23 November, 2019

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Is Angry Response Of Buddhists To Religious Conversions Justified?

By Mahendra De Silva

A thief may harm a thief; an enemy may harm an enemy; but a wrongly directed mind can do oneself far greater harm. -Dhammapada  Verse 42

Last week myself and millions of other viewers in internet watched with horror, a video showing Buddhist monks attacking a evangelical church in Hikkaduwa. It was quickly picked up by BBC and many international news agencies. It would have been a great propaganda tool for those who have a prejudice against Buddhism, human right activist and also for people genuinely wants to seek reforms in how Buddhism is practiced in Sri Lanka. The Video shows clearly the anger, hatred and rage in the attacking monks. Watching how these monks in robes instigate young boys and others to attack a religious place is one of the saddest moments.  I can imagine ordinary people engage in this type of violence. How can we justify learned monks who are disciples of Buddha with the purpose of carrying the message of peace, loving kindness, compassion, forgiveness ever think of engaging in this violence?   In a democracy this type of hate crimes carries server punishments and people do the crime secretly. It is strange that in our country acts of serious crimes of this nature are carried out openly with the participation of many ordinary people and leading monks of the area.

BBS MonksI often wonder why Buddhists are so scared of new churches coming into the area or Buddhists converting to Christianity.  Statistically numbers of Buddhists who have been converted to Christianity in recent years are far lower than the number Christians converting to Buddhism. Buddhists should know that despite Hindu Kings and European were controlling for many centuries in our history; still nearly 70% of the population is Buddhists.  Today, they have a majority Buddhist government.  Protection of Buddhism is enshrined in the constitution. They have even Buddhists extremists in the government. It is not the Buddhists but other minorities who should feel insecure in their own country for genuine reasons. This imaginary threat of insecurity of Buddhists in Sri Lanka could only be a paranoid as termed in psychology.   Buddhism is not a religion that needs protection from invaders in the 21st Century.  It is a science friendly philosophy which would appeal to intelligent human being of the modern society. Interest on Buddhism is growing fast in everywhere in the world.

How is Evangelical Church attracting people to their religion?

Evangelism is the preaching of the Christian Gospel about Jesus for the purpose of leading people into a personal relationship with God with the objective of converting them. They emphasise the importance of moral conduct and living with spirit of God. Some of the behavioural rules are – for example prohibiting the consumption of alcohol, participation in any form of gambling, and excessive entertainments such as dancing and movie-going etc. They also encourage developing loving kindness and sacrifices in the name of their God. People are continuously assured that that all their needs including healing from serious sickness could be done   to the extent they have faith and living in accordance with God’s commands.  I quote a passage from o ‘Psychology Today’, Quote   From a scientific perspective, faith healing is unexplained, incomprehensible, and should not work. Yet it does work. The same is true of drug placebo effects, of course. Scientists recognize that there are placebo effects but have trouble accounting for them. Unquote

Some argue that it is wrong and unethical for Christian missionaries to use their power and wealth to convert vulnerable Buddhists to Christianity.  However we should know that religious freedom and freedom of consciousness are some of the most accepted human rights in the world.  Religion is something personal like choosing your own house, job or your partner.  I do not believe anyone has a right to   dictate that religion cannot be changed.  If a person   wants to change the religion even for material benefits, it is his choice. The advantage of living in developed country is that people respect privacy of other person, and they are least bothered whether neighbour is converted to a religion or why it had happened.  In Christian dominated countries there are conversions regularly happening from Christianity to other religions including Buddhism. There is no big fuss over that. It is only in Muslim, Hindu or Buddhist countries they react emotionally for this conversion.

If Buddhists admit that they are scared of their people being converted to other religion that is a sign of lack of faith in own religion or they believe other religion is more powerful than theirs.  If a Buddhist is  being  converted  for monetary benefits that indicate he is not a real Buddhist who understands the teachings. For any religion having followers who does not practice the teachings correctly or does not understand the religion, is a liability.

Once I was living in Colombo closer to a very poor area near a canal.  This area is notorious for violence, drugs and many more illegal activities.  I remember some missionaries coming in and getting some families to work with them. They converted them to Christianity and some mornings I use to see a pleasant sight, nicely dressed   boys from shanties, with books in hands being taken to a nearby church. No wonder Buddhists of the area were furious that these missionaries are converting “‘our kids” in to Christianity. I was thinking that if missionaries did not civilized them what would have happened to these kids and their families?  I definitely prefer to have a good Christian as my neighbour than having an indiscipline person carrying a label “A Buddhist” in my neighbourhood.  The best response to these conversions should be that Buddhist organizations coming forward to organise Buddhist missionaries to serve vulnerable people of the country. They could go to people living in extreme poverty and ignorance.  to uplift their living standard and teach them the teachings of Buddha. Knowing the proper  teachings will help anyone to face up challenges in life without seeking shelter in a different religion.

In Buddhism, Seela or Morality is the first step in the journey towards liberation.  It is the same thing in most of the other religions too. For example if we take 10 Commandments in Christianity, a Buddhist would not have much difficulty in accepting at least following 6 precepts.

  1. Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving.
  2. Thou shalt not kill.
  3. Thou shalt not commit adultery.
  4. Thou shalt not steal.
  5. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.
  6. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour

Any Buddhist who read Bible would find amazing similarities in Jesus advising followers with regard to giving up attachment for worldly pleasures and sacrifice and references for loving kindness and forgiveness.

In my view there is no meaning in carrying a label of a religion within us if we do not understand   nor practice the teachings.  Some people regard the religion only as an ornament to display outside.  However if  their religion is any way insulted they would react emotionally and take up arms to destroy the attacker, forgetting that the whole purpose of the religion is to discipline our minds and have peace compassion and forgiveness.  The humanity is short of people with good moral conduct. It does not matter for which religion one belong to, but have good human qualities that person can be regarded as a Gentleman or Brahmin in Buddhist terms.. If someone changes his life by converting to a  another religion and happy about it, a Buddhist who understands teachings would have empathy and wish him well, without  resorting to anger and direct violence.

All beings fear death and they all fear the pain of a club.  Think: how do they make you feel?  Then do not kill and do not club; live peacefully with all beings and do not add to the violence of this world.  Harm no one here and you will pass your next life in peace. ~ Buddha (from the Dhammapada)

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Latest comments

  • 3
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    MAHENDRA DE SILVA:

    It is the christian missionaries who are pissed off because of buddhist resistance.

    Buddhists as humans can not get angry and resist christianization of Sri Lanka.

    Read the following; GEORGE BUSH Jr. who threatened that any country that would resist the expansion of Evangelical christianity in their country would be considered as Enemy.

    “Time after time, Bush and his cabinet have given strong signals that any country or government impeding this effort would be treated as an enemy. This is especially the case with China where bush has repeatedly warned in as many words – `that china should allow evangelicals in the country to come and spread a message of love and compassion “

    • 5
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      Is it George Bush Jr who was attempting to climb the gate of the church in hikkaduwa… or George Bush Jr who threw rocks through the church’s windows?

  • 2
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    Roman Kingdom vanished but, Christianity spread all aver the world.

    Similarly, if one day USA ceases to exist Evangelical Christianity exists.

    The other side to the story is, 10-15% of the priests are HIV-AIDS positive. Yet, they have made some African govts anti-homosexuals and Homophobic.

    So, there is light on the horizon.

    • 1
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      Jim Nutty:
      You say “10-15% of the priests are HIV-AIDS positive.”
      Is there absolutely no limit to your fabrications or are you one of these “priests” that you can say something so outrageous that it is beyond belief?

  • 0
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    “Is Angry Response Of Buddhists To Religious Conversions Justified?”

    No, not justified.

    Is teaching of any religions in any form to anyone including your children, that leads them to be biased, irrational, angry and violent, justified?

    No, not justified.

    All religions, faiths and philosophies lead only to one outcome – unimaginable violence. This is the 5th noble truth that Buddha failed to mention.

  • 1
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    It is too rich comimg from a “Christian”. It was Jesus who said eye to eye. Have you not read the bible before you write?

    • 2
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      Please re-read the Bible Pujitha… Jesus never said “An eye for an eye” He said “If a man slaps you on one cheek, turn and offer him your other cheek as well”

  • 3
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    It is only in Muslim, Hindu or Buddhist countries they react emotionally for this conversion.

    The same thing is happening in the N & E under a different context. Tamils are opposing any attempt to introduce “Sinhala” people into those two provinces that would cause a reduction in their absolute majority status or complicate any future attempt to create an exclusive Tamil state.

    How is being Sinhala or Tamil any different from being Buddhist or Hindu. All labels given at birth!

    It so happens that the most vociferous critics of violent Buddhist monks and their supporters are the very same people who try to keep N & E Tamil and only Tamil.

    The only difference is that these people are crafty enough to hide their hypocrisy by deceitful argument “e.g. Tamils are not opposed to Sinhala people coming and settling in the N & E on their own!” where as these idiotic buffoons in robes do not have the sophistication or the patience to go about doing their dirty deeds in ways that are acceptable to the “modern” world.

    There is a good deal that these morons can learn from their Tamil counterparts on how to go about their holly wars using modern tools, organizations, media, networks, national and international laws instead of going on rampage like a pack of wolves.

    • 0
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      Hi navin podiyan

      You are talking through your bottom. North and east are the Tamil homeland settling Sinhalese there should be resisted at any cost. There is no analogy of religious conversion to illegal settlements of Sinhalese in the North and East.

  • 1
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    The Buddhist monks are like professional wrestlers on TV. They show their chests and biceps. They are not like the starving Buddha but are well fed thugs. A standing advertisement for Sinhala Buddhism. Why should they be denounced when they are the fact of Sinhala life? The Sinhala people, being sovereign, have the right to decide to be led by these goons who constitute the Maha Sangha. There is not a hum from the chief prelates of Sinhala Buddhism. There is condonation and complicity by the prelates and by the government with what happened to the Tamils and what is happening to the Muslims and the Christians. There is a deep-seated malaise in the Sinhala psyche that is difficult to cure. The rest of us have to be dragged down into the shit that is spewed by these thugs. Why dont we have Eelam so that we could have all people Christians and Muslims live in equality while the Sinhala people have their self-determination in a separate Sinhala state ruled by the Rajapakses and the Buddhist thuggy monks.

  • 2
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    In this Hikkaduwa incident both parties were not real buddhist or christians,they were rogues.Therefore please do not drag buddhist or christians in these sort of unwanted topics( wasting time).

    • 0
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      Sorry You are wrong..didn’t you see clearly on news ( Live) & in pictures Buddhist priest throwing their arms around ?…………there is no denying on that !!..in fact the whole world has seen it now..

  • 2
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    Dear Mahendra,
    Thanks for you valuable article.
    Last we dacades we have seen graet monks who did not call the Arhats, good monks and monks who tried to be good and a few rogue monks. Monk means in our mind excellen or good person.
    Our future generation may think they are thugs bad businessman or womanizers, though there still very good monks too.

  • 1
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    This again goes back to the question of a personal God which Buddhism lacks. Buddhism founded by the greatest philosopher is meant for persons who have the intellectual capacity to think and discern and not for the shameless and idiotic These untutored Sri Lankan Buddhist monks who engage in politics, crime and paedophilia in their boredom have joined the Sangha for their free food and employment without any meaningful work. Bensen

  • 2
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    The behaviour of the Sinhellists (BBS/JHU/SR/BR) is self destructive unless and until the Buddhists take control to preserve their way of life. With the advent of high speed communication, bigotry is on the way out.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hvDgMkBQpcY

    • 0
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      Most ridiculous thing i happened to read today is the following.
      Udaya Gammmplia begs the nation – for 100 Rs.

      There he explains to have nothing like funds for his campaigns.

      Do you at all believe what he utters here ? If he is honest – why should he be part of highly abusive/corrupted MR administration ? He could better learn a lession to MR in the years he has been with them ?

      How many of you would contribute him for his campaigns.

      ——
      Ex- Western Provincial Council Minister and JHU legal adviser Udaya Gammanpila today requested the public to give him Rs 100 each for his election campaign as he is unable to afford the campaign this time.

      “I do not have a vehicle of my own and I have never been corrupt. Anybody can check any personal details or bank accounts of mine. Politicians become corrupt when they start earning for their next election campaign or when they let their supporters to earn on behalf of them” said the JHU strongman adding that he stands for good governance and if anyone has faith in him could offer Rs. 100 for his campaign as he does not have any means to run for office this time.

      Addressing a media briefing today he said “I have faith in me that I can do justice to people if I am re-elected as I do not mortgage principles for money but I do not have big money to enter a competition with the money spinners as I have never earned money through unfair means’.

      ‘If I take money from big businessman I will be under obligation to help them after the polls so I kindly request the public to help me in this campaign” he earnestly requested.

    • 0
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      Maghibi, I am waiting for the self destruction. I have kiribath ready

  • 3
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    A person converts not merely because of material gains but because of a personal conviction that a particular faith gives one peace, meaning to life and satisfaction. If Buddhism cannot offer such because the “saffron gang” is more interested in their thuggery then let all buddhist find peace and contentment in Christianity.

  • 1
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    Must remove these fucking monks robes and shoot them their own shit.

  • 0
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    “Must remove these fucking monks robes and shoot them their own shit”

    Who is this fucker ? lion

  • 0
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    JimSofty – The nut loose – provide us with your source from where you got this info? but I can provide info otherwise ,just shut the fuk up if you do not know without bringing unwanted missiles of hate towards Buddhism .

  • 2
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    Here I’m not going to criticize anyone, but I should tell you something. Many Russian, Ukrainian tourists are working in sri-lanka as illegal guides, photographers & videographers. Earning illegally & they use vk.com to create a bad images on our religion, local giuides & on sri lankan tourism. That’s how they make believe themselfa instead of sri lankans. All these foreign illegal workers work as a net.

    Here is an example – http://vk.com/openlanka

    Please go little down on the page wall & look how they drew Buddha.

  • 0
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    Needless to write any further…just short & sweet…the Article is well written by an well read & eloquent man…hats off to you sir !! you got your facts before!! we need more people like this not blabber mouths…

  • 1
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    still we have thinkers in srilanka great thank you very much.

  • 0
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    Who are making the problem,Buddhist monk or one who try to convert people by giving money/goods/ ect? if some one change his religion true understanding is ok. Hear from tausand year Buddhist let the other religion to survive. When people use money to convert people it destroy the cool environment. Are there any one who become Buddhist for money?

    • 0
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      POP TOP

      “Who are making the problem,Buddhist monk or one who try to convert people by giving money/goods/ ect?”

      Why it is wrong to pay money to convert religion whereas right pay money for processing licenses to built hotels/casinos on every inch of the seashore or high rise building around cities and towns?

      Why it is right for the criminals to bribe police to avoid arrest and punishment?

      In all these cases the common factor is bribe. Bribing is part of your national culture, therefore don’t blame conversion, blame yourself. In this island every thing has a price and every state service has become a commodity market.

      Price determines the demand and supply.

      What is your real problem?

  • 2
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    Who are making the problem,Buddhist monk or one who try to convert people by giving money/goods/ ect? if some one change his religion true understanding is ok. Hear from thousand year Buddhist let the other religion to survive. When people use money to convert people it destroy the cool environment. Are there any one who become Buddhist for money?

  • 1
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    What I see in this total conversation is that Tamil Tiger terrorists who killed more than thousands of unarmed and innocent men women & children and infants and buddhist monks in brutal mannar are now trying portray themselves as saints and put the blame on the sinhalese & Buddhists. The tamils attacked and destroyed many buddhist religious places in Sri Lanka and the most respected Temple of Tooth relic which is one of the main shrines for buddhists all over the world. The killings of innocent people done by LTTE terrorists amply supported by tamil community & world tamils are now try to white wash those crimes and put the blame on sinhalese & buddhists. Buddhists in Sri lanka may be concerned about their religion as all over the world buddhism is targeted for destruction. It is evidenced in many places. There is also Agenda to destroy the buddhist & Sinhala culture in sri lanka by western powers and this is to fulfil their own agendas in Sri Lanka. thats the truth.

  • 5
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    The crux of the matter – what Christians are on about; or should be – is that they want everyone to avoid hell. The New Testament Bible teaching is that Jesus Christ is God, who became a human being, lived a life of perfect obedience and was tortured to death by the “good” people of his day – the religious and civic leaders. He won for all humans their free salvation for whoever would simple trust that what he said and what others say about him is true. Jesus gives us forgiveness of sins and heaven for ever, if we will but put our faith in him.

  • 1
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    An important teaching of Christianity is to help and care for the pure and the weak. In addition it teaches of a personal God, who is interested in people and loves them unconditionally and want to improve their lives and even gives them eternal live. It is also completey clear, that where ever this message is told and this values are lived, people will be attracted to this message, especially if there are many pure people and especially if these people are outcasts in there repective societies (e.g Dalits in India). Some non christians might interpret this, that the pure people are bought with money, but my question is: If somebody is conviced about his beliefs, is it not the best way to win others by showing acts of kindness?

  • 0
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    Thank you Mahendra De Silva for ur very kind and insightful response to the Buddhist monks’ acts of anger and violence to Christians in Sri Lanka. I am a practising Christian living in Australia. I have never had to suffer abuse or anger at the hands of people who might not agree with or who appose my faith and can only imagine how hard that must be. I commend u for ur sympathy and attempt to imbibe kindness and patience to your people and educate them to accept others who have a belief which differs from theirs. God gave all of us life and a free will and despite our many differences, He wants us to live lovingly and at peace with one another. To Him we are all precious children in one family and He looks forward to receiving us back to Himself in Heaven one day, where there will never be religious differences any more – only complete understanding, and eternal joy and peace. This is why Jesus came to earth to be the perfect sacrifice for sin; the Bridge to make this impossibility possible.

  • 0
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    These are all political games. The yellow robe is used extensively for political advantages.

    If who ever practice his or her religion properly these are not issues to think about. Your religion or philosophy has to be a way of life. With the right mindset you an live with one another happily.

    No body has he right to put down a belief of another.

    As Christ taught let’s turn the other cheek. That best that you can do.

  • 0
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    Thank you Mahendra for your article. Its give us a sense of belonging to Sri Lanka when we see that people like you have the guts to call a spade a spade. When we see thugs behaving like this, it somtimes makes us think that we do not have a right to choose what we think is right for ourselves. I just hope and pray that the Love of God will be seen by these people who behaved in such an ugly manner. Its sad that the authorities are not taking any serious measures so stop this type of behaviour. If they did, then this type of unruly behavious will cease. The righ to protest is one thing, but the breaking in and assult of prople because of hheir religious behiefs is another.

  • 0
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    Religeous bigotry whether by the christians who wish to convert non christians or Buddhist clergies response to it must be condemned. The fault lies in the government who have been practising Hippocrisy. How acceptable is it to have mosques every half mile in colombo sponsored by Arabs, How acceptable is it to allow Saudi Arabia to build a Muslim university in the East, How acceptable is it to sponsor casinos at the same time open temples, How acceptable is it for our leadership to pay homage in the vatican and ignore the malwatte priest who objected to casinos etc. These are the causes of religious extremism you can’t blame a bunch of aggressive priests who have responded to this hypocrisy.

  • 1
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    Militant Buddhism was a driving force behind the 30 -year war between the majority Sinhalese (74 percent of the population) and the minority Tamils (18 percent), who were fighting for an independent state in the island’s north and east. (Muslims, who make up six percent of Sri Lanka’s population, were often caught in the middle.) During the war, monks repeatedly undercut efforts to work out a peace agreement. now war is over but some of Buddhist behave like mujahedin or Taliban activism

    • 0
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      What? The driving force behind the Thirty Years War? The Driving Force was of Prabhakaran which was THE EXECUTION OF THE AGGRESSIVE EXPANSION NEED OF TAMILS WHO CAME N MILLIONS FROM TAMIL NADU during the Dutch and Coloinal terrorism in Sri Lanka. (1750-1948) They want to still continue. The Sinhalese could get only little as freedom from these colonial powers.

  • 0
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    https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/is-angry-response-of-buddhists-to-religious-conversions-justified/

    Buddhist monks are supposed to reach the state of nirvana which is similar to ‘going to heaven’ or ‘being with God’ in other religions.
    However nirvana is a STATE OF ULTIMATE REALIZATION that can be reached by any life for; it is not a place whether belonging to an almighty Person or not. On their path towards their goal they face so many threats like the ones they face now like from USA, UK, Norway etc.etc. which is a continuation of colonialism, They faced threats after the arrival of the Portuguese which aggression is continuing even now. They have to fight for their rights even while being monks. However they never kill. BBC was not so concerned when hundreds of Buddhist monks were killed in Aranthalawa and in Anueadhapaura; of course ebcause they are suppporting the LTTE through their propaganda which they do even now [Channel 4 is active in this regard now] Of course showing anger is wrong, not only for Buddhist monks but to every other one as well. But what else is left for them especially when the Buddhist rulers are not with them, The Portuguese started by destroying the Kelaniya temple the remains of which can still be seen in some church premises. Still there is an unnecessary church built in the premises of Dalada Maligawa built by the same “innocent!” Christians ! So not only the Tamils with Prabhakaran or Muslims with their many Jihad movements in the world, The Sinhalese buddhists too have a right to defend their heritage and their rights. The Christians, throughout their history, have NEVER SHOWN THEIR LOVE TO THEIR NEIGHBORS’ as the wars of Crusade, Thirty Years War in Europe the Massacres of millions of Red Indians by the Spanish English and the French have done. It is amazing how BBC was there on the scene! BBC consists of mainly anglo Saxons who killed thousands of our Sinhalese Buddhists in the wars in 1818, 1848 and riots in 1915; so who should care THEIR CONCERN FOR POOR HUMANS SUFFERING. That is a lie. Of course they want more blood to be shed here so they are looking for them. Prabhakaran was helped mostly by Christian fathers rather than Hindu priests with the help of the BBC and other voces of the wolves. So why trying to be the innocent party while being so guilty? Advice: ‘LOVE THY NEIGHBOR ‘ Yes they can only pretend; they cannot do so.

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    Buddhist monks are supposed to reach the state of nirvana which is similar to ‘going to heaven’ or ‘being with God’ in other religions.
    However nirvana is a STATE OF ULTIMATE REALIZATION that can be reached by any life for; it is not a place whether belonging to an almighty Person or not. On their path towards their goal they face so many threats like the ones they face now like from USA, UK, Norway etc.etc. which is a continuation of colonialism, They faced threats after the arrival of the Portuguese which aggression is continuing even now. They have to fight for their rights even while being monks. However they never kill. BBC was not so concerned when hundreds of Buddhist monks were killed in Aranthalawa and in Anueadhapaura; of course ebcause they are suppporting the LTTE through their propaganda which they do even now [Channel 4 is active in this regard now] Of course showing anger is wrong, not only for Buddhist monks but to every other one as well. But what else is left for them especially when the Buddhist rulers are not with them, The Portuguese started by destroying the Kelaniya temple the remains of which can still be seen in some church premises. Still there is an unnecessary church built in the premises of Dalada Maligawa built by the same “innocent!” Christians ! So not only the Tamils with Prabhakaran or Muslims with their many Jihad movements in the world, The Sinhalese buddhists too have a right to defend their heritage and their rights. The Christians, throughout their history, have NEVER SHOWN THEIR LOVE TO THEIR NEIGHBORS’ as the wars of Crusade, Thirty Years War in Europe the Massacres of millions of Red Indians by the Spanish English and the French have done. It is amazing how BBC was there on the scene! BBC consists of mainly anglo Saxons who killed thousands of our Sinhalese Buddhists in the wars in 1818, 1848 and riots in 1915; so who should care THEIR CONCERN FOR POOR HUMANS SUFFERING. That is a lie. Of course they want more blood to be shed here so they are looking for them. Prabhakaran was helped mostly by Christian fathers rather than Hindu priests with the help of the BBC and other voces of the wolves. So why trying to be the innocent party while being so guilty? Advice: ‘LOVE THY NEIGHBOR ‘ Yes they can only pretend; they cannot do so.

  • 1
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    The Buddha, when He converted a non-Buddhist, got the convert to promise five things, These five promises are called ‘ Panca Sila ‘ (The Five Precepts).The first promise of these five is that ‘ I promise not to kill any living being. ‘ This indicates that the primary quality a Buddhist should possess is non-violence. The Buddha denounced all forms of violence. The Buddha asked loving-kindness to be extended not only to men, but even to all animals.All are frightened of punishment. All dread death. Therefore, since one is frightened of punishment and death, taking one’s own self as the example, refrain from killing others. You must not destroy.
    now is your choice and answer for this = Is Angry Response Of Buddhists To Religious Conversions Justified?

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