said about meditation. A Buddhist is does not get angry just because it is said somewhere that you must not get angry. The personal disposition of ‘not getting angry’ in the face of provocation is cultivated (trained) through mediation, and using this practice over a long period. I can’t see how Buddhism can work without meditation.

One last piece of inaccuracy in your contribution. It is historically inaccurate to say that Buddhism flourished in SL before 1504. Buddhism was confined to reclusive monks in the forest for many centuries. It was the king in the 16th century who imported monks from Siam to start an order of monks in the community. The Buddhism we have today was invented in the 1880s by an American Col. Henry Steele Olcott and a Russian lady Blavatka, and promoted around the country by Anagarika Dharmapala (a former Christian). This form of Buddhism is now popularly referred to as Protestant Buddhism, as it was introduced to protest against the widespread Christian missionary work, but many see as a Christian-like devotional religion with Buddhist icons and dogma and monks. How does this make it ‘the purest form’?

• BalangodaMan

Sorry, should be Dear Ramona 😉

• Waruna

Greetings folks,

The Buddha in his final Sutta – The Mahaparinibbana Sutta says that ANYONE who practises the 8-fold Path will eventually end up in Nibbana regardless of the label given to the container propagating the 8-fold Path.

This implies that ANYONE practising the 8-fold Path whether they be in in SL, US, Thailand or Iraq can attain Nibbana. As such, the notion that Sri Lanka is the only country which has the pristine form of Buddhism is ridiculous and illfounded to say the least. But it’s not just lay pople, I have even heard some monks going around saying that Sri Lanka is the only country with pure Buddhism and is the guardian of it. It’s a very sad situation and is getting more and more absurd. If there is any current Buddhist practise that is very close to Buddhism practised in Buddha’s times then it has to be the ‘Thai Forest Sangha Tradition’ not cultural Buddhism of Sri lanka.

What Sri Lanka has is a culture that was developed using some concepts of the 8-fold Path. It is not mandatory to practise Sri Lankan cultural processes to work towards Nibbana.

And, trust me, placement of Buddha statues in recreational places in Western countries is not done out of ill-will or with the intension of insulting Buddhism. The whole world knows that Buddha was a wise guy with a calm attitude. It is done to symbolise serenity. You will find Buddha image even in business magazines…again it is not to insult Buddha. It is to symbolise wisdom and ethics.

I do not condone scantily clad women dancing around the Buddha statue, pretty shameful really. But it would have been wiser and in line with the teachings of the Buddha had Sri lankan officials allowed Akon to visit SL to entertain his fan base and still told him directly how many Sri Lankans are actually hurt by that particular video. That would have been really classy and Buddhist.

just my 2 cents…thank you for reading 🙂

• ramona therese fernando

Then, it is not the religion that is the issue in the Akon case in Sri Lanka. It is the Democratic right of the majority of her peoples to choose the culture they best see fit for their society.

As for Buddhsim as a religion in Sri Lanka, it is not in the individualistic glory and on the whims for the need for alternate religious forms that the West practices. It is for the sustenance of a whole race, society and country that has lasted for 2,500 years that it is practiced. The proof in Buddhism’s success in Sri Lanka is in its historical sustenance and even more so after 500 years of contortion by foreign forces.

Buddhism was in her purest form as in the forest monks prior to colonization, but after the especially the British encroachment, there was a systemic and schematic attempt to squash the religion (envy of the pride of the Buddhists). However more enlightened persons like Olcott revived the religion but put it along the same lines and structure as the Church of England (the Anglican Church). It has served its purpose (and is still serving its purpose) but should gradually go back to the way to what it was originally was before colonization, now that the country has a chance at last at gaining some stability.

• ramona therese fernando

The more prudent decision by the government was in the denying of the visa to the singer.

• BalangodaMan

Ramona, it would appear that you do know your history. My apologies.

But I have a question for you. What if sometime in the future, with free and unrestricted access to information and knowledge and learning, and freedom of thought a large proportion of current Buddhist people turned to other religions and other ways of thinking and living (as it’s their right and the Buddha himself taught that you should study these for yourself and make up your own mind)?

How likely is it that SL will remain a predominantly Buddhist country forever?

• Friends,
Actually, I feel shame to read and listen to things happening in Sri Lanka. As it is said in many comentries why don’t they erase the pictures drawn on temple walls about dance of daughters of Mara? I do not see a difference between those pictures drawn in every Buddhist shrine room around the country.

If you read what Dulas Alahapperuma said in his recent revealation of arlimentory secrets, I think it is unimaginable of Democracy of Sri Lanka. If the decision makers are so shamless what is the use of these alegations.

• ramona therese fernando

Dear Banthe Sila,
There is a huge difference between paintings of daughters of Mara on temple walls, and the dancing on Akon’s videos.

Paintings of daughters of Mara on temple walls are ancient depictions of tales which were told to remove Mara from the Buddhist mind. That enlightenment was achieved as of 2,500 years ago, and Mara vanquished by Buddha, pictures of ancient days are permissible and acceptable to the psyche of the average person. These pictures serve as a reminder of that which is not appropriate to the Buddhist faith.

Modern ones on the other hand are a desecration of the religion! In Akon’s video, Mara is not being vanquished. He is being invoked!!!

• ramona therese fernando

Dear Balangoda Man,
The only way people ever changed religions en mass was through war, threats and persecution.

In this modern times and also in the post-modern times, together with war, threat and persecution will there be Mara-like enticements which will be cleverly packaged and sold to us at discount rates e.g. Akon performing for Lankan charities etc.

With all these with free and unrestricted access to information and knowledge and learning, and freedom of thought, people would become even more Buddhistic. Even if they are corrupted by all things modern, with the eventual demise of their society they’d quickly come back to the fold (with modern day statistical analyses etc. â€“ sutras were used in olden times).

• wijayapala

SomewhatDisgusted,

Frankly, I feel that by modern day standards, or at least as far as science goes, blind “belief” systems in general are obsolete.

I’m not exactly sure what you mean by “blind belief systems,” but I am fairly certain that science is no substitute for faith. Science deals with the known and has gotten stronger as our knowledge has expanded. Yet the unknown persists and that is where the utility of science ends.

Buddhism is a far more palatable religion to many because it’s seen as a gentle, peaceful and harmless religion. However, that is precisely what seems to be coming into question in Sri Lanka.

I don’t think so. Elsewhere I mentioned that I neglected to point out that the anti-Akon protests were not a spontaneous, grassroots movement but rather politician-driven (like the 1983 riots). Buddhists might usually be harmless (as I would similarly characterize Tamils), but the politicians are not.

Concepts such as freedom of religion have taken root. Shouldn’t the “Angry Buddhist” adjust accordingly?

You are correct that the age of brute force has passed. Now it’s the age of the dollar and buying conversion. How should Buddhists, angry or otherwise adjust?

A good point to start critically evaluating Buddhism, before professing superiority, would be to actually read the arguments *against* Buddhism. The problems are legion.

Such as?

• wijayapala

Dear Heshan,

What is it that’s particularly stunning and glamorous about Sinhala-Buddhism that sets it apart from other forms of Buddhism?

It’s the oldest.

The Buddha himself never wrote anything. So this “tradition” regardless of how old it is can only consist of ideas that were passed down orally and at some point transcribed. Ideas which were mostly borrowed from Vedanta and modified extensively so that everyone from the village witch to the court jester could understand them.

Buddhism could not have borrowed from Vedanta because it predated Vedanta by several hundred years. During the time of the Buddha, the brahmins did not appear to have generated their own philosophical schools of thought yet (at least not in that part of India).

In fact, Adi Shankara who is credited with establishing Advaita Vedanta in the 8th century CE borrowed so much from Buddhism that he was called “hidden Buddhist” by his critics.

• wijayapala

Dear BalangodaMan,

Why doesn’t the academic and scientific establishment in SL conduct academic research/survey to test the extent to which the various religious groups and secular people actually are in their adherence to the faith they swear by? For example, the subjects can be shown items and their reaction can be measured. The results will I think be extremely valuable for shaping the future of our country, no?

I asked you how these results will be valuable for shaping the country, and you did not respond.

A failed Buddhist is not a Buddhist! You do not become a Buddhist just because your parents are Buddhists though such an erroneous convention is customary in SL.

The basic definition of Buddhist is someone who takes refuge in the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Sangha. That is all. A “real Buddhist” doesn’t have any more special insight into anything than anyone else. To argue that only real Buddhists do not get angry though feeling anger, is to say that real Buddhists are spiritually and ethically far advanced beyond any “real Christian, “real Hindu,” or “real Muslim.”

This is the fundamental flaw with non-Buddhists criticizing Buddhists for not holding true to the Buddha’s teachings: in the process these non-Buddhists are elevating the Buddha’s teachings above their own belief systems, since logically the most demanding belief will be the hardest to follow.

The historical fact remains though that Buddhism survived not because Buddhists adhered to every part of the doctrine but because their priority was preserving the doctrine.

• wijayapala

Burning_Issue,

The Tamils are being compelled to conduct there state businesses in Sinhala Language even in places like Jaffna. This was the case in the 70s; policemen taking statements in Sinhala, and people had to endorse them without even comprehending them! The government is making development plans for the North & East without involving the Tamils or Muslims.

None of the above is defensible in any form, and if I could change it I would. For what little it’s worth.

• wijayapala

Dear Waruna

If there is any current Buddhist practise that is very close to Buddhism practised in Buddha’s times then it has to be the â€˜Thai Forest Sangha Tradition’ not cultural Buddhism of Sri lanka.

You may be surprised to hear this but there is a “Forest Sangha Tradition” in Sri Lanka as well. You haven’t heard about it because you’re only familiar with flashy advertising on the internet. Many elder members of my family were monks who lived in the forest, including even a nun.

• ramona therese fernando

THE POLITICAL SELECTIVITY OF (IN) TOLERANCE

http://www.dailymirror.lk/print/index.php/opinion1/7442.html

• Waruna

[i]You may be surprised to hear this but there is a “Forest Sangha Tradition” in Sri Lanka as well. You haven’t heard about it because you’re only familiar with flashy advertising on the internet. Many elder members of my family were monks who lived in the forest, including even a nun. [/i]

Dear Wijayapala,

Yes I have heard that there was once a flourishing and impressive Forest Sangha Tradition even in Sri lanka [at least until the early 1900s] but that it has all but unfortunately died out now. It would be awesome if this could be revived and promoted as opposed to a version of Buddhism that tightly clings to Singhala culture.

Would you mind giving me any information regarding whatever is there of the Sri lankan Forest Tradition please? I would love to visit these forest monasteries if any and perhaps even stay in them for a while.

• BalangodaMan

Wijayapala,

You regard Buddhism to be yet another religion like Christianity or Islam. It is not (You need to live among people of many different cultures to understand this). So here’s a short lesson on comparative religion.

Christianity is the belief in a god, and a belief that Jesus Christ is his son. It is practised by its followers having (or supposedly trying to have) a relationship with god through prayer. Their religion requires Christians to spread the gospel to non-Christians, and they have done this throughout history often through force and cunning. The activities of the missionaries is consistent with their religion.

In contrast, Islam is a system of law. It is prescriptive – you cannot choose not to be bound by the laws of Islam if you were born into it. You cannot leave it. If you try to it is punishable by death. Islam requires the whole world to become ‘the land of Islam’. Islam regards non-Muslims as ‘infidels’. Islam discourages fraternising with infidels and encourages conquering new lands and subjugating its inhabitants to force conversion to Islam, or face death. The followers of Islam believe their law to be the literal word of god (the Q’ran), therefore it cannot be modified/altered. Followers of Islam practise their faith by total submission to the will of god (‘Allah’).

Followers of both these religions worship god in their own respective ways. They believe that worship will take them to heaven/paradise.

In sharp contrast to these religions, Buddhism is not about worshiping anything – Buddha found that worship is futile. Instead, Buddhism is a system we have for TRAINING OUR MINDS, through meditation and quiet contemplation and reasoning and understanding, to rid ourselves of negative emotions such as greed, jeolousy, anger, frustration, ego which lead to sadness and conflict. The teachings of the Buddha is based on what he has himself found through his own search for the answer to unhappiness. Buddhism is a personal activity and experience. Unlike in Christianity and Islam there is no god that Buddhists can pray to. So there is no one who is asking us to convert others or conquer new lands or do anything in his name. There is no one to pray to, no one to worship. Practice of Buddhism does not require everyone or anyone else also to be Buddhist – you can practice and benefit from Buddhism even if you are the last Buddhist on Earth.

Hopefully the above answers the often asked question – why can’t Buddhists fight (even kill) for Buddhism just like it is OK for Christians to fight (or kill) for Christianity, or Muslims can fight or kill for Islam? If you want to have a religion for which you can attack other people then Buddhism is not for you. If a person who calls himself ‘Buddhist’ is angry then either he has not been successful in training his mind through the teachings of Buddha or the teachings do not work. To me, a person who has never tried has no business to call himself a ‘Buddhist’.

What’s confusing is, in SL we have a popular religion (which we also call Buddhism) where we believe that worshipping the Buddha like a god and listening to pirith and worshipping the monks and feeding them and giving them gifts will take us to a kind of heaven (Nirvana) – like the Christians and Muslims believe worshiping their god will take them to heaven. With this we mislead ourselves, our children, and confuse the rest of the world who expect Buddhists to be passive, peaceful, and free from anger; when in reality we are quick to retaliate with aggresion in quite an Un-Buddhist way at the slightest provocation.

• wijayapala

Dear BalangodaMan,

What’s confusing is, in SL we have a popular religion (which we also call Buddhism) where we believe that worshipping the Buddha like a god and listening to pirith and worshipping the monks and feeding them and giving them gifts will take us to a kind of heaven (Nirvana)

I would agree that there is a “popular religion” aspect of Buddhism, but I disagree that it can really be separated from the “training mind” part which is the essential core. The relationship between the two stems from the historical fact that the “popular religion” has allowed the *entire* belief system- including the “training mind” part- to survive all these millennia.

If the “popular religion” never evolved to mobilize a lay community base, the few who focused on training their minds would never have been supported and would have disappeared. Buddhism would have forgotten long ago, like many other contemporary belief systems. Have you ever heard of the Ajivikas?

With this we mislead ourselves, our children, and confuse the rest of the world who expect Buddhists to be passive, peaceful, and free from anger; when in reality we are quick to retaliate with aggresion in quite an Un-Buddhist way at the slightest provocation.

Two things to note:
1) I don’t agree that Sri Lankan Buddhists in general are quick to be aggressive, and the Akon episode would be a very poor example to draw from as it was politically motivated, not a grassroots reaction.

2) I do believe that Sri Lankan Buddhists eventually react to threats, to protect their identity as they have done historically. If they acted passively and peacefully then Buddhism would not have lasted very long. This is the fundamental point you are missing. Today it may be true that only 1 out of 100,000 self-identified Buddhists is a “real Buddhist” (using your criteria, whatever they may be). But if Buddhism did not exist, then that number would be a flat zero.

Again, this is why I would prefer to be a failed Buddhist than a non-Buddhist. If I cannot practice the Dhamma, then at least I could do my part to preserve it so somebody else can.

• wijayapala

One more question BalangodaMan: are you a Buddhist?

• SomewhatDisgusted

Dear BalangodaMan, Wijayapala,

I’ve been following your exchange with keen interest. I think both of you raise cogent arguments. My own perception of what Buddhism *ought* to be is entirely consistent with BalangodaMan’s. However, I think Wijayapala also has a point – that Buddhism would not have survived without the “popular religious” aspect.

Wijayapala, you’ve asked some questions of me on science vs faith but I think it might be prudent to delay that discussion and not derail your current one with BalangodaMan. I have however, extensively discussed the issue on another thread. Please read the following three posts. We can continue the discussion when you are done with the current one with BalangodaMan.

I look forward to your exchange of ideas.

cheers!

• SomewhatDisgusted

Heshan,

“more people in SL will probably end up watching his video online (if only due to sheer curiosity)”

I didn’t see your post till a moment ago. I agree. I think censorship of any kind is silly. It’s a sign of a backward state which tries to treat its citizens like idiots. The censorship of TamilNet is silly, as is the censorship of the Da Vinci code. People should have freedom of thought – that is the one freedom I do not like compromising on. The absence of that freedom is precisely the kind of thing that takes you back to the dark ages.

• BalangodaMan

Wijayapala and SomewhatDisgusted,

This might surprise you. I do agree with much of Wijayapala’s last post – particularly that Buddhism may not have survived thus far without active protection. But that has been done by using (or misusing) Buddhism as a means of supporting ethnic identity. The Buddha’s teachings never intended such a divisive end.

Buddhism is akin to psychology, philosophy, self-improvement. It is a science in many ways. The study of psychology does not need it to be coupled with any particular racial group for it to continue to be studied for years to come.

We need to separate the ‘Buddhism’ that is used for ethnic identity purposes (where violence for self-preservation is permissible, even necessary, which ironically contradicts the teachings) from the Buddhism that is an intellectual study (which is an objective and analytical exploration of the human condition). My regret is that the former does not appear to facilitate the latter.

• SomewhatDisgusted

Dear BalangodaMan, Wijayapala,

“My regret is that the former does not appear to facilitate the latter.”

I agree. The only teaching that is being protected, appears to be a a travesty of what one might genuinely respect. IMHO, the need for the “popular religious” aspect is far less important now than in the past. For one thing, the teachings have been extensively written down in books and is available in digital format for others to peruse. There is no real danger of books being burnt etc. In such a scenario, what is the purpose in people following a caricature of the original teachings? Is it not far more of an insult to the Buddha than an ignorant Akon dancing in front of a lifeless statue?

Frankly, some of the people defending Buddhism right here on this forum give me the heebie-jeebies. Their attitudes don’t appear to be significantly different from the likes of the Taliban. They also don’t seem to have a clue about the essence of the Buddha’s teachings as highlighted by BalangodaMan. As important as it may be for Buddhism to survive, I feel that what is needed is also to restore the original spirit of Buddhism, not the useless perpetuation of “blind beliefs” and a continuous mockery of its teachings.

What really gets my goat, is the suggestion that Buddhism should not be questioned and instead, accepted as some form of indisputable truth. In my understanding, this is the precise opposite of the kind of attitude a Buddhist should have. This is also what alarms me. It is the equivalent of living in a Talibanesque society where rational inquiry is suppressed and replaced with hordes of blind puppets slavishly adhering to their “beliefs”.

• Malinda Seneviratne

I wrote a couple of articles on this subject, one in the Daily MIrror and one in the Sunday Lakbima News. Both papers omitted a quote from the bible which dictates ‘appropriate’ action relevant to a hypothetical situation I described.

If Buddhists are supposed to act like Buddhists, it follows that Christians should act like Christians. Right? The problem is that Christians can pick and choose from the Bible.

Here are the links to the two articles: http://www.dailymirror.lk/print/index.php/opinion1/7442.html

http://www.lakbimanews.lk/columns/col5.htm

And this is what was omitted:

” What part of the Bible would â€˜Real’ Christians refer if such â€˜works of art’ contained some kind of culturally offensive statement on the Christian faith or some element of Christian iconography and sought to entice Christians to serve some other faith?

“â€˜Forgive our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass upon us’? That would be â€˜ok’ in that it will not result in any altercation or disruption of normality. What if some Christian chance upon or remember Deuteronomy 13: 6-10?

“This is what it says: â€˜If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend, which is as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which thou hast not known, thou, nor thy fathers; Namely, of the gods of the people which are round about you, nigh unto thee, or far off from thee, from the one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth; Thou shalt not consent unto him, nor hearken unto him; neither shall thine eye pity him, neither shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou conceal him: But thou shalt surely kill him; thine hand shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people. And thou shalt stone him with stones, that he die.'”

• ramona therese fernando

Oh Fie SomewhatDisgusted !

We are not talking about the finer points of the individualistic needs of the religion here. We are talking about its holistic nature of Buddhism as pertaining to a whole nation- her history and her aspirations.

If it is about enslavement towards religious ideologies, then this is more preferable than being enslaved by the progressive freedom of expressions of the West(too new to be statistically analyzed). Let the West try that out first for say, 500 years. And if there is no war, persecutions, encroachments on other people’s land rights, pollution of the ozone layer, deterioration of the family unit, economic instabilities and failures, all in any form or guise, then let them quietly teach this new religion of progression to rest of the world.

In the meantime, let countries live within their interpretations of their religions. Sri Lanka is a far cry form Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia eg. I want to know why no ruckus is been kicked up against Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia as we know is working hand in hand with the West (having the mutually benefitting economic stability because of their oil), but it is a totally ultra-religious state far worse than the poor misused and vulnerable poverty-stricken Afghans. Also they do not have Buddhist icons they can destroy, like the Afghans – they destroyed all other icons of other religions 500 years ago and have kept it entirely an enslaved state ever since.

Even in its greatest of Sinhala Buddhist zealousness, the sophistication of Buddhist culture is apparent, as compared to all others and mostly the Saudi-Arabian ones. Pity about the few stones being thrown.

I hear however, that stone throwing was also done against the Burmese embassy in New Delhi recently, by Burmese activists living in India . Now this is considered admirable in America as a statement against Myanmar’s military rule. Democratic rights and progression is what they want in the form of building of temporarily easier lifestyles by developing industrialization to pollute the atmosphere and financial systems intertwined with the West so Myanmar can be “mutually” beneficial to the West.

• wijayapala

BalangodaMan,

Buddhism is NOT a science, contrary to what many of its supporters claim. It is a belief system based on faith, and in this narrow sense it is not very different from Christianity, Islam, or Hinduism. Take a look at this article:

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/bodhi/bps-essay_02.html

The Triple Gem is an affirmation of the faith. To be a Buddhist, first one needs to believe that Siddhartha Gautama (re)discovered the end of suffering and became the Buddha. Second, one has to believe that Gautama Buddha’s teachings will lead one to the end of suffering. Third, one has to believe that the Sangha or community of monks had preserved these teachings to the modern day.

None of the above can be scientifically proven, unless of course one can become an Arahant and demonstrate it. Conversely, if a self-described Buddhists rejects any of the Triple Gem, one has to ask a simple question why he/she is following these teachings if they have no proven effects.

• wijayapala

SomewhatDisgusted,

I agree with Ramona, I think you’ve jumped off the deep end.

IMHO, the need for the “popular religious” aspect is far less important now than in the past. For one thing, the teachings have been extensively written down in books and is available in digital format for others to peruse. There is no real danger of books being burnt etc. In such a scenario, what is the purpose in people following a caricature of the original teachings?

Writing things down is no guarantee for preserving a belief system. Recently a number of Sarvastivada Buddhist texts have been unearthed and translated. Who today practices Sarvastivada Buddhism? Have you even heard of it? (If not, I wouldn’t be surprised if it had lacked a “popular religion” aspect)

If Buddhism cannot provide a “popular religion” for the ordinary person, that void will be filled by other popular religions like Christianity and Islam which are not friendly towards “intellectual” Buddhism. The basic flaw in your thinking is that “popular” Buddhism somehow suppresses or displaces “intellectual” Buddhism. The truth is that any child born into a “popular” Buddhism family will naturally adopt “intellectual” Buddhism if he or she has that bent, far more so than someone born into a non-Buddhist family.

However, if “popular” Buddhism ever evolves in a way to contradict the Buddha’s teachings, the “intellectual” Buddhists have every right to challenge it.

On the topic of reincarnation, take a look at this:

Dhamma Without Rebirth?
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/bodhi/bps-essay_06.html

• wijayapala

Another article on rebirth, by the same Bhikkhu Bodhi
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/bodhi/bps-essay_46.html

• SomewhatDisgusted

Dear Ramona.

“We are not talking about the finer points of the individualistic needs of the religion here”

Some of us are.

“If it is about enslavement towards religious ideologies, then this is more preferable than being enslaved by the progressive freedom of expressions of the West…”

Says who? The Buddha? Einstein? Have you been following the debate during the past few thousand years at all? Maybe watch Michael Sandel’s Justice series. And what in god’s name does freedom of speech have to do with our modern day problems? Just because one aspect of western ideology is wrong, reject everything wholesale? Brilliant! Why don’t you take that logic to its ultimate conclusion, reject civilization and its problems altogether and go back to living in a cave? Don’t confuse the travails of high-population growth and western religious ideologies with notions like individual freedom. They are different things! You can’t blame the west every time a guy in the east pollutes the environment!

“. Sri Lanka is a far cry form Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia eg. I want to know why no ruckus is been kicked up against Saudi Arabia. “

There is no doubt about the hypocrisy of the west. That has been made evident continuously. What does any of that have to do with freedom of speech?

And seriously, why waste time talking about Afghanistan? Why are we comparing ourselves to those in the bottom rung?

“Even in its greatest of Sinhala Buddhist zealousness, the sophistication of Buddhist culture is apparent…”

Yes. True. So far, we haven’t had crusades in the name of Buddhism. Let’s not try to get there though shall we?

I don’t know about “sophistication of Buddhist culture” though. Aren’t we the same people who ran barbed wire up the anuses of people during JVP times? The people who attacked innocent Tamil civilians in ’83? Again, don’t confuse Buddhism with culture, you won’t get far!

“I hear however, that stone throwing was also done against the Burmese embassy in New Delhi recently, by Burmese activists living in India . Now this is considered admirable in America as a statement against Myanmar’s military….

Here, I’m in complete agreement with you. The hypocrisy of the west is astounding as usual. We are not talking about *them* being in a holier-than-thou position to criticize us. We are talking about *our* right to criticize ourselves. Our right to freedom of speech. Our right to rational inquiry.

• ramona therese fernando

Not Buddha or Einstein, but a good wholesome awareness that is imprinted in most of Sri Lanka.

Freedom of speech is the subtle form of progressing the so called progressive western civilization. For example, they will suggest Akon, watch and see what happens in Sri Lanka, and then point the finger and say , “Ah-ah, so like the Talibans. Let’s find a reason to debate in the UN this violence issue amongst Sinhala Buddhists and then find subtle ways to set up a more “progressive” government nicely in line with our aspirations.”

And we were a country of high Buddhist and Hindu civilizations when the Westerners were living in caves.

Why talk about Afganistan? Isn’t that where the Talibans come from and some are trying to form comparisons between the Talibans and the Sinhala Buddhists.

And the atrocities JVP and attacks on the poor Tamils, those come from reasons of Western colonization â€“ the reasons of a country being quite in the quandary after an alien culture was thrust upon her, till finally, the battle was won, and the future marching at a fast pace towards security.

It is good to criticize ourselves but why make it too complex with issues that needn’t be there in the first place?

• SomewhatDisgusted

Dear Wijayapala,

“Buddhism is NOT a science, contrary to what many of its supporters claim. It is a belief system based on faith….”

Thank you Wijayapala. Finally, someone with honesty. It’s a true pleasure to receive an analytical and reasoned response. I have no issue with what you said, although I have my own take on what to accept on belief and what not to (FYI, I myself have a Buddhist background , although no one in my family has accepted anything in Buddhism uncritically). Please try explaining this concept to Yapa though, you’ll see what I mean. Please also understand why it’s alarming to talk to people like that, who go on to profess superiority based on a “belief”.

“I agree with Ramona, I think you’ve jumped off the deep end.”

Sure. Do feel free to clarify why. Do you agree with the “popular buddhist” notions expressed right here on this forum?

“Recently a number of Sarvastivada Buddhist texts have been unearthed and translated.”

And I assume this was not translated by a layman? Therefore, this doesn’t really buttress a case for “popular buddhism”. Historians will continue to unearth such texts, regardless of popular Buddhism.

“If Buddhism cannot provide a “popular religion” for the ordinary person, that void will be filled by other popular religions like Christianity and Islam which are not friendly towards “intellectual” Buddhism.”

Here, I am in violent agreement. It is a far more alarming prospect to have Christianity or Islam filling that void than Buddhism. Given that religion is here to stay for a while longer, and it is inconceivable that it will be supplanted by rational inquiry and critical thought anytime soon, popular Buddhism is certainly the next best choice. In my personal opinion, Buddhism in its essence is an incomparably more sophisticated religion than the other popular religions. However, what led me to question whether Buddhism too had sunk to the level of the average religion have been my recent encounters with followers of “popular buddhism”. I guess one should not lose sight of the fact that there are even more clueless goobers in the other religions out there, therefore I concede this point.

“. The basic flaw in your thinking is that “popular” Buddhism somehow suppresses or displaces “intellectual” Buddhism. The truth is that any child born into a “popular” Buddhism family will naturally adopt “intellectual” Buddhism if he or she has that bent, far more so than someone born into a non-Buddhist family.”

I agree with you on that. This is certainly a good argument *for* popular Buddhism, provided as you say, that popular Buddhism doesn’t go way out of whack and gets its cue from intellectual Buddhism. I’m not too inspired by the state of that in Sri Lanka though.

“However, if “popular” Buddhism ever evolves in a way to contradict the Buddha’s teachings, the “intellectual” Buddhists have every right to challenge it.”

I won’t classify myself an intellectual Buddhist, but challenging it is precisely what I was doing. If you read that other thread in its entirety though, you’ll see that some are of the opinion that Buddhism cannot be subject to challenge. So again, please explain this to those people!

• Heshan

“Yes. True. So far, we haven’t had crusades in the name of Buddhism. Let’s not try to get there though shall we? ”

The war was fought by the Sinhalese to safeguard the territorial integrity of the Sinhala-Buddhist motherland. In this regard, it is no different from the Crusades. Let’s try this: take away the “Sinhala-Buddhist” aphorism. What are we left with? “The war was fought by the Sinhalese to safeguard the territorial integrity of…. ?????” Big question mark. You cannot just say Sri Lanka. The Christians and the Muslims were never asked whether or not the Tamils should be allowed to separate. Christian priests and Muslim Imams did not do a satyagraha outside SWRD’s residence and force him to tear up the agreement with the Tamil Federalists. The leaders of all major political minors and minor political parties which oppose any devolution pact with the Tamils – all of these leaders are Buddhists – they have always been Buddhists. SWRD had to change his stripes to get the masses to dance to his tune.

It is not my intention to condemn the (Sinhala) Buddhists. But lets look at the facts – devoid of all subjectivity. This was a war initiated by the Buddhists and they are the ones who stand to benefit the most from it. Although, to be fair, it is only a few political leaders who actually benefit. The people themselves are fed a dose of nationalism and then left to rot by the side of the road.

• Heshan

” 2) I do believe that Sri Lankan Buddhists eventually react to threats, to protect their identity as they have done historically. If they acted passively and peacefully then Buddhism would not have lasted very long. ”

One cannot consider himself enlightened – from the standpoint of religion – unless he is in full control of the senses. So much so that he/she is willing to sacrifice his life rather than resort to violence. Aggression is an instance of one losing control of the senses. One feels the need to defend his/her earthly cause… his/her earthly attachment, etc. There are many beautiful instances of religious personas who have suffered abuse in silence. For example, Jesus said on the cross, ” “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing”, in response to his enemies who were eager to crucify him. What about Gandhi? There are many instances when his followers wished to take up arms, but Gandhi quickly discouraged them.

However, it is debatable whether or not aggression is a rational behavior. If everyone were truly enlightened, then of course there would be no need for aggression of any sort. But in that case, the entire perception of inequality – from which aggression stems – would become meaningless. This is the idealized Buddhist worldview – idealized, because in practice, it is in impossible to implement. Which begs the question, is organized religion as we know it, itself rational? 🙂

• tis-a-small-world
• SomewhatDisgusted

Dear Wijayapala,

Thank you for the two articles. I’ve read both. Did you submit them in response to the 3 links I gave questioning Karma and rebirth?

My own opinion: both of the articles are written beautifully in a proper spirit of logical discussion. The first article objects to the concept of Dhamma without Kamma (my own take on the matter) and explains that Kamma and rebirth are an integral part of Buddhism. Fine.

However, the problem with the article is that it then commits the fallacy of appeal to authority. Not a single reason is given as to why one would believe in Kamma other than through that fallacy.

The second article starts off with a different fallacy. It makes an appeal to consequences – that having a sense of retribution and universal justice is desirable, therefore Kamma must be true. Again, such an argument clearly does not fly. Richard Dawkins had this to say about faith: “The patient typically finds himself impelled by some deep, inner conviction that something is true, or right, or virtuous: a conviction that doesn’t seem to owe anything to evidence or reason, but which, nevertheless, he feels as totally compelling and convincing. We doctors refer to such a belief as ‘faith’.”

The article then follows it up once again with an appeal to authority. So I hope you understand why I remain largely unconvinced.

My personal point of view is that the logical option available to us would be to accept the Dhamma but be skeptical of Kamma/Rebirth. However, I would point out that the notion of reciprocal altruism, which has gained wide acceptance amongst the scientific community, is a notion similar to Kamma – similar in effect that is. Of course, its retribution is only within this life and it certainly isn’t divine but it’s basically the concept that “you reap what you sow” with scientific underpinnings that explain how it works because of social relationships. This might help to explain why the good Bhikku had a strong intuition that Kamma must be true.

Apart from philosophical objections, I’ve also raised some practical objections to the notion of Kamma in this post: http://www.groundviews.org/2009/11/25/the-transformation-of-buddhism-in-sri-lanka/#comment-13127

To date, no one has provided an answer.

I am, as always, open to criticism.

• BalangodaMan

3 definitions of ‘Buddhism’

It is evident in this discussion thread that there are at least 3 types of Buddhism that people refer to in conversation, allegiance and practice. Often we are not talking about the same thing.

(1) Protestant Buddhism (as coined by Obeysekera) – a religion, the purpose of which is to add credibility to an ethnic identity ‘Sinhala-Buddhist’. Much like the Old Testament gave validity to the Jewish people as god’s chosen people. Wars are justified in this context in the defence of the religion and the tribe.

(2) A faith, as Wijayapala describes well. A faith by definition cannot be, indeed need not be, proved. It works, and works well by the placebo effect. One could argue that it would be unethical to question a faith in ways that would frustrate the placebo effect. A faith is therefore not open to intellectual scrutiny, except to examine effectiveness of the placebo effect, and in any case cannot involve the faithful in any meaningful discussion.

(3) an intellectual pursuit. The exploration of the human condition and psyche. Examining what makes us unhappy. This is psychology or philosophy. It has nothing to do with faith or any territorial claims. It is knowledge.

(There are other definitions too I’m sure)

How I see it, the 3 above are largely (or nearly) mutually exclusive. We get into an intellectual stalemate when we forget that we are often discussing quite different things when we refer to ‘Buddhism’ in discussions, or when someone refers to himself as a ‘Buddhist’, or that ‘Buddhism’ must be protected. Which? Protecting one potentially destroys the others, no?

• yapa

Dear tis-a-small-world ;

RE: your post of March 31, 2010 @ 12:15 pm

You say

“You must remember that Buddhists are allowed to question their beliefs and what is taught, as well as point out mistakes. Lord Buddha has clearly mentioned in the Kalama Sutra. For more information please refer to, page 3 of “Budhun Wadala Dharmaya” by venerable Walpola Rahula. When a young samanera pointed, Arahath Sariyuth that his robe was touching the ground, Arahath Sariyuth excepted this and appreciated the young samanera for informing him. This is just a simple example taken from the Buddhist Literature. Therefore Buddhists are allowed to ask questions regarding what’s being taught as well as to point out mistakes.”……….

Following parable shows that the Buddha did not tolerate and encourage all sort of questions but only the questions that are fruitful.

The man wounded by an arrow wishes to know who shoots the arrow, from which direction it comes, whether the arrow head is made of bone or iron, whether the shaft is of this kind of wood or another before he will have the arrow removed. This man is likened to those who would like to know about the origin of the Universe, whether the world is eternal or not, finite or not before they will undertake to practice a religion. Just as the man in the parable will die before he has all the answers he wants regarding the origin and nature of the arrow, such people will die before they will ever have the answers to all their irrelevant questions. This exemplifies what we call the Buddha’s practical attitude.

One of the best ways to know the answers and remedies to the many of your questions is not keep on asking questions from Buddhist devotees, but to sacrifice a couple of hours to expose to the Buddhist discipline. After that you will realize that you don’t have much of the questions you had earlier. Buddhism is not just an intellectual exercise or just morality. It is something unique, and can not be realized through any methodology used to realize any other noble goal. It has prescribed an intrinsic methodology to achieve its results. One can keep on asking questions and criticizing Buddhism for not having answers for all sorts of questions he can imagine till the world’s end, but until he is indulged in it in the prescribed methodology, he is in a futile exercise, just as trying to get milk from the horns of a cow.

Thanks!

( I expect to discuss about Kalama Sutta a bit too.)

• yapa

Dear SomewhatDisgusted;

” Please try explaining this concept to Yapa though, you’ll see what I mean. Please also understand why it’s alarming to talk to people like that, who go on to profess superiority based on a “belief”.”

These talks reminds me the the story of “Heen Seraya” of Kumaratunga Munidasa. After the recovery of the strange sickness (caused by the Lizard), the Ali Ralahamy (Elephant the leader of the wild beasts) and the Koti Ralahamy (leopard) come to the annual meeting of the wild beasts. Here the leopard becomes boastful in front of the the rest of the animals, threatens and insults the lizard. But in the arranged fight he runs away and cries loudly saying “It bit here, it bit there, here and here too and so forth scratching all over his body.

If somebody who is conversant in worldly matters like an expert in Mathematics, Political Science, Psychology or any other discipline thinks he is capable of easily pin pointing errors in in Buddhist Doctrine, he is miserably misled. There are a few subject that is so consistent and non contradictory like Buddhism. Tripitaka that contains the core of Buddhism in writing is about 25 times as big as the Holy Bible is unbelievably consistent and non contradicting. Classifications and explanations given in the Abhi-Dhamma is much more profound and subtler than in modern Science.

But the people who has no at all exposure to “Science” try to disgrace Buddhism, by citing which they think as Science. Most of these people have no an iota of knowledge of Science or modern knowledge, but try to show off as Pundits showing their bottom line as Science. How can somebody who has not learned Science in a formal way acquire the whole quantum of modern knowledge of Science and cite them to contradict a prestige body of knowledge like Buddhism ? Modern Science is something like the ocean and non can say Buddhism is smaller. But some people try do so. The most ignorant is who does not know that he is ignorant. Further, he is most shameful when boasting after running away and absent for a couple of months when the difficult questions were posed. It is most shameful after pleading mercy to stop answering his questions and promising to write a concluding notes, before I re-start my writing, but never seen in the thread thereafter, but trying to be boastful like a hero in another thread sending past to the dust bin. These are culprits. I challenge you to start the debates (Two debates) that you pleaded me to stop until you write a concluding notes a couple months back. It is shameful to behave like, I stopped writing at your request and this is your grateful way of paying back. It is very unbecoming! It is shameful my dear!

Thanks!

• yapa

Dear SomewhatDisgusted;

You have no knowledge of Science, (You have no formal Science education)
You have no knowledge of Buddhism, (You have said so)

But you are trying to assess Buddhism in terms of Science.

Isn’t that weird? Trying to assess unknown thing in terms of an unknown thing?

What can I call this?

Treachery? Dishonesty? Ignorance? Showing off? Trying to inflate the image?

You can tell it better than me, I suppose. Be honest and tell me the most suitable.

Thanks!

• BalangodaMan

Mr Yapa,

I don’t think the question was about asking any old irrelevant question. It was about asking questions about his teachings, and the teachings of others on the subject (Kalama Sutra).

For example, if I could meet the Buddha I would like to ask him what his plan actually was (see my analysis above). In Buddhism, was his purpose (1) to validate our superiority and territorial claim to SL as many of us claim or (2) follow a religion by blind faith as many of us do or (3) show us how to become peace-loving tolerant people who are not egotistic and not affected by negative retaliatory emotions even when heavily provoked.

As I’ve said in the last post, we can’t really have a meaningful discussion if the topic itself means something different to different people.

• wijayapala

SomewhatDisgusted,

Do you agree with the “popular buddhist” notions expressed right here on this forum?

Which ones?

Therefore, this doesn’t really buttress a case for “popular buddhism”. Historians will continue to unearth such texts, regardless of popular Buddhism.

You missed the point. Sarvastivada Buddhism, unlike Theravada Buddhism had been forgotten, and no amount of intellectuals or translations can bring it back.

Here, I am in violent agreement.

What does that mean?

However, the problem with the article is that it then commits the fallacy of appeal to authority. Not a single reason is given as to why one would believe in Kamma other than through that fallacy.

The reason is faith. You either have it or you don’t. The point however is that you cannot separate kamma from the Buddha’s teachings.

So I hope you understand why I remain largely unconvinced.

Because you don’t share the faith.

My personal point of view is that the logical option available to us would be to accept the Dhamma but be skeptical of Kamma/Rebirth.

Won’t work. If you’re skeptical of kamma/rebirth then you have to be skeptical of the Buddha’s teachings as a whole, which then leads the skeptic to be skeptical whether Siddhartha actually became the Buddha.

Bhikkhu Bodhi was not attempting to “prove” that kamma or rebirth exist. He showed that kamma and rebirth are so central to the Buddha’s teachings that there isn’t much left if you intellectually attempt to separate them. You won’t have ethics (since kamma is thrown out) nor can you achieve Nibbana (as you only get one life) so no point meditating or otherwise bettering yourself.

However, I would point out that the notion of reciprocal altruism, which has gained wide acceptance amongst the scientific community, is a notion similar to Kamma â€“ similar in effect that is.

The similarities are shallow, although I concede that both have the notion of consequences at their core. Science cannot explain what happens after death and as you pointed out applies for only a single life.

As long as there is an unknown that science cannot explain (death being probably the best example), there will be a need of most humans for religion. God may or may not have created man, but man created “God” for a reason (yes I’m a Buddhist who doesn’t believe in God) that probably is involved with his evolution.

Now, take karma and rebirth. If one were to apply these concepts to our humble beginnings in the form of replicators, there’s an immediate problem. It’s not clear how the total animal population can grow, since it’s the karma of one dead animal that spawns life in the next newborn animal.

Buddhists don’t believe in only this world, or that only this world can support life.

Further one must also question what good karma or bad karma would even mean for these animals, since there is essentially no “morality” in what occurs in the animal world.

According to Buddhist doctrine, it sucks to be an animal because there are few opportunities to engage in engage in human morality. If you’re born as an animal, you’re probably going to be reborn as an animal and it takes almost forever to get out of that. Moral of the story: don’t act like an animal, lest you be reborn as one!

One must then begin to question why human Karma acquired the unique ability to be determined by a human construct named morality whereas for animals, it’s not determined by such a process.

OTC erred to define or equate kamma as “action.” That may be true in Jainism, but in Buddhism kamma is associated primarily with the mental state behind an action (or thought). Likewise the endstate or effect of kamma is on a mental state and not simply a reaction. Therefore, animals which acquire mental states found in humans probably will be reborn as humans. Again it is not what they do that is important but rather what they think or emotionally feel.

Humans are supposed to be the only beings that can achieve nibbana (although I don’t think that this is central to Buddhism the way that kamma and rebirth are). Neither lower beings (animals, ghosts) nor higher (gods) can do this.

As others have mentioned earlier, even before the Buddha, the Upanishads and Hindus shared similar views on Karma and rebirth.

Rebirth yes, kamma no. Incidentally, there is no evidence that Siddhartha had contact with the Upanishads, and therefore probably was not inspired by them.

• SomewhatDisgusted

Dear Yapa,

“You have no knowledge of Science, (You have no formal Science education)

How do you know what my academic credentials are?

You have no knowledge of Buddhism, (You have said so)

This is incorrect. I have a reasonable idea. However, I won’t say I’ve parroted scripture as you seem to have. So in that sense, certainly, I’ll grant it anyway you please.

But the point is not that. The point is, your question is an ad-hominem attack. You don’t defend the argument, you merely question the person’s credentials. If you have a good argument, make it, you don’t need to question my competence. People can read and make their minds up for themselves. Or would you rather that you made their minds up on others’ behalf?

“What can I call this?
Treachery? Dishonesty? Ignorance? Showing off? Trying to inflate the image?”

Anything you please. I would like to call it intellectual honesty and rational inquiry. Talking about dishonesty though, Wijayapala has had the honesty to agree that kamma and rebirth are faiths. Bhikku Bhodi has done the same. Perhaps you need to travel to the US and enlighten him? Or should you perhaps be honest instead?

As I’ve explained, my reasons were given in the earlier thread. People can read your arguments as well as mine and make a decision. I don’t intend to go around in circles with a person who is so blind that he won’t even admit that Kamma and rebirth are faiths.

• yapa

“I am, as always, open to criticism.”

Then please answer the questions and responses posed to you under the “Transformation of Buddhism in Sri Lanka” on the same topics, Kamma and re-birth, without just pointing out only the parts of the discussion which are advantageous to you.

There the discussion went more deep but you avoided responding to the questions with false excuses and now trying to break pots just like a new born person. Don’t try to deceive people.

If you have no idea what it is please learn.

Thanks!

• SomewhatDisgusted

Dear BalangodaMan,

“Which? Protecting one potentially destroys the others, no?”

I think you make a very profound argument. Thank you.

Clearly, I would argue that Buddhists ideally ought to be in camp no. 3. I do not believe in dogmatic adherence to anything, not even science (science is anti-dogmatic by definition after all). However, I have to accept that the world isn’t ideal, that Wijayapala’s argument holds and that the other two camps are necessary. I guess it’s a balance between the three that’s required. What’s important, is that the balance does not tip unnecessarily to one side, especially not the dogmatic and militant side!

As to whether questioning faith undermines the placebo effect and therefore it is unethical to do so. I think there’s more at stake than just the placebo effect here. No belief system should be allowed a free ride to assume that it is an indisputable truth. This rationalizes all sorts of behaviour, including demanding a special place for it and/or justifying anything done in its name. Such behavior reached its pinnacle perhaps in the European dark ages and we see similar behavior today from, say, the Taliban. Therefore, I believe it would be unethical to allow it to gain such undeserved power. A faith must remain a faith, and must not confuse itself with “fact” and must not attempt to foist its beliefs on others.

It is in this context that I launched my own critique of Buddhism, something that I would normally not bother to do. If you read this post, which is inordinately long, you will gain the background and context for my own protests (http://www.groundviews.org/2009/11/25/the-transformation-of-buddhism-in-sri-lanka/#comment-13476). It was only at Yapa’s suggestion that Buddhism is an indisputable truth, that those who didn’t subscribe to it were potential idiots and that Buddhism was deserving of unquestioning obedience that I felt it was high time to suggest otherwise.

• wijayapala

BalangodaMan,

How I see it, the 3 above are largely (or nearly) mutually exclusive.

Really? I don’t!

If a religion is by nature a faith, then #1 and #2 should be the same. I haven’t read much Obeysekere so I cannot comment on the “Protestant Buddhism” concept. All I can say is that Buddhism evolved into a religion (in the sense of becoming something to be protected) probably when it encountered reactions by the other prevailing belief systems in India which in turn saw Buddhism as a threat.

As for #3, Buddhism is an intellectual pursuit when Buddhists attempt to apply the teachings. After all, the Dhamma does not give answers to every single situation encountered in life. It only offers some guidelines. Everything that I have stated here about Buddhism is my interpretation, and therefore it is open to critique.

• SomewhatDisgusted

Dear Wijayapala,

Because the times are different. Is there any aspect of Buddhism which is not written down but only kept in the mind? Are there any Arahats alive today?

“Won’t work. If you’re skeptical of kamma/rebirth then you have to be skeptical of the Buddha’s teachings as a whole, which then leads the skeptic to be skeptical whether Siddhartha actually became the Buddha.”

No. It’s not in the same league. That the Buddha was alive is not an extraordinary claim. That he was far ahead of others in his time is abundantly clear. His four noble truths are also not supernatural. However, kamma and rebirth are. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. I’ve raised Russell’s teapot argument before.

There is no real reason to believe those two. Divorced from them, I feel Buddhism still makes a lot of sense, but as the article observes, Buddhism would be reduced to a form of humanistic psychotherapy. So what’s wrong with that?

“You won’t have ethics (since kamma is thrown out) nor can you achieve Nibbana (as you only get one life) so no point meditating or otherwise bettering yourself.”

The source of ethics need not be fear of retribution. In fact, fear of retribution would hardly be a noble reason to be ethical. A complete system of ethics, and Buddhist ethics itself, can be built from the ground up based on the golden rule. Kamma and rebirth are not necessary.

“As long as there is an unknown that science cannot explain (death being probably the best example), there will be a need of most humans for religion”

What is desired and what is true are not the same thing. The fact that science cannot explain something does not mean that such a gap must necessarily be filled by comforting non-explanations. This is the “god of the gaps” fallacy used by Christians. The only problem though is that there is no conveniently packaged placebo to swallow for mass consumption and ultimately, no answers. Coming to terms with it becomes each person’s personal quest but it’s not different from the quest for Nibbana. That is not something that’s easy to come to terms with and a problem I admit to having struggled with for a long time.

“Buddhists don’t believe in only this world, or that only this world can support life.”

That won’t matter. No matter how many worlds there are, you would have to postulate that the entire living population of animals came into being spontaneously. What about trees btw? What’s their classification? And viruses? Are those subject to Kamma?

“Moral of the story: don’t act like an animal, lest you be reborn as one!”

So at some point, an ethical Lion arose that gave rise to a human?

“Therefore, animals which acquire mental states found in humans probably will be reborn as humans. Again it is not what they do that is important but rather what they think or emotionally feel.”

This again does not seem compatible with evolution. Apes are our immediate ancestors. The most likely animal to have a mental state close to a human is an ape and most of the “higher” apes are critically endangered (I use the word advisedly, there is no ranking in evolution). The majority of animals do not have a comparable state of mind. Most don’t even have a brain. This would again make those believing in rebirth hard pressed to explain population growth, especially at the exponential rate it’s growing now. Importing lives from other worlds doesn’t solve the problem at a fundamental level.

• Suriya

The PBS is running a new documentary titled The Buddha which covers a lot of the basic teachings and the answers to some of the questions raised in the above few posts. The program is premiering on April 7th across America.

See: http://www.youtube.com/user/TheBuddhaPBS for clips of the program.

Hopefully this will help American audiences understand that the Buddha is much venerated in large parts of the world and that his imagery should be used as it currently is in the west. I don’t think many Americans really know anything about Buddhism beyond a few quotes of the Dalai Lama and the buddha statue.

• SomewhatDisgusted

Dear Yapa,

“Then please answer the questions and responses posed to you under the “Transformation of Buddhism in Sri Lanka” on the same topics, Kamma and re-birth, without just pointing out only the parts of the discussion which are advantageous to you.”

I’ve already answered that question and my points made. I also concluded that thread with the explicit declaration that I no longer saw any point in continuing to run around in circles. Especially not with a person who doesn’t even have the honesty to admit that Kamma and rebirth are based on faith, which both Bhikku Bodhi and Wijayapala have the decency and intellectual honesty to acknowledge. Let me guess, both of them are idiots with western mindsets right? Think you should perhaps enlighten them before you try to convince an obviously irredeemable “western mind” like myself!

cheers!

• BalangodaMan

Mr. Yapa,

Faith:
This might help in connecting properly with Mr. SomewhatDisgusted. By ‘faith’ what is meant is that IT CANNOT BE PROVED. Karma/rebirth is something you have accepted as true, and wish to believe is true, for a reason other than that you have obtained proof with hard evidence. The common reasons are: tribal loyalties, peer pressure, insecurity, fear of the unknown, superstition, absence of choice, fashion.

The Buddha lived in a region and time where karma and rebirth were already accepted as real (see Nyandaloka’s writing). Karma/rebirth is the backdrop to his teachings, not the central revelation. In SL we tend to think of karma/rebirth as the be-all and end-all of the Dhamma. Nearly all the Buddhist practice in SL appears to be focused on circumventing the ramifications of karma/rebirth – a mere conjecture. But don’t get me wrong, it has its utility in scaring the masses into obedience out of fear of the supposed truth of karmic retribution. So in a society that needs ‘someone else to think for them’ it would work. In an educated society where people are taught to THINK FOR THEMSELVES (as is a necessity for democracy to work, for example) people will not accept anything as blind faith. (in an educated society we will need to put forward different/better arguments if we are to encourage people to be good).

Faith requires the faithful to suspend rational thinking.

Mr SomewhatDisgusted,

I agree. While the placebo effect does its required job in a faith-based society, the drawback is (and its a big drawback) the masses can be easily hoodwinked into starting wars and the like for questionable reasons. Usually are, ultimately.

Also, it does not seem possible for a rationalist to have a rational discussion about faith with a believer, as you are finding …

• BalangodaMan

Thank you Suriya.

BuddhaChannelPBS:

Sorry to digress from the topic of this thread. Parts of the promo portrays Buddha as Jesus (performing miracles far more spectacular than JC! even better than David Copperfield) and then interspersed you have the Dalai Lama and others taking about ‘miracles’ in a more down-to-Earth meaning. I think this series will be massively controversial!

• Suriya

HI BalangodaMan, I think you watched just one of the videos. If it is too time consuming to watch all the videos you can read the whole transcript of the program here:

http://www.pbs.org/thebuddha/birth-and-youth/

Just read that the narration is by Richard Gere. And from the homepage http://www.pbs.org/thebuddha/ the following:

The Buddha, A Film by David Grubin

Premiering April 7, 2010 at 8 p.m. EST

This documentary for PBS by award-winning filmmaker David Grubin and narrated by Richard Gere, tells the story of the Buddha’s life, a journey especially relevant to our own bewildering times of violent change and spiritual confusion. It features the work of some of the world’s greatest artists and sculptors, who across two millennia, have depicted the Buddha’s life in art rich in beauty and complexity. Hear insights into the ancient narrative by contemporary Buddhists, including Pulitzer Prize winning poet W.S. Merwin and His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Join the conversation and learn more about meditation, the history of Buddhism, and how to incorporate the Buddha’s teachings on compassion and mindfulness into daily life.

http://www.pbs.org/thebuddha/

What ever the case, I think this sort of initiative beats the ‘Akon promoting Buddhism through his music videos’ hands down.

• yapa

Dear BalangodaMan/SomewhatDisgusted;

Now SomewhatDisgusted is again trying to label some doctrines of Buddhism as faith even after I in length discussed the concept of faith in the modern scientific out look. I have dealt about the modern notion of knowledge in detail and the clearly shown that proofs have no much validity in the modern outlook. I have clearly shown that modern science is not assertive as old Newtonian outlook and the ultimatum of the Modern Science is “Uncertainty Principle”. The theorinotion about the knowledge is completely changed with the discoveries of modern Science. I have clearly pointed out these things in the discussion with SomewhatDisgusted and he didn’t have any knowledge to answer them. I have clearly shown him that nothing can be really proved other than the entities in Logic and Mathematics. He did not have answers, but now he is trying to be like a new born man putting the same wine in a new bottle. If things that can not be proved are named as faith, I asked him to show any theory in any Social Science and even the theories of Natural Science that has been accepted after proofs.. If things are called faith in this line I argued that all the Social Sciences and even Natural Science should be called as subjects based on faith. He had no answers for these and now raising the same questions.

To see whether what SomewhatDisgusted now preaching is true I request to go through the entire discussion under “Transformation of Buddhism in Sri Lanka” and not try to understand it in piecemeal basis as pointed out by him for his advantage.

This is the his last post and he never returned to the thread. Please judge whether what he is preaching now is true or false.

http://www.groundviews.org/2009/11/25/the-transformation-of-buddhism-in-sri-lanka/#comment-13899

He can break pots in abandoned houses but cannot face arguments. He runs away from the arguments giving false promises, when has no answers to them.
Funniest thing is that such people boast like “victors” in difference audiences. This is treachery. It is shameful!

Thanks1

• yapa

An addition to the above post.

This was my response to the last post of SomewhatDisgusted:

http://www.groundviews.org/2009/11/25/the-transformation-of-buddhism-in-sri-lanka/#comment-13974

I am still awaiting his concluding thoughts to provide mine.

There is a Sinhala saying “Lajja nathikama mahamudali kamatath wada lokui”

thanks!

• SomewhatDisgusted

Dear Yapa,

“I have clearly pointed out these things in the discussion with SomewhatDisgusted and he didn’t have any knowledge to answer them. I have clearly shown him that nothing can be really proved other than the entities in Logic and Mathematics.”

And I have repeatedly clarified that the core of the scientific method is based precisely on the notion that nothing can be proven about the ultimate nature of reality. This is why the holy grail of science is based on practical, observable results and not “beliefs”. I have also clarified the difference between hard and soft sciences which you seem unable to fathom. All you display is an abysmal understanding of the scientific method, an inability to grasp why it was developed and a selective reasoning process typical of the religious mind.

“To see whether what SomewhatDisgusted now preaching is true I request to go through the entire discussion under “Transformation of Buddhism in Sri Lanka” and not try to understand it in piecemeal basis as pointed out by him for his advantage.”

I have absolutely no objection to this. The whole thread is available for people to read as I’ve repeatedly emphasized. I encourage those interested to do so.

Last but not least Yapa, you still haven’t answered the question: What do you have to say to Wijayapala and Bhikku Bodhi?

The only argument you’ve “won” Yapa, is through argumentum ad nauseum, not by taking an honest intellectual position. I repeat, there is no sense in continuing to argue with a person who can’t even admit that Kamma and rebirth are faiths.

• SomewhatDisgusted

Dear Yapa,

I have now provided my concluding thoughts as promised. You should no longer need to accuse me of failing my duty: http://www.groundviews.org/2009/11/25/the-transformation-of-buddhism-in-sri-lanka/comment-page-8/#comment-16771

cheers!

• Hey Ramona,

Re:

“And we were a country of high Buddhist and Hindu civilizations when the Westerners were living in caves.”

Perhaps in the distant past, but in the late 1970’s, many families in SL could not afford enough food for their children due to the economic underdevelopment of SL, so they moved to other countries (as was the case in my family) – so, the high Buddhist & Hindu civilzation was not effective at that point in time, since those religion based cultures & ideas are not able to/have not been able to come up with ways to feed & employ millions of people in the modern world. For that, we have to look at post-religious/secular thinking.

Re:

“Why talk about Afganistan? Isn’t that where the Talibans come from and some are trying to form comparisons between the Talibans and the Sinhala Buddhists.”

Some Sinhala Buddhists behave like the Taliban when they use violence to attempt to solve perceived non-violent problems – in this case the Akon situation (which, also has been pointed out, may have just been the doing of some politicians – using the Akon controversy as an opportunity to attack a critical media outlet – so, in this case, perhaps not the fault of most of Buddhism in SL, however, there is a siege mentality among many Buddhists in SL & overseas – that the whole world is against them – which leads to unnecessary conflicts with others).

Re:

“And the atrocities JVP and attacks on the poor Tamils, those come from reasons of Western colonization â€“ the reasons of a country being quite in the quandary after an alien culture was thrust upon her, till finally, the battle was won, and the future marching at a fast pace towards security.”

Lies. The JVP rebellions were an attempt to take control of the government by a new group, using disaffected/poor Sinhala youth as the fighters. If you wish, I can speak with one of the imprisoned & released members of my family who took part in the JVP rebellion 1 in the early 1970’s & provide a very detailed view of why he & his friends thought trying to overthrow the existing gov at the time was a good idea. It (motivation of the youth at the time) had very little to do with outsiders/foreigners & all to do with economic underdevelopment in Sri Lanka.

And yes, Buddhist extremism (the idea that Tamils are a threat to Buddists in SL/SL itself) can be held responsible for attacks on Tamils.

The view that only Sinhala Buddhists belong in Sri Lanka, & that all other ethnic groups & ideas are alien & have to be battled has been one of the main reasons for the long periods of conflict/wars/fighting & underdevelopment in Sri Lanka.
So, that view, a racist & fundamentalist one – will continue to create problems in Sri Lanka if not properly dealt with by the current generation of Sri Lankans – including us.

So, what’s a better future?

1 – SL as one country – the entire land being governed my one government – but in order for this to succeed, the majority (Sinhala Buddhists) will have to accept the minorities as equal citizens of Sri Lanka – not as “aliens” or “Indian Tamils” even though they were born on the island. The attempts to turn SL into an entirely Sinhala speaking* Buddhist country will lead to more wars in SL – because humans do not like being oppressed in their own homes/country that they were born in or live & identify heavily with.
(*probably a good idea to get all people in SL fluent in Sinhala – because the majority speak it, Tamil – because historically there have been many conflicts between Sinhala speakers & Tamil speakers & thus people being able to speak/understand both languages may lead to better coorporation & peace among the two groups, & English because it is the language of the world/one of the leading languages of the developed & developing world, thus being able to speak & read it will provide competetive advantages for Lankans – for economic & all manner of other benefits)

2 – SL needs to be open to positive things that work well in this world – EVEN THOUGH THOSE THINGS MAY NOT HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH BUDDHISM. All of the religions – by themselves – failed to create the high standard of living that most people in the developed world enjoy now – & those changes came after the European Enlightenment – when individuals were allowed to think beyond the restrictions imposed on them by religion.

3 – In order to keep peace between the religious groups & to encourage new developments & rapid assimilation of useful ideas to SL for global competetive purposes – the developement of a secular (secular thinking could be based on Buddhism – as my own secular world view was heavily influenced by Buddhism at first) community in SL should be encouraged.

4 – Stop fighting the present (& thus the future) – positive & useful ideas developed by humans after the development of Buddhism. Buddhism does not have the answer to many of the problems & needs of people who are alive now. What it does have is a system of ethics for living well in this world (8 fold path) & a set of beliefs that allow people to deal with their fear of death (karma, nirvana, reincarnation). But many other signifiant needs – economic, educational, military – are outside of the Buddhist area of expertise – that needs to be acknowledged (though it may be disappointing to hard core believers of the faith).

The horrible past of SL is what it is (30 years of war, driving millions of people out of the island, poverty, undervelopment), & no amount of faith based fantasy/re-imagining/wishful thinking is going to change that. In the modern world, SL buddhism as well as SL Christianity & SL Isalm & SL secularist thinking has mostly failed (up to maybe the late 90’s, whenever the work got started on ultimately defeating the LTTE – am still amazed at that achievement), but things are looking better, this site itself is a good example.

Anyway, Buddhism is not the entire solution to SLs problems. Separation of the temple & the state, plus a whole lot of incorporation of non-religious ideas that have worked well in other places is probably the way to go for improving life in SL & for the SL diaspora. I think that’s why you are seeing a lot of challenges to your & a few others “SL Buddhism is perfect/has all the solutions for SLs problems” type beliefs here (specially since the history of Sri Lanka shows the opposite to be true, that Buddhism was not able to prevent the violence & the poverty there, & was responsible, in a significant part, by the believers, for both).

– S

• Heshan

“The Buddha, A Film by David Grubin”

Sounds like a Western conspiracy for sure! Maybe they will have some scantily clad Western woman succumb to the power of meditation and sober habits. Can’t wait to see it banned in SL!

• yapa

Dear SomewhatDisgusted/BalangodaMan;

You say

“The only argument you’ve “won” Yapa, is through argumentum ad nauseum, not by taking an honest intellectual position. I repeat, there is no sense in continuing to argue with a person who can’t even admit that Kamma and rebirth are faiths.”

In the same line of argument, then do you accept all the Social Science like Political Science, Social science….etc. etc. and Natural Science are based on Faith as the theories and principles of them cannot be proved?

Again you say

“And I have repeatedly clarified that the core of the scientific method is based precisely on the notion that nothing can be proven about the ultimate nature of reality. This is why the holy grail of science is based on practical, observable results and not “beliefs”. I have also clarified the difference between hard and soft sciences which you seem unable to fathom.”

These things I have mentioned repeatedly, but you are coming back to the square one. The fact that Science is based on practical, observable results results shows the limitation of the scope of Science. It shows that Science is limited to practical, observable things, that is Science can handle only the things that can be perceived by five senses (that is only material things) and hence the the Science is incapable of handling subjects like kamma and reincarnation (non material things). This means that some other method other than “Scientific Method” should be employed to investigate non material things. That is why Scientific method cannot be used t6o analyse and explain subjects like aesthetics. Using scientific method to analyze non material things like karma and rebirth itself is wrong. It definitely generates wrong results and outcomes. This I repeatedly explained to you and still you are clinging to your advantage on Science to explain non material things. These are out of the scope of Science. I have dealt in depth about the methodologies used to investigate different disciplines. Everything can not be explained by a single methodology. Science is not a panacea or “kokathat thailaya”. SomewhatDisgusted is using the popularity of Science cheaply to cover up his less knowledge in the fields of Epistemology and Philosophy and the methodologies used in such fields.

The main reason for the wrong outcomes and views of him is the incorrect methodology used by him to analyze these non material concepts. Every subject has distinctive methodologies to handle them. Error is in the yardstick not in the item to be measured. I explained and dealt these thins in depth in the discussion in “Transformation of Buddhism in Sri Lanka” and this person very well know them but imitating like coming from a new world. He ran away from the discussion when found that he had no answers for them.

This person is talking about serene words like intellectual honesty etc..suggest to have in him but utterly dishonest. He is a some other animal in lions clothes.
He knows that I would not repeat the same arguments in this threads too and think he can take his lame arguments to victory. But anybody can see how he was miserable in the previous discussion raising the same arguments. He has no any knowledge generated outside the obsolete “Newtonian Science” and “Newtonian outlook” which are deterministic in form. Modern knowledge generated after Modern Science that is after the Relativity and Quantum Physics is a total paradigm shift and the the modern notion of the universe and the knowledge went through a sea change with them. Having no knowledge of such things these outdated people are clinging to a obsolete deterministic world view to analyze everything. Modern Science is not assertive as Newtonian Science to day about its capabilities. Newtonian outlook held the view that everything in the universe could be explained in terms of Newtonian Mechanics and methodologies used in them (Scientific Method). But today the Science is so humble to accept “Principle of Uncertainty”, which says Nothing is exactly assessed and measured or in other words nothing can be proved. These modern knowledge is alien to these people and trying to be a winner in a “one horse race”. I would like to request the readers to quire some knowledge about tehse modern knowledge ares like Quantum Physics and Theory of Relativity and Uncertainty Principle, Chaos Theory etc. etc. and to understand how much this person is obsolete with his methodologies, views and the outcomes of his arguments. Really he knows them very well, I have told him these things in details, but he is clinging into cheap popularity with intellectual dishonesty.

Please see some of the views of the modern Scientists about Buddhism, I have posted in the previous discussion to the attention of SomewhatDisgusted. These are modern Scientists Scientists who are thorough with the Science developed after the 20th century, which shattered the Newtonian out look into pieces. This person is deft and dumb to them and blowing his trumpet over and over again in different audiences to gain cheap popularity. Why these distinguished modern scientists holding such views about Buddhism? Anybody thinks they are fools? Please read

http://www.groundviews.org/2009/11/25/the-transformation-of-buddhism-in-sri-lanka/comment-page-8/#comment-13378

Thanks!

• yapa

Dear BalangodaMan;

“By â€˜faith’ what is meant is that IT CANNOT BE PROVED. Karma/rebirth is something you have accepted as true, and wish to believe is true, for a reason other than that you have obtained proof with hard evidence. The common reasons are: tribal loyalties, peer pressure, insecurity, fear of the unknown, superstition, absence of choice, fashion.”

If what cannot be proved are take as faith, then Political Science, Economics, Social Science etc… etc… and even the modern Science become faiths. No subject area other than in (inductive)Logic and (Pure) Mathematics can be proved.

If you want to know the scientific notion of “proof” please read the first few chapters of “The Greatest Show On Earth” by Richard Dawkins.

Thanks!

• Yapa & SomeWhatDisgusted,

I read through all the comments on the link/page provided by Yapa re: transformation of Buddhism in SL, & after all that, no new proof was found to support the concepts of karma, reincarnation, and nirvana as actual/real items that exist in this world/this universe.

However, if one were to accept that Buddhism is a religion like the other major religions of this world – Christianity, Hinduism, Judaism, Islam, etc. – then there is no problem with believing in aspects of the religion that cannot be proven as true, as all the religions mentioned are built on unprovable items – God(s), heavens, afterlives, etc.

But, if we move to state that Buddhism is superior to other religions because it does not have faith based elements, then that would be untrue – because the elements mentioned – karma, reincarnation, nirvana have to be taken on faith. There is no way to prove (at least none has been shown yet in the 2500+ years of Buddhism’s existence) that those items are real (at least not in this world, as far as I can tell).

But, I think, for Yapa & many other Sri Lankans (such as virtually everyone in my family, including of course the Buddhist monks) the value of Buddhism – SL/Therevada Buddhism goes beyond simply Buddhism as a religon, one of many in the world, but becomes a key or major aspect of themselves, their familes, history of the Sinhala speaking Buddhists in Sri Lanka, etc. – anything that suggests that a 2500+ year old religion invented (most likely) by an Indian monk named/we know as Gautama may have any shortcomings when compared to ideas invented since then (specially by “westerners”) becomes, to hard core believers, a deep personal criticism/attack. Such attachment to a religion (or any set of ideas from one place & one point in time), in my secular/agnostic/positive human view, is not healthy, but, different people have different needs.

On the positive side, these are some of the many things I like about the Sri Lankan Buddhist experience: 1) Inside an old religion there is the advice to think for oneself & question believes held by others – even those closest to you & even by teachers/experts, & verify things for yourself, 2) I’ve found Buddhist monks to be pretty cool people – as humans go – (well, most of them, there was this one time when a SL Buddhist monk was critizing a certain ethnic group in SL for all of SL’s problems, I changed the subject as not to get into a heavy argument inside a temple), 3) Buddhism was useful to the Sinhalese in resisting/surviving European colonization (& perhaps even colonization or attempts of same by various ancient & medieval Indian kings), & 4) most SL Buddhists I’ve met seem like decent/good people, 5) Buddhism offers a way out of the Hindu caste system for untouchables of India – I have spoken with SL Therevada Monks who teach Buddhism in India (& read about same) & by & large they are having a positive effect on the lives of the people that they bring into the Buddhist fold, 6) meditation – I’ve found it to be very useful, 7) and Buddhist temples & retreat centers, in general, seem very calm & peaceful – a nice break from the busy world.

So, if you have to have a religion, mainstream Therevada Buddhism from SL (the kind that does not encourage racism/discourages it, and does not preach blind faith, one that is compatible with the modern world & does not seek to become a total/controlling all aspects of life doctrine – offering solutions to problems that are outside Buddhism’s narrow range of expertise, etc.) is a good one.

But, if someone wants me to believe that SL Buddhism is somehow something more than a religion & that karma, reincarnation, & nirvana can be proven as true/real & are not just items of faith, elements of a religion – then I’d need to see that proof (& so far, being on the lookout for that proof for a couple of decades at least, I do not see it).

– S

• wijayapala

SomewhatDisgusted,

Because the times are different. Is there any aspect of Buddhism which is not written down but only kept in the mind? Are there any Arahats alive today?

You still don’t see what I’m saying. It is not enough for a belief system to be written down. Sarvastivada Buddhism is an excellent example of a doctrine that was written down but has essentially died. Writing things down doesn’t preserve a belief system.

As for Arahants, they may be out there but they haven’t announced themselves. Maybe they don’t want the publicity? 😉

That the Buddha was alive is not an extraordinary claim. That he was far ahead of others in his time is abundantly clear.

The claim that Siddhartha became the Buddha is indeed an extraordinary claim. He was not merely ahead of others in his time- he claimed to have found the end of suffering! That would make him far ahead of others in ANY time (well, maybe except for those specific times when there happened to be another Buddha around).

His four noble truths are also not supernatural. However, kamma and rebirth are. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

That may be true about Noble Truth #1 and perhaps #2 although that’s stretching it. What about #3 and #4?

#3 says that the cessation of suffering is possible. If that is not an extraordinary claim, completely at odds with human experience, then do you have “ordinary” evidence to back it?

#4 claims that the path to ending suffering is following the Noble Eightfold Path. If this is not an “extraordinary claim,” then can I ask whether you really believe that one can achieve the end of suffering (not extraordinary according to you) **within a single lifetime** by following this path? What is the “evidence” you have to show that the Noble Eightfold Path leads to the end of suffering?

There is no real reason to believe those two. Divorced from them, I feel Buddhism still makes a lot of sense, but as the article observes, Buddhism would be reduced to a form of humanistic psychotherapy. So what’s wrong with that?

Because this “humanistic psychotherapy” and other *byproducts* of Buddhist doctrine would lack inherent value. If there is no rebirth, what would be the purpose of such psychotherapy? What would be the purpose of self-improvement, when it all ends in 70-80 years?

The entire basis of the Buddha’s teachings was to free oneself from the cycle of rebirths. If Siddhartha was wrong and it turns out there is no rebirth, then he probably wasn’t a very “enlightened” person, no?

The source of ethics need not be fear of retribution.

Where did I claim that ethics is based on fear of retribution? The primary reason why ethics occupies a key position in Theravada Buddhism is that one cannot find the end of suffering without having an ethical life as his/her foundation. Getting a favorable rebirth comes in second place.

Gotta run.. to be continued

• SomewhatDisgusted

Dear Yapa,

“In the same line of argument, then do you accept all the Social Science like Political Science, Social scienceâ€¦.etc. etc. and Natural Science are based on Faith as the theories and principles of them cannot be proved?”

This is why I keep saying it’s argumentum ad nauseum. I’ve already explained the difference between hard and soft sciences. Let me put it in a way you can understand: If any science attempts to claim as FACT some idea without providing some empirical evidence or theoretical prediction to somehow PROVE the idea, then it is FAITH. Natural science is categorically not a faith. Nothing is accepted as fact unless the above two criteria are met. See below for more.

“The fact that Science is based on practical, observable results results shows the limitation of the scope of Science.”

And I’ve repeatedly acknowledged that this is correct. A limitation in science however, does not prove the indisputability of Buddhism. By that logic, the deistic god is indisputable too.

“But today the Science is so humble to accept “Principle of Uncertainty”, which says Nothing is exactly assessed and measured or in other words nothing can be proved.”

Good heavens. Did you read what I wrote at all? Again, argumentum ad nauseum. Science is by definition humble as I’ve repeatedly said. Here is the relevant passage.

“Any claim in science is actually not an absolute. It’s really based on probability. For example, if you drop an apple, and you drop it again, it falls down again and again. But that does not necessarily imply that it should fall down on the millionth drop. The universe may suddenly vanish or gravity may suddenly reverse itself. Who is to say otherwise? We cannot prove it conclusively. Nevertheless, we think the probability is that it will happen. If it doesn’t, well, induction is no longer valid. However, we know that induction has held true and we get repeatable results, which is what makes science practical and applicable in day to day life. Nevertheless, it does not claim that at any given moment, it cannot be falsified.”

Practicality Yapa. Practicality. That is the basis of science. Any other phantasmagorical idea is a useful mental exercise but we have NO WAY of knowing whether it’s true or not. DO YOU GET THIS SIMPLE CONCEPT? If you do, why in heaven’s name are you arguing about the indisputability of Buddhism? If not, are you daft?

But today the Science is so humble to accept “Principle of Uncertainty”, which says Nothing is exactly assessed and measured or in other words nothing can be proved”

Yapa, once again you display an abysmal understand of the uncertainty principle, quantum physics and the scientific method itself. What is heaven’s name makes you think the uncertainty principle invalidates the scientific method? Why don’t you run along to CERN’s Large Hadron Collider, tell them not to bother searching for the Higgs-Boson any longer, because there’s no need for observable evidence anymore thanks to the uncertainty principle! What a bunch of boobs they are! All that effort just because they don’t understand the uncertainty principle!

The uncertainty principle does not invalidate the need for observational evidence! It places limits on the deterministic nature of the universe and its measurability. Quantum theory takes the uncertainty principle into account and instead of providing exact measurements, provides probabilistic ones. Now do you know why Quantum theory is NOT based on faith? Because it makes stunningly accurate predictions which Richard Feynman compared to specifying the width of North America to within 1 hair’s breadth.

Do you also know that physicists are almost certain that the Higgs-Boson exists, because quantum theory predicts it, but nevertheless they built the LHC to PROVE that it does? What makes you think that provability is no longer a requirement for science?

So where in the world is your argument coming from? You seem to be trying to use scientific theories you don’t really understand to give an air of respectability to your argument. It’s better to stick to what you do know.

And for god’s sake, stop quote mining. You are like a Christian who used Einstein’s phrase “god does not play dice with the universe” to claim that Einstein believed in God. Don’t take people’s quotes out of context, draw tenuous connections to Buddhism and try to make a case that the scientist believes in Kamma and rebirth. It’s utterly moronic.

I ask you once again, what do you have to say to Wijayapala and Bhikku Bodhi?
Do you still claim that Buddhism is an indisputable truth or a personal belief?

• BalangodaMan

Mr Yapa,

Sujewa’s piece has inspired me to ask this question. Are you saying that, there is scientific proof to prove that karma/rebirth/nirvana are real, whereas there is less or no proof with regards to the existence of god or allah, or indeed that we are reincarnations of our ancestors (and therefore responsible in law for their bad deeds) as the Native Americans believe?

• BalangodaMan

Mr Yapa, is astrology scientifically provable or faith?

• SomewhatDisgusted

Dear Sujewa, Yapa

Sujewa, I’m surprised that anyone would have the perseverance to read that whole thread and thank you for your comments. I agree almost entirely with your sentiments. A religion should stay a religion and not confuse itself with fact. It’s when the two are confused that personal “beliefs” are considered superior and foisted on others forcibly with no regard for fairness.

Yapa’s condition can be described as “Anda Bhakthiya” – blind worship – of the Buddha himself – a condition that the Buddha never requested as mentioned in the Kaalaama Sutta. It reminds one of the Buddhist parable of Pataachaara, a woman who was insane with grief due to the loss of her newborn baby and could not be consoled by mere words. As a remedy, the Buddha sent her on a quest from house to house with the explicit instruction to find a house in which no one had died. Eventually, she came to her senses, realizing that there was no such house and that death was a part of the human condition.

In a similar way, Yapa is desperately running from theory to theory, trying to find some way to elevate Buddhism above other “beliefs”, but his efforts are as fruitless as Pataachaara’s. The only difference is that Pataachaara understood why. Yapa just doesn’t get it.

Buddhism is respected not because it’s “superior”. It is respected by many because the Buddha introduced a virtuous ethical system intent on self-emancipation and self-realization over blind belief and claims of superiority as in other religions. What you are doing, is to actively destroy that image.

• BalangodaMan

Mr Yapa is confusing Type 2 and Type 3 Buddhism I described earlier.

Where Buddhism and Quantum Physics meet is in ‘the nature of reality’. (see Kohl et al, the movies Matrix, Ven. Nyandaloka). This is the Type 3 I identified earlier. It is a philosophical exploration of the nature of perception. IT IS NOT THE BUDDHISM IN SL.

True, Quantum Physicists who study the nature of reality and philosophers who are interested in the nature of reality have a lot of common ground to discuss.

Type 3 involves meditation (among other things). Meditation does have a scientific explanation. Again, meditation is rare among SL Buddhists. When you practice meditation you feel that reality ‘could be’ an illusion, and can reduce the perception of ‘ego’. This comes through auto-suggestion (self-hypnosis). It is not a religious experience. A benefit of this is that one could become less sensitive to negative things, conflicts, and condition oneself to believe that your enemies are actually your friends – and that could (though not necessarily!) lead to greater harmony with those who you are in conflict with (compassion meditation). Meditation pre-dates the Buddha. This line of Buddhist philosophy and practice was expanded upon in the Far Eastern traditions of Buddhism (eg. Zen and Tibetan) in later centuries after the time of the Buddha. It hardly features in the Theravada tradition and practice (‘the purest form’ according to some contributors to this thread) we have in SL. So linking SL Buddhism with The Matrix Buddhism as Mr Yapa is doing is incorrect. In SL, we are UNQUESTIONINGLY CONVINCED of the reality of the material world – ask any SL Buddhist or observe his behaviour!

Type 2 is Faith. That is, blind worship, which Mr Yapa is promoting. ie. ‘it must be true because we are Buddhists and that is what Buddhists believe’.

What Mr Yapa is doing is confusing two factual things (a real thing called ‘faith’ and a real thing called ‘philosophy’) that have nothing whatever to do with each other, other than the same name.

• SomewhatDisgusted

Dear Wijayapala,

Before we continue, I presume you don’t claim superiority for your belief over others or a special place for Buddhism over other religions? That you agree with the importance of a secular society? In such a scenario, I don’t have a problem with it and see no reason to question your beliefs if you’re happy with them. Of course, I would personally like to continue our discussion and exchange perspectives, because I’m sure you’ll have your own interesting thoughts on it and it will be a learning experience for me, if not for anyone else. However, I want to state at the outset that I’m not here to undermine others’ beliefs for the sake of it.

cheers!

• yapa

Dear SomewhatDisgusted/BalangodaMan;

I would be very happy if you could specifically answer the following question posed in my last post.

If what cannot be proved are take as faith, then Political Science, Economics, Social Science etcâ€¦ etcâ€¦ and even the modern Science become faiths. No subject area other than in (inductive)Logic and (Pure) Mathematics can be proved.

If you want to know the scientific notion of “proof” please read the first few chapters of “The Greatest Show On Earth” by Richard Dawkins.

Thanks!

• BalangodaMan

Mr Yapa,

My own definition of proof/proved/provable is – conclusions drawn from observable facts, preferably after appropriate scrutiny and are capable of scrutiny.

For me, the doctrine of karma/rebirth/nirvana does not qualify as proved or provable, although I acknowledge them as traditions on which many of our cherished rituals are based. However, I am not persuaded that our traditions are superior to those of thousands of other traditions in the world on the basis that ours are supported by proof and their’s are not.

Political Science etc are based on observed and observable facts, and subject to much scrutiny/analysis. So I’m not sure I understand your point. Can you direct me to at least one research paper on the study of karma/rebirth/nirvana? How much funding for this research is available to the University of Sri Lanka?

• BalangodaMan
• yapa

Dear BalangodaMan

“Mr Yapa, is astrology scientifically provable or faith?”

What cannot be “scientifically proved” are faith.

Further your question above raises several fundamental points.

1. What does “Scientifically provable” means or what does the word “proof” means in terms of the point of view of science?

2. What are the things that are provable?

You can find answers to the above question by reading “The Greatest Show On Earth” by Richard Dawkins.

According to my understanding the phrase “Scientifically provable” used by non scientific people is really not ” provable” in the eyes of scientists, but it really means from the scientific view point is “explainable” with an existing theory of Science. When something is explainable in terms of an existing theory it is said that it is “scientifically true”, (but it does not mean that it is absolutely true.). In this sense if something is not explainable so ( or from the the point of view of non scientific people “not provable) it only means that it is scientifically not true and nothing more. [further it does not means that it is (absolutely)untrue.]. If somebody likes to give any names to such entities there is no barrier, but it should be given a name which represents it and nothing else. But I am not sure whether the name “faith” qualifies for this. I feel “faith” has different connotations too.

In view of above I would say astrology is not scientific, but I am not sure whether it is faith or untrue.

But popular notion among non scientific audiences is to equate “not scientific” to “faith” and most of the time to “untrue/not true”.

Based on this very rude assumption, people who has no scientific background jumped into hasty conclusion to name many of the things very easily as “faith” or untrue. This is what really happened in the discussion with SomewhatDisgusted. His superficial understanding in Science, its definitions and scientific methodology makes him to label and brand many things easily as “faiths”.

In this background only he can label “karma” and “reincarnation” as faith. Really karma and reincarnation are not “scientifically true”, but in real sense it does not imply they are “faiths”.

(For more details please read “The Greatest Show On Earth” by Richard Dawkins.)

With regard to the second question above, only material things are “provable” (really explainable) scientifically. Other things (non material entities) are not “provable” in the above sense. This shows the “Scope” of Science. It can not be used to measure/explain/”prove” non material things. That is why I said the error is in the yardstick, but not with the thing to be measured concerning the “karma” and “reincarnation.

But these deep and subtle explanations are not popular. However, if the things in this world are very simple to understand as that easy, we don’t need a subject known as “Science”. Simple and Popular ideas are not always true.

Thanks!

• yapa

An addition to the above post…….

Idiots play somersault where gods fear to set their feet!

Thanks!

• yapa

Some thing to be true, it is not mandatory to be “scientifically true” (scientific) and Scientifically true is not mandatory to be true.

(All queens are women, but all women are not queens)

Thanks!

• BalangodaMan

Mr Yapa,

When you say …
“But popular notion among non scientific audiences is to equate “not scientific” to “faith” and most of the time to “untrue/not true”.”

You are unfairly attaching a negative meaning to the term ‘faith’. I do not think SomewhatDisgusted means ‘faith’ in a negative sense. I certainly do not!

‘Faith’ is a positive thing – it does not automatically mean ‘untrue’. To the faithful, ‘things they have faith in’ are very much real. It is ‘true’ to them. However, it must be remembered that it may not be ‘true’ to others who do not share your faith. This is where we get our knickers in a twist – we expect others to accept karma/rebirth/nirvana as ‘true’ just because it is ‘true’ to some.

An objective person would say that karma/rebirth/nirvana is a ‘faith’ because when you Mr Yapa accepted it as true, as a child, nobody had to prove it to you. And your faith in that (today) is so strong that no amount of rational argument will shake that. That is admirable. As a believer you have a strong faith. That is a positive statement. But then, many Christians also have a strong faith, as do Muslims and Jewish, Hindus and other religious people. I think the reason this topic is going in circles is because you seem to suggest that, as a faith, theirs’ is inferior to yours? Or that theirs’ is ‘a faith’ while yours ‘is fact’.

• yapa

Most of the things people think as true are only “conventions” and “agreements”, and there is no truths in a deeper sense.

Thanks!

• wijayapala

SomewhatDisgusted,

It reminds one of the Buddhist parable of Pataachaara, a woman who was insane with grief due to the loss of her newborn baby and could not be consoled by mere words. As a remedy, the Buddha sent her on a quest from house to house with the explicit instruction to find a house in which no one had died. Eventually, she came to her senses, realizing that there was no such house and that death was a part of the human condition.

The woman you’re thinking of was Kisagotami. Patacara was another woman who lost two children and her husband.

• yapa

Dog said ” It is delicious food”, and the man said it is my “shit”.

Go deep and explore. Kalama Sutta will help. Here is a link.

Thanks!

• yapa

I think an amoeba’s perception of the world is limited to the small pond it lives. A rat has a larger perception but the perception of a dog is still larger. There are many things all of these creatures cannot perceive. What is the big reason to say there is nothing outside the man’s perception, and to say such things are faith. What is the guarantee that man perceive everything. In that case it is reasonable dog to say that the existence of “Alpha Centauri” is not provable and is a faith.

Here is another story I posted in the discussion with SomewhatDisgusted

http://www.groundviews.org/2009/11/25/the-transformation-of-buddhism-in-sri-lanka/comment-page-8/#comment-13381

Thanks!

• yapa

This means perception (and hence knowledge) is a subjective and relative. Dog’s perceptio/knowledge about some thing is different from the perception/knowledge of man about the same thing. Hence human knowledge obtained through sensory organs are subjective and relative. That means human’s knowledge about anything is not perfect and absolute. Scientific method or any other method to obtain knowledge is a organized set of such knowledge and hence the humans cannot perceive absolute truth or reality.

If somebody takes such knowledge (scientific knowledge) as the bench mark to assess some other knowledge, results of those assessments cannot be guaranteed as (absolutely) true.

Does this make sense?

Thanks!

• yapa

Please see what a simple thing I have requested from SomewhatDisgusted for me to accept karma and reincarnation as faith. Why should he take so much pains to convice it to me instead of answering this simple question. I again assure, if somebody can give an answer to the following simple question, I will accept karma and reincarnation as faiths. ( why anybody should go in circles to “prove” I am wrong?)
…………………….
“By the way, can you tell me any Social Science theory accepted after it has been proved? If you can prove a single theory please let me know. Never mind even if you site one from Natural Science. In that case I will withdraw all my arguments.”

Thanks!

• yapa

Dear BalangodaMan;

“This is where we get our knickers in a twist â€“ we expect others to accept karma/rebirth/nirvana as â€˜true’ just because it is â€˜true’ to some.”

Please note that I have never expect others to accept karma/rebirth/nirvana as â€˜true’. What I was objecting from the very beginning is his arbitrary labeling them as faith and equating them with the concept of God which is easily disprovable. karma/rebirth/nirvana have never been disproved.

He later accepted equating them to God as wrong but kept on labeling them as faith, deft and dumb to my repeated facts and examples.

Further, he meant a negative aspect by the word faith. If you go through the discussion you will realize it. He meant to give a negative impact to Buddhism by labeling so. That is why I vehemently opposed him. He meant business.

Thanks!

• yapa

[wijayapala said,

April 7, 2010 @ 9:23 pm

SomewhatDisgusted,

“It reminds one of the Buddhist parable of Pataachaara, a woman who was insane with grief due to the loss of her newborn baby and could not be consoled by mere words. As a remedy, the Buddha sent her on a quest from house to house with the explicit instruction to find a house in which no one had died. Eventually, she came to her senses, realizing that there was no such house and that death was a part of the human condition.”

The woman you’re thinking of was Kisagotami. Patacara was another woman who lost two children and her husband.]
………………..

This shows his knowledge of Buddhism, just as his knowledge of Science.Why does he try to draw big conclusions using an unfamiliar thing about another unfamiliar thing?

(Hath pole ga ganeema)

Thanks!

• yapa

“An objective person would say that karma/rebirth/nirvana is a â€˜faith’ because when you Mr Yapa accepted it as true, as a child, nobody had to prove it to you. And your faith in that (today) is so strong that no amount of rational argument will shake that. That is admirable. As a believer you have a strong faith. That is a positive statement. But then, many Christians also have a strong faith, as do Muslims and Jewish, Hindus and other religious people. I think the reason this topic is going in circles is because you seem to suggest that, as a faith, theirs’ is inferior to yours? Or that theirs’ is â€˜a faith’ while yours â€˜is fact’.”

Creator god concept is is disprovable, but karma, reincarnation never been disproved. On this basis my “faith” ( I don’t accept it as faith, but as Akarawathi Shadda) is superior and SomewhatDisgusted too accepted it in the discussion)

http://www.groundviews.org/2009/11/25/the-transformation-of-buddhism-in-sri-lanka/comment-page-8/#comment-11248

On the other hand, why should anybody hold the popular and attractive (blunt) theory that all faiths are equal? There is no apparent reason to consider so?

I have clearly shown the difference between Akarawathi Shadda and faith during the discussion. These are entirely two different concepts, but he took the advantage of the lack of the awareness of the readers on these concepts.

Do you want to know where SomewhatDisgusted accepted Buddhist concepts as superior to the concept of creator god. Please ask him, if he is honest he will show you. Otherwise tell me I will show you. Will you still think is an objective person. Wait and see you will see the ears of of an another animal coming out of the lion’s skin.

Thanks!

• Yapa & co,

I think we are unnecessarily confusing ourselves by 1) worrying about proof as defined by the scientific method, and 2) by pointing to other things (parables, quotes by scientists & philosophers) when we are attempting to discuss if karma, reincarnation, and nirvana are real things. Much about Buddhism makes sense – can be observed as real/actual/worthy of following, however, the three speculative items I mentioned – karma, reincarnation, and nirvana – seem very much like, as I said, speculative items – religious theories about past lives & present lives, also a mental state that is also supposed to mean the end of a cycle of re-births (which itself, as stated earlier, cannot be shown to be actual – the cycle of births).

Many concepts – difficult to believe as being possible, real (to the ancients, lets say) have been proven to be real/possible – here are a few; human flight, space travel, heart transplants, x-rays, creating a nuclear bomb, the list can go on for days (to me cell phones & wireless internet seems like magic :). However, if it is impossible to show to an ordinary/relatively well educated person, a non-believer in speculative aspects of Buddhism, that karma, reincarnation, and nirvana are real, actual things that exist in this universe – then, most likely, those items are not real, do not exist, and are used as traditional devices (since the time of Egyptian Mystery Religions & earlier) for promoting other ideas that exist w/ in Buddhism, controlling the believers, etc. Also, these speculative ideas not being able to be proven, being, in an ordinary sense – not real, does not weaken Buddhism as a religion. In the religious sphere believing in things that cannot be proven as real is accepted as the norm. But, if you want to try to sell the entirety of Buddhism as anything other than a religion, then you will have to show how the speculative items that I mentioned are real/actually exist.

Yapa, if you or anyone has proof – simple proof (or complex proof, or any kind of proof at all) – that karma, reincarnation, and nirvana exist – please state it here (w/ out changing the subject to other topics – quotes & parables, opinions of scientists, etc.). After looking for such proof for a couple of decades (not just for Buddhism, but for any major religion – modern or ancient – about the afterlives & gods, etc.), I have not seen it, and neither has anyone else that I know of/heard of – FOR THOUSANDS OF YEARS. Those items in Buddhism are beliefs – the hope that they are real – are held by millions, that, however, does not make those items real.

Again, not being able to prove those items are not the end of Buddhism as a religion. I am sure Buddhism or something like it will exist until the end of human kind, whenever that may be (also, if you are really interested in protecting Buddhism in SL & in this world, then the best way to ensure that is to protect freedom of thought, worship, & also freedom from religion, & secular life – when people are free to explore, compare values & ideas, they may choose to follow Buddhism, if it suits them). There have always been, most likely, people who have lived good lives w/ out worshiping most likely non-existent gods or most likely non-existent universal mechanisms such as karma, reincarnation, & nirvana – and most likely this will continue to be the case.

::

And one other positive aspect of Buddhism (the type that I was taught in a fairly centrist/conservative but open to good ideas from any place SL Buddhist household) that I did not list earlier is its anti-caste/anti-racist (and even anti-race, rejection of the idea of races by stating that any human is capable of achieving its (Buddhism’s) highest goals with right effort, thus, if so, then race is merely a political device & a collection of passing habits & tastes/culture, & not a biological reality – so, not a fixed thing that governs the potential of individuals, & only merely a man made thing that can be countered by individuals) stance – I’ve found it to be very useful in trying to lead, what I would call, a good life (at least some of the time, let’s say :).

::

Anyway, back to point, got any new proof for karma, reincarnation, nirvana anyone? ’cause the old arguments I’ve heard do not work in showing that those speculative religious items are real/actual/in any way relevant to actual human life, death, etc (other than, if you believe in them, though they may most likely be fiction, that belief may affect how you behave in the world, deal w/ self & others).

– S

• BalangodaMan

Oh dear Mr Yapa! I am trying to help you and SomewhatDisgusted focus on the issue under discussion but you are going out in all directions (and no doubt providing a lot of entertainment for people reading this thread!). Forget science, quantum physics, social sciences, dogs and amoeba for the moment. Just this next paragraph please.

No one doubts that, like most people in SL you accept and cherish the doctrine of karma/rebirth/nirvana. That is good. I did too, as a child. The question our good friend SomewhatDisgusted is asking is – do you accept it as FACT? or do you accept it as FAITH?

What you seem to be saying is that you KNOW it to be a FACT but you are saying we humans do not have the capacity to observe it or to measure it. That, dear Mr Yapa, is called accepting something ON TRUST, and that is what is commonly known as FAITH when discussing religion (like the Christians believe that Jesus is the son of god – they call it their ‘faith’). You TRUST the person or people who told you about it, and you are willing to accept that they are telling you something that they believe to be true, and you accept it on the basis that you believe them. There is nothing wrong with that. Millions of people get a lot of comfort from faith. But believing something because you WANT to believe it (and you have good reason to WANT to believe it) does not make it FACT.

• wijayapala

SomewhatDisgusted,

I presume you don’t claim superiority for your belief over others or a special place for Buddhism over other religions?

I am a Buddhist because I believe it is a better path than others (including the path of not having a religion). It is the only belief system I am familiar with that explicitly, up front has the end of suffering as its ultimate goal. Other religions can claim that they also offer the end of suffering, but generally it is through achieving some kind of union with their god.

Whether or not I believe that Buddhism should have a special place (in Sri Lanka?) is irrelevant. The vast majority of Buddhists who are already the majority would oppose it. I do not oppose the current protected status of Buddhism in the constitution, but if the majority of the population supported removing this special status then I would not object to that either.

That you agree with the importance of a secular society?

What is an example of secular society? The US which has “In God We Trust” in its currency? Japan where heads of government routinely worship at a Shinto shrine where war criminals are interred?

• yapa

Dear BalangodaMan;

“My own definition of proof/proved/provable is â€“ conclusions drawn from observable facts, preferably after appropriate scrutiny and are capable of scrutiny.”

I accept that these definitions are acceptable to the non scientific audience. In Science definitions are very specific, objective and a simplest alteration would change the whole meaning of them. So in Science there are no definitions vary from person to person. You must have heard the following story about mathematics.

” These Mathematicians are so mischievous that they even fight over a simple amount such as 0.00000000000000001″.

This shows how even a simple alteration in Science especially in Mathematics could change the whole scenario. Science is not just common sense, anybody can understand without scientific discipline. Things such people take as Science is most of the time is not Science. Science is a very hard and accurate discipline. But they think it is Science. This is half knowledge and it is dangerous. Science and Scientific methodology is not an easy to understand one by any person. But as I earlier said “Idiots play somersault where gods fear to set their feet!”. Science or Scientific method is not the most popular one because Only a few has a deep understanding of it. But somebody can give a popular publicity to himself that he is a man of scientific methodology. But this is not true. In a deeper sense only a very few people of the society has scientific discipline. Advertising so or propaganda won’t make anybody a scientific man. So uttering a few most common and popular scientific words won’t make somebody a scientific person. You can buy popularity, but not scientific discipline. This is what has happened to SomewhatDisgusted.

The meanings perceived by the non scientific audience of any word in Science, may not be same as the meaning perceived by a person with a scientific discipline. This is really what had happened to the words prove/proof/provable.

In Science these words are not used in the meanings you have mentioned. In this deeper sense only Logical proofs and Mathematical proofs are there. There are no scientific proofs. You can prove Pythagoras’ theorem in Mathematics, but can you prove very popular “Newton’s Principles of Motion” or Principle of Gravitation? Answer of a scientist would be “no”, but to a common person it would be “yes”.
Does this means “Science” for a scientist is “faith”? Definitely no.

This confusion takes place when self assertive persons undertake big things they are incapable of handling. In Sinhala such phenomena called ” Hath pole ga geneema, or Nodanns demaleta gihin warige nasa geneema”. These things I repeatedly explained to this ignorant person of Science ans Buddhism, but he preferred to take the popular path, just like a cinema actor.

Please read the book I recommended to you to to gain some knowledge about these things. People without such knowledge can utter big scientific words proudly without knowing their real meanings. Ignorant are most brave! Ignorance is bliss!

Thanks!

Thanks!
.

• wijayapala

Continuing:

What is desired and what is true are not the same thing. The fact that science cannot explain something does not mean that such a gap must necessarily be filled by comforting non-explanations.

And by the same token, science’s limitations do not mean that such a gap must necessarily remain open-ended.

If the truth of something cannot be determined (like what happens after death), then one hardly can make a judgment on what is desired. If you could prove that kamma and rebirth were figments of Buddha’s imagination, then you can say that my faith runs counter to the truth. It doesn’t.

If you’d like, when you’re lying on your deathbed (hopefully a very long time for now), you can tell yourself how far advanced you are compared to the masses who “swallow conveniently packaged placebos,” which may take your mind away from facing the ultimate unknown. You’ll still die, though, and whatever you think ultimately won’t matter.

Coming to terms with it becomes each person’s personal quest but it’s not different from the quest for Nibbana.

Of course they’re different. The quest for Nibbana is something that most people unconsciously pursue, although they often have funny ways of doing it. Your “personal quest” to accept being uncertain is important but I place it in a subordinate category. For example, I don’t know the precise mechanics of how kamma works, which is why I can’t answer some of your specific questions, but I am content in that uncertainty. My inability to answer those questions does not prove that kamma does not exist.

“Buddhists don’t believe in only this world, or that only this world can support life.”
That won’t matter. No matter how many worlds there are, you would have to postulate that the entire living population of animals came into being spontaneously.

I do not understand your reasoning. An overall population increase in one world can be matched by an overall decrease in others.

So at some point, an ethical Lion arose that gave rise to a human?

More likely, an “ethical” lion arose that gave rise to something else that gave rise to a human.

“Therefore, animals which acquire mental states found in humans probably will be reborn as humans. Again it is not what they do that is important but rather what they think or emotionally feel.”
This again does not seem compatible with evolution. Apes are our immediate ancestors. The most likely animal to have a mental state close to a human is an ape and most of the “higher” apes are critically endangered (I use the word advisedly, there is no ranking in evolution).

Actually apes are our distant cousins. We had a common ancestor which was something else.

“Higher apes” or similar animals may be endangered in our world, but not necessarily others. Hence my explanation of the Buddhist belief in other worlds.

Importing lives from other worlds doesn’t solve the problem at a fundamental level.

Why not?

Speaking of evolution, why didn’t you answer my question why man created religion as part of his evolution?

• yapa

This confusion takes place when self assertive persons undertake big things they are incapable of handling. In Sinhala such phenomena called ” Hath pole ga geneema, or Nodanns demaleta gihin warige nasa geneema”.
It is also called “Na geneema or edagena na geneema”

Thanks!

• wijayapala

BalangodaMan,

You did not answer my above post to you.

â€˜Faith’ is a positive thing â€“ it does not automatically mean â€˜untrue’. To the faithful, â€˜things they have faith in’ are very much real. It is â€˜true’ to them. However, it must be remembered that it may not be â€˜true’ to others who do not share your faith. This is where we get our knickers in a twist â€“ we expect others to accept karma/rebirth/nirvana as â€˜true’ just because it is â€˜true’ to some.

I agree with you. No I do not expect others to accept kamma or rebirth as “true” just because I believe in it.

found a good debate here!

I didn’t think it was very good- too much focus on “proof” and “evidence.” A debate similarly as pointless as “Does god exist?”

I would rather see a debate on “What would be the implications of the existence or nonexistence of kamma (or god)?”

Mr Yapa is confusing Type 2 and Type 3 Buddhism I described earlier.

And you are confusing two aspects of Buddhism which are two sides of the same coin, not different types. Buddhist philosophy is worthless without the faith. Again without kamma or rebirth, the essence of the doctrine is removed. Bhikkhu Bodhi very (excessively) charitably referred to the leftover as “humanistic psychotherapy.” I would call it pseudo-intellectual fluff but then again this is what a lot of westerners like.

If I’m wrong, I challenge you or SomewhatDisgusted to demonstrate the value of “Buddhism watered down for western consumption” (i.e. Buddhism without kamma, rebirth, or faith of any kind- curries that are too hot for them to handle!) citing the specific teachings of the Buddha. I’ve already shown that you can’t even have something basic like the Four Noble Truths without the possibility of rebirth.

• yapa

Dear BalangodaMan;

You say;

“The question our good friend SomewhatDisgusted is asking is â€“ do you accept it as FACT? or do you accept it as FAITH?”

If you are satisfied or if you gain something by my accept thing things superficially I will accept so. But my acceptance does not change the way realities are existing.

In this case you have taken only alternative to “Faith” as “Fact”, but is it really so? Isn’t there any possibility for any other alternative? For me “Akarawathi Araddha which is different from both of them is an alternative.

This is the problem of thinking based on two valued logic or Aristotelian Logic. I have dealt with these things in detail in the previous discussion.

Aristotelian logic is a middle excluded two ended logic. It can have only two alternatives. Newtonian science stuck in this, but modern science achieved major victories by coming out of this Aristotelian trap and opting to four valued logic,which had been a tradition in Sri Lanka due to the philosophy of Buddhism. I have dealt about four valued logic too in the previous discussion, with regard to the same issue and now I am repeating it. You may refer “Nagarjuna” Buddhist philosopher and Buddhist Logic in this regard. Karma, rebirth and Nirvana cannot be dealt with Newtonian logic just as it cannot deal most of the modern issues in Science. If you analyze Quantum Physics with Aristotelian logic just as you did for karma, rebirth or nirvana you will get the same results,and you will name it also as a fact. This is a case of inability of the methodology to deal the subject matter. The methodology is too weak to deal this subject matter. That is the problem here. Please please try to understand this scenario. That is why the American physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer said

“ If we ask, for instance, whether the position of the electron remains the same, we must say â€˜no;’ if we ask whether the electron’s position changes with time, we must say â€˜no;’ if we ask whether the electron is at rest, we must say â€˜no;’ if we ask whether it is in motion, we must say â€˜no.’ The Buddha has given such answers when interrogated as to the conditions of man’s self after his death; but they are not familiar answers for the tradition of seventeenth and eighteenth-century science.

• yapa

Correction….

“Nagarjuna” Buddhist philosopher and Buddhist Logic in this regard. Karma, rebirth and Nirvana cannot be dealt with Newtonian logic just as it cannot deal most of the modern issues in Science.

It should be Aristotelian Logic/Newtonian Science in the place of Newtonian Logic.

Thanks!

• yapa

Another Correctionâ€¦.

If you analyze Quantum Physics with Aristotelian logic just as you did for karma, rebirth or nirvana you will get the same results,and you will name it also as a fact.

Here it should be faith instead of the fact: last word of the sentence.

Thanks!

• yapa

Please see the beauty of four valued logic in the Oppenheimer’s statement. Here if we take in the common meaning, in here the opposite of “no” again is “no”. (According to Aristotelian Logic which is absurd, but reality/true as per modern Scientific norms.)

(Methodologies of modern Science is still very remote even to many academics and scholars today. It does not make the methodologies of Modern Science untrue and methodologies of obsolete Newtonian Science true. Outlook of Newtonian Science is now totally replaced in Science by the modern scientific outlook and it is a total paradigm shift. It will take a long time it to become common knowledge or it will never become so. It might remain as an “elite” tool which can be handled by a class of intellectuals like “Physicists”, but it does not prevent it to be the best tool of knowledge in the modern world.)

If common sense is reality, what is the need for Science?

Thanks!

• yapa

Dear Sujewa Ekanayake;

Thanks for reading the discussion under “Transformation of Buddhism in Sri Lanka.

In that discussion what I have said are not common knowledge. I have used Philosophy, Epistemology, Newtonian Science, Modern Science, deep Buddhist concepts, world outlooks,Logic, etc… etc… in dealing the discussion. In the light of present discussion and after obtaining some awareness about these subjects (if possible) please go through it with an open mind. Please do not let yourself a prey to the emotionally comfortable ideas and hasty conclusions and critically analyze it again!

Thanks!

• Heshan

“Does this means “Science” for a scientist is “faith”? Definitely no. ”

Actually science is all about faith. No scientific theory is meant to be absolute… that is because science deals with reality (nature) and there are various aspects of the Universe that science has not yet explained. On the other hand, real (pure) mathematics does not concern itself with reality… it is self-consistent without the aid of any experimental system.

ON the other hand, there is always the possibility that all of science can be reduced to a set of fundamental mathematical axioms… this is the present dilemma in “String Theory”, which is yet to be supported by a single experiment.

So what is science? It is just an approximation… by limiting the scope of the hypothesis, one can get reproducible results. It is really these reproducible patterns – taken in conjunction – that one calls science.

ON the other hand, the complexity of the pattern will determine the extent of the scientific theory… some patterns defy common sense, while others do not. By using mathematics, one can remain consistent throughout… the *pattern* becomes a quantitative category whose behavior is easily predicted by a set of abstract equations.

• Heshan

“. I have dealt about four valued logic too in the previous discussion, with regard to the same issue and now I am repeating it.”

Modern science does not utilize four-value logic… two-valued logic is sufficient for most purposes. For example, in asking whether a sub-atomic particle is real or not, only two answers are possible. Either the particle exists or it does not exist. The problem with asserting both P and ~P to be true is that there no way to test for a contradiction . On the other hand, there are instances where two-valued logic has to be applied more carefully, e.g. wave-particle duality. One cannot say that light is definitely a wave or a particle. But it is not a failure on the part of two-value logic. Because whether it is a wave or a particle, it cannot be BOTH a wave and a particle at the same time. In other words, it is still a question of P V Q.

• Off the Cuff

Dear Wijepala / yapa / BalangodaMan / Sujewa Ekanayake / SomewhatDisgusted

First a correction to one of Wijepala’s statements attributed to me that I saw yesterday.

This is my statement
Karma means action. In Buddhist philosophy it is not just action but thoughtful action. Not all events in life are determined by it and not all actions will yield immediate results. Karma exists in the present not just carried from the past. It’s presence in the present and the fact that the action precedes the result is one indicator of the possibility that an action in this life could result in an event in the next. But again this is a hypothesis. Possibly as we develop our minds further our understanding of it would grow. What is not clear to us at this time is whether there is a carry over to a subsequent life. That it is true in the present is not in doubt

Hence I did not err as Wijepala stated in one of his posts above “OTC erred to define or equate kamma as “action.”

My first sentence defines the Pali word. The second defines the Buddhist meaning. The “consciousness of action” plays the main an integral role in Karma in Buddhist Philosophy.

What is striking about the Buddhist definition of Karma which is about 2600 years old is that it forms the foundation of EVERY modern civilized Justice System in the world.

This is recognition of the existence of Karma in the current birth. What is in doubt is whether there is a carry over to the Next birth. That aspect is so far dependent on belief (as far as I know). The belief is buttressed by the existence of Child Prodigies (can be attributed to a loving God too), Abnormal and horribly deformed births (that no compassionate and loving God will ever create) etc.

Rebirth on the other hand is almost UNIVERSALLY believed. Every mainstream religion believes in more than the current birth. Again it remains a belief until we attain a state of mind that can remember our previous birth (which can be achieved through meditation in this birth). Then it will be known to each person who posses such a state of mind as fact but to others it will still remain just a belief. Probably, as Psychological research extends our knowledge and ability to read the Foetal Mind we may discover it as fact someday in the future.

I believe that Wijepala is right when he states that devoid of Karma and Rebirth Buddhist Philosophy will no longer remain a Buddhist philosophy.

• BalangodaMan

Hey good people,

Clearly the contributors to this thread are well read in science and scientific methods and much more.

But we’re getting far far far away from the original issue.

The question was, is our belief in karma/rebirth/nirvana any more reliable (real) than the Christian’s belief if Jesus being the son of god, or the Muslims’ belief in Allah, and the thousands of other belief systems of our brothers and sisters around the world?

The ONE THING we all have in common is … we believe what we believe because we were told so, by people we trusted and out of respect, when we were still children. We took it on trust – we didn’t have the capacity for analytical exploration as little children. As we become adults we (most of us) rationalise that belief system with ‘selective rational argument’; meaning we take the things that tend to concur with our belief and reject/ignore those things that do not.

A pertinent question at this point to Mr Yapa, if you were born in Ryadh to Muslim parents would you still believe in karma/rebirth/nirvana? Would you still be persuaded by the enormous weight of evidence in favour of karma/rebirth/nirvana that you speak of?

• SomewhatDisgusted

Dear Wijayapala,

“The woman you’re thinking of was Kisagotami. Patacara was another woman who lost two children and her husband.”

Thank you for the correction. Gratefully accepted.

Dear BalangodaMan,

“Does karma exist? found a good debate here!”

You make your point with subtlety and I assure you it’s not lost on me 🙂 Thank you. I’m aware what the outcome is likely to be. However, Yapa has now issued an ultimatum and I fear I would be doing a disservice to the issue by not addressing it. Your point is however, inescapable, therefore, that will be the last reply I make to him.

Dear Yapa,

Why, Yapa, why? 🙂 You either define others out of the argument, run around in circles by keep going back to points which have already been agreed on a dozen times over (science is not absolute? How many times did I say yes?) and keep missing the point! Please stop going back to the same argument thinking that others don’t understand!! If it’s already been acknowledged, why in god’s name are you explaining why science is not absolute for the millionth time? Are you trying to drown out others in the discussion through sheer exasperation? – argumentum verbosium?

If this is hard for you, can you at least look around and see a single other person disagreeing? Do they look like unintelligent people to you? So why do you assume that they, and if you cannot summon enough respect for them, all the rest of the intellectuals in the world are somehow too stupid to understand the difference between a fact, a faith, a myth and the spectrum in between?

Perhaps you are confused because you are starting out with preconceived notions and biases? (West bad and stupid, east good, Buddhism indisputable etc!!) For example, you keep stating that fact and faith are two valued and other such nonsense. For god’s sake no!! It’s not even 4 valued. It’s an entire spectrum. Currently, Buddhism definitely stands after the point where the spectrum of faith begins but so far, certainly before the spectrum of myth. It may be elevated to fact or downgraded to myth but it’s currently in the spectrum of faith. Do you get it? Here’s another way to picture it: Imagine a line. Mark 3 dots with the middle being faith, one end fact and the other end myth. Then think about it.

Anyway, you’ve issued an ultimatum and I can see where your confusion comes from. The fact is, I’ve already answered that question a dozen times already. I will make one last attempt. I don’t have much hope that you will understand but others already do. They never needed any convincing in the first place.

Anyway, please do understand that I have no issue with you personally. As BalangodaMan correctly pointed out, what I oppose is not faith. What I oppose is not Buddhism. What I oppose is the notion that somehow, a faith based notion is indisputable and therefore others who do not follow it are nincompoops. I have already explained why this is a dangerous notion and why it leads invariably to fundamentalism.

Ok. Await my final response to your final question.

• SomewhatDisgusted

Dear Wijayapala,

“Writing things down doesn’t preserve a belief system.”

And you don’t see what I’m saying 🙂 Following the motions and rituals of the belief system won’t necessarily preserve it either. That’s why I asked whether there were any Arahats today? But they were fairly common back in the day though right? So has the teaching already been irrecoverably lost? Or was it all just hearsay in the first place? Anyway, let’s agree for the moment that there’s a higher chance if the belief is actively practised.

“He was not merely ahead of others in his time- he claimed to have found the end of suffering! “

That’s not entirely correct. We have no idea what he claimed. We only know what his disciples claim after 2500 years. Do you believe that Jesus walked on water as his disciples claim? Or that he was most likely an ordinary human being (if he even existed)? Do you believe that the Buddha performed the Yama Maha Pelahara? Or had Irdi Bala?

“#3 says that the cessation of suffering is possible. If that is not an extraordinary claim, completely at odds with human experience, then do you have “ordinary” evidence to back it?”

I certainly don’t. But based on currently known phenomena, such as psychological ones for example, parallels can be drawn from observable phenomena. For example, damage to a certain part of the brain can suppress certain impulses or even distort reality. Therefore, it is conceivable that a trained mind could conciously suppress most desires. Such a conjecture does not necessarily require that you suspend disbelief.

Apply that to Kamma and rebirth though.

“What is the “evidence” you have to show that the Noble Eightfold Path leads to the end of suffering?”

None. But that’s not your point is it? Respectfully, better to state it directly than make me answer questions which are purely rhetorical (because I can’t necessarily judge some). It’ll save time.

“What would be the purpose of self-improvement, when it all ends in 70-80 years?”

If you’re telling all this to prove that the Buddha’s doctrine collapses without Kamma and rebirth, I would disagree. As I mentioned earlier, self-improvement can be brought about, as Off-the-cuff has also mentioned, by assuming that the notion of Kamma applies to this life only. And what the Buddha really meant by Kamma we can only make a guess at, 2500 years later. It could have been a form of reciprocal altruism. So no, I don’t feel the doctrine *must* collapse in its entirety. Parts of it, certainly!

• yapa

Dear Heshan;

You say

“Modern science does not utilize four-value logicâ€¦ two-valued logic is sufficient for most purposes.”

For most of the purposes……., Yes I agree, especially in the practical Science, at present. But with the pace of development of Modern Science, soon it will not be sufficient.

Please see what I said about “Wave particle duality” and four valued logic in the last discussion but went unheeded by the obsolete out look holders. They think they can discuss deep philosophical issues without such knowledge.

http://www.groundviews.org/2009/11/25/the-transformation-of-buddhism-in-sri-lanka/comment-page-8/#comment-12853

Thanks!

• yapa

Dear SomewhatDisgusted;

You say

“If it’s already been acknowledged, why in god’s name are you explaining why science is not absolute for the millionth time? Are you trying to drown out others in the discussion through sheer exasperation? â€“ argumentum verbosium?”

That is because you are still trying to measure all other things in terms of science and trying to brand things which cannot be certified scientific as faith. I want to show that your bottom line/yardstick/bench mark/thumb rule is not correct as you think and your branding so is unfair.

Does your statement above imply in that case that your bottom line/yardstick/bench mark/thumb rule is not absolute. Doesn’t that means that that results obtained so are not absolutely true, especially in the case of the subjects outside the scope of Science?. Doesn’t that means that you have no enough reasons to brand karma/reincarnation/nirvana as faiths?

Are you unable to understand this simple logic or are you intellectually dishonest?

Thanks!

• SomewhatDisgusted

Dear Wijayapala,

“I am a Buddhist because I believe it is a better path than others (including the path of not having a religion).”

First of all we should probably get onto the same page in the interests of saving time by not discussing concepts we already agree with. I think both of us agree on the epistemological position that one cannot disprove any faith as long as it is not obviously contradictory. I have mentioned this several times even in the discussion with Yapa . The only thing we can discuss is whether it’s a reasonable faith – a “good bet” so to speak, or an unlikely one – as in the case of the Deistic god, or a downright myth – as in the case of Santa Claus. However, in the event that you choose to gamble with an unlikely bet, there is no way anyone can prove you wrong. I believe this is the basis your argument stems from and I have no opposition to it – I believe we are on the same page.

Therefore, the only thing we can (or even need to) discuss is whether Kamma and rebirth are reasonable faiths but even that is purely personal. My feeling is that, whether it’s reasonable too is not a matter of great concern to you. I would like to understand why?

“What is an example of secular society”

Examples or lack of examples are not the issue. I wanted to find out what your position was in principle.
However, you would perhaps be surprised to know that in practice, I agree with the underlying problem and have no great opposition to Buddhism being protected myself – as long as no attempt is made to violate the essentially secular nature [i.e. freedom of (from??) religion] of the country. This means stopping the likes of Yapa who claim that Buddhism is an indisputable truth. That, to me, is starting off on the path to fundamentalism and must be vehemently opposed.

“And by the same token, science’s limitations do not mean that such a gap must necessarily remain open-ended.”

I think I’ve already agreed to this above at a fundamental level. However, the unknowns clearly outnumber the knowns, so the amount of things that can be
taken on faith are legion. The only question would be, why take one thing over the other? In other words, is it a good bet?

“you can tell yourself how far advanced you are compared to the masses who “swallow conveniently packaged placebos,”

I think you missed my point. It is not about how advanced I am or my superiorty over you. Having no concrete answers is not a desirable state for mass consumption – this is evidenced by the plethora of religions we see in the world today – hence, taking a position of uncertainty is not a popular one. It was said in response to your statement: ““As long as there is an unknown that science cannot explain (death being probably the best example), there will be a need of most humans for religion”.

“You’ll still die, though, and whatever you think ultimately won’t matter.”

To me, yes, it won’t. In the larger scheme of things, it might.

“My inability to answer those questions does not prove that kamma does not exist.”

No it doesn’t, but it makes it unlikely. Just like the Christian god. I don’t think you are suggesting we stop rational inquiry altogether and just accept whatever thing that we personally see fit?

“I do not understand your reasoning. An overall population increase in one world can be matched by an overall decrease in others.”

Yes, but take all the worlds together. How would a population grow from a starting point as per the theory of evolution? Instead, this seems to necessarily imply that the sum total of lives across all the worlds must have come into being spontaneously.

“More likely, an “ethical” lion arose that gave rise to something else that gave rise to a human.”

That would create an ethical bottleneck but yes, it would be difficult to argue without knowing the populations in the other worlds. However, you can see that the theory is becoming more phantasmagorical by the moment – which is a common sign with most cultural belief systems. What makes you think yours is
superior?

“Actually apes are our distant cousins. We had a common ancestor which was something else.”

We are apes. We branched off after getting to the point of the ape, but yes, the other apes alive today are our cousins.

“Speaking of evolution, why didn’t you answer my question why man created religion as part of his evolution?”

Didn’t know whether it was rhetorical and didn’t think it important.
Many theories abound I guess. Richard Dawkins provide several in the god delusion:

Religion may be a byproduct – i.e. Our natural tendency to respect authority figures unquestioningly and its perpetuation into adult-hood.
Religion as a result of survival value – i.e. group cohesion
Religion to provide answers to the unknown etc.

There are some others but where are you going with this?

“Importing lives from other worlds doesn’t solve the problem at a fundamental level.”

Why not?

You would be correct in saying that it solves the endangered ape problem. However, it seems to indicate that in the other worlds at least, the animals have
been getting increasingly ethical to migrate to our world in such bulk, which *may* contradict the claim that animals have a tough time becoming ethical (as I
said earlier, what an ethical mental state means to an animal is also still not defined). Of course, I agree that since the population of the other worlds
are not known, it can’t be said with certainty.

However, it does raise another question. The death rates and birth rates would have to balance themselves across worlds. What happens if there is a mismatch? And why would there not be a mismatch unless the worlds are somehow synchronous too? I’m just thinking out loud here since you asked but not sure whether we can get anywhere with this. Because as you said, you cannot necessarily be expected to know the answers and you answering or not answering does not prove the case either way because you’ve already agreed that it is accepted on faith and that “I do not expect others to accept kamma or rebirth as “true” just because I believe in it.” and therefore, there is no claim of being absolutely right? It is your personal belief which may pay off in spades. So I guess I should ask, are we going anywhere with this?

• yapa

Dear Balangodaman;

I would like to show you that how it is impossible to analyze entities/phenomena today without the knowledge of “Modern Scientific Outlook”.

Until the Newton’s time the entities/phenomena of the universe were described using the theories base on Aristotelian outlook. Universe, motion of the bodies etc… etc.. were described using the Aristotle’s theories. According to him heavier bodies fall faster under gravity and a force is needed to keep an object moving at a constant speed. These theories of Natural Philosophy (Science) were able to explain all the kind of motions came across in nature from the time of him (300 BC) until the time of Galileo for over 1500yrs and considered as absolute truths. When Galileo said these were wrong he was imprisoned. With the initiatives of Galileo, Newtonian outlook of Science which was the total opposite of the Aristotelian out look was developed. Acceleration due to gravity was calculated and Newton’s Laws of Motion were introduced. Newton’s first Law of Motion is total opposite of Aristotle’s. It says that a body is moves at a constant speed or remains at rest unless a force is applied on it. After this paradigm shift no one used the Aristotelian out look/ Aristotelian Theories of Motion, because they knew that it would generate wrong results. A great theory respected for over 1500 yrs was totally abandoned. No one ever after used these theories to explain any phenomena/ entities in nature.

Modern scientific outlook developed after the 19th century is total paradigm shift from the Newtonian out look. Its theories are entirely different from the theories of Newtonian out look. Most of the modern day phenomena/ entities (which cannot be explained by the Newtonian out look) can only be explained through Modern Science. Time is no more a constantly moving thing as in Newtonian Science, A mass of a body is no more fixed and the ages of two twins can be different at a given point of time .according to the new out look. Even existence of a particle at two different places at the same time is possible according to this modern out look. These are impossibles under the Newtonian out look and the Newtonian out look is incapable of explaining such things. Therefore now the Newtonian out look is nor used to explain the unsolved phenomena/ entities in the modern day. Most of the mysteries were unsolved during the period of Newtonian Science because it was not capable to do it. To day the unsolved thing/ mysteries are investigated in terms of Modern Science, which is totally different from the old out look. No one in the modern world use the obsolete Newtonian Science or its out look to resolve the unsolved problem in the modern day just as Aristotelian out look was totally abandoned after the Newtonian out look. Therefore, anybody who does not have a knowledge of Modern Scientific out look cannot solved the unsolved issues/ mysteries of today.

This is the problem with SomewhatDisgusted, he is trying to solve unsolved issues of the world using the outdated Newtonian Science. He has no an iota of discipline in Modern Science or its out look.

I don’t know I am making sense to you. Really this is not a topic discussed in a common forum like this. It is not easy to convince these things to the people without a scientific background. It it is not dissimilar to having having a literary dialogue about Molecular Chemistry , with a person who doesn’t know what C or H is. But I tried my best. If you are not convinced just ask from somebody who is having a Science background, whether I am telling lies.

Ignorance is bliss. Ignorant person is the bravest!

Thanks!

• Hi Yapa,

Re: “…In that discussion what I have said are not common knowledge. I have used Philosophy, Epistemology, Newtonian Science, Modern Science, deep Buddhist concepts, world outlooks,Logic, etcâ€¦ etcâ€¦ in dealing the discussion. In the light of present discussion and after obtaining some awareness about these subjects (if possible) please go through it with an open mind…”

Those branches of knowledge are not foreign to me, I am familiar with them (in these days of the internet, anyone can study up on all those items fairly quickly). However, your defense of karma, nirvana, reincarnation boils down to something like that those items are too subtle to be detected using usual means of showing that something is real. The same can be said for ghosts, spirits, gods of many religions, perhaps even bigfoot (some believe that bigfoot is capable of becoming invisible). So, my conclusion has been, for a long time, that, just as in other religions, Buddhism has aspects that need to be taken on faith, that a living person today cannot verify – such as: that the Buddha existed in the way that he is described in Buddhism (a super human being capable of seeing past lives, advising gods & demons, levitating in the air, etc.), that karma, reincarnation, nirvana are real, that nirvana – though the exact nature of the Buddha’s enlightenment/achieving nirvana is not described in great detail – that it did happen & that nirvana is an actual state of mind or an actual condition that is present in this universe. The list can go on, but those are a few of the major items that a Buddhist has to & does accept on faith.

I posed the same question to my dad & uncle (deep believers in the dharma, life long practitioners of SL Buddhism) – re: karma, reincarnation, & nirvana – & they agree, that those items do have to be taken on faith at first & then they also added that with enough meditation & practice that those items can be detected or proven as real to the practitioner.

So, even if that is the case, even if a very advanced (in one way or another) mind is capable of detecting/proving to self/itself that those speculative aspects of Buddhism are real – then the proof would have to come in two forms I believe – either physical (even very subtle stuff in this universe – tiny particles let’s say, or invisible waves – are still physical or can be detected by physical devices) or emotional (a powerful feeling that what is believed is actual/something that actualy exists in the universe). Of the two, we can discount the emotional since many people are able to convince themselves, usually briefly, that what they deeply want to be real is actually real. On to the physical proof, let’s say a brain or a device can be developed to detect proof of karma or reincarnation or nirvana, if so, that proof would still be physical proof – measure of activity in the real universe. So far no such proof has been produced for karma, reincarnation, & nirvana. Of course the same goes for the speculative elements of all other major religions in this world.

This leaves one out for the hard core believer in the speculative items in Buddhism – that devices capable of detecting karma, reincarnation, nirvana have not been built yet. Fine, and that leads back to what many have stated originally – that, thus far, there is no proof that karma, reincarnation, & nirvana are real/actual/real things that exist in this universe & have an effect on the living or the dead.

I do not believe that the inability to prove the existence of karma, reincarnation, & nirvana or even showing that the four nobel truths are not accurate (for example, i do not believe that all of life is suffering), means the end of Buddhism as a religion. I believe (& know in a few cases) that millions of believers accept that there are many key items in Buddhism that are speculative, and cannot be verified as true (even following Buddha’s own advice to do so – verify things as true before believing in them/following them), but, the believers like many aspects of Buddhism or have strong motivation (familial, sense of maybe patriotism – since Buddhism is tightly wound with Sri Lankan Sinhala identity, benefits of meditaition, they like the focus on peaceful living & ethical living, etc.) to stay with Buddhism. Also, the Eight Fold Path, though it may not have led the billions who’ve practiced it in the past to the end of suffering, is a good system of basic ethics & a foundation for a responsible outlook on the world – so, there are aspects of Buddhism that are very useful, obviously.

I’ll keep an eye on this thread, Yapa, to see if any new proof for the existence of karma, reincarnation, nirvana are produced. Otherwise, I think, on that point, the discussion keeps going in circles – w/ you saying that, basically, those speculative items in Buddhism are too subtle to be detected by existing means.
Which is just another way of saying what I am saying – that so far there is no proof that karma, reincarnation, nirvana are real.

However, great discussion everyone. Lots of interesting ideas have been unearthed, minds have been sharpened (let’s hope :).

– S

• yapa

Dear Heshan;

“Does this means “Science” for a scientist is “faith”? Definitely no. ”

Actually science is all about faith. No scientific theory is meant to be absoluteâ€¦ that is because science deals with reality (nature) and there are various aspects of the Universe that science has not yet explained.”
………………

In absolute terms I agree with you. Above term I used in relative etrms confind to the given context.I have been telling this to SomewhatDisgusted from the very beginning.

Now see what SomewhatDisgusted is telling. He says if not scientifically proved it is faith. Even scientifically proved is it not faith this way it is saith. That is why I requested him to prove any theory of any Social Science or even a theory of Natural Science.

According to this I told him that if he accepts Political Science, Social Science, Economics is faith, I would accept karma/ reincarnation/nirvana as faith. But he is adamant that They are faiths but his belief in Science is not faith, making me too not to accept my beliefs as faith. My position was according to his definition of faith, karma/ reincarnation/nirvana are faiths, invariably Political Science, Social Science, Economics are also faiths.

This person is not capable od understanding this simple logic.

( In my previous discussion I have mentioned that even Science is base on “Akarawathi Sradda” that is faith based on facts or reasonable faith.)

Thanks!

• yapa

Dear Balangodaman;

Anybody who is trying to solve the unsolved problems today is not dissimilar to a “Balangodaman” who is fighti9ng a modern army with a megalithic tool.

Ha1 Ha!

Thanks!

• yapa

Dear SomewhatDisgusted;

Thanks!

• yapa

The American physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer made an analogy to Buddhism when describing the Heisenberg uncertainty principle thusly:

“ If we ask, for instance, whether the position of the electron remains the same, we must say â€˜no;’ if we ask whether the electron’s position changes with time, we must say â€˜no;’ if we ask whether the electron is at rest, we must say â€˜no;’ if we ask whether it is in motion, we must say â€˜no.’ The Buddha has given such answers when interrogated as to the conditions of man’s self after his death; but they are not familiar answers for the tradition of seventeenth and eighteenth-century science.
………

Doesn’t this say that ( the answers when interrogated as to the conditions of man’s self after his death) the notion of Buddhist reincarnation is similar to the concepts found in Modern Science? I think he gives the Buddhist reincarnation concept the status of the modern scientific knowledge.

For our pundits, this knowledge is inferior to his scientific knowledge (Newtonian Science)

Thanks!

• yapa

Sujewa Ekanayake

RE: Your post of April 8, 2010 @ 8:05 pm

Unlike with the other posts of yours, I agree with most of the points you presented here.. There are a few points I differ from you, but they are comparatively negligible.

I think your understanding the above facts show your awareness of the modern knowledge.

Thanks!

• yapa

Correction to my post of April 8, 2010 @ 8:43 pm

It should be

Anybody who is trying to solve the unsolved problems today without the modern scientific knowledge is not dissimilar to a “Balangodaman” who is fighti9ng a modern army with a megalithic tool!

Ha! Ha!

Thanks!

• yapa

“A pertinent question at this point to Mr Yapa, if you were born in Ryadh to Muslim parents would you still believe in karma/rebirth/nirvana? Would you still be persuaded by the enormous weight of evidence in favour of karma/rebirth/nirvana that you speak of?”

Dhamma is not something relative that depends on a person like perception. Fhamma means as it is. I might not believe in the case you mentioned, but it has no effect on Dhamma. Dhamma is not some thing made by anybody. It is not even a creation of the Buddha. Even if the Buddha is not there Dhamma exists. karma/rebirth/nirvana are some Dhamma and I have no power to change them by having my birth in different places.

Thanks!

• Off the Cuff

Dear Sujewa,

“nirvana is an actual state of mind or an actual condition that is present in this universe.”

Nirvana is neither a state of mind nor a physical condition. It means an end to the cycle of birth, death and rebirth. Nirvana as a place does not exist.

To give you a simple example observe a lit candle. The flame will stay lit as long as the Fuel is available (assuming other means of extinguishing the flame is excluded). When there is no more fuel there will not be a flame. The fuel is analogous to Karmic forces and the flame to that of the cycle of life. When the fuel exhausted the flame simply ceased to exist, it did not go anywhere.

Karma is the “Result” of Mindful Action and it is true in the current birth. What cannot be proved, at least for now, is whether there is a carry over to a future birth. There are some reported cases where the memory of a previous birth has been claimed. However I am not aware whether these have been subject to scientific inquiry. There are also reported cases of children having exceptional abilities. Some of them were unbelievably young when they displayed such uncanny abilities.

For now, Rebirth remains a belief but it cannot be discounted that we have memories of our immediate past life deeply embedded within our minds. It cannot be discounted that such memories can resurface if and when the mind is developed to an acute sense of consciousness.

Our brains become active while we are in our Mothers womb. That a Foetus responds to external stimuli is a scientific fact. None of us (at least the overwhelming majority) will be able to recall anything that went on while we were in the womb. Our inability to recall our memories within the womb does not prove that we did not experience it. That we experienced it is beyond question but who can prove it citing his/her own experience?
That is one indisputable truth that cannot be proved.

Like your parents said, Buddhists accept Rebirth and the Carry over of Karmic forces on belief but if the mind is developed by meditation and acuity of consciousness is achieved, the possibility is very real that we would be able to remember every detail of what happened while we were in our Mother’s womb and even beyond.

• Hi Off The Cuff,

Re: “Nirvana is neither a state of mind nor a physical condition. It means an end to the cycle of birth, death and rebirth. Nirvana as a place does not exist.”

Yes, I’ve heard that before. I didn’t mean nirvana as a physical place – but I don’t think we have a major confusion there. However, whatever it is, if it is the “end to the cycle of births”, then to prove that it (nirvana) is real & not just a religious idea to be taken on faith, we have to show that the cycle of births is real (yes, verified by non-believers cases of children who remember past lives is an item in favor of reincarnation, however, much work remains to be done in that area – the few cases where it seems that the incident was genuine/not manufactured by adults – is a fascinating mystery), and as you said, there is no way to prove that at the moment. So, until there is proof (or including/until a machine is created that can produce the perception results that are said to be possible by a human mind trained to perceive/attain nirvana) the nirvana (also related items such as karma & reincarnation) concept in Buddhism will have to be treated as an item of faith by the non-believers (or even believers who cannot perceive nirnvana, past lives, etc.). Since Buddhism is over 2500+ years old and there is no record of a large number of people achieving nirvana by following the religion (& demonstarting to others that they in fact have attained it), I think that there is a great possibility that nirvana, karma, reincarnation does not exist/are not real, but are items/ideas that were used to set up & maintain Buddhism as a religion. Buddhism, however, remains one of the great religions of this world since millions of people find it useful during their time on Earth.

Also, I wonder if a version of Buddhism that did not have karma, reincarnation, & nirvana has ever existed in the past. If not, I can see such a thing happening in the future.

– S

• Hi Yapa,

Re: “Unlike with the other posts of yours, I agree with most of the points you presented here.. There are a few points I differ from you, but they are comparatively negligible.”

Sounds good, very interesting & informative discussion. See ya around these Gv comments sections.

– S

• wijayapala

SomewhatDisgusted,

My feeling is that, whether it’s reasonable too is not a matter of great concern to you. I would like to understand why?

Where did you get the impression that whether kamma or rebirth are reasonable is not important to me?

“What is an example of secular society”
Examples or lack of examples are not the issue. I wanted to find out what your position was in principle.

Interesting that someone who insists on evidence to believe in something is not concerned with the lack of evidence for secular societies in reality.

However, you would perhaps be surprised to know that in practice, I agree with the underlying problem and have no great opposition to Buddhism being protected myself â€“ as long as no attempt is made to violate the essentially secular nature [i.e. freedom of (from??) religion] of the country.

Someone like Burning_Issue would argue that protecting a particular religion in itself is violating secularism.

If you really want to know how I feel about this- in principle or whatever- I believe in secular government but not secular society.

The only question would be, why take one thing over the other?

Good question. What wonderful alternative are you taking over kamma and rebirth?

However, you can see that the theory is becoming more phantasmagorical by the moment â€“ which is a common sign with most cultural belief systems. What makes you think yours is superior?

Firstly I don’t see how it is becoming more “phantasmagorical” (whatever that means). Secondly, I see (Buddhist) kamma and rebirth as promoting humanistic ethical behavior based on individual responsibility, rather than theistic ethics where everything is forgiven if you have the correct faith, or “western secular” ethics that only account for a single lifetime.

Religion may be a byproduct â€“ i.e. Our natural tendency to respect authority figures unquestioningly and its perpetuation into adult-hood.
Religion as a result of survival value â€“ i.e. group cohesion
Religion to provide answers to the unknown etc.

I’m not very convinced by your first reason but the other two look promising.

Do you think man would have evolved to what he is today (or close enough) without religion?

it seems to indicate that in the other worlds at least, the animals have
been getting increasingly ethical to migrate to our world in such bulk, which *may* contradict the claim that animals have a tough time becoming ethical (as I
said earlier, what an ethical mental state means to an animal is also still not defined). Of course, I agree that since the population of the other worlds
are not known, it can’t be said with certainty.

I think you might be confused with what I mean by “mental state.” By that term I do not mean a condition that spans a living being’s lifetime. A particular mental state is a consciousness in a given moment in time. From moment to moment these mental states change, but they are influenced by preceding states.

I could be wrong, but my understanding of the way rebirth works is that the nature of the next life is determined by the final mental state in one’s life, which in turn is largely influenced by the penultimate mental state which in turn is shaped by all of the mental states experienced in that life. If one led a generally unwholesome life, the penultimate mental state will be rather unpleasant and the reaction to that will be felt in the final mental state.

So I guess I should ask, are we going anywhere with this?

I don’t know you tell me. I used to ask similar questions about how kamma works when I was a kid and liked watching the monks squirm. Since then I’ve realized that I know too little about the universe to make a definite claim about kamma. I suppose you can say that my belief in kamma is based more on its ethical and spiritual implications than anything else.

Following the motions and rituals of the belief system won’t necessarily preserve it either. That’s why I asked whether there were any Arahats today? But they were fairly common back in the day though right? So has the teaching already been irrecoverably lost?

I see your point now, and yes there were supposed to be more Arahats back then. My understanding is that it is easier to become an Arahat when there are others around whom you can observe. In fact the Buddha even stated that one could judge the worthiness of his teachings simply by observing him or Arahats who have found the end of suffering. We cannot do that today so you are correct that something has been lost. I do not agree though that the teaching as a whole has been lost.

“He was not merely ahead of others in his time- he claimed to have found the end of suffering! “
That’s not entirely correct. We have no idea what he claimed. We only know what his disciples claim after 2500 years.

In that case we have no idea whether or not he was “ahead of others in his time,” but even if he had existed! You have opened a can of worms here.

Do you believe that Jesus walked on water as his disciples claim? Or that he was most likely an ordinary human being (if he even existed)? Do you believe that the Buddha performed the Yama Maha Pelahara? Or had Irdi Bala?

The above examples are irrelevant. Buddha’s claim to fame was finding the end of suffering, not pulling bunnies out of a hat. If he didn’t find the end of suffering, then he wasn’t the Buddha and his teachings are therefore useless.

The Christians believe that Jesus was the Son of God. If it turned out that he wasn’t, then the entire basis of Christianity is null.

“#3 says that the cessation of suffering is possible. If that is not an extraordinary claim, completely at odds with human experience, then do you have “ordinary” evidence to back it?”
I certainly don’t. But based on currently known phenomena, such as psychological ones for example, parallels can be drawn from observable phenomena. For example, damage to a certain part of the brain can suppress certain impulses or even distort reality. Therefore, it is conceivable that a trained mind could conciously suppress most desires. Such a conjecture does not necessarily require that you suspend disbelief.

That is assuming that Noble Truth #2- suffering is the result of desire- is true. What is your evidence for that?

“What is the “evidence” you have to show that the Noble Eightfold Path leads to the end of suffering?”
None. But that’s not your point is it? Respectfully, better to state it directly than make me answer questions which are purely rhetorical (because I can’t necessarily judge some).

You stated that Buddhism can still be a valid, functional belief system without kamma and rebirth, citing the 4 Noble Truths as an example. I have shown that there are no Noble Truths without kamma and rebirth. Without rebirth, the simple answer to the end of suffering is death. That makes the entire struggle to end desire irrelevant.

“What would be the purpose of self-improvement, when it all ends in 70-80 years?”
As I mentioned earlier, self-improvement can be brought about, as Off-the-cuff has also mentioned, by assuming that the notion of Kamma applies to this life only.

I did not ask whether self-improvement can be brought about without rebirth. I asked what is the **point** of self-improvement when everything ends at death. You can spend your entire life meditating and doing good deeds and pass away peacefully, while I get drunk and laid and die from a combination of venereal disease and busted liver. We both end up in the same place, making all your efforts in life futile.

• yapa

SomewhatDisgusted is doing a word battle. What he does to show the weight of his writing is introducing big big words which others have to look up dictionaries to understand. His weight is not in the concepts or ideas or arguments. But in his big big words.

He thinks he can replace Logic with Semantics.

Thanks!.

• yapa

The main proposition of Somewhat Disgusted to me is that he wants me to blatantly accept karma/rebirth/nirvana under the blanket word of “FAITH”, Which I never accepted and will never accepted with good reasons, which I repeatedly offered to him but he turned is blind eye and deft eat for his pseudo intellectual pride and for the cheap personal advantages.

This popular, attractive,emotionally comfortable and highly marketable gross notion seems to impressed some of the people of the forum. But this is an “at the glance conclusion”. Really without disproving many of the facts presented by many people including me and others in this forum and in the forums discussed all over the world, one cannot jump over them and claim such a blanket conclusion about some very deep, wide, respected and significant concepts that have been the subject matters of the intellectual discussions all over the world for thousands of years. Such an effort of anybody would end up with the person becoming a one of the funniest clowns. That is why I have been telling ” Ignorant is the bravest”.

These things have been repeatedly mentioned by many people including me several times in the previous discussions to these people who are armed with blunt and blanket methodologies to analyze and explain any bloody thing, but went unnoticed to the blind and prejudiced eyes and minds of of these irresponsible, cynical intellectual idiots who want to break Ruwanmeli Seya to sell its bricks to earn some pocket money.

Abuddassa kale!

Thanks!

• Wijayapala,

Re: “I asked what is the **point** of self-improvement when everything ends at death.”

If a sufficient number/large number of people in a given place were engaged in self-improvement that included self-control, helping others, etc., that place would probably be a nice place to live in. So, there is great value to people being engaged in self-improvement or being good (not doing evil/destructive to peaceful humans things, etc.) humans, even if there is no afterlife reward (such as reincarnation that promises a good re-birth/next life based on what one does in this life) attached. Others (in this world), & you also in turn since you share the world with others, would benefit by you leading a good life as opposed to you leading an evil one.

– S

• Wijayapala,

One more item re: Buddhism w/ out the speculative items (karma, reincarnation, nirvana); looks like others are thinking about the same subject – check out this Buddha quote I found on Buddhists Against Reincarnation site (link below):

“But if there is no other world and there is no fruit and ripening of actions well done or ill,
then here and now in this life I shall be free from hostility, affliction, and anxiety, and I shall live happily.”
– The Buddha

Here’s where I got the quote – Buddhists Against Reincarnaton: http://www.buddhistsagainstreincarnation.com/

Very interesting.

– S

• yapa

Buddhism for Sri Lanka is not just a religion. It has been the way of life or life itself of the people of this country once it became a “united nation”,. with the unification of the Naga, Yaksa and immigrant tribes by accepting Buddhism as their common religion. It was Buddhism that built this nation, later to become a prompt and proud civilization with the Philosophy, vision and the guide lines of the doctrine of the great personality of Buddha.

It was Buddhism that provided and shaped the Economic model of this country with the symbol of Tank (Wewa) which is a non violent mode of earning the living based on enmity to all beings, not confining it to the humans only. It provided and shaped appropriate technology the country needed, both in material life and spiritual life of its people. They were able to build Tanks, Housing, protective walls and canals for the security of the country and dagabas with this appropriate technology. It provides, shaped and nourished our Art and Literature in a unique way. It provided our moral system, habits, rituals, values, spirituality etc..and the whole culture. Above all It provided us with an unparalleled way of thinking based on free thinking without barriers.

But unfortunate thing is pigs eat even their own legs. Gajamuthu is not value to them. Tooth Relic of Kandy is another a tooth to these cynics. Material thinking made these intellectual idiots to become so. What they can see is material consumables and blind to the underline non material realities. These people have only the material part in them, nothing else.

Thanks!

• yapa

“Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius — and a lot of courage — to move in the opposite direction.”

—Einstein

Thanks!

• Off the Cuff

Dear yapa/ Wijepala/ BalangodaMan/ Sujewa Ekanayake/ SomewhatDisgusted/ others

Subsequent to my post to Sujewa above, I came across the following research paper written by Ian Stevenson MD, Head of the Department of Psychiatric Medicine at the University of Virginia School of Medicine. He can be contacted at the Division of Personality Studies, Box 152, Health Sciences Center, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA 22908

Birthmarks and Birth Defects Corresponding to Wounds on Deceased Persons
by Ian Stevenson MD Published in the Journal of Scientific Exploration, Volume 7, No 4, pp 403-410, 1993. Copyright Â© 1993 Society for Scientific Exploration.

The paper contains a large number of references.

The complete article is available here http://www.healpastlives.com/aboutus/comment/isreibio.htm

According to Dr Stevens, about 35% of children (309 out of 895 reported) who claim to remember previous lives have birthmarks and/or birth defects that they (or adult informants) attribute to wounds on a person whose life the child remembers. The cases of 210 (of the 309) such children have been investigated and reported in the above paper.

The birthmarks were usually areas of hairless, puckered skin; some were areas of little or no pigmentation (hypopigmented macules); others were areas of increased pigmentation (hyperpigmented nevi). The birth defects were nearly always of rare types. In cases in which a deceased person was identified, the details of whose life unmistakably matched the child’s statements, a close correspondence was nearly always found between the birthmarks and/or birth defects on the child and the wounds on the deceased person.

In 43 of 49 cases in which a medical document (usually a postmortem report) was obtained, it confirmed the correspondence between wounds: and birthmarks (or birth defects). There is little evidence that parents and other informants imposed a false identity on the child in order to explain the child’s birthmark or birth defect. Some paranormal process seems required to account for at least some of the details of these cases, including the birthmarks and birth defects.

This is the first scientific evidence about Rebirth that I have come across so far.

• SomewhatDisgusted

Dear Yapa,

Your question was: ““By the way, can you tell me any Social Science theory accepted after it has been proved? If you can prove a single theory please let me know. Never mind even if you site one from Natural Science. In that case I will withdraw all my arguments.””

What you are trying to ride on Yapa, is by trying to tell me that nothing can be “proved”. As I’ve mentioned earlier, in a strict philosophical sense, this is correct, as I’ve repeatedly acknowledged – the world may have come into existence 5 minutes go with us supplied with ready-made memories. Therefore, what is meant by proof in science?

Here is a little passage by Dawkins off the “Greatest Show on Earth”, page 10:
Proof is a notion that scientists have been intimated into mistrusting. Influential philosophers tell us we can’t prove anything in science. Mathematicians can prove things – according to one strict view, they are the only people who can – but the best the scientists can do is to fail to disprove things while pointing to how hard they tried. Even the undisputed theory that the moon is smaller than the sun cannot, to the satisfaction of a certain kind of philosopher, be proved in the same that, for example, the Pythagorean Theorem can be proved. But massive accretions of evidence support it so strongly that to deny it the status of ‘fact’ seems ridiculous to all but pedants.

If you are trying Yapa, to use a pedantic definition and thereby say that nothing can be proved, then, there can be no facts, and in that case, further discussion is pointless, because you can define your way out of any agreement. Is this the case? In any case, if you do this, there are no facts in this world and therefore, your fact is no more indisputable than mind, which defeats your argument that Kamma is a fact in the first place.

Dawkins then goes on to say Though logic choppers rule the town, some theories are beyond sensible doubt, and we call them facts.

So there we come to the heart of it. For something to be accepted as a fact, it should be established beyond sensible doubt. And this is where we come to what might be considered beyond sensible doubt, and what might not be.

For something to be beyond sensible doubt, “massive accretions of evidence” must accompany it. Of course, evidence may be in the form of direct observational evidence, some sort of prediction which corroborates the truth of the original fact â€“ you get the picture!

So you now want me to prove something. Let’s not go far and use Dawkins himself for convenience. That entire book is about the undeniable evidence for evolution. I will list a few of the striking reasons.
1. Chemical and anatomical similarities in living organisms over many generations
2. Directly observable evidence from artificial selection
3. The availability of transitional forms in the fossil record
4. Consistency of fossil record – Not a single transitional form is out of place â€“ if it were, evolution would be instantly disproved.
5. Extent of the fossil rcord
6. Universal biochemical organization
7. Geographical distribution of related species
8. Phylogenetic reconstruction is consistent with observable evidence
9. Ability to predict transitional life forms
10. Ability to predict co-evolved life forms

That Yapa, is the proof.

I have now answered your ultimatum. I will now issue my own.

Can you list out, in point form, the 10 best reasons(or whatever number you can manage) that you would use to convince someone else beyond reasonable doubt, that Kamma is a fact?

If, you can provide such convincing reasons, then Kamma becomes a fact.
If you cannot provide any such reason, yet you insist that we accept it as fact, then you are asking us to accept yours (or the Buddha’s) word for it (in other words â€“ faith).

Please don’t obfuscate the issue by writing volumes. Stick to the point and list out your best reasons. I don’t mind what those reasons are, they need not be physical evidence, just list out the best reasons that you would use to convince someone else. Here’s your chance!

With that, I formally rest my case. I will not continue this debate with Yapa because I believe all my reasoning has been laid out and it is up to others to evaluate that reasoning. In all fairness, I’m giving Yapa the last word, so he is free to make his final statement which will convince others that Kamma is an indisputable fact.

Many thanks to BalangodaMan, Heshan, Off-the-cuff, Sujewa, Wijayapala and Yapa for your constructive engagement. It was a learning experience for me and apologies for any failures on my part.

• niranjan

Yapa,

“Above all It provided us with an unparalleled way of thinking based on free thinking without barriers.”- do you practice free thinking without barriers?

Perhaps the only person who practiced free thinking without barriers was Lord Buddha himself.

unparalleled- How do you know it was unparelleled? Back your claim with facts.

• yapa

Dear SomewhatDisgusted:

Have I ever said karma is a fact? I have never said so. If possible please show where I have said so. What I have said is karma doesn’t fall under the general umbrella notion of “FAITH”. Further I said it is “AKARAWATHI SRADDA”, which I dealt in the previous discussion to which you turned the blind eye.You must understand the subtle differences between FAITH and AKARAWATHI SRADDA.

If you don’t want to read what have mentioned there please consult a Buddhist monk, who has some reasonable knowledge of Buddhist Philosophy.

Thanks!

• yapa

Dear SomewhatDisgusted:

“Influential philosophers tell us we can’t prove anything in science.”

Ho! Ho!! Do you now accept that branding something that cannot be proved as faith is wrong?

Now will you please define what FAITH is and on the basis of this new definition show me that karma is faith?

Now you have come to the point.

Thanks!

• yapa

Dear SomewhatDisgusted:

That Yapa, is the proof.

I think this extension is yours not Dawkins’ I suppose?

Thanks!

• yapa

Dear Off the Cuff;

In the previous discussion I offered the evidence of Dr Stevens to SomewhatDisgusted, but he blatantly tuned his blind eye to them as usual.

Thanks!

• yapa

Dear niranjan;

“Above all It provided us with an unparalleled way of thinking based on free thinking without barriers.”- do you practice free thinking without barriers?

Perhaps the only person who practiced free thinking without barriers was Lord Buddha himself.

unparalleled- How do you know it was unparelleled? Back your claim with facts.
………..

Do you agree withe rest of my post other than this? I will back it with facts in due course.

I think you believe I keep my promises.

thanks!

• yapa

Dear Wijayapala/ SomewhatDisgusted and Others:

I have engaged with SomewhatDisgusted about the “Secular state and about the separation of religion form Politic somewhere in January.

i tried to find the thread however I couldn’t trace it.

Can anybody find me this thread?

Here is some reference about it.

Thanks!
â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦…

yapa said,

January 23, 2010 @ 9:01 am

Dear SomewhatDisgusted;

RE: your clarification on January 21, 2010 @ 6:40 pm

The main differences in our opinions wrt Buddhism and my fierce objections to you in this thread were on

1. Your equation and continuous assertion of Buddhist reincarnation to the disproved concept of existence of God(western God) without paying any attention to my repeated objections.

2. Considering reincarnation as faith based on (1)

(Though separation of religion from politics also was a problem I didn’t considered it a grave issue, and also it came on a different thread.)

• yapa

Dear SomewhatDisgusted and Others:

Now that SomewhatDisgusted has come to “the point” as I mentioned in my post of April 9, 2010 @ 12:44 pm, I will clarify my argument about karma and reincarnation whether it is faith or not for the clarity of all including SomewhatDisgusted for them to answer to the point. (I did the same thing in the previous discussion too but SomewhatDisgusted turned his authoritative blind eye to it.)

Following are our beliefs

1. Belief on “Creator God”

2. Belief on karma and reincarnation

3. Belief on Subjects such as Social Sciences and Natural Science

All these are beliefs in the strict sense that contents of them cannot be proved.

Now that they are all beliefs are the level or degree of credibility of them are the same?

(i).I think the credibility level/degree of the 3rd of the above is high (within the human perception) and hence normally people do not call these subjects as faith.

(ii). Now the credibility level of the second:Belief on karma and reincarnation, is lesser compared to to the 3rd above. Further these “concepts” have never been disproved.

(iii). Credibility level of 1st above is very minimal or none as the concept of creator god is disprovable.

But this credibility level of belief is popularly known as “FAITH”.

Now see the credibility levels when organized in a descending order.

3rd > 2nd >1st (= FAITH)

Now mathematically (or logically), If 2nd >1st (= FAITH), 2nd is not equal to 1st.

That is [ Belief on karma and reincarnation] is not equal to [Belief on “Creator God”(=FAITH)].

Therefore [ Belief on karma and reincarnation] is not equal to [FAITH]

That is why karma and reincarnation should not be taken as FAITH.

That is why I and Buddhists call it as “AKARAWATHI SRADDHA”, which is a higher level of credibilty of belief than FAITH.

Cheers!

Thanks!

• yapa

You can see the differences in mathematical precision between the concepts of “FAITH” and “AKARAWATHI SRADDHA”.

Such subtle and fine methods (like Mathematics) are needed in in depth analyzes In very fine level concepts, blunt blanket level methodologies won’t do. In the 21st century we are living in such a “subtle” and “fine” world.

Cheers!

• BalangodaMan

Thank you Off-The-Cuff for that on ‘past life regression’.

While I am an avid fan of unexplained mysteries I am intrigued that all these reported cases involve people who lived in the past within a reasonably close geographical area to the subject. It is always a human person in the past life. Some Tibetan monks however will give you a list of all the former lives you have had, and these include animals. Actually they are almost always animals. With both the past life regression investigators and the Tibetan monks they never include any alien life forms from the outer reaches of Andromeda, for instance.

I may sound cynical but actually I am not. To me, this whole subject is important in answering the ultimate question that we all have (I think we all do, even unconsciously?) to quote George Harrison ‘who am I? where did I come from? where am I going’?

The concept of Karma presupposes a few things that we have not noted thus far. One is that there is ‘a finite entity’ or a ‘finite unit of life’ that passes from birth to birth in continuity, intact. Similar to, but not necessarily, what the Christians call the soul. Rebirth does not necessarily require the ‘one single discreet entity’ model – another equally valid model is where there is ‘a sea that’s composed of life energy’ (think of the ocean) and each life form that comes into physical/conscious existence is a drop from it. When you die the drop goes back into the ocean and becomes one with it. New lives are born from the same (or other) oceans. In this model, there is no continuity of a ‘life entity’. In this model the concept of Karma cannot exist. I am not writing this to convert the readers to a new religion (!) but to point out that there are other hypotheses for the ‘meaning of life’ other than the one we have in our Buddhist tradition.

The subject of past lives and Karma throws up some fascinating absurdities also. I write this not to offend anyone but to explore how Karma would work if it actually happens when spanning many serial births, and (more importantly) if any particular religious or other method can be applied to influence a good outcome. I am using Buddhist practice as a pertinent example. So let’s see, if Buddhist practice ensured a good birth in the next life all good practising Buddhists will be born in a good place in the next birth. For example, in California with lots of weath/health/happiness (I mean the wealthy who really are also happy!), or where the oil is rich like Texas or the Arab lands, any other place where there is a lot of leisure and no worries. These may not be countries where Buddhist practice is even known about. In turn, all the bad people who currently live in these countries, the drunks, cheats and fornicators (look it up) will be born in a next life in places that are short of resources like food, natural resources, is unhealthy and has much poverty and is subservient to the rest of the world and are dependent on it. Now doesn’t this mean that, given that the system of Karma would have been operating since the beginning of time, the people who are better off TODAY (in California and in oil rich coutries) used to be good practising Buddhists in their past lives? And those in poverty stricken countries were not? Of course that is an absurd statement – but is it not the logical outcome of the operation of Karma?

Or have I missed something?

One more thing. Ok, say the past life investigators have found reasonably conclusive proof of past lives. But doesn’t that stop short of our purpose – ie. whether Karma exists? The actual test (to test Karma) would be to analyse whether there is a correlation between the extent of Buddhist practise (or ethical living) of the past person with the quality of birth of the present one. Is there any research into this? And (I have asked this before) shouldn’t the academic minds and funding in SL be directed towards this question? Personally I think if this can be proved (and it is not difficult if the past lives can be reliably identified as this research paper suggests) then persuading the masses to live ethical Buddhist lives will be very easy. Think of the huge reduction in murders, thefts, cheating, lying that such conclusive proof can influence?

So why not?

• BalangodaMan

Adding to my LAST PARAGRAPH … if we can show PEOPLE OF THE ENTIRE WORLD this research then ALL THE PEOPLE IN THE WORLD will always lead good ethical lives and Sri Lanka will have made one massive contribution to world peace and much more.

Mr. Yapa, isn’t this a more reliable route (more people will readily understand it) than quantum physics?

• yapa

SomewhatDisgusted said,

April 6, 2010 @ 9:25 pm

Dear Yapa,

I have now provided my concluding thoughts as promised. You should no longer need to accuse me of failing my duty: http://www.groundviews.org/2009/11/25/the-transformation-of-buddhism-in-sri-lanka/comment-page-8/#comment-16771

cheers!

Dear SomewhatDisgusted:

I didn’t see this post. Anyway thank you for the performing of the ritual.

Thanks!

• yapa

Unless you train your children on the line of Buddhists teaching and until you protect that sublime doctrine for yourselves and the entire world, what can you expect for the future of the Sinhalese?

Can you think of the future of a Sinhalese race without Buddhism?It was Buddhism that laid the foundation of Sinhalese Nation and their thoughts, life-style and cultural issues were all molded by Buddhism. Sinhalese children’s heart’s were a fertile ground where seeds of loving kindness and mindful efforts came to fruition. These seeds of good qualities should not be allowed to vanish, with the hope that they automatically grow as they attain adulthood, as men and women. If these seeds get destroyed when they are tender, it will not be possible to revivify them. It is Buddhism that needs to be taught in schools. All national goals and ethical behaviour should be based on Buddhism. I state this, not for the benefit of the country, but for the entire world.

—-Annie Besant (1905)

• Off the Cuff

Dear SomewhatDisgusted/ yapa/ Wijepala/ BalangodaMan/ Sujewa Ekanayake/ / others

REBIRTH – SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE (Post 2)

Continued from my post of April 9, 2010 @ 9:48 am

The modern evidence for reincarnation comes from past life regression, spontaneous recall of past lives, transmission of information from the afterlife, Theosophy, Edgar Cayce, and recent translation of Sanskrit texts. However in keeping with the scientific emphasis of this book concentration will be made on past-life regression, and spontaneous recall of past lives.

Some who do not accept re-incarnation argue that the evidence can be explained by possession or spirit influence. That may be so.

It is not the purpose of this book to argue either for or against reincarnationâ€”simply to present some fascinating evidence. But whether you take the reincarnation view or the spirit possession view, the evidence builds more strongly the case for life after death.

Past life regressions

Past life regression simply involves placing a person under hypnosis and asking them to go back through their childhood to a time before they were born. In many cases the person begins talking about his or her life or lives before the present lifetime, about their previous death and about the time between lives including the planning of the present lifetime.

The main reason why at least some of these claims must be considered as evidence are:

â€¢ the regression frequently leads to a cure of a physical illness
â€¢ in some cases the person regressed begins to speak an unlearned foreign language
â€¢ in some cases the person being regressed remembers details of astonishing accuracy which when checked out are verified by the top historians
â€¢ the emotional intensity of the experience is such that it convinces many formerly skeptical psychiatrists who are used to dealing with fantasy and imagined regressions
â€¢ in some cases the alleged cause of death in an immediate past life is reflected by a birthmark in the present life.

By 1950 past life regression was being accepted by doctors who had previously been total skeptics because it worked. As Dr Alexander Cannon wrote:

For years the theory of reincarnation was a nightmare to me and I did my best to disprove it… Yet as the years went by one subject after another told me the same story in spite of different and varied conscious beliefs. Now well over a thousand cases have been investigated and I have to admit that there is such a thing as reincarnation ‘ (cited Fisher 1986: 65).

Psychiatrists all over the world have found that regression works.
Dr Gerald Edelstein, psychologist:

These experiences (past life regressions), for reasons I cannot explain, almost always lead to rapid improvements in the patient (cited Fisher 1986: 65).

The very well known clinical psychologist, Dr Edith Fiore of the United States, says:

If someone’s phobia is eliminated instantly and permanently by his remembrance of an event from the past (life), it makes logical sense that the event must have happened (cited Fisher 1986: 65).

Dr Gerald Netherton, who was raised as a fundamentalist Methodist, has successfully used the method on 8,000 patients. He was initially skeptical but as a result of his experience is now convinced of the effectiveness of past life regression. His patients, who included both priests and physicists, are almost always skeptical at first but this had no effect on the effectiveness of the treatment. He says:

Many people go away believing in reincarnation as a result of their experience …What is the logical answer? That it actually is happened! (cited Fisher 1986: 65).

Dr Arthur Guirdham, English psychiatrist, maintains that he has been a skeptic ever since he was nicknamed ‘Doubting Thomas’ as a boy. But after his experience of 44 years doing hypnotic regressions he claims:

If I didn’t believe in reincarnation on the evidence I’d received I’d be mentally defective’ (cited Fisher 1986: 65).

Dr Helen Wambach was a skeptic who in 1975 undertook a major study of past life regressions in order to find out once and for all if there was any truth to reincarnation. By doing a scientific analysis on the past lives reported by her 10,000 plus volunteers she came up with some startling evidence in favor of reincarnation:

â€¢ 50.6 % of the past lives reported were male and 49.4 % were femaleâ€”this is exactly in accordance with biological fact
â€¢ the number of people reporting upper class or comfortable lives was in exactly the same proportion to the estimates of historians of the class distribution of the period
â€¢ the recall by subjects of clothing, footwear, type of food and utensils used was better than that in popular history books. She found over and over again that her subjects knew better than most historiansâ€”when she went to obscure experts her subjects were invariably correct.

Her conclusion was: â€˜I don’t believe in reincarnationâ€”I know it!'(Wambach 1978).

It may surprise the reader that Russian psychiatrists are also using past life regression. Dr Varvara Ivanova, held in high esteem by Russian scientists and writers, is only one of a number of psychiatrists who are successfully using past life regression for therapy (Whitton and Fisher 1987).

Peter Ramster

Of the research I have done over the years, the most impressive hypnotherapist I have come across in showing how past life regression is linked with reincarnation is psychologist and former skeptic Peter Ramster from Sydney, Australia.

The following information is taken from Peter Ramster’s very important book, In Search of Lives Past (1990) and from a speech he gave to the Australian Hypnotherapists ninth National Convention at the Sydney Sheraton Wentworth Hotel on the 27th March, 1994 and from the films he made on reincarnation.

In 1983 he produced a stunning television documentary in which four women from Sydney, who had never been out of Australia, gave details under hypnosis of their past lives. Then, accompanied by television cameras and independent witnesses, they were taken to the other side of the world.

One of the subjects involved was Gwen MacDonald, a staunch skeptic before her regression. She remembered a life in Somerset between 1765-82. Many facts about her life in Somerset which would be impossible to get out of a book were confirmed in front of witnesses when she was taken there:

â€¢ when taken blindfolded to the area in Somerset she knew her way around perfectly although she had never been out of Australia
â€¢ she was able to correctly point out in three directions the location of villages she had known
â€¢ she was able to direct the film crew as to the best ways to go far better than the maps
â€¢ she knew the location of a waterfall and the place where stepping stones had been. The locals confirmed that the stepping stones had been removed about 40 years before
â€¢ she pointed out an intersection where she claimed that there had been five houses. Enquiries proved that this was correct and that the houses had been torn down 30 years before and that one of the houses had been a ‘cider house’ as she claimed
â€¢ she knew correctly names of villages as they were 200 years ago even though on modern maps they do not exist or their names have been changed
â€¢ the people she claimed that she knew were found to have existed?one was listed in the records of the regiment she claimed he belonged to
â€¢ she knew in detail of local legends which were confirmed by Somerset historians
â€¢ she used correctly obscure obsolete west country words no longer in use, no longer even in dictionaries, words like ‘tallet’ meaning a loft
â€¢ she knew that the local people called Glastonbury Abbey ‘St Michaels’â€”a fact that was only proved by reading an obscure 200 year old history book not available in Australia
â€¢ she was able to correctly describe the way a group of Druids filed up Glastonbury Hill in a spiral for their spring ritual, a fact unknown to most university historians
â€¢ she knew that there were two pyramids in the grounds of Glastonbury Abbey which have long since disappeared
â€¢ she correctly described in Sydney carvings that were found in an obscure old house 20 feet from a stream, in the middle of five houses about one and a half miles from Glastonbury Abbey
â€¢ she had been able to draw in detail in Sydney the interior of her Glastonbury house which was found to be totally correct
â€¢ she described an inn that was on the way to the house. It was found to be there
â€¢ she was able to lead the team direct to the house which is now a chicken shed. No-one knew what was on the floor until it was cleaned. However on the floor they found the stone that she had drawn in Sydney
â€¢ the locals would come in every night to quiz her on local history?she knew the answers to all the questions they were asking such as the local problem which was a big bogâ€”cattle were being lost there.

Cynthia Henderson, another subject of Peter Ramster, remembered a life during the French Revolution. When under trance she:

â€¢ spoke in French without any trace of an accent
â€¢ understood and answered questions put to her in French
â€¢ used dialect of the time
â€¢ knew the names of streets which had changed and were only discoverable on old maps.

Peter Ramster has many other documented cases of past life regression which in very clear terms constitute technical evidence for the existence of the afterlife.

Spontaneous Past Life Recall

The internationally acclaimed Shanti Devi case is one of the most spectacular cases in the history of spontaneous past life recall. This was a case in India that began in 1930, long before Dr Stevenson began doing his own research. However, he did review the case from the available extensive documented information and stated that Shanti Devi made at least 24 accurate statements of her memories which matched confirmed facts (Reincarnation International, Jan. 1994 No 1 Lon).

At the age of four in 1930 in Delhi, India, Shanti Devi began to mention certain details about clothes, food, people, incidents, places which surprised her parents. Briefly, Shanti mentioned the following which were later verified to be true. She:

â€¢ identified herself as Lugdi who used to live in Muttra, 128 kilometres away
â€¢ spoke the dialect of that area without having learned it
â€¢ claimed to have given birth to a son and died ten days later, events which it was later found did happen to Lugdi
â€¢ when taken to Muttra recognized her husband of her former life, Kedar Nath, and spoke of many things they did together
â€¢ was able to identify with accuracy a number of landmarks where she used in live in the previous life in Muttra
â€¢ was able to correctly state how the furniture was placed when she used to live there in her home
â€¢ knew that in her former life where she had hidden 150 rupees in an underground corner of a room for safe keeping in the house. The husband of the previous life, Kedar Nath, confirmed that although the money was not there he was responsible for taking it himself
â€¢ correctly identified Lugdi’s former parents from a large crowd.

This case was so impressive to the authorities that a committee of prominent persons, which included a prominent politician, a lawyer and a managing director of a newspaper, was formally organized to investigate it. The committee was more than satisfied that Shanti knew things that she could not have obtained knowledge about by cheating, fraud or in any illegitimate way. None of the members of the committee knew Shanti or had any connection with her in any way whatsoever. Their definitive verdict was in very clear terms that all the evidence was conclusive proof of reincarnation.

The case became internationally known and attracted the attention of many, many sociologists and writers. For example, in the 1950s a Swedish writer, Sture Lonnerstrand, traveled to India to meet Shanti Devi and to continue to investigate for himself the documented facts. He too came to an irreversible conclusion that the Shanti Devi case is a foolproof case for reincarnation (Reincarnation International, Jan. 1994 No 1 Lon).

Arthur Guirdham and Mrs. Smith

An English case that convinced many experts including the psychiatrist Dr Arthur Guirdham, was that of Mrs. Smith, a perfectly sane ordinary English housewife who for years had been suffering from terrible nightmares of being burned at the stake (Guirdham 1970).

She gave Dr Guirdham copies of drawings and verses of songs she had written as a schoolgirl. Experts in Medieval French confirmed that she was writing in langue doc, the language of Southern France in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries.

She went on to astonish experts with her knowledge of the Cathars in Touluse who had been persecuted by the forces of the Inquisition. She reproduced word for word in 1944 songs which were only discovered in archives in 1967; she knew historical details which only came to light later upon the most painstaking investigation such as:

â€¢ correct drawings of old French coins, jewelry and the layout of buildings
â€¢ correct details of the family and social relationships of people who do not appear in text-books but who were ultimately traced though the records of the Inquisition
â€¢ that the crypt of a certain church was used to hold religious prisoners
â€¢ details of rituals and religious dress.

So impressed was Professor Nellie, the greatest living authority on the period, that he advised Guirdham that in future when there was conflict between the accepted historical view and the memories of his patient, he should ‘go by the patient.’

Guirdham later went on to discover several other people close to him who all shared the same memories that he documented in his book The Cathars and Reincarnation. He went from being a total skeptic nicknamed ‘doubting Thomas’ to putting his considerable professional reputation on the line to lecture his colleagues in the British medical profession about ‘Reincarnation and the Practice of Medicine’ (Guirdham 1969).

Dr Ian Stevenson

The scientific research into reincarnation by Dr Ian Stevenson, Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Virginia Medical School, is most brilliant. Specifically, he has investigated what is known as ‘spontaneous past life recall’.

Over a number of years Dr Stevenson interviewed over four thousand children from the United States, England, Thailand, Burma, Turkey, Lebanon, Canada, India and other places, who claimed that they could remember a number of incidents from a past life. Procedural scientific investigation included the checking and analysis (where relevant) of documents, letters, autopsy records, birth and death certificates, hospital records, photographs, newspaper reports and the like.

Medical records are important especially when a child claims to have been murdered in a past lifetime, as Stevenson found that in cases of violent death the child may show a birthmark where he was knifed, shot or whatever caused his death.

An example of one of Dr Stevenson’s birthmark cases is that of Ravi Shankar. He recalled being horrifically decapitated as a child by a relative who was hoping that he would inherit the child’s father’s wealth. The reborn child was found to have a birthmark encircling his neck. When his claim was investigated it was found that the person he claimed to have been, did in fact die by decapitation.

Personal note by me
I was unaware of the existence of such copious documentation of events that support Rebirth. The above material written by Victor Zammit is available at http://www.victorzammit.com/book/chapter24.html

Thank you

• SomewhatDisgusted

Dear Yapa,

As promised, I will no longer continue with any further argumentation. However, I want to stress that my argument with you was never against you as a person and that there is absolutely no animosity or hostility on my part towards you. Any hostility was purely against any idea that challenged the secular nature of govt. and I hope my reasoning for that is clear in an overall sense. In the final analysis, all this had little or nothing to do with Kamma itself.

At least, it is good to see that we seem to have a common interest in science and wish you the best with your own explorations.

p.s.
I am a big Dawkins fan too and am trying to systematically read through his books.

• SomewhatDisgusted

Dear Off-the-cuff,

Thank you for the link. I myself have encountered Stevens before from several sources and it is very encouraging to see such research being done. This is precisely the kind of systematic attempt that is needed and it’s a good start. I still recall Carl Sagan saying in his book, “The demon haunted world”, that rebirth was one of 3 or 4 beliefs that he would list as deserving of further scientific exploration. I sincerely hope the Buddhists themselves take a lead in doing this because I believe it matters.

• Suriya

With the moderator’s permission I would like to share the following link on “rebirth” which has been discussed quite extensively in the above posts. It is a discussion by Ven Ajahn Brahmavamso, an English monk who was a theoretical physicist once a upon a time:

It is quite a long discussion, but a good one.

• Somewhat D & others,

(search under Faith in Buddhism in Wikipedia if link does not work)

quote: “faith in the TheravÄda tradition is generally confidence based on first-hand understanding of a concept – especially in the primary texts as faith in the reality of the enlightenment of the Lord Buddha [tathÄgatabodhisaddhÄ][17] or in the PÄli commentaries[18] as:

faith in the working of the law of karma [kammasaddhÄ]
faith in the consequences of actions [vipÄkasaddhÄ]
faith in the individual ownership of actions [kammassakatÄsaddhÄ], and;
faith in the reality of the enlightenment of the Lord Buddha [tathÄgatabodhisaddhÄ]. ”

So, obviously, since working of the law of karma & the reality of the enlightenment of the The Buddha cannot be verified by ordinary individuals (or anyone perhaps, maybe except a person who has attained nirvana, if that state is in fact real & attainable), then faith (as described above) is required to practice Buddhism.

I think (not certain, feel free to correct Yapa) Yapa is objecting to Somewhat D equating faith in the Buddha to faith in God in Christianity, on the grounds that in light of (according to the believers such as Yapa) evidence available in Buddhism, that the leap of faith required for Buddhists is not as great as the one required for Christians.

So, regardless of the degree of faith, one can loosely say that some faith (at least in believing that the Buddha is who he said, or reportedly said, he was – someone who discovered that all of life is suffering & that his methods will lead to the end of suffering, also an end to a cycle of rebirths, etc.) is required by Buddhism.

Whiich is far different than something like me believing that Netflix will send me the DVD that I ordered – an item that requires almost no faith since Netflix has sent me dozens of DVDs in the past & has also sent out tens of thousands of DVDs to others (so I hear).

So, perhaps Yapa’s arguments is that all things in life require a degree of faith (believing that Netflix will send me my DVD, believing that the Buddha did find the way out of a cycle of rebirths [which also exists], and believing that Jesus is the son of God/God himself, etc.) but believing in Buddhism does not take as much faith as believing in Christianity (again, i am working off of the comments Yapa, feel free to clarify).

As an agnostic, for me, following both/either Buddhism and or Christianity takes a lot of faith. But, as a believer in Buddhism Yapa may feel that Buddhism does not require as much faith as Christianity due to various factors (Buddha reportedly claiming he was a man & not a god, etc.).

::

Getting Rid of Suffering Without Getting Rid of Desire

Also, I think, if all of life is suffering & or if life is full of dukkha/sadness/grief, etc., then, rather than working on decreasing or getting rid of desire (tanha), as recommended in the Four Noble Truths, there may be another way to deal with the suffering that arises from not being able to get what one wants – controlling the response to loss or not getting what one wants. Here’s a brief illustration:

1 – Man wants a million dollars – lots of desire & plans are generated

2 – Man sets out to get the million dollars AND also tells self that if he does not get the million dollars that he will not react very negatively to that loss/will not allow much suffering/sadness to arise in himself, may even set up ways to counter the loss/sadness that he may feel by not achieving his desired goal (maybe setting self up for some treats – putting $s aside to get a book that he wanted, etc. – some consolation prizes let’s say) 3 – Man tries to get the million dollars and fails, gets only 200K. 4 – Man sees sadness arising in him due to not being able to accomplish the desired goal, so, having anticipated this, man rolls out his strategies that were put in place to counter the dukkha/sadness/suffering (the consolation prize, appreciating the 200K that was acquired instead of focusing on the 800K that was not acquired, etc.) & those strategies make him feel better So, escape from suffering without having to get rid of desire. I think we do this kind of thing all the time w/ out even thinking about it. – S • yapa Dear SomewhatDisgusted; I would like to request you to respond for the last time to my post on April 9, 2010 @ 3:04 pm. Thanks! • Yapa, Re: “Unless you train your children on the line of Buddhists teaching and until you protect that sublime doctrine for yourselves and the entire world, what can you expect for the future of the Sinhalese?” (was that entire post a Bessant (sp/) quote?) The human beings who now carry the group identity Sinhalese – with some major chracterisitics being perhaps that they speak the Sinhala language, practice SL Therevada Buddhism, live in Sri Lanka or born in Sri Lanka to Sinhala speaking Buddhist parents, etc. – & their children in Sri Lanka & elsewhere will continue to survive & thrive as they have done for centuries with or without Buddhism since humans all over the world live well without Buddhism, Christianity, etc. But, if you belive in race theory (a European tool of conquest used during the colonial days) & that you believe that speaking a given language & believing in a given religion makes one separate from rest of humanity, then, yes, I can see why you would worry about any challenges or criticism of SL Buddhism. I think the way to go for survival of the Sinhalese & everyone else in SL is to invest in Sri Lanka as a nation, not just the Sinhalese as a nation or the Tamils in SL as a nation. Because the Sinhalese in SL & everyone else physically live on the land, & if the land is secure & well governed, full or opportunity for all individuals regardless of language spoken by parents or religion of parents, people who are born on the island will do well for themselves. Also, since you appear to believe deeply in the race theory – that the Sinhalese are a race of people, that the concept of races is a real thing & not just a political/military/social/governance tool – take a look at the idea of race through the lense of Buddhism. I see Buddhism being a huge critic of race theory & not supporting race theory since the Buddha was against the caste system (an ancient indian version of modern European race theory which is used to set up the idea that the Sinhalese & Tamils are different races), & also since the Buhha taught that anyone can attain Nirvana with the right effort (regardless of tribe, race, etc.). – S • Off the Cuff Bath reincarnation sect in TV show Saturday, December 27, 2008, 10:30 The “reincarnation” of a massacred religious sect as a group of 1960s housewives in Bath and the tale of Glastonbury Abbey’s former head archaeologist whose digs were directed by a “dead monk” have been investigated for a new television series The above is the first paragraph in a report from the Bath Chronicle http://www.thisisbath.co.uk/news/Bath-reincarnation-sect-TV/article-570196-detail/article.html • BalangodaMan Mr Yapa, quite extraordinary!!! I don’t know where you got your quote from Annie Besant (1905). Although she did have a brief phase in her life involved with Buddhism in Ceylon she is renowned for two things that make the suitability of quoting Annie Besant in this context quite dubious. (I can only assume that it’s attraction to you is that she is Western and that the quote is in favour of Buddhism in contrast to other faiths). Mrs Besant was the founder (?) of the National Secular Society in England and later she spent the rest of her life following her brief dalliance with Olcott/Blavatski/Buddhism turning the followers of Buddhism away from Buddhism and towards Hinduism. You can Google and check these things. (better done before posting!) • Off the Cuff Hi Sujewa E, REBIRTH â€“ SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE (3) “we have to show that the cycle of births is real (yes, verified by non-believers” At the time I wrote my reply to you, I was unaware of very substantive material that I came across later. The supportive evidence and scientific research (by non believers) in to Rebirth appears to be extensive. The collection of evidence is so powerfully in favour of rebirth that it’s rejection would be difficult. Download and read this book available free at the following link. Some of my later posts carry a small amount of material from the same source. http://www.victorzammit.com/book/index.html “the nirvana (also related items such as karma & reincarnation) concept in Buddhism will have to be treated as an item of faith by the non-believers (or even believers who cannot perceive nirnvana, past lives, etc.)” The logic on which you base your conclusion is faulty. If you live to be 75 years, 1% of that would have been spent in your mother’s womb. I can safely bet with a 100% confidence level that you will not be able to recall even a fraction of a second of your life inside her. I have doubts that you would even be able to recall the first 2.5% of your life starting from conception. Your inability to perceive does not in anyway negate that period of time. The time you spent within your mother is an absolute truth that you accept without personal knowledge. But please read the book (its compelling reading). You will find a lot of scientific answers to your questions in it. The writer is a Lawyer in the USA and this is what he says about the Evidence he brings forth “There is undeniable scientific evidence today for the afterlife. I am a former practicing attorney-at-law formally qualified in a number of university disciplines. I am also an open-minded skeptic. After many years of serious investigation I have come to the irretrievable conclusion that there is a great body of evidence which, taken as a whole, absolutely and unqualifiedly proves the case for the afterlife. Using my professional background as an attorney and my university training in psychology, history and scientific method, I have very carefully selected aspects of psychic research and afterlife knowledge that would constitute objective evidence. This evidence would be technically admissible in the Supreme Court of the United States, the House of Lords in England, the High Court of Australia and in every civilized legal jurisdiction around the world. “ • Heshan Dear Yapa: As I have stated, four-valued logic is inconsistent with the scientific method. This is because four-valued logic says both P and ~P can be true. The idea behind the scientific method is to state a hypothesis and disprove its contradiction. . For example, suppose my hypothesis (P) is that “there exists a fish which can swim.” The contradiction (~P) would be: “there does not exist a fish which can swim.” To actually prove the hypothesis, it is necessary to find only one fish that can swim. What about four-valued logic? It would assume fish can both swim and not swim! This is incorrect. There is no way to prove or disprove the hypothesis using four-valued logic. • wijayapala Dear yapa, Buddhism for Sri Lanka is not just a religion. It has been the way of life or life itself of the people of this country once it became a “united nation”,. with the unification of the Naga, Yaksa and immigrant tribes by accepting Buddhism as their common religion. I don’t agree with the beginning of the Mahavamsa describing Buddha’s visit to Sri Lanka, nor do I agree that the pre-Sinhala inhabitants (yakkha and naga?) were Buddhist. Why isn’t that visit mentioned in Sutta Pitaka? Veddahs both today and in ancient times were not Buddhist, in fact that was the great distinguishing mark from the Sinhalese. Buddhism today cannot unite the country because there are non-Buddhist communities. • yapa Dear SomewhatDisgusted RE: your post of April 9, 2010 @ 7:39 pm I have finished my debate with you just because I gave the final answer to you and it came to its natural end choosing me as the winner.. But you are going to stop it due to some self proclaimed promise to you self, on the verge of the natural end of the discussion. Further, you are trying to show that this act as a merit for you. Reality is the opposite. I think you have a duty/responsibility /obligation to answer my concluding note. Further, you your say your arguments were never against me as a person and that there is absolutely no animosity or hostility on your part towards me. But I differ from you in this respect too. I want to be a natural man and I try my best to be so. I am a man with feelings and emotions and not just another piece of material. I love my country, I love my nation, I love my language,I love my religion, heritage, culture, traditions,,etc. etc…., and I get hurt when somebody harm them or try to harm them. I am not molded by modern western manners or etiquette to be so artificial to forget any wrong after just saying the courteous word “sorry”. So, I really have many things against you in person, however, I cannot materialize them as I really don’t know you in person. As persons born and bred in this country, we have some obligation, responsibility to protect and develop this country. Many people of ours gave their lives doing so throughout the history of nation.We cannot get rid of that responsibility or we are not given privileges to do any harm in the names of any good or profound concepts or principles like democracy, freedom of speech, equality, fairness, rights or whatever the modern words frequently seen on the lips of so called modern people. You have a responsibility at least to refrain from doing ant harm to the country and its interests, if you cannot do any service. The country expects that from all including you. It is an inalienable duty. I vehemently attacked you to perform my duty and I have nothing else against you. Thanks! • wijayapala Dear Sujewa Ekanayake, If a sufficient number/large number of people in a given place were engaged in self-improvement that included self-control, helping others, etc., that place would probably be a nice place to live in. But you wouldn’t be living in that nice place, so what difference would it make to you whether it is nice or not? Here’s where I got the quote â€“ Buddhists Against Reincarnaton: Thank you for the website. The quote was taken out of context, without attribution, from the Kalama Sutta (a lot of “Buddhist critics” have problems understanding that Sutta). In that Sutta, the Buddha was NOT talking to followers of his system. He was advising normal people the best way to choose a belief system. For those who choose not to believe in an afterlife, the Buddha gave this advice. It was NOT something that he himself believed in. Buddhists Against Reincarnation cited Stephen Batchelor (who apparently is a more authoritative source than the Suttas). I went to amazon.com to see his book, p. 34, which is the chapter on Rebirth. There Batchelor says, “The Buddha accepted the idea of rebirth…the Buddha found the prevailing Indian view of rebirth sufficient as a basis for his ethical and liberating teaching.” • Hi Off The Cuff, Re: the reincarnation items – yeah, looks like there is a lot of research out there, will follow up on it when I can. Thanks for the links, etc. Re: “If you live to be 75 years, 1% of that would have been spent in your mother’s womb. I can safely bet with a 100% confidence level that you will not be able to recall even a fraction of a second of your life inside her.” I think that may have to do with development of the brain at that age. Not an expert on this subject but I believe that abilities to recall events, etc. & other mental abilities/skills form/improve after the child has had contact with the outside world, after receiving sensory input from eyes, ears, touch, tastes, etc. – S • yapa Dear BalangodaMan; You have exactly identified my purpose of posting the said article. Yes you are exactly correct. I took that essay from the book from the Sinhala book titled ” Olcott thuma saha baudda adyapanaya” by G. P. Dhanatunga. Thanks! • Hi Wijayapala, RE: ” “If a sufficient number/large number of people in a given place were engaged in self-improvement that included self-control, helping others, etc., that place would probably be a nice place to live in.” (my statement) But you wouldn’t be living in that nice place, so what difference would it make to you whether it is nice or not? (your reply)” I, along with most other members of the human family, like “nice places”. That’s why immigration usually happens away from not-so-nice places & towards stable places with justice, ways to earn a living, etc. I think we were talking about the benefits of self-improvement whether it was Buddhistic or not – yeah, there are many places in the world where people are engaged in self-improvement and are not motivated to do so out of fear of an unwholesome rebirth. Anyway, “nice” places – being able to create & sustain one – is useful for the people who live in them. Re: Buddhism w/ out the speculative items: I seriously doubt that 100% or even 45% of all followers of all the religions are true believers – most are probably partial believers, maybe somewhat agnostic, maybe doing so out of a feeling of cultural or familial or national responsibility – thus, there are probably millions of Buddhists on Earth right now who are agnostic Buddhists (not certain about the items that cannot be verified – karma, reincarnation [though, should add, as pointed out by Off The Cuff, there may be a lot of material that supports the idea of past lives, further investigation needed], nirvana – but like enough of the religion or find the religion useful enough to stay within it. Also probably true for all other religions, not just Buddhism (judging by the conflict-filled, poverty-filled state of the world, it does not seem like that most people are strict followers of the paths of peace & coorperation, etc. that all the major religions – at least the mainstream versions of them – are said to have at their core). Unfortunately, after several hundred to a couple of thousand or more years of existing & working on Earth, all the major religions have failed to fully save the world/humanity (from poverty, war, etc.). So, most likely that – making the Earth a good place to live for all humans – will happen through a combination of religious & secular work/approach. Anyway, Buddhism & all other major religions (the mainstream/universal – accepting & supporting of all humans – versions of the religions) have elements in them that are useful to people who do not believe in the speculative aspects of those religions (gods, karma, nirvana, reincarnation? (see note above), etc.). Also, being human, and all religions being a product of human creativity (in one way or another), religions are a part of each human’s intellectual/creative heritage, whether they belive in them or follow them or not (when they (each human) wish, they should feel comfortable considering ideas found in them (the religions) to see if those ideas are useful to a present problem/situation). Also, as such, some work needs to be done even by the non-believers to ensure that various versions of religions are, at the least, remembered in some useful form (notes, recordings – audio, video, etc.) – so that the creative/intellectual content of those religions are available for possible future use even when the religions are no longer widely practiced. Will check back on this thread on Mon/Tue. Have a great weekend all. Also, congrats to SL for carrying out the most recent election w/ out a significant amount of violence (from what i hear). – S • yapa Dear Wijayapala; “I don’t agree with the beginning of the Mahavamsa describing Buddha’s visit to Sri Lanka, nor do I agree that the pre-Sinhala inhabitants (yakkha and naga?) were Buddhist. Why isn’t that visit mentioned in Sutta Pitaka?” …………… It mat be correct there is no direct written evidence to corroborate the Buddha’s visit to Sri Lanka mentioned in the Mahawamsa. But it doesn’t logically means that the Buddha didn’t visit this country. I am also not in the rigid opinion that the Buddha visited Sri Lanka. But it seems some other material evdidence sugh as Nagadeepa Vihara and Attakatha written about Nagadeepa Viharaya etc… etc… and some Buddhist Gathas (stanza) such as ” Mahiyanganan Nagareepan, Chethinyancha Muthinganan ete,, etc…. and folk lore suppore this event as evidence. Further, Sutta Pitaka contains a written summary of what the (Indian) Bikkus memorized as the Buddha had said. In this summary all what the Buddha has said, may not be included, hence the part you mentioned might have not included in the Sutta Pitaka, It is also possible that as the Buddha came to Sri Lanka alone without the company of any Bikkus ( according to the Mahawamsa story) the Bikkus might not had a knowledge about what the Buddha said in Sri Lanka. It is said that the Buddha’s Doctrine of “Abhidharma” was preached in Thusitha Heaven and on the requet of the Bikkus the Buddha has re stated it to the knowledge of the Bikkus. This shows that if the Bikkus were not accompanied, there is a possibility of missing that part of doctrine from the Bikkus. ………………………. “nor do I agree that the pre-Sinhala inhabitants (yakkha and naga?) were Buddhist.” I have never seen anywhere mentioned pre-Sinhala inhabitants (yakkha and naga?) were Buddhist. However there is a possibility that they had some primary awareness about Buddhism or the Buddha, if the Buddha really had visited Sri Lanka. I have no clear idea about this other than conjecture. ……………………………………….. “Veddas both today and in ancient times were not Buddhist, in fact that was the great distinguishing mark from the Sinhalese.” This is a possibility. Veddas were the uncivilized inhabitant whose living mainly limited to the jungle, and considered by other communities as “uncivilized”. People of this country especially those days obtained the knowledge and practice of Buddhist philosophy at temples. Therefore, it is not strange that Veddas were not Buddhists. However, I think there has been a tradition among veddas to participate in the Dalada Possession and to offer Bee Honey to the sacrtd Tooth Relic. Further, today it can be seen that with the association of the others, gradually veddas are becoming Buddhists. ………………………. “Buddhism today cannot unite the country because there are non-Buddhist communities.” Most probably what you say may be true. But there may be a possibility if we implement the Buddha’s doctrine in its true sense. This needs deep exploration and analysis. However, these do not abandoned the responsibility of our people to protect Buddhism as an integral and mandatory component of society. Thanks! • Yapa, Wijayapala, Re: record of Buddha’s visit to pre-Vijaya Sri Lanka; I had a couple of copies of this book The Lost Dynasty http://www.tracesofeden.com/lostdynastypreview.html (both given away as gifts now, need to find another copy, one was given to a monk who was from the area mentioned next), and in it there is a chapter that has inscriptions from a rock in SL (still there in SL), created, according to the book, by an ancient (pre-vijaya) king in SL, where land was granted to/in celebration of an indian monk named Gautama visiting the island – script in Brahmi i believe (not in sinhala), anyway, check out the book, check out the pages I just referenced, & see if what the book says is accurate (on my next visit to the SL I’ll have to see that rock for myself) – might be useful to you two. According to the book the inscription was created during the time period where the Buddha was believed to have been alive. And, in general, re: civilization in Sri Lanka before the creation of the Sinhala identity/arrival of Vijaya – I am fairly certain (mostly a matter of faith here 🙂 that there were many (tens of thousands?) people & ancient civilizations in SL & in nearby lands. Looking forward to seeing more proof of this come to light in the coming years. Specially since they have found proof of human habitation in SL going far back as 50,000 years ago, i am sure by the time 2000 – 2500 years ago rolled around there were already many well developed villages, cities, civilizations in SL. Also, even with very heavy immigration (well, maybe possible with very heavy immigration), I don’t see how 700+ people can turn into 20 million+ people in 2000 – 2500 years. I did the math recently, I think, most likely, there were 50,000+ people already living in SL by the time Vijaya & his 700 followers landed there 2000+ years ago (if it did indeed happen at that time, & w/ the said number of people). Alright, back to the weekend break, for real this time 🙂 – S • yapa Dear Heshan; “As I have stated, four-valued logic is inconsistent with the scientific method. This is because four-valued logic says both P and ~P can be true. The idea behind the scientific method is to state a hypothesis and disprove its contradiction. . For example, suppose my hypothesis (P) is that “there exists a fish which can swim.” The contradiction (~P) would be: “there does not exist a fish which can swim.” To actually prove the hypothesis, it is necessary to find only one fish that can swim. What about four-valued logic? It would assume fish can both swim and not swim! This is incorrect. There is no way to prove or disprove the hypothesis using four-valued logic.” ……………. You would be more correct if you changed your first sentence as thus: As I have stated, four-valued logic is inconsistent with the NEWTONIAN scientific method. In the west there has been three main Knowledge Systems (Rationality based). Aristotelian Knowledge System that had been considered an absolute or a perfect system for over 1500years was totally replaced by the Newtonian Knowledge System in the 17th century. I think you have a knowledge about the Laws of Motion in Aristotelian Knowledge System, about which I also have mentioned in brief in previous post in this same thread. Consider, a person lived much before Galileo wanted to test a hypothesis about the motion of bodies under gravity to submit a thesis to his Physics Professor.(Really there was no subject called Physics during that time. There was no division o\in Science and Science as a whole was known as Natural Philosophy). Say this student carried out the experiment and with his he went to his professor. After going through the thesis the professor found that the student had come to the conclusion that the falling bodies under the gravity accelerated at 9.98 m/s2. What do you think professor would do? On the basis of the Laws of Motion of Aristotle, he would totally reject the students conclusion as wrong, because he would find results are contradicting with his physics theories. But we know that even if it contradicts with the “Aristotelian Physics” we know that it is accepted in “Newtonian Physics”, disregard of the previous contradiction. Similar contradiction to the Catholic church (who held the Aristotelian theories as correct) occurred, when Galileo told the world that the earth is orbiting the sun. Despite that contradiction Newtonian Science accepted it. This means a contradiction in one Knowledge System mat not be necessarily contradicting in another knowledge system. Do you think above statement of mine is wrong because, a body falling under gravity accelerates and earth orbits the sun is “correct”? Do you think really those theories of Newtonian Science is correct? Really not. According to the theories of Relativity,gravity as a whole is an entirely different concept that has no much connection with the Newtonian Motion. Further, if analyzed deeply, keep aside orbiting earth around the sun there is really no meaning for the concept of “Motion”. No one really knows which body is moving or which body is at the rest. This means you cannot really say that theories in the Newtonian System is “true/correct” and hence say Aristotelian theories are “contradicting or wrong”. If you say most of the theories of the Newtonian System is contradictory in the Knowledge System of Modern Science developed during and after the Nineteenth Century. According to the Newtonian System, a body has a definite mass, time is flowing at a constant velocity towards future from past, Twins have the same .age at a given moment, but these are contradictory and wrong as per the knowledge system of modern science. Now what is your conclusion? Is contradicting wrong? Really no. Though a concept or theory cannot be contradicting withing the same system of knowledge, it is natural to “CONTRADICT” a concept in two different knowledge systems. According to Newtonian System it is correct that time is flowing at a constant velocity, while it is also true under modern Knowledge system that time can change its velocity. Really these are not considered as CONTRADICTIONS. So a contradiction within a knowledge system is not a CONTRADICTION in another knowledge system. ( Real reason being no knowledge systems can be considered as true/correct. They are system specific truths but not absolute truths.) Now coming back to the central issue of Two Valued Logic and Four Valued Logic, Two Valued Logic does not contradict with Newtonian system of Knowledge, reason being the Newtonian system was really built on the base of Two Valued Logic. But Two Valued Logic and the Science based on it that is Newtonian Science CONTRADICTS in Modern System of Scientific Knowledge,(especially based on Four Valued Logic) as shown above. But they really should not be taken as contradictions as they take place in two different systems. Same way Knowledge generated in the Four Valued System seems to be contradicting in the eyes of Two Valued System, but they should not be taken as CONTRADICTIONS. Reality is Knowledge what we are fighting for are really not truths. THEY ARE JUST CONVENTIONAL TRUTHS OR RELATIVE TRUTHS [AS MENTIONED IN BUDDHISM. (SAMMUTHI SATYA)] BASE ON A SE OF AXIOMS. EACH KNOWLEDGE SYSTEM HAS DIFFERENT AXIOMS, STILL THE TRUTHS GENERATED ARE ONLY DIFFERENT RELATIVE TRUTHS.RALLY, THE KNOWLEDGE SYSTEMS BASED ON HUMAN PERCEPTION CANNOT PERCEIVE ABSOLUTE TRUTHS OR THE REALTY. IN BUDDHISM ABSOLUTE TRUTH IS KNOWN AS PARAMARTHA SATHYAYA AND THE THE WAY TO ACHIEVE THIS ABSOLUTE TRUTH/KNOWLEDGE AND THIS WAT Y OR THE PATH IS KNOWN AS “NOBLE EIGHT FOLD PATH”. MAY ALL ATTAIN NIBBANA! (Heshan, can you remember when I first introduced the concept of Dour Valued Logic, you mocked at me, Disgusted insulted it and even after I provided many examples, SomewhatDisgusted kept on insulting the four Valued Logic and me until his last minute in this forum too, I introduced it under “In Defence of Buddhism in Sri Lanka quite a few months back”. Only now getting its recognition. That is why I used to say “Ignorance is bliss ” in many of my posts. • SomewhatDisgusted Dear Yapa, “I am not molded by modern western manners or etiquette to be so artificial to forget any wrong after just saying the courteous word “sorry”. So, I really have many things against you in person, however, I cannot materialize them as I really don’t know you in person.” Thank you for offering to “materialize” your grievances. I would merely point out that this might take you further away from your desired goal of Nibbana. Of course, if you think this is in line with your goals, you may beat me, stab me or resort to whatever form of “materialization” that you see fit, being the fearless defender of Buddhist that you are. I might object mildly at best. My defense has always been limited to words and ideas. This is also why I choose to remain anonymous. It is inevitable that you encounter fundamentalist nut-jobs such as yourself (let this be a lesson to all), entirely reminiscent of the Taliban, who will threaten violence when their ideas are challenged. I guess this is the “free thinking without barriers” you’ve been talking about. I hope the comment above continues to stand as Yapa’s own monument to Buddhist fundamentalism. Let this be a lesson to Buddhists also. ANY religion, taken too seriously, inevitably results in violence and death to all those who question it. So keep that in mind when arguing for Buddhism. “The country expects that from all including you. It is an inalienable duty.” And I have a greater duty to my status of being born a human to defend it against notions of race, religion or any other arbitrary division devoid of reason, which undermines the rational foundations on which harmonious co-existence is made possible in this world. So far, you are yet to give me a single convincing reason to believe in Kamma. Till that happens, expect me to not take it too seriously and stop you from *forcing* your “belief” on others. I vehemently attacked you to perform my duty and I have nothing else against you.” So do you have something against me or don’t you? You contradict yourself as usual. • SomewhatDisgusted Dear All, It’s nice to hear the new ideas that are being thrown to the fore. It’s an interesting discussion and I hope, one that will continue. BalangodaMan’s thoughts on Karma were extremely interesting and as usual, he gets his point across with subtlety and grace. This is in sharp contrast to my own, pugnacious, bull-in-a-china-shop approach, which is doubtless offensive to some (Although I’m not too apologetic that it’s offensive to certain others 😉 Their beliefs have gone unquestioned far too long, as evidenced by the severely hostile reaction, to the point where others must accept it as true by fiat or else!!!!) I personally tend to subscribe to Sujewa’s position of Buddhism not encompassing rebirth as a physical concept but a metaphorical one. I understand that Wijayapala, OTC and Yapa disagree. I had a few thoughts on this matter, inspired partly by Sujewa’s latest post. I think that, should rebirth and karma be taken to apply within this life only, it can be made entirely compatible with science as we know it while sticking to the core of the Buddha’s teachings as I understand them. It would also make it entirely consistent with the Buddha’s end goal of stopping the cycle of rebirth. I would also like to show that rebirth as a physical concept would potentially contradict current scientific knowledge in several ways and therefore, partly bolster a case for rebirth as a metaphorical concept. I would of course, like to have the idea severely pummeled and dissected. The only thing such a theory requires is to keep the end goal in mind – release from the cycle of rebirth – in other words – extinction. The ideal Buddhist world, is one in which all life forms are extinct. Unfortunately, I will be extremely busy for the next 3 days and will attempt to pen my thoughts on Tuesday or so. Have a good weekend! • BalangodaMan Mr Yapa, I think you have misunderstood my comment about your quote from Annie Besant. (probably my fault as my wording is a little ambiguous). You have MISQUOTED Annie Besant. Mr Yapa, where you are coming from is a dangerous thing, not just for SL but for the entire world. SomewhatDisgusted sums up the problem perfectly. Let me add my own objection to it. Firstly, the ‘requirement’ or even a ‘desire’ that every person in SL must have the SAME religion (whichever it is) is preposterous. That is society ‘imposing’ a religion on individuals. That is Taliban. It may be, and I’m sure it would be, ‘convenient’ for those who are uncomfortable among strangers and people of other backgrounds, cultures and countries, and people with different ideas and outlook. But we need to grow up – it is the 21st century! Secondly, your desire for a Buddhist-only SL is untenable. The SL people of the future will have access to all kinds of knowledge from the wider world – education, internet, travel and satellite television will make sure of that. If unhindered, our people of the future will have a wide range of belief systems – believe me there are thousands, not just the 4 you know of. They will be well read. They will not only learn but also learn about how to learn. Many of them will question the ‘blind faith’ theories that we ourselves were fed as children – that you Mr Yapa still believe enough to kill for. The only way your vision of the Future Sri Lanka will be met is if you deliberately deprive our children from access to knowledge and learning. How much does that attitude of yours coincide with the great teachings of the Budhha? My third point. Your Annie Besant misquote shows that you are not really interested in the meaning of what you’re cutting and pasting, but anything that (even superficially) glorifies what you’re putting forward you include in your posts, even though completely irrelevant to your point (how does quantum physics prove Karma?) – or even contradicts your point (Annie Besant). Fourthly, just my theory on why you refuse to accept your belief in Karma as ‘faith’ – you associate the word ‘faith’ with Christianity and Islam, and you (genuinely) do not regards your belief in Karma as on par with the Christian belief in god or Jesus. While you know that you cannot prove Karma any more than a Christian can prove that Jesus was the son of god you feel it is sacriligious to use the same word? Personally I feel people like you should be made to, compulsorily, live among people of other cultures as part of your education. I also feel (and this may be a little controversial!) no child should be allowed to choose a religion, if at all, until the age of 18 and even then after they can prove the absence of pressure or inducement or indoctrination from parents and relatives. • yapa Dear BalangodaMan; “Fourthly, just my theory on why you refuse to accept your belief in Karma as â€˜faith’ â€“ you associate the word â€˜faith’ with Christianity and Islam, and you (genuinely) do not regards your belief in Karma as on par with the Christian belief in god or Jesus. While you know that you cannot prove Karma any more than a Christian can prove that Jesus was the son of god you feel it is sacriligious to use the same word?” ………… If you want to talk and analyze things in common knowledge and common language only, I have nothing to say about you other than ” I am sorry about you”. When I say “cat” if your understanding is “rat”, it is not my problem. Just think why you oppose my notion of karma etc…., as to whether it is because my notion is against your wish/ belief. Do not just blame please again go through my arguments. I am not a cynic to impose my ideas on others. I am so assertive because I am very sure of my arguments, my understanding and knowledge obtain through vast reading of the subject and also through analytical thinking about the same. Please don’t go through superficially and do not come to conclusions and brand me. please analytically and carefully go through my post of April 9, 2010 @ 3:04 pm, again, discuss with somebody and come to a conclusion very carefully. Don’t jump into the conclusion that I am harmful man. Those are hasty conclusions and you will regret about it when you realize the truth. ( If you see me and associate me for some time, you might understand that I am even harmless than you). I know it is not easy to swim against the flow, but I do so, as only such people in the past have proven themselves that they have done something to the improvement of society than the downstream swimmers.Ir you want you can understand what my motto is ( I have said earlier “Naked Truths”) or otherwise keep on blaming me, just like a baby who did not get his cereal for the breakfast. If you want satisfy with superficial truths, it is not my problem. But keep in mind I am not man coming from a dangerous place the way your label says. ……………….. “Let me add my own objection to it. Firstly, the â€˜requirement’ or even a â€˜desire’ that every person in SL must have the SAME religion (whichever it is) is preposterous. That is society â€˜imposing’ a religion on individuals.” …………….. I have never want impose my religion on others. We were on a literary discussion and it is natural to compare things, to analyze them. I objectively tried to compare the contents of different religions and found differences, just as others did. Do you think contents of all the religions are same? Or do you say it is ethically bad to do an objective analysis. I am really not for the emotionally comfortable ideas such as “all of you girls are equally pretty”. I consider such acts as dishonesty and deception. ……………. “Secondly, your desire for a Buddhist-only SL is untenable.” I have never said so or had no even an iota of such thinking, I have not dealt with how and where religions should be practiced. I was only dealing with the contents of the religions. I have no any objection about anybody to believe any religion. What I did was an objective analysis. I never believe in a Buddhism only Sti Lanka. If you can show i said or at least indicated so I will accept any punishment ordered by you.punishment Please don’t mis-interpret what I say and bash me. ……………….. “My third point. Your Annie Besant misquote shows that you are not really interested in the meaning of what you’re cutting and pasting, but anything that (even superficially) glorifies what you’re putting forward you include in your posts, even though completely irrelevant to your point (how does quantum physics prove Karma?) â€“ or even contradicts your point (Annie Besant).” …………….. Above answer is applicable to this question too. ……………………… “Personally I feel people like you should be made to, compulsorily, live among people of other cultures as part of your education.” ……….. Do you think I have not lived so. Another misconception, taken at haste and arbitrarily. What I have to say you is you are new to this discussion and you have jumped into hasty conclusions, as many people did in the past. I would like to request you first to assess the place and situation, before starting your counseling session. We have done several discussions like this and do not want to come back to the square one. Thanks! • yapa Dear SomewhatDisgusted; I also would have said sweet words like I have no any thing against you in person, or sweeter words and would have been named a “good gentleman” like you. I poured my honest feeling but you take it for granted for slinging mud at me, against your sweet words. I believe in “yathavari thathakari”. If meant harm, I would have kept that in mind, without disclosing. Please don’t make blanket blames at me. Be critical very specifically as much as you want on what I say. Thanks! • yapa Dear Sujewa Ekanayake; …………..& that you believe that speaking a given language & believing in a given religion makes one separate from rest of humanity, then, yes, I can see why you would worry about any challenges or criticism of SL Buddhism.” I do not believe in a given religion makes one separate from rest of humanity. However, it doesn’t say that the contents of all the religions or all the languages are similarly rich or have no differences. I firmly believe and its natural too that some religions have better characteristics than others. I didn’t blindly believed so and argued with evidence. If you want to believe that all the religions are same and there is no difference at all, you have all the rights to believe so. But my rationality, and objective thinking doesn’t allow me to believe that all the sheep are white. I always believe that there could be a sheep of a different colour. Analysis is all about identifying differences! I analyzed things (objectively I suppose) and results do not depend on me, but they are natural occurrences of the process. I am not to be blamed for them. Thanks! • yapa An addition.. Analysis is all about identifying differences! I analyzed things (objectively I suppose) and results do not depend on me, but they are natural occurrences of the process. I am not to be blamed for them.IT IS LIKE BLAMING THE PHYSICIAN WHO DIAGNOSED A CANCER IN A PATIENT! Thanks! • Heshan Dear Yapa: “According to Newtonian System it is correct that time is flowing at a constant velocity, while it is also true under modern Knowledge system that time can change its velocity. Really these are not considered as CONTRADICTIONS. So a contradiction within a knowledge system is not a CONTRADICTION in another knowledge system. ” There is no contradiction between Newton’s Laws of motion and Einstein’s theory of relativity. This is because Newton’s Laws of motion and Newton’s Law of Gravitation can be derived from Einstein’s theory of relativity. When the speed of an object is so small compared to the speed of light, the relativistic effects are so small they have virtually zero effect on the motion of the object. Einstein’s theory of relativity is an extension of Newton’s Laws to describe objects moving at very high speeds… we can say that the Newtonian system is the beginning and relativity is the end , but they are part of one and the same system of knowledge. Now, if four-valued logic is also consistent with science, it should be possible to derive both relativity theory and Newton’s laws, as special cases. I will leave that to you. As for Aristotle, yes his laws of motion were incorrect. That is why Aristotelean physics is not taught in schools today. On the other hand, Aristotle’s system of logic is still very famous, and is still very valuable to learn as a method of logic (though perhaps not as famous as Euclid). P.S: For your reading pleasure, I am referring you to one paper that supports my assertion of Newton’s Laws being a special case of relativity theory: “Derivation of Newton’s Law of Gravitation from General Relativity” http://jmp.aip.org/jmapaq/v9/i7/p983_s1?isAuthorized=no • SomewhatDisgusted Dear Wijayapala, “I don’t know you tell me. I used to ask similar questions about how kamma works when I was a kid and liked watching the monks squirm. Since then I’ve realized that I know too little about the universe to make a definite claim about kamma.” This comment suggests that you think my intent is hostile. It is not. The only thing I’m openly hostile to is forcing “beliefs” on others – especially when they are not based on any compelling criteria. However, if my motivation is under question, a fruitful discussion cannot take place. Therefore, as I mentioned earlier, I see no reason to persist. I’ve always valued your contributions and have learnt a great deal from your thinking on many matters – especially on the Sri Lankan conflict – and it has greatly helped me to change and refine my own thinking. Dear All, The reason I questioned religion in general, apart from the specific reasons for confronting Yapa, are different. Reading through this forum, it is clear that everyone here has put in a tremendous amount of thought into these matters. As BalangodaMan said: “this whole subject is important in answering the ultimate question that we all have”. In doing this, we may have taken different paths to find these answers. Yapa says that “my understanding and knowledge obtain through vast reading of the subject and also through analytical thinking about the same”. Judging by the quality of the comments here, it is clear that Yapa is not the only one, and practically everyone here has put in a lot of thought to it and doubtless come to different realizations. My own motivation was to find out what those realizations are and to change and adopt new perspectives. I believe a good idea will stand up to closer scrutiny and bad ones will eventually collapse – just like the god theory has now collapsed almost beyond any redemption. Anyway, I’d also like to share this little clip by Richard Dawkins, who relates this rather inspiring story about scientific integrity. I thought it would be a clip everyone would enjoy. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eA86N8K4VBI cheers! • Heshan SomewhatDisgusted: “just like the god theory has now collapsed almost beyond any redemption.” The scientific position is that the existence of God cannot be proved or disproved. This is because science works with (1) only that whose form and corresponding properties can be clearly deduced and empirically validated.. (2) what exists but the existence of which cannot be proved empirically, but whose existence can still be inferred (e.g. chain of logic). An example of (1) is simple; basically anything you can see. (2) is more subtle – perhaps something like temperature. It lacks any form, yet it has measurable properties, and can certainly be inferred to “exist.” The existence of God is probably similarly to (2) only it is a much more subtle concept. One has to begin with certain a priori assumptions – axioms if you will – and proceed from there. You cannot hope to prove every assumption because that would result in a circular definition. On the other hand, the larger share of difficulty involved in proving (or disproving) the existence of God mostly stems from these fundamental axioms themselves. For example, a theist might claim that God is timeless. How do you test an assumption like timelessness – either to prove or disprove that it is “possible.” What about formlessness – a theist might claim that God is the essential form of energy that drives the Universe. One would have to find the first source of energy and from it replicate the Universe and show that the various forms of matter which exist in the Universe can then be derived from this first source of energy. On the other hand, the questions I posed above can easily be solved mathematically. Trying to show that there is an infinity of time is not very different from showing that there is an infinity of primes. In fact, if you found a way to express time just using prime numbers, then it would be the exact same question. What about form? We are all aware that mass can be converted to energy… on the other hand, the equality operator involved in this equation, =, (where E = mc^2), tells us that energy can be converted into mass. The difficulty is that pure mathematics, as I have stated consistently on this forum, does not need any justification from reality (nature, the Universe, etc), because it is built upon a system of self-consistent axioms. The point I am making is that Richard Dawkins is wrong to say that God doesn’t exist only because of evolutionary/biological evidence. Dawkins is relying on a system of logic that is (1) essentially incomplete and (2) confined to empirical observation. It’s unfortunate that many people choose to believe him simply because of his evolutionary/biological evidence. The simplest way I can say it is, suppose there are many paths that lead from point A to point B. Dawkins has taken path C, but he has not proved that it is the only path possible. • yapa Dear SomewhatDisgusted “Thank you for offering to “materialize” your grievances. I would merely point out that this might take you further away from your desired goal of Nibbana. Of course, if you think this is in line with your goals, you may beat me, stab me or resort to whatever form of “materialization” that you see fit, being the fearless defender of Buddhist that you are. I might object mildly at best. My defense has always been limited to words and ideas.” You are always trying to get undue and unethical advantages. In this case you are begging for advantage of sympathy hyphening what i said as a massive threat to you. This is feminine behaviour. Face directly as a man, seeking popular support from the novices, who really have no idea as to what happened in the past. Please answer my post of April 9, 2010 @ 1:49 pm, which represent the main dispute between you and me. Answer it directly if possible without going round the bush blaming me and begging the others for help. Thanks! • Off the Cuff Dear SomewhatDisgusted / Balangodaman / Sujewa E, SomewhatDisgusted states “I had a few thoughts on this matter, inspired partly by Sujewa’s latest post. I think that, should rebirth and karma be taken to apply within this life only, it can be made entirely compatible with science as we know it while sticking to the core of the Buddha’s teachings as I understand them. It would also make it entirely consistent with the Buddha’s end goal of stopping the cycle of rebirth. I would also like to show that rebirth as a physical concept would potentially contradict current scientific knowledge in several ways and therefore, partly bolster a case for rebirth as a metaphorical concept. I would of course, like to have the idea severely pummeled and dissected.” A small note on the above, There is no doubt that Karma as defined by the Buddha (action with intent / conscious action) is entirely compatible with current scientific knowledge when you look at it within the current life span. In fact it is recognized as such in EVERY MODERN JUDICIAL SYSTEM in what is known as the “Developed World” today. The Buddhist definition involves intent and consciousness of action and has no God involvement. It is a redefinition of the older Hindu concept of Karma. (The concept of Karma in Hinduism, differs from Buddhism and Jainism as it involves the role of God. Notably, unlike Buddhists, and Jains who believe that karma, as natural law, on its own, joins the soul when it reincarnates and comes to fruition, Hindus, believe in the role of God for linking karma to the person. http://www.experiencefestival.com/a/Karma_in_Hinduism_-_The_role_of_God/id/1546343) I have placed before this forum a collection of evidence compiled by Victor Zammit in his 254 page book available for free download at http://www.victorzammit.com/book/index.html He states that he is a US attorney by profession possessing university training in psychology, history and scientific method. He asserts that the evidence he presents is objective evidence and that it “would be technically admissible in the Supreme Court of the United States, the House of Lords in England, the High Court of Australia and in every civilized legal jurisdiction around the world. “ Since all three of you contest Rebirth on Scientific grounds it would be interesting to see how you meet and negate the copious collection of evidence that Victor Zammit presents in his book (I have quoted a minute amount in my previous posts). Prior to reading Victor Zammit my belief in Rebirth was due to it being a rational assumption that had the highest probability to explain what is physically observable in the Universe. Now I see that there is compelling scientific evidence that supports it. • yapa Dear Heshan; “The scientific position is that the existence of God cannot be proved or disproved.” Really it has been disproved without any doubt. One of the many way of disproving it is http://www.groundviews.org/2009/11/25/the-transformation-of-buddhism-in-sri-lanka/comment-page-8/#comment-11248 ( Fight for truth rather than what is advantageous to you, that is one of the ways to become great) Thanks! • yapa Dear Heshan; “Newton’s Laws of motion and Newton’s Law of Gravitation can be derived from Einstein’s theory of relativity.” This is common knowledge of the scientific people. I cited it only as an example. A little bit lack of perfectness in this example does mot change the core of my essay. Other than the weakness of the example do you have any issue with what I say? I think I have convinced you. If you want I can give you a better example.Do you accept that the Principle of Newtonian science do not valid in Quantum Mechanics? ( Don’t hesitate to accept truth just because somebody else tells it. He has no ownership to truth. I am not the owner of what I said. Truth exists. Intellectuals only discover them.) ( I know most of the people of this forum will not understand these things, but I know you understand them, but you prefer to imitate some other way.) Thanks! . Thanks! • BalangodaMan Heshan, good piece. On existence of god … One thing I keep coming back to is, any discussion on the existence, or not, of god comes down to DEFINITION, doesn’t it? If one defines god as ‘whatever made this Universe/Life/’the conciousness that I am experiencing right now happen’ then god clearly exists. Because I know that I exist (in some way that I can define and know for sure in a personal way – I exist. As Descartes observed ‘I think therefore I am’) If one means a benevolent god then most people, me included, will say that he does not. This is apparent from all the awful things that happen in the world. If one means a god that knows everything that goes on, can know but doesn’t care, then he MAY exist. More to the point we don’t care whether he does exist in this way or not as he can make no difference to us. If one means a god that we can ask favours of, which he grants, those who have faith in him believe he exists, others don’t. The former type of people MAY know something we don’t, or are deluded (Dawkins). Either way he exists FOR THEM at least as a placebo. As god, if one means ‘whoever keeps the ledger account of our Karma and directs that our Karma is dished out appropriately in our next birth’ then Buddhists believe in the existence of god. By ‘god’ I mean the higher authority who administrates Karma, and not necessarily being a ‘person’ in the sense that we understand. If one means god who punishes or rewards us according to our good or bad deeds, then this amounts to the Buddhist belief of Karma also. Under that definition also Buddhists believe that god exists. To one who believes in destiny (that everything is predestined) then whoever decided that destiny is god. This is similar to Allah in Islam, and those who believe in Astrology because they believe in pre-destiny (effectively). If one means the ‘god who Christians believe to be the father of Jesus’ then he exists only to Christians. If by god we mean ‘nature’ (as many people do) then few people will say that god does not exist. This list is not exhaustive, I am only trying to illustrate that ‘whether god exists or not’ depends on which definition we use. I also note that, the very people who vehemently DENY the existence of god DO acknowledge his existence unreservedly, although their rhetoric says otherwise – for example if one believes in the existence of Karma and ‘god’ is defined as the cosmic administrator of Karma (the celestial judge). Similar if one believes in the laws of physics/quantum physics and if god is defined as whoever/whatever designed the laws of physics, then god exists. • wijayapala SomewhatDisgusted, This comment suggests that you think my intent is hostile. All that I said was that when I was small, I liked asking tough questions to monks that they could not answer. It’s not that I had anything against monks in particular, but I did like to show that I was smarter than grown-ups. What does any of that have to do with you? • yapa Dear Sujewa Ekanayake; I would like to draw your attention to my post of April 10, 2010 @ 10:21 am, and appreciate your feed back. Thanks! • Sony I have been busy for a week and missed this discussion completely. I spent about three hours reading through it. I was getting bored about two thirds of the way until I came upon the Ian Stevenson’s article. I checked to see if the “Journal of Scientific Exploration” is genuine. On the surface it seems it is. Dr. Chandra Wicramasinghe is on the editorial board. Can this be the first scientific evidence of the “rebirth” and as an implication that there is no “god”? • yapa Dear Off the Cuff/ Wijayapa; SomewhatDisgusted says; “I personally tend to subscribe to Sujewa’s position of Buddhism not encompassing rebirth as a physical concept but a metaphorical one. I understand that Wijayapala, OTC and Yapa disagree.” ………………….. Please see how cheap and dishonest this behaviour. During the discussion in the previous thread on the same subject he tried to persuade me offered to accept karma and reincarnation as faith by trying to show that Off the Cuff and “Rationalist” had accepted them as faith, which I really knew not. Please see his treachery that time and my response respectively. 1. Secondly, it was your assertion that Buddhism was a superior and ultimate truth, that led me to quesion whether Karma and rebirth were indisputable too. On this, you are yet to provide me with a clear answer. You have been trying to denigrate western thinking, pick holes in science and do everything else other than demonstrate the “indisputability” of these concepts. Other Buddhists who believe in this, for example Rationalist and Off the cuff, have been humble enough to acknowledge that their belief system may or may not be correct, but they follow it for whatever reason that satisfies them. 2. I should say it again we are too early to comment on Off the Cuff’s or rationalists humbleness or any other notions of theirs which is undiscoverable by us. They are in their minds and only if they say in their own mouths they are so humble as you say, I will accept it. Otherwise and until then my position is ” I don’t no”. Then again, when he felt like Wijayapal’s ideas are not in line with my ideas he tried to black mail me to accept said concepts as faith citing Wijayapala, in that case too he failed in his ill will. Then he tried to set Sujewa. E. to hunt me encouraging and falsely appriciating his views. Now he praises, BalangodaMans ideas to keep him on the “Murunga Aththa” to give me a chase. These are the efforts of the men without back bones. Its true some people offered me help in the discussion, but I did not beg for and they also did them in good faith and objectively. I never meant to play an unfair game using booby traps or pit falls. Those who are not confident about themselves need such treachery. No body can deceive everybody forever! Thanks! • yapa Dear BalangodaMan; Here is a your statement; Faith: This might help in connecting properly with Mr. SomewhatDisgusted. By â€˜faith’ what is meant is that IT CANNOT BE PROVED. Here is a statement from SomewhatDisgusted, you identified as an objective person. “Influential philosophers tell us we can’t prove anything in science.” Don’t you think his point contradicts yours? If so, Are you a subjective man? Thanks! • SomewhatDisgusted Dear Yapa, “I poured my honest feeling but you take it for granted for slinging mud at me, against your sweet words.” I am not opposing you for being honest. Why would anyone despise honesty? It is an admirable trait and I have no problems with you declaring your honest opinion. But again, you’ve missed the point altogether. I don’t think you intended to do any harm to me. For one thing you can’t, you don’t know me. For another, you’d probably not, there is after all a difference between thinking of doing something and actually doing something. At worst, you can be accused of a thought-crime, nothing more. But again, that’s not the point! The point is, because of your heavy attachment to your religion, you have had a violent reaction to another person’s ideas. Maybe you might have exercised restraint and not actually committed any violence, but what about the next person? If someone with “understanding and knowledge obtained through vast reading of the subject and also through analytical thinking about the same” cannot control his emotions, what do you think the average, garden-variety Buddhist will do? Do you see where you are going wrong? 1. Your severe attachment to Buddhism is in direct contradiction with the Buddhist concept of detachment. 2. You pay lip service to “free thinking without barriers”, yet when someone dares to challenge your opinion, you react violently. 3. You claim to have access to “naked truths” but when asked to give a single convincing reason to back up this naked truth, you have nothing to offer. Yet you expect us to believe you anyway. There’s a name for those who claim to have access to naked truths, have no way to back up that claim and will react violently when questioned. They are called religious fundamentalists. They don’t do this because they are bad people. In fact, they sincerely believe they are doing the right thing. History is littered with countless corpses, thanks to their convictions. There is a second thing you should think about. I know that right now, I might be your least favourite person in the world. I’m everything you despise. You see me as aping the British, undermining the Sinhala-Buddhist civilization and a traitor to the nation. The countless hate literature you’ve read, telling you that all your problems are because of the British and those who ape them, that glorifies the Buddhist as the guardian of eternal truths that the western mindset is still not advanced enough to grasp (as you’ve said before) and that the west is decadent, immoral and pretentious – put all that aside for a moment. Think about your own survival. Tell me. What happens, if another group of people, say the Mormons, decide that their view is the right one? They have no reasons to give as to why they think it’s the right one, but they are quite convinced it is. It’s a naked truth! They then decide that the entire world must convert to their religion, or face death. What moral argument are you going to raise to stop them? Again, stop thinking from a local perspective. Apply your idea universally. See if it remains defensible. The conclusions are blood-curdling! In such a case, anyone can do whatever they want without being able to give reasons to defend it. They just know it’s the right thing! So if you undermine reason as a basis for deciding on something, understand that others can do the same, and you will have *NO MORAL DEFENSE* to stop them. This is the third thing you should know. You despise the West. You think they are pretentious. Yes! Some of them are. But you don’t understand why they are polite to each other. You’ve never tried to understand them, only blame them. Try to understand them a little also. If, everytime there’s a debate, and there’s a violent reaction from the other person, how often do you think you can have a debate? The reason the west became powerful is partly because they challenged their own ideas. In the end, that is precisely what undermined the power of the church and enabled them to have freedom of thought. That is why they value it so greatly, because one of their darkest periods in history was brought about by suppression of thought – by religion. This is why their brightest minds invariably argue for secularism (or else, the complete eradication of organized religion). Why they argue for freedom of speech. Not because they are decadent and immoral and want to fornicate in public! Understanding and compassion is better than prejudice and bigotry Yapa! Anyway, I really don’t have any more time to spend on this. Understand this. If you challenge the secular nature of my country, I will do my duty and defend it to the best of my ability. There is NO WAY IN HELL I will keep my mouth shut while you try to make this a Sinhala-Buddhist republic. Not unless you can back up your reasoning with indisputable facts. So far, you are yet to give me any. That is unfair to other people and you know this. Don’t pretend you don’t understand. I will leave you with a quote from Stephen Weinberg: “Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.” All the best! • yapa Unfortunately, after several hundred to a couple of thousand or more years of existing & working on Earth, all the major religions have failed to fully save the world/humanity (from poverty, war, etc.). So, most likely that â€“ making the Earth a good place to live for all humans â€“ will happen through a combination of religious & secular work/approach. This has never been the motto of Buddhism and also it doesn’t believe it is a possibility. why do you put such huge responsibility on any thing? Was modern Science, Technology, profound political theories and modern Economics put together was able to achieve this target? Thanks! • yapa Dear Dear Sujewa Ekanayake; You say; [I think (not certain, feel free to correct Yapa) Yapa is objecting to Somewhat D equating faith in the Buddha to faith in God in Christianity, on the grounds that in light of (according to the believers such as Yapa) evidence available in Buddhism, that the leap of faith required for Buddhists is not as great as the one required for Christians. So, regardless of the degree of faith, one can loosely say that some faith (at least in believing that the Buddha is who he said, or reportedly said, he was â€“ someone who discovered that all of life is suffering & that his methods will lead to the end of suffering, also an end to a cycle of rebirths, etc.) is required by Buddhism.] When we can identify and differentiate very specifically, why should we identify things loosely, considering (even) the triviality of there differences. Difference between 1 and 2 is not vast, still you don’t call “two” a “one”. Id you have learned Calculus, you will understand the huge difference, a trivial quantity can make.make. If things are linearly related what you say might be correct. But in reality the relationships between things are very complex and in a relationship of the form of a “Log”,an amount like 0.000000001in the independent variable can make a change in the quantum of 10000000000000000000, on the dependent variable. So you cannot very seriously take things loosely, especially in the modern time. What you suggested indicates that Buddhism can be considered as faith only when the word taken loosely. You know that 0.000000000000001 is different from 0.000000000000002 and the latter is twice the size of the former. Can you tell me how many times big the latter one of the of the loosely taken concepts compared to the former one. In other words tell me how many times “Akarawathi Sraddha” is bigger than “faith”, which you want to take loosely? Modern world talks in very “finer level languages”. Thanks! • yapa SomewhatDisgusted said, RE: Your post of April 11, 2010 @ 11:31 am, Ok! Ok!! , Shall we now come to the specific point of dispute, without wasting our energies any more. I will refrain from telling any thing other than that to you from now on. Honestly, I have nothing against you personally . Now the subject is just under our noses. (Whether karma, reincarnation are faiths or not). Please give your feed back on my post of April 9, 2010 @ 3:04 pm, and also on April 11, 2010 @ 12:20 pm (optional) Thank! • yapa A correction of my post of April 11, 2010 @ 12:20 pm It should be You know that 0.000000000000001 is different from 0.000000000000002 and the latter is twice the size of the former(When the taken finely). instead of . You know that 0.000000000000001 is different from 0.000000000000002 and the latter is twice the size of the former. Thanks! • yapa Dear BalangodaMan; RE: your post of April 11, 2010 @ 2:33 am What we say is that the type of the god that mentioned in the Bible does not exist. W e are talking of a specific god. Not of the god concept in general you define. No dispute about that general notion. Thanks! • yapa Dear BalangodaMan; I appreciate your feed back on my posts of April 9, 2010 @ 3:04 pm, and also on April 11, 2010 @ 12:20 pm. Thanks! • Hi Yapa, (i am technically not back here until Mon/Tue US time, but, stopped for a brief visit to see what’s going on – looks interesting, will respond to other items on Mon night/Tue AM most likely, depending on work load :: also same re: OTC’s Qs/posts & others too) In the meantime, Re: ” “Unfortunately, after several hundred to a couple of thousand or more years of existing & working on Earth, all the major religions have failed to fully save the world/humanity (from poverty, war, etc.). So, most likely that â€“ making the Earth a good place to live for all humans â€“ will happen through a combination of religious & secular work/approach.” (my statement)” ” “This has never been the motto of Buddhism and also it doesn’t believe it is a possibility. why do you put such huge responsibility on any thing? Was modern Science, Technology, profound political theories and modern Economics put together was able to achieve this target?” (your statement, above 2 paras) True, saving the entire world may not be en explicitly stated goal of SL/Therevada Buddhism, but I have seen it stated in the Mahayana tradition, I believe. As several countries on Earth at this point in time – US, “old” Europe, Japan, Australia, etc. have gotten war inside their borders, lack of food, lack of health care, lack of education, lack of individual liberties/rights/freedoms & similar problems corrected – through a combination of religious & secular work, I see this also being possible for all countries on Earth (granted, for some places, it will take far longer than others). And since all humans are related, it will no doubt make me & a lot of other humans in various places happy to see the vast majority of the human population having access to enough food, access to education, freedom from oppressive religions (also freedom from oppressive non-religious/secular aspects of society – military dictatorships let’s say, etc.), being able to build wealth, having individual rights & liberties, etc. Generally such a condition – or working to achieve it – is thought of as progress, not sure if your interpertation of Buddhism & your apparent (judging by sentiments expressesed through your comments) preference for the Sinhala community only/”Sinhala nation” (a separate idea from a united, multi-ethinic, multi-religious & also secular Sri Lanka) above all others allows you to see the value of such a universal/world wide development goal (probably does, not 100% sure). Anyway, religions alone or secular work alone have not been able to improve most countries, or the world as a whole. Usually the excesses of religious orders are kept in check by secular society and vice versa, that is why I said that – to put it loosely – “saving the world” is a project that will most likely be accomplished through religious & secular partnership. It (creating excellent living conditions world wide) is definitely achievable, even if SL Buddhism is not optimistic enough to see it. Keep in mind that Buddhism (or at least older versions of it, ones as Therevada claims to be) is an old religion – arising from an ancient/feudal time, it may not have anticipted the success of democracy (less than 300 or so years old in its modern incarnation), modern technology that allows the creation of enough food to feed the entire population of the world well (there is the still un-worked out food distribution issue, but that too will get worked out – at least the means are already present, just need sufficient will), development of individual will/desire for living well, etc. And though The Buddha appears to have thought about the well being of all humans – creating a universal/accessible to all who are interested – religion – in many cases that same intellectual device – the religion – has been used as a tribal/national instrument (specially in ancient & modern Sri Lanka) – sometimes causing the practitioners to lose sight of the “open to all humans, not just for one tribe” nature of the religion – no doubt – that is probably where the “we own this religion, we’ll attack anyone who questions our interpertaion of it” comes from in SL (& elsewhere, with all other religions too). Be back after the weekend, keep posting about items that are of concern to you – out of the items I’ve written, will respond when I get back – Sun night/Mon AM US time or as soon as possible this week. :: And SomewhatD, stay/remain positive, don’t let the negativity of others get you down/angry too much. Good job so far in keeping your cool during these discussions – makes it easier to clearly see your ideas. Also, Heshan, I’ll have to second the appreciation expressed above by another, good post re: God & science – well written, easy to follow. OTC, re: the previous life related links that you’ve posted, also quotes – sounds interesting. But I’ll have to check out the possibility of previous lives being real for myself, instead of relying too heavily on research by others. That may take a while – maybe months, maybe decades, so don’t expect a quick answer re: the possibility (in my opinion/belief) that past lives/reincarnation is real (in light of info that you’ve provided). Until my own research is done, I am going to keep reincarnation as a specualtive religious item, a matter to be taken on faith, most likely not real. But, we will see, you did point to a lot of material arguing for the existence of past lives, reincarnation, etc. Also, regardless of my take on it, reincarnation as a powerful idea is here to stay I think, since billions of humans believe in it & have done so for centuries. Also, even if not true, a very creative idea. :: Hope everyone has a great Sunday. – S • Yapa, One more quick item for today: Re: “In other words tell me how many times “Akarawathi Sraddha” is bigger than “faith”, which you want to take loosely?” To me both concepts – Sraddha in Buddhism (re: karma, reincarnation, nirvana) & faith in the existence of God, heaven in Christianity, Islam, etc. are matters of faith – I do not see a difference between the two items as to the kind of things that they are, both have to be accepted as true by practitioners of the respective religions without the practioners (most likely) being able to verify that the items are in fact real/exist in the real universe – also items that cannot be demonstrated/shown as real to a non-believer. If you believe that nirvana is even a little bit more real than the idea of the existence of God, point out a Buddhist who is now alive who has achieved nirvana & I will seek that person out, if I can, & see if it appears that the said accomplishment in fact has happened. Keep in mind that I know at least a few SL Therevada Buddhist monks who have been practicing Buddhism since they were children – for over 50 years+ now, in some cases over 60, 70 years – and they have not said that they have achieved nirvana. Yes, I do know that achieving nirvana is said to take a long time, maybe even several lifetimes (if multiple lives are real, also if nirvana is a real & attainable goal). – S • Yapa, Re: your april 10, 2010, 10:21 am post, – at the core all you are saying is that some ways of looking at the world & evaluating things does not support the possibility that what the Buddha said about life after death is true, and that some (or at least one way – four valued logic) does support it. However, a step beyond that lies the problem for the Buddhist believer – point to the direct proof for karma, reincarnation, nirvana – not just a possible method that may support the possibility that those items are real. (yes, it is noted that a lot of research & or at least writing regarding previous lives/reincarnation has been introduced to this conversation by OTC, but for me personally it will take a while to even begin to try to see if the provided material points to the possibility that past lives & reincarnation may be real. however, if anyone engaged in this conversation can recall their past lives, feel free to share) – S • SomewhatDisgusted Dear Heshan, We’ve already had this discussion and I think we agree. Let me summarize. 1. The Einsteinian God – Einstein referred to the unknown as god. To use the word God here is nothing short of mischievous. 2. The Deistic God – Unprovable in principle, yes. But that does not make his existence equiprobable. Most likely does not exist for the simple reason that the concept solves nothing, only postpones the problem. It either brings about the question – who created god? or simply creates an extra step – as in why terminate an infinite regress with god? Why not just terminate it with the big bang or something? 3. The Theistic god – He exists, but in the minds of those who believe in him. 4. Other godly notions – I never really thought of it that way but BalangodaMan makes a good point. So if we argue, we are going to quibble over a definition, just like Yapa went into paroxysms over the word “faith”. None of this changes the essential concept I feel – the god theory of creation, especially in its popular sense, is a bit hard to salvage. cheers! • BalangodaMan Mr Yapa, “What we say is that the type of the god that mentioned in the Bible does not exist. We are talking of a specific god. Not of the god concept in general you define.” Why is the god in the Bible a ‘god’ and the ‘the authority’ that administrates Karma not ‘a god’? Aren’t they both some kind of ‘higher authority acknowledged by the faithful as overseeing and controlling our lives’? To me it sounds like the difference is, the ‘higher authority’ that administrates Karma is one that you strongly endorse while the other ‘higher authority’ is a foreign one to you. That is hardly a valid reason for saying that one exists while the other does not. The disagreement is not about whether he exists or not but what his job description is. • BalangodaMan OTC ‘Reincarnation’ Thanks for the links on the research into ‘reincarnation’. I will follow these up too – it is one of the mysteries that I hope we’ll know more about in our lifetimes. Another related mystery is the ‘destiny’ of twins separated at birth, and apparent telepathy between twins. And there is also Uri Geller bending spoons in the early 1970s for which there is still no rational explanation (his subsequent career was doing standard magic tricks on the back of the credibility he had through the mysterious spoon-bending phenomenon even he could not explain). What all these mysteries have in common is that they are fascinating, and also that we do not as yet have a rational explanation as to why or how that happens. While we are in this limbo of ‘mystery’ what seems to be happening quite often is, various sects with their particular agendas attempt to ‘explain’ the phenomenon in terms of their particular belief systems, thus offering the mystery as proof of what they believe and say. Actually history, from ancient to modern, is full of such things until subsequently they are explained by quite some other (rational) explanation. As I observed earlier, how does evidence for reincarnation be evidence for Karma? • wijayapala Sony, Can this be the first scientific evidence of the “rebirth” and as an implication that there is no “god”? As OTC pointed out, the Hindus believe in both rebirth and god. • yapa Dear BalangodaMan “To me it sounds like the difference is, the â€˜higher authority’ that administrates Karma is one that you strongly endorse while the other â€˜higher authority’ is a foreign one to you. That is hardly a valid reason for saying that one exists while the other does not. The disagreement is not about whether he exists or not but what his job description is.” Exactly, as you said it is in the job description. By checking whether his job has been or being performed, you can see whether the “person” is at the work place or not . Please read his job description and his performance. We did a “work study” some time back. You can go through the “Report” if you please, starting from the comment below. http://www.groundviews.org/2009/11/25/the-transformation-of-buddhism-in-sri-lanka/comment-page-8/#comment-11228 Thanks! • Suriya There is a difference between reincarnation and rebirth. Hindu teaching is reincarnation. Buddhist teaching is rebirth. Hindus believe in an eternal soul. Buddhists do not. • SomewhatDisgusted Dear BalangodaMan, “Now doesn’t this mean that, given that the system of Karma would have been operating since the beginning of time, the people who are better off TODAY (in California and in oil rich coutries) used to be good practising Buddhists in their past lives? And those in poverty stricken countries were not? Of course that is an absurd statement â€“ but is it not the logical outcome of the operation of Karma?” Why do you feel it would be absurd? Can you clarify a bit? Is it because, by implication, they would not be Buddhist anymore and therefore, no longer have access to the system of knowledge that would lead to their emancipation? If this is the case, then Nirvana becomes unattainable, because half the world is not Buddhist! We can’t even begin to speculate on the situation in other worlds. This also leads to a dangerous conclusion, the whole world must become Buddhist? If not, then preserving the Buddhist doctrine by definition becomes unnecessary, because it might be applicable to this life, but in all likelihood, you won’t have access to it in the next. So then what’s all this fuss about? Can a Buddhist answer? • yapa Dear Dear BalangodaMan; You say: [“Actually history, from ancient to modern, is full of such things until subsequently they are explained by quite some other (rational) explanation.”] ………. Give me a minute to tell you something rational about “irrationality”. It is true that rationality is the tool of “man” (I would prefer to call “average man) which helps to “unearth” the knowledge hidden in the nature. But is there any reason for us to believe that it is the only tool by which all the beings in the universe unearth the hidden knowledge? Don’t you think there is a possibility that this notion is entangled in a “human centered trap”. Keep aside the other beings living in uncountable number of planets in the universe, (if they are at all inhabited?, I have no any knowledge,except conjecture, to be grateful to my endowment of rationality), I feel many animals living on earth itself get some of their knowledge, with some other method other than rationality. For example how does Wadukurulla (Weaver bird) learn to weave such a marvelous nest, without attending a Technical College and not following an Architecture degree in a renowned university? How can a Salmon Fish get the knowledge to go hundreds of kilometers upstream river to its birth place to lay eggs, starting from the sea. How come these “non commercial pilot” migratory birds fly thousands of kilometers and go back home safely? Which rational teacher taught them flying? Do you really believe all these “marvelous people” mentioned above uncovered these secrets of the nature through rationality? In the light of this argument do you think we can assertively reject, if some body says a “peculiar” human draws some knowledge from nature, in an irrational manner? How do I say my spanner is the only tool available in the whole world? tis-a-marvelous-world! Thanks! • yapa Dear SomewhatDisgusted; “So then what’s all this fuss about? Can a Buddhist answer?” I can answer, but as promised I will be limited to what I said until the agreed matter is finalized. (Until you answer my particular post). Thanks! • yapa Dear Suriya; [There is a difference between reincarnation and rebirth. Hindu teaching is reincarnation. Buddhist teaching is rebirth. Hindus believe in an eternal soul. Buddhists do not.] Exactly. They two different things. Thanks! • yapa Dear SomewhatDisgusted; [“3. The Theistic god â€“ He exists, but in the minds of those who believe in him.” ] I have a query about this but keep quiet until you fulfill my promise. Thanks! • wijayapala SomewhatDisgusted, I thought you were extremely busy until Tuesday. Are you “extremely busy” responding to yapa? • Sony Wijayapala I am sorry, I was thinking about the “Christian god”. (My Muslim friends tell me that their god is the same god but I know nothing about the Muslim faith.) Even though you did not ask, let me give you my argument for the passage you quoted. In the following argument the word “god” is used for the “Christian god”. Also in the following argument the word “rebirth” is used if a person (after death) is reborn as another person on Earth. Christians also believe that Earth is not hell and that the god is “up there” and everywhere. Assume that scientists (somehow) managed to establish the “rebirth” as a “fact”. (Strong evidence should suffice. For example, there is strong evidence that Black holes exist.) Then the following is a corollary. If there is rebirth then god does not exist (or you cannot believe in god). Proof: If you do not believe in god then there is nothing to prove. Therefore, suppose that you believe in god. When you die you rejoin the god or you go to hell. If there is rebirth then Earth must be hell since you did not join the god. (I.e. You are not “up there”.) But this is a contradiction. Therefore, the assumption is false. Ie. You cannot believe in god. • yapa Dear BalangodaMan ; RE: post of April 11, 2010 @ 2:33 am Primitive man identified rain, wind, lightning, cloud and many other things as “god”. BalangodaMan is doing it over all again! He! He!! Thanks! • BalangodaMan Dear SomewhatDisgusted, “This also leads to a dangerous conclusion, the whole world must become Buddhist? If not, then preserving the Buddhist doctrine by definition becomes unnecessary, because it might be applicable to this life, but in all likelihood, you won’t have access to it in the next. So then what’s all this fuss about? Can a Buddhist answer?” Yes, that is precisely what I was getting at. Nicely put 🙂 • yapa Dear Sony [If there is rebirth then god does not exist (or you cannot believe in god). Proof: If you do not believe in god then there is nothing to prove. Therefore, suppose that you believe in god. When you die you rejoin the god or you go to hell. If there is rebirth then Earth must be hell since you did not join the god. (I.e. You are not “up there”.) But this is a contradiction. Therefore, the assumption is false. Ie. You cannot believe in god.] A maser piece of new idea + argument. Thanks! • yapa Dear SomewhatDisgusted; You say; [If you challenge the secular nature of my country, I will do my duty and defend it to the best of my ability.] …………… I did so. Can you remember you ran away from that argument too. Now I cannot trace the thread. I offered Wijayapala, you and others to help me to find the thread, but none helped me out. (please see the post of April 9, 2010 @ 1:49 pm this thread. However, I keep my promise not to engage you until answer my particular question.(“Fast unto death”). Thanks! • BalangodaMan Mr Yapa. re your post of April 11, 2010 @ 7:39 pm Geeez Man, what planet are you on? The word ‘rational’ is but a mere adjective in my sentence and even in brackets. It is NOT the point that sentence is about. The word ‘rational’ in that sentence is there to further drive home the point of the whole piece. Yet you make a meal out of it! You know, if you can turn something small (but relevant) into something big and irrelevant just think how we can re-engineer your skills into something useful to both SL and the world? No one needs go hungry – we can turn sand into rice! (No, no, I wish I hadn’t said that. Now you will go write a huge piece on why sand is not small and copy and paste quotes from Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela glorifying sand and even claim that there is evidence of sand existing in SL when the Buddha visited 2,500 years ago, and therefore is proof that Karma is the ultimate truth of the meaning of life) • Hey All, !317 some comments! (thus far) This thread, like being reincarnated or perhaps samsara (for some) does not seem to ever end 🙂 Back from the weekend, will answer any specific questions directed to me in a minute – briefly, ’cause I’ve got to get ready for next week. Also, over brunch today, these topics (along with, no doubts, a few episodes of X-Files that I watched recently) gave me an idea for a movie – a comedy – gonna work on the script & try to shoot it this year. Will make a note here on this thread or at my blog when the DVD is available later this year: http://sediyfe2010.blogspot.com/2010/04/krn-comedy.html – S • BalangodaMan Sony, “If there is rebirth then Earth must be hell since you did not join the god.” But why the cynicism? Isn’t the Heaven & Hell concept in some religions analogous to the Nirvana & Life concept of Buddhism? Why do you think that it is different? I may be really thick but I see the Pleasure vs Pain dichotomy of the afterlife in every religion – in Buddhism it happens to be Nirvana (blissful eternal existence) and Life (which is suffering, which we strive to escape from through Buddhist practice). In Christianity and Islam our Nirvana is their ‘Heaven’ or ‘Paradise’. Their ‘Hell’ is what we in Buddhism call ‘Life’. Forgive me for having to spell it out like this, but there is the 1st of the 4 Noble Truths that tells me this is correct. …. the whole point is that we are supposed to be wanting to escape from here because it is a place where even experiences we think are pleasurable are actually eventually pain (dukkha). Where am I wrong? • Hi Yapa, Re: “However, it doesn’t say that the contents of all the religions or all the languages are similarly rich or have no differences. I firmly believe and its natural too that some religions have better characteristics than others. I didn’t blindly believed so and argued with evidence. If you want to believe that all the religions are same and there is no difference at all, you have all the rights to believe so.” Religions, sets of ideas & approaches to living invented by humans (in my opinion), behave differently (or, different ages – people in different eras – have been able to do different things with them – some activities closer to what I would consider good & some closer to what I would consider evil). So, yes, at any given point in time, how any given religion manifests/behaves/has an effect on the world – as created by actions of the followers of each religion at a given point in time – are different. So, yes, in that sense, I agree that not all religions are equal at a given point in time. In the past we’ve had very socially & in other means “advanced” (relative to their neighbors/other nations in the world) human civilizations/nations influenced by/with as its social/religious/intellectual foundation – all of the following religions – Ancient Egyptian Religions, Ancient Greek Religions, Ancient Roman Religions, Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, & Islam. Also, multiple social & intellectual factors – including secular thinking, deviating from the religious norms, other needs of the civilizations (military, trade) worked to both keep excesses of religions in check & also to bring the best out of the religions. At this point in time on Earth, in my opinion, the mainstream (open to all of humanity/universal, also living in peace with the secular world) versions of Buddhism, Christianity, Judaism, Islam seem to be very useful to both believers & non-believers. I am not certain about Hinduism – not sure how the caste system idea built into Hindusim is manifesting itself in contemporary India (should look that up). Also, there are many other smaller religions, & sects of the larger religions, that have various positive uses to people of this planet. I am against all fundementalist, excessively violent uses of religion – fundementalist Buddhism, Islam, Christianity, Judaism, etc. – also I am against oppression of non-believers & other secular folk by the religious. Fundementalist religious movements that are destructive towards non-believers (also the opposite – violent non-believers who attack the peaceful religious), movements that seek to control all aspects of human life/turn humans into slaves to religions (& or deny people intellectual freedom, including the freedom of worship or freedom from religion/worship) & drag the world back to the horrors of the medieval & ancient days need to be fought/battled on all fronts & destroyed. – S • BalangodaMan Sony, To add to the above (and to avoid another series of to-ing and fro-ing like a ping-pong game) I think you are applying the word ‘god’ in a tiny narrow meaning. God, in many cultures and religions is the big bearded guy, usually a white beard to mean old and wise, who sits in your judgement and decides whether you were a good boy or a bad boy. He would then send you to the appropriate place – up or down. This big guy need not be one guy, or a man. It could be a committee, or tribunal. It could even be a machine, or a computer program, or indeed it could have no physical form at all. The important key characteristic is that he is the one with the AUTHORITY to judge and sentence. In Buddhism, the authority who has this job has no physical form, but his function is the same, and we expect he is fair and just – ie. he/it will decide whether you are born again, and where, or go to enjoy eternal peace in Nirvana. We have no name for him/it. We only have the concept. So it is quite wrong to say that ‘if you believe in rebirth you cannot believe in god’. (all you can say is that this god does not have a Christian name – a very narrow definition of god. Do you know how the Inuits think of god?) • Hey All, I think I’ve replied to all questions addressed to me recently. If I missed any, plese re-post, will get to them. I am off to work on my karma/reincarnation/nirvana topics related movie idea (it’ll be ultra-low/no budget but high quality (current HD & DV technology & a practice called DIY filmmaking/ultra-indie filmmaking that exists in the US makes making movies fast & w/ out having to spend a lot of money possible), feature length (90 – 120 mins) and will make it in such a way that it does not get banned in the SL :), as far as I can tell people in SL & the gov are very sensitive to/highly defensive of anything that seems to even hint at what they would believe is an unfair criticism (or an insult, attack) of SL Buddhism/SL itslef, since the movie will be a work of entertainment working off of a set of interesting religious ideas, i think i can make it so that it does not freak out most mainstream people – believers & non-believers, most likely the way to see it will be on DVD, will post a link re: it when the movie is done). Maybe I’ll create a companion booklet or a DVD to go along with the movie, that dives into the concepts that the movie is working off of in greater detail, w/ a list of sources people can read to learn more, including this comments thread here at Gv. Will keep an eye on this thread. – S • BalangodaMan Aaah Sujewa! I was wondering if you are the film-maker! And you are! This could be the Buddhist version of ‘The Life of Brian’ or ‘Dogma’. The only problem is it will never be shown in SL. Actually worse than that – it will never be shown anywhere, after the ‘fatwas’ are pronounced. You and all of us will need to change our names and go into hiding. Fortunately I lived 30,000 years ago so what do I care? It can be about a man who abstains from all pleasures and is rewarded by being born again as a Catholic priest. Lives a pious life resisting all the temptation of the young boys and despite his celibacy making this really hard ( no pun intended) to do. He is then rewarded in his next incarnation by being taken to Paradise where he gets to enjoy the pleasures of 72 virgins many rebirths later. So the original abstention from the worldly pleasures becomes just a deferment, rather than an absolute denial. The moral of the story? The audience go away feeling good about enjoying immediate pleasure (such as going to the cinema) rather than waiting (such as waiting for it to come out on TV or DVD). Any good? LOL! • Off the Cuff Dear BalangodaMan “I am intrigued that all these reported cases involve people who lived in the past within a reasonably close geographical area to the subject. It is always a human person in the past life”. Please read the documentation at the links provided. Australia and England are thousands of miles apart. “The concept of Karma presupposes a few things that we have not noted thus far. One is that there is â€˜a finite entity’ or a â€˜finite unit of life’ that passes from birth to birth in continuity, intact”. What gave you that idea? Could you please provide a reference to your assumption? “When you die the drop goes back into the ocean and becomes one with it. New lives are born from the same (or other) oceans. In this model, there is no continuity of a â€˜life entity’. In this model the concept of Karma cannot exist”. Of course it cannot exist. You are not describing Buddhist Philosophy. It’s not possible to excise and transplant the Buddhist concept of Karma into another system that is foreign to Buddhist Philosophy. “if Buddhist practice ensured a good birth in the next life all good practising Buddhists will be born in a good place in the next birth. For example, in California with lots of weath/health/happiness ” It is the last thought at death which defines the next birth. You may have led a largely meritorious life but if your final thought just before death was that of a sin that was committed, the results emanating from that sin will take precedence in determining your next birth. The accumulated merit would remain and would be active after the result of that sin wears off. “given that the system of Karma would have been operating since the beginning of time, the people who are better off TODAY (in California and in oil rich coutries) used to be good practising Buddhists in their past lives? And those in poverty stricken countries were not? Of course that is an absurd statement â€“ but is it not the logical outcome of the operation of Karma?” Subsequently you have agreed with SomewhatDisgusted as follows ““This also leads to a dangerous conclusion, the whole world must become Buddhist? If not, then preserving the Buddhist doctrine by definition becomes unnecessary, because it might be applicable to this life, but in all likelihood, you won’t have access to it in the next. So then what’s all this fuss about? Can a Buddhist answer?” Yes, that is precisely what I was getting at. Nicely put” Not necessarily so. You seem to judge a good place by materialistic comforts. That is not how a good place is defined in Buddhist Philosophy (Read it up). Secondly whatever your belief system is, there is no escape from Karma (as defined in Buddhist Philosophy). So whether you are a Buddhist or Christian or Muslim or Pagan or Agnostic or Atheist your Conscious Actions during this life will yield a result either in this life or a future life. It is a “Universal Law” that acts whether you are a believer or not. The whole world need not be Buddhist. You can believe or not believe but a Universal Law will take its course. Hence ALL who are enjoying a good life today need not have been Buddhists in their past lives. You can be a God believing Christian or Muslim that has been leading a life largely doing meritorious acts. The belief system will not give an escape from a “Universal Law” just as your religion does not prevent you from aging or the impermanence of things or the laws of gravity. All these are common to anyone irrespective of religion. “Ok, say the past life investigators have found reasonably conclusive proof of past lives. But doesn’t that stop short of our purpose â€“ ie. whether Karma exists? No it does not. The problem is not about whether Karma (Buddhist definition) is already affecting you in the current life. It does. The problem is whether there is a carry over to the next life. Hence the concept of Rebirth is a core issue. Karma is already acknowledged in the Judicial system. Killing falls into different categories depending on the INTENT of the perpetrator. If premeditated it becomes first degree murder. If not it becomes manslaughter. If unintended it becomes accidental. If you are insane you become not guilty by reason of insanity. The different classification depends on the perpetrator’s State of Mind at the time and the RESULT is similarly proportionate. “As god, if one means â€˜whoever keeps the ledger account of our Karma and directs that our Karma is dished out appropriately in our next birth’ then Buddhists believe in the existence of god. By â€˜god’ I mean the higher authority who administrates Karma, and not necessarily being a â€˜person’ in the sense that we understand.” “If one means god who punishes or rewards us according to our good or bad deeds, then this amounts to the Buddhist belief of Karma also. Under that definition also Buddhists believe that god exists.” You have confused the HINDU definition of Karma with the Buddhist definition. These two are polls apart. In Buddhist Philosophy there is NO ADMINISTRATOR or BOOK KEEPER for a person’s Karma. No one can ABSOLVE you of your bad Karma. There are different grades of Karma (both good and bad) which has different potency in delivering a result. There are certain Karmas that are so potent that it will “Definitely” bring about a result in this life itself called “Ditta Damma Vedaniya” (literally meaning before your eyes).You need to read it up in a good Buddhist Philosophy book. “I also note that, the very people who vehemently DENY the existence of god DO acknowledge his existence unreservedly, although their rhetoric says otherwise â€“ for example if one believes in the existence of Karma and â€˜god’ is defined as the cosmic administrator of Karma (the celestial judge)”. As I have previously explained, you are basing your comments on erroneous hypothesis. You are not discussing Buddhist Philosophy but something else. You have mixed up Buddhist Philosophy with a lot of other ideas borrowed from other God believing Religions. “Another related mystery is the â€˜destiny’ of twins separated at birth, and apparent telepathy between twins.” What you have just stated is an example of what the MIND can do. Buddhist Philosophy is MIND centric. Not only twins but if you have a very close mental relationship (love is one) with another human being you can have similar experiences between the two. Sometimes both will even think of the same thing simultaneously. You can also feel any disaster which befalls the other. Some call it ESP. “in Buddhism it happens to be Nirvana (blissful eternal existence) and Life (which is suffering, which we strive to escape from through Buddhist practice)” You are totally confused about Buddhist Philosophy. The word “Nirvana” does not refer to a “place” or to “eternal existence”. That concept belongs to Christianity and probably other God based religions where you have a Heaven. Lord Buddha is not in Eternal Blissful Existence in Nirvana. He ended the cycle of rebirth and His life on Earth as the Buddha was His last. The word Nirvana literally means “END”. By stating that a person attains Nirvana you are saying that he/she will not be Born Again anywhere. If you attain Nirvana in this life it means this life would be your last. Understand the concepts that you are discussing. You are going in circles because you do not have an inkling of what you are discussing. Please read up before you post. Hope you have an idea where you went wrong now. • B-godaMan, That bit about sand is funny (even though i enjoy/find useful some of Yapa’s extra-lengthy writing & I & also others engage in same sometimes). Anyway, I think there is a seed of an Onion story in there somewhere in that sand/karma bit. Here’s the link to an Onion story about reincarnation – short & kinda funny: http://www.theonion.com/articles/area-maggot-has-urgent-news-about-reincarnation,3429/ – S • yapa Dear BalangodaMan, You say; “Geeez Man, what planet are you on? The word â€˜rational’ is but a mere adjective in my sentence and even in brackets. It is NOT the point that sentence is about. The word â€˜rational’ in that sentence is there to further drive home the point of the whole piece…………………………. I would like if you can criticize my ideas/ concepts and writing instead of criticizing me. Please tell me if there is any thing wrong in the contents of the particular article. I would like to give you following tasks, if you fulfill them honestly and objectively, and reject my ideas mentioned there, I assure you that I will never write a single word here after, until my death, even under a pseudo name. You don’t have to convince me, just convince the audience. These tasks are very direct, you do not need to go into details. Just logically disprove what I have said in my following posts. ( I would also like to note that you have not answered many of my posts specifically addressed to you with specific questions. i am almost 100% responsible for my ideas given in all my posts. You can criticize any of the objectively and send me home just breaking the arguments contained in them. As President Premadasa said “Mava maranna, mage gherithaya ghathanaya karanna epa. (Kill me if you want, do not assassinate my character.) 1. April 9, 2010 @ 3:04 pm 2.April 10, 2010 @ 10:21 am 3.April 10, 2010 @ 6:54 pm 4.April 11, 2010 @ 11:12 am 5. April 11, 2010 @ 12:20 pm 6.April 11, 2010 @ 7:39 pm I keep my promise. Please knock me out. ( This the “Orugodawaththa Vadaya” of the cyber space I suppose. Panadura vadaya was done with SomewhatDisgusted) Thanks! • Sony Balangoda Man I am sorry if I have hurt your feelings. No cynicism intended. Once I was invited by a group of Christians who wanted know about the Buddhism. They were happy (making jokes etc.) until I introduced the SamÌˆsara concept. The reaction was outright violent. I told them that I cannot say for sure that there is an after life to calm things down. Later, I thought about why they reacted so strongly to SamÌˆsara. Then I realized that the whole God concept breaks down if there is a SamÌˆsara. • Sony Balangoda Man I am sorry if I have hurt your feelings. No cynicism intended. Once I was invited by a group of Christians who wanted know about the Buddhism. They were happy (making jokes etc.) until I introduced the Samsara concept. The reaction was outright violent. I told them that I cannot say for sure that there is an after life to calm things down. Later, I thought about why they reacted so strongly to Samsara. Then I realized that the whole God concept breaks down if there is a Samsara. • yapa Dear Sujewa Ekanayake and All; You say if loosely taken Buddhist reincarnation/karma / nirvana can be taken as faiths. I showed if finely/subtlety taken they cannot be called so. ( and in Buddhist literature it has a separate and different name: Akarawathi Sraddha) Tell me frankly, which would you prefer? To take things loosely or to take them finely/ subtly /seriously? If you prefer taking things loosely, you may continue calling these Buddhist “concepts” as faiths. If you prefer taking things finely/ subtly /seriously, please call them in the given name in Buddhist literature, that is” Akarawathi Sraddha”. Who are you to change a name which has been there by the same name for a couple of thousand years without harming anybody? On the other hand what is the big idea(purpose) behind it? Thanks! • yapa Dear Sujewa Ekanayake [Here’s the link to an Onion story about reincarnation â€“ short & kinda funny:] Anagarika Dharmapale Thuma had advised our people with the sane thing before that Maggot. (Many have not identified the “power in Buddhism, very soon I am going to deal with it. Believe me, many of the miracles, Somewhat Disgusted mockingly demanded are possible) Await Dhamma! Thanks! • yapa correction … not “sane” thing but same thing. Thanks! • yapa Dear BalangodaMan, [You know, if you can turn something small (but relevant) into something big and irrelevant just think how we can re-engineer your skills into something useful to both SL and the world?] Please await. Thanks! • Hi Yapa, Re: “You say if loosely taken Buddhist reincarnation/karma / nirvana can be taken as faiths. I showed if finely/subtlety taken they cannot be called so. ( and in Buddhist literature it has a separate and different name: Akarawathi Sraddha)” Sounds good. Re: “Tell me frankly, which would you prefer? To take things loosely or to take them finely/ subtly /seriously?” Re: Generally, as an agnostic, I take all religious concepts loosely. Re: “If you prefer taking things loosely, you may continue calling these Buddhist “concepts” as faiths. If you prefer taking things finely/ subtly /seriously, please call them in the given name in Buddhist literature, that is” Akarawathi Sraddha”.” Will have to find out more about the “Akarawathi Sraddha” concept. Re: “Who are you to change a name which has been there by the same name for a couple of thousand years without harming anybody? On the other hand what is the big idea(purpose) behind it?” Any individual is free to think about any religion, and discuss it, as they see fit. Doing so will not “harm” the religion, as you fear, “harm” or destruction or changes to religions can/are mostly done by the followers themselves, not by outside observers. There is no big idea or purpose behind using the term faith to identify items in Buddhism that, appear to me, are quite possibly speculative items. I am going to keep calling karma, reincarnation, & nirvana faith based items in Buddhism until such time that I may be able to verify that they are actual/real (who knows, could happen). I am glad that, for yourself, you find those items to be real/most likely not speculative items. – S • SomewhatDisgusted “This thread, like being reincarnated or perhaps samsara (for some) does not seem to ever end” This was the exact thought that was going through my head 🙂 Yapa, your real genius lies in making me live through several cycles of rebirth till the message finally got through my thick skull. Anyway, this whole thing can be brought to a swift conclusion if we simply redefine the English language and introduce a new word to it – “AkaravathiShradda”. Possible dictionary definitions: Faith – Strong belief in the absence of evidence. AkaravathiShradda – Strong belief in the absence of evidence, but better than mere faith. Yapa, would this satisfy you? Could this be my own path to Nibbana? • yapa Dear Sujewa Ekanayake; [Religions, sets of ideas & approaches to living invented by humans] Not all religions, Buddhism is an exception. I am going to deal with this soon. Thanks! • yapa Dear SomewhatDisgusted; [Possible dictionary definitions: Faith â€“ Strong belief in the absence of evidence. AkaravathiShradda â€“ Strong belief in the absence of evidence, but better than mere faith.] Now you are talking sense. Thanks! I am fully satisfied. May Triple Gems Bless you too, irrespective of others! • Hey BalangodaMan, Re: “This could be the Buddhist version of â€˜The Life of Brian’ or â€˜Dogma’. The only problem is it will never be shown in SL.” Nah, my movie is not going to be anywhere near as controversial as those two movies – it’s a sweet philosophical comedy. And, the future is a very long time period, things/movies that cannot be shown in SL now may play there w/ out a problem in the future. Also, DVDs & streaming from the web can go almost anywhere, even to the most restrictive places. Re: “Actually worse than that â€“ it will never be shown anywhere, after the â€˜fatwas’ are pronounced. You and all of us will need to change our names and go into hiding. Fortunately I lived 30,000 years ago so what do I care?” Fatwa type religious attempts to stop art/entertainment rarely works – I am not afraid of censorship attemps (there are many ways to battle & defeat them) – that’s why I use my real name here. Also, this stuff won’t be an issue ’cause my movie that will deal w/ the concepts of karma, reincarnation, nirvana will handle those topics tastefully – it will be a positive addition to the discourse & not something that the believers will have to fear. I am not sure if you’ve seen “Groundhog Day” or “Being John Malcovich” – both movies deal w/ ideas similar to karma, next life, etc. w/ out being too explicit about what they are talking about (the original ideas that may have inspired the ideas in the movies) – also two entertaining, well made, creative movies (specially Malcovich, even though it is a somewhat of a depressing movie too). Gotta get some of my older movies out on DVD this year (there’s like 4 features that I still have not released on DVD yet, some should be out before the middle of this year – will mention their availability at my blogs when they are ready). Also, life is tough, I wouldn’t try to get believers in any religion upset just for some entertainment/art related project (to save some lives of real people, protect freedom of speech, sure, but not merely for entertainment). Anyway, life is hard, people need their religions to make it through (in many cases). I worked out the basic plot for my karma, etc. related movie earlier today, trust me, the believers (Buddhists, Hindus, etc.) have nothing to fear from this project. – S • yapa Hey, [Anyway, this whole thing can be brought to a swift conclusion if we simply redefine the English language and introduce a new word to it â€“ “AkaravathiShradda”.] I might get the credit for this. Does anybody feel jealous? He! He!! • yapa Dear Sujewa Ekanayake; [I am glad that, for yourself, you find those items to be real/most likely not speculative items.] This is an incorrect conclusion of yours about my thinking. Thanks! • Yapa, Interesting that you mentioned Anagarika Dharmapala’s name in a brief comment above. I was thinking that your brand of ultra-patriotic (SL patriotism = Sinhala Buddhism, standing against all “foreing” things, etc. – basically a very conservative Sinhala Buddhist outlook), militant (still non violent) Buddhism has a shade of Dharmapala’s activism in it (read about Dharmapala at a temple a few years back). One huge difference between Dharmapala’s time & ours is that Sri Lanka is now independent, thus an excessively militant stance towards ideas & things from other countries is no longer necessary (specially since SL is an international country – meaning, for its survival & success, SL must deal with other countries in trade, military affairs, etc.). Also, we could say that there are two Sri Lanka’s now – the classic/traditional Sri Lanka – the island itself, & the greater Sri Lanka – consisting of the island & the worldwide SL diaspora. This is why, though I am fully in favor of SL remaning independent & becoming self-sufficent in all areas, also getting way out of poverty, debt, becoming a source of all manner of goodness for the world, I do not approach non-SL ideas, concepts, people with the assumption that they are most likely hostile to the interests of SL. However, having most likely lived through decades of war in SL, I am sure there are defensible reasons as to why you seem to appear hostile towards outside of SL ideas, people, etc. Or this could entirely be an incorrect impression I’ve gotten just by reading your comments – many dimensions of an individual can be lost when one presents self through the dimensional-limited medium of internet comments. – S • yapa Dear Off the Cuff ; RE: Your post of April 12, 2010 @ 12:24 am A Master piece! Excellent!! People of this forum will be able to experience Buddhist Miracles soon. “Kasakarayayas” have come. The procession is following! Expect fire works. Thanks! • yapa Sujewa Ekanayake; All the best! for your new venture. • Yapa, What are these vadaya things: ” “Orugodawaththa Vadaya” of the cyber space I suppose. Panadura vadaya…” Items from Buddhist history? Famous debates perhaps? – S • yapa Dear Sujewa Ekanayake; RE: your post of April 12, 2010 @ 7:19 am I haven’t said that I accept all his ideas. I just picked the same idea said by your maggot. Why do you thik it is good when it is said by the maggot and go furious when said by Anagarika Dharmapala Thuma? PRECONCEIVED PREJUDICE? Please keep in mind I do not throw stones(words) at mango trees randomly to pick a (particular) mango fruit. I am very specific about my usage of words and cat means cat only, and nothing else. Therefore, don’t jump into hasty conclusions about what I say. What I say is what I mean, nothing else. It is “yathavesi Thathakari” Very soon most will understand that their relative understanding of the world is is not the real base of understanding and they would realize that all of us are just actors in a drama as Shakespeare said. I f your mind had some training in Buddhist practices, you wouldn’t have jumped into above said hasty conclusion. Thanks! • yapa correction…. Not “yathavesi Thathakari”, it should be “Yathavadi Thathakari”. Thanks! • yapa Dear Sujewa Ekanayakeand All Perceive and accept things “as it is”, not the way you want (not after” SANKHARA”) that is the way to experience Truth/Reality. Thanks! • SomewhatDisgusted Dear BalangodaMan, “Isn’t the Heaven & Hell concept in some religions analogous to the Nirvana & Life concept of Buddhism?” You clearly know your comparative religion. Might I ask whether this is your speciality? I’ve certainly not looked into this at the depth you have and I’m really tickled. I think we’d all benefit greatly from your thoughts. “Do you know how the Inuits think of god?” I just looked it up.Very interesting, although I’d like to hear your own take on it. Unfortunately, the more religious types might not wish to see the greater pattern and the commonalities they have with other belief systems. Well, suck it up, fellow hairless apes! • yapa Dear All; If I am to summarize the whole argumentation I had with SomewhatDisgusted, as the final conclusion: Faith in Christianity God and similar… = Amoolika Sraddha “Faith” in Buddhism = Akarawathi Sraddha. I have explained these two in the discussion under The Transformation of Buddhism. Thanks! • yapa Dear SomewhatDisgusted; Can you remember I mentioned as follows in a post in this threat? [” These Mathematicians are so mischievous that they even fight over a simple amount such as 0.00000000000000001â€³.] It must be the same discipline that made me fight you to the end. Thanks! • Yapa, Re: “Why do you thik it is good when it is said by the maggot and go furious when said by Anagarika Dharmapala Thuma?” The Onion is a satirical/comic newspaper, and no, I am not furious about what the maggot said or what you said re: what the maggot said, what Dharmapala said, what the Buddha said, etc. I thought it was funny/interesting that The Onion even had a story that used reincarnation in it. My other comments re: what I perceive to be (sometimes) your apporach to things that come from outside SL at this point in time seems to me similar to a kind of an attitude that Sri Lankans/Sinhalese may have held during the period in which they were struggling against colonialism (the direct, controlling the land & people through force, pre-independence kind), people of Dharmapala’s time. However, I also understand that many in SL may feel that those times are not over (and they are right re: some things – since a civil war just ended a year ago in SL). However, since direct colonialism is over & has been over for over 60 years or so now, I do not think it is necessary to react to all non-SL originated things as things that may be hostile towards SL independence/freedom/culture, etc. Again, those items is para 2 have nothing to do w/ the Onion article. I was referencing other posts I’ve seen, written by you in the past. Really, this is not a big deal, people have different styles of communication – no huge deal. Also, probably very easy to be misunderstood when using comments sections. OK, time for sleep over here, will check back on this thread tomorrow. – S • Yapa, Re: “Perceive and accept things “as it is”, not the way you want (not after” SANKHARA”) that is the way to experience Truth/Reality.” Sounds good. Trick is being able to accurately perceive what things are “as they are”, since human perception alters what is seen in relation to what the needs, etc. of the observer may be. So, tought to do, but a good way to go if it can be done. – S • Yapa, Re: “All the best! for your new venture.” Thanks, looking forward to writing the movie & getting it made & out to people to see. – S • yapa Dear All; Do you know what I did by posting Annie Besant story and Dharmapala Thuma story? I checked the levels of prejudice in your minds. I did the same experimentation several times with SomewhatDisgusted. Prejudiced minds are prawn to defeat. Thanks! • And to everyone in SL, Happy New Year’s Week! – S • yapa An addition……….. Prejudiced minds are prawn to defeat and I was sure that I would not be easily defeated. Thanks! • Yapa, Re: “Prejudiced minds are prawn to defeat.” I am pretty sure that you are the only person in this comments section who sees a discussion re: several political and then religious items as contests/battles where there are winners and losers. For me at least, this is merely a discussion, there are no winners or losers, but some interesting ideas have been exchanged. Also, all minds are somewhat prejudiced – or approach situations with a certain understanding & then adjust according to what happens. And, most people are just working off of the actual comments themsleves – the contents & the manner in which they are expressed. You are probably the only one who attempt to guess the nature of possible ideas held by others through indirect, secretive methods (using a quote for something other than its obvious & necessary use). I find the searching for victory & or defeat in a philosophical/religious discussion to be child-like (the subject, specially matters of faith, religion, makes it unlikely that there are going to be winners & losers in the discussion) . But, you may have experienced this discussion as something else – perhaps a contest between civilizations, Buddhism vs. other ideas, etc. As Woody Allen would say, “whatever works”. Regardless, a useful discussion overall. – S • Off the Cuff Dear SomewhatDisgusted / BalangodaMan, “Isn’t the Heaven & Hell concept in some religions analogous to the Nirvana & Life concept of Buddhism?” You clearly know your comparative religion”. Your endorsement of BalangodaMan’s interpretation of Heaven as analogous to Nirvana means that both of you have no understanding of the concept of Nirvana in Buddhist Philosophy. Both of you assume Nirvana is a place. It is NOT a place. It is not even a state of mind. Nirvana is a Sanskrit word the Pali equivalent is Nibbana. This is the definition of its meaning. Nirvana (NirÃºvaÃºna) (nÅ’r-vâ€ž1ne, ner-) n. [Sanskrit, nirvÆ’Nam, a blowing out, extinction, nirvana: nis-, nir-, out, away + vÆ’ti, it blows. Pali, nibbana; Jap., nehan] If a person achieves Nirvana, the ONLY period that he enjoys the state of happiness (as a living being) which accompanies the Knowledge of realising Nirvana is the remainder of his life on Earth. Subsequent to death there is an absolute NULL. Probably you might understand the concept with an analogy that the Buddha used. Consider a Fire burning in front of you. As long as material for burning is supplied to that fire it will continue to burn. When the material is no longer available the FLAME will extinguish. You cant say that the flame went anywhere. It just CEASED to EXIST. The FLAME in that Fire is analogous to LIFE. The Material that was available for burning is analogous to KARMA. Hope I have been able to clear the concept to you. • SomewhatDisgusted Dear Off-the-cuff, “Your endorsement of BalangodaMan’s interpretation of Heaven as analogous to Nirvana means that both of you have no understanding of the concept of Nirvana in Buddhist Philosophy.” Here was an earlier quote of my own on Nirvana. – “The only thing such a theory requires is to keep the end goal in mind â€“ release from the cycle of rebirth â€“ in other words â€“ extinction. The ideal Buddhist world, is one in which all life forms are extinct.” I believe it matches your definition exactly? The reason I endorsed BalangodaMan’s comment is not because of his accuracy with the exact Theravada-Buddhist description. When doing a comparative analysis, precision is necessarily lost. But it’s the general pattern that he’s drawing our attention to. So we shouldn’t get hung up on words, the entire purpose is to notice the pattern. You say that “In Buddhist Philosophy there is NO ADMINISTRATOR or BOOK KEEPER for a person’s Karma.” That’s not his point I think. The point is, there IS a system of arbitration, which dictates where the rebirth occurs. People who’ve done good deeds are born in good places and vice versa. How does this happen? Buddhist doctrine holds that it is due to the state of mind at death – “maraneeya chiththaya”. But does that not necessarily imply, that the state of mind at death, somehow determines what is a good place or bad place and actually makes a value judgement? Whether that judgement is fully automatic, or done by a god, does not change the fact that the judgement occurs. I believe this kind of understanding gives us humans a unifying experience. We humans are not as different as we would like to imagine. Biologists absolutely shredded our conceit that we were special in comparison to other animals. Yes, we are special, but not that special. Like other animals, humans are constantly running a mini-simulation of the universe around them in their heads. The only thing that differs between animals, is the accuracy of that simulation. We humans run the best universe simulation software in the world. (See Dawkins: Selfish gene) But a simulation necessarily impairs our thinking with irrationality – that is so we can reduce complexity. Similarly, Anthropologists shatter the delusion that our cultural beliefs etc. are different. They are different, but the recurrent concepts are the same. This is why Science stands you in awe of our understanding and our complete lack of it, both at the same time. • BalangodaMan OTC, Mr Yapa, Wijayapala, Sraddha/Faith If it is called a different name the question is HOW it is different? This can only be answered if we know how did THE PERSON PROPOSING THE IDEA differentiate it from the other? Consider this: How do people who believe that Jesus is the son of god know that? Because he said so. How do people who believe that Mohammed is the messenger of god know that? Because he said so. How do people who believe that the Buddha became enlightened under a bo tree know that? Because he said so. (and each was followed by miracles to persuade the audience that it must be true) How come the Buddhist argument in support of No 3 above is of a higher status of believability than 1 and 2? Isn’t there a pattern to this in whatever religion? Try this. Christian scriptures say you will only go to heaven through Jesus. ie. otherwise you go to hell. The Q’ran says non-believers will go to hell. The Buddhists say only Buddhist practice will lead to nirvana. IOW, only the believers (of whatever religion, their followers) say will be saved 🙂 Everyone else is DOOMED 🙁 Why is any of these more believable than any other? How does Buddhists belief be more ‘true’ than any other? • BalangodaMan OTC, The question of whether nirvana means ‘blissful eternal existence’ or ‘ultimate end of life’ is completely unimportant if you consider the following. Is nirvana, as in ‘ultimate end of life’, the result Buddhists actually desire? To test the validity of this, ask any person whether they would have preferred it if they were NEVER born? Also, ask any person who is elderly or is terminally ill whether, given the choice, they would like to be born again? Search your own feelings on this, honestly. (I know what my own answer would be, and I make no apologies for it). • BalangodaMan Hey, following my last post I had this great idea! Supposing something suddenly happens (like a massive collision with a large asteroid) that makes life on Earth completely unviable. Earth becomes like Venus, nothing can live there, not even amoeba. Or (better) the Earth is sucked into the Sun. Then no one will be born again. Do many people actually desire this? If not, does that not indicate that most people would like life to go on? • BalangodaMan On nirvana and its desirability/achievability … A couple more empirical tests. (1) why not have a national referendum on whether, as a nation, we individually desire not to be reborn? (to be valid people will need to answer this without religious influence) (2) if scientists (or medical research) devised a 100% accurate process whereby on administering it you will be guaranteed that you will not be reborn, available to anyone for free, how many people would queue up to have that treatment? (3) if such a treatment was made compulsory what would be the reaction of the masses? I’m not suggesting that any of the above tests is desirable, practical or physically possible. But they are hypothetical scenarios to MEASURE/EXPLORE what real people KNOW they really want. (as opposed to what our ancient scriptures tell us we SHOULD want). • yapa Dear Sujewa Ekanayake; “I do not think it is necessary to react to all non-SL originated things as things that may be hostile towards SL independence/freedom/culture, etc.” Yes, for sure. Thanks! • yapa [“Supposing something suddenly happens (like a massive collision with a large asteroid) that makes life on Earth completely unviable. Earth becomes like Venus, nothing can live there, not even amoeba. Or (better) the Earth is sucked into the Sun. Then no one will be born again. Do many people actually desire this? If not, does that not indicate that most people would like life to go on?”] ……….. Such questions are thousand times asked and answered common questions in Buddhism. This shows that your unfamiliarity of Buddhism. If you want more profound questions and answers in Buddhism, please read old Buddhist literature classic known as Milinda Prashnaya” or Milinda Question. Hundreds of such question were answered. Excerpt a very few possibilities I didn’t find contradictions through out the book. Almost all probable questions of the type asked by you are answered there. It is available on line too. Here is a link. you will get all the basic questions solved. http://www.sacred-texts.com/bud/milinda.htm Thanks! • yapa above post is addressed to BalangodaMan. • yapa I would like to recommend the above to Sujewa Ekanayake and SomewhatDisgusted too. • Off the Cuff Dear BalangodaMan, “Try this. Christian scriptures say you will only go to heaven through Jesus. ie. otherwise you go to hell. The Q’ran says non-believers will go to hell. The Buddhists say only Buddhist practice will lead to nirvana.” OK, lets have a critical look. Think about it. You have actually stated not a likeness of the God believing religions to Buddhist Philosophy but the difference. This is the reason why you need to understand the concept before doing a comparative analysis. Christianity – Christians are required to live by a certain code. For simplicity lets say that’s the Ten Commandments. Suppose that you are a NON Christian but one who lives by the Ten Commandments. Would you have Salvation? The answer would be an emphatic NO as you are not going through Jesus. Islam – Same argument applies. If you are a NON believer but still lives by the Quaran you will not have Salvation. Why? By reason of being a NON believer. Buddhism – Suppose you are a NON Buddhist but you live by the code of conduct as defined in Buddhism. Would you attain Nirvana? Yes definitely. Buddhist Philosophy describes Universal Laws about Life just as Laws of Gravity or Physics describes nature of things. Irrespective of whomever you are and whatever you are Universal Laws are all encompassing and keeps to its own course. Comply with those Laws and Nirvana is within your reach you don’t have to be a Buddhist at all. Buddhist Philosophy is SELF centric. NO ONE CAN MAKE YOU ACHIEVE NIRVANA, ONLY YOU YOURSELF CAN. • OTC, Yapa, Wijayapala (or the “Nirvana is real” camp/THE BELIEVERS or The Knowers :), Life is preferable to death or non-existence (preferably life under great living conditions, or at least with a chance to create great living conditions for self & others) except in certain (hopefully very small in number, compared to the billions of others) cases where living is too painful physically (i am generally against suicide, so, the pain would have to be probably incredibly intense & w/ absolutely no hope of escape in order for me to remotely come close to considering the recommendation of ending a human life). So, if Nirvana does turn out to be a real aspect of the universe (meaning that karma & reincarnation also would have to be real) – & individuals are able to condition themselves through Eight Fold Path & mediation & other methods reportedly recommended by the Buddha in order to achieve Nirvana – to be never be born again – I would stay very far away from that path. Of the two most likely speculative/not real items (nirvana and re-birth), I would go with rebirth. Because life is, or can be for many, generally good. So, what this discussion has made clear to me once again (after I initially rejected Buddhism when I was in my mid-late teens), that the Buddha’s path/religion is definitely not for me, ’cause I like life, living, etc. However, there are elements of Buddhism – the eight fold path as a starting point for responsible living, meditation, focus on developing the mind, positive contributions made by the Buddhist order & followers to Sri Lanka – that are positive (or that I find positive & useful). So, the debate was whether karma, reincarnation, & nirvana are real/actual elements/condition to be found in this universe or possible of achieving in this universe. My position has been, & still is – pending further investigation & new information – that those items are speculative/not real/faith based elements in Buddhism. Let’s say I am proven wrong at some point (most likely it would have to happen by/through myself for me to accept it) & that karma, reincarnation, nirvana turns out to be real. Would I want nirvana or would I want to be re-born under awsome conditions? I would want re-birth – eternal re-birth until the end of all universes (which may never happen, so, eternal re-birth under awesome conditions). So, the path of the Buddha/Buddhism is definitely not for me – given, in its SL/Therevada variety – the ultimate goal is Nirvana/never being born again anywhere in any form (even though, as I said, there are positive elements in Buddhism & I appreciated positive contributions made to the world by Buddhists). Just as the faith based elements (or, if Yapa prefers, the Sraddha based elements 🙂 in Buddhism are questionable (as to whether they actually exist), so are the faith based elements of all the religions that I’ve ever herad of (elements such as gods, heavens, etc.). So, even though religions are able to have a positive effect on people, nations from time to time, I see no great reason for me to follow one. Thus, back to where things started for me, remaining secular & agnostic (not everything about the universe is known, new facts may come to light in the future), supporting freedom from religion as well as freedom of religion (i am cool w/ religions being perceived as a survival tool invented by humans, also a part of the human creative & intellectual heritage – thus info about them being preserved – through practice by some or through records), and, most importantly, supporting work & thinking that makes living on earth a positive/high quality experience – creating excellent living conditions – for all humans. – S • yapa Dear All; A RATIONAL WAY TO UNDERSTAND TRANSCENDENTAL CONCEPTS OF BUDDHISM There is critical analyzes, hair splitting arguments going in circles about “Buddhist Philosophy” and some of its integral components, still it seems that no consensus is near. The common answer in Buddhism for this is that the realities of Buddhism has to be realized through the the prescribed path by the Buddhism and also that “AKARAWATHI SRADDHA” is a prerequisite. This way it can be said in the conventional way that due to lack of AKARAWATHI SRADDHA and also due to taking other paths other than the prescribed one as the reason for non realization of realities in Buddhism and thereby the consensus . Just as the way who opposes the notion that a particular fruit is tasty and says it is poisonous, does not like to taste the fruit to verify the truth, I feel the answer above is not effective for somebody who oppose to accept Buddhism as true. Therefore, I tried to formulate a rational explanation, however, I am not sure it will make a good impact on them. However, I will try. For this, I will make use the facts arguments and conclusions arrived at by me in my posts of April 10, 2010 @ 10:21 am and April 11, 2010 @ 7:39 pm. I consider them as prerequisite to understand the final conclusion I am going to arrive at. To summarize the the facts in the above two posts; 1. Human knowledge achieved through sensory perception and rationality by humans are relative, system specific and not absolute. 2. There are enough evidence to believe that some of the animals obtain some knowledge in some forms not similar to rationality, which is the main tool of human knowledge. Now consider, we want to acquire the knowledge gained by the Salmon fish to go to his birth place from sea for laying eggs. can we obtain that knowledge through mere arguments? My notion is not possible. Why it is not possible? That is because, the knowledge obtained is ‘ tool’ or “methodology” specific. Salmons’ knowledge of upstream path is obtainable only by a Salmon or for us (humans) only by becoming a Salmon (if possible). There is no other way. (Think whether there is a possibility for your self.). Same thing is applicable to the weaver birds knowledge and also to the migratory birds. Our rationality or its tool are incapable of obtaining “knowledges” obtained from using another tool or a methodology. You cannot acquire Salmons’ or weaver birds or migratory bird through critical analyzes or hair splitting arguments. Will you go in circles this way to obtain such knowledge. Can Groundviews initiate such a discussion writing and publishing an article on that topic. If so will you participate? Tell me frankly. I think your answer in “no” because I think it is nothing more than absurd. Now think about absolute knowledge/ absolute truth(s)/reality. We have already shown that rationality is not capable of achieving them. We have already shown that the human knowledge acquire through rationality is system specific and relative. Now consider about the zenith goal of Buddhism. It is the realization of “PARAMARTHA ASTHYAYA” (or achieving Nibbana.). Ir has been already shown that (knowledge of ) reality cannot be achieved through rationality, hence same is applicable to “PARAMARTHA ASTHYAYA” or hence the Nirvana. Hence Knowledge of Nirvana cannot be obtained through rationality, hence through critical analyzes or arguments (or Logic, which is a tool of rationality) Similarly, karma and Buddhist reincarnation are considered as transcendental things, and hence the same way knowledge about them too cannot be obtained through rationality tool. Hence I think critical analyzes, hair splitting arguments going in circles are futile and effective methods of realizing transcendental karma/reincarnation/nirvana in Buddhist Philosophy. Therefore, I would like to suggest to all who are engaged in the rebate to choose the appropriate method or the tool for this particular type of knowledge. Though there is a prescribed “method” in Buddhism for obtaining this knowledge, you might again feel that it is also as”tasting the poisonous fruit. Therefore, I will try to justify “the method” or the Path in a rational manner in the next post. Your views are appreciated. Thanks! • yapa correction….. instead of “circles are futile and effective” it should be circles are futile and NOT effective Thanks! • Off the Cuff Dear BalangodaMan, “The question of whether nirvana means â€˜blissful eternal existence’ or â€˜ultimate end of life’ is completely unimportant if you consider the following. Is nirvana, as in â€˜ultimate end of life’, the result Buddhists actually desire? To test the validity of this, ask any person whether they would have preferred it if they were NEVER born? Also, ask any person who is elderly or is terminally ill whether, given the choice, they would like to be born again?” I can see your confusion. If the answer is in the negative a person would not be a Buddhist in the first place. If a person who disbelieves in Gravity jumps from a Skyscraper assuming He would stay suspended in the Air without falling to the ground below, the RESULT of the operation of the Law of Gravity would not take into consideration that person’s belief or disbelief. Buddhism states some Universal Laws about Life. Your belief or disbelief has no effect on the RESULT of the operation of those Laws. It’s not open to a vote. Just like the Laws of Gravity is not open to a vote in deciding its operation. • BalangodaMan OTC, “Would you attain Nirvana? Yes definitely.” You see, you illustrate exactly the point I am trying to make (I hope I make my point in an objective and inquiring way, not to be confrontational). What I have tried to show is that you say ‘definitely’ because a wise person who lived in ancient times, who we all have a great deal of respect for, said so to his people of that time. They, in those days, required a lesser weight of proof than we do today. Similarly, Jesus and Mohammed (and thousands of other sages of our ancient past) said similar things to their people of their time. They were all genuine in their intent as far as we know. And the followers were happy to hear what they heard. Today we live in OUR time – a different time. For example I require a lot more than someone’s ‘claims’ when I get an email saying I had won$30,000,000! I do not swallow that wholesale, even though that is exactly what I would like to hear if it was true! (I’m sure you get these emails too, daily)

I am not saying that any of these sages (‘religious leaders’) of the past set out to trick people. But your response is about the RELATIVE authority of what is recorded that the Buddha had said in comparison with the other sages – Jesus, Mohammed, and I shall add David Koresh, Jim Jones, L Ron Hubbard (the list is too long). And my question is, what proof did he offer his followers that was MORE than that offered by the other religious leaders to their followers? We need to know this if we are to conclude that it is safe to believe ONE MORE THAN THE OTHERS.

(My point in the original post was not about whether Muslims are allowed to practice Buddhism, or vice versa, which you seem to have misunderstood)

When Madame Blavatky reintroduced Buddhism to Ceylon in the 1880s she claimed she was communicating telepathically with a Tibetan Buddhist monk who was many centuries old. His name she said is Coot Hoomi (Google it, also spelt Koot Hoomi). (She had already written many books on the occult, having claimed her expertise as an ‘occultist’. Later, Hitler was one of her ardent fans). Now, this is important – she was exposed as a fraud by the scientific community of the time. Those who wanted to believe her did believe her regardless.

I suppose we will now get into a debate on the meaning of the expression ‘definitely’ (as used by you). We both grew up in Buddhist families – however, you are ‘definite’ while I am not. I’m trying to learn why?

(I’ll need to take a week off from work to keep up with this debate ! which is getting more intriguing by the minute)

• Off the Cuff

Dear Sujewa E,

1. “I would want re-birth â€“ eternal re-birth until the end of all universes (which may never happen, so, eternal re-birth under awesome conditions”

2. “the eight fold path as a starting point for responsible living, meditation, focus on developing the mind, positive contributions made by the Buddhist order & followers to Sri Lanka â€“ that are positive (or that I find positive & useful)”

Item 1 above is not compatible with item 2

Your Belief or Disbelief wont stop the operation of Universal Laws. If you practice item 2 the end result of that practice would be the opposite of 1. But I would recommend you to carry on practicing item 2 in blissful ignorance.
I refer you to my post of April 12, 2010 @ 11:29 pm to BalangodaMan.

“So, the debate was whether karma, reincarnation, & nirvana are real/actual elements/condition to be found in this universe or possible of achieving in this universe. My position has been, & still is â€“ pending further investigation & new information â€“ that those items are speculative/not real/faith based elements in Buddhism.”

Dear Sujewa, it is strange to see a person who sought to explore whether Rebirth and Karma was real or speculative and Faith based, refusing to discuss the copious Scientific Evidence placed before this Forum and coming to arbitrary conclusions.

• BalangodaMan

Mr Yapa,

I am a big fan of your writing. I wait in great anticipation for each instalment 🙂

You speak of the path to a destination. You say the No 128 bus goes to Galle. It may well do. But if I don’t want to go to Galle why would I want to get on it? You may know the No 128 bus inside and out. You may know how to fix it if it breaks down. You may have a licence to drive one if the driver falls ill. All these things are interesting. However, shouldn’t we ask the passengers where they really want to go first?

This is why I asked the question – does the average person want to be here, or not be here?

Sujewa has given his honest answer. Mine is identical. Life is a precious gift and I try to ‘feel’ my gratitude by making my life as useful as possible, and I encourage others to do the same whenever I can. I have met many people in my life but (except for two dear friends whose personal choice I respect) I have never met anyone who honestly feel or claim they don’t want to be here.

• Heshan

Somewhat Disgusted:

1. Einstein believed human knowledge was extremely limited. For him, this was the great “mystery” of the Universe (what we don’t know affirms the limit of our knowledge). Therefore,you could say that Einstein indirectly affirmed the common theistic belief: humans are unable to grasp the full complexity of God, because it is the highest category of knowledge possible. On the other hand, this category of knowledge is all-encompassing – it is the “mystery” that binds the Universe together. It is the “secret” of life, apart from lifeless atoms and molecules which actually have no life of their own.

2. Think of a line. The line extends infinitely far in both directions… you don’t need to prove that the line exists infinitely far in both directions to prove that the line itself exists. In the same way, a God-believer does not need proof that God has existed forever to assume that God exists, period.

3. Well, you have to ask, is human knowledge is limited to whatever is derived from experience? Or are there other forms of knowledge possessed by humans that are not derived from experience? For the theist, knowledge of God exists a priori. The way I see it is that human society from its most primitive inception has believed in God. On the other hand, the evolution of human society – e.g. from caves to pure agriculture to cities – also reflects a certain increase in intelligence. If belief in God was really a childish activity, why was it simply not thrown out in accordance with the so-called progress of man?

• BalangodaMan

Dear OTC,

You are inadvertently arguing for, and not against.

If you follow Sujewa’s post which explains it much better than I have – to be reborn may well be an undisputable FACT (let’s say it is). The point is (and this may shock you!) you will find that this is what most people would really want. Unless of course you successfully convince them that they should not want to be reborn. If I follow you correctly, the Buddhist view is, being reborn is the DEFAULT condition. Lots of people will be happy with that in my view (and need do nothing, therefore). So when I read that 70% of SL population are Buddhist I always wonder if that statistic is true. Do 70% of people in SL actually do not wish to be here?

I think not.

• Heshan

Dear Yapa:

“Proof: If you do not believe in god then there is nothing to prove. Therefore, suppose that you believe in god. When you die you rejoin the god or you go to hell. If there is rebirth then Earth must be hell since you did not join the god. (I.e. You are not “up there”.) But this is a contradiction. Therefore, the assumption is false. Ie. You cannot believe in god.] ”

Most people who believe in heaven/hell, e.g. Christians, don’t also believe in reincarnation. One has only one life on Earth.

• Off the Cuff

Dear BalangodaMan,

You did a comparison and I showed you that there was no comparison possible. Like can be compared to like, so you should take aspects of the religions that you are trying to compare that are similar if your intent is to show similarities as you attempted. I elaborated my reasons by the following,
Buddhism â€“ Suppose you are a NON Buddhist but you live by the code of conduct as defined in Buddhism. Would you attain Nirvana? Yes definitely.

Selecting the last two sentences to the exclusion of the first makes it an out of context quote and hence distort the meaning conveyed.

I see that you have a Buddhist background but you do not have a grasp of the Buddhist concepts that you are trying to discuss and compare.

I have purposely set the tone of my posts to a non confrontational one, as I recognize a sincere desire amongst the participants to learn from each other. You can see some confrontational posts in the older thread http://www.groundviews.org/2009/11/25/the-transformation-of-buddhism-in-sri-lanka/

If I was not DEFINITE about attaining Nirvana by following the Buddhist code of conduct I would not be a Buddhist, as the GOAL of ANY Buddhist is to do so.

My point is that Buddhism does not require you to be even a Buddhist in order to achieve Nirvana unlike the other religions that you tried to compare.

Buddhism is a statement of Truth about Life. There is no compulsion on anyone to accept it. Live by its code and you will go in one direction that terminates in extinction.

Please see my post to Sujewa April 12, 2010 @ 11:53 pm. He is a NON believer who looks on life and its material comforts but accepts the 8 fold path and probably practices it. If he continues with such practice he will end up in extinction or Nirvana, the ultimate goal of a Buddhist, without even realizing it.

Would such a thing be possible if he lived by the Ten Commandments or the Quaran? The answer according to your own post is NO.

• Heshan

Dear Yapa:

“As I have stated, four-valued logic is inconsistent with the NEWTONIAN scientific method.”

If four-valued logic is inconsistent with the Newtonian scientific method, then it is inconsistent with the scientific method, period. The Newtonian method is based on an absolute reference frame for time (constant velocity, constant acceleration), whereas in relativity theory, we come across accelerating reference frame. On the other hand, an absolute reference frame is nothing more than a special case of an accelerating reference frame. It should be possible to derive the absolute reference frame from the accelerating reference frame. I don’t know how to explain this simply, but let me try. Look at this equation:

W=delta(PE)+delta(KE)+delta(TE)

It is the work-energy theorem, which tells us that energy is always conserved. Now imagine a perfectly frictionless surface. We slide a book horizontally across the surface at constant velocity. In this case, there is no change in either potential energy or in thermal energy. So the equation reduces to:

W = delta(KE)

A similar thing is possible between Newtonian mechanics and relativity. By making suitable modifications to the relativistic equations, they reduce to Newton’s equations. That is what I mean by “a special case of”, and “limiting case.” If four-valued logic accounts for relativity theory, then it should be able to account for Newtonian mechanics, because Newtonian mechanics is just a special case of relativistic mechanics. Quantum mechanics is nothing more than sub-atomic particles moving at relativistic speeds, so the same argument follows.

I hope you understand. Thanks.

• Heshan

Slight correction: above equations should read as delta(W) =…. , in both cases.

• Off the Cuff

Dear BalangodaMan,

I forgot to add the following to the previous post.

I have placed before you voluminous information about Rebirth. So far the discussion has taken place without any reference to those Scientific Research. How about critically discussing that.

• Heshan

SomewhatDisgusted:

“I didn’t see your post till a moment ago. I agree. I think censorship of any kind is silly. It’s a sign of a backward state which tries to treat its citizens like idiots. The censorship of TamilNet is silly, as is the censorship of the Da Vinci code. People should have freedom of thought â€“ that is the one freedom I do not like compromising on. The absence of that freedom is precisely the kind of thing that takes you back to the dark ages.”

I fully agree. People should have access to all forms of knowledge, even those forms of knowledge which can destroy their minds. Experience is the best teacher… and learning in general is only accomplished after an extensive period of trial-and-error.

• Heshan

Dear Yapa:

“It was Buddhism that provided and shaped the Economic model of this country with the symbol of Tank (Wewa) which is a non violent mode of earning the living based on enmity to all beings, not confining it to the humans only. It provided and shaped appropriate technology the country needed, both in material life and spiritual life of its people. They were able to build Tanks, Housing, protective walls and canals for the security of the country and dagabas with this appropriate technology. It provides, shaped and nourished our Art and Literature in a unique way. It provided our moral system, habits, rituals, values, spirituality etc..and the whole culture. Above all It provided us with an unparalleled way of thinking based on free thinking without barriers.”

Buddhism is not a good economic model, except for simple societies. You are right that without a desire for materialist consumption, Buddhism could sustain any society. On the other hand, materialist consumption is also a sign of progress. One must also understand that the desire for materialist consumption cannot be stopped… because of science, technology, and advances in medicine, humans live longer and have more children. So there will be an increase in demand for natural resources. There will be an increase in migration patterns. In short, we are dealing with a society that is best characterized as dynamic. The type of society which you mentioned in your example is static. In the static society, the division of labor is relatively simple. Incomes do not fluctuate much. Most people do not live beyond their means. In the dynamic society, the division of labor is much more complex. One has to begin asking questions like, “how much compensation does person A deserve in comparison to person B?” It is much harder to define equality in the dynamic society. In general, increased materialist consumption provides an incentive for enhanced labor in the dynamic society. But this leads to inequality, via income, housing, general standard of living etc. On the other hand, this inequality is inconsistent with Buddhism.

• Off the Cuff

Dear Yapa,

Thank you for the encouragement. I enjoy reading contributions from you, SomewhatDisgusted, Wijayapala, rajivmw, BurningIssue, Atheist and some others who’s IDs I cannot remember at the moment but with whom I have engaged in the past. I have learned a lot from them. There are many new names that have joined this thread but to my misfortune I could not interact with most of them due to my joining the thread late but I am glad that I was able to meet BalangodaMan and Sujewa. Personally I like to keep my posts peaceable as that generates more rational thought (unless the proponent is some one like Donald or adopts a confrontational stance first).

Proving Rebirth requires the proof of a previous birth as the future birth of a person does not exist. That appears to be the only way of doing so to others, though realising it for oneself can be achieved by meditation. I am awaiting the discussion turning towards the Scientific Research that I placed before this forum to learn from the critical analysis that the participants in this thread are capable of. So far the discussion has failed to move in that direction.

• Heshan

Dear BalangodaMan:

“One thing I keep coming back to is, any discussion on the existence, or not, of god comes down to DEFINITION, doesn’t it?

If one defines god as â€˜whatever made this Universe/Life/’the conciousness that I am experiencing right now happen’ then god clearly exists. Because I know that I exist (in some way that I can define and know for sure in a personal way â€“ I exist. As Descartes observed â€˜I think therefore I am’) ”

Perhaps you are trying to say that the definition of God is a relative one. In which case, I agree. But that would make sense… the Universe is always changing. If we had only one definition of God, it would have to describe every change that ever happened, as well as take into account the present state. On the other hand, I don’t think that any such definition exists which is all-encompassing.

“If one means a benevolent god then most people, me included, will say that he does not. This is apparent from all the awful things that happen in the world.

If one means a god that knows everything that goes on, can know but doesn’t care, then he MAY exist. More to the point we don’t care whether he does exist in this way or not as he can make no difference to us.

If one means a god that we can ask favours of, which he grants, those who have faith in him believe he exists, others don’t. The former type of people MAY know something we don’t, or are deluded (Dawkins). Either way he exists FOR THEM at least as a placebo.

As god, if one means â€˜whoever keeps the ledger account of our Karma and directs that our Karma is dished out appropriately in our next birth’ then Buddhists believe in the existence of god. By â€˜god’ I mean the higher authority who administrates Karma, and not necessarily being a â€˜person’ in the sense that we understand.

If one means god who punishes or rewards us according to our good or bad deeds, then this amounts to the Buddhist belief of Karma also. Under that definition also Buddhists believe that god exists.

To one who believes in destiny (that everything is predestined) then whoever decided that destiny is god. This is similar to Allah in Islam, and those who believe in Astrology because they believe in pre-destiny (effectively).

If one means the â€˜god who Christians believe to be the father of Jesus’ then he exists only to Christians.

If by god we mean â€˜nature’ (as many people do) then few people will say that god does not exist.

This list is not exhaustive, I am only trying to illustrate that â€˜whether god exists or not’ depends on which definition we use.”

Exactly… if we wanted to disprove the existence of God on the basis of definition alone, it would be necessary to list and disprove all possible definitions. But this is impossible. It is just an infinite chain of semantics.

“I also note that, the very people who vehemently DENY the existence of god DO acknowledge his existence unreservedly, although their rhetoric says otherwise â€“ for example if one believes in the existence of Karma and â€˜god’ is defined as the cosmic administrator of Karma (the celestial judge). ”

Very interesting point you make there. The evidence used to deny the existence of God can be used to prove his existence.

“Similar if one believes in the laws of physics/quantum physics and if god is defined as whoever/whatever designed the laws of physics, then god exists.”

Exactly. I would add to that, no one can explain why the laws of physics work like they do. They can only say that the laws actually work, and describe how they work. So there is this great existential question that remains unsolved. The same thing for evolution. It works – but why does it work? Now if we add up all these millions of so-called “random” processes which drive the Universe, we notice one interesting thing: all of them work! And all of them work in such a way as to sustain life on this Planet, as well the existence of other Planets, and galaxies, etc… But that is an awfully large number of coincidences, in the face of such randomness! Surely just ONE of these RANDOM processes that make life possible could have gone wrong!

• Off the Cuff

Dear SomewhatDisgusted,

“Here was an earlier quote of my own on Nirvana. â€“ “The only thing such a theory requires is to keep the end goal in mind â€“ release from the cycle of rebirth â€“ in other words â€“ extinction. The ideal Buddhist world, is one in which all life forms are extinct.”
I believe it matches your definition exactly?

Yes it does and displays an in depth understanding of the Buddhist concept. That’s what surprised me as I was aware of your stance on Buddhist Philosophy and GOD believing religions.

Regarding BalangodaMan’s comparison you would have noted his mistake by reading my subsequent comments to him. His attempted comparison cannot be sustained as explained in my responses to him.

As I stated, In Buddhist Philosophy there is NO ADMINISTRATOR or BOOK KEEPER for a person’s Karma. There is NO ENTITY doing any ARBITRATION. This is why your statement “The point is, there IS a system of arbitration, which dictates where the rebirth occurs.” is incorrect. What is needed to be kept in mind is that there are different grades of Karma. “Ditta Damma Vedaniya” Karma, as the meaning of the name implies, yields a result in the current birth itself. It is the MOST powerful bad Karma that one can commit. Due to the different grades of Karma the RESULTS that arise out of them are “Self Regulatory”.

Of the totality of Good and Bad Karma that one accumulates the singular Karma that is involved in deciding the next birth is the “Penultimate Thought” that comes to a person’s mind just before death. The “maraneeya chiththaya” as you correctly identify. This can be a good Karma or a bad Karma. That is why Buddhist keeps on reminding themselves of all the good deeds that one does (and tries to forget the bad ones), to increase the probability that a good deed becomes his/her final thought. Other than the Ditta Damma Vedaniya Karma any other bad Karma can fail to give a result if one achieves Extinction or Nirvana before it had time to bring about a result. Hence now it would be apparent to you of the self regulating nature of the Results of Karma.

The Buddhist definition of a good and bad place is described in the Damma. It is not completely materialistic as even the environment that allows the continued practice of Buddhist Philosophy is brought in to consideration. As far as I am aware, there is no price tag attached. The simplest good deed that is the “maraneeya chiththaya” can result in the best possible next birth.

The Buddhist concept of Rebirth has supporting scientific evidence now. Some of it is very compelling such as Birth Marks that correspond to fatal injuries in the previous birth (described by the person who recollects the past life). Deformations that correspond to the previous birth. Strange languages spoken and found to exist centuries ago. This recollection of Past Births have even been as far apart as Australia and England and many more. The majority of them are originating from NON Buddhists.

• wijayapala

Sujewa,

OTC, Yapa, Wijayapala (or the “Nirvana is real” camp/THE BELIEVERS or The Knowers

I prefer “believer.”

So, what this discussion has made clear to me once again (after I initially rejected Buddhism when I was in my mid-late teens), that the Buddha’s path/religion is definitely not for me, ’cause I like life, living, etc.

Then you must be very sad to hear SomewhatDisgusted suggesting that everything ends with death, and that there is no rebirth. If you want to believe in rebirth, you’ll have to look beyond your desire for empirical evidence and have some faith. Otherwise, you get “nibbana” of sorts when you die. Sorry!

I have a feeling that most Buddhists out there secretly share your views and hope only for a better rebirth- not nibbana. That is ok because none of the standard definitions of “Buddhist” that I’ve seen require one to be ardently committed towards nibbana. You simply have to believe in the Four Noble Truths- simply that there is suffering and there is an end to suffering- which imply a belief in the Noble Eightfold Path and in turn imply faith in the Buddha Dhamma and Sangha.

I’m not entirely sure that I agree with OTC’s definition of nibbana as “null,” although with regard to our conditioned existence it would be null as it is often explained as the “unconditioned state.” As far as our reality is concerned, yes you would disappear and never be reborn but I would not equate that with “null” in an absolute sense.

Nibbana is not an easy concept to comprehend let alone describe! The Buddha himself tended to explain more of what it is not, rather than what it is.

• Hi Wijayapala,

Re: “Then you must be very sad to hear SomewhatDisgusted suggesting that everything ends with death, and that there is no rebirth.”

Well, it would be preferable to keep living forever in good health, etc., but, if everything does end in death, that’s fine, I am OK with it.

Fear of death/being sad about death is no reason to sign up for religions/belief systems that promise after life related items that cannot be verified as true/real, etc.

Also, I do not agree w/ item 1 of the Four Noble Truths – that all of life is suffering. Obviously it isn’t, life is full of many great moments of joy, interest, etc.

– S

• Hi OTC,

Re:

“Dear Sujewa, it is strange to see a person who sought to explore whether Rebirth and Karma was real or speculative and Faith based, refusing to discuss the copious Scientific Evidence placed before this Forum and coming to arbitrary conclusions.”

Discussing evidence collected by others is not enough for me when it comes to a gigantic/of possible great consequence items such as the existence of re-birth. I will have to do my own research on that item (maybe some past life regression thearapy & video taping the session to start with, to see what I may say when under that treatment). If & when I come to a conclusion about re-birth, will post decision/discoveries here.

However, I am more concerned about this life & this world, much to be done here. If the past & future lives are real, I can always deal with them when I am there. But dealing with this world has to be done now.

Thanks for all the links & quotes re: the past lives item.

– S

• OTC,

Re: “I am awaiting the discussion turning towards the Scientific Research that I placed before this forum to learn from the critical analysis that the participants in this thread are capable of. So far the discussion has failed to move in that direction.”

As a logic excercise, or an intellectual exercise, this may be interesting. I’ll try to read & think about the items you posted this coming weekend or sooner.

Of course, as I said earlier, regardless of what the analysis of the material proves or disproves, for me to believe in re-birth/past lives, I will have to do my own direct research. But, going through & reacting to what you posted may prove to be interesting.

– S

• yapa

Dear All,

Answering the popping up of ideas on the topic seems to take ages, at the rate its occurring. The letters on my key board giving their places to “nothingness”.
So I think I should attend to an urgent matter. I wish you all a

VERY HAPPY AND PROSPEROUS SINHALA AND HINDU NEW YEAR1

Thanks!

• Heshan,

Re:

“Buddhism is not a good economic model, except for simple societies.”

It is, however, possible for a “Buddhist country” to become very wealthy, I believe. I do not see a massive difference – in the doctrines/original text/teachings – re: ways to deal with generating wealth/economics between Christianity and Buddhism. So, as many Christian nations have become wealthy, also Japan http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japan, the 2nd wealthiest country on the planet (i think that’s what i heard on the radio/NPR recently) which also has a large number of Buddhists (according to wiki page over 80% are Buddhists or are partially Buddhist/other part being Shintoism). Though monks are forbidden from handling money in traditional Buddhism, for lay followers, rules are different (they have more freedom when it comes to money related activities/economic activities). Also, there may have been wealthy Buddhist kngdoms in the past (Asoka’s empire?). Perhaps one of the believers (Yapa, etc.) can provide more info about the compatibility between Buddhism and wealth building/creating an attractive (to most regular people, not monks) economy for a nation.

– S

• Yapa,

Re:

“Now think about absolute knowledge/ absolute truth(s)/reality. We have already shown that rationality is not capable of achieving them. We have already shown that the human knowledge acquire through rationality is system specific and relative.”

People (myslef included) like secular rationality because the product – modern societies that came into being once individuals were free to think (& act on those new ideas) outside of patterns & ways recommended by religious authorities/religions were much better, in my opinion, than ancient Buddhist kngdoms, Christian kingdoms, etc. So, for Buddhism in its entirety to be accepted as fact by most contemporary people requires demonstation that nirvana is real, that the four nobel truths are accurate, that reincarnation* is real, etc. But it appears what you are saying (or have been saying for a long while now) is that – through non-Buddhist methods it is impossible to varify the accuracy of Buddhism or that it does what it says it does. Or that, the religion requires the practitioner to have faith in the expressed notions that the Buddha was who he said he was, & that reincarnation* is real, & that nirvana is a real aspect of this universe/reality. One problem is that there is no one around who has achieved nirvana by following the methods recommended by the Buddha. If there were, then non-believers can question/test that person (i assume, not sure exactly how, but i am sure we’ll find a way) to see if nirvana is real (perhaps). Anyway, back to the begining, there does not seem to be any ways for a non-believer to test & see if Buddhism is true/is dealing with actual items (karma, reincarnation*, nirvana). So, it remains a religion, a practice based on faith, with some positive benefits to society & the individual. Which is not a bad thing, in my opinion.

So, to put it briefly – the question for all religions, posed by non-believers, is: do you actually have absolute knowledge/absolute truths regarding (to use your terms Yapa) reality? The answer has been, from all major religions, for hundreds of years, is that: “we think so, but we can’t prove it (using secular rationality), some items have to be taken on faith”. Which makes a secular person pause, and that has given rise to millions of atheists & agnostics (which, in my opinion, was a good thing for this world).

(*yes, OTC, will check out the material you presented as the proof for past lives/reincarnation)

– S

• SomewhatDisgusted

Dear Heshan,

“If four-valued logic is inconsistent with the Newtonian scientific method, then it is inconsistent with the scientific method, period.”

Spot on! Well argued.

• yapa

Dear Sujewa E;

“OTC, Yapa, Wijayapala (or the “Nirvana is real” camp/THE BELIEVERS or The Knowers”

My answer is ” a believer with a higher level of understanding/ credibility on the belief”, also with some “subjective” (?) experiences”.

Thanks!

• SomewhatDisgusted

Dear OTC,

“I am awaiting the discussion turning towards the Scientific Research that I placed before this forum to learn from the critical analysis…”

And it surely will but let’s gradually work towards that. One of the reasons is that I for one still haven’t had the time to go through it in detail. The immediate reaction a scientist is supposed to have is one of skepticism. This is because scientific rigour demands such an approach, so that one does not fall prey to confirmation bias (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confirmation_bias). It’s not because they are not passionate about the truth, indeed those who are serious about science ought to be more so than anyone else, by definition – the very word science would lose meaning otherwise (which was why I posted that clip by Dawkins on the scientific ideal of integrity)

“This is why your statement “The point is, there IS a system of arbitration, which dictates where the rebirth occurs.” is incorrect”

I think you’ve misunderstood. Please re-read that passage carefully and let me know if you still disagree. There is an inescapable point there, but I think you’ve missed it by focusing on the specific mechanics.

“The simplest good deed that is the “maraneeya chiththaya” can result in the best possible next birth.”

And is this not a value judgement? What does the best possible rebirth mean without a value judgement?

“The simplest good deed that is the “maraneeya chiththaya” can result in the best possible next birth.”

Yes, but this is not just the exact final thought right? It’s also an overall mental state? I may be wrong here, but let’s say a serial killer who thinks of a sunset and feels serene at the moment of death is not born into a good life in the next one right?

• yapa

Dear SomewhatDisgusted;

This just personal to you.

You now say:
…………………………..
Dear Heshan,

“If four-valued logic is inconsistent with the Newtonian scientific method, then it is inconsistent with the scientific method, period.”

Spot on! Well argued.
………………………………………….

You are used to say four valued logic is “absurd” and “nonsense” from the inception I introduced it a couple of months back. Now the above statement of yours indicates that you believe that it is at least capable of involving in some sort of debate about Science, Scientific Methodologies, knowledge systems etc… etc. .. for the moment. Is this an indication of improvement of your belief of two valued logic towards the recognition side of it,from the side of “humiliating rejection” of your earlier stance. Am I correct? Please correct if not?

Thanks!

• yapa

Dear Heshan (and SomewhatDisgusted) ;

You say:

“If four-valued logic is inconsistent with the Newtonian scientific method, then it is inconsistent with the scientific method, period.”
………..

Really it is not the “Four Valued Logic” that is not inconsistent with the Newtonian scientific method, but the Newtonian scientific method that is not inconsistent with Four Valued Logic.

Four Valued Logic can accommodate Newtonian scientific method (Which is a result of Two Valued Logic), as it has four alternatives including the both alternative found in the Two Valued Logic.

Make sense?

In case need any clarification,s give me a ring!

Thanks!

• yapa

Correction……………..

that is not inconsistent with the Newtonian scientific method, but the Newtonian scientific method that is not inconsistent

” not”s of above should be removed.

Thanks!

• yapa

An important addition to the post of April 13, 2010 @ 8:51 am:

Therefore, Newtonian scientific method is inconsistent with the Four Valued Logic, period.”

[Please also note that converse of every (even) theorem ( keep aside a theory) is not correct. All the queens are women, but not all the women are queens!]

Cheer! Keep cool!

• Hi Off The Cuff,

I went through, very briefly, the site that you linked to – with proof of reincarnation, etc. There is a lot of material there. If you want to discuss some items, go ahead & select portions that you want to discuss, post here, and I will respond (also this will give an opportunity for others to resopnd).

Beyond that, for me to believe in past lives, I would have to gain access to/be able to see/know about/gain access to my own past lives (if any).

Now, if you say you have to practice Buddhism in order to get access to past lives, I did practice Buddhism from earliest possible age (“thanks?” parents! :), ’till about 16-18, and I did not see/receive/become aware of any past lives of mine. Also, there are members of my family who have practiced Buddhism for over 40 years, in some cases over 90 years, and none of them (including monks in the family) have said anything about receiving information about their past lives.

Also, even if the existence of past lives is proved, and, in turn, reincarnation (some aspect of one person being carried over to another person, a new born, after the first person’s death), then we would need to see if Buddhism has any effect on past lives/reincarnation. Feel free to suggest ways to test that.

For certain important things, theoretical/on paper proof is not enough (at least for me to accept it). I would have to see it/be able to verify it in the real world, in its (the thing being suggested as real) actual, physical/in this universe existence. For example, the existence of multiple dimensions (as many as 10 or more, other realities/worlds/universes outside of our reality/universe, or hidden inside out own reality/universe) have been suggested by quantum physicists, but, as far as I recall, they believe it is theoratically possible (and may have shown how it may be possible on paper, in theory), and no actual proof of their existence has been provided yet. In the same way, it may be possible to show on paper that krama, reincarnation, nirvana exists/may exist. But, in order to not be led in a wrong or useless direction in life, I would need to see/experience the actual/real/in this universe version of those items. Strong statements of faith in the existence of those items by monks, other believers, or The Buddha himself is not enough for me.

Anyway, suggest some reincarnation proof related items (in small, manageable doses) to discuss, should be interesting.

– S

• yapa

Dear SomewhatDisgusted;

Now I think your “Spot on!” is out of spot.

Don’t take these subtle things seriously. People could go mad!

Keep cool! Cheers!

• yapa

A correction to the post addressed to SomewhatDisgusted; on April 13, 2010 @ 8:38 am

“Is this an indication of improvement of your belief of two valued logic towards the…”

it should be “Four Valued Logic” in the place of two valued logic of above.

Thanks!

• SomewhatDisgusted

Dear OTC,

“You can believe or not believe but a Universal Law will take its course.”

“Comply with those Laws and Nirvana is within your reach you don’t have to be a Buddhist at all.”

But if this is the case, then preserving the Buddhist doctrine by definition becomes unnecessary? So then, why are the Buddhists getting agitated about this and advocating militancy?

• Hi All,

As long as we are discussing Sri Lankan Buddhism, I’d like some opinions (in hopefully calm, well thoughtout manner if possible, even though this is an explosive subject, but it is, since the civil war ended in 2009, a part of the past now & also may be very relevant to the present/future) as to why a majority Buddhist country with a tradition of Buddhism that goes back, so it is said, over 2000 years, failed, since independence, to incorporate the Tamil minority into the mainstream (during the ’48 – ’83 period, pre-large scale hostilities) and thus avoid 20+ to 30 some years of war and unrest?

And, before some people start pointing the finger of blame at the Tamils, let me state that I know beyond any dobut that there is/has been racist treatment of the Tamils in SL by the Sinhalese (i have seen photos of Tamils being killed by the Sinhalese in the 1950’s or there abouts, also I have directly seen Tamil stores burned & looted by the Sinhalese, and I have heard first hand accounts form some Sinhalese (friends, family whose accounts I trust) who were there in Colombo in ’83/Black July (’83 right?) who helped their Tamil friends & family escape death at the hands of other Sinhalese. And I have heard many Sinhalese, over the years, express that many of the island’s problems are/were due to the Tamils (also, a significant number of Sinhalese I know have said that that view is wrong, that Tamils belong in SL as much as the Sinhalese, have worked for peace between the two communities, etc.). Since the Sinhalese were the majority (and still are) during the time period in question, I believe that a sufficient number of Sinhalese taking a different path (perhaps a more Buddhistic/peaceful path/in favor of peace & co-existence) towards how the nation & other Sinhalese treated the Tamils, the civil war period could have been avoided.

The two subjects (Buddhism and the ethnic conflicts in SL) may not appear very related at first, but, I think, while we are discussing 1) If the claims made by Buddhism may be real/actual (in regard to karma, reincarnation, nirvana), let us also discuss if 2) Buddhism is effective in creating “good people” in Sri Lanka (in this instance, generally speaking, people who are not going to try to oppress their neighbors because they belong to a different “ethnic group” or have a different religon or speak a different language.

So, the question, in brief – even though Buddhism was active in Sri Lanka for over 2000 years, why was it not able to turn the Sinhalese into people who were capable of living in peace with the Tamils? Or, since the Sinhalese were the majority, why were the majority, even though they were Buddhists, not able to practice the peaceful aspects of Buddhism and keep Sri Lanka as a place where everyone felt welcome, secure, were treated fairly, etc.

And, yes, I know that none of the other religions were able to keep minorities in various lands protected in the past either (Jews in Europs, African-Americans & all other minorities in the US, etc.) – and, in fact, it appears that, even though both Buddhism and Christianity teach peace and universal human-hood at its core, and have been around on Earth for over 2000 years, it seems that only when people started thinking outside of religion – starting with European Enlightenment – did the practice of actually practicing/accepting the long existant (at least in the teachings) view that – all men may be equal in the eyes of the universe/creator or capable of great achievements with the right effort – start to grow in a very significant way on this planet.

Anyway, back to the question learned gentlemen (& possibly ladies, not sure with the pseudonyms), why did 2000+ years of Buddhism (on paper very much a religion of peace & universal brotherhood, at least the version that i was taught in SL & US in a middle class Sinhala household) in Sri Lanka fail to keep peace between the Sinhala Buddhist majority & the Tamil minority for much of the post-independence era in SL?

– S

• yapa

Dear BalangodaMan nr All;

Your response of April 11, 2010 @ 11:12 pm to my essay of April 11, 2010 @ 7:39 pm, reminded me of a Chinese story (Tao?) I read a some time back. It goes as follows.

A poor angler who lived in a village on a bank of a river, one day caught a fish of a weight of 45,000 kg with his simple hook, and shared it with nearly 300,000 people dwelling in the same bank and all of them ate belly full. The news flew to the opposite bank and a “flock of people” flew across to verify the incident. All 300,000 people gave evidence, but all of the opposite bank dwellers came back calling it an absurd.

tis-a-marvelous-world!

Thanks!

• SomewhatDisgusted

Dear Wijayapala,

“If you want to believe in rebirth, you’ll have to look beyond your desire for empirical evidence and have some faith. “

Interesting way to phrase it. You feel that asking for empirical evidence is a desire? Unless someone desires to eat the fossil record, this would be a cheeky way to put it, wouldn’t it? 😉 It’s a matter of pure pragmatism. The space for belief is very large. In fact, the space for belief is infinite. Right now, I can imagine the existence of a sky high giant raspberry sundae topped with a chocolate frosted sugar bomb. As far as reality as we know it goes though, it doesn’t exist. So asking for evidence is a matter of practicality, not desire. We have to live “as if” we can make sense of the world. We have to life “as if” that screen you are looking at right now, exists. Practicality is the core of science.

Or am I missing something?

• yapa

It happened so long ago, my memory about the incident is weak, however, as far as I can remember it was a squid. That is why Darwin couldn’t find its bones. Anyway, the fish was tasty.

Cheers!

• yapa

I can remember some other incident taken place after that squid incident. A person called Gautama, who claimed to have seen that previous incident with his mystic powers approached us and offered to refrain from unwholesome deeds to and follow his path to a place called Nirva .. or something like that. I didn’t go, because I preferred catching dish. Many went and didn’t come back, I don’t know what calamity befell upon them. I am still here bored of monotonous catching of fish.

Cheers!

• yapa

SomewhatDisgusted:

“Or am I missing something?”

Yes, Really you are missing something, upon my word!

Thanks!

• SomewhatDisgusted

Dear Yapa,

“All 300,000 people gave evidence, but all of the opposite bank dwellers came back calling it an absurd.”

At least 4 billion people believe in God and say he exists. Better run to the nearest church Yapa!

• yapa

Dear Sujewa Ekanayake ;

RE: your post of April 13, 2010 @ 9:48 am:

I don’t think any of who are wring here harassed any Tamil Person in any occasion in Sri Lanka or elsewhere, just as you.. Please do not try to inject strength to your arguments, from somewhere out of the topic. It will only take the discussion out of focus and make it complicated. Not that we don’t have answers to such allegations, but we prefer to be in one topic focused to it at a time.

Therefore please keep to one pole at a time. Do not try to grab both the north pole and the right pole together and keep on slandering us. It is unfair.

Thanks!

• yapa

Dear Sujewa Ekanayake ;

“People (myslef included) like secular rationality because the product â€“ modern societies that came into being once individuals were free to think (& act on those new ideas) outside of patterns & ways recommended by religious authorities/religions were much better, in my opinion, than ancient Buddhist kngdoms, Christian kingdoms, etc. So, for Buddhism in its entirety to be accepted as fact by most contemporary people requires demonstation that nirvana is real, that the four nobel truths are accurate, that reincarnation* is real, etc.”

I f you want to base entirely on your opinion as the foundation for your knowledge and do want to stick to it, you will never learn anything new. In that case I think it is better for you to sleep whole day and night in your comfortable bed. There is no reason for you to waste your time just typing on a computer key pad.

Thanks!

• yapa

Dear Heshan;

“Most people who believe in heaven/hell, e.g. Christians, don’t also believe in reincarnation. One has only one life on Earth.”

I can remember Off the Cuff answered this same question asked by you in a previous thread. Why repeating the sane question. You Know the simple answer I suppose, If you really cannot remember and find it utmost important too, please post it again to me. I will answer then.

Thanks!

• yapa

Dear Sujewa Ekanayake

RE: post April 13, 2010 @ 5:50 am

“Also, I do not agree w/ item 1 of the Four Noble Truths â€“ that all of life is suffering. Obviously it isn’t, life is full of many great moments of joy, interest, etc.”

Do you know the story of Elephant and the Blind men. You have touched a hair of the tail and describing the elephant.

Thanks!

• yapa

or rather,

You have touched a hair of the tail and blaming the those who said it a massive one.

• yapa

Dear SomewhatDisgusted

You asy;

“You can believe or not believe but a Universal Law will take its course.”

“Comply with those Laws and Nirvana is within your reach you don’t have to be a Buddhist at all.”

But if this is the case, then preserving the Buddhist doctrine by definition becomes unnecessary? So then, why are the Buddhists getting agitated about this and advocating militancy?
………………….

This shows that we cannot teach you Buddhist Philosophy this way, answering very simple questions asked by you in this discussion. Sorry to say that it It is not dissimilar to answering questions of Molecular Chemistry to a person who has no knowledge what C or H is. It is laborious. The answers you are expecting can be really obtained if you go through some school Text Books of Buddhism. Do not think I am trying to humiliate you. I recommend you to obtain some basic knowledge of Buddhism. Then the standard of your questions will be improved. (I am serious, don’t get offended)

Thanks!

• Off the Cuff

Dear BalangodaMan,

“You are inadvertently arguing for, and not against.
If you follow Sujewa’s post which explains it much better than I have â€“ to be reborn may well be an undisputable FACT (let’s say it is). The point is (and this may shock you!) you will find that this is what most people would really want”

I do not understand how you arrived at the conclusion stated in your first sentence. Could you please elaborate?

The discussion is about Rebirth and Karma.
The question is whether it is True or Probably True or False.
You say lets assume it is True
How can the popularity or otherwise of it being true change the FACT?

Your question is similar to the following.
We now know that the Earth revolves around the Sun
The POPULAR AND THEISTIC belief not so long ago was that the Sun revolved around the Earth. Did that belief even have an IOTA of effect on the FACT?
The Earth continued around the Sun and still does regardless.

I am not shocked about the popularity or otherwise of Rebirth but cant say the same about the argument presented.

• SomewhatDisgusted

Dear Yapa,

“Then the standard of your questions will be improved. (I am serious, don’t get offended)”

Sorry, I’m thick Yapa, but the answers I’m getting so far seem contradictory. If you die, chances are you won’t be reborn in Sri Lanka. Most likely you might be reborn in, say the US, who knows. If this happens, you won’t have access to Buddhist philosophy but it doesn’t matter anyway, because you’ve always been a person with good karma, will automatically follow the 8 fold path and attain Nibbana! If so, then why be militant about preserving Buddhist doctrine?

If not, and you say you *should* have access to the 8 fold path, then ideally, the whole world should become Buddhist and learn Buddhist doctrine, which was the statement I made in the first place. So which is it? Should the whole world ideally learn Buddhist doctrine or is it not necessary?

• yapa

Dear Sujewa Ekanayake/BalangodaMan/SomewhatDisgusted and all others;

Sujeewa says:

[“The answer has been, from all major religions, for hundreds of years, is that: “we think so, but we can’t prove it (using secular rationality), some items have to be taken on faith”.]

Here you have come to one of the central points why you don’t understand what we say. I should say you are entangled in a human centered trap as I have mentioned earlier.

Think of the universe made of uncountable number of planets, suns, moons, black holes, anti matter ,etc… etc….., do you think it is thinkable of (keep aside knowing) their numbers, sizes, colours, densities, distances, linear motions, circular motions, harmonic motions, hardness and softness, atoms, molecules, compounds, forms of life, plants, animals etc.. etc… contained in it? Do you think universe is made to be understood by humans? In other words do you think purpose of existence of universe is for human consumption? Or are you dare to say somebody has created the universe for the sole purpose of the humans living in this (huge???? He! He!!) planet called (by whom?) earth, and therefore,it is essential that humans should be able to understand whole universe through their intrinsic tool meant for the purpose, that is (secular,-as you say) rationality ? (otherwise they cannot consume it)

Whole of this argument is possible [ that is this “”indispensable”secular” rationality”” theory] only if we assume that the whole universe is crested for the sole purpose or benefit of the humans. Now can you guess from where this theory comes (or originated) from? Do you think such a theory is possible in a society with a tradition to believe humans are just another kind of beings with just a bit of exception with a bit advanced mind?

Now the question time:

1. Can anybody tell me the where this indispensable “Rationality Theory” comes from?

2. Do you think the above theory is indispensable?

3. Do you think it is the only theory by which all the beings on earth “extract” their knowledge for the purpose of their needs (in their lifetime?)?

4. If the answer is no, give some examples.

You all must answer these questions and show me tomorrow. Each question gives 25 marks. If you find it difficult to answer, you may refer the text book or you may consult your children. Those who don’t come with all the answers will have to kneel down in front of the class until the lesson is over.

Oh! I forgot, tomorrow is the Sinhala and Hindu New Year, you all can enjoy tomorrow and bring the books day after.

tis-a-marvelous-world!

Thanks!

• yapa

Foot Notes:

There were basically four (04) knowledge systems in the western world.

1. Faith based theist knowledge System

2. Two Valued Logic(Rationality) based Aristotelian Knowledge System

3. Two Valued Logic based Newtonian Knowledge System

4. Two Valued Logic + Four Valued Logic based Knowledge System of Modern Science

……………………………………………..END……………………………………

• yapa

Dear SomewhatDisgusted

RE: Your post of April 13, 2010 @ 3:57 pm

Now what I have to say is, Just as I have said to you quite some time back “that Those whose minds are trained only with the Faith based theist knowledge System and the Two Valued Logic cannot understand the knowledge generated through other systems. This is what I have been struggling to convince from the very beginning to you and many, to get humiliated. But you were so adamant just as in the present.

(Please see my last two posts)

Thanks!

• yapa

I forgot something to add to the FOOT NOTE:

As I have said some time ago, Buddhism is based on FOUR VALUED LOGIC + SOMETHING.

• SomewhatDisgusted

Let me clarify the reason for my question on why the preservation of doctrine is necessary. Buddhists obviously feel very strongly about this. I can understand it quite well from a *cultural* perspective.

I do not however, understand it from a *doctrinal* perspective, although the reasons given so far was that there was a necessity to preserve “intellectual Buddhism”. and that even militancy was acceptable.

As far, I can see two viable options from a doctrinal perspective.
a. Ideally, everyone must learn the Dhamma, so that the whole world becomes a massive conduit into Nibbana
b. It is not really necessary to preserve the Dhamma

So my question is, what is the *doctrinal* perspective and why?

• Hi Yapa,

Re:

I don’t think any of who are wring here harassed any Tamil Person in any occasion in Sri Lanka or elsewhere, just as you.. Please do not try to inject strength to your arguments, from somewhere out of the topic. It will only take the discussion out of focus and make it complicated.”

The “why did 2000? (or is it 2500+?) years of Buddhism in Sri Lanka fail to stop the Sinhala-Tamil conflict in SL” is a separate topic from “is karma, reincarnation, nirvana real?” topic. I am not trying to inject strength into the earlier discussed topic with this new one. Since it is related (my question) to the same religion, and people here have discussed & offered their views on the first topic relatively well, I wanted to see if they are also interested in offering their views on the second topic.

“Not that we don’t have answers to such allegations, but we prefer to be in one topic focused to it at a time.”

Sounds good.

Re:

“Therefore please keep to one pole at a time. Do not try to grab both the north pole and the right pole together and keep on slandering us. It is unfair.”

Where is the slander & who is the us that you speak of? I am attempting to get opinions on an actual event that happened – the conflict between the SInhalese and the Tamils in Sri Lanka between ’48 – ’83 (or so) and the war that followed from ’83 – ’09. It is a topic of relevance to all Sri Lankans – in Sri Lanka and in the diaspora – now and for the future. Yes, it is a separate topic, though related to Buddhism (in the sense that the majority of the people in SL are Buddhists).

Also, the first topic seems to have run its course for the moment – the believers remain believers and the non-believers remain non-believers. I definitely did learn some possibly useful stuff from the discussion. Also, there is that new 2 do item re: looking further into possible proof of past lives.

– S

• yapa

Dear Heshan;

RE: Your post of April 13, 2010 @ 12:42 am

Don’t worry about my understanding, I am familiar with the subject (some times a bit more than you: I think you are from technical background and I am not.).

As I had answered you, what you say is common knowledge for Scientific people (like, guess….???)

It is true that Newtonian Mechanics/Newtonian Knowledge System are derived from Relativity [and also from Four Valued Logic]. Newtonian Mechanics is a sub set of Relativity while Newtonian Knowledge System is a sub set of Relativity Theory. Therefore, the former two systems are inferior to latter two systems. Really, former two can be derived through but not vice- versa. I don’t think Four Valued System is mandatory in Theory of Relativity, however, it is essential in Quantum Physics. The behaviour of the micro level world is not consistent with the Atheist Knowledge System/Two Valued Knowledge System/Newtonian Science/Newtonian Knowledge System. The behaviour or phenomena in micro world can be explained only through a knowledge system (Quantum Physics) based on Four Valued Logic and for other knowledge systems it could be seen as “absurd” or “nonsense”.

Dear Heshan;

Can you remember a couple of months back I was telling that those whose minds are trained only with the Two Valued Logic cannot understand the knowledge generated through Four Valued System? Can you remember many people mocked at me and kept on insulting me.

Now do you accept that there is a truth in what I said that Buddhism based on Four Valued Logic + Something cannot be understood through Newtonian Knowledge System, the base of which is Two Valued Logic. Doesn’t this say Buddhism cannot be understood by rationality, with any amount of hair splitting arguments? Doesn’t this say there is a possibility to understanding Buddhism through Four Valued System based Modern Science? Is it wrong when I quoted the American physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer making an analogy to Buddhism when describing the Heisenberg uncertainty principle thusly:

“ If we ask, for instance, whether the position of the electron remains the same, we must say â€˜no;’ if we ask whether the electron’s position changes with time, we must say â€˜no;’ if we ask whether the electron is at rest, we must say â€˜no;’ if we ask whether it is in motion, we must say â€˜no.’ The Buddha has given such answers when interrogated as to the conditions of man’s self after his death; but they are not familiar answers for the tradition of seventeenth and eighteenth-century science…………

Now Heshan;

Don’t you think that I was unjustifiably mocked at and insulted?

Heshan, will you now explain these people who don’t have a scientific background that Buddhism cannot be understood through mere rationality? Please also explain them that they have done me injustice.

tis-a-marvelous-world!

Thanks!

â€¦â€¦â€¦

• yapa

CorrectionS………….

1.Newtonian Knowledge System is a sub set of Relativity Theory

Here it should be FOUR VALUED LOGIC in the place of “Relativity Theory”

2.Really, former two can be derived through but not vice- versa,

here LATTER TWO should be added after” through” in the above

Thanks!

• yapa

Dear All;

Now I hope that I have proved that Buddhism cannot be understood through “Rationality’. It needs a different methodology. The Buddha has very well stated and explained the path to achieve its ultimate goal, that is ” NOBLE EIGHT FOLD PATH”. Those who want to realize/ experience Buddhism, may follow its prescribed paths, and nothing else.

Thanks!

• yapa
• SomewhatDisgusted

“Now I hope that I have proved that Buddhism cannot be understood through “Rationality’. It needs a different methodology.”

Actually Yapa, if you speak to a Christian, he/she will raise the same argument, so your argument isn’t as unique as you think.
Understanding and knowing the mind of god is done through a different methodology, not through rationality. Ask Heshan if you don’t believe me.

• yapa

Dear niranjan;

As promised in my post of April 9, 2010 @ 1:04 pm, I am here to answer your question asked from me on April 9, 2010 @ 11:13 am

There you said:
……………..
Yapa,

“Above all It provided us with an unparalleled way of thinking based on free thinking without barriers.”- do you practice free thinking without barriers?

Perhaps the only person who practiced free thinking without barriers was Lord Buddha himself.

unparalleled- How do you know it was unparelleled? Back your claim with facts.
……………………………………

I think I have properly shown from the few above posts, how Buddhism provided us with an unparalleled way of thinking based on free thinking without barriers.

Are you happy with my answers? If not please let me know.

Thanks!

• Hi Yapa & All,

So, looks like, in a way, the believers & the non-believers are in agreement – that Buddhism, just like other religions, has aspects in it (karma, reincarnation*, nirvana) that cannot be proven by ordinary logic or materialist, based on observable things, logic, at this point. (* and it may be possible to further look into the possibility of reincarnation by taking a deeper look at rebirth related incidents)

::

The work week is fully on over here, so, will check back on this thread on the weekend & will respond if anything new (anything we have not addressed several times before) needs a response.

::

Happy SL New Year to all & thanks for the discussion.

– S

• Off the Cuff

Heshan,

“Most people who believe in heaven/hell, e.g. Christians, don’t also believe in reincarnation. One has only one life on Earth.

Can’t be true.
If true Heaven, Purgatory and Hell must be empty.
God must have been crazy to create them.
The one life on Earth statement does not rule out other lives elsewhere.

• BalangodaMan

Sujewa is right. We have flogged this dead horse to its max, and all that is left is for it to be reborn and join this discussion when he grows up.

But there are a few things I’d like to comment on.

To OTC

Lots of evidence from you to prove that rebirth happens. I too am eager to study these when time allows. HOWEVER, the issue is not that rebirth happens (like Uri Geller’s spoon-bending happens) but CAN WE influence ‘what as’ and where we are reborn? And does the scientific research indicate that we can? And is religious practice the only thing that can influence it?
If not, your evidence is (though interesting) just a ‘herring rouge'(as they say in France).

Wow! Is it true that the last thought determines what you are next born as?!! This is really scary for me. One of my favourite movies is The Boston Stranger and somehow I can’t get it off my mind. Chances are I’ll be thinking of that movie in my last moments. What hope for me?

SomewhatDisgusted made the point about why are the militant Buddhists millitant about people changing to other religions if they can still reach nirvana as Christians, Muslims, Zaroastrians etc? I would ask the same. And it got me thinking of a few more oddities. In 1971 we had the insurgency. This is when SL youth along with the Buddhist monks attempted to overthrow the establishment and the rich that ruled the country. Surely, according to the doctrine of karma the rich and the powerful were born into that by their past karma/merit? Shouldn’t the rich have been given the highest respect? The highest accolade and recognised as the example to follow by virtue of their past good merit? Shouldn’t the monks have reminded them of that, rather than joined them?

To OTC
“In fact it (karma) is recognized as such in EVERY MODERN JUDICIAL SYSTEM in what is known as the “Developed World” today.”

I think this is absolutely brilliant! (not!)

And there I was thinking the Judicial System and karma both just happen to be concepts of justice (silly me!).

What gave you the idea that the Judicial System is based on karma? I always thought a Judicial System of one kind or another has existed since the beginning of man (ever since Fred Flintstone ran off with the wife of the next caveman) long before mankind came up with the concept of karma.

Anyway, are you saying that the Judicial System somehow ‘IN EVERY MODERN SOCIETY’ (or any!) works in tandem with karma? What exactly do you mean by ‘recognised’? Do you mean the Judicial System tries to compensate for the operation of karma? Is it that we do not trust the penalty metered out by karma that the Judicial System enhances it with ‘terrestrial’ (as opposed to ‘celestial’) justice? By jailing people isn’t the Judicial System punishing people twice? Isn’t the very existence of a Judicial System in a country that claims to officially acknowledge karma (per its constitution) an indication (perhaps) that we as a nation actually DO NOT really trust karma to take care of punishing the culprits?

You see OTC, the above paragraph borders on absurdity, I know ‘cos I wrote it. But these (rhetorical) questions are crying out to be asked when you make ludicrous statements like that. You are doing Buddhism a great disservice and SL becomes a laughing stock in the world.

Wijayapala: somewhere in this thread you said that in reality people wish for a ‘better rebirth than nirvana’. Does that mean that these people reject the 1st Noble Truth? (I have already stated that, if there is a Buddhist Reformation I shall be campaigning for the abolision of the 1st Noble Truth on the grounds that (1) it is an inaccurate generalisation (2) it depends on one’s attitude (3) there are drugs that cure depression nowadays (4) most people including Buddhists do not believe it)

Lastly, I feel Sujewa’s question regarding the attitude we have towards minorities is very much relevant to this debate. Actually Mr Yapa, the ethnic and social conflicts our country has endured in the past 60 years is ample evidence that (for reasons we have yet to explore and understand) the teachings of the Buddha have fallen on deaf ears. The aggression in your reaction says it all, sadly.

And lastly lastly, there are 2 camps here in this discussion (No, not the gay bar Obama goes to on his holidays – that’s Camp David). The 2 camps are talking about TWO COMPLETELY DIFFERENT THINGS. It’s a bit like – (as I said earlier) disagreements about the existence or non-existence of god comes down to DEFINITION (ie. there are many definitions under which god always exists, and others where he never does, and inbetween. So ‘god by which definition’ does each person mean? The disagreement is in the definition).

Camp No 1 – is interested in the world as it is today, its people, how can they be fed, live in peace and harmony, be happy, be enriched by all the good that life can offer, goodwill to all men. This camp believes that the world is a good place but there are things that prevent us from enjoying it properly, things that threaten it. Many of these things arise from some of our disempowering attitudes, and sadly ONE of these (though there are others) is religion – or rather our inability to understand/accept ‘religion’ for what it is, good and bad. Camp No 1 is concerned with the NOW and the FUTURE.

Camp No 2 – is focused ENTIRELY on being EXPERT at knowing the scriptures as written by (usually the followers of) religious leaders that lives 2,000 + years ago (ie. THE PAST) – be it The Bible, The Q’ran or the Sutras in The Tripitaka. This subject has enormous academic and historic value, but it has limited value in the context of NOW. Just imagine how useful a technical manual you might write on anything (eg. software) be to people who live in 10 years time? Regardless of how wise you are, how useful will a manual (doctrine?) you might write TODAY on ‘how to live your life properly’ be to people who will live in 2,000 + years in the FUTURE?!!! I am sure that the Buddha expected that what he learned in his time will be challenged, dissected, re-examined, re-invented, and parts even totally abandoned/rejected in the spirit of true critical analysis – and because times and the world will have changed in the course of the next 2,500 years. HE WOULD HAVE KNOWN THAT, AND HE WOULD HAVE EXPECTED THAT.

In their respective spheres both Camps are right. But the arguments are running parallel. I just happen to believe that the agenda of Camp No 1 is far more useful to us today, and for our children tomorrow.

• yapa

SomewhatDisgusted ;

RE: Your post of April 13, 2010 @ 9:57 pm

“Actually Yapa, if you speak to a Christian, he/she will raise the same argument, so your argument isn’t as unique as you think.
Understanding and knowing the mind of god is done through a different methodology, not through rationality. Ask Heshan if you don’t believe me.”
………….
Please do not do same injustice to me again. If you find some thing wrong in my “theory”, point out it specifically, without just guessing it would be wrong. I have no hesitation accepting it wrong, if it really is wrong. Please critically analyze what I say. Please refrain from arriving at preconceived conclusions. I honestly believe I did something important very clearly this time,which I have been dreaming for a long time. Can you remember, I offered to you that I would try to formulate a rational method to convince you about reincarnation and karma, in the previous discussion sometime back? I think that is also not impossible and I would try. These things especially will help westerners to understand Buddhist Philosophy who are more used to rationality to understand things.

Please do me justice this time.

Thanks!

• wijayapala

Dear Sujewa,

You usually don’t answer what I write, so I’ll be a bit surprised if you do here. I thought you asked a good question.

Buddhism is effective in creating “good people” in Sri Lanka (in this instance, generally speaking, people who are not going to try to oppress their neighbors because they belong to a different “ethnic group” or have a different religon or speak a different language.

The people who committed violence against Tamils were a minority of the Sinhalese. If the majority of Sinhalese were involved in violence against Tamils, the Tamils would have been exterminated.

*IF* Buddhism had made the majority of Sinhalese into passive, tolerant nonviolent people, then it stands to reason that they would not use force to resist the racist, violent minority from attacking the Tamils. The thugs would have free reign. I think that is a valid characterization of modern Sinhala political society.

However I think the same is true for the Tamils. Most are just as passive and nonviolent as the Sinhalese, but the lacked the ability to resist the violent minority LTTE from dominating their society. In a real sense, I don’t think Buddhism has given the Sinhalese a distinct ethical behavior from the Tamils.

• wijayapala

BalangodaMan,

Wijayapala: somewhere in this thread you said that in reality people wish for a â€˜better rebirth than nirvana’. Does that mean that these people reject the 1st Noble Truth?

The 1st Noble Truth is that suffering is endemic in existence. It is not a statement of how things should be, but how things are. We find only fleeting moments of joy, and the fact that such moments are fleeting is the essence of our reality of suffering (*not* simply those moments when we are experiencing negative things, as Sujewa believes).

Buddhists who strive merely for a better rebirth don’t reject this Truth. They accept that the rebirth will have suffering too, and that as such it will not be as good as nibbana. It is far easier to get a better rebirth than to achieve nibbana.

Is it true that the last thought determines what you are next born as?!!

I think that is what most Theravada Buddhists believe, and it is hard to accept (for me at least). This explanation conveys kamma as a force as opposed to an “arbitrator,” which is why I think it’s useful.

Therefore it is possible for a person who has led a wholesome life to have a bad rebirth, while a criminal could potentially receive a good rebirth. It might sound unfair, but if you look around it would explain a great deal why so many a–holes are in high positions while many good people are in the gutter.

It also refutes the falsehood that people born into fortunate origins are “good,” while those born in destitute or otherwise unfortunate environments are “bad.”

The key to understanding this aspect is that the exact rebirth is not really a big deal. The good person with the bad rebirth probably will not suffer as much as a bad person with a similarly bad rebirth; he/she may often find that the bad times don’t last very long. Conversely, the bad person with a good rebirth may have a hard time enjoying it, because he/she will find ways to make the good times fleet by and disappear.

The Buddha explained that there are those who are born in darkness and remain in darkness (out of spite or apathy); those born in light but descend into darkness (through arrogance and conceit); those born in the light and remain in the light (through humility and empathy towards others); and those born in darkness but strive towards the light (through perseverance and determination). Where you are born is irrelevant compared to what you do about it.

• Heshan

Dear Yapa:

“It is true that Newtonian Mechanics/Newtonian Knowledge System are derived from Relativity [and also from Four Valued Logic]. Newtonian Mechanics is a sub set of Relativity while Newtonian Knowledge System is a sub set of Relativity Theory. Therefore, the former two systems are inferior to latter two systems.”

I am not sure what you mean by “inferior.” In science, there are two ways to gauge “quality”: (1) mathematical consistency, (2) experiment. Newtonian mechanics passes both tests. You must remember that Newton independently created Calculus to explain his mechanics. That is no small accomplishment. Experiment – Newtonian mechanics passes this test also. If you mean that relativistic mechanics can explain more than Newtonian mechanics, even that is not necessarily true. Because, as I have said, when the reference frame is absolute, relativistic mechanics and Newtonian mechanics give the same results. It is only for high speeds that relativistic mechanics matters.

“Really, former two can be derived through but not vice- versa. I don’t think Four Valued System is mandatory in Theory of Relativity, however, it is essential in Quantum Physics.” The behaviour of the micro level world is not consistent with the Atheist Knowledge System/Two Valued Knowledge System/Newtonian Science/Newtonian Knowledge System. The behaviour or phenomena in micro world can be explained only through a knowledge system (Quantum Physics) based on Four Valued Logic and for other knowledge systems it could be seen as “absurd” or “nonsense”. ”

It is possible to do quantum mechanics with four-valued logic but it is not necessarily essential. It depends on the vector space within which is working. For example, if one is working in R^2 or R^3 (think of a harmonic oscillator), then four-valued logic is not necessary. If it is a Hilbert space in R^4, then four-valued logic can be used.

Now do you accept that there is a truth in what I said that Buddhism based on Four Valued Logic + Something cannot be understood through Newtonian Knowledge System, the base of which is Two Valued Logic. Doesn’t this say Buddhism cannot be understood by rationality, with any amount of hair splitting arguments? Doesn’t this say there is a possibility to understanding Buddhism through Four Valued System based Modern Science? Is it wrong when I quoted the American physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer making an analogy to Buddhism when describing the Heisenberg uncertainty principle thusly:

“ If we ask, for instance, whether the position of the electron remains the same, we must say â€˜no;’ if we ask whether the electron’s position changes with time, we must say â€˜no;’ if we ask whether the electron is at rest, we must say â€˜no;’ if we ask whether it is in motion, we must say â€˜no.’ The Buddha has given such answers when interrogated as to the conditions of man’s self after his death; but they are not familiar answers for the tradition of seventeenth and eighteenth-century scienceâ€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦”

The problem is that Buddha did not actually write anything down. Everything he said is speculation. Even though some of the speculation may be close to the truth, without the mathematical equations, the system of logic cannot be called consistent. You cannot describe quantum mechanics in words… at the end of the day, it is a wave function you are talking about. You cannot tell someone the particle is here or there – you have to specify the probability density. One needs numbers, not words. It is a very mathematical theory, which is why students of physics learn it last after having first thoroughly learned the classical mechanics and also the calculus. If Buddha was able to explain entire the quantum theory using just words, then we should be able to teach it to small children also. Of course there are certain parts we can explain to them, but the real understanding only comes when the mathematical foundation is there. You must be already knowing that this is another difference between Newtonian mechanics and quantum mechanics – Newton’s system is intuitive, while quantum mechanics is not.

P.S: It is dangerous to mix science with any philosophy/religion. There is too much of speculation within philosophy/religion. It is okay for people to speculate, but the goal of the scientist is to come to a definitive conclusion.

• Hi Yapa,

I think you asked about the origin of rationalism or rationalist outlook on the world a few comments back. Rationalism or similar outlooks are probably as old or older than religious outlooks on existence (probably older, because inventing religion takes complex abstract thinking while attempting to solve problems in front of our early, early cave man type ancestors was probably possible just through observation & trial & error). Anyway, fast forward a few hundred thousand years, modern Western rationalism may go back to the Ancient Greeks, but, perhaps at an earlier time that that, some Indian philosophers had invented the Lokayata outlook, a rational approach to existence. Here is a little bit about Lokayata (source of quote at bottom):

“Thus the Lokayata philosophy which seems closest to the modern Rationalism, seems to have been popular at some stage in history in ancient India. The term Lokayata itself can be translated as ‘widespread among the people’. Its principle exponent is considered to be a philosopher named Charavaka who is said to be a contemporary of Sri Krishna and if legend is to be believed, he was burned at the orders of Yudhisthira after the Mahabharat war. His crime was apostasy in declaring that the Vedas are not the ultimate in human knowledge.”

Go there & scroll down to the Lokayata section.

::

Also, your enthusiasm for the old time religon of Sri Lanka – Buddhism – is appreciated, even though we do not agree on how to use it/approach it in this world. Buddhism or aspects from it can be a great foundation (actually already is a great foundation) for further developing the SL civilization/nation (including the diaspora). Big difference between myself (& others who think like me) & the traditionalists is that, it appears, that the traditionalists such as yourself believe that the foundation is ALL, or is the most important part of the structure. I believe, however, a strong foundation is only highly useful if a lot of, & different, buildings, rooms, etc. are built on it so that Sri Lankans can compete with, and collaborate with, also defend themselves against, the best in this world & turn the nation/civilization into a truly glorious thing dreamed about through ancient tales & myth by our ancestors for centuries. Anyway, hope you are not terribly discouraged by not being able to convince the non-believers about the truth that you believe in. Though we may disagree, I am sure both our kinds have been, and will be in the future, able to provide great service to SL & the rest of the world. That’s my SL New Year’s thought for this discussion.

– S

• And thanks BalongodaMan for the support & appreciation of some of my ideas. Hope you are enjoying a very happy SL new year!

– S

• Hi Wijayapala,

Re:

“Dear Sujewa,

You usually don’t answer what I write, so I’ll be a bit surprised if you do here. I thought you asked a good question.”

Really? I thought I answered all direct questions from you to me. Perhaps I missed some. Point them out & I will answer them or offer my opinion re: them. I have enjoyed reading your comments.

Re:

” “Buddhism is effective in creating “good people” in Sri Lanka (in this instance, generally speaking, people who are not going to try to oppress their neighbors because they belong to a different “ethnic group” or have a different religon or speak a different language.” (my statement)”

“The people who committed violence against Tamils were a minority of the Sinhalese. If the majority of Sinhalese were involved in violence against Tamils, the Tamils would have been exterminated.” (your statement)

True. Something like the Rwandan massacre or the Nazi massacre of Jews & others did not happen in SL. Although, in the late 1990’s, I was afraid that such a thing would happen in SL. However, antagonism between the Sinhalese and the Tamils, for it to continue form ’48 until ’83 or so, resulting in the war for another 20+ years, probably did have somehting like grass roots support (at least in a significant number of places). Probably something to study/look into. When I think about it I find it difficult to believe that the troubles that SL endured for 60+ years actually happened in a majority Buddhist island/in SL. Most Lankans I know appear to be relatively kind people.

Re:

” *IF* Buddhism had made the majority of Sinhalese into passive, tolerant nonviolent people, then it stands to reason that they would not use force to resist the racist, violent minority from attacking the Tamils. The thugs would have free reign. I think that is a valid characterization of modern Sinhala political society.”

Are a majority of the Sinhalese passive, tolerant & nonviolent? Difficult to tell due to the war over the last couple of decades. But yes, many I’ve encountered in SL & US do not seem specially violent.

Re:

“However I think the same is true for the Tamils. Most are just as passive and nonviolent as the Sinhalese, but the lacked the ability to resist the violent minority LTTE from dominating their society. In a real sense, I don’t think Buddhism has given the Sinhalese a distinct ethical behavior from the Tamils.”

Interesting.

– S

• Wijayapala,

Re:

“The 1st Noble Truth is that suffering is endemic in existence. It is not a statement of how things should be, but how things are. We find only fleeting moments of joy, and the fact that such moments are fleeting is the essence of our reality of suffering (*not* simply those moments when we are experiencing negative things, as Sujewa believes).”

If most of life was suffering we would not multiply in such great numbers, or look forward to the future, or support the next generation, or even attempt to preserve positive elements of the past. The first noble truth is also a belief, not something that is self evident by observing & interacting with the world. Ask someone who does not know about the first noble truth if they believe that most of existence is suffering. Most likely they will answer the way that most people will answer (or have answered) for thousands of years – life is a mixed bag – some joy, some hard times, some horror 🙂 It is possible that the first noble truth is expressing not a universal condition but a limited condition – limited to severely depressed people, or is referring to a distinct place & time (some very horrible place & time) & not all of existence (all lands for all time), or it is a symbolic device – something invented in order to popularize a new outlook on the world, a new way of living among a population that already had a pessimistic view of life, believed in karma, reincarnation, nirvana, also it is possible that the Buddha never said what they (later compilers of the dharma, etc.) said he said. I see very little evidence that all of life is suffering or that such is the way things are universally, or underneath daily existence for all humans & other beings.

– S

• Off the Cuff

Dear BalangodaMan,

First of all allow me the opportunity to wish you and all the readers a Peaceful and Prosperous New Year.

“Lots of evidence from you to prove that rebirth happens. I too am eager to study these when time allows. HOWEVER, the issue is not that rebirth happens (like Uri Geller’s spoon-bending happens) but CAN WE influence â€˜what as’ and where we are reborn?”

First things first.
The issue WAS whether Rebirth was True.
Without that being proved or accepted as True its pointless trying to discuss whether it can be influenced, is it not?

The penultimate thought before death is a major determinant but is not the ONLY determinant. I did not want to complicate an issue that most (including myself), find difficult to grasp. However your satire is ill placed if your intention is a serious discussion on Religion (or any other subject for that matter).

I did not get a chance to respond to SomewhatDisgusted yet. He has the ability to pose probing questions. I respect most of his views expressed in this forum on varied subjects. But the question that you are now calling my attention to falls short of his usual incisiveness.

How many in your own family think alike? Your father may be peaceable and your mother too may be peaceable. Both of them may be leading calm collected peaceful lives. Your sisters may be peaceable and you yourself may be peaceable but does that guarantee that ALL SIBLINGS will be such, whatever religion all of you follow?

These types of arguments are no different to saying that a murderer’s family must be all murderers or a Thief’s family are all thieves or a Rapists Family are Sexual Perverts. If you cannot recognize reality, how can you discuss a serious subject like Religion intelligently? The rest of the contents of that paragraph are Juvenile Comment. First try to understand the subject that you are so eager to discuss else you just make a fool of yourself.

“What gave you the idea that the Judicial System is based on karma?”

Please answer this simple question first and then I will show you the parallels.

Can you show me a Justice System in the Developed world that does not recognise the INTENT of the Criminal as a Prime Factor that is required to be considered before meting out Justice?

Let’s see how clever you are with your satire after you reply that question.

“Sujewa is right. We have flogged this dead horse to its max,”

I don’t think so, that Horse will live on for several more millennia. The same questions will be asked over and over again. Scientific proof would be demanded to substantiate Rebirth, Karma etc, but when they are forthcoming similar attempts would be made to divert attention from the main issue without discussing even one of those scientific facts. Yes you can call it a dead horse if you are interested in saving face and withdrawing.

I am not interested in trying to change the views of anyone. I am interested in preventing wrong postulations about Buddhism, being disseminated over a public forum, devoid of challenge and exposing such postulations for what they are, Rubbish destined for the rubbish bin.

There are many, who do not write in but read these forums and my main target audience is them.

• Off the Cuff

Dear Sujewa E,

Interesting question that you have directed at Wijayapala and provided an answer yourself about what Suffering is. Unfortunately your understanding of suffering differs from that of the Masses. You too suffer experience the same things but probably you fail to recognise them.

There are few things that any living animal requires just to exist.
Food, Water and Oxygen being the basic minimum.

When you are hungry you crave for food
When you are thirsty you crave for water
When you starved of Oxygen you gasp for Air
If you are deprived of any of these when you need it, you suffer.
When you fall ill you suffer

That is the NORMAL behavior of any living animal. Do you expect the reader’s of this forum to believe that you are exempt?

If you also experience the suffering caused by the deprivation of the above does it not mean that SUFFERING is a UNIVERSAL TRUTH?

• Off the Cuff

CORRECTION
to my post of April 14, 2010 @ 3:46 pm addressed to Sujewa E

You too suffer experience the same things but probably you fail to recognise them.

You too suffer and experience the same things but probably you fail to recognise them.

Regret the error

• yapa

Dear Heshan;

Thanks for the response.

http://www.theory.caltech.edu/people/patricia/srela.html

• Hi OTC,

Re:

“When you are hungry you crave for food
When you are thirsty you crave for water
When you starved of Oxygen you gasp for Air
If you are deprived of any of these when you need it, you suffer.
When you fall ill you suffer”

Yeah, the need for food, water, air, medicine/rest are essential for survival, and there is enough or plenty of all those items in my life (thankfully) and also in the lives of billions of people on this planet. I would not say that the bodily need for those items, along with the need for rest/sleep, etc. is an item of such great concern that I need a philosophy or a religion to deal with it. When I get hungry I eat, when I am thirsty I drink, I get medicine/treatment/rest when I am sick, and I always breath – those items are not suffering (or the need to make sure those items are available is not suffering) but essentials for survival. Making sure those items are available to me is a small price to pay for living & enjoying life – so, no, difficulties related to those items is not suffering, or, even if it can be called that, it is acceptable & essential (to living) kind of suffering. In order to live & enjoy this world/life, gotta make sure those things are around.

::

Got work to do (having to pay the bills, there’s another “suffering” :), will reply to items directed to me later today/early tom or ASAP this week.

::

– S

• Heshan

Dear Yapa:

Let me repeat what I said earlier. It is dangerous to mix philosophy/religion with science and math. For example, just because a philosopher mentions four possibilities, we should not consider it as the same system of logic that is used in mathematics. Even for two-valued logic, this is true. In two-valued logic, as you are aware, the truth values of the variables themselves do not matter. For example, given P ^ Q — > S, the only time this is wrong is if P is true and Q is false. What about wave-particle duality? Given P and Q, let P be a wave and Q be a particle. Then if we assume ~Q and use “modus tollens”, it seen that ~P is also true. But if we are talking about light, then it is seen from this that light is neither a wave nor a particle – clearly a false conclusion!

However, the contradiction in the above has to do with semantics , not the system of binary mathematical logic itself. Binary logic is a self-contained that does not need any justification or proof from outside the system. It is like a chess game with its own rules – rules which can exist outside of reality. On the other hand, when one tries to meddle with the rules using philosophy, they fail completely, as you see in my example above. You cannot achieve the same degree of accuracy using just words, that you can achieve using precise mathematical equations. This is why science and philosophy are two separate disciplines – at one time they were one and the same.

• Heshan

*Binary logic is a self contained system

• Hi OTC,

Re:

“The same questions will be asked over and over again. Scientific proof would be demanded to substantiate Rebirth, Karma etc, but when they are forthcoming similar attempts would be made to divert attention from the main issue without discussing even one of those scientific facts.”

What scientific fact(s) do you want to discuss that we have not discussed at length already?

(if you are going to say the stuff that you posted about re-birth, I’ve replied re: that already, re-read & reply to my reply if you wish. if you want faster & wider acceptance of the re-birth idea, organize an institution to study it (there are millions of Buddhists & Hindus & others who are interested in those subjects in this world, you should not have a hard time raising $s & getting volunteers for the project)- use a team of believers & non-believers & also people who have no stake in the outcome, document the results of your research & experimentation (video, audio, etc., also make live subjects available for the press, etc.), & disseminate the info widely (should be easy to do w/ the availability of the web) – this will lead to further scrutiny of the idea & may lead to either complete rejection of the concept by many in our time or perhaps the acceptance of the concept by many, or perhaps neither – the evidence that you collect may not be enough. Then, if rebirth is accepted as a fact by many, then you will have to prove how the Buddhist methods affect re-birth in order for Buddhism to benefit through the existence of re-birth.) Also, obviously Buddhism (or any other faith based religion/set of ideas/ways of life) is not necessary for living a good life, an enjoyable & perhaps useful to others life, on Earth. No doubt billions of people have done so in the past, hundreds of millions do so now, and billions will do so in the future. Human minds & needs & goals in life are vastly different – some find comfort in Buddhism & other religions, others do not. That is a veryfiable (sp?) fact, and will not change no matter how much you repeat the same arguments over and over. Also, after being introduced to new views, sometimes people need time to think about them, digest them, make sense of them in their own way before they can accept them. So, even if your attempts to convert someone to Buddhism seems to fail at first, that does not mean what you’ve said is totally lost on them, they might come around to accepting your view later. Also, if one were to become a hard core believer of Buddhism, then one would not be able to easily or do the following well/without guilt – watch movies, dance, prepare for & execute war when need be, etc. – just to mention a few items that exist in the world that humans have to or want to deal with that Buddhism forbids. Such incompatabilities are many, if you are interested we can make a list. Buddhism may be a good option for those who want to withdraw from the world – such as monks – but those of us who are interested in living well in the world, and living at peace with peaceful believers of many faith and also peaceful atheists & agnostics, & improving the world – may use Buddhism when convienient & may not use Buddhism at all – those are the realities of the time period that you/we live in. Back to what I’ve said many times earlier – I personally find some aspects of Buddhism useful – the advice to question all teachings & widely held notions & recommendations – the spirit of inquiry, elements of the Eight Fold Path as a starting point for responsible living (obviously I do not follow the one about dancing, entertainment, etc.), also the strength the believers in Sri Lanka have been able to draw from Buddhism in order to face, deal with, & some times win over difficulties that they have faced in the past. I consider Buddhism to be just one of many human intellectual & creative tools – deviced for survival & success in this world for some people at a certain point in time. Many other tools have been invented since then, thus, Buddhism is not the only path for happiness & productive living on Earth (those are items related to Buddhism that I care about, I do not worry about the previous lives or next lives, or being able to or not being able to attain nirvana, as those speculative & beyond death items, most likely, are not real elements of this universe. Even if they are real, I am pretty sure I can deal with them well when I am faced with them 🙂 – no need, as far as I can tell, to worry about the next life or past lives when this life offers so many things to deal with. :: OK, back to work, be back later. :: – S • SomewhatDisgusted I agree with Sujewa too. Partly because I don’t want Yapa to blow a gasket, especially not on New Year’s day! Don’t want that on my conscience – bad karma really 😉 I guess I should explain my own motivation for harping on this issue a bit. I’ve argued a lot in other threads (as others will testify) that Tamils are as chauvinistic as the Sinhalese and suffer from delusions of persecution (i.e. Grand Sinhalese master-plan to usurp the Tamil homeland). I guess Yapa helped to bring that same Sinhalese delusion to the forefront. It’s clear that this whole Sinhala-Buddhist paranoia, to preserve the sacred holy dhamma for reasons so far unexplained (in any sensible way), from unspecified forces intent on destroying it, is the spitting image of the Tamil delusion. I’m worried about the future of SL if this kind of Buddhist paranoia prevails. It has already given us a legacy that we can very well do without! It is imperative that Tamils are treated with the dignity they deserve as equal citizens of this country. The Sinhala identity is under NO threat right now, whereas the Tamils are justifiably worried about their own. Wijayapala has been arguing strongly and very fairly, for both sides of the case. But I have to ask, do you not think that this whole Buddhist paranoia is feeding its nationalism? Is it not time to address it as strongly, if not more strongly, than Tamil nationalism at this point in time? To fellow Buddhists, including cultural ones like myself – As long as we do our best to make sure the Tamils and others are given equal rights and treated like fellow citizens of this country, I really don’t see anything to worry about. We’d be doing the right thing and that good Kamma will pay back. That’s the only way anyone can prove Buddhist superiority to others, not by writing volumes on paper about how amazingly superior it is, claiming amusing and irrelevant parallels in Quantum physics or arguing for irrationality. In practice, I can only see selfishness about preserving Sinhala-Buddhist identity and no regard for Tamil or any other identity. Aren’t Sinhala Buddhists supposed to do things Siri-Sangabo style, giving more than we take? Instead, we get “Sinhala Only”, riots and a barely implemented Tamil language policy, amongst countless other things. If Karma were true, many of us would have been reborn in the Vanni and got shelled to smithereens. Rather than make a display to the rest of the world of what a bunch of paranoid, under-confident hypocrites we are with delusions of grandeur, it would be better that we all work on proving, through our compassion and concern for others, that the Buddhists really are special. After all, it’s good karma and it’ll pay us back handsomely won’t it? So why is anyone worried about Sinhala Buddhist identity? It’ll be preserved automatically if we treat others with the dignity they deserve. If not, we will reap what we sow. As BalangodaMan mentioned, some of you don’t seem to believe in the very Kamma you harp on ceaselessly about. Anyway, I think we are all united in wanting the same thing for our country – a better future – even if we have different ideas about how that can be achieved. I hope we all pull together and don’t screw up this opportunity as well. In any case, whatever we do, sooner or later, our Kamma will catch up (and no, I believe in the earthly, reciprocal altruism version, not the celestial judgement version). Anyway, thanks to everyone for this great discussion. I think it was an eye-opening exercise (for me at least). @Sujewa, Really enjoyed your posts. All the best with your film making career. Be glad to get updates on how your film idea is progressing. There’s something I thought I’d share, that perhaps could be explored through film, but I’ll write it in a separate post. It’s a bit too long to fit in here. @BalangodaMan Your last post was priceless. Many thanks for your insights. @Off-the-cuff I enjoy your posts just as equally. I’d like to know what you think about what I wrote on the Buddhist issue. @Wijayapala I’ve learnt a thing or too about being fair-minded and honest from you, thank you! @Heshan You know, when you are talking about any other subject than the Tamil issue, you make a lot of sense! I think you’ll be able to make equal sense on the Tamil issue (and a lot more impact), if you don’t let your emotions get in the way 🙂 @Yapa I know Sinhala-Buddhism means a lot to you. What you’ll probably find strange and might never understand, is that it means a lot to us too, although in a different way. Anyway, as I always say, do what’s right and you’ll reap the rewards. If you want to preserve Sinhala-Buddhist culture, preserve Tamil culture with equal ferocity. See whether that doesn’t work for you better! Your own dhamma says it should right? Anyway, hope everything’s good, take things easy and hope you attain the Nibbana you seek! 🙂 Anyway, wish everyone a very Happy Tamil-Sinhala New Year! • SomewhatDisgusted Hi Sujewa, Don’t know whether this is worth much or whether you can extract some film idea out of it, but that “Milinda Prashnaya” story that Yapa posted is an interesting piece of work. I first heard about this book from my grand father and always wanted to read it. Now, thanks to Yapa, I can (skimmed through it quickly once). Anyway, it’s a remarkable example of how religions in general work. While it’s an extremely engaging and witty story, and a very enjoyable read, there’s a dark side to it. The story is about King Milinda who asks ceaseless, incisive questions about Buddhism that would render everyone speechless.He commissions his minions to find someone who can provide him with satisfactory answers. After much searching, a champion is found – the priest Nagasena. The entire story is the witty banter between the two and ends with King Milinda being eventually convinced of the infallibility of the priest’s position. Now what’s interesting, is the technique. King Milinda is portrated initally as a highly intelligent individual, who bamboozles others with his incisive questions. The reader is both impressed by the king’s intelligence and also immediately identifies with him, they have been pacified with similarly lame and unsatisfactory answers after all. However, Nagasena is not thus stumped. His answers put the reader into an equal sense of awe at the priest’s intelligence. As the conversation continues, the reader gradually goes into a passive state of acceptance of the priests’s arguments. Eventually, the rest of the arguments, rife with logical fallacies that even wikipedia might not have a complete listing of, are uncritically accepted by the reader as the indisputable truth. At least, that’s my take on it 🙂 I was perhaps thinking, that a similar dialogue could take place between two individuals, with the exercise being to put the viewer into a similarly passive state. Then, see whether a jolt can be given at the end to revive the user from this state and realize the truth (Usual suspects style I guess – not even sure whether this is a hackneyed theme, although I really enjoy this kind of film. Anyway, I thought the book might be a source of inspiration) cheers! • Hi SomewhatD, Re: “Don’t know whether this is worth much or whether you can extract some film idea out of it, but that “Milinda Prashnaya” story that Yapa posted is an interesting piece of work….” That does sound like a good idea. I like dialogue driven comedies/comedy-dramas/philosophical comedies (some good Woody Allen movies, etc.), and, in the karma, reincarnation, nirvana related script that I am working on, there will be segments where the items mentioned will be discussed & debated. So, probably a good idea for me to read that book that you & Yapa mentioned. Also will keep your suggestion (at end of your post) in mind for a scene, such a thing could be useful for the movie. Thanks, & happy SL New Year! – S • Off the Cuff Dear Sujewa E, “What scientific fact(s) do you want to discuss that we have not discussed at length already?” Your question was surprising in view of your posts. Did we really have a lengthy discussion on Scientific Facts? Did not notice even a short one, could you refer me to them please. Here are some posts I made that carry Scientific Evidence of Rebirth. 1. My post carrying an extract from an article http://www.groundviews.org/2010/03/27/akon-and-buddhism-in-sri-lanka/comment-page-9/#comment-16948 2. Full article above to which the link was provided http://www.healpastlives.com/aboutus/comment/isreibio.htm 3. My post carrying extracts from the book of Zammit http://www.groundviews.org/2010/03/27/akon-and-buddhism-in-sri-lanka/comment-page-9/#comment-16975 4. Matters relating to Rebirth in Victor Zammit’s book for which the link was provided http://www.victorzammit.com/book/ 5. My post at http://www.groundviews.org/2010/03/27/akon-and-buddhism-in-sri-lanka/comment-page-9/#comment-16987 This was your response on April 10, 2010 @ 5:16 am “Re: the reincarnation items â€“ yeah, looks like there is a lot of research out there, will follow up on it when I can. Thanks for the links, etc.” That looks to me like a postponement or was it? I may have misread your intent. Then you converted it to an indefinite postponement by your post of April 11, 2010 @ 3:40 pm “OTC, re: the previous life related links that you’ve posted, also quotes â€“ sounds interesting. But I’ll have to check out the possibility of previous lives being real for myself, instead of relying too heavily on research by others. That may take a while â€“ maybe months, maybe decades, so don’t expect a quick answer re: the possibility (in my opinion/belief) that past lives/reincarnation is real (in light of info that you’ve provided). Until my own research is done, I am going to keep reincarnation as a specualtive religious item, a matter to be taken on faith, most likely not real.” Finally you decided to change the subject altogether. Reading all that you have written and the abrupt change of subject and what Yapa observed about that, I feel that you had no REAL interest in looking for Scientific Evidence as you stated in an earlier post on April 9, 2010 @ 2:38 am (extract below) “However, whatever it is, if it is the “end to the cycle of births”, then to prove that it (nirvana) is real & not just a religious idea to be taken on faith, we have to show that the cycle of births is real (yes, verified by non-believers â€¦â€¦â€¦. So, until there is proof (or including/until a machine is created that can produce the perception results that are said to be possible by a human mind trained to perceive/attain nirvana) the nirvana (also related items such as karma & reincarnation) concept in Buddhism will have to be treated as an item of faith by the non-believers” This subsequent back peddling brings out doubt about your original intent. Was the professed interest in scientific evidence (before such evidence was provided) just a red herring as you probably thought such evidence could not be found? I wonder? I have no problem with criticism of Buddhism. Buddha Himself encouraged it. But I do have a problem about defamation of Buddhism. • Off the Cuff Dear Sujewa E “Yeah, the need for food, water, air, medicine/rest are essential for survival, and there is enough or plenty of all those items in my life (thankfully) and also in the lives of billions of people on this planet. You may have been born with a silver spoon but according to the UN 80% of the world’s population live below the poverty line. * 8.8 million children worldwide died before their 5th birthday in 2008 * 4 million newborns worldwide are dying in the first month of life * 148 million under 5s in developing regions are underweight for their age * 2 million children under 15 are living with HIV * >500,000 women die each year from causes related to pregnancy and childbirth Says UNICEF Imagine the horror of the world if a major earthquake were to occur and people stood by and watched without assisting the survivors! Yet every day, the equivalent of a major earthquake killing over 30,000 young children occurs to a disturbingly muted response. They die quietly in some of the poorest villages on earth, far removed from the scrutiny and the conscience of the world. Being meek and weak in life makes these dying multitudes even more invisible in death. Says UNICEF, Progress of Nations 2000 Over 24,000 children die every day around the world. That is equivalent to: * 1 child dying every 3.6 seconds * 16-17 children dying every minute The silent killers are poverty, hunger, easily preventable diseases and illnesses, and other related causes. http://www.globalissues.org/article/715/today-over-24000-children-died-around-the-world. “When I get hungry I eat, when I am thirsty I drink, I get medicine/treatment/rest when I am sick, and I always breath â€“ those items are not suffering â€¦â€¦.â€¦â€¦. so, no, difficulties related to those items is not suffering, or, even if it can be called that, it is acceptable & essential (to living) kind of suffering. In order to live & enjoy this world/life, gotta make sure those things are around.” Almost half the world â€” over three billion people â€” live on less than$2.50 a day.
Infectious diseases continue to blight the lives of the poor across the world. An estimated 40 million people are living with HIV/AIDS, with 3 million deaths in 2004. Every year there are 350â€“500 million cases of malaria, with 1 million fatalities: Africa accounts for 90 percent of malarial deaths and African children account for over 80 percent of malaria victims worldwide. Some 1.8 million child deaths each year as a result of diarrhoea.

That Sujewa is the state of the world but still it is not the whole picture. We have considered only Humanity not ALL living things.
And Suffering is NOT A UNIVERSAL TRUTH?

Acting like an Ostrich won’t make suffering go away. You can refuse to acknowledge the Truth but still it will remain and won’t be negated.

• wijayapala

SomewhatDisgusted,

It’s clear that this whole Sinhala-Buddhist paranoia, to preserve the sacred holy dhamma for reasons so far unexplained (in any sensible way), from unspecified forces intent on destroying it, is the spitting image of the Tamil delusion.

If that was the point you were trying to address, you should have made that the topic of discussion, not the validity of kamma or rebirth (which many Tamils incidentally believe in too). You would have saved us all a lot of time.

The Sinhala identity is under NO threat right now, whereas the Tamils are justifiably worried about their own. Wijayapala has been arguing strongly and very fairly, for both sides of the case.

Wijayapala has been arguing strongly that Sinhala identity is under no threat right now (or in the foreseeable future) from TAMILS. Sinhala nationalism currently with regard to the Tamils, with the end of the LTTE, has no justifiable basis and should be opposed.

But I have to ask, do you not think that this whole Buddhist paranoia is feeding its nationalism? Is it not time to address it as strongly, if not more strongly, than Tamil nationalism at this point in time?

Answer to #1: Of course!! There will be no Sinhala nationalism without the paranoia. In psychological terms, paranoia is a phenomenon based not on an irrational fear of things (often the paranoid person is well justified in being suspicious of everything) but rather on an inability for the paranoid person to comprehend how he got himself into the mess that causes him to be paranoid of others. That is the key factor which both Sinhalese and Sri Lankan Tamils have to ponder very deeply.

Rather than make a display to the rest of the world of what a bunch of paranoid, under-confident hypocrites we are with delusions of grandeur, it would be better that we all work on proving, through our compassion and concern for others, that the Buddhists really are special.

Excellent point. Too bad you’re not Buddhist.

If you want to preserve Sinhala-Buddhist culture, preserve Tamil culture with equal ferocity.

You’ve stolen my thoughts right out of my head.

• wijayapala

Yapa,

It mat be correct there is no direct written evidence to corroborate the Buddha’s visit to Sri Lanka mentioned in the Mahawamsa. But it doesn’t logically means that the Buddha didn’t visit this country.

Logically it would have been very difficult if not impossible for the Buddha to have traveled all the way to Lanka and back. I believe in kamma and rebirth, but I don’t believe in the stories of Arahats flying around, nor do I need to to be a Buddhist.

The only evidence we have of Buddhism outside the borders of old Magadha comes from Emperor Asoka’s time, when he ruled most of South Asia.

It is said that the Buddha’s Doctrine of “Abhidharma” was preached in Thusitha Heaven and on the requet of the Bikkus the Buddha has re stated it to the knowledge of the Bikkus. This shows that if the Bikkus were not accompanied, there is a possibility of missing that part of doctrine from the Bikkus.

Actually I don’t believe this story either. I believe that the Abhidhamma appeared a few hundred years after Buddha’s paranibbana through the efforts of Ven. Sariputta Thero’s disciples to break down and reconstruct the Buddha’s teachings in a systematic form. The theoretical style of Abhidhamma simply was not the Buddha’s down-to-earth, straightforward style of preaching the Dhamma.

If I were Queen Maha Maya reborn in Tusita Heaven, I’d probably ask the Buddha to teach in the same way that he teaches on Earth. Otherwise it wouldn’t be too much of a Heaven to have to sit through Abhidhamma!

“Buddhism today cannot unite the country because there are non-Buddhist communities.”
Most probably what you say may be true. But there may be a possibility if we implement the Buddha’s doctrine in its true sense. This needs deep exploration and analysis. However, these do not abandoned the responsibility of our people to protect Buddhism as an integral and mandatory component of society.

I agree with SomewhatDisgusted here: the best way to protect Buddhism is to protect the other communities.

• Hi All,

I started a new blog today call New Agnosticism For Sri Lanka & The Diaspora:

http://newslagnostic.blogspot.com/

I plan on continuing agnosticism/religions/Sri Lankan & global development related writings there.

If anyone wants to write for that blog, let me know. Thanks.

– S

• Hi All,

Has a good Sinahala-Tamil translator device been invented yet? By good I mean = works well, covers translation of both simple & complex words & phrases, as well as grammer (if possible). Also, portable, and affordable. If such a device does not exist, someone should make it. There would be a pretty sizable market for it (millions of potential customers for it world wide – mostly in SL & India probably, & of course in the SL diaspora). Perhaps such a device could be an iPhone app.

Let me know if anyone knows if such a device or app exists. Thanks.

– S

• BalangodaMan

A little late with the New Year greetings to all.

Taking Sujewa’s lead on looking after our fellow SL brothers I’d like to celebrate the national New Year by first noting that it is the Sinhala AND Tamil New Year. Secondly, and this should really be firstly, let me be the first Sinhalese person to publicly acknowledge the research (1994) that I and all indigenous Sri Lankans share 75% of the same DNA from South India. Which makes all of us ‘predominantly Dravidian’ – more Dravidian than anything else. Looking back at the past 60 years I ask myself WTF – what the ‘ell was all that about?! Sure hope that’s over but we have a lot of bridge building to do and this is where some Buddhist methods will come useful.

(Now Mr Yapa, I cannot tell whether the research I mentioned is 4-valued or 2-valued logic. Or whether Schrodinger’s Cat is also 75% Dravidian, or whether salmon swim upstream or why. So please don’t ask 🙂

Let’s also hold in our thoughts fellow Sri Lankans who are also Christians and Muslims, particularly our sister from Bahrain who I believe is still detained for writing about (coincidentally) the same subject we have been fortunate enough to freely discuss on this forum – comparative religion. We must not allow religion in SL to become compulsory and chosen by the state!

OTC, I know I owe you further explanation on the ‘Karma is the origin of the Judicial System’ question. I have to admit I am totally stumped. What we need is a USB gadget like they have, to measure heart rate and blood pressure, that will give an instant itemised reading of our current Karma status, with one-click access to how to pay our way out of it with a suitable credit card. Actually there are web sites that do poojas for you, for a small fee. The Judicial System can use this info so sentencing will not be unfair. I’m kidding of course. There are no such devices to date as far as I know.

I like Sujewa’s ideas of founding an institute for Karma Research. That way we can settle these uncertainties for good. The area of greatest interest to me is where you can (some of my relatives do this a lot) do good deeds (usually this means giving some monks a meal) to credit the Karma account of dead relatives. Can one of the experts on the scriptures please tell me whether this is possible? (OTC please don’t say ‘definitely’. Tell me why you think it is true).

• yapa

Dear Heshan;

I have to give a little bit more thought to what you have said in your post of April 14, 2010 @ 8:47 pm. Give me a bit more time for a response.

Thanks!

• yapa

Sujewa Ekanayake

April 15, 2010 @ 4:01 am

“I started a new blog today call New Agnosticism For Sri Lanka & The Diaspora:”

Great Idea! Thanks!

• OTC,

Re:

“You may have been born with a silver spoon but according to the UN 80% of the world’s population live below the poverty line.

* 8.8 million children worldwide died before their 5th birthday in 2008
* 4 million newborns worldwide are dying in the first month of life
* 148 million under 5s in developing regions are underweight for their age
* 2 million children under 15 are living with HIV
* >500,000 women die each year from causes related to pregnancy and childbirth
Says UNICEF…”

How is Buddhism going to help those people? It won’t – or – the main solution for the problems listed above is to deal with the problems & solve them. Not taking the position that there is suffering in the world and that the best thing to do about it is go to a Buddhist temple & meditate.

Also, living below the poverty line does not necessarily mean that you are suffering. For MUCH of human existence people have lived WAY below the current poverty line. Yet, we did not throw up our hands & say that existence is suffering & the best that we can hope to do is not be born again. No, people worked together (or alone), tackled the problems, and solved them in some places, & in other places many are working to solve them right now.

Let’s take a look at Sri Lanka itself. For 30 years or so there was an armed struggle there (not just one, but several at some points – w/ JVP vs. Gov, LTTE vs. Gov, IPKF vs. LTTE, etc.). Ultimately people got tired of it, pulled together, and brought the armed conflicts to an end. So now, no war in Sri Lanka, so, the level of suffering is less.

Anyway, your deep belief that the world is full of suffering is a religious conviction, as taught to you by Buddhism and accepted by you as fact.

I could go through many websites and copy & paste data that shows how many billions of people may have had a good day today, or lived well during the last ten years, but I won’t, since I know that will not be enough to convince you otherwise – due to your religious belief that all of existence or most of existence is suffering.

Well, maybe if I had the time to spend discussing how the First Nobel Truth, in my opinion, is inaccurate, I would, but I do not. Much too much time was spent on the karma, reincarnation, and nirvana discussion already. And we know how that ended, with the believers remaining believers and the non-believers remaining non-believers. Same most likely will be true for a lengthy debate on the First Noble Truth.

Also, it is possible that Buddhism, or the First Nobel Truth, does not fully understand or accurately reflect human life as it has been lived on Earth for a long time. Human life has been a struggle, sometimes full of victories, sometimes full of defeat. However, humans, or we, have survived for a very long time & now exist in large numbers on this planet. If life is suffering, it thankfully did not deter many humans from dealing with life and then ultimately surviving & thriving in spite of the challenges.

But, if you believe, as you do, that the world is full of suffering, and that you believe this is a universal condition & part of a universal law, as taught by Buddhism, and if this view works for you – that it allows you to be functional & maybe happy in this world sometimes, keep doing it.

For me, the First Noble Truth does not make much sense, thus, that, & any universal laws attached to it, are not something that I am very concerned about.
However, I am interested in solving the problems – or helping to solve the problems – of hunger, homelessness, poverty, excessive war, etc. Because getting those problems under control in more countries, ultimately the entire world, will make the world a better place to live for all – including Buddhists who believe that all of life is suffering, even though it isn’t.

Also, was not born with a silver spoon in my mouth, that’s why the fam emigrated to the US (there was work here, also better schools, and a future w/ out war for the kids). However, there’s always been work & thus $s to survive well, so, thankful for that. That too – a set up where there is work & food , etc.- here in the US, was something that was constructed by people who were not fearful of suffering or whose solution to suffering was not just to work for a better re-birth or nirvana. Anyway, the point is, earthly suffering is solveable, has been solved in many places, and it isn’t even suffering, it is just life – sometimes good, sometimes bad, sometimes horrible, sometimes awesome. Life is many things, not just suffering all the time. – S • OTC, Re: “Acting like an Ostrich won’t make suffering go away. You can refuse to acknowledge the Truth but still it will remain and won’t be negated.” Those are only problems for the believers. As a non-believer 1) I do not recognize or accept that I am acting like an ostrich, 2) I do not recognize as valid the claim that life is full of suffering, 3) I do not believe that there is a Truth attached to the religious notion of suffering & escape from suffering, something that is eternal, not detectable to the ordinary senses, and may have some kind of a significant effect on my life. Fear of many non-existant (most likely) things – inescapable suffering (except through the path recommended by a set of priests), demons, undesirable rebirths, hells, etc. have lead humans to embrace many useless & harmfull ideas & behavior in the past. I am just not interested in living my life in fear of non-existant things. (gotta be like the lion on that flag man, live without fear 🙂 – S • OTC, Re: “This subsequent back peddling brings out doubt about your original intent. Was the professed interest in scientific evidence (before such evidence was provided) just a red herring as you probably thought such evidence could not be found? I wonder?” Already answered this question, but let me repeat: I will have to examine if rebirth is real directly (meaning, I myself will have to do the experiments). When I do have an answer re: it, I will share it. In the meantime, you will just have to wait. “I have no problem with criticism of Buddhism. Buddha Himself encouraged it. But I do have a problem about defamation of Buddhism.” That’s fine, you can interpert my lack of belief however you want. If you want to receive the statement that I do not think karma, reincarnation, & nirvana are not real as defamation, feel free to do so. You would be wrong, but if it makes you feel better, go for it. I am not at all worried about your self-inflicted defamation problem, good luck with it, hope it gets better. – S • OTC, Just for fun, let’s take a look at some of your so-called scientific proof for reincarnation, let’s see how much “defamation” you can pull out of this post. RE: “According to Dr Stevens, about 35% of children (309 out of 895 reported) who claim to remember previous lives have birthmarks and/or birth defects that they (or adult informants) attribute to wounds on a person whose life the child remembers. The cases of 210 (of the 309) such children have been investigated and reported in the above paper.” I personally would need to talk to one of those children, see the birthmarks, & then hear the child’s past life story, and then go verify that the said person (the dead person) actually existed, died from a wound at the same place place on body as the place where the child now has a birthmark. “The birthmarks were usually areas of hairless, puckered skin; some were areas of little or no pigmentation (hypopigmented macules); others were areas of increased pigmentation (hyperpigmented nevi). The birth defects were nearly always of rare types. In cases in which a deceased person was identified, the details of whose life unmistakably matched the child’s statements, a close correspondence was nearly always found between the birthmarks and/or birth defects on the child and the wounds on the deceased person.” I would have to research these items directly – see the birthmarks mentioned above, etc., as stated above. “In 43 of 49 cases in which a medical document (usually a postmortem report) was obtained, it confirmed the correspondence between wounds: and birthmarks (or birth defects). There is little evidence that parents and other informants imposed a false identity on the child in order to explain the child’s birthmark or birth defect. Some paranormal process seems required to account for at least some of the details of these cases, including the birthmarks and birth defects.” What does this paper mean that there is little evidence that parents and others imposed a false identity on the child? How little? Children can be very suseptible (sp?) to suggestion. Anyway, we can go on, but you get the point. Let me put it in bold text IN ORDER FOR ME TO ACCEPT RE-BIRTH AS REAL, I WOULD NEED TO DO MY OWN RESEARCH ON THE SUBJECT. As I told you several times earlier. Feel free to interpert this post as defamation. – S • yapa Dear SomewhatDisgusted RE: your post of April 14, 2010 @ 9:31 pm Here you are again keeping the cart before the horse as usual. One of the extra-ordinary characters I have observed from you throughout the the discussion is you are so assertive to give your opinion promptly on any matter without going into the details of the subject. I believe this is one of the main reasons that led to the dispute between you and me in the past. Hasty conclusions are not beneficial to Science (or anything else). Thanks! • OTC, While you are busy compiling your “defamers of Buddhism” list, you may want to add Wikipedia to it also. Here’s a quote that you will hate, re: reincarnation research: “Pseudoscience Deducing from this research the conclusion that reincarnation is a proven fact has been listed as an example of pseudoscience by skeptics.[20] There is no evidence of a physical process by which a personality could survive death and travel to another body,[21] and researchers such as Stevenson recognize this limitation.[2] Additionally, most people simply do not remember previous lives.” Read all about it at Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reincarnation_research Since you are big on posting a whole lotta links in favor of reincarnation & rebirth, let me take a look around the web & see what else I can find that says that reincarnation/rebirth has not been proven as true. Be back with more “defamation” as you would say. – S • OTC, For now, I’ll make this my last post on debunking reincarnation, here is an exerpt from an article about a story that ABC ran – about a boy who was presented as a reincarnated WWII pilot, from Skeptico: “This is when the real problem starts. The child’s grandmother, for no obvious rational reason I can think of, suggests he is remembering a past life. She brings in Carol Bowman (an author of several books on reincarnation), to “affirm” James’ nightmares. (Bowman is said to have been influenced by Ian Stevenson â€“ another reincarnation proponent who is known to ask leading questions of young children.) Bowman “encourages” James in his fantasies, also with leading questions. Unsurprisingly, the child cooperates in this fantasy building. After all, they’re telling him he was a real pilot. ” Read the full article here: http://skeptico.blogs.com/skeptico/2005/07/reincarnation_a.html The web is probably full of pages that debunk reincarnation & rebirth. If you want to see more, I’ll take a look. Point being, just because you point to some items on the web in favor of reincarnation or rebirth, that does not mean a skeptical person is going to be convinced (& then of course you take that to mean that Buddhism is being defamed, yeah, very bright, is that some kind of an ancient & secret Buddhist logic or is that your own personal kind of nonsensical logic?). Like I said before, if I am to believe in rebirth & reincarnation, I would need to do my own research, since research done by others can be faulty. However, judging by a quick look at several pages that argue against the possibility of proving reincarnation, I would have to say that most likely reincarnation will remain a belief only – as it has been for THOUSANDS OF YEARS, not a provable fact. Unlike you, I have no vested interest in proving or disproving karma, reincarnation, or nirvana (i don’t have a fragile ego that is going to get bruised if someone suggests that they do not believe in something that i believe in). If they (the speculative items in Buddhism) turn out to be true, I am fine with it. At present, to me, they look like speculative items that serve a religion, not real aspects of the universe. As an agnostic, I am very comfortable with that view. If, as a hard core believer you are not comfortable with my right to not-believe in items that look like they are fiction, then that’s your choice & your burden. – S • yapa Dear wijayapala; “Logically it would have been very difficult if not impossible for the Buddha to have traveled all the way to Lanka and back. I believe in kamma and rebirth, but I don’t believe in the stories of Arahats flying around, nor do I need to to be a Buddhist.” ……….. Really it is very difficult to establish a thing happened/considered to be happened in the past with accuracy. We cannot “forecast” past with certainty.This is not an exception to the particular incident. Therefore, it is not difficult to create doubts on the events of past. However, this doubt alone does not support the the establishment of the opposite. It again needs facts to support the opposite. However, I am no capable of and had no any definite position on the incident/issue. what I did was I tried to give a brief account on the question posed by you on the basis of available information with me. ……… “It is said that the Buddha’s Doctrine of “Abhidharma” was preached in Thusitha Heaven and on the requet of the Bikkus the Buddha has re stated it to the knowledge of the Bikkus. This shows that if the Bikkus were not accompanied, there is a possibility of missing that part of doctrine from the Bikkus.” …….. I think the same answer above would do. …………… “Buddhism today cannot unite the country because there are non-Buddhist communities.” Most probably what you say may be true. But there may be a possibility if we implement the Buddha’s doctrine in its true sense. This needs deep exploration and analysis. However, these do not abandoned the responsibility of our people to protect Buddhism as an integral and mandatory component of society. I agree with SomewhatDisgusted here: the best way to protect Buddhism is to protect the other communities. …………………… I also not disagree with that, my doubt is whether it is sufficient though it is essential. • yapa Dear All; I think my first answer to wijayapala abobe. ie. “Really it is very difficult to establish a thing happened/considered to be happened in the past with accuracy. We cannot “forecast” past with certainty.This is not an exception to the particular incident. Therefore, it is not difficult to create doubts on the events of past. However, this doubt alone does not support the the establishment of the opposite. It again needs facts to support the opposite.” is applicable to the issues of karma/reincarnation/nirvana as well and generally to any thing that has even a trivial amount of doubt. Thanks! • SomewhatDisgusted Dear Wijayapala, “If that was the point you were trying to address, you should have made that the topic of discussion, not the validity of kamma or rebirth…” The topic of kamma and rebirth were important. This infallible, Buddhists are a 100% correct, everyone else is sadly mistaken attitude is also feeding its conceit, don’t you think? Notice how no one had a problem with beating the crap out of Christianity, provoked or not. But question Buddhism in turn, and the aggression is hard to miss. So what’s the problem with openly discussing these things?Questioning its validity is not defamation. What does that even mean when the concept has not been proven? In fact, Buddhism would be far more palatable to many if such an attitude were present. It’s partly this belief, that Buddhism is the *only* valid world view, that causes problems, don’t you think? Again, you and OTC clearly don’t belong to this camp. But what about the rest? “Wijayapala has been arguing strongly that Sinhala identity is under no threat right now (or in the foreseeable future) from TAMILS.” Who is it under threat from? “…an inability for the paranoid person to comprehend how he got himself into the mess that causes him to be paranoid of others.” Good point. “Too bad you’re not Buddhist.” Hmm… Define a Buddhist? I’ve accepted what is useful to me and rejected what is not. Does that make me a 30% Buddhist? Or a 70% Buddhist? I sincerely hope the unverified stuff is limited to about 30% because that’s what I’ve mostly rejected. • Off the Cuff Dear BalangodaMan “OTC, I know I owe you further explanation on the â€˜Karma is the origin of the Judicial System’ question. I have to admit I am totally stumped. What we need is a USB gadget …..” Oh oh I never stated that â€˜Karma is the origin of the Judicial System’. Trying to slip something in deviously? What I said was that INTENT of the perpetrator is recognised in every Judicial System in the developed world. Why the cunning attempt at change? Why stumped? The question is simple enough. Should have been very simple for you given the over brimming confidence with which you posed your original challenge. The point I made and the point you challenged so confidently was “the recognition of INTENT in carrying out a criminal act within the Judicial system of the Developed World” Is finding such a Judicial System so difficult? Shows you had not given it any thought in the first place. Is that why you are continuing to seek refuge in frivolity? Before challenging others, try to understand what is written, shooting from the hip and deceitfully changing what was originally written won’t get you anywhere. • SomewhatDisgusted Dear Sujewa, You said: ” I will have to examine if rebirth is real directly (meaning, I myself will have to do the experiments).” I agreed with most of what you’ve said in your previous posts, except perhaps for this one. I personally wouldn’t need to see the evidence for myself to decide whether it’s true. This argument is problematic, because there are a lot of things we can’t test ourselves to ascertain. For example, I can’t afford to buy a ticket from Virgin Galactic to make sure the earth is round. I haven’t unearthed a single dinosaur fossil myself to believe it’s real. If my grand-mother says my great-great grandmother is buried in spot X, I would quickly take her word for it 😉 The point is, there are certain things we *must* accept on trust. The problem is, deciding whom to trust and how to decide what we can trust. This is what most people have a problem with. As you’ve pointed out before, they trust what their parents tell them, or what the society around them believe, without really subjecting these assertions to strong, skeptical analysis, critical thinking and scientific rigour. So overall, I personally would *not* need to see this evidence first hand, provided that 1. Proper scientific rigour has been adopted (including, and especially, peer review) in its investigation 2. There is a general scientific consensus, especially on a claim of this magnitude. 3. It passes my own test of skeptical analysis Unfortunately, 99.99% of claims fail this test as you’ve rightly shown with some of OTC’s evidence. I too will try to address some of the issues. • Off the Cuff Dear Sujewa E, Please don’t lose track of what you discuss when you respond to a post. I am referring to the following chain of posts. Yours of on April 14, 2010 @ 10:20 am to Wijeyapala My response on April 14, 2010 @ 3:46 pm Yours of April 14, 2010 @ 8:20 pm Mine of April 15, 2010 @ 1:15 am Yours of April 15, 2010 @ 7:06 am (There are others but they deal with other matters) The following is your statement in response to Wijayapala’s “The first noble truth is also a belief, not something that is self evident by observing & interacting with the world. This is Wijayapala’s statement “The 1st Noble Truth is that suffering is endemic in existence. It is not a statement of how things should be, but how things are. We find only fleeting moments of joy, and the fact that such moments are fleeting is the essence of our reality of suffering” My response to you challenged your denial of the existence of suffering and your statement that suffering is NOT self evident by interacting with the World. I showed you that for at least 80% of the Worlds Humanity, SUFFERING is an inescapable fact. The word Suffering encompasses ALL Living things that can feel it. The UN records that I placed before you took in to consideration ONLY Humanity but Humanity is just a very small sub set of those that are subject to suffering. My post of April 14, 2010 @ 3:46 pm in which I challenged your statements has not even touched upon Buddhism. Don’t try to bring in a RELIGIOUS flavour to it, in order to cloud the FACTS. Suffering is a UNIVERSAL TRUTH and you will find it impossible to disprove it. Remember that my statement is not a religious one but an observation of the World as I see it. • OTC, Re: “Suffering is a UNIVERSAL TRUTH and you will find it impossible to disprove it. Remember that my statement is not a religious one but an observation of the World as I see it.” Sounds good, if that’s what you believe, then that’s what you believe (it is a religious one because you have elevated suffering, out of a thousand other experiences, to a place of massive importance in your world view because your religion says it is important, & that your religion is built on that world view – that the most significant thing about the human experience is suffering). However, if it were actually a universal truth, we wouldn’t have a disagreement about it. It would be obvious – such as the sun exists, the ocean exists, etc. Yes, there are moments of suffering in the world – however, there are also a lot of other things – feelings & experiences, states of being – in the world – such as moments of joy, being full/not being hungry, moments of happiness, etc. On the whole, to over 51% of the people on this planet – we are talking about over 3 billion people – at any given moment (let’s say any given hour) suffering is probably not the way that they experience the world (entirely a guess, but, if everyone was constantly in a state of suffering, then not much would get done in this world). We might as well say that sleep is a UNIVERSAL TRUTH or being happy is a UNIVERSAL TRUTH. Those statements would be as accurate as, even more accurate than, suffering being a universal truth. Anyway, I’ve got work to do, continue on with your universal truth of living in a state of suffering, does not make a difference to me – if that’s what you choose/how you choose to interpert the world, then that’s what you choose. – S • OTC, I could also say that hope is a universal truth, in the same way that Buddhism says, & that you believe, suffering is a universal truth. Why do millions of people, when faced with difficulties, not check out of this world/kill themselves on a daily basis? Because they have hope that things will get better or that their attempts at making things better will work or that someone will help them out of the situation that they are in at a moment of suffering/trouble/etc. I could also say that The Will to Survive is a universal truth. Seeing as how millions of people struggle day to day & decide to keep working at life – what are they motivated by – perhaps a will to survive, driven by the hope that things will get better. I could also say that life/birth/creation of life is a universal truth. All beings, more or less, procreate – so, why don’t we build a religion around that? On Creating New Life as a universal truth. How about food? All beings consume food (more or less), so why don’t we make that a universal truth & build a religion around that? The concept of suffering is important to you because your religion says that it is important. Nothing wrong with it, except that the universal truth for a believer is not a universal truth for a non-believer. Thus, the universal truth of a believer is not in fact a universal truth, it is a limited truth – limited to the faithful. – S • Hey SomewhatD, Re: “I personally wouldn’t need to see the evidence for myself to decide whether it’s true.” For rebirth/reincarnation, I would need to see the proof for myself. Same for karma & nirvana – I would need to see/test the evidence myslef. Gotta go get some work done, will check back on this thread later today. – S • SomewhatDisgusted Dear OTC, “I am awaiting the discussion turning towards the Scientific Research that I placed before this forum to learn from the critical analysisâ€¦” As expected, the conversation seems to have gravitated towards the topic finally. I will start my own critical analysis with a comparison Scientific evidence for god? Please read the following links, which provide scientific evidence for God. 1. Francis Sellers Collins (born April 14, 1950), M.D., Ph.D., is an American physician-geneticist, noted for his landmark discoveries of disease genes and his leadership of the Human Genome Project (HGP) and described by the Endocrine Society as “one of the most accomplished scientists of our time”.[1] [2] He currently serves as Director of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. Collins has written a book about his Christian faith and founded, and was president of, the BioLogos Foundation before accepting the nomination to lead the NIH. (Source: wikipedia) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francis_Collins_(geneticist) 2. Michael J. Behe (born 1952) is an American biochemist, author and intelligent design advocate. He currently serves as professor of biochemistry at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania and as a senior fellow of the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture. (Source: wikipedia) Behe has written two books on the subject: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darwin's_Black_Box http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Edge_of_Evolution 3. Walter L. Bradley received his B.S. in Engineering Science and his Ph.D. in Materials Science from the University of Texas in Austin. He taught for eight years at the Colorado School of Mines before assuming a position as Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Texas A&M University (TAMU) in 1976. He currently serves as Distinguished Professor of Engineering at Baylor University. http://www.origins.org/articles/bradley_existenceofgod.html 4. A google search turns up this many hits for scientific evidence for god – 50 million scientific evidence for intelligent design – 1.97 million scientific evidence for rebirth – 2 million scientific evidence for reincarnation – 0.8 million 5. More “scientific evidence”: http://xevolutionist.wordpress.com/2010/04/14/recommended-reading-books-with-scientific-evidence-that-god-exists/ http://www.creationism.org/heinze/SciEvidGodLife.htm Tell me, considering that people like Francis Collins believe it, and Michael Behe’s argument from irreducible complexity and the host of other big names making similar claims, and considering that their credentials far outweigh Ian Stevenson or Victor Zammel, would you now believe in god? Read their work, it sounds tremendously impressive and very scientific. So if not, why not? Teleseen marketing You would have doubtless seen that almost all teleseen marketing products say that they’ve all done scientific expriments that “prove” the effectiveness of their medicines, exercise machines etc. Would you buy these products? Zammel’s arguments I will briefly take a random section of Zammel’s book, and show you the kind of thing he’s trying to pass off as being scientific. I leave it to you to determine what the rest of the book is like. I refer you to http://www.victorzammit.com/book/chapter09.html which I looked into because it mentioned Einstein! It says: “One possible scientific explanation for materialization is that the vortices of the spirit’s atoms are swirling faster than the speed of light and cannot be seen with our physical eyes. But certain energies cause the vortices of the atoms of the spirit body to be lowered to the speed of light. When this happens the spirit becomes visible to our physical eyes. On the other hand whenever the spirit wants to dematerialize the vortices of the spirit atoms increase and it can no longer be seen with our physical eyes and disappears into a different dimension. Ash and Hewitt call this materialization ‘transubstantiation’ to reflect the change in the substance but not the form of the vortex. Transubstantiation would not change the atomic or molecular structure of a body.” Sounds very scientific indeed. But does it make any sense? Vortices of the spirit’s atoms? What in hell is that? Ok. Never mind the vortices. The spirit body’s atoms lower itself to the speed of light? And then speeds back up into the speed of light? Extraordinary! For matter to be accelerated to the speed of light is not considered possible under the special theory of relativity (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Faster-than-light). This is because it requires infinite energy to do so. So unless you expect to be vaporized everytime a spirit stops by, this whole spirit saying hi thing is going to be problematic. The rest of that chapter continues in a similar vein, hooking together all sorts of unsubstantiated gobbledygook, which sounds very scientific but makes no sense whatsoever, referring to some obscure book written by two people who you’ll have a hard time even googling for. This is the kind of thing that Zammel is trying to pass off as fact. So do you want to imagine how accurate the rest of the book is? Would you continue to take the rest of his arguments seriously? Is it fair not to? The point is, there are all sorts of people who want to pass off “scientific sounding” information to support their beliefs. The question is, how do you decide what to accept? This is where scientific rigour comes into the picture. There is a “process” by which evidence becomes scientific. A book written by an individual, quoting unsubstantiated and unknown sources, selectively gathering evidence that proves their fanciful thinking, certainly is not part of that process. I’ll write another post later on how this process works, because we have to separate the charlatans from the real thing in order to continue our discussion. So far, the only evidence I feel worth taking a serious look at is Stevenson. I’ll try to critique his evidence later on. cheers! • yapa Dear All; RATIONALITY AND FAITH One of the main arguments posed in the forum against the acceptance of karma/reincarnation/nirvana as true/real/believable is that there is no rational explanation for these “concepts”. I argued in opposite posting several articles that demanding rational explanation is incorrect as Rationality is incapable of handling this matter and hence it is unfair to arrive at a conclusion on this basis. I logically showed that rationality is incapable of representing reality, as it is a human perception based methodology which could only explain “Relative Human Realities”, existing in the human domain and even it cannot explain the Relative Realities existing in the domains of some of the earthly animals. In summary’ 1. I logically showed Rationality is confined to the things/activities/phenomena within the human perception, relative and system specific and there realities out side this system. 2. I provided positive “Commons Knowledge examples citing weaver bird, salmon fish and migratory birds. 3. I put forward an example from the Modern Science: Wave Particle Duality to substantiate my arguments. 4. It is an established fact that that among the Scientific Audience of Modern Science that non of the things/phenomena in the “Sub Atomic World” (in other words in Quantum Mechanics) are explainable through rationality and it has become almost a “useless too” in this level. “Observable”activists/phenomena/activities in this sphere is growing at an unthinkable pace, that Quantum Physics would take over the most of the activities in this world very soon. In the event the significance of rationality would “TENDS TO ZERO”. Already the the credibility of rationality among the Modern Scientific Audience has immensely deteriorated. They have no “faith” in it. As Sujewa E has once said, if taken loosely I have no hesitation to call Rationality, a “FAITH” in today’s context. NOTE: To the special attention of Heshan. I think Of the Cuff also has a Scientific background, if my guess is correct. In the event your special attention is also kindly invited. Thanks! • yapa Correction…. (A). “1. I logically showed Rationality is confined to the things/activities/phenomena within the human perception, relative and system specific and there realities out side this system.” This should be corrected as 1. I logically showed Rationality is confined to the things/activities/phenomena within the human perception, relative and system specific and the realities out side this system is not approachable through it (rationality) B. ….almost a “useless too” in this level. This should be ….almost a “useless tool” in this level. (not too BUT tool) • yapa IMPORTANT ADD ION TO THE ABOVE POST (Last sentence) As Sujewa E has once said, if taken loosely I have no hesitation to call Rationality, a “FAITH” in today’s context JUST AS “ARISTOTELIAN OUTLOOK” IN THE “ERA OF NEWTONIAN OUTLOOK” . Thanks! • yapa Sujewa Ekanayake RE: your post of April 15, 2010 @ 7:21 am “I do not believe that there is a Truth attached to the religious notion of suffering & escape from suffering, something that is eternal, not detectable to the ordinary senses, and may have some kind of a significant effect on my life. ” What is your opinion of my post of April 15, 2010 @ 7:00 pm? Thanks! • Heshan SomewhatDisgusted: “You know, when you are talking about any other subject than the Tamil issue, you make a lot of sense! I think you’ll be able to make equal sense on the Tamil issue (and a lot more impact), if you don’t let your emotions get in the way.” Hahaha. As I’ve said before, there is nothing astonishing about what I write here; 99.9% is common sense (the other 1% is subtle inference). Regarding the Tamil issue, I speak from experience, having lived in both SL (where there are only 2 races) and the West. SL will never prosper unless Sinhalese personally go out of their way to accommodate Tamils. Unlike your pal Wijayapala, who is trying very shrewdly to lay equal blame between the two communities, I take the opposite position. The conflict did not begin with the LTTE; the conflict began with people like Anagarika Dharmapala and their poisonous ideology of “dharma dheepa”. The larger share of the rural Sinhalese are simply not educated enough to reject such ideology; which in turn, gives Sinhalese politicians a race card to play. Of course there are many, many more dimensions to this. The full implications are best understood by people like Dayan J; unfortunately, as this forum shows, such individuals have yet to get off their high horse and stop being government stooges. The real question remains: when will the masses become educated enough to reject the dictatorship that S. Lanka now is, and push (a real push!) for democratic reform? • Hi All, Just discovered Secular Sri Lanka site: http://sites.google.com/site/minorityworldview/ Check it out, for those who are interested in further developing the secular aspect of Sri Lanka & diaspora (note: a healthy/well developed secular life can also be a benefit to the religions in SL – improved political & economic stability, etc., more on that soon) :: Yapa, Saw your Q above, will get to it the next time I have more than a few minutes free/this week. – S • SomewhatDisgusted Dear Heshan, Actually, I agree with much of what you say. That’s definitely one side of the coin. I also think the Tamils have proven themselves capable of equal chauvinism. I think history bears out that fact quite well also. Frankly, I really don’t see an ounce’s worth of difference between these two communities. They both overestimate their own importance. Anyway, I think you know what my position is on this issue. I’ve been pretty consistent with it. People need to learn to live together. This is the 21st century after all. Whether we like it or not, the destinies of these two communities are intertwined. I think we need to be realistic about that and plot a path that gets us where we want to go. We will have to kill Sinhala nationalist ideology and the Tamil Eelam ideology, both at the same time, don’t you think? There’s no way the one will permit the other. I see you shouting in favour of Eelam ideology instead. How is your position realistic or even idealistic, in a 21st century context? cheers! • Human “Unlike your pal Wijayapala, who is trying very shrewdly to lay equal blame between the two communities, I take the opposite position. The conflict did not begin with the LTTE; the conflict began with people like Anagarika Dharmapala and their poisonous ideology of “dharma dheepa”” A conflict cannot erupt without the complicity of two groups. The Muslims who make up a significant portion of Sri Lanka and speak the same language as the Tamils didn’t succumb to extremism showing that the fact that there is poisonous ideology doesn’t force one into the LTTE track. The Sinhalese and the Tamils are both to blame.. The Sinhalese instigated the tensions and the Tamils took the bait and aggravated the situation horribly. It’s very possible that without the arrival of the LTTE this problem could have been resolved years ago. Remember that J. R. made Tamil a national language and did away with Standardization in 1977, two key issues of the time. If this war hadn’t erupted we could have possibly seen more movement in this direction. • Yapa, Re: “4. It is an established fact that that among the Scientific Audience of Modern Science that non of the things/phenomena in the “Sub Atomic World” (in other words in Quantum Mechanics) are explainable through rationality and it has become almost a “useless too” in this level. “Observable”activists/phenomena/activities in this sphere is growing at an unthinkable pace, that Quantum Physics would take over the most of the activities in this world very soon. In the event the significance of rationality would “TENDS TO ZERO”.” If you are claiming that karma, reincarnation, and nirvana are items that operate in the sub atmoic/quantum levels, then how can their existence be proven in the classical or beyond quantum or the regular world? If other elements of the quantum world has been proven as real here in the classical/regular world – can you apply the same process to prove the existence of karma, reincarnation, and nirvana? Can you even prove the existence of those items using theoretical math? Write a paper, lay out your argument in great detail as to how the process of karma, or the process of reincarnation, or how a human being who operates in the regular world is apparently capable of achieving nirvana – something that is both ill definied & that you say can be proven as real using methods applied to examining the quantum world/or new science & math. Anyway, create such a paper or papers, post them up on the web, and invite experts (secular experts in quantum physics) to ctitique it, see if what you have stated is true or possibly true. I am sure you will do the entire Buddhist & other religious worlds a massive service by, once and for all time, since the birth of the use of religious devices that talk of life beyond death & how such existence is related to following the rules that religions make up for the followers on Earth – proving beyond a doubt, using modern science & math, that the speculative items in Buddhism are indeed real. Of course, proving that karma, reincarnation, and nirvana are real items or possibly real items of the quantum world is not enough. You will also have to prove how practicing Buddhism on Earth has an effect on those items. Follow the same process – use the modern scientific & mathematical approaches that you are so fond of – and neatly lay out the proof – from one end to the other. Let secular experts in quantum physics take a look & see if what you’ve created is actual science or religious myth & fiction motivated work of art or something like it. Also, you woudn’t even have to look far to get the whole peer review process started. Post up your work at this forum, I am sure Heshan, SomewhatD & others can take a look at it & tell all of us if it is actual science/possibly reflective of real aspects of the universe (even in the quantum level) or if it is just a religious fantasy. Good luck. – S • OTC & others who support the existence of karma, reincarnation, nirvana, Read what I posted above at the April 16, 2010 @ 1:42 am entry addressed to Yapa. Try to do the same work & show (to secular experts in quantum physics) how the most likely speculative items in Buddhism are in fact real (both in this classical/regular world & in the quantum level of existence/the quantum world). Good luck. – S • Off the Cuff Dear SomewhatDisgusted, Just read your post to Wijayapala “The topic of kamma and rebirth were important. This infallible, Buddhists are a 100% correct, everyone else is sadly mistaken attitude is also feeding its conceit, don’t you think? “ Yes the topic is important and I was expecting a critical analysis when questions were raised about Buddhist Philosophy. I of course certainly have no problem with criticism and I doubt Wijayapala or Yapa have a problem with it either. Each of us have our own style of writing but none of us think that we are 100% correct or infallible. My knowledge about Buddhism is minute compared to what I don’t know. It’s human to err. And I will accept with humility when my short comings are pointed out as long as they are not arbitrary. “Notice how no one had a problem with beating the crap out of Christianity, provoked or not. But question Buddhism in turn, and the aggression is hard to miss. “ If you had not noticed, most of us tried reasoning with the Buddhist bashers first. That thread commenced with Buddhist bashing. But to the credit of the Buddhist they did not respond with any aggression at the beginning. I personally appealed for circumspection from the Buddhist bashers to no avail. It was only after continued Buddhist bashing that uncomfortable questions about an Omnipotent, Omniscient and Omnipresent God were asked. “So what’s the problem with openly discussing these things?” Nothing, No problem at all “Questioning its validity is not defamation. “ No its certainly not defamation. It was indeed welcome. The Buddha Himself has encouraged it. So who are we to protest? If someone propagates falsehoods then it becomes defamation. There are many ways of doing this on a Public Forum. A cunning way is to ask a question with apparent seriousness and after planting the seeds of doubt in the readers’ minds, avoid further discussion by not responding to counter replies. In such a case the ORIGINAL intent of the questioner becomes subject to doubt. Was the question asked to genuinely obtain information or just to plant the seeds of doubt in the minds of the Reader? You haven’t seen that from Yapa, Wijeyapala or me have you?. • wijayapala Dear SomewhatDisgusted, This infallible, Buddhists are a 100% correct, everyone else is sadly mistaken attitude is also feeding its conceit, don’t you think? Have you taken a poll to see how many Buddhists out there believe that they are 100% correct while everyone else is sadly mistaken? I ask because you are a man of science and surely would never feed us a half-cocked notion unsupported by empirical evidence. Notice how no one had a problem with beating the crap out of Christianity, provoked or not. But question Buddhism in turn, and the aggression is hard to miss. Could you please define “no one?” If you don’t think there are Christians out there who won’t nail you to the cross for questioning The Gospel, I’d like to have a swig of the kasippu you’re imbibing. I attended a Christian school when I was small and have directly experienced the finest, choicest religious bigotry. Who is it under threat from? Christian and Islamic fundamentalists, who have far more $$and political clout than the Buddhist population of the world combined. Hmmâ€¦ Define a Buddhist? I’ve accepted what is useful to me and rejected what is not. Does that make me a 30% Buddhist? Or a 70% Buddhist? I sincerely hope the unverified stuff is limited to about 30% because that’s what I’ve mostly rejected. I would say that makes you a 0% Buddhist, but that’s just my opinion. I’ve taken your statements which are useful while rejecting your useless statements, and that does not make me a 10% SomewhatDisgusted-ite or even a SomewhatLessDisgusted. • wijayapala Dear yapa, However, this doubt alone does not support the the establishment of the opposite. It again needs facts to support the opposite. Ok here are some facts: 1) Human beings have never demonstrated the ability to fly around at will. 2) There is no evidence of pre-Asoka Buddhism in Sri Lanka- no ruins of viharas, no dagabas, no inscriptions, nothing. One of the main arguments posed in the forum against the acceptance of karma/reincarnation/nirvana as true/real/believable is that there is no rational explanation for these “concepts”. I don’t think any of the kamma-skeptics here have given an alternate explanation for what happens when someone dies. Perhaps if they could offer something more “rational” than rebirth, it would be easier to take them seriously. • wijayapala Dear Heshan, Unlike your pal Wijayapala, who is trying very shrewdly to lay equal blame between the two communities, I take the opposite position. Thank you for the compliment. Would you be happier if I blamed everything on the Tamils? 😀 • wijayapala Correction: “If you don’t think there are Christians out there who will nail you to the cross for questioning The Gospel” • yapa Dear All; I would like to put the last sentence of mt post of April 15, 2010 @ 7:00 pm, (ie As Sujewa E has once said, if taken loosely I have no hesitation to call Rationality, a “FAITH” in today’s context.) in a different way. The new version is: As Sujewa E has once said, if taken loosely I have no hesitation to call RATIONALITY A “MEGALITHIC TOOL” IN THE MODERN WORLD. Thanks! • yapa Sear All; Can you all remember recently. I recommended one of you to read about Nagarjuna and Buddhist Logic. Here please read what I have been telling from the inception to be mocked at ant humiliated is coming true. The Topic of the article is Buddhism and Quantum Physics A Strange Parallel of Two Concepts of Reality by Christian Thomas Kohl Here is the link http://www.boloji.com/buddhism/00119.htm Thanks! • Yapa, Re: “What is your opinion of my post of April 15, 2010 @ 7:00 pm?” If karma, reincarnation, nirvana cannot be proven through rational means, or human logic, or modern human logic, then, most likely, those items are either not real or are in the unknown/yet to be proven category – thus – in a religious context, are matters of faith (the believers aspect them as real, the non-believers do not). If, as I stated a post or two above, that you can show that karma, reincarnation, and nirvana are in any way, shape or form – even in the quantum level of existence – a real/actual aspect of this universe (or other universes, or all of existence) – then do so. If an ordinary person without a lot of knowledge about quantum physics or theoretical math would not be able to understand your paper(s) on/your demonstration – using scinece & math, on paper/computer screen – proof for karma, reincarnation, nirvana, then we can get a secular expert on quantum physics & math to “translate” the paper(s) for us. Or we can get 100 experts to “translate” the paper(s) for us. So, go ahead, use all higher/modern science and math & demonstrate how karma, reincarnation, & nirvana are real aspects of the universe. If you cannot, that is because 1) those items mentioned are not real, or 2) those items mentioned cannot be detected using any existing methodology. In either case, if the followers of Buddhism – a world religion – believe that those items are real even though no proof can be given for their existence, then, the followers are accepting the idea that those speculative items are real on faith. I use the term faith because we are discussing a religion related matter. Let’s say we are not discussing a religion related matter. Let’s say a friend of mine tells me that there is a large invisible dragon in our town. When he can’t prove using any rational or scientific means (not even to ordinary people, but experts in perhaps the most difficult to understand sciences & math around) that the dragon actually exists, and he persists on beliving in the existence of the dragon, then he is choosing to believe in something that cannot be proven as real to others for one reason or another. So, if we remove the word faith from our discussion, that is what believers in karma, reincarnation, and nirvana are doing. Basically saying to non-believers that we can’t prove to you that those items are real, but we know for a fact that they are real. So, the non-believers like myself will just shake our heads and go OK, good luck with it, but don’t expect us to follow your practice of believing in most likely non-existent things. – S • Correction to above: thus â€“ in a religious context, are matters of faith (the believers aspect them as real, the non-believers do not). should read: (the believers accept them as real,…) – S • yapa Dear All; Now I would like to do some Mathematics. 1). Somewhat Disgusted has been insisting rational explanations and through out the discussion for karma/reincarnation/nirvana and seems to fight on the base of Rationality. 2). As Sujewa E has once said, if taken loosely I have no hesitation to call RATIONALITY A “MEGALITHIC TOOL” IN THE MODERN WORLD. (April 16, 2010 @ 3:31 am) 3). Anybody who is trying to solve the unsolved problems today without the modern scientific knowledge is not dissimilar to a “Balangodaman” who is fighti9ng a modern army with a megalithic tool! (April 8, 2010 @ 10:01 pm) Now when Mathematically taken (1), (2), and (3) above, it imolies SomewhatDisgustes = BalangodaMan I am not sure whether Sujewa Ekanayake = BalangodaMan and BalangodaMan = BalangodaMan Further, please pay your attention to my post of April 11, 2010 @ 8:36 pm which goes as follows. ……………. Dear BalangodaMan ; RE: post of April 11, 2010 @ 2:33 am Primitive man identified rain, wind, lightning, cloud and many other things as “god”. BalangodaMan is doing it over all again! He! He!! Thanks! ……………………………. Thanks! • yapa Now when Mathematically taken (1), (2), and (3) above, it imolies Here the last word should be “implies” • yapa OH! MY DEAR FRIENDS! EXPLORE THIS WEB SITE. SEE IN WHAT A MARVELOUS WORLD WE ARE LIVING ( WITH BalangodaMen) Thanks! • yapa Oh! I forgot to mention the website, it is here: http://www.spaceandmotion.com/ Thanks! • yapa Dear All; Reality is not something involved in human activities as we are trying to mould. It is complex and beautiful. Please watch http://www.youtube.com/user/Jason275 Thanks • yapa Reality is complex still so simple. Aren’t these “people”our brothers and sisters too. Thanks! • yapa Sujewa Ekanayake; “I am sure you will do the entire Buddhist & other religious worlds a massive service by, once and for all time, since the birth of the use of religious devices that talk of life beyond death & how such existence is related to following the rules that religions make up for the followers on Earth â€“ proving beyond a doubt, using modern science & math, that the speculative items in Buddhism are indeed real.” Buddhism is not confined to the followers on earth! Thanks! • yapa Dear Wijayapale/Sujewa Ekanayake; 1).I ask because you are a man of science and surely would never feed us a half-cocked notion unsupported by empirical evidence. 2). Also, you woudn’t even have to look far to get the whole peer review process started. Post up your work at this forum, I am sure Heshan, SomewhatD & others can take a look at it & tell all of us if it is actual science/possibly reflective of real aspects of the universe (even in the quantum level) or if it is just a religious fantasy. …………………………………………. Are you sure about your notion that he is a man of Science/can take care it & tell all of us if it is actual science/possibly reflective of real aspects……… I am not sure. I have seen “some peculiar alien ears’ coming out. I t may be that what you have seen is only a skin. It is also possible what I saw was a “mirage”. However, why don’t you get it clarified from him before giving him over a massive responsibility which might affect his mental health? Thanks! • Yapa, Re: “2). As Sujewa E has once said, if taken loosely I have no hesitation to call RATIONALITY A “MEGALITHIC TOOL” IN THE MODERN WORLD. (April 16, 2010 @ 3:31 am)” Use direct quotes from me if you wish to reference stuff I’ve said, will be easier to follow. Also, devoid of significant context, the statement that rationality is a faith does not make much sense (it may in very specific cases, but not generally, I believe I said something similar to that when you were attempting to portray loosely that certain aspects of rationality appears similar to faith when discussing quantum mechanics & its relation to the larger world). And, that entire line – “Rationality as a “megalithic tool” in the modern world” is something that you’ve created and attributed to me, not something that I wrote. Simplicity & quoting with the context in mind is the better way to go. – S • Hi All, Posted up a blog entry that clarifies (hopefully) several terms (my use of them) & a stance/approach for readers of New Agnosticism For Sri Lanka & The Diaspora blog: http://newslagnostic.blogspot.com/2010/04/what-is-agnosticism-and-how-does-it.html Tile of the post is: What is agnosticism and how does it relate to a positive approach towards Sri Lanka and the diaspora? Check it out if anyone here is interested. Some of the ideas for the post came out of the discussion here. Thanks! – s • Yapa, Re: “Buddhism is not confined to the followers on earth!” Great, looking forward to meeting some alien Buddhists one day. – S • OTC, Re: “If someone propagates falsehoods then it becomes defamation. There are many ways of doing this on a Public Forum. A cunning way is to ask a question with apparent seriousness and after planting the seeds of doubt in the readers’ minds, avoid further discussion by not responding to counter replies. In such a case the ORIGINAL intent of the questioner becomes subject to doubt. Was the question asked to genuinely obtain information or just to plant the seeds of doubt in the minds of the Reader? You haven’t seen that from Yapa, Wijeyapala or me have you?.” I see that you are still equating asking of questions and discussion with defamation. Plus you’ve created a non-existant devious intent in your mind by looking at the flow of the conversation. First things first, let’s get you up to speed on defamation: From Wikipedia: “Defamationâ€”also called calumny, vilification, slander (for transitory statements), and libel (for written, broadcast, or otherwise published words)â€”is the communication of a statement that makes a claim, expressly stated or implied to be factual, that may give an individual, business, product, group, government, or nation a negative image. It is usually, but not always,[1] a requirement that this claim be false and that the publication is communicated to someone other than the person defamed (the claimant).” None of that has happened recently on this thread (i say recently because the thread is now over 400 comments long) as far as I can recall. I certainly did not defame Buddhism or anything or anyone else during this entire discussion. All the significant arguments and your your counter replies directed at me have been answered by me. Also, I’ve looked at some of your so-called scientific proof for reincarnation or rebirth. And as I pointed out with one example (and as SomewhatD also pointed out), for me, it is not good enough – it is not proof for the existence of rebirth and reincarnation. Sorry to see that you are having a hard time accepting that fact. As far as pulling out the word defamation in a discussion regarding religious beliefs, looks like a desparate move to me. Seeing that you are unable to convince non-believers of an item of your faith, you are calling them (or me specifically, at an earlier post) defamers, people who insult things. Yeah, great Buddhistic strategy for honest dialogue. Did you learn that strategy from fundamentalist Islam or some fundie version of another religion? Sounds similar to me – attempting to make the questioning of & disagreement with religious experts or believers a crime. If you truly feel that you have been defamed, or Buddhism has been defamed, feel free to get a law suit doing – you know my real name (unlike you who, for some reason or another, hides behind a pseudonym). My basic position during this entire conversation has been that karma, reincarnation, and nirvana are items of faith within Buddhism, and that the existence of those items in the real world cannot be proven. That is also a statement of fact accepted by millions of people world wide. Go ahead and try to prove that that is defamation. You won’t have any more success at that then you did with trying to prove that rebirth & reincarnation are real. – S • Wijayapala, Re: “I don’t think any of the kamma-skeptics here have given an alternate explanation for what happens when someone dies. Perhaps if they could offer something more “rational” than rebirth, it would be easier to take them seriously.” When someone dies they are, most likely, just dead – end of story – no afterlives, heavens, hells, etc. – S • yapa Dear Wijayapale/Sujewa Ekanayake; R.Premadasa learned Law listening to cases at Hulsdorf. Same way one can learn Science, by reading Science Fictions. Thanks! • yapa Dear Sujewa Ekanayake; “Also, you woudn’t even have to look far to get the whole peer review process started. Post up your work at this forum, I am sure Heshan, SomewhatD & others can take a look at it & tell all of us if it is actual science/possibly reflective of real aspects of the universe (even in the quantum level) or if it is just a religious fantasy.” Why, you want an ex-party inquiry? Thanks! • SomewhatDisgusted Dear OTC, “. Each of us have our own style of writing but none of us think that we are 100% correct or infallible” I know you don’t. “If someone propagates falsehoods then it becomes defamation. There are many ways of doing this on a Public Forum. A cunning way is to ask a question with apparent seriousness and after planting the seeds of doubt in the readers’ minds, avoid further discussion by not responding to counter replies.” You haven’t seen a single thing that has not been reasonably countered have you? I stated my personal opinion on the subject. My take on Buddhism is obviously different from yours. As I’ve stated, it is only based on an earthly interpretation. My protest originated not against you, but Yapa’s claims, of Sri Lankan Buddhists being guardians of holy truths, which, IMO, is completely false. I do not want that conceit to perpetuate itself, it. Would it be right to allow it? Buddhism should not be brought down to the level of other religions. It is NOT a religion of that type, as BalangodaMan mentioned at the outset. If that kind of attitude prevails, there can only be further conflict. Would you agree or disagree? • SomewhatDisgusted Dear Wijayapala, “Have you taken a poll to see how many Buddhists out there believe that they are 100% correct while everyone else is sadly mistaken? I ask because you are a man of science and surely would never feed us a half-cocked notion unsupported by empirical evidence.” I can only respond to the claims made on this forum, and that is precisely what I did. Please read the threads from the beginning, starting with Transformation of Buddhism, then defend your case. You think it’s ok to not address such claims? And you don’t think that Buddhists in SL consider themselves special? That is not a problematic attitude? “I attended a Christian school when I was small and have directly experienced the finest, choicest religious bigotry.” Sad to hear that. If you want them to be your role models, by all means! “Christian and Islamic fundamentalists, who have far more$$ and political clout than the Buddhist population of the world combined.” Oh definitely, no disagreement there. And this is an incredibly pressing concern that is sweeping Buddhists out of Sri Lanka as we watch? Feel free to impress us with the magnitude of the issue, and we might join you in its defense. (As I said earlier, better militant Buddhism, than the same thing in Christianity or Islam) “I would say that makes you a 0% Buddhist, but that’s just my opinion” I’m glad you think so. I sincerely hope Buddhism is not the kind of half-assed religion you have in mind. Shudder to think of what a 100% Buddhist like you means. • SomewhatDisgusted “I don’t think any of the kamma-skeptics here have given an alternate explanation for what happens when someone dies. Perhaps if they could offer something more “rational” than rebirth, it would be easier to take them seriously.” Yes. Actually, I’d have thought this was obvious. I think I offered it some time back. When you die, the chemical process driving your body ceases, you decay and that’s it. Current biological evidence bears it out quite well. Go to a cemetery if you don’t believe me! Sorry to hear you can’t take this “rational” explanation seriously. • SomewhatDisgusted Dear Sujewa, “For rebirth/reincarnation, I would need to see the proof for myself. Same for karma & nirvana â€“ I would need to see/test the evidence myslef.” Fair enough. It would be such an earth shattering discovery, that the entire world would change! I can picture a lot of people legging it to the nearest forest to meditate. Scientists would have to rethink biology from scratch and physics would have even more puzzling times ahead too. Perhaps the whole world would unite and all these silly barriers might disintegrate, after all, poor Yapa might be reborn as Akon’s son! (Yes, Yes, I might be reborn as Akon’s son too and Yapa and I might become siblings). In any case, it would be pretty great and I would look forward to interesting and exciting times 🙂 • BalangodaMan Wijayapala said, “I don’t think any of the kamma-skeptics here have given an alternate explanation for what happens when someone dies. Perhaps if they could offer something more “rational” than rebirth, it would be easier to take them seriously.” Whatever the probable reality is the karma/rebirth/nirvana model is the most unlikely, in my view. Not the default. Obviously, the fact that living entities are ‘born’ is not in dispute. Equally, that living entities have been born in the past, and other living entities will be born in the future is not in dispute. BUT what the KRN model is saying is that … (1) there is A CONNECTION between living entities that lived in the past and those born later AND (2) that there is a TRANSFERENCE of merit from one to the other. In other words, the KRN models says that an entity born later is somehow RESPONSIBLE for the bad deeds of an unknown living entity that was born at an earlier era. For example, something like ‘Mr Yapa is reponsible for the bad deeds of Rasputin who lived a 100 years ago’. Does Mr Yapa actually feel he his resposible for Rasputin’s bad deeds? Does Mr Yapa feel he had anything whatever to do with Rasputin, his values, ethics, and subsequent actions? (Mr Yapa, can you please share your thoughts on this? Obviously the choice of ‘Rasputin’ is only for illustration. I could just as possibly be Mother Theresa) While just as unlikely, the KR model of some Native American Indians is a little more palatable. They believe that the rebirth model passes from physical ancestor to descendent (and so the punishment is given to the descendent by the elders, on earth). To answer Wijayapala’s question, personally for me I think after we die we will find ‘our conscious selves’ in a ‘place’ where we (as humans) cannot even begin to imagine. The whole of this ‘life’ (I expect) will feel like waking up from a dream, some bits we may remember, mostly perhaps not – or we will be able to review it in detail at our leisure. But my expection is I will be disconnected from it. Perhaps learn from it in hindsight. I don’t know. As everyone can tell, I’m a fully paid-up, card carrying, agnostic. This is just speculation. • Off the Cuff Dear Sujewa E. “â€¦.feel free to get a law suit doing â€“ you know my real name (unlike you who, for some reason or another, hides behind a pseudonym).” Sujewa, do you think that you have made a Rational Statement? If so, you are delusional. None of us on this thread â€˜Know” you personally. We know you from what you write. It’s the same for all of us. Just because you are using a real sounding name no one has any proof that you are in fact what you claim to be. Your REAL sounding name can very well be a Pseudonym. I can use a PSEODONYM such as Mallika Ekanayake. That won’t make me a relative of yours. I can even assume a Pseudonym such as Sujewa Nimal Ekanayake. That won’t prove ANYTHING about Honesty or Integrity or Rationality. Hence your REAL sounding name does not prove that you are what you claim to be. In fact it can be a Pseudonym, in which case it would amount to downright deceit. Hence unless you are a famous person who can be identified by the writing and thinking style, using a Pseudonym that Conveys it is a Pseudonym, conveys more Honesty and Integrity on an anonymous Public Forum than using a Real looking name which can be a pseudonym. No one Knows for sure do they? Are you hiding behind a Real looking name? So Sujewa, that may be your real name but NO ONE has proof of it. As a rationalist you should have realised the irrationality of you claim. Before climbing on a Moral High horse make sure that the Horses legs won’t buckle under your weight. You have extracted an explanation of defamation that I gave SomewhatDisgusted without thinking about what I said. My statement A cunning way is to ask a question with apparent seriousness and after planting the seeds of doubt in the readers’ minds, avoid further discussion by not responding to counter replies. In such a case the ORIGINAL intent of the questioner becomes subject to doubt. Here is an explanation as to why I said so. SomewhatDisgusted had understood my statement as he has asked me a direct question that arises from it. Many questions were asked about Rebirth, Karma and Nibbana on this thread. At the beginning I stated that there was no doubt about the existence of Karma in the current birth but what was in doubt was whether there was carry over to a next. I stated that I could not find any proof of that but nevertheless believed in it, based on the Truth of Karma seen in this birth. As scientific evidence was demanded I researched the subject for my own knowledge and found what possibly could be scientific evidence and placed it before this forum expecting an informed discussion. You were very quick to postpone it, first temporarily and then permanently. Then out of the blue you tried a diversion that if allowed to succeed would have derailed the discussion on a very serious subject (your post of April 13, 2010 @ 9:48 am). BalangodaMan too wanted a change of topic (his post of April 14, 2010 @ 4:53 am) Yapa tried to stop you but failed (his post of April 13, 2010 @ 11:43 am). Though you say “All the significant arguments and your your counter replies directed at me have been answered by me.” it is not exactly accurate as you postponed discussion indefinitely and tried to change the subject too. You have now started to look at the evidence presented. I have no problem with whatever you say as then we can try and counter or agree with you. The problem was when you did not want to discuss after raising doubts. I am studying your posts will respond to them soon. • Off the Cuff Dear Sujewa / SomewhatDisgusted “For rebirth/reincarnation, I would need to see the proof for myself. Same for karma & nirvana â€“ I would need to see/test the evidence myslef.” I really wanted to comment on Sujewa’s statement at a later stage but thought I should do so now after I saw SomewhatDisgusted’s second rejoinder. As SomewhatDisgusted observed in his first rejoinder, there are many things that you accept because others say so. Some of these we cannot verify for ourselves as we do not possess the resources to do so. Some of it we do on complete trust. Before DNA tests were perfected we had no way of scientifically proving who our parents were. That was accepted on implicit Trust. A Rationalist could not rationalise on it. Inability to prove a peron’s parentage scientificaly was due ONLY to limitations of Science and not because the the people who say that they are our parents were lying (if they did the progeny would have been illegitimate). • wijayapala Dear Sujewa, When someone dies they are, most likely, just dead â€“ end of story â€“ no afterlives, heavens, hells, etc. What do you exactly mean by “someone?” The physical body is the only thing that we can observe. • SomewhatDisgusted Dear BalangodaMan, “personally for me I think after we die we will find â€˜our conscious selves’ in a â€˜place’ where we (as humans) cannot even begin to imagine.” What about the alternative? That our conscious self is an illusion created by the chemical process in our brains? Our brain simulates the environment around us and in order to make it complete, it include a simulation of “our self”. This gives us the ability to be introspective of our own actions and perhaps, we’ve developed it much more than other animals have. When the chemical process in the brain ceases however, so does the mind. Basically, it’s like viewing the brain as no different from one gigantic, chemical computer I guess. Admittedly, consciousness is not understood well enough for us to make definite statements in this regard. But I think it is a strong possibility. When considering the fact that humans are not that different from animals before us, and when considering that “lower” level animals (or plants) do not appear to have this capability, it is highly likely to be an evolutionary byproduct, rather than an actual “consciousness” which is separate from the physical self – the mind-body duality. A rather dismal view, but what it would mean is, pull the plug and we just die. There might not be a real world to escape to from the matrix. Of course, I’m technically an agnostic too. But it sounded plausible enough when I read it and a theory that seems to have gained ground over the years. Certainly more plausible to me than most other theories. Everyone’s thoughts are welcome. • BalangodaMan OTC, I think questioning Sujewa’s authenticity as ‘a real person’ is a little misplaced. You can Google him (as I did) and you will find that he is very much real. I have watched some of his work. Are you accusing the writer on this discussion of impersonating ‘Sujewa Ekanayake, the DIY Filmmaker from NYC’? • yapa Dear BalangodaMan; “(Mr Yapa, can you please share your thoughts on this? Obviously the choice of â€˜Rasputin’ is only for illustration. I could just as possibly be Mother Theresa)” I think I am in the middle of a sequential process trying to explain the “KRN model” so that it is convinced to the non believers. I don’t know whether it will work out, due to various reasons. But I’ll try my best. However, to understand the final conclusion (result), one has to be aware of what I have already said and going to say in my essays, as they are interlinked. You also may have observed that I am in a somewhat systematic process. I don’t think I can do what you request in a single post. Buddha himself has said that subject of universe and karma are unthinkable. (“Loka Vishaya saha karma vishaya achinthyai”). Really what I am trying to do is something Buddha said as almost impossible. However, still I am trying to formulate a some sort of methodology. However, the best explanations I have seen in this regard is found in the “Milinda Prashna”, a link of which I have already provided to you. If you really have a literary interest to know about them, not for the mere enthusiasm to use in arguments against the “opposite camp” to knock out them, I again recommend you the “Milinda Prashna”. Here the objective/ attitude/how you look at them (whether with a prejudiced mind or not) are very important in understanding them. “Dennam Bete” mind set won’t help understand them. ( I am not referring to your mind set, but talking in general) Thanks! • BalangodaMan To address OTC’s assertion, which was “The point I made and the point you challenged so confidently was (re. Karma) “the recognition of INTENT in carrying out a criminal act within the judicial system of the Developed World.” Call me cynical but to me this statement has as much logical foundation as the following â€¦ A dog has 4 legs > If Heather Mills stands in front of 3 carefully positioned mirrors she would appear to have 4 legs > Therefore Heather Mills is a dog. (some may genuinely regard Miss Mills as a dog but not for this reason. For those not familiar with this lady, she has one leg â€“ although many people believe that in her dispute with her former husband she had no leg to stand on, but that’s entirely another story! And yes, I don’t like her). Now to illustrate my argument against OTC’s assertion: Let us suppose there is a country where dancing is a criminal offence. You can be charged with this crime if you were to dance at a party, say. On the other hand, if you were to inadvertently step on a tarred road on a very hot day in the afternoon in bare feet, and you jumped about wildly similar to dancing (well, you haven’t seen me dance!) then you did not *intend* to dance so you will be acquitted if charged in a TERRESTRIAL judicial system (assuming you had a good lawyer and the system was fair). Now, in the CELESTIAL judicial system as in religion a â€˜crime’ is called â€˜a sin’. (I shall keep this discourse non-denominational so as not to be accused of defaming any particular religion or any particular celestial judicial authority. Yes, I like to hedge my bets). Let’s say that dancing is regarded as one of the sins. Then if you dance deliberately (OTC’s â€˜intent’) then you will be convicted of that sin, but if you dance by accident then you will be let off. This is the similarity that OTC draws our attention to (OTC, please say so if I have misunderstood). Now to explore what OTC’s assertion means. We all know that the judicial system in the developed world has many noble aspects to it. I shall list these quickly and briefly. Justice is seen to be done. There is a right of appeal â€“ so if your dancing was in fact unintentional your lawyer can argue that or appeal against if already convicted. Evidence is produced. There is transparency. The reasoning behind the judgement is there for all to see. It is published so future cases can study it, apply it, differentiate specific cases from it. There is often a jury to hear the evidence and decide on it. Newspapers report it, people can and do blog, we discuss the implications on discussion forums such as this. Proving â€˜intent’ necessarily requires reasoning on subjective criteria. It involves dialog and argument. In a fair trial, in case of the hot road surface, a concerted analysis of the claim is needed, and will be supplied, such as weather reports of the conditions on the day, witnesses perhaps. The appeal process will re-examine this evidence. The celestial judicial system does not have any of the features or indeed the safeguards that pertain to â€˜intent’ of the accused. If such a model existed in the terrestrial world we would surely call it a bad judicial system. Most people would. Saddam Hussein was prosecutor, judge, jury and executioner in many of his judgements. This is not a judicial system as in a â€˜developed world’ as (OTC) you call it but a dictatorial system. No decent democracy will tolerate such a system. Indeed it cannot be called a â€˜justice’ system at all as there is no justice in it. In a judicial system in the developed world WE are the lawmakers. If we do not want dancing to be a crime (any longer) we will have it changed. We will do that using mechanisms and processes that the judicial system itself provides us for its change. For example, we can protest by hundreds of people pouring on to a road surface on a very hot day and â€˜unintentially’ dancing. That will help test the law and demonstrate the desire of people to dance, and demonstrate the harmlessness of dancing. So I ask you OTC, politely â€“ why do you equate the Law of Karma with the Judicial System in the Developing World with regard to â€˜Intent’? My suspicion is that by this statement you are trying to say that Karma (or punishment for sin) is â€˜fair’ â€“ or whoever is administrating it (â€˜the force’) is fair. Or is â€˜an all-knowing and just god-like thing’. This message (of glorifying the celestial administration/administrator) is more common under the Christian and Islam faiths than of Buddhism. I would then further question your assertion by referring, if I may, to my recent post to Mr Yapa regarding â€˜Rasputin or Mother Theresa in a past life’ like this â€¦ Yesterday I banged my knee and it really hurts (true). It still hurts like â€¦ (should I say!) hell! I am really hard pressed to conclude (although I try to remind myself) that the reason why that happened is because Rudolph Nureyev (who I may have been in a past incarnation, or some other person such as Chitrasena perhaps), without ANY REGARD for MY welfare (bastard!) danced, and what’s more â€¦ danced deliberately! • OTC, Yapa, & everyone in the karma, reincarnation, nirvana are real camp, 1. Use any modern scientific & mathematical method or a combination of those & write out, from start to end – how a human being (a personality or mental aspect of them/the person) who dies on earth gets reincarnated in a body of another human being who gets born after the first human mentioned died, and, show how believing in the Buddha, his teachings, his order of monks, and following the Eight Fold Path affects that process of rebirth/reincarnation. Also show, using the language of modern science & math, how a human living on Earth is capable of achieving the mental state (or whatever state/mental/whole body/soul/karmic collections, etc.) of nirvana. 2. If the papers produced is too difficult to understand for a lay person – person who does not have deep knowledge of the latest brakethroughs in science & math (stuff that Yapa is a big fan of as he belives that stuff supports the existence of the speculative aspects of Buddhism) – they, or we, can find a secular or even religious but not involved in this debate scientist or mathematician or a group of scientists & mathematicians to read, test out (on paper), & interpert the findings to people who may not be able to understand what was written by you. 3. If that (item 1) cannot be done, then either karma, reincarnation, nirvana are a religious invention – intellectual & creative elements used for establishing & teaching a religion, faith based aspects OR methods do not exist at this point in time to demonstrate that karma, reincarnation, & nirvana are real/actual aspects of the universe/reality that have an effect on human beings. Either way, those aspects of Buddhism will have to be taken on faith by the believers. :: OTC, I am definitely a real person. Google my name & term “indie film” & you’ll find many documents that refer to the fact that I am indeed a real person – including interviews, notes on meetings (reviewers physically being at film screenings of mine, meeting me in person, etc.), photos, and video. To get you started, here is an interview of me done by a web site operated by Focus Features, a film distribution company in the US, interview is about my blog DIY Filmmaker: http://www.filminfocus.com/article/sujewa_ekanayake Also, if you distrust “foreign”/”western” & “secular” (& perhaps web based) sources, I have a close relative who is a somewhat well known Sri Lankan Buddhist monk – Bhante Gunaratana (whose writings & discourses on Buddhism, & much of the general views on the world, I enjoy) – who travels to Sri Lanka & elsewhere on the planet often to teach, so, if you ever meet him in person, you can ask him if he has a relative named Sujewa Ekanayake who makes movies, lived in DC area, lives now in NYC, etc. Here is the Amazon page for his autobiography: http://www.amazon.com/Journey-Mindfulness-Autobiography-Bhante-G/dp/0861713478 (a great read by the way, also available in sinhala i believe, very interesting stories about growing up poor in SL, becoming a monk at an early age, teaching to the unotuchables in India, ministering to refugees from the US war in vietnam, etc., check it out if you haven’t read it yet). :: Lot to do from today (Fri AM here in NYC) until Tue AM, will get back to everyone as time permits during the weekend or starting again on Mon. Have a great weekend everyone. – S • Wijayapala, Re: “What do you exactly mean by “someone?” The physical body is the only thing that we can observe.” By someone I mean the person who lived or lives on earth – the physical person. The existence of non-physical bodies or souls or whatever magical invisible elements have not been proven (does not automatically mean that they do not exist, but, as an agnostic, though i remain open to proof of a non-physical existence/existence of the personality or whatever that makes us us, none has been produced yet, but who knows what will happen in the future). – S • yapa An Addition………….., Here the objective/ attitude/how you look at them (whether with a prejudiced mind or not) are very important in understanding them. Can you remember I was continuously talking about “AKARAWATHI SRADDHA”. Really,”AKARAWATHI ARADDHA” is nothing but this “initial willingness”. I think you will accept that you will never be able to learn/realize anything without this initial willingness. How do you begin anything? Buddhism demands it a prerequisite, to realize Dhamma, and demands nothing even an ounce more. Thanks! • OTC, Since you are incredibly impatient & interperted my decision to go through the “evidence” you presented in detail, when time permitted, as a devious strategy to not discuss the so-called “evidence”, I’ll give my current take on your “evidence” now (based on the case that I already responded to above, plus reading other material on the web about the inability to prove rebirth & reincarnation, and reading comments made by SomewhatD on the matter/your “evidence”) – my current verdict on your “evidence” is that it is not sufficient for me to belive in rebirth/reincarnation. Like I’ve said several times earlier, I would personally, directly, myself, have to verify rebirth & reincarnation, not rely on research done by others, since the existence of such an item in the real world would make a massive difference to the world – thus, not a thing to be endorsed as real without complete proof. Also, discussing the historical conflict between the Sinhalese and the Tamils in Sri Lanka, in my opinion, is both related to this discussion on the truths of Buddhism and is more important immediately then this discussion – Buddhism is well established, the ability by most of the Sinhalese and probably most of the Tamils to view themselves as members of Sri Lanka first & then religious/ethnic/race/whatever groups second & work together well has not yet been well established (one of the barriers to this has been the view that SL Buddhism is automatically better than any other religion & thus any perceived threat needs to be violently countered in order to “save” SL Buddhism, but, as this discussion shows, SL Buddhism is just another religion – with moderates and fanatics, & with faith based items). Also, most people are capable of discussing several related aspects of one subject, and do not take offense at bringing up a related subject once the initial subject has been thoroughly discussed (as it has been regarding karma, reincarnation, nirvana). If you still think you can demonstrate to non-believers that karma, reincarnation, & nirvana are real, then do so by accepting the challenge I posted a couple of posts above – write out how those items are possible using the language of modern science & math. – S • yapa Dear BalangodaMan and others; The Buddha has given a formula to people to arrive at impartial/reasonable/fair/justifiable decisions/judgments in any occasion. He has identified four types of prejudices/biases that prevent people from making correct decisions/conclusions. I think our discussion too, objective of which should be to arrive at a reasonable conclusion is hindered by these biases. Really if we want the discussion to be successful, achieving its goals, I really believe that we have to do without these biases. According to Buddha, four biases that make people go bias is known as “Sathara Asathiya and they are 1).Chanda (Selfness/selfishness/bias/love towards self/belongings) 2). Dvesha (hatred) 3. Moha (ignorance) 4). Bhaya (fear) If we really want to know whether Buddhist Philosophy is or karma/reincarnation/nirvana are true or not, I really believe it is essential to progress the discussion without above (personal) biases. Any discussion with the richest contents will not achieve its goals, without eliminating them. Shall we first of all try to correct the “human factor” in the discussion. That is an apparent obstacle. Thanks! • yapa correction….. Sathara Agathiya NOT Sathara Asathiya • Hi All, Thanks to this discussion, I am now the latest contributor to Religurd – another website for agnostic & atheist leaning Sri Lankans. My first post there is up: http://religurd.wordpress.com/2010/04/16/what-is-agnosticism-and-how-does-it-relate-to-a-positive-approach-towards-sri-lanka-and-the-diaspora/ – S • yapa Dear Sujewa Ekanayake and All; “When someone dies they are, most likely, just dead â€“ end of story â€“ no afterlives, heavens, hells, etc.” I think if we don’t go by reasonable opinions/fact based opinions, our discussion either will not end or will end with chaos. Mere opinion has no value or credibility. Thanks! • yapa 1).[” As I’ve stated, it is only based on an earthly interpretation. My protest originated not against you, but Yapa’s claims, of Sri Lankan Buddhists being guardians of holy truths, which, IMO, is completely false.”] This itself is falsehood. Please be kind enough to substantiate such statements with specific examples. You are always prompt to your arbitrary,authorotative opinions in the same way without going in to retails. That has been the main problem through out the discussion. …………… 2).[“If someone propagates falsehoods then it becomes defamation. There are many ways of doing this on a Public Forum. A cunning way is to ask a question with apparent seriousness and after planting the seeds of doubt in the readers’ minds, avoid further discussion by not responding to counter replies.” You haven’t seen a single thing that has not been reasonably countered have you? ] ……….. Are you the same SomewhatDisgusted talking here. If so, can’t you remember running away from two discussions when I posed difficult problems, to be absent from the website for a couple of months. Can’t you remember, you performed a”ritual”of answering to the whole lot of questions with a few lines, when I repeatedly reminded you in this discussion. Lack of honesty is a huge problem. (However) Thanks! • yapa Sear All; Don’t you think “fantasizing” is causing problems in the discussion. Thanks! • OTC, Re: “As SomewhatDisgusted observed in his first rejoinder, there are many things that you accept because others say so. Some of these we cannot verify for ourselves as we do not possess the resources to do so. Some of it we do on complete trust.” Sure, but none of those items are of massive significance to human existence on Earth as karma, reincarnation, & nirvana being real. “Before DNA tests were perfected we had no way of scientifically proving who our parents were. That was accepted on implicit Trust. A Rationalist could not rationalise on it. Inability to prove a peron’s parentage scientificaly was due ONLY to limitations of Science and not because the the people who say that they are our parents were lying (if they did the progeny would have been illegitimate).” True, still does not mean something as massively significant as reincarnation should be taken on trust, in my view. – S • yapa Dear SomewhatDisgusted; [I will start my own critical analysis with a comparison Scientific evidence for god? Please read the following links, which provide scientific evidence for God.] ……………………… You are trying to train a dead horse to run with Off the Cuff’s live horse. Why this dishonesty? You really know “God” is really disprovable and you yourself saw how we disproved. Why are you taking up a disproved concept to compare to a dissimilar one. You did the same thing with me and ultimately accepted you did that wrong. If not for dishonesty, why are you repeating the same wrong?(Or are you lacking new arguments?) Thanks! • yapa Dear All; I don’t get any critical responses about my “essays”. I have seen Sujewa has written some general comments, mentioning some of the names that they would answer them? You accept what I say in them or not? Thanks! • Yapa, Re: ” “When someone dies they are, most likely, just dead â€“ end of story â€“ no afterlives, heavens, hells, etc.” (my statement) “I think if we don’t go by reasonable opinions/fact based opinions, our discussion either will not end or will end with chaos. Mere opinion has no value or credibility.” (your response) Death, that people die & remain dead is a reasonable & fact based opinion. Visit the nearest cemetary (sp?) & or inquire about the current earthly wearabouts of your relatives who lived 200 years ago. Also, this discussion will not end unless the nonbelievers become belivers (unlikely, due to lack of proof), or the believers accept the fact that certain items of their religion cannot be demonstated as real to non-believers. As I’ve asked above a couple of times, use modern science & math & lay out your proof for karma, reincarnation, nirvana – in its entirety. Take as much time as you need (several years even). Then we can get unbiased experts (if the papers are written in languages/terms that are too difficult for regular people who do not have a deep background in quantum mechanics & theoretical math to understand) to take a look at the papers & see if what you say makes sense. From ordinary, observable through the senses & other means used to verify the existence of things on Earth or this universe, the faith based items in Buddhism (karma, reincarnation, nirvana) do not appear to be real/actual elements of this universe. If they are proven as real (using method mentioned above) I will gladly spread the news far & wide (i am sure all other nonbelievers here will probably do the same, ‘cuase it would be a matter of massive significance to human life). :: Alright, Sujewa out for real for the weekend (of work, unfortunately), be back on Tue. :: – S • yapa Drar Sujewa Ekanayake “And, that entire line â€“ “Rationality as a “megalithic tool” in the modern world” is something that you’ve created and attributed to me, not something that I wrote.” No, I don’t attribute it to you. Only “loosely taken” part was taken from one of your previous posts. Sorry! • Off the Cuff Dear BalangodaMan, “I think questioning Sujewa’s authenticity as â€˜a real person’ is a little misplaced”. Not if you cross the boundaries of etiquette first and try to ride a Moral High Horse at the expense of your proponent. I have pointed out the fallacy of deriding assumed names that are designed to convey that they are assumed. Do not believe for a moment that you can put down a proponent by that type of low attack, it has a way of boomeranging …. bad Karma you know! Take your name for instance, everyone knows its not your real name. But no one knows who you are. We don’t know why you even chose that name. Probably you come from Balangoda or you may have an interest in History. You have your own reasons for it and we respect that. Though you and I have had heated discussions on issues, neither of of us questioned each other on that did we? But if you decide to climb on a Moral High Horse make doubly sure that it can take your weight. Anyone can work behind a Pseudonym that will NOT convey it is a pseudonym. Such a pseudonym is deceitful. Hence it is IRRATIONAL to make uncalled for derogatory remarks Just because you cannot make a Rational Argument. If you are a Rationalist your thinking must be Rational and your writing must be Rational. Break the Argument if it can be done and you will earn the respect of your opponent. Personally I have no problem in admitting my mistakes. I have done it before on this same forum and I have seen it being done by a few others. We don’t see the person just his writing. The only recognition possible is to recognise the person’s writing style and thinking. There is no possibility to connect those two with the real person. Just like Rebirth you want to believe it’s the person who you Googled. Yours is just a belief, It may be or it may not be, no one knows for sure without personnel contact. • Yapa, One more item before I take off for the weekend: Re: “According to Buddha, four biases that make people go bias is known as “Sathara Asathiya and they are 1).Chanda (Selfness/selfishness/bias/love towards self/belongings) 2). Dvesha (hatred) 3. Moha (ignorance) 4). Bhaya (fear)” I don’t have any fear (item 4) re: being wrong or karma, reincarnation, nirvana being actual/real. I have no hatred (item 2) of the religious concepts in discussion. I disagree with the Buddha (or the item above attributed to the Buddha) that love towards self (item 1) makes it impossible to discuss a subject without bias – it depends on the subject – the current subject is being discussed by me w/ out a strong preferance for the outcome – if the believers show that karma, reincarnation, and nirvana are real, I will agree that they are real, it won’t affect my conception of myself or my feelings about myself (at least not negatively). Re: item 3 – ignorance – well, this discussion is about ignorance, doing something about ignorance – either one camp is ignorant/does not know that speculative religious items cannot be proven as real or the other camp is ignorant/does not know that they can – but we debate to see what might be the truth. So, no, ignorance is not in the way of this discussion, as far as I can tell. On top of the factors you listed, let me add one more: can a hard core Sri Lankan Buddhist such as yourself accept that your religion contains aspects that cannot be demonstrated as true in this world? So, being open to human error, or being closed to the possibility that you are wrong – that’s factor 5 for not being able to understand an idea/fact. I know I can definitely accept the fact that at present I could be wrong about karma, reincarnaton, nirvana being speculative items – I think most agnostics feel the same way. If acceptable proof is provided, I am sure I will re-think my position re: karma, reincarnation, nirvana. However, none has been provided yet, nor do I see it coming. OK, “see” ya on Tue! – S • Heshan SomeWhat Disgusted: “I see you shouting in favour of Eelam ideology instead. How is your position realistic or even idealistic, in a 21st century context? ” That is not entirely true. My position has been that the Tamils should be left to handle their own affairs, either via a so-called Eelam or a federal solution. The federal solution is the most realistic of the two, and indeed, that is the one I have been most vocal about on this and other forums. How is federalism idealistic in the 21st century? Well, almost 42% of the world practices federalism… The fact that the larger share of Sinhalese are unwilling to even consider the possibility of federalism should speak volumes about Sinhalese chauvinism. Note: I am saying consider, not necessarily implement. Is it possible, rationally speaking, to reach any other conclusion than the fact that the majority of Sinhalese consider any significant amount of political devolution to the minorities, to be equivalent to separation? Although such a fear psychosis may have been somewhat justified during the time of the LTTE, what about the period of time before the LTTE and after the LTTE? Realistically speaking, what is preventing a political solution as of right now? I would go one step further and say that nothing has prevented a political solution other than Sinhalese chauvinism. For the sole reason that every President since Independence has been a Sinhala-Buddhist. Where does real power come from? From the top. When Sinhala-Buddhists were (and still are) calling all the shots, you cannot lay equal blame between the Tamils and the Sinhalese. With more power comes more responsibility. And when the roof collapses on the house, its not the servant who stands to lose the most (he was poor already)… it’s the master himself. • BalangodaMan Mr Yapa or anyone of the KRN Camp. Can you please tell me if the ancient scriptures tell us how the Buddha himself knew the truth of the KRN Model? He had no first hand experience of it at the time. Or did he? I know the popular understanding is that he became *enlightened*. Now (I know this is a sensitive issue) MANY THOUSANDS of people over recent centuries have described having had ‘spiritual awakenings’. Many writers living today have written about their experiences, so we know that such a thing happens and is quite common for some people to believe that they have been enlightened. How do we know that the Buddha gained ‘an undisputable truth uniquely’ and why are we to disregard what these contemporary people are saying? I have already asked, how is the Buddha telling his disciples that he is now enlightened and therefore KNOWS ‘the truth about the meaning of life’ different (more genuine) than Jesus telling his disciples that he IS the son of god, and Mohammed saying to his followers that he HAS the word of god as told to him by the angel Gabriel? Can Mr Yapa tell me what his reasoning is? (Please, without saying that I will not be asking the question if I am not prejudiced, and therefore the question does not deserve an answer, or something like that. Also, no accusations of defaming Mr Gautama as I am equally skeptical about Mr Christ and Mr Mohammed) Another related question that Mr Yapa has not answered. If Mr Y was born in Ryadh in a Muslim society would he not be equally STRONGLY believing in the truth of Mr Mohammed’s claim? Any chance of sharing your thoughts on this Mr Yapa? • OTC, Re: “Just like Rebirth you want to believe it’s the person who you Googled. Yours is just a belief, It may be or it may not be, no one knows for sure without personnel contact.” The conversation has gone from trying to prove whether karman, reincarnation, or nirvana is real to trying to prove whether Sujewa is real & or whether the Sujewa Ekanayake here is in fact the Sujewa Ekanayake at other places on the web such as this site: http://www.diyfilmmaker.blogspot.com/ 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 a most hilarious turn of events. Well, if you can’t accept that I am who I say I am, then suggest some means of verifying my identity (do you want me to post something on one of the 38 or so blogs that I have? let me know. do you want me to personally call or e-mail you? let me know. Do you want to meet up in NYC for a face to face verification, let me know), will do so, since I am not hiding behind a psuedonym and I am who I say I am. [granted, in your case, i do understand, in the context of the war in sri lanka, & disappearances of various people, why someone who writes from or writes about Sri Lanka would want to use a pseudonym. so, if that is the case, don’t feel that you have to reveal your real identity because of anything i’ve written above – if it may place your life in danger or may make life difficult for you. i however do not take accusations of defamation lightly (specially defamation of Buddhism, ’cause my family & SL Buddhism goes waaay back and wide, and i see all my work/writing/discussions re: Buddhism & anything related to SL as a way to attempt to improve things in SL & the SL diaspora, as positive work, not defaming work), so, that is why this issue of real indentity has been pressed] – S • OTC, Re: “Not if you cross the boundaries of etiquette first and try to ride a Moral High Horse at the expense of your proponent.” By accusing me of defaming Buddhism, you crossed the boundary of etiquette. Thus, an adequate response was necessary. – S • BalangodaMan OTC : re Sujewa’s pseudonym. Firstly, I apologies it was wrong of me to assume that you too could have come to know of Sujewa by reputation as easily as I did. I hope his own post has satisfied you that he is who he claims to be. Of course anonymity is no hindrance to a reasoned participation to an online debate. I agree with you. • BalangodaMan To add to Sujewa’s suggestion that the KRN Camp publish a paper on the scientific evidence for KRN I repeat a question I asked a long way up this thread. What research projects are currently being conducted by the University of SL on KRN? Isn’t it of utmost relevance to the country as a large proportion of the population are banking on this, poojas and so on? For example, if hoards of SL people are taking up a lucrative job in another country, and are making plans to go there, and then it is suspected that such a country does not actually exist (eg. except in the minds of those who want to believe) isn’t it a matter worthy of investigation? • BalangodaMan Just thought of another implication if karma and rebirth are a real fact. Instead of being just a belief, if rebirth is a fact (according to Mr Yapa) then the law should recognise me as the same person as the person I was in a previous birth. I should then have a legitimate legal claim on his estate, well mine actually? Come to think of it, I would have been many people in previous lives. Together, that could turn out to be quite some wealth, particularly if I was once Howard Hughes. Just need to find a good lawyer specialising in past-life-inheritence. Shouldn’t the law in a theocracy (which SL is fast becoming) recognise the cornerstone’s of the country’s religion? :: It’s good to see that there are more SL agnostics than the few that post here. Will we be called ‘SLAgnostics’ or ‘SLags’ for short? • Sony Balangodaman It is not the convention to address Buddha, Christ or Prophet Mohammed as Mr. Buddha, Mr. Christ or Mr. Mohammed. Therefore, your passage has an unnecessary and perhaps an insulting tone. This is especially bad in a religious conversation. I am saying this only because you had shown your sensitive side in an earlier post when you thought I was insensitive to your feelings about the god. • yapa Dear All, Heaps of irrelevant material, repeated postings of disproved or pre discussed and concluded things, talking in general, not responding to the arguments, not talking in specific form, not providing point to point answers, unwillingness to accept the views of the opposition, mutual distrust, hostile attitude towards the opposite, dishonesty, treachery, etc….etc. rampant in the discussion. If we get these things get corrected,before proceeding further, I am f the view that the discussion would be fruitless as a broken pot, despite millions and millions of words poured into the discussion.Please pay your attention to this. Thanks! • yapa Dear BalangodaMan; [Another related question that Mr Yapa has not answered. If Mr Y was born in Ryadh in a Muslim society would he not be equally STRONGLY believing in the truth of Mr Mohammed’s claim? Any chance of sharing your thoughts on this Mr Yapa?] I answered this. Just see a few posts after your question. I’ll try to answer the rest of you post too. I think you understand the difficulty of answering all sorts of questions posed in a small period of time. I am trying my level best to give honest answers to honest questions. Thanks! • yapa Dear Sujewa Ekanayake and All; I think it is very difficult to answer the questions found in the large quantum of materials poured in and the variance of topics contained in them. I think this has already gone miles over the limit and the discussion at present is at an unmanageable level, not producing desired results but the opposite. To regain its original objective, I would like to suggest as follows. 1. To limit our material only to essentials. 2. To give the opinion or the response in the shortest form possible. 3. To give only “the cream of idea” or limiting to the core as much as possible. 4. To be focused on to one topic at a time and refrain from asking or citing issues or bringing in facts that would disturb the focus, from the central theme. 5. Try to be objective as much as possible, providing every support to the audience to understand each one of our message by giving examples etc…etc… so that others could respond without difficulty. 6. Keep focused on the objective of the discussion (It is to achieve a reasonable conclusion(s) at the end of the discussion), and nothing else. 7. Not to give unnecessary importance to our emotional reactions, in the cause of the discussion. 8. and more than all of the above, to be honest at least to ourselves(Including my self) in the discussion. I hope all of “us” will draw “our” attention to this. Thanks! • Sur “How do we know that the Buddha gained â€˜an undisputable truth uniquely’ and why are we to disregard what these contemporary people are saying?” Perhaps by examining their teachings and testing them out we will be able to find out. The Buddha said “ehi passiko” meaning ‘come and see.’ He taught a method to end suffering and it is up to us as individuals to choose whether to follow it or not out of our own free will. To quote from Accesstoinsight “Buddhism relies on the direct observation of one’s personal experience and on honing certain skills in order to gain true understanding and wisdom.” In Buddhism, you don’t reach the end of suffering by simply reading scriptures, worshipping, or believing in the Buddha. The difference in Buddhism is that the path to being a Buddha is open to all. The Buddha merely “found the way” and showed it to the world. Whereas in Christianity none of us can become the Son of God and none of us can be a Prophet of Allah. • Sur “Instead of being just a belief, if rebirth is a fact (according to Mr Yapa) then the law should recognise me as the same person as the person I was in a previous birth. I should then have a legitimate legal claim on his estate, well mine actually? Come to think of it, I would have been many people in previous lives. Together, that could turn out to be quite some wealth, particularly if I was once Howard Hughes. Just need to find a good lawyer specialising in past-life-inheritence.” You have misunderstood the Buddhist teaching on rebirth. Unlike in Hinduism, Buddhism does not recognise an eternal soul that travels from one body into the next. That is why REINCARNATION is a Hindu teaching while REBIRTH is a Buddhist teaching. According to Buddhist teaching everything conditioned is impermanent and in a state of flux. You are not the same person as you were 2 minuted a go let alone 10 years ago. So what you are (combination of mind + matter) in the this life is not the same as the what you were (combination of mind + matter) in a previous life. Assuming you were of human form, you could have been male, female or hemaphrodite. Your intellectual capacity would have been different. You may have been heterosexual or homosexual. The relationship between what you were and what you are is described as “Na ca so, na ca anno” (Neither the same nor different). The similie that is given is when you use a lighted candle to light another candle – is the flame that arises in the new candle the same or different to the one on the old candle? • Off the Cuff Dear Sujewa E, Your so called Rational Thought has deserted you when the subject of discussion has become intimate to you. With ALL the long explanations that you have put forward to prove that you are what you claim yourself to be you have proved NOTHING. If I wrote with an assumed name of a “Real Person” it is not a problem for me to refer you to any number of sites that refer SPECIFICALLY to that real person. Does not prove in any way that I am what I claim to be. In simple terms I can become an impostor just as you can be with the Sujewa Name. Trying to prove that you are not an IMPOSTOR Rationally, becomes difficult in the least. Try applying your own arguments about Karma, Rebirth and Nirvana on yourself. Should be “ENLIGHTENING”. The methodology available to you is limited because what the READERS of this forum see is just what you write, NOTHING ELSE. To give you an example I can use the name of ANY Famous person and you will be hard pressed to prove otherwise. If I use “Bill Clinton or even Hilary Clinton” I have plenty of web resources available to put in front of the Audience. How do you propose to distinguish between the two, let alone disproving who I claim to be? Your film maker links become worthless. At least now do you realise how JUVENILE your Rationality is, when you become the subject of discussion? Never try to deride your opponent assuming that a REAL SOUNDING name is at a Higher Plane of Ethical standing than an assumed name DESIGNED TO CONVEY THAT IT IS ASSUMED. Such an assumed name might prove SUPERIOR to the real sounding one. You can’t ride that moral high horse as that horse is LAME. You will only get Muddied. “By accusing me of defaming Buddhism, you crossed the boundary of etiquette. Thus, an adequate response was necessary.” As clearly explained before, when you RAISE DOUBTS by your questions and Neglects or Fail to respond to counter arguments Your ORIGINAL intent becomes questionable. On a Public Forum that is not limited to you and me what we write is read by many others. You cant plant the seeds of DOUBT and retire. If you do or attempt to do that your question can be interpreted as designed to plant DOUBT intentionally. Don’t lose sight of the fact that you Postponed, then Indefinitely postponed and finally tried to change the subject altogether. That Sujewa is Defamation and it is a FACT not just an accusation (the words written by you, stand witness to what I have stated). I attacked that FACT. You on the other hand tried to attack the person based simply on DELUSION on your part. You are not that rational as you believe yourself to be. Your response was PUNY and as you can see, very week indeed. The results you reap are due to the “Conscious Action” that you performed. Conscious action is what is termed simply as Karma. Hope you realise how irrational your action has been. • Off the Cuff Dear Sur, Very precise postings about Buddhist Philosophy. Congratulations. • yapa Dear BalangodaMan; You say; Just thought of another implication if karma and rebirth are a real fact. Instead of being just a belief, if rebirth is a fact (according to Mr Yapa) then the law should recognise me as the same person as the person I was in a previous birth. I should then have a legitimate legal claim on his estate, well mine actually? Come to think of it, I would have been many people in previous lives. Together, that could turn out to be quite some wealth, particularly if I was once Howard Hughes. Just need to find a good lawyer specialising in past-life-inheritence. ………………… Just think how many number of ways we can think of “something”. 10 ways?, 100 ways?,1000 ways?, 10000 ways?, ……,……,……..,………..100000000…….. ways? and come to a similar number of different end conclusions as you have done in the above post and ask equal number of questions or more. Just imagine how possibly a person can answer such questions asked an innumerable number of questions based on “astray imaginations” or” wild imaginations”. Will the the “question asker” get the proper answer for his intended question in mind? We must get this discussion on to the track again based on our self discipline (especially because we cannot discipline others as we really don’t know them in person. Ha! Ha!!). That is what I meant saying “we must stop” “fantasizing”. (Further, I should say that you are in confusion about Buddhist reincarnation with reincarnation concept in Hinduism. Your lack of knowledge in Buddhist philosophy/ Buddhism is an obstacle for a healthy discussion and pave way to your “unlimited imaginations” that might hurt the feelings as Sony has pointed out in his post above. Without basic knowledge “discussion” is not the best way to gain knowledge and further discussions to arrive at higher level conclusions. If you took my advice just to scarify a few hours reading the “Milinda Prashnaya” on the given link, many questions asked here would have been answered your self. Buddha also said “I show the path, but it is your responsibility to liberate your self, I am not in a position to liberate any. In “our language” we say “we can take a horse to the river but we cannot make it drink”. If I say in “my language” it goes as follows; Maga hondata thiye num, Yanna desath pene num, Kima bediwala yanne, Munmula woo ekaku se?, Thanks! ( I tried to this post, by didn’t come in the screen, but my post posted later appeared. So, I am posting this with making a neclegible change in it) • Sur The following book is a good read on the above mentioned subject. Unfortunately, only a limited preview is avaiable at Google books. I had thought that the full version would be available. Twenty cases suggestive of reincarnation By Ian Stevenson Can anyone speak a language he or she has not learned normally, in childhood or later? Claims to have accomplished this are made from time to time, but only rarely do they receive support when carefully examined. In this volume Dr. Stevenson presents detailed reports of two cases thatt seem authentic. Authentic instances of speaking a language that has not been learned normally (responsive xenoglossy) suggest that another personality (perhaps one of a previous life) had learned the langauge. Cases of responsive xenoglossy thus add to the evidence concerning the survival of human personality after death. Nevertheless, quite a bit of the book is available for online reading at: http://books.google.com.au/books?id=vIDES6VWl1MC&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_v2_summary_r&cad=0 • yapa Dear Sur; I endorse whole heatedly what Off the Cuff has said in his post of April 17, 2010 @ 1:22 am. Thanks! • yapa I observe a paradox in the attitudes of who argue against the Buddhist Philosophy in this forum. 1. Many (or all) of them reject (some vehemently reject) the offer to gain some awareness of Buddhism to continue this discussion in a smoother way. 2. They demand us to prove what they want, in a way they want, despite their reluctance/objection to (1) above. 3. They vehemently argue against, based on just layman knowledge using all sort of arguments based on “rationality” as they call it (really speaking only on some occasions, but many times on their own imaginations). They seem to believe that they can deduce any thing using arguments(rationality?) out of “negligible layman knowledge”. 4. Rationality could not deduce that falling bodies under gravity do not have a bearing on the size of bodies, for over 1500 years until Galileo did it rationally with a deep knowledge of the subject. Even the pioneer of Rationality and Science: Aristotle, himself couldn’t do it. 5. Isn’t it a paradox that said people in the forum to expect some transcendental things to be deduced on rationality with a minimal knowledge of it in a limited time of couple of hours in the forum, when it took over 1500 years for a genius like Galileo to deduce a simple phenomena in nature with so much of background knowledge? Thanks! • Off the Cuff Dear Yapa, I fully endorse your comments in your post of April 17, 2010 @ 9:16 am. I hope it would be possible to keep the discussion on that plane. • BalangodaMan AGNOSTISM ———— OTC, you accuse the agnostics of planting DOUBT. ‘Doubt’ IS why agnostics are agnostics. The job of the agnostic in an intellectual discussion is to raise questions, food for thought. It is because an agnostic generally believes that there are more questions than answers – we can have more answers only by following up the questions and raising doubts on the answers we *THINK* we already have. If you feel that ‘asking questions on what we already believe’ is somehow ‘defaming’ then we have a problem. An intellectual discussion involving agnostics and believers becomes problematic, if not impossible. Brother Sujewa and I have described ourselves as agnostics already. To SONY, re your point about my referring to religious leaders as Mr. Agnostics tend to accept all people as HUMAN people. The ‘super human’ status of religious leaders is an argument put forward by their respective believers. That is fine. This discussion is focused on whether the believers have a rational argument to convince the agnostics. So far not. Therefore, as an agnostic while I continue to believe in the enormous historic and cultural significance of Siddharta Gautama, Jesus and Mohammed who lived in ancient times, I am not swayed that they were ‘super’ or ‘extra human’, any more than other wise men since or contemporary philosophers who live today. SONY, you use the term ‘it is not conventional’. Well, actually the problem in many ‘inward-looking’ societies is that it is ‘not conventional’ to question long held beliefs. This discussion, by its very nature is ‘not conventional’ for our own inward-looking society (though they are commonplace in open societies in which the SL diaspora now reside). OTC, Even under your definition (that we are not the same person who was 10 minutes ago) it brings absurd anomalies when one ponders the implications of an idea in relation to our existing ‘real world’ systems. (I must stress that these absurdities are present in ANY religion, including Christianity and Islam). For example, taking the judicial system as in the illustration, how can we convict someone of a crime he committed more than 10 mins ago (if we accept that we change and we cannot be held accountable for our changing values, for example)? I am not arguing against the idea of impermanence (this is something I strongly believe in) but pointing out that our real world systems do not recognise them. Final word, the objections raised on this thread to the agnostics is really asking them NOT to approach this subject with the level of intellectual scrutiny that the Buddha himself suggested in the Kalama Sutra. You are saying ‘don’t be agnostic’. This may upset a few, but the Kalama Sutra indicates (to me at least) that the Buddha HIMSELF was an agnostic and promoted this kind of approach (to knowledge and its dessemination) as some of us are pursuing. We have all learned from the teachings of the Buddha, but selectively – some prefer the intellectual implications others prefer the dogma. • yapa Dear Groundviews, Now the next post of mine posted before the post of April 17, 2010 @ 1:23 pm and referred in the last sentence within the bracket is now lost. Please publish this. Thanks! • SomewhatDisgusted Dear OTC, “On a Public Forum that is not limited to you and me what we write is read by many others. You cant plant the seeds of DOUBT and retire. If you do or attempt to do that your question can be interpreted as designed to plant DOUBT intentionally.” I am not sure this is a valid argument. This whole debate has been precisely about acknowledging doubt, for the simple reason that kamma and rebirth *ought* to be in doubt. They are *not facts* and I think we’ve established that fairly convincingly. That was also the whole point of this discussion wasn’t it? Personally, I really don’t understand how anyone can defame an imaginary construct. When beliefs are taken as fact, that’s when problems start and one’s beliefs are forced on others. We’ve already seen where it has taken the Christians and the Muslims. Surely, we should not tread on that same path where its gruesome outcome has been repeatedly demonstrated? Religion is, and should be, essentially a private belief. It is something that you accept in the absence of evidence and is therefore categorically *not* a shared understanding, as has been amply demonstrated here. When it’s mixed up with public policy, that’s when it creates unnecessary problems. Would you agree? • yapa Dear Groundviews; You must have mistakenly omitted it, because it also contained the “Sinhala poem”mentioned in the post of April 17, 2010 @ 12:26 pm addressed to BalangodaMan. Thanks! • BalangodaMan Dogma ——- According to Wikipedia “Dogma is the established belief or doctrine held by a religion, ideology or any kind of organization: it is authoritative and not to be disputed, doubted or diverged from. The term derives from Greek Î´ÏŒÎ³Î¼Î± “that which seems to one, opinion or belief”[1] and that from Î´Î¿ÎºÎ­Ï‰ (dokeo), “to think, to suppose, to imagine”.[2] The plural is either dogmas or dogmata , from Greek Î´ÏŒÎ³Î¼Î±Ï„Î±.” Mr. Yapa, I applaud your call to bring focus to the discussion. However as I have mentioned previously, it is not possible – for this reason. Your camp want to discuss the DOGMA of Buddhism (see above. and your list) The other camp wants to discuss the implications that strict belief in the dogma has on modern society, particularly in SL. They are concerned with the ‘bigger picture’. These are two difference things. You are good at one, but not on the other. Similarly, we are good on one but not on the other. In your camp dogma takes priority over free-thinking, whereas in the other camp it is the reverse. Your mindset seems to be like, Tiger Woods saying ‘golf is better than cricket’ because he is an expert at one, and has never played the other. • yapa Dear all Agnostics; You have a responsibility to answer the arguments posed to you in many of my essays, to which you failed to answer yet. Sujewa E. said he would get some of his experts in Science from his “camp” to get them assessed and have not yet been materialized. I have written them, without any technical details so that anybody with common intelligence could understand. You cannot move further, without answering my challenges posed against you, I suppose. If you try to avoid them that means; 1. You have no any more valid arguments to hold your view(s) and you purposely avoid them OR 2. You cannot argue at that higher level, which is essential to come to a conclusion of the subjects of this nature. AND 3. You believe that your “common knowledge is sufficient to solve any subect or issue in the modern world. If you think you can solve “Transcendental thinks can be solved with this common knowledge, why don’t you join a Chemistry Research Group in a University to find the chemical components in Jupiter? As I have used to say; “Ignorance is Bliss! Thanks! • Off the Cuff Dear Friends, To BalangodaMan, “OTC, you accuse the agnostics of planting DOUBT” No I have not said that. If that is the case there is no discussion. Read again what I have stated. You have missed the IMPORTANT phrase that followed Create Doubt by all means but DON’T RUN AWAY from the discussion. If you ask the questions make sure that you answer the return questions. When you don’t do that your intent of the original question is in doubt. Why ask questions if you dont want a discussion to take place in the first place? To SomewhatDisgusted, “I am not sure this is a valid argument. This whole debate has been precisely about acknowledging doubt,” As I pointed out to B’man Why ask a Question if you are not prepared to discuss the matter? Such refusal brings the Intent of the question to doubt. You cant ask a question and then run away from the answers and counter questions. That is where the problem starts. By ALL means ask ANY question there is absolutely no problem with that but be prepared to answer them without running away or changing the subject. This post was done in a hurry …have to rush for an appointment. Will answer more fully if my answer is not sufficient. • SomewhatDisgusted Dear Yapa, “You did the same thing with me and ultimately accepted you did that wrong. If not for dishonesty, why are you repeating the same wrong?.” This reminded me that I had not replied to your previous post. Please quote it so everyone knows what the debate was about. To quote your own words: “If I am to summarize the whole argumentation I had with SomewhatDisgusted, as the final conclusion: Faith in Christianity God and similarâ€¦ = Amoolika Sraddha “Faith” in Buddhism = Akarawathi Sraddha.” Might I also request, that you always append our agreed upon definition whenever you summarize the argument, for the benefit of the English speaking public? Faith â€“ Strong belief in the absence of evidence. AkaravathiShradda â€“ Strong belief in the absence of evidence, but better than mere faith. I am glad you are finally happy and found the above definition sensible, and I too think it perfectly embodies the circular nature of our discussion. Anyway, let’s see whether future arguments can bring about similar agreement! • SomewhatDisgusted Dear Yapa, Sorry I missed your questions. I want to get a passing mark, so please go easy! “1. Can anybody tell me the where this indispensable “Rationality Theory” comes from?” Yes. From common sense. 2. Do you think the above theory is indispensable? Yes. (Unless you don’t want to survive in society, in which case, irrationality is acceptable) 3. Do you think it is the only theory by which all the beings on earth “extract” their knowledge for the purpose of their needs (in their lifetime?)? Yes and no (4 valued logic. How come u expect a 2 valued answer? Are you impaired with a western brain?). Anyway, just because we don’t understand how a salmon thinks, does that mean it is subject to irrational rules? 4. If the answer is no, give some examples. Since the answer is “Yes & No”, I guess I don’t need to answer. Phew. Guess I get 25 marks for the last question at least! 😉 • yapa Dear all Agnostics; I have invalidated your main (only?) tool: Rationality, in the contexts of knowledge seeking/mystery solving in the modern era. You have been stripped.Establish your pride/fame again if possible. I have established that transcendental things such as karma/reincarnation/nirvana cannot be realized through rationality, and hence they are not within the reach of you and you have no capacity to prove or disprove or at least to find a clue of it. this is the reason for your ignorance of them, not that they are not true/realities. Your tool is a megalithic tool to fight our modern army.I have very well established it . I challenge you to show if I am wrong and establish your pride again. Otherwise you have no say in this forum, as your “megalithic tool” has been broken into pieces. Catch me if you can. Thanks! • wijayapala Dear Sujewa, By someone I mean the person who lived or lives on earth â€“ the physical person. The existence of non-physical bodies or souls or whatever magical invisible elements have not been proven Thank you for answering my question. In Buddhism, an individual is most certainly divisible into physical and non-physical elements (consciousness and mental factors); the individual is defined not simply by these elements but more importantly by the relationships between them. Our sense of self arises based on the links between our physical body, our consciousness, and related mental factors including emotions and sensations. When the physical body dies, yes the particular individual “dies” as the relationships between the physical body and consciousness are broken. The question remains: what happens to the consciousness? We know that we have a consciousness because we experience it, just as we experience emotions and sensations. Yet neither consciousness nor mental factors can be scientifically measured, because they exist beyond the physical realm (although as I pointed out, they are associated with particular physical bodies). This is the principle problem with relying on science to explain phenomena that it is inherently incapable of explaining. Science will NEVER provide a definitive answer as to what happens upon death, except for what happens to the physical body. Of course, if your faith demands that you only accept your physical body as real, then I will not question it! 😉 • wijayapala Dear SomewhatDisgusted, Please read the threads from the beginning, starting with Transformation of Buddhism, then defend your case. You think it’s ok to not address such claims? And you don’t think that Buddhists in SL consider themselves special? Of course it is ok to address any claims you’d like. But you are continuing to make sweeping, unscientific assertions about “Buddhists in SL” without providing any evidence to back them. I can only speak for myself. I don’t consider myself special, although I do think Buddhism is special. If I didn’t think it is special, I wouldn’t be a Buddhist, and I imagine most other Buddhists out there feel the same way. “Christian and Islamic fundamentalists, who have far more$\$ and political clout than the Buddhist population of the world combined.”
And this is an incredibly pressing concern that is sweeping Buddhists out of Sri Lanka as we watch?

Obviously it isn’t sweeping Buddhists out of Sri Lanka because the Buddhists aren’t as meek and passive as you would like them to be. Be that as it may, religions do not often disappear overnight, and to demand an example where it can be observed in less than a single lifetime would be absurd.

We can only go by the history of Buddhism becoming supplanted by Christianity and Islam in lands such as central Asia and Korea.

I sincerely hope Buddhism is not the kind of half-assed religion you have in mind. Shudder to think of what a 100% Buddhist like you means.

Thank you for taking the discussion in a wonderful new direction. I can understand your resort to insults as an unfortunate alternative to your inability to use facts and reasoning. However, I am puzzled as only a few days before you said,

I’ve learnt a thing or too about being fair-minded and honest from you, thank you!

Are you “shuddering” from my honesty and fair-mindedness??

• Yapa,

Re: “Otherwise you have no say in this forum, as your “megalithic tool” has been broken into pieces.” & the entire April 17, 2010 @ 6:27 pm comment.

Fantasize all you want, but, you have not yet shown us how karma, reincarnation, and nirvana are real – because you can’t, because either those items are speculative/completely fake/devices created to support a religion or those items cannot be proven using the methods that currently exist.

The intital question was not whether rationality was a perfect tool – it was whether karma, reincarnation, & nirvana are real.

Yes, feel free to change the subject and admit, as you have done above in an indirect way, that you cannot prove to non-believers that karma, reincarnation, & nirvana are real.

Good luck with your faith in Buddhism.

Also, both the believers & the non-believers can have plenty of say in this forum (actually, we already have), and will continue to speak, even though some believers may be uncomfortable with others pointing out that several elements of their religion is speculative.

– S

• yapa

Dear BalangodaMan;

RE: Your post of April 17, 2010 @ 4:19 pm

You are talking about the definitions in Wickipedia. All these definitions have been given before the modern era of Science. See most of the definitions in Science, given in any dictionary have now been out dated after the Modern Science. Modern knowledge system is a total “paradigm shift “and almost all the concepts/definitions soon will have to be re-defined. People in the Social Sciences, Humanities has no even a clue about this sea change. They are just crabs in a boiling pot. Await your extinction if you don’t crawl out of that “olden day clay pot”. Soon all of your books have to be re-written. What you have learned have been fully out dated. You will have to find new Political theories based on modern concepts developed after the modern era. You will soon see faith based western political theories such as Liberalism, will have to be thrown into dust bins. All the Social Sciences will have to be re defined soon. I think all those things will happen during our life time. Already the heat waves of modern science have been felt in the field of Technology. All the subject areas will have to undergo this sea change. When that happens keep in mind the dictionary you are quoting “dogmas” will have no place even in the dust bin as all the subjects you consider so valuable will fill the dustbins not allowing space to any thing else. Keep in mind your dictionary is “doomed”.The cycle of “Asta Loka Dharma” is spinning even though you have no knowledge of it. You cannot stop turning it. Quickly get out of the pot.

(Take it serious. I am not joking or telling a fairy tale. Ask somebody who has a knowledge in Modern Science. Otherwise search the web, if you don’t have the backward attitude “I cannot understand them”. I have given you a link. Here it is again, I am giving it in compassion to you. It is a life line for you, you outdated lot.
http://www.spaceandmotion.com/)

Thanks!

Thanks!

• Yapa,

Re: “You have a responsibility to answer the arguments posed to you in many of my essays, to which you failed to answer yet. Sujewa E. said he would get some of his experts in Science from his “camp” to get them assessed and have not yet been materialized”

Again, let’s not invent facts that do not exist. Point out where you posed arguments that none of the nonbelivers have not addressed, and if any exist, I (or I am sure one of the others) will address them.

Also, my challenge still stands to you & all belivers. If you feel, as you have said several times – something like that modern science can prove the existence of karma, reincarnation, nirvana but most people are not learned enough to understand it, then, write out your proof using the language of modern science & math, and if we nonbelievers here cannot understand it, then we will get others who can understand the “language” to interpert it for us & the rest of the world. I am sure definite scientific & mathematical proof as to how karma, reincarnation, & nirvana works will be of great interest to billions of people, & will, as SomewhatD said, change the world as we know it, so I am looking forward to being a part of such an event, even though I am at present in the nonbelievers camp.

– S

• Wijayapala,

Re: “Of course, if your faith demands that you only accept your physical body as real, then I will not question it!”

If you believe that there is more to human existance than the physical body, then show it. If you can’t, then we are back to where things always were – that it appears that human existence ends with death. Buddhism is a religion, it speculates about life after death as all religions do.

– S

• yapa

Sujewa Ekanayake

RE: Your post of April 17, 2010 @ 6:58 pm

I am sorry about you. Just ask from anybody who has some knowledge whether what I have said are correct or not. You don’t know what is being happened to your beliefs such as “Rationality”. Just because you don’t understand them don’t think that they are incorrect. It is like ostrich’s denying of storm hiding its head under the sand. Ask Somebody who has done “Theoretical Physics” in a university. You can find them without much difficulty in a country like USA. Keep your film making aside for some time and consult somebody who knows and also do some merit for the next world.

Ignorant is the bravest!

Kikalada kala kam pala noma denne; (???not sure)

Thanks!

• yapa

Site Introduction (2010): Despite several thousand years of failure to correctly understand physical reality (hence the current postmodern view that this is impossible) there is an obvious solution.
Simply unite Science (Occam’s Razor / Simplicity) with Metaphysics (Dynamic Unity of Reality) and describe reality from only one substance existing, as Leibniz wrote;
‘Reality cannot be found except in One single source, because of the interconnection of all things with one another’.
Given we all experience many minds and many material things, but always in one common Space, we are thus required to describe physical reality in terms of Space. We then find there is only one solution, a Wave Structure of Matter (WSM) where the electron is a spherical standing wave. See Wave Diagrams.
In hindsight the error was obvious, to try and describe an interconnected reality with discrete ‘particles’, which then required forces / fields to connect them in space and time. This was always just a mathematical solution which never explained how matter was connected across the universe.

I realise that there are a lot of ‘crackpot’ theories about truth and reality on the internet, but it is easy to show that the Wave Structure of Matter is the correct solution as it deduces the laws of Nature (the fundamentals of Physics & Philosophy) perfectly (there are no opinions). While the Wave Structure of Matter is obvious once known, to begin it will seem strange simply because it takes time for our minds to adjust to new knowledge.

For those who are religious / spiritual, I think Albert Einstein expresses the enlightened view of God. He writes ‘I believe in Spinoza’s God who reveals himself in the orderly harmony of what exists, not in a God who concerns himself with the fates and actions of human beings.’ This harmony arises from a Wave Structure of Matter in Space (we are all interconnected in this space that we all commonly experience). This unity of reality (God, Brahman, Tao, Spirit, Energy, Light, Vibration) is central to all major world religions, thus their common moral foundation of ‘Do unto others as to thyself’ as the other is part of the self.

Clearly our world is in great trouble due to human overpopulation and the resultant destruction of Nature, climate change and the pollution of air, land and water. The best solution to these problems is to found our societies on truth and reality rather than past myths and customs (which invariably cause harm).
We are listed as one of the Top Philosophy Websites on the Internet with around 600,000 page views each week, and rank in the top 20 in Google for many academic search terms – so we just need a bit of help to get in the top five. Given the Censorship in Physics / Philosophy of Science Journals (founded on the standard model / particle physics) the internet is clearly the best way to get new knowledge visible to the world.
A world now in great need of wisdom from truth and reality.

• Yapa,

Re:

“I observe a paradox in the attitudes of who argue against the Buddhist Philosophy in this forum.

1. Many (or all) of them reject (some vehemently reject) the offer to gain some awareness of Buddhism to continue this discussion in a smoother way.”

You are assuming that we do not already have “some awareness of Buddhism”. Let me clarify – I was born & raised as a Buddhist, in a very large family of Buddhists who did not discourage inquiry into all aspects of the religion. Plus I have read about & discussed Buddhism with others (including, on occasion, Buddhist monks) for about 2 decades now, after officially “leaving” Buddhism. The concepts that you are attempting to pass off as true but difficult to understand were things I understood as faith based elements when I was a teenager.

“2. They demand us to prove what they want, in a way they want, despite their reluctance/objection to (1) above.”

There is no objection to knowledge about Buddhism. I would say that everyone presently involved in the discussion who is an agnostic or a nonbeliever seems to have a