Religion, survival and the dangers of being passive
Posted on October 18th, 2010
Positive aspects of religion—
Number of views have been put on religion. There are number of ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â religions and belief systems in the world ref: http://www.religioustolerance.org/worldrel.htm ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â For some, religion ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â is therapeutic and I haveÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â nothing against religion being used as a therapy. The Buddhist precepts indicate the high standards of morality and values of Buddhism and its followers. The precepts is a clear indication of the civilised nature of Buddhists. ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â The Buddhist precepts alone are very valuable and may assist the world to beÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â an orderly and a civilised place to live. Mindfulness and meditation used in Buddhism have been used to treat stress, pain and even depression.
The other main advantage of Buddhism is its calming nature and that it recommends a middle path, without going to extremes that you find in the world. ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â However we live in a tough old world, which unfortunately is not fair. The world now is based on a global economy, with a gobal market with a free movement of Capital and individuals. In such a situation, clever, intelligentÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â but ruthless and selfish people can ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€¹Ã…â€œextract our juiceÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚Â¢ and ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€¹Ã…â€œspit the skin outÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚Â¢. Let me quote Prof. Hawkings on aliens: ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€¦Ã¢â‚¬Å“Such advanced aliens would perhaps become nomads, looking to conquer and colonise whatever planets they can reach.He concludes that trying to make contact with alien races is a little too risky. He said: If aliens ever visit us, I think the outcome would be much as when Christopher Columbus first landed in America, which didnÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚Â¢t turn out very well for the Native Americans.” ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€¦Ã¢â‚¬Å“The passive native Americans were wiped out, killed ruthlessly,ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â by invading Europeans. A similar thing happened to passive Buddhists in countries in the Silk route. Buddhism was wiped outÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â by invading Muslims.
The passive nature of Buddhists have put them at a disadvantage in a tough world, where the rule is survival of the fittestÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â and not the survival of the most compassionate. We need to identify the positive aspects and negative aspects of religion and be aware ofÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â potential dangers. ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â I have identified the positive aspects of Buddhism and the positive aspects alone make Buddhism a valuable religion. Negative aspects of Buddhism are discussed later. ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â I wish to have aÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â holistic approach to Nirvana, considering the modern day economic climate we live in, the external threats and opportunities we face. I also wish to state that Buddhism is part of our heritage and it has to be safeguarded and respected. As there are a large number of religions and belief systems in the world, a persons belief depends on that persons choice and the circumstances. The circumstances is important as a person may use beliefs to obtain a peace of mind or salvation. Different people may have different approaches.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â I am merely pointing out the positive and negative aspects, so that a balanced, holistic ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â view can be considered ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â and leave it to the person to make up his/her mind.
Decline of the Sinhalese
The Sinhalese were facing a precarious situation. They had lost the North, the East, theÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â hill country that hadÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â terraced paddy fields and even the Capital of Sri Lanka, Colombo. If any one doubts the above statement, then one should listen to the presentation by Paul Harris ref: http://www.lankanewspapers.com/news/2006/6/7517_image_headline.html
Even before the time of the CFA, the Sinhalese faced a steady decline and was under the British for over 150 years and living as second class citizens in their only home country. A proper investigation as to the reasonsÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â for this need to be carried out. It is thanks due to SWRD, that the Sinhalese managed to have some sort of justice and fair play. SWRD, who gave a lifeline to the Sinhalese was killed by a Buddhist Monk!
ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â Survival strategy
If we want to survive in the long run, then we need to think straight, develop critical thinking skills, and move to the 21st century, rather than have a mind trapped in a mindset 500 years BC. We need to learn the rules that govern the present time. At the moment it appears to be business, commerce and finance. Things were different 2500 years ago and things will be different in the future. Important thing is our present generation and the future generations need to survive, in a highly competitive world ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â and should not end up as the poorest of the poor. In the modern highly competitive, fast moving world, even standing still is not good enough, as competitors will overtake you easily.
ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â Please ignore my views if they appear to be incorrect. However pay attention to what scientists have said andÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â the comments some have made on religion. I also agree that Buddhism and other religions have therapeutic value. It is worthwhile noting that Buddhists in countries in the Silk route were wiped out by invaders. We were actually saved by the sea, and if the sea did not protect us we would have been Muslims, like the Malays. AlsoÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â note that every passive ethnic group either got wiped out or ended up as second class citizens as in Bolivia. Reflect for a moment and see how much of our motherland has been lost in 500 years. Passive native Americans got wiped out by invading Europeans. The Sinhalese have lost a good part of their only home land and it is fair to ask why ? ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â Is it due to our passive belief system? Some passive Buddhists want to keep us meek and submissive with deadly consequences for the Sinhalese.
ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â Joseph Needham, an Oxford academic, examined the reason for ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â China to be backward. Needham made accusationsÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â againstÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â belief systems, which included ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â Confucianism and Taoism (Wikepedia) ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â and Buddhism
Benefits of secularism
Both China and India are now secular. They have shaken off their shackles and are making tremendous progress.
ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â Muslim conquest in the Indian subcontinent
Muslim conquest in the Indian subcontinent, indicates how the Muslims conquered the Indian Subcontinent, and shows what to expect when people are passive.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€¦Ã¢â‚¬Å“ The Sultan’s army was easily defeated on December 17, 1398. Timur entered Delhi and the city was sacked, destroyed, and left in ruins. Before the battle for Delhi, Timur executed more than 100,000 captives. Timur himself recorded the invasions in his memoirs, collectively known as Tuzk-i-Timur. In them, he vividly described the massacre at Delhi.: The Sultan’s army was easily defeated on December 17, 1398. Timur entered Delhi and the city was sacked, destroyed, and left in ruins. Before the battle for Delhi, Timur executed more than 100,000 captives.In a short space of time all the people in the [New Delhi] fort were put to the sword, and in the course of one hour the heads of 10,000 infidels were cut off. The sword was washed in the blood of the infidels, and all the goods and effects, the treasure and the grain which for many a long year had been stored in the fort became the spoil of my soldiers. They set fire to the houses and reduced them to ashes, and they razed the buildings and the fort to the ground….All these people were slain, their women and children, and their property and goods became the spoil of the victors. I proclaimed throughout the camp that every man who had infidel prisoners should put them to death, and whoever neglected to do so should himself be executed and his property given to the informer. ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€¦Ã¢â‚¬Å“
The choice for us is: follow India and China or end up like ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â Bhutan or Tibet or even end up like the people in Delhi.
ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â Need to be wise
We have to be wise in our choice, as the modern world is highly competitive and if we are not competitive enough, we would be left behind. In Buddhism, the objective appear to reach Nirwana, which isÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â expressed as ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â “extinction, that is, of the fires of lust, hate, and delusion, or, more briefly, of craving and desiresÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â
However every Tamil, Muslim, Chinese, Indian I know of want to be wealthy. Straight away, if we want to achieve Nirvana, ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â we may not be competitive enough ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â if we have ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â no desires to be wealthy and successful. InÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â this situation,ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â we will be end up as losers. The modern worldÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â economy, innovation, marketsÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â areÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â all driven by desires and customerÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â satisfaction. If we suppress desires then, we will lose our competitiveness. In my view seeking Nirvana does not fit in the modern world and may have been perfectlyÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â valid 2500 years ago. An alternative approach to Nirvana is do what ever you can with the time left, ref: Last Lecture by Randy Pauch http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ji5_MqicxSo
ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â A question worth askingÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â is:ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â is seeking Nirvana, a suicidal objective ?
ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â Concept of Nirvana
Te concept of Nirvana is a very ancient concept. It is in Taoism, Hinduism and Buddhism, and all versions, claiming their concept is the one to aim for. In Taoism, Nirvana is to become a Tao. In Hinduism Nirvana is to join God. In Buddhism, there are several versions as well. The problem I face is, different people have come up with different views of Nirvana, and all claiming that their understanding of Nirvana is the correct way of describing Nirvana. Due to several aims of Nirvana, the safest may be to take it with aÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â pinch of salt, to take it as an ancient concept and not to take it too seriously. However if we take Nirvana as extinguish desires and pleasures, let us examine the consequence of aiming for Nirvana.
Every oneÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â I know, Tamils, Muslims, Burghers, Indians, Chinese, Japanese, you name it ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â want to achieve wealth, moneyÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â and satisfy desires. If Sinhala Buddhists dampen desires, they may not be competitiveÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â enough and may end up as second class citizens, andÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â poorest of the poor, in their own country. Unfortunately, the cleverer and more able people will take Nirvana with a pinch of salt, but the weakest may take it seriously and may not engage in economic activities. Documents, written by Westerners, indicate that, in the past, theÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â economic activity of the SinhaleseÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â have not been good.
Further, it is a general observation that ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€¦Ã¢â‚¬Å“no pain no gain ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€¦Ã¢â‚¬Å“. So if we are to exclude pain, then there will be no gain either. If the Sinhala Buddhists aim for Nirrvana to exclude pain, then they might end up with no gain and perhaps the poorest of the poor. So again dangers of Nirvana need to be recognized. It is probably far better to focus our energy on winning local and global competition, employment, business, commerce, finance, optimal use of resources, like believers of most other religions do rather than aim for extinction.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â Of course some Tamils and some Norwegians and some of our enemiesÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â may hope that we go for Nirvana, so that they can get Sri Lanka. It is time to reflect and notice how much of our motherland has been lost in 500 years.
If the world only had Tibetans, Bhutanese and the Sinhalese, aiming Nirvana may have been fine. We now live in a tough old world, where the Europeans started two world wars killing millions, Europeans wiping out native Americans, Europeans rapingÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â countries in America, Asia and Africa. In such a world, aiming for NirvanaÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â is a dangerous thing and it could actually lead to our extinction!. In my view, in the modern world, we need to aim for survival and winning rather tan aim for extinction, and if we are not mentally and physically fit enough, we may end up being extinct any way!
We face serious threats from global Tamils, and if we go for extinction ourselves, then they would be laughing, as they do not have to do any thing to wipe us out. Of course some Tamils may gift us a Buddhist TV station to speed up the process,.
ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â Need for unbiased thinking
Religion may inhibit unbiased thinking. True Buddhists such as myself only accept what is logical and agrees with what Buddha said (Kalama Suthra). ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â I would like to state LordÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â BuddaÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚Â¢s quote ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€¦Ã¢â‚¬Å“ Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€¦Ã¢â‚¬Å“. This is an important statement by Buddha and it shows the scientific approach and Buddhism could evolve. It is essential in my view, to develop critical thinking skills, learn to remove bias and accept things only if there is evidence.
ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â Blind following of any religion may inhibit thinking. Some have expressed the view that Religion is like a virus that affects the behaviour of its host …
The views of leading scientists on religionÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â are given below.
Well known thinkers and scientists such as Arthur C Clark, Bertrand Russel had little faith on any religion. The famed science fiction writer, Arthur C Clark, who once denigrated religion as “a necessary evil in the childhood of our particular species. He was so anti religion that he did not want any religeous rights at his funeral.
Russell:. I regard it as a disease born of fear
Einstein: A man’s ethical behaviour should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties and needs; no religious basis is necessary
ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â Religion is a mind virus
ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€¹Ã…â€œReligion is a ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â mind virusÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚Â¢ is discussed in the following literature and is interesting.
ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â A general interesting intro to China is given in
ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â An interesting view on religion is given by ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â George Carling
ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â Economic activity
Buddhism is the only religion that dampens economic activity. I wonder if following Buddhism will make us less competitive, in comparison to the followers of other religions? It is time to recognize that we have lost a good part of our only homeland and we should try and find reasons. The conclusion drawn by Needham may help. If we are passive,ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â and do not recognize threats, and act thenÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â we may face extinction, just like the native Americans did. Notice that Buddhist Countries in the Silk route were wiped out by aggressive invaders andÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â only a small number now practice Buddhism in India. Also worthwhile noting that bothÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â India and China have made tremendous progress after becoming secular and now China, which is secular is the world second largest economy.
Some Tamils and Norwegians have been actively promoting Buddhism, whilst not following it themselves or promoting BuddhismÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â in Norway or Tamil Nadu. Is it because they want us to have Nirvana so that they could have our land and assets ?ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â
In my view, what is needed is the fighting and battle spirit to survive in a highly competitive world, rather than te defeatist and escapistÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â spirit of Nirvana.
ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â The cause of the decline of the Sinhalese
Of course Buddhism is part of our heritage and we need to respect it. However it may be time to move on, while still safeguarding and respecting our heritage, specially as evenÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â in India, where Buddhism originated has given up Buddhism. Buddhism has been the ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€¹Ã…â€œglueÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚Â¢ that kept the Sinhalese together and we could still keep even the rituals of Buddhism, provided we are aware of limitations.
Josph Needham, the Oxford academic accused the belief system for the decline of China. Is our passive belief system responsible for our decline, as we were on the verge of loosing our only homeland?
ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â 1. George Carlin on Religion
2. George Carlin Philosophy (Part 2): Religion and Consumerism