31 May, 2020

Blog

A Kind Request From The Minister For Buddha Sasana

By Thrishantha Nanayakkara

Dr. Thrishantha Nanayakkara

Dr. Thrishantha Nanayakkara

I am fully aware that this letter can get drowned in the euphoria of defeating the Rajapaksa administration just a few days ago. However, I wanted to make this note specifically addressing the new Minister for Buddha Sasana.

I was in Sri Lanka in the last two weeks of December 2014, with one week dedicated to Buddhist meditation practice in a Monastery and another day to visit a monastic monk I knew in England now doing solitary meditation in a rock cave in Sri Sumedha Monastery (near the Knuckles range), in Bambarella, Sri Lanka. His cave was located on the left bank of a stream I suspect to be a tributary of Hulu Ganga. Despite being a day of flooding and landslides in that part of the country, I could see clean water in the rough cascade in contrast to the muddy water I saw in the Mahaweli river on the way from Colombo. That gave me the feeling that this area must have been relatively free from pollution and deforestation, making it perfect for solitary meditation and wildlife. I was so happy to see that the monk from England had finally got a good place for solitary meditation in Sri Lanka, that will offer opportunities for many more like me to obtain sound advice for meditation.

Karu JaUpon returning to London, I got a message from the monk that surprised me. An energy company was planning to start building a Weir (a barrier built across the stream to accumulate water) and a Penstock (a tube/tunnel that carries water to a turbine downstream to generate power) right next to the cave, destroying the natural meditation environment. The monk wanted to have a discussion with the relevant company and the authorities to see if the Weir can be moved about 30-50 meters further down the stream. A person with experience in this area recommended the monk to put the story and his suggested solution in writing and post it to the Power and Energy Ministry, Central Environmental Authority, and few other relevant Government Institutes. Knowing how slow these official channels can prove to be, I posted a Facebook message asking for help to contact the Minister of Power and Energy as soon as possible to convey an unofficial message ahead of the official letter from the monk. Offers for help flooded in, and within few hours a message had been passed to the minister, and another message to the manager of the construction project to consider having a discussion with the monastery. A discussion took place on 21st January 2015, where the manager of the construction company and a representative from the Power and Energy Ministry openly discussed the matter. It was a pleasure to know that the construction company had agreed to move the Weir further down the stream and if that causes too much loss of revenue, they had even expressed willingness to abandon the project.

Why I want to bring this to the attention of the Minister of Buddha Sasana is that lack of clear provisions specifically addressing the vulnerability of the Forest Sangha Community can cause many more such disturbances to the Forest Sangha, while causing losses to the respective companies by having to face such issues not accounted for during the feasibility study.

By this note, I do not mean that this issue is limited to the Forest Sangha Community. It maybe relevant to other religions that have an element of solitary practice in secluded natural settings. Therefore, the issue may require a broad engagement across several Government Institutes than I think it is.

From a Buddhist point of view, all what I can do at this point is to kindly urge the Minister of Buddha Sasana to study this particular case, and find out the lapses in the provisions to come up with a broad set of solutions in the form of enriching already existing acts to protect and nurture the Forest Sangha Community in Sri Lanka. If you wish to go a step further, please identify more sites in the Wild to build Kuti’s for solitary meditation for not only the Forest Sangha, but also for lay people like us to take breaks from work to do meditation retreats to walk the eightfold path towards Nirvana the way we can.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Latest comments

  • 9
    0

    KJ is a cultured person whom I respect that much. I have no doubt that he will gradually adjust everything to restore the buddhist image for the island nation. In an era where Jesus, Buddhas and other religious symbols are being tatooed to show their intoxications should be paid more attnetion specially when focusing on the foreigners. Just to paint a picutre which would not depict the nation – to reject those tourists visting the country must never be done recalling few incidents reported within last two years. Buddhist way of life should come from the actions being carried out by island nation’s representatives. It was a greater mistake – radical monks to allow entering the country upon the invitations of unethical movements such as BBC. Just focusing on that, we the buddhists in and out of the country feel, these were just to draw attention of the few – but totally neglecting the view of the majority of buddhists in the country. People in general should be made very clear that nothing but kindness, respect and dignity can bring us more close to finding the sustainable solutions to our ethinc issue and the others.

    • 9
      0

      I guess you meant BBS.

    • 7
      0

      Typo:

      BBS (BODUBALA SENA led by Ghansara fake monk)

      • 4
        1

        YOU MEAN GNASARA THE TERRORIST SCUMBAG IN A YELLOW CLOTH DRAPED ROUND HIS SELF BUT STILL OOZING TOXINS AND VENOM.

        • 2
          1

          Now or later BBS will face it – now we have put them in tracks sending Medamulana Kabasiniyas home. on the 8th, srilanka -nation claimed the second victory – leberation from clutches of a GOING to BE Mugabe -MR.

    • 7
      2

      Deat Dr. Thrishantha Nanayakkara

      RE: A Kind Request From The Minister For Buddha Sasana

      “I am fully aware that this letter can get drowned in the euphoria of defeating the Rajapaksa administration just a few days ago. However, I wanted to make this note specifically addressing the new Minister for Buddha Sasana.”

      Amarasiri, too has a request.

      Just like a Consumer Price Index, Inflation Index, Interest Rate, Cricket Score, Blood Pressure, Blood sugar for diabetes, Cholesterol in the Blood, etc.
      the Minister for Buddha Sasana should establish a rating system for Buddhist Temples and Buddhists ans especially for Buddhists as to what extent they are Buddhists, as measured by Buddha Teachings.

      On this scale if Buddha is 100%,

      Then BBS is 0% Buddha, and 100% Mara.

      Mahinda Rajapaksa Family Dictatorship and Dynasty is 1% Buddha and 99% Mara.

      (Why 1% Buddha, because he gave Dana , at State(People’s) Expense)

      Therefore, can you please expose these Maras?

      Lord Buddha – The Great Battle (The Life of Buddha)

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WUiw4IVPU3M

      Published on Oct 5, 2013

      “The calm and compassionate face of the Buddha is known all over the world. Buddha was a spiritual teacher of ancient India whose ideas on freeing mankind from sorrow and suffering form the basis of Buddhism. Buddha was born in the sixth century BC., into a royal family. Known as Siddhartha, he realized that human life was short and full of sadness. He found out a path to Enlightenment and spiritual fulfillment.

      He was then known as the Buddha,which means “Enlightened One”. For the rest of his life, the Buddha travelled great distances teaching people about the “MIDDLE PATH”, the way to end to suffering. He taught the four Noble Truths of suffering, cause of suffering, end of suffering, and the Path to do that. Buddhism offers hope and access to spiritual understanding and satisfaction to everybody. Throughout the world today, people still follow the teaching of the Buddha.
      Mara, the temptor, distrubs Siddhartha’s meditation in many ways but is defeated. Enlightenment dawns and Siddhartha becomes the BUDDHA and teaches everyone the way to end all suffering.”

    • 6
      2

      Dr. Thrishantha Nanayakkara

      Medamulana MaRa and BBS are Mara Follower, not Buddha Followers.

      JVP Press Conference on 21.01.2015 Exposes MaRa, Mara.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&x-yt-cl=84503534&v=8tx2f_o2Oj8&x-yt-ts=1421914688

      Lord Buddha – The Great Battle (The Life of Buddha)

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WUiw4IVPU3M

      Published on Oct 5, 2013
      The calm and compassionate face of the Buddha is known all over the world. Buddha was a spiritual teacher of ancient India whose ideas on freeing mankind from sorrow and suffering form the basis of Buddhism. Buddha was born in the sixth century BC., into a royal family. Known as Siddhartha, he realized that human life was short and full of sadness. He found out a path to Enlightenment and spiritual fulfillment. He was then known as the Buddha,which means “Enlightened One”. For the rest of his life, the Buddha travelled great distances teaching people about the “MIDDLE PATH”, the way to end to suffering. He taught the four Noble Truths of suffering, cause of suffering, end of suffering, and the Path to do that. Buddhism offers hope and access to spiritual understanding and satisfaction to everybody. Throughout the world today, people still follow the teaching of the Buddha.
      Mara, the temptor, distrubs Siddhartha’s meditation in many ways but is defeated. Enlightenment dawns and Siddhartha becomes the BUDDHA and teaches everyone the way to end all suffering.

  • 11
    0

    It is like a pilot taking us in a plane heading from A to B. If good cultured educated dignified guys are set in due place going through all ethical and moral channels – nothing can go wrong.Having faced to the actions being taken by MR- in his second term- all these became further clear to all and sundry. Now Religious leaders regardless of their race, religion and others should work together to feed up the nation in a healthy manner. Any abusive monks should be banned from being close to public attention setting a fullstop to the hate mongering. Be them myths or any harmful speeches should be banned in order to protect the nation from being fallen to radical ends. Beruwala or Aluthgama incidents should be studied closely and take every actions not to repeat that kind of incidents again.

  • 8
    0

    The following is a good move which I found just now on the web. This was a long overdue issue – I thought should be away from.
    ————————————————————————

    Chairman of Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation Somaratne Dissanayake said that all astrology programmes were removed from programme line-up of the state TV station with immediate effect.

    High prominence was given to astrology programmes by Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation under its previous administration. Most of them were designed in a manner that would benefit the political agenda of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his family.

    Dissanayake added that one of the first changes he made as soon as he assumed duties as the new Chairman of the Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation was to stop all Astrology related programmes.

    “It has been proved that the majority of Astrologers who appear in state media are merely story-tellers and stooges of the ruling party. They are not only humiliating themselves but the viewers too”, he added.

    Somaratne Dissanayake used the opportunity to criticize certain astrologers who regularly appeared on state media during Mahinda Rajapaksa’s rule and made statements on Rajapaksa’s ‘landslide victory’.

    “Some went to the extent of declaringin public that they would commit suicide if Mahinda Rajapaksa lost the Presidential Election. But, they still live happily’

  • 9
    0

    I fully endorse Dr Nanayakkara’s request to the Minister of Buddha Sasana not as a Buddhist but as a person interested in the promotion of spirituality in the country and internationally. I have learned about the Wanawasi tradition in school with much interest and came to know about it more after my Mahappa (father’s elder brother) became a Buddhist somewhere in 1955. I also became familiar with the traditions in Thailand through a friend, Kasem, who often used go for meditation in the forests. As he told me, it is extremely useful for one to retreat to meditation, to keep a spiritual balance in life. Before I dropped out as a practicing Christian, I have also been to Devasarana (Hewadiwela, Kurunegala) meditation centre, initiated by then Rev. Yohan Devananda, as a youth. I believe Christianity, particularly Catholicism, also had a meditation tradition, perhaps more of monastic than forest. However, this tradition is not that clear at present. It is pertinent if this tradition is resurrected in Sri Lanka and elsewhere.

    It is 500 years ago in 1505, that Thomas More wrote his Utopia and as I have pointed out recently taking inspirations from then Ceylon (See “Thomas More’s Socialist Utopia and Ceylon”). In his Utopia (or Ceylon), there was a clear amity between different religions and religious practices. It is also interesting to note that Thomas More is considered as a Socialist by the socialists, a Saint by the Catholics, a Teacher by the Theosophists and a Liberal Thinker by the liberals.

    Another main point that Thrishantha has brought to light is the importance of environmental protection which I believe that the new President, Maithripala Sirisena, and others have a particular commitment to.

    • 0
      7

      I see this as a very selfish and unspritual act by one person or small number of people for self benefit. Fortunately or unfortunately, There are 7 billion people in the world. How a small number of people say that they must have dedicated, absolute natural vast land for them to become enlighten. This kind of request is not “selfless” act, but the opposite. The writer or his spiritual friends won’t be able get any closer to a selfless, compassionate state of mind with this kind of thought of ownership or self privileges.

    • 0
      2

      So, writer Laksiri is speaking in approving terms of meditation, but he doesn’t tell us if he ever tired it! In fact he gives the impression that he has NOT tried it.

      An important part of Buddhist action is doing charitable acts. Unfortunately, a lot of people (e.g., the retired) who should be giving some of their time to society in their golden years are more concerned with improving their lot in the next world by doing meritorious acts and doing meditation.

      A poor man cannot go and become a meditating mendicant as he has to toil to feed his body and soul, and his family. The middle classes and upper classes indulge in these things, or they engage in “revolution” to keep away from being bored

    • 0
      1

      Dear Dr. LF

      Re. “It is 500 years ago in 1505, that Thomas More wrote his Utopia and as I have pointed out recently taking inspirations from then Ceylon (See “Thomas More’s Socialist Utopia and Ceylon”). In his Utopia (or Ceylon), there was a clear amity between different religions and religious.”

      Thomas Moore – 1779 – 09 – 28 – 1832 – 02 – 25. Was an Irishman was not there 500years back.

      i agree with the contents excepting the dates please.

      levi

      • 0
        0

        Thomas more not Thomas moore !

  • 7
    1

    A very good article indeed. This will not only benefit the “Forest Sangha Community” as the author calls it and who in my opinion are the true Buddhist Sangha, not involved in politics and the like but also his suggestions would help preserve the environment as well.

    • 3
      0

      ‘and who in my opinion are the true Buddhist Sangha, not involved in politics and the like’

      Absolutely right.

      “So, your Majesty, it is the business of the princes of this Earth to know all about elephants, horses, chariots, bows, edicts and seals, to be well-versed in the textbooks of statecraft, in its traditions and customs, and to lead people into battle…….The Tathagata therefore urged the bhikkhus to devote themselves to their own work, and not that of others….”

      Ven. Nagasena talking to Menandros, the Greek King of Bactria (c115 BC)

  • 2
    0

    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2/

  • 4
    7

    ‘The construction company was willing to even abandon the project………………..’

    For what – a single person to meditate in an unpolluted area, to necessarily pollute it without waste disposal available.
    How do others benefit from this?

    Years ago, the Ramakrishna Mission Madam at Kathirgamam, built after required approval, out of public contributions, with due safeguards to the environment, and which was a place of rest, refuge & meditation for all pilgrims and also provided tasty free vegetarian meals to all, was taken over by the Sirimavo government and made into a bhikkus’ hostel.

    http://kataragama.org/centers/kaeleken.htm

    Thousands of acres of pristine forest are available elsewhere for this “forest sangha community”.

    • 2
      0

      justice

      “Thousands of acres of pristine forest are available elsewhere for this “forest sangha community”.”

      Mafia from many of the former Soviet Block are looking for land in this island (coastal as well as up country) to invest in Hotel (hospitality) projects.

      They are willing to pay a substantial fees for the scouts (pimps). Many Sri Lankans are willing to act as pimps anyway.

      As part of promoting the island as key tourist destination soon places such as Sri Pada, Sigiriya,… could be on sale.

    • 0
      1

      “For what – a single person to meditate in an unpolluted area, to necessarily pollute it without waste disposal available. How do others benefit from this?”

      This is a selfish request and he has convinced the authorities about it. Can evenyone do this.

  • 9
    1

    Can the good Minister also STOP noice pollution via temples? Morning noon evening recorded loudspeaker pirith devalues the value of pirith and is noise pollution at the worst. Temples should emanate peace and quiet. Pirith needs to be chanted in serenity. Btw, do these temples have permits for loudspeakers? Honestly this noice is an embarrassment to the more informed Buddhists. PLEASE Mr MINISTER Do Something about this

  • 1
    0

    Pada yatra or pilgrimage is important to our people. There are many shrines and monasteries and ashrams in our country. The surrounding forest creates a mystical atmosphere and many miracles occur. At Kataragama the menik ganga and elephant migration is important as well as Adams peak wilderness.

    Our environment must be protected. Dissemble implies many of our relations could be in land that should be protected. Our intimate friends are these. In Christianity God created man and women and jointly gave them the care of the natural habitat. Many sacred Bo trees in our country are clones to the sacred Bo tree hat provided shade and s sustenance to Lord Buddha. These trees need nature as they interact with it. Oxygen, super oxygen and pollen of flowers are messengers to the Gods. Our people cry out for the preservation of the forest.

  • 0
    0

    Many thanks for the comments. There were some comments questioning why somebody who goes to the forest for meditation needs special care, or even give the privilege of being in an undisturbed environment, and why not spend time doing charity than helping out the Forest Sangha. Here I try to give a general answer from a Buddhist perspective. Other religions that have elements of solitary practice may have other answers.

    There are four things people like in the lay life – Gain, Status, Praise, Pleasure – in varying degrees. But none live a life with only those four. While looking for these four, they bump onto the opposites – Loss, Disgrace, Censure, and Pain. All lay people get disappointed to experience the latter four because they were looking for the former four. Charity in the lay World is a great thing because it makes improvements in the lives of those who experience the latter four, but it doesn’t help any of us to get over the most basic problem.

    The solution involves realizing that we made a basic mistake to expect the former four only, causing suffering when we experience the latter four, or even the former four in lesser degrees than what we expected. The objective of Buddhist meditation is to deeply realize that all eight experiences just exist in this World and that we have to expect all eight not just four of them in varying degrees. One can intellectually understand this easily, but hard to realize it deeply with wisdom. Since it is hard to realize this simple fact by living in the socially conditioned Worldly context that always makes one prefer the former four more and more, without the latter four, Buddha recommended to go to a secluded place first and meditate to grow the subtle aspects of mental organs to make it sensitive enough to deeply realize the mistakes we do in our expectations.

    Charity does help people to make marginal improvements in their lives, but it is nothing compared to what we get by realizing the fundamental cause that make us suffer – ignorance of the way things truly are (Dhamma). And, Buddhist meditation is not done expecting a better life next time. Buddhist meditation focuses only on untangling the above mix-up or getting rid of the ignorance I mentioned.

    Why I am interested in helping forest Sangha is to just allow them to realize the way to untangle the mix-up faster so that we can get proper guidance sooner. This is why in Buddhism, those who are further down the stream of realization devote time to empower those who are further up in terms of the eightfold path (http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/bodhi/waytoend.html ).

    Beyond this, I don’t want to debate on this, because intellectual understanding has no significance in Buddhism. It is one’s own direct insight through direct experience that matters.

  • 0
    0

    ‘intellectual understanding has no significance in Buddhism. It is one’s own direct insight through direct experience that matters’

    I could not have put it better myself. http://www.amaravati.org/audio/awareness-gate-to-the-deathless-2005/

Leave A Comment

Comments should not exceed 200 words. Embedding external links and writing in capital letters are discouraged. Commenting is automatically disabled after 7 days and approval may take up to 24 hours. Please read our Comments Policy for further details. Your email address will not be published.