Colombo, Post-War, Religion and faith

In Defense of Buddhism

I feel that there is a pressing need to rise to the defense of Buddhism. This is because Buddhism is being degraded and exploited  as a reactionary political ideology by a grade of low class politicians. Their impact is severe and decisive. Their politicized version of Buddhism is being incessantly drilled into the social consciousness of a particular chauvinist political base, with full state patronage, and more fundamentally, as the core program and agenda of the state and the regime.  The impact has been to imbibe a jubilant sense of a dominant, triumphant ego for having vanquished an oppressed nation, a narrowed, distorted and introverted sense of self, based on nurturing arrogance and intolerance against others. The mantle of the Dharma is being used to entrench the supremacy of the one Sinhala-Buddhist nation, as the basis to subordinate all others and suffocate all dissent. It is being exploited to enthrone the ideology and politics of naked Sinhala-Buddhist chauvinist supremacy. Buddhism is being exploited to enthrone an utterly corrupt and bloody state and regime, a parasitic, comprador capitalist dictatorship, with an unprecedented  track record of gross, systematic and intensifying human rights violations. This, in the name of defending Buddhism, equated with the state, nation and the motherland- and the regime! The construction of a fundamentalist-theocratic state is in full swing. Instead of legitimizing the right to abortion and providing modern medical facilities as a basic human right of women to control their own bodies and their lives, illegal abortion clinics-the only ones there are- are raided. Hotels and lodging houses are raided to arrest any form of ‘illegal’ romantic interludes. Couples are arrested or intimidated on the beach and other places where they seek privacy. The internet and movies are to be censured. Adults only films are to be banned. Illicit liquor joints are raided, while ministers sway in alcoholic stupor and urinate in public places. This Buddhism is targeted against the poor and oppressed, since the rich will always access these rights and privileges without any problem or state suppression. All of these forms of state repression and control are being exercised to cover up for the naked corruption and abuse, and the sheer moral bankruptcy  of the state and its parasitic agents. This is a form of state enforced populist Buddhism designed to cater to the most backward and hypocritical mass base.

To be clear, this piece is NOT meant to criticize the ordinary Buddhists who honestly practice their faith and conviction as a way of life. The vast majority of them do not realize that they are themselves manipulated as pawns  by the feudal-colonial politics of Sinhala-Buddhist chauvinism and how it serves to reinforce, perpetuate and enforce the comprador Capitalist class dictatorship over their lives. This piece is directed squarely against that fascist coterie of the ruling class that is usurping the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha to entrench and extend their fundamentalist-hegemonic authority over all of society. This fundamentalist-fascist coterie has gone to the pitiful extent of conducting a mass propaganda campaign to enthrone the President as the supreme monarch – ‘rajano’ – based on the argument that the masses have declared their aspiration to rid themselves of the colonial trappings of bourgeois democracy and to revert to the feudal age of absolute monarchy. Say hello to medieval fundamentalist-theocratic fascism in the guise of Buddhism.

Buddhism is based on a dialectical logic of dependent origination. Nothing is permanent. All forms of matter and consciousness are in a permanent state of coming into being and passing away. The ceaseless emergence and resolution of contradiction is the universal law that governs all things and processes. Every cause has its effects, every action brings forth an equal and opposite reaction. How then are we to liberate ourselves from this chain of causation and endless suffering – this sea of Sansara?  What is required is the correct scientific understanding of the underlying laws of motion, change and transformation that account for all reality, in order to be liberated from ignorance and illusion. Accordingly, the doctrine is based on conscious individual self-determination, where everyone is free to consciously and voluntarily choose their own path. Buddhism cannot be imposed, nor legislated. The very essence of Buddhism lies in negating the self and the ego through compassion and meritorious deeds, guided by correct scientific understanding and an abiding sense of humility. The Buddha preached a doctrine of overcoming all selfish desire and motivation deriving from ignorance and arrogance as embedded in the alienated ego, and all the negative and violent passions these can unleash. This is in order to seek human liberation in a doctrine of universal compassion towards all beings. This state of mind is to be achieved  through the cleansing of the mind of all negative, destructive impulses, thoughts and feelings through meditation, and the Noble Eight-Fold path of being progressively detached from mundane, material life, and offering good merit (pin) to others. In this act of selflessness, devotion and dedication to enlightened truth, one shall repose in a sublime and eternally blissful state of Nirvana- a cessation of all contradiction, duality and conflict, accompanied by a state of the most serene, blissful contemplation of the infinite wonders and mysteries of nature.  Buddhism relies upon seeking the  truth as opposed to being deceived by  lies and illusions for personal and political gain. However, Buddhism has today become a vehicle for spreading diabolical lies and fatal illusions to defend and perpetuate a corrupt  Comprador Capitalist regime and class dictatorship, with the Parliamentary Opposition supinely falling in line.

One can disagree with these doctrinal assumptions, precepts and premises. One can argue, as I would, that the path of human liberation lies in waging scientific, revolutionary – Communist proletarian class struggle to rid the earth of private property and class divisions, so that humanity can live in solidarity and cooperate in conquering  the world through collective conscious social activity. Grappling and struggling with philosophical differences is the font of intellectual life. But, we cannot allow for anyone to willfully distort the true essence of any philosophy for vile and deceitful political reasons. Well, it may be that the time shall come when the true guardians of the temple – the oppressed masses- shall rise against all imposters and sweep away the pile of rot that has accumulated. Upon the ashes and ruins of accumulated lies and  deception, and filthy parasitic privilege, they shall build a true temple of universal scientific enlightenment, dedicated to the emancipation of all humanity, where a true doctrine of solidarity shall liberate all human beings on earth from the chains of property, ignorance and slavery.

One can ask as to what right or legitimacy I claim to have to rise to the defense of Buddhism, when I happen to have been baptized as a Catholic, and have now being transformed into a Maoist-Communist. And I can turn around and say, all great philosophies, all great path-breaking systems of ideology, all advances in the fields of science and art, belong to the earth. This great and immortal legacy of human enlightenment and achievement shall not be the exclusive privilege nor sanctuary of any populist politician, self-appointed museum curator, nor robed imposter, but  to those who would have struggled to gain  scientific enlightenment and the courage of conviction to stand for the truth. Besides, there appears to be no Buddhist with the courage of conviction to speak out against this violation of the Dharma for political gain. For those who would question my credentials, I  gladly say, ‘Lets really get down and discuss some of these issues, but in an open and public way, and not, hopefully, in that all intimidating, threatening and terrorizing way, which has been the policy and attitude of the state against any form of serious and informed dissent. A good Buddhist shall cultivate dissent and difference in the search for universal truth, in the spirit of intellectual engagement and dialogue, as a commitment to human liberation. They shall not claim absolute monopoly over truth. They shall not violate the Dharma by imposing a political dogma and agenda in the name of Buddhism, at the point of a gun. Let it be announced to the authorities, in whatever robe, hue or uniform, the people  shall not relent, whatever the cost! Truth shall rise and liberate us all! That is why it is necessary to rise to the defense of Buddhism.