Colombo, Identity, Religion and faith

The Agnostics vs. The Believers regarding karma, reincarnation, nirvana as described in Buddhism being real aspects of this world

One of the challenges put forth by The Agnostics camp (myself, SomewhatDisgusted, BalangodaMan, with help from Heshan) to The Believers (Yapa, Wijayapala, Off The Cuff, etc.) in the 1000+ comments discussion/debate that’s taking place in the comments section of the Akon & Buddhism article at Groundviews is: prove, using modern science or math or any other verifiable method available, to non-believers, that karma, reincarnation, nirvana, as described in Buddhism, are real aspects/actual things that exist in this world.

So far, in spite of their strong feeling that karma, reincarnation, & nirvana are real, and in spite of hundreds of comments by them, The Believers have not been able to show that karma, reincarnation and nirvana are in fact real – and not just speculative items used to introduce and sustain the Buddhist world view.

So, I will renew the call at this new article (since the previous article mentioned now has over 1000 comments – many wildly off point – and is reportedly making WordPress behave in strange ways); I invite The Believers to focus strictly at the question at hand – not on parables and pointless anger and name calling and mythological “history” – but to lay out the proof for the existence of karma, reincarnation, and nirvana in the real world. In the same way that one may lay out the proof for the existence of lightning or the brain’s capacity to think or the existence of gravity or the ability to travel at a thousand miles an hour – The Believers can use any hard-to-understand math or science, or even just common sense – and show how, as some believers (specially Yapa) claim – Buddhism is something more than a faith based religion (a great world religion, a human intellectual creation that is very useful to many, but, in the end, however, only a religion – with core elements such as karma, reincarnation, nirvana dependent on faith, with those items that cannot be verified to be real/true by a non-believer).

I am certain that hundreds of comments will issue forth here (as it did in the Akon & Buddhism article) from the minds & finger tips of The Believers. I plan on (& hopefully my agnostic brothers & sisters will aid me in this mission) pointing out whenever The Believers go off topic & try to evade the key question. So, lay out the facts Believers (& only the facts please), show us how karma, reincarnation, nirvana are real aspects of this world/this universe.

[Editors note: With well over one thousand comments, totalling over 270,000 words, the logic and arguments in the comment thread on Akon and Buddhism in Sri Lanka became laborious to navigate and for WordPress, technically challenging to host.

Sujewa, who on numerous occasions had problems commenting on the thread, was invited to submit this synopsis of the key arguments on that epic comment thread. We invite you to continue your debate and discussions here, perhaps for another 1000+ comments!]

  • “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.”
    — F. Scott Fitzgerald

    The scientific pursuit of knowledge/insight has been limited – by definition – to the physical, measurable world. It is not possible – no matter who claims otherwise – to prove or disprove the spiritual concepts of karma, reincarnation, nirvana, god, heaven or hell within the bounds of science.
    However, particle physicists in particular have been stretching the envelope of science beyond the physical, visible and quantifiable; into the imagined, invisible, intangible and subliminal. They even call the yet undiscovered, hypothesised ‘Higgs Boson” the “God particle” hinting, perhaps not entirely in jest, the almost spiritual nature of their research.
    Will humanity find God in the Large Hadron Collider? Probably not – because neither the concept of God nor any other arbitrary constructs of human spirituality can be wrung into the thimble of human intelligence to be made fathomable, let alone the measurable or quantifiable; simply because all those concepts are idols – or place holders – for the unfathomable, immeasurable and unquantifiable in the first place.
    The one most enduring lesson that science has taught us – in one of its most enlightened discoveries in the 20th century – is the fact that we may never know anything for certain (read: uncertainty principle). (See Dr Jacob Bronowski’s enduring essay on the broader implications of the subject)
    It is as unscientific to deny God, Nirvana, Karma, reincarnation – not merely the constructs of our spiritual longing, but acknowledgements of the deficits, if not fallibility of our knowledge. They are waypoints in our journey to higher wisdom that offer shelter in compassionate humility. God, Nirvana, Karma and reincarnation can never be offered as facts or absolute truths, let alone be pitted against one another to asses the truthfulness of one concept compared to another – simply because any arrogant belief in their certainty leaves no room for the inquisitive, questioning pursuit of higher wisdom they all espouse and encourage.

  • First of all, I think the poster needs to know his Buddhism before criticizing it. Kamma in the Buddha’s Dhamma is intention (or cetanā), and the result of kamma can be seen here and now. If you put your finger in the fire, it burns. That’s kamma in action. If you have an angry thought, it affects your breathing and body. That’s kamma.

    Now since the poster seems to focus exclusively on kamma and rebirth (not reincarnation btw – which presupposes a soul that transmigrates), this the Buddha teaches can be directly experienced by meditation practice – specifically through entering the fourth jhāna and inclining your mind towards the knowledge. Of course, if you want some kind of mathematical equation proving rebirth, you’re missing the whole point. The Buddha’s teaching is about experiences that are directly realizable through practice – he just shows what the practice is. This is like criticizing Einstein that his theory of relativity makes no sense by a guy who has no understanding of physics.

    You are asking for proof through the scientific method which fails to give you conclusive answers in this regard. Science is no closer to knowing whether there is life after death than anytime before. There is however, good para-psychological research done on claims of rebirth, with very good evidence. A great example is the research done by Ian Stevenson – I recommend his book Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation. Even avowed western atheists such as Sam Harris considers this research warranting more interest.

    But does this prove rebirth? Of course not. There is no scientific method to prove rebirth. Instead of concluding that therefore this must be untrue, the logical conclusion is to consider it a possible hypothesis with good historical evidence (based on the above). This is completely different from Abrahamic religions (Christianity, Islam, Judaism), where blind faith on a creator entity and eternal life have no evidence whatsoever.

    Also, the although I’d disagree that Buddhism is a science. That’s doing a Buddhism a disservice considering how fast scientific theories change (consider for example Newton’s laws of motion which have all shown to not be true under certain circumstance with the advent of Einsteinian physics). The Dhamma on the other hand has the quality of being akālika (timeless), and ehipassika (inviting verification). If you consider teachings such as rebirth untenable, you have to at least follow the path of practice the Buddha recommends that he claims lets you find out – instead of making assumption based on one’s own views.

    Regarding proof of Nirvāna, there is a discourse in the Pāḷi Canon specifically relating to this, where the Buddha states that until one reaches the far shore there is an element of conviction (saddhā) that needs to come to play.

  • Also I’d like to comment that faith in Buddhism is not the same as the blind faith you get in other religions. Actually a better translation of the Pāḷi term saddhā is conviction. And it really is something similar to trusting your guitar teacher to teach you how to master the guitar when you have very little idea if his instructions would work. But with practice, as you get better, what little conviction you had increases and you start believing mastery is possible. This practice of the Dhamma works the same way. The Buddha’s teaching is a matter of skill (kusala), which is practiced to attain the desirable results. When you start off, the conviction you have could be as small as trusting a friend who says meditation helps you get more control of the mind, or trusting scientific research that suggests that meditation helps sound cognitive functioning. But the further you go along the path, as you see that what the Buddha claims is indeed verifiable with your own experience, your conviction of the goal increases. This is very different from blind faith – the Buddha talks of guarding the truth and being completely honest on what you know and what you believe – the simile of the elephant footprint clearly points to that fact.

    There are numerous other relevant discourses, I recommend the site Access to Insight to anyone interested.

  • It’s hard for the believers to give up on certain beliefs even though no scientific proof is found. I personally think living with doubt is better than having a blind faith. And most importantly you don’t have to believe in karma, reincarnation, nirvana, etc… to be a good person. Karma is a concept invented to keep people away from doing bad things.

    If you remember the ‘Goni-Billa’ concept which our parents told us about when we were young to keep us away from doing bad things it won’t be hard for you to understand what Karma is (that is if you have grown up mentally)

  • Sur

    Buddhism does not teach “reincarnation” but rather “rebirth.” Reincarnation is a Hindu teaching. Buddhism denies the existence of an eternal, unchanging soul.

    Karma (Pali Kamma) simply means “action.” And this is exactly what it desribes. According to Buddhist teaching there are three types

    (1) Kusala Kamma (wholesome kamma)
    (2) Akusala Kamma (unwholesome kamma)
    (3) Ahosi Kamma (neither wholesome nor unwholesome kamma)

    According to Buddhist teaching, kamma (action) has vipaka (result).

    According to Buddhist teaching, kamma can be performed in three ways:

    (1) Bodily
    (2) Verbally
    (3) Mentally

    The teaching of kamma-vipaka is often directly observable in the case of (1) bodily and (2) verbal actions.

    eg 1. you leave the shutters to your windows open at night before going to bed (physical action), then later in the morning the sun rises and floods your room making it uncomfortably hot (vipaka).

    eg 1 . Someone engages you in an argument. You call the other person a nasty name (verbal kamma) and get abused in return (vipaka).

    However, Buddhism also teaches that mental thoughts also cause kamma. It is often the precursor of bodily and verbal kamma. This is where it is difficult to “prove.”

    Buddhism also holds that vipaka can come into fruition:

    (1) immediately in this present life
    (2) at some point in the future but still in this present life
    (3) in another future life

    Again (1) and (2) are directly observable.

    eg. You slap someone and they slap you in return (immediate vipaka). You don’t use part of your salary for savings now, and as a result later in life you struggle because of it (vipaka at some point in the future). Once again, where it is difficult to ‘prove’ is in the situation (3).

    As you can see, physical kamma-vipaka is directly observable. But mental (moral) kamma-vipaka is difficult to prove.

  • SomewhatDisgusted

    Dear Yapa,

    You said:
    “There I have clearly shown the justifiability of separating western religion from state

    1. God based western religion can be disproved. Hence it is myth.
    2. Therefore, it is reasonable to separate it from state.
    3. Buddhism cannot be disproved, hence you cannot say it is myth.
    4. Therefore,you cannot reasonably say Buddhism should be separated from state.

    Now will you tell me logically or reasonably, why the conclusion (4), is not a result of (1), (2) and (3).

    Haven’t I logically proved that separating Buddhism from state is not reasonable?”

    All I can say is, using this logic, we can show that Santa should not be separated from the state because Santa cannot be disproved. Flying teapottery cannot be separated nor can Shilboot! According to this logic, anything that cannot be disproved cannot be reasonably separated from the state. Therefore, there’s nothing to stop me from suggesting that Shilboot should become Sri Lanka’s official religion. Would your consider that a reasonable rebuttal of your point?

  • tis-a-small-world

    Dear Sujeewa,
    As the writer of Akon and Buddhism in Sri Lanka, I like to thank you for taking your time in commenting on my article and enhancing the debate from your article.
    First of all, I wish to inform that religion and philosophy are not categorized under sciences and and is a system of beliefs according to French sociologist Emile Durkheim. it’s a well known fact that religious beliefs and teachings cannot be tested scientifically nor it cannot be tested or proven through scientific experiments.

    Buddhism is perceived as a philosophy and also a religion. so it cannot be tested or proved through scientific experiments.

    The concepts in question, re-incarnation, karma and nirvana are at times are too complicated and difficult to understand. especially nirvana. I think are minds, souls are filled with kleshas, tanha and asha and therefore we find it difficult to understand or see it.

    I believe in Karma, Nirvana and re-incarnation based on my knowledge on the philosophy of Lord Buddha, although i cannot prove my beliefs scientifically.

    Lord Buddha, upon completing Sath Sathiya was invited by a Brahma to preach his teachings or philosophy to the people. Lord Buddha was at first reluctant to do that because he felt that his philosophy or Dharma was too complex or advanced for the people to understand. Yes I agree with Lord Buddha on the complexity of his philosophy. Because I also find it difficult to understand the pattichcha samuppadaya, karma and nirvana concepts.

    Since Lord Buddha allows his shrawakas to question his teachings, you have the freedom to raise questions regarding the teachings of lord buddha. Even though I don’t agree with the believers camp Yapa, Wijepala and off the cuff on certain issues, I stand with them as a believer in the existence of karma, nirvana and re-incarnation.

    Hope you’ll be able to solve your question and hope your article will generate a lot of responses as it did with the “Akon and Buddhism in Sri Lanka” All the Best!

  • SomewhatDisgusted

    Dear Citizen

    Nice piece. I would especially like to highlight the following in what you said: “God, Nirvana, Karma and reincarnation can never be offered as facts or absolute truths, let alone be pitted against one another to asses the truthfulness of one concept compared to another – simply because any arrogant belief in their certainty leaves no room for the inquisitive, questioning pursuit of higher wisdom they all espouse and encourage.”

    Unfortunately, if you followed the Akon thread, you’ll see that this is not the attitude adopted by some of the believers.

    I would like to highlight, once again, the main reasons why the validity of Kamma, Rebirth, Nibbana (KRN) are being questioned.

    1. To emphasize that religion – a personal belief – must be separate from the state
    2. To dismantle these conceited claims of knowing absolute truths or being special – while having no basis upon which to do so (allowing such claims to go unchallenged automatically enables a privileged, unquestionable status – which no belief deserves)
    3. To question the paranoia resulting from considering oneself a guardian of some holy, indisputable truth – when no such holy, indisputable truth is apparent. (Not to mention the resultant debilitating effect on society)

    Therefore, this whole issue came about *not* because anyone thinks KRN is impossible or because of some “decadent, western conspiracy” to undermine Buddhism, as a certain believer seemed to think. It is to challenge dangerous and fundamentalist claims such as “Separating Buddhism from the state = Separating the Truth from the state”.

    Is it hoped that the following would be addressed by those discussing this issue.
    1. How should religion interact with the state?
    2. What are the responsibilities of the believers towards those who do not believe in that same idea?
    3. How should a moderate Buddhist react when another Buddhist makes a claim of knowing an absolute truth and/or that Buddhism = Truth and therefore separating Buddhism from the state = separating the truth from the state?
    4. What are the negative effects of those suffering from delusions of persecution (as in religious paranoia) and what are the solutions?

    cheers!
    /SD (I really need to shorten my ill-thought nom de plume)

  • SomewhatDisgusted

    Dear Chula,

    Your thoughts are well expressed. Most of the points you’ve raised however, have already been addressed, therefore it might be a good idea to read the Akon thread so we do not repeatedly cover the same ground.

    I will comment on two things.
    You said: “There is no scientific method to prove rebirth. Instead of concluding that therefore this must be untrue, the logical conclusion is to consider it a possible hypothesis with good historical evidence (based on the above).”

    No one is saying it’s untrue, there is no basis on which to do so, just as there is currently no basis on which to say it’s true. However, if there is no scientific method to prove rebirth, it cannot be a hypothesis. It will have to remain a conjecture.

    You also said: “But the further you go along the path, as you see that what the Buddha claims is indeed verifiable with your own experience, your conviction of the goal increases”

    Your point is understood and such a thing indeed lies in the realm of possibility, as has already been acknowledged previously. Strangely, there doesn’t seem to be a single Arahat alive to confirm the tale.

    cheers!
    /SD

  • SomewhatDisgusted

    Dear Tis-a-small-world,

    You said: “it’s a well known fact that religious beliefs and teachings cannot be tested scientifically nor it cannot be tested or proven through scientific experiments.”

    I understand your point but I don’t feel that it is necessarily correct. If a religion claims to be able to affect the physical world around it, which is within the purview of science, then there may be a way to highlight the occurrence of these events. For example, if someone claims a miracle, then such miracles must be shown around us. So far, miracles have only proven to be “God-of-the-gaps” style arguments.

    Similarly, if someone claims that past lives can be recalled, then one can potentially take steps to prove it. Unfortunately, apart from that one paper that believers often cite, which is “20 cases suggestive of reincarnation” with “suggestive” being the operative word, there does not seem to be any credible evidence in this regard (Apart from the wild ramblings of “Lost city of Atlantis” type characters). And one should read the criticisms against that paper too before one becomes overly impressed that the paper is conclusive in any way.

    Therefore, it is far better to take steps to verify that these things are indeed true, rather than simply assuming they are. What if they are not true? I would think carrying out more research in such areas would be a very good idea and something that believers should concentrate on (With the scientific attitude of disproving oneself, rather than proving oneself).

    You said: “I believe in Karma, Nirvana and re-incarnation based on my knowledge on the philosophy of Lord Buddha, although i cannot prove my beliefs scientifically.”

    Sure. Your personal choices are your own and no one would need to take issue with it, even if someone decides to believe in the FSM or Santa. Therefore, I personally don’t even find it productive to raise the issue. Many possible scientific contradictions have already been raised but believer are rarely shaken by such arguments. Instead, it would be good to focus on how you see your belief interacting with those with different beliefs.

    In that regard, could you please let us know your position on this post.

    Thanks!
    /SD

  • Buddhism believes in denying desires !!! Is this pragmatic? desiring to abandon desire is itself a desire!!!!

  • I mentioned it was a hypothesis based on the research already concluded. The book I cited is not the only source but probably the most recognized one. I was pointing out that his methodology amounted to historical research, and no matter how many cases one brings up that doesn’t conclusively “prove” anything, scientifically speaking. For example, does archeological evidence of the existence of different civilizations “prove” their existence? It’s merely the most plausible explanation.

    So as I mentioned before, you are looking for proof from a system that fails in this regard. The evidence from this research was suggestive of rebirth, and since there is no other plausible explanation, it would be unscientific to dismiss the evidence just based on one’s preferential views, don’t you think? Research in this area is sparse because any scientist has to be extremely courageous since it amounts to career suicide to pursue – especially in the west where god-believers would put one to task. You might find this professor’s conclusions on this research relevant.

    About an Arahant living, I think you should find out about the Thai Forest Tradition. The monk who started the tradition Ajahn Mun is widely considered an Arahant and around 20-30 of his disciples as well. Ajahn Maha Boowa is the only direct disciple still living, and the tradition is still strong. Again, it seems you are talking of a topic you do not know much about except for what you heard from your misguided parents when you were a kid. If you know anything of Buddhism, you would know that what you get as Buddhism and what is considered kamma in Sri Lankan culture sometimes has no relation to what the earliest known texts say.

  • ordinary lankan

    My dear Sujeewa

    let me ask you something. WHY do you pose this challenge? do you really have a desire – a thirst to know the truth or do you desire that satisfaction we feel when we think – ahh I have been very clever, very smart. These believers will get twisted and trapped in words trying to prove the validity of their dogmas to me …..

    so this is my first question to you –

    i must speak on behalf of the truly religious – irrespective of what their faith is – one thing is we believe that words are energy – and they must be used as efficiently as possible. Speech must above all be used to put ourselves out of suffering – to increase our happiness. It must above all not be used to simply establish some point over another – because that we feel is a waste …

    the next point – and this is connected. True religion is not about being ‘right’ it is not about being ‘perfect’ or ‘correct’. it is not even being higher or superior to others. In fact – all these things are side tracks on the spiritual path. they are traps laid by the ego. in this case you may be simply baiting people into an egoistic tussle. i dont know – i hope not.

    True religion is about being human – accepting both the positive and negative sides and having the gumption to see through life without taking sides. It is about living – and living harmoniously and peacefully and in accord with the truth of inter-dependence. not competing like children

    what you need to know most of all is that there is NO PROOF. certainly not the kind of proof that can be established by words. truth is an EXPERIENCE – and if i tell you what I have experienced – it is second hand news to you. So we come to YOU. Yes you hold the truth – you experience it just like anyone else. truth is a process – like life it is in motion – and things appear and disappear just like us human beings on this planet. we appear and diasppear right? so what do you call that – illusion may be.

    you’ve got to experience it yourself brother. others may tell you – this and that – and of course there are concepts – like what you have mentioned – those are all just words – the real thing is for every man to experience – make sense and find whatever – if there is peace to be found you will find it within you. likewise if there is war – that too you will find within

    perhaps you could ask a different question?

  • @Chathura R De Silva: I suggest you read up on what Kamma really means based on the early discourses of the Pali Canon instead of assuming that your parents know what they are talking about.

    @spiritualist: Buddhism teaches the path to abandon desire (not denying desire). Your point that that itself is a desire is oft-quoted by people who have no idea about the Dhamma. This is one of the first things that’s clarified. You need desire to follow the path. This discourse is specifically about a person who’s making the same claim – I suggest you read it. Ven. Ananda brings up a great simile to answer the question.

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear All,

    It was proved to the Agnostics that “Science” is still immature to be used as a tool to dissect Buddhist Philosophy. Anyone who wants to use Science as the tool should first establish that Science is an appropriate tool and that it has the ability to explain physically observable events that remain mysteries.

    If one fails to establish the authority with which Science can explain everything that can be experienced and observed then trying to use Science to Prove or Disprove a mind centric Philosophy such as Buddhism fails miserably.

    The Agnostics who have been harping on Science have failed to explain the failure of Science to explain the following.

    Acupuncture is based on the Chinese philosophy of Yin Yang forces. It has been used in Lanka to carry out over 5000 major operations including Caesarean sections where the mother was fully conscious and chatting with the Acupuncturist Dr Anton Jayasuriya, a specialist in Rheumatology and Consultant at the Colombo South Teaching Hospital. Though unexplainable by Science, Acupuncture is recognised by the WHO as a treatment for many illnesses including life threatening ones and to induce the turning of a baby presenting a breach position in the womb to the head down position required for normal delivery. No Scientific explanation is presented as to how arbitrary sticking of needles can achieve physical results. The Chinese Philosophy claims that these needles restore the balanced state of Yin Yang forces the imbalance of which cause illnesses.

    Remote Viewing has documented use by the USA Military (Stargate project). It was used to locate a downed Soviet bomber in Africa. President Carter referred to this in one of his speeches. It also provided strategic information about Russia’s Nuclear facilities and a description of a new class of Soviet strategic submarine. This documented use of “Remote Viewing” by the USA military has so far been unexplainable by Science. The Buddha whose mind was developed to a very high level is said to have possessed this ability. Can anyone refute it because Science has no explanation?

    The only logical conclusion that can be arrived at, is that Science does not know. The carry over of Karma to a subsequent birth, Rebirth and Nibbana may be True and may be not be true. Science is too primitive a tool in this field to make a definite statement. It’s foolhardy to assert that it can negate the Buddhist core principles in view of the obvious failings of Science some of which were shown above.

    I would agree with Chula’s statement “First of all, I think the poster needs to know his Buddhism before criticizing it.”

  • BalangodaMan

    Chula,

    Welcome to the debate. I think you will find the original Akon thread interesting!

    The author Sujewa is not criticising Buddhism. The repost from SomewhatDisgusted summarises why this debate is important for all of us who desires a world free from hostility, prejudice, bigotry.

    Karma
    ——
    You describe karma as ‘consequences of actions’ like (1) the result of exercising free-will and (2) the effect of positive or negative thinking.

    Well (1) is obvious. Needs no proof. If you put your finger in a fire it will hurt.
    (2) has been much discussed and is well observed and much written about in books on self-improvement. Again, is observable and can be experienced at first hand. We see this for ourselves in our daily lives. (You may have read the classic ‘The Power of Positive Thinking’ by Norman Vincent Peale (who lived to 95 so I believe he practiced what he preached – literally, as he was a preacher!). Good. Most people can verify (1) and (2).

    BUT the ‘karma’ debated here (let’s call it ‘Karma Experiences of the Third Kind’) is something entirely different. This debate is about a metaphysical process that transgresses separate and serial human lives. IOW, something like ‘if you put your finger in a fire it will hurt … in the next life’.

    This 3rd idea requires a HUGE ‘leap of faith’ to regard as even similar to (1) and (2)!

    The Believers have been using the obvious validity of (1) and (2) to put forward a case that (3) is therefore similarly valid. Which is poppycock. This is the problem!

  • BalangodaMan

    Dear All,

    The reference to scientific proof and mathematical/Quantum Physics came from The Believers who used the research from these authoritative modern day disciplines to validate ancient religious faith.

    Sujewa is merely restating the call for the proof that The Believers (Mr Yapa actually) promised to supply, which he said he will do with references to papers on Quantum Physics and Mathematics that we can all study.

    I thought I should clarify this, as reading Sujewa’s article above, without studying the looong 1,000+ Akon thread that went before, may give the incorrect impression that it is Sujewa who is asking for the impossible – rather than Mr Yapa who claims to be able to supply the impossible!

    Thanks! (as Mr Y would say)

  • BalangodaMan

    Dear Ordinary Lankan,

    While I agree with much of what you say I think you have missed the point of this debate.

    It started evidently in November 2009 with The Believers justifying certain religious claims on the basis that their religion is the TRUTH. Then going on to claim that it can be proved – while proving that others are not. Then claiming that it should be the basis on which a state should (or even can?) be run, because ‘it is the truth’. These statements raise some big issues for society. The moderates reading these statements have put to the proponents the natural consequences of such narrow-minded thinking. I entered this discussion when I was appalled by some of the ludicrous claims of ‘my god is better than your god’.

    The Agnostic camp DOES regard religion as a personal and private thing for believers. What they are arguing for is not to have religion IMPOSED upon them by the state.

  • Heshan

    “These believers will get twisted and trapped in words trying to prove the validity of their dogmas to me …..”

    I have made this point numerous times over and over… you cannot completely describe reality – relying on just (qualitative) language… there is a certain lack of precision, the end result of which is ambiguity. Another problem with language is lack of originality. If it has been said once, it has probably been said tens of thousands of times before, thanks to man’s boundless imagination. How many of us can honestly say the Buddha was the first to conceive of karma, rebirth, etc? Let us go back to the original religions, the most primitive, whereby man worshiped nature alone, and we can easily find numerous parallels to rebirth, karma, etc.

    Quantitative – as opposed to qualitative – logic, however, is a much more powerful too. We are able to build a self-contained system, complete with axioms, lemmas, theorems, and propositions. The axioms allow us to maintain consistency, so that we can avoid the pitfalls of qualitative logic, such as circular reasoning.

    The ambiguity I spoke of earlier is easily seen in Buddhism, which relies on qualitative reasoning alone. How many schools of Buddhism are there? Quite a few. In terms of structure, there is a glaring lack of consistency as one proceeds across the different schools – a lack of consistency which no synthesis can hope to resolve. For example, a Theravada Buddhist will be sharply opposed to the idea of a Bodhisatva – for a Mahanayaka Buddhist, however, the Bodhisatva is an essential construct.

    A system of logic which lacks so many holes should not be deemed worthy as a “theory of everything”, such as many of its followers aim to do… at best, it can offer a limited number of cognitive insights.

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear All,

    The Agnostics were challenged to prove that Science was a “Mature” tool to investigate a Philosophy like Buddhism. So far that proof has not been forthcoming.

    It was proved to the Agnostics that “Science” is still immature and cannot be used as a tool to dissect Buddhist Philosophy (please see below). Anyone who wishes to use Science as a tool should first establish that Science is an appropriate tool and that it has the ability to explain physically observable phenomena. That this is not so, is seen by the many events that still remain mysteries unexplainable by Science.

    If one fails to establish that Science can authoritatively explain or prove all facets of reality, then the use of Science to disprove or prove Buddhism would be akin to using a yardstick to measure one’s weight. The Challenge before the Agnostics is therefore to first prove that Science indeed has the authority that they claim it to have in the field of Philosophy.

    The Agnostics who have been harping on Science have failed to explain the failure of Science to either explain or disprove or prove the following physically observed, documented and repeatable phenomena.

    Acupuncture is based on the Chinese philosophy of Yin Yang forces. It has been used in Lanka to carry out over 5000 major operations including Caesarean sections where the mother was fully conscious and chatting with the Acupuncturist Dr Anton Jayasuriya, a specialist in Rheumatology and Consultant at the Colombo South Teaching Hospital. She ate Biscuits while the Obstetrician was cutting into her abdomen, an unheard of event in Medical Anaesthesia. Though unexplainable by Science, Acupuncture is recognised by the WHO as a treatment for many illnesses including life threatening ones and to induce the turning of a baby presenting a breach position in the womb to the head down position required for normal delivery. No Scientific explanation is presented as to how the apparently arbitrary, sticking of needles in to the body can achieve such physical results. The Chinese Philosophy claims that these needles restore the balanced state of Yin Yang forces the imbalance of which cause illnesses.

    The Buddha whose mind was developed to a very high level of acuity is said to have possessed the ability to “See” events happening thousands of miles away. An Agnostic would sneer at such a claim as it is not at all “Scientific”. It cannot be proven using Science hence it is False, Hallucination, Old wives tales, Conjecture and belongs in the Realm of Fairy Tales. Aesop could have done better they would say. But is it?

    “Remote Viewing” or the ability of the “Mind to See” objects / events that is situated or happening at unknown locations thousands of miles away was used by the US Military (documented in the Stargate project). It was used to locate a downed Soviet bomber in Africa. President Carter referred to this in one of his speeches. It also provided strategic information about Russia’s Nuclear facilities and a description of a new class of Soviet strategic submarine. The use of “Remote Viewing” by the US military has so far been unexplainable by Science.

    The only logical conclusion that can be arrived at is that Science does not know.

    The carry over of Karma to a subsequent birth, Rebirth and Nibbana may be True and may be not be true. Buddhists believe it to be true as Karma (action) and Vipaka (result) that follows Karma is observable in the current life. It is a reality observable daily. Science is too primitive a tool in the field of Philosophy to make a definite statement. It’s foolhardy to assert that it can.

    Science is just too primitive and is not up to the task of investigating a Philosophy.

    I would agree with Chula’s statement “First of all, I think the poster needs to know his Buddhism before criticizing it.”

  • Hi All,

    Thanks for reading the brief article above & commenting. I will start responding to your comments this weekend – all comments will be read, & the ones that deal with the subject at hand will be responded to. And a welcome goes out to the agnostics & the belivers (& lurkers who may have been reading & not commenting) who have come here from the previous/Akon & Buddhism article.

    Agnostics Team (SomewhatD, B-Man, Heshan, etc.),

    Feel free to respond to believers comments that are of great interest to you – in any order that you see fit, I will go through each comment & respond, in the order that they came in – which could take a while, no doubt, but you can deal with the latest or urgent comments as you see fit (this way not everyone will have to wait long to participate in the discussion).

    Thanks, talk to everyone soon, & thanks to Groundviews for making space available for this discussion.

    Also, if I encounter too many comments/strange computer problems (as I did when the previous article went over 1000 comments) & am absent from the discussion for more than 3 days at a time, click on my name above & you will get to my SL & diaspora agnostics blog – leave a comment there for me & also I will reply/write original related material there if I cannot reply here for some reason.

    – S

  • @BalangodaMan: I never said Sujewa was against Buddhism – just that he didn’t know enough of what it was to talk about it. Thinking Buddhism is what you see in Sri Lankan culture is just being naive. It might be fun for arguments but serves no purpose in terms of understanding the teachings. I think this is due to the lack of availability of the earliest known Pali texts to the general public – something that would hopefully change with the adoption of the internet.

    I never argued that I could prove kamma when it came to rebirth. The kamma that is observable here and now convinces one to practice the path. When it comes to whether rebirth is true, the Buddha claims that knowledge can be attained through meditation (4th jhana onwards). I was simply stating that Sujewa was asking for proof from a field incapable of providing conclusive evidence while neglecting the fact that the Buddha laid out a path of practice inviting verification. The conviction that people have that rebirth is true is a hypothesis which actually has some scientific evidence to back it as I pointed out earlier. So it’s not some irrational leap of faith as people claim when trying to put Buddhism (I should say I mean only the early teachings here) into the typical “religion” basket.

    A lot of this criticism is stemming from the atheist movement in the west that is gaining ground. What some people seem not realize is that those criticisms are mainly directed towards the Abrahamic religions those scientists grew up with, and the criticism of Buddhism is mainly coming from ignorant ideas of what it is assuming Dalai Lama’s Tibetan version is all it is.

  • Hi Citizen,

    Thanks for reading & commenting.

    Re: “The scientific pursuit of knowledge/insight has been limited – by definition – to the physical, measurable world. It is not possible – no matter who claims otherwise – to prove or disprove the spiritual concepts of karma, reincarnation, nirvana, god, heaven or hell within the bounds of science.”

    Sounds good, may be true forever, appears to be true at this point in time. However, things that do not appear to exist (Thor, heaven & hell, karma, etc.) are of less concern to me (and to most agnostics I imagine) than things that actually exist/can be observed to be actual aspects of the world (poverty, war, The Simpsons TV show, etc.)

    RE:

    “It is as unscientific to deny God, Nirvana, Karma, reincarnation – not merely the constructs of our spiritual longing, but acknowledgements of the deficits, if not fallibility of our knowledge.”

    I think I need a little bit more of clarification here. Are you saying that it is unreasonable for me to reject the concepts of karma, rebirth, nirvana? If so, why? I see no great reason to spend too much time worrying about speculative items that exist in religions – since there is a very strong possibility that they are fictional devices invented to impart/teach a certain set of ideas to people/gain followers and not descriptions of real things in this universe.

    RE:
    “God, Nirvana, Karma and reincarnation can never be offered as facts or absolute truths, let alone be pitted against one another to asses the truthfulness of one concept compared to another – simply because any arrogant belief in their certainty leaves no room for the inquisitive, questioning pursuit of higher wisdom they all espouse and encourage.”

    Yeah, I would have to agree with that. So, in effect, any religion (or any beliver of any religion) claiming that their religion has the absolute truth, even though their religion is buit on speculative items, is basically putting forth nonsense – and not something that non-belivers/atheisist/agnostics need to worry too much about.

    Clarify if any of your statements were misinterperted. Thanks.

    – S

  • Hi All,

    The intro to this article (at the previous – Akon & Buddhism – article) says that the key arguments have been summarised here – that is not accurate – what I wanted to do was remove the most interesting aspect of the previous article – which, to me, was Yapa claiming that he can prove the existence of karma, reincarnation, nirvana using modern science & math, etc., & the conversation/debate that followed from that point – & keep the discussion focused & easy to follow at a new place. So, any participants from the previous debate/discussion who want to summarize (sp?) the key points of their view as it relates to the topic of this article, please feel free to do so. Since there were over 1000 comments at the previous article & since many comments were from people who were arguing the point opposite to mine, I felt that it was better to allow the original authors to summarize their views, as opposed to me selecting certain parts of their views out of the 1000+ comments & re-posting here (which could miss important aspects of their argument). So, summarize away Belivers – why do you think that karma, reincarnation, nirvana should be accepted as a real item/a real thing that exists in this world & affects us/actual, real humans? (also, feel free to summarize your views non-belivers/agnostics)

    Thanks a lot!

    – S

  • Hi Ordinary Lankan,

    (by the way, this response is out of order, so I will respond just to the para 1of your response quoted below, will get to rest of it in order)

    RE: My dear Sujeewa

    “let me ask you something. WHY do you pose this challenge?”

    The belivers, or, at least some of the believers, have stated that karma, reincarnation/rebirth, nirvana are real aspects of this world. And they proceed to treat others/non-belivers with an arrogance that seems to/may grow out of their certainty (that their religion is the one true religion, etc.) So, the question is a challenge to their arrogance – I belive it will be useful to the world if even a few people motivated by blind faith are forced to examine why they may belive what they say they belive. More on that soon.

    RE: “do you really have a desire – a thirst to know the truth or do you desire that satisfaction we feel when we think – ahh I have been very clever, very smart. These believers will get twisted and trapped in words trying to prove the validity of their dogmas to me ….. ”

    As far as a thirt to know the turth – sure, sounds great, I got that. As far as finding out the truth about speculative religious concepts – that one looks abvious (as in, those items look like devices created for maintaining the religion), but, hey, if some speculative items from various religions, including Buddhism, are shown to be true/real/actual aspects of the world, then I would be very interested in learning all about that proof. Re: getting trapped by words – sure, language is an imprecise tool, but I am sure, with effort, people are able to (or at least many should be able to) make other people understand the key ideas that they are attempting to communicate.

    Alright, back to reading & responding to the comments in order. Should be able to get through the ones from today before the end of this weekend.

    – S

  • wijayapala

    OTC,

    Where did the Buddha say that you cannot avoid Karma? Where did the Buddha advice to be resigned to one’s fate passively?

    The Buddha never advised to be passive (SomewhatDisgusted is having problems comprehending that). However, Dhammapada verse 127 says this about avoiding kamma:

    Neither in sky nor surrounding by sea,
    nor by dwelling in a mountain cave,
    nowhere is found that place in earth
    where one’s from evil kamma free.

    Here is what Bhikkhu Bodhi had to say (his entire article on the Dhammapada is worth reading):
    http://www.urbandharma.org/udharma/dhammapada.html

    Our moral intuition, our innate sense of moral justice, tells us that there must be some principle of compensation at work in the world whereby goodness meets with happiness and evil meets with suffering. But everyday experience shows us exactly the opposite. We all know of highly virtuous people beset with every kind of hardship and thoroughly bad people who succeed in everything they do. We feel that there must be some correction to this imbalance, some force that will tilt the scales of justice into the balance that seems right, but our daily experience seems to contradict this intuition totally.

    However, in his teachings the Buddha reveals that there is a force at work which can satisfy our demand for moral justice. This force cannot be seen with the eye of the flesh nor can it be registered by any instruments of measurement, but its working becomes visible to the supernormal vision of sages and saints, while all its principles in their full complexity are fathomed by a Perfectly Enlightened Buddha. This force is called kamma. The law of kamma ensures that our morally determinate actions do not disappear into nothingness, but rather continue on as traces in the deep hidden layers of the mind, where they function in such a way that our good deeds eventually issue in happiness and success, our evil deeds in suffering and misery.

    The word kamma, in the Buddha’s teaching, means volitional action. Such action may be bodily or verbal, when volition is expressed in deed or speech, or it may be purely mental, when volition remains unexpressed as thoughts, emotions, wishes and desires. The actions may be either wholesome or unwholesome: wholesome when they are rooted in generosity, amity and understanding; unwholesome when they spring from greed, hatred and delusion. According to the principle of kamma, the willed actions we perform in the course of a life have long-term consequences that correspond to the moral quality of the original action. The deeds may utterly fade from our memory, but once performed they leave subtle impressions upon the mind, potencies capable of ripening in the future to our weal or our woe.

    According to Buddhism, conscious life is not a chance by-product of molecular configurations or a gift from a divine Creator, but a beginningless process which repeatedly springs up at birth and passes away at death, to be followed by a new birth. There are many spheres besides the human into which rebirth can occur: heavenly realms of great bliss, beauty and power, infernal realms where suffering and misery prevail. The Dhammapada does not give us any systematic teaching on kamma and rebirth. As a book of spiritual counsel it presupposes the theoretical principles explained elsewhere in the Buddhist scriptures and concerns itself with their practical bearings on the conduct of life. The essentials of the law of kamma, however, are made perfectly clear: our willed actions determine the sphere of existence into which we will be reborn after death, the circumstances and endowments of our lives within any given form of rebirth, and our potentials for spiritual progress or decline.

    At the second level of instruction found in the Dhammapada the content of the message is basically the same as that of the first level: it is the same set of moral injunctions for abstaining from evil and doing good. The difference lies in the viewpoint from which these precepts are issued and the purpose for which they are taken up. At this level the precepts are prescribed to show us the way to achieve long-range happiness and freedom from sorrow, not only in the visible sphere of the present life, but far beyond into the distant future in our subsequent transmigration in samsara. Despite the apparent discrepancy between action and result, an all-embracing law ensures that ultimately moral justice triumphs. In the short run the good may suffer and the evil may prosper. But all willed actions bring their appropriate results: if one acts or speaks with an evil mind, suffering follows just as the wheel follows the foot of the draught-ox; if one acts or speaks with a pure mind, happiness follows like a shadow that never departs (vv.1-2). The evil-doer grieves here and hereafter; he is tormented by his conscience and destined to planes of misery. The doer of good rejoices here and hereafter, he enjoys a good conscience and is destined to realms of bliss (vv. 15- 18). To follow the law of virtue leads upwards, to happiness and joy and to higher rebirths; to violate the lead leads downwards, to suffering and to lower rebirths. The law is inflexible. Nowhere in the world can the evil-doer escape the result of his evil kamma, “neither in the sky nor in mid-ocean nor by entering into mountain clefts” (v. 127). The good person will reap the rewards of his or her good kamma in future lives with the same certainty with which a traveler, returning home after a long journey, can expect to be greeted by his family and friends (v. 220).

  • Observer

    Sujeewa, you actually embarrase agnostics like my self. I was cringing reading the discussion in the Akon thread but for some reason I was never able to post there. Soon as a thread gets long I get a blank php page when submitting a comment and are unable to comment. This has happened to me on many threads and got dropped out.. anyway that’s another matter.

    A true agnostic doesn’t brand them selves and trumpet to others! Atheists do – and that’s perfectly fine as long as you get the tag right! Agnostics have no foundation to preach to people who have faith. You can argue/question but you can never win. Why?? Agnostic really means you’re a skeptic! That of course means you perfectly have the right to question all the religions out there including Buddhism but you cannot simply disagree with them either. Because you have to understand you’re questioning faith, not science!

    “In some senses, agnosticism is a stance about the differences between belief and knowledge, rather than about any specific claim or belief.”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agnosticism

    To me religion is nothing more than a set of rules people devised centuries ago to maintain civilised society. Also god concept is really nothing more than embodiment of what we know as HOPE. Hope is fundamental for human survival. Humans are such fragile creatures who are unable to grapple with the vast complexities of the nature/universe resorted to myth in order to satisfy their fears. Boy that was a murderous, bloody sorry history from there on… that’s also another story.

    My point? Quit it if you’re going to tag your self as an agnostic. Agnostics inherently can’t win against people with faith! You need to have a belief before you can engage others with belief! So Sujeewa, et al.. please don’t misrepresent agnosticism. Many thanks!

  • wijayapala

    Dear Somewhat Disgusted,

    To me, ending suffering is an important priority. But somehow, the Buddhist version of ending suffering doesn’t quite do it for me. You know, looking at people and going, oh too bad for that dude’s karma, must have been a serial killer in his previous life, good lesson for all of us. Let’s just sit under a bo tree and meditate for Nibbana….They don’t even know what in the world they are paying for so they can never really correct themselves! Aaww… These universal laws are so unfair! Life sucks. Let’s meditate!…No thank you. I prefer suffering to end through provision of earthly comforts to those in need due to *no fault of their own*, followed by intellectual liberation.

    Yet again your incredible secular agnostic capacity for STRAW MAN arguments has rendered me speechless.

    Clearly my knowledge of Buddhism is vastly inferior to yours, ***as I was never taught nor have I ever learned on my own that Buddhists are supposed to ignore the suffering and misfortune of others, or that Buddhists should look down on people because of their kamma.***

    Apparently your knowledge of the Dhamma is so vast that it exceeds even the Buddha’s! As the Vinaya says, the Buddha and Ananda tended to sick monks that others ignored, saying “He who attends on the sick attends on me.”:

    http://www.urbandharma.org/udharma3/sick.html

    I know it’s asking a great deal for a “secular rationalist” to cite evidence, but would it be possible for you to show me the exact teaching of the Buddha’s that tells us to be blissfully detached from others’ suffering?

    And to take things further, could you share with us your personal experiences in providing “earthly comforts to those in need due to *no fault of their own*?” After all, you would never make an empty claim, right?

    Let me turn your argument in your own face: why would secular agnostics who reject kamma and samsara have any interest in helping others, when they can use the time and effort on themselves? After all, we Buddhists are bound by the dogma that the effects of responding to or ignoring others’ suffering will manifest either in the same lifetime or a future birth. If I were in your place, I wouldn’t worry about any of these effects as everything would end with death. What did Epicurus say about altruism?

    In fact, current research bears out the notion quite well. Please read “The Happines Hypothesis: Finding modern truth in ancient wisdom” by Jonathan Haidt.

    Before I read this book, why don’t you cite some of this pathbreaking research?

    I went to amazon.com and read a review that said, “First of all, the main hypothesis, that people make decisions with their gut and then use their brains to rationalize those decisions, is well supported.” Obviously this is a total lie. We all know that secular agnostics never rely on such unscientific, irrational things like intuition or faith and are beings of pure reason. So already I am distrusting Mr. Haidt’s conclusions.

    IMHO, The main priority for humankind should be finding out the reasons for our existence – i.e. Finding Yapa’s elephant. This is not a problem for Buddhists, because someone has already found it,

    Really, Mr. Straw Man? Who found the reasons for our existence, or whom do the Buddhists believe found them (since I clearly don’t know)? Certainly not the Buddha; the answers he generally gave to these kinds of questions gave the impression that he wasn’t interested in simple existence as compared with samsara, a condition which you do not accept (based on your faith).

    “If you can point to anybody else who laid out the means to find the end of suffering without requiring faith”
    End of suffering? Without requiring faith? Oh dear Wijayapala. I’m unable to compute as usual. Could you kindly explain?

    I already explained that Siddhartha Gautama clearly did not invoke any kind of faith to become a Buddha (whoops caught myself.. I almost referred to him incorrectly as THE Buddha), as there was no clear path for him to follow. He just tried different things- although not in a sporadic or undisciplined way- until he found something that worked. As a Buddhist I have to accept the tragedy that Siddhartha probably somewhat resembled you “unable to compute” secular agnostics, although his priorities were clearly different- finding the end to Dukkha.

    “I already knew that!! Is this supposed to be the Fifth Noble Truth or something???”
    If you already knew that, why do you keep demanding the same response?

    Because you are?

    “You can do better- you can provide evidence of your own to back YOUR claims! At least you can practice what you preach!”
    Sure thing. What is it that you want me to back up? You don’t seem to fundamentally understand that an agnostic’s position can *never* be undermined. For the simple reason that they do not believe in anything if there is not enough *reason* to believe it.

    What is your *reason* for believing that the mind is an illusion? You never explained that one, instead relying on your identity as secular agnostic to serve as an authority unto yourself.

    Current evidence? Our post-life responsibility is to provide nutrition to maggots.

    And here we come to the next weapon in the Secular Agnostic’s arsenal, Circular Logic:

    1) Physical evidence is the only evidence we can accept, because

    2) only physical phenomena are real, the rest are illusions;

    3) our proof that only physical phenomena are real is that they’re the only evidence that we can accept…

    “Thank you again for answering my own point. How did the Sinhala-Buddhists become the “single most powerful entity in SL?””
    What other group makes up 70% of the population and are capable of making or breaking government?

    Sigh.. as usual, you aren’t able to compute! I didn’t ask whether the Sinhala Buddhists are the “single most powerful entity in SL” but how they came to be.

    Read Dawkins. Hitler was a catholic.

    Instead of simply name-dropping, why don’t you list the arguments in favor of your position (here, that Hitler was a practicing Catholic)?

    Wikipedia claims that Dawkins took Hitler’s statements out of context:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adolf_Hitler%27s_religious_views
    In the below quote, the first two sentences are often left out, as has been done by Richard Dawkins,[33] for example, leaving the context to seem as if, as opposed to mocking Christianity and Christian belief, Hitler were making some public statement of his own embrace of Christianity. In response to Lerchenfeld, Hitler – feigning respect for Lerchenfeld – mocked both Lerchenfeld and Lerchenfeld’s beliefs and then skillfully turned the life of Jesus on its head for the purposes of furthering National Socialism. At the Bürgerbräukeller on April 12, 1922, Hitler said:

    “I would like here to appeal to a greater than I, Count Lerchenfeld. He said in the last session of the Landtag that his feeling ‘as a man and a Christian’ prevented him from being an anti-Semite. I say: My feelings as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter. It points me to the man who once in loneliness, surrounded only by a few followers, recognized these Jews for what they were and summoned men to fight against them and who, God’s truth! was greatest not as a sufferer but as a fighter. .. How terrific was His fight for the world against the Jewish poison.[34][35]”

    Stalin was an atheist. But *neither of them* killed in the name of atheism. But there have been enough wars where people have killed in the *name of religion*. Not a difficult point to grasp I believe.

    The least difficult point to grasp is Tool #3 in your Secular Agnostic box: Shifting the Context of the Argument When it Isn’t Going Your Way.

    I asked what you guys would do if Buddhism in SL were threatened. You answered, “As for the secular rationalist brigade, they might not fight, no. Fighting, killing and murdering is best left to religious people,” implying that secular rationalists do not fight, kill, or murder people the way religious people do. I demonstrated that they most certainly do, in the name of “secular rationalist” belief systems like Naziism and Leninism-Stalinism.

    “As absolutely reassuring as that is, I’m afraid that here I have to say that I don’t believe that you will.”
    Doesn’t matter either way. But FYI, in that last thread, I was promoted to General by no other than Mr. Yapa over here. For fighting against the unethical Christians – no less! Now that I am ready to accept the Yapa-Godel synthesis, doubtless another promotion is due – maybe chief of Buddhist defense staff?

    I entirely agree with your statement that your intentions/beliefs do not matter. But is the rest of your above statement Tool #3 at work again?

    “Please explain, in concrete, NON-ABSTRACT terms how Sri Lanka is not a “secular” or whatever you want country, how that is harming non-Buddhists, and what should be changed that will prevent this harm. Be SPECIFIC, and please avoid generalities that you can apply to any country.”
    Currently. I think Sri Lanka looks good on paper as usual. First, I would like it to *at least stay that way*. In practice, we both know that this whole Sinhala-Tamil problem was at least partly fueled by the identity crisis of the Sinhalese. We both agreed that in turn was fueled at least partly by Buddhist paranoia. So that is clearly hurting Tamils – who are non-Buddhists. I don’t know how this harm can be prevented, but we can jolly well start by dismantling this insane conceit.

    What “insane conceit” are you talking about?

    The problem with your argument is that “this whole Sinhala-Tamil problem” is not the same now as it was before the war. The Tamils today are in no condition to threaten Buddhism (or anything else) largely thanks to V. Prabakaran’s destruction of Tamil society. This is certainly not to say that the Tamils ever had any hostile intent towards Buddhism, but simply to point out that even a complete idiot would be hard pressed to justify suppressing Tamils today.

    And I’ve repeatedly explained, we branched into this topic on Yapa’s claims of Buddhists being guardians of holy, absolute truths.

    What does any of this have to do with Akon? Akon’s rejection was primarily the result of Dr. Mervyn Silva wanting to settle a score with Sirasa TV, and the video provided a convenient excuse to hold a thug convention. Akon’s use of the Buddha statue explains why most people did not speak out against Mervyn’s actions- why defend something which you find to be insulting?

    As long as these delusions of grandeur persist, I fail to see how we can talk about secularism, without dismantling the conceit! Didn’t Yapa claim that religion and state cannot be separate, because that would be akin to separating the absolute truth from the state?

    What is your fixation with Yapa anyway? You seem far more interested in interacting with him than me or OTC. Do you consider us to be less Buddhists than Yapa is?

    Didn’t you argue earlier that Kamma and rebirth were an essential part of Buddhism? How did it suddenly become something “directly observable by experience”?

    Uh, how are those two statements contradictory, and more importantly how did YOU resolve those contradictions?? After all, Sur pointed out your own claim that the Four Noble Truths- which inherently accept the phenomenon of samsara as the key problem- “are all understandable phenomena which can be subjected to a reasoned analysis based on our own observations.” (your words not mine)

  • wijayapala

    Dear Heshan,

    In terms of structure, there is a glaring lack of consistency as one proceeds across the different schools – a lack of consistency which no synthesis can hope to resolve. For example, a Theravada Buddhist will be sharply opposed to the idea of a Bodhisatva – for a Mahanayaka Buddhist, however, the Bodhisatva is an essential construct.

    You’ll have to do better. Theravada and Mahayana Buddhists (a “Mahanayaka” is a senior monk in the Theravada tradition) both believe in:
    1) Triple Gem (Buddha, Dhamma, and Sangha)
    2) Four Noble Truths
    3) Noble Eightfold Path

    At the most fundamental and important level, we are the same. If the Mahayanas believed in only 3 Noble Truths or added a ninth part to the Noble Eightfold Path, then your argument would have some validity. Personally I would argue that Mahayanas are more “Buddhist” than Mahinda or Gotabhaya who added “God” to the Triple Gem.

    What is this “Bodhisatva” issue you’re talking about? A Bodhisatva is a future or potential Buddha. Siddhartha before he became a Buddha was a Bodhisatva. So what is this rubbish that Theravadins sharply oppose this idea???

    Maybe you’re having problems understanding the unity among different Buddhists given your Christian history of Protestants and Catholics brutalizing each other to show their support for Jesus. I assure you that we do not have this kind of history! 😀

  • wijayapala

    Dear spiritualist

    Buddhism believes in denying desires !!! Is this pragmatic? desiring to abandon desire is itself a desire!!!!

    Somebody pointed this out to the Buddha and he gave a good, simple response. Unfortunately I cannot find it so we’ll have to settle for the long and confusing answer. Enjoy!

    http://www.buddhismtoday.com/english/philosophy/thera/013-desire.htm

  • wijayapala

    Whoops sorry spiritualist, I didn’t see Chula’s better answer. It was Ananda not Buddha. Yeah it’s way better than the link I gave you.

  • Hi Chula,

    Thanks for the comment.

    RE: “First of all, I think the poster needs to know his Buddhism before criticizing it.”

    Not criticizing anything, just asking how something works, from people who say they are certain that something works a certain way & that they can show that it works that way.

    RE:
    “Kamma in the Buddha’s Dhamma is intention (or cetanā), and the result of kamma can be seen here and now. If you put your finger in the fire, it burns. That’s kamma in action. If you have an angry thought, it affects your breathing and body. That’s kamma.”

    That’s also cause & effect. What about the karma that affects the next life, or this one from a previous life, as taught in Buddhism?

    RE:
    “Now since the poster seems to focus exclusively on kamma and rebirth (not reincarnation btw – which presupposes a soul that transmigrates), this the Buddha teaches can be directly experienced by meditation practice – specifically through entering the fourth jhāna and inclining your mind towards the knowledge. Of course, if you want some kind of mathematical equation proving rebirth, you’re missing the whole point. The Buddha’s teaching is about experiences that are directly realizable through practice – he just shows what the practice is.”

    How many practitioners have directly realized nirvana through the methods prescribed by the Buddha? 100? 10,000? 1 million? If none that you know of have attained nirvana, then why not? & or if some have (or say they have) can they show you that they were able to do so using methods described in Buddhism? Is the system/the method faulty? Or is nirvana, instead of being an achievement that a human being is capable of accomplishing, more of a symbol – an idea to get people to follow a certain way of looking at the world & living in the world?

    RE:
    “This is like criticizing Einstein that his theory of relativity makes no sense by a guy who has no understanding of physics.”

    I assume Einstein’s theory of relativity makes sense to physicists, or some physicists. And, as far as I know (perhaps Heshan can add some thoughts re: this) theory of relativity has been demonstrated to be true using experiments & examples. Regardless, we are not debating the theory of relativity here.

    RE:
    “You are asking for proof through the scientific method which fails to give you conclusive answers in this regard.”

    Use whatever method you wish, as long as it is something that can be tested by a non-beliver.

    RE:
    “Science is no closer to knowing whether there is life after death than anytime before.”

    Great, not a concern here, however.

    RE:
    “There is however, good para-psychological research done on claims of rebirth, with very good evidence. A great example is the research done by Ian Stevenson – I recommend his book Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation. Even avowed western atheists such as Sam Harris considers this research warranting more interest.”

    I’ve read recently a couple of cases re: rebirth pointed out by commenter OTC, & also I read up on sites that debunk rebirth claims – at present I can’t support the rebirth theory – primarily because I do not have any memories of life before this one, & neither do thousands of people I know (as far as I know). However, if you are confident that rebirth can be proven to be true/real, get things organized & make it happen – looking forward to seeing the tests that prove that rebirth is true/real.

    RE:
    “But does this prove rebirth? Of course not. There is no scientific method to prove rebirth. Instead of concluding that therefore this must be untrue, the logical conclusion is to consider it a possible hypothesis with good historical evidence (based on the above). This is completely different from Abrahamic religions (Christianity, Islam, Judaism), where blind faith on a creator entity and eternal life have no evidence whatsoever.”

    I see no difference between blind faith in a creator, & blind faith in the mechanisms that make Buddhism work as a religion – primarily karma, & related to that rebirth, & then nirvana – as the way out of the karma based rebirth cycle. Both the creator god & the existence of karma are fantastic & speculative religious ideas. If someone wanted to point to something that they belive proves the existence of a creator god, i am sure they can point to many complex & little understood phenomenon (as you did when you pointed to rebirth in support of ideas in Buddhism) – however, that would not be proof for the existence of a creator god (for me, that would require an actual meeting with the god & then testing the god out to see if he/she/it is in fact the creator of the worlds, so, basically, my barrier for accepting the creator god idea being real is pretty much the same as the barrier i have for accepting karma, reincarnation/rebirth, nirvana as true/real).

    RE:
    “Also, the although I’d disagree that Buddhism is a science. That’s doing a Buddhism a disservice considering how fast scientific theories change (consider for example Newton’s laws of motion which have all shown to not be true under certain circumstance with the advent of Einsteinian physics). The Dhamma on the other hand has the quality of being akālika (timeless),”

    I am pretty sure that it is meaningless to say that the Dhamma is timeless in this context. Do you mean that the ideas that make up the Buddha’s teachings have lasted a long time? Well, so have many other things – including very bizarre stuff that have very little use to modern humans (such as belief in the existence of faries, etc.). Timeless does not equal real (as opposed to fabricated, imagined, speculative).

    RE:
    “… and ehipassika (inviting verification). ”

    Yeah, that’s what we (the agnostics) are trying to get – some verification for the grand claims made by buddhism & more to the point – the belivers who belive that the speculative elements in Buddhism are real/true/can be proven to be a part of this world.

    RE:
    “If you consider teachings such as rebirth untenable, you have to at least follow the path of practice the Buddha recommends that he claims lets you find out – instead of making assumption based on one’s own views.”

    I have followed the path recommended by the Buddha, and, though it has many useful things, it does not (or did not for me at least) result in being able to verify karma, reincarnation or rebirth, & nirvana as being real things that exist in this world/universe & affects humans as described in Buddhism. Nor do I know of any Buddhist who has proven that they have attained direct knowledge of karma, rebirth, nirvana & can demonstrate that they in fact have achieved what they say they achieved.

    RE:
    “Regarding proof of Nirvāna, there is a discourse in the Pāḷi Canon specifically relating to this, where the Buddha states that until one reaches the far shore there is an element of conviction (saddhā) that needs to come to play.”

    So, a little bit of faith is required, another words. However, many have traveled the Buddhist path since the path was reportedly first laid out in this world by The Buddha 2500+ years or so ago. How many out of these followers of the path realized the ultimate goal – nirvana? How can you be certain, regardless of the number that you may give?

    Buddhism – SL Buddhism – Therevada Buddhism – has many useful elements (such as promotion of self-reliance, promotion of testing accepted teachings, an anti-racist stance – though this may have been often overlooked in SL), however, being an ancient religion, it also has several key faith based items – such as accepting that the Buddha is who he was/is said to be, that karma, rebirth, nirvana are real things that exist in the universe, etc. Even though reminding people that certain elements of Buddhism cannot be demonstrated as real to a non-believer will not do any significant harm to Buddhism, it may save some non-belivers from the evil actions that may come from blind belivers who are under the impression that their religion is ture/real, the one true religion, & that all other religions & philosophical views (including non-belief) are speculation/false & thus, their religion must be protected at all costs (including at the cost of living human beings). Thus, this discussion has come into being. We are going to try to trade a little bit of the believers’ closed arrogance & ignorance for the agnostics’ naturally humble & open not-knowing-for-certain-ness, at least that’s the plan 🙂

    – S

  • wijayapala

    Observer, I laughed out loud reading your response to Sujewa the know-it-all Buddha of the “secular agnostics.”

    Agnostics have no foundation to preach to people who have faith. You can argue/question but you can never win.

    Clearly you are utterly confused regarding the intricacies and depth of Sujewa’s “secular agnosticism”- it is people who have faith who have no foundation to preach to agnostics; it is THEY who can argue/question but can never win. You got things reversed!

    You are giving me the suspicion that you are a secret Buddhist who is trying to undermine Sujewa’s secular agnostic faith. It is time to confess your sins.

  • yapa

    Dear BalangodaMan;

    You say;

    [… rather than Mr Yapa who claims to be able to supply the impossible!

    Thanks! (as Mr Y would say)]

    For my benefit could you please specifically show the readers and me (quoting my posts) how I claims to be able to supply the impossibles?

    Then we can see whether “your claim” (about my supply of impossibilities) is something claimed by me or a misinterpretation created by you.

    Please be kind enough to show what I said very, very specifically.

    Thanks!

  • Hi Observer,

    (this reply too is out of order – not in the order in which the comments were received – but an exception is being made since this is a new type of a response, back to order after this)

    Thanks for the comment.

    RE:

    “Sujeewa, you actually embarrase agnostics like my self.”

    There are many types of agnostics. Some may get embarrased by the actions of others, perhaps an unfortunate aspect of living on a heavily populated planet with a diversity of ideas/types of people.

    There are, however, at least 3 agnostics involved in this conversation who are comfortable with what we are discussing, so, obviously not all agnostics feel the way you do.

    RE:
    “I was cringing reading the discussion in the Akon thread but for some reason I was never able to post there. Soon as a thread gets long I get a blank php page when submitting a comment and are unable to comment. This has happened to me on many threads and got dropped out.. anyway that’s another matter.”

    Same thing happened to me. It may be that once threads get long, the time it takes to re-load the page after submitting a new comment may mess, somehow, with the catpha process that is used to tell machines from humans, anyway, further research is needed to see how we can get around this problem.

    RE:
    “A true agnostic doesn’t brand them selves and trumpet to others!”

    Anyone can brand themselves & trumpet to others, if they so wish, even if others are uncomfortable with it.

    RE:
    “Atheists do – and that’s perfectly fine as long as you get the tag right! ”

    Sounds good.

    RE:
    “Agnostics have no foundation to preach to people who have faith.”

    Wrong. Both the agnostics and the faithful share the same physical world. Thus, if actions of the faithful are deemed to be not in the best interest of many people by an agnostic, or wise versa, they can, & should, speak up. Further, anyone can speak to or preach to anyone else for whatever reason that they may have (however, if the reason is fairly ridiculous (sp?), they may not get much of an audience).

    Also, read up on organized secularism. If needed, I can provide some links. Various non-believer communities can work together in an organized fashion to achieve common goals. Also, various non-beliver & beliver communities can work together to achieve common goals. There is nothing about agnosticism that prevents people from working together, getting organized, or branding themselves – as you put it.

    RE:
    “You can argue/question but you can never win.”

    A simple win/lose scenario is not relevant to this discussion. Basically, the larger question is do we organize society based on actual things that can be shown to exist or do we organize society based on speculative things? Or do we make room for both – using each when each are called for & make room for both to survive within one society, w/ out getting in each other’s way. So, simply engaging in such a conversation is victory to me, if you want to paint things in a win/lose scenario.

    RE:
    “Why?? Agnostic really means you’re a skeptic! That of course means you perfectly have the right to question all the religions out there including Buddhism but you cannot simply disagree with them either.”

    If they claim that a certain thing is real, & they cannot demonstrate that the thing is real, then I can point that out. Most reasonable people probably would not have a problem with it.

    RE:
    “Because you have to understand you’re questioning faith, not science!”

    Yes, I understand that I am questioning faith. All things are questionable, nothing is off limits – specially when the questioned things affect millions/billions of people on a daily basis.

    For example – if all of one group – whether Buddhists, or agnostics-who-do-not -like-to-tell-other-people-that-they-exist on this planet decide to do something like ending poverty or ending hunger, it can be made to happen virtually overnight. So, it is a very good idea to engage others who belong to groups that have millions of members.

    RE:
    ” “In some senses, agnosticism is a stance about the differences between belief and knowledge, rather than about any specific claim or belief.”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agnosticism

    Sounds good.

    RE:
    “To me religion is nothing more than a set of rules people devised centuries ago to maintain civilised society.”

    Those set of rules are constantly changing, adapting to new situations, etc. – it is a dynamic thing, not just something relevant to life centuries ago. Thus, of relevance to all now, whether they belive or not.

    RE:
    “Also god concept is really nothing more than embodiment of what we know as HOPE.”

    That is certainly one way to put it. There are also a thousand other ways to define the human relationship to the concept of god or gods.

    RE:
    “Hope is fundamental for human survival.”

    Sure, along with many other things. Hope is cool, I am down with hope.

    RE:
    “Humans are such fragile creatures who are unable to grapple with the vast complexities of the nature/universe resorted to myth in order to satisfy their fears. Boy that was a murderous, bloody sorry history from there on… that’s also another story.”

    All true. But much progress has been made, both inside religions & outside.

    RE:
    “My point? Quit it if you’re going to tag your self as an agnostic.”

    Not going to happen.

    RE:
    “Agnostics inherently can’t win against people with faith!”

    Feel free to belive as you please. As I described above, it is not a simple matter of win/lose.

    RE:
    “You need to have a belief before you can engage others with belief!”

    Not true. Anyone can engage with anyone else, if there is a good reason, & if both parties are open to it.

    RE:
    “So Sujeewa, et al.. please don’t misrepresent agnosticism. Many thanks!”

    Thanks for observing & responding Observer, but I am sure your request will not be complied with – but, thanks for the interest anyway. Take care.

    Also, Observer, this whole discussion came out of a beliver or two stating that what they feel towards Buddhism is not faith, that the important/core ideas in Buddhism are self-evident, & that it can be proven. So we discuss.

    ::

    It’s sleep time here all, will be back tomorrow for more.

    ::

    – S

  • One last thought before I quit for the day – I see that OTC is using his acupuncture (sp?) defense again & that Wijayapala (& OTC) are fully ignoring that fact that Yapa said that he can prove the existence of karma, reincarnation/rebith, nirvana using modern science/math – except that it would be very difficult for ordinary people to understand. So, those “misunderstandings” will have to be cleared away tomorrow (fellow agnostics, feel free to assist).

    Perhaps it is a language/symbol issue, I will try to use a new set of symbols/words to see if OTC & Wijayapala can comprehend the agnostics’ challenge and what it means so that they may respond to it directly & not divert themselves to side issues.

    Be back tomorrow, good night all, & thanks for your interest in this discussion.

    – S

  • yapa

    Dear Sujewa Ekanayake;

    You say;

    [Yapa claiming that he can prove the existence of karma, reincarnation, nirvana using modern science & math, etc., & the conversation/debate that followed from that point – & keep the discussion focused & easy to follow at a new place. ]

    Please don’t try to be dishonest, because you have nothing valuable to contribute. Haven/t you ever come across any article of mine that these cannot be proved due to the lack of knowledge systems based on human perception?Didn’t I logically showed in numerous ways there are knowledge gaining systems out side the limitation of human perception? Didn’t I prove this position with the notions of the modern science? Didn’t I reiterate this position with the notions of modern Philosophy? Didn’t I show you exacts from modern Science that Mathematics and Science is not the language of reality? Didn’t I show tell you about the Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle? Didn’t I show you what Godel’s Theorems say? Didn’t I show you the Similar concussions arrived by modern science and Philosophy that are consistent with Buddhism. Didn’t I show you that the views of the modern scientists praising Buddhism as it is compatible with Buddhism? Didn’t I show you that how Modern Philosophy’s view how (methodology) reality could be realized and the similarity of the Buddhism’s method to this? Didn’t I show clearly explain the methodology to achieve this end (under Middle Path- Noble Eight Fold Path). Didn’t I show that the poverty of Science (especially Newtonian Science) to act as a yardstick/base line/thumb rule/measurement? Still you are crying for the moon, because you know that that is the only way you can cover up your poverty in ideas and the only way to exist in the forum without making any valuable contribution. It is a very smart way of doing things!!!

    Off the Cuff, wijayapala and many others too very specifically addressed these issues. Without making any effort to understand Buddhism, Science or philosophy or any other deep subjects, you try to question everything with crazy ideas coming randomly into your mind.

    Anyway why are you deaf and blind to all of these contributions and just clinging in to one demand? Are you dishonest or too childish to understand what we say?

    Thanks!

  • Chula,

    RE: “Also I’d like to comment that faith in Buddhism is not the same as the blind faith you get in other religions. Actually a better translation of the Pāḷi term saddhā is conviction.”

    Semantics, but let’s see if we can clarify this futher by answering some of the other statements you post below.

    “And it really is something similar to trusting your guitar teacher to teach you how to master the guitar when you have very little idea if his instructions would work. But with practice, as you get better, what little conviction you had increases and you start believing mastery is possible. This practice of the Dhamma works the same way.”

    So, in essence, practicing Buddhism or the Dharma should get the practitioner close to nirvana, right? But, since it cannot be demonstrated that nirvana is a real element of this world or this universe, how can one demonstrate “getting closer to” the promised goal – nirvana? Thus, Buddhism does not work like guitar lessons – in guitar lessons the student can test him/her self (via using recordings at various points in time, etc.) to determine if he/she is learning anything.

    RE:
    “The Buddha’s teaching is a matter of skill (kusala), which is practiced to attain the desirable results. When you start off, the conviction you have could be as small as trusting a friend who says meditation helps you get more control of the mind, or trusting scientific research that suggests that meditation helps sound cognitive functioning.”

    But the core goal, or the main goal, is not meditation proficiency. The Buddha is not famous for being a meditation teacher only/the key offer from Buddhism has not been just meditation – but an escape from a never ending round of birth & death & rebirth that the Buddhists say their path can liberate one from.

    Of course, unless nirvana is a symbolic device only, which the belivers do not accept, thus we continue 🙂

    RE:
    “But the further you go along the path, as you see that what the Buddha claims is indeed verifiable with your own experience, your conviction of the goal increases.”

    Tell us then, how far have you gone along the path & what proof have you discovered that tells you that you are closer to nirvana than, let’s say, 10 years ago?

    RE:
    “This is very different from blind faith – the Buddha talks of guarding the truth and being completely honest on what you know and what you believe – the simile of the elephant footprint clearly points to that fact.”

    The very same thing as blind faith, though expressed differently. Both the priests of Christianity and the monks of Buddhism are asking you to belive that Christ and Buddha are who the priests/monks say they are & that the path, the religions, will take you closer to the goals reportedly demonstrated as achieveable by the two founders (or the so-called founders/inventors) of the religions.

    RE:
    “There are numerous other relevant discourses, I recommend the site Access to Insight to anyone interested.”

    Sounds good, check it out interested people.

    More non-belief-bliss inducing writing tomorrow :), hopefully.

    – S

  • yapa

    Dear SomewhatDisgusted ;

    RE: Your post of May 7, 2010 @ 10:04 am

    Ok! Now if you think you countered my argument, please support your universal Principle that “BUDDHISM SHOULD BE SEPARATED FROM THE STATE OF SRI LANKA.

    Now it is your opportunity to do a great service to this country by reasonably rejecting our old myth which is an obstacle to the to the progress of the mankind, as you have promised to fight with your total capability. Please render your great service to the humanity.

    I hope you will not miss this valuable opportunity.

    Thanks!

  • yapa

    Correction……

    Didn’t I show you the Similar concussions arrived by modern science……..

    In above “concussions” should be replaced with “conclusions”.

    Thanks!

  • (let me try to quickly address at least one of the relevant items from “old friends” Wijayapala & OTC – from their most recent post before I quit for the night, will get to the earlier posts starting tomorrow),

    Wijayapala,

    RE:
    “Let me turn your argument in your own face: why would secular agnostics who reject kamma and samsara have any interest in helping others, when they can use the time and effort on themselves? After all, we Buddhists are bound by the dogma that the effects of responding to or ignoring others’ suffering will manifest either in the same lifetime or a future birth. If I were in your place, I wouldn’t worry about any of these effects as everything would end with death. What did Epicurus say about altruism?”

    Here are two reasons why people help others: if raised or taught to feel good about heping others, if it is considered a virtue/a positive thing to help others, then people may help others – in order to feel good about themselves, etc. Also, helping others is an indirect way of helping oneself – as in helping to put out a fire in the town may keep one’s own house safe from fire, etc. So, obviously fear of karmic retribution or having to spend an extra lifetime or two in samsara are not the only reasons for helping others.

    RE: “What is your fixation with Yapa anyway? You seem far more interested in interacting with him than me or OTC. Do you consider us to be less Buddhists than Yapa is?”

    Yapa claimed, at one point during the previous incarnation of this conversation, that modern science & math can prove the existence of karma, reincarnation & nirvana. I will have to comb through the 1000+ comments & re-post the statement here, so that you can see what you missed.

    ::

    OTC,

    RE:

    “The Agnostics were challenged to prove that Science was a “Mature” tool to investigate a Philosophy like Buddhism. So far that proof has not been forthcoming.”

    It is also impossible to prove that Star Wars (the movie) – the story within it – is a real event, or a real set of events. Science cannot show you, nor can common sense, that imagined, fabricated, non-existant, speculative mental creations are real aspects of this world. You seem to belive that karma, reincarnation/rebirth, nirvana are real things, instead of those being speculative items/symbolic devices that exist to teach a set of ideas to people. So, if we follow your argument further, & follow my argument further, then, karma, rebirth, nirvana become things that cannot be proven or disproven, thus, agnostic items – not certain whether they are real or not (except, in my case, I lean strongly towards most likely not real). After that, religion/Buddhism is merely an individual preference (just as someone may be a fan of Star Wars movies because it feels good to them & not because it tells a true story that everyone else must believe in also). So, then we are on to the area of intellectual/religious freedom, including the freedom from religion – which the agnostics feel is a very useful thing to us & probably to most humans, thus we are engaged in this discussion. So, no, science cannot demonstrate that fiction is true. But, if you want us to belive that karma, reincarnation, nirvana is something more than useful fiction, then, by all means, show us how those items are a part of the real makeup of this world/this universe.

    – S

  • yapa

    Dear SomewhatDisgusted;

    RE: Your post of May 7, 2010 @ 12:50 pm

    Here you are trying to narrow down the scope of the discussion for your advantage as cunningly as ever. The discussion was never limited or confined to to such a narrow strip, which you are trying to limit as you have already sensed the destiny of your arguments. You are cunningly trying to wash “your hand” from the other perspectives, sending your peers to the guillotine for your “collective sins”

    You are again trying to run away betraying your long lasting friends.

    Please at least be honest to your friends!

    Thanks!

  • yapa

    Dear All/ specially for Sujewa Ekanayake;

    You say;

    [One of the challenges put forth by The Agnostics camp (myself, SomewhatDisgusted, BalangodaMan, with help from Heshan) to The Believers (Yapa, Wijayapala, Off The Cuff, etc.)]

    Though you try to take HESHAN into your side as an Agnostics, he doesn’t belong to your ranks.

    Unlike you, and other two peers of yours he reasonably challenged our views and engaged in a reasonable discussion with some of his excellently rich contributions to to the forum. I saw several times you, SomewhatDisgusted and BaalgodaMan trying to get get him on board of your sinking ship, falsely admiring and appreciating his views, knowing that his capacity to fill your empty tin of arguments.. But he himself averted those moves, may be understanding your dishonest objectives.

    You really cannot name him a agnostic, because he had clearly declared that he is a Christian.

    Please use honest tactics/strategies.

    Thanks!

  • yapa

    Dear SomewhatDisgusted ;

    You say;

    [Therefore, it is far better to take steps to verify that these things are indeed true, rather than simply assuming they are.]

    How do you verify? With your thimble of outdated knowledge trickled down from Newtonian + faith based world outlook?

    Are you dreaming to measure the ocean with your outdated metre ruler?

    I cannot stop my laughter. My god!

    Thanks!

  • ordinary lankan

    Thank you Balangoda man and thank you Sujeewa. You have clarified the background to this discussion well. now i can add something more in point

    In this country there are 2 strands of buddhism – whilst they are connected we must not confuse them. Political buddhism is the attempt by some to use buddhism to further political objectives. this is not unlike the way other religions were used in other countries for political ends. while this is not inherently wrong – this can and it has frequently taken political buddhists right out of the framework of actual buddhism. But that is plain politics.

    the second strand is spiritual buddhism – and this is really the quest of the individual who seeks liberation – for self and may be a few others. This strand dates from the legendary visits of the Buddha up to the present day. Spiritual buddhists acknowledge that political buddhism provides a background and some outward frames for their practice – but we do not consider this an essential part of practice. In fact it is well known that organized and institutionalized religion frequesntly subverts the genuine spiritual quest of the truth seeker. sincere buddhists know that the buddha taught to strengthen the individual and help the individual overcome suffering. as Buddha was a humanist there was no question of a preferred race or language to him – it is the same for us who follow his path as best as we can.

    so as part of your challenge to political buddhism it may not make sense to challenge buddhist concepts – some of which have parallels in other religions too. USE them and force the political buddhists to live up to their stated allegiances to buddhism. there is no better strategy than to use their own weapons against them – as sri lankans we must all learn our buddhism – this is truly our collective heritage – it is the ground we stand on – so do not consider buddhism to be separate from you – I believe no sri lankan can honestly disavow buddhism – it is truly a part of us – and esp its breadth – tolerance and gentleness. these qualities must live in us and we must hand them over to our children ….

    so let me reiterate – these concepts are tools to be used – and i for one would gladly use the best tools available – irrespective of their source or origin – that is the way of the practitioner

  • Hello Everyone,

    Here is just one of the many instances where Yapa indicated that he may be able to demonstrate to non-belivers the truth/real-ness of karma, rebirth, nirvana (more examples to follow):

    From: http://www.groundviews.org/2010/03/27/akon-and-buddhism-in-sri-lanka/#comment-17538, by Yapa:

    “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.”

    To read rest of Yapa’s comment, & related comments, go here:

    http://www.groundviews.org/2010/03/27/akon-and-buddhism-in-sri-lanka/#comment-17538

    More, & clearly expressed, views re: the ability to prove karma, rebirth, nirvana being real aspects of this world – in statements made by Yapa (& perhaps other belivers), coming soon.

    – S

  • yapa

    Dear Off the Cuff, Wijayapala and All;

    I would like to draw your kind attention of the post of SomewhatDisgusted May 7, 2010 @ 12:50 pm

    In this post he tries to emphasize some of the main objectives of him for involving in the discussion against Buddhism, out of which his fear against the Secular State concept is one of the main. In the past he has assertively shown his determination to fight against any move against the secular state according to his capability. Now he has shown the same desire for this noble goal. Shall we relieve him from the other responsibilities of the other aspects of Buddhism for some time to facilitate him to solely concentrate this noble goal which he thinks his inalienable duty as a human being to the whole human kind?

    Shall we refrain from burdening him with other responsibilities. This is my humble request to you and I sincerely hope you will corporate.

    Please SomewhatDisgusted without getting disturbed from other activities prove your case.

    Thanks!

  • yapa

    Dear Wijayapal;

    Thank you wijayapala for providing the conceptualize notion, of A straw man argument.

    This is all these three blind men have been doing all this time.

    Thanks again and I re- post the link considering its valuable significance.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Straw%20man

    Thanks again!

    is an informal fallacy based on misrepresentation of an opponent’s position.[1] To “attack a straw man” is to create the illusion of having refuted a proposition by substituting a superficially similar proposition (the “straw man”), and refuting it, without ever having actually re

  • Hi tis-a-small-world,

    Thanks for reading & commenting.

    RE:

    “As the writer of Akon and Buddhism in Sri Lanka, I like to thank you for taking your time in commenting on my article and enhancing the debate from your article.”

    No problem, good job on the previous/your article. It lead to a very interesting, if at times frustrating, conversation. Perhaps we can deal with just one aspect of that discussion here.

    RE:
    “First of all, I wish to inform that religion and philosophy are not categorized under sciences and and is a system of beliefs according to French sociologist Emile Durkheim. it’s a well known fact that religious beliefs and teachings cannot be tested scientifically nor it cannot be tested or proven through scientific experiments.”

    Sure, I know that. However, some believers act as if religious statements & ideas are facts that all – including non-belivers – need to respect/follow & live by. Thus, we have this discussion – which seeks to point out the speculative nature of religion & the value of both a secular approach to living & of skepticism.

    RE:
    “Buddhism is perceived as a philosophy and also a religion. so it cannot be tested or proved through scientific experiments.”

    Yeah, re: speculative items such as karma, rebirth, nirvana, I agree. Hoewever, more earth bound items – such as the value of the prohibition against killing – can be demonstrated as, having real value/value in the real world, and thus, in a way, can be proven to be useful.

    RE:
    “The concepts in question, re-incarnation, karma and nirvana are at times are too complicated and difficult to understand. especially nirvana. I think are minds, souls are filled with kleshas, tanha and asha and therefore we find it difficult to understand or see it.”

    Not certain what, if any, out of items described in Buddhism or other religions our minds, souls, etc. are filled with. Maybe none of them – just the desire to survive & be happy – out of which other positive & negative (as seen by others) actions & thoughts arise.

    RE:
    “I believe in Karma, Nirvana and re-incarnation based on my knowledge on the philosophy of Lord Buddha, although i cannot prove my beliefs scientifically.”

    Nor can you prove it through any other method – common sense, observation, etc., not just the scientific method/scientifically. And, since we are discussing a religious matter – a subject that is built on speculative items re: nature of man & universe, for your own personl faith based practices, no external or reasonable proof (proof that a non-beliver may be able to see/recognbize as proof) are needed. However, the entire reason for this discussion is that believers have taken their faith in a religion – in this case Buddhism – to be reflective of indisputable truths, and they have questioned the value of separating the state from the temple – as a practical matter. So, this discussion is a part of an attempt to demonstrate why it may be best – for all – to separate secular life/common life from religious life when it comes to dealing with non-belivers & different belivers or no belivers.

    RE:
    “Lord Buddha, upon completing Sath Sathiya was invited by a Brahma to preach his teachings or philosophy to the people. Lord Buddha was at first reluctant to do that because he felt that his philosophy or Dharma was too complex or advanced for the people to understand. Yes I agree with Lord Buddha on the complexity of his philosophy. Because I also find it difficult to understand the pattichcha samuppadaya, karma and nirvana concepts.”

    Yes, I’ve heard that story before. Either the concepts are very difficult to understand or they are entirely fictional, symbolic devices, thus designed to be impossible to understand through any means available to us.

    RE:
    “Since Lord Buddha allows his shrawakas to question his teachings, you have the freedom to raise questions regarding the teachings of lord buddha.”

    Even without the Budddha’s recommendations, I have the freedom to question his or anyone else’s teachings. However, the advice attributed to The Buddha – re: testing to see if teachings are accurate, is very useful when dealing with many murky things in life – including blind faith based Buddhism.

    RE:
    “Even though I don’t agree with the believers camp Yapa, Wijepala and off the cuff on certain issues, I stand with them as a believer in the existence of karma, nirvana and re-incarnation.”

    Sounds good, hopefully it brings peace & joy & happiness to you & is generally a positive thing for you.

    RE:
    “Hope you’ll be able to solve your question and hope your article will generate a lot of responses as it did with the “Akon and Buddhism in Sri Lanka” All the Best!”

    Thanks for the positive thoughts. I have no serious expectation that the belivers will be able to show how karma, reincarnation, nirvana are real aspects of this world (but if they do, excellent, will be very interesting no doubt). But I do hope that having to deal fully & directly with the speculative nature of key aspects of their faith, some blind believers will realize that the undisputed truth that they seek to aggressively protect from the rest of the world is merely a set of old human ideas that they have grown very attached to – and in fact, their hostile stance towards others negates any positive benefits that their society /they themselves may derive from the practice of Buddhism. A lot to hope for out of a discussion on the web, but who knows, ideas introduced can stay with us & grow & be useful in many moons to come – even if not today. I do see a near future where Sri Lankans (in classic Sri Lanka – the isalnd, & in Greater Sri Lanka – the Sri Lankan diaspora on rest of Earth as well as on the island) are able to think past religiously imposed limitations & other limiting cultural conditioning & are able to create a prosperous, productive, & free society (& for all that, asking questions about why things are the way they are – though they may not make sense & thuogh they may not be productive/useful why certain habits, actions, ways are still followed – is essential). And, yes, in this future, SL Buddhism still exists, along with a healthy & useful secularism/agnosticism (and the ancestors are happy, the future generations are happy, and, most importantly, the present generation is happy & no longer at war.

    – S

  • BalangodaMan

    Dear Observer,

    Re. ‘Agnostic’ tag.
    Ok, fair point – agnosticism is a passive intellectual position – but see this …

    Agreed also, the motivations of the Agnostics in this debate is more like that of ‘Skeptics’.

    However, Agnostics can (and do, and should, in my view) challenge Dogmatists when something significant in society (and the world) is at stake because of bigotry, prejudice, and childhood brainwashing. The world cannot sit back when religious ‘TRUTH’ that promises fantastic rewards make young men fly aeroplanes into tall buildings full of innocent people.

    Sujewa has already pointed to the arrogance of claiming the ‘TRUTH’ as belonging to one’s own religion – whether it is ‘the god given promised land’ (Isreal and SL) or Jesus said ‘no one will enter the kingdom of heaven except through me’ or any other such.

    Dear Observer, we can ‘observe’ as much as we like BUT if we do nothing about it there could soon be nothing to observe!

  • yapa

    Hey Agnostics;

    You are trying to couple Heshan into your own bullock cart? Not being fully agree with us, see what he had said. He is not blind from birth like you. Don’t insult him trying to include him into your Montessori. Please read (Oh! I am sorry. How can you read you are blind, especially for the things that are disadvantageous for you )

    ………………………
    Heshan said,

    April 22, 2010 @ 3:42 am

    Dear Somewhat Disgusted and Off the Cuff:

    Thanks for the compliments. Let me point, though, that my purpose is not to debunk/disprove karma/reincarnation. They are metaphysical constructs whose properties are beyond the scope of scientific methodology. However, once we accept that science cannot explain everything, then this need not be a hindrance. I think Yapa has already pointed this out; that the rationality behind science is limited. On the other hand, he also says that Buddhism is not meant to be rational – a contradiction. I will let Yapa explain that.

    May all blind eyes be opened. May all biased minds be freed.

    Thanks!

  • BalangodaMan

    Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!

    I can see this new thread fast becoming a whirlpool of the same arguments that went before.

    Dear Wijayapala, OTC, Mr Yapa,

    May I just repeat, trust me, there are many other religions in the world. They too believe passionately about what they have been told as children, by people they trust. In my view, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Zoroastrians, all of you, have essentially the same belief pattern – they are just called something different, or explained differently, by people in different frocks.

    There is the promise of a ‘good place’, there is a ‘bad place’, there is a god, there is a chief celestial administrator, there are the terrestrial administrators and the supreme ambassador on Earth. There is sin, and virtuous acts. There is penance. We just call them different words. The easiest common denominator to pin down is ‘faith’.

    In Christianity/Islam the good place is heaven/paradise. In Buddhism it is nirvana. The bad place is hell, or in Buddhism it is being born. All humans pray to some degree – a desire to connect or plead or negotiate (?) with a higher power, even just acknowledge. Why do people in temples place their palms together and place it at the forehead? So Buddhists too believe in a god.

    It’s only when cultures came into conflict (by physical proximity, migration, politics, war) that humans started to ‘differentiate’ our ‘truth’ from their ‘lies’. Then follows prejudice, hostility, death. But it does not take a lot of brains to see that essentially the original ideas were the same.

    In a modern society (educated?) we should be able to see beyond the cosmetic differences. Forget the divisive tactics of our recent ancestors – they had a good reason at the time, but those reasons are no longer appropriate in today’s world. Our problem (the one we are trying to end) is that some people believe that it IS necessary to propagate these differences into future generations.

    Whilst having been born in a Buddhist society, I have had the good fortune of living amongst people of many of the world’s great cultures. Trust me, we do not have a monopoly on ‘truth’.

    I have asked you (Mr Yapa mainly) whether you would be just as convinced of the ‘truth’ of your religion, Buddhism, if you (with your capacity for scrutiny and analysis) were born in Riyadh, in a Muslim country, as a Muslim person?

    Still waiting for your comments on that …

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear Sujewa,

    We are not discussing Fantasy.
    The examples I gave are real world verifiable ones. They have nothing to do with films and the celluloid fantasies that most of those create. So please don’t try to divert from the issue at hand.

    You state in your synopsis above as follows,

    “One of the challenges put forth by The Agnostics camp ……is: prove, using modern science or math or any other verifiable method available, to non-believers, that karma, reincarnation, nirvana, as described in Buddhism, are real aspects/actual things that exist in this world.”
    Your words not Yapa’s or mine.

    My counter challenge as stated in my posts of May 7, 2010 @ 8:27 pm and May 8, 2010 @ 12:56 am is for you or your camp to PROVE that the tool that you have selected is appropriate and has the authority and the maturity to analyse a Philosophy such as Buddhism.

    If you cannot rise to that challenge then your tool is too puny to dissect Buddhism. Period.

  • @Sujewa:
    From your responses, it seems to me that you think I have the onus to prove to you that karma, rebirth and nirvana can be demonstrated in the real world. I was trying to point out the Buddha taught that these things are verifiable through practice. It also seems that you haven’t read the links I’ve included in the posts since your arguments don’t reflect that fact. I’ll respond to your posts but if it seems that you’re not really reading and just having fun arguing by stating the same points without considering what I’ve mentioned, I would have to leave this “discussion”.
    “Not criticizing anything, just asking how something works, from people who say they are certain that something works a certain way & that they can show that it works that way.”
    I never claim that this works a certain way and I can prove it to you. Even the Buddha couldn’t make people believe. Are you serious? I think you are basing your arguments from people who have very little idea about the teachings and assuming that all Buddhists share their absurdity.
    “How many practitioners have directly realized nirvana through the methods prescribed by the Buddha? 100? 10,000? 1 million? If none that you know of have attained nirvana, then why not? & or if some have (or say they have) can they show you that they were able to do so using methods described in Buddhism? Is the system/the method faulty? Or is nirvana, instead of being an achievement that a human being is capable of accomplishing, more of a symbol – an idea to get people to follow a certain way of looking at the world & living in the world?”
    This is a stupid question because realizing nirvāna is not like getting some certificate in that unless one is wise enough to see the difference between a wise person and one who is not, there is no way to know for certain the attainments of another. This is why I quoted the discourse of the simile of the elephant footprint simile – obviously it looks like you haven’t read it but just rehashed your tired views. The Buddha specifically mentions that until you reach nirvana, there is an element of conviction. So he never claims that you can do some sort of statistical analysis on Arahants – why do you think that would be possible in the case in the first place? It’s almost like you’re saying since it’s not falsifiable it must be false. That just makes no sense. And about people I know, I have read of a monk in Thailand who is considered an Arahant (I do too), and I’ve met monks who I believe have attained different stages of the path. From their practice and whatever progress I’ve made in mine, it’s clear to me the step-by-step path laid out by the Buddha does bring about results. Now is that proof? It’s proof to me, but not for you. If you want proof, you have practice.
    “I assume Einstein’s theory of relativity makes sense to physicists, or some physicists. And, as far as I know (perhaps Heshan can add some thoughts re: this) theory of relativity has been demonstrated to be true using experiments & examples.”
    And the path of the Buddha’s teachings can be verified by practice. The difference is it’s not quantifiable or falsifiable through scientific means.
    “I see no difference between blind faith in a creator, & blind faith in the mechanisms that make Buddhism work as a religion – primarily karma, & related to that rebirth, & then nirvana – as the way out of the karma based rebirth cycle. Both the creator god & the existence of karma are fantastic & speculative religious ideas. If someone wanted to point to something that they believe proves the existence of a creator god, i am sure they can point to many complex & little understood phenomenon (as you did when you pointed to rebirth in support of ideas in Buddhism) – however, that would not be proof for the existence of a creator god (for me, that would require an actual meeting with the god & then testing the god out to see if he/she/it is in fact the creator of the worlds, so, basically, my barrier for accepting the creator god idea being real is pretty much the same as the barrier i have for accepting karma, reincarnation/rebirth, nirvana as true/real).”
    I’m not sure if you know but in the practice there is no requirement for one completely believe rebirth and karma to its full extent as if it’s some commandment. It seems that you think this is so. Actually, considering that these ideas a plausible are enough for a person to practice. In this discourse (and please read this before you reply to my post), the Buddha talks of safeguarding the truth by separating what you know from what you believe. If someone claims that they know rebirth and karma (in terms of the next life) is true just because the Buddha said so, he/she is not following what the Buddha taught because he is categorizing something that he believes as what he knows.
    “I am pretty sure that it is meaningless to say that the Dhamma is timeless in this context. Do you mean that the ideas that make up the Buddha’s teachings have lasted a long time? Well, so have many other things – including very bizarre stuff that have very little use to modern humans (such as belief in the existence of faries, etc.). Timeless does not equal real (as opposed to fabricated, imagined, speculative).”
    Timeless in the sense the practice does not change with time to time.
    “I have followed the path recommended by the Buddha, and, though it has many useful things, it does not (or did not for me at least) result in being able to verify karma, reincarnation or rebirth, & nirvana as being real things that exist in this world/universe & affects humans as described in Buddhism. Nor do I know of any Buddhist who has proven that they have attained direct knowledge of karma, rebirth, nirvana & can demonstrate that they in fact have achieved what they say they achieved.”
    Have you attained the fourth jhāna? What is the extent of your practice. If it’s just following the five precepts and meditating daily, that’s not fully following his path. I know of such people (especially from the Thai Forest Tradition) – maybe you should consider looking outside Sri
    “Thus, this discussion has come into being. We are going to try to trade a little bit of the believers’ closed arrogance & ignorance for the agnostics’ naturally humble & open not-knowing-for-certain-ness, at least that’s the plan “
    Like I said you are categorizing belief with certainty which I do not claim and the Buddha would criticize (the discourse I would quote above). Just because the believers you have met have not at least read the Buddha’s teachings in full doesn’t mean all believers are what you claim them to be.
    “So, in essence, practicing Buddhism or the Dharma should get the practitioner close to nirvana, right? But, since it cannot be demonstrated that nirvana is a real element of this world or this universe, how can one demonstrate “getting closer to” the promised goal – nirvana? Thus, Buddhism does not work like guitar lessons – in guitar lessons the student can test him/her self (via using recordings at various points in time, etc.) to determine if he/she is learning anything.”
    You can for sure test for oneself that one is getting closer to the goal. For example, before I practiced sincerely, I had comparatively very little control over my mind. Now I have more control over my actions, calm, stability and a source of happiness (through meditation) that is much more dependable than what is available in the outside world. I can verify that I am making progress by comparing my state with the Buddha’s step-by-step teachings to see what I should focus on next. There is no question of being able to verify progress for oneself.
    “But the core goal, or the main goal, is not meditation proficiency. The Buddha is not famous for being a meditation teacher only/the key offer from Buddhism has not been just meditation – but an escape from a never ending round of birth & death & rebirth that the Buddhists say their path can liberate one from.”
    Meditation is a central aspect of the path. I think you fail to see it’s a step-by-step path. It’s not like it’s a 10-day course where at the end you’re guaranteed nirvana. It’s more like a life’s work.
    “Tell us then, how far have you gone along the path & what proof have you discovered that tells you that you are closer to nirvana than, let’s say, 10 years ago?”
    Check my answer above.
    “The very same thing as blind faith, though expressed differently. Both the priests of Christianity and the monks of Buddhism are asking you to belive that Christ and Buddha are who the priests/monks say they are & that the path, the religions, will take you closer to the goals reportedly demonstrated as achieveable by the two founders (or the so-called founders/inventors) of the religions.”
    The Buddha does not require one to believe that before starting to practice. Please read the discourse (Canki Sutta), that I have linked. It’s not you’re either with me or not. There is room for not knowing and being honest.

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear Heshan,

    Congratulations on your post at http://www.groundviews.org/2010/03/27/akon-and-buddhism-in-sri-lanka/#comment-18445

    Your point about Mental Sickness is well taken. You have also observed that “INTENT” plays a crucial part in the Modern Judicial system. A point that I too made long ago which some failed to grasp.

    Kamma is nothing but a word describing action. Action can be accidental or premeditated. The Buddhist meaning of Kamma differentiates between them. Premeditated or Thoughtful action is what is meant by Buddhism as Kamma.

    In the current life, Kamma can be found to be true. A simple example is the killing of a man. Premeditated murder carries a higher penalty than an accidental one (the accidental case may not even receive a penalty). Vipaka or result always follows Kamma. The Vipaka could be immediate or delayed.

    At the present time there is hardly any research about Rebirth (Karma is intimately entwined with rebirth). Not many scientists would be bold enough to put their carriers at risk by investigating a phenomenon like Rebirth. The US Govt funded Stargate project closed down due to pressure against what was thought as research into the paranormal.

  • yapa

    Dear All/Specially for BalangodaMan;

    Can you remember I asked a single question from BalangodaMan for he tried his best not to answer it. This is that simple question.
    ………………………
    I think you live in the USA. Now if you you talk in Sinhala to an average American citizen, why he cannot understand?
    ………………………………………..

    I didn’t let him run away from the question and cornered him with several reminders.

    Can you remember how he was stunned, startled and went his mind off with this simple question after he sat himself on his own beautiful tail? Want to see? Yes please;

    http://www.groundviews.org/2010/03/27/akon-and-buddhism-in-sri-lanka/comment-page-19/#comment-18117

    Do you know why I waned to ask this simple question?

    To show the limitations, pettiness of a mind and to show inability of it to tackle unfamiliar things. Three BalangodaMen ( BM, SE and SD) were emphasizing their ability to handle Buddhism, Modern Science and Philosophy or whatever it is with their “pure minds” without a fair knowledge of them. They vehemently rejected our proposals to gain a fair knowledge for smooth discussion. There stance was it was not a shortcoming from their part or hindrance to maintain the discussion. But we believed the opposite and still believe so and hope any sensible person would do so.

    I told them it is difficult understand Buddhism with their “Pure Thought.” But they laughed at me as omnipotent. But now see why the “ordinary USA citizen” cannot understand when BalangodaMan talks to him in Sinhala.

    This USA citizen can understand English, because he is used to it by listening, responding …etc… in English speaking society of USA. If say that in another words, he can talk English because his mind was “conditioned” with English. If his mind was conditioned in French, he can understand French. Otherwise he cannot. Same is true for Spanish. Then why do you think that, that ordinary USA citizen to whom BalangodaMan spoke in Sinhala could not understand it.

    Isn’t that because his mind was not conditioned to Sinhala Language?

    This means mind only can grasp or can respond only to conditioned scenarios. Isn’t my conclusion correct?

    This shows that just “empty minds” cannot grasp or communicate anything. These three blind mice don’t grasp what I say, is it because their their minds are empty?

    Tell me my dear friends, I don’t understand this paradox.

    Did you ever see such a sight in your life,
    As three blind mice?
    As three BalangodaMen?

    Thanks!

  • yapa

    Dear Sujewa Ekanayake;

    You say;

    “Yapa claimed, at one point during the previous incarnation of this conversation, that modern science & math can prove the existence of karma, reincarnation & nirvana. I will have to comb through the 1000+ comments & re-post the statement here, so that you can see what you missed.”

    Please specifically show the place/ post where I said so or tell me whether are you bashing a “straw man” as wijayapala pointed out or you are fighting with a created brute as I used to say?

    Please also get checked whether your honesty organ has some fault.

    Thanks! (especially for being dishonest)

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear BalangodaMan,

    “All humans pray to some degree – a desire to connect or plead or negotiate (?) with a higher power, even just acknowledge. Why do people in temples place their palms together and place it at the forehead? So Buddhists too believe in a god.”

    Great Logic

    Is that Agnostic Reasoning?

    Just shows that you don’t have an Iota of knowledge about Buddhist Philosophy.

  • yapa

    OTC,

    RE:

    The Agnostics were challenged to prove that Science was a “Mature” tool to investigate a Philosophy like Buddhism. So far that proof has not been forthcoming.”

    It is also impossible to prove that Star Wars (the movie) – the story within it – is a real event, or a real set of events. Science cannot show you, nor can common sense, that imagined, fabricated, non-existant, speculative mental creations are real aspects of this world. You seem to belive that karma, reincarnation/rebirth, nirvana are real things, instead of those being speculative items/symbolic devices that exist to teach a set of ideas to people. So, if we follow your argument further, & follow my argument further, then, karma, rebirth, nirvana become things that cannot be proven or disproven, thus, agnostic items – not certain whether they are real or not (except, in my case, I lean strongly towards most likely not real). After that, religion/Buddhism is merely an individual preference (just as someone may be a fan of Star Wars movies because it feels good to them & not because it tells a true story that everyone else must believe in also). So, then we are on to the area of intellectual/religious freedom, including the freedom from religion – which the agnostics feel is a very useful thing to us & probably to most humans, thus we are engaged in this discussion. So, no, science cannot demonstrate that fiction is true. But, if you want us to belive that karma, reincarnation, nirvana is something more than useful fiction, then, by all means, show us how those items are a part of the real makeup of this world/this univer
    …………………………

    Has this man’s mind gone off?

  • yapa

    Sujewa Ekanayake;

    RE: Your post of May 8, 2010 @ 11:22 am

    Please gentleman, be kind enough to reprint my wordings with your own key board to show that I have said that I will be able to demonstrate to non-believers the truth/realness of karma, rebirth, nirvana.

    Please do not bash a straw man. It will hurt his straw body.

    Thanks! (especially for telling untruths)

  • yapa

    RE: the post of May 8, 2010 @ 2:52 pm

    I think another man has gone mad!

    Dear BM (Original);

    I have answered that question and told even before, that I had answered that question. Just see a few posts after your question.

    Please see a physician if you feel something like dissiness.

    Take care.

    Thanks!

  • yapa

    Now it is BalangodaMad, not BalangodaMan!

    Thanks!

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear Wijayapala,

    Thank you for the link (in your post of May 8, 2010 @ 5:40 am)

    I was referring to “Ahosi Karma” without confusing others by writing directly about it.

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear Yapa,

    Reference your post of May 8, 2010 @ 4:34 pm.

    That was Hilarious.

    Sujewa’s response was either a cunning attempt at escaping the thrust of my argument, a Hudini Act or just plain ignorance.

    He has forgotten that I was writing about Real World Phenomena that is backed by the recognition given them by the WHO (UN body) and The declassified Stargate documentation of the US Govt.

    The poor guy has confused “Stargate” with “Star wars”. Probably due to his self professed film making bent.

    We need to have Upeksha

  • BalangodaMan

    Dear Chula,

    The challenge in Sujewa’s article here is to the claims of ‘truth’ made by Mr Yapa’s camp in the Akon thread.

    Clearly you agree with us – that a religious belief is ‘true’ to someone who has faith or conviction in it. It is a personal position the validity of which only a believer can verify. Such a ‘truth’ is commonly referred to as ‘faith’ or a ‘conviction’.

    Now, our problem is, Mr Yapa vehemently objects to the word ‘faith’ (I suggested that that might be because it is the term used in other religions like Christianity). He substituted ‘verifiable proof’ in place of ‘faith’, bringing in Quantum Physics big guns to a party already in full swing.

    My point is, I know many Christians who are utterly convinced that Jesus was the son of god. And Muslims who are utterly convinced that Mohammed is god’s messenger. They see the ‘truth’ in their belief through their conviction. So Mr Yapa differentiating his faith as something that is ‘true’ (which has since been re-defined as ‘conviction’) has not really differentiated the elements in Buddhist belief that requires an element of faith – from things that we commonly understand as true in everyday usage – eg. ‘Colombo is the capital of SL’, and ‘the Sun will rise tomorrow’ are true in everyday usage. The key differentiating point being, there are things that we can bank on and there are things that are purely speculative (that we accept and go along with for a variety of good reasons).

    (The tangent of debating whether Newtonian mechanics gives more Air Miles than Einsteinian theories, whether salmon can swim with hands tied behind their backs, whether Yings and Yanks live in the USA, whether acupuncturists are just pricks are way off the issue at hand)

    Perhaps Mr Yapa’s claim that he can prove that ‘karma, rebirth, nirvana are true’ with Quantum Physics was mere fluff – a throw away ‘my god is better than your god and I can prove it’ statement, an exaggeration that he later regrets making? In which case the scientific reasoning he promised will not be forthcoming. Let’s not hold our breath.

    So, Dear All – there is no point in writing reams about ‘you cannot prove religious faith except through the faith itself’ as if it is in opposition to Sujewa’s challenge …. this is EXACTLY the point Sujewa is making, along with SomewhatDisgusted and myself. Please read Sujewa’s artice … in context). Christians too would say you cannot know god except as a believer, and the Muslims have a similar conviction. The claim of ‘religious truth for the purpose of glorification at the exclusion of others’ is not confined to Buddhism. Though each does it with a different story.

    And please don’t charge back with a ‘ah but Buddhism is a philosophy, ethics, morality, a way of life’ differentiation. All regions are a mixture of dogma, moral code, ethics, rules, politics, wise teachings, and philosophy (and, unfortunately, also bad stuff like divisive ideas).

  • BalangodaMan

    Mr Yapa,

    TRUTH and OBSERVABLE BEHAVIOUR
    ———————————
    There is no point in arguing about ‘truth’ without agreeing what we mean by ‘truth’. If we behave in a way consistent with what we say then that says something about what we say we believe in, what we believe to be ‘true’.

    I have given numerous examples in the honourable-Akon-thread that we as individuals, and as society, do not appear to behave as if we believe that these items of faith (karma, rebirth, nirvana) are real things. I can re-post them here if it might help.

    Separation of Religion from the State
    ———————————
    And on the matter highlighted by SomewhatDisgusted, (ie. separation of religion from the state, which you say Mr Yapa is unnecessary) I have shown that a country cannot be run on the basis that the claims of any religion are ‘true’, giving examples in popular Buddhist belief and showing that such a proposition is untenable. As an example, we cannot practice the middle path in a competitive society, in any capitalist society, and we have a cricket team which has to perform at the extreme end of excellence to beat the coconuts out of the opposition. Advertising cannot be lawful, the primary aim of which is to stimulate desire (craving) – at best it would be unfair on those struggling with curbing their weaknesses. Then there are bizarre absurdities in relation to the state recognition of rebirth. It seems like religious concepts work only in the confines of personal belief, in church sermons and temples, mosques – not in the law of the land (unless there are specific elements in it by design – as in Islam which is a system of law).

    There is a good case, I think, for redesigning Buddhism from the ground up. Clearly separating philosophy from the dogma. Identifying what the ethical principles are and relating these to generally accepted ethical principles of the modern world (like re. racism, prejudice, how we treat minorities). Making Buddhism A PART of the knowledge and training and understanding we should have, rather than Buddhism being the only and last word on everything there is to know about the meaning of life.

    (the last word on everything there is to know … is where Mr Yapa confuses Buddhism with Islam. Mr Yapa I respectfully refer you to the Kalama Sutra)

  • SomewhatDisgusted

    Dear Wijayapala

    Here is a long and laborious reply. All I can say is, 99% of the arguments are recycled, because you keep raising arguments which are strawmen or have been replied to a hundred times over. I hope you read these arguments carefully because I’m not interested in semantic wordplay, which seems to be your past-time, only in communicating the idea, which I believe you are more than capable of grasping if you really wanted to.

    I will also break my reply into two posts. The reply which is relevant to the topic, and the reply which addresses irrelevant digressions.

    REPLY RELEVANT TO THE TOPIC
    —————————-

    You said: “What is your *reason* for believing that the mind is an illusion? You never explained that one, instead relying on your identity as secular agnostic to serve as an authority unto yourself.”

    Another strawman Wijayapala. I directly answered this question. I will do so again. I have no idea! There is some evidence to believe that the mind could be an illusion. The most obvious and the strongest reason is the direct physical correlation between physical brain and the mind. I’ve already provided an analogy with a computer, apart from other examples. But overall, I HAVE NO CONCLUSIVE IDEA. Said in uppercase bold because I’m repeating myself so often.

    You said: “And here we come to the next weapon in the Secular Agnostic’s arsenal, Circular Logic:

    1) Physical evidence is the only evidence we can accept, because
    2) only physical phenomena are real, the rest are illusions;
    3) our proof that only physical phenomena are real is that they’re the only evidence that we can accept…”

    At least, this is ostensibly a good argument and a reasonable critique to make. The only problem is, I’ve already clarified this many, many times, laboriously, but you simply do not seem to be listening. Why is that?

    I will try for the last time.

    I have NEVER said that “only physical phenomena are real, the rest are illusions”. This is your own biased assumption because you already think you’ve got the agnostics all figured out. This world is far stranger and more complex than we can imagine. I full acknowledge and recognize our limitations. This is why I’ve said, I have no opposition to people following the strangest imaginable paths to discover their own reality. The only problem is, how do you establish a *shared reality*, so we can all live together on one planet? That can generally only be done when there is preferably some physical evidence or a reasoning process which is unassailable and propels a concept to a level of certainty that is difficult to deny. Otherwise, how do you plan to separate your claim from the hundreds of thousands of similar claims? What makes you think your claim is any more plausible than Ying Yang? Astrology? Personal revelations of God, alien abductions, UFOs, flying teapottery etc. So far, you are yet to highlight how this differentiation can be clearly and undeniably done. Q1: Can you please do that or in the event of a failure to do so, kindly explain very clearly, your proposal for what the reasonable/fair thing to do might be?

    And secondly Q2: Can you explain why it is *impossible* that some of these ideas could merely be sincerely mistaken products of the imagination, which the human mind has been commonly shown to be prone to?

    If anything, all we’ve discovered is that the human mind is extremely prone to cognitive biases, that naturally gives rise to a belief in mysticism. There are highly plausible hypotheses for why this might be and we must remain extremely skeptical. But at the end of the day, I do not essentially deny any such possibility, I’ve repeatedly said I have no basis to. I only oppose *certainty*. Please do not raise this argument again because I have refuted it far more times than I care to remember.

    “What “insane conceit” are you talking about?”

    Wijayapala. You do not even SEE the insane conceit? Have you been following the claims made here?

    1. That Buddhism is an indisputal, absolute truth, whilst other truths are just relative truths.
    2. That Buddhism is above everything, including science.
    3. That people who do not follow Buddhism are essentially misguided fools who are wasting their lives.
    4. That Buddhists are the holy guardians of eternal truths.

    amongst others. I did not see you write one post in protest of such arguments. Why not?

    “This is certainly not to say that the Tamils ever had any hostile intent towards Buddhism, but simply to point out that even a complete idiot would be hard pressed to justify suppressing Tamils today”

    Do you really think so? Tell me honestly, do you really think that Buddhists do not think their culture should be the dominant culture, not as an accidental consequence of numbers, but by right? What percentage would you peg it down to? Didn’t someone reaffirm this belief a few posts ago?

    “why defend something which you find to be insulting?”

    Who’s defending Akon? I emphasized at the very outset the I had no interest in Akon or his slimy undulations. The parameters of this argument have been clearly defined in several posts. So what are you not responding to them?

    “What is your fixation with Yapa anyway? You seem far more interested in interacting with him than me or OTC. Do you consider us to be less Buddhists than Yapa is?”

    An excellent question. Here is the main reason. Q3: Neither of you have ever written a single post challenging Yapa’s absurd claims. Why not? You advocated earlier that Buddhists themselves should reign in the fundies. How come you aren’t doing that? What do you keep mum on the topic? If you had raised your voice against such claims, instead of appearing to passively endorse them, this argument would have been over a long time ago.

    Do comment on anything but please give clear answers to Q1, Q2 and Q3.

    cheers,
    /SD

  • ordinary lankan

    IT IS EASY TO ARGUE, EASY TO FIGHT AND EASY TO GO TO WAR.

    THE CHALLENGE IS TO CONVERSE – TO SEEK TO UNDERSTAND EACH OTHER – TO RESPECT DIFFERENT POINTS OF VIEW – BECAUSE WE ARE ALL DIFFERENT

    RELIGION TO ME IS ABOUT THIS NOBLE EFFORT – ANYTHING THAT HELPS EACH OTHER TO BE MORE WISE, MORE COMPASSIONATE – ANYTHING THAT HELPS IN THIS DIRECTION IS BUDDHISM TO ME

    THE PERSON TO WHOM YOU ARE TALKING IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN WHAT YOU ARE SAYING …. UNTIL WE REALIZE THIS WE WILL NOT HAVE A DECENT DISCUSSION – JUST A SHOUTING MATCH

    PLEASE BE HAPPY

  • BalangodaMan

    OTC,
    “The US Govt funded Stargate project closed down due to pressure against what was thought as research into the paranormal.”

    Again, a question I asked in Akon Mk I – don’t you think it would be helpful to SL, and to the world, if some serious academic research was done to extend the work of Ian Stevenson (reincarnation) – to explore the extent to which bad and good deeds done in this life carry over to the next? Whether serial lives are linked in some way? Whether there is a case for attributing rights and responsibilities from a previous life to a present one?

    (unless we have the ultimate aim of addressing these questions quoting research by Stevenson is a herring rouge, or ‘red herring’ in English)

    The consequences of the findings, either way, will be blindning! Why doesn’t the Universities in SL conduct this research? Or are they already? Or they have but are suppressing the results?

    This is NOT to prove that anyone’s beliefs are misguided.

    I genuinely feel that discoveries made in this regard will guide us towards more of what we want and away from what we don’t want, with greater CERTAINTY.

    We do research on cancer for the same reason. And other illnesses like AIDS. We have tsunami warning systems. We have screening to prevent terrorist attacks….. However, I feel that THIS SUBJECT over shadows all of them put together!

    Do the readers agree with this?

  • BalangodaMan

    OTC,

    Karma and intent
    ——————-
    To harbour the notion that ‘good things happen to people who do good things’ AS A RULE and vice versa is rather naive, I’m sorry to say.

    It is not how the world works. There is not an observable mechanism that does so (sadly) and our empirical observations do not hold that to be true (sadly), though it is true that there is such a thing as reciprocal altruism.

    We know of many cases where bad people have prospered or escaped. Hitler is one, he never paid for his sins (except he may have been reborn as the little boy next door, and he can’t see why he is being punished for Hitler’s sins as he has no connection with the Fuhrer, but you’re not talking about transmigration of sin). Many cases in politics, business, you name it. Similarly, there are many good people doing good work having a dreadful time. Last week I was reading about a well known writer who gave away all his wealth, having discovered Eastern philosophy, and ended up miserable, outcast (as he was now poor) and committed suicide.

    So OTC, your thinking that ‘karma works in this life’ as an observable reality needs further scrutiny.

    (if you mean ‘holding your finger in the fire and it hurts’ then that is obvious and direct. you’re talking in the wider sense I believe, as in ‘do something good and you are assured a good return by some remote paranormal mechanism’)

  • yapa

    Dear SomewhatDisgusted;

    You say (addressing wijayapala)

    [Q3: Neither of you have ever written a single post challenging Yapa’s absurd claims. Why not?]

    Again this is very unethical hidden in somebody else’s post to make undue comments on me. (I stress on me.). I am not able to change your born behaviour.

    However, can you please point out my absurd claims and justify them as absurd. Just your calling a flower as junk will not make it junk. When you have a bendable tongue and a keyboard of your own you can say and write whatever you want, but responsible writing is something else. Your false views based on ignorance and false pride is the main reason for your suffering. Please justify your claim.

    Further, You have an inalienable undertaking to render a great service to the mankind. Please concentration on it. Please refer my post of May 8, 2010 @ 8:50 am

    (Why you cannot compete with me alone, to seek the assistance of wijayapala. You seems to have the “pack hunting” mentality. Can you remember, how you cunningly set poor Sujewa and BalangodaMan after me and see how they are struggling now? Your attempt to set Heshan after me failed, Eh! Karawala kutu keva num duk vindpun balalo! That is karma, willful action, volitional action. There is no doer, it has its own system of operation)

    Na anthalikke na samudda majje,
    na pabbathanan wiwaran pawis,,
    na wijjathi so jagathippadesoo
    yaththattitho mujjecheiyan paapakamma …

    Bana num niboruya munivarayanne,
    pana num nisaruya adhaganne
    pana num thana aga pinibindu wenne
    pina num nopamawama kara ganne

    Thanks!

  • OTC,

    RE:

    “Reference your post of May 8, 2010 @ 4:34 pm.

    That was Hilarious.

    Sujewa’s response was either a cunning attempt at escaping the thrust of my argument, a Hudini Act or just plain ignorance.”

    Since you are avoiding the question posed by the article, I assume that you agree that karma, reincarnation, nirvana cannot be proven as true to a non-beliver. Sounds good – & keep that in mind the next time you try to talk about Buddhism as an absolute truth, the undisputed/universal truth, etc.

    – S

  • Yapa,

    RE:

    “Please don’t try to be dishonest, because you have nothing valuable to contribute.”

    If you think that, that must mean there is in fact something valuable I can contribute, something that might even unsettle your blind faith a little, let’s see 🙂

    “Haven/t you ever come across any article of mine that these cannot be proved due to the lack of knowledge systems based on human perception?”

    Or, because karma, reincarnation, nirvana are completely fictional devices. Thus, no type of real methods of demonstrating proof can be applied to prove that something that does not exist does in fact exist.

    “Didn’t I logically showed in numerous ways there are knowledge gaining systems out side the limitation of human perception?”

    There are numerous ways to get knowledge about various things, however, you have not logically or in any other way shown how a non-beliver can verify the existence of karma, reincarnation/rebirth, nirvana as described in Buddhism.

    “Didn’t I prove this position with the notions of the modern science? ”

    No, but feel free to re-post a clear argument as to how modern science can prove the existence of karma, reincarnation or rebirth, & nirvana.

    “Didn’t I reiterate this position with the notions of modern Philosophy? ”

    Not really. It does often appear that since you cannot prove the existence of karma, reincarnation, & nirvana that you attempt to divert from that fact by quoting or paraphrasing many pages of material that are not directly related to the matter at hand.

    “Didn’t I show you exacts from modern Science that Mathematics and Science is not the language of reality?”

    Well, here you are hiding behind the faith cannot be proven argument, which I agree with, so, it sounds like that you are saying that karma, reincarnation, nirvana are faith based items, thus cannot be proven as real to non-belivers, & thus, for a multi-religious country, using Buddhism as a de-facto state religion or keeping Buddhism bound in with the state is not a very bright idea. Clarify if I am mistaken here. If Buddhism – including the core items karma, reincarnation, nirvana are real (instead of them being speculative/fictional teaching devices) then I do not think many people will have a problem with the state relying on Buddhism for governance, etc. But, if Buddhism is just another religion – as you seem to indirectly say it is – then, people are free to belive or not belive it, & there is no great responsibility by the state to govern with Buddhism as a body of ideas that shape laws, etc.

    “Didn’t I show tell you about the Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle?”

    Yeah, that still does not show that karma, reincarnation/rebirth, nirvana as described in Buddhism are anything more than speculative religious ideas.

    Didn’t I show you what Godel’s Theorems say?

    Yeah, that still does not show that karma, reincarnation/rebirth, nirvana as described in Buddhism are anything more than speculative religious ideas. (i am just going to repeat myself here until there is something new & useful to respond to)

    RE:
    “Didn’t I show you the Similar concussions arrived by modern science and Philosophy that are consistent with Buddhism.”

    Yeah, that still does not show that karma, reincarnation/rebirth, nirvana as described in Buddhism are anything more than speculative religious ideas.

    RE:
    “Didn’t I show you that the views of the modern scientists praising Buddhism as it is compatible with Buddhism?”

    Yeah, that still does not show that karma, reincarnation/rebirth, nirvana as described in Buddhism are anything more than speculative religious ideas.

    RE:
    “Didn’t I show you that how Modern Philosophy’s view how (methodology) reality could be realized and the similarity of the Buddhism’s method to this?”

    There are many things that are similar in their method. However, this does not mean that a speculative religious items is a real fact.

    RE:
    “Didn’t I show clearly explain the methodology to achieve this end (under Middle Path- Noble Eight Fold Path). ”

    To achieve what exactly? To show that karma, reincarnation, nirvana are real aspects of this world? No, you did not. But if you think you did, feel free to re-post your findings.

    RE:
    “Didn’t I show that the poverty of Science (especially Newtonian Science) to act as a yardstick/base line/thumb rule/measurement? ”

    Not just that, no kind of measurement will be useful to showing your non-existent/faith based ideas are true. But if you think something can demonstrate those ideas (karma, reincarnation, nirvana) to be true, then go ahead & show it to us.

    RE:
    “Still you are crying for the moon, because you know that that is the only way you can cover up your poverty in ideas and the only way to exist in the forum without making any valuable contribution.”

    And this is coming from the same person who called the agnostics “decadent western conspirators” for not believing in the fictional elements that exist in a religion? Demonstrating blind faith of believers is a very valuable contribution, in my opinion.

    RE:
    “It is a very smart way of doing things!!!”

    Yes, pointing out, essentially, lies, is indeed a very smart way to go. Will be beneficial to others.

    RE:
    “Off the Cuff, wijayapala and many others too very specifically addressed these issues. Without making any effort to understand Buddhism, Science or philosophy or any other deep subjects, you try to question everything with crazy ideas coming randomly into your mind.”

    So basically I think what you are trying to yell is that karma, reincarnation/rebirth, nirvana cannot be proven to be real aspects of this world, & that OTC & Wijayapala agree. Sounds good to me. This is, however, a major change from your position (also your camp’s position) that Buddhism is an indisputable truth.

    RE:
    “Anyway why are you deaf and blind to all of these contributions and just clinging in to one demand? Are you dishonest or too childish to understand what we say?”

    The contributions are evading the topic. The believers believe that they are following an indisputable truth & that non-believers must accept this & get out of the way. So I have to show you that at least 3 core ideas in Buddhism, perhaps a lot more, are most likely fictional, & have no effect in this world, so that the arrogance of the believers might get turned down a few notches, might make life a tiny bit better for non-belivers in SL & elsewhere, now & in the future.

    And, in my next post, I’ll try to give some of your direct quotes where you state your belief that karma, reincarnation, nirvana can be proven through modern science, math, & other methods. Stay tuned.

    – S

  • Yapa,

    RE:

    “This USA citizen can understand English, because he is used to it by listening, responding …etc… in English speaking society of USA. If say that in another words, he can talk English because his mind was “conditioned” with English. If his mind was conditioned in French, he can understand French. Otherwise he cannot. Same is true for Spanish. Then why do you think that, that ordinary USA citizen to whom BalangodaMan spoke in Sinhala could not understand it.

    Isn’t that because his mind was not conditioned to Sinhala Language?

    This means mind only can grasp or can respond only to conditioned scenarios. Isn’t my conclusion correct?”

    Incorrect. Let’s clarify – first, many people are able to speak both Sinhala & English, & are able to think using both languages – switching from one to the other at will. So, both English & Sinhala are similar kinds of things – languages, things that use words (sounds made by the human mouth, or symbols/characters written down) – which are essentially a set of symbols that correspond to things that exist in the outside world or in the mind – so, the two items – Sinhala & English are not very different as types of things go, with a little bit of guidance, a language dictionary, etc., the speaker of one language can begin to understand a speaker of another language.

    Mistaking faith for fact is an entirely different kind of thing. There are common things that exist in this world – things that are observable by generally all & those things are filed under facts – things that actually exist. Then there are imagined things – such as karma, reincarnation, nirvana, gods, hells, heavens, etc. – that are used to influence people so that they may behave in one way or another (in a way that the influencer – the teacher or a supporter of a religion for example – finds useful). So, belief that an imagined thing may be real is something that many people like to do – because it makes them feel better about themselves, however, when that approach comes into conflict with actual things that exist in the world, things that can be verified by non-belivers & belivers alike, then we are forced to separate private religious practices with secular life – life accessible to all, not just believers.

    Anyway, I am using very simple methods (words, sentences) here to try to break this difference between imagined & real down to you in a way that you may be able to follow Yapa. Let me know if this is still not clear, will see if I can find an even easier to understand set of words so that you may be able to grasp this (apparently very difficult for you to understand for some reason) difference that exists between religious “truths” (really a plesant way of saying religious fiction, most likely) & actual truths (actual things that exist in this world/universe).

    Be back with more soon. Including more Yapa quotes (one was posted a few comments up) stating how you believe (or believed? perhaps we have forced you to move on from your indefensible position on this matter) that karma, reincarnation, nirvana can be proved as real.

    – S

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear BalangodaMan,

    Your post entitled “Karma and intent” addressed to me refers

    The Buddhist definition of Kamma includes intent Without intent Kamma ceases to be the Buddhist Kamma and becomes Hindu Karma instead.

    Know what you are writing about before you start criticising.

    You say
    “To harbour the notion that ‘good things happen to people who do good things’ AS A RULE and vice versa is rather naive, I’m sorry to say.”

    You should be sorry. How did you arrive at that conclusion?
    Could you please quote the Full Paragraph that I have written which conveys that idea.
    You seem to be having a penchant for getting your knickers (briefs?) in a twist.

    You state
    “It is not how the world works. There is not an observable mechanism that does so (sadly) and our empirical observations do not hold that to be true (sadly), though it is true that there is such a thing as reciprocal altruism.”

    So how does your Reciprocal Altruism negate Kamma?
    Can you give us a step by step reasoning?

    Your post starts off with Karma and intent but intent was no where to be found. After some irrelevant ramblings you postulate that “karma works in this life as an observable reality needs further scrutiny.”
    “if you mean ‘holding your finger in the fire and it hurts’ then that is obvious and direct. you’re talking in the wider sense I believe, as in ‘do something good and you are assured a good return by some remote paranormal mechanism’

    Without making assumptions about what I think why don’t you read and comprehend what I write. I have explained Kamma in the previous thread and even in this thread. Please see my post to Heshan of May 8, 2010 @ 4:04 pm which has a brief description and an example of Kamma in action in the current life.

    If you know anything about Buddhism, you will know that Hitler would not have been able to get a Human Rebirth for an EXTREMELY long time. He probably would be a Donkey pulling a Shit cart in some obscure place on this planet.

    Your ability to conjure ideas and attributing it to others was observed in your post of http://www.groundviews.org/2010/03/27/akon-and-buddhism-in-sri-lanka/#comment-18406

    I exposed your dishonesty in my post of http://www.groundviews.org/2010/03/27/akon-and-buddhism-in-sri-lanka/#comment-18421

    You would have read my first two posts on this thread. Those two posts is a challenge to prove the ability of the Scientific Tool that you have been flaunting to Explain or Discard as Rubbish, Observable and Documented Real World Physical Phenomena. How about a reply?

  • Hi Everyone,

    I just went through the entire Akon & Buddhism discussion & pulled out many of Yapa’s quotes that relate to the discussion continued with this article. Read through below, there is some amusing material, but, re: the current discussion, Yapa generally makes the following claim: that Buddhism is closer to modern science & philosophy than any other religion & that Buddhism contains/or is absolute truth. When pressed to show how this is so, Yapa cuts & pastes a lot of articles & stories instead of directly laying out his understanding that all of Buddhism, or at least karma, reincarnation, nirvana are real items/real things that exist in this world & affect people. An amusing quote by SomewhatD re: a crane & gold & frogs have been thrown in to make the lengthy process of following Yapa’s thinking a little bit more enjoyable. It is primarily the ideas & statements contained in Yapa quotes below (& the full comments they are pulled from, which you can go & read following the links) & the support these ideas received (actively or passively) from other believers that encouraged me to create this new discussion where the believers are challenged to demonstrate their deeply held belief that Buddhism is something more than a religion with speculative items, & is closer to or is the absolute truth re: the universe/existence & should not be separated from the State in SL. Read on, it will take a while:

    ::

    The Quotable Yapa

    (quotes related to agnostics vs. believers/k/r/n proof article)

    ::

    Yapa on people who disagree with his views:

    “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.”

    For the full comment, go here: http://www.groundviews.org/2010/03/27/akon-and-buddhism-in-sri-lanka/#comment-16173

    ::

    Yapa’s categorization of anyone who says anything that might be interperted as criticism of Buddhism – “anti-buddhists”, & his recommendation on how Buddhists should deal with such “anti-Buddhists”:

    “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!)”

    For the full comment, go here: http://www.groundviews.org/2010/03/27/akon-and-buddhism-in-sri-lanka/#comment-16257

    ::

    Yapa on what kinds of questions are permitted in Buddhism:

    “If somebody says that Buddhism allows to asks any amount or any sort of questions, it is not true. The purpose of Buddhism is not to answer unending questions. It is true that Lord Buddha has encouraged and praised asking questions in some cases, but there are instances where Buddha has discouraged it and advised not to ask some sort of questions too. If the questions are helpful for the liberation of somebody, the Buddha allowed them to be asked. Questions fruitful in this line were encouraged and futile questions were discouraged. Further, the Buddha knew that he would not live forever and therefore taught the people the way to find answers to the questions by themselves, through his doctrine. If somebody has some discipline obtained through Dhamma, he will only have proper questions but not weird questions to ask. Most basic questions of the sort asked in this forum are self answerable with a basic discipline of Buddhism.”

    For the full comment, go here: http://www.groundviews.org/2010/03/27/akon-and-buddhism-in-sri-lanka/#comment-16721

    So, a very loose guideline on what Yapa considers a proper question to ask from Buddhists vs. what he considers to be an improper question. Sounds to me like he is saying don’t ask any questions that Buddhists/Buddhism is uncomfortable with answering.

    A secular, open society, however, tolerates all kinds of questions, even ones that are uncomfortable to deal with.

    ::

    Yapa on Buddhism and science:

    “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.”

    For the full comment, go here: http://www.groundviews.org/2010/03/27/akon-and-buddhism-in-sri-lanka/#comment-16724

    ::

    Yapa finally getting around to articulating his position on whether karma, nirvana , etc. are true/real (this is just one take of his on this matter, other, contradictory takes will follow):

    “Really karma and reincarnation are not “scientifically true”, but in real sense it does not imply they are “faiths”.”

    For the full comment, go here: http://www.groundviews.org/2010/03/27/akon-and-buddhism-in-sri-lanka/#comment-16846

    So, karma & reincarnation are not scientifically true and they are also not faith based items, let’s see where this goes.

    ::

    Yapa on truth:

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

    For the full comment, & to see ones around it, go here: http://www.groundviews.org/2010/03/27/akon-and-buddhism-in-sri-lanka/#comment-16850

    ::

    Yapa on the subtle but important differences between Buddhist faith in unprovable matters & the less important faith that exists in other religions, also, the true intentions, as divined by Yapa, of an agnostic commenter:

    “Please note that I have never expect others to accept karma/rebirth/nirvana as ‘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.”

    For the full comment, go here: http://www.groundviews.org/2010/03/27/akon-and-buddhism-in-sri-lanka/#comment-16860

    ::

    Yapa on the superiority of Buddhist concepts:

    “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.”

    For the full comment, go here: http://www.groundviews.org/2010/03/27/akon-and-buddhism-in-sri-lanka/#comment-16862

    ::

    Here is Yapa quoting science/at least one scientist as support for his position regarding faith based elements in Buddhism:

    “Dear BalangodaMan;

    You say;
    “The question our good friend SomewhatDisgusted is asking is – 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 ‘no;’ if we ask whether the electron’s position changes with time, we must say ‘no;’ if we ask whether the electron is at rest, we must say ‘no;’ if we ask whether it is in motion, we must say ‘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.”

    To see the discussion around this comment, go here: http://www.groundviews.org/2010/03/27/akon-and-buddhism-in-sri-lanka/#comment-16880

    ::

    Here’s Yapa expressing some full on religious believes, items that cannot be proven as true to a non-believer:

    “Dhamma is not something relative that depends on a person like perception. Fhamma [Dhamma?] 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.”

    For the full quote & context, go here: http://www.groundviews.org/2010/03/27/akon-and-buddhism-in-sri-lanka/#comment-16926

    ::

    Yapa on those who insist that karma, reincarnation, nirvana are faith based items:

    “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.”

    For the full comment & context, go here: http://www.groundviews.org/2010/03/27/akon-and-buddhism-in-sri-lanka/#comment-16926

    ::

    Yapa on how those who disagree with the exact value of Buddhism to Sri Lanka are “pigs”/intellectual idiots:

    “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.”

    For the full comment & context, go here: http://www.groundviews.org/2010/03/27/akon-and-buddhism-in-sri-lanka/#comment-16946

    ::

    Yapa on how belief in karma, reincarnation, nirvana requires less blind faith than belief in God:

    “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.

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

    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.”

    For the full comment, go here: http://www.groundviews.org/2010/03/27/akon-and-buddhism-in-sri-lanka/#comment-16964

    ::

    Here’s Yapa elevating his religious beliefs over observable facts:

    “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”.”

    For the full comment, go here: http://www.groundviews.org/2010/03/27/akon-and-buddhism-in-sri-lanka/#comment-17015

    ::

    Yapa states that he does not think that Buddhism believes that it can significantly improve the world:

    (first, my – SE – comment that gives context to Yapa’s comment to follow)
    “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.”
    [comment posted by me]

    Yapa’s response:

    “This has never been the motto of Buddhism and also it doesn’t believe it is a possibility.”

    For the full comment & context, go here: http://www.groundviews.org/2010/03/27/akon-and-buddhism-in-sri-lanka/#comment-17076

    ::

    Yapa states that Buddhism may not have been invented by a human:

    “Dear Sujewa Ekanayake;

    [Religions, sets of ideas & approaches to living invented by humans] – [my statement]

    Not all religions, Buddhism is an exception. [Yapa’s response]”

    For the full comment & context, go here: http://www.groundviews.org/2010/03/27/akon-and-buddhism-in-sri-lanka/#comment-17173

    ::

    Yapa on the mysterious nature of Buddhist philosophy/views/etc:

    “As I have said some time ago, Buddhism is based on FOUR VALUED LOGIC + SOMETHING.”

    Go here to see this comment: http://www.groundviews.org/2010/03/27/akon-and-buddhism-in-sri-lanka/#comment-17341

    ::

    Yapa on how nothing else but an aspect of a religion can prove the truthfulness of the same religion:

    “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.”
    For the full comment, go here: http://www.groundviews.org/2010/03/27/akon-and-buddhism-in-sri-lanka/#comment-17351

    ::

    Yapa on coming up with a new method to make Buddhism easy-to-understand for rationalists (items placed in bold my me are very relevant to this new article):

    “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.”

    For the full comment & context, go here: http://www.groundviews.org/2010/03/27/akon-and-buddhism-in-sri-lanka/#comment-17370

    ::

    Yapa on the intergalactic popularity of Buddhism:

    “Buddhism is not confined to the followers on earth!”

    For the full comment, go here: http://www.groundviews.org/2010/03/27/akon-and-buddhism-in-sri-lanka/#comment-17487

    ::

    Yapa on coming up with a system to explain karma, reincarnation, nirvana to non-belivers (in bold since this quote is very relevant to this article):

    “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.”

    For the full comment, go here: http://www.groundviews.org/2010/03/27/akon-and-buddhism-in-sri-lanka/#comment-17538
    ::

    Yapa admits that Buddhism requires at least a little bit of faith:

    “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.”

    Full quote & context here: http://www.groundviews.org/2010/03/27/akon-and-buddhism-in-sri-lanka/#comment-17543

    ::

    Yapa on observing that the dead remain dead is not reasonable (i think):

    “Dear Sujewa Ekanayake and All;

    “When someone dies they are, most likely, just dead – end of story – no afterlives, heavens, hells, etc.” [my/SE 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. [Yapa’s response]”

    ::

    Yapa saying, basically, what the agnostics are saying – that karma, reincarnation, nirvana are matters of faith, not real things that exist in this world/not things that can be verified to be true by non-believers:

    “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.”

    For the full comment, go here: http://www.groundviews.org/2010/03/27/akon-and-buddhism-in-sri-lanka/#comment-17607

    ::

    Yapa predicting the end of the world as we know it (and i think he is saying that Buddhism has something do with it/predicted it, or something):

    “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/)”

    For the full comment, go here:
    http://www.groundviews.org/2010/03/27/akon-and-buddhism-in-sri-lanka/#comment-17611

    ::

    Yapa expresses his hatred of agnostics:

    “Agnosticism is nothing but another ugly face of consummation [consumerism]. They are not satisfied just eating material consumables. Now these greedy pigs want to eat even sacred religions cutting them into pieces with their dirty folks and spoons.”

    Full comment & context here: http://www.groundviews.org/2010/03/27/akon-and-buddhism-in-sri-lanka/#comment-17640

    ::

    Here Yapa expresses his belief that the agnostics are “ignorant agents of capitalism”, etc:

    “Dear All;

    These people like SomewhatDisgusted, Sujewa Ekanayake, niranjan,….etc. etc.. are nothing more than ignorant agents of CAPITALISM and NEO-IMPERIALISM who are prepared to give away anything for a left over bone of westerners. They don’t know what they are doing or uttering. They are just parrots, who don’t know any thing more than what they were taught by their western masters. No! no!!, they are just tape recorders or CDs that play the tunes when their masters push their buttons.

    Oh! God!, Please forgive these ignorant men(women????) as they don’t know what they are doing.

    Thanks!”

    ::

    Yapa hinting that he may produce a scientific paper on proving karma, reincarnation, nirvana if he was confident that the agnostics could understand it:

    “Dear Sujewa Ekanayake;

    “By the way, how is that scientific poof paper for karma, reincarnation, nirvana coming?”
    ………..” [a question posed by me]

    [the following is Yapa’s response]
    When you guys don’t understand (or pretending to be so) what I say in plain language and do not reply a single post of mine critically, what is the use even if I produce such a paper?
    I give a promise. Please critically analyze my responses I have posted. If you show your ability understand them I will definitely undertake to produce the paper you are so eagerly demanding. I warn that the paper definitely would be harder than what I have already produced. Therefore,please show your capability to understand. (Either you can make “Science Expert General” of your camp answer them)

    I ALWAYS KEEP MY PROMISES.

    Thanks! [above is Yapa’s response]

    ::

    Yapa on why Buddhism is superior to other religions & why Sri Lankans must fight to protect it, and at the same time proposes that blind faith in Buddhism is reasonable:
    “Now you can see all other three religions except the Buddhism are based on faith of a Creator God, which is easily disproved by many simple methods. That means if we objectively consider, all three religions mentioned above can be rejected as myths. In the event of this, if we keep aside the minor religions away the Buddhism is the only religion one can have some faith on, even without going in to the details of it. In the event one can reasonably understand to what extent a person with sound knowledge of Buddhism can believe Buddhism. Same way anybody can more reasonably understand what a belief and respect must be having with a group of people living in Buddhism for about 2500 years. It is a treasure for them. Anybody can understand why anybody would fight to protect his treasure. Those who don’t have a treasure, have no reason to fear or fight.

    We must protect our treasure for the future generations and for the benefit of the whole world. It is our inalienable duty. There is no parallel religion.”

    For the full comment, go here: http://www.groundviews.org/2010/03/27/akon-and-buddhism-in-sri-lanka/#comment-17959

    ::

    Here Yapa seems to express his belief that “modern science” can explain “unresolved mysteries of the world” (i assume mysteries such as karma, etc.):

    “I have been telling from the very beginning that Newtonian Science is outdated and the thinking based on it cannot be used to resolved the “unresolved mysteries” of the world, and its place now has taken by the Modern Science. I have explained this in many ways.”

    For the rest of the comment, go here: http://www.groundviews.org/2010/03/27/akon-and-buddhism-in-sri-lanka/#comment-17982

    ::

    Here Yapa state’s that he believes that Buddhism offers absolute truth about the universe, existence, etc:

    Dear All;

    Considering the Discussion so far held it can be easily arrived at following provisional conclusions.

    A possibility of achieving (absolute) reality/truth seems to confine to the following subject areas found in the present. (Possibilities of other subject areas can be easily disproved.)

    1. Buddhist Philosophy (Buddhism)
    2. Modern Science
    3. Philosophy

    All other subject areas are based on human desires to achieve something and only human based on human centered knowledge that is nothing to do with Universal reality/truth. These tings I have shown in many ways and proved that humans’ main tool of knowledge: Rationality is incapable of achieving reality. Further, Theorem of Kurt Gödel found in Modern Science reiterated my position. (Heshan has raised a doubt about the universal validity of Theorem of Kurt Gödel; I will deal this matter separately)
    Philosophy in its definition is dedicated to find reality/truth and has produced some positive result towards this end.
    Modern Science has contributed immensely in this respect, especially irradiating popular opinions /dogmas that had been created by Newtonian Science.
    When contemplating deep in to Buddhist Philosophy, one can easily see that it deals with finding absolute truth/reality.
    In my view, Philosophy and Modern Science are in the way towards achieving this end through two different paths and the Buddhism has achieved this end 2500 years ago through its “fuzzy Logic”, which only now Modern Science has started to touch. In my view, if Modern Science and Philosophy some day achieve their pinnacle, they will end up their journey with Buddhism.

    In view of above, it is really sensible somebody searching absolute reality/truth to inclined towards Buddhism or else at least towards Modern Science or Philosophy. Any other effort is no more fruitful than expecting an intelligent child from a barren woman. May all your attention be drawn into this reality.”

    See the comment here:
    http://www.groundviews.org/2010/03/27/akon-and-buddhism-in-sri-lanka/#comment-18033

    So, to me, it appears that Yapa is claiming 1) Buddhism expresses the absolute truth about the universe 2500 years ago & continues to do so, & 2) that modern science is compatible with this universal truth that Buddhism is expressing.

    Thus, we ask Yapa to show how modern science supports the existence of core items such as karma, reincarnation, nirvana in Buddhism – how those items are an actual part of this universe as opposed to being speculative elements in an ancient religion. And, as we have seen from all of Yapa’s comments above & below, no such proof is given by Yapa or any other believer – their main argument seems to be that some items in Buddhism sound similar to some items in modern/quantum sciences & thus Buddhism must be true/has the absolute truth.

    ::

    Here Yapa argues that even though God based religions should be separated from government, Buddhism should not be (in effect, perhaps I assume Yapa believes that Buddhism is the absolute truth, not myth/faith based as the other world religions are, even though Buddhism is clearly as much a religion with speculative elements as the other religions):

    “Now can you remember you agreed in a previous discussion that God based religions in Europe were constant battle with state for supremacy. Ultimately state won over the church and determined to keep aside the threat for ever. This one of the reasons why states decided to separate religion from politics in the west. Another reason is that with the revival of Science, the beliefs in such religions seemed to be contradictory. Now actually we know that such religions are disproved and considered as myths.
    It is very correct myth to be separated from Politics, Not only from Politics but from any thing else too. It is a great service to the whole man kind to liberate them from myth.
    How can you as a parrot say that just because myth is separated from Politics that truth also should be separated from Politics. Such things can be said only by brainless imitators who dance to the tunes of their western masters for a morsel of food.”

    For the full comment, go here: http://www.groundviews.org/2010/03/27/akon-and-buddhism-in-sri-lanka/#comment-18066

    ::

    Here Yapa finally admits that not even modern science can show that karma, reincarnation, nirvana are real:

    “There is no use of engage in endless discussion on karma/reincarnation/nirvana which are proven even with modern science to be unachievable (The Incompleteness Theorem of Kurt Gödel).”

    Read the full comment here: http://www.groundviews.org/2010/03/27/akon-and-buddhism-in-sri-lanka/#comment-18069

    However, he went on to ignore his own findings a little later on continued to act out of his belief that the existence of those items in Buddhism, & the Buddhist world view in general, are undisputed truths/absolute truths (at least that’s what i gathered from his comments to follow)

    ::

    And now, for a little bit of amusement, SomewhatDisgusted responds to a story told by Yapa:

    “Somehow you have an uncanny ability to show others, even through your little parables, that kamma/rebirth/nirvana are just way off the mark. That crane in your parable asked the only pertinent question: where the heck are the crabs? I mean, what good is a gold pond to a crane? The story behind Buddhism is the same isn’t it? You describe all these Nirvanas, and Kammas and Rebirths and Suffering but what good are these if they don’t exist and people prefer to be reborn anyway?”

    Get the full story here: http://www.groundviews.org/2010/03/27/akon-and-buddhism-in-sri-lanka/#comment-18258

    ::

    Back to “serious” work – here Yapa equates non-believers who ask difficult questions from Buddhism to animals:

    “Do you think The Buddha preached his doctrines keeping in his mind that a fool after 2500 years would ask foolish questions and as answers to them? Really, NO. Buddhism has no answers to your questions. People corrupted with consumerism think that even Buddhism should be made to cater for their needs. There is no value for these people if it is not consumable. Animals cannot think beyond this limit. That is the difference between animals and humans. Humans have the capability to think against their likings when necessary. The people who are corrupted with consumerism are not different from animals.”

    Fro the full comment, go here: http://www.groundviews.org/2010/03/27/akon-and-buddhism-in-sri-lanka/#comment-18260

    ::

    Any questions? 🙂 Let me know.

    – S

  • Hello All,

    Now that more context has been provided (i just posted up/submitted eleven pages of Yapa quotes related to the discussion here, they should appear before this comment), I can get back to replying to everyone’s comments in order in which they were received. It may take some time to get to everyone’s relevant posts, but, they will be gotten to in time (mostly on weekends). In the meantime, I am sure the other agnostics will deal with urgent questions as time permits. Thanks.

    – S

  • OTC,

    RE:

    “If you cannot rise to that challenge then your tool is too puny to dissect Buddhism. Period.”

    So, basically, if no tool exists that can show that Buddhism is either true or false, then it is not a matter of great concern to people who are primarily concerned with true/actual things. Buddhism is a private matter – such as a hobby, etc. – just a religion – made up of many things including speculative/most likely non-existent items such as karma, reincarnation, nirvana. Thus, Buddhism cannot be demonstrated to be an absolute truth. Thus, since it is mostly a made up thing (most likely), and the processes described in Buddhism have no real effect on the real world, actual people, it can be ignored, generally, by the state or by any non-beliver or a different beliver (someone who believes in something else other than Buddhism).

    Anyway, let’s see if I can clarify your own self-defeating stance to you using the model of a symbolic conversation:

    You say “I have an invisible car, give me $10,000 for it, and I’ll give it to you”

    I say “show me your invisible car first, I don’t think it exists”

    To which you say “show me that my invisible car does not exist”

    To which I say “you are the one who wants the possible trade of $10K for an invisible car to be taken seriously, so, you need to prove that the invisible car does in fact exist”

    To which you say “the invisible car does exist, but the methods by which we can verify its existence are not well developed enough at the moment, but, take my word for it, the invisible car is real”

    Then we go ’round & ’round, repeating the same statements in different forms. Ultimately, I come to the conclusion that you do not have an invisible car & I keep my $10K, laugh, & walk off.

    The invisible car is Buddism, or the karma, reincarnation, nirvana concepts that Buddhists believe are real aspects of this world.

    The $10K is support for Buddhism asked by those who use Buddhism to accomplish certain objectives in this world, support requested by believers & non-belivers.

    Hope you can follow the above example, if not, let me know, I’ll try to find an even simpler way to explain the absurdity of your position.

    – S

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear Sujewa,

    I joined this thread with the following two posts posing a counter Challenge to the Agnostics to prove that Science is a Mature Tool that could be used to analyse Buddhist Philosophy (May 7, 2010 @ 8:27 pm and May 8, 2010 @ 12:56 am)

    Your post May 8, 2010 @ 8:26 am, makes the following comment about those posts

    “I see that OTC is using his acupuncture (sp?) defense again & that Wijayapala (& OTC) are fully ignoring that fact that Yapa said that ……

    I have responded to that inaccurate and misleading claim with my post of May 8, 2010 @ 3:17 pm.

    Then you went on a Star Wars Fantasy completely avoiding the Counter Challenge to the Agnostics to prove the Appropriateness of Science to investigate Buddhism in the face of Science’s failures pointed out in my first two posts.

    I pointed out that we were responding to your own words by posting an extract from your article above and referred you again to the Science Challenge that you are avoiding (my post of May 8, 2010 @ 3:17 pm)

    I addressed a post to Yapa on May 8, 2010 @ 5:24 pm and you selected ONE LINE to make a comment in your post of May 8, 2010 @ 8:51 pm.

    This is the line you selected
    “Sujewa’s response was either a cunning attempt at escaping the thrust of my argument, a Hudini Act or just plain ignorance.”

    Did you find the rest of its contents unquestionable and hence accepted as accurate?

    Did it Sound Good?

    Extract
    Sujewa’s response was either a cunning attempt at escaping the thrust of my argument, a Hudini Act or just plain ignorance.
    He has forgotten that I was writing about Real World Phenomena that is backed by the recognition given them by the WHO (UN body) and The declassified Stargate documentation of the US Govt.
    The poor guy has confused “Stargate” with “Star wars”. Probably due to his self professed film making bent.
    End Extract

    You see Sujewa, you are trying to play Hide and Seek. I have not avoided anything but you are avoiding every direct question that you don’t have answers to.

    Sounds Good?

    Now please tell us that you did not write that passage about the Science challenge in your article above, which is the one I referred to in my posts. What has Yapa got to do with it?

    How about an answer to my Counter Challenge?
    Prove that Science is an AUTHORITATIVE tool in the field of Philosophy.

    You wrote
    “Since you are avoiding the question posed by the article, I assume that you agree that karma, reincarnation, nirvana cannot be proven as true to a non-beliver. Sounds good – & keep that in mind the next time you try to talk about Buddhism as an absolute truth, the undisputed/universal truth, etc.”

    You see Sujewa your DISHONESTY has no bounds.

    The above is in response to yours of May 8, 2010 @ 8:51 pm

  • yapa

    Dear Sujewa Ekanayake;

    You say;

    “Or, because karma, reincarnation, nirvana are completely fictional devices.”

    Are you the omnipotent + omnipresent God to give “wholesale judgments”?

    Please get your brain checked.

    Thanks!

  • yapa

    Dear Sujewa Ekanayake;

    You say;

    “And this is coming from the same person who called the agnostics “decadent western conspirators” for not believing in the fictional elements that exist in a religion? ”

    I have never said so. You are a deliberate liar. ( may be due to your utmost desperation)

    Thanks!

  • yapa

    Dear Sujewa Ekanayake;

    You say;

    “And, in my next post, I’ll try to give some of your direct quotes where you state your belief that karma, reincarnation, nirvana can be proven through modern science, math, & other methods. Stay tuned.”

    I am anxiously looking forward with 2X-.

    Thanks!

  • SomewhatDisgusted

    Dear Wijayapala

    PART2 – REPLY IRRELEVANT TO THE MATTER AT HAND
    —————————
    You said: “***as I was never taught nor have I ever learned on my own that Buddhists are supposed to ignore the suffering and misfortune of others, or that Buddhists should look down on people because of their kamma.***”

    No. This is a strawman. The Buddha was an extremely compassionate individual. I’ve always expressed my admiration for the *real* Buddhist system of ethics, which you were happy to sacrifice for its “preservation”. You know very well I used a rhetorical device to confront you with an implication of the idea (as you often do also), which is already prevalent with popular Buddhist notions in SL.

    That bit of reasoning was a mere follow through of the idea that someone’s kamma in this life is what will cause the person suffering in the next. True, the Buddha said that being meritorious towards these other individuals is essential but the reason those individuals suffer more is because of their bad kamma in past lives, apart from the fact that “life sucks anyway”. Therefore, you must be compassionate and realize that the same will befall you if you do not engage in good deeds yourself. I can demonstrate this with your own statement – tell me, why are you saying there is no reason to be virtuous without Samsara?

    You said: “If I were in your place, I wouldn’t worry about any of these effects as everything would end with death”

    There is nothing to prevent someone from thinking this, indeed as you seem to be. But appeal to consequences is not a rational argument for the truth value of something, including KRN.

    Secondly, there is ample reason to think so, even though it looks it looks like you cannot comprehend why not to gravitate towards sin without the bogeyman of KRN 😉

    First, such a concept could come even from, guess what! the theory of selfishness – You do your best to enjoy your life even at the expense of others. However, others will do their best to enjoy theirs, even at the expense of yours. Therefore, a logical consequence of this is that you play fair by others, if for nothing but your own interest – i.e. do not do unto others as you would not have them do unto you.

    Or else, a system of ethics could arise innately, as evidenced by the theory of reciprocal altruism. For many, the right thing to do is self-evident!

    In any case, you would be implying that other cultures are inherently less virtuous that a Buddhist one, since they don’t believe in samsara! Are you implying that? If not, what is your point?

    Also, are you virtuous only out of a fear of rebirth? You have said no, but then, why are you virtuous? If you say it’s not due to fear of KRN, I guess you already have the answer.

    Personally, fear of retribution from KRN is a pretty pathetic reason to be virtuous, and although you agreed to that and I’ve already answered this question, you keep citing the same argument! (I can even cite the post) Why? Are you listening to what’s being said or are you clutching at straws, a la Yapa?

    You said: “We all know that secular agnostics never rely on such unscientific, irrational things like intuition or faith and are beings of pure reason.”

    Wow, the use of a clever, sarcastic, rhetorical device, except it’s nonsensical.

    At no point did I suggest that human beings are inherently rational. I fully acknowledge my own limitations. In fact, I both trust and distrust my own intuition at the same time, because there is ample reason to believe, as Haidt’s book emphasizes, that we do indeed rationalize decisions afterwards. It is precisely because of this that we must compensate for our own cognitive biases.
    That’s also why science emphasizes evidence. Personal revelation is *no basis* on which to establish a shared reality. How would you believe or not believe a person who has had a personal revelation of god? So this argument is just a pointless ad-hominem which has been repeatedly debunked.

    You said: “the answers he generally gave to these kinds of questions gave the impression that he wasn’t interested in simple existence as compared with samsara, a condition which you do not accept (based on your faith).”

    It is a necessary implication, otherwise, how could you advocate to others that escaping samsara is the main thing and the goal should be to aim for extinction? Why would you try unless you know for sure that Dukha is the most important characteristic of life and the rest of it is essentially pointless? Think about the implications man (BalangodaMan already highlighted the Buddha’s omniscience issue). It’s clear that the “devout Buddhists” really haven’t, because BalangodaMan also highlighted a lot of issues that a society really believing in KRN would be confronted with. You have not acknowledged a single one of them while accusing us of not engaging with your irrelevant diatribes, all of which in fact have been repeatedly addressed. The funny thing is, I think you honestly believe we are evading the questions while you are answering them. Religulous you say?

    You said: “I already explained that Siddhartha Gautama clearly did not invoke any kind of faith to become a Buddha”

    Thank you for that strange piece of logic. The Buddha said he discovered KRN and he did not require faith. I can’t cite a single convincing reason as to why I believe in KRN but I believe in the Buddha. Therefore I do not require faith?

    “Sigh.. as usual, you aren’t able to compute! I didn’t ask whether the Sinhala Buddhists are the “single most powerful entity in SL” but how they came to be.”

    By breeding I suppose?

    “Instead of simply name-dropping, why don’t you list the arguments in favor of your position (here, that Hitler was a practicing Catholic)?”

    We are not discussing Hitler, but if you like, you are welcome to read Dawkins’ own arguments in the God Delusion. I will address the issue further below.

    “…implying that secular rationalists do not fight, kill, or murder people the way religious people do. I demonstrated that they most certainly do, in the name of “secular rationalist” belief systems like Naziism and Leninism-Stalinism.”

    Religulous! The implication was that religion easily gives you a reason to kill, in defense of a set of convictions which are not *necessarily* true. Secular rationalism is an absence of belief in a particular deity. They may have various beliefs of their own. But they have no reason to get together and fight. In the name of what? That’s why I said getting them together would be like herding cats. That does not mean that there are no evil individuals, like Stalin, who do not believe in a god but had their own irrational convictions. And that is the problem isn’t it? Absolute conviction in a concept that cannot be reasonably demonstrated to hold true . It’s true of Hitler, it’s true of Stalin and it’s true of the religious brigade.

    “I entirely agree with your statement that your intentions/beliefs do not matter. But is the rest of your above statement Tool #3 at work again?”

    And I hope you will agree your beliefs do not matter either. Which is why ones beliefs are best kept to oneself without imposing them on others. Consequently, you are also duty-bound to stop people from forcing a belief system on others, as Mr. Yapa is doing. You cannot make the same argument for the agnostic brigade, because there is no belief to speak of, and we are more than happy to let each person hang on to whatever belief they so wish, as long as others are left alone.

    “Uh, how are those two statements contradictory, and more importantly how did YOU resolve those contradictions?”

    Because that did not involve some unverifiable construct such as KRN that people generally do not know to exist in this world and cannot be reasonably demonstrated to others to hold true. Dukha can be reasonably seen and observed and it is already a part of our shared reality. It is an earthly concept, not some supernatural concept. Are you denying this?

  • Yapa,

    RE:

    “Dear Sujewa Ekanayake;

    You say;

    “And this is coming from the same person who called the agnostics “decadent western conspirators” for not believing in the fictional elements that exist in a religion? ”

    I have never said so. You are a deliberate liar. ( may be due to your utmost desperation)

    Thanks!”

    Here’s your quote where you expresses your belief that the agnostics are “ignorant agents of capitalism”, etc:

    “Dear All;

    These people like SomewhatDisgusted, Sujewa Ekanayake, niranjan,….etc. etc.. are nothing more than ignorant agents of CAPITALISM and NEO-IMPERIALISM who are prepared to give away anything for a left over bone of westerners. They don’t know what they are doing or uttering. They are just parrots, who don’t know any thing more than what they were taught by their western masters. No! no!!, they are just tape recorders or CDs that play the tunes when their masters push their buttons.

    Oh! God!, Please forgive these ignorant men(women????) as they don’t know what they are doing.

    Thanks!”

    I compiled & submitted 11 pages of Yapa quotes to this discussion, post has not shown up yet on the page, hopefully it will (unless, due to length, it can’t make it though, in that case I will have to post the material at my New SL Agnostics blog).

    – S

  • OTC,

    RE: “I joined this thread with the following two posts posing a counter Challenge to the Agnostics to prove that Science is a Mature Tool that could be used to analyse Buddhist Philosophy (May 7, 2010 @ 8:27 pm and May 8, 2010 @ 12:56 am)…”

    Keep talking in your nonsensical circular arguments.

    If you do not understand what I am saying, go back up & read my invisible car analogy (sp?) from a few posts above.

    However, if you do find some way for non-believers to verify karma, reincarnation or rebirth, & nirvana as being real things that exist in this world & not just speculative religious items, let us know.

    In the meantime, I will be reading & responding to other comments.

    Of course, feel free to interpert this comment as whatever you wish – evasion, lack of precision in the tool of science to discredit Buddhism or whatever other favorite nonsensical sayings of yours that you keep repeating. Or better yet, cut & paste several more pages of so called “scientific proof” for rebirth material that you clogged up the last discussion with.

    But, all that meaningless noise aside, your answer to the question posted by this article is obvious, you have no way of proving that karma, reincarnation, nirvana are real things that exist in this world. Thus you are down to accusing me of dishonesty, blah, blah – great, or, should I say – sounds good 🙂 Good luck with your deep faith in speculative & most likely non-existent (sp?) things.

    – S

  • OTC,

    One last item,

    RE:
    “How about an answer to my Counter Challenge?
    Prove that Science is an AUTHORITATIVE tool in the field of Philosophy.”

    Since you are unable to follow this conversation/debate clearly for some unknown reason, let me see if I can simplify the nature of this discussion for you:

    1. Believers express the notion that Buddhism is or contains absolute truths, universal truths, & are thus (my interpertation), naturally, significant for & should be of concern for all humans

    2. I & other agnostics posed the challenge that Buddhism is not an absolute/universal truth, is only merely a local religion (with a lot of followers world wide), & the truths expressed in Buddhism are religious truths, not to be confused with actual truths/common truths/real things that actually exist in the world

    3. The believers continue to repeat their/your position that Buddhism is something more than a faith based religion

    4. So the agnostics ask for proof – show us how karma, reincarnation/rebirth, nirvana – 3 key elements in Buddhism – are real things that exist in this world/universe & affect humans

    5. Unable to do so, you evade admitting the truth of the situation by asking me to either disprove the existence of KRN or show how science is capable of proving or disproving KRN

    6. At this point, I had to use the symbolic situation involving the invisible car to attempt to illustrate the pointlessness of your current position

    7. Unable to grasp the fact that you in fact deeply believe in speculative items that exist in a religion & that there is no way to prove to a non-believer that those items are real & not speculative, you keep asking me to show you how science can or cannot prove Buddhism – and that’s where we are now

    Hopefully you can follow all that. If not, there is no hope in attempting to make you understand that it is impossible to prove the existence of speculative items as a part of the real world, with those items affecting real people, etc. You may be too blinded by your faith & your love of speculative items in a religion & your deep desire to experience Buddhism as the ultimate & universal truth (all that, on an individual/personal level is not necessarily a bad thing, we all need ways to cope with existence, but, does become a problem when blind faith motivates the belivers to declare that what they believe are univeral & absolute truths, & that’s how you & I ended up in this conversation).

    Sounds good? 🙂

    I’ll leave you with a couple of quotes that may be useful for your spiritual & intellectual development:

    “Do not weep. Do not wax indignant. Understand.”
    – Baruch Spinoza

    “Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by rulers as useful.”
    – attributed to Seneca the Younger, Roman philosopher

    (and hopefully this one you may be familiar with)

    “Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.”
    – attributed to the Buddha

    – S

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear Sujewa,

    So you have no Argument to defend your pompous claim of Science’s Abilities Viz a Philosophy such as Buddhism?

    Have you been writing RUBBISH in the Synopsis you presented in this Article to GV?

    Please don’t undress in public Sujewa, your Rationality stands exposed.

    Science does not know whether Kamma, Rebirth and Nibbana exists or not. That’s the plain truth and that’s what Science says, regardless of your personal opinion.

    The car that you wanted to use to race against Buddhist Philosophy has got 4 flat tires and you have got stranded. But please continue with you writing.

    “So, basically, if no tool exists that can show that Buddhism is either true or false, then it is not a matter of great concern to people who are primarily concerned with true/actual things.”

    Why are you back peddling?
    Why the IF?
    Have you lost confidence in that All Powerful Scientific tool so soon?
    Come on Sujewa, don’t let that exuberance fizzle out like a stale soda bottle.
    Please try your hand at proving that Science is Mature enough to Challenge the Core Teachings of the Buddha. You selected the tool anyway.

    “Buddhism ….. including speculative/most likely non-existent items such as karma, reincarnation, nirvana. Thus, Buddhism cannot be demonstrated to be an absolute truth.”

    Wow, where Science has Failed the PONTIFF has spoken.

    (the above refers to your May 9, 2010 @ 3:06 am post)

  • Observer

    See Sujeewa, you’re a man of faith to me. Faith in what you perceive as “agnosticism”. Having faith in non believing is also a faith to me far as I am concerned and when they get organised it actually scares me much as religious folk who have deep faiths in spiritual mumbo jumbo.

    Alright I won’t even go and tag my self as an agnostic if I am going to put my self in your camp. I am just going to say I am a “skeptic” and leave it there. I shall remain skeptic until the day someone convince me any of the stuff in any scriptures other than the common sense stuff that are just good advice is indeed fact or truthful.

    Far as the faithful are concerned, I respect them to a degree for that they see something and believe in something I fail to see or feel. But I lose that respect when they don’t constrain that faith to their private life. Anyway I know better than to argue with religious people, including “faithful agnostics”. Belief beats reason unfairly and that’s a fact of life..

    BalangodaMan, my biggest stumbling point is how can I challenged what others perceive as the absolute divine truth when I don’t know the whole truth? Sure it sounds very fishy what they say and science cannot explain it but I don’t have a solid wall to hold my back on either. Because my scripture science has holes init too. Therefore I am uncomfortable taking an absolute moral higher ground over them even though they sound like “crazier” people. Many aspects of the universe are still unexplained. As a skeptic I have a sort of understanding what I think is probably the case with limited scientific evidence. That’s all I have. Where as the Atheist believes that there is no god as an absolute truth and he/she has a foundation that matches of which the god believers and provides a framework for argument.

    And wijyapala, I am glad that was humorous to you. I was born a Buddhist and I do go to the temple occasionally to keep please my grand mother. She is frail and I take pleasure in taking her to the temple. I probably will stop after she’s passed away one day as far away as possible. I just don’t have the heart to hurt her feelings and that’s probably covertly Buddhist as I get.

    Oh and I have no intentions of confessing my ample sins nor seeking forgiveness or salvation. I embrace the day I can have a painless, peaceful death (maybe asking for too much) and find out for my self what really is on the other side if anything at all. I just don’t trust what the prophets have to say…

    I probably should not have butt in at all, it’s just I couldn’t bare to see agnosticism taken for a ride. I always thought agnostics like my self were self confessed fence sitters but apparently not going by the demographic here. Anyway Good luck to you all in this fierce conversation 🙂 I sort of admire rather fascinating all of yours convictions in this subject area. Because it’s an area I have no feeling for and never could develop any interest even when I tried.

  • OTC,

    Re: “So you have no Argument to defend your pompous claim of Science’s Abilities Viz a Philosophy such as Buddhism?… (& that whole post)”

    More meaningless noise. Continue on with your hard core faith in things that most likely do not exist (& continue to waste your reason, energy, & time).

    See my previous comment to you re: this.

    In addition, if all your useful/coherent thoughts boil down to you saying that karma, reincarnation or rebirth, nirvana cannot be proven by science – or any other means (something that I’ve always said but you keep ignoring & focusing on the science aspect only), then, looks like you agree with agnostics, so, congradulations.

    But let me also interpert for you what not being able to prove as real (or prove that it exists) also means – it also means that the core concepts in Buddhism are most likely fictional – yes, as fictional as Star Wars (the movie) or the invisible car I mentioned or the Easter Bunny. Have fun defending non-existent things as undisputed truths.

    Also, re: using Buddhist knowledge to argue with blind believers; Buddhism, like all other human creative products, is, well, a human creative product – thus, it belongs to all humans (unfortunately for you, Sri Lankans can’t “own” Buddhism as their/our possession only), thus, any aspect of it can be used by any human – believer or non-beliver or part-time believer – that’s my view. I am sure it is far different than your militant (intellectually) separatist view that comes with being a hard core/blind believer in SL Buddhism – the so-called undisputed truth 🙂

    – S

  • SomewhatDisgusted

    Dear Observer,

    Not at all. You are opinion is most welcome and I quite agree with it. However, I think you’re commenting while not understanding the context and background of this thread.

    It has been repeatedly acknowledged that there is no challenge from the “agnostics” or “secular rationalists” or “secular humanists” or whatever label you wish to call us, which is irrelevant, that we have *no problem whatsoever with people believing whatever*. Why? Because we don’t know either. Q1: Does that fit in with your stance on agnosticism?

    The problem is not with that. Claims have been made of knowing absolute truths and that Buddhism = truth therefore the Sri Lankan state and Buddhism are inseparable. In other words, Sri Lanka no longer needs to be a secular country.

    If that is the case, Q2: Is it unreasonable to request that it be demonstrated why Buddhism is an absolute truth and how the believers know this?

    Also, Q3: Do you agree, as an “agnostic”, that the Sri Lankan state no longer needs to be secular and Buddhism should be made the official religion?

    Q4: In any case, what do you consider to be the fair thing to do in a multi-ethnic, multi-religious country?

    Please let us know your stance on these 4 questions and indicate whether you consider our position unreasonable.

    cheers,
    /SD

  • To everyone just joining this conversation (which is over 1000 comments long in the previous Akon & Buddhism article),

    Check out my comment above called The Quotable Yapa:
    http://www.groundviews.org/2010/05/07/the-agnostics-vs-the-believers-regarding-karma-reincarnation-nirvana-as-described-in-buddhism-being-real-aspects-of-this-world/comment-page-2/#comment-18558

    This article (& much of the comments by the non-believers in the Akon & Buddhism article) exist due to the flat out insanity expressed by the believer Yapa (who seems to believe that Buddhism is the most important human creative/intellectual invention, & then also says it was not even invented by a human, & also says that Buddhism is popular in other planets, & at times says that modern science supports ideas in Buddhism & at other times says modern science cannot prove or disprove Buddhism, & when I asked him to prove the existence of karma, reincarnation, nirvana using ANY AVAILABLE MEANS – common sense, observations, modern science or math, etc., & at times saying that such proof is coming Yapa still has not provided any way that a non-believer can verify the existence of those speculative Buddhist ideas in the real world/how those ideas affect the real world.). Then, quite often, in the previous thread, after Yapa & other believers coming close to lightly admitting that Buddhism is merely a religion, they, few posts later, contiune to argue for it as it were a fact, an undisputed truth, a universal truth, etc. So, this article seeks to bring the believers back to the central question – is Buddhism a religion or is it the absolute truth/the universal truth (implication being, if it is merely a religion than it can be separated from the State in SL & elsewhere, but if it is the absolute truth about the way the world/universe works than it cannot/should not be separated from government).

    – S

  • Hi Observer,

    RE: “See Sujeewa, you’re a man of faith to me. Faith in what you perceive as “agnosticism”. Having faith in non believing is also a faith to me far as I am concerned and when they get organised it actually scares me much as religious folk who have deep faiths in spiritual mumbo jumbo.”

    I do believe that humans are able to work out our problems without having to rely on most likely non-existant (not active or not a part of the real world, just intellectual items that exist in religious thought) devices such as karma, reincarnation/rebirth, nirvana, gods, hells, heavens, etc.

    The ultimate goal (or what I would like to see happen on this planet) is not merely the non-believers* organizing ourselves in order to accomplish goals that we think are important (separation of religions & states, freedom of thought world wide, freedom of expression world wide, freedom of religion or freedom from religion world wide, an end to hunger, homelessness, poverty, etc.), but non-believers, believers & others working together to turn this planet into the paradise that it can easily (w/ the right number of people & effort involved) become.

    * also, there is a difference between mere agnostics and atheists and positively motivated agnostics & atheists – by positively motivated I mean people who are interested in making things better in this world and are active in doing so via whatever methods available to them. So, a more accurate term for the kind of people I am speaking of, myslef included, would be Positive Humans (as this group also includes believers, not just agnostics). However, for this discussion with hard core/blind believers of SL Buddhism & since the Positive Human label is not yet well known, agnostics or non-believers is the most useful label for the camp that is skeptical of the grand speculative claims made by Buddhism.
    So, don’t worry, most people on the planet at the moment would probably agree with your definition of agnosticism 🙂 But, some of us are in the middle of building a new way to interact with this world, and agnosticism is a starting point, one aspect of that new method.

    Also, the idea that humans should be able to work out our own problems without having to rely on gods or other speculative devices was probably/most likely introduced to me via SL Buddhism.

    Anyway, I am totally cool with all religions – as long as they do not do harm to people, & as long as they realize that any one branch of human knowledge is, at best, only relevant to just one area of human existence, and thus religion is not all/not everything, and should not be wed to the state & forced on non-believers & people who cannot or have not chosen a religious identity & may not want to choose a religious identity. I am however very cool with secular & useful laws, etc. that may have religious origins (since religious ideas have an even earlier basic human need or desire origins or are otherwise products of human creativity).

    As the world continues to deal with problems caused by organized religions, specially ones that do not tolerate dissent (more a problem in the Islamic world than in the Buddhist countries I think), I am sure more and more non-believers will become organized & active in order to save themselves & their secular/open societies (or to liberate their societies from religious oppression) from the control of just one religion or several religions.

    – S

  • Observer,

    RE: the following:

    “BalangodaMan, my biggest stumbling point is how can I challenged what others perceive as the absolute divine truth when I don’t know the whole truth? Sure it sounds very fishy what they say and science cannot explain it but I don’t have a solid wall to hold my back on either. Because my scripture science has holes init too. Therefore I am uncomfortable taking an absolute moral higher ground over them even though they sound like “crazier” people. Many aspects of the universe are still unexplained. As a skeptic I have a sort of understanding what I think is probably the case with limited scientific evidence. That’s all I have. Where as the Atheist believes that there is no god as an absolute truth and he/she has a foundation that matches of which the god believers and provides a framework for argument.”

    There is another way to look at this whole situation. In my view, both the religious ideas & atheist ideas & all other ideas for that matter are human creative/intellectual products. Some become useful for some projects, & others become useful for other projects. Thus, a good situation/set up to support is the creation or maintanance of a space/physical space/community, nation, world, etc. where there is freedom of thought and expression, freeodom of religion – including freedom from religion, & most importantly, where the believers & non-believers tackle problems that affect everyone & attemp to solve those problems. So, merely agreeing or disagreeing with believers or non-believers of various variety is not enough, active participation in making the world a better place (which I am sure you do to the best of your ability at the moment – taking care of your grandmother, paying attention to debates re: religion/freedom from religion matters, etc.) would be the better way to go (in my opinion). Both religions and a body of knowledge that opposes religions are tools, the work, for positively motivated humans is solving the problems (or attempting to do so) that affect all humans. Or, ultimately what matters is not who is right, but that the work that needed to get done got done.

    – S

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear Sujewa,

    “One of the challenges put forth by The Agnostics camp (myself, SomewhatDisgusted, BalangodaMan, with help from Heshan) to The Believers (Yapa, Wijayapala, Off The Cuff, etc.) ……… is: prove, using modern science or math or any other verifiable method available, to non-believers, that karma, reincarnation, nirvana, as described in Buddhism, are real aspects/actual things that exist in this world.

    That Sujewa was extracted from the FIRST paragraph of your article under discussion.

    “Keep talking in your nonsensical circular arguments.”

    When you don’t have Facts to meet an argument try rhetoric.

    Your statement applies perfectly to you, as you are struggling to even disprove my claim that the Buddha could “SEE” events Hundreds of miles removed from where he was located, using his MIND, “Remote Viewing” as it was called by the US Military’s Stargate project.

    Does not Sound Good Huh?

    Evidence – Similar abilities displayed by some gifted Human beings as documented by The US Governments declassified “Stargate” Documents.

    Waiting to see how you negate the above with your Puny Tools of modern science or math or any other verifiable method available.

    The events described by me are Facts so don’t try to confuse Stargate with the Celluloid Fiction (your Forte) of “Star Wars”, the smoke screen you tried to pull, in order to avoid the Challenge. If you are contesting that those events are not Facts, PROVE IT

    The Non Believers / Agnostics can use any hard-to-understand math or science, or even just common sense – and show how the events documented in the Stargate project that Some Gifted Humans performed, could not have been performed or that it’s some Hocus Pocus perpetrated by the US intelligence services (part of the wording is copied straight off of your article).

    Sounds Good, right?

    Here is the chance to do your stock “Escape Artist act”. Claim that you will believe it ONLY if you experience it.

  • OTC,

    Your somewhat comical challenges & counter-challenges are very easy for an agnostic or a free thinker to deal with. Observe:

    RE:

    “Dear Sujewa,

    “[One of the challenges put forth by The Agnostics camp (myself, SomewhatDisgusted, BalangodaMan, with help from Heshan) to The Believers (Yapa, Wijayapala, Off The Cuff, etc.) ……… is: prove, using modern science or math or any other verifiable method available, to non-believers, that karma, reincarnation, nirvana, as described in Buddhism, are real aspects/actual things that exist in this world.]

    That Sujewa was extracted from the FIRST paragraph of your article under discussion.”

    Sounds good, looks familiar.

    [“Keep talking in your nonsensical circular arguments.” ]

    “When you don’t have Facts to meet an argument try rhetoric.”

    OK, still waiting to get to the point, perhaps it is in the next paragraph.

    “Your statement applies perfectly to you, as you are struggling to even disprove my claim that the Buddha could “SEE” events Hundreds of miles removed from where he was located, using his MIND, “Remote Viewing” as it was called by the US Military’s Stargate project.”

    That claim does not need to be disproven as it has not been positively proven. There are many miraculous (sp?) abilities attributed to the Buddha (that floating in the air, breathing fire & water trick, etc.). And, perhaps remote viewing is possible, who knows, I do not have access to US military research documents. However, special human abilites does not prove that karma, reincarnation/rebirth, nirvana in Buddhism are real aspects of this world.

    “Does not Sound Good Huh?”

    Sounds fine for my project, which is assisting with expanding freedom of thought, expression, freedom of religion & freedom from religion, in SL & elsewhere.

    “Evidence – Similar abilities displayed by some gifted Human beings as documented by The US Governments declassified “Stargate” Documents.”

    Great, if I ever get a chance to read the actual US gov docs, will check ’em out, might be a fun read.

    “Waiting to see how you negate the above with your Puny Tools of modern science or math or any other verifiable method available.”

    OTC, clearly logic is not your area of expertise – are you attempting to prove the weakness of science by citing the existence of a controlled experiment (i assume) carried out by a branch of the modern US gov? Go back to the top of this page & see if I said the Buddhist believers need to prove how remote viewing works. Stick to the question at hand & admit when it is pointless to argue beyond a certain point when no new insight can be gained by continuing the conversation. Here’s how this argument has ended in the past, will end now, & will end in the future: it is impossible to demonstrate karma (the type that influences re-birth), reincarnation/rebirth, & nirvana as being real aspects of this world because those items are most likely speculative & fictional devices – created & used by Buddhism to teach a way to perceive human existence, to give it a certain meaning, and to ensure that people stay on a certain path. They are intellectual devices, not things that exist in the outside world or that actually affect real people (as far as I can tell).

    “The events described by me are Facts so don’t try to confuse Stargate with the Celluloid Fiction (your Forte) of “Star Wars”, the smoke screen you tried to pull, in order to avoid the Challenge. If you are contesting that those events are not Facts, PROVE IT”

    Like I’ve said above, the validity of the Stargate project is not my concern at this article. If you are interested in debating that project, start a blog post somewhere & I am sure interested people will respond.

    “The Non Believers / Agnostics can use any hard-to-understand math or science, or even just common sense – and show how the events documented in the Stargate project that Some Gifted Humans performed, could not have been performed or that it’s some Hocus Pocus perpetrated by the US intelligence services (part of the wording is copied straight off of your article). ”

    Yeah, I’ll pass on that, since, as this article clearly states at the top, the focus is on karma, reincarnation/rebirth, & nirvana, not US gov military projects.

    However, proving or disproving the validity of the Stargate project will have no effect on proving or disproving the existence of karma, reincarnation/rebirth, & nirvana.

    “Sounds Good, right? ”

    Sounds excellent. We are still at the point where KRN appear to be speculative items in a religion.

    “Here is the chance to do your stock “Escape Artist act”. Claim that you will believe it ONLY if you experience it.”

    Believing in only things that you can directly verify, specially if they are fantastical claims made by religious organization, will be very useful to anyone who wants to keep their minds & lives relatively free and outside of the control/manipulation of priestly types & whoever they ultimately work for.

    But, since you are happy being controlled by speculative religious inventions, & are unable to see beyond the mental walls that are limiting your thinking, continue on with your blissful blind faith fueled existence. It does not make a huge difference to free thinkers.

    Let me know if you have any other so-called “proof” for KRN that you want me to take apart quickly.

    As Yoda (that’s a fictional character by the way, just like the fictional devices in Buddhism) may say: “deep in this one is the desire to experience karma, reincarnation/rebirth, & nirvana as real items in this world”.

    Or

    – S

  • @SomewhatDisgusted: I fully support your stated objectives. More than that, I think they are perhaps the most pertinent questions to be asked of the Sri Lankan society and state – not only because the emotional attachment to matters of faith will draw out the widest possible audience (as the discussion in GV has proved), but it will re-invigorate a more introspective – if not self-critical – self analysis our society from within. This is important, because analysis and criticism from outside of our society is only going to reinforce paranoia about western conspiracies to undermine the dominant faith of the land and by it’s association and implication, the state. Rather, the discourse should spring from within, led by intelligent members of the citizenry and who are knowledgeable enough to explain their views with clarity and confidence and also assured in their beliefs to the extent that they are able to treat others – especially those with different – if not opposite – views with respect.
    Suffice to say that only a few participants in this discussion seem assured and comfortable in their own beliefs – so as to treat the beliefs of others with the respect they deserve. However, I hope this will be a catalyst that would encourage introspection and self-criticism in other aspects as well.

  • @Sujewa: I am slow to judge the ‘truth’ of anything – especially of my own views and beliefs. So if you consider anything I have said to be ‘true’ – at least be aware that I myself am not so sure. I personally see no “reasonable” evidence to reject the notions of God, karma, nirvana etc. They are ‘beliefs’ and are not reasonable to begin with (i.e. are not ‘subject to reason’). In the same vein, I am yet to see how you can employ ‘reason’ to reject them.
    Over two thousand years ago, it was perfectly within reason to argue that the Earth was flat but astronomers in India and a Greek librarian named Eratosthenes went against intuition to argue otherwise. As recently as a century ago, it was not religious fanatics, but qualified engineers – reasonable people – who claimed that the Titanic was unsinkable. There are learned political analysts who claimed in the mid 90’s that Mrs C.B Kumaratunga was Sri Lanka’s only hope, who claim now with the same conviction that Mr M. P Rajapakse is our saviour.
    Jokes aside, my point is what is ‘reasonable’ is not absolute and it is often confused with what is ‘sensible’. It is hinged on what we think we know and feel with our senses at a moment in time. It is still not sensible (i.e. receptive to our faculties of sense) and everyday experience, that time is relative and that space and time are intertwined – yet Einstein reasoned that it seems to be so. “Poverty, war, The Simpsons TV show” are not things you have discovered with ‘reason’ but observations you have made with your senses. Therefore they are ‘sensible’ (i.e. receptive to your senses) but does not require ‘reason’ for their existence and metamorphosis to be proven (they are not reasonable). The thesis I put forward for you and others to consider is that, religious beliefs are neither based on sensory perceptions nor reason.
    New discoveries or the breakdown or refinements of existing knowledge shifts the foundations of reason and sometimes reverse our conclusions. As Professor Cyril Ponnamperuma once humbly explained when queried about the perceived contradiction between his professional objectives and Catholic faith, “Science is my quest to know the unknown; faith is my acknowledgement that despite a lifetime dedicated to that quest, there is yet so much more that is yet unknown.”

  • Given that we are discussing matters of ‘religious’ faith, I assume no right to challenge the beliefs of another, or patronise them. I consider it my civic responsibility however to safeguard everyone’s right to their own faith – even if they are opposite to my own and regardless of whether or not others respect my right to a personal faith. Though I thoroughly enjoy having an honest, intellectual discourse on faith, I know only a handful of individuals whom I know, trust and respect well enough to consider suitable partners in such a discussion. Even though his religious views are different enough from my own as to be almost opposites, Mr Yapa sounds intelligent and engaging in the way he presents his view and I respect that. Yet I cannot help but notice that the Buddhism he describes is so very different from the Buddhism that I see Televised on Rupavahini and ITN, or promoted and practised at the Malwaththa or Asgiriya Temples… in a country where Buddhism and its power politics is based mostly on the tooth of its great sage, rather than on his teachings.

  • wijayapala

    Burning_Issue,

    I do not feel that one has to be religious in any sense to feel like you do! If one is a democrat and believes in freedom would feel exactly the same. I respect customs that do not undermine freedom, equality, and progression. Rituals and scattering ash in Keerimali Sea is an ancient custom of the Jaffna Hindu Tamils that was being practiced unhindered for centuries.

    Weren’t you the same person who was complaining about cremation in UK?

    “I would further argue that it is not Buddhism nor Buddhist identity which is threatening these Tamil Hindu traditions, but rather the disregard and ignorance of these traditions by Sinhalese.”
    I disagree; I would say that, such ignorance and disregard is politicised and institutionalised within government machinery. This is why; there is nothing one can do about it!

    Then the fault lays with the government- again, not Buddhism or Buddhist identity!

    It is beyond clear that the Buddhist hardliners have been given free hand to do anything that they wish within the North and East; this will not be possible under a secular constitution. You can ask MR and GR whatever you like, but the Tamils will be Second Class nonetheless!

    But this is exactly why I brought up the Keerimalai story; how will a “secular” constitution protect Hindus’ right of using Keerimalai for cremation more than the current one, given that the violation of the Hindus’ right does not involve Buddhism at all?

  • I am sorry: I meant to acknowledge the positive and intelligent contribution of Chula – and NOT Mr Yapa. I feel the need to correct the record because i felt Mr Yapa – in my humble opinion – does not seem any more inteligent than to do anything more than chase his own tail.

  • Hi Sur,

    Thanks for reading & commenting.

    Re:

    “Buddhism does not teach “reincarnation” but rather “rebirth.” Reincarnation is a Hindu teaching. Buddhism denies the existence of an eternal, unchanging soul.”

    Sounds good.

    “Karma (Pali Kamma) simply means “action.” And this is exactly what it desribes. According to Buddhist teaching there are three types

    (1) Kusala Kamma (wholesome kamma)
    (2) Akusala Kamma (unwholesome kamma)
    (3) Ahosi Kamma (neither wholesome nor unwholesome kamma)”

    OK

    “According to Buddhist teaching, kamma (action) has vipaka (result).

    According to Buddhist teaching, kamma can be performed in three ways:

    (1) Bodily
    (2) Verbally
    (3) Mentally

    The teaching of kamma-vipaka is often directly observable in the case of (1) bodily and (2) verbal actions.”

    Sounds good.

    “eg 1. you leave the shutters to your windows open at night before going to bed (physical action), then later in the morning the sun rises and floods your room making it uncomfortably hot (vipaka).

    eg 1 . Someone engages you in an argument. You call the other person a nasty name (verbal kamma) and get abused in return (vipaka).

    However, Buddhism also teaches that mental thoughts also cause kamma. It is often the precursor of bodily and verbal kamma. This is where it is difficult to “prove.” ”

    Sounds good.

    “Buddhism also holds that vipaka can come into fruition:

    (1) immediately in this present life
    (2) at some point in the future but still in this present life
    (3) in another future life”

    Item #3 is the speculative one that I plan on not believing in until I can see some proof for it.

    “Again (1) and (2) are directly observable.

    eg. You slap someone and they slap you in return (immediate vipaka). You don’t use part of your salary for savings now, and as a result later in life you struggle because of it (vipaka at some point in the future). Once again, where it is difficult to ‘prove’ is in the situation (3).

    As you can see, physical kamma-vipaka is directly observable. But mental (moral) kamma-vipaka is difficult to prove.”

    Yup, sounds good.

    As in all major world religions, there are many aspects of Buddhism, & in various schools of Buddhism, aspects that can be tested & proven to be true, and aspects that make sense, & then there are the speculative aspects – with karma, rebirth (i am fine with either discussing rebirth or reincarnation, both are speculative items), & nirvana being 3 of those items. So, to those to whom Buddhism is useful, it is a pretty good religion/pretty good way to look at the world. But it definitely is not 100% true in a verifiable in the real world sense, and definitely is not (or does not seem to be, since it is only concerned with a few areas of human life) the absolute truth (the things that explains everything about this universe, no such thing has been discovered yet) or the most important piece of knowledge created by humans.

    – S

  • ordinary lankan

    And quantity does not necessarily mean quality – another spiritual lesson.

    what is the use of intelligence without peace of mind? one of the most important aspects of buddhism is metta or loving kindness. just in case that important aspect is left behind let me recite a very useful and very practical buddhist prayer – for both sides in this ‘great debate’

    may all beings be happy
    may their suffering cease
    may their joys never cease
    and whatever happens

    may I retain my balance of mind knowing that all persons are the true owners of their deeds – my wishes may or may not help them – but ultimately everyone has to help themselves – this is the law – otherwise called kamma.

  • SomewhatDisgusted

    Dear Citizen,

    Thanks again for being a voice of reason. I do not disagree with a single point you raise.

    You said: “Suffice to say that only a few participants in this discussion seem assured and comfortable in their own beliefs – so as to treat the beliefs of others with the respect they deserve.”

    I agree. This discussion degenerated into an insult fest a long time ago. However, you should know that it started off debunking the conceited claims of some Christians, about 3 threads ago. However, it was not long before some Buddhists started making similarly conceited claims, spearheaded by Mr. Yapa, who claimed in effect, that the “Sinhalese were the holy guardians of indisputable truths which had to be safe-guarded till the western mind was advanced enough to grasp them”.

    I did not see a single “Buddhist” object to such an arrogant claim, which I thought was quite alarming. To me, it was directly reflective of an attitude where as long as one’s own belief was protected, not an iota of thought goes into how such unprovable convictions affect others.

    It was at that point that the indisputability of Buddhism was questioned. Clearly, the believers were not at all used to, or comfortable with such questioning, and immediately started reacting defensively, despite repeated acknowledgements that no one was questioning the possibility but only the indisputability. I found the whole reaction extremely revealing of the nature and extent of the prejudice and bigotry within our society, whether it stems from paranoia or whether it stems from just plain childhood brainwashing.

    I do not apologize for failing to summon any respect for such attitudes. This is because I consider it to be directly harmful to peaceful co-existence as well as further rational inquiry into the origins and nature of our existence, both of which are concerns which trump some bigoted belief any day of the week, at least to me.

    You said:
    “This is important, because analysis and criticism from outside of our society is only going to reinforce paranoia about western conspiracies to undermine the dominant faith of the land and by it’s association and implication, the state.”

    I quite agree. I do suspect that it may indeed do more to reinforce paranoia in some. However, since the paranoia in such people do not seem to show any signs of abating anyway, perhaps stirring up a hornets’ nest is the best way to unsettle the unquestioning beliefs in others, and to at least realize on what basis the concept of secularism is built on. Certainly not decadent, Judeo-Christian conspiracies to unseat Buddhism, as a few seem to suspect.

    You said: “As Professor Cyril Ponnamperuma once humbly explained when queried about the perceived contradiction between his professional objectives and Catholic faith, “Science is my quest to know the unknown; faith is my acknowledgement that despite a lifetime dedicated to that quest, there is yet so much more that is yet unknown.””

    My own faith in faith was shattered when I understood how prone the human mind was to mysticism and other irrational convictions. As a result, I simply could not find a practical way to determine how to elevate one irrational conviction over the other. However, whatever my personal views, I can neither eliminate the possibility nor object to anyone believing in anything in their private lives. Almost anything is possible.

    However, what I do object to is *certainty*, which is a highly dangerous concept, as it encourages all sorts of fundamentalist behaviour. History is littered with countless corpses resulting from the unfounded convictions of those who reason this way. I think we are all duty bound to oppose such unreasonable conviction. After all, once we undermine rationality as the basis upon which a society is built on, well, anything goes really! How would one propose to oppose one irrational conviction over another?

    Your thoughts are welcome.

    cheers,
    /SD

  • Grasshopper

    What is the point of ~1100 comments and the gazillion or so key strokes typed away so far? Have we made any progress?

    There are atheists, agnostics and believers among the diasporic & native Sri lankans and I do not know why cant people just leave it at that. As long as no group tries to shove their beliefs down someone else’s throat I don’t know what the fuss is all about.

    Extra sensory perceptive stuff such as kamma, vipaka, rebirth, nibbana are yet to be proven beyond considerable doubt using any science or math and I do not know whether they ever will be. And this is not to say those stuff are real either.

    But I am glad to see free thinking Sri lankans coming along. I too am an agnostic. I prefer to leave the extra sensory sutff on the back burner.

    Cheers.

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear Sujewa,

    I observe that you are very good at the Houdini Act.
    You are even AVOIDING confirming your own writing by giving non confirmatory dishonest replies like Sounds good, looks familiar.
    What are you afraid of, that prevents you from confirming your own writing?
    I cannot think of anything other than downright dishonesty. I wonder whether your colleagues subscribe to such evasiveness.

    Did you or did you not CHALLENGE Yapa, Wijeyapala and me to “prove, using modern science or math or any other verifiable method available, …., that karma, reincarnation, nirvana, as described in Buddhism, are real aspects/actual things that exist in this world” ? The wording in italics is your own.

    Please answer Yes or No. (without giving evasive answers)

    Hope you have the courage to Stand by what you write.

    My intent is to prove that the TOOLS that you have named are immature and cannot be used for the purpose that you mention as those very same tools have failed to explain physically observable and repeatable real world events that I will enumerate again in the future.

    If you think that those TOOLS are usable then the onus is on you to prove that they are mature and can do the job.

    I have stated my intent and have requested you to confirm your Challenge. Hope this will be within your logical grasp as I am reserving comment on the rest of your post of May 10, 2010 @ 5:08 am till I receive positive answers from you.

  • @BalangodaMan:

    “Clearly you agree with us – that a religious belief is ‘true’ to someone who has faith or conviction in it. It is a personal position the validity of which only a believer can verify. Such a ‘truth’ is commonly referred to as ‘faith’ or a ‘conviction’.

    Now, our problem is, Mr Yapa vehemently objects to the word ‘faith’ (I suggested that that might be because it is the term used in other religions like Christianity). He substituted ‘verifiable proof’ in place of ‘faith’, bringing in Quantum Physics big guns to a party already in full swing.”

    The difference in the conviction (or faith/saddhā) in Buddhism is that it’s verifiable in this life with practice. It’s not the end goal. In Chrisitanity, faith is admirable and there is nothing more asked for in an individual. In the Cankisutta, which I linked before (and while no one seems to have read), the Buddha clearly distinguishes what one believes and what one knows as true. He says a practitioner should “safeguard the truth” – clearly distinguishing the two so that there is no chance to delude onself.

    I didn’t read the Akon thread (and I don’t plan to), but this thread is separate so I’d like to keep it that way. I avoided that thread because I know people are unlikely to have a worthwhile conversation. I disagree with Yapa’s claims that the Dhamma is verifiable “proof” as is clear from the above and I think it’s a waste of time to attempt to do so. If you want proof, practice.

    Since people don’t seem to read links, let me quote a relevant passage. Looks like it’ll be helpful for both believers and non-believers:

    “There are five things that can turn out in two ways in the here-&-now. Which five? Conviction, liking, unbroken tradition, reasoning by analogy, & an agreement through pondering views. These are the five things that can turn out in two ways in the here-&-now. Now some things are firmly held in conviction and yet vain, empty, & false. Some things are not firmly held in conviction, and yet they are genuine, factual, & unmistaken. Some things are well-liked… truly an unbroken tradition… well-reasoned… Some things are well-pondered and yet vain, empty, & false. Some things are not well-pondered, and yet they are genuine, factual, & unmistaken. In these cases it isn’t proper for a knowledgeable person who safeguards the truth to come to a definite conclusion, ‘Only this is true; anything else is worthless.”
    MN 95: Cankisutta

  • SomewhatDisgusted

    Dear Mr. Yapa.

    You said: “Ok! Now if you think you countered my argument, please support your universal Principle that “BUDDHISM SHOULD BE SEPARATED FROM THE STATE OF SRI LANKA.”

    You misunderstand me Mr. Yapa. I have no objection whatsoever to having Buddhism as part of the state provided that Yin Yangs, Stargates, UFOs, alien abductions, Flying Teapots, Churches of the FSM, Shilboot, God and any other concept which cannot be disproven, are also made part of the state (since this was your criteria for not separating a concept from a state).

    I take it you have no objection to making God and Yin Yang a part of the state? You are a very fair and considerate individual Mr. Yapa. I guess we have no disagreement then!

    cheers,
    /SD

  • Observer

    SomeWhatDisgusted, I’ll be the first to admit I have not gone through the whole debate in the previous thread in fine detail – more or less speed reading. Just don’t have the time and most importantly a deep interest!

    Anyway I somehow got the sense that these agnostics were bit more proactive than the type I subscribed to hence I thought, maybe this bunch is a bit beyond the agnosticism level. That’s why I protested to Sujeewa, the leader of the pact. Anyway, I shall answer your questions.

    Q1: Does that fit in with your stance on agnosticism?

    Well my opinion as I have made clear hopefully is that it is unreasonable for an agnostic to challenge believers’ faith as BEING NOT TRUE. For starters we cannot prove it is NOT TRUE. If we can’t then we can’t expect the other side to PROVE it on behalf of us?? Do I make any sense? Since it is a take it or leave it proposition the believers don’t have to prove anything to us.

    And also when we take a stance stating that we’re not so sure our selves, we sort of concede that their belief may have some merit – agnosticsm. Hence being on such a wobbly ground, it is a bit douche to demand that they prove what they “believe” to be true, through a deep spiritual faith.

    Of course any religious person who believes in their perspective religions/faiths will state that it is the absolute truth. Surely you’re not going to expect anything less?? Why else would they devout time and money in it otherwise? Admittedly even some intelligent, educated people practice various religions and they wouldn’t be doing so unless they saw something truthful in it. Otherwise they’d be agnostics themselves.

    Q2: Is it unreasonable to request that it be demonstrated why Buddhism is an absolute truth and how the believers know this?

    Absolutely! It goes to not just Buddhism but all other faiths including ridiculous ones like Scientology. It’s a faith. They can never prove it in an ordinary scientific sense! It is not known to mankind yet to connect the living with the next episode. Then “they” say oh but when you reach Nirvana, you will see what’s on the other side and how it’s all interlinked with Karma and blah blah. Since you me or most agnostics can’t or at least won’t try to reach Nirvana we have to take it at face value. So it is unreasonable to ask for proof knowing it is not possible.

    Also, Q3: Do you agree, as an “agnostic”, that the Sri Lankan state no longer needs to be secular and Buddhism should be made the official religion?

    This question just threw me off. :-S I believe the Sri Lankan state needs to be secular. The constitution doesn’t prevent a person practicing any particular religion nor coming into power. Proportionally looking at the population, Buddhism believers far exceeds other types of believers in Sri Lanka. So it may look like Buddhism has a special place. But really, it is supply and demand.

    Q4: In any case, what do you consider to be the fair thing to do in a multi-ethnic, multi-religious country?

    Slash the budget for all religious activities altogether. BUTTTTT that’s my view. It’s up to the voters isn’t it? Democracy is supposed to provide for the majority’s wish. If the majority are believers and they vote for what they want, who am I to criticise them? I think it’s fair enough! If you believe in democracy that is.

    For example, I can never see a non Christian ever becoming the president of the United States. That’s because a huge conservative voter base consider their president being a Christian as something very important. Then they expect from time to time have their way with that leadership. For instance huge debate over stem cell research, abortion, gay rights, wanting to teach intelligent design in schools, integrating the 10 commandments into the justice system, etc originate from these religious groups.

    So my point really is, when most of the world population are believers, us agnostics as a minority, it is unfair to demand our way!

  • Observer

    Sujeewa,

    “The ultimate goal (or what I would like to see happen on this planet) is not merely the non-believers* organizing ourselves in order to accomplish goals that we think are important (separation of religions & states, freedom of thought world wide, freedom of expression world wide, freedom of religion or freedom from religion world wide, an end to hunger, homelessness, poverty, etc.), but non-believers, believers & others working together to turn this planet into the paradise that it can easily (w/ the right number of people & effort involved) become.”

    So after all this, it has nothing to do with religion now? Dude, you just hippied out and fired a barrage of flowers at me. let’s all get together and make the world a better place stuff.. heal the world theme. I don’t know what to say back to you.. other than say it’s nice… haha

  • If Bo tree was first brought to Mdagal, Buddhism came first to Tamil Eelam, to the Tamils and not to the Sinhalese in the island.

    Buddhism practiced in Sri Lanka(SL) is based neither on science nor truth. It is based on myth, taught and brainwashed in “Daham Pasal” when Buddhists are kids. It is similar to Taliban teachings of fanatical Islam in “Madrasses”, causing chaos in the country ande world at large.

    I have been unsuccessfully seeking answer for the following questions from my Budddhist friends;

    1. Law of Karma believes in reward for good deeds and punishment of rebirth for evil. What is good and evil? Who deteermines it?
    2. If there is Law of Karma, who created this law?
    3. Any law has to be implemented. Who implements the law of Karma? Creator God.
    4. There is no specific evidence to show that a person’s grandmother is born as a worm or insect. But persons who died and came back to life had the experience of either being in heaven or hell, which proves that the rebirth theory is ridiculous.

    Buddhism I think is an invention of escapism to refrain from responsibility and accountability for wrong doings and wickedness of persons to fellow human beings.

    Mankind is created to love one another and be responsible for his actions, in this world, God has created.

  • yapa

    Dear citizen;

    Your views expressed in the post of May 10, 2010 @ 7:31 am are very much similar to mine.

    Do you think the following statement extracted from your last post still holds valid?

    “I feel the need to correct the record because i felt Mr Yapa – in my humble opinion – does not seem any more inteligent than to do anything more than chase his own tail.”

    Thanks!

    Thanks!

  • yapa

    Sujewa Ekanayake;

    Thanks for your summary (collection of) of my posts. It is definitely useful to me.
    It shows your capability in computer and related fields. Definitely it is a commendable effort.

    However, the important issue is were you able to achieve your goal. I must remind your expressed goal in that endeavour. It was to prove your proposition that I had mentioned I could prove karma, Buddhist reincarnation and nirvana. Were you able to point out such thing? You may be able to show a “straw man”, but not in my wordings.

    I have already said if I say cat, it is only cat and nothing else. If you take my “cat” as “rat” and killed the rat, it doesn’t mean you killed my cat.

    Please kill my cat, not your rat. If you cannot at least show my cat.

    You are challenging, making allegations, repeating and re-repeating, insulting, cursing, for something which I haven’t said. Whole your arguments were based on this non existent entity. What can you do now?

    You can now vomit all what you have said and apologize for your follies as a gentleman.

    I think you will behave like a thorough gentleman.

    Thanks!

  • yapa

    Dear SomewhatDisgusted;

    I think now you will render your vowed service to the mankind, by proving/showing that Buddhism should be separated from the state of Sri Lanka. We have been long awaiting that noble endeavour.

    Please be kind enough to fulfill our aspirations.

    Thanks!

  • yapa

    Dear Spiritual Man;

    RE: your post of May 10, 2010 @ 7:34 pm

    Oh! you have found the absolute truth, all of a sudden. What a miracle? Please let us too know how you gained that wisdom. Its is awesome! Marvelous! Wonderful!, splendid!,magnificent!, fantastic!, superb!, terrific!, cool!…….. I have no enough words to describe your wisdom. Are you another son of the God?

    Thanks!

  • Burning_Issue

    Wijayapala,

    “Weren’t you the same person who was complaining about cremation in UK?”

    I am sorry that I never complained about cremation at all; I was complaining about some hard-line Hindus who wanted to cremate their dead relatives in open air in UK just like what one sees in Indian Sub-continent. My point was that Open Air Cremation is an alien phenomenon in the West and it is potentially harmful to race relations etc. However, many Europeans opt for cremation these days; it is conducted in a control environment with electricity; ash is handed over at the end of it. I hear now in UK that, there are agencies that one can hire that would take ash to mid sea and scatter.

    “Then the fault lays with the government- again, not Buddhism or Buddhist identity!”

    Yes, I agree on this point; both Buddhism and Hinduism existed side-by-side many millennia in Sri Lanka; peoples of the island respected each other’s customs; this should continue.

    “But this is exactly why I brought up the Keerimalai story; how will a “secular” constitution protect Hindus’ right of using Keerimalai for cremation more than the current one, given that the violation of the Hindus’ right does not involve Buddhism at all?”

    Correction; Keerimalai is never used for cremation purposes; it is used as a sacred place to take the ashes of their dead relatives, perform rituals, and scatter the ashes in the sea.

    We have had the Portuguese; we have had the Dutch; we have had the English; all promoted Christianity but they never interfered with local customs such as this one. Now, we have the Sinhala Buddhist, the new Masters of the Tamils; who have put a stop to an ancient custom! What does this say about the Sinhala Buddhists and their government? I agree that Buddhism is not an issue here, but the politicised and institutionalised Sinhala Buddhism is an issue; I would like you to recognise this.

    A Secular Constitution means that, no religion is politicised and all religions are equal respecting all customs that interfere no one. I do not know as to how the Sri Lankan legal system is placed in conjunction with common customs. One needs to look at this as to how this issue can be challenged legally on the strength of common law. Technically, I agree that this issue is to do with total disregard of the Tamils and their customs; but from the Tamils’ perspective, the Sinhala are Buddhists and they are government; one does not look beyond that!

  • yapa

    (Oh! Dear) Dear SomewhatDisgusted;

    “However, it was not long before some Buddhists started making similarly conceited claims, spearheaded by Mr. Yapa, who claimed in effect, that the “Sinhalese were the holy guardians of indisputable truths which had to be safe-guarded till the western mind was advanced enough to grasp them”.

    YOU ARE A STRAW MAN!

    Jonny, jonny,…………………….. Telling lies?

    Thanks!

  • wijayapala

    Dear Grasshopper,

    I prefer to leave the extra sensory sutff on the back burner.

    Most young SL “agnostics” do.. until they reach advanced age and get the jitters.

  • yapa

    I take it you have no objection to making God and Yin Yang a part of the state? You are a very fair and considerate individual Mr. Yapa. I guess we have no disagreement then!

    I have no problem. But it was you who objected. Please justify your objection.

    Please give reason for separating Buddhism from the state of Sri Lanka. (You vowed to fight, but we don’t expect you to fight. Just justify with your enlightened wisdom.)

    Thanks!

  • yapa

    Dear Sujewa Ekanayake;

    RE: Your statement of May 9, 2010 @ 10:22 am

    How come these two statements are same (or at least similar) to replace the second by the first ? On the other hand why did you want to replace it at all? You could have used my original statement. What is this kindness of yours towards my statements to treat them with your valuable resources?

    1.“And this is coming from the same person who called the agnostics “decadent western conspirators” for not believing in the fictional elements that exist in a religion? ”

    2.These people like SomewhatDisgusted, Sujewa Ekanayake, niranjan,….etc. etc.. are nothing more than ignorant agents of CAPITALISM and NEO-IMPERIALISM who are prepared to give away anything for a left over bone of westerners. They don’t know what they are doing or uttering. They are just parrots, who don’t know any thing more than what they were taught by their western masters. No! no!!, they are just tape recorders or CDs that play the tunes when their masters push their buttons.

    You love straw men? Dolls?

    Thanks!

  • yapa

    Dear SomewhatDisgusted

    RE: Your post of May 9, 2010 @ 8:55 pm

    Are you now going to hold a referendum to see whether the Buddhism should be separated from the state of Sri Lanks. Really that was not what you were saying. To fight against opposite moves.

    Why appealing for sympathy? What happened to your heroic mentality.

    Please fight. Now this is the chance for you.

    Thanks!

  • wijayapala

    Dear Spiritual Man,

    If Bo tree was first brought to Mdagal, Buddhism came first to Tamil Eelam, to the Tamils and not to the Sinhalese in the island.

    Where is “Mdagal?” That is an incomprehensible name that doesn’t appear Sinhala nor Tamil.

    I would be delighted to hear that Tamils introduced Buddhism to the Sinhalese. Where are the Tamil Buddhists today?

    And when did “Tamil Eelam” exist, either now or in the past?

    Buddhism practiced in Sri Lanka(SL) is based neither on science nor truth. It is based on myth, taught and brainwashed in “Daham Pasal” when Buddhists are kids. It is similar to Taliban teachings of fanatical Islam in “Madrasses”, causing chaos in the country ande world at large.

    How has Buddhism caused chaos in the world?

    And should we blame the Tamils for introducing Buddhism to us? 😀

    1. Law of Karma believes in reward for good deeds and punishment of rebirth for evil. What is good and evil? Who deteermines it?

    As described previously, Kamma is best thought of as a force, in terms of action and reaction. “Good” and “Evil” acts are defined in terms of the intent behind them as well as their effects.

    2. If there is Law of Karma, who created this law?”
    3. Any law has to be implemented. Who implements the law of Karma? Creator God.

    The same person who “created” and “implements” the Law of Physics.

    But persons who died and came back to life had the experience of either being in heaven or hell, which proves that the rebirth theory is ridiculous.

    Who died and came back to life?

  • yapa

    Dear SomewhatDisgusted

    “Yapa, who claimed in effect, that the “Sinhalese were the holy guardians of indisputable truths which had to be safe-guarded till the western mind was advanced enough to grasp them”.

    I did not see a single “Buddhist” object to such an arrogant claim, which I thought was quite alarming. To me, it was directly reflective of an attitude where as long as one’s own belief was protected, not an iota of thought goes into how such unprovable convictions affect others.

    It was at that point that the indisputability of Buddhism was questioned. Clearly, the believers were not at all used to, or comfortable with such questioning, and immediately started reacting defensively, despite repeated acknowledgements that no one was questioning the possibility but only the indisputability. I found the whole reaction extremely revealing of the nature and extent of the prejudice and bigotry within our society, whether it stems from paranoia or whether it stems from just plain childhood brainwashing.”

    You are carrying tales to make others angry with us?

    You will never give up that unethical and foul tactic.

    People without back bone and have no sound facts to support their positions do such ugly things.

    Give up lying.

    Thanks!

  • Burning_Issue

    “These people like SomewhatDisgusted, Sujewa Ekanayake, niranjan,….etc. etc.. are nothing more than ignorant agents of CAPITALISM and NEO-IMPERIALISM who are prepared to give away anything for a left over bone of westerners. They don’t know what they are doing or uttering. They are just parrots, who don’t know any thing more than what they were taught by their western masters. No! no!!, they are just tape recorders or CDs that play the tunes when their masters push their buttons.”

    Ohh; I thought for a minute; was I reading the utterance of an Islamic Fundamentalist; no, it is the utterance of Yapa the Sinhala Buddhist!

  • yapa

    “However, what I do object to is *certainty*, which is a highly dangerous concept, as it encourages all sorts of fundamentalist behaviour. History is littered with countless corpses resulting from the unfounded convictions of those who reason this way. I think we are all duty bound to oppose such unreasonable conviction. After all, once we undermine rationality as the basis upon which a society is built on, well, anything goes really! How would one propose to oppose one irrational conviction over another?”

    Ho! Ho!! You are the only genuine social worker duty bound to oppose such unreasonable conviction. We are just good for nothing culprits to hold the opposite view?

    When you have no arguments, it is best to appeal for sympathy. Isn’t this telling your case in the absence of the opposition to a person to give a judgment? Your audacity is boundless.

    Thanks!

  • SomewhatDisgusted

    Dear Spiritual Man,

    You said: “If there is Law of Karma, who created this law?”

    You are trying to point out the fact that something must have created all of this and that something was god.

    That immediately raises the question, who created god?

    Everyone here probably already knows the stock answer that Christians/Muslims give to that question. God was, god is, and god will be. Well, if you postulate god just came into being out of nowhere and was always there, why don’t you save a step, and postulate that the universe came into being out of nowhere and was always there?

    Also, if you wish to claim some sort of superiority for your belief in god, we’ll have to ask you also to show what proof you have for this god in the first place?

    Also, this conversation is not a Buddhism bashing session. Buddhism is a very nice religion *when practiced privately*, but when it turns into an organized religion like Christianity, I’m not sure how nice it is anymore. Indeed, one of the reasons it has had to organize itself is because of unethical proselytization. Q1: What is your opinion on this? Do you agree that it is unethical to pay money to convert people to believe in God?

    The main thrust in this conversation is to explore how religion should interact with the state. All organized religion, IMO, especially god based ones which have an extremely poor track record of this after having run crusades against reason and science, should stay out of government. This is for no other reason other than the fact that a country cannot be run fairly based on the speculative beliefs of religion, which are answers to philosophical questions about life and are essentially person beliefs. No objections to you believing in your god in the privacy of your own home though.

    Q2: What is your opinion on the relationship between state and god?

    Please comment on anything you please, but hope to hear your answers especially to Q1 and Q2.

    cheers,
    /SD

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear Grasshopper,

    “Extra sensory perceptive stuff such as kamma, vipaka, rebirth, nibbana are yet to be proven beyond considerable doubt using any science or math and I do not know whether they ever will be. And this is not to say those stuff are real either.”

    Kamma (Pali) = Action (English)
    Vipaka (Pali) = Result (English)

    Do you mean that walking, Running, Eating, Drinking, playing and everything else you do and the results of what you do “is ESP stuff”?

    One needs to Know what one writes about.

    Regarding your faith in Science as the source of Truth in every field just read about the US Govt financed Stargate project (Google Stargate). Science could not explain the results.

    Research Acupuncture and see if Science can explain the affects. Acupuncture is recognised by the WHO.

    So far none of the above have been proven by Science yet both Acupuncture and Remote Viewing are repeatable and brings about Tangible results.

    Science’s inability to explain the results shows only that Science is weak in those fields and is an immature tool that is unable to deliver the truth.

    Science excels in many fields but is Primitive in the field of Philosophy. Someday it will mature but till then nothing definite can be arrived at Citing Science.

    Only a fool will believe otherwise

  • SomewhatDisgusted

    Dear Observer,

    Agree with most of what you say but I think you have misunderstood the question.

    Let me rephrase: *If* a believer claims superiority for their beliefs, is it unreasonable to ask them to show on what basis they claim this superiority?

    Also, if some claim that Buddhism and the state are inseparable, is it unreasonable to ask on what basis others should be affected by their speculative belief system?

    I should emphasize that I have no objection to people believing in their religion in the privacy of their own home and see no reason to question their beliefs, but if they wish to impose it on me via the state, they’d better have some way to justify it.

    You said: “Democracy is supposed to provide for the majority’s wish.”

    No. A democracy does not mean the majority gets carte blanche to trample over the rights of others. It means that the majority is endowed with *responsibility* for making decisions on behalf of others, in a way that is fair and reasonable by all. A democracy should aim to avoid a tyranny of the majority. Otherwise, anyone can see that it is an unfair system for minorities and an absurd and unethical form of governance in the 21st century.

    cheers,
    /SD

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear Spiritual Man,

    “Mankind is created to love one another and be responsible for his actions, in this world, God has created.”

    Which God?

    The Omnipotent, Omniscient, Omnipresent and Loving one?

    How many Humans were created at the beginning by this God and what material did He use?

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear SomewhatDisgusted,

    Acupuncture (based on Yin Yang Philosophy) is recognised b the WHO. That would not happen without the acceptance of Acupuncture by learned Medical persons who work with the Apex health organisation dealing with World Health.

    US Govt sponsored Stargate, delivered Tangible results that so impressed the US President Carter that he referred to it in a Presidential Speech.

    I believe that just because Science has Failed to understand the physical results, lumping Real objects with frivolous objects conjured up by imagination does not do justice to your argument.

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear Observer,

    Congratulations on a well written thought provoking balanced post.

    There a few Truths that Buddhism regards as Universal

    1. The Impermanence of everything
    2. That Dukkha pervades life

    Would appreciate your views on the above.

    (Dukkha has a much wider meaning than “Suffering” the English word oft inappropriately used in place of Dukkha)

    This refers to your post of May 10, 2010 @ 6:01 pm

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear SomewhatDisgusted,

    “Let me rephrase: *If* a believer claims superiority for their beliefs, is it unreasonable to ask them to show on what basis they claim this superiority?”

    Yes I would agree as that is a reasonable question, the Keyword being “IF”.

    But the Article has gone beyond that and into areas that Observer correctly points to. It questions the concepts of Kamma, Rebirth and Nibbana on the basis that “Science” has no answer. This presupposes that “Science” knows it all. This of course is a fallacy in every branch of Science.

    Unfortunately in the field of Philosophy “Science” is just an infant. It will grow someday but today it is in its infancy. Probably due to lack of research.

  • Burning_Issue

    Dear SomewhatDisgusted,

    I concur completely with your post of May 10, 2010 @ 11:27 PM

    “No. A democracy does not mean the majority gets carte blanche to trample over the rights of others. It means that the majority is endowed with *responsibility* for making decisions on behalf of others, in a way that is fair and reasonable by all. A democracy should aim to avoid a tyranny of the majority. Otherwise, anyone can see that it is an unfair system for minorities and an absurd and unethical form of governance in the 21st century.”

    During the debate of the Sinhala Only Language Bill in 1955; Dr. N.M. Perera argued exactly the same manner.

  • Grasshopper

    Off the Cuff said: “Do you mean that walking, Running, Eating, Drinking, playing and everything else you do and the results of what you do “is ESP stuff”?”

    Oh! is this the kamma – vipaka Buddshim talks about? I honestly dont need a religion to tell me that those are cause and effect. It is so obvious.

  • Observer,

    RE: Sujeewa,

    “The ultimate goal (or what I would like to see happen on this planet) is not merely the non-believers* organizing ourselves in order to accomplish goals that we think are important (separation of religions & states, freedom of thought world wide, freedom of expression world wide, freedom of religion or freedom from religion world wide, an end to hunger, homelessness, poverty, etc.), but non-believers, believers & others working together to turn this planet into the paradise that it can easily (w/ the right number of people & effort involved) become.” (my statement)

    So after all this, it has nothing to do with religion now? Dude, you just hippied out and fired a barrage of flowers at me. let’s all get together and make the world a better place stuff.. heal the world theme. I don’t know what to say back to you.. other than say it’s nice… haha (your reply)”

    Looks like you are unable to follow the full discussion (granted, it is spread out over 1000 comments in the Akon & Buddhiusm article), so, let’s see if I can clarify why the agnostics demand proof for speculative religious items before such religious items are accepted as the absolute truth, is used for supporting laws created by a gov’t which affords the religion the primiary place among religions, & where the religion is used to justify the banning of certain entertainment & economic activities (the Akon issue is one example, not a great one, but close). So, here is a breakdown:

    1. Sri Lanka has been a multi-ethnic, multi-religious country for centuries.

    2. The inability of the majority – mostly Sinhala Buddhists – to get along with one of the largest minority groups – Tamils – from 1948 until 1983 led to a 26+ year long war. This war ended in 2009.

    3. Using Buddhism to justify government policies, under the guise that Buddhism is the truth/the absolute truth/the universal truth, etc. – ignoring the fact that it is just as full of metaphysical speculation & contraditions as the rest of the major religions of this world – will most likely result in a repeat of the 1948 – 1983 problems & thus another long war in SL.

    4. Since SL is, at least on paper, a secular country, now is a good time to push for making that secular approach an actual, living fact to be practiced by the gov & other major non-religious institutions in SL. Separating religion from the state has had very positive effects in many countries in this world. Most of the countries that are stuck in poverty & cycles of violence have not adequately separated religon (a set of ideas oriented primarily towards the next life) from secular/common/non-religious life in their important institutions, including gov. (there are also other important things the contribute to the creation of failed states – including xenophobia, racism, not adopting sound economic practices, economic corruption, lack of adequate law & order, etc. – however, creating a secular gov – or laws that are easily justifiable & based on actual things that exist, rather than religious speculative items – is a major step towards improving things in developing countries – specially in SL due to the perception or actuality that the gov favors the Sinhala Buddhists over the Tamils, etc.)

    5. Not just Buddhism, but any religion that claims that it is the one true path is dangerous, thus, when those claims are made by the believers, it is a good idea for others to demand proof for the grand claim of the believers. That is how this discussion has come into being.

    6. There is another issue, beyond the agnostics vs. believers conflict, that I referred to in my comment above that you quoted – that is that even if the believers & non-believers find the way to co-exist in one country, then the problems that need to be solved STILL need to be tackled. Turning Sri Lanka into an actual secular state with freedom of religion & freedom from religion will not make the poverty, underdevelopment, corruption, the massive brain drain (heavy emigration), lack of employment/work go away on its own – for that, those issues need to be dealt with directly. Ultimately, there will be areas that the believers will be able to excel at when it comes to accomplishing some of the work mentioned above (assisting people who trust the monks & not perhaps secular authorities with things that need to be done, etc.) & some areas where the non-believers may excel at (finance, defense, etc. – since the major religons in SL all, at their core – have an anti-war, anti-wealth building message – but, that has not stopped the SLs from making a lot of war in the past 🙂 – that’s another topic I guess).

    So, as you can see, this is a wide topic. Seeing how other multi-ethnic/multi-religious countries have prospered by adopting a separation of religion and government approach, I definitely think this is a great way for SL to proceed. But, how things go down in SL is ultimately up to people who live in SL full time, however, there is a very large SL diaspora, and, if things are going well or if SL is attempting to do the right thing, many in the diaspora may want to help – which could speed up development of SL.

    Hope all that is somewhat clear. If not, let me know.

    If, however, you are approaching this topic lightly as mere entertainment, then it is probably best for me to ignore your future comments (& probably better for you & folks like Yapa & OTC to get together & celebrate their living in denial/ignorance is bliss/our religion knows all & we don’t have to worry about non-believers/we don’t have to think about what we do, we just have to do what the monks tell us to do nonsense – instead of engaging in debates with agnostics) & deal with those ones that may be useful, in some way, to making things better in SL, for the diaspora, & world wide in other places.

    – S

  • OTC,

    RE:

    “Dear Sujewa,

    I observe that you are very good at the Houdini Act.”

    More believer make-belive, carry on, let’s see what’s next.

    “You are even AVOIDING confirming your own writing by giving non confirmatory dishonest replies…”

    Very amusing that the person defending the truthfulness of fictiotious (most likely) concepts is obsessed with the term honesty. But let’s continue anyway…

    “…like Sounds good, looks familiar.
    What are you afraid of, that prevents you from confirming your own writing?
    I cannot think of anything other than downright dishonesty. I wonder whether your colleagues subscribe to such evasiveness.”

    Are you ever planning on getting to the point OTC? Let’s see..

    “Did you or did you not CHALLENGE Yapa, Wijeyapala and me to “prove, using modern science or math or any other verifiable method available, …., that karma, reincarnation, nirvana, as described in Buddhism, are real aspects/actual things that exist in this world” ? The wording in italics is your own.”

    Yup. Scroll to the top of this article & read if you are in doubt.

    “Please answer Yes or No. (without giving evasive answers)

    Hope you have the courage to Stand by what you write.”

    Yes to item one, & Yes to item 2 – as should be evident for unbiased readers who are concerned with actual things that exist, I think that exclueds you, so that’s probably why the same thing has to be repeated over & over again to you, but, that’s cool, let’s move on…

    “My intent is to prove that the TOOLS that you have named are immature and cannot be used for the purpose that you mention as those very same tools have failed to explain physically observable and repeatable real world events that I will enumerate again in the future.”

    So, let’s claify. You can’t prove that karma, reincarnation or rebirth, & nirvana are real things. And instead of saying that they are most likely speculative things but you are not sure/it makes you feel good to believe in them, you are stating that when I said “use whatever means…” to prove the existence of the speculative items in the real world that somehow excludes some tools/methods or not others. So, let’s try to break things down even further;

    – can the believers show, using any verifiable means, to a non-believer, that karma, reincarnation or rebirth, and nirvana, as described in Buddhism, are real things that exist in this world/universe & can affect real people?

    — don’t worry about using science if that is too difficult for you, use whatever means you can think of – set up the method for verification & I & other agnostics will take a look & see if your method proves the existence of karma, reincarnation/rebirth, & nirvana.

    Hopefully the item in discussion is not clear to you. If not (and i am sure you will :), let me know.

    “If you think that those TOOLS are usable then the onus is on you to prove that they are mature and can do the job.”

    The tools are very useful for showing that things that exist actually exist, though they may be difficult to see. However, the tools available to us/humans cannot turn religious fiction such as karma, R, N, into real things.

    “I have stated my intent and have requested you to confirm your Challenge. Hope this will be within your logical grasp as I am reserving comment on the rest of your post of May 10, 2010 @ 5:08 am till I receive positive answers from you.”

    Either way, we will be going ’round & ’round on this thread since you are unable to separate fact from fiction. Well, at least some of the blind believer readers may benefit & they may realize that the “undisputed truths” in Buddhism are speculative items & not real items, & that Buddhism is just a religion, not something more – & can & should be separated from the state, etc.

    – S

  • Yapa,

    Since you are unable to see the similarity between the two statements quoted & instead would rather think about straw & dolls & cranes & other stuff, let me take a look & see if I can point out the similarities. My pointers will be in [brakets].

    RE:

    “Dear Sujewa Ekanayake;

    RE: Your statement of May 9, 2010 @ 10:22 am

    How come these two statements are same (or at least similar) to replace the second by the first ? On the other hand why did you want to replace it at all? You could have used my original statement. What is this kindness of yours towards my statements to treat them with your valuable resources?

    1.“And this is coming from the same person who called the agnostics “decadent western conspirators” for not believing in the fictional elements that exist in a religion? ”

    2.These people like SomewhatDisgusted, Sujewa Ekanayake, niranjan,….etc. etc.. are nothing more than ignorant agents of CAPITALISM and NEO-IMPERIALISM [capitalism & neo-imperialism is associted with the west, when used by non-western critics]
    who are prepared to give away anything for a left over bone of westerners
    [this implies that the agnostics do not understand the real value of things, in error, trading something good for something not so good but perhaps attractive, indulgent, decadent (sp?)].
    They don’t know what they are doing or uttering. They are just parrots, who don’t know any thing more than what they were taught by their western masters. No! no!!, they are just tape recorders or CDs that play the tunes when their masters push their buttons.

    You love straw men? Dolls?”

    You are the one who is always talking about rubbing people & humiliating people & running away & straw men & telling people that they are being feminine (whatever that means in the context of an internet discussion) – you tell me Yapa, does someone who constantantly think about those things have a perhaps an unhealthy fascination with them?

    “Thanks!”

    Anyway, if you are unable to see the similarity between the two statements above, then it does not surprise me that you take speculative metaphysical concepts used in a world religion (& grand claims for holding the undisputed truth) literally. Most of us outgrow literalism or the inability to recognize symbolic speech in our teens, sadly it appears you have not done so yet. Good luck with that problem.

    Anyway, on to the larger matter at hand, close to 100 comments in, it appears that the believers are unable to prove that karma, reincarnation/rebirth, & nirvana are real items that exist in this world & affect real people. So, I guess we can continue to treat Buddhism as merely a religion & not THE only way to do anything of significant importance (outside of Buddhist rituals, etc.).

    – S

  • BalangodaMan

    Mr Yapa et al,

    It’a all about the authenticity of the source …

    It’s all about whether you think it is possible that a human person (Siddharta Gautama) can suddenly become omniscient (acquire infinite knowledge), and on what grounds we believe such a fantastic thing.

    (Similarly, Jesus could have been just telling porky pies that he is the Son of God to impress his friends. And did Mohammed actually write all that stuff? Or was he autistic, or someone helped him?).

    Do such things like omniscience happen today?

    Yes, they do !!!

    When they do happen we put these people in a mental hospital. Isn’t that TRUE? Just see how many people at Angoda think they are ‘The President’ !

    It’s easy to test. Mr Yapa – Just put out a press release that you have become omniscient – that through a combination of bathing often and koththamalli – you can now see all of there is to know; you now know EVERYTHING that humans are yet to discover in the next 500 million years and beyond. How many people will take you seriously?

    Nobody!
    I bet you too will be carted off to Angoda.

    Don’t get me wrong – The teachings of the Buddha (as a wise human person) are still useful to millions around the world (as are the teachings of many philosophers and sages) particularly when those teachings have been made relevant to the needs of the modern world by many contemporary writers. The speculative items, on the other hand, presupposes the omniscience theory. On what evidence are we to accept Siddharta Gautama’s omniscience? Is it because it happened 2,500 years ago?

    Mr Yapa, here is the real challenge. Can anyone repeat it? Wouldn’t that be exactly what we need at this juncture? Why speculate on things that may or may not have happened 2,500 years ago – or take it as gospel truth? As I mentioned in the other thread, the Theosophical Society which re-introduced Buddhism to Ceylon in the 1880 claimed that Madame Blavatsky was in telepathic communication with such a person – a Tibetan monk who had lived for 600 years in the Himalayas called Coot-Humi (or Kuthumi). You can Google it. Some French physicists studied the case and concluded that Madame Blavatsky’s claims was a scam.

    Mr Yapa, I think you believe the Buddha’s omniscience out of tribal loyalty, superstition, peer pressure. Not because you have any other concrete reason. Belief in the Buddhas omniscience (without any corroborative evidence) is the ONLY reason people believe in the karma, rebirth, nirvana model.

    (not science. not maths. not Quantum Physics. not Newton)

    Omniscience is not plausible – it just isn’t!

    I think there must be thousands of alternative explanations for the meaning of life. The Matrix is one. One thing we know for sure is that we DO NOT have a means of telling which is true and which isn’t.

  • yapa

    Dear Burning_Issue;

    RE: Your post of May 10, 2010 @ 9:31 pm

    As a Buddhist or whatever it is I am telling the truth. We have already proved that statement to a certain extent. Truth is not sweet as you think. It may be bitter to many, but it does not make untruth true.

    Please come to conclusions based on “Principles of Natural justice. (or without bias) I think you know what principles of Natural justice are?

    Further, do you consider all your statements made on the forums on this web are correct, true and justifiable?

    You are just trying to judge me by a single statement of mine out of hundreds of my statements and trying to be victorious. Please try to grasp the core of what I was trying to say from all my posts, not from a single one statement that could be interpreted for your preferences and advantageous. .

    Don’t you think that it is a little bit unfair and mean?

    Thanks!

  • yapa

    Dear Sujewa Ekanayake, SomewhatDisgusted, BalangodaMan;

    Most of your augments especially in the recent past were based on that we (specially I) had said that karma, Buddhist reincarnation and nirvana could be proved so that “non believers” (the way prefer to call yourselves) could understand. You have been making a big noise in this forum almost always repeating the claim. I challenged you to specifically point out that claim by me or others who argued in favour of Buddhism if we had done such a statement. Without listening to them you publicized that “untruth” repeatedly to defame us and undermine our arguments.

    With so many attempts, Sujewa Akanayake, combed through all my posts to find such a statement of mine and miserably failed. Now what do you have to say about unethical damage done to our characters and our arguments by frequent quoting of something which we had never said as our statements?

    Please as civilized men we request all three of you explanation in this regard. Hope as responsible gentlemen you will explain your position.

    Thank you!

  • yapa

    Dear SomewhatDisgusted;

    Now you say;

    [You misunderstand me Mr. Yapa. I have no objection whatsoever to having Buddhism as part of the state provided that Yin Yangs, Stargates, UFOs, alien abductions, Flying Teapots, Churches of the FSM, Shilboot, God and any other concept which cannot be disproven, are also made part of the state (since this was your criteria for not separating a concept from a state).]

    But you had no such qualifications at the time you made your heroic (or heroine???) statement that you would fight against to protect the secular state of the country.

    Now as a man stand firm on your stance and do the justice to your own statement. Why slippery like an eel? Stand up like a lion.

    We need heroes, not cowards who cannot stand their stance. See all of us with your mud slinging, unethical behaviour and popular propaganda stood upright with our facts. We have made so much contributions with bringing in new knowledge into this forum. Can you show anything new and valuable three of you brought into this forum other than just jabbering? You filled the forum with semantics and empty words like word factories, and insulted us with jealousy and in fear of breaking down of your egos.

    Come with facts and challenge our views, prove your cases, just don’t try to get popular and cheap advantages.

    Any way fulfill your promise. PLEASE SHOW THAT BUDDHISM SHOULD BE SEPARATED FROM STATE OF SRI LANKA, as you vouched.

    Thanks!

  • SomewhatDisgusted

    Dear OTC,

    I don’t quite agree with your argument. Here’s why.

    “Acupuncture (based on Yin Yang Philosophy) is recognised b the WHO”

    Acupuncture is recognized. Yin Yang forces are not. You are welcome to cite any papers which talk about Yin Yang. The fact that there is a phenomenon does not make the supernatural explanation given for that phenomenon true. In that case, people who thought earthquakes were caused by God were right too.

    “US Govt sponsored Stargate, delivered Tangible results that so impressed the US President Carter that he referred to it in a Presidential Speech.”

    A US president referring to Stargate or Francis Collin referring to God or Michael Behe arguing for Intelligent design also do not make these things fact. All of the said programs have been shut down. If there was conclusive evidence, why were these programs shutdown due to *lack of evidence and scientific rigour*? Even, the Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research Lab shut down operations recently after some 28 years in operation. Reason? Nothing even remotely conclusive and they were doing nothing but generating the same data. The founder, Robert Jahn “felt that the work showed, on average, people can shift 2–3 events out of 10,000 from chance expectations”. Of course the founder would feel that way. I mean it’s 28 years of effort down the drain if not right? No one would be convinced by such odds. I’m willing to bet the Stargate program was the same. It’s founders probably claimed some significance in order to justify the millions of dollars sunk into it. Of course, closer scientific scrutiny revealed otherwise which is why people weren’t jumping for joy and shut it down instead.

    The point is not that research into this should stop. The point is, we are yet to find conclusive evidence for any of these claims. Don’t you think if we were to find some evidence, that would be the most impressive and grand discovery in the history of mankind? If you are going to cite some conspiracy, look at the list of prizes on offer, with a combined value of $2.6 million dollars. To date, no one has claimed these prizes. Given the number of people claiming to have supernatural powers, surely at least one of them could claim one? Why haven’t they?

    “believe that just because Science has Failed to understand the physical results, lumping Real objects with frivolous objects conjured up by imagination does not do justice to your argument.”

    I agree. But what are the objects for which there is conclusive evidence? No evidence whatsoever for any Yin Yang forces (don’t confuse the phenomenon of acupuncture with the explanation for it) and apparently no conclusive evidence for Stargate, since that was shutdown due to lack of proper evidence. I therefore lumped these things together with frivolous objects to highlight the fact that, as long as we can’t separate the facts from the fiction, we might very well be believing in something totally absurd as true.

    The point is, till you establish such evidence, it makes no sense to act as if these are conclusive things beyond all doubt. Therefore, making such concepts a part of the state, make even less sense.

    I do emphasize though, no objections whatsoever to keeping an open mind and continuing research. I’m sure you do understand what my objection is against?

  • SomewhatDisgusted

    Dear OTC,

    My apologies. Wrong link to the list of prizes: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_prizes_for_evidence_of_the_paranormal

    And I should have said one of the “most impressive and grand discoveries in the history of mankind”. Still, such a discovery would invalidate the current mainstream scientific world view that the world is causally closed and open up a whole new world of exciting scientific possibilities. I mean, who wouldn’t want these things to be true? The only problem is, we are yet to find any evidence that conclusively shows that causal closure is violated.

    The implications would be stunning. After all, such a thing as “miracles” become possible too and Christians can rejoice as much as the Buddhists, since it could potentially validate both world views. Agnostics, rationalists or whatever would rejoice by default because they don’t care about it either way. Strong atheists might be flustered a little bit. Weak atheists would be no different from agnostics (I’m probably best classified as a weak atheist and not an “agnostic”. I don’t believe the existence and non-existence of something is equiprobable or 50-50. I think that’s an absurd position to hold. My personal bet is that most agnostics are either weak atheists or weak believers. It is highly unlikely that anyone thinks the existence and non-existence of fairies for example, is a 50-50 proposition. However, to avoid confusion with the general, mistaken connotations of the word atheist, I will continue to use agnostic to avoid confusion).

    cheers,
    /SD

  • Off the Cuff

    Daear SomewhatDisgusted,

    “A democracy should aim to avoid a tyranny of the majority. Otherwise, anyone can see that it is an unfair system for minorities and an absurd and unethical form of governance in the 21st century.”

    Completely agree with the first sentence but rather than limiting oneself to the 21st Century that type of governance would be absurd at anytime. Buddha had recognised this in the Dasa Raja Darma, the 10 precepts of good governance.

    The 10 principles enunciated by the Buddha are as follows.
    They remain equally true today as it was 2600 years ago (and before) and will remain so for all time since truth has no time bar.

    1. Dana – Charitableness
    2. Parithyaga – Self Sacrifice
    3. Sila – Virtue
    4. Thapasa – The Ruler must lead a life of simplicity
    5. lrju – Uprightness
    6. Murdu – Soft, Gentle or pliable
    7. Avihimsa – Bears no harm to anyone
    8. Akrodaya – Absence of enmity
    9. Kanthi – Forbearance
    10. Avirodita – Non-conflict

    I doubt that the Buddhist system of governance would cause anyone any harm at anytime (I am writing about what the Buddha taught not about corruptions of it).

    I hope you agree with the Buddha’s Teachings

  • So I guess I’ll just have to keep re-posting the following quote since Yapa does not recall saying the following:

    Yapa on coming up with a system to explain karma, reincarnation, nirvana to non-belivers:

    “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.”

    For the full comment, go here: http://www.groundviews.org/2010/03/27/akon-and-buddhism-in-sri-lanka/#comment-17538

    ::

    Also, stay tuned for The Quotable Yapa II – where we take a close look at the many instances where Yapa aligns Buddhism with modern science in order to put forward the validity & relecance of Buddhism.

    Yapa,

    Do you recall saying that you are attempting to do something that even Einstein said was impossible (in reference to your attempt to prove the existence of karma, etc.)? If not, stay tuned, that quote is coming tomorrow.

    – S

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear SomewhatDisgusted,

    “Acupuncture is recognized. Yin Yang forces are not. You are welcome to cite any papers which talk about Yin Yang. The fact that there is a phenomenon does not make the supernatural explanation given for that phenomenon true.”

    I am not even suggesting that the Chinese explanation of Yin Yang forces are true. That is not the thrust of my argument.

    Acupuncture identifies thousands of points on the body based on a Chinese Concept of Yin Yang Forces. Science has no credible explanation on how these points were identified. Though these points seem arbitrary to any Non Chinese (including me), that the apparently random needle sticking has tangible and repeatable results are not in doubt. Turning a baby in the mothers womb defies Scientific explanation.

    Unlike your Earthquake example we have in Acupuncture a system developed by the Chinese using a foundation of Yin Yang forces as a base. It provides Tangible and Repeatable results so who are we to question the Credibility of the Foundation that Acupuncture is built on? Dismissing Yin Yang can only be RATIONALLY done if we can provide an explanation that will enable the identification of even just ONE additional Acupuncture point, where science says by sticking a needle in it will produce such and such result. Science has not done that yet. It means Science does not understand the Principle involved but the Chinese do. So far Science cannot predict ANYTHING new about acupuncture unlike what Science can do about Earthquakes, Volcanoes, Tornadoes etc.

    Remember that Science PROVES some Hypothesis by predicting the results that can be arrived at using the Hypothesis. So why are you not willing to do the same for Acupuncture?

    Science is not a know all to be held as the Standard for Truth. This is what I am trying to argue against. So far I have not seen an argument that does not PRESUME that Science is a “Know All” and IS the litmus test for the TRUTH.

    Rather than making definitive arbitrary statements about something that we cannot understand would it not be prudent to say that we don’t Know?

    I have to go out for an appointment and will discuss “Stargate” when I return.

  • Yapa on Science & Buddhism, Quote Analysis 1

    Hi All,

    Yapa frequently throws in references to his very carefully developed belief that Buddhism is – or Buddhist ideas/world view/philosophy/religious theories – are, supported by modern science. However, like subliminal advertising, the direct expression of this belief is hidden – in plain sight – around a lot of other nonsense. So, we have to take a very close look & point out the direct evidence for the impression that Yapa carefully gives – both stating his position & appearing to not provide instances where his belief can be quoted back to him verbatim. So, take a look at the following (this is one out of hundreds of instances where Yapa attempts to use modern science to support the validity of his faith based claims, a new list of such quotes is coming soon – The Quotable Yapa Part II if you will :):

    First, the somewhat isolated Yapa on Buddhism & Science quote:

    From this comment: http://www.groundviews.org/2010/03/27/akon-and-buddhism-in-sri-lanka/#comment-17346

    “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?”

    Now, let’s isolate that last line & take a close look at it, now that we have some context for it, & see what it says:

    “Doesn’t this say there is a possibility to understanding Buddhism through Four Valued System based Modern Science?”

    Or, to put it in another way, the above question by Yapa states that he believes that modern science supports Buddhism. But, since he knows he is incapable of clearly demonstrating this belief to non-believers, he states it in a way that leaves many outs for him – where he can say that he did not literally say that modern science definitely supports Buddhism. However, a closer reading shows that this is in fact what he does say in the above sentence – at the least, he believes that modern science being able to demonstrate Buddhism as being true is a possibility. It appears to be a weak expression, but, when you consider what is being referred to – the possibility that modern science can verifiy the existence of fantastic items such as karma, reincarnation, nirvana & other core elements of Buddhism in the real world – this is similar to a Christian claiming to be able to find Noah’s Ark fully in tact on some mountain – it is an epic, & not to overuse a word – & fantastic claim. If what Yapa says is possible, it would completely upend much of the way we perceive human existence (for better or for worse, no such thing will be happening, because Yapa is just engaging in some very clever religious propaganda, promoting non-existent things).

    Many more Yapa on Buddhism & Science quotes are on the way, all week long – & the full list this weekend.

    It is constantly repeated claims such as the one above – thrown in with a whole lot of other stuff – by Yapa primarily – that lead me to isolate the “show proof for Buddhism via science, etc.” question/challenge that sits at the top of this article. Yapa’s tactic of attempting to confuse & bewilder people with a mass of material & inserting his indefensible faith based beliefs at the middle of it all & then attempting to make it all sound somehow less fantastic/acceptable/reasonable than the nonsense that gets put out to support the “Truths” in the other major religions fails when one carefully isolates & reads & thinks about his claims.

    More soon.

    The illusions created by Yapa are all around us (when we are staring at this & the other thread 🙂 [that’s a play on something you said earlier Yapa]

    – S

  • ordinary lankan

    dear spiritual man

    I will answer as best as i can just one question – that will be enough – dont need to go into the others

    1. Law of Karma believes in reward for good deeds and punishment of rebirth for evil. What is good and evil? Who deteermines it?
    when you do something good or bad it has consequences – most of all in your own mind – your thoughts, feelings and emotions shape your own mind and with this mind you can experience heaven or hell. lets take the example of a serial killer – the first killing would have been difficult – but with more and more killings he loses touch with the value of human life – and through his actions he denies the value of human life including his own – his thoughts and actions lead him to an inner environment that turns out to be self detructive. just think about the fate of Prabhakaran. So karmic justice is created and meted out within our own minds –

    the opposite is also true. a good person lets say Mother Theresa – they gradually create their own inner environment and the inner qualities that define their lives.

    I would suggest not to go very far in thinking about karma – even the issue of rebirth we dont need to get into – just stay with your own mind and observe how karma is created moment to moment.

    in fact we are never free of this natural law of cause and effect – you sleep early and you wake up refreshed – you sleep late and you wake up feeling a bit awful –

    where does the mango fruit come from? when the conditions are right the fruit comes into being – if not it will not

    good seeds produce good fruits – bad seeds produce bad fruits

    this is not belief – just look and see – as we say ehi passiko

    as for political buddhism – that is samsaric activity – lot of suffering there …

  • SomewhatDisgusted

    Dear OTC,

    You said: “But the Article has gone beyond that and into areas that Observer correctly points to. It questions the concepts of Kamma, Rebirth and Nibbana on the basis that “Science” has no answer. This presupposes that “Science” knows it all. This of course is a fallacy in every branch of Science.”

    While I completely and have repeatedly agreed with you that science does not know it all (I don’t think it can be done even in principle), I’m not sure where the article says that “the concepts of KRN are questioned on the basis that science has no answer”.

    None of the angostics seem worried about science or its limitations, which are freely acknowledged. We are asking for evidence or reasons to believe that this KRN concept is real, especially since it was preceded by a certain someone’s claims that Buddhism was a holy truth, the Sinhalese were the guardians of that truth and that Buddhism and the state are inseparable, all of which are claims that intimately affect the lives of others. Even if Mr. Yapa were to be dismissed as a fringe fundie, we are objecting on the grounds that *none of the Buddhists saw it fit to object to such a claim or voluntarily renounce it*. I strongly believe that the Buddhists themselves must keep the nutters in line and make sure that Buddhism does not degenerate into the brand of fundie cult typically found in Christianity and Islam (sorry, this is not an insult to moderate believers, simply the truth – history bears this out quite well). Wanting to take *reasonable* steps to protect Buddhism is one thing, giving a free-ride to the nutters is another, especially since everyone else is outnumbered 7 to 3.

    In any case, so far, the only thing we’ve heard in terms of a fair argument is that the Buddha said do this and do that, and you’ll find out for yourself. This sounds reasonable enough at a surface level. Unfortunately, there don’t seem to be people who’ve done this and done that, and who can show us that somehow they have indeed stepped out of the matrix and are not merely hallucinating. I mean, this would be something easy to do right? Why can’t such a person point out a fundamental physical property of the universe or write an equation or something that *only a person who has stepped outside of the matrix* could have known about? I’m simply showing you reasonable means with which a strong case could be built for ESP type phenomena. In the event of a failure to do so, on what grounds would you dismiss the possibility of sincere delusion, a common ailment of the human mind, with a solid and immense body of evidence to back it up?

    My point being, as long as no solid evidence is provided, KRN remains a matter of faith and while such a thing might still lie in the realm of possibility and I would certainly not discourage further investigation, to claim it as an absolute truth can only be done in Mr. Yapa’s wildest dreams. Would you disagree?

    cheers,
    /SD

  • SomewhatDisgusted

    Dear OTC,

    “I hope you agree with the Buddha’s Teachings”

    Most of the Buddha’s advice on a lot of things make a lot of sense – they appeal to one’s common sense after all.

    This is why I’ve repeatedly acknowledged that there is no doubt that the Buddha was one of the greatest philosophers of all time. There is no doubt also that his teachings will outlive the Sinhalese – who have already forgotten what they are.

    However, I prefer to keep my respect for the Buddha as a great and intelligent human being, separate from the *speculative aspects of his teachings*. I have a few observations which might be somewhat controversial but I feel it is cruel to point those out to a person who sincerely believes in the speculative aspects. One thing I will point out, is that there’s a high likelihood that the Buddha took Karma and rebirth as a given in his world view and refined those concepts (For example, do you not take Karma and rebirth as a given in your world view? Why would the Buddha not have accepted it if it was the accepted world view in his day? Is it not coincidental that those were indeed existing concepts?)

    Bottom line is, I am personally not planning to live my life on the assumption that these are realities although I have no objections to you living your life under such an assumption. Who knows, at the end of the day, you might be right, and I might be wrong. However, I do not consider it reasonable that one person’s speculative, unproven beliefs are foisted upon another through the state, in the interests of being fair by all concerned. Do you think my position is reasonable or unreasonable?

    cheers,
    /SD

  • SomewhatDisgusted

    Dear OTC,

    “Dismissing Yin Yang can only be RATIONALLY done if we can provide an explanation that will enable the identification of even just ONE additional Acupuncture point, where science says by sticking a needle in it will produce such and such result. Science has not done that yet.”

    Interesting indeed. I didn’t know that and I will take your word for it.

    However, I would highlight several things.

    1. The circular yin-yang forced predicted by the theory have not been discovered. Where did they come from? Such forces would therefore be beyond 21st century technology and even beyond the 4 fundamental forces identified in the universe, with which even the operation of stars have been accurately described. How would you reckon the ancient Chinese discovered a fundamental force which they had no equipment to detect and which has not been demonstrated to have any physical effect anywhere on this planet, other than in acupuncture?

    2. What if the Ancient Chinese simply tried out these acupuncture patterns, and perhaps discovered a particularly effective pattern, which might correspond to certain pressure points or whatever in the human body? They then speculated that forces emanated from the body in that pattern and named them Yin-Yang.

    Just an alternate and far more credible explanation. Of course at a fundamental level, I agree that I cannot dismiss the idea. This is also partly because I’ve not read up on the current research on acupuncture enough to make a reasonable decision, however, to the best of my knowledge, no scientists have acknowledged the existence of Yin Yang. No opposition to further research as usual.

    cheers,
    /SD

  • SomewhatDisgusted

    Dear OTC,

    You said: “Rather than making definitive arbitrary statements about something that we cannot understand would it not be prudent to say that we don’t Know?”

    Of course. I think we are in agreement. This is what I’ve been saying all along also. Applying this same logic, Buddhism being presented as an absolute truth should be immediately retracted and strongly opposed. This is further bolstered by the far greater amount of evidence that most such supposedly supernatural phenomena have turned out to be creations of the human mind. So at the end of the day, the best thing is to keep an open mind – both to the possibility that these things may be true, and to possibility that these things may be false.

    In most cases, the believers are completely closed to the idea that these things might be false, while they simply paint the agnostics as being closed to the idea that these things may be true. The agnostics, by definition, suffer from no such malady.

    cheers,
    /SD

  • Observer

    Off the Cuff,

    Since you’d like to know my views on your 2 propositions.. here it is:

    1. The Impermanence of everything

    Hmm this is a tough… rather tricky one. You have to be careful what you mean by “everything”. If you take compound constructs of basic material of the universe which is matter, then they’re all impermanent. From minute dust particles & micro organisms to large animals, complex contraptions of modern science and the nature, planets, solar systems, galaxies it self… basically everything!

    But then one of the basic principles of physics is that matter can neither be destroyed nor created. Thus implies matter is something permanent in the universe. What you and I are built out of never ceases to exist but merely changes the form. You see where I start to become uneasy now. Then it also comes down to the big bang theory, one of the biggest mysteries of the universe in terms of the origin and the time before that. There are many theories out there but hopefully the large hedron collider experiments can shed some lights into this mystery in our life times.

    Anyway leave the matter aside, take all the matter away, what about the empty space we call the infinite universe?? That is something permanently there as well far as my unenlightened mind can comprehend. Universe, nothingness is something and it is permanent!

    To summarise, I believe matter is permanent and so is the universe. But the shapes and moulds matter take during the light years of expansion and contraction of the universe is all impermanent as the universe will shrink back into a dense singularity destroying everything.

    2. That Dukkha pervades life

    First of all I have to understand what Dukkha is before I can answer this. (Dukha yanu kumakda?) Unfortunately I can’t confidently tell you I have gotten past the 1st question of the 4 noble truths. If I am able to answer this question accurately, then according to Buddhist teachings I would be 1/4 of the way to Nirvana! I’m pretty sure I haven’t completed this course even 1% let alone 25%! So sorry!

  • ordinary lankan

    So – you had a contest and those who contributed were placed by you on two sides? like hora polis …

    now you conclude that your side has won?

    well …. my congratulations !!

    I like to think that each one of us is a lamp with some light to shed on the truth ….

    and in this regard I tend to favour experiential truth over speculative argument
    when religion is lived certain things are realized – but these things cannot be imposed on others –

    even the Buddha was only able to teach WILLING people – those who were humble enough to learn something – the others he left alone – so we should not expect any better from mere mortals … no ??

  • Observer

    Dear SomeWhatDisgusted,

    “Let me rephrase: *If* a believer claims superiority for their beliefs, is it unreasonable to ask them to show on what basis they claim this superiority?”

    It’s not unreasonable to ask for basis of their claims. Boy trust me! They won’t shut up about the reasons. Buttt, you can’t expect answers in the same wavelength.. so to speak.

    Let me logically lay this out to you…
    We agreed science cannot explain everything!
    YET, we’re asking for explanations that fall in line with science!?

    Am I the only one who sees the contradiction/impossibility of this? If we accept the limitations of science then we also have to expect that those limitations won’t allow for the explanation you’re seeking… unless that is science has become WHOLE, we finally have a universal theory explaining everything in nature and universe. Which we haven’t achieved yet! Do I make sense to you now? Until then it is absolutely unreasonable to challenge the believers unless you become a believer your self by becoming an Atheist at least.

    Also, if some claim that Buddhism and the state are inseparable, is it unreasonable to ask on what basis others should be affected by their speculative belief system?

    Why do you say Buddhism and the state are inseparable? I don’t think it is the case in Sri Lanka. Sure we have a Buddhist president, so is it unreasonable for him to go to Temples or worship Buddha? Just like other world leaders go to Church, Mosque, invite the pope for chit chat, etc?

    I should emphasize that I have no objection to people believing in their religion in the privacy of their own home and see no reason to question their beliefs, but if they wish to impose it on me via the state, they’d better have some way to justify it.

    I totally agree, but how is the Sri Lankan state imposing Buddhism on the population? I disagree with you here stating that I do not believe a bit that the Sri Lankan state is imposing Buddhism on others. I’d like to know your basis for this claim before elaborating my answer. The state funds a range of religious schools from Buddhist to Hindu and Muslim. Obviously more Buddhist schools because the country is predominantly Buddhist. On Vesak we have Buddhist programs, during Christmas we have marathon sessions of Jesus crucifixion & Santa Clause movies. Most religious days of all faiths are public holidays. So I find it hard to understand why you’d imply that the state is shoving Buddhism down people’s throat.

    But at the same time most States give special provisions for the majority religions of their respective countries. For instance in Western countries Churches are subsidised by Tax. Is that reasonable? Pope will visit the country at the host government’s expense.. I mean the security for the pope is only second to the US president. Is it fair for a Buddhist/Muslim who live in such a country, his tax money be used to host the pope whom he/she has no interest in seeing? When Dalai Lama has to come through the back entrance, so the Chinese won’t see it? So these unfair things happen and I’m sure in Sri Lanka there is a slight unfair advantage towards Buddhism. But that happens and you just have to make sure it is not over the top. In Sri Lanka I don’t think it’s over the top bias towards Buddhism IMHO.

    You said: “Democracy is supposed to provide for the majority’s wish.”
    No. A democracy does not mean the majority gets carte blanche to trample over the rights of others. It means that the majority is endowed with *responsibility* for making decisions on behalf of others, in a way that is fair and reasonable by all. A democracy should aim to avoid a tyranny of the majority. Otherwise, anyone can see that it is an unfair system for minorities and an absurd and unethical form of governance in the 21st century.

    While I said that where did I say that I endorsed trampling on individual rights? No absolutely not. But at the same time the candidates have to listen to their supporters, otherwise they will lose votes. If they’re a vocal religious group then you sometimes give sway to craziness. Isn’t that exactly the reason why Bush vetoed stem cell research when it was first passed through the congress? That was to please the majority Christians.

    Another example. Why is gay marriage only legally recognised in few state in the US? Isn’t it the right of 2 gay people in love to marry and have a family? Those rights are trampled on by the pressure of religious voters!! So I’m pointing these out in the most advanced democracy in the West.

    Democracy isn’t perfect and majority voice sometimes drowns out the minority voice. It happens!

  • Observer

    Sujeewa, what I meant was that all of what you said in the previous post was all nice stuff that didn’t require anything for me to answer to. I couldn’t disagree with most of it yet it was not what I expected.

    Stuff like.. “but non-believers, believers & others working together to turn this planet into the paradise that it can easily (w/ the right number of people & effort involved) become.”

    What am I supposed to say other than yes I hope so too? But it was a complete derailment from what I was discussing with you earlier, the foundations of Agnostics to challenge the believers. So I just left it there.. I didn;t mean to offend to or anything.

    In any case its probably good I wind down out of this thread. Already fear dragging my self into a vortex here. Now that I have more or less made clear what I have previously said with the last 2 posts I can retire and leave it to the experts 🙂

  • SomewhatDisgusted

    Dear Observer,

    You said: “… unless that is science has become WHOLE, we finally have a universal theory explaining everything in nature and universe. Which we haven’t achieved yet! Do I make sense to you now?”

    No. Unfortunately you don’t 🙂 You might not realize it, but you are essentially arguing that nothing is knowable. Forget about science. We’ve already covered the philosophical basis behind science. Believe me, science is based on practicality, nothing else. But let’s disregard science for the moment.

    The question is, how do you know anything? Are you saying it’s impossible to know anything? Fat lot of good right? So how do you show another person the world is flat for example? How would you explain to another you are sad or happy?

    Saying things are unknowable doesn’t hold much water. It makes *philosophical* sense, but no practical sense whatsoever. There are millions and billions of things which are unknowable. For example, can you prove to me conclusively that there’s no such thing as a fairy?

    We accept something as true if there is some evidence or we have experienced it ourselves or some such thing. Physical or logical evidence is hard to trump, since it becomes hard to deny. Experiential evidence is less believable. We don’t know whether the other person is deluded – a very common occurence.

    Bottom line, if you continue with your line of reasoning, you’ll see that you end up arguing that nothing is knowable. That’s all very well from a philosophical perspective. From a practical perspective, I think you’ll agree that it’s not that useful.

    You said: “I disagree with you here stating that I do not believe a bit that the Sri Lankan state is imposing Buddhism on others. I’d like to know your basis for this claim before elaborating my answer.”

    No. I’m very happy to say that the Sri Lankan state is not. And it *should stay that way*. The protest is against those who claim that Buddhism should be a part of the state. Again, you would need to read the Akon thread to gain the necessary context.

    You said: “For instance in Western countries Churches are subsidised by Tax. Is that reasonable?”

    Not at all. It should be banned. A good example of a tyranny of the majority. I see no reasonable basis to request tax exemption. God probably wouldn’t need tax money, in the offhand event that he exists.

    You said: “In Sri Lanka I don’t think it’s over the top bias towards Buddhism IMHO.”

    Question the state of Buddhism in Sri Lanka. Just go speak around a bit. How many of them think like Mr. Yapa here, that they are holy guardians of eternal truths which Judeo-Christian conspirators are actively trying to destroy? Now extrapolate from there where at least a part of Sinhalese paranoia stems from. Observer, I know you want to see a country free of prejudice and bigotry as I’ve followed your posts regularly (and they are very interesting). However, we can’t expect to see that by just asking the Tamils to fix their paranoid attitudes. The Sinhalese need to fix theirs too. There’s a fair amount of literature on this phenomenon. I know that both Sinhalese and Tamil paranoia might stem from understandable reasons. Most things can be sympathized with at the end of the day! But we can’t continue to excuse it on that basis and let these silly attitudes prevail. Plus, not everyone has such attitudes either, but we should strongly oppose those who do.

    You said: “While I said that where did I say that I endorsed trampling on individual rights?”

    I know you didn’t. But that is a *necessary implication* of simply saying democracy is rule of the majority, is it not? I merely wanted to clarify that democracy is not as simple as that.

    “Why is gay marriage only legally recognised in few state in the US? Isn’t it the right of 2 gay people in love to marry and have a family? Those rights are trampled on by the pressure of religious voters!! So I’m pointing these out in the most advanced democracy in the West.”

    I agree. That’s a good example of a tyranny of the majority and a failure in democracy. Should we happily try to emulate their failures or learn from their mistakes? Should we not try to prevent similar mindsets from solidifying here in SL? Also, notice the common denominator? It’s usually the religious brigades who cause trouble. Never mind America, look at the Muslim world. Blind, unreasonable convictions almost invariably end up causing trouble. That’s what’s being opposed here, not a private belief in Buddhism.

    cheers,
    /SD

  • Burning_Issue

    Dear Observer,

    Sorry for cherry picking from your post:

    “For instance in Western countries Churches are subsidised by Tax.”

    Can you show me an exaple of this happening?

    “Pope will visit the country at the host government’s expense..”

    I am not a fan of the Pope especially the current one! However, the Pose is classed as a head of state of Vatican; hence, a head of state visits another country, the hosting country puts up the bill of hosting the visiting head; this is normal.

  • SomewhatDisgusted

    Dear Burning Issue,

    I don’t disagree with you about the Sinhala Only bill. I’m happy that it was overturned. It’s of vital importance that Tamils do not feel they are second class citizens in Sri Lanka, it is their own country after all. In that regard, you will not see any hesitance in me voicing support. I cannot comprehend a Sri Lanka without Tamils in it. It simply wouldn’t be Sri Lanka anymore.

    At the same time, I do not endorse racism of any kind, whether it comes from the Sinhalese or whether it comes from the Tamils, no matter how justified each party considers it to be. That is because it becomes an intractable problem as long as things degenerate into a finger-pointing exercise. In any case, I suspect most reasonable people would desire to eventually see a Sri Lanka which is largely free of racial and religious bigotry and inline with the attitudes worthy of a 21st century democracy. Unfortunately, given our historic legacy, this is not an easy goal to reach and I think we can only reach it gradually and painfully, by opposing these backward attitudes and putting our humanity above this silly racial and religious paranoia.

    Not an easy path and IMHO, all communities need to move! Your thoughts are welcome.

    cheers,
    /SD

  • SomewhatDisgusted

    Dear Burning Issue,

    One more thing. You said: “Ohh; I thought for a minute; was I reading the utterance of an Islamic Fundamentalist; no, it is the utterance of Yapa the Sinhala Buddhist!”

    My honest take on this is that Mr. Yapa is probably a nice, harmless individual in real life. Actually, I think most Sinhalese and Tamil people are pretty harmless. I guess it’s not just Sinhalese and Tamils, most human beings are harmless. What defeats us are the bigoted beliefs that people hang on to very sincerely. It could be an unshakable faith in their religion of birth which they have been brainwashed into since birth, or a strong conviction that somehow it is their “race” that defines them, when anyone with half a brain can see that these are mere accidents of birth. Someone else born in a different part of the globe will hang onto some other belief, common to that geographical region, with equal tenacity.

    The biggest challenge to any society is to breakdown such parochial thinking, which we are evolutionarily not primed to do, having been nothing but roving nomads most of human history.

    In that regard, it’s a battle of ideas. To grapple with the kind of thinking that Mr. Yapa believes with all good intentions but which have logic holes through which you could sail the Titanic through, and replace them with benign ideas which acknowledge the fact that accidents of birth should not be what define us as human beings.

    Clearly, this is no easy task, as we are cannot argue on a rational platform and must deal with deeply held attachments instead. I wouldn’t hold my breath for overnight solutions.

    cheers,
    /SD

  • Burning_Issue

    Dear SomewhatDisgusted,

    The Sinhala Only Bill was a brutal enforcement of Majoritism on the Tamil speaking minorities! The Sinhala hardliners did not have to do that; all they had to do to create conditions for peoples to live wherever they liked; Sinhala being the majority language, eventually the minorities would have had no choice but learning it.

    “I cannot comprehend a Sri Lanka without Tamils in it. It simply wouldn’t be Sri Lanka anymore.”

    It is very well put; likewise, I have always said that, the Sri Lankan Tamils historically have had more affinity with the Sinhala than their counterpart in South India prior to the ethnic divide. Despite this divide, I still feel that, we Tamils in Sri Lanka can mend relationships with the Sinhala than fostering elusions about Tamil kinship with Tamil Nadu; this is my own opinion. However, I do have a big reservation about this; I hope I am wrong.

    I do vehemently oppose the aggressive nature of the army planting Buddha statues all over the North & East. Contrary to what many Sinhala say that, politicised and protected Buddhism in Sri Lanka does harm nothing; the army has taken as its duty to paint the whole of Sri Lanka with Buddhist emblems. This is, especially, at the dawn of the defeat of extreme form of the Tamil nationalism; the very army that executed the death nail of the LTTE that is engaged in such activities sending a triumphed message to the Tamil minorities that Sri Lanka is a Sinhala Buddhist nation; you Demilas do remember this! This tells me that; the GOSL has eschewed the concept of reconciliation but embracing the blatant and irresponsible act of subjugation!

    “That is because it becomes an intractable problem as long as things degenerate into a finger-pointing exercise.”

    Ahh; I am sorry; I have pointed my finger at the army and GOSL. What else I can do; I am a Tamil and belong to an insignificant minority group!

    ” I suspect most reasonable people would desire to eventually see a Sri Lanka which is largely free of racial and religious bigotry and inline with the attitudes worthy of a 21st century democracy.”

    This is going to be problematic when insecurity has engulfed all Sri Lankans; the majority is insecure fearing for their very existence; the minorities are insecure for obvious reasons. The fact that, you and I use pseudonyms on these forums speaks volumes; we do not want to be labelled as traitor or terrorist then what chance is there for our desire to see Sri Lanka becoming a 21st century democracy? I am afraid that, the Buddhist Hardliners are in charge and by the time they finish it, Sri Lanka will be 90% Sinhala Buddhists; then perhaps there will be a light at the end of the tunnel! Just like Wijayapala said; at this stage Sri Lanka can think about secularising with no fears for Buddhism disappearing; there is a long way to go!

  • Burning_Issue

    Dear SomewhatDisgusted,

    “My honest take on this is that Mr. Yapa is probably a nice, harmless individual in real life.”

    I am sure that you are correct; however, I am not at all worried about the likes of Yapa and Wijayapala; they are decent human beings like you say, but extremely concerned about the politicised Buddhism that they endorse for various reasons. I am sure that Yapa and Wijayapala would harm no one but there are those politicians and chauvinists who ride on these platforms instilling irreparable damage to race relations; en-route causing numerous conflicts, death, and miseries.

    I must say that, Wijaypala in one who studied Sri Lankan history well and possesses unbiased knowledge, but torn between protecting Theravada Buddhism and building a nation. I for one think that, in Sri Lankan context; Politicised Buddhism, A Common Sri Lankan Identity, and Nation Building are mutually exclusive. A common Sri Lankan identity cannot be promoted with Buddhist prominence in Constitution; thus, a nation cannot be built; this is my point.

  • BalangodaMan

    Dear Ordinary Lankan (May 11, 2010 @ 12:16 pm)

    You said in your reply to SpiritualMan.

    “when you do something good or bad it has consequences …lets take the example of a serial killer – the first killing would have been difficult – but with more and more killings he loses touch with the value of human life – and through his actions he denies the value of human life including his own – his thoughts and actions lead him to an inner environment that turns out to be self detructive.”

    Oh how I wish it was like that! It ain’t! Sorry!

    On the contrary, serial killers get more and more pleasure from victim to victim. Many people who do bad things do them because they get great pleasure from them, and increasingly so. Take corrupt politicians for example! Take sharp business practices. It is their food. It is what they do and many are good, and progressively get better … at being bad!

    Do you really think people who do good things are necessarily happy? Again I hope that is the rule, but sadly, it ain’t!

    We like to promote the idea that good leads to good, and bad leads to bad (as the doctrine of karma does).

    BUT the issue in this debate is not that. The issue is whether there is some celestial mechanism in place in the universe that ENSURES that, or is DESIGNED to ensure that good leads to good and bad leads to bad. Now (despite what our religious books tell us) we can SEE that that is not necessairly so (I can be a real pain and list hundreds of well known cases where you can observe that the opposite is true).

    So let’s talk practicalities. Do we abandon our sense of propriety and go on a killing spree? No! The answer I think is to promote the doing of good deeds on the basis that … they are good to do! Simple. Not because they will (surely/apparently/guaranteed to) bring personal rewards from some unseen celestial reward scheme (the celestial air miles?) in this life or the next – who may let you down and you will be disappointed, as many are. You see, if you study the motivations of bad people you find that (many said) they tried to be good like they were told as children but were disappointed – the ‘naughty boys got away with it’ and vice versa. So they learned early in life that the ‘system’ does not work the way they said it would 🙁

    (if you too mean karma to mean ‘action/consequence’ like if you put a finger in the fire it will burn then, like someone has already pointed out earlier, it is obvious. We don’t need a Buddha to tell us that. In the field of management consulting you would be struggling to justify billing for that!)

  • Hey Observer,

    Re:

    “Sujeewa, what I meant was that all of what you said in the previous post was all nice stuff that didn’t require anything for me to answer to. I couldn’t disagree with most of it yet it was not what I expected. ”

    Sounds good. Yeah, opening up space for free thought is not the end goal. The end goal is to use the newly opened up space to tackle old problems in a new way to arrive at good solutions. As we all know, 2500+ or whatever number of years of Buddhism in Sri Lanka did not leave the island prosperous & peaceful. So, time to look at other, & proven, methods of personal & national development & then ultimately use the best of the new ideas along with the good ideas from the old time religion/culture & arrive at workable solutions.

    And Yeah, turning this planet into a pretty good place to live for most pretty good people is not all that difficult to do. It does require a relatively small (on the entire population of the planet level, probably less than a million or so people, perhaps, in some parts of the world, a more democratic & secular sangha type idea could be an organizational model for these new development workers that I am thinking about) & dedicated number of people who are able to think outside the older boundaries (of thinking that so far has not stabalized & developed the entire planet). Anyway, w/ in our own lifetimes we may see rapid & positive development of this planet, even in all the forgotten corners. On a much smaller scale, it is very possible for Sri Lanka to become a First World type country – an Ireland or Japan (in all the things that matter, the positive things – out of debt, a vibrant economy that creates a surpuls, w/ out high unemployent, poverty, etc. – & w/ freedom from race theory & racism, freedom of religion & freedom from religion, etc. – also, believe it or not, w/ the best human rights record in the world) w/ in the next 2 decades or less – given that SL does not return to civil war, & that freedom of thought & expression & action are protected in SL.

    ::

    Also, re-reading the above comment for errors made me think of another queston to ask from the believers (but, i am sure they will accuse me of diverting the conversation, but i’ll put it out there anyway for folks to think about): with 2000 some years of Buddhism in Sri Lanka, why isn’t Sri Lanka the country with the best human rights record in the world? Is it the teachings that are flawed (in the sense that they are not practical) or is it the people who are idenifying themselves with the teachings who are flawed? I know the answer to this one, and this is off the main point, but something for the belivers to think about. Another good think to ask yourselves – are you happy with where the Sinhalese are in this world after 2000+ years or whatever of Buddhism?
    (i myself am not, hopefully my non-believing self can make at least a small positive contribution during my time on earth towards moving things in the right direction for people in SL, getting thigs to where they can/should be)
    ::

    Back to less important work soon 🙂 Next up, on or by this weekend – more Yapa On Buddhism & Science & Related Matters quotes. It will be, if nothing else, at least somewhat entertaining.

    ::

    Also, a sad but true, and maybe there is some hope in this/may be useful in the near future thing that I figured out recently (roughly): it would only take a small, regular commitment by just a fraction of the SL diaspora that lives in the west to double or triple the SL GDP/make a LOT more $s available to SL for development, etc (a small example – 500,000 people giving/investing/trading $1000 a year to SL would result in 5 billion dollars, and $1000 when divided into a whole year is just less than $3 a day per person – which is definitely less than what I spend on coffee & tea each day). In a way, for SL to become largely financially self-sufficient (in this type of thinking I am imagining all Sri Lankans who live anywhere on the planet as one nation/SL or members of one nation though they may also be members of other nations due to where they physically live, & not just the ones that physically live in SL). However, such a thing would require a pretty huge change between how Lankans in SL & Lankans in the diaspora relate to each other (& also how the SL gov deals with both groups). Perhaps something for me/us (at least the agnostics, who are not afraid of change & new ideas) to think further about (as in how can such a new collaboration be brought about?).

    – S

  • Doubtful

    Aney Mr Yapa, If you have no doubt about the Buddhist doctrine – which according to you have been logically and scientifically PROVEN to be the truth, the whole truth and the only truth, then there is not much point for you in being part of this discussion is there?
    Why do you not spend your time better by trying to rid yourself of all ‘thanha’ and ‘aasha’ (not dancing to ‘Aasha’ – the bhangara song) to attain nirvana…? Unless ofcourse, commenting on a ‘transitionary’ – ‘impermanent’, ‘ever changing’ thread on a ‘Christian conpiratory’ website ‘sponsored by Western INGOs’ to ‘undermine the sublimity of Buddhism’ is your idea of nirvana?! That’s not really the ‘middle path’ to ‘enlightenment’ now is it???
    To all those who are fearful of western conspiracies – having elected a government and opposition we thoroughly deserve, and given that the opposition is too busy searching for their balls, the IMF is our only hope to even get a budget!!!
    Go figure!

  • SomewhatDisgusted

    Dear Burning Issue,

    You said: “I do vehemently oppose the aggressive nature of the army planting Buddha statues all over the North & East.”

    I agree. Completely unnecessary. But there are different kinds of ideas floating around here, apart from the one you mentioned. Some are:
    1. That the LTTE destroyed ancient Buddhist relics in the north and east and attempted to erase Buddhist identity there.
    2. That the Sinhalese are happy to accommodate Tamil Kovils in the south but the Tamils are too racist to accept it in reverse.
    3. Some may be trying to emphasize the victory as you pointed out but *this is not the only motivation*.

    I’m not arguing about the truth value of any of these things. My point is, the problem is almost always a matter of *perception*. For example, you perceive the motivation as being subjugation, which is a reasonable suspicion from your point of view. The point of view of the other may be a similar suspicion of the Tamils.

    “Ahh; I am sorry; I have pointed my finger at the army and GOSL. What else I can do; I am a Tamil and belong to an insignificant minority group!”

    Not at all. I wasn’t pointing to you in particular 🙂 The point I was making is that although we are in dire circumstances, both Sinhala and Tamil communities need to take progressive action that will transform us into a society suitable for the 21st century. Unfortunately, the common response from each party is to entrench themselves in reverse racism and vilifying the “other”, which simply will not bring about this transformation. As Einstein said, “we can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”. I think it’s going to be a long slow journey, since this is a matter of fixing attitudes. I know it makes one feel helpless. But what else can we do?

    I do like the example set by the US. Open racism persisted even into the 70s! But almost 40 years later, they have a black president, which is a tremendous change, whichever way you dice it.

    “A common Sri Lankan identity cannot be promoted with Buddhist prominence in Constitution; thus, a nation cannot be built; this is my point.”

    I agree with you in principle. However, many nations tend to adopt such majoritarian policies. For example, isn’t the Church of England still symbolically connected to the state through some clause? I’m not saying that is right but the Sri Lankan constitution too only has that one clause relating to Buddhism while guaranteeing religious freedom to others. The point is, that clause should not be given undue emphasis, because it is not a harmful clause and serves to alleviate Buddhist paranoia. This is why I am personally not campaigning for its removal but once again, I agree with you in principle.

    Trying to overturn that clause will only be seen by the paranoid as some “Judeo-Christian conspiracy” to undermine Buddhism, especially since the Buddhist revival in response to colonial oppression still does not seem to have abated. The only thing is, I just can’t fathom how this Buddhist paranoia can be brought back to normalcy. No need to look far to understand this. Just think about what a runaway train the LTTE turned out to be. Could anyone contain it once the wheels were set in motion? This Buddhist paranoia thing is similar, it has taken a life of its own.

    Instead, I think we need to pick our battles. The main thing is gradually breaking down this parochial thinking and transforming our country from a superstitious, ultra-religious, feudal society which is an inevitable result of being mired in poverty and lacking access to modern education, and gradually transforming it into a democracy where the already existing good attitudes of the Hindus, Buddhists etc. are brought out and the militant nonsense phazed out. Education, healthy debate and economic development are the critical factors I believe to breaking down such attitudes. Your thoughts are welcome.

    cheers,
    /SD

  • SomewhatDisgusted

    Dear Burning Issue,

    You said: “Politicised Buddhism, A Common Sri Lankan Identity, and Nation Building are mutually exclusive. A common Sri Lankan identity cannot be promoted with Buddhist prominence in Constitution; thus, a nation cannot be built; this is my point.”

    This is a very good point. However, it is not that a nation cannot be built, it is that an *ideal* and *fair* nation cannot be built. This is probably the point you are making?

    However, before we can build an ideal nation, we must have some sort of nation to begin with? That cannot happen as long as we are blowing each other to pieces. No matter how hard we wish for it or demand it, things are just going to take time. That is not to say we shouldn’t try to change things!! But progress will be slow.

    My opinion is that instead of exacerbating the situation (which the LTTE definitely did and now have nothing to show for it), we need to take what positive steps we can (i.e. Getting Sinhala Only rolled back. Making Tamil an official language etc.). I just don’t see any shortcuts.

    cheers,
    /SD

  • BalangodaMan

    Mr Yapa,

    My question to you remains unanswered.

    “I have asked you (Mr Yapa mainly) whether you would be just as convinced of the ‘truth’ of your religion, Buddhism, if you (with your capacity for scrutiny and analysis) were born in Riyadh, in a Muslim country, as a Muslim person?”

    Any chance?

    (just need to verify the basis of your yardstick of ‘truth’ and ‘lies’. If you ignore this question the readers can justifiably ignore your posts on ‘truth’ and ‘lies’ from now on)

  • BalangodaMan

    A belated hello to contributors on this thread.

    Doubtful – perhaps you can get through to Mr Yapa where we could not! Like it.
    Chula – I respect your immense knowledge of Buddhism. I think people like you are more likely to succeed in changing bigoted attitudes in SL than us sceptics.
    Spiritualist – Mr Yapa hasn’t answered your questions on karma. But I think the answer would be (from his previous posts) karma is not designed or administrated by anyone. It is like gravity. It just is. The Buddha explained this because he is omniscient. The short answer is ‘karma was designed by whoever created gravity’. It could well be the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Who knows? Karma was not invented by the Buddha so we may insult the creator of karma as much we like I guess. However, I do wish it was designed with more transparency, rights of appeal etc.
    Ordinary Lankan – I can see you will really enjoy debating on this forum on this topic!
    Burning Issue – while I was born into a Sinhala Buddhist family I make it a point to promote the scientific research (Stanford U) that our DNA shows that our ancestors are predominantly from South India – 75% (that is all who label themselves Sinhala or Tamil). Race is a social construct. (should SL have a law to make denying this illegal? like Holocaust Denial?)
    Observer – I appreciate you keeping us in check 🙂 !
    Grasshopper – (glass-hoppa?) I like your ‘straight to the point’ approach. I wish you (also) lived in the time of all religious leaders. You would have had some great questions for them!
    Citizen – hope you are still following this thread. Welcome your insights.

    .. and pertinent contributions from old friends SomewhatDisgusted, Sujewa, Heshan.

    To all. They say you should never discuss religion or politics. Those are the they that has got SL into the mess we are in now, in my opinion. The democratic process requires discussion of key issues, and when religion influences (or is likely to influence) politics then religion also comes under the spotlight. It becomes a candidate for rigorous scrutiny, just as all other political claims and promises and non-delivery.

    Keep up this necessary debate.

  • BalangodaMan

    The Three Buddhas
    ——————-

    I have had a chance to consolidate my thoughts on why there is no much INCONSISTENCY (and the merry-go-round) when discussing karma, rebirth, nirvana.

    It comes down to who we regard the Buddha to be exactly. What I find is, the Buddha is one of three difference mutually exclusive persons/concepts – the believers switch between them at certain key point in any discussion. However there is a consistent pattern.

    These are the 3 concepts:

    (1) the human man Siddhata Gautama. A disillusioned person searching for a meaning to his life.
    (2) the Enlightened One. An omniscient being.
    (3) a god.

    The person of type No 1 is credited with having codified the nature of human existence, albeit a subjective one, naturally. His description of the human condition is consistent with anyone who is unhappy with his lot. Somewhat pessimistic. Quite desiring of escape from reality. Only applicable to other people who have also rejected society.

    The believers quote Siddharta Gautama’s personal analysis whenever Buddhism needs to be portrayed as ‘about real useful things’. (all about real things that are real and personally observable in a real world)

    When the boundary of its applicability is reached (remember the analysis is a narrow one – ie. of a person in a specific frame of mind ie. dejection), such as ‘karma is action. action has observable consequences in this life. but what happens when life ends and the consequences cannot take place?’ Then the believers switch to the No 2 concept – the Enlightened One – the omniscient. Then it is extended to ‘aaaah, then you will be reborn’. How do we know that? Because an omniscient person told us! Can we verify it? No, only an omniscient person can see it.

    Now, this switching process works the other way too.

    If we question the non-verifiability of karma, rebirth, nirvana the believers then return to the concept of karma as per No 1 – Siddharta Gauthama’s – personal analysis. That is, like ‘if you put your finger in the fire … it will burn’!

    You see, we are expected to accept something unprovable as pronounced by an omniscient being (No 2) on the basis of something everyone can observe as real as pronounced by a human person (No 1). One would need a massive leap of faith to make that jump!

    So how are the two linked? We are asked to believe that No 1 (who made very down to earth observations of the human condition – that any reasonably curious schoolboy makes about things within our minds) is the same as No 2 – an omniscient being. How? We are asked to accept that on the basis of what the omniscient being has told us (on faith).

    Are we told how No 1 became No 2? Yes, The Noble Eight-Fold Path.
    Can we verify that is works? No.
    Can we verify that the mechanism that is at work here? No.
    Can we repeat the process for ourselves and confirm it? No.

    So, the two are not connected (the observations on real but obvious things vs the fantastic claims about karma, rebith, nirvana) .

    ::

    Ok, now for the No 3 concept.

    For most believers, the ideas pronounced by No 1 and No 2 are academic. By ‘most’ believers I mean those whose involvement of Buddhism is not for these debates/justification/religiouspolitics – but for some personal need. These people, the majority, just need to believe in some higher being to relate to – like an imaginary friend – who can fix things for them. This is why they offer flowers to the Buddha statues, pray (much like Christians at bedtime and Muslims five times a day). They need the reassurance that someone with super human ability and positioning is watching over them. My parents were at the temple doing just that when I sat my school entrance exam – for divine assistance. Similarly this was the pattern when my father was seriously ill – the monks where called in to chant pirith, not so that the sick person is given a change to learn the dharma at this late hour (! in Pali no less) but to appeal to divine intervention, for immediate result, for him to open his eyes, to recover.

    This No 3 is a very different concept than No 1 and No 2. Mr Yapa needs No 1 and 2 as these support his religio-political arguments. He denies No 3 – but most Buddhists need No 3.

    No 3 is (in my opinion) no different from the Christian god and the Muslim allah in how the devotees (yes, it is a devotional thing) want to relate to him in their hour of need, or as insurance and spiritual investment in anticipation of subsequent hours of need.

    ::

    ‘Buddhism’
    ———–
    Having said that, I have spotted something else.

    We sceptics cannot argue against ‘Buddhism’. Period. (Mr Yapa, you will love this my darling!)

    ‘The Buddha’ means a person who is omniscient (No 2 above). So unless we specifically refer to Siddhata Gautama (No 1) we are referring to the pronouncements of an omniscient person. Which of course no mortal can argue against.

    ‘Buddhism’ then is the pronouncement of an omniscient. It cannot be challenged (except by another omniscient I suppose, at their club, over a beer).

    So Mr Yapa, how is this different from the Muslim idea that the Qu’ran is the word of god, cannot be challenged or altered by any human?

  • SomewhatDisgusted

    Dear BalangodaMan,

    Your last post is beautifully argued. Excellent breakdown. Everyone should read it!

    A few would doubtless argue that it is possible to go from concept 1 to concept 2 ourselves and thereby verify that it works. Yes, maybe so, and let us know if someone ever succeeds. Until then, it remains a matter of faith.

    There is one complication, its followers feel that the Buddha is a far more plausible authority than the Bible, which is another reason it’s difficult to argue the case. The earthiness of concept 1 is confused as evidence for concept 2. This is what they think propels it from “mere faith” to the so called “akaravathi shradda”. What has changed is the face and form of the omniscient authority, not the fact that there is an omniscient authority. Whether that has any more inherent plausibility, is clearly arguable. I guess both of us have similar views on how much more plausible it makes things – not a lot.

    cheers,
    /SD

  • yapa

    Dear SomewhatDisgusted;

    You say;

    “My honest take on this is that Mr. Yapa is probably a nice, harmless individual in real life. Actually, I think most Sinhalese and Tamil people are pretty harmless.”

    By saying so,you are hinting here that Mr. Yapa may also be a downright cad or a day light robber and to judge so you are a better man than yapa. You plant seeds of doubt in my character, without any evidence.You are portraying your self in gold and me in bronze or silver.

    Like you, I also could have said ” My honest take on this is that SomewhatDisgusted is probably a nice, harmless individual in real life”, but I never did and never do because I do not need and do not take undue advantages in a discussion. This has been your way throughout. Here you are appealing for the emotions of people against me and in favour of you. But I believe that emotional appeals and popular vote should not be tools of a literary discussion. Tactics should not be a parameter of a debater in a discussion, but contents should speak for him. But you never based on such fair methods. You always rely on foul tactics.

    Is this not a total total lie you are using for popular vote.

    “Actually, I think most Sinhalese and Tamil people are pretty harmless.”

    Definitely that harmlessness killed about 200,000 people of this country since 1971.

    I think you want to be “Super Star”, by popular vote. Shall I send an SMS for you?

    You use unethical and unacceptable tactics in a discussion for your advantages. Either honesty gland is absent in you or you have a brand new gland.

    You can win by vote bur not by facts. Organize a canvassing campaign.

    Thanks!

  • yapa

    Dear BalangodaMan;

    You say;

    “We sceptics cannot argue against ‘Buddhism’. Period. (Mr Yapa, you will love this my darling!)”

    You can laugh at yourself. If you think your cheap jokes and common knowledge countered our arguments, based on Science, Modern Science, Philosophy, etc….etc…., laugh as much as you want.

    But keep in mind “He who laughs last laughs best”.

    You are laughing in ignorance. This is an all time common thing. Many people were laughed at, tortured and killed for telling unfamiliar and unconventional things. You can utter familiar, conventional and emotionally comfortable ideas and laugh at others. But history branded those “important people” as idiots. You will never fail to fall into that bunch of fools. You will never go alone. You have some matching companions.

    Oh1 God mercy on these ignorant men.

    Thanks!

  • SomewhatDisgusted

    Dear Balangodaman,

    You said: “So, the two are not connected (the observations on real but obvious things vs the fantastic claims about karma, rebith, nirvana) .”

    I later realized that the implausibility was precisely what you had argued.

    Well, where do we go from here? Believers will remain believers, even in the teeth of evidence as Dawkins would say, and non-believers will remain unconvinced by mere claims of omniscience. I feel the discussion would be best served by finding out how the believers feel their respective faiths should interact with others and especially the state. What are your thoughts on this?

    cheers,
    /SD

  • yapa

    “Your last post is beautifully argued. Excellent breakdown. Everyone should read it!

    A few would doubtless argue that it is possible to go from concept 1 to concept 2 ourselves and thereby verify that it works. Yes, maybe so, and let us know if someone ever succeeds. Until then, it remains a matter of faith.”

    Writing certificates for accomplices. Motivate each other and try pack hunting, pack of cunning jackals.

    Thanks!

  • SomewhatDisgusted

    Dear Sujewa,

    “However, such a thing would require a pretty huge change between how Lankans in SL & Lankans in the diaspora relate to each other”

    I definitely agree with you. This is something that I too feel is critical to making a change in Sri Lanka. A massive income earner for SL is employment in the middle east – many as domestic workers. It is decidedly unfortunate that we have been unable to tap in similarly into the exodus of qualified professionals, who, as you’ve shown from your quick calculation, could potentially make a far more massive contribution.

    There could be many reasons for this. Obviously, domestic workers have clear ties to their home country as usually only the female in the household migrates. Professionals I feel tend to migrate with their entire family unit and thus have fewer ties back to their home base. However, even a small investment on their part could massively outstrip the income generated from the exploitation of poor folk in the domestic worker industry.

    IMHO, export of skilled labour could be converted into an industry with great potential, rather than a mere misfortune filed under the term “brain drain”. What we need is clear incentives for bringing the income back, as in the case of the domestic worker scenario. That is obviously where the failure lies.

    This is a topic in its own right and I’m sure another matter which could benefit greatly from the insights of many on this forum. Perhaps submitting your ideas as an article could spark off a discussion?

    cheers,
    /SD

  • BalangodaMan

    SomewhatDisgusted,

    “What has changed is the face and form of the omniscient authority, not the fact that there is an omniscient authority.”

    To add to that, you would know … but for the benefit of readers, the name given to SL’s Popular Buddhism is ‘Protestant Buddhism’ (Obeysekera). Meaning, it is a religion promoted to counter (to protest) the growing inroads that the Christian missionaries were making, and that was in the 1880s. What they did was to re-package Buddhism in the same way as Christianity – as a devotional religion. In many ways it is the same thing, with a god-like figurehead to whom followers can pray and show devotion, as far as the devotees care – except with yellow robed monks and temples instead of dog-collared priests and churches. There are many more parallels. This is not surprising because all of the main drivers of this enterprise were originally Christian, perhaps always continued to be !

    I have mentioned before, the very first article by Soma Thera in the Sunday Times in the 1990s was to highlight that the Buddhism is SL is really a mixture of Christianity and Hinduism. (Mr Yapa, you listening?)

    Whilst we should (I suppose) be thankful that the complete conversion of Ceylon to Christianity was stemmed by this 1880s Buddhist revival we should know the correct history – we can only find out these things now (thanks to the internet pointing to authoritative information) what we were not taught at school.

    (Did anyone’s history books say that our treasured Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa were ‘discovered’ covered by the jungle in the early1800s by British explorers? That the locals – that’s us – had no interest in clearing it (for 70 years!), until the British finally cleared it? (The same happened with regards to the archaeological sites in Egypt and Greece that were being pilfered by the locals). Which is just as well as these sites were very valuable to the Buddhist revival that followed, and immensely valuable to the country now. Happy to have this corrected. Anyone?).

    (The same happened with regards to the archaeological sites in Egypt and Greece that were being pilfered by the locals)

    SD, thanks for your comments 🙂

  • SomewhatDisgusted

    BalangodaMan,

    I don’t know enough! Please keep it coming because I’m certainly learning 🙂

    As for pack hunting – LMAO.

  • BalangodaMan

    Mr Yapa! Mr Yapa! Mr Yapa!

    When I said …
    “We sceptics cannot argue against ‘Buddhism’. Period. (Mr Yapa, you will love this my darling!)”

    I really did mean it (well not the darling bit. sorry!). You have missed this very important point that actually says that your argument is UNASSAILABLE. Meaning, you WIN by DEFINITION!

    Let me try again. ‘Buddhism’ by definition means the doctrine of an omniscient being – that is, someone who knows everything. None of us (who are not Buddhas) can argue against it. Not me, not SD, not Sujewa!

    But what truly saddens me is this. I have to say I have benefited from some of the Buddhist teachings. They have helped me keep cool and focused even in the face of pretty dire adversity. Why has it not helped you?

    This is another good reason for this thread. I feel that religious politics has overshadowed the real goodness of some Buddhist concepts (compassion for example, elimination of hate) for those who really could do with some …

  • SomewhatDisgusted

    Dear Mr. Yapa,

    I think I’m going to have to retract my belief in your own harmlessness.

    “Definitely that harmlessness killed about 200,000 people of this country since 1971.”

    You believe in Kamma don’t you Mr. Yapa? Funny thing ain’t it? You preached Bana to the Tamils in 56, 58, 77, 83 etc. etc. and those bloody ungrateful Tamils killed you for 30 years instead! Kamma works in mysterious ways, eh Mr. Yapa?

    Another thing I don’t understand about this whole Kamma thing Mr. Yapa. What about the deaths of all those pious Sinhala-Buddhists during JVP times? Why did so many die so brutally Mr. Yapa? They must be reincarnated Tamils right? Anyway, I probably shouldn’t question the will of Kamma.

    But you don’t worry, Mr. Yapa, the Buddha would be proud of your understanding, compassion for other human beings and stellar services rendered in preserving holy truths. You might even get a VIP ticket to Nibbana, thanks to the PBFF (Protestant Buddhist Frequent Flier) programme that BalangodaMan had a holy revelation about. Don’t forget us when you get there and remember to write back from time to time.

    cheers,
    /SD

    p.s.
    I liked that bit about pack hunting jackals – LOL. Jackals don’t normally hunt in packs Mr. Yapa. These must be a type of conspiratorial jackals indeed.

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear Observer,

    Thank you for your very considered and thoughtful reply. Its greatly appreciated. Please continue to remain on the thread and post even if its for selected comments.

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear SomewhatDisgusted / Observer,

    SomewhatD says that “No. I’m very happy to say that the Sri Lankan state is not. And it *should stay that way*. The protest is against those who claim that Buddhism should be a part of the state.”

    But it is already a part of the Constitution and hence the State.

    What I don’t understand is how Buddhism being in the Constitution “CURTAILS” or otherwise restrict others from practicing their faiths. In fact the Constitutional clause regarding Buddhism specifically requires that other Religions be allowed free practice, in the absence of which the clause referring to Buddhism becomes a null.

    Observer says
    “We agreed science cannot explain everything!
    YET, we’re asking for explanations that fall in line with science!?

    That’s why I stated that “the Article has gone beyond that and into areas that Observer correctly points to. It questions the concepts of Kamma, Rebirth and Nibbana on the basis that “Science” has no answer. This presupposes that “Science” knows it all. This of course is a fallacy in every branch of Science.

    Science is not a know all to be held as the Standard for Truth. This is what I am trying to argue against. So far I have not seen an argument that does not PRESUME that Science is a “Know All” and IS the litmus test for the TRUTH. “

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear Observer,

    Yes, I follow your argument. In all probability Emptiness may be the only permanent thing. But consider this.

    The empty space though a vacuum keeps changing in size and shape due to the movement of objects. Since objects are in motion the Vacuum would also be changing shape. Then even the Vacuum too would be impermanent. Would that mean that everything is impermanent?

    “But then one of the basic principles of physics is that matter can neither be destroyed nor created. Thus implies matter is something permanent in the universe.”

    Not really, as mater changes to energy and Vice versa.
    e = mc^2

    This is what I mean by Dukkha.
    The Pali word DUKKA has no exact equivalent in English. The word suffering is used in English to mean Dukka but the word is inadequate to convey the whole gamut of meanings that the Pali word conveys. In discussing Buddhism the authoritative language is Pali not English.

    The Buddhist meaning of Dukka (inadequately called Suffering in English) is as follows
    Birth is suffering
    Ageing is suffering
    Death is suffering;
    Sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief and despair are suffering;
    Association or connection with objects or persons you dislike is suffering;
    Separation from loved ones and objects is suffering;
    Desiring to get and not getting it or craving is suffering

    That briefly is the Buddhist definition of Dukka (suffering). You can refer to my complete post here.
    http://www.groundviews.org/2010/03/27/akon-and-buddhism-in-sri-lanka/#comment-18232

    Looking forward to an elaboration of your post of May 11, 2010 @ 5:55 pm

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear SomewhatD

    In my post of May 12, 2010 @ 11:13 pm I intended to include the following as it dealt with Buddhism and the State

    In my post of May 11, 2010 @ 9:47 am I dealt with the Buddha’s ideas of good governance since you mentioned Tyranny by the majority. When I asked you, whether you agreed with Buddha’s teachings I meant what Buddha said about Good governance not anything else. How would such Governance become anything but benign?

  • Burning_Issue

    Dear SomewhatDisgusted,

    Thanks for patiently outlining your thoughts on the points that I uttered out of anger and emotion!

    I concur with everything that you outlined; however, I would like to comment on the following:

    “ That the LTTE destroyed ancient Buddhist relics in the north and east and attempted to erase Buddhist identity there.”

    I am not here to defend the LTTE and their actions; however, to my knowledge, there were two main places of Buddhist worship within the Northern region: Naynathevu (Nagathepa) and Jaffna Vihara leaving the alleged historical claims aside. I have no knowledge of these two places were destroyed by the LTTE; if they were, they should be restored to their former glory.

    “That the Sinhalese are happy to accommodate Tamil Kovils in the south but the Tamils are too racist to accept it in reverse.”

    I think that, if the Sinhalese were to settle in North & East by their own free will and build Buddhist Viharas, I would not think that there would objections from the Tamils at all. I say this because, the Tamils never quarrelled about religions. However, they obviously express uneasiness about state sponsored Sinhala only colonisations and erections of Buddha statues by the state machinery. Instead, the state should create conditions for all to move freely and settle wherever one wants to live. If there is a need for a place of worship, the parties concerned should following the local authority rules. The Tamils did not establish Hindu temples as a prelude to them settling in the southern areas; I will stand corrected, if one were to prove me wrong on this.

    “I’m not arguing about the truth value of any of these things. My point is, the problem is almost always a matter of *perception*. For example, you perceive the motivation as being subjugation, which is a reasonable suspicion from your point of view. The point of view of the other may be a similar suspicion of the Tamils.”

    I agree on the point about *perception*; however, the recent parliamentary election showed, even at the dawn of complete decimation of the LTTE, that the Tamils voted for TNA in numbers as opposed to siding with a party that still clings on to the Vaddukoddai Resolution. What else can the Tamils do to convince the South that they are not for secession but for meaningful political safeguards? The point here is that, it is not about Tamils Vs Sinhala, but it is about Tamils Vs Sinhala & state; it is a hard pill to swallow from the Tamil perspective.

    “For example, isn’t the Church of England still symbolically connected to the state through some clause?”

    Yes, I agree with the above; however, in Britain, there is no written constitution, but it is mere tradition with no legal connotations.

    “The point is, that clause should not be given undue emphasis, because it is not a harmful clause and serves to alleviate Buddhist paranoia. This is why I am personally not campaigning for its removal but once again, I agree with you in principle.”

    But to the contrary; it is being used as a vehicle to plant Buddha statues in contentious areas; this is the point. I think that, the new constitution must stipulate as to its purpose. As far as I can see, once a Buddha statue is planted, it cannot be removed as it can be deemed as unconstitutional. I am very sorry that I harp on about this issue relentlessly, but it is important to control religions; a state should divorce from any religious affinity. I know it is too soon to expect from Sri Lanka for now, but we need to build consensus for this to happen in the future.

    “Trying to overturn that clause will only be seen by the paranoid as some “Judeo-Christian conspiracy” to undermine Buddhism, especially since the Buddhist revival in response to colonial oppression still does not seem to have abated.”

    I agree; but these guys forget that, the Tamils too were subjected to colonial oppression; the entire Mannar district was almost converted to Christianity by the Portuguese. The Tamils were and still are victims of oppressions!

    “ The only thing is, I just can’t fathom how this Buddhist paranoia can be brought back to normalcy. No need to look far to understand this. Just think about what a runaway train the LTTE turned out to be. Could anyone contain it once the wheels were set in motion? This Buddhist paranoia thing is similar, it has taken a life of its own.”

    I share you concerns; I do not know as to how it can be stopped. My feeling is that, the MR regime can stop this if it wants to, but I doubt it will happen!

    “Instead, I think we need to pick our battles. The main thing is gradually breaking down this parochial thinking and transforming our country from a superstitious, ultra-religious, feudal society which is an inevitable result of being mired in poverty and lacking access to modern education, and gradually transforming it into a democracy where the already existing good attitudes of the Hindus, Buddhists etc. are brought out and the militant nonsense phazed out. Education, healthy debate and economic development are the critical factors I believe to breaking down such attitudes. Your thoughts are welcome.”

    I cannot argue against the above; yes, it is exactly what should happen. First thing is to resolve the language issue; presently, such debates can only happen in isolation within communities.

  • Off the Cuff

    DFear Grasshopper,

    My statement
    Kamma (Pali) = Action (English)
    Vipaka (Pali) = Result (English)

    Do you mean that walking, Running, Eating, Drinking, playing and everything else you do and the results of what you do “is ESP stuff”?

    Your response
    Oh! is this the kamma – vipaka Buddshim talks about? I honestly dont need a religion to tell me that those are cause and effect. It is so obvious.

    No that is not Buddhism.
    It was an explanation of the word as you obviously did not understand the Word

    Should have been Obvious to you as I gave you the English equivalent of the Pali Word of the two words that you incorrectly used.

  • Burning_Issue

    Dear SomewhatDisgusted,

    “My opinion is that instead of exacerbating the situation (which the LTTE definitely did and now have nothing to show for it), we need to take what positive steps we can (i.e. Getting Sinhala Only rolled back. Making Tamil an official language etc.). I just don’t see any shortcuts.”

    I completely agree; I do not know how to proceed about it, but will certainly work towards it.

  • BalangodaMan

    OTC,

    “It questions the concepts of Kamma, Rebirth and Nibbana on the basis that “Science” has no answer”

    Oh gosh!
    For the Umpteenth time (!) it was your colleague Mr Yapa who stated that karma, rebirth, nirvana are real things that can be proved with scientific methods. He quoted research in Quantum Physics and what not. He even argued in favour of a particular scientific approach. It was the Agnostics who challenged that. Now you are all saying what the Agnostics were saying all along! THAT YOU CAN’T PROVE SCIENTIFICALLY OR OTHERWISE SOMETHING THAT IS A MATTER OF RELIGIOUS FAITH.

    Phew!

    Welcome to this side of the table!

  • BalangodaMan

    OTC,

    Did you really say …
    “But it is already a part of the Constitution and hence the State.” By this you mean that we have a Buddhist Constitution?

    Wrong! Very wrong.

    ‘been given a special place’ is a million miles away from being a fundamental or any aspect of the Constitution! (as far apart as Heather Mills and her other leg!)

    I have already listed how a Buddhist Constitution would look. But before I am forced to repost my list – let’s take a look at a well known national constitution that IS religious – any Muslim country – say Saudi Arabia. You will see that Islam is woven into the law of the land. That is not difficult, actually entirely natural, because Islam IS a system of LAW. The law of their god Allah, as revealed through their religious hero Mohammed (pbuh) on how society must be run, cutting off hands etc.

    If you do the same with Buddhism you have some hilarious absurdities. Because the natural consequences of Buddhist doctrine is unworkable as ‘laws’ (it is not designed to be ‘law’ of a society. It is based on musings of a person who has rejected society and wants to escape from it). I listed these in an earlier post – an example is, the law will have to outlaw advertising as it would be unconstitutional. It would make people do precisely what the Buddhist teachings encourage you not to do (ie. want things). At any rate it would make ‘desire/craving’ more difficult to resist. If you say, the constitution allows OTHER religions to exist – oooooh well well well … does that mean that advertising is unlawful ONLY if targeted towards Buddhists? That advertising to target non-Buddhists will be legal???? Or advertising is allowed but you could fall foul of the law if a Buddhist is persuaded to want the Mercedes-Benz that the lottery is offering as first prize?

    What about having a cricket team?

    More like Shilboot, right?

    OTC, you are seeing words and getting the wrong meaning. This is similar to you saying ‘karma works in this life because if you put your finger in the fire it will burn’ – how’s that anywhere near ‘if you put your finger in the fire … it will burn in the next life’? Or ‘karma is recognised in every modern judicial system’! You’re making tenuous connections between things that are very very far apart.

    OTC, when you say ‘Buddhism is already part of the constitution’ it is the same as saying ‘Christianity is part of the Govt of SL’ because there are some Christian MPs in parliament?

  • yapa

    Dear Doubtful;

    You say;

    [Why do you not spend your time better by trying to rid yourself of all ‘thanha’ and ‘aasha’ (not dancing to ‘Aasha’ – the bhangara song) to attain nirvana…? Unless ofcourse, commenting on a ‘transitionary’ – ‘impermanent’, ‘ever changing’ thread on a ‘Christian conpiratory’ website ‘sponsored by Western INGOs’ to ‘undermine the sublimity of Buddhism’ is your idea of nirvana?! That’s not really the ‘middle path’ to ‘enlightenment’ now is it???]

    I am doing so. But I thought some unfortunate creatures could be shown the path and saved from going to the hell. But I found that their bad karma are so powerful that even Lord Buddha himself cannot save them.

    Things happened according to the Laws of Nature, not the way I want. Anicca, dukka and anatta. That is why suffering prevails. What can I do rather than murmuring a small poem? I am powerless against the Law of karma.

    Pin mada eka guna dahamin veloowath,
    Uge gathiya oo nariy maroowath,

    Thanks!

  • yapa

    Dear BalangodaMan;

    You say;

    “it was your colleague Mr Yapa who stated that karma, rebirth, nirvana are real things that can be proved with scientific methods.”

    DELIBERATE LIAR. BACK YOUR CLAIM WITH EVIDENCE.

    (Anyway) thanks!

  • yapa

    Dear Off the Cuff;

    Re: Your post of May 13, 2010 @ 12:32 am

    What a fruitless exercise you are engaged in? He is determined not to be convinced by others.

    Why waste your energies?

    Thanks!

  • @Mr Yapa: I did not mean to hurt or pass judgement on you and whether or not you agree with my views is of little consequence in this forum. I was merely stating the fact that your arguments bore little -if any- substance for intellectual reflection and i have not seen anything that made me change my mind. Don’t feel condemed by that however – what i or anyone else thinks should not matter to you if you are assured in your own faith.

  • yapa

    Dear Off the Cuff;

    Addressing SomewhatDisgusted you say;

    [In my post of May 12, 2010 @ 11:13 pm I intended to include the following as it dealt with Buddhism and the State

    [
    In my post of May 11, 2010 @ 9:47 am I dealt with the Buddha’s ideas of good governance since you mentioned Tyranny by the majority. When I asked you, whether you agreed with Buddha’s teachings I meant what Buddha said about Good governance not anything else. How would such Governance become anything but benign?]

    Their ears are open only to what they say. Their eyes are open only to see the beauty of themselves. They smell themselves and satisfy. Touch themselves and overjoy. Taste their own body and laugh in fulfillment.

    You never will be able wake them up. They are imitating that they are sleeping.

    Let them go to hell.

  • yapa

    Dear SomewhatDisgusted;

    Your sarcasm;

    [But you don’t worry, Mr. Yapa, the Buddha would be proud of your understanding, compassion for other human beings and stellar services rendered in preserving holy truths.]

    There were a lot of people who made undue sarcastic remarks in the past. All of them are now suffering in hell.

    Did you apply for your Visa?

    (Anyway) Thanks!

  • @SomewhatDisgusted: I do not under-estimate the effects of stirring up the hornet’s nest or the ability of order to spring out of chaos. However, we know that Buddhist philosophy (or rather a twisted version of it that has trickled through the corruptions of two thousand years) occupies a space in our social structure. You may feel strongly about separating religion from the state and its political affairs and make Sri Lanka a secular liberal democracy – to which I agree wholeheartedly and without reservation. The question is, how best can we achieve that?
    Do we follow what the Americans did in Iraq – shock and awe those ‘deluded’ Buddhist friends by doing all the thinking for them and delivering a crucial blow or reason to undermine key aspects of their faith? Do we instead carry our a war of attrition for thirty years for our secular state? The danger is; no matter how irrational and even violent the ‘believers’ may seem when their beliefs are questioned, the vacuum that is created in the breakdown of those belief systems can be far more dangerous and detrimental to society.
    I raised these very issues early last year on Ground Views. Especially in matters of faith, I have found it difficult and dangerous to try to move people by undermining their beliefs. All major religions of the world are inherently based on sound moral principals, even though they are not inherently tolerant of one another. The point is, if everyone adheres to their five precepts and guides themselves in the eightfold path, loves god with all their hearts and their neighbours as themselves and so on, no religion would need to depend on the patronage of a corrupt state. This is just my opinion, but I prefer to ask my Buddhist friends how they can justify their support for war, to burning down churches, why they feel insecure about the preservation of their faith and why they perceive there are subject to international conspiracies – their paranoia extending to a fear that a lone hip-hop artist may undermine a world religion? I would ask them how state patronage and protection has helped strengthen them spiritually – the sensibility of even having a “Buddha Saasana Ministry” given that those who run it are – if not cronies and henchmen of corrupt regimes – are least enlightened to offer the ‘safeguards’ – if any such thing can be offered – to their faith.
    It is far easier, and perhaps more productive in the sense that Buddhists, Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Atheists and Agnostics can work together and hand in hand with each other to reform ourselves and the state by eliminating the blatant contradictions that arise when state and religion is meaninglessly coupled together by pandering politics and question whether we live true to the precepts of each of our beliefs and world-views without the unpleasant and unproductive questioning of those beliefs themselves.

    With apologies for the lack of brevity on my part, I believe this is all i can positively contribute to this discussion. Thank you all for your patience and tolerance of my views.

  • OTC & everyone else,

    RE OTC’s:

    “Science is not a know all to be held as the Standard for Truth. This is what I am trying to argue against. So far I have not seen an argument that does not PRESUME that Science is a “Know All” and IS the litmus test for the TRUTH. “ ”

    I think automatically reducing the demand for proof into a demand of scientific proof happened, partially, due to that type of argument being a familiar debate to Buddhists/the believers. This happened somewhere along the 1000+ comments in the Akon thread. So, let me clarify – the proof for karma, reincarnation/rebirth, nirvana need not come in the form of scientific proof (as in, what is considered scientific/based on the method used to prove things in science now or in the recent past), but the proof needs to be verifiable by non-believers or somewhat believers & others – meaning, the proof has to show that karma, reincarnation/rebirth, nirvana – as described in Buddhism – are actual aspects of this world/this universe – and not just either religious speculation or fiction or most likely fiction. It appears to me that the karma, R, nirvana are ancient symbolic devices – ideas basically – used in order to get people to follow a certain path – in the same way the conept of God/Heaven, etc. is used in Christianity & in many religions older than both Buddhism & Christianity. Thus, claiming that any ancient religion contains the absolute truth about the world, how the universe works, how the afterlife may work if there is an afterlife is absolute nonsense. If it were not to be received as speculative items, non-existent in the real world items, then the believers have to show that those items do in fact exist in the real world & has an effect on real people. No manner of semantic skills, evasion, & saying that “it has not been proven as false” will not help believers when it comes to attempting to demonstrate to all that what is perceived as speculative items in a religion (perceived by non-believers) are in fact real items – of great concern & relevance to all (& not just the believers).

    The real problem, underneath the debate over the realness or fakeness of ideas at the core of Buddhism is, as SomewhatD & others pointed out many times, many Sinhalese are attempting to unify Sri Lanka or create a common Sri Lankan identity using Buddhism – which is a project that is bound to fail – because Sri Lanka (the entire island, no matter what name it has gone by in the past) has never, in recent/recorded history been an entirely Buddhist island. So, if the plan expressed via the constitution – keeping the state secular & still ensuring that Buddhism is protected/assisted is to be carried out in good faith (while at the same time protecting other religions & non-believers) there may be hope for both creating a common & useful Sri Lankan identity & ensuring that SL Buddhism & other religions remain/stay alive on the island.

    Here is why neither the Tamil extremist dream of a separate state nor the Sinhala-Buddhist extremist dream of an entirely Buddhist Sri Lanka will never come true: underneath the recently/new (since 1948) in the current level of strength political identities called Sinhala and Tamil, we are talking about the same people (regardless of what european race theory/tool of conquest & government used by the British tells you) – a group of humans who were born on an island & have a both fierce independent nature to them & also think very highly of themselves/have a high degree of self-respect (& knowledge of their histories preserved either in SL in the South for the Sinhalese or in SL North & East & elsewhere/Tamil Nadu/elsewhere in the Tamil diaspora for the Tamils). So, even if the goals of either camp were to be accomplished & sustained for a brief period of time, it will surely be contested & dismantled w/in a generation by the other side. So, the best way for success, I think, for Sri Lanka is to build a common, secular Sri Lankan identity, & at the same time protect freedom of religion & freedom from religion on SL. Of course, it may take another war cycle for this view to be accepted by the hard core on the Sinhala side, but let’s hope not.

    ::

    The recently annouced paln (i saw a press release less than 2 weeks ago) by the SL gov to train a million+ gov employees in tamil/english/sinhala – get them proficient in all 3 languages is definitely a giant step forward/towards improving things in SL/a step in the right direction, if it were to be actually & successfully carried out. [i could not find the link to the SL gov press release w/ the mentioned info, but google thinks that President Rajapaksa’s Vision for SL includes a reference to the new focus on multi-linguistic proficiency:
    http://www.priu.gov.lk/mahindachinthana/MahindaChinthanaEnglish.pdf%5D

    ::

    Anyway, for the moment, in my opinion, things look better for SL (the lesser of the two evils since the early 2000’s or so, in my opinion, won the civil war), so let’s use this new peace time to set things up that will take SL beyond the horrible mistakes of the past & into SL being one of the best countries on earth for real (not just in extremist fantasies); meaning – economic development & individual freedom & rights – creating space to think freely for Lankans/unbound by ancient religious prohibitions is key to transforming SL into a far better place.

    ::

    – S

  • Ordinary Lankan,

    RE:

    “even the Buddha was only able to teach WILLING people – those who were humble enough to learn something – the others he left alone – so we should not expect any better from mere mortals … no ??”

    The Buddha & all other founders or so-called founders of all the religions appear to be human (that’s if they existed on earth at all), so, they too were mere mortals – in my opinion – and if they were transported to our time, they may be able to learn a lot from us also (like, how to surf the net, for example :), so, I think it is not a great idea (not saying that you are doing this, but, this is a good place to express this idea) to believe that great truths/ideas/observation are solely the province of people who lived a long time ago. However, if you feel/believe that the Buddha was something more than human, feel free to submit proof for that so that we can take a look.

    – S

  • SomewhatD,

    RE:

    “Dear Sujewa,

    “However, such a thing would require a pretty huge change between how Lankans in SL & Lankans in the diaspora relate to each other” (my statement)

    I definitely agree with you. This is something that I too feel is critical to making a change in Sri Lanka. A massive income earner for SL is employment in the middle east – many as domestic workers. It is decidedly unfortunate that we have been unable to tap in similarly into the exodus of qualified professionals, who, as you’ve shown from your quick calculation, could potentially make a far more massive contribution… (your response)”

    Yup, there are some seriously (by any standard, US or SL or otherwise) wealthy people – Sinhala & Tamil – in the SL Western diaspora. Or, even regular folk/people with any kind of a FT job – in the Western diaspora – can & will raise/put aside $1K a year to help SL if they think that it will actually do some good (i think, or at least that is the impression i get when i talk to people).

    Yeah, this is definitely an entirely different topic, & a useful one to discuss. I will blog about it at my SL agnostics blog & get feedback & try to develop a useful article from it perhaps. In the meantime, if anyone has any suggestions re: this matter, comment here, share.

    One of the problems, or two, actually, when dealing w/ fundraising for SL in the west/US in SL diaspora communities that may come up are: 1) is the money goig to be used well/the corruption in SL issue. 2) who will it benefit? just the sinhalese? just the tamils? etc. So, obviously we need an NGO (since many tamils will feel that any SL gov agency is too sinhala) that is trusted & supported by the SL Gov & also trusted & supported by the SL diaspora/all ethnicities. I wonder how people feel about Sarvodaya? Is it too Buddhistic & too Sinhala? How does it rank in term of corruption? (here’s a good little true story – once, in early 2000’s, i donated i think $20 or $50 to i believe sarvodaya & they wrote back saying that the money was used to buy a milk cow for a poor family. my brother & friends thought that was awesome, also the letter made my day – even though i did not try to verify the contents/truth of the letter 🙂

    Another idea, along the same lines, that I’ve mentioned in passing a couple of times in these forums is a SL diaspora bank. Something like Grameen, except the funds will come from the Western & elsewhere SL diaspora & will be used to assist SLs in Lanka & the diaspora (not everyone who emigrates to the west “makes it”, as we know, & needs help – specially at first). Anyway, such a thing would also need to be more than 100% corruption free.

    Also, for the SL diaspora – specially the .5, 1.5, & 2nd gen & beyond to help SL out, people in SL would have to approach the diaspora openly, not as some kind of a front for a Western Conspiracy to take over SL – as some paranoid Lankans do (by the way, Western Conspiracy would be a great name for a Sri Lankan punk band 🙂

    This would be a difficult thing to set up, but the revenue potential for SL is staggering – I am sure SL can do a lot w/ an extra 5 billion or 10 billion or 15 billion a year that does not have unreasonable strings attached & is coming from people from the land (at one point) & their children or grandchildren. Anyway, such a collaboration between SL & it’s diaspora would require the hard core/militant types in SL to tone down their hatred of the rest of the world & approach them w/ humility & openness – not sure if people who believe in the superiority of their ancient religion & distrusts all foreigners & non-believers are capable of doing that. But I guess it does not hurt to try 🙂

    – S

  • Ps.
    The link to my previous article which appeared in Ground Views in February 2009 seems to have been distorted in my comment above.

  • Observer,

    RE:

    “Let me logically lay this out to you…
    We agreed science cannot explain everything!
    YET, we’re asking for explanations that fall in line with science!?

    Am I the only one who sees the contradiction/impossibility of this? If we accept the limitations of science then we also have to expect that those limitations won’t allow for the explanation you’re seeking… unless that is science has become WHOLE, we finally have a universal theory explaining everything in nature and universe. Which we haven’t achieved yet! Do I make sense to you now? Until then it is absolutely unreasonable to challenge the believers unless you become a believer your self by becoming an Atheist at least.”

    We (the agnostics) are not asking for an explanation/demonstration as true/real, of karma, reincarnation, nirvana as described in Buddhism via scientific means only. There are other ways to show that something is real: observation by humans, video tape, audio tape, etc. HOWEVER, I think you are missing the meaning behind this debate – the agnostics believe that the speculative items that exist at the core of all major religions, including Buddhism, takes them out of consideration when it comes to selecting -as the main source – valuable human ideas for buliding/re-building/changing a society for the better – for the simple fact that only the believers agree & accept that the speculative items in religions may be real/actual items that have an effect on this world & universe.
    In that light, it is absolutely necessary to challenge not just religous blind belief & plans put forward by the religious to use their religion as the basis for organizaing society, but also all other kinds of negative folk beliefs – racism, sexism, homophobia, anti-capitalism/anti-commerce, etc. To make things (hopefully) painfully clear, organizing a multi-ethnic, multi-religious & no-religion society (SL) under the guidelines provided by one religion (Buddhism) only & then expect it to compete & coorporate with countries & people who have set up their societies with an openess that allows both the religious & the secular to contribute well to society (the west, etc.) is not a great plan. It will result in more of what Sri Lanka has been able to deliver since ’48 – poverty & unrest. The most successful countries in the world, also the most desirable countries in the world (due to the fact that they are peaceful w. in their boundaries at least & successful) use a national development & maintanance formula that allows for both the existence of religions/followers & the existence of a vibrant secular/non-religious communities/people. Each side functions as a check on the excesses of the other side. This would be a good formula/approach for SL to take a long & deep look at.

    Anyway, back to your point – religions are merely a set of human ideas organized & interperted & lived out in a certain way – thus, they are not sacred/not-off limits to inquiry by other humans. When you do allow things to be off limits, you will end up with, most likely, tyranny.

    Or, to put it another way, would you like to move to an ultra-conservative muslim country? (a place where questioning religion may result in your death) :: [of course, if you are an ultra-conservative muslim, then that question will not work as support for my argument, so, hopefully you are not :)]
    – S

  • Brother B-goda-Man,

    Re:
    “Let me try again. ‘Buddhism’ by definition means the doctrine of an omniscient being – that is, someone who knows everything. None of us (who are not Buddhas) can argue against it. Not me, not SD, not Sujewa!”

    I don’t believe that the Buddha or any other thinker/founder of a religion or any other organization in human history/no human period was omniscient, thus, I am able to question Buddhism (true, that is not necessarily arguing against it, but may be considered as arguing against it by some believers).

    If, however, the Buddha was omniscient, he would (i think) have advised against both the establishement of Imperial Japan & the creation of the atomic bomb, which stopped Imperial Japan’s war/during WWII – both those things killed a whole lot of Buddhists & many other types of people. Thus, since no such direct prohibition was mentioned by the Buddha, I do not believe that he was omniscient/that he knew everything.

    – S

  • OK SomewhatD, post re: “Sri Lankan diaspora helping Sri Lanka w/ $s” idea has been created:

    http://newslagnostic.blogspot.com/2010/05/5-billion-s-year-or-more-to-sri-lanka.html

    Let’s start developing it – list out some things to think about when tackling such a project. Will do same (comment at my blog’s comments section, once we have thought the idea through I may write & submit an article about subject to Groundviews). Also, all interested folks are welcome to comment/contribute ideas.

    – S

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear BalangodaMan,

    My posts refer to the Article that was authored by Sujewa. If you think that the article does not use Science as a base to question Buddhism then please make your argument. Using Science as a base includes requesting the use of Science in the proof.

    I have stated many a time on this thread and its precursor that Science is an immature tool in the Field of Philosophy and hence it cannot be used to either Prove or Disprove a Philosophy. If you want to use Science PROVE that it is MATURE first.

    I have given two examples of Physical Phenomena that are Real and recognised as such but has neither scientific proof nor explanation.

    You have been unable to answer why the Apex World Health Organisation accepts Acupuncture when there is NO SCIENTIFIC PROOF.

    You have been unable to answer how a Human Being could describe the location of a downed aircraft in the African Jungles that led to its recovery when NO ONE knew its location. The absence of knowledge of the location of the plane by anyone rules out “Mind Reading” explanation from being presented. There was no Satellite imagery available at the time.

    NO One has been able to explain the above two Phenomena “In the same way that one may lay out the proof for the existence of lightning or the brain’s capacity to think or the existence of gravity or the ability to travel at a thousand miles an hour ”

    No One has been able to “prove, using modern science or math or any other verifiable method available, to non-believers, that Acupuncture and Remote Viewing are real aspects/actual things that exist in this world.”
    (The wording in bold are modified versions from Sujewa’s article)

    Acupuncture is accepted Despite Science.
    Remote Viewing brought results Despite Science

    Hence Only a FOOL can insist that anything that is inexplicable by the methods enumerated in this GV article should be dismissed as rubbish. If you believe that this is not the case, would like to see a real point by point logical refutation of the points raised by me.

    BTW – Please leave out the fixation that you have with Yapa in your refutation and deal with facts that you can support or provide references to.

    This is in response to your post of May 13, 2010 @ 1:20 am

  • SomewhatDisgusted

    Dear Citizen,

    You said: “Do we follow what the Americans did in Iraq – shock and awe those ‘deluded’ Buddhist friends by doing all the thinking for them and delivering a crucial blow or reason to undermine key aspects of their faith?

    “Do we instead carry our a war of attrition for thirty years for our secular state?”

    Nicely put. I understand your point. It’s certainly something to think about. My personal take on it, is that different approaches have their uses. The type of pugnacious approach I and a few others subscribe to will rattle a few people who have hitherto not bothered to question their convictions. Merely pointing out the correct, “Buddhist way” of doing things will not get the message across that Buddhism is not some indisputable truth in the first place and that a more broad-minded approach is required. Of course, it will admittedly put those who think SL Buddhism is the last word on truth – like our unfuriated Mr. Yapa here – on the warpath.

    On the other hand, your type of gentle approach will doubtless be more effective at persuading those who are already not amenable to questioning their beliefs. It will hopefully convince them that they should respect the beliefs of others also. In fact, your type of approach might be made doubly effective with those who have started despising mine.

    I might be mistaken here, but I believe this is how the strangle hold of the church was undermined. There were those who were strongly critical and those who were gently persuasive. In the end, people who were already oppressed and disgusted by the state Christianity was in started questioning it.

    BTW, I say SL Buddhism – because the Buddha’s own gentle and humble approach is a far cry from the “we are so damn superior, everyone with half-a-brain ought to be a Theravada Buddhist” kind of attitude espoused by certain Buddhists. Sorry, that holier-than-thou position is reserved for agnostics and atheists 😉

    I’m more than happy to be persuaded otherwise, this is just my current take on it. I’m especially interested in why you said: “Especially in matters of faith, I have found it difficult and dangerous to try to move people by undermining their beliefs.” There’s no doubt that it’s dangerous. Faith is the absence of reason after all. But how do you get across the message that we just don’t believe in their faith and that it is not reasonable to impose some arbitrary belief on others?

    cheers,
    /SD

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear All,

    My response to BalangodaMan was posted before I saw the May 13, 2010 @ 8:21 am post of Sujewa, My post deals with BalangodaMan’s contentions. and what came before Sujewa’s new post.

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear BalangodaMan,

    You question my statement.…
    “But it is already a part of the Constitution and hence the State.”
    You say
    “By this you mean that we have a Buddhist Constitution?”

    No Sir the English meaning is exactly what my statement says. It is ALREADY a PART of the Constitution.

    Its not about a Buddhist Constitution. Please read my post of May 11, 2010 @ 9:47 am to SomewhatDisgusted if you want to know what a Buddhist Constitution would be like.

    I can quote the SL Constitution and provide references to support what I have stated.

    If you doubt what I say read the SL Constitution and reproduce anything that you see in the Constitution that is contrary to my statement.

    Why is it that you have so much difficulty with the English Language and regularly try to FOIST your own lopsided views on others?

    The rest of your post is an Argument between your own conflicting views a sort of Jekyll and Hyde argument that I am not involved in. Hence no reply is necessary.

    Base your questions on what I write not on your own speculation that you are trying to foist on others.

    This is a response to your post of May 13, 2010 @ 2:03 am

  • BalangodaMan

    Citizen said,
    May 13, 2010 @ 7:36 am

    Sujewa Ekanayake said,
    May 13, 2010 @ 8:21 am

    Both arguments beautifully put (Mr Yapa, learn!).

    Early in my entry to this discussion I asked if it is ethical to question ‘faith’, because the discussion itself would undermine the effectiveness of ‘faith’ as a placebo. Contributors like Sujewa/SomewhatDisgusted made me realise that there are some important divisive social and religious/political mechanisms going on that need to be dismantled if we are to move towards sustainable peace and harmony in sL.

    Sadly, it would upset the emotional, irrational religious people. I suppose this was brought to the surface in relation to Akon’s video – this debate helped uncover how deep the dilusions of some of these people go.

    I don’t know the answer. Education? I suppose this is another subject – to explore how education about ‘real things’ conflict with peoples’ long cherished fantasies. (I would throw in two examples from history: (1) Galileo and the Catholic Church and (2) the Theory of Evolution and the famous ‘monkey trials’ of the 1920s)

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear Yapa,

    Thank you for your comments. I do value them.

    Remember that we have an Audience other than those who post on the thread. This should be our target audience and I continually strive to reach this Silent majority.

    Though my posts are mostly addressed to the posters as I try to address questions posted by them, I do not have any interest in trying to convince any of them to the Buddhist view point. If that happens as it sometimes does, its good but even if it doesn’t its of no consequence.

    Just present the facts as logically and as concisely as possible. It will get through to the intelligent reader, who is the main target.

  • BalangodaMan

    Mr Yapa,

    Re. your ‘claims of scientific proof’.

    I think Sujewa has explained this already. When you brought up scientific evidence as proof of certain concepts in Buddhism you established science as a means of anointing religious concepts. Mr Yapa you (alone) refused to accept karma, rebirth, nirvana as ‘faith’. So a challenge to prove that, using any method (but why not Quantum Physics as you have already shown to be your idea of proof?) was in order.

    You then rephrased your claim – that KRN are things only believers can see as real. (!!!!!!!!!!!! I thought that’s what ‘faith’ means in a religious sense, but what the heck do I know?). But you also say that is ‘not faith’ but something real, someone suggested ‘conviction’ is a better word. But I know many Christians who have a strong conviction that Jesus (pbuh) was the son of god. So what’s the difference? Those men who flew planes into buildings also had strong conviction. What you’re saying is, only those men would know if their conviction is well founded or a delusion (well they would have found out by now).

  • BalangodaMan

    A Matter of Faith
    ——————

    I recommend – everyone should read Citizen’s article
    http://www.groundviews.org/2009/02/02/a-matter-of-faith/

  • SomewhatDisgusted

    Dear Mr. Yapa

    You said: “Is this not a total total lie you are using for popular vote.

    “Actually, I think most Sinhalese and Tamil people are pretty harmless.”

    Definitely that harmlessness killed about 200,000 people of this country since 1971.”

    No Mr. Yapa, this is the truth. I’m sure you are trying to say that most of the Sinhalese are bloody cads. I disagree. Had all the Sinhalese been bloody cads, way more than 3000 Tamils would have died in ’83. After that, the Sinhalese people too stoically endured suicide bombers and the like, probably thinking it was kamma for the terrible deeds of their “kind”. They did what they could to differentiate between the majority of harmless Tamils and a minority who took up arms – although some like you, simply don’t understand the difference.

    Many Tamils similarly differentiated between the majority of harmless Sinhalese and a minority of Sinhala extremists. It is just a few individuals who, like their Sinhalese counterparts, are confused into believing that their race/religion is more important than their humanity.

    And that is the core of the problem isn’t it Mr. Yapa? Everyone wanting to foist their race/religion into foremost place and to safeguard it for all eternity? Even though the Buddha himself said all things are impermanent?

    Anyway, never mind what the Buddha said, I know you don’t follow his words anyway. The problem with your logic Mr. Yapa, is displayed when you consistently evade BalangodaMan’s question: “would you be just as convinced of the ‘truth’ of your religion, Buddhism, if you (with your capacity for scrutiny and analysis) were born in Riyadh, in a Muslim country, as a Muslim person?”.

    The same question could be asked of a Sinhalese or a Tamil about race.

    cheers,
    /SD

  • BalangodaMan

    OTC,

    Scientist?
    ———–

    You are accusing me of being a scientist rather unfairly, perhaps by association? Remember I mentioned Uri Geller bending spoons as an example of a ‘real actual happening thing which many people saw’ that even he could not explain.

    As I said, the challenge was to Mr Yapa who chose to bring in science to authenticate Buddhism.

    I do believe (as scientists generally do) that what we know is TINY compared with what we don’t know. Let’s not quibble on that because we both agree on that- as do Sujewa and SD.

    What I AM saying is, the BASIS on which the pronouncements of the Buddha of the 2nd Kind are accepted needs to be explored before we can decide whether there is a case to answer (ie. if there is a case to answer then the Universities of SL will pump in funding to research karma, rebirth, nirvana – which I don’t think they are doing at the moment).

    The Buddha of the 2nd Kind = the omniscient incarnation of Siddharta Gautama.

    There are those who believe he was omniscient. That’s Ok for them.

    There are those who are NOT convinced that ANY human can become omniscient. Such people (sceptics) do not believe in fantastic visions seen by any human claiming to be ‘omniscient’. (they are dismissed as con men, or mad people, or on drugs)

    So OTC, this is nothing at all to do with science – EXCEPT when the believers of ‘the omniscient Siddharta Gautama’ introduce the often-heard claim that ‘science has already proved what the Buddha saw 2,500 years ago. Therefore that is proof that he was omniscient, and therefore we should swallow the whole package (including SL is the promised land for Sinhala-Buddhists as decreed in the Mahawansa)’.

    Hey, there are dozens of books written about the truth in Nostradamus’s prophecies too. Was he omniscient? Same argument, innit?

    OTC, it does not have to be scientists. You can gather together a team of non-scientist Buddhist monks (with the funding from the Buddha Sasana Ministry) who can setup a controlled experiment.

    It may go like this …

    Round up 20 volunteers. Say young boys and girls. Divide then into 2 groups.

    Group A is told to visit the temple every poya day, chant pirith, take sil, follow the middle path, not get involved in debates like this etc.

    Group B is told never to visit the temple, do convert to Christianity, drink beer, take part in society normally, compete, try and excel in their chosen field, dance when they feel like etc.

    Now follow up on the 2 Groups (1) whether they are reborn and (2) what they are reborn as.

    If you or the monks can carry out that study, and if the results are positive, then we can conclude that karma, rebirth, nirvana ARE real things in the world.

    OTC, do you agree?

    (note that the word ‘science’ has NOT been used at all in this propsed experiment)

    PS: I will help you set this up if you need me to.

  • BalangodaMan

    OTC,

    Oh sorry! I used the term “proposed experiment” which may give the impression that science is involved in this … er …. experiment-like-thing.

  • BalangodaMan

    Citizen,

    “Especially in matters of faith, I have found it difficult and dangerous to try to move people by undermining their beliefs.”

    The problem we have in SL is not dissimilar to the problem with the Muslim world today. We are dealing with a mentality of 800 years ago in a world that is very different now. If the people with this mentality appropriate for that age LIVED IN THAT AGE there is no problem, or if they live in isolation from the rest of the world.

    It is when they come face to face with the 21st century that we have a major conflict.

  • BalangodaMan

    Mr Yapa,

    For some unexplained reason my key question to you is not getting uploaded into GroundViews. Don’t know why – but I shall post it again.

    “Mr Yapa, would you be just as convinced of the ‘truth’ of your religion, Buddhism, if you (with your capacity for scrutiny and analysis) were born in Riyadh, in a Muslim country, as a Muslim person?”.

    Hope it gets through this time 🙂

  • BalangodaMan

    OTC,

    “But it (Buddhism) is already a part of the Constitution and hence the State.”

    Yes I understood what you meant by that bizarre statement. Which is why I said ‘but that is the same as saying Christianity is part of GOSL because there are MP’s of the Christian faith in parliament’.

    The words ‘tenuous’, ‘remote’, ‘far-fetched’ is what I am getting at.

  • Observer

    Off the Cuff,

    The empty space though a vacuum keeps changing in size and shape due to the movement of objects. Since objects are in motion the Vacuum would also be changing shape. Then even the Vacuum too would be impermanent. Would that mean that everything is impermanent?

    Far as I understand the vacuum of space is infinite. Therefore you cannot measure the size and it doesn’t make sense to say space changes size. What you’re saying implies that the furthest edge of the expanding matter/energy (however way you wish to see it) cloud from the big bang is the edge of space. Sorry that logic just doesn’t compute in my head and makes absolute no sense. Read further below why…

    “But then one of the basic principles of physics is that matter can neither be destroyed nor created. Thus implies matter is something permanent in the universe.”

    Not really, as mater changes to energy and Vice versa.
    e = mc^2

    First of all the m in that equation refers to mass not matter! So what? Energy can neither be created nor destroyed as well. Energy is something that converts from one form to another. So it doesn’t make a difference differentiating between matter and energy. They’re both permanent.

    For instance, you burn fuel (static energy) -> produce electricity -> excite electrons in a conductor -> light a lamp -> dissipate photons & heat -> etc, etc, and become part of a cycle of infinite reactions and transfer of energy including settling back into static energy (“matter” or rather mass to be precise) along the way.
    From single photons to self propagating electromagnetic waves, the vast amounts of energy that holds electrons to the nucleus of atoms, etc. all of this energy is accounted for end of the day! In my books anyway.

    Also, we see the universe in only 4 dimensions. X, Y, Z and time. For us these 4 dimensions stretch to infinity. My understanding of the universe is exactly this. When you jump dimensions higher, the universe the infinite continuum of these dimensions become one blip of many other infinite universes. In the 7th dimension infinity becomes an irreducible point. I’m not good at explaining this but this video quite elegantly explains what I am talking about.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Q_GQqUg6Ts

    “Birth is suffering
    Ageing is suffering
    Death is suffering;
    Sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief and despair are suffering;
    Association or connection with objects or persons you dislike is suffering;
    Separation from loved ones and objects is suffering;
    Desiring to get and not getting it or craving is suffering

    Sure I agree with all that, life in general has suffering and also times of absolute joy and elation but that is simply a result of a chemical reaction in our brains that trigger signals to our nervous system. And that really is it far as I am concerned. Biological creatures have a genome that is essentially a blue print of the product. Most animals have a genome that has the capability to produce a complex molecular/biological structure called the brain that can accommodate self awareness, reduced randomness as I like to coin it. This product is really an evolution of hydro carbon molecules that were released from the big bang. This self-awareness for the first time was able to challenge the random nature of the universe described in quantum theory. which I find fascinating. To me it’s a story of how random occurrences fell into a pattern. Why or how these cells learned to self replicate and then to evolve, I don’t know, but it is beautiful to observe how a single, few cell creatures behave in very random (still guided by their DNA) patterns and then as the cell count grows they become more in control of their actions/destiny. Evolution while explains a lot, also leaves a lot to be answered. We don’t know! That is why I admit readily science has not come up with all the answers. But I’d rather play with that parts missing jigsaw than listen to prophets! At least I find that more interesting…

    Here’s one question to ponder about end of the day. Why is it that all the prophets who reckons they realised the absolute truth of the world and universe sprung into existence centuries ago when science was at its infancy?? Why is it not possible for a Jesus or a Buddha to spring into our world now? What’s stopping it? I say people in the dark ages didn’t quite know how to scrutinise what they were told. Because we’re in a much better position now, we can test the claims to a degree. But since science does not have the universal truth either and even more disappointingly cannot disprove what believers say decisively as well, hence I will let the religious folk have a say.

  • Observer

    Sujeewa,

    We (the agnostics) are not asking for an explanation/demonstration as true/real, of karma, reincarnation, nirvana as described in Buddhism via scientific means only. There are other ways to show that something is real: observation by humans, video tape, audio tape, etc.

    Enlightenment is a state of mind? How are you going to video tape that???

    HOWEVER, I think you are missing the meaning behind this debate – the agnostics believe that the speculative items that exist at the core of all major religions, including Buddhism, takes them out of consideration when it comes to selecting -as the main source – valuable human ideas for buliding/re-building/changing a society for the better – for the simple fact that only the believers agree & accept that the speculative items in religions may be real/actual items that have an effect on this world & universe.
    In that light, it is absolutely necessary to challenge not just religous blind belief

    hang on.. i don’t think all the religious people follow with blind faith. there are lots of intelligent people out there, even more than us agnostic folk who believe in religions. clearly they see something we don’t? i think it’s rather brash what you’re implying.

    & plans put forward by the religious to use their religion as the basis for organizaing society, but also all other kinds of negative folk beliefs – racism, sexism, homophobia, anti-capitalism/anti-commerce, etc.

    To make things (hopefully) painfully clear, organizing a multi-ethnic, multi-religious & no-religion society (SL) under the guidelines provided by one religion (Buddhism) only & then expect it to compete & coorporate with countries & people who have set up their societies with an openess that allows both the religious & the secular to contribute well to society (the west, etc.) is not a great plan.

    So who is planning this in Sri Lanka? I can hardly see a day religious extremists rule Sri Lanka. If you’re thinking the likes of JHU then you can forget about it…

    It will result in more of what Sri Lanka has been able to deliver since ‘48 – poverty & unrest. The most successful countries in the world, also the most desirable countries in the world (due to the fact that they are peaceful w. in their boundaries at least & successful) use a national development & maintanance formula that allows for both the existence of religions/followers & the existence of a vibrant secular/non-religious communities/people. Each side functions as a check on the excesses of the other side. This would be a good formula/approach for SL to take a long & deep look at.

    Sujeewa, I have my own reservations about the successful countries. Slavery and Colonial subjugation comes to my mind. Had the Asians plundered the 7 seas, then Asia might have been the rich block today.. just saying… But I won’t go there today!

    Anyway, back to your point – religions are merely a set of human ideas organized & interperted & lived out in a certain way – thus, they are not sacred/not-off limits to inquiry by other humans. When you do allow things to be off limits, you will end up with, most likely, tyranny.

    Somethings need to be sacred IMHO. For instance what if I started digging into your mother? She maybe not a saint in reality but she is a saint to you, no matter how many flaws she may have (just being hypothetical!!!). You clearly won’t appreciate that.
    Using similar logic, sure religions aren’t sacred to us because we see it in a different light. But to the believers it is as mother.

    Or, to put it another way, would you like to move to an ultra-conservative muslim country? (a place where questioning religion may result in your death) :: [of course, if you are an ultra-conservative muslim, then that question will not work as support for my argument, so, hopefully you are not ]
    – S

    If you make a compelling case that Sharia law is not necessary for going to a heaven filled with virgins then they might actually thank you for that.

    Anyway Sujeewa, being an agnostic doesn’t at all give anyone a moral higher ground than a religious person. The tone of your arguments always come across that you feel that agnostics are somehow morally superior. I disagree with that. Some of the greatest people who have served humanity well are quite religious people.. like mother Theresa. I don’t think we need to question what they perceive to be the truth. We should worry about our own quest for finding what we feel is the truth.

  • Burning_Issue

    My feeling is that we need to separate the two core issues that are being debated on this forum:

    1. Believers Vs Non-believers
    2. A state and religions

    The first point is being debated world-wide; a few years back, John Humphries the Radio 4 presenter, in UK, started a discussion on this very subject; it rustled the hornets’ nests as it were; the program was flooded with calls and letters! John Humphries published a book as a result, entitled: “In God We Doubt”. John confessed that he is an agnostic but justified that faiths play major roles in keeping order. Basically it does not matter whether God exists and he expresses himself through various faiths; if believing in god serves well for an individual it is all well and good; why should one challenge his believe; let it be. However, if that individual thrusts his views on to others; he uses violence, intimidations, entices with opportunities, status, and the rest is unethical and should be condemned.

    The second issue is far more serious; through the middle ages when the Western nations were evolving various faiths played major parts. We all know how Henry the VIII split from the Vatican! Each state was attached to a faith or a form of Christian denomination; they persecuted all the other; many violent events took place in the name of faiths; all actions were justified and classed as noble courses! Those countries evolved and modernised accommodating all forms of Christian denomination as well as alien faiths. Today, many of those countries stand as testament of model democracies; some may dispute this; I welcome such views.

    In the context of Sri Lanka; Sri Lanka has always been a multi-faith and multi-linguistic nation; it became far more diverse as a result of introduction of Islam and Christianity and enjoyed admirable harmony through out its history. A state must be supreme; it passes laws that bind all of its citizens. It must treat all citizens equally regardless of faith, race, sexuality, rich, poor, and disability; this is the basis of successful democracy and governance.

    Off the Cuff said:

    “What I don’t understand is how Buddhism being in the Constitution “CURTAILS” or otherwise restrict others from practicing their faiths. In fact the Constitutional clause regarding Buddhism specifically requires that other Religions be allowed free practice, in the absence of which the clause referring to Buddhism becomes a null.”

    Buddhism is a faith just like Hinduism, Islam and Christianity; OTC says that it is Buddhism that allows free practice of all other religions in Sri Lanka. Now, the question is; who has made that decision; is it OTC himself or the Buddhist Hierarchy in Sri Lanka, or the politicians? Did the others have any in this matter? Is Buddhism regarded as superior to all other religions? If so, on what basis and who made this decision? Since a state is supreme and if it is associated with one of the faiths in a nation, it cannot be fair to all, can it? Even if the state endeavours to be fair to all, it cannot be perceived as such; this is the point. In a court of law, an accused should be proved beyond any reasonable doubt that he/she is guilty as charged. Similarly, a state must position itself beyond any reasonable doubt that, it acts fair to all of its citizens.

  • BalangodaMan

    Observer,

    I wrote earlier that no baby is born with bias towards any religion. Every baby is born agnostic.

    Religious brainwashing (and racial prejudice) is acquired in the early years – well, not acquired but somewhat forced upon. This process, in my view, limits an individual’s capacity to think rationally, not further it. (so they cannot ‘run away’ into some other way of thinking, or free-thinking god forbid!). Dickie Dawkins (pbuh) in ‘The God Delusion’ referred to this as the most common form of child abuse, for this reason – making children grow up to be humans of reduced capacity that cannot consider alternative points of view. The key point I’m making is, the child has NO choice in the matter! What would you say if we ritually cut off the left leg of our children sometime before they reach the age of 6? (so they cannot run away physically?)

    The effect is the same.

    I see your point about ‘the mother’. Yes, I too have concerns about this whenever I get drawn into a discussion on religion. HOWEVER, this comes about only because of the ‘child abuse’ they have suffered referred to above. As you can see from some of the emotion expressed by the believers in this thread there is little we can do about adults. But we can save the children.

    We can save the next generation. Let’s at least try.

    (I hope my comment also answers your piece to Sujewa on ‘agnostics’ taking the higher moral ground. All I can say is, personally I have greater confidence in those who have NOT had their thinking faculties restricted by childhood conditioning – forced limitations. I have greater confidence in people who say ‘sorry, I don’t know’ – agnostics – than those that have absolute confidence in something they have no way of verifying).

  • wijayapala

    Dear Burning_Issue,

    I am glad to see you contributing to what was up to now a very dull, abstract, and pointless discussion. Unlike the other “secular agnostics” here, you are able to get to the point and not get side-tracked with circular arguments. I want to answer some points:

    Just like Wijayapala said; at this stage Sri Lanka can think about secularising with no fears for Buddhism disappearing;

    I never said that. I stated that Tamils are not a threat to either Buddhism or Sinhalese.

    I for one think that, in Sri Lankan context; Politicised Buddhism, A Common Sri Lankan Identity, and Nation Building are mutually exclusive. A common Sri Lankan identity cannot be promoted with Buddhist prominence in Constitution; thus, a nation cannot be built; this is my point.

    Thank you for complimenting my understanding of history. Now I have to ask: is it possible to build a common nation that lacks a common understanding of Sri Lankan history?

    We have had the Portuguese; we have had the Dutch; we have had the English; all promoted Christianity but they never interfered with local customs such as this one.

    Not true- the Portuguese destroyed many non-Catholic places of worship throughout Sri Lanka including Jaffna. They forcibly converted many Hindus to Catholicism, and many in Jaffna slipped back to Hinduism after the Portuguese left (although as you mentioned earlier, this did not happen in other places like Mannar).

    Now, we have the Sinhala Buddhist, the new Masters of the Tamils; who have put a stop to an ancient custom! What does this say about the Sinhala Buddhists and their government? I agree that Buddhism is not an issue here, but the politicised and institutionalised Sinhala Buddhism is an issue; I would like you to recognise this.

    How has politicised Buddhism been involved in Keerimalai?

  • BalangodaMan

    Observer,

    “than those that have absolute confidence in something they have no way of verifying.” (my comment)

    I am reminded of the numerous emails I get forwarded to me about ‘Microsoft will pay $25,000 if you use IE’ or ‘Nokia will pay for your child’s private education if you forward this email on to all your friends’. You know what I mean …

    Does any intelligent person pass these on? Why don’t they check by Googling or Snopes before they pass these lies on to people who trust them? What do you think of people who send these to you?

    Yes, I thought so.

    So, why do we condone the same thing when it is adults passing on unverified fantastic (religious) sales messages to their unsuspecting children who trust them?

  • yapa

    B-Man (original);
    You say;

    [“Mr Yapa, would you be just as convinced of the ‘truth’ of your religion, Buddhism, if you (with your capacity for scrutiny and analysis) were born in Riyadh, in a Muslim country, as a Muslim person?”.]

    I will never repeat it BlindMan!

    Thanks [Edited out]!

  • yapa

    SomewhatDisgusted said,

    Dear All;

    SomewhatDisgusted on May 13, 2010 @ 3:59 pm
    ……………………….
    Dear Mr. Yapa

    You said: “Is this not a total total lie you are using for popular vote.

    “Actually, I think most Sinhalese and Tamil people are pretty harmless.”

    Definitely that harmlessness killed about 200,000 people of this country since 1971.”

    No Mr. Yapa, this is the truth. I’m sure you are trying to say that most of the Sinhalese are bloody cads. I disagree. Had all the Sinhalese been bloody cads, way more than 3000 Tamils would have died in ‘83.

    …………………………………..

    Please see, this man’s audacity. Do the first three statements of mine imply the the forth sentence (written by him). He replaces those three sentences by his sentence, which can be very easily used to tarnish me. But please see first three sentences cannot be used that way.

    This man can not get rid of his unethical behaviour.

    “Kiri diyeni deviyath anguru sudu wana kalek num neth!

    (Anyway) Thanks!

  • yapa

    Dear SomewhatDisgusted;

    You say;

    [“Anyway, never mind what the Buddha said, I know you don’t follow his words anyway. The problem with your logic Mr. Yapa, is displayed when you consistently evade BalangodaMan’s question: “would you be just as convinced of the ‘truth’ of your religion, Buddhism, if you (with your capacity for scrutiny and analysis) were born in Riyadh, in a Muslim country, as a Muslim person?”.]

    Scratch his back. You are blind in prejudice.

    As I said earlier “I will never repeat it.”

    (Anyway) Thanks!

  • yapa

    Three Blind Mice = two jokers + one utterly dishonest man

    This is the most important conclusion I arrived at in this long discussion. They are also determined not to be convinced by anything and anybody.

  • yapa

    There is a saying that “You can argue with a thousand wise men, but not with a single fool.”

  • yapa

    Dear Citizen;

    [“Anyway, never mind what the Buddha said, I know you don’t follow his words anyway. The problem with your logic Mr. Yapa, is displayed when you consistently evade BalangodaMan’s question: “would you be just as convinced of the ‘truth’ of your religion, Buddhism, if you (with your capacity for scrutiny and analysis) were born in Riyadh, in a Muslim country, as a Muslim person?”.]

    Don’t try to be haste in making conclusions. Wrong decisions and conclusions could be fatal.

    You must have heard;

    There once was a lady from Niger
    Who smiled as she rode on a tiger
    They came back from the ride
    With the lady inside
    And the smile on the face of the tiger

    Thanks!

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear BalangodaMan,

    You have addressed a post to me with the subject

    Scientist?

    I am at a loss to understand Head or Tail of what you are writing.

    Could you please elaborate indicating the post/ posts of mine you are referring to?

  • SomewhatDisgusted

    Dear Burning Issue,

    I agree with pretty much everything you said on May 13, 2010 @ 12:26 am.

    “The Tamils did not establish Hindu temples as a prelude to them settling in the southern areas; I will stand corrected, if one were to prove me wrong on this.”

    I agree. But try explaining that to those who perceive things from the no. 2 perspective I mentioned. Prejudice, solidified through selective thinking, is a hard thing to deal with. We are dealing with coarse reasoning on all sides that does no justice to the complexity of this problem.

    There is however, one concept that no human being living in the 21st century with any form of education and any sense of justice could protest against and expect to win on reasonable grounds. That is a demand for equal rights. People can protest against Eelams. They may even be able to protest against devolution. But one thing no thinking person can continue to challenge and not be ashamed to deny is a demand for equal rights. History shows that sooner or later, given a reasonably educated populace, such justice can be achieved. What we need to do is to work towards making that inevitable justice occur, through education and opinion building as opposed to violence and mayhem. (I would point out that Sinhala Only being rolled back, Tamil being made a national language etc. are signs that such justice is indeed undeniable)

    “I know it is too soon to expect from Sri Lanka for now, but we need to build consensus for this to happen in the future.”

    I agree. Buddhism has been given a free ride for far too long – since few seem to have questioned it – to the point where there are people who fancy that it’s an absolute truth! whaaaaat???? Where do you get these kind of self-assuredly clueless people from?

    I would like to comment on your latest post soon, which will definitely take us in a more fruitful direction – religion and state.

    cheers.
    /SD

  • BalangodaMan

    Mr Yapa,

    The reason I asked this is because your answer would shed some MUCH NEEDED light to this issue.

    My question:

    “Mr Yapa, would you be just as convinced of the ‘truth’ of your religion, Buddhism, if you (with your capacity for scrutiny and analysis) were born in Riyadh, in a Muslim country, as a Muslim person?”

    You are important in this … because … First, because you have shown us the depth of knowledge and conviction you have in the religion of your birth. Then you have shown how much you defend the religion of your birth. Thirdly how much you are offended when others (including those also born in the religion of your birth) question the religion of your birth.

    It is therefore very appropriate that this debate endeavours to find out how a person with those 3 aspects of your character responds IF the religion of your birth is some OTHER religion – Islam, Christianity, or some obscure religion like Shilboot, or if you were born in a country with no religion at all. Would you still hold on to the view that Buddhism is the ultimate truth?

    If you have already answered this I must apologise for having missed it. Perhaps you would be kind enough to post a link to it please?

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear BurningIssue,

    Hello old friend, I believe you have misinterpreted what I stated. My statement refers to the Constitution. Yours refer to Religion.

    My statement
    What I don’t understand is how Buddhism being in the Constitution “CURTAILS” or otherwise restrict others

    Your statement
    OTC says that it is Buddhism that allows free practice of all other religions in Sri Lanka.

    They are not one and the same.

    The Constitutional Clause that provides a protected status to Buddhism has a proviso that requires ALL religions be guaranteed the simultaneous freedom of being practiced without any obstruction. Hence there is absolutely no room for the State to provide protection to Buddhism without providing religious freedom simultaneously.

    Therefore the freedom to practice a minority religion has not been curtailed in any way.

    “Buddhism is a faith just like Hinduism, Islam and Christianity”

    They are not alike. The first does not entertain a Creator God. The other three does.

    When I discuss Buddhism, I always refer to the Buddha’s teaching not to corruptions of it. I believe you would also refer to Hinduism proper and not to corruptions of it.

    You cannot discuss religion by discussing corrupted interpretations

  • Burning_Issue

    Dear Wijayapala,

    “I never said that. I stated that Tamils are not a threat to either Buddhism or Sinhalese.”

    I think that you have forgotten that you actually said the following:

    wijayapala said,
    March 12, 2010 @

    “Thank you for showing me the Japanese Constitution. When the average Sri Lankan has the equivalent GDP per capita as his Japanese counterpart, or when Buddhists comprise 90% of the 125 million population as in Japan, then it may be time to secularize the SL Constitution.”

    http://www.groundviews.org/2010/02/17/the-%e2%80%98sinhala-nationalist%e2%80%99s-burden%e2%80%99/#comments

    May be it is misleading when I did not include the per capita income of Japanese people in the context!

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear Observer,

    “Far as I understand the vacuum of space is infinite. Therefore you cannot measure the size and it doesn’t make sense to say space changes size”

    I mentioned shape not size. Here is an example. Beyond the Earth’s atmosphere is a Vacuum. The Earth moves at speed around the Sun. In front of the orbital path and behind the Orbital path is a Vacuum. As the Earth moves forward a space which was vacuum a moment ago gets filled by the Earth hence it no longer is a vacuum. At the same time the space that was occupied by the Earth a moment ago has now become a vacuum as the Earth has vacated that space. This is why I stated even the empty space changes shape. This is similar to a fish moving in water. The fish displaces the water as it moves changing the shape of the water. The space occupied by the fish moves.

    “Energy is something that converts from one form to another ”

    I don’t know but that looks to me like impermanence.

    True there are moments of absolute joy but that joy is followed by Dukkha, the disappointment that comes when the joy is no more. If joy is the crest of a wave then Dukkha is the valley, one follows the other like a shadow.

    Good question about the Sages. I don’t know the answer but I sure wish that Science was mature during the Buddha’s time. Then Science could have questioned the Buddha himself which would have provided answers either way.

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear BalangodaMan,

    I requested you to quote the Constitution if you still wanted to contest what I stated regarding Buddhism and the Constitution (mine of May 13, 2010 @ 12:20 pm) but you have been unable to do so.

    My statement referring to Buddhism states
    But it is already a part of the Constitution and hence the State.

    Your statement
    but that is the same as saying Christianity is part of GOSL because there are MP’s of the Christian faith in parliament

    You sure have problems in understanding English.

    My statement refers to the Supreme Law of the Country. The State is subordinate to it.

    If you want to contest what I wrote quote the Constitution without making juvenile comments.

    (refers to you post of May 13, 2010 @ 5:44 pm)

  • yapa

    Dear Citizen;

    You say:

    [@Mr Yapa: I did not mean to hurt or pass judgement on you and whether or not you agree with my views is of little consequence in this forum. I was merely stating the fact that your arguments bore little -if any- substance for intellectual reflection and i have not seen anything that made me change my mind. Don’t feel condemed by that however – what i or anyone else thinks should not matter to you if you are assured in your own faith.]

    Really, I wanted to post the comment I made on May 13, 2010 @ 11:17 pm with regard to your comment above. I will repeat it.

    Hasty conclusions and decisions could be fatal. You must have heard the following;

    There once was a lady from Niger
    Who smiled as she rode on a tiger
    They came back from the ride
    With the lady inside
    And the smile on the face of the tiger

    Thanks!

  • OTC & everyone else,

    RE: the following:

    ” “Buddhism is a faith just like Hinduism, Islam and Christianity”

    They are not alike. The first does not entertain a Creator God. The other three does.”

    Buddhism is similar to Hinduism, Islam, & Christianity – karma, reincarnation, nirvana & the fantastic qualities attributed to the Buddha (omniscience (sp?), etc.) takes the place of the creator God concept in Buddhism. It is the same kind of thing as the other major religions, but in a slightly different form. Of course, the believers want the world (& the Sri Lankans specially in this case) to believe otherwise. All of the major religions are forms of mass social control (now, this social control does have some benefits, don’t get me wrong, there are worse things than religion – such as cannibalism perhaps), however, since, at the core of all these forms of mass social control sit a set of lies/or untruths/or speculative itmes – the tool created – the religions – come with a buit in dishonesty that ends up doing as much harm as good in the minds of the believers (and sometimes more harm than good, based on what the believers are used for by the controllers at the top of the chain). This nature of religion – the ability to use it to control large numbers of people – is the reason that kings – from ancient Egypt & all the way down to the kings of the Sinhala & Jaffna kingdoms took a special interest in religions – on a governmental level it is a very effective form of control in countries where freedom from religion is weak.
    But, I am sure you know all this, since you are promoting a religion that cannot be shown to represent an accurate reflection of the world/universe. Lack of religious freedom, including lack of freedom from religion = lack of overall freedom for individuals/less ability for them to work to improve their lives.

    – S

  • Doubtful

    If life was a ride in the cosmic sphere
    And i am reborn, only to be thrown back here
    I hope Mr. Yapa would have done a lot of ‘ping’
    Enough to be reborn as a sentient being

  • Observer,

    I wrote a point by point response to your post that contains the quoted text below, but, the magical world of the internet did not let me post it (along with a couple of other comments that I tried to submit), so, since I am out of time for the day, I’ll re-post my response to the following only & then will get back to the rest of your post soon.

    RE:

    “Anyway Sujeewa, being an agnostic doesn’t at all give anyone a moral higher ground than a religious person.”

    Never said it did. However, anyone is free to point out that something that some people believe to be true does not appear to be true. I think that is useful to all.

    RE:
    “The tone of your arguments always come across that you feel that agnostics are somehow morally superior.”

    I think that’s your interpertation. I do think that agnostics may be able to point out that certain views are more useful than views that are based on non-existent (most likely) items such as karma, reincarnation/rebirth, nirvana.

    RE:
    “I disagree with that.”

    Sounds good, you are free to disagree.

    RE:
    “Some of the greatest people who have served humanity well are quite religious people.. like mother Theresa.”

    Greatness is a matter of perspective. Every human has to deal with massive obstacles (dealing with the fact that they are alive for a while & will definitely die one day being one of them), and there are many heroic non-believers out there, most likely, in the 200,000+ years that modern humans have exited – & no doubt there are many today (since many places in the world run relatively smoothly, requiring work & sacrifice by many in order to do so, & I am sure there is a good number of non-believers & agnostics in those groups). Anyway, yeah, religion motivating people to do good & useful things – like helping the poor – is definitely good.

    RE:
    “I don’t think we need to question what they perceive to be the truth. We should worry about our own quest for finding what we feel is the truth.”

    I don’t think there is a “we” here Observer. You seem to fear the religious, whereas I do not, so, we are two different kinds of agnostics. However, do what works best for you. Subjective “truths” are fine, but there is also the common world that exists – when dealing with that world, when it comes to shaping it, best to deal with or use things that actually exist, not religious metaphysical speculative items such as karma, reincarnation/rebirth, nirvana, gods, God, heaven, hell, etc. that cannot be proven to be real.

    – S

  • Everyone (specially the agnostics),

    Found an interesting document on the web while doing research for this conversation/debate – Buddhist Nationalism and Religious Violence in Sri Lanka
    http://www.class.uidaho.edu/ngier/slrv.htm

    From the document:

    “One incident from the Mahāvamsa (chap. 19) demonstrates the ethnic and religious harmony that existed during the reign of King Devanamtissa (247-207 BCE), who introduced Buddhism to the island. The chapter begins with an elaborate description of the transport of the Bodhi tree from King Ashoka in India and its arrival in the northern port of Jubukola. There a brahmin priest named Tivakka was one of the first to worship the holy tree. Two weeks later it arrived in the capital city of Anuradhapura and the tree miraculously sprouted 32 saplings. One was given to Tivakka to plant in his own town, and two others were given to kÅ›atriyas in the north. This demonstrates that not only was there ethnic harmony, but Hindus and Buddhists, as many still do today in India and Nepal, worshiped together honoring common sacred sites and things.

    The next major event is the campaign of King Dutthagamani (161-137 BCE) that led to the unification of the island under this Buddhist king. The DÄ«pavamsa (18.50-54), the earliest chronicle from the 4th Century CE, portrays the Tamil king Elara as a just ruler and there appear to be no anti-Buddhist allegations against him. The fact that Dutthagamani starts from the periphery of power in the south and must fight 32 other provincial rulers, some of them presumably Buddhists, on his way north indicates that the actual motivations for Dutthagamani’s campaign could not have been primarily religious. The 1912 English version of the Mahāvamsa contains an unfortunate mistranslation that moves a Buddhist relic from the royal scepter to Dutthagamani’s spear and has given Buddhist militants an illicit, but even stronger justification for Buddhist warfare.[21]

    While the DÄ«pavamsa contains only 13 stanzas about Dutthagamani, more than half the Mahāvamsa is devoted to the famous king. The authors are determined to glorify Dutthagamani and they design an edifying narrative framework based on the story of AÅ›oka. The number of provincial rulers who resisted Dutthagamani is obviously exaggerated and most likely is drawn from the 32 opponents of AÅ›oka. But the most significant similarity to AÅ›oka is the post-battle malaise that Dutthagamani suffers over the great number of Tamil causalities. In chapter 25, a group of arhats come to console the grieving king and report a remarkable calculation concerning those killed in the war. According to the wise monks, only one enemy soldier had taken full refuge in the Dharma and another had embraced only the Five Precepts. This means that there had been only one and a half real persons killed among thousands of causalities. This demonstrates that there has been substantial anti-Tamil sentiment for centuries and it provides ready fodder for contemporary Sinhalese propangandists. Even the great Buddhist scholar Wapola Rahula uses this incident without questioning its veracity in his defense of Sinhalese nationalism.[22] ”

    So, if para 1 is true, we basically have an island full of Hindus (most likely) – Sinhala speaking Hindus, & then Buddhism is introduced to them, many convert, some do not, & centuries later, after the British concept of race is introduced to the island, the Buddhists begin to view themselves as a separate race than their non-Buddhist fellow country men & women (Tamils), though all are essentially the same type of people – and were outwardly so at point of introduction of Buddhism to Sri Lanka – now, post 1948, we have two groups of people who identify themselves as two different races & go to war with each other. Am I reading this right? I am sure many comments will follow 🙂

    Regarding para 2 & 3 quoted, hopefully with the end of the most recent Sinhala-Tamil war in ’09, we won’t see another anytime soon (or perhaps never again, let’s hope). So, even though we are the same basic people, looks like the Sinhalese and the Tamils in SL have been fighting each other for a long time (if the paras quoted are true).

    How does this relate to the topic at hand – the real-ness of k,r,n? Since K,R,N are not real/are speculative items, it will be difficult to start wars over protecting an absolute truth in SL (if the word gets out about the true nature of K,R,N that is, & if people in SL were to behave reasonably 🙂 Anyway, yup, kind of off topic, but, hopefully this shows -at least a little – why the agnostics here are adamant that proof be provided before we accept K,R,N as real things – since politcs, war, & death, & minority rights & ultimately peace for all – are bound with Buddhism, historically, in SL.

    – S

  • BalangodaMan

    Off the Cuff said,
    May 14, 2010 @ 2:45 am

    Your statement
    “But it is already a part of the Constitution and hence the State.”

    Now, here is the context.

    SomewhatDisgusted was talking about SL so far not being a theocracy (a state run on religious rules and principles) in his campaign to stop SL from becoming one. That is, to prevent any religion (even Buddhism) from being the principle on which the state of SL will be run (and I had listed some of the absurdities that would arise as Buddhism is, in essence, a personal reflection of one man who sought to escape from reality and was never meant to be a system of law for running a country).

    Your statement …
    “But it is already a part of the Constitution and hence the State.”

    … was made to refute what SD was saying.

    Your response indicates that you have misunderstood SD (and misunderstood my list of absurdities).

    SD is talking about Buddhism becoming the core on which the law of the land is built and how the country is administered (like Saudi Arabia which is run on Islam – a theocracy). In the other hand, you are talking about the constitution giving Buddhism a PROTECTED STATUS – ie. looking after the heritage and protecting places of worship from destruction (actually it does not need special mention in the contitution for that. it should be automatic and expected, as in other countries).

    I am sure SD was not campaigning for SL not to protect its heritage!

    So your statement was … er … somewhat surprising!

  • BalangodaMan

    “In the other hand” is a cross between “In contrast” and “On the other hand”. Mixed up, just like us in SL.

  • BalangodaMan

    Dear OTC,

    My ‘Scientist?’ post was in response to your

    “May 13, 2010 @ 10:50 am

    Dear BalangodaMan,

  • yapa

    Dear All;

    Sujewa Ekanayake says;

    [We (the agnostics) are not asking for an explanation/demonstration as true/real, of karma, reincarnation, nirvana as described in Buddhism via scientific means only. There are other ways to show that something is real: observation by humans, video tape, audio tape, etc.]

    My God! I can’t stop laughing!

    Please see the narrow thinking of this man. What is more salient is he is not ashamed to say these in public forums, that much is his ignorance.

    One of my friend told me a story. It goes like this;

    He says there was an insane man in his village who used to sit and pass his time on a culvert. After staying seated for some time on the culvert, all of a sudden he stands up starts walking around murmuring something. Do you know what he was murmuring in Sinhala?

    “Salli thiyenawanum, lajja nethnum karanna beri deyak ne…////

    (If you have money, and don’t have shame, nothing is impossible for you….////)

    Thanks!

  • SomewhatDisgusted

    Dear BalangodaMan, OTC,

    “I am sure SD was not campaigning for SL not to protect its heritage!”

    Indeed I wasn’t. Thanks for setting the record straight. There’s a difference between preserving our history and trying to relive our history.

    cheers.
    /SD

  • yapa

    Dear All;

    I was trying to figure out the behaviour of three blind mice when a difficult question was asked.

    Can you remember;

    1. Somewhat(Totally)Dishonest blind man runs away from the forum for months to come back when the incident is forgotten with a victors song. He mis-interpret things and describes them to tarnish others. He behave as an “all knower”, but separates kasippu using physical methods. He tries to teach Science to all but have never learned. So much of his audacity.

    2. “Sounds good” blind man act as a insane man in front of a hard question, and talks entirely irrelevant things. He is shameless to utter any nonsense for any issue in any deep subject.

    3. Balangoda blind man was not that cunning at the beginning, except his lack of knowledge, however now corrupted to the core now with the association of “Apayagami Mithra”. Now he is also behaving with the sole intention of trying to make what coming randomly into his mind, true. Several time he acted like a insane man when asked difficult questions. As the (2) above, he is also not hesitant to tell anything comes to his mind as an answer to any question. This is a very easy way of answering questions.

    However, the Buddha and olden day intelligent men have seen such people and such answers and arguments before and they have named them as “amaravikkhepavada”. Here “amara” is slimy fish called “Anda” in Sinhala. If caught by hand this fish easily slip away due to its slipperiness. Amaravikkhevapada is such answers,and tactics that let the person slip away from the question.

    According to Buddhism there are four types of amaravikkhepavada.

    1. The person who slips away from a direct question such as “Is this A, not A or anything else, telling some irrelevant thing.

    2.He who does not answer, just because it incurs him a loss.

    3. He who does not answer, in fear of insults from the wise.

    4. Ignorant, that answers the way “it is neither this nor that etc…. etc….”

    Can somebody give more details about this “amaravikkhepavada” and tell which blind man of above belong to which category of above.

    Thanks!.

  • SomewhatDisgusted

    Dear Mr. Yapa,

    Amaravikkhepavada.
    ——————


    1. The person who slips away from a direct question such as “Is this A, not A or anything else, telling some irrelevant thing.

    2.He who does not answer, just because it incurs him a loss.

    3. He who does not answer, in fear of insults from the wise.

    4. Ignorant, that answers the way “it is neither this nor that etc…. etc….”

    Aah Mr. Yapa. A very useful list indeed! We should mark it for future reference – that way, we can map any evasive answers to items on this list as you suggest.

    I need a little bit of help understanding this mapping though. Did you not answer this question because of reason no. 2 or reason no. 3 above? Everything else is quite clear to me.

    cheers,
    /SD

  • yapa

    Dear All;

    We are very fortunate to have some genius born in Sri Lanka who would soon bring fame to our motherland. These three nerds are so clever that they can understand Modern Science including Quantum Physics and Relativity, Modern Philosophy and a religion that has been a centre of discussion and respect for centuries:Buddhism, even without studying them a bit. They reject knowledge in them like “karapincha natu” with their in born wisdom, that does not need any investigation or explorations. Such subjects are common knowledge to them that they give all sorts of answers to the issues arisen in these subjects without any hesitation. Even “The Principle Of Uncertainty” is certain to them give prompt answers to any issue in the principle. They are gifted with such wisdom that they are capable of giving judgments on everything starting from Gynecology to Black holes, off hand.

    You are great assets to our country. Hail our Geniuses.

    Thanks!

  • yapa

    SomewhatDisgusted said,

    May 14, 2010 @ 3:26 pm

    [Dear BalangodaMan, OTC,

    “I am sure SD was not campaigning for SL not to protect its heritage!”

    Indeed I wasn’t. Thanks for setting the record straight. There’s a difference between preserving our history and trying to relive our history.

    cheers.
    /SD]

    Don’t stop back scratching and blowing your own trumpets and praising your own tails.

    Thanks!

  • BalangodaMan

    OTC,

    To add to how Sujewa answered your following statement …

    (re. Buddhism is a faith just like Hinduism, Islam and Christianity)
    You said “They are not alike. The first does not entertain a Creator God. The other three does.”

    And a Muslim would say “Islam is not like Buddhism, Christianity and Hinduism because it is the last word from Allah, and none of the other religions are it.”

    And a Christian would say “Christianity is not like Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam because Jesus was the Son of God (like he said) and the other religions do not know that”.

    And if it could speak my car would say “Me am not like any other car down da road because me is yellow and nun of the other cars is”. (well, it never learned proper English anyway!)

  • BalangodaMan

    Creator God
    ———–

    Actually, in differentiating Buddhism from other religions a ‘Creator God’ is a ‘La falsa pista’ (as they say in Italy. A ‘herring rouge’ in France. A ‘chin tong ping’ in China. A ‘rathu malu’ in SL).

    Mr Yapa,

    Here is my reasoning.

    The Universe exists – most people think so. It came to exist by some means – it could be by the hands of Jesus’s dad, Allah, or that mighty explosion they refer to as the Big Bang, or something else.

    Most will agree that what or whoever created the Universe was not ‘a human’. Therefore it was something with a power higher than a human (I do not think it was something ‘lower’ than a human, like a door knob for instance). This, various people call various things – God, Allah, The Big Bang creator, nature. This is what is conceptually … the ‘Creator God’. To deny a ‘Creator God’ (by my reasoning) is to deny the existence of the Universe altogether.

    (unless of course you challenge the existence of the Universe on the basis that you have no real proof that the Universe is nothing more than a figment of your imagination. But then again there is the question of who or what gave you the power to ‘imagine’. So either way you cannot escape the concept of a ‘creator’)

    The Buddha knew this but he wanted us to figure it out. So there, I have explained, to make it easier, Mr Yapa.

    A BETTER IDEA
    ————-

    The logical way to differentiate Buddhism on the subject of GOD is along the lines the Buddha himself taught. That is, the existence of god or gods is irrelevent – BECAUSE he cannot influence or change our destiny, which is entirely controlled by our karma – only OUR actions (good and bad) determine our destiny (the Buddha’s words, not mine, except he said it in Pali).

    Now here is the problem, dear friend Yapa.

    Most Buddhists I know, including and (shockingly!) ESPECIALLY the devout Buddhists, appear to (by their observable behaviour) reject this idea completely!

    I have described this earlier. You can see that Buddhists do not accept that ‘no god can fix things for them’ because they pray to someone (the Buddha I think, or some other deities) precisely to enable the fixing they require when in desparate need (like when a son or daughter is sitting exams, or when a relative is sick or dying, or to fix things for a dead relative recently departed). Furthermore, they pray as a means of insurance, or spiritual investment, to cover against things that need fixing that will arise in the future.

    This is not a minority activity – it IS the mainstream behaviour of people you know.

    So from this I conclude that most people who claim to be Buddhist actually reject something quite fundamental to it.

    So, bringing in GOD to differentiate Buddhism from other religions is what we call in football ‘an own goal’ – (or in cricket, a ‘bokku’).

  • yapa

    Dear SomewhatDisgusted;

    “Did you not answer this question because of reason no. 2 or reason no. 3 above?”

    Yes, Off hand genius/ Scientist.

    Thanks!

  • SomewhatDisgusted

    Dear Mr. Yapa

    You said: “You are great assets to our country. Hail our Geniuses.”

    Thank you Mr. Yapa. We can only blush in modesty. Truly Mr.Yapa, are you not being overly modest yourself? You coyly praise us but we must readily admit to being far more impressed by the phenomenal breadth of your own knowledge. I’m happy that all of us are keeping up this great spirit of friendly debate, an open-minded outlook which is willing to reconsider even one’s most dearly held beliefs (a true sign of SL Buddhist greatness) and an appreciation of the contributions of others.

    cheers,
    /SD

  • wijayapala

    Burning_Issue,

    What do my statements on Japan have anything to do with the Tamils not being a threat to Buddhism and/or Sinhalese? The Tamils may not be a threat, but Christian and Islamic fundamentalists are a different story.

    And you did not answer my basic question- is it possible to build a common nation that lacks a common understanding of Sri Lankan history?

  • yapa

    Dear All;

    Human Knowledge, Science and Reality

    I have discussed the nature of Human knowledge earlier. Also I discussed about the Salmon’s, Weaver bird’s and Migratory bird’s knowledge. I further discussed these knowledge are subjective to each “specie” and depend on the limited of the sensory perceptions (+ the capacity of mind) each spice posses. Therefore, as a consequence I said the reality (objective knowledge) cannot be realized through such knowledge gained through sensory perceptions.

    Further, I have said that Human Knowledge (except for the raw knowledge endowed by the nature) is a created one. This knowledge is created through the process of mind with the help of sensory perceptions. Now, we will consider how and why this knowledge is created.

    When a sensory perception is received by the mind it classifies the perception into pleasant, unpleasant or neutral according to the past knowledge store in the consciousness. When a pleasant thought is created natural craving/desire/passion/greed to acquire or to make a favourable connection with the subject is arisen. When an unpleasant thought is created natural craving to repulse/ resist/drive away it is arisen. In the case of a neutral thought a particular strong feeling may not arise.

    With the first two kinds of urges the mind tries to fulfill its desire, using mind, verbal and physical actions. In this endeavour mind makes definitions, differentiations, conventions, summarizations, hypotheses, theories, theorems etc… etc…and creates knowledge. Again based on such knowledge in consciousness on the basis of the repeated perceptions, based on the capacity of mind the human knowledge is created in cycles. Whole such knowledge is created on the basis of “want” that is based on clinging/desire (based on pleasant thought) and repulsion/collision (based on unpleasant thought).

    This way the basis for human knowledge is desire (Lobha) and collision (Dwesha or Dosha) and the reason is Avijja or Moha. Avijja is the reason because the mind clings or collides with the object because it does not know the real nature of the object. Really the object itself is not pleasant or unpleasant in its nature. I explained this by “Man’s shit (unpleasant to him) is dog’s food (pleasant to it). Not knowing this real state of the object we react in ignorance (avijja, moha).
    All the human knowledge generated so far including Science, Philosophy or any other branch was generated the way mentioned above (in prejudice) and hence does not represent the reality or it is not capable of uncovering the reality.

    Some People might say in the 21st century we are very advanced in knowledge, technology and everything, and how could any body in the past know anything more than us. But the thing is even in the 21st century we have not changed the method of acquiring knowledge. Still we are using the old method used by our oldest relative of the homo Sapiens, millions of years back.

    If somebody says the “knowledge acquiring method revealed by the Buddha”, 2500 years back is more modern than that old method still used even by the Modern Science; can anybody say it is wrong?
    Why don’t we through our “Hanamitiya”.

    Thanks!

  • yapa

    correction…..

    Why don’t we through our “Hanamitiya”.

    Above should change as “Why don’t we throw away our “Hanamitiya”.

    Thanks!

  • SomewhatDisgusted

    Dear Observer

    “Using similar logic, sure religions aren’t sacred to us because we see it in a different light. But to the believers it is as mother.”

    An outwardly moving argument but a one way street to the inquisition. Insulting one’s mother is a personal insult on an individual. A religion is a view on the origin and nature of the universe. Every man and his dog has a view on that. If a person cannot bear to have that questioned (or ridiculed) they need to grow the heck up. No such concept is sacred. It is by proclaiming itself sacred that it protects itself from further inquiry and eventually sends people to their deaths for disagreeing. Better get these people used to the idea now before they nail us to the cross later.

    cheers,
    /SD

  • BalangodaMan

    Wijayapala, you asked … May 14, 2010 @ 9:28 pm

    “is it possible to build a common nation that lacks a common understanding of Sri Lankan history?”

    Hey W, it has been well researched and found that some of the SL history on which we rest our cherished chauvinism is steeped in distortion. The article referenced by Sujewa is a good place to start, if you have an interest in this check out …
    http://www.class.uidaho.edu/ngier/slrv.htm

    The trouble is, in SL you cannot openly discuss or research these distortions.

    Compare this. The Turin Shroud, which was and still is revered as the cloth on which Jesus’s body was wrapped was found to be a 14th century fake. This was possible to research and publish in the open society of the West (although that has not taken anything away from the devoteed who still worship it).

    In SL, any chance similar research can be done on the Sacred Tooth Relic in Kandy? Apparently the entire print run of an SL newpaper that published an article questioning its authenticity was ordered to be destroyed.

    The Mahawansa was discovered in 1822 by the British. We Sinhalese assume that it was venerated or even generally known about by the inhabitants of SL for 2,000 years. Wrong! If it’s contents had not supported the nationalist-protestant Sinhala-Buddhist movement of the 1880s we will not know about it even now. (it was translated by Wilhelm Geiger in 1912)

    We assume that our cherished ruins of Anuradhapura and Pollonnaruwa stood for 1,000+ years in the shiny splendor that we see it in today? Wrong! These ruins were abandoned and hidden in the jungle for 800 years. Nobody in SL cared about it. They were rediscovered by the British (I bet Mr Yapa you cannot name the British explorer who made the discovery). Of course, the forest monks knew it was there (but see below about the Order of Monks). An eye witness account states that ‘you could not see twenty yards in front of you” – the jungle was so thick.

    Even after the rediscovery the locals had no interests in clearing the jungle – for some 70 years! The British rulers then ordered it to be cleared. About a decade later Anagarika Dharmapala successfully obtained agreement from the British rulers that the archaeological findings will stay in Lanka and open for worship. He formed the Maha Bodhi Society to protect it, and of course the ruins greatly supported the Sinhala-Buddhist ‘brand’ that he was promoting.

    Today, we also think that the order of monks in SL remained unbroken since 2,300 years ago. Wrong! The only monks since the Chola invasion (11th century) lived in the forest. When we think of monks we think of those in temples in the cities who chant pirith in our homes and have ‘dhana’. It wasn’t until hundreds of years later that the King decided to re-introduce the order of monks but there were no monks in Lanka to ordain them. So they imported an Order from Siam.

    You can find the citations by Googling.

    I think it is important to preserve our cherished heritage. However, it should not be allowed to be distorted for political reasons, or for any reason.

    Now, DNA evidence from the Human Genome project is throwing old theories about race and migration straight out the window (all over the world). I have already mentioned the Stanford U research on we Sinhala people (75% of the ancestors of every one of us lived in South India up to 5,000 years ago. That includes you Mr Yapa. We have just ended a 25 year war against our own brothers!).

    The big fear now is, what archaeological treasures and evidence will be found in the North? What if the archaeologists find civilisation advanced for its time in the North of SL dating to 1,000 BC or more ? (this is very probable, given time)

    You see Wijayapala, I FULLY endorse your imperative that we have “a common understanding of Sri Lankan history”. But can we do that with the real history please? (we can learn a lot from why we distorted it)

  • Burning_Issue

    Dear Wijayapala,

    “And you did not answer my basic question- is it possible to build a common nation that lacks a common understanding of Sri Lankan history?”

    I am sorry I am a bit pressed for time. The problem is that, the Sri Lankan history has been bastardised left, right, and centre to suit nationalistic sentiments, and being taught to unsuspecting young people; how can one turn this tide around? Yes, of course, for instance, if the Sinhalese were to know and accept that they are largely made up of Dravidian stock; it would help immensely to bridge the gap! It is a matter for the Sinhala Buddhist intellectuals to rectify this situation; the Tamils are helpless in this endeavour.

  • BalangodaMan

    Burning_Issue,

    “It is a matter for the Sinhala Buddhist intellectuals to rectify this situation; the Tamils are helpless in this endeavour.”

    Not sure if I’m an intellectual (Mr Yapa says I’m not) but I have done my bit above 🙂

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear BalangodaMan,

    You came in to a discussion between SD, Observer and me in mid stream. It was incumbent on you to familiarize yourself of what went on earlier before attempting “SMART” comments like the one you wrote on May 13, 2010 @ 1:20 am.

    Here is how the discussion went in brief (read the original posts for more)

    Me to SomewhatDisgusted on May 11, 2010 @ 1:18 am
    But the Article has gone beyond that and into areas that Observer correctly points to. It questions the concepts of Kamma, Rebirth and Nibbana on the basis that “Science” has no answer. This presupposes that “Science” knows it all. This of course is a fallacy in every branch of Science.

    SomewhatDisgusted said, May 11, 2010 @ 12:29 pm
    While I completely and have repeatedly agreed with you that science does not know it all (I don’t think it can be done even in principle), I’m not sure where the article says that “the concepts of KRN are questioned on the basis that science has no answer”

    Me to SomewhatDisgusted / Observer, post on May 12, 2010 @ 11:13 pm
    That’s why I stated that “the Article has gone beyond that and into areas that Observer correctly points to. It questions the concepts of Kamma, Rebirth and Nibbana on the basis that “Science” has no answer. This presupposes that “Science” knows it all. This of course is a fallacy in every branch of Science.

    This is where you came in with your wise cracking “Oh Gosh ….Phew” post

    BalangodaMan said, May 13, 2010 @ 1:20 am
    Oh gosh!
    For the Umpteenth time (!) it was your colleague Mr Yapa who stated that karma, rebirth, nirvana are real things that can be proved with scientific methods. He quoted research in Quantum Physics and what not. He even argued in favour of a particular scientific approach. It was the Agnostics who challenged that. Now you are all saying what the Agnostics were saying all along! THAT YOU CAN’T PROVE SCIENTIFICALLY OR OTHERWISE SOMETHING THAT IS A MATTER OF RELIGIOUS FAITH.
    Phew!

    My reply to you on May 13, 2010 @ 10:50 am starts as follows

    My posts refer to the Article that was authored by Sujewa. If you think that the article does not use Science as a base to question Buddhism then please make your argument. Using Science as a base includes requesting the use of Science in the proof.

    I have also stated the following in the same post
    BTW – Please leave out the fixation that you have with Yapa in your refutation and deal with facts that you can support or provide references to.

    You responded on May 13, 2010 @ 5:11 pm as follows

    “OTC,
    Scientist?
    ———–
    You are accusing me of being a scientist rather unfairly, perhaps by association? ”

    My challenge to you is based on your post of May 13, 2010 @ 1:20 am, reproduced above and asks you to respond ONLY if you think that Sujewa’s article does not request the use of Science.

    Now, please indicate where I have accused you of being a Scientist?

    When you have so frequently displayed an abysmal knowledge of science, in this thread and its precursor, what made you think I will even think of you as someone with a logical mind to be able to discuss Science?

    Even in the post of May 13, 2010 @ 1:20 am, you are writing plain BS, things that are TOTALLY irrelevant to the question asked of you. I have specifically asked you to leave out the fixation that you have with Yapa, yet you are unable to do so.

    Sujewa’s post of May 13, 2010 @ 8:21 am, addressed to me and others have back peddled on the demand of using science as a proof. He has effectively cut your legs off from under you and your “Oh Gosh and Phew” post of May 13, 2010 @ 1:20 am

    You have on several occasions tried to introduce your own fabrications as my writings as pointed out to you before.

    Please refrain from your Dishonest Tricks and write sensible comments AFTER reading and understanding the relevant posts.

    I note that you have been writing some nonsense about three Buddhas. I am surprised at your lack of even a RUDIMENTARY knowledge of Buddha’s life since you claimed that you were born a Buddhist.

    It surprises me no end to see a man from a Southern Village, claiming to have been brought up in a Buddhist family, who had at least been a Buddhist till he was 13 years, not knowing that Siddhartha the Heir to the Crown was never called the Buddha until he attained enlightenment. I cannot fathom the DISHONESTY of such a man who claims that to “Most” Buddhists, Buddha is a God and continues to elaborate thus “no different from the Christian god and the Muslim Allah.”

    You need to educate yourself on the Symbolic reason why flowers are offered. The Pali verse embodies the following

    Just as certainly as these flowers wilt away, my body too will wilt away

    Hardly a prayer to an all powerful God!!!

    Buddha invited critical analysis of what he taught. I am not aware of any other mainstream religion that does so (would like someone to correct me on this). You don’t do a critical analysis. You FABRICATE Canards.

    It looks as if you are blaming Buddhism for your Fathers Death. Buddha is no God. He cannot grant you or your mother any favours. So it was your family’s mistake, asking for anything from him, as you were certain to be disappointed. If you or your family knew Buddhism you would not have asked favours from him. He died long ago, never to be reborn again.

  • BalangodaMan

    OTC,

    “It looks as if you are blaming Buddhism for your Fathers Death. Buddha is no God. He cannot grant you or your mother any favours. So it was your family’s mistake, asking for anything from him, as you were certain to be disappointed. If you or your family knew Buddhism you would not have asked favours from him. He died long ago, never to be reborn again.”

    LOL! Actually my late father would have been the first to point out the absurdity of leading in a procession of monks into a hospital room to chant pirith. But that does not top the surrounding family from trying to sneak them in disguised as attendants!

    I could dismiss my family as eccentric in their religious disposition, but no – I think they are typical in SL. It is no wonder though. The monks in the local temple actually promote the idea that worship is necessary to fix life’s crises, which includes worshipping the monks, that it passes merit to dead relatives and so on. This is an easy sell because they are preaching exactly what the audiences want to hear and want – ie. a quick fix.

    Still, I don’t know what the disagreement is. Isn’t it a ‘given’ that it is customary to give offerings before any auspicious event? So, why? To whom?

    (are we on the same planet?)

    ::

    The argument about science – highly irrelevant. The often heard expression “science doesn’t know everything” indicates a lack of understanding of what ‘science’ means. It is (in my books anyway) the study of things to find out things about them (funny thing is that’s what Dhamma is supposed to mean also). By definition ‘science’ knows (and will always know) much much LESS than it doesn’t know. But what it knows it can explain why it thinks what it knows, and why it rejects some things as myth where the evidence shows that it is (Galileo, Darwin). It does not mean that science can disprove what it does not know.

    You will have a hard time arguing against critics of religion if the only strategy you have is to knock science.

  • Burning_Issue

    Dear BalangodaMan,

    “Not sure if I’m an intellectual (Mr Yapa says I’m not) but I have done my bit above ”

    Yes; absolutely agree that real history should come out; we will have battle on our hands to challenge the chauvinists.

    Dear Off the Cuff,

    If I had misquoted you, I say sorry.

  • yapa

    Dear Off the Cuff;

    Addressing BalangodaMan you said;

    “You don’t do a critical analysis. You FABRICATE Canards.

    Not only him, “Sounds Good”BalangodaMan is also unfamiliar with such accepted methodologies of discussion. They utter what comes to their petty minds in random basis without fear or shame in ignorance. They make empty noises to disrupt the ideas put forward by others they don’t like, they act in connivance with ill will to undermine others’ ideas in an unfair way, they are not familiar with or have knowledge to engage in such a fair debate. These two ignorant guys were taken for a ride by the “dishonest” by his false appreciations and motivations and they act like puppets when the strings are pulled. Dishonest too avoid critical analyzes wit audacity, not by ignorance like these two blind men uses his unethical means to reach his ill planned ends.

    Dear Off the Cuff;

    Do not see it as his fault. It is his ignorance.

    Thanks!

  • LuckyGirl

    The link attached below is the best scientific explanation of Kamma that i have come across, and i believe it makes very good sense:

    http://jokerman.wordpress.com/2006/09/07/take-four-is-a-buddhists-idea-of-kamma-vipaaka-rational/

    The language is a bit flowery but i hope it helps!

    Regards

    LG

  • yapa

    Dear All;

    Burning_Issue says;

    [if the Sinhalese were to know and accept that they are largely made up of Dravidian stock;]

    See this man’s ignorance and audacity. This man does not know the issue is not on “RACE” but on “ETHNICITY”. Sinhalese are Sinhalese not due to its race or races, but due to its inherent culture. Everybody knows that “Sinhalese race” is a mixture of many races, including natives lived in pre Vijajaya era, Aryans, Tamils, Arabs, Portugese, Dutch, English,….erc…etc…, but Sinhalese Nation or Sinhalese ethnicity is a Single entity only. It does not contain Tamil race or British race or Aryan race or native race. It consists of a single ethnicity formed with the all absorbed races,after accepting Sinhalese culture. There are no more Tamils in Sihala ethnicity, no more Britishes in Sinhala ethnicity, no more natives in Sinhala ethnicity. All have become one Sinhalese nation once it accepted common norms and values.

    As you have said many Tamils have become “Sinhalese” in this country and they never complain of ill treatments or whatever discrimination towards them. They never think any more that they are Tamils. They may be Tamils in race, but no one cares about such differences in Sinhalese Society and they are equal partners.

    When Tamils settle down in Canada they would like to become Canadians, in Britain, Britishers, in USA, Americans, but in Sri Lanka they are hesitant to be so. They want a separate piece of cake here.

    I have no right to suggest Tamils to assimilate into the the main stream. But I feel, if they did so these unfortunate things wouldn’t have happened.

    As we don’t have wisdom we fight in ignorance. Avijja is the the main root cause of any evil thing.

    Thanks!

  • OTC is imagining things again; making up things that do not exist & believing those to be true (a common characteristic among the believers i see).

    RE:

    “Sujewa’s post of May 13, 2010 @ 8:21 am, addressed to me and others have back peddled on the demand of using science as a proof. He has effectively cut your legs off from under you and your “Oh Gosh and Phew” post of May 13, 2010 @ 1:20 am”

    There is no back peddling. The challenge has always been (read the top of the article when your memory starts to give you problems – as it often seems to do to believers) for the believers to show that karma, reincarnation, nirvana are real aspects of this world, & you can use whatever means (verifiable by non-believers); science, math, observations, common sense, etc.

    I don’t see any such proof coming. Thus, Buddhism is merely a religion – not undisputed truth or the universal truth or whatever.

    – S

  • yapa

    Dear Doubtful;

    RE: Your poem posted on May 14, 2010 @ 10:47 am

    Thanks for your philosophical poem. I really love it.

    Thanks!

  • yapa

    BalangodaMan said,

    May 15, 2010 @ 2:00 am

    Burning_Issue,

    “It is a matter for the Sinhala Buddhist intellectuals to rectify this situation; the Tamils are helpless in this endeavour.”

    Not sure if I’m an intellectual (Mr Yapa says I’m not) but I have done my bit above 🙂
    ……………………..

    Ignorant are most assertive!

  • Dasa Maha Yoda

    Anyone criticizing Sinhalese people or their only true religion Buddhism is a traitor. In the current regime, all such traitors will be punished with death. Judicially or extra-judicially. This is the Sinhala Buddhist island and agnostics and other critics are not welcome here. Stay off in your safe havens and dare not return to Mother Lanka!

  • Observer

    SWD,

    SomewhatDisgusted said,
    May 14, 2010 @ 11:11 pm

    Dear Observer

    “Using similar logic, sure religions aren’t sacred to us because we see it in a different light. But to the believers it is as mother.”

    An outwardly moving argument but a one way street to the inquisition. Insulting one’s mother is a personal insult on an individual. A religion is a view on the origin and nature of the universe. Every man and his dog has a view on that. If a person cannot bear to have that questioned (or ridiculed) they need to grow the heck up. No such concept is sacred. It is by proclaiming itself sacred that it protects itself from further inquiry and eventually sends people to their deaths for disagreeing. Better get these people used to the idea now before they nail us to the cross later.

    cheers,
    /SD

    Alright if nothing is sacred is the path you want to adhere to let’s celebrate that!

    For starters let’s pay tribute to innocent abused children with this catchy tune! Warning NSFW!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fHRDfut2Vx0

    Sujeewa,

    I don’t think there is a “we” here Observer. You seem to fear the religious,

    I do fear irrational people when grouped together. And I also believe not all religious people are irrational. Hence I do not fear ALL religious people.

    BalangodaMan,

    BalangodaMan said,
    May 13, 2010 @ 9:25 pm

    Observer,

    “than those that have absolute confidence in something they have no way of verifying.” (my comment)

    I am reminded of the numerous emails I get forwarded to me about ‘Microsoft will pay $25,000 if you use IE’ or ‘Nokia will pay for your child’s private education if you forward this email on to all your friends’. You know what I mean …

    Does any intelligent person pass these on? Why don’t they check by Googling or Snopes before they pass these lies on to people who trust them? What do you think of people who send these to you?

    Yes, I thought so.

    So, why do we condone the same thing when it is adults passing on unverified fantastic (religious) sales messages to their unsuspecting children who trust them?

    Except the difference is scams such as forwarding emails have proven to be fakes over multiple instances and people generally have the perception that
    If only we could google spiritual matters and get conclusive answers! Life would be so easy no?

  • I wonder where this argument is heading, because at the end of it, everyone seems stuck to their beliefs or non-beliefs in the case of the agnostics and it’s going to stay that way.

    One thing i find odd is how buddhists treat buddhism as a religion, when i suppose, it’s ‘founder’ siddartha gautama intended it to be a philosophy he cooked up to end suffering and exit the ‘cycle of life’ (whatever that is).

    @dasa maha yoda: there is nothing wrong with people having an opinion different from your own, its a basic human right. Srilanka is only a country where Sinhala Buddhist people make the majority and because of that it is governed by some of those principles but the constitution supports co-existence of the different religions in the country, so you have no right to tell agnostics that they aren’t welcome in their own country.

  • SomewhatDisgusted

    Dear BalangodaMan,

    Thanks for the very interesting paper.

    I’ve extracted some particularly interesting passages:

    “Obeyesekere points out that “it is one of the ironies of ethnicity that the Tamils want a separate state of Ilam, which means ‘Sinhala country’; while the Sinhalas want to hang on to Lanka which is derived from ilankai the Tamil word for ‘island.'””

    How much funnier than that can it get?

    Also, the following two passages:
    “The supreme irony is that multilingualism was one of cultural ideals of medieval Sinhalese society, where the mastery of six languages was considered to be the educated norm.”

    “The Buddhist canon does not use ārya as a racial term; rather, it is an honorific for all those who embrace the Dharma. Furthermore, as Mahinda Palihawadana has argued, the Buddha believed that racism and nationalism are the result of flawed perception. Like the Body of Christ, there are no distinctions at all within the body of the Buddha. Perceiving a “difference by birth” is, as Palihawadana explains, “a mental propensity (ditthanusaya), something invested with emotional content. The classic example is the idea of me, my self; and, compounded with other conventional views, my clan, my country, my language, my nation, and not least, my creed.”[37] Ultra nationalists take their own nāma-gotta–name and clan—and mistakenly believe that it is an essential part of their identity. “

    Mr. Yapa, I would really like to hear how you reconcile your own position with the Buddha’s? This is the kind of unifying, humane philosophy that I understand comes from the Buddha (and indeed, any compassionate and intelligent man).

    And then, the two below:
    “In 1908 Dharmapala declared that Buddhism was “completely identified with the racial individuality of the people.”[38] As Peter Schalk states: “This is probably one of the most conflict creating public statements made in the 20th century. It is also a statement that is detrimental nationally and internationally to the reputation of Buddhism. . . . He stated explicitly that Lanka belongs to the Buddhist Sinhalese and for the Tamils there is South India.”[39] It is unfortunate that American evangelical Christian activists unwittingly spread the myth of the Aryan Sinhalese. One of their websites states that the Buddhist portion of the island’s population (75 percent) is Sinhala and Aryan, obviously implying that the Åšri Lankān Christians, Muslims, and Hindus are not. Incidentally, if there is any historical substance to a North Indian origin of the original immigrants to the island, then one could claim an Aryan origin, but only linguistically, for these people.”

    Woah Nelly! Sri Lanka belongs to the Sinhalese because “Dharmapala Thuma” said so! (Must be another akaravathi shradda) So now we follow “Dharmapala Thuma’s” words over the Buddha’s own words which reject racial/ethnic divisions? I’m just wondering why we don’t go the whole hog, erect some statues of “Dharmapala thuma” and worship him instead of the Buddha, since we seem to follow his words more closely anyway? This will “preserve SL Buddhism” plus prevent the good name of the Buddha being tarnished? A win win situation no?

    And finally this:
    “Before concluding this section, some historical balance is now in order to counter the previous focus on Buddhist nationalism. In the British constitutional reforms of 1911, the Tamils, with only 10 percent of population, were given 42 percent of the representation. In a move to protect their position, high caste Tamils, previously favored by the British, did object to a more equitable formula in the first Donoughmore proposals in 1927. These high caste Tamils, distinct from the more recent tea estate Tamils, thought the Sinhalese were a “uncivilized and backward community,” and their spokesman Sir Ponnambalam Ramanathan stated: “Although we may be small in numbers, in terms of caste, official power etc., we are the most powerful community in Åšri Lanka. Both the Sinhalese and the Muslims have accepted this. Therefore, when the British leave, it is the Tamils who should rightfully inherit political power.”[48]”

    This is so the Tamils know where they get their own silly superiority complex from.

    Please, this kind of illogic needs to be shoved where the sun don’t shine. This kind of thinking has always been a bad idea and it is dangerously anti-human and divisive. People like the Buddha recognized that 2500 years ago. Indeed, anyone who thinks about it for more than 5 minutes would. Yet, do we want to even count the number of people who are (they know it’s taboo to say it out loud), secretly harbouring delusions of superiority and uniqueness, hanging onto holy truths or never before seen language dialects, which can only be preserved for all eternity by mistrusting, assimilating or isolating ourselves from the “other” like in-bred hillbillies?

    BalangodaMan said it right. “We are dealing with a mentality of 800 years ago in a world that is very different now. If the people with this mentality appropriate for that age LIVED IN THAT AGE there is no problem, or if they live in isolation from the rest of the world. It is when they come face to face with the 21st century that we have a major conflict”

    cheers.
    /SD

    p.s.
    Mr. Yapa will doubtless observe that the “apaaya sahaaya mithraya” is goading BalangodaMan on by kissing his rear end again. Just as well neither B-man nor I believe in any apaaya (hell). BTW, Christians believe in apaaya too. Wonder how they stumbled on to a Buddhist concept? Or is it even a Buddhist concept?

    apaaya – hell
    sahaaya – to help
    mithraya – friend

    Therefore, apaaya sahaaya mithraya – friend who helps you to get to hell.

  • SomewhatDisgusted

    Dear Observer,

    “Alright if nothing is sacred is the path you want to adhere to let’s celebrate that!”

    Once again, your argument is an appeal to emotion based on an unsuitable comparison. You have not given a single reason as to why religion ought to be held sacred.

    Child abuse is an illegal act against a defenseless child.

    Religion is supposed to be a view on the origin, nature and purpose of the universe. If you cannot understand the difference between taking child abuse lightly (a known reality) and taking a view on the “unknown” lightly, then we have a problem.

    Saying that we can no longer question someone’s views on the unknown and must treat any odd irrational belief with slavish respect, is, to me, an absurd proposition. It means we have already found the answers to life and can no longer make any rational inquiry about it. It also means we cannot critique the destructive influence of religion on society – its divisive nature, its unfounded beliefs being foisted upon young children as the gospel truth etc. Not allowing it to be questioned is – allow me to make my own appeal to emotion which is both suitable and supported by historic fact – a one way street to the inquisition.

    BTW, religious indoctrination can be considered a form of child abuse, as BalangodaMan highlighted in his post earlier.

    cheers,
    /SD

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear Burning Issue,

    We have had very heated arguments about Tamil/ Sinhala issues. Yet we have agreed with each other by looking at facts devoid of emotion. I have come to respect you as a Gentleman. The reference to me in your post of May 15, 2010 @ 6:39 am confirms the fact.

    Thank you

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear BalangodaMan,

    You say,
    “LOL! Actually my late father would have been the first to point out the absurdity of leading in a procession of monks into a hospital room to chant pirith. But that does not top the surrounding family from trying to sneak them in disguised as attendants!”

    Sure your late father would then have been more educated about Buddhism to know that Buddha was not a God and that there was only ONE Buddha not three in one lifetime as you fantasize.

    Pity he could not pass his knowledge on to his son who has a penchant for Pontificating on matters that he is an Ignoramus of.

    You say,
    “It does not mean that science can disprove what it does not know.”

    Yes that is correct but you forget that the corollary is also true.
    If Science cannot DISPROVE what it does not know it cannot PROVE it either.

    At the current point in time Science does not know anything about Rebirth though it knows something about “Premeditated Action”.

    When you and Sujewa keep asking for Scientific or some such “verifiable” proof you keep conveniently forgetting the above.

    If you want such Verifiable proof you have to FIRST PROVE to the Religious that the methods you are asking to be used has the Capacity or the Authority or the Maturity to dissect the Subject that you have chosen. You cannot use a spoon to empty an Ocean.

    You two have Miserably Failed to prove that Science or what ever method of your choosing is Mature.

    Both of you have studiously kept away from that discussion. Why? Is it because you have a hard time in doing that?

    (This is re your post of May 15, 2010 @ 3:51 am)

  • SomewhatDisgusted

    Dear OTC,

    You said: “When I asked you, whether you agreed with Buddha’s teachings I meant what Buddha said about Good governance not anything else. How would such Governance become anything but benign?”

    I think we are having a problem once again with concepts. We are moving interchangeably between several different concepts.

    1. What the Buddha said
    2. What SL Buddhists follow
    3. What we ought to be following based on 21st century understanding.

    In this regard I think we both agree that what the Buddha said about governance is benign. We probably also agree that what SL Buddhists follow is a travesty of what the Buddha said (which is why you felt the need to qualify it by saying you were not referring to corruptions of it). What we disagree on is concept no. 3.

    The reason is this. You are merely taking one part of Buddhism, the “dasa raja dharma”, and saying it is suitable for all. Yes. I would agree. I would also point out that these are virtues universally valued by *any thinking human being* across cultures. We don’t necessarily need a belief in Buddhism to realize it.

    However, that’s not all there is to Buddhism is it? So taking one part of Buddhism, showing that it is suitable for all, and then concluding that no one should have a problem with accepting it, is similar to Christians taking 6 of the commandments, saying it’s suitable for all, and asking that we all accept Christianity. Would you agree to such a thing?

    Secondly, on what basis are we to ask that others accept Buddhism? Can you show it to be an indisputable truth? I think we’ve clearly seen that this too, is not possible.

    And so we come to the point. What is the *fair* thing to do? I’ve repeatedly asked this question, to which I have received no concrete answer from any of the believers.

    My personal view is that all the believers intuitively recognize what the fair thing to do is. Secularism is based on that fairness, that’s why it’s an *unassailable* concept, accepted in the 21st century by most modern nations including Sri Lanka. The only countries which fail to accept it are the backward, fundamentalist nut-job Islamic ones.

    Therefore, we can clearly see that having a clause which installs Buddhism as some sacred concept is *inherently unfair*. It is a majoritarian policy, not a fair policy.

    Now here comes something that might be a pleasant surprise to you. I don’t actually have a problem with that clause. I think that clause is wrong in principle, but I don’t have too much beef with it in practice. I’ve already explained why.

    But what I want believers to acknowledge is that they are completely aware of the fact that such clauses are a *privilege* and not a *right*. Unfortunately most people just don’t see it that way. They have simply used their position as a majority to enforce the idea on others, thinking that Buddhism is some indisputable truth, without largely even realizing that they have no basis on which to do so. Others may be willing to accept it, given that Buddhism is a relatively harmless religion, *provided that the Sinhalese are willing to be scrupulously fair by others in every other respect*.

    History shows us that this has not been the case. We have continuously tried to elevate Sinhalese culture, dominant religion, symbols etc. to the forefront, while ignoring the similar concerns of the Tamils. We *must* accept a massive part of the blame for these problems, because we are the most numerous ethnic group in the country, and therefore burdened with greater responsibility. We simply *cannot* form a fair society and ask others to live in it otherwise.

    So you probably see now where my protest against Buddhism originates from. It was necessary to show that we are already unfairly privileged by having clauses like these in the constitution. The least we can do is to make sure we provide proper language use for the Tamils.

    Do you honestly think we have done that successfully so far? We almost denied it altogether through the ’56 Sinhala Only policy. Tamil language policies are still not satisfactorily implemented. Should this not be one of our greatest concerns?

    I will end by saying that, this problem is certainly not a one-sided issue. The Tamils have to take their fair share of the blame too. Many other things are simply an inevitable result of history – no one’s fault. But we need to readily understand and face our reality. Sinhalese culture is facing no threat at the moment. It is therefore of twice the importance now that we do what we can to help the Tamil community recover.

    I have long known you are no racist and a fair-minded individual. But we must protest against those who think of things from a lop-sided perspective and simply cannot consider things from another culture/person’s point of view. This is also where correcting concept no. 2 (Dharmapala type thinking – which had its uses then, but is a *problem* now – Seriously, what kind of racist in his/her right mind would say Sri Lanka belongs to the Sinhalese?) and making Buddhism go back to its roots towards concept no. 1 and making sure it aligns itself with modernity as in concept no. 3.

    cheers,
    /SD

  • yapa

    Dear Three BalangodaMen;

    Have you got any comments on my post of May 14, 2010 @ 9:30 pm? It talks about your “Hanamitiya”.

    Thanks!

  • yapa

    Dear SomewhatDisgusted;

    [BTW, religious indoctrination can be considered a form of child abuse, as BalangodaMan highlighted in his post earlier.]

    You are abusing “sounds good” child and “BalangodaChild” . Two poor children who do not know A, B, C of these things! Oh! my Gosh!

    Thanks!

  • BalangodaMan

    OTC,
    your May 15, 2010 @ 2:12 pm

    “there was only ONE Buddha not three”

    OTC, you are reading this literally. The point I was making is, that in discussion we are often referring to 3 separate ideas of who the Buddha was (or still is in the case of Buddha of the Third Kind). Consequently we are attributing interchangable characters to quotes/teaching/phenomena. (No, I am not having a vision of 3 Buddhas like The Three Muskateers or The Three Tenors)

    And you say …#
    “Science … knows something about “Premeditated Action”.

    Whoa!

    “You two have Miserably Failed to prove that Science or what ever method of your choosing is Mature.”

    Nooooooooooooo! It is Mr Yapa who says it can be proved. So it is his choice of method. We are only wanting that method to be something more than ‘FAITH’ or ‘CONVICTION’.

    I don’t know why we are harping on about this if (as I think) we all agree that it is a faith and so cannot be proved by any method except FAITH. (Only Mr Yapa seems to have a problem with this I think)

    Buddhism is a religion with items of faith just like all other religions. There, you can sue me!

  • BalangodaMan

    This will end the merry-g-round.

    All those who agree please say ‘yeah’.

    “We the undersigned all agree that Buddhism is a religion that has items that require FAITH, that cannot be proved by any conventional method such as science, Quantum Physics, mathematics. These include the extent to which actions of a human invokes consequences to a living being born in the future”.

  • yapa

    Some Quotations from Wise Men to BalangodaMen and All Others

    1.The notion that all these fragments is separately existent is evidently an illusion, and this illusion cannot do other than lead to endless conflict and confusion. Indeed, the attempt to live according to the notion that the fragments are really separate is, in essence, what has led to the growing series of extremely urgent crises that is confronting us today. Thus, as is now well known, this way of life has brought about pollution, destruction of the balance of nature, over-population, world-wide economic and political disorder and the creation of an overall environment that is neither physically nor mentally healthy for most of the people who live in it. Individually there has developed a widespread feeling of helplessness and despair, in the face of what seems to be an overwhelming mass of disparate social forces, going beyond the control and even the comprehension of the human beings who are caught up in it. (David Bohm, Wholeness and the Implicate Order, 1980)

    2.A human being is part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. We experience ourselves, our thoughts and feelings as something separate from the rest. A kind of optical delusion of consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from the prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty… The true value of a human being is determined primarily by the measure and the sense in which they have obtained liberation from the self. … We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if humanity is to survive. (Albert Einstein, 1954)

    Thanks!

  • wijayapala

    Libertad, clearly you do not grasp that “Dasa Maha Yoda” is not a Sinhala Buddhist but some clown prancing about trying to denigrate Buddhists. I thought that his act would be too overblown for anybody here to accept but clearly I was wrong.

  • Hey B-Man,

    Of course I say “yeah” to what you wrote above, re: Buddhism containing items that need to be taken on faith, cannot be proven to be real in this world.

    But, on to more important things – come join the positive agnostics at my blog as we try to come up with a way to get SL out of poverty using resources of the Greater Sri Lanka (SL & diaspora):
    http://newslagnostic.blogspot.com/2010/05/5-billion-s-year-or-more-to-sri-lanka.html

    Of course we will keep an eye on this thread to remind the believers from time to time that their faith does contain significant items that cannot be proven as real & that Buddhism is merely a religion like all the other major religions.

    – S

  • Dasa Maha Yoda,

    RE:

    “Anyone criticizing Sinhalese people or their only true religion Buddhism is a traitor.”

    Wrong. Anyone who thinks any group of people or any religion is beyond criticism is a fool who is on a path to self-destruction.

    “In the current regime, all such traitors will be punished with death.”

    Then, if the current regime starts to kill millions of people in SL (there are millions of non-believers there, as there always have been, & millions of intelligent people who want to improve things & thus will take a critical look at things) then the regime will not last. People who attempt to silence discussion or positive change via murder do not last long in SL.

    ” Judicially or extra-judicially.”

    Sure, we’ll see how long that can last. People who attempt to kill others via illegal means or legal & false means will most likely receive a dose of their own poison. For an example, look up how the last 2 or 3 groups who tried to impose or maintain power in SL via murder turned out – they are all decomposing in graves at the moment.

    “This is the Sinhala Buddhist island and agnostics and other critics are not welcome here.”

    We are already there/here. Have always been, & will always be.

    “Stay off in your safe havens and dare not return to Mother Lanka!”

    Keep making threats while hiding behind a fake name. For all we know, you yourself don’t live in SL & probably are not in any way connected to SL. Keep up your hate fantasy, it will destroy you soon so doubt – & that will be a good thing for all – believers & agnostics, & everyone else.

    – S

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear BalangodaMan

    “Nooooooooooooo! It is Mr Yapa who says it can be proved. So it is his choice of method. We are only wanting that method to be something more than ‘FAITH’ or ‘CONVICTION’. ”

    Sujewa’s post of May 13, 2010 @ 8:21 am, addressed to me and others have back peddled on the demand of using science as a proof.

    Pat comes the reply “There is no back peddling. The challenge has always been (read the top of the article when your memory starts to give you problems – as it often seems to do to Non believers)”

    That reply to you is courtesy Sujewa who does not know whether he is coming or going. I introduced only the word “Non”

  • While OTC keeps ignoring the obvious (that Buddhism is a religion with speculative/faith based items) due to his pride or inability to recognize reality or whatever other mysterious thing that motivates believers, everyone else who are interested in using your brain to help improve things in this world, check out the Rationalist Day celebration in Borella on 5/18:

    http://www.secularsrilanka.com/

    – S

  • BalangodaMan

    OTC,

    “That reply to you is courtesy Sujewa who does not know whether he is coming or going.”

    The Quantum Physicists will confirm that it is possible to be coming or going at the same time if you are travelling at the speed of light. The only other case of ‘coming and going at the same time’ I know of is an elderly gentleman down the road who sadly and unexpectedly passed away while making love to his wife.

    (Like cases of rebirth where the transmigration of karma is observable) it is rare.

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear Sujewa Ekanayake

    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

    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.

    The above is from my very first post on the Akon thread on April 8, 2010 @ 11:10 am
    http://www.groundviews.org/2010/03/27/akon-and-buddhism-in-sri-lanka/#comment-16898

    I do hope your “SUPER BRAIN” will not over heat while you try to comprehend the meanings of the above two paragraphs.

    You say
    “While OTC keeps ignoring the obvious (that Buddhism is a religion with speculative/faith based items) due to his pride or inability to recognize reality or whatever other mysterious thing that motivates believers, everyone else who are interested in using your brain to help improve things in this world” (your post on May 15, 2010 @ 9:30 pm)

    As usual you have displayed your Stupidity by making “Foot in the Mouth statements”

    What Happened to that Excellent Memory of yours?
    Pot, Shilboot or Dementia?

    You see Sujewa, you have done what the Proverbial Dog did on the Stone. I hope you have not forgotten your Sinhala Idiom too.

    With that Brain of yours, I pity the world that you are trying to put in order

    You have just seen Kamma in action. Premeditated Action and the Result.

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear BalangodaMan,

    Did you read the top of the article as Sujewa Advised?

    So who wants Science to be used? The article says its the Agnostics and that includes you and Sujewa.

    As I stated before If Science cannot DISPROVE what it does not know it cannot PROVE it either.

    If you want such Verifiable proof you have to FIRST PROVE to the Religious that the methods you are asking to be used has the Capacity or the Authority or the Maturity to dissect the Subject that you have chosen. You cannot measure the Depth of the Ocean with a Foot Ruler, can you?

    You two have Miserably Failed to prove that Science or what ever method of your choosing is Mature.

    Both of you have studiously kept away from that discussion. Why? Is it because you have a hard time in doing that?

    Without hiding behind Yapa and wise cracking, come out and argue on your own steam.
    Are you not Man enough for that?

  • OTC,

    Still no proof that karma, reincarnation/rebirth, nirvana are real. But I do see that you keep repeating the same basic thing over & over – that KRN can be neither proven nor dis-proven by using scientific methods or any other means. Meaning, I can basically assume that KRN is religious fiction or at best speculative items that are most likely ficticious (sp?) & continue to not worry about any claims about Buddhism being an absolute truth, the universal truth, etc.

    So, Buddhism remains a faith based religion, just like all of the other major faith based religions, and are only of great concern for the believers, & the rest of us can worry about more (or less 🙂 important things.

    – S

  • BalangodaMan

    OTC,

    With the greatest of respect I am both impressed AND alarmed at the strength of your religious faith.

    Impressed becaused you are totally unwavering in your faith. Alarmed because the only other people I have heard of who embraced their religious faith with as much conviction were the 19 muslim men in planes I spoke about earlier.

    You said …
    “As I stated before If Science cannot DISPROVE what it does not know it cannot PROVE it either.”

    OTC, if you look at the Index of this book (picked as a typical book on world religions) and other such books you will see there are hundreds of religions in the world. Science cannot prove any of them. Does that mean they are all ‘true’ until science can disprove them?

    http://www.amazon.com/Compact-Guide-World-Religions-Halverson/dp/1556617046/ref=sr_1_30?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1273959923&sr=8-30

    Re. karma you said … “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” …. and
    “Possibly as we develop our minds further our understanding of it would grow”.

    Actually our understanding of the universe and the nature of life HAS grown in the past 2,000 years. And guess what? It is not our belief in ancient theories that has grown … it is our DISBELIEF! That is why (in countries where there is more openness of mind) the proportion of normal religious believers continues to fall – while the fanatics continue to rise.

    And another gem …
    “Rebirth on the other hand is almost UNIVERSALLY believed.”

    Universally? On which planet? ‘Universally’ down your street? Do you mean ‘rebirth’ or ‘reincarnation’? All of the research that has been cited in this thread is about reincarnation, which you say is distinctly different. Right?

    In my experience, rebirth or reincarnation is not what is universally believed BUT it is what is universally desired. (Maybe everyone I know is wierd! 🙁 )

    (BTW do not confuse ‘belief in the afterlife’ with belief in ‘rebirth’)

  • Burning_Issue

    Yapa,

    “See this man’s ignorance and audacity.”
    You are the last man on this forum that I would expect to comment about ignorance and audacity! I saw you debating with Wijayapala endeavouring to show that the Sinhala language is a product of Sri Lanka; the Sinhala people are decedents of the unique Sri Lankan stock; you could prove nothing!

    “As you have said many Tamils have become “Sinhalese” in this country and they never complain of ill treatments or whatever discrimination towards them.”
    Of course many Tamils assimilated into Sinhala society; likewise, many Sinhala assimilated into the Tamil Society. Whether you like it or not, the Tamils of Sri Lanka are a unique group of people who have the right to claim Sri Lanka as their country too; they have the right to also exercise their language on par with the Sinhala. You can go as far back in history; the Tamils have always been there enriching the cultures, languages, and customs.

    “When Tamils settle down in Canada they would like to become Canadians, in Britain, Britishers, in USA, Americans, but in Sri Lanka they are hesitant to be so. They want a separate piece of cake here.”

    I have heard this pathetic argument from many Sinhala Buddhist Chauvinists. Does that mean that many, many Sinhala settle in those countries do not do the same? What does this prove; it proves nothing; you need to grow up mister! The Tamils are also Sri Lankans on equal par with the Sinhala; they have maintained their identity for thousands of years and lived in harmony with the Sinhala; they will continue to maintain their identity come what may. I for one believe that, the Sinhalese will regain their senses and marginalise people like you and re-establish Sri Lanka as a true plural nation.

    “I have no right to suggest Tamils to assimilate into the the main stream. But I feel, if they did so these unfortunate things wouldn’t have happened.”

    Why don’t you flip the coin and look on the other side; if the Sinhala polity had respected the minority rights and had accommodated them with equal rights, this mess wouldn’t have happened, right.

  • Re: agnosticism, secularism, Buddhism, & Sri Lanka:

    My view, along with many others here & elsewhere, as to why “Western” countries were able to out perform Sri Lanka & many other “non-Western” countries for the last couple of hundred years, is that, the “Western” countries where religion & the state (& also mainstream life) are separate allows for greater flexibility for individuals to go after their postive goals (entrepenuerial, creative, etc.). And when millions of individuals are allowed to pursuit their interest without limitations that arise form ancient religious & or religion based cultural restrictions – new work, works, wealth, ideas (another form of wealth), practices, etc. are generated – which benefits the society & also benefits the state, & also benefits religious organizations (the followers will have more money & time to spend on religious matters).

    Does or will secularizing Sri Lanka in practice (it already has a secular gov. on paper) result in Buddhism disappearing from the island? No. Most likely it will strengthen Buddhism (see the example in the US – one of the most secular countries on the planet, also the place that invented the separation of Church & State, & it is also one of the biggest Christian countries on the planet – in term of % of the population that takes part in religious life – including participating in the other major world religions), and it will create another powerful source of assistance to all Sri Lankans (this is possible, I can see Buddhist monks ministering to the needs of non-believers & believers of other faiths, specially due to the leverage they have being the largest organized religion in the country when it comes to people who need their support in dealing with other important segments of SL society). Plus, the monks will or can be if they so choose, become an independent & useful (in a political sense) segment of society -accessible to all, instead of being just another unofficial part of a Sinhala-Buddhist government (in the eyes of non-Sinhala people & non-Buddhists in SL & world wide).

    In fact, what Sri Lanka can use are more independent monks in this time of great transition (ending of a 26+ year old war, etc.). There is MUCH in Sri Lanka that needs to be reformed & improved. There is also a long culture of violence in SL, also a culture where press freedoms are flimsy at best & vocal critics disappear. However, to use an old phrase – speaking truth to power – appears to be a part of the Buddhist tradtion. The Buddha himself appears to be a social reformer.

    (Is there an opposing order of monks who do not agree w/ the JHU for example? If not, why not?)

    Anyway, back to the point – government is a messsy affair – where compromises need to be made, and all manner of open & secret deals – including matters that deal with finance & war – are taken into account. Running the goverment according to Buddhist ideals would not be very wise (not that this is in danger of happening for real in SL, but just in case :), since many other governments/the competition of SL gov do not follow/try to stick to Buddhist ideals & ethics. However, a separate – at least a part of the monks – Buddhist order that keeps both the government & the excesses of regular people in check could be very useful for SL. One of the main problems in SL, in my view, has been the lack of checks & balances on power, lack of accountability. So, the more layers of checks & balances there are, the better off SL may be.

    Really, I do not see why, w/ 2000+ years of Buddhism on the island, why Sri Lanka is not the #1 country in the world for human rights. Instead it has been one of the top countries for violence, poverty, & evils of all kinds – the kinds of evils that destroy humans as oppose to protecting & nurturing them.

    A Buddhist kingdom or a country that is in fact a Buddhist knigdom though on paper it may call itself a modern democracy cannot compete with secular, multi-ethnic, open societies that also have freedom of religion & freedom from religion. If Sri Lankans are interested in claiming what should have been theirs/ours many generations ago, becoming one of the top countries in the world for all manner of positive things (certainly the intelligence & drive is there – I’ve seen how SL immigrants achieve in US & elsewhere, where the frame work & freedom for individual achievement exists), then, they/we should take a serious look at separating the Temple & State in practice & also creating a secular society where religions play a role but is not the dominant force/stiffling other means of acting in the world & perceiving the world.

    Anyway, after that long intro, here is an introduction to secularism as it is practiced in many “Western” countries:

    “Secular society
    In studies of religion, modern Western societies are generally recognized as secular. This is due to the near-complete freedom of religion (beliefs on religion generally are not subject to legal or social sanctions), and the lack of authority of religious leaders over political decisions. Nevertheless, religious beliefs are widely considered a relevant part of the political discourse in many of these countries. This contrasts with other Western countries where religious references are generally considered out-of-place in mainstream politics.

    Among the first to delineate the nature of a secular society, D. L. Munby characterizes a secular society as one which:

    Refuses to commit itself as a whole to any one view of the nature of the universe and the role of man in it.
    Is not homogenous, but is pluralistic.
    Is tolerant. It widens the sphere of private decision-making.
    While every society must have some common aims, which implies there must be agreed on methods of problem-solving, and a common framework of law; in a secular society these are as limited as possible.
    Problem solving is approached rationally, through examination of the facts. While the secular society does not set any overall aim, it helps its members realize their aims.
    Is a society without any official images. Nor is there a common ideal type of behavior with universal application.
    Positive Ideals behind the secular society

    Deep respect for individuals and the small groups of which they are a part.
    Equality of all people.
    Each person should be helped to realize their particular excellence.
    Breaking down of the barriers of class and caste.[21] ”

    More here:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Secularism

    And to clarify the title of this post, agnostics are a part of the secular tradition – we are not certain about the grand claims made by the religious, however, we see that things need to get done & we keep ourselves open to all possible soultions, not just the ones endorsed from a religious perspective.

    – S

  • A little bit more on secularism, since some who are reading this conversation/debate may not know even in theory what secularism is & also may not have the opportunity to observe secularism in practice via visiting a secular country, etc.

    From Leister Secular Society page on Wikipedia:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leicester_Secular_Society

    “Practical Humanity: Our efforts should be devoted to the elimination of human misery, injustice, poverty and ignorance in the world as it is here and now. We oppose religious teachings that divert people away from realities, into inactive fatalism, supernatural worship, or superstitious ritual. Free Speech: People should be able to express and publish their views, however controversial, without fear of persecution, prosecution or physical harm, so long as they allow others the same freedom. We oppose bigotry and coercion based on factors such as beliefs, racial and ethnic origins, disability, sex, age, sexuality or lifestyle. Rational Argument: Anyone should be prepared to submit their views to vigorous argument, questioning their assumptions and testing their conclusions. We refuse to believe or act on any dogma advocated without evidence just because some authority says so. Working Together: Moral values like kindness, loyalty and honesty arise from the need for people to live together in a peaceful and constructive manner. We advocate separation of church and state, withdrawal of special privileges of religious organisations, and secularisation of church schools.”

    Of course not every non-believer/agnostic/atheist/secularist agrees with all of the items above & many recongnize that different emphasis is needed for problems that arise in different times & places, however, the ideas expressed above give a good introduction to the positive secular/non-religious world view.
    Hopefully this will help clear up the reason as to why a debate over supernatural/fantastic elements found in Buddhism is necessary & useful.

    – S

  • SomewhatDisgusted

    Dear OTC,

    You said: “So who wants Science to be used? The article says its the Agnostics and that includes you and Sujewa.”

    I am really not sure I understand. This is what Sujewa says:
    “prove, using modern science or math or any other verifiable method available, to non-believers, that karma, reincarnation, nirvana, as described in Buddhism, are real aspects/actual things that exist in this world.”

    So it does not limit itself to science.

    This makes no sense OTC. You’ve been following this discussion throughout so I’m sure you know the background and context enough by now. Let me rephrase if there’s a problem.

    List our 10 (or whatever) convincing reasons to believe in karma that would convince any reasonable person, beyond reasonable doubt, that Kamma/Rebirth/Nirvana are real. This is the required proof. Simple as that. (Here’s a post in which it was requested. )

    So far, we have been writing about everything else under the sun other than
    a. Either write that list – Makes KRN a fact
    b. Say that it is not possible to write that list – Makes KRN a faith (a euphemism for akaravathi shradda – or the other way around – so Mr. Yapa does not have a paroxysm)

    Can the believers please choose either path A or path B?

    Secondly, I don’t see why we should get sidetracked over whether it’s using science or not, when it has been repeatedly acknowledged that the dirty word “science” is not relevant. BalangodaMan wrote an entire post dissociating himself from that idea.

    cheers,
    /SD

  • yapa

    Dear SomewhatDisgusted;

    It has been frequently seen that you are engaged in appreciating useless posts of your two accomplices who are acting as clowns, making the audience burst in laughter. Really they are good actors. You should encourage and motivate them to develop their acting skills. I quite agree with you. But, your act reminded me of an old Sinhala saying. You Know no, that I like sort of stuff.The saying goes thus;

    “Kotiyage guhave navathinna theeranaya kalanum koti betith suwanduy kiyanna igena ganna onelu”

    , which means if you decided to stay in the tiger’s den, you will have to learn to say tiger shit is sweet smelling.

    Now that you had decided living together with two donkeys you have to say both their shit is smelling sweet.

    Cheers! (as you say) He! He!!

    Thanks!

  • Observer

    SomewhatDisgusted,

    Religion is supposed to be a view on the origin, nature and purpose of the universe. If you cannot understand the difference between taking child abuse lightly (a known reality) and taking a view on the “unknown” lightly, then we have a problem.

    Huh? Take lightly? Ok you have to not misunderstand me. I expressed my absolute anger by posting that video which quite offensively rips into the Catholic Church! I really don’t know what you’re on about here SWD. My actual intention was to show the borderline nature of it. I find such expressions satisfying for the injustices that has been done in the name of religion. But for most people it would be sacrilegious. So the whole idea was to make us think about the 2 sides. Where do you draw the line?

    BTW, religious indoctrination can be considered a form of child abuse, as BalangodaMan highlighted in his post earlier.

    Yes I see what you and BalangodaMan are saying. I have very little time during weekdays and I didn’t answer BalangodaMan then because I didn’t think it was a pressing matter.

    Anyway, my problem with that statement is how do you define indoctrination and brain washing? Those are quite powerful words and I think it’s a harsh term to use unless someone is in a religious cult. So I’m assuming what you really refer to hear is children being taught religion at a very young age. So I will reply with this assumption.

    I personally believe religion should not be taught in school. Unless the child is specifically enrolled into a religious school by the parents choice. You have to understand, until a child has grown to become a youth, parents are their guardians and they do have a right to make choices for them. Whether it be music, sports, languages, religion, history and any other curriculum parents should and do have a say in what their child learns in early stages of their lives. If you try to tell me or most people not just religion anything that I deem worthy for my child to learn is not and equate that to abuse of my child, I would quite rightly flick you the finger and tell you to mind your own children’s business! Hopefully, I’m sure that is not what you implied here.

    For example, I have a right to teach my child how to hunt if I chose to do so. If I enjoy hunting and I would like to share that experience with my child as a bonding experience, I will let him handle a gun and teach how to scout, follow a prey and take it down. Most people would cringe at the thought of letting a 13/14 year old even hold a gun and think the violence associated with that activity may have harmful effects on the child, but doesn’t mean they have a say in it! Unless there is a law against that, then I’d respect the law of the land.

    To further elaborate I went to a leading Buddhist school in Sri Lanka. I have studied Buddhism formally and it used to be a very good scoring subject for me as well. Meaning I wasn’t lethargic about it. But none of that really made me believe it in entirety. The curriculum I did had nothing that would amount to indoctrination. If anything learning Buddhism in a structured manner helped me identify gaps and truly question aspects I did not quite understand or refused to take it on face value. I would encourage my children to learn any religion and see how they feel about it. It is not my wish they become agnostic just because I am. If they believe in something, the can believe. Hopefully it won’t be anything silly like Santa Clause or the Tooth Fairy, at least after a certain age 😛

    I refuse to buy your argument completely. I have seen people from all walks of life, circumstances and backgrounds eventually figuring out the world in a rational manner. The issue here really is how religion is taught. If it is taught in an extremist way implying it is the BE ALL AND END ALL then that is absolutely wrong and would amount to brain washing. But for most children religion is part of the overall curriculum and it comes at the parents choice.

  • ordinary lankan

    This is just to provide some light relief – from what looks a pretty serious discussion

    So you want to know religion?
    Lift your carpet
    Sweep the dirt
    Put the carpet away
    Easier to see the dirt
    When the floor is bare
    Rest of the time
    You lead a normal life
    Eat work and sleep
    Aint no big deal

    If you want to know politics
    Sweep your dirt
    Under the carpet
    Pretend it’s not there
    Live an extra-ordinary life
    No time to eat and sleep
    It’s all work!
    It’s a mighty big deal

    So don’t get fooled
    Don’t get taken for rides
    Take your pick
    Religion or politics?
    No big deal either way
    The dirt is everywhere…

  • Observer

    SWD,

    SomewhatDisgusted said,
    May 14, 2010 @ 11:11 pm

    Dear Observer

    “Using similar logic, sure religions aren’t sacred to us because we see it in a different light. But to the believers it is as mother.”

    An outwardly moving argument but a one way street to the inquisition. Insulting one’s mother is a personal insult on an individual. A religion is a view on the origin and nature of the universe. Every man and his dog has a view on that. If a person cannot bear to have that questioned (or ridiculed) they need to grow the heck up. No such concept is sacred. It is by proclaiming itself sacred that it protects itself from further inquiry and eventually sends people to their deaths for disagreeing. Better get these people used to the idea now before they nail us to the cross later.

    cheers,
    /SD

    Anyway this whole sacred thing. My point essentially is that it is a subjective matter. You cannot decide what is and is not sacred other than to your own self. Each individual holds thing that are uniquely sacred to them. Therefore as a decent human being I believe you should respect (or at least pretend to respect) what they so dearly value as much as their life.

    So no the mother insult was perfectly comparable. Let me elaborate in detail in case you missed the case I made. If my friend’s mother is a promiscuous woman who’s secret that I happen to know and I quite tactlessly happened to alert my friend. And then he quite expectedly lashes out at me and nearly knock me out for the disrespectful words that I uttered, what am I to do? I am the rational person here who bases it on a verifiable fact. He is a believer that refuses to believe his mother could have ever betrayed his father and continues to believe that it is not true. A believer vs. rationalist situation where someone should be more sensitive towards a “sacred” subject which happens to by my friend’s dear mother! Yes!? No!?

  • yapa

    Dear Burning_Issue;

    Except for a few issues in your post I quite agree with you. What I did was countering some negative issues you secretly hiding in your good posts to damage your ingenuity and also our society. I accept that your posts are of quite acceptable and I noted them many times as moderate. However, I think it is my responsibility too, to correct them to go in the right track for the benefit of all. In the circumstance I think I correctly responded to your negative aspect wrapped in your good post, which goes thus;

    [if the Sinhalese were to know and accept that they are largely made up of Dravidian stock;]

    I wanted to show that you have forgotten the share of responsibility of Tamils to live in peace and harmony in this country. I felt like you are pointing your finger to the other party only, just forgetting the negative share of the Tamils for the unfortunate situation prevailed in the recent past.Such comments and appeals have been a common practice of many Tamils to gain undue advantages on sympathetic grounds and popular notions.

    However, you have gone out of topic answering my post and I would like to touch upon the novel issues arisen from it.

    You say;

    1. I saw you debating with Wijayapala endeavouring to show that the Sinhala language is a product of Sri Lanka; the Sinhala people are decedents of the unique Sri Lankan stock; you could prove nothing!]

    Wijayapala and I are two individuals and naturally we have differences in our opinions. We some times argued together and some times argued against each others opinions. It shows that we are doing it objectively, not resting on our personal grounds. However, if I could not prove anything you should have said it then and there and I think pointing out it now may contain some of your bias produced due to my post addressed to you.

    2. Of course many Tamils assimilated into Sinhala society; likewise, many Sinhala assimilated into the Tamil Society. Whether you like it or not, the Tamils of Sri Lanka are a unique group of people who have the right to claim Sri Lanka as their country too; they have the right to also exercise their language on par with the Sinhala. You can go as far back in history; the Tamils have always been there enriching the cultures, languages, and customs.]

    Quite agree, and we must be thankful to the Tamils who contributed immensely to the progress of our country, however, not forgetting the damage done by some section of them too.

    3. “When Tamils settle down in Canada they would like to become Canadians, in Britain, Britishers, in USA, Americans, but in Sri Lanka they are hesitant to be so. They want a separate piece of cake here.”

    I have heard this pathetic argument from many Sinhala Buddhist Chauvinists. Does that mean that many, many Sinhala settle in those countries do not do the same?]

    You can just call names like “Sinhala Buddhist Chauvinists or whatever it is when you have no answers to questions. It has been an easy escape goat for many. But can you say what said was wrong?

    I didn’t say living in countries as their citizen is wrong. I said it is right and Sinhalese or Tamils living that way is quite reasonable and acceptable. My issue was the opposites of that. I regretted, for Sri Lankan Tamils not adhering to that norm.

    4. I for one believe that, the Sinhalese will regain their senses and marginalise people like you and re-establish Sri Lanka as a true plural nation.]

    I have never marginalized myself from the reality of core issues of this country. You can see who has marginalized due to their wrong views and violent acts.

    5. Why don’t you flip the coin and look on the other side; if the Sinhala polity had respected the minority rights and had accommodated them with equal rights, this mess wouldn’t have happened, right.]

    This is again the one sided view of the Tamils that brought misery to them and to the whole country, which has been defeated recently. In my view Tamils should give up such outdated methodologies and strategies that hinders the harmony among the people of this country. When the suspicions are created majority will look at them with suspicion. Peace and harmony is a two way process, not a one way traffic..

    Thanks!

  • SomewhatDisgusted

    Dear Burning Issue,

    Don’t get too worked up over Mr. Yapa though. “Doubtful” has already written a poem for his continued good health.

    I guess the question in most people’s minds is , how many more “characters” like this inhabit our island? Are these the fringe loons or the mainstream? What percentage can we peg this down to? I asked Wijayapala this question, but he didn’t really give me an answer.

    My personal opinion is that it’s not as large as one would immediately be alarmed into thinking. But they are vocal, opinionated and brainwashed. Not a good combination. Most of the rest are just apathetic – caught up in their own immediate realities.

    These people can’t rule the roost forever though. Sooner or later, education should automatically undermine their chauvinism, although it alarms me how they have survived for so long with such insular thinking.

    Dear Mr. Yapa,

    Here’s a thought for you. You are a man who talks a lot about modern education right? Frightening stuff like quantum physics which others on this forum cannot grasp using “common knowledge”? So this means you already know that, in the modern world, there is a general consensus that all human beings should be valued, respected and treated fairly?

    Of course, you would doubtless point out that the Buddha said this 2500 years ago. So being fair to others was pioneered by Buddhists also no?

    So how’s this for a suggestion. You want to protect Buddhism. Fine. Tamils want to protect their language and culture. Fine.

    Why don’t we all assimilate into Tamil culture and recruit the Tamils to also help protect Buddhism? Isn’t that a far more fair proposition than asking Tamils to adopt both Sinhala culture and protect Buddhism to boot? We give them something, they give us something. Doesn’t that sound like a fair thing to do? Problem solved instantly? Buddhism transcends culture anyway right? You said it was timeless as I recall?

    Instead, it looks to me Mr. Yapa, that you want everything to work your way – Tamils must lose their culture, adopt Sinhalese culture and protect Buddhism, all at the same time. Sounds pretty selfish to me and I’m sure you can’t be a selfish man, since the Buddha said not to be so.

    Can you explain using your superior, 4 valued Buddhist logic, how this can work fairly for all concerned?

    cheers,
    /SD

  • yapa

    Correction…

    “You can see who has marginalized due to their wrong views and violent acts.”

    Above should be corrected as

    “You can see who has been marginalized due to their wrong views and violent acts.

    Thanks!

  • yapa

    Dear SomewhatDisgusted;

    You say;

    [“So far, we have been writing about everything else under the sun other than
    a. Either write that list – Makes KRN a fact
    b. Say that it is not possible to write that list – Makes KRN a faith (a euphemism for akaravathi shradda – or the other way around – so Mr. Yapa does not have a paroxysm”]

    Can you please define what you mean by “Fact” in the context of this discussion. You will have to keep in mind that we are talking about includes absolute truths super mundane things in the discussion, which automatically comes forward when talking about Buddhism. Therefore please be kind enough to define and explain the “FACT” you are talking about in the context. I think then we can sort out the matter easily. When the usage of words are vague or unclear, Will never be able to touch the subject matter other than arguing the different connotations of words.We should not play hide and seek behind words. First shall we be clear about what you are demanding? Please communicate very clearly to us what you mean by “FACT” in the context of “THIS” discussion.

    Further, under that definition tell us the methodology and guidelines how we should answer you. Please give us some examples of such answers, given in the context.

    Then we (myself and hopefully Off the Cuff and Wijayapala) will try our best to answer the long lasting quest.

    Thanks!

    Thanks!

  • yapa

    An Addition to thepost of May 16, 2010 @ 12:28 pm addressed to SomewhatDisgusted;

    Really your definition should include what FACT is meant in “ABSOLUTE TRUTHS” and “SUPER MUNDANE” things.

    Thanks!

  • yapa

    Dear SomewhatDisgusted;

    RE: Your post of May 16, 2010 @ 11:40 am

    I know that I am like a prick in your brain muscle. That is why you are intervening to undermine me. But that won;t work, you know “he who protects Dhamma, is protected by dhamma”. So you cannot do any harm to me.

    But you cannot avoid karma, it does not work the way you want. it has its own way of operation. “You know “kumbala katu kevwnun duk vindapun balalo”. Kamma follows like the wheel the hoof of the ox.

    Want to know more?

    1.Mano Pubbangama Dhamma,
    Mano Setta Manomaya,
    Manasace Passannena,
    Bhasativa Karotiva,
    Thato nun dukka mun vethi,
    Chakkanwa Wahathopedun

    Meaning:
    All thoughts begins in the mind. Mind is supreme and mind make are things. If one speaks or acts with with impure mind, pain follows him loike the wheel the hoof of the ox.

    2. Mano Pubbangama Dhamma,
    ……………………
    …………………….
    ……………………….
    Thatho nun sukhamunvwthi,
    Chayawa anapayini

    Meaning:

    ……………..

    …. acts with pure mind, happiness follows him like one’s shadow that never leaves.

    (Taken from Dhammapada)

    If you want to take your prick out of your brain muscle “do wholesome things”, do things with pure mind, give up your wrong views. Then the shadow will follow you.

    Theruwan Saranayi!

  • BalangodaMan

    Yapa said May 16, 2010 @ 1:30 pm

    “I know that I am like a prick in your brain muscle”

    I thought that’s a very magnanimous admission just by reading your first eight words.

  • BalangodaMan

    Mr Yapa,

    Fact = a truth verifiable from experience or observation.

  • SomewhatDisgusted

    Dear Observer,

    “. But for most people it would be sacrilegious. So the whole idea was to make us think about the 2 sides. Where do you draw the line?”

    I understand your point and I acknowledge it. But one must question how and why a view on the origin and nature of the universe, which is purely speculative, has become sacred, don’t you think?

    Would you be offended if I were to make fun of the theory of evolution? Or the big bang? What do you think has changed here? This is where indoctrination and brain-washing, something all of us humans are susceptible to, comes into play right?

    “. If you try to tell me or most people not just religion anything that I deem worthy for my child to learn is not and equate that to abuse of my child”

    I think we’ll both agree that you can’t teach *anything* to your child. A child is not your own property because a child survives in a society. You therefore have a contract with the society to look after your child, and it is enforced by the law.
    The matter under debate would be, how ethical is it to brainwash your child in religion, teach it to them as the absolute truth (when it is speculative at best), which is what most adults invariably do?

    “The curriculum I did had nothing that would amount to indoctrination. If anything learning Buddhism in a structured manner helped me identify gaps and truly question aspects I did not quite understand or refused to take it on face value.”

    No one is protesting against children being taught religion! I completely agree that it should be! It’s part of our culture after all and children ought to learn it – they preferably ought to learn comparative religion, so that when they are older, they can make up their own minds.

    But how many people, do you reckon, would allow this? It has become the social norm, especially in countries like ours, to automatically assume that a child, who is essentially born an agnostic, belongs to some religion. It’s precisely because it’s part of our culture that we are not sensitive to the fact that we are stuffing a little child’s head full of notions like hellfire, KRN etc. etc. as fact, so much so that even as adults, the mere suggestion that it might be a fiction, provokes an irrational response. So shouldn’t one question the ethics behind it and to what degree these things should be presented to a child as *fact*? Do you agree that there’s a problem here somewhere?

    “I refuse to buy your argument completely.”

    As I clarified above, it’s not about buying into it completely or banning religion or something. As I’ve said many times before, I too have found many aspects of Buddhism useful (most things other than the speculative aspects really), although I have also met people who have grown up in families completely free of religion, and they neither miss it nor are any worse off for it.

    At the end of the day, I agree with your overall idea that it is a matter of degree. But we can’t realize that unless we question the status quo where people automatically and strongly put ideas as fact into children’s heads, which simply cannot all be true. (I mean, if the Buddhists are right, then the Christians are automatically wrong right?)

    cheers,
    /SD

  • SomewhatDisgusted

    Dear Mr. Yapa

    All I’ve done is to ask you a simple and direct question.

    “Can you explain using your superior, 4 valued Buddhist logic, how this can work fairly for all concerned?”

    You have given me an answer which fits into Amaravikkhepavada – although I can’t quite decide whether it’s 1, 2 or 3.

    Instead of cutting and pasting irrelevant nonsense (yes, yes, I will go to hell one day, I’m already ok with the fact), can you clearly and directly tell us, what we can do so that it will be a solution fair to all? Would you be happy to implement my own suggestion that we Sinhalese adopt Tamil culture (since your suggestion for doing it vice versa isn’t all that fair) and everyone together protects Buddhism?

    You asked: “Can you please define what you mean by “Fact” in the context of this discussion.”

    Yes. Of course, I have no doubts we will see yet another awkward but bizarrely captivating dance around this definition soon. (Perhaps even BalangodaMan would develop an appreciation for dance as an art-form after your performance)

    Fact – Is a piece of information for which there are enough reasons, that would convince any reasonable person, beyond reasonable doubt, that it is true.

    Oh but hang on! Why are you worried about the word fact now? Forget that word! It’s irrelevant. All we’ve been asking for, for the entirety of this thread is:

    List our 10 convincing reasons (or whatever number you can manage) that would convince any reasonable person, beyond reasonable doubt, that Kamma/Rebirth/Nirvana are real. This is the required proof. Simple as that.

    cheers,
    /SD

  • BalangodaMan

    Mr Yapa’s bible is here
    http://www.buddhanet.net/pdf_file/rebirthscience.pdf

    Mr Yapa, when you say ‘super mundane’ things…
    Perhaps I might help focus on our point of difference here. If you put a banana in a freezer it will freeze. We can observe the banana before and after and see the effect. We do not need to be concerned with the process of the slowing down of vibration of the molecules that takes place at a molecular level to ascertain that the banana has frozen.

    When you say ‘super mundane’ I think you mean the actual mechanism that takes place between the original state and the result. We do not need to ‘see’ that in order to verify that a ’cause’ in a human person results in an ‘effect’ in another human person living at a later time. We just need to see the effect.

    But, before we even begin to prove this ’cause and effect’ we need to prove that the first human person has a common identity with the second human (or even animal in both cases, I think you mean). The absence of ‘an identifying thread’ such as an ‘ID Number’ (which Buddhism denies because of the doctrine of ‘impermanence’ and the absence of a ‘soul-like-thing’) makes this impossible – not just impossible to prove BUT impossible to happen. The doctrine says that, even when you DO have an ID Number the actual person is not the same, even in the same life.

    So there is the problem.

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear SomewhatDisgusted,

    This is what I have stated

    You two have Miserably Failed to prove that Science or what ever method of your choosing is Mature.

    So you see SD, I have include EVERY method that Sujewa and BalangodaMan has Chosen to challenge Premeditated Action, Rebirth and Nirvana.

    If you chose the TOOL then its Incumbent on you to prove that the TOOL is appropriate. That was my counter challenge.

    You and I have both agreed that Science can’t be used because
    If Science cannot DISPROVE what it does not know, it cannot PROVE it either. That does not seem to get through to both of your colleagues. They are either too dense or not interest in Logical Analysis.

    When Science fails what other method remains to dissect Buddhism?

    You see SD, empty heads can create a big noise by asking for cognitive proof (based on or capable of being reduced to empirical factual knowledge) using such and such methods. But when they are challenged to name and prove that those methods are appropriate they start running around the mulberry bush.

    Rebirth – How do you prove it? Can you explain Colour to a person blind from birth? Science and ALL other methods fail here.

    Just because there is no known method to explain what colour is to a person blind from birth do you dismiss the existence of Colour? Only the Blind and a fool can. The Blind has to accept what those who see colour says on faith without proof. Fortunately, the physically blind are in a minority, what if the physically blind were an overwhelming majority? For the sake of argument let’s say all but one person in this world are blind. That one person would be describing a world full of colour to a world full of people who do not know what colour is. Even if that world would be ridiculing the only person who can see, the Truth, such ridicule will not alter the truth. Colour will exist despite the ridicule.

    You see SD, Cognition depends on the senses. As I showed in the Blind persons case even the loss of ONE of those senses alters Cognition radically.

    The current state of Science cannot explain colour to the Blind. But Science will definitely be able to do it one day when it matures to a level where it can interface to the Human brain at the Neurological level.

    Now consider why Science or any other method fails to convey to the Blind from Birth, the concept of colour. Is it not because of the absence of the sense of sight that we have but the blind does not?

    Do we really have only five senses? Could there not be more than five that are in a nascent undeveloped state?

    Buddhism is Mind Centric and places the development of the Mind within the core of the philosophy. It emphasises that the Mind can be progressively developed by Meditation. It describes the process of development and the stages of development that can be achieved. It describes the abilities that become enhanced as the Mind continues to develop. How do you communicate what you “see” with an advanced Mind to someone who does not posses that faculty? The problem is the same as the Blind person’s case.

    Looking for proof then lies with each individual.
    This is what I said in my very first post in the Akon thread on April 8, 2010 @ 11:10 am

    “……. 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”
    http://www.groundviews.org/2010/03/27/akon-and-buddhism-in-sri-lanka/#comment-16898
    Please read the full post for more information

    You would have seen the imbecile statements by Sujewa who was trying to deny that he ever insisted on the use of methods that included Science when I was challenging him to prove the Maturity of Science and then doing a turn around when I referred his comment to B’Man. The Flip Flopping left him looking like the proverbial dog unable to cover his indiscretions. Then we have BM who has a knack of going off at a tangent and also attributing his own thoughts to others. I pointed this out on at least two occasions.

    Discuss and criticise Buddhism, the Buddha Himself extended that invitation. When you bring in to the discussion matters that are external to Buddhism and try to discuss it as matters internal to Buddhism you are not doing justice to that discussion as you are then not discussing the Philosophy the Buddha taught.

  • SomewhatDisgusted

    Dear OTC,

    You said: “Rebirth – How do you prove it? Can you explain Colour to a person blind from birth? Science and ALL other methods fail here.”

    I agree with pretty much everything you said. I very much doubt anyone can disagree with your arguments above. Science has long stayed away from the metaphysical, since it it is fairly clear that the metaphysical will always remain speculative. In fact, we’ve both agreed on this for a long time, from the very outset actually.

    But do you agree with the following: if we are to accept KRN as a truth, we are accepting it on the same basis that a blind man accepts the concept of color as a truth – on faith. From the blind man’s point of view, he has no clear reasons to accept it as the truth. He accepts it because someone else says so. In the case of Buddhism, it is the Buddha who says so. If what that one man says is mistaken, everything collapses. So, clearly, the Buddhists believe in the omniscience and infallibility of that one man. There is little/or no other convincing reasons to believe in KRN.

    Do you disagree?

    cheers,
    /SD

  • ordinary lankan

    BATTLE LINES

    The battle lines are drawn
    And they are very clear
    All you need now
    Is a friendly messenger
    Who will not be killed by either side
    A boundary crosser
    With nothing to gain
    And nothing to lose
    Go look for one
    Unless you really want to
    Kill each other!
    What gives you more satisfaction
    Killing the opposing point of view?
    Or sympathizing with it?
    Deal with this question
    And perhaps
    You might learn
    The first thing about religiousness
    It is not enough
    To seek the truth with your mind only
    You must seek it with your heart too…

  • yapa

    Dear SomewhatDisgusted;

    I will come back to the main discussion of super mundane “FACTS”. I came across this video and many articles related to it on internet. I am not sure whether there is any racket behind this. However, the doctors involved in the research seem to positive about it. What is your opinion? If true, explainable thorough available scientific/rational knowledge?
    Please watch.

    Indian Yogi living without food and water for about 70 years

    http://www.google.lk/search?q=indian+yogi+without+food&hl=en&rlz=1B3GGLL_enLK361LK361&prmd=v&source=univ&tbs=vid:1&tbo=u&ei=bRnwS-2eEIq7rAflj-mTBw&sa=X&oi=video_result_group&ct=title&resnum=11&ved=0CD0QqwQwCg

    Thanks!

  • yapa
  • OTC keeps twisiting the truth & being dishonest as he is unable to demonstrate that the deeply held belief he has of karma, reincarnation, nirvana being actual/real descriptions of how the world/universe works or being actual things in this world (besides concepts in a religion).

    RE: this quote from OTC:

    “You would have seen the imbecile statements by Sujewa who was trying to deny that he ever insisted on the use of methods that included Science when I was challenging him to prove the Maturity of Science and then doing a turn around when I referred his comment to B’Man.”

    So let’s re-vist the truth of this statment – it will be very easy to verify (just scroll to the top of this article where I picked up the following quote from what I wrote):

    ” prove, using modern science or math or any other verifiable method available, to non-believers, that karma, reincarnation, nirvana, as described in Buddhism, are real aspects/actual things that exist in this world.”

    (notice the …”any other verifiable method available” statement, the proof need not come only via science or math)

    So, OTC’s response to that, re-posted dozens of times, is to instead of answering the question, is to ask another question. He wants us to provide a tool that can be used to prove the existence of KRN. No such tool exists because KRN are fictional/speculative religious/symbolic items.

    To make it clear to everyone who is not OTC or is not blinded as deeply as OTC, what OTC is saying is similar to someone saying that no tool exists to prove that Superman does not exist for real (other than a character in entertainment). It is similar to saying that someone believes that Superman is real/an actual person/being, but when asked to prove it, the same person saying that no tool capable of proving or disproving the existence of Superman (as a real person/being, not just a character in a movie) yet exists.

    So, obviously OTC is a blind believer or merely a beliver in Buddhism – he believes it even though no proof can be shown to demonstate that some of the central concepts in Buddhism are real/true. So I guess that’s why Buddhism is merely a religion, & not the absolute turth or the universal truth as some believers claim.

    I am sure OTC will continue to repeat his believer nonsense over & over until the comments thread in this article gets filled up. Because he is too arrogant to admit that Buddhism is merely a religion, and thus of only great concern to the believers & not everyone else.

    – S

  • LuckyGirl

    Came back to see if anyone had read what i linked and had an opinion on it. Realised that the thread isnt really about karma anymore. Oh well!

    Cheers!

    LG

  • SomewhatDisgusted

    Dear Ordinary Lankan,

    Thanks for your constructive intervention . Personally, no animosity against anyone about their beliefs. I personally think it’s very important however, to debate these issues and bring alternative points of view to the fore. We can’t simply assume that there is only one way to think about it – i.e. Only the Buddhist way, or only the atheist way or only the Christian way etc.

    My personal view is – let everyone have their own beliefs and try not to impose your beliefs on others. The only fair way I can see this happening is through a secular constitution. That’s the only point I wish to make. It should be a simple, self-evident truth really.

    In that regard, Sri Lanka is *not* entirely a secular country. Don’t personally have a big problem with that, as long as we all keep in mind that it is a privilege, and not a right, and as such, we are all *encumbered* with the duty of looking after the interests of others.

    Continuing to jabber on endlessly about being guardians of holy truths against Judeo-Christian conspiracies and hanging onto other such narcissistic delusions of grandeur are becoming increasingly tedious (Mr. Yapa, I’m specifically talking to the likes of you). It’s high time these nonsensical conspiracy theories stopped, no one gives a rat’s rear-end about destroying your precious Buddhism! The only people who are destroying Buddhism are the politicized elements in the Sangha, who, by behaving like nut-job fundies, are probably doing more to drive people away from Buddhism today than all of the Christians combined. Now, there’s a holy truth for you to think about.

    We have bigger problems to solve and it is our inability to see past these paranoid delusions that is preventing us from solving them. That is why they must be strongly opposed. Holy truths indeed! 😀

    cheers,
    /SD

  • Hi Burning Issue,

    RE: (part of one of your reply’s to Yapa):

    “I for one believe that, the Sinhalese will regain their senses and marginalise people like you and re-establish Sri Lanka as a true plural nation.”

    Yes, I agree with this view. Had the Sinhalese of the 40’s & 50’s taken the non-violent protests by the Tamils against their marginalization & for equal rights seriously in a positive sense, the conditions that gave rise to the LTTE & the separatist war starting in the late 70’s & 80’s probably would not have arisen in SL. Now that the war is over, & LTTE is not blowing people up, the majority of the Sinhalese will no doubt come to the conclusion that it is better to come up with a way to live in peace in a united Sri Lanka & improve the country together than follow racial/ethnic/religious supremecist (sp?) views & policies.

    Also, I disagree with Yapa on the view that the Tamils need to assimilate into Sinhala culture. Rather, what the Tamils & the Sinhalese (specially) need to do is to create a common Sri Lankan identity, & make it easy for people from all backgrounds to subscribe to that. I believe agnostics & other non-believers on both sides may be of assistance in this endeavor (both in SL & in the diaspora).

    Neither an ancient Buddhist kngdom nor an ancient Hindu kigdom type set up, or two such set ups, in Sri Lanka, will make it possible for people in Sri Lanka to compete with & coorporate with the modern world. The best thing to do is to make religions private matters & create a space where all individuals, irrespective of religions or ethnicity/race/whatever other nonsense that people use to separate themselves can go after their positive/constructive goals in Sri Lanka. A few years of that should see a massive improvement in the quality of life in Sri Lanka.

    – S

  • Lucky Girl,

    RE: “The link attached below is the best scientific explanation of Kamma that i have come across, and i believe it makes very good sense:
    http://jokerman.wordpress.com/2006/09/07/take-four-is-a-buddhists-idea-of-kamma-vipaaka-rational/
    The language is a bit flowery but i hope it helps!
    Regards
    LG”

    Read the link, thanks for the post. The page you pointed to discusses several possible interpertations of karma as mentioned in Buddhism, & also points to how things affect other things in this universe. However, the version of karma believed by many Buddhists (or at least taught to many Buddhists) states that a person’s actions in one life has an effect on another life/a future life (though the official modern teachings are vague on excatly what kind of effect, etc.). Also, aside form the official modern postion, it is a popularly held idea among Buddhists that one’s past lives affect one’s present life. It is also taught that Gautama/Buddha had many prior rebirths where he conditioned himself into becoming the future Buddha. Interpertations & teachings such as those are not proveable as true/real, in my opinion. Some believers however claim that Buddhism is an absolute & universal truth (or that Buddhism contains such truths of significant value), thus we had to ask them to prove the validity/the real-ness of some of the core ideas (karma, reincarnation, nirvana) that Buddhism is built on. Most likely K,R,N are symbolic devices that justify the practice of Buddhism, & are not real items that exist & affect/significantly affect humans in this world.

    – S

  • wijayapala

    Dear LuckyGirl,

    I was just about to comment on your link. The author of the article goes off on tangents and I generally had a hard time following his arguments. In short, it is perfect material for the “secular agnostics” here who are eager to suck up anything uttered by westerners like Agatha Christie and John Donne.

    You’re correct that the secular agnostics’ arguments here have nothing to do with kamma, which is probably why they did not read your link. At least judging from Sujewa Ekanayake’s rantings, it seems that they have delusions about replacing Buddhism in SL with some half-baked notion of secularism. I have no doubt at all that they will blame their failure to be accepted on the ignorance and intolerance of Buddhists, as the last thing that I’ve seen from them has been introspection of any sort.

    So, why are you “LuckyGirl?” Is it because you’ve meet your “LuckyGuy?”

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear SomewhatDisgusted,

    I would rather use the word belief instead of faith.

    Cognition depends on the senses. The loss of one or more senses alters cognition drastically as in the Blind from Birth example. The Corollary of that is also true. The acquisition of one or more senses INCREASES the Cognition drastically.

    The practice of Buddhist meditation increases the sharpness of the Mind. The mind becomes acutely sensitive to things that a normal person is not. The progression of the mind to elevated states of acuity is described in Buddhism. Hence a practitioner would personally become aware of the results which he/she achieved by starting out with belief. This person would no longer have any need to believe as he / she will now be living it. The person who started out with belief ended up with realisation that what he/she initially believed is indeed the truth.

    This is different to the Blind person example as the Blind person will never get to experience colour as he/she cannot acquire sight. In contrast the person who sets out to practice meditation with the belief of what the result would be, will, start to “see” with the newly acquired sense of acuity of mind and will experience the predicted result.

    This is why I stated in my very first post (refer link in earlier post) that “….Possibly as we develop our minds further, our understanding of it would grow.”

    If you were a person who acquired this additional “sense” you would be hard pressed to explain to someone else what you experience due to this newly acquired “sense”. The other, unable to experience what you do, will be incredulous with disbelief. Nevertheless you would know it’s the truth as you experience it.

    This is why I stated that
    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.

    Hence the proof that is sought remains within oneself. It requires the acquisition of a “sense” that the person who demands proof has to acquire without which that person would be like a person Blind from Birth, unable to comprehend what is being explained.

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear SomewhatDisgusted / BalangodaMan,

    “BTW, religious indoctrination can be considered a form of child abuse, as BalangodaMan highlighted in his post earlier.”

    That’s an interesting position.

    How would you teach your child to distinguish right from wrong?

    Would you stop telling the child anything which can be interpreted as indoctrination and allow the child the freedom of the Ass?

    What would you tell your child about,
    Killing?
    Lying?
    Taking Alcaholic drinks?
    Sexual misbehavior?
    Dishonesty?
    Disrespect for authority?
    etc

    Would you avoid the religious view on the above subjects as that may constitute religious indoctrination and hence Child Abuse?

  • Unable to show that his precious belief in karma, reincarnation/rebirth, nirvana can be justified with reason, Wijayapala too succumbs to the arrogance & pride of the believers (which manifests in name calling & stating an inability to understand simple statements instead of admitting that their religion is just that, a religion, not some undisputed truth that is relevant to all):

    RE Wijayapala’s statment:
    “The author of the article goes off on tangents and I generally had a hard time following his arguments. In short, it is perfect material for the “secular agnostics” here who are eager to suck up anything uttered by westerners like Agatha Christie and John Donne. ”

    You mean tangents like accupuncture & cutting & pasting a whole lot of stuff about quantum physics? Sure, I’ve seen plenty of that coming from the believers.

    Also, looks like you have a blind hatred of the West & have bought into the idea that humans on earth can be easily divided into Western & Other & then assigned various human ideas to one camp or another. Looks like your Buddhism has not been able to teach you to look at humanity outside of political groupings.

    Also, what’s a Western-hater like you doing on the internet – a thing created in the West? I guess Western innovation is alright when you can use it to push your half-baked defenses of why people should abandon reason in favor of ancient & relatively useless-to-nonbelievers religious beliefs right?

    And now I am sure some pointless ranting & name calling will follow from Wijayapala – as was the case in the past. Whatever helps you deal with that fact that you’ve dedicated your life to mistaking fiction for facts dude 🙂

    Also, how did you like my post where I showed sources of non-Sinhala influence in Sri Lanka in the Akon & Buddhism article’s comments section? Where pre-Sinhala-Buddhist sources of influence that appear in modern Sri Lanka were pointed out. Didn’t see you commenting on that. I guess facts that do not conform to your narrow world view are not important right?

    So, in the three believers present here often (Yapa, OTC, Wijayapala), we have 3 people who are uncomfortable with reality/the world as it is & seek escapism in fantastic ancient concepts. Good thing that religions exist to give hope of some sort & keep desparate people like them from harming themselves or others.

    – S

  • OTC,

    RE:
    “What would you tell your child about,
    Killing?
    Lying?
    Taking Alcaholic drinks?
    Sexual misbehavior?
    Dishonesty?
    Disrespect for authority?
    etc

    Would you avoid the religious view on the above subjects as that may constitute religious indoctrination and hence Child Abuse?”

    The reasons for handling the items you mentioned in a certain way can be taught & or explained to a child without using any religions or religious beliefs.

    Further, many believers of all the religons have done all of the items listed above, thus, it will be difficult to show that relying on a religious justification of not killing, etc. is effective.

    Just in case the above is too abstract & cannot be grasped by a believer, I’ll go point by point & explain how to handle each item when teaching a child:

    “What would you tell your child about,
    Killing?”

    Don’t kill. Humans & animals don’t like being killed, & there will be consequences – legal or other people will act against you if you kill people, most likely. Plus there is the personal guilt & remorse that may arise from killing which could lead to self-destructive behavior/harm to self.

    “Lying?”

    Generally lying is to be avoided, causes confusion & misunderstandings. Lying should be avoided fully on all large scale/relevant to many people level, such as lying (making up untruths) about an entire group of people, for example.

    “Taking Alcaholic drinks?”

    When you are old enough, in moderation, it may be acceptable, however, there are serious dangers to health, coming from addiction to the substance, etc. So, probably best to avoid it.

    “Sexual misbehavior?”

    Not healthy. Best to avoid it (& when the kids are old enough, you can explain in detail your positon – w/ details about unwanted pregnancies, deseases, and emotional trauma that may arise from sexual misconduct).

    “Dishonesty?”

    (i am not sure how a believer can argue against dishonesty :), since religions teach speculative items as real to kids, but anyway…)

    Best to avoid it, cause damage to others & self.

    “Disrespect for authority?”

    Generally, if authority is just (and you can show how just authority can be recognized), it is best to (useful to society & self) to follow/work with sources of authority. However, unjust authority should be challenged & just changes should be sought.

    Hope that helps with your religon & children related dilemma.

    – S

  • OTC,

    RE:

    “This is why I stated that
    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).”

    Where is the proof for that fantastic claim? There are thousands of Buddhist monks in Sri Lanka, some have been monks since childhood, &, if they are actually following the Buddhist path, they meditate, no doubt, – have any of them been able to recall their past lives? Can any of those recalled past lives be confirmed as actual past lives/details on people who actually lived?

    Being able to recall past lives or the existence of past lives period seem like more religious speculation/fiction. If not, demonstrate otherwise.

    – S

  • Re: OTC’s clever (or maybe not so clever, but definitely dishonest) attempt to re-define karma as it is taught in Buddhism (OTC started using Premediated Action as a substitue for the term karma in a post above). Here is what a Buddhist monk says about the teaching of karma in Buddhism (from BuddhaNet: http://www.buddhanet.net/e-learning/karma.htm):

    “Karma is the law of moral causation. The theory of Karma is a fundamental doctrine in Buddhism. This belief was prevalent in India before the advent of the Buddha. Nevertheless, it was the Buddha who explained and formulated this doctrine in the complete form in which we have it today.

    What is the cause of the inequality that exists among mankind?
    Why should one person be brought up in the lap of luxury, endowed with fine mental, moral and physical qualities, and another in absolute poverty, steeped in misery?
    Why should one person be a mental prodigy, and another an idiot?
    Why should one person be born with saintly characteristics and another with criminal tendencies?
    Why should some be linguistic, artistic, mathematically inclined, or musical from the very cradle?
    Why should others be congenitally blind, deaf, or deformed?|
    Why should some be blessed, and others cursed from their births?

    Either this inequality of mankind has a cause, or it is purely accidental. No sensible person would think of attributing this unevenness, this inequality, and this diversity to blind chance or pure accident.

    In this world nothing happens to a person that he does not for some reason or other deserve. Usually, men of ordinary intellect cannot comprehend the actual reason or reasons. The definite invisible cause or causes of the visible effect is not necessarily confined to the present life, they may be traced to a proximate or remote past birth.”

    The beliefs outlined above, related to karma, are full of things that cannot be proven as true/real. Such as: “In this world nothing happens to a person that he does not for some reason or other deserve”, & “The definite invisible cause or causes of the visible effect is not necessarily confined to the present life, they may be traced to a proximate or remote past birth” – and these are beliefs that have been taught as a part of Buddhism for centuries, & are taught even now. OTC & other SL political Buddhists (people who claim to be Buddhists in order to use Buddhism for Sinhala political projects in SL) may attempt to re-define the word in order to win an argument – as OTC does above – but the Buddhist position on karma are clear – it involves past-lives & future lives.

    And here’s one example of OTC’s attempt to re-define karma:

    “So you see SD, I have include EVERY method that Sujewa and BalangodaMan has Chosen to challenge Premeditated Action, Rebirth and Nirvana.”

    From the comment: May 16, 2010 @ 5:24 pm

    And here is my challenge to the believers, quoted from the top of this page:

    “prove, using modern science or math or any other verifiable method available, to non-believers, that karma, reincarnation, nirvana, as described in Buddhism, are real aspects/actual things that exist in this world.”

    Notice, I use the terms: “karma…as described in Buddhism” and not Premeditated Action, as OTC chooses to re-interpert the term.

    And, the Buddhist definition of karma, as stated by a Buddhist monk, was given from the BuddhaNet quote above. Notice how it invloves past lives. And that is a far more fantastic idea than mere premeditated action. OTC is attempting to re-define the Buddhist concept of karma in order to try to win this debate. Thus, actions of a political Buddhist, & not someone who reflects real/actual Buddhist teachings.

    The fake Buddhist OTC fails again. I am sure he will nevertheless try again & again to mindlessly assert that K,R,N are something more than symbolic ideas that exist in a speculative/faith based religion.

    – S

  • BalangodaMan

    OTC,

    re. Killing?
    Lying? …
    “Would you avoid the religious view on the above subjects as that may constitute religious indoctrination and hence Child Abuse?”

    There are other lines of education other than religious ones. There is ‘ethics’, ‘morality’, and a sense of right and wrong. Religion does not have a monopoly on these things. And ethics (etc) are agnostic to which religion they belong to. All religions have views on ‘ethics’ etc. so even when ethics is taught to children (as it should) it does not mean it is an ethic that is copyright of any particular religion.

    For example, let’s take an ethical principle that is in the Five Precepts as well as in the Ten Commandments and in Islam. In a Buddhist family you would say ‘do this’ or ‘don’t do that’ because the Five Precepts says so. How is the same thing somehow ‘invalid’ if followed under the Ten Commandments? Or some verse in Islam?

    In short, we teach our children to be good because it is good to be good. WE MUST NOT teach our children to be good based on THE LIE that ONLY OUR RELIGION teaches one to be good. All religions have virtuous principles that are almost identical.

    The brainwashing is the bit where we UNETHICALLY condition our children to think that ONLY our religion knows right from wrong.

    That is wrong, OTC! (We must teach our children that that is wrong so they do not abuse their children in the same way. This vicious circle must be broken. Just think of the millions of people in future generations you will be helping. All that is standing in the way of these millions of people from having an open mind is the arrogance and error of religion to think that it is the ‘truth’)

  • BalangodaMan

    Hey LuckyGirl, it made me laugh 🙂 Thanks for sharing.

  • BalangodaMan

    OTC,

    You said through meditation one can see the truth of past lives …

    Meditation is self-hypnosis. I can tell that ‘cos I am avid fan and practitioner of the process. It is very powerful so it must be used carefully.

    Under hypnosis the subject (you) is susceptible to hypnotic suggestion – indeed that is the very purpose of it. Hypnotising yourself is the same – you direct yourself. In the transcendental state you reach you can get your mind go anywhere you like, and totally believe where you go. So if you go to ‘a past live’ it seems very real. In the process your subconscious mind becomes ‘programmed’ with it. So your belief in whatever suggestion (whether you give yourself or a practitioner induces it) becomes internalised. eg. you can achieve unshakable confidence (for example by internalising the suggestion that you are a totally confident person) or if you programme yourself to think you are a bird you could fly off a tall building and (of course) die – because you are not a bird actually! Compassion meditation is one of the many positive things you can do – the result is an internalised ‘confident feeling’ that you love everyone, and that the love is reciprocated, kindness, empathy etc.

    If just 10% of SL practised this we would have a really peaceful society I think. The internal programming programs our ‘conditioned responses’. That is, the way you react unconsciously can be programmed. This is how we can programme ourselves (through meditation/self-hypnosis) to respond automatically with love when someone approaches you with hate.

    Meditation is NOT a religious experience – although in the 70s a lot of Eastern swamis were fleecing the west by conning them that the mantra they are given (for $$$) is something mystical!

    Just get a CD/tape on relaxation and take it from there. I recommend it. (lots of scientific research on this pioneered by Milton H. Erickson).

    So OTC, through meditation I can see my past life as an elephant if I want to, and it will be totally believable to me, and future lives, and also experience what it must be like to be you, OTC. But it will be purely make believe)

  • wijayapala

    Yapa,

    I invited Burning_Issue to this discussion because unlike the other “secular agnostics” here, he is able to keep his thoughts focused and doesn’t try to distract the discussion when the arguments stack against him. He also has a lot more substance to contribute to the discussion of Sinhala-Tamil relations than “secags” like Sujewa whose understanding of history is limited to abstract sound-bites lifted from Amnesty International.

    Therefore I was rather disappointed to see you refer to him as “ignorant.” I did not find Burning_Issue’s comment as ignorant because there are many Sinhalese- not you or I- who falsely believe that they belong to a separate racial stock than the Tamils. And this is only one drop of foolish thinking in the vast sea of Sinhala ignorance regarding anything non-Sinhala! (interestingly, Sujewa is a prime example of the Cinnamon Gardens pseudo-intellectual variety of this Sinhala ignorance).

    I take Burning_Issue very seriously because unlike this handful of half-brained secag peacocks strutting about pretentiously that they are way too sophisticated to be Buddhists, BI’s views and more importantly fears are reflected to a great degree in the wider Tamil population. From his writing he comes across as very humble, truly the antithesis of the self-congratulating loudmouths of the “secular” cause.

    BI also has a lot of testicular matter behind his humility. Look at his comments to two fellow Tamils in this thread on May 14, 2010 @ 12:35 am talking about how Tamils must avoid racism when calling for their rights. How often do we come across ANY Sri Lankan who is able to think inwards instead of blaming everything on someone else (the secags are at least as guilty as everyone else, as much as they like to think of themselves as too advanced for chauvinism)?

    Therefore I kindly ask that you avoid making negative references to Burning_Issue; we can criticize his ideas if they are misplaced. I think that he is the best thing that happened to this thread; it is unfortunate that he is too busy to share his thoughts.

  • yapa

    Dear LuckyGirl ;

    My view on your link is it is successful explaining some of the Buddhist “concepts” in the perspective of rationality, and he is somewhat successful in that endeavour. Really karma has a component that is not mundane and hence it is not easy to grasp by mundane (Lavkika) methodologies. Really we do not have words or concepts to describe super mundane things, as the words and concepts developed through usage by our senses. As super mundane things (Kouththara) have not being used by ordinary people they have not produced words or concepts in regard to these concepts, just as a uncivilized man living in a thick jungle has no words and concepts about a gigantic ship. That is the reason the Buddha used parables and stories to tell “Pruthajjanas” to explain transcendental things. But for a person who are in the “path” can experience them by himself and the ways to do and all sorts of descriptions of sequential states that can achieve are very logically explained in Dhamma. Really the way to realize them is “wisdom, not logic. Buddha clearly has described the way to see these super mundane things: Noble Eight Fold Path, it is very rational. Here the problem is they want to go to Anuradapuraya, but don’t like togo in Anuradapura road, instead they want to tale Matara toad to go to Anuradapuraya.

    There are such people. Therefore, it is necessary try to tale them to Anuradapuraya via Matara. In that respect the endeavour of the writer is commendable. He was able to synthesize some of the essential components into Karma “concept”. I think such endeavours are necessary. I myself tried a bit.

    Thanks, lucky girl for your enthusiasm. Keep it up. Good post.

    However,

  • Another article (Rebirth: A Case for Buddhist Agnosticism http://www.tricycle.com/feature/rebirth-a-case-buddhist-agnosticism?page=0,1) on how Buddhist believers & teachers & promoters (monks & others, such as OTC here) re-define aspects of Buddhism (such as rebirth, an item in traditional Buddhist beliefs that is affected by karma) in order to make the religion more appealing to Westerners & others influenced by more modern thinking:

    “Many contemporary forms of Buddhism in the West—especially Zen and vipassana—seem to pay little attention to the doctrine of rebirth, emphasizing instead the importance of living more fully and authentically in the present. Teachers in these traditions often use the idea of rebirth metaphorically to describe the moment-to-moment process of “dying” and being “reborn.” However appealing, psychologically astute, and didactically skillful such interpretations may be, they can give rise to the misleading impression that in traditional Zen or Theravadan cultures the doctrine of rebirth is likewise not taken literally. Not only is belief in rebirth firmly adhered to in all Buddhist countries, from Japan to Sri Lanka, but—especially in East Asia—it has become the very basis for the livelihood of the majority of monks and nuns. A typical Zen temple in Korea or Japan spends far more time offering services to assist departed parishioners on their way to a better rebirth than on instructing the living in zazen.

    Institutionalized Buddhism throughout Asia not only has a doctrinal commitment to rebirth but also an economic and political one. In contrast to most Tibetan lamas, for whom the belief in the doctrine of rebirth is essential to the continuing authority of their institutions in exile, other Asian Buddhists in the West have felt freer to adapt their teachings to suit the needs of a secular and skeptical audience whose interest in the dharma is as a way of finding meaning here and now rather than after death. One will search in vain for any discussion of rebirth in the numerous writings of Thich Nhat Hanh, for example. Although he comes from a country (Vietnam) in which the belief is deeply rooted, he now seems to be moving toward a view that equates karma with some form of genetic inheritance and transmission.”

    More at the article: http://www.tricycle.com/feature/rebirth-a-case-buddhist-agnosticism?page=0,1

    – S

  • wijayapala

    Sujewa in an extremely fleeting moment slightly before May 16, 2010 @ 5:00 am actually came somewhat close to addressing the core issue of the discussion:
    the relationship between the Sinhala Buddhists and the Tamils. Unfortunately he could not sustain his concentration and his verbiage drifted towards half-witted speculations and meanderings about history (which he probably considers to be grand pronouncements- the substance-less utterings of a secular Moses leading his flock to a wondrous secular future in SL).

    Really, I do not see why, w/ 2000+ years of Buddhism on the island, why Sri Lanka is not the #1 country in the world for human rights. Instead it has been one of the top countries for violence, poverty, & evils of all kinds – the kinds of evils that destroy humans as oppose to protecting & nurturing them.

    Probably Sujewa does not see because he has no knowledge of world history or the history of the state. States are by their very nature inherently violent, as none other than the pro-LTTE activist Dharmaratnam Sivaram asserted (in his biography by Mark Whitaker). The violence in SL was propagated by the State and those fighting against the State. The 1971 insurrection was fought between a purely secular government (pre-1972 Constitution) and the secular JVP. Later, secular Tamil militants fought against a government which “protected” Buddhism. How come Sujewa was unaware of any of these facts?

    Doesn’t sound good!

    My view, along with many others here & elsewhere, as to why “Western” countries were able to out perform Sri Lanka & many other “non-Western” countries for the last couple of hundred years, is that, the “Western” countries where religion & the state (& also mainstream life) are separate allows for greater flexibility for individuals to go after their postive goals (entrepenuerial, creative, etc.).

    Alas, Sujewa’s Western-philia has not pushed him to study the history of the West. The West was (and largely still is) CHRISTIAN right up to the 20th century. The Portuguese, Dutch, and British who conquered Sri Lanka were Catholics and Protestants, NOT secularists. The separation of church and state did not take place in Europe until fairly recently. In fact, one of the key arguments made by Christian fundamentalists/racists has been that the CHRISTIAN West is the most powerful and wealthiest part of the world.

    The unfortunate historical truth that Sujewa has obviously missed is that the only truly “secular” countries were Communist. What does Sujewa have to say about their approach to human rights?

    Doesn’t sound good!

    see the example in the US – one of the most secular countries on the planet, also the place that invented the separation of Church & State

    Sujewa has skipped over the minor details about how sucessfully the US has IMPLEMENTED secularism. Didn’t Barack Obama have to repeatedly and often declare his loyalty to the Christian faith in 2008 when the Republicans accused him of being a “secret Muslim?” Couldn’t Darwinism not even be taught in schools until the early 20th century? Seems that Sujewa’s understanding of the US is based more on his imagination, rather than fact.

    Doesn’t sound good!

    In fact, what Sri Lanka can use are more independent monks in this time of great transition (ending of a 26+ year old war, etc.).

    Sounds good. Unfortunately, secags are not very well-placed to advise reforms for Buddhists. That role properly belongs to Buddhists themselves. Perhaps Sujewa unconsciously already knew this; after all his comments were directed primarily towards the handful of SL secularists and not the Buddhist population at large.

    There is MUCH in Sri Lanka that needs to be reformed & improved.

    Right- we can spend our time far more usefully than wasting it on secags like Sujewa!

    (Is there an opposing order of monks who do not agree w/ the JHU for example? If not, why not?)

    Ahem… the Mahanayakes?!?!?! Sujewa’s ignorance of Buddhists in SL once again is astounding.

  • SomewhatDisgusted

    Dear Mr. Yapa,

    Funny you should mention this Indian Yogi who seems to live off sunlight. I stumbled onto a video about him just yesterday, purely by accident. Another spooky coincidence? Anyway, here you go: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l0u6eJB9GLY

    Let’s face it, this man would invalidate all known knowledge of physiology overnight so I’m sure the entire medical community would be happy to test his claims. Plus, a $1 million prize awaits!

    Dear OTC,

    A light-hearted video by James Randi on why he’s skeptical and why you can’t prove a negative – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qWJTUAezxAI

    Dear Wijayapala,

    James Randi’s out-of-body experience – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1NwKkbd2e-c

    cheers,
    /SD

  • SomewhatDisgusted

    Dear Wijayapala,

    You said: “At least judging from Sujewa Ekanayake’s rantings, it seems that they have delusions about replacing Buddhism in SL with some half-baked notion of secularism. I have no doubt at all that they will blame their failure to be accepted on the ignorance and intolerance of Buddhists, as the last thing that I’ve seen from them has been introspection of any sort.”

    Thank you for another vague critique. With a bit of introspection, you might see that this comment really says nothing about why this notion of secularism is half-baked and where the failure in introspection occurs. To your credit, it does manage to get across some alarmist innuendo – “OMG the secularists are trying to “replace” the pure Theravada Buddhist guardians” class of stuff. I like that word indeed – “replace”. Just be careful you don’t give Mr. Yapa an aneurysm!

    Also, talking about introspection and well-reasoned arguments, still awaiting answers to those 3 simple, pointed questions I asked here. Given all your whinging about us failing to answer questions (of which you haven’t even pointed out a single one BTW), one would assume you’d be falling over yourself to answer mine. A passing observation of course.

    Also, you talked about a common Sri Lankan history. BalangodaMan and Burning Issue both published their views. What are your own views on those? I think that kind of input would be far more beneficial than general-purpose sarcasm (you realize that you would be effectively rendered speechless for a large portion of this topic should the word be purged from the dictionary?).

    cheers,
    /SD

  • SomewhatDisgusted

    Dear LuckyGirl,

    I did read the article. Thanks.
    Didn’t comment on it because it provides no additional proof of Karma. It just argues a case for why, if one *assumes* karma exists, then karma would be a self-consistent concept. There are many billions of things that can be rationally shown to be self-consistent but have no basis in reality. So the problem remains, how or why do we *assume* karma exists?

    cheers,
    /SD

  • SomewhatDisgusted

    Dear All,

    I do highly recommend these 2 links from James Randi – if nothing else, you’ll at least get some light entertainment.

    Indian Yogi – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l0u6eJB9GLY
    Proving a negative – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qWJTUAezxAI

    In any case, remember that there’s a $1 million prize apart from the many others for a demonstration of any miracle. One has to wonder why no one has claimed these yet, or even invited the Randi foundation in this particular case, given the number of miraculous Yogis in India alone. Randi said it best, 63 years of waiting next to a chimney ought to make you a wee bit skeptical! 🙂

    cheers,
    /SD

  • SomewhatDisgusted

    Dear Mr. Yapa,

    You said: “I will come back to the main discussion of super mundane “FACTS”.”

    We are not talking about any such topic and I certainly don’t know when it got elevated to being the “main discussion”. You are talking about irrelevant things and diverting attention from the topic as usual. The question, very simply and definitively asked, is the following:


    List our 10 convincing reasons (or whatever number you can manage) that would convince any reasonable person, beyond reasonable doubt, that Kamma/Rebirth/Nirvana are real. This is the required proof. Simple as that.

    This is a simple question for which you should be able to provide a direct answer, or honestly admit that you can’t. Instead, you keep evading it, reason 1 off the Amaravikkepavada again?

    cheers,
    /SD

  • RR

    It was many years ago when I became a Buddhist and I was quite young, between 14 and 16, but I remember that it was first of all the two facts of rebirth and Kamma which convinced me of the truth of the Dhamma. I say “facts” because even among many non-Buddhists rebirth is now well on the way to being a proven truth, and once it is accepted the reality of Kamma must be accepted with it

    In the first place, these two doctrines explain everything in life which is other wise inexplicable. They explain the seeming injustices with which life abounds, and which no earthly power can remedy. They explain, too, the apparent futility and lack of a satisfactory pattern in the individual human life which, taken as one life out of a measureless eternity is obviously quite pointless, full of unresolved problems and incomplete designs. Take, for instance, a recent and much publicised example of what appears to he a cruel freak of chance – the tragically brief life of a child, Red Skelton’s son, whom neither human science nor divine mercy could save. There are, and always have been, countless millions of such cases, besides the untold numbers of blind, deaf and dumb, deformed, mentally deficient and diseased human beings whose pitiful condition is not due to any fault of theirs in this present life, or to any remediable defect in the organisation of human society.

    Materialists may say what they will, but we now know enough of the limitations of science to realise that it will never be able entirely to abolish these evils. At the same time we can no longer derive comfort from religions that science has discredited. While we know that material progress will never succeed in abolishing suffering, it is equally futile to suppose that some special compensation for unmerited misfortune awaits the victims in a future life irrespective of any moral issues that are involved.

    The sense of justice, which was very strong in me, demanded a reason for these things and an intelligible purpose behind them. I could not accept the theory that there is a “divine Justice” which is different from human concepts of justice, for both the word and the idea can only mean what we take them to mean by human standards. If conditions are not just in the human sense they are not just at all: there cannot be two different meanings to the word. The ‘justice of God” is an invention of theologians, the last refuge of unreason.

    But right at the beginning Buddhism gave me the justice and the purpose which I had been seeking. I found them both in the doctrine of Kamma and rebirth. Through them I was at last able to understand the otherwise senseless agglomeration of misery, futility and blind insensate cruelly which forms most of the picture human life presents to a thinking person.

    Those who know something about the subject may say, “Yes, but Buddhism is not alone in teaching Kamma and rebirth; Hinduism has it also”. That is true; but Buddhism is alone in presenting rebirth as a scientific principle. When I say “scientific” I mean that it is a principle which is in accordance with other universal laws which can be understood scientifically and even investigated by scientific methods. The principle of change and serial continuity is one that runs throughout nature; all scientific principles are based on it. In Buddhism it is the principle of ”Anatta” which lifts the concept of rebirth from the level of primitive animism to one on which it becomes acceptable to the scientifically – trained mind. ”Anatta” means “non-soul”, ”non-ego” and “non-self”; it is the denial of any abiding or constant and unchanging element in the life-process. Buddhism does not point to a “soul” that transmigrates; it points to a continuum of cause and effect that is exactly analogous to the processes of physics. The personality of one life is the result of the actions of the preceding current of existences, in precisely the same way that any physical phenomenon at any given moment is the end-result of an infinite series of events of the same order that have led up to it.

    When I came to understand this thoroughly, which I did by pondering the profound doctrine of Paticca-samuppada (Dependent Origination), I realised that the Buddhadhamma is a complete revelation of a dynamic cosmic order. Complete scientifically because it accounts not only for human life but for the life of all sentient beings from lowest to highest; and complete morally because it includes all these forms of life in the one moral order. Nothing is left out; nothing unaccounted for in this all-embracing system. If we should find sentient beings on other planets in the remotest of the galactic systems, we should find them subject to the same laws of being as ourselves. They might be physically quite different from any form of life on this earth, their bodies composed of different chemical combinations, and they might be far superior to ourselves or far below us, yet still they must consist of the same Five-Khandha aggregates, because these are the basic elements of all sentient existence. They must also come into being as the result of past Kamma, and pass away again just as we do. Anicca, Dukkha and Anatta are universal principles; and this being so, the four Noble Truths must also be valid wherever life exists. There is no need for a special creation or a special plan of salvation for the inhabitants of this planet or any other. Buddhism teaches a cosmic law that obtains everywhere; hence the same moral law of spiritual evolution must prevail everywhere. Cosmic law and moral order in Buddhism are related to one another as they are not in any other religious system.

    Another fact which struck me forcibly right at the beginning is that Buddhism does not condemn anybody to eternal hell just because he happens not to be a Buddhist. If a being goes to the regions of torment after death it is because his bad deeds have sent him there, not because he happens to believe in the wrong set of dogmas. The idea that anyone should be eternally damned simply because he does not go to a certain church and subscribe to its particular creed is repugnant to every right-thinking person. Moral retribution is a necessity, but this vicious doctrine of damnation for not believing in a certain god and the particular myths surrounding him has nothing whatever to do with ethical principles. It is itself supremely immoral. It has probably been the cause of more harm in the world than any other single factor in history.

    Furthermore, Buddhism does not postulate eternal punishment for temporal sins; that is, for misdeeds committed within the limiting framework of time. The Dhamma teaches that whatever suffering a man may bring upon himself is commensurate with the gravity of the evil action – neither more nor less. He may suffer through several lives because of some very heavy Akusala Kamma (evil action), but sometime that suffering must come to an end when the evil that has been generated has spent itself. The atrocious idea that a being may be made to suffer throughout eternity for the sins committed in one short lifetime does not exist in Buddhism. Neither does the equally unjust doctrine that he may wash out all his sins by formal acts of contrition or by faith in some one particular deity out of all the gods man has invented.

    In Buddhism also, there is no personal judge who condemns, but only the working of an impersonal law that is like the law of gravitation. And this point is supremely important, because any judge in the act of judging would have to outrage either justice or mercy. He could not satisfy the demands of both at the same time. If he were inexorably just he could not be called merciful: if he were merciful to sinners he could not be absolutely just. The two qualities are utterly incompatible. Buddhism shows that the natural law is just. It is for man to be merciful, and by the cultivation of Metta, Karuna, Mudita and Upekkha to make him self divine.

    Lastly, the truth that rebirth and suffering are brought about by Ignorance and Craving conjointly is a conclusion that is fully sup ported by all we know concerning the life- urge as it works through human and animal psychology and in the processes of biological evolution. It supplies the missing factor which science needs to complete its picture of the evolution of living organisms. The motivating force behind the struggle for existence, for survival and development, is just this force of Craving which the Buddha found to be at the root of Samsaric rebirth. Because it is conjoined with Ignorance it is a blind, groping force, yet it is this force which has been responsible for the development of complex organisms from simple beginnings. It is also the cause of the incessant round of rebirths in which beings alternately rise and fall in the scale of spiritual evolution.

    Realising the nature of this twofold bondage of Ignorance and Craving we are fully justified in the rational faith that, as the Supreme Buddha taught, our ultimate release, the attainment of the eternal, unchanging state of Nibbana, is something that we can reach, by eliminating all the factors of rebirth that are rooted in these two fundamental defects. Nibbana, which the Buddha described as Asankhata, the Unconditioned, Aiara, the Ageless, Dhuva, the Permanent and Amata, the Deathless, is the Reality that lies outside the realms of the conditioned and illusory Samsara, and it may be reached only by extinguishing the fires of Lobha, Dosa and Moha.

    So we see that Saddha, or faith, in Buddhism is firmly based on reason and experience. Ignorance, is blind, but Buddhist faith has its eyes wide open and fixed upon reality. The Dhamma is “Ehipassiko” – that which invites all to come and see for themselves. The Buddha was the only religious teacher who invited reasoned, critical analysis of His Doctrine. The proof of its truth – and hence the conclusive proof of the Buddha’s Enlightenment as well – is to be found in the Doctrine itself. Like any scientific discovery it can be tested empirically. Everyone can test and verify it for himself, both by reason and by direct insight. The Buddhist is given a charter of intellectual liberty.

    These are just a few of the features which appealed to me when I first started studying Buddhism in my quest for truth. There were many others which followed later; they came in due course as my own understanding and practice of the Dhamma made them manifest to me. As one investigates the Dhamma new vistas are constantly opening up before one’s vision; new aspects of the truth are continually unfolding and fresh beauties are being disclosed. When so much of moral beauty can be discerned by merely intellectual appreciation of the Dhamma, I leave it to you who are listening to imagine for yourselves the revelations that come with the practice of Vipassana or direct insight. There can be nothing in the entire range of human experience with which it may be compared.

  • yapa

    Dear SomewhatDisgusted;

    RE: your post of May 16, 2010 @ 3:50 pm

    Don’t get excited when I ask a question. I am not going to gobble you up. Do not get scared.

    I asked this question to start a new page in the unending discussion which has now become dull and useless going round the same circle over and over again. I think our motive of the discussion should be to come to reasonable conclusion(s) and not an endeavour to recap our own opinions. That is why I posed that question.

    Now that you have given an answer, I think we can move forward a fresh discussion. However, I am not sure you have provided the very specific answer (definition) as I mentioned in my post. If you gave the definition without much thinking about it, I think you can think over it and give a better definition as per the description given by me, or if you feel you can provide a better one than I expected, that suits the context of the discussion please provide that definition.

    Now we will consider the meaning of the word “Supermundane”

    1. Being above the world; superior to the world or earthly things.

    2. (Sanskrit, lokottara). Term denoting matters relating to the Noble Path (ārya-mārga) and its fruits, and thus connected with, or conducive to, liberation. In other words, any activity or practice not associated with the mundane (laukika) world of unenlightened beings (pṛthagjana).

    3.supermundane (Skt., lokottara). Term denoting matters relating to the Noble Path (ārya-mārga) and its fruits, and thus connected with, or conducive to, liberation. In other words, any activity or practice not associated with the mundane (laukika) world of unenlightened beings (pṛthagjana).

    Further I found some synonyms for the word, please see.

    I think we can get a reasonable idea about the meaning of the word from the above information.

    http://thesaurus.com/browse/supermundane

    The other key word of ours is reality. We will try to get some idea about this through dictionaries and thesauruses.

    1. Reality is the state of things as they actually exist, rather than as they may appear or may be thought to be.[1] In its widest definition, reality includes everything that is and has being, whether or not it is observable or comprehensible. (Wikipedia)

    2.
    re·al·i·ty
       /riˈælɪti/ Show Spelled[ree-al-i-tee] Show IPA
    –noun,plural-ties for 3, 5–7.
    1.
    the state or quality of being real.
    2.
    resemblance to what is real.
    3.
    a real thing or fact.
    4.
    real things, facts, or events taken as a whole; state of affairs: the reality of the business world; vacationing to escape reality.
    5.
    Philosophy.
    a.
    something that exists independently of ideas concerning it.
    b.
    something that exists independently of all other things and from which all other things derive.
    6.
    something that is real.
    7.
    something that constitutes a real or actual thing, as distinguished from something that is merely apparent.

    Next will try to see whether there exist something called “super mundane” and “reality” and try to see the nature of them if they exist..

    See you in the next post.

    Thanks!

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear SomewhatDisgusted,

    In order to answer your direct question about Buddhism, I meant to include the following in my post of May 16, 2010 @ 5:24 pm but had inadvertently left it out. My apologies.

    “But do you agree with the following: if we are to accept KRN as a truth, we are accepting it on the same basis that a blind man accepts the concept of color as a truth – on faith. From the blind man’s point of view, he has no clear reasons to accept it as the truth.” He accepts it because someone else says so.

    Looking at the question superficially that’s what it looks like. However the difference is that the Blind Person has to live with that belief till death without ever experiencing the truth of the existence of Colour unlike the believer who practices meditation.

    The initial belief in Rebirth that is required to practice meditation will result in the acquisition of a further “sense” (a sharper mind) that will allow the practitioner to realise the truth of Rebirth. This can be achieved during one’s lifetime.

    This belief is more like that of a prospector’s who prospects for Gold or Gems in the belief that Gold or Gems are available underground. He can realise what he seeks in his lifetime if he perseveres in his pursuit.

    “In the case of Buddhism, it is the Buddha who says so. If what that one man says is mistaken, everything collapses. So, clearly, the Buddhists believe in the omniscience and infallibility of that one man. There is little/or no other convincing reasons to believe in KRN”.

    Yes the Buddha says so and a Buddhist believes it. That’s just the starting point. The belief changes to realisation as progress is made unlike the Blind who will never realise what colour is. I have explained this above and in my previous posts. You could prove Rebirth for yourself by practising what the Buddha taught especially meditation. You can never hope to prove that to others given the immaturity of Science in this field at the current moment of time. But that will change and then a discussion of this nature becomes irrelevant.

    The ONLY way to prove Rebirth to others is by the verified recollection of a previous birth by a living person. There have been many instances of this, some bogus and some with a ring of truth. Many of these have been investigated including that of a woman who spoke a forgotten ancient French language. There is also a second possibility of birth marks in the living that correspond to a death causing trauma, undergone by a person who had died. Continued investigations on the line of Dr. Stevenson’s might shed some light here. But till some such method is devised the ONLY way of personal verification is to do what the Prospector does in digging for Gold and Gems.

    Thoughtful Action or Premeditated Action brings about a result. This needs no proof when it’s restricted to the current life. I hope you agree but if you don’t I will give examples. Where proof is needed is when the concept of a carry over to a next birth is floated and the result is delayed to a subsequent birth. Again proof depends on proof of Rebirth that I have dealt with above.

    Hence the best method for you to remove any doubts you have about the core concepts of Buddhism is to practice it as the prospector does. Nothing ventured nothing gained goes the saying.

    I hope I have been able to give you a straight answer to the question you raised.

  • SomewhatDisgusted

    Dear Wijayapala,

    You said: “From his writing he comes across as very humble, truly the antithesis of the self-congratulating loudmouths of the “secular” cause.”

    Looks like Wijayapala now wishes to portray himself as the down-to-earth, authentic Sri Lankan who is utterly disgusted by the pomposity of the neo-colonial, “secag” boors, whose arguments he has contemptuously blown out of the water. As much as we enjoy this “humble” portrayal of earthiness, I distinctly recall you making claims about the superiority of Buddhism to everyone else – the secags merely suggested it ain’t necessarily so.

    Amusingly enough, you now wish to put the “secags” in their place, presumably under the mistaken impression that we somehow look down upon you for your unfounded beliefs. Yes. I personally think your belief is mistaken, I’ve not minced my words in that regard, but that doesn’t mean you don’t think the same of mine. So quite frankly, I couldn’t care less how you take it – an argument needs to be taken for its merit – not by the emotional value you’ve attached to it since childhood – clearly a lot. I have no intention of bothering with your personal beliefs – I said so at the outset. My only concern is, what does Buddhism do to Sri Lanka – is it sending us on a positive trajectory, or a negative one? What can be done to correct it?

    You know, as well as I do, what the mainstream interpretations of Buddhism are. You know that the main-stream interpretation does exactly what I said it does – keeps dissatisfied people in their place. I don’t need to go far to show this. Just a few posts ago, Sujewa posted a link from BuddhaNet that nicely illustrates the point – here’s that gem of a quote – “In this world nothing happens to a person that he does not for some reason or other deserve”.

    The funny thing is, this monk doesn’t quite grasp the fact that, according to the Anatta concept as I recall, what continues to the next life is merely the last thoughts of the individual, not some soul. So how in the world could a completely brand new individual, who has *no connection to the previous individual* other than through this fleeting thought, be deserving of this fate? Would you care to explain?

    You protested when I mentioned this. But I made no misinterpretation. This is indeed the popular interpretation. So would you like to clarify to me why this is not a harmful perception?

    Since you talk so much about introspection – you should clearly be aware of this. On top of these kinds of perceptions, we actually have a population which is intensely paranoid about preserving Buddhism due to some imminent existential threat to it. When the “secags” pointed out that this was harmful and Buddhism needs to realign itself with its roots, you yourself were arguing that militant Buddhism was a suitable response to “preserve Buddhism”. Very well – what in the “heck” are we preserving? Later you agreed again that while most people would not be able to benefit, some would!

    OIC!! I get it now. So much of the population in Sri Lanka are tools! They are tools for preserving Buddhism, so that one or two individuals can ship themselves over to Nibbana eventually (maybe in another 2500 years). The rest are expendable units that can kill, die and generally be kept satisfied with their dire circumstances, as long as these holy truths are preserved.

    Thank you for that brilliant bit of logic Wijayapala. No wonder you are pissed off when someone calls you on it.

    If mainstream Buddhism does not align itself with ideas and attitudes which are in line with 21st century norms – then what we have is not an asset – it’s a liability.

    Secondly, if these delusions of grandeur, which had its uses in the 1800s, persist into the future, we will only see more and more insular thinking which is essentially unsuitable for a highly multi-cultural society. It automatically defeats your own professed allegiance to one, because by self-admission, the Sinhalese are guardians of holy truths and therefore automatically superior to others.

    Calling me or the rest of the secags “peacocks” for pointing out this problem will not really *solve the problem* will it?

    Therefore, my main argument is this – if we don’t get these paranoid delusions of holy truths under control – we can only have a repeat of the same kind of thinking that has driven us further into this mess over the last 60 years. Using your powers of introspection, why don’t you tell me what’s wrong with that argument? (And no, please don’t come up with the strawman that I only blame the Sinhalese or some such nonsense. Of course not. You have to be dense to not realize that there are many facets to this problem)

    cheers,
    /SD

  • SomewhatDisgusted

    Dear Wijayapala,

    If it’s not clear enough. I do not generally play blame games – they are completely pointless and counter-productive. Most people have not done anything significant to harm another person actively, so how can anyone be held accountable? This is true of the Sinhalese and this is true of the Tamils and this is true of the Buddhists. So if you think I’m trying to vilify the Buddhists, you are very much mistaken. I’ve repeatedly acknowledged that Buddhism, followed in a benign form, is probably the best religion out there. (I personally don’t believe in religion, which is another matter.)

    What I do blame are the “ideas” that persist, some of which I see as extremely harmful. Care to tell me how to solve these problems without changing the ideas that drive them? Can you tell me how this can be done without directly questioning on what basis someone assumes that they are the last guardians of holy truths? More importantly, can you tell me why this would not result in an automatically insular perspective?

    cheers,
    /SD

  • yapa

    Dear wijayapala

    RE: Your post of May 17, 2010 @ 6:05 am

    Actually the reference in my first post addressed to Burning _Issue was confined to the particular issue raised by him in his post. I have noted him as a reasonably moderate person in his views, except in a few cases. My stance on him is I think clearly mentioned in my second post, and I have no personal issue with anybody, due to his ethnicity. I respect all the ethnicity in this country and appreciate their vivid contribution to make this country a spectrum of colours. He also must accept that I am not a chauvinist as he named me in anger. People call others names in haste, but they are too early to decide so. My calling him as Ignorant may also be so. If so I regret it.

    However, I should also note something: the behaviour of SomewhatDisgusted and Sujewa Skanayake wrt to my response. They tried to take the advantage of the opportunity against me interfering and writing essays against my stance, to persuade Burning_Issue to go against me. they tried to catch fish in muddy waters. This is another example that ethnicity is not the sole or the most significant decisive factor that marks the border lines of the divisions within us.

    I have no issue. Burning_Issue is warmly welcome.

    Thanks!

  • SomewhatDisgusted

    Dear Wijayapala,

    More about why it *just doesn’t follow* that being secular has *a logical connection* to violence – as you have been trying to argue – whereas religion directly does – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PaJelU29jeI

    Watch from 2:15 onwards if you wish to save time.

    cheers,
    /SD

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear BalangodaMan,

    Addressing me you state
    “You said through meditation one can see the truth of past lives …

    Yes, provided you reach the level of mental acuity that allows you to do so.

    “Meditation is self-hypnosis. I can tell that ‘cos I am avid fan and practitioner of the process. It is very powerful so it must be used carefully. Under hypnosis the subject (you) is susceptible to hypnotic suggestion – indeed that is the very purpose of it. Hypnotising yourself is the same – you direct yourself. In the transcendental state you reach you can get your mind go anywhere you like, and totally believe where you go. So if you go to ‘a past live’ it seems very real. In the process your subconscious mind becomes ‘programmed’ with it. So your belief in whatever suggestion (whether you give yourself or a practitioner induces it) becomes internalised. eg. you can achieve unshakable confidence (for example by internalising the suggestion that you are a totally confident person) or if you programme yourself to think you are a bird you could fly off a tall building and (of course) die – because you are not a bird actually!

    Strange that you have escaped being self hypnotized.
    Are you sure that you are not in a self induced Hypnotic trance?

  • SomewhatDisgusted

    Dear Yapa,

    You said: “I respect all the ethnicity in this country and appreciate their vivid contribution to make this country a spectrum of colours.”

    I’m very glad to hear a clear statement of your position. Would appreciate further clarifications on the following.

    1. Do you agree that all Sri Lankan citizens have equal claim to this island?
    2. Do you agree that ethnicity is irrelevant in this regard? Or does one’s ethnicity automatically change this?
    3. What is your position on ’56 Sinhala Only? Was it a mistake?
    4. Do you believe everything in our power must be done to implement Tamil language policies properly?
    5. Do you believe that we have to work side-by-side to secure necessary rights for Tamils to live as equal citizens in Sri Lanka? (and not feel they are under the patronage of the Sinhalese in anyway?) – To clarify – not talking about Eelams here. Talking about a plural society.
    6. How do you propose to solve our ethnic problem? What are the responsibilities of the Tamils? and what of the Sinhalese? or any others?
    7. Finally, and I asked this question earlier, what is your vision for the people of Sri Lanka, from a Sinhala-Buddhist’s perspective?

    I understand these are lengthy questions but would appreciate extremely short and to-the-point answers (yes/no answers whenever possible). We can go into a detailed discussion/seek clarification later. I’ll be happy to revise my position and correct the record on any statements that you highlight as being unfair, based on your answers. (Said with all good intentions. Not an attempt at rubbery or anything)

    cheers,
    /SD

  • Here’s Wijayapala’s Guide to Logic & Argument:

    1 – state something that was never discussed prior in the thread & then accuse the other side of not knowing anything about it (such as JVP attempts to overthrow gov, etc. – as he did a few posts above).
    — also, had this been an issue of discussion, I would have pointed out that I myself directly saw violence aganst Tamils commited by the Sinhalese in 1983 in the South, also, prior, in the ’71 JVP rebellion – a family member was on the JVP side & I have heard direct ibservations re: what happened, also, re: the ’89 JVP rebellion – I saw with my own eyes how the gov’t death squads got the situation “uncer control” by leaving dead bodies (in some cases of people who had nothing to do with the JVP) around Kagella & elsewhere. Plus then there are the family members who have servd in the SL military, another source of direct knowledge re: the violence soaked way of life in SL. Of course none of these are convienient or comfortable possibilities for Wijayapala to entertain (as in, his Buddhist brainwashed mentality makes him think that any discussion about any aspect of Sri Lanka is automatically a conspiracy to undermine the Sinhalese & Sri Lanka, even though the questions are being asked by a member of the tribe), thus he has to paint the opposition in this argument as being ignorant & directly unconnected to matters in SL. Good tactic to divert attention from the topic at hand when Wijayapala’s side is losing – as in they still cannot show that Buddhism is anything more than a faith based religion. And, a failed one at that in Sri Lanka – 2000+ years of it on the island have turned the Sinhalese into poor & violent people who (in the case of Wijayapala at least) cannot entertain critical inquiries.

    2 – When the other side does reveal that they do in fact know a lot about the so called unknown item (such as pre-Sinhala sources of influence in Sri Lanka), ignore it, don’t mention it again.

    Will get back to the crooked ways of Wijayapala later, now I’ve got to go to work.

    Keep up the good work agnostics.

    – S

  • ordinary lankan

    My Friends!

    there is a lot more to Buddhism than what you see in Sri Lanka – I will demonstrate that shortly. Let me re-iterate once more the importance of empathy for right understanding. Buddha mentioned metta as an essential mental factor in the Kalama Sutta when engaging in discussions of this nature. There are also modern findings – that empathy creates intelligence – also see Goleman’s emotional intelligence books.

    Knowledge alone is not enough – compassion is needed to transform knowledge into wisdom – whatever you feel about meditation just experience this truth in life –

    the buddhists in sri lanka focus too much on WHAT the buddha said – it is also important to learn HOW HE TAUGHT – because the situations he created actually transformed suffering into happiness and ignorance into knowledge.

    in the mahayana tradition there is an interesting view that anything that helps a fellow human being to develop in wisdom and compassion is buddhism – and that for this you need to have skillful means – upaya kausalya –

    they say the whole teaching career of the buddha was an object lesson in skillful means – he dropped his own self – stood in the shoes of the other and helped the other take the next step forward.

    if our own buddhists learned this they would preach less and help more. there is so much suffering around us – the recent rains have also increased this – that it is undeniable that 2 things the buddha taught are in fact of universal relevance. they are suffering – and compassion – these are the two things we must not fight about – because these are really calls to action – not debate.

    it is not advisable to think ‘my religion is the best’ in fact this applies to secularists too – sri lanka has a unique situation so challenge yourselves to work out an acceptable model of secularism for sri lanka – look to emperor asoka – how he was able to promote religious tolerance – go for models that dont sound and look alien –

    – instead we must turn our energy into the practice of helping – helping both self and others – the answer to the question how do we do it as buddhists today is supplied by the 14 precepts developed by the vietnamese master thich nhat hanh – considered only second to the dalai lama among buddhist leaders of world stature –

    my wish is that this would help both sides to ‘soften’ their arguments and work hard at deep listening and loving speech

    THE FOURTEEN PRECEPTS

    OF ENGAGED BUDDHISM

    By Venerable Thich Nhat Hanh (From the book Interbeing)

    SEVEN PRECEPTS FOR THE MIND

    1. The Lion’s Roar
    Do not be idolatrous about or bound to any doctrine, theory, or ideology, even Buddhist ones. Buddhist systems of thought are guiding means; they are not absolute truth.

    2. Truth is found in Life
    Do not think the knowledge you presently possess is changeless, absolute truth. Avoid being narrow minded and bound to present views. Learn and practice nonattachment from views in order to be open to receive others’ viewpoints. Truth is found in life and not merely in conceptual knowledge. Be ready to learn throughout your entire life and to observe reality in yourself and in the world at all times.

    3. Freedom of Thought
    Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education. However, through compassionate dialogue, help others renounce fanaticism and narrow-mindedness.

    4. Awareness of Suffering
    Do not avoid suffering or close your eyes before suffering. Do not lose awareness of the existence of suffering in the life of the world. Find ways to be with those who are suffering, including personal contact, visits, images and sounds. By such means, awaken yourself and others to the reality of suffering in the world.

    5. Living Simply
    Do not accumulate wealth while millions are hungry. Do not take as the aim of your life fame, profit, wealth, or sensual pleasure. Live simply and share time, energy, and material resources with those who are in need.

    6. Compassion is Understanding
    Do not maintain anger or hatred. Learn to penetrate and transform them when they are still seeds in your consciousness. As soon as they arise, turn your attention to your breath in order to see and understand the nature of your hatred.

    7. Mindful and Joyful Living
    Do not lose yourself in dispersion and in your surroundings. Practice mindful breathing to come back to what is happening in the present moment. Be in touch with what is wondrous, refreshing, and healing both inside and around you. Plant seeds of joy, peace, and understanding in yourself in order to facilitate the work of transformation in the depths of your consciousness.

    TWO PRECEPTS FOR SPEECH

    8. Harmony in the Community
    Do not utter words that can create discord and cause the community to break. Make every effort to reconcile and resolve all conflicts, however small.

    9. Mindful Speech
    Do not say untruthful things for the sake of personal interest or to impress people. Do not utter words that cause division and hatred. Do not spread news that you do not know to be certain. Do not criticize or condemn things of which you are not sure. Always speak truthfully and constructively. Have the courage to speak out about situations of injustice, even when doing so may threaten your own safety.

    FIVE PRECEPTS FOR THE BODY
    10. Standing up to Injustice
    Do not use the Buddhist community for personal gain or profit, or transform your community into a political party. A religious community, however, should take a clear stand against oppression and injustice and should strive to change the situation without engaging in partisan conflicts.

    11. Right Livelihood
    Do not live with a vocation that is harmful to humans and nature. Do not invest in companies that deprive others of their chance to live. Select a vocation that helps realise your ideal of compassion.

    12. Protecting Life
    Do not kill. Do not let others kill. Find whatever means possible to protect life and prevent war.

    13. Social Justice
    Possess nothing that should belong to others. Respect the property of others, but prevent others from profiting from human suffering or the suffering of other species on Earth.

    14. Three Sources of Energy
    Do not mistreat your body. Learn to handle it with respect. Do not look on your body as only an instrument. Preserve vital energies (sexual, breath, spirit) for the realisation of the Way. (For brothers and sisters who are not monks and nuns:) Sexual expression should not take place without love and commitment. In sexual relations, be aware of future suffering that may be caused. To preserve the happiness of others, respect the rights and commitments of others. Be fully aware of the responsibility of bringing new lives into the world. Meditate on the world into which you are bringing new beings.

    From the book ‘Interbeing’: Fourteen Guidelines for Engaged Buddhism, revised edition: Oct. l993 by Thich Nhat Hanh, published by Parallax Press, Berkeley, California
    Venerable Thich Nhat Hanh is a Buddhist monk, poet, peace activist, and the author of Being Peace, The Miracle of Mindfulness, and many other books. He lives in a monastic community in south-western France called Plum Village, where he teaches, writes, gardens, and works to help refugees world-wide. He conducts retreats throughout the world on the art of mindful living, and has conducted special retreats for American Vietnam War veterans, psychotherapists, artists, environmental activists and children.

  • ordinary lankan

    please see below some info on the precepts of engaged buddhism – this is a side of modern buddhism – deep, compassionate and grounded in suffering that is often overlooked

    it does not make sense to assert that ‘my religion is best’ nor does it do any good for secularists to think they have the perfect answer – the truth may be in the middle – the latter may need to find some sources for secularism from within – like emperor asoka – his model of religious tolearnce will be stronger and will not sound or look alien –

    THE FOURTEEN PRECEPTS

    OF ENGAGED BUDDHISM

    By Venerable Thich Nhat Hanh (From the book Interbeing)

    SEVEN PRECEPTS FOR THE MIND

    1. The Lion’s Roar
    Do not be idolatrous about or bound to any doctrine, theory, or ideology, even Buddhist ones. Buddhist systems of thought are guiding means; they are not absolute truth.

    2. Truth is found in Life
    Do not think the knowledge you presently possess is changeless, absolute truth. Avoid being narrow minded and bound to present views. Learn and practice nonattachment from views in order to be open to receive others’ viewpoints. Truth is found in life and not merely in conceptual knowledge. Be ready to learn throughout your entire life and to observe reality in yourself and in the world at all times.

    3. Freedom of Thought
    Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education. However, through compassionate dialogue, help others renounce fanaticism and narrow-mindedness.

    4. Awareness of Suffering
    Do not avoid suffering or close your eyes before suffering. Do not lose awareness of the existence of suffering in the life of the world. Find ways to be with those who are suffering, including personal contact, visits, images and sounds. By such means, awaken yourself and others to the reality of suffering in the world.

    5. Living Simply
    Do not accumulate wealth while millions are hungry. Do not take as the aim of your life fame, profit, wealth, or sensual pleasure. Live simply and share time, energy, and material resources with those who are in need.

    6. Compassion is Understanding
    Do not maintain anger or hatred. Learn to penetrate and transform them when they are still seeds in your consciousness. As soon as they arise, turn your attention to your breath in order to see and understand the nature of your hatred.

    7. Mindful and Joyful Living
    Do not lose yourself in dispersion and in your surroundings. Practice mindful breathing to come back to what is happening in the present moment. Be in touch with what is wondrous, refreshing, and healing both inside and around you. Plant seeds of joy, peace, and understanding in yourself in order to facilitate the work of transformation in the depths of your consciousness.

    TWO PRECEPTS FOR SPEECH

    8. Harmony in the Community
    Do not utter words that can create discord and cause the community to break. Make every effort to reconcile and resolve all conflicts, however small.

    9. Mindful Speech
    Do not say untruthful things for the sake of personal interest or to impress people. Do not utter words that cause division and hatred. Do not spread news that you do not know to be certain. Do not criticize or condemn things of which you are not sure. Always speak truthfully and constructively. Have the courage to speak out about situations of injustice, even when doing so may threaten your own safety.

    FIVE PRECEPTS FOR THE BODY
    10. Standing up to Injustice
    Do not use the Buddhist community for personal gain or profit, or transform your community into a political party. A religious community, however, should take a clear stand against oppression and injustice and should strive to change the situation without engaging in partisan conflicts.

    11. Right Livelihood
    Do not live with a vocation that is harmful to humans and nature. Do not invest in companies that deprive others of their chance to live. Select a vocation that helps realise your ideal of compassion.

    12. Protecting Life
    Do not kill. Do not let others kill. Find whatever means possible to protect life and prevent war.

    13. Social Justice
    Possess nothing that should belong to others. Respect the property of others, but prevent others from profiting from human suffering or the suffering of other species on Earth.

    14. Three Sources of Energy
    Do not mistreat your body. Learn to handle it with respect. Do not look on your body as only an instrument. Preserve vital energies (sexual, breath, spirit) for the realisation of the Way. (For brothers and sisters who are not monks and nuns:) Sexual expression should not take place without love and commitment. In sexual relations, be aware of future suffering that may be caused. To preserve the happiness of others, respect the rights and commitments of others. Be fully aware of the responsibility of bringing new lives into the world. Meditate on the world into which you are bringing new beings.

    From the book ‘Interbeing’: Fourteen Guidelines for Engaged Buddhism, revised edition: Oct. l993 by Thich Nhat Hanh, published by Parallax Press, Berkeley, California
    Venerable Thich Nhat Hanh is a Buddhist monk, poet, peace activist, and the author of Being Peace, The Miracle of Mindfulness, and many other books. He lives in a monastic community in south-western France called Plum Village, where he teaches, writes, gardens, and works to help refugees world-wide. He conducts retreats throughout the world on the art of mindful living, and has conducted special retreats for American Vietnam War veterans, psychotherapists, artists, environmental activists and children.

  • Sur

    Here is a list of some common arguments against rebirth that have been popular so far:

    1)”There is no rebirth because after death, one either goes to heaven or to hell… for eternity.” The eternalist argument. Refuted by the Buddha.

    2) “There is no rebirth because death is the end of everything”. The nihilist argument. Refuted by the Buddha.

    3) “There is no rebirth because I don’t believe in it, and my culture does not allow me to believe in such a thing” (if one can call it an argument).

    4) “There is no rebirth because I do not have any memory and knowledge of my past lives”. The amnesia argument. People have no memory of their birth, so does it mean they’ve never been born? What is memory anyway; can it be used as proof of anything?

    5) “People invented rebirth because they’re afraid of death”. So people who do not believe in rebirth have no fear for death?. That is an opinion, not an argument.

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear BalangodaMan / Sujewa

    Everything that you have written about teaching a child to distinguish right from wrong contains religious ideas of right and wrong. Using different terminology does not change the ideas.

    You have been unable to EXCLUDE religious ideas of Right and Wrong in your replies to the questions I posed in my post of May 17, 2010 @ 12:53 am to SomewhatDisgusted / BalangodaMan.

    You claimed that teaching children about religion is a form of Child Abuse. Judging by your replies referred to below you are using the self same religious ideas on your own children wrapped in a different wrapping. By your own definition are you not ABUSING your own children?

    What ever the wrapping you use, show us how you exclude religious ideas of Right and Wrong and yet teach children to distinguish between them

    Sujewa Ekanayake May 17, 2010 @ 2:24 am
    BalangodaMan said, May 17, 2010 @ 5:09 am

  • Ordinary Lankan & All,

    RE: “it does not make sense to assert that ‘my religion is best’ nor does it do any good for secularists to think they have the perfect answer – the truth may be in the middle – the latter may need to find some sources for secularism from within – like emperor asoka – his model of religious tolearnce will be stronger and will not sound or look alien – ”

    (and this is also an idea, the following, that has been hinted at by Wijayapala – that Buddhism or any other religion is something outside of rest of the human experience/part of the overall body of human knowledge – that may have been/may be the way that it is promoted via various sects since religious affiliation = political affiliation (number of people in a given religious group = a certain amount of power), but there is another way that myself & other agnostics approach what religon is & how it matters to us, and that is):

    1. All human knowledge, being human knowledge, is accessible to, & is a part of, the intellectual & creative inheritance of all & every single human

    2. Thus, an agnostic or a secularist is not separated by all aspects of human knowledge that is labeled Buddhism or Christianity, etc. Any useful items from those sets of ideas can be used by an agnostic as necessary.

    – (also, personally, i do not see any major religion disappearing from this planet any time soon – yes, sri lanka will continue to have a majority buddhist population – however – in order to break out of the cycle of violence & poverty in sl – i feel the development of a secular government (in practice) & secular instutions & separation of Temple & State is necessary. regardless of what happens on that front, buddhism will continue to be useful to many sri lankans).

    3. The difference here is on the sphere of influence assigned to the religious ideas. Many Sinhala Buddhists believe that Sri Lanka needs to be a Sinhala Buddhist country or that the government needs to have Buddhism as a significant part of it. The secularists are arguing for the separation of Temple & State, so that religion becomes a private matter & all citizens can feel equal in front of/when dealing with the government & vise versa (sp?)

    ::

    The work week is on, will get to off topic items such as several of Wijayapala’s anti-sujewa rants 🙂 above before the end of the coming weekend.

    ::

    Re: the topic directly addresses by the article, looks like there is a general consensus (sp?) that K,R,N cannot be proven as real to non-believers, and are faith based item in Buddhism (a relgion with speculative items, not an absolute or universal truth).

    ::

    – S

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear Sujewa,

    What is Karma?
    The Pali term Karma literally means action or doing. Any kind of intentional action whether mental, verbal, or physical, is regarded as Karma. It covers all that is included in the phrase “thought, word and deed”. Generally speaking, all good and bad action constitutes Karma. In its ultimate sense Karma means all moral and immoral volition. Involuntary, unintentional or unconscious actions, though technically deeds, do not constitute Karma, because volition, the most important factor in determining Karma, is absent.

    The Buddha says:
    “I declare, O Bhikkhus, that volition is Karma. Having willed one acts by body, speech, and thought.” (Anguttara Nikaya)
    http://www.buddhanet.net/e-learning/karma.htm

    the Buddha interprets kamma as volitional activities. That means, whatever good and bad deeds we commit ourselves without any purposeful intention, are not strong enough to be carried forward to our next life. However, ignorance of the nature of the good and bad effect of the kamma is not an excuse to justify or avoid the karmic results if they were committed intentionally. A small child or an ignorant man may commit many evil deeds. Since they commit such deeds with intention to harm or injure, it is difficult to say that they are free from the karmic results.
    http://www.buddhanet.net/budsas/ebud/whatbudbeliev/87.htm

    the essence of kamma, as is given in the Buddha’s words, Cetanaham bhikkhave kammam vadami: Monks! Intention, I say, is kamma. Having willed, we create kamma, through body, speech and mind
    http://www.buddhanet.net/cmdsg/kamma1.htm

    I hope you understand what volitional means

    All three extracts are from buddhanet.
    The first extract is from the very same web page Sujewa linked to.

    An imbecile thinks that he can understand Buddhism by taking a superficial glance at a web site on Buddhism. At least I have instigated him to read about Buddhism. All this while Sujewa you were PONTIFICATING without even knowing what Kamma is. However you BRAG about belonging to a Highly Pious Buddhist family. Apparently you have not learnt ANYTHING about Buddhism from them.

    Please note
    Kamma is a Pali word.
    Kamma in Pali = Action in English
    Kamma in Buddhism = Action + Volition (both elements are required)

    Volition
    1 : an act of making a choice or decision;
    2 : the power of choosing or determining

    Note that the thought precedes the action. This is premeditation.

    In other words the Buddhist meaning of Karma is Premeditated Action.
    I used it to prevent you and others like you from corrupting the Real Meaning.

    Sujewa, why do you insist on acting like the Dog that has defecated on a Stone and is struggling to cover it up? The Dog succeeded in only getting covered with the stuff. That’s exactly what you have done too. Very clever indeed!!! 😉

    (Re your post of May 17, 2010 @ 2:54 am)

  • SomewhatDisgusted

    Dear OTC,

    “How would you teach your child to distinguish right from wrong?”

    Why would we need to have a celestial bogeyman to teach morals to our children? We can teach them how to reason about what’s right and what’s wrong instead. Do you not already have reasons for *why you are doing what you are doing*? Your parents would have given you such reasons also? Buddhism itself gives reasons? (Buddhism gives you logical reasons independent of its religious aspects) So why do we need a religion to teach them something that’s clearly independent of religion? For example, prior to the invention of religion X, could most people not distinguish right from wrong?

    Most of the core things most human beings consider right and wrong are near universal (We have an innate moral sense as science shows and tries to explain). We tend to only differ on trivial things which are of no real consequence in the final analysis right?

    One thing I would agree on, is that religion provides convenience! It provides its morals in a neatly packaged form that other children of the same religion can easily relate to. Sadly, we don’t seem to have a universal substitute for this. I therefore think using religion is an easy way out but unfortunately, it does come with extra “baggage” apart from just the morals.

    “Would you avoid the religious view on the above subjects as that may constitute religious indoctrination and hence Child Abuse?”

    There’s a difference between teaching a subject and hammering a point home till the child’s entire existence revolves around concepts which have not even been demonstrated to be true in this world. What’s also wrong is to make a child terrified of concepts that we are not sure exists (i.e. Kamma, Hellfire, Goni Billa whatever) without ever giving the child a chance to make up his/her own mind. By the time they are older, many are too indoctrinated to be able to think outside of that imposed framework. They never had the option of rationally *choosing* it. Shouldn’t a child have an option of *choosing* what their views on the origin and nature of the universe are, instead it it being indoctrinated from birth?

    I see few problems with teaching good morals off a religion – as I outlined earlier. However, I dare say it’s better to be able to reason about what’s right and wrong instead of slavish adherence to doctrine. Isn’t this what prevents a Muslim from realizing why it’s wrong to kill an “infidel”?

    If you to think I’m suggesting that religion should not be taught. Indeed no. I would teach it myself. But we should be aware of what it is we are teaching and how we are teaching it. We should be cognizant of the fact that we may be filling a child’s head with speculative things as indisputable truths.

    I should say that I find Buddhism to be exceptional in this regard. Actually, the only thing my father taught me about Buddhism was the Kaalama sutta. Sadly, it didn’t work out too well with me as you can see 🙂 Still, I’ve always said I’ve benefited from the ethical aspects in Buddhism, even if I’ve chosen to reject the speculative aspects. Some others may choose to embrace it. But the question is, are we making sure we give that choice – i..e Make sure it’s mentioned that these are speculative? That is the main idea that is being conveyed.

    “What ever the wrapping you use, show us how you exclude religious ideas of Right and Wrong and yet teach children to distinguish between them”

    Not sure I understand what you are trying to convey here. Are you saying that, in the absence of religion, we would be unable to decide what’s right and wrong? Are you saying you wouldn’t have been able to decide on any of these things logically had the Buddha not told you? Does that mean that some other human being in a tribe in sub-saharan Africa have no concept of right and wrong? Need some clarification before this issue can be addressed.

    cheers,
    /SD

  • Heshan

    Dear OTC/Yapa and other believers:

    To touch upon a rather new point. What is the direction of rebirth, in the context of time? If we assume that rebirth is possible, then what is the justification for forwards rebirth only? Why is it that someone cannot be reborn into a past life and experience again what was experienced in that past life ? Or are you assuming that every event which takes place in a person’s life occurs exactly once and/or is subject to a finite number of repetitions?

  • Off the Cuff

    To All,

    Here we have two Agnostics responding to my post of May 16, 2010 @ 5:24 pm. One of them responds intellectually the other goes on an Ego trip.

    SomewhatDisgusted said on May 16, 2010 @ 6:49 pm
    I agree with pretty much everything you said. I very much doubt anyone can disagree with your arguments above. Science has long stayed away from the metaphysical, since it is fairly clear that the metaphysical will always remain speculative. In fact, we’ve both agreed on this for a long time, from the very outset actually.
    His reply is intellectually written and was responded to by my post of May 17, 2010 @ 12:14 am

    Sujewa Ekanayake said on May 16, 2010 @ 9:58 pm
    OTC keeps twisiting the truth & being dishonest as he is unable to demonstrate that the deeply held belief he has of karma, reincarnation, nirvana being actual/real descriptions of how the world/universe works or being actual things in this world

    I have repeated my challenge to the Agnostics even on May 16, 2010 @ 12:14 am
    Quote
    As I stated before If Science cannot DISPROVE what it does not know it cannot PROVE it either. If you want such Verifiable proof you have to FIRST PROVE to the Religious that the methods you are asking to be used has the Capacity or the Authority or the Maturity to dissect the Subject that you have chosen. You cannot measure the Depth of the Ocean with a Foot Ruler, can you?
    Unquote

    Does anybody see me requesting a “TOOL” from the Agnostics?

    But we have Sujewa stating that
    So, OTC’s response to that, re-posted dozens of times, is to instead of answering the question, is to ask another question. He wants us to provide a tool that can be used to prove the existence of KRN. No such tool exists because KRN are fictional/speculative religious/symbolic items.

    An Imbecile struggling with his English and blaming others for his failings.
    Besides being an Imbecile it appears that he is Dishonest to the core too.

    Sujewa you are a LIAR and a most despicable one at that.

  • Here’s OTC’s brand of Buddhism on display:

    FROM:
    May 17, 2010 @ 10:34 pm:

    “An imbecile thinks that he can understand Buddhism by taking a superficial glance at a web site on Buddhism.”

    So I guess it takes a person of massive intelligence to argue for a month & a half against the fact that Buddhism is a religion right? Good job OTC 🙂

    & RE:
    “why do you insist on acting like the Dog that has defecated on a Stone and is struggling to cover it up?”

    Likening those who do not agree with him to imbeciles & dogs – excellent way to go OTC, I am sure you are gaing much merit through your actions & thoughts.

    And keep trying to re-define karma from the way it was defined & used by Buddhism for hundreds of years – with one example given in the BuddhaNet article that I linked to.

    And then there is some stuff about belonging to a highly pious family??? Do feel free to point out when I said that. I do however belong to a large SL Buddhist family – fortunately they are not fundie nutjobs like OTC, thus, I am able to think & speak freely.

    Keep living in your escapist religious fantasy land. And let us know when you have something relevant to the topic being addressed by the article.

    Also, haven’t you already said that K,R,N cannot be proven by science, etc. So why are you still hanging around at this article? Don’t you have some rituals to perform or something, to smooth your way to nirvana?

    OTC appears to be a hate & ignorance filled political Buddhist (someone who uses Buddhism for political gains, but is not an actual practitioner).

    – S

  • OTC,

    RE:
    “Everything that you have written about teaching a child to distinguish right from wrong contains religious ideas of right and wrong. Using different terminology does not change the ideas.”

    Wrong. Re-read my post referred to above by you & feel free to point out ideas that are exclusive to religions & are not devised via simple observation of life.
    Also religions don’t own general human ideas (even though they may attach an unsual name to them). Human ideas precede religons (at least the major religions around at the moment, certainly Buddhism, which is believed to be only 2500 some years old, whereas modern humans are thought to be around 200,000 years old – gee, I wonder how humanity survived for all those years w/ out Buddhism :), fact is – stuff like not killing people & benefit of such a rule/way of being to self & others can easily be understood by observing life, a god type figure does not need to say it to people). Many of the positive/useful things that exist in religions can be created (put together as ideas) w/ out the help of religions.

    – S

  • Ordinary Lankan,

    RE:
    “there is a lot more to Buddhism than what you see in Sri Lanka – I will demonstrate that shortly….” post & the related one that followed;

    Good posts. Though somewhat off topic (a common practice here so no big deal really :), the posts do highlight some of the positive & practical uses that can be interperted/developed from Buddhist teachings & are relevant to the modern world. As the agnostics have always said during these discussions, there are positive items w/ in Buddhism, not just the speculative items re: nature of death, afterlife, etc. The political Buddhists that we are arguing with are afraid to acknowledge these facts since they fear that any kind of a close look at Buddhism by non-believers will weaken Sinhala-Buddhist power in SL.

    But anyway, good posts. I was just reading a book by Hahn (name sp?) this morning before heading out to work.

    – S

  • Burning_Issue

    Dear Yapa,

    I have nothing personal against you. It seems; you position is that, the Sinhala Buddhist are the true owners of Sri Lanka and all the rest must assimilate into the Sinhala Buddhist way of life including the language, Sinhala. I also think that, you do not recognise the Tamil history in Sri Lanka; your notion that if the Tamils had had assimilated into the Sinhala way, everything would have been fine; but you fail to see from Tamil perspective. The Sri Lankan Tamils constitute a community that in inherently Sri Lankan. Sri Lanka has always had cultural, religious, and language diversity; harmony existed throughout its history. Of course there were many battles; none were on the basis of ethnicity, but on the basis of territorial aggressions; both Tamils and Sinhala fought on either side; intermarried; worshiped at Buddhist and Hindu shrines.

    There is no doubt that since the independence, the Sri Lankan polity has been fully influenced by Sinhala Buddhist Nationalism. One can understand that the majority community wanted grater share of the nation. The irony is that, the 1948 constitution that facilitated Westminster style electoral system had in fact rested the political control over to the Sinhaha majority. Unlike in India where there was a lot of blood spilt over independence, in Sri Lanka, the power was handed over to the majority with a secular constitution. The majority community, instead of building a nation of Sri Lankans, it embarked on a series of discriminatory programmes asserting its prominence while jettisoning moral principles of democracy and the very Buddhism that you valiantly trying to safeguard. Until 1974, the Tamils stuck to the principles of democracy and Gandhian Ahimsa. I still feel that, it was very uncharacteristic of the Tamils to rise up violently like they did; I must say that, Amirthalingham was a fiery character; his persona did in fact touched the young. Anyway, I wished that we battled on democratically that would have bore fruits eventually. However, one cannot turn the clock back; we need to deal with the issues as they stand now.

    I do not want to point my finger at a particular community in terms of who started this mess first, but the reality is that, there is a deep divide along ethnic lines that needs fixing. The question is how to go about it.

    I list below the 7 questions that SomewhatDisgusted addressed to you on May 17, 2010 @ 5:40 pm; I endorse every word of those 7 questions; please answer honestly; then we can assess as to where we stand:

    “1. Do you agree that all Sri Lankan citizens have equal claim to this island?
    2. Do you agree that ethnicity is irrelevant in this regard? Or does one’s ethnicity automatically change this?
    3. What is your position on ‘56 Sinhala Only? Was it a mistake?
    4. Do you believe everything in our power must be done to implement Tamil language policies properly?
    5. Do you believe that we have to work side-by-side to secure necessary rights for Tamils to live as equal citizens in Sri Lanka? (and not feel they are under the patronage of the Sinhalese in anyway?) – To clarify – not talking about Eelams here. Talking about a plural society.
    6. How do you propose to solve our ethnic problem? What are the responsibilities of the Tamils? and what of the Sinhalese? or any others?
    7. Finally, and I asked this question earlier, what is your vision for the people of Sri Lanka, from a Sinhala-Buddhist’s perspective?”

  • Burning_Issue

    Dear Wijayapala,

    I thank you for your comments. I totally agree with you that, we need to comment on peoples’ ideas and not on personalities. I do not expect people to agree with my point of views; we can share ideas, bridge gaps, and work towards regaining Sri Lanka for all citizens.

  • Burning_Issue

    Dear SomewhatDisgusted, Sujeewa, Wijayapala, and OTC,

    Thanks for your comments; I am really pleased that I debate with such a rich pool of talents; it is heartbreaking that, despite such depth of academic repertoire that Sri Lanka possesses, we end up with politicians with no comparison!

    I am an atheist; my father and brothers are just like myself; we never bothered about religion. This does not mean that we do not participate in traditional matters involving Hindu customs and practices; that we do. These customs and practices bind people and communities together and they are very important.

    I would like to make one point and would like you to tell me whether I am right or wrong. A Secular Constitution means that, it is free from any religious constraints; a state is elevated above any form of religious beliefs; this is particularly suitable for a multi-ethnic nation such as India and Sri Lanka. India is a secular country despite it holds numerically more Muslims than what is recorded in Pakistan, but Sri Lanka is not where 70% is made up of Sinhala speaking population!

    My question is what constitutes a Secularist? Naturally I am a secularist as I am an atheist; Agnostics are also considered as Secularists; this forums stands as a testament to that. However, a true democrat; one could be a believer, a non-believer, an agnostic, and an atheist, but still can be a staunch democrat.

    1. Does this mean that, if one is a true democrat, within a multi-ethnic country, one has to side with secularism?
    2. If so, Secularism cuts across all sections of the divides regardless of one is a believer or not
    3. If this is the case, we should focus on whether a form of Secularism is right or wrong for Sri Lanka instead of religious beliefs, which is a private matter.

  • RR

    Before commencing his ministry, the Buddha thought to himself that
    the ‘dhamma goes against the stream.’ One implication of that is that by normal thinking, one couldn’t “get” it, because it doesn’t conform to normal thinking.

    It is true that the Buddha invited his hearers to “come and see”, meaning that they should verify what he taught rather than taking anything blindly. But to verify what he taught doesn’t mean simply to deduce everything rationally, according to one’s normal thinking, because that thinking is deluded, precisely.

    There is that element of Buddhism that may not conform to normal, rational thinking. The Buddha discovered his state of peace (santi), which he calls blowing-out (nibbana), not by a priori deduction, but by a posteriori discovery, and after he taught it, it falls on us to verify it, by following what he taught, but not everything he taught needs to conform to our rational expectations.

    He perforce used language and thought to teach what he taught, but what he taught refers beyond language and thought, to a state that he defined as the calming of all compositions (the fourth aggregate). What he taught from within language and thought is founded beyond language and thought, on the state of the quiescence of all compositions, and language and thought belong to the compositions (the fourth aggregate). That’s why he said that after what he taught — the Law — has been verified, it should be abandoned, and it should be abandoned when one reaches its end, otherwise it couldn’t be reached.

    There is then a discontinuity between what he taught, which was taught from within language and thought, on one side and what it points at, on the other. The latter is to be experienced, not deduced, not rationalised.

    Let us review his struggle. He spent quite a few years in a period of Jaina self-starvation and self-mortification, which is revolt in pure form. He attempted to beat down his nature — what he was — by denying it whatever gratification we humans give ourselves in our daily life and on the contrary piling pain upon pain on himself, physical and mental. He imposed himself on his nature, beat it down, sought to vanish it by sheer will.

    Then he realised that it had all been a massive error. It was his first awakening –to stop inflicting suffering on himself, and in his case, it had been for nought(this awakening corresponds to the Third Noble Truth, the realisation of the cessationof suffering). He relented, ate again, regained strength, entered meditation, quiesced the compositions (the fourth aggregate), and awoke a second time, this time to the quiet and quiescent mind which does not attempt to impose itself at all on whatever it receives.

    Ironically, it is in this state of the calming of all mental functions except pure consciousness of raw, uninterpreted sensation that the fullness of life blooms forth unimpeded.

    His first awakening is pretty understandable, from within language and thought, it makes sense to us, but his second awakening may offend our sensibilities, because all our lives we think, never stop thinking, and so a state where thinking stops (whilst one is fully aware of oneself and the world) may violate our expectations. But that is where he invited us to “come and see”, for it is not easily intelligible to us a priori. It has to be experienced a posteriori.

    That is where our rational expectations may fail us. If we follow our normal thinking, we may reject it even before giving it any chance. Remember, the Law goes against the stream.

  • yapa

    Dear SomwwhatDisgusted;

    My answers to your questions of the post t of May 17, 2010 @ 5:40 pm

    1. Not always.

    2. Not always.

    3. Not a mistake, it was something with multifaceted causes.

    4. I have no clear idea about what Tamil language policies means, however, I accept the right of Tamils with regard to their language.

    5. There is no problem until Tamils too hold the same notion. Once they mean business, automatically these things change.

    6. This is a very broad and deep question, answer to which should not come as an opinion. We all have to explore the possibilities, however, confidence among all the players is a precondition.

    7. I will give my vision in time, it is being gradually prepared in the discussion. However, you will have to keep in mind that it is my opinion. You should not bash it interpreting into something else, the way you are used to do in this discussion.

    I think you will not do the same thing to my answers above.

    Thanks!

  • yapa

    Dear Heshan;

    RE: Your post of May 17, 2010 @ 11:38 pm

    Your participation in the discussion is warmly welcome. I think it will help to break this monotony.

    I will give my opinion soon, on the new idea you raised in the post.

    Thanks

  • Unable to accept that his deep belief in Buddhism is just that – an unverifiable (sp?) belief in a set of ancient ideas – religious ideas, and not actual things that exist in this world but symbols only, OTC continues to have a melt down when having to deal with a non-believer who is not impressed by his fairy tale views on the world & life. Here are OTC’s words:

    “An Imbecile struggling with his English and blaming others for his failings.
    Besides being an Imbecile it appears that he is Dishonest to the core too.

    Sujewa you are a LIAR and a most despicable one at that.”

    OTC has officially dropped his fake Buddhist facade & is admitting that he has no strong rational arguments for his belief in karma, reincarnation, nirvana & that he just prefers to insult people, since it makes him feel better. And since he lacks anything worthwhile to post, now he will spend his time insulting me – the person who showed him the folly of his blind believer ways.

    It’s interesting that OTC uses the phrase “blaming others for his failings” in the quote above. Thought it is directed at me, I see no evidence that I was blaming anyone for any failings of mine during this debate (feel free to use direct quotes OTC, unless of course those words are also referring to non-existent items like K,R, N :). So, apparently OTC is accidentally displaying his repressed awareness that he failed to explain why non-believers should take speculative items K,R,N seriously or a religion that is built on K,R,N as anything more than just another ancient way to control people & also attempt to make people feel better.

    Also, feel free to show proof of any lying or dishonest behavior of mine OTC. Both you & another angry believer who shall remain nameless for the moment are quick to paint others as liars & dishonest people – is that the believer strategy for further hiding the fact that one of their/your main preoccupations in life is built on, basically, a set of lies (or, as we sugar coat it by saying speculative items such as K,R,N)? Probably.

    – S
    “keeping cool under the pointless rage of misguided believers since 2010” 🙂

  • SomewhatDisgusted

    Dear Mr. Yapa,

    Thank you for the pointed answers.
    Hoping for some further clarification.

    1. Since you said – “not always”, on what occasions do Sri Lankan citizens not have equal claim to this island?
    2. Again – please clarify. Also, how or why does one’s ethnicity change this?
    3. I see. So you do not consider it a majoritarian policy? Also, do you disagree the Tamils were unfairly affected?
    4. I meant that Tamils are not satisfied with how their language is being treated at a national level. It’s there in the constitution yes, but it is not being implemented up to required expectations. Yes, there may be extenuating circumstances. But as an overall policy, are we doing enough?
    5. I agree that the terrorist movement was way overboard. Someone else might counter-argue that it would not have gone overboard if not for atrocities against innocent Tamils. Still, I quite agree that it had to be stopped. Unreservedly glad about the LTTE’s demise personally. However, now it’s time for all parties to correct any mistakes of the past yes?
    6. Quite agree. Undoubtedly.
    7. I won’t bash it unless it’s silly.

    Hoping for more precise answers like the above.

    cheers,
    /SD

  • BalangodaMan

    RR (May 17, 2010 @ 11:05 am)

    Looks like you know your Buddhism and your conviction is strong. Therefore the best person to answer my questions.

    You said,
    “The proof of its truth (karma, rebirth, nirvana) – and hence the conclusive proof of the Buddha’s Enlightenment as well – is to be found in the Doctrine itself. Like any scientific discovery it can be tested empirically.”

    You see, that’s where we have a problem – the very purpose of Sujewa’s (this) article.

    Neither Buddha’s omniscience (which in Buddhism is called enlightenment) nor karma, rebirth, nirvana can be tested empirically.

    Yes, we can observe that some people do bad things.
    Yes, we can observe that some people suffer disadvantage in birth and during life.
    But we cannot test empirically the connection between the doer of bad things and the sufferer of consequences in another life, let alone test its fairness.

    More, because the doctrine tells us that there is no ‘cosmic identity’ (called soul in Christianity) there cannot be a connection between the doer and the sufferer. Say, a child is born with no legs. According to the doctrine of karma this is caused by someone who lived in the past having done something really bad. How is this child responsible for the actions of the person who lived in the past?

    (OTC, no judicial system – your favourite – punishes someone for another’s misdeeds)

    Try telling a child of 6 that he is deformed because some unidentified and unidentifiable person who lived a hundred years ago was a bad man. Even if you had his name, address, when he lived, and full account of his misdeeds how can this child accept responsibility for that? I know how upset I was at that age if accused of something I had nothing to do with.

    Ok, it is unfair. But is karma then ‘not supposed to be fair’? One may say ‘the doctrine of karma’ is a revelation of ‘how it is’ (like gravity) – the Buddha did not design it or create it.

    So, a simple question to RR,

    What, in Buddhism, is the connection between the doer that lived in the past with the sufferer who is living now?

    ::

    To all those who say ‘karma and rebirth’ are real because it is almost universally believed – but so is (the concept of) god, perhaps even more universally believed. Does that mean that god is real?

  • BalangodaMan

    Mr Yapa should read this. I think it is a good basis for a Buddhist Reformation.

    ordinary lankan said, May 17, 2010 @ 5:58 pm

  • BalangodaMan

    To summarise where I am coming from …

    1. Religion should not be in politics. And if religion is politicised it is imperative that it is discussed in public.

    2. Past lives: Meditation is self-hypnosis. The mind can be programmed to work in powerful ways, by ourselves. It is not mystical. Awareness of past lives when in a meditative trance is delusional. Prayer can have, and often most likely has, an element of self-hypnosis. The mechanism at work here is well understood by scientists and is repeatable (its effectiveness is easily seen in stage hypnotism).

    3. All religions say they are the ‘truth’ and say they are different from others (hence others are ‘not true’).

    4. The differences between religions are (1) because they were introduced differently in different regions in the world at different times (2) to be divisive.

    5. It is necessary to constantly challenge long-held ‘truths’ in any field. It is the duty of those with analytical minds to serve those that are not so disposed.

    6. All religions have essentially the same ideas but called different words, and introduced with different stories.

    7. Much of the arguments on religion are about differences of definition. Essentially the differences revolve around the definition of ‘god’, and his relationship to man.

    8. There appears to be inherently a universally accepted common belief system among all humans. Some call it Humanism.

    9. Every child is born agnostic, with full potential to think with an open mind. Religion restricts that. That is a form of child abuse.

    10. We can’t use ancient methods to live a modern life – anymore than expect people in 2,500 years time to use Windows 7, or dance to Michael Jackson.

    11. There is a major flaw in interpretation of Buddhism ‘in the material world’ (a big subject for another discussion).

  • yapa

    Dear RR;

    Thanks for your incisive essays. We were not able say what we wanted ,properly. I think you are doing it in a magnificent way.

    Thanks again!

  • yapa

    BalangodaMan’s post of May 18, 2010 @ 3:23 pm

    Please read BalangodaMan’s 10+1 commandments.

    Thanks!

  • Sur

    “What, in Buddhism, is the connection between the doer that lived in the past with the sufferer who is living now?”

    =======================================

    Three positions of human destiny after death:

    There are three possible positions that can be taken on human destiny after death. One position, the outlook of materialism. It simply denies that there is an afterlife. It holds that the human being consists of organic matter. It regards mind as a byproduct of organic matter, and after death, with the break up of the physical body, all consciousness comes to an end and the life process is completely extinguished.

    The second alternative is the view held in Western theistic religions such as Judaism, Christianity and Islam in their orthodox forms. They believe in an eternal afterlife. According to these religions, we live a single life on earth and after death we live eternally in some state of existence determined by our present beliefs and conduct.

    Then there is a third view, a view which prevails in the religions of the East, Hinduism and Buddhism. This is the idea of rebirth. According to this, the present life is only a simple link in a chain of lives that extends back into the past and forward into the future. This chain of lives is called samsara.

    BUDDHISM AND HINDUISM COMPARED

    The word “Samsara” means literally “continuing on”, “wandering on”. It signifies the repetitive cycle of birth, ageing, death and rebirth.

    Now though Buddhism and Hinduism share the concept of rebirth, the Buddhist concept differs in details from the Hindu doctrine. The doctrine of rebirth as understood in Hinduism involves a permanent soul, a conscious entity which transmigrates from one body to another. The soul inhabits a given body and at death, the soul casts that body off and goes on to assume another body. The famous Hindu classic, the Bhagavad Gita, compares this to a man who might take off one suit of clothing and put on another. The man remains the same but the suits of clothing are different. In the same way the soul remains the same but the psycho-physical organism it takes up differs from life to life.

    The Buddhist term for rebirth in Pali is “punabbhava” which means “again existence”. Buddhism sees rebirth not as the transmigration of a conscious entity but as the repeated occurrence of the process of existence. There is a continuity, a transmission of influence, a causal connection between one life and another. But there is no soul, no permanent entity which transmigrates from one life to another.

    REBIRTH WITHOUT A TRANSMIGRATING SOUL

    The concept of rebirth without a transmigrating soul commonly raises the question: How can we speak of ourselves as having lived past lives if there is no soul, no single life going through these many lives? To answer this we have to understand the nature of individual identity in a single lifetime.

    The Buddha explains that what we really are is a functionally unified combination of five aggregates. The five aggregates fall into two groups. First there is a material process, which is a current of material energy. Then there is a mental process, a current of mental happenings. Both these currents consist of factors that are subject to momentary arising and passing away. The mind is a series of mental acts made up of feelings, perceptions, mental formations and consciousnes. These mental acts are called in Pali “cittas”. Each citta arises, breaks up and passes away. When it breaks up it does not leave any traces behind. It does not have any core or inner essence that remains. But as soon as the citta breaks up, immediately afterwards there arises another citta. Thus we find the mind as a succession of cittas, or series of momentary acts of consciousness.

    Now when each citta falls away it transmits to its successor whatever impression has been recorded on itself, whatever experience it has undergone. Its perceptions, emotions and volitional force are passed on to the next citta, and thus all experiences we undergo leave their imprint on the onward flow of consciousness, on the “cittasantana”, the continuum of mind. This transmission of influence, this causal continuity, gives us our continued identity. We remain the same person through the whole lifetime because of this continuity.

    WHAT CONTINUES FROM ONE LIFE TO ANOTHER

    The physical organism – the body – and the mental process – the stream of cittas – occur in close interconnection. The body provides the physical basis for the stream of cittas and the mental process rests upon the body as its instrument or basis. When death comes, the body can no longer function as the physical support for consciousness. However, when the body breaks up at death, the succession of cittas does not draw to an end. In the mind of the dying person there takes place a final thought – moment called the “death consciousness”, which signals the complete end of the life. Then, following the death consciousness, there arises the first citta of the next life which springs up with the newly formed physical organism as its basis. The first citta of the new life continues the stream of consciousness which has passed out of the deceased body. The stream of consciousness is not a single entity, but a process, and the process continues. When the stream of cittas passes on to the next life it carries the storage of impressions along with it.

    PRESERVATION OF IDENTITY ILLUSTRATED

    An illustration may help us understand how this preservation of, identity can take place without the transmigration of any “self-identifiable” entity.

    Suppose we have a candle burning at 8 o’clock. If we come back in an hour, at 9 o’clock, we see that the candle is still burning, and we say that it is the same candle. This statement is completely valid from the standpoint of conventional linguistic usage. But if we examine this matter close-up we’ll see that at every moment the candle is burning different particles of wax, every moment it is burning a different section of wick, different molecules of oxygen. Thus the wax, wick and the oxygen being burnt are always different from moment to moment, and yet because the moments of flame link together in a continuum, one moment of flame giving rise to the next, we still say it is the same flame. But actually the flame is different from moment to moment. The flame itself is an entirely different phenomenon. It is conditioned by wax, the wick and air, and apart from them there is nothing.

    SIMILE OF THE CANDLE

    We can apply this simile to the case of rebirth. The body of the candle is like the physical body of the person. The wick might be compared to the sense faculties that function as the support for the process of consciousness. The particles of oxygen are like the sense objects and the flame is like consciousness.

    Consciousness always arises with the physical body as its support. It always arises through a particular sense faculty, eg. eye, ear, nose, etc. It always has an object, e.g. sight, sound, etc. The body, sense faculty and the object keep constantly changing and therefore consciousness and the mental factors are constantly changing. But because each act of mind follows in sequence and passes on the contents to the following, we speak of the body and mind compound as being the same person. When the body loses its vitality and death takes place, that is like the first candle coming to an end.

    The transmission of the flame to the next candle, that is like the passing on of the current of consciousness to the next life. When the mental continuum takes up the new body, that is like the flame of the old candle passing on to the new candle.

    CONCEPTION

    The Buddha says there are three necessary conditions for conception. There has to be a union of the father and mother, the father to provide the sperm, the mother to provide the egg. Second, it must be the mother’s proper season. If the mother isn’t fertile, conception won’t take place. Third, there must be a stream of consciousness of the deceased person, the flow of mind that is ready and prepared to take rebirth. This third factor he calls the “gandhabba”. Unless all these conditions are met conception does not take place.

    Does rebirth go on automatically and inevitably?

    Is there any causal structure behind this process of rebirth? Does it go on automatically and inevitably? Or is there a set of causes that sustains it and keeps it rolling?

    The Buddha explains that there is a distinct set of causes underlying the rebirth process. It has a causal structure and this structure is set out in the teaching of Dependent Arising, “paticcasamupada”.

    TEACHING OF DEPENDENT ARISING WITH REFERENCE TO REBIRTH

    Now we will explain the teaching of Dependent Arising with specific reference to the rebirth process.

    First, in this life there is present in us the most basic root of all becoming, namely ignorance. Due to ignorance we perceive things in a distorted way. Due to these distortions or perversions things appear to us to be permanent, pleasurable, attractive and as our self. Due to these distortions there arises in us craving, craving for sense pleasures, for existence, for sights, sounds, smells, tastes, touch sensations and ideas. Basically there is craving for pleasant feeling. In order to experience pleasant feeling we require agreeable objects such as agreeable sights, smells etc. In order to obtain the pleasure these objects can give, we have to make contact with these objects. To contact these objects we need sense faculties that can receive the sense objects. In other words, we need the six sense faculties, eg. the eye to receive sight, the ear to receive sound, etc. In order for the sense faculties to function we need the entire psycho-physical organism, the mind-body complex.

    Thus on account of craving the mind holds on to this presently existing organism so long as it lives. But when death occurs the present organism can no longer provide the basis for obtaining pleasure through the sense faculties. However, there is still the craving for the world of sights, sounds, smells, tastes, touches and ideas. So due to this craving for existence, consciousness lets go of this body and grasps hold of a new body, a fertilized egg. It lodges itself in that fertilized egg, bringing a whole storage of accumulated impressions over with it into the new psycho-physical organism. Thus we say the new being is conceived.

    CRAVING THE SEAMSTRESS

    Hence the Buddha calls craving the “seamstress”. Just as a seamstress sews together different pieces of cloth, so does craving sew together one life to another. It ties together the succession of lives. Craving is so powerful that it can bridge the gap created by death and rebuild the whole house of sentient existence again and again.

    Thro’ many a birth in Sansara wandered I,
    Seeking but not finding, the builder of this house. Sorrowful is repeated birth.
    O House-builder! you are seen. You shall build no house again.
    All your rafters are broken, your ridge-pole is shattered.
    To dissolution goes my mind.
    The End of Craving have I attained.
    Dhammapada (154)

    http://www.buddhanet.net/budsas/ebud/ebdha058.htm

  • Sur

    “Try telling a child of 6 that he is deformed because some unidentified and unidentifiable person who lived a hundred years ago was a bad man. Even if you had his name, address, when he lived, and full account of his misdeeds how can this child accept responsibility for that? I know how upset I was at that age if accused of something I had nothing to do with.”

    So if you murdered someone yesterday, bumped your head and forgot about it today…that absolves you of all consequences? Of you stole from people, broke into their homes but then had a car accident and developed amnesia… that absolves you of all the consequences? You shouldn’t be held accountable for your past deeds?

  • Sur,

    RE:

    “So if you murdered someone yesterday, bumped your head and forgot about it today…that absolves you of all consequences?”

    If you murdered someone yesterday then others may be able to point this fact out using evidence (someone saw it perhaps, blood stains on your cloths, you were in the neighborhood of the murder, your DNA material found at the dead body, etc.), whether you yourself remember it or not or whether your yourself admit to doing it is not a major obstacle in convicting someone of murder in many cases. However, the existence of past lives is not observable, and, individuals are not, & cannot, be held responsible for something that they themselves did not do (like an action commited in a past life, which – past lives – probably do not exist). The reincarnation theory used in Hinduism, which was refined/altered for Buddhism, probably comes out of the need in ancient Hindu society to justify the caste system, or why social mobility was absent in their society. It is a theory used for social control, as much of ancient religions were.

    RE:
    “Of you stole from people, broke into their homes but then had a car accident and developed amnesia… that absolves you of all the consequences? You shouldn’t be held accountable for your past deeds?”

    If you stole from people then 1) there would be people with some of their things missing, & 2) you may have some of the missing things in your possession. If you had a car accident there would be evidence of it in the real world. So, whether you remember doing thoses things or those things happening or not would not absolve you of your responsibility for those events. There are no actual things (missing items that are in your possession, damage from a car accident) that we can point to & then pin the responsibility for those items on a newborn child or a young person or someone who is hundreds of years removed from a historical event.

    Reincarnation/Rebirth are speculative items used by priests/monks to scare & control people. They may work on the ignorant, but will not on people who have developed healthy rational minds.

    – S

  • yapa

    Dear Burning_Issue;

    You say (A): It seems; you position is that, the Sinhala Buddhist are the true owners of Sri Lanka and all the rest must assimilate into the Sinhala Buddhist way of life including the language, Sinhala.

    Answer (B). No, I haven’t said so not meant so. What I say are not for interpretation. I have several times said if I say “cat” it is only “cat” and nothing else. You cannot interpret what I say the way you want and analyze/ criticize to find wrongs in me. I am not belong to that category.

    (A). I also think that, you do not recognise the Tamil history in Sri Lanka; your notion that if the Tamils had had assimilated into the Sinhala way, everything would have been fine;

    (B). Don’t arbitrarily think so. It is incorrect. Please read my original writing again.

    (A). but you fail to see from Tamil perspective. The Sri Lankan Tamils constitute a community that in inherently Sri Lankan. Sri Lanka has always had cultural, religious, and language diversity; harmony existed throughout its history. Of course there were many battles; none were on the basis of ethnicity, but on the basis of territorial aggressions;

    (B). I never failed to see from the Tamil perspective. Most of the others are only partially true. I do not agree with your last opinion. Almost all the battles contained “the element” of ethnicity.

    (A). There is no doubt that since the independence, the Sri Lankan polity has been fully influenced by Sinhala Buddhist Nationalism. One can understand that the majority community wanted grater share of the nation.

    (B). This is very bias notion. During the British colonial period, the rights of the Sinhala Buddhist were subjugated and the Tamils were given special privileges. What happened after the independence was Sinhala Buddhist awakening to gain their due and fair share of rights. This is evident from the number of Sinhala Buddhist schools available in the latter part of the 19th century. Out of 1000+ government schools there were only 3 Sinhala Buddhist schools.

    Really it was not the majority community that demanded for the greater share. It is evident from the 50-50 demand by a less than 15% of the population. I can remember, BalangodaMan has shown this fact in one of his recent posts.

    (A).The irony is that, the 1948 constitution that facilitated Westminster style electoral system had in fact rested the political control over to the Sinhaha majority.

    (B). Really the Tamil minority wanted the political control (Please see BalangodaMan’s post I referred above) but they were no able to realize it. However, there were Tamils in the that administration. It is natural to majority getting the control over minority getting it.

    (A).The majority community, instead of building a nation of Sri Lankans, it embarked on a series of discriminatory programmes asserting its prominence while jettisoning moral principles of democracy and the very Buddhism that you valiantly trying to safeguard. Until 1974, the Tamils stuck to the principles of democracy and Gandhian Ahimsa.

    (B). This is an emotional appeal. You point out only discriminatory programmes,
    do you think they came out in a clean slate? Weren’t there any lapses from the part of Tamils? Were they really stuck to Gandhian Ahimsa till 1974? Such partial analyzes and the propaganda was one of the main reasons for the problem. Any solution that do not base on an objective and sincere assessment will not solve the problem. “All faults are yours” approach won’t work.

    (A). I still feel that, it was very uncharacteristic of the Tamils to rise up violently like they did; I must say that, Amirthalingham was a fiery character; his persona did in fact touched the young.

    (B). It is very unfair to send all of your sins on poor Amirthalingam alone. Do you think all others can purify by doing this ritual? One should accept reality.

    (A). Anyway, I wished that we battled on democratically that would have bore fruits eventually. However, one cannot turn the clock back; we need to deal with the issues as they stand now.

    (B). Others faults are discriminative, while your faults that is difficult to cover up are “cannot turn clock back” type? Very objective analysis

    (A).I do not want to point my finger at a particular community in terms of who started this mess first, but the reality is that, there is a deep divide along ethnic lines that needs fixing.

    (B). You have already done it. Nothing more to do.

    (A).The question is how to go about it.

    (B). Through a programme based on an honest and sincere analysis of the problem.

    (A). I list below the 7 questions that SomewhatDisgusted addressed to you on May 17, 2010 @ 5:40 pm; I endorse every word of those 7 questions; please answer honestly; then we can assess as to where we stand:

    (B). I cannot prevent you endorsing anybody’s questions. But true solution has no much bearing on their popularity or their attractiveness.

    Thanks!

  • BalangodaMan

    Sur,

    REBIRTH vs REINCARNATION and practical difficulties
    ————————————————–

    “So if you murdered someone yesterday, bumped your head and forgot about it today…that absolves you of all consequences? Of you stole from people, broke into their homes but then had a car accident and developed amnesia… that absolves you of all the consequences? You shouldn’t be held accountable for your past deeds?”

    Sur, you misunderstand my question. You make it sound like all beings are convicted amnesiacs who cannot remember what crime they have been convicted of, and we are expected to believe something NO ONE can remember!

    My point, however, is much more basic.

    In the case of reincarnation I can understand (even though I am not convinced) that the doer and the sufferer are connected, they are the ‘same person with same cosmic ID’. Therefore I can see the ‘sell-ability’ of such a theory. If the Buddha, in his teachings, made a fundamental distinction between ‘rebirth’ (what he claims to be the truth) and ‘reincarnation’ (untruth) then he must have explained how the cause and effect works where ‘no person exists’.

    It’s like saying (and you will love this, Mr Yapa) … your car has a flat tyre. so you will scrap it and a new tyre goes on someone else’s new car in some other part of town which has the same damage of your old tyre which you have scrapped. My question is, what is the point in this if you and the someone else have nothing to do with each other? This other guy will be pretty pissed off to find that his new tyre has the same damage as your old broken tyre. AND (and drumroll …….) what motivation/responsibility do YOU have to ensure that you look after YOUR TYRES so that the other guy does not have to suffer from YOU not having looked after YOUR TYRES ??????????????????

    Simple question, innit?

    I just want someone who is conversant with this stuff to explain it to me.

    (No, not an explanation like ‘The Buddha was enlightened and he knew and he told us’ we hear so much of)

    Take a similar crime and punishment belief – among some of the Native American Indians. They believe in the continuance of responsibility (much like in the doctrine of karma) but down generations … where they hold people responsible for the crimes of their fathers, grandfathers, ancestors. In this case, the idea is similar, however there is a directly identifiable link between the perpetrator and the punished (though we will surely question the fairness of it). In Hindu-style reincarnation there is a transmigration, we are told. In Buddhism there is nothing. I just don’t see the logic in the proposition – it cannot work as a serious proposition.

    Pondering over that, why would the Buddha make it a point to differentiate ‘rebirth’ from the doctrine of ‘reincarnation’ that was already a basic part of existing Hindu thinking? What is the effect of that differentiation? What behaviour is it there to change? (or it is ‘I know this because it is true, and I am enlightened so I know these things, but it won’t make a jot of difference to you chaps and who cares a toss if it will surely confuse everybody – I know it will confuse everyone because I am enlightened’)

    Or have we completely misunderstood what he was saying?

  • BalangodaMan

    Mr Yapa,

    As you haven’t still answered my question …

    “I have asked you (Mr Yapa mainly) whether you would be just as convinced of the ‘truth’ of your religion, Buddhism, if you (with your capacity for scrutiny and analysis) were born in Riyadh, in a Muslim country, as a Muslim person?”

    Perhaps it is not easy to place yourself in the shoes of a Muslim person. Ok I understand. Then … I shall ask you in a different way.

    Do you think all, or a significantly large proportion, of highly knowledgeable, analytical and intelligent people around the world (not born into a Buddhist society) accept the speculative items contained in Buddhism (karma, rebirth, nirvana) as real things in the world? And if not why not?

  • ordinary lankan

    Empathy is essential for right understanding – the Buddha said this in the Kalama Sutta. but this is not widely known nor practiced – not even in religious discussions

    So what do you FEEL when you see an opposing argument that is expressed in less than gentlemanly terms – what does your religion or secularism tell you about such situations and how you should deal with such people?

    I would really like to know this …

    The Zen Master Suzuki said something v important –

    USUALLY WHEN SOMEONE BELIEVES IN A PARTICULAR RELIGION HIS ATTITUDE BECOMES MORE AND MORE A SHARP ANGLE POINTING AWAY FROM HIMSELF. IN OUR WAY THE POINT OF THE ANGLE IS TOWARDS OURSELVES

    So in trying to answer these clever questions – and they are clever – we need to appreciate the whole point of the Buddha’s endeavour. He was always trying to get people to look inwards – speculation that did not help to get rid of suffering was really not part of the discipline he taught.

    and beyond the self lies SILENCE and that is where the truth is realized – Although thdhe Buddha answered many questions – in a sense he did not answer a single one –

    what he did was to get his disciples to silence the questioning mind – and experience and overcome the anxiety and restlessness that lay behind these 1001 questions –

    The Buddha teaches more with his silence than with his words – look at any good Buddha statue –

    so this is the direction that my specific responses below will take you – it may not be a direction you wish to take – but in the true spirit of secularism and also buddhism I invite you to tolerate this —- STAY ENGAGED – AND STAY FRIENDLY

    KARMA

    Every thought, word and deed
    Has its own sphere of influence
    Like every drop of rain
    Makes its own circle
    Little drops make little circles
    Big drops make big circles
    We are our thoughts, words and deeds
    Is there anything more?
    Oh yes there is this imagined self
    Who seeks to possess
    These thoughts, words and deeds
    With this act of possession
    We perpetuate the self
    This supposed owner
    Of good and bad
    Until you go beyond good and bad
    Until you drop this self
    You hang on to this idea
    And the self goes on
    Like an onion
    That goes on and on
    With an ‘I’ in between
    Very difficult
    Not to take sides
    Very difficult
    To avoid suffering
    Your karma is synonymous
    With your Self
    Don’t separate the two
    Don’t think you are some abstract self
    Discussing abstract karma
    You are discussing your own self
    To study Buddhism
    Is to study the self
    Don’t study dead letters
    Study yourself

    Good karma is the recurrence
    Of positive thoughts
    In your own head
    Bad karma works the same way
    There is no next life
    It’s always today – and now
    Learn about the present
    By being present
    Don’t wax eloquent
    About ‘meditation’

    REINCARNATION

    This is easy
    You sleep and wake, don’t you?
    To sleep
    You must die to the day
    And to wake you must
    Die to the night
    Think of life and death
    Like day and night
    You’ve got it made
    If you don’t let go
    You have disturbed sleep
    And if you don’t shake off your sleep
    You are half awake
    And have a bad day
    This is cause and effect
    It’s a complicated affair
    Just know
    That you don’t know
    Be free and open to life
    Buddha died long ago
    YOU are Buddha now
    Just wake up
    In this present moment
    Be still and relax

    NIRVANA

    Extinction without a remainder
    Like letting go
    Like falling asleep
    You don’t talk about it
    You just do it
    A good fire
    That leaves nothing
    Where does the fire go?
    Don’t ask me
    Do one thing at a time
    And be content
    Nirvana is here and now
    Not miles away
    Have a good laugh
    And end this perfect nonsense
    We are all losers till we
    Give up winning

  • SomewhatDisgusted

    Dear Sur

    You said: “So if you murdered someone yesterday, bumped your head and forgot about it today…that absolves you of all consequences? Of you stole from people, broke into their homes but then had a car accident and developed amnesia… that absolves you of all the consequences? You shouldn’t be held accountable for your past deeds?”

    Sur, how is this equivalent to a little child suffering on account of misdeeds done by some other individual, to whom this child has *no connection* other than through a fleeting thought at the moment of the previous individual’s death? (The Anatta concept)

    Do you really think that would be justice?

    I’m sorry, I’m going to be very blunt and honest about this, but I think that’s an extremely twisted and immoral concept that is being spread across mainstream Buddhism. Understand this – kamma is an elaborate rationalization to escape the responsibility of having to mentally cope with another person’s anguish (I am somewhat in disagreement with Sujewa that it might have originated for social control)

    The bottom line is, no child “deserves” such a fate. Yet, so many believers here are talking about kamma as a form of “justice”. Karma does no justice to anyone – this argument has already been made before – the person suffering doesn’t even *know* what he/she is being punished for. The moment you try to connect kamma and justice together, it fails tragically. It automatically makes kamma an immoral idea, completely *devoid* of justice.

    As for being held accountable for current deeds – yes, everyone would like that, but wishful thinking for divine justice won’t make it true. Why don’t you just abolish the judicial system since you believe in divine justice anyway?

    Was the Buddha really referring to Kamma as any concept of justice? I never thought so! I always thought his idea was (as was the accepted world view of his time) that Kamma and Rebirth were what genuinely happened. He felt that this was a good explanation for the pathetic state of existence that individuals around him lived in. He thought that perhaps, it was our own actions that were affecting future generations – which is kamma. Kamma is *not* about justice, which is why it’s always explained as cause and effect, and not as celestial justice afaik. He felt that bad actions of the present needlessly affected others in the future. He probably did believe in rebirth, but again, he accepted the idea that bad karma just keeps going forward – I highly doubt that he would suggest that it was a form of justice – because it plainly and flatly isn’t.

    Yet!!! This is main-stream Buddhist interpretation. How many people think it’s a concept of justice? Am I wrong to say it’s the majority? Do you agree that it is a grave injustice to believe in such a thing? Did the Buddha even say something like this?

    This is also why I said, organized religion is one of the greatest evils of our time – especially if we don’t make sure it is interpreted in a proper way. Kamma as a form of justice automatically converts Buddhism into a form of social control – because those poor sods deserve it! – as Sujewa observed.

    There’s only one good thing that would make this world a just place and emancipate all human beings. That is the utter abolishment of unquestioning servitude to organized religion. Now that, would be real justice!

    cheers,
    /SD

  • ordinary lankan

    Dear SD
    Recommended reading below on karma – as for organized religion- is it not amazing how every organized religion – not just buddhism becomes a preserve for social control – greed – hatred and delusion – welcome to this world …

    AN EXPOSITION OF KARMA BY SHARON SALZBERG

    The Buddha himself was asked why people experience such diverse conditions in this world. He replied that we are all the owners of our differing karma and its fruits. Even after death, our only true property is this force of our intentions and their results.

    The Buddha said that people who take the lives of others tend to live a short time, and those who refrain from killing tend to live long. People who cause pain to others tend to experience pain, disease, and weakness, those who practice nonviolence tend to experience good health and strength. Those who are greedy and do not give much tend to experience poverty, while those who are generous have abundance. People who are interested and investigate the truth tend to be intelligent; people who do not care about looking more deeply and seeing more clearly tend to be stupid. Those who practice stealing or adultery do not have many good friends, people who are careful and virtuous in their actions are respected and loved and they have many friends.

    Again, these are not rigid absolutes. They are just tendencies. And there is no judgement in any of it. In the incredible vastness of the vision of Buddha-mind, this world of birth, death, and change we call samsara had no beginning. In this inconceivably immense vision of reality, we have all wandered forever, and so we all train an endless, infinite amount of past karma. Through this timelessness we have all done everything, every one of us: we have loved, hated, feared, killed, raped, stolen, given, served, loved. We have done it all. Through beginningless and ongoing rounds of rebirth, we are all one another’s parents, children, friends, lovers, and enemies, over and over again.

    There is no reason for a feeling of separation from anything or anyone, because we have been it all and done it all. How then can we feel self-righteous or removed from anyone or any action? There is no spot on this earth where we have not laughed, cried, been born, and died. So in some sense, every single place we go is home, Everyone we meet we know. Everything that is done we are capable of.

    That is why we do not hold an understanding of karma in a narrow way. It is an extremely vast vision of life. If at a given moment we experience the fruits of a past action, whether wholesome, or experience happening outside ourselves, we understand that this also is our experience, as in a dream when every character is some reflection of our own mind.

    If you do not feel any resonance with this teaching about many lifetimes, you can still understand this radical non-separation from all who are and all that happens by looking within. Whether or not you believe in rebirth, you can see that all states exist within you. You do not need to feel separate when they arise within you; you do not need to be afraid. And you do not need to feel separate when you see them outside of yourself, either, all of it is just reflecting the mind with all of its possibilities. No matter what happens, inside or outside, no matter whom you meet, all of it is just another way of seeing yourself.

    Many years ago I was a nursing student, and in one of the hospital training periods an abused child was brought in, with her abusive mother. There were about thirty nursing students present, plus hospital staff. The students and staff predominantly related to the mother with coldness and aloofness, as though to say “Oh you beast way, way over there in the distance, how could you have done a thing like that? Later that day, as the nursing students were gathered, someone made a comment to that effect. I responded by saying, “Well, I could understand doing something like that. I’ve seen impulses of rage and fear and frustration arise in my mind that could motivate such an awful act. I’m confident I would not do it, because of gifts, such as awareness, that I can bring to bear on that moment, but I don’t feel so absolutely, unutterably separate from that mother.” Once I had said that, thirty pairs of eyes turned to me and there was complete silence. I sat there wondering. “Did I just say the wrong thing?” But it was clear that although it may have upset the group, it was nonetheless the truth.

  • BalangodaMan

    To add something to SomewhatDisgusted’s comment of karma & justice …

    When we were kids we thought it is not good to give money to the beggars. This was for two reasons. (1) that they were bad people in past lives and (2) by giving them money we will be depriving them from truly suffering and that will prolong the period in which they have to suffer.

    This was however in direct conflict with our diametrically opposite desire to give the poor beggar something for purely selfish reasons – well, who would pass-by a plum opportunity to gain some ‘ping’ (karmic merit) by relieving suffering? So invariably this consideration No 3 took over … only for us kids to be confronted with another conflict … consideration No. 4 – ie, which of us four kids was going to give the money, and we fought over it. (clearly I lost, or I would not be still stuck in this thread!)

    So, OTC did the Buddha say karma is ‘just’?

    Or didn’t you say the way karma works is the very epitome of justice?

  • Burning_Issue

    Dear Yapa,

    Thanks for your post. First of all, I do not want to interfere with SomewhatDisgusted’s questions; however, I will eagerly follow the progress of this! This means that, I will delay my responses to some of your comments to me as they are directly connected to those 7 questions.

    If I had given you an impression that I am bias in criticisms, that is incorrect. I am as much critical about Tamil nationalism as about the Sinhala Buddhist Nationalism. I tell you this; the Tamils will have to live with the brutal realities of Suicide bombings; the Muslims will be a constant reminder to Tamils of their barbaric removal from the North. Moreover, the Tamils in the North in particular have lost their sense of community and general order; this will take years to regain.

    You said:
    “ No, I haven’t said so not meant so. What I say are not for interpretation. I have several times said if I say “cat” it is only “cat” and nothing else. You cannot interpret what I say the way you want and analyze/ criticize to find wrongs in me. I am not belong to that category.”

    If I have interpreted you wrongly, I will be in a haste to admit that; please give me some time on this.

    I said:
    I also think that, you do not recognise the Tamil history in Sri Lanka; your notion that if the Tamils had had assimilated into the Sinhala way, everything would have been fine;

    You said:
    “ Don’t arbitrarily think so. It is incorrect. Please read my original writing again.”

    Which point is incorrect; is it the Tamil assimilated into the Sinhala way or you do not recognise the Tamil history in Sri Lanka? The Assimilation point is clear; you clearly said that in one of your earlier posts; so, it’s about Tamil history, right? Again, I will wait until further development on those 7 questions.

    I said:
    but you fail to see from Tamil perspective. The Sri Lankan Tamils constitute a community that in inherently Sri Lankan. Sri Lanka has always had cultural, religious, and language diversity; harmony existed throughout its history. Of course there were many battles; none were on the basis of ethnicity, but on the basis of territorial aggressions;

    You said:
    “ I never failed to see from the Tamil perspective. Most of the others are only partially true. I do not agree with your last opinion. Almost all the battles contained “the element” of ethnicity.”
    Which of the following are true, partially true, and not true:

    1. The Sri Lankan Tamils constitute a community that is inherently Sri Lankan
    2. Sri Lanka has always had cultural, religious, and language diversity; harmony existed throughout its history.
    3. Of course there were many battles; none were on the basis of ethnicity, but on the basis of territorial aggressions

    On the third point, I disagree with you; please show with evidence that, there were ethnic elements in battles.

    I said:
    There is no doubt that since the independence, the Sri Lankan polity has been fully influenced by Sinhala Buddhist Nationalism. One can understand that the majority community wanted grater share of the nation.

    You said:
    “ This is very bias notion. During the British colonial period, the rights of the Sinhala Buddhist were subjugated and the Tamils were given special privileges. What happened after the independence was Sinhala Buddhist awakening to gain their due and fair share of rights. This is evident from the number of Sinhala Buddhist schools available in the latter part of the 19th century. Out of 1000+ government schools there were only 3 Sinhala Buddhist schools.”

    The fact was that there were elite communities in both communities and they did very well under the colonial periods. However, the fundamental deference between the Sinhala and Tamil communities was that, the Tamils took advantage of the Christian schools and put a lot of emphasis on education. This is not to say that there weren’t any objections to Christian dominance in terms of schools. The Hindu organisations countered this with establishment of Hindu school; e.g. Jaffna Hindu College and Manipay Hindu College. However, the end result was that proportion of the educated Tamils increased. I have no knowledge of how the communities measured in terms educational achievements on those days. It might have been that British adopted the divide and rule policy and purposely and excluded the Sinhala masses; I do not know. But one thing is clear that, it was not the Tamils who excluded the Sinhala; it was the British!

    So, in order to counter the Sinhala Subjugation by the British, the Sinhala needed to subjugate the minorities; is this your position? If Nelson Mandela had adopted this logic, what would have happened to the Whites in South Africa; one wonders!

    You said:
    “Really it was not the majority community that demanded for the greater share. It is evident from the 50-50 demand by a less than 15% of the population. I can remember, BalangodaMan has shown this fact in one of his recent posts.”

    The 50-50 demand was nonsense from G.G Ponnampalam though it was 50% for Sinhala and 50% for all the minorities. However, it was demanded during independence debate; subsequently, all parties settled on the 1948 constitution as a basis for taking the country forward. D.S. Senanayake along with other Sinhala leaders assured the Tamil leaders that the minorities would come to no harm! In fact the opposite happened; do you agree?

    I said:
    The irony is that, the 1948 constitution that facilitated Westminster style electoral system had in fact rested the political control over to the Sinhaha majority.

    You said
    “ Really the Tamil minority wanted the political control (Please see BalangodaMan’s post I referred above) but they were no able to realize it. However, there were Tamils in the that administration. It is natural to majority getting the control over minority getting it.”

    Come On Mr. Yapa; this is pathetic; the electoral system rested power with the majority; the minority communities were at the mercy of the majority community; we all know what happened since! Yes, there were Tamils in that administration; what is your point?

    I said:
    The majority community, instead of building a nation of Sri Lankans, it embarked on a series of discriminatory programmes asserting its prominence while jettisoning moral principles of democracy and the very Buddhism that you valiantly trying to safeguard. Until 1974, the Tamils stuck to the principles of democracy and Gandhian Ahimsa.

    You said:
    “This is an emotional appeal. You point out only discriminatory programmes,
    do you think they came out in a clean slate? Weren’t there any lapses from the part of Tamils? Were they really stuck to Gandhian Ahimsa till 1974? Such partial analyzes and the propaganda was one of the main reasons for the problem. Any solution that do not base on an objective and sincere assessment will not solve the problem. “All faults are yours” approach won’t work.”

    Please correct my partial analysis; please outline the events that constitute violence on the part of the Tamils before 1974.

    Also, since independence, what lapses that the Tamils responsible for? Was it that they failed to assimilate into the Sinhala Buddhist way? Please outline!

  • BalangodaMan

    Ordinary Lankan,

    Sharon Salzberg
    —————–

    The piece from Sharon Salzberg is a typical new-age inspirational piece. Though she mentions karma in the title (karma is a fashionable word in the West) and in the body she is really writing about the ‘one-ness of all beings in the universe’ type of thing. I introduced this early on in the Akon thread when I suggested an alternative way of thinking about the ‘meaning of life’ – (we, as a drop of water from the ocean that goes back into the ocean and another drop when created from the same ocean is another being. we all are part of one. I speak metaphorically, not suggesting that we are all wet or taste salty, or that people who live near us crap on us!).

    When you introduce ‘karma’ into that one has to ask – so why is there such a thing as karma in the universe? How did it all start? (you can already feel the parallel with ‘original sin’ in Christianity, can’t you?)

    But the Buddha’s field of study was … what was going on in HIS mind. Not about bonding with other humans in a new-age kind of brotherhood, in a kind of group-huggy sort of way. Most (if not all) of the teachings is totally consistent AND RELEVANT in the context of quiet personal contemplation of whose who have, or desire to, escape from society’s stresses and responsibilities. Where we have a problem is when people try to fit the ‘musings of an ascetic’ to society, and MODERN society at that.

    (The only reason why I feel people like Mr Yapa feel they have to is because ‘Buddhism’ IS their validation – instead of your validity being what you are as an individual. We do not have the concept of ‘individuality’ in SL, so is hard to understand by SLs. You are defined by your family, where you live – the old ‘ge’ name system – by your religion. You are expected to hold the same opinions as your parents/elders. All external to who YOU actually are)

    Using ‘personal musings of an ascetic’ as ‘how the universe works’ or ‘how society should be run’ is like using a screwdriver to hammer in a nail. In a small number of cases it will work. But it is not the right tool for the job – even if it is the BEST SCREWDRIVER in all of history. There are hammers to drive nails in with. So, to run society with Buddhist philosophy will always give rise to absurdities (many listed before), though Buddhism has been turned into a religion for devotional workship and control of the masses. A religion that actually was designed for ruling society with is Islam, but even then it is not appropriate for the 21st century.

    Also, to say good people live long rather contradicts the idea that life’s a bitch, but I’m sure that’s just a slip.

  • SomewhatDisgusted

    Dear Ordinary Lankan,

    Thanks for the article on Kamma as well as your previous article. I have no problem with an introspective belief system. I have strong problems with a belief system which claims to guard holy truths. I subscribe to your brand of Buddhism and would *never* oppose a personal quest for meaning, but I will have no stock with the latter brand, which to me, is a one way path to an insular, delusory and bigoted belief system.

    Unfortunately, I have been informed, by devout practitioners on this forum, that I subscribe to a dilute form of Buddhism repackaged for western consumption. That may very well be true and I’m willing to accept that.

    Therefore, can someone very kindly tell me, what the Buddha really said in some sutta or the other, about Kamma? Is it a concept of justice? I’m not interested in repackaged western stuff.

    No one needs to care what others choose to believe in their personal lives. But we are all duty-bound to correct any perverted ideas that are spreading across our society. In that regard I strongly object to
    1. Custodianship of holy truths – pure, unadulterated BS which leads to an insular, paranoid society
    2. Twisted interpretations of Kamma etc. which are essentially unjust with regard to the suffering of individuals
    3. Uncritical acceptance of omniscient authorities and especially their earthly representatives, the sangha

    Make sure ideas like these are expunged from the mainstream and I think Buddhist ethics would certainly have an improving effect on our society. Would you agree with me Ordinary Lankan?

    cheers,
    /SD

  • Off the Cuff

    Sujewa says
    “And then there is some stuff about belonging to a highly pious family??? Do feel free to point out when I said that”

    When people LIE they forget their past utterances, easily

    But then you are a SUPERIOR being, an Agnostic, so how can you be LYING and with that super memory how can you forget?

    Probably Sujewa was not LYING when he said that His Mother’s Father Built Buddhist Temples
    Probably Sujewa was not LYING when he said that His Father’s Father Built Buddhist Temples
    Probably Sujewa was not LYING when he said that He and his Father Built Buddhist Temples

    Probably Sujewa was NOT writing a SCRIPT to impress the GV Readership.

    What is the TRUTH Sujewa, did THREE generations of your Family ACTUALLY Build Buddhist Temples? That’s unbelievable, how can THREE GENERATIONS of ONE FAMILY be involved in building Temples, Buddhist Temples at that?

    Sujewa implies with his question above, that His Family cannot be described as PIOUS. In that case his family must have been building Buddhist Temples as a Business, to make money. The Business must have been very lucrative for them to continue building Buddhist Temples for THREE generations. 😉

    If that is REALLY REALLY the TRUTH why did all of you do it Sujewa?
    Were they FUNDIE NUT JOBS?
    I think ONLY ONE of them is a FUNDIE NUT JOB.
    But then that’s just my personal opinion so have no objection if you want to call ALL of them Fundie Nut Jobs (I have no idea what it means though, that’s Sujewa’s expression).

    I doubt you have the balls to deny what I wrote above about “Temple Building” and your family

    You have a problem with the TRUTH as you seem to be a Chronic LIAR.

    You have a problem with LANGUAGE as you cannot comprehend the language that you write.

    You have a problem with MEMORY as you cannot even remember what you wrote less than THREE Months back.

    Logic of course is not Sujewa’s Forte so his irrational Pontificating should not be questioned

    You say
    So I guess it takes a person of massive intelligence to argue for a month & a half against the fact that Buddhism is a religion right?

    There is a saying “It’s possible to argue with a hundred wise men but not possible to argue with ONE fool”

    Buddhism is a Philosophy no one has argued against that fact. But you are deluded due to your inability to understand English and to remember what your opponents write. But again it’s unfair to expect it as he has trouble remembering his own. Is Shillboot the culprit? Please reread my very first post on the Akon thread April 8, 2010 @ 11:10 am. Hope you can understand it.
    http://www.groundviews.org/2010/03/27/akon-and-buddhism-in-sri-lanka/#comment-16898

    Now here is a Challenge to you again, prove your statement “argue for a month & a half against the fact that Buddhism is a religion” referring to quotes and links from me.

    You say
    “Likening those who do not agree with him to imbeciles & dogs”

    Again a problem with your English.
    I did not liken you to an Imbecile I called you one.
    I did not liken you to a Dog, I likened what you DID to what the proverbial Dog did, by defecated on a stone to find that he could not cover it up.
    Learn your English Sujewa

    You say
    And keep trying to re-define karma from the way it was defined & used by Buddhism for hundreds of years – with one example given in the BuddhaNet article that I linked to”

    I don’t have to try Sujewa, that’s what Kamma means. It is “Thoughtful Action” or “Premeditated Action” as I showed you. You tried to prove me wrong and said I was dishonest by linking to a web site quoting a Monk. You failed in your foolish endeavour because you never read the whole article just copied and pasted without ANY UNDERSTANDING. You failed miserably because I quoted the BUDDHA from the SAME WEB page. The page that you did not care to read before the copy and paste. I have no objection to a copy and paste as long as it’s done intelligently with understanding.

    I proved how SHALLOW and SUPERFICIAL your thinking is. If you had the intellect you would not have challenged me again but then a Fool rushes in where Angels fear to tread.

    BTW I gave you three examples not one. Can give you hundreds, as even more than that is available on the web, even without considering the books.

    You say
    “Keep living in your escapist religious fantasy land. And let us know when you have something relevant to the topic being addressed by the article.”

    Sujewa, you know nothing about Buddhism to judge it. But you insist on doing it. You cannot prove the concepts of Buddhism either way. Reread the following posts
    My post of May 16, 2010 @ 5:24 pm
    SomewhatDisgusted’s post of May 16, 2010 @ 6:49 pm
    My post of May 17, 2010 @ 12:14 am

    You selectively questioned my post of May 16, 2010 @ 5:24 pm but have avoided the answers I have given to your frivolous statement about a “TOOL” that I am supposed to have requested from you.

    That is your character. You ask a question very authoritatively with a lot of aplomb and flair but when the Answer is not palatable you slither quietly away.

    Don’t throw IDLE challenges Sujewa

    I suppose you have a Divine Knowledge to identify what you call a Political Buddhist. Is it similar to a Political Agnostic?

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear BalangodaMan,

    You say
    “When we were kids we thought it is not good to give money to the beggars. This was for two reasons. (1) that they were bad people in past lives and (2) by giving them money we will be depriving them from truly suffering and that will prolong the period in which they have to suffer.”

    Who taught you that BS?

    No wonder you are so mixed up about Buddhism

    The rest of your post based on BS is also BS

    BTW BM, If you want to address a question to me address your post to me.
    Don’t hide your question in the body of an innocuous looking post addressed to one of your buddies.

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear Ordinary Lankan,

    Good post. Especially the last paragraph.

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear SomewhatDisgusted,

    “the person suffering doesn’t even *know* what he/she is being punished for”

    Pertinent question and I believe your answer is also pertinent.

    I believe that Kamma (Premeditated or Thoughtful Action) and Vipaka (result) is a cause and effect. I do not think the concept has anything to do with “Justice” in an afterlife though it can be seen as such in the current life.

    A person falling down and hurting himself is not a punishment meted out by Gravity. Its just the order of things. I believe that Kamma is similar.

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear BalangodaMan,

    ” (OTC, no judicial system – your favourite – punishes someone for another’s misdeeds)

    Who said so?

    You have got your knickers in a twist. Premeditated Action (Kamma) and Vipaka (Result) is not a Judicial System meting out Punishment.

    Don’t you read whats being written?

  • BalangodaMan

    OTC,

    “Who taught you that BS?”

    Glad you asked. You see, we were only maybe 6-10 years old. But we were able to deduce this …

    “When we were kids we thought it is not good to give money to the beggars. This was for two reasons. (1) that they were bad people in past lives and (2) by giving them money we will be depriving them from truly suffering and that will prolong the period in which they have to suffer.” (my statement)

    … from the principles of karma that we were taught – essentially the same as what you chaps are promoting (in order to hasten our salvation I acknowledge and say thanks). I’m sure you are a grown up adult. How come you reach a different conclusion? How come the kids can figure out logic and you can’t? (or won’t?)

    Let’s examine: No (1) we have established in this thread. So no argument. No (2) is the logical consequence any 10 year old can work out.

    Are you sure you are actually promoting this correctly, and not just writing illogical, inconsistent stuff to confuse everybody? Next you could be accused of being a Western plot to unsettle the Wonder of Asia.

    I still do not know how the doer ( the person committing bad karma) is connected with the sufferer (the person born at another time) under Buddhism. I have searched the net for this – no joy.

    It sounds like ‘Fall Guys ‘R’ US’. You can do all sorts of crimes and someone far away in another land, another time, even another religion (preferably!) takes the rap for it. Did no one ask the Buddha to explain? Or are we the first to ask?

    The practical problem is (asked before. no answer from anyone) if karma is promoted for its value as a deterrent will this brand of explanation actual deter anyone from doing bad things? That is, if the vipaka is suffered by some other dude we will never meet, why would we care? (already asked this in the Hitler example)

    (Or vice versa – it’s like if your credit card gets cloned. Someone in Moscow buys things with it and you get lumbered with the bill! At least in that case there is a common thread in the credit card number/account. But not in karma > rebirth, apparently)

    Is it random? That is, the doctrine says every (thoughtful) action will have a result, though not necessarily involving the person who had the thoughtful action. That is, the law of karma is happy as long as SOMEONE (anyone) pays for it. (jolly !) Like if the crime rate says there have been 80 murders the karmic police just need to ensure that 80 people (of any generation) are on death row, any 80 people.

  • wijayapala

    Hi Burning_Issue,

    India is a secular country despite it holds numerically more Muslims than what is recorded in Pakistan, but Sri Lanka is not where 70% is made up of Sinhala speaking population!

    The Congress party of India intentionally adopted secularism to avoid antagonising the Muslim minority during the independence struggle. This did not prevent Pakistan from splitting away from India in 1947.

    The Secular Constitution of India also did not stop about 3,000 Sikhs from being murdered in communal riots in 1984, nor the subsequent Punjab insurgency that lasted for almost a decade.

    Nor has India’s Secular Constitution prevented the rise of a Christian fundamentalist insurgency in Nagaland.

    On the third point, I disagree with you; please show with evidence that, there were ethnic elements in battles.

    I agree that the conflicts back then were primarily between kings and not ethnic groups, but this does not mean that there weren’t any ethnic elements in these wars.

    The Mahavamsa has often been labeled as an ethno-centric Sinhala Buddhist text for its negative portrayal of Tamils. My understanding of the text- and others here are free to correct me if I’m wrong- is that the negative language of Tamils comes up only in the parts where Sri Lanka is invaded from S. India. Unfortunately this language in the Mahavamsa led many Sinhalese to believe that MODERN Tamils were invaders, which was a falsehood. Prabakaran contributed to this perception by adopting the Chola Tiger, and not a Sri Lankan Tamil icon like Jaffna Nandi or Batticaloa fish, as his symbol.

    But one thing is clear that, it was not the Tamils who excluded the Sinhala; it was the British!

    I agree with this; I have come across no evidence of a “Tamil conspiracy” to lock out the Sinhalese from opportunities during colonial times or post-independence, and I have disagreed with OTC on this topic.

    all parties settled on the 1948 constitution as a basis for taking the country forward. D.S. Senanayake along with other Sinhala leaders assured the Tamil leaders that the minorities would come to no harm! In fact the opposite happened; do you agree?

    The problem with the first UNP governments is that they never implemented Sinhala or Tamil as government languages. These elite continued to use English to exclude 90% of the population (not unlike the elitist secularists here who fantasize about imposing there .0001% minority opinion on the rest of the population). Because of these kinds of elitists, a communalist like SWRD could exploit the exclusion of the majority to come to power.

    If you think that the Soulbury Constitution was wrong for Sri Lanka, as well as GG Ponnambalam’s 50-50 idea, then what sort of system should have been implemented instead?

  • wijayapala

    OTC,

    When people LIE they forget their past utterances, easily

    Wow this is rather heavy language to use against such an intellectual heavyweight like Sujewa. I feel that these harsh words that you used on him deserve a response that reflects the depth and nuanced sophistication that we’ve come to expect from Sujewa:

    I doubt you have the balls to deny what I wrote above about “Temple Building” and your family

    Sounds good.

    You have a problem with the TRUTH as you seem to be a Chronic LIAR.

    Sounds good.

    You have a problem with LANGUAGE as you cannot comprehend the language that you write.

    Sounds good. What did I write?

    You have a problem with MEMORY as you cannot even remember what you wrote less than THREE Months back.

    Sounds good. Wait, what was that I just said?

    There is a saying “It’s possible to argue with a hundred wise men but not possible to argue with ONE fool”

    Sounds good. But how would you deal with the Dhammapada variety of fool: the fool who believes himself to be wise?

    That is your character. You ask a question very authoritatively with a lot of aplomb and flair but when the Answer is not palatable you slither quietly away.

    Sounds good. (this is my cue to slither away)

  • wijayapala

    Big Sur,

    BUDDHISM AND HINDUISM COMPARED

    I hope that after Professor SomewhatDisgusted reads that, he’ll stop claiming that the Buddha stole samsara from Hinduism. But wait, we’re not allowed to question secular agnostics because they’re supposed to know everything.

  • wijayapala

    Ordinary Lankan,

    “Well, I could understand doing something like that. I’ve seen impulses of rage and fear and frustration arise in my mind that could motivate such an awful act.

    Aww what a touching story. However, secular agnostics claim that the mind is an illusion, case closed. Therefore, your moment of empathy was entirely fraudulent. Sorry!

  • RR

    There is quite a good discussion of how the Buddha addressed the question of rebirth in the first half of chapter 8 of K.N. Jayatilleke’s “Early Buddhist Theory of Knowledge.” The chapter is entitled “Authority and reason within Buddhism”. In the first seven chapters of his book, Jayatilleke contrasts Buddhism with other early Indian religions that believed in grace, revelation and mystical intuition.

    Early Buddhism, Jayatilleke claims, was built on a foundation of direct experience. common sense and reason, and no claim of the Buddha’s was ever expected to be accepted on the basis of blind faith in the Buddha as an authority figure. One of the most obvious challenges to this claim is that it appears as though the Buddha was pretty authoritarian about rebirth. This lead many Western scholars (Keith, La Vallee Poussin, Rhys Davids et al) and has lead psuedo agnostics like Sujewa Ekanayake and Balangoda Man to conclude that rebirth is for Buddhists an item of blind faith and that Buddhists are expected to believe in rebirth just because the Buddha talked in those terms.

    This impression of these folks, Jayatilleke claims, is a false one. To show that it is false, he cites numerous suttas in which rebirth is spoken about in hypothetical terms. This seems especially to be the case when the question of morality comes up. What this suggests is that the Buddha did not wish for people to make their willingness to be moral dependent upon their belief in rebirth, for the obvious reason that if people were skeptical about rebirth, they would then see no reason to be moral.

    I think this move to distinguish morality from belief in an afterlife was very wise on the Buddha’s part. He anticipated Freud’s principal concern about the limits of religious dogma as stated in “Future of an Illusion.” There Freud argued that if people make morality dependent upon a belief in God and an afterlife, then when people discover that there is not sufficient reason to believe in God and the afterlife, they might also become skeptical about morality. And if that happens, we could end up with a disaster. (The 20th century bears witness to Freud’s concerns in this respect.)

    So a truly wise approach to teaching morality, said Freud, is to divorce it from metaphysical doctrines. Kant, of course, had argued along much the same lines 100 years earlier, and both of them were anticipated by the Buddha by more than two thousand years.

  • RR

    A superficial understanding of kamma can lead to blaming the unfortunate for their own misfortunes, similar to the modern thinking that takes satisfaction in one’s position and blaming the unsuccessful for their own distresses. (And adding to their burdens as a righteous act.). Whereas the Buddhist perspective is of course that they deserve nothing less than complete freedom from suffering.

  • SomewhatDisgusted

    Dear Wijayapala,

    A severe melt down. Pretty sad. No answers to the questions, just strawman arguments and personal attacks. Seriously, thought you had a bit more intellectual integrity than this. Guess religious brainwashing takes that away! Ironically enough – kind of drive home the point of this whole debate.

    You said: “However, secular agnostics claim that the mind is an illusion, case closed”

    Complete misrepresentation. Here’s where I explained my position. I said it in upper case bold – i have no conclusive idea – unlike you – who already claims to know the answers. (That’s what all religions do – claim to know answers)

    You said: “not unlike the elitist secularists here who fantasize about imposing there .0001% minority opinion on the rest of the population”

    Another brilliant piece of majoritarian logic from Wijayapala. A minority language being imposed on a majority is unjust. A religion being imposed on others is also unjust. None of this has anything to do with the size of the population.

    You have consistently evaded my key question: Is it fair to impose a speculative belief on others whereas secularism takes none of that away but gives everyone the same rights? That is elitist and unjust? Friend, don’t get elitism, justice and prejudice all mixed up, bad cocktail! Religion is what’s causing it, ain’t it?

    Still waiting for answers to my 3 questions.
    Still waiting for you to point out the issues you claim we have not addressed.
    Still waiting for you to address the issues on common Sri Lankan history raised by BalangodMan and BurningIssue.
    Getting lots of vitriol and personal insults instead.
    Quite amusing for the moment.
    But try not to drive home the point that religiosity = unreasoned, fanatical devotion to concepts which cannot be defended and eventually result in rage and violence against those who disagree.
    At least make an attempt to show that this is not the case!

    cheers,
    /SD

  • SomewhatDisgusted

    Dear Wijayapala,

    You said: “I hope that after Professor SomewhatDisgusted reads that, he’ll stop claiming that the Buddha stole samsara from Hinduism.”

    I don’t claim that. BuddhaNet does. To quote: “The theory of Karma is a fundamental doctrine in Buddhism. This belief was prevalent in India before the advent of the Buddha. “http://www.buddhanet.net/e-learning/karma.htm

    We’ve already discussed this, although you now seem to suffer from amnesia about it and you know there are enough reputed sources which make the same claim. So it appears that it is Professor Wijayapala who claims that this is a unique invention by the Buddha. Do you plan on buttressing your argument?

    If you are going to harp on the specific word Hinduism. Don’t really care whether it’s Hinduism or Shramana’s or whatever. The point is, it predated Buddhism. If you wish to argue otherwise, state your case.

    cheers,
    /SD

  • RR,

    RE:
    “Early Buddhism, Jayatilleke claims, was built on a foundation of direct experience. common sense and reason, and no claim of the Buddha’s was ever expected to be accepted on the basis of blind faith in the Buddha as an authority figure. One of the most obvious challenges to this claim is that it appears as though the Buddha was pretty authoritarian about rebirth. This lead many Western scholars (Keith, La Vallee Poussin, Rhys Davids et al) and has lead psuedo agnostics like Sujewa Ekanayake and Balangoda Man to conclude that rebirth is for Buddhists an item of blind faith and that Buddhists are expected to believe in rebirth just because the Buddha talked in those terms.”

    A contemporary person cannot confirm the following:

    1. That the Buddha actually existed.

    2. That the Buddha existed in the way that he is described in Buddhism.

    3. That the Buddha in fact discovered a way out of suffering – in the Buddhist view all of existence is suffering – so, a way out of existence – & since Buiddhists believe in rebirth – a way out of being reborn.

    4. This is another way of saying #3 – but it may be clearer – that Buddha discovered or experienced nirvana & that nirvana is in fact a real thing that exists/that actual humans can experience. Also karma cannot be verified to be real, an item related to nirvana (& we already mentiond rebirth, another related item).

    5. That following the Eight Fold Path & rest of Buddhism leads to nirvana. Since no one other then the Buddha, some 2500 years ago, reportedly, claimed to have reached or achieved nirvana (outside of religous stories), certainly no one w/ in the last 100 years that I’ve heard of.

    Those are some of the issue regarding Buddhism on paper. And then there are a whole lot of issues that come into question when Buddhism comes into contact with the rest of the world. Such as:

    1. Over 2000 years of Buddhism left Sri Lanka a mess, out of which it is barely stating to recover after the 26+ year civil war that was caused in part by Buddhists refusing to recognize equal rights of the Tamil minority.

    (well, that item above is pretty big, so I’ll stop there for now 🙂

    So, what does all this mean:

    – Buddhism is just another of the many ways that humans have created to attempt to deal with the uncertainties, injustice, & mystery of life. It does not seem any more effective or factual than the other major religions.

    – Many people who are raised in Buddhism develop a strong attachment to it – as can be seen by the comments in this thread – and are unable to look outside of it.

    – For all its concerns about the suffering of others, etc. – Buddhism is a blood & soil faith – used by the Sinhalese for hundreds of years to maintain territorial control & control over fellow members of the tribe. In this sense, it is no less violent than any of the other religions in this world.

    However, the believers’ commitment to Buddhism is so deep that they will either overlook or refuse to recognize the flaws that exist in it & the flawed ways in which Buddhists have behaved in this world. So, then the work falls on the non-believers, specially in the Sri Lankan context, to take action to solve the problems that have been plaguing the island for decades – primarily poverty, corruption, racism, excessive use of violence, ultra & unhealthy conservatism, etc. Buddhism & the believers have not been able to solve those problems well. Thus, a new underground is getting organized as we speak in SL & the diaspora, the secularists will try to do the positive things in SL & diaspora that the narrow minded Buddhist escapists have not been able to do (now that the civil war is over, thanks to all who sacrified to make that happen).

    Good luck, however, with your faith (Buddhism in SL is very much a faith based religon, though you are unable to recognize it, & the best that the believers can do is call agnostics names & point to statements made by other believers to support their statements).

    This argument most likely will never end. As long as humans are alive, they will make up heroic figures such as the Buddha & fictional concepts such as karma, rebirth, nirvana to try to both make sense of the world & to motivate themselves & others to do what they feel is the right thing. And also to control countries, land, keep the undesirables away, etc. However, all that unnecessary drama aside, important & useful work needs to get done in order to improve this world (not the next world or the next rebirth), &, it is a good thing that agnostics/non-believers/atheists/secularists/& also sensible believers exist to get that work done.

    Also, don’t let the fact that I personally can’t, after analysis & study, find much of great value in Buddhism (perhaps it is an interesting historical footnote – maybe the cutting edge in religious thought or human intellectual development 2500 or so years ago, but not something very relevant to the modern world). And, after debating for the last month and a half with believers (& having seen how they conduct themselves, how their desire for the irrational & fantastic has warped their souls – sense of truth, justice, compassion, etc.) I find Buddhism even less appealing than before. However, many millions of people worship the Buddha out of choice or are trapped in Buddhism, so, due to the sheer numbers of people involved, it is still a great religion (of significance to many). And who knows, Buddhism might even reform itself, specially in Sri Lanka, & become something useful to the modern world, & something just in practice – we will have to see.

    – S

  • OTC,

    I see the believer rage continues. I guess that’s the defalult mode for politcial/fake Buddhists to go to when they cannot show why they think K,R.N are real. Though your meltdown is amusing & entertaining, I will clarify the following, though it makes no difference to me as to whether you or anyone else believes it or not:

    “What is the TRUTH Sujewa, did THREE generations of your Family ACTUALLY Build Buddhist Temples? That’s unbelievable, how can THREE GENERATIONS of ONE FAMILY be involved in building Temples, Buddhist Temples at that?”

    If you want to do some reading, you can pick up my grand uncle Bhante Gunaratana’s autobiography, & in it, he talks about how his poor but deeply faithful father (one of my great grandfathers) built the first temple in their village (now that’s the term used by the monk, don’t ask me about the dimensions of the temple, or what it’s called in pali, etc. – it is probably a small place, as it was built by poor farmers using means available to them, & not kings or whatever), anywhere, here’s the book link:
    http://www.amazon.com/Journey-Mindfulness-Autobiography-Bhante-G/dp/0861713478
    Just look for the paragraph with my last name in it, that’s what I am referencing above. It is early on in the book.
    So that’s one temple.

    Then, in the early 1980’s, my dad helped with building a Buddhist meditation center in Virginia, & I helped (not much, was young, but I did help, got pictures to prove it – hammering nails & such) So that’s 3 generations of the same family helping with temple building. (i am sure at least dozens more members in the fam have had roles in creating or sustaining temples is SL & US – the fam is VAST in numbers by modern US standards, but maybe just above average by SL standards)

    Anyway, it makes no difference to me whether narrow minded political/fake Buddhists believe in what I’ve said about my relationships to Buddhism & the family’s relationship to Buddhism. And, by the way, many temples in Sri Lanka were built with donated labor – something called shramadana – that a fake/political Buddhist like you probably does not know much about – thus, having family members who built temples or helped to build temples is not a massive deal or not something highly unusual in some parts of Sri Lanka. But, since one of your diversionary tactics is to change the subject to side matters when you cannot deal with the issue at hand, I thought I’d resolve the diversionary issue & get back to KRN & other speculative items in Buddhism – oh wait, the believers, for the most part, gave up on that, well I guess then we don’t have much to discuss. But when you forget that Buddhism is a speculative/faith based religion I’ll jump back in to remind you how K,R.,N cannot be proven as real to a non-believer. Maybe it will help to keep your believer arrogance & hate in check (or maybe not, but i guess all a non-believer like me can do is try 🙂

    Sounds good doesn’t it 🙂 🙂 🙂 [& this post goes out to your fake/angry/political Buddhist buddy Wijayapala too]

    – S
    “STILL keeping cool while dealing with raging, irrational, fake/political believers (since 2010 :)”

  • More OTC ficiton (jut like K,R.N in Buddhism),

    “That is your character. You ask a question very authoritatively with a lot of aplomb and flair but when the Answer is not palatable you slither quietly away.”

    And by “slithering quietly away” you must mean pointing out to fools FOR ABOUT A MONTH AND A HALF ON A NEARLY DAILY BASIS their foolishness in claiming that Buddhism is a universal truth.

    And, aside from being a fake expert in Buddhism, OTC now wants to be a fake expert in English. What’s next OTC – are you going to start lecturing about eating a balanced meal or not littering? Dude, this is a debate on an internet comments section- I am not publishing a research paper (like the one that Yapa was going to create for us re: K, R, N), so misspelled words occur, & other writing/fast typing mistakes occur. Only a fool who is losing an argument re: a religious matter would try to score points by criticizing ‘net comments writing mistakes of others.

    This is what happens to arrogant, hate spewing, political/fake believers OTC. Somewhere along the line someone is going to challenge you to back up your misguided claims for your version of Buddhism’s greatness & as we see it now, ya can’t produce the goods. So you cry & whine like a child & call people names. Congradulations, you make the case for Buddhism’s inability to produce mature people (in many cases) better than I ever could.

    – S

  • Sur

    “1. That the Buddha actually existed.

    2. That the Buddha existed in the way that he is described in Buddhism.”

    Does it really matter if the Buddha existed or not? Unlike in Christianity, with the resurrection of Jesus Christ being a central belief. Suppose the Buddha never existed — how does that invalidate Buddhist teachings? The Buddha himself said that he was only a teacher who showed the way to freedom from suffering, it is up to us as individuals to follow that path if we want to. Whether a Buddha exists or not, the path to freedom is available.

    “3. That the Buddha in fact discovered a way out of suffering – in the Buddhist view all of existence is suffering – so, a way out of existence – & since Buiddhists believe in rebirth – a way out of being reborn.”

    It can be confirmed by experience. For example, I can confirm personally that meditation has made me a calmer person. I suffer less as a result.

    Also, all of existence is not suffering. This is not a Buddhist view. You are mistaken. Even in the higher meditative states such as Jhana there is bliss. What Buddhism does teach, however, is change and impermanence which is unsatisfactory. Perhaps you need to read more on Buddhism before making sweeping claims that have no basis in fact.

    “It does not seem any more effective or factual than the other major religions.”

    Do other religions teaching anything like the following:

    ———-

    Do not go upon what has been acquired by repeated hearing,
    nor upon tradition,
    nor upon rumor ,
    nor upon what is in a scripture,
    nor upon surmise,
    nor upon an axiom,
    nor upon specious reasoning,
    nor upon a bias towards a notion that has been pondered over,
    nor upon another’s seeming ability,
    nor upon the consideration, “The monk is our teacher.”
    Kalamas, when you yourselves know: “These things are good; these things are not blamable; these things are praised by the wise; undertaken and observed, these things lead to benefit and happiness,” enter on and abide in them.’
    — The Buddha, Kalama Sutta

    Thus, the Buddha provides ten specific sources which should not be used to accept a specific teaching as true, without further verification:

    – Oral history
    – Traditional
    – News sources
    – Scriptures or other official texts
    – Suppositional reasoning
    – Philosophical reasoning
    – Common sense
    – One’s own opinions
    – Authorities or experts
    – One’s own teacher

    Instead, he says, only when one personally knows that a certain teaching is skillful, blameless, praiseworthy, and conducive to happiness, and that it is praised by the wise, should one then accept it as true and practice it.

    – wiki

    ———-

    Also, all other major religions place a Supreme Creator God at the centre of the religion. Buddhism places the Four Noble Truths at the centre… which your fellow agnostic ‘somewhat disgusted’ has already admitted is intuitive… ie verifiable and able to be understood and experienced in the here and now.

    “4. This is another way of saying #3 – but it may be clearer – that Buddha discovered or experienced nirvana & that nirvana is in fact a real thing that exists/that actual humans can experience. Also karma cannot be verified to be real, an item related to nirvana (& we already mentiond rebirth, another related item).”

    But the claim of Buddhism is that it can be experienced, not necessarily in a future life but here and now. Karma has explained in various other posts, does make sense. It is directly observable in the physical world.

    “5. That following the Eight Fold Path & rest of Buddhism leads to nirvana. Since no one other then the Buddha, some 2500 years ago, reportedly, claimed to have reached or achieved nirvana (outside of religous stories), certainly no one w/ in the last 100 years that I’ve heard of.”

    But according to Buddhist teaching, those who have realised Nirvana do not claim to have realised nirvana (the Buddha excepted). They do not claim to be enlightened even if they are. The Buddha himself said that there is no difference between a Buddha and an Arahant (someone who has realised nirvana) except that the Buddha shows the path ‘for the first time.’

    “1. Over 2000 years of Buddhism left Sri Lanka a mess, out of which it is barely stating to recover after the 26+ year civil war that was caused in part by Buddhists refusing to recognize equal rights of the Tamil minority.”

    Buddhism gave Sri Lanka its Golden Age. It’s pretty reductionist to blame whatever mess there is on Buddhism.

    “Buddhism is just another of the many ways that humans have created to attempt to deal with the uncertainties, injustice, & mystery of life. It does not seem any more effective or factual than the other major religions.”

    This is just your opinion, it is not intuitive. I think the Four Noble Truths are more factual than a Supreme Creater God living in the heavens, for example.

    “- Many people who are raised in Buddhism develop a strong attachment to it – as can be seen by the comments in this thread – and are unable to look outside of it.”

    Applicable to you and your beliefs as well….

    “- For all its concerns about the suffering of others, etc. – Buddhism is a blood & soil faith – used by the Sinhalese for hundreds of years to maintain territorial control & control over fellow members of the tribe. In this sense, it is no less violent than any of the other religions in this world.”

    Actually, the history of Buddhism is far less violent than the history of either Christianity or Islam.

    “they will make up heroic figures such as the Buddha & fictional concepts such as karma, rebirth, nirvana ”

    You call yourself an agnostic? Righteo. I thought you call yourself an agnostic because you ‘don’t know’ whether something exists or not or is real or not. You seem to have already made up your mind. Guess you missed agnosticism101 🙂

  • SomewhatDisgusted

    Dear Sur,

    I asked you a direct question in my last post: You seem to have avoided answering those.

    Q1: is it moral and just to think that a newborn baby is “deserving” of his/her kamma?

    In addition, based on your current one:

    Q2: On what basis, other than belief in the Buddha’s omniscience, do you think this so called “path” will bring you enlightenment? (Don’t tell me meditation. Meditation hasn’t revealed Kamma, Rebirth and Nirvana yet to you have they?)

    Q3: On what basis, would you reject the far more plausible explanation, that meditation gives rise to hallucination and therefore some of this stuff could have been entirely imagined? That meditation gives rise to hallucination is clearly established scientific fact, as pointed out by BalangodaMan previously. That human beings achieve omniscience is a hitherto unknown and undemonstrated phenomenon. Nothing in the Buddha’s notions point to any omniscience either – i.e. Say writing down e=mc^2 in 600 BC might have been pretty darn impressive.

    “Buddhism places the Four Noble Truths at the centre… which your fellow agnostic ‘somewhat disgusted’ has already admitted is intuitive… ie verifiable and able to be understood and experienced in the here and now.”

    Allow me to clarify what it is I find intuitive and my own interpretation, so we don’t cross wires like in the case of Kamma – given that I am increasingly aware that my interpretations are clearly “repackaged western stuff”.

    1. Dukha – Yes. We look around and there’s dukha. Pretty mundane observation.
    2. Reasons for Dukha – Desire or rather *emotion*. (Is emotion my own interpretation? Because only when I assume desire=emotion does it makes sense to me) Devoid of emotion, there can be no concept called “Dukha”. Again, quite correct.
    3. That Dukha can be abolished – Yes. Abolish emotion, and the whole concept ceases to exist. Quite correct.
    4. There’s a path to abolish this Dukha – Yes. Perhaps by meditating etc., you can eliminate emotion. Sounds plausible. The noble 8 fold path to eliminate emotion? No, I don’t think that makes sense at all.

    Or have I got my entire interpretation bass-ackwards? (Because I do know I tend to read in more than I should into some of this stuff. Give it more credit than in deserves etc.)

    Q4: So far, pretty ordinary stuff. Now tell me, how you go from here to Karma, Rebirth and Nirvana?

    And that’s the whole point isn’t it? Take some mundane, innocuous, self-evident truths and have fantastic concepts piggybacking on them. This is the exact same technique used in *any* religion. It’s a bit like giving someone medicine isn’t it? Mix it in with a sweet drink and before you know it, you’ve ended up swallowing the whole shebang. Marketing 101 should cure the problem 😉

    cheers,
    /SD

  • ordinary lankan

    Reply to Post by Balangoda Man
    But the Buddha’s field of study was … what was going on in HIS mind. Not about bonding with other humans in a new-age kind of brotherhood, in a kind of group-huggy sort of way. Most (if not all) of the teachings is totally consistent AND RELEVANT in the context of quiet personal contemplation of whose who have, or desire to, escape from society’s stresses and responsibilities. Where we have a problem is when people try to fit the ‘musings of an ascetic’ to society, and MODERN society at that.

    There are 3 views expressed here and I would like to offer my own suggestions on them – based on my own experience as a Buddhist practitioner. We are drinking in the same tavern and you look at my drink and say – good for you but not for me… I walk up to you and sit down and sell you a story and then offer a sip – take a sip man – just try it and see …
    wont kill you

    1. That Buddha’s contemplation was confined to HIS mind – it is significant that you use capital HIS

    2. That he was not advocating universal brotherhood as such

    3. That his approach was an escape from society’s stresses and responsibilities

    My suggestions
    1. Buddha was initially motivated to seek the truth by witnessing the suffering of others – and these were old age and death. He knew that these things would also visit him and wanted to discover how this suffering could be overcome. He realized that every life that was born would experience these things – that old age and death was conditioned by birth. Thus physically there was no way we could avoid these things. But he realized that there was in addition to physical suffering – mental suffering. When probing this he found that the reason for mental suffering was our refusal to accept reality and wanting things to be different. When we fall sick we feel we have ‘lost’ our health because we thought that we ‘had’ and ‘possessed’ good health. When we are robbed of something we suffer thinking – earlier we had this – now we have lost it. This sense of loss is a very basic cause for human suffering. Buddha asked – is there really an owner – of these thoughts and feelings; of these body parts – of these bodily sensations?

    He could not find an owner. In Buddhism we do not deny the individuality of the process we know as a human being. We simply deny that there is an individual within the process. Every onion is different but no onion has a core. And he found that the reason for our mental suffering was that we were attached to something we did not in fact own. It was based on a mistaken notion of ownership. When he stopped clinging and let go and threw everything back to nature he was free. No effort was really needed. He needed to stop struggling and stop striving. In his supreme calmness – Samadhi – he saw things as they were – without the blinkers of likes and dislikes and he saw that samsara was a state of delusion. The moment delusion was seen through and discarded samsara became nirvana.

    He discovered that there was matter – and he also discovered emptiness – sheer space. And within this space, thoughts, feelings and bodily sensations would appear and disappear. What you and I call a body is just a bundle of sensations to the meditator. What you and I call mind – YOUR mind – MY mind – is just a silent emptiness which registers a variety of thoughts and feelings.

    [I see your challenge on emotions – cannot cover it in this post – may be later]
    The negative thoughts and feelings he boxed into three main categories – Likes, Dislikes and what he was Indifferent to. By learning these things about ‘his’ mind he also learned by analogy that other human beings were also experiencing the same 3 baskets of defilements or pollutants. Modern psychology accepts wholeheartedly that all human beings learn about others by learning about yourself. The deeper you relate to yourself and your thoughts and feelings the deeper insight you can have as to how others think and feel. Conversely if you don’t access your feelings and have no words to identify and describe them you also don’t relate to the feelings of others. In a sense there was nothing extra-ordinary about his method. He just went a great distance in this direction.

    So his contemplation – or scientific observation was confined to his mind – but one of his conclusions was that this mind itself had no owner as such. It was inherently free. Through endless wanderings in samsara it had confined itself to narrow patterns by seeking to own the different physical bodies he had acquired. He obtained freedom by letting go of both body and mind. In other words he dropped the attachment he had for HIS body and HIS mind. Through his exploration he sought the reasons for the suffering minds of all human being and laid out the reasons for suffering. This is why he said – of two things only do I teach – suffering and how to end it.

    It is true that he put an end to his own suffering by attaining enlightenment. But this enabled his 45 years teaching and helping mission. He was effective in dealing with the suffering of others – because he had learnt to deal with his own suffering. So this is a lesson for all modern day teachers and helpers. Master yourself before you seek to master others. Help yourself before you seek to help others. Free yourself before you seek to free others. Buddha took no prisoners. He freed people. Does that seem a common sensical and practical way to set about things or does it seem selfish to you?

    In today’s context there is no Buddha but his message is clear. And those who commit themselves to the path can teach by example and precept. The solution is always personal. Buddha addressed individuals and sought to help them – whether they were kings or beggars. It is when you turn this way of life into a collective solution – as happened in SL that people become lazy and sit on their bums preaching a whole lot of dhamma without practising a word. So agnostics – my point is this. Mankind has relied on many ideologies – collective solutions which appear to have failed. My suggestion is that no ideology can be effective without the personal commitment – and this cannot be forced or imposed. It has to come voluntarily from within. And there is no need to label a good deed. It is simply a good deed. Same goes for truth. The most important thing is not to be a good Buddhist or Christian or Muslim or Agnostic or what have you. It is to be a good human being. Every good man of religion uses a professional approach to become a good human being. That is it.

    2. Buddha walked his talk – he walked hundreds and thousands of miles in Northern India – he worked tirelessly through 45 years to help those who could be helped. He knew that people were at different levels of intelligence so he worked at different ways of teaching. It is compassion that makes one a good communicator or teacher. His whole ministry was a monumental act of compassion. The sangha itself was the brotherhood he founded – the company of good and wise friends who would support each other in their search for truth. The meaning of sangha is not confined to the ordained but interpreted broadly includes all committed seekers of truth.
    Once two Brahmin youth came to him and asked how they could get close to their God the Brahma. Now Buddha wanted to help them and he taught them the four divine abodes – metta, karuna, muditha and upekkha the sublime states of the heart that must be cultivated to be a friend to both one self and the rest of the world. Please note the fact that Buddha thought it not necessary to wean these two youth away from Brahmanism but showed them a way to get closer to ‘their God’. He was not interested in promoting Buddhism as such. He was a pragmatic helper as well.

    3. Being a friend to yourself – having a relationship with yourself – being comfortable in your own company without seeking distractions – How many people can do this in a world full of ‘body killing weapons and mind killing distractions?’ this is the foundation for a good heart – being truly happy and content with your own company. This is an important part of our basic training. In fact this is how some people benefit from long stays in the prison – they emerge stronger than before. (PS – don’t tell this to the powers that be because they will devise other methods of punishment.) The basic advise on meditation given at Nillambe is as follows –

    “A deep listening, with kindness and sensitivity, to our body, heart and mind. This attitude is then extended naturally to those around us. When awareness flows freely between self and others, unobstructed by artificial distinctions, we will not discriminate between ‘our hunger’ and ‘your hunger’ and ‘our feelings’ and ‘your feelings.’

    This is the way we escape – and we escape to reality – not to a world constructed on neurotic thoughts and ideas but to what we see as the actual world sans certain ideas and concepts which only serve to increase our dissatisfaction – for example ‘justice’. What crimes have been committed in the long history of mankind in the name of justice? Who brought this concept and for what purpose? Was it the kings or their priests who taught people to see them as the founts of justice? And then finally the Europeans after killing each other in frenzied blood baths in 2 world wars discovered ‘human rights’ and now they go around the third world and tell us how to respect human rights. Buddhism gave no rights and it did not speak of justice – only of causes and consequences and the need for us to observe this without the aid of ideas foisted on us by rulers. Buddhism gave concrete ideas to people on how they should go to the source – the mind – and how they should tame the mind and then train it – with love and acceptance and not with self hatred. Now this escape that you speak of is therefore a search for sanity leaving the insanity of the neurotic mind behind.

    I see the discussion between agnostics and believers as useful. It is a clash between the agnostics head and the hearts of believers – a necessary clash to deepen our faith in what is right and true. Although Buddha advocated freedom we must understand that people are at different evolutionary stages spiritually. Buddhists in Sri Lanka are not all trying to set up a Sinhala Buddhist state. How many votes did the JHU get?
    There is no point trying to run Buddhism down to run down political Buddhists – make your target narrow and then take aim. Recreate tradition and re-interpret it – don’t reject it.

    Good one SD on piggy backing on ordinary things and turning them into concepts – well in religion a concept is a tool – you use it and put it aside – Buddha himself said – use the raft (dhamma) to cross the river – but don’t carry the raft around after crossing – got to let go of everything – even attachment to Buddhist concepts – that is freedom – and a lot of people fear that kind of freedom – the fact that Buddha was not killed by some fanatic should by itself show his level of smartness and that he knew how to move in what you call the real world … and Dalai lama and Thich Nhat hanh are showing this today. I would definitely add Gandhi – non violence – old wine in new bottles – so this is the potential – and that is what we must embrace together….

    Sujeewa reminds me so much of Ivan in Brothers Karamazov – I like the following propositions he set out

    1. All human knowledge, being human knowledge, is accessible to, & is a part of, the intellectual & creative inheritance of all & every single human
    2. Thus, an agnostic or a secularist is not separated by all aspects of human knowledge that is labeled Buddhism or Christianity, etc. Any useful items from those sets of ideas can be used by an agnostic as necessary.

    Keep challenging Sinhala Buddhists but do it out of compassion – and take your challenge up one more level by challenging the Buddhists to get closer to real Buddhism – perhaps that is where you want them to go?

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear Sujewa,

    This is my statement (May 17, 2010 @ 10:34 pm)
    However you BRAG about belonging to a Highly Pious Buddhist family. Apparently you have not learnt ANYTHING about Buddhism from them.

    This is your reaction (May 18, 2010 @ 12:01 am)
    “And then there is some stuff about belonging to a highly pious family??? Do feel free to point out when I said that.

    What was your INTENT in asking that question so BOLDLY?

    Your question and the subsequent challenge “asking me to to quote you” was intended to expose what you thought was dishonesty on my part.
    As it turned out, you were the Dishonest Guy

    Well I took up your challenge and wrote about the Temple Construction (Contracts?) and what did you do?
    Just as I assumed, you did not have the BALLS to say that I was wrong.
    The cockiness with which you asked me to quote you just died when you saw that I REALY Knew what I was writing about. It did not sound good huh?

    The Roaring Lion became a Squeaking Mouse.

    Well well Big Mouth, this is the “when and where” you bragged about your Pious Family. Have a good look and next time THINK before you leap.

    March 8, 2010 @ 1:33 am
    http://www.groundviews.org/2010/02/27/living-secular-in-the-%E2%80%98sinhala-buddhist-republic%E2%80%99-of-sri-lanka/#comment-15370

    The people on this thread or for that matter ANY thread on GV, cannot be Scripted and Directed by half baked nit wits.

    Your Dishonesty is compounded by a Bad Memory, poor Language Comprehension and a suspect logic. Hence In future Keep your Dishonest Challenges to YOURSELF. It sure DOESN’T SOUND GOOD when you cant follow through with them.

  • yapa

    Dear BalangodaMan;

    Have you heard of “Brahmadand”? I have imposed that on you.

    Thanks!

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear Sujewa,

    “so misspelled words occur, & other writing/fast typing mistakes occur. Only a fool who is losing an argument re: a religious matter would try to score points by criticizing ‘net comments writing mistakes of others”

    Trying to water down your Intellectual Dishonesty?

    I am not talking of “bad spelling or grammar” all those things are excusable and are ignored. What is not excusable is INTENTIONALLY confusing a chair for a table just because both have four legs.

    No mater how you try to mitigate your current NUDITY it will not happen as your Dishonesty has been laid bare for all to see. The more you try to cover up the more you wallow in it.

    That is the type of thing that is akin to the proverbial Dog and what it did on the stone.

    Let us see what shallow explanation that you come up with this time, as I have now met your challenge by showing you the post where you Bragged about your Pious family.

    That’s when you tried to show the GV readership that you never bragged and that I made it up. Unfortunately for you, your own post is showing the middle finger to you.