18 October, 2017

Buddhism, The Lack Of It And Abuses By Its Flag Bearers

By Muhammed Fazl

Muhammed Fazl

Muhammed Fazl

“It is a man’s own mind, not his enemy or foe that lures him to evil ways” – Gautama Buddha

Historians of Buddhism in Sri Lanka may or may not have interpreted historical scriptures based on facts or opinions… but none of it matter anymore since Buddhism has lost its value and its importance thanks largely to its ineffectiveness in matters concerning governance, rule of law and social justice. Bitter it may be to some to swallow, but Sri Lanka was never a Buddhist country. The need to look for alternative and effective sources of guidance in leading the masses towards spiritual enlightenment is now a matter of great exigency.

60% of the population claiming to be Buddhists or the belief in the legend where Lord Buddha supposedly had arrived in Sri Lanka centuries ago does not make this a Buddhist country. For it to be rightly called such, it need to be governed by teachings of Buddhism as in the case of Islamic countries where Islamic Sharia is the source of governance. Buddhism as a state religion in this country has been a failure since none of the governments in power paid any serious attention in being guided by its teachings. Sri Lanka with one of the highest cases of rape, suicide, murder, theft, racial intolerance, alcohol consumption and the addiction for gambling has also contributed in negating the influence of Buddhism.

buddhist_monks_protestThe Thripitakaya, written 500 plus years after the death of Gautama Buddha with 80,000 plus sermons to follow, how it came to be written or questions of its authenticity is no more important as long as its teachings are useful, if followed that is. Whatever religion one may follow, the beauty of the Buddhist philosophy or its sensibility cannot be easily disputed or denied.

The state religion and a religion of tolerance, interpreted, distorted and disregarded by many and being used mostly for profits and politics in present chimes, seeing its teachings being relegated to mere rituals is indeed 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 more pathetic sight.

What could have befallen in the ‘land of Buddha’ where erosion of values and practices have resulted in a sense of spiritual bankruptcy, especially amongst the flag bearers of its faith?

Lord Buddha expected his followers to discover the truth themselves and not just believe in what the scriptures say. But this ‘truth’ can be subjective and interpreted in many ways especially when living in a multi-religious country such as ours. Guidance it may be, but how many of our own monks have memorized or know the meaning of the entire scripture, let alone the ones in Pali or Sanskrit languages? As for the ordinary faithful, by and large, 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 simple 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 seeking sanctuary in temple premises donning monk’s robes is a common sight and more often 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 process of ordaining of monks as well as disrobing them are seriously flawed and non-existent in most cases, I always questioned the judgment of my countrymen in bowing down to nefarious characters wearing monk’s robes. Questions 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) etc., seriously needs to be addressed when one’s proper conduct is absent or contrary to the teachings of Lord Buddha.

Child Monks 2While Nirvana (Nibbana) can be achieved only when the fire of greed and hatred is extinguished, in practical terms, the state of Dukkha (complete peace) can be achieved 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 current day monks to abide by Vinaya (rules of discipline) would be unrealistic and herein arises the question 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 not have a bearing on another or for it to be a reason for worship. The Muslims that I am, I believe only the God above knows the level of piety among his creatures. Hence, I seriously question the actions of my countrymen in bowing down to another mortal who in reality could be a child molester, rapist or a murderer etc.

Most of the Buddhist temples in this country are cash cows and havens for pedophiles and the deprived homosexuals. Little boys as young as six are left at the mercy of grown up men who supposedly have ‘denounced’ sexual relationships and who claim to live a ‘life of celibacy’. Men and women were created to love each other, so it is in line with nature for one to be attracted to the opposite sex. Deprivation often leads to the unnatural kind, mostly involving minors who are vulnerable and easily available in these situations. When little Samaneras (little boys) get used to living with the forced pleasurable pain, they too learn 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 alternatives for sustenance outside the temple premises. Research has taught us that sexual violence are perpetrated mostly by men who were themselves victimized when young.

Investigating activities of every Buddhist temple in this country would reveal the prevalence of misappropriation of charity funds, homosexuality, escapades of sex between monks and prostitutes and Tele-drama actresses, alcohol/drug abuse and child abuse among others. Inactions of the four Mahanayake chapters in eradicating the abuses and corruption would also make them complicit should they continue with their silence. Unfortunately, the relationship between every government in power and the Buddhist clergy is so strong, that an impartial investigation in to the activities of monks and their ‘places of worship’ would never see light of day.

Crusaders of justice that we all should 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 concerns,

1. Why Buddhist temples are allowed to collect funds when it is the responsibility of the State to protect and foster Buddhism? Is it also not a code of conduct in the Buddhist Vinaya for the monks not to handle money? And if they do, will it not lead to misappropriation and abuse of public funds? With so many accusations levelled at Islamic places 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 system 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?

3. Is it legal for children to be trained in monkhood when they are young as six and when their primary education should be made compulsory? Would it be correct to force religious teachings and religious teachings only when they are little kids and prevent them from having a normal 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 cases of pedophilia and child abuse? And would it be safe to leave them in the company of unrelated males with no women to look 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?

5. 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 modern day Buddhist beliefs and practices?

6. If monks are allowed to dabble in politics, would it be unfair to other political parties since temples attract tax free funds and also enjoy many subsidized facilities since 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?

8. Why the age old practice of veneration of another mortal and the need to give prominence and priority in public places, buses, trains etc., when one’s faith is a personal matter?

*The writer is an independent social/political activist and can be contacted on muhammedfazl@msn.com and through FB Fazl Muhammed Nizar

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  • 2
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    I did not get any answers to my previous comment, so post again.

    “Giving foremost position to Buddhism is akin to making it the state religion. Besides if you ask any Sinhalese national, he.she will tell you that this is a Buddhist country… Constitution aside, the false notion of this country belonging to the Sinhalese or the Buddhists has been etched in their minds for generations…. “—————————————–
    I know some Sinhalese think this country belongs to them and that SL is a Buddhist country. That is more taking into consideration SL has been a Buddhist country historically. Even educated people in England consider England is a historical Christian country. Like that countries have a tradition and identity that is based on its historical identity. Same way SL is a historical Buddhist country.
    And the second thing just because Sinhala people perceive SL to be a Buddhist country it does not change the secular constitution of the country. The few places where SL constitution has deviated from secular norms is where certain Islamic laws were allowed for the benefit of Muslims. If one ignores these Islam based laws SL constitution is secular. And giving foremost place to Buddhism is not the same as basing a constitution on Buddhist legal system.
    “My primary intention behind writing this article was to expose the status quo about Buddhist temples and the conduct of monks. Getting a lot of flak and being compared to Islam and Muslims, crop up it did the laws of Sharia and the positivity of introducing it to the local panel code and or constitution. “——————————————————–
    What is the meaning of ‘status quo about Buddhist temples and the conduct of monks’? I do not see in meaning in what you say. Being a muslim today whenever you criticize any religion or that religious institution it is natural to attract criticism and pointing at islam. Because it is the archaic laws of islam and its followers which are at the forefront of religious terrorism and religion based persecution all over the world. Given that muslims are incapable of seeing what is wrong in islam and their system it is natural people will point at you when you try to do that on other religions. Because at the moment the priority is not Buddhists or any other religious people, looking at their religion but Muslims looking at their religion and reforming it to suit 21st century. So finger pointing and criticism of islam is natural. And when not only you fail to criticize islam but tries to defend its archaic tribal system the criticism against islam becomes stronger and valid.
    “Islamic it may be, but the idea of taking a good look at its system of governance, social justice, laws concerning inheritance, finance, marriage etc. need not be that scornful. Besides, worldwide financial powerhouses have already embraced the Islamic banking system… Why not the rest of laws?”————————————————————————————————–
    I am sorry many would feel the need to be scornful at Islamic laws and islam. To justify Islamic practices and especially its tribal laws one has to forget his or her humanity. What is the system of governance in islam? Is it a kingdom rule? Because democracy where everyone has a vote is not a Islamic system of governance.
    What is the social justice in islam? How can social justice be identified with a religion? Isnt social justice be devoid of religion? What sort of social justice does islam suggests?
    What is Islamic finance? The principle thing in Islamic finance is ‘interest free’. I have seen many muslims saying they do not pay interest when taking loans in islamic system, but they give a gift finally? Who decides the gift? How the amount of gift is is calculated? I do not know your understanding of basic financial systems, but interest is the price we pay for taking a loan. It is not necessarily good or bad, but simply a ‘price’. The abhorrence for interest in islamic societies comes from the banking system handled by jews in the Mideast in medieval period. It is just pure abhorrence for a practice that they think belongs to jews .
    Muslims pay interest in Islamic finance, only difference is they give a different name to it. The Islamic banks ‘gift’ is the same as the ‘interest’. And the reason countries in europe adopting Islamic finance is they want to make rich sheiks to invest in their country. It is another way of getting into muslims’ pocket.
    And when talking about marriage laws in islam I am sorry to say one of the most ridiculous and inhumane set of marriage laws. The polygamy which oppresses woman and reduce a woman only to one fourth of a man by letting the man practice an in house brothel. A Pakistani mulla council few days back brought a fatwa saying a woman cannot ask for divorce even if her husband brings a second wife. The Islamic system of marriage reduces wife, a mother into sex slave. A man can divorce a woman just by repeating some words three times. A little girl as young as nine can be married away according to Islamic laws and it is in practice of many Islamic countries like KSA, Yemen, Pakistan, etc. The problem of child marriages has become a huge problem especially in yemen and Egypt. The Islamic notion of ‘man giving dowry to bride‘ where actually the bride’s father is paid has led to many muslim men in these region selling their 9, 10 year old girls as 3rd or 4th wives of men. Do you want to bring this abhorrent Islamic system to this country?
    And talking about inheritance, a female child can inherit only half of what her brother gets. Do you want such repressive practice in SL? Are you surprised with all these systems non Muslims in this country or anywhere in the world abhor islam and Islamic law?

    “Answering to your questions, 1/ The disciplined that I try being, I do not wish to discuss unrelated subjects. But will address your concerns about Islam and about marriages when young.”———————————————————————————————————————
    I look forward to your discussion about marriages in islam and correct it I used marriages during childhood not when young. Those are two different things.
    “ 2/ The pain experienced when inserting injection needles is similar to that of pain experienced during circumcision. A lower level of pain may last for few days afterwards mostly at the time of urination… but the benefits far outweigh the risks. The following was extracted from the website, http://gawker.com/5938361/pediatricians-circumcision-is-a-good-thing-ignore-a-lot-of-what-we-said-in-the-past “…The health benefits of male circumcision include a drop in the risk of urinary tract infection in the first year of life by up to 90 percent. … It drops the risk of heterosexual HIV acquisition by about 60 percent. It drops the risk of human papillomavirus [HPV], herpes virus and other infectious genital ulcers….”——————————————————————————————–
    Most of the benefits of circumcision muslims talk are unscientific. Most of the propagandists of circumcision are the same people who tell eating pork causes wife swapping. These notions are just funny and not to be taken seriously.
    But at the end of the day, it has been given by god. So why remove what has been given by god? Isnt that going against nature and amounts to child abuse? Circumcision is a practice of mediaeval people in mid-east where islam adopted the practice from the existing cultures of that time. The roots of most of the Islamic rules lies in the mediavel period. Islam’s notion of it is word of god and cannot be questioned has let those inhuman practices to be used in this 21st century as well.

  • 1
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    Please refer the following

    [Edited out]
    Please write instead of posting links – CT

    • 4
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      CT – i’ve seen many publishing links which are harmful to sinhalese buddhists.

      is your limitation only for sinhalese buddhists?
      explanation from your end is required.

  • 1
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    Dear Nishantha,

    This article is about the philosophy of Buddhism, how the teachings have been distorted and how fraudulent men in monks robes are fooling the masses for ulterior motives and how a lack of proper guidance is destroying the country.

    If you think Sinhalese are angelic lot, you must open your eyes more. There are good and bad in every community and if I had taken the trouble to expose few wrongs, the smartest thing you could have done is to make an attempt in undoing the wrongs, thus upholding the teachings of Lord Buddha.

    Instead, you cast stones at the messenger who under current circumstances could be your best friend. While you are free to write an anti-islamic article any time, please note that the author of this article is not on trial here nor is the subject.

    While the need to address false practices and conduct of Sri Lankan Buddhists should be paramount, pointing fingers at another faith in the form of comments in the same article will not say much about your level of intelligence.

    Hope you understand.

    • 4
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      fazl, first you write an article about the wrong doings and inhumane acts in islam. first highlight that rather than trying to raise concerns over other religions and faith.

      as you state “pointing fingers at another faith in the form of comments in the same article will not say much about your level of intelligence”.

      writing an article to highlight isues or concerns in other religions will not make you an intelligent man too.

      however, first review the issues in islam and the crimes moulavis carry out in the name of religion, then you’ll be able to write a book not an article.

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        Another thing many fail to understand is his suggestion.
        He doesn’t stop in his vitriol against Buddhists and Buddhism, but suggests an alternative.
        What is the alternative?
        That is where sh1t hits the fan, his suggestion is as Buddhist monks abuse Buddhism we should adopt shariyah !

  • 0
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    It doesn’t hurt seeking guidance from any religion in preparing an effective system of governance.

    • 1
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      How true you are but all these turn to be invalid if many of the men in power are far abusive as no times in the past.

      Only wayout would be army to push the man in power out and strenghten the hand of opposition and even select a good kind of leader to bring peace and harmony to the nation.
      If oppostion would miss the chance this time, the danger before the people will be much higher in the days to come.

      • 1
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        Watch out for my next article… should be out tonight. You might be surprised knowing that we share similar ideas…

        Cheers

    • 1
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      what you refer to as ‘any’ religion sucks big time

  • 0
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    I think the answer is already given to Fazl by a previous comment.
    Here some of my views too for you.
    Firstly you must try to understand what is Buddhism, it is not a religion. But it is a philosophy, so you cannot be born as a Buddhist unless you practice, that’s a different story, so you can correct anyone by preaching if you are a better person than them. “Owa thenu parahata thama sammathehi pihita sita”, so as suggested by a previous comment it is advisable for you to find out about the teachings of the Nabhi nayaka first and the malpractices of it by Muslims, because our teaching have given us to do anything and taught us you will harvest what you plant, so it’s your own fate and you should not be worried about.

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