Untitled3

[The triple gem of Anuradhapura; Abhayagiriya facing north and its synthesis of Theravada and Mahayana represents the spiritual values of balance and integration; Ruvanweliseya in the western corner symbolizes caution, orthodoxy and conservatism; Jethavanaramaya in the eastern corner symbolizes optimism and progress – the mentality of the rising sun. To the south is materialism into whose clutches the sinhalese walked innocently without any of the safeguards afforded by this ancient Trinity.]

The Sinhalese…

Left their unity and security at Anuradhapura.

They have not been safe or secure in any of the subsequent capitals. This chronic insecurity has something to do with their narrow version of domesticated Buddhism and a Sangha that enjoys entrenched privilege upon a notion of an exclusive Sinhala Buddhist identity. The original sense of brotherhood upon which the Indian invaders and natives finally settled, sealing their compact with the Ruvanweliseya and Gamani Kingship was whittled down in stages into a sharp hierarchy where the Sangha and king and nobles occupied the apex of our societal pyramid.
This hierarchy was threatened with the influx of western powers from the 16th century. But the efforts of Kirthi Sri Rajasinghe and Ven Welivita Saranankara ensured that it would survive. This feudal inequality within our society has now received a fresh lease of life after the victory in the Eelam War.

Colombo

Is not the capital of the Sinhalese. A Muslim chief controlled this port city in the 14th century and no king of this country ever captured Colombo. Today it is the capital of a hybrid and privileged community that has evolved through the new sources of local and international power – commerce and finance and affiliated services, the British political, administrative ad legal order, western culture and lifestyles and the English language.

The predominantly rural Sinhalese have struggled to come to terms with these new sources of power. Their native ideology pulls them back into parochial identities among which caste and religion are the strongest. On the other hand the realities of life in the 21st century keep them bound to a relentless rat race – in politics, in the professions and vocations and even family life.
This is the contradictory, competitive and self destructive pattern the Sinhalese have fallen into.

Kotte
Is the new capital. But this is simply an extension of Colombo. It offers space, and perhaps a little more by way of nature and greenery but not contentment.

We remain
A community split in two, alienated from ourselves, dissatisfied and frustrated, moving between cycles of passivity and aggression, but still searching for peace, rest and leisure.

Real leisure where we can bring out that ancient mirror in which we can see ourselves clearly once more.

What characterised the grand 1000 plus year epoch of the Anuradhapura Kingdom?

Stability

Derived from a balance of material and spiritual forces. Whatever the material accomplishments, they were perfected, balanced and moderated by the Integrating force of Buddhist humanism.

Buddhism was not dominated by any single version or orthodoxy and the emergence of Abhayagiriya and Jethavanaramaya acted as checks on the power of Mahaviharaya. Their frictions, debates and interactions kept the critical tradition of Buddhism alive. Buddhism was both balanced and enriched with insights that came through Mahayana and Vajrayana. Thus it never became a source of domination.

Buddhism at Anuradhapura was a way of life – not a special way. As we drifted to the South West Buddhism got separated from ordinary life and became a special way; a special way to be sought through a privileged and elite noble order of priests who would become proficient in Buddhist scholarship, preaching what the Buddha said and organizing grand rituals and expensive merit making ceremonies.

The Indians

Never forgot Buddha, not because they preserved his image in stone – but because they continued to produce muni’s guru’s and acharyas – essentially sramanas (irrespective of their official creed) who would, like Buddha renounce the world, seek the truth by themselves and teach the common people in their own language. They, like the Buddha, epitomized unconditional love. We had forgotten the sramana so much that when,

Anagarika Dharmapala

Appeared we ignored him in favour of an anglicized elite freedom movement, fully modernized in their English suits. The life and times of the Anagarika must be appreciated together. Buddhism in the late 19th century was in survival mode fighting a powerful missionary movement backed by the might of an empire. Some of his statements and perspectives must be contextualized to be understood clearly. In any event if there is a serious discrepancy between the Buddha’s teachings and certain stances of the Anagarika serious and conscious Buddhists must know how to choose which direction they must take. In the 20th century Buddhism has spread to many parts of the world through the peaceful efforts of its exemplars and this movement in terms of scale is unprecedented in Buddhist history. Modern communication technology has been a strong supportive influence.

Thus Buddhism as a universal religion has many adherents and supporters the world over – black and white, brown and yellow. It was never a tribal religion of a select race. In fact it is the reason why the four famous tribes in ancient Lanka – the Yakshas, Nagas, Sakyas and Devas shed their old identities to embrace a modern and more civilized way of life. There does not seem to be anything in the way of stopping the Sinhalese from going back to that old way of life today. If there are no true individuals in their midst and it is the herd instinct that dominates this must be their destiny. Of course to do this in the 21st century would naturally entail an implicit invitation for the international community to step in and safeguard the Tamils and Muslims who are thus excluded from this new tribal identity. This would also mean that the brave soldiers who paid the supreme sacrifice in the Eelam War would have died in vain.

In any event, as Winston Churchill once said to remain positive and open is the only option.

The integration of the material and spiritual into our lives is something that can be done at the individual and family levels. It does not require a new capital. Much less does it require elaborate collective pujas which only affirm a narrow identity and reinforce our insecurities. This personal transformation can take place irrespective of the name and ancestry of our leaders and whether or not they wear moustaches and national dresses. It is about self reliance.

Integration is the challenge

The triple gem of Anuradhapura; Abhayagiriya facing north and its synthesis of Theravada and Mahayana represents the spiritual values of balance and integration; Ruvanweliseya in the western corner symbolizes caution, orthodoxy and conservatism; Jethavanaramaya in the eastern corner symbolizes optimism and progress – the mentality of the rising sun. To the south is materialism into whose clutches the sinhalese walked innocently without any of the safeguards afforded by this ancient Trinity.

  • Sie.Kathieravealu

    A good article trying to bring about reconciliation in a subtle way. This way of sending a message has to be published in the main stream Sinhala media.

    The message in the article might be interpreted as “LTTE propaganda” for political purposes.

    Installing Lord Buddhas’ statues is NOT THE WAY to spread HIS teachings. It has to done by ACTUALLY PRACTICING it.

  • Farhan

    A Muslim chief controlled this port city in the 14th century.,
    During Ibn Battuta’s visit to Sri Lankahe has witnessed a Muslim Ruler by the name Jalasthy was ruling in colombo with a garrison of 500 Abysinians

  • A Theory of Chaos? I cannot understand the head or tail of it. Is it the objective of the author?

    Thanks!

  • sajeeva samaranayake

    Dear Yapa

    The head is spirituality and the tail materialism. Right now the tail is controlling the head and as you say the result is chaos.

    Unlike what is happening in Geneva I am applying a Buddhist reference point to assess the progress of the Sinhalese. My hope is that this would be understood better and sooner than the jargon of ‘human rights’ ‘rule of law’ etc etc. We have proved that these concepts are no longer intelligible in this island.

    Our exposure to the west has thrown us head first into scientific technology and competition. The rat race for social mobility drawn along caste lines was the biggest social fall out during British times. But on our own we are at each other’s throats. Can you see what is happening?

    Religion has been mixed up with material needs and material interests and thus dragged into the fight in the same way that Buddhist monks during the British period supported the caste conflict between Karawas and Govigama’s by writing dissertations as to which caste was superior. Nothing has changed today.

    To balance this mad quest for power and money there has to be spiritual technology or methods by which people can be helped to integrate some healthy practices into their daily lives.

    • Dear sajeeva samaranayake;

      Still I am in dark as to how you have inaugurated that initiative from this article.

      Thanks!

  • sach

    well written
    I think the sinhala buddhists should look at the acts of monks critically both the ones we have now and we had in this country. Many say sanga is the mura devathawan of sinhala buddhists but i think the reality is the opposite.
    sinhala is a larger subset of buddhists, catholics, anglicans, muslims and even athiest. This is a fact that should be remembered. The hijacking of sinhala identity by buddhist monks should be stopped . I think it is disastrous for the sinhala ppl. it is rarely mentioned the contribution made by non buddhist sinhalese in sinhala arts, culture, litrature. for example Subhashithaya is a very appreciated sinhala book, but as a student in sinhala literature at schools we didnt hear about the authors’ books written later simply becasue he converted to catholicism. So we dont have the opportunity to read them cos they reflect catholic culture. this is nothing but stupidity

    Also there is this self processed intellect called Nalin de silva who is pne of the leaders in the fore front of sinhala buddhist civilization. actually i wonder whethr he has knowledge on buddhism and history. He is nothing but a hater of everything western. The sad thing is there is a growing young population who follow him blindly and uncritically. It is his followrs that form the support base for the rising sinhala buddhist extremism that we witness today.

    It is high time the sane sinhala ppl take back the sinhala identity from the clutches of these vociferous idiots.

  • sajeeva samaranayake

    Somebody please help me explain this to yapa…..

  • sajeeva samaranayake

    Dear Yapa

    Thanks for the interest and it took me a while to figure out how to respond.

    I feel it is important as Sinhalese (however unscientific this category is) to place a mirror against ourselves and see ourselves in that critically and with detachment.

    There are causes – most of them historical, behind our current predicament. We need to understand them. As most of us are also Buddhist we must use a Buddhist analysis as well. What is the Buddhist analysis? It is to recognize the internal causes first before blaming others – western imperialism for example – for all our ills. It is a self analysis or introspection.

    Of course I am quite aware that we as a society are not very strong in this department. Yet we need to make a start. As a highly egoistic society we cannot see ourselves clearly. And being unable to see ourselves we cannot see others clearly either. This is the root of the problem. To change the way we see each other – to understand we are so much more than just sinhalese, tamils, muslims, buddhists, christians etc etc.

    These are just boxes. they have a limited function but if we allow them to limit us we become canon fodder for the powerful who are very quick to use us in their power games…

    • Dear sajeeva samaranayake;

      Still I didn’t get what you are trying to say.

      With your last post, I think some fundamental questions come into the surface about your indicated objective.

      1. What do you mean by the “Buddhist Analysis”? Is there such an effective prescribed methodology in Buddhism intended to solve social problems?

      I think the main aim of Buddhism is on individuals, and not on social problems, though Buddhism has touched upon some social issue. I think even the Buddha left alone those work to rulers and and never interfere with them in this regard, though he did some advice to some of the kings in this regards. He didn’t preach a significant doctrine in this regard or any special analytical tool as per my knowledge.

      2. What is the “analytical tool” you intend to use in that “Buddhist analysis”? Are you intended to use any other tool than “deductive reasoning” and inductive reasoning in your analysis?

      3. In your analysis are you intending to place a mirror only in front of Sinhalese or in front of others as well? If you intend to analyze others as well, what id the tool you are intending to use for them? In other words is it the same “Buddhist analysis” you intend to use for other communities as well? Will it be tolerable to other communities?

      I think the above questions are fundamental to be answered before pursuing into such an endeavour.

      Thanks!

  • sajeeva samaranayake

    Thanks Yapa

    The first question is very important so let me devote this post to that.

    As you correctly observe Buddha’s teachings were intended to help people quit samsara and they do not provide an agenda or programme for improving samsara. However the path or process that leads up to eventual liberation is generally long and can even involve countless lives. What we do while treading this path has both personal and social consequences.

    Every personal thought, word and act is another rain drop that collects into a large cauldron of collective or social karma. Individual thought influences individual behaviour which influences collective behaviour which contributes to collective thought or culture. The cycle also turns the other direction where collective thought patterns can ultimately shape and influence the individual.
    Who is this person you refer to as an individual? Is it a separate entity or is it some phenomenon that is relationally connected to a whole network of other ‘beings’ and to the universe? Human existence is thus also called ‘inter-being’ – see Thich Nhat Hanh. These connections become clearer as you go deeper into this ‘self’ and find that while ‘swarupa’ or outward appearance can be defined the actual ‘swabava’ or substance is a whirlpool of thoughts and feelings and emotions which are in a state of flux and which cannot be easily conceptualized and packaged.

    So it is the state of our consciousness that decides how we see things. And through the Buddhist practice this must broaden or get deeper. If this does not happen you are stuck within the same conventional round where we lump things together, generalize and follow the herd. Buddhist awareness which precedes thought and analysis is very specific and present and grounded in what you see or hear or sense in the moment. There is no speculation, no imagining and no room for emotional manipulation. It is direct, simple and concrete.

    For a demonstration of this empirical approach which eschews the conventional approach please read Elizabeth Harris – violence and disruption a study of the early buddhist texts. This is available for free download on the web. Let me wind up with an illustration of the way the Buddhist analysis and response works.

    If there is a murder in society there can be one of two responses. If we follow the Anglo American criminal law we have investigation and prosecution – judgement and punishment. It is very clinical, unemotional and God like. And we have this today at the international level also – very advanced. The other response could be to get a gun and take revenge from the killer by killing him. That is the other extreme. One follows the head to the exclusion of heart. The other follows the heart to the exclusion of head.

    The Buddhist sees human suffering without judging and will focus attention on the alleviation of suffering – perhaps in this case by providing help and support to the deceased’s relatives. It is not flashy but very down to earth and practical. Both judging and killing are loaded with symbolism. They are really escapes from reality. In this third response the reality is faced and a response devised in a human way.

    Finally there is no suggestion that this type of approach is exclusively Buddhist. Because it is not exclusive it can unify like minded people especially if you keep quiet about your religious beliefs and just do the right thing as it appears to you in a very direct and simple way.

    So does this kind of action help both the individual and society? Is it a win-win solution? I dare say it is…

    This kind of response can be highly creative as well. There is a global engaged Buddhist movement and this is what one of its pioneers ken Jones said in 1979 – ‘Buddhism and social action’

    “Social action as a training in self-awareness (and compassionate awareness of others) may be a discipline more appropriate to some individual temperaments, and indeed to some cultures and times, than to others. We are not concerned with advocating it for all Buddhists, but simply to suggesting its legitimacy for such as choose to follow it. For Buddhism has always recognized the diversity of individual temperaments and social cultures that exist, and has offered a corresponding diversity of modes of practice”

  • sajeeva samaranayake

    Answer to question 3

    it is always better and more effective for a member of the same community to place a mirror in front of those who belong to it. This would be more authentic as well.

    being a sinhala/tamil/muslim/burgher is in some ways a unique experience – and in some ways it is common with all others

    only an insider can with some degree of success pass critical comments on others who are inside with him/her.

    Otherwise people can say – what does he really know about us?

  • Dear sajeeva samaranayake;

    Really if what we are trying is to find a solution to the social problem arisen today due to “religious difference”, I don’t think any analysis would be fruitful, because many religions have no any analytical basis for their beliefs. Especially creator god based religions have no any room for any analysis, but just faith on their scripts. So, I don’t think any follower of such religions will accept analytical concepts. Think of any of their practices they follow whether they have an analytical basis or not. I think analysis is foreign to their thinking.

    I don’t think there is a “Buddhist analysis” or different “Buddhist analytical tools, which we as “puthajjana” can use other than the normal analytical tools used in all the other formal subjects like Mathematics and Science. The tools used in those bodies of knowledge are “deductive logic” and “inductive logic”, which are available in Buddhism as “tools” as well. In other words, the only tools used by the scholars and by the average Buddhists are none other than “sensory perception” and “inference”. So, for average people like me, (I think you are also an average person who has not obtained special skills mentioned in Buddhism to gain any other “analytical tool”) I don’t think there are any “Buddhist analysis” which is different from normal analysis method.

    I think the analytical tools used by average humans are no different from each other or one system to another system, but its is difference lies at the “axioms” they use in analyses. Though the analysis s not different, conclusions derived from the analysis differs based on “axioms”. Really we know as pointed out above no any “faith based” religions will accept any sort of analysis, the problem in other subject areas as Mathematics and Science and the other body of knowledge is not that they do not accept Buddhist tools of analysis, which are common to both the cases, but the “axioms” in Buddhism. For example, the axiom in Buddhism, “rebirth” is not accepted by the other knowledge systems such as Science, Mathematics or any other subjects, the knowledge of which are based on the axiom that “life” is limited to a single term.

    Buddhism really talks of one another analytical tool which is unavailable to “commoners” like us, hence use of it in social issues is unavailable for you or me. Other than the sensory perception(direct perception) and inference, Buddhism and many eastern religions talk of an “indirect perception”,which is not based on five senses. Today there is an enthusiasm to explore about this method even in the west, which is known by the as ESP (extrasensory perception), according to Buddhism and other eastern religions can be obtained through special practices only.

    Therefore, in conclusion my opinion is that there is no any “Buddhist analysis”, as such that can be used to solve social issues, and accept ed by the people of the other faiths which is effective.

    My opinion is any analysis in this regard should not be biased to any religion, even if that method is perfect, as there are many people (religious followers) who have no any heed to any analysis.

    Do you believe in a different way? Please elaborate.

    Thanks!

  • Merlin Van Tweest

    Excellent article beautifully written and explained. The replies to Yapa made me understand it more. We need more articles like this to invade the territory the ‘hot heads’ in Sri Lanka are currently occupying

  • sajeeva samaranayake

    Dear Yapa,

    I have summarized the positions you have taken in your last post in response to my explanation.

    1. Position on other religions
    2. Position re your thinking and mine being the same and average
    3. Position re separation of science and Buddhism in particular and religion in general – and that we cannot use collaborative insights mobilized from each one of these fields
    4. Position that special spiritual practices are limited to ‘special people’ and that they cannot be used by ‘commoners like us’
    5. That the Buddhist analysis in substance and as an approach – quite irrespective of the label – cannot be shared and accepted by people following others faiths – and that this analysis is proposed as a superior method rather than as a considered contribution to a public debate that concerns wider society.

    (1) Is a fairly superficial idea about theistic religions. I would call it a notion – widely shared of course by some people. Personally I have immense respect for Islam and Christianity and the people who embodied these two faiths. Faith in both religions is what is lived and put into practice and not mere thought or belief.

    (2) I would skip – because it is not useful for our dialogue. Our identities and status in Buddhism can be put to a side so that we can focus on the discussion.

    (3) Historically there was a gulf and even antipathy between science and Christianity in particular. At the cutting edge this gulf is being narrowed. People are ready today to exchange insights and move forward in a spirit of openness. Buddha has given this freedom to Buddhists to discern what is conducive to human happiness and what is not. Frankly the question of rebirth is not a stumbling block. A Buddhist does not need to accept a list of beliefs to start practicing. It is a gradual path of awakening where deep subjective truths can be uncovered.

    (4) I find is a defeatist idea. Without a ‘can do’ spirit sinhala Buddhists will not go anywhere – leave alone nirvana. Songs like ‘nivan dakinnata pin madiwennathi – ekai thawamath samsare’ reflect a deep sense of disappointment and a lack of self belief. I would suggest this idea – again another notion be dropped. This is what the Persian Sufi poet Rumi said: (lets call it a Muslim-Buddhist poem)

    “You are your thought brother
    The rest of you is bones and fibre
    If you think of roses, you are a rose-garden
    If you think of thorns, you are fuel for the furnace”

    (5) This opinion on the efficacy or otherwise of the method of analysis I proposed must be tried out. As you say our usual debates are based on inductive and deductive reasoning. But in this process we get carried away either by our theory or generalization or by a particular example we are fond of. The foundation for this reasoning is what you call sensory perception. The challenge is to purify this perception. Listen to this:

    You wake up in the morning and you walk out into the garden – and you see a beautiful flower. You see the colour and you connect immediately with this sight. If you are dominated by your own thoughts you will immediately say “ah this is an x or y flower”. If you are blessed with some silence in that moment you will have the simple enjoyment of sight without the commentary. How did people go and watch cricket matches in the 60’s and 70’s before commentaries became popular and before TV appropriated cricket? I am sure there must have been a lot of silent enjoyment – pure pleasure then. Of course if you get this technique of self possession and silence right you will sense ‘what is’ without imposing your thought or projection on it.

    Without this foundation of pure and unbiased perception the subsequent reasoning will be mere chatter. We will be talking without really knowing. This is the way we stop reality from being defined, limited and controlled by our concepts. The first step is to relate to reality and make that our starting point. But usually reality is bombarded with concepts so that we are left with a trail of confusion and destruction left by inappropriate concepts. Generally ideas of right and wrong and criminality when brought in will immediately dominate reality. After that reality does not stand a chance. Concepts will proliferate and the discussion will move further and further away from the ground situation. Imperialism at the local and international level is propped up in this way.

    Pure and unbiased perception is within human reach. It only depends how badly you want it – how much you want to work for it. Right effort as Buddha said is what you need. Lets not get carried away with ESP or any other mumbo jumbo. This is 100% down to earth stuff.

    Finally you tend to use the word perfection etc with reference to Buddhism. That again is an egoistic trap. As human beings we are all fallible and must never forget that. We must forever be open to correction by others.

    • Dear sajeeva samaranayake;

      I would like to touch upon the following statement of yours as I feel it would generate an incorrect notion about me, specially by the people of the other religions.

      “Is a fairly superficial idea about theistic religions. I would call it a notion – widely shared of course by some people. Personally I have immense respect for Islam and Christianity and the people who embodied these two faiths. Faith in both religions is what is lived and put into practice and not mere thought or belief.”

      In my case Though I have a respect for the people who believe in Islam and Christianity, my inner sense does not allow me to respect the main core of those religions in this era of Quantum Physics and Relativity. We must accept the truth though it may be bitter. In Epistemological terms both those religions have no value, and we must feel sorry about how those belief systems have kept billions of people all over the world in dark during this awakened era.

      To be frank, I respect the people but not untruth(even though they believe it). My respect towards the people who believe in those faiths I showed, by showing my dislike to apply a “Buddhist Analysis” for the questions which they are also a party. A Buddhist won’t like if a Christian suggest to apply a “Christian Analysis” to an issue Buddhists too are a party. That is why at the beginning I said, a method which is unbiased to any religion should be chosen to handle the multi-religious issues.

      I think I have the respect to where it is due, and do not have it to where it is undue.

      This is just a clarification, so that people will not misunderstand my position.

      Thanks!

      • sajeeva samaranayake

        Thanks yapa your position re theistic religions is clear. Having shared the same view once upon a time I have now understood the subtleties of the concept of God more. That is relevant to our discussion but not directly – shall revert with response to your last post in due course – cheers

        • Dear sajeeva samaranayake;

          But if you go through “Brahmajala Sutta” Or Agganna Sutta” you will find that above view of yours is against “Samma Ditti”, taught in Buddhism.

          Thanks!

          • sajeeva samaranayake

            Re – God, I have not found it necessary in my own practice but i have understood to some extent its role and function in theistic religions. My understanding of this role and function within the historical and cultural milieu of theistic societies does not take me out ipso facto from samma dhitti.

            studies in comparative religion can deepen your understanding of your own religion as well as other religions. this is my own experience. if yours is different it is ok. but perhaps we should not jump to conclusions ab samma dhitti?

  • Dear sajeeva samaranayake;

    I sense like the discussion is going a bit away from the central point. I think the central point of debate was to assess whether there is “a specific and separate Buddhist analysis” that can be used to heal the social ills our society is suffering to day, such as communal and religious issues. My argument was there is no such analysis different from the normal methods of analysis, which can be used by average people like us in Buddhism. I think the only methods that humans intrinsically posses for gaining knowledge are “sensory perception” and “inference” the latter being based on “logic”(really two valued logic). So, fundamentally, I don’t see any room for any other methodology. I think analysis is a part of inference rather than a part of sensory perception. I think sensory perception contains only an infinitesimal part of “analysis”, if not nothing. Sensory perception is almost same to all the humans, unless they are suffering from sensory defects. A “red rose” is a red rose for all the healthy humans and “sugar is sweet for all of them”, even in dark. I don’t think there are things to be purified in “sensory perception” refraining from “interpreting” them. It is true that there is a little bit interpretative component in the process of sensory perception,”rupa, vedana, Sanna, sankara, vinnana”, where sankara has a interpretative component, but that cannot be controlled by us, but takes place instantly without our intervention. So, I don’t see any possibility for us to purify our sensory perception. It is an automatic process. I don’t see any room for Buddhism or any other knowledge system to talk of a purification of “sensory perception”.

    Broadly “Knowing process”, is a combination of “sensory perception” and “inference”. Though “sensory perception” is an automatic process we have no control over, “inference” is a process which needs our active participation to yield the results. The result could be changed on the basis of our nature, and degree and the quality of our (mental/cognitive) participation. True, in this case “correct interpretation” plays a vital role. In western ideology, “Formal Logic”, developed by Aristotle in this regard, “the conclusion of a deductive process is correct only if, the premise and the arguments are true”. So, one needs to bring up correct arguments, (or correct interpretations) in order to see the truth or reality. In other words our involvement in inference should be without flaws, and if we say in another way our mental involvement should be pure. One may say this is “samma ditti”. However, this involvement in inference too has nothing different in Buddhism than the method used by the others, In both cases argument/thought involved in logic/inference should be flawless to get the correct results. Therefore, what I can infer is that there is no such method that can be used in “sensory perception” and in the case of “inference” too the Buddhist method has no any difference from the other method. So, in conclusion what I can infer is there is no special way of Buddhist analysis other than the normal method of analysis.

    On the other hand, through the process described realizations (knowledge gained) are personal to the particular person. To a person who refuses to adopt this methodology, specially inference/logic/analysis to their belief system has no any use of it whether it is called Buddhist analysis or in western terms rationality. (Really Buddhist analysis we discussed is nothing more than Rationality.)

    So, think the discussion has come back to square one. Can you make an unwilling horse drink water? Will that so called “Buddhist analysis” as you call it or “rational thinking” as I like to call it make an impact on the people who believe thing on faith to come to an agreement on social issues? For example will they accept destroying statues of Buddha in Barmiyan was wrong, as the practice of paying homage to images are banned by their holy scriptures? Did they pardon Rizana Nafeek, the teenaged girl against their supreme law written in their holy book?

    Thanks!

  • sajeeva samaranayake

    Dear Yapa

    Your last post was a revelation to me. You know everything at the theoretical level and in some passages we agree perfectly.

    A major hindrance for you seems to be the desire to persuade ‘others’ – like Christians and Muslims, including those in bamiyan and saudi (and perhaps our beloved Buddhist brothers and sisters to) to heal our social ills.

    Here you are in cardinal error. At least this is putting the cart before the horse. It is fundamental to Buddhist analysis that YOU become the laboratory for your analysis. Of course you live in society and are a part of it so your investigation will also have social implications. But this total involvement – not merely through logic and reason but with your WHOLE BEING – is essential.

    Without it you are another western educated professional asking whether “there is “a specific and separate Buddhist analysis” that can be used to heal the social ills our society is suffering to day, such as communal and religious issues”

    This is why in India and also in other Buddhist traditions mental culture or bavana is also accompanied by yogic exercise or physical culture. This kind of praxis or synthesis of body and mind is also found in Sufism in Islam and Judaism to my knowledge. samsaric patterns cannot be simply broken at the mental level through reasoning alone. So western rationality is just one part. The beginning is more emotional and with the heart. There is a Buddhist mood or attitude.

    When you say:
    “I think sensory perception contains only an infinitesimal part of “analysis”, if not nothing.”

    “I don’t see any room for Buddhism or any other knowledge system to talk of a purification of “sensory perception”.

    You deny the whole tradition of meditation and mindfulness – which is really the heart of Buddhist practice – not reason. Reason as you correctly observe is purified based on the purity of first impressions – the feeling. This is a simpler version of the five aggregates

    “As you see
    So you feel

    As you feel
    So you think”

    [DC Vijayawardena – Revolt in the temple]

    The genius of the Buddha (as well as the genius of the whole sramanic movement in India) was to take this seemingly insignificant moment of sensory perception to make it very deep, rich and profound. While this experience is personal it has social implications. The realized person is the most competent person to help transform others – BECAUSE S/HE HAS TRANSFORMED HIMSELF.

    Another fallacy is to regard or expect something special – something different. You have already concluded that the buddhist method of analysis is the same as other scientific approaches. This is why it can be shared.

    Because it can be shared you conclude that ‘there is no separate or specific analysis in Buddhism’. While there is room for sharing there are strengths in the Buddhist analysis that will be immensely useful –

    Far from putting forward a ‘superior method of analysis’ in the conventional, western sense the strength of Buddhist analysis lies in its capacity for accommodation of other points of view. This flows naturally from the Buddhist perspective of the inherent diversity of human views and the need to find a balance amongst them. Your view of the mountain will depend on where you are standing and we could very well differ in our views even if we were standing together. Respecting another view is also a way of respecting your own view and there is no scope for domination here.

    This is also supported by a pragmatic realization of the limits of thought and language and the consequent imperfection of whole systems and ideologies built on such thought and language. Mahatma Gandhi’s postmodern approach to truth as EXPERIMENTAL and SITUATIONAL also accords with the ‘Buddhist analysis’ I have articulated here.

    Was Gandhi a Buddhist or Hindu? Or was he a Christian?

    Is this important as long as he stood up to the challenges before him?

    Does it matter how we categorize him?

    Was Buddha Buddhist when he became enlightened? Or was he simply awake?

    • Dear sajeeva samaranayake;

      There is a saying that over 90% “Philosophical problems” arise due to the wrong usage of language. It is said that if the wrong usages in language are corrected over 90% of “philosophical problems” will vanish.

      I think in our discussion we should be very specific and unambiguous in our usage of words, phrases and concepts. We should not use loaded or emotion packed words. Otherwise, what we mean will not be meant in them. We should not let loose the meanings of the words and phrases so that we get confused.

      You say,

      “A major hindrance for you seems to be the desire to persuade ‘others’ – like Christians and Muslims, including those in bamiyan and saudi (and perhaps our beloved Buddhist brothers and sisters to) to heal our social ills.”

      Really what I meant was not that. It is not a hindrance at all and desire to persuasion is a very positive attitude. What I said was “a Buddhist analysis” (though really there cannot be something called “a Buddhist analysis”) will not be a good way to persuade them. What I suggest was to use some unbiased methodology towards any religion for this purpose.

      My opposition was not to the “end” (purpose), but to the “means” (methodology) suggested to adopt to achieve the end. On the other hand I have shown with reasons why it would not be fruitful as well. Is there any sense in using a futile method in any case?

      On the other hand even if I opposed to it, as you assumed, it doesn’t suggest to exclude me from “becoming a laboratory to my self”? I don’t think that notion of yours is a reasonable implication of the first assumption. Further, I do not really understand what “…with your WHOLE BEING” means. For me it does not give any specific meaning for anybody to follow than a very vague expression. Can you explain step by step how one can become “his OWN BEING”. I don’t know whether, I am right or wrong I feel like it is just a set of “empty words” or “some words that are meaningless in real world”, or in other words it is just semantics. I think such phrases do not take us to definite destinations.

      Really I am not in agreement with the “concrete like” deterministic ideologies of western educated professionals, however, it doesn’t say that we should be in agreement with the opposite as well. Why should we be allegiance to loose/unclear concepts as well?

      I think “the body-mind synthesis” too does not give rise to any specific meaning which can be put into practice by anybody; thousand persons can get thousand meanings from it. I don’t think Buddhism ever advocates such shaded ideas. If you have gone through “Chulla Hatti Padopama Sutta”, you will see how Buddhism advocates clarity of things. Buddhism does not advocate unclear ideas. If you go through any Sutta you will see it. Ideas are crystal clear in Buddhism and they can be distinguished from each other clearly, you don’t see any smoky, shady terms used in Buddhism to denote any of the ideas or doctrines in them.

      Further, I don’t see how I denied the whole tradition of meditation and mindfulness by saying that sensory perception has only an infinitesimal analysis. With fundamentals can you show the opposite? That is sensory perception involves a lot of analysis? Any being can have sensory perception even ant can see, smell, feel, hear and taste. It does not need much analysis. It is almost an automatic process as I said before. Sensory perception very rarely vary on your analysis. You will never see a bird, when you look at a flower based on the “analysis” contained in that sensory perception process.

      So, it cannot surely be Buddhist tradition purifies sensory perception in meditation, but evidently it should be in reasoning or in inference. This stance is very much clear in Buddhist doctrine. Buddha advises to be refrain from “sathara agathiya” (four biases) to “see” things correctly. Here “see” does not mean seeing with eyes, but seeing with “wisdom” that is with through correct thinking, that is through right reasoning. Here he advice to correct your reasoning or in other words to purify your reasoning by refraining from biases. An he also advise to refine one’s thinking/reasoning with “four Brahma Viharana”, meththa, karuna, muditha and upekkha, but no one can purify “sensory perception with them. Really sensory perception is almost a physical process that can be very well explained with Physics. You ask from a medical doctor, he even will be able to explain it to you. Without or with purification it will be same for everybody.

      “Realized person” is the best person to transform, sure, but it does not clear to me how anybody becomes realized trough “purification of sensory perception” as you have suggested. For me it has no meaning than beyond the grammatical value of those sentences.

      Again you say,

      “Another fallacy is to regard or expect something special – something different. You have already concluded that the buddhist method of analysis is the same as other scientific approaches. This is why it can be shared.”

      Really it is not me that expected something special; it is me who denied the difference. No introduction of a new term (Buddhist analysis) is necessary if you do not look for any difference. Really suggesting a “Buddhist analysis” you meant some different analysis, didn’t you? Otherwise, there would nothing be material in your suggestion to adopt a Buddhist analysis.

      Again you say,

      “Because it can be shared you conclude that ‘there is no separate or specific analysis in Buddhism’.”

      Really not, it is the opposite. Because there is a common analysis, it can be shared. And just because it can be share and used in different areas, those areas has no right to own that analysis and label it with their name. For example Mathematics is used in Physics, Chemistry, Economics, Social Science, and even in western medicine, however, this fact doesn’t make, Mathematics, “Physics Mathematics”, Chemistry Mathematics,….., Medicine Mathematics etc. Mathematics is Mathematics, and it can be used in many fields. If Mathematics is used in Buddhism, does it become Buddhist Mathematics?

      Again you say,

      “Far from putting forward a ‘superior method of analysis’ in the conventional, western sense the strength of Buddhist analysis lies in its capacity for accommodation of other points of view.”

      I don’t think so. Can you elaborate? I don’t think Buddhism ever had that capacity for accommodation of other points of view. Buddha vehemently rejected all 64 view points (ditties) then prevailed in India. He did not invite to accommodate them into his doctrine. He rejected all of them as “wrong view points” (michcha ditties). Buddha was never indecisive in this respect, and was very direct. I don’t think the Buddha will ever accommodate “creator god concept” into his doctrine, which you seem to value as a Buddhist.

      Again you say,

      “Your view of the mountain will depend on where you are standing and we could very well differ in our views even if we were standing together. Respecting another view is also a way of respecting your own view and there is no scope for domination here.”

      I think Buddha advocates nothing but “Samma ditti”. I don’t see any room for “samma ditti” in the way you have mentioned there. You will find a “fruit salad” there, but not “the fruit”. I feel like this is a Luke-worm approach to “satisfy everybody” and to gain popularity and to gain vote, but not to reach at the “truth”.

      “This is also supported by a pragmatic realization of the limits of thought and language and the consequent imperfection of whole systems and ideologies built on such thought and language. Mahatma Gandhi’s postmodern approach to truth as EXPERIMENTAL and SITUATIONAL also accords with the ‘Buddhist analysis’ I have articulated here.”

      Really when one cannot identify what Buddhist analysis is, it is obvious that no one can understand Mahatma’s approach is Buddhist or not.

      Really according to Buddhism, we should not let loose our “thoughts”, “words” and “actions”.

      Yes, in my opinion, the Buddha was a Buddhist when he became enlightened.

      Thanks!

  • sajeeva samaranayake

    The ‘Buddhist’ part of the analysis lacks identity, soul and substance unless it is generated through individual practice and experience. The whole concept of sangha (here I mean the authentic, real sangha – a lower-case community) is that they will walk the path and explain its nature to others – not just to Buddhists but to anyone who is suffering and seeks help.

    The Buddha himself is known as the peerless trainer of WILLING persons. So there is no force feeding – NO MAKING the horse drink water within the sasana.

    “Therefore i shall put this way of life into actual practice
    For what can be achieved by merely talking about it?
    Will the sick receive benefit
    Merely by reading the medical texts?”

    [Bodhisatvacharyavatara:109]

  • sajeeva samaranayake

    Dear Yapa

    you say –

    “So, it cannot surely be Buddhist tradition purifies sensory perception in meditation, but evidently it should be in reasoning or in inference.”

    “And he also advise to refine one’s thinking/reasoning with “four Brahma Viharana”, meththa, karuna, muditha and upekkha, but no one can purify “sensory perception with them.”

    It is useful and practical to confine the discussion to this issue. The five aggregates function together. While we can separate

    contact
    feeling
    perception
    concept
    consciousness

    in order to separate their functions they are like five streams that join at the moment of sensory contact. They influence each other.

    This is how the mind shapes and transforms what you see. It is best to reflect on how we see other human beings. When you go out on the road and you see different types – old and young, pretty and ugly, big and small – if you pay some attention you will note that for each person your reaction is different.

    The problem – and i say this is basic – is that we are attracted to some – are averse to some and totally ignore some. This is the function of craving,hatred and delusion – the three main stances of the puthujjana when experiencing life.

    So the question is how do we purify the way we see each other. How do we make sure we are considerate to other road users? You have given the answer – the four brahma viharas.

    You see, it is our heart – vedana or feeling that first comes into play and it is by observing feelings that we stop this from going further up the ladder of nama to solidify our habitual tendecies.

    See Ven Nyanaponika – Contemplation of feelings – BPS.

    This is why Buddha said mind precedes everything else. It is with the mind that our ideas about matter are formed – leading to defilements affecting our sight. When sight is purified you see only what you see – – minus the defilements.

    It is possible of course that you will not move from this position which privileges reason and thought over heart and vedana.

    Experiencing the whole being is important realize the importance of feelings and emotions – kayanupassana or consciousness of the body is the first foundation of mindfulness. When you practice this you can see for yourself how the mind and body – breath and heart – heart and mind are connected.

    Till then as you rightly say – these are just words.

  • sajeeva samaranayake

    It’s quite simple really the point of our disagreement –

    you think that Buddha reasoned his way to nirvana

    I say no – the nature of wisdom is intuitive – it is an insight into the true nature of things – it can be subsequently rationalized and explained and elaborated – but the moment of insight is the moment of sensory contact

    All worldly sense impressions are false – they are falsified by ego – meditation is required to understand how the ego works

    where can we go from here?