By Muhammed Fazl -
“It is a man’s personal mind, not his enemy or foe that lures him to evil ways” – Gautama Buddha
Historians of Buddhism in Sri Lanka may possibly or may not have interpreted historical scriptures based on details or opinions… but none of it matter any longer since Buddhism has lost its worth and its value thanks largely to its ineffectiveness in matters regarding governance, rule of law and social justice. Bitter it may possibly be to some to swallow, but Sri Lanka was never a Buddhist nation. The require to look for option and effective sources of guidance in major the masses towards spiritual enlightenment is now a matter of fantastic exigency.
60% of the population claiming to be Buddhists or the belief in the legend exactly where Lord Buddha supposedly had arrived in Sri Lanka centuries ago does not make this a Buddhist country. For it to be rightly referred to as such, it require to be governed by teachings of Buddhism as in the case of Islamic nations exactly where Islamic Sharia is the source of governance. Buddhism as a state religion in this nation has been a failure considering that none of the governments in power paid any significant consideration in getting guided by its teachings. Sri Lanka with a single of the highest instances of rape, suicide, murder, theft, racial intolerance, alcohol consumption and the addiction for gambling has also contributed in negating the influence of Buddhism.
The Thripitakaya, written 500 plus years right after the death of Gautama Buddha with 80,000 plus sermons to comply with, how it came to be written or concerns of its authenticity is no much more critical as long as its teachings are helpful, if followed that is. What ever religion one particular might stick to, the beauty of the Buddhist philosophy or its sensibility can not be simply disputed or denied.
The state religion and a religion of tolerance, interpreted, distorted and disregarded by many and being utilized mostly for income and politics in present chimes, seeing its teachings becoming relegated to mere rituals is certainly unfortunate. In order to attract the disinterested lot, copying ritualistic practices from the Hindu faith and construing it as divine ones makes it an even far more pathetic sight.
What could have befallen in the ‘land of Buddha’ exactly where erosion of values and practices have resulted in a sense of spiritual bankruptcy, particularly amongst the flag bearers of its faith?
Lord Buddha anticipated his followers to learn the truth themselves and not just think in what the scriptures say. But this ‘truth’ can be subjective and interpreted in several ways specifically when living in a multi-religious nation such as ours. Guidance it may possibly be, but how numerous of our own monks have memorized or know the which means of the whole scripture, let alone the ones in Pali or Sanskrit languages? As for the ordinary faithful, by and massive, belief in Buddhism or the pagan ritualistic practices are somewhat a fashion statement to portray and justify one’s non-existent sense of piety.
Wearing a easy saffron-colored robe does not qualify one to deserve respect when attributes of old-age, wisdom, achievements in the service of humanity or piety does not exist. Rapists, pedophiles, thieves, murderers searching for sanctuary in temple premises donning monk’s robes is a frequent sight and far more frequently than not, it is as a cover from their ‘colorful’ pasts and as a refuge from prosecution by the long arm of the law.
While the method of ordaining of monks as effectively as disrobing them are seriously flawed and non-existent in most circumstances, I constantly questioned the judgment of my countrymen in bowing down to nefarious characters wearing monk’s robes. Queries arising from centuries old practices such as worshipping or praying to lifeless sculptures/statues, Bo trees, chanting Pirith, tying threads around wrists, anointing oil on the head, and ‘religious’ processions (Peraharas) and so forth., seriously needs to be addressed when one’s suitable conduct is absent or contrary to the teachings of Lord Buddha.
Even though Nirvana (Nibbana) can be achieved only when the fire of greed and hatred is extinguished, in practical terms, the state of Dukkha (full peace) can be accomplished only if no money is transacted, when detached from luxuries in life and worldly pleasures, when not in a state of intoxication or when non-violent or not dishonest among other positive attributes. Expecting majority of present day monks to abide by Vinaya (guidelines of discipline) would be unrealistic and herein arises the query of identifying the pious from the devious.
One’s piety is for himself/herself and for them alone the rewards for their good deeds. Their actions, sincere or otherwise, need to have not have a bearing on one more or for it to be a cause for worship. The Muslims that I am, I think only the God above knows the level of piety among his creatures. Therefore, I seriously query the actions of my countrymen in bowing down to yet another mortal who in reality could be a kid molester, rapist or a murderer and so forth.
Most of the Buddhist temples in this nation are cash cows and havens for pedophiles and the deprived homosexuals. Small boys as young as six are left at the mercy of grown up males who supposedly have ‘denounced’ sexual relationships and who claim to live a ‘life of celibacy’. Guys and females were created to enjoy each and every other, so it is in line with nature for a single to be attracted to the opposite sex. Deprivation often leads to the unnatural kind, mainly involving minors who are vulnerable and effortlessly offered in these conditions. When small Samaneras (tiny boys) get employed to living with the forced pleasurable discomfort, they too discover to impose themselves on the vulnerable when they grow up. The cycle continues with a strict code of silence largely due to abandonment by their parents when young and when left with no other options for sustenance outside the temple premises. Investigation has taught us that sexual violence are perpetrated largely by guys who have been themselves victimized when young.
Investigating activities of every single Buddhist temple in this nation would reveal the prevalence of misappropriation of charity funds, homosexuality, escapades of sex amongst monks and prostitutes and Tele-drama actresses, alcohol/drug abuse and kid abuse among other folks. Inactions of the four Mahanayake chapters in eradicating the abuses and corruption would also make them complicit ought to they continue with their silence. Unfortunately, the partnership in between each and every government in energy and the Buddhist clergy is so robust, that an impartial investigation in to the activities of monks and their ‘places of worship’ would in no way see light of day.
Crusaders of justice that we all ought to be, this is my personal attempt in rescuing my Sinhala Buddhist brethren from the evil that has engulfed them all along. In the meantime and in conclusion, I sincerely hope concerned authorities would address the following issues and issues,
1. Why Buddhist temples are permitted to collect funds when it is the responsibility of the State to safeguard and foster Buddhism? Is it also not a code of conduct in the Buddhist Vinaya for the monks not to deal with money? And if they do, will it not lead to misappropriation and abuse of public funds? With so numerous accusations levelled at Islamic locations of worship for raising money which could fund ‘Islamic extremism’ as allegedly, is it not evident with outfits like BBS linked temples instigating terror and violence against minorities only after raising vast amounts of funds?
2. What is the criteria in ordaining a monk and if exist a program to disrobe them when they act on the contrary to its teachings, has it ever been exercised? And if so, why wasn’t BBS general secretary Gnanasara not punished or disrobed for his despicable behavior?
three. Is it legal for children to be trained in monkhood when they are young as six and when their main education should be created compulsory? Would it be right to force religious teachings and religious teachings only when they are little youngsters and avert them from obtaining a regular childhood and dreams of a life of their choice?
4. Does the Child Protection Authority visit any of the temples if not all of them to investigate situations of pedophilia and child abuse? And would it be secure to leave them in the organization of unrelated males with no females to look soon after them? Would it also not be advisable for the Authority to make regular visits to inspect the wellbeing of children in the care of monks?
five. What is the role of the Ministry of Buddha Sasana vis-a-viz temples? Shouldn’t they implement a code of conduct and also look into contemporary day Buddhist beliefs and practices?
6. If monks are permitted to dabble in politics, would it be unfair to other political parties because temples attract tax cost-free funds and also enjoy a lot of subsidized facilities given that they are registered as charity organizations.
7. If monks are allowed to enter the political arena, would it not be a case of using religion (which is most dear to a sizable section of the ignorant voter base) to achieve power and wealth?
eight. Why the age old practice of veneration of an additional mortal and the require to give prominence and priority in public areas, buses, trains and so on., when one’s faith is a private matter?
*The writer is an independent social/political activist and can be contacted on [email protected] and via FB Fazl Muhammed Nizar