By Mass L. Usuf –
When Buddha uttered these words of wisdom, “Conquer The Liar By Truth” he did it with the unassailable conviction that what he is speaking is the truth. The dilemma that has confronted this nation is that the truth is unable to conquer the liar. This means there is something other than the truth that is required which is beyond the binary of truth and lies because the Buddha could never have gone wrong. It is interesting to search what that other phenomenon is.
Oscar E. Meinzer who has been called the “father of modern groundwater hydrology” defines a poor scientist and true scientist.
“A poor scientist or careless thinker, in the desire to make his concepts definite and complete, is willing to assume as a fact something which he believes is probably true but which has not been conclusively proved. A true scientist, on the other hand, thinks so clearly that he is able to differentiate between what is known to be a fact and what is only probable or hypothetical.” (Outline of ground-water hydrology, with definitions.)
Firstly, in the search for the scientific truth, Buddha’s words straight away put the following in the dock. The health authorities, the medical doctors, the hydrogeologists and every other professional directly or indirectly related to the now widely internationalized issue of forced cremation of Muslim dead bodies infected with Covid-19 and, as cleverly worded ‘suspected of Covid-19’.
This ‘Examination-in-chief’ is to discover the scientific truth and the role of professional ethics attendant to the scientific community. For the medical profession, it is ‘Evidence based practice’ (EBP) stressing on the examination of evidence. EBP is not based on one’s intuition or perception. Besides the doctors, for the hydrogeologists and others, professionalism is bound by the highest standards of integrity, responsibility and professional knowledge.
Secondly, at a different level others like, H.E. the President, the Hon. Prime Minister, the Cabinet of Ministers, the government, the politicians in government and the respected heads of all religions are also under intense scrutiny morally, ethically, politically, and, predominantly, on the foundation of basic humanity. A test to measure the level of sensitivity in these people to the values enumerated herein.
Don’t Embarrass The Government
It is important for the engaged professionals to recognize that they should not conduct themselves in a manner that will embarrass the President, the Prime Minister and the government. The reverend monks too must act with restraint. Overall, everyone shares the responsibility to protect the image of our country internationally. We should not pave the way for the international community to consider Sri Lanka as a retrogressive and backward society. In addition, not to bring disrepute to the President and the Prime Minister in the international stage of diplomacy.
In dealing with the first proposition, namely searching for the truth, this column cannot add anything new to the simple fact that burial should be permitted and that burial is not harmful in anyway. Medical researches and scientific compilations disseminated by both locally and internationally renowned medical scientist and experts are publicly available. All of which irrefutably and incontrovertibly tear to pieces the unsubstantiated hypothesis that there can be soil contamination if Covid-19 cadavers were buried. So, this is the truth.
ekaṃ hi saccaṃ – Truth is one
This truth has been endorsed by the WHO scientists, by world renowned medical experts and by more than 185 odd countries globally practicing burial (where virus contamination has not been reported for the past one year). Upon conviction on the truth of the scientific evidence others like Mr. Sajith Premadasa, the Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Sumanthiran, Secretary of the Tamil National Alliance, Mr. Anura Kumara Dissanayake, the Leader of the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna, former President Madam Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga, former Speaker Deshabandu Mr. Karu Jayasuriya, Reverend Asiri Perera, President of the Methodist Church of Sri Lanka, several Civil Society Organisations, the Christian community including Catholics, the empathizing lot among the Buddhist and Hindu communities and, finally, what more, the Minister of Justice Mr. Ali Sabry himself, all have requested that burial be kindly permitted.
Further the endorsement of this truth in the international stage, both by the media and by several countries, increasingly adds credence that burial should be permitted. Some countries have specifically recorded their concern against this campaign of forced cremation. Protests have taken place in the United States of America, among several countries in the European Union, Great Britain, Canada and in Asian countries.
Was Buddha wrong?
It pains to see the followers of Buddha being silent witnesses on the face of this unfair deprivation. Is it fair and reasonable if an inquiring mind innocently asks this question, “Was Buddha wrong, when he said, ‘Conquer the liar by truth?” (Dhammapada, Kodha Vagga (Anger) Verse 223). We all know that Buddha cannot go wrong. He is the noble teacher of a universal message.
Those who are wrong are the architects of this absolutely unscientific and un-Buddhistic made up drama, those who directly and indirectly support these elements and those who keep silent on the face of truth being raped. This silence is damaging the image of this country, the image of the professionals in this country, the image of Buddhism and will be the reason for the further fragmentation of fragilely united people of this country. What the Buddha said is now clear as the difference between the day and night? The truth is out there. When truth triumphs, falsehood must perish.
This brings us to the phenomenon which is beyond the truth and falsehood. With regard to the ‘sensitivity test’ alluded to above, the benchmark for sensitivity has been clearly classified in simple terms by the Buddha himself in his words on Loving-Kindness (Karaniya metta sutta). Since the majority of those associated belong to the Buddhist faith, it is contextual to quote from the Brahma Vihara Sutta. This sutta demonstrates to what great extent the Buddha respected humanity and how much receptive he was to the sensitive feelings of the human being.
In this country, the environment echoes with the karaniya metta sutta over the public address system every day, in the morning and evening chanting ‘Sukhino vā khemino hontu – Sabbe sattā bhavantu sukhi-tattā’ – “May all beings be happy and secure. May all beings become happy in their hearts!” (Sutta Nipata 1:8). In a country where there are at least seven dedicated television channels discussing and disseminating the dhamma. In a country where ‘bana’ sermon is delivered day in day out by monks. In a country where we hear in the morning and evening the chanting of the ‘pancha sila’ five precepts over the radio. In a country where even the commercial television networks devote time for Buddhism, why do not we see the essence of humanity, the Brahma Viharas being put into practice?
Brahma Vihara Violated
What happened to the noble conduct of ‘sattesu samma patipatti’ – right or ideal way of conduct towards living beings? To rephrase it as an interrogative, “why are the Brahma Viharas grossly violated?”.
The Four sublime states of mind which have been taught by the Buddha are:
Loving-kindness (metta) Compassion (karuna)
Sympathetic Joy (mudita) Equanimity (upekkha)
(Anguttara Nikaya 10.208)
These four attitudes are said to be excellent or sublime because they are the right or ideal way of conduct towards living beings (sattesu samma patipatti), explains Nyanaponika Mahathera, co-founder of the Buddhist Publication Society. The Mahathera continues, “They provide, in fact, the answer to all situations arising from social contact. They are the great removers of tension, the great peace-makers in social conflict, and the great healers of wounds suffered in the struggle of existence. They level social barriers, build harmonious communities, awaken slumbering magnanimity long forgotten, revive joy and hope long abandoned, and promote human brotherhood against the forces of egotism.”
In his exegesis of the Brahma vihara he continues, “they should not be narrowed by any limitation as to the range of beings towards whom they are extended. They should be non-exclusive and impartial, not bound by selective preferences or prejudices.” The Brahma-viharas are incompatible with a hating state of mind, hard-heartedness, being unsympathetic and petty mindedness.
The Quran states:
“O mankind, your injustice (insolence) is only against your own selves, [being merely] the brief enjoyment of worldly life. Then to Us is your return, and We will inform you of what you used to do.” (Chapter 10 Verse 23).