26 May, 2019

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A Wesak Thought

By Laksiri Fernando

Dr. Laksiri Fernando

Dr. Laksiri Fernando

This was not planned before this morning. When I was awaken this morning with no particular feeling, I realized it was Wesak. Then the serene image of the Buddha came to my mind. It was a symbol of peace and harmony. The secret behind that serenity perhaps was the harmony between the mind and body. That harmony is a product of the practice of meditation, without inflicting pain to the body or the mind. I tried to focus on a similar practice, which I first came to know through Dr. E. W. Adikaram’s Sithuvili (Thoughts), a series of publications which were popular during my senior school days (early 1960s).

It was difficult. My mind started wondering. I tried to become neutral or indifferent to good or bad thoughts that came to my mind. They started to fade away, slowly though. My mind was nevertheless disturbed by both inside and outside interferences. Some movements in my abdomen, a tiny pain in the neck, one part of the body being imbalanced with the other, all disturbed my mind. Imperfect health in the body, disturbs our minds.

Then came the noises from outside. Whistling birds passing the window, some movements at the next door, ‘big-bangs,’ near and afar disturbed my mind. There were compulsions for me to get out of the bed. Again I started focusing on the first principles of meditation that I know of, focusing on the way I breath, inhale and exhale. It was only a partial success, but it was worth doing.

BuddhaThen what came to my mind was Sri Lanka, with a body (politic) and a shaky (governing) mind. I have never been impressed by organic theories on politics. They can produce undesirable conclusions when applied in a strictly organic or a mechanical manner. But the meditative harmony between the ideological side and the material side, or the congruence between the governing bodies and the political economy might be desirable objects.

The May Day events, two days back was a clear reflection of the conflictive nature of the collective mind that Sri Lanka holds. This is very similar to all other countries. That was a larger and a more complicated version of what we usually have in Parliament. Five days back, the Parliament could however achieve a ‘meditative moment’ after the various disturbing thoughts fighting each other on the subject of the constitution of the ‘brain’ itself. By the May Day, that moment of bliss has disappeared, some parts of the mind wondering in one place and the other parts in other places. It is a normal nature of a mind, but not a meditative or a harmonious one.

There are various adverse urges, tendencies or proclivities in our collective mind. One can say that it is not a collective mind at all. Others may say, it should not be a collective mind or one mind at all. The latter is also true and more so in the case of a polity. Even the human mind has different dimensions or different layers of consciousness. A polity is the same. Harmony of mind, which might be achieved through some meditation, does not mean all turning into one dimension. Plurality is important. It can create schizophrenia or other mental illnesses otherwise. One can say that Sri Lanka already suffers from an acute form of schizophrenia when considering the ethnic issue. That is what Adikaram also said. I am not using the word ‘argued.’ Lateral thinking should be allowed in a harmonious manner.

Some forms of mental tendencies are related to ideologies. All these are natural in a human mind as well. However, the question is whether we have too much of attachment to these ideologies whether they be ‘nationalism,’ ‘internationalism,’ ‘socialism,’ ‘liberalism,’ ‘Marxism’ or even Buddhism. The Buddha’s advice for us was to have equanimity or Upekkha.

Like in a human mind, most of the ailments of Sri Lanka’s mind emerges out of imbalances in the body. The body politic in Sri Lanka is composed of over 20 million cells clustered into nearly 5 million muscles or families. Some are rich, but most are poor and heartbreakingly poor. While the whole body is underdeveloped or not healthy; some parts are more so than the others. There are imbalances between the North and the South. There are disparities between the East and the West. The middle of the body is another sad story.

It is a strange phenomenon to observe that some parts of the body eat or exploit the other parts. Some organs of the body depend on the others, almost parasitically. Knowingly or unknowingly this exploitation happens and continues. The political economy does not know how to escape from the existing situation even if it wants to. Exploitation or extraction is the only surest way of existence, if we were not to jeopardizing the health of the whole body, the mind believes. The mind has opted to maintain some parts of the body with assistance, and these parts are lethargic even to the disadvantage of those who are kept out of these benefits.

The whole body is a jumble of contradictions. That is why there is no peace or harmony. Often there are rebellions in the body which affects the mind or the minds. There are volatile body parts, based mainly on new volatile cells. There are valid as well as invalid reasons for these rebellions. There are cancerous cells in the body politic. Communalism, violence and corruption are some of those cancerous elements.

There are influences, pressures or compulsions both on the body and on the mind from outside. These are natural, like in a human person. Some may be good, some may be inimical to the country. There are diverse pressures within and outside, to side with some and against the others. Most of the problems arise without knowing how to properly coordinate these external influences through the mind.

The contemplation on this Wesak Day, or at least one of them, must be on how to harmonize the body and the mind, and to harmonize various contradictions within the body and the mind. The surest way to do so is ‘political meditation’ and finding the middle path as the Buddha taught in all necessary issues without relegating justice, fairness, reason and integrity.

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  • 2
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    Another interesting article for Vesak day meditation and celebration. Human evaluation evolving to eradicate one society living at the expense of the other. Whether it is proletariat or bourgeois, small or big and modern or ancient. Human mind is capable of achieving this essential evolutionary adaptation. So much distraction and dayanosorus like counter evolutionist to derail the emancipation of ordinary people of all hues. Of course! they believe in revolution!

  • 3
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    Thank You Dr Fernando for your timely article.

    I can never forget the magical day, over half a century ago, when heading to Kandy from the east, and motoring down the A26 in the mid-afternoon sunlight, I caught the ethereal gold glint of the Mahiyanganaya Dagoba in a sea of green forest. I thought I had died and gone to heaven. Contrast this with last week, when my rambling round Weligama Bay was constantly spoiled by the monstrosity called the Marriott Mirissa, that is now nearing completion, and now constantly jarring my once seamless horizon of green and blue.

    We simply cannot have enough people to fight the battle to keep our beautiful island free of jarring pollution, be it visual or aural. There is a place for commercialism; in the town centre and market place.

    As Dr Fernando writes, this is a time to search for harmony. Indeed as a Koha, a see all of our beautiful island from about 500 feet. The sights are truly beautiful and the silence is eerily joyful. Perfect for contemplation and harmony.

  • 2
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    Dr. Laksiri Fernando

    RE: A Wesak Thought

    “Then the serene image of the Buddha came to my mind. It was a symbol of peace and harmony. The secret behind that serenity perhaps was the harmony between the mind and body. That harmony is a product of the practice of meditation, without inflicting pain to the body or the mind.”

    “The contemplation on this Wesak Day, or at least one of them, must be on how to harmonize the body and the mind, and to harmonize various contradictions within the body and the mind. The surest way to do so is ‘political meditation’ and finding the middle path as the Buddha taught in all necessary issues without relegating justice, fairness, reason and integrity.”

    Is there a middle path with Mara? Yes, Devadatta and Angululimala could be reformed? Can MaRa and his Mara following Family and Cronies be reformed? They should be banished.

    This is precisely that went through the minds of almost all those who woke up early on the morning of January 8, 2015 and those who voted for the Common (Sense) Candidate, Maitripala Sirisena. Maitripala Sirisena represented Buddha.

    What did go through the minds of those who wanted to vote for Mahinda Rajapaksa, MaRa, Mara? Mara, the enemy of Buddha and the friend of chaos and the dark forces?

    The trump of Matripala Sirisena, was the victory of the Good over the Bad and Ugly represented by MaRa, Mara and the Devil.

    Buddha’s Story and Battle with the Evil One. Sireisena’s Story,Battle with the Evil MaRa, his Family and His Cronies.

    Buddha – The Great Battle (The Life of Buddha) – Animated Cartons/Kids

    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,( Mahinda Rajapaksa, MaRa) the temptor, distrubs Siddhartha’s ( Mairtupala’s) meditation in many ways but is defeated. Enlightenment dawns and Siddhartha becomes the BUDDHA ( Leader) and teaches everyone, (in the Land of Native Veddah Aethho) the way to end all suffering.

  • 2
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    Dr. Laksiri Fernando

    RE:A Wesak Thought

    A Common Sense Thought? Common Sense (pamphlet)? May be you can Awaken, the Modayas, Mootals abnd Fools whi are still going after Mara, the Medamulana MaRa.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_Sense_%28pamphlet%29

    Common Sense[1] is a pamphlet written by Thomas Paine in 1775–76 that inspired people in the Thirteen Colonies to declare and fight for independence from Great Britain in the summer of 1776. The pamphlet explained the advantages of and the need for immediate independence in clear, simple language. It was published anonymously on January 10, 1776, at the beginning of the American Revolution and became an immediate sensation. It was sold and distributed widely and read aloud at taverns and meeting places.
    Washington had it read to all his troops, which at the time had surrounded the British army in Boston. In proportion to the population of the colonies at that time (2.5 million), it had the largest sale and circulation of any book published in American history.[2] As of 2006, it remains the all-time best selling American title.[3]

    Common Sense presented the American colonists with an argument for freedom from British rule at a time when the question of whether or not to seek independence was the central issue of the day. Paine wrote and reasoned in a style that common people understood. Forgoing the philosophical and Latin references used by Enlightenment era writers, he structured Common Sense as if it were a sermon, and relied on Biblical references to make his case to the people.[4] He connected independence with common dissenting Protestant beliefs as a means to present a distinctly American political identity.[5] Historian Gordon S. Wood described Common Sense as “the most incendiary and popular pamphlet of the entire revolutionary era”.[6

  • 4
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    Only calm and clear water can reflect the blue sky, clouds and the surrounding tress clearly. A calm mind similarly can reflect the true perceptions of events around us. Medication calms the mind and focuses thought. Ego, greed, jealousy, hate, ambition, lack of intelligence and an unrefined & agitated mind, are not conducive to meditation. Meditation requires an inherent spirituality, transcending religious labels to be effective. Labels of all kinds adopted by humans, create conditions unconconducive to meditation and instead cause agitation. I think modern politics and meditation are contradictory concepts. This is why renunciation of the world and its mores are the first steps to meditation and the pursuit of the spiritual path. Gautama Buddha renounced the world, meditated and found the truth.

    Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

  • 1
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    With all due respect to Dr Narendran, I don’t necessarily agree that one needs to renounce the world and its mores as the first steps to take on the road to meditation and the pursuit of the spiritual path. We are of the world, and the challenge is to be able to engage in meditation and other spiritual pursuits whilst belonging to the world but not being enslaved by its material attractions. I also suggest that to compare modern politics with meditation is not a valid exercise; the two belong to different spheres of activity, and trying to compare them are like trying to compare apples with oranges. Conceptually, there is nothing really inherently bad about politics. In its true sense, it is a noble and worthwhile pursuit.

    But I do agree wholeheartedly about the benefits of meditation and indeed of spiritual activity. All of them have a calming and beneficial effect on us, regardless of the pursuits we are engaged in.

    • 2
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      Dear Know All,

      Thanks for your thoughts. Renunciation need not imply retreat into a forest and meditation in a cave or under a tree. It is a detachment from worldliness, characterised by possessions, possessiveness, attachments and desires of various kinds, to a significant degree. It is likened to the relationship between a lotus leaf and a drop of water. The drop of water stays on the lotus leaf, but is not attached. It just rolls around! Unless this detachment is there, meditation becomes a mere shadow of the real. It may provide short term relief but not a permanent cure for what ails us.

      Karma yogis, achieve much in this world and leave a lasting foot print, because they do things that need to be done, intensely, but with much detachment as to results, consequences, personal likes/ dislikes and personal gains. This is what Krishna told Arjuna in the battle field in Kurukshetra (The Gita). Lee Kuantan Yew, was such a karma yogi. The Buddha was a Gnana Yogi. Renunciation, meditation and the resulting unburdened mind, permitted him to contemplate the world and its true nature objectively and understand it. This was enlightenment.

      Dr.RN

  • 1
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    Dr L.F
    You have an entirely new version of Human Physiology.

  • 1
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    Finally our great majority has appeared on Dr Lucksiri’s Radar..

    I am not sure whether it is due to Vesak or John Kerry.

    Dr Lucksiri reckons , all those isms which he mentions are bad for our inhabitants.But no mention of Catholicism or Anglicanism.

    After reading our beloved FM’s welcome speech and Johhny’s response. our poor Dalits do not have much to look forward to except to see their relatives , sons and daughters in particular who helped to liberate the country, being investigated and interrogated by Johnny’s and his mates’ Boys and Girls.

    And be happy with the crumbs falling off the tables of the Elite, whom the FM reckons will have the best times ever, with the help of Kerry’s people again , because we are a Middle Income Nation now.

    Dr Lucksiri got his stats right.

    Our FM must be referring to those 5 Million Cells.

    • 1
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      K.A Sumanasekera

      “After reading our beloved FM’s welcome speech and Johhny’s response. our poor Dalits do not have much to look forward to except to see their relatives , sons and daughters in particular who helped to liberate the country, being investigated and interrogated by Johnny’s and his mates’ Boys and Girls.”

      If you don’t treat your family well strangers and neighbours take it for granted that they could abuse your family.

      They usually start groping your wife first and your daughters then, mother, mother in law, sisters, aunts, granddaughters, grand mothers, ………

      • 0
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        Dear Native ,

        Are you calling your mate Johhny’s and his friends’ Boys, gropers?.

        I know there are a few in the South who are groping not only girls but boys as well.

        But they are mainly from the GTF land and the adjoining lands.

        I haven’t heard about any from Kerry’s land.

        But our lovely looking FM wants to expand Tourism , to bring home the Bacon for the Elite, Anglicans, Vellalas and the Muslims .. Right…

        I didn’t make it up.

        It was in his speech among other goodies like inviting Keery’s / Mates’ Boys and Girls to investigate war crimes.

  • 0
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    [Edited out]. And for that matter in less than eloquent language befitting a man claiming to be erudite. So banal, so trite, so dull. Ultimately he comes back to the theme he espouses.-anti budhist, anti sinhala, pro Ranil Pro Colombian and Pro LTTE

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