Religion and its effects
Posted on April 16th, 2011

Ben Silva

I wrote this article following the interesting, well researched article by Mahinda Weerasinhe, who exposed how vulnerable Buddhists in the silk route were. Millions of decent peace loving people, living in harmony with nature, around the globe have been murdered by greedy hostile aggressive but more technically able nations.

There are about 40 organised religions and faiths in the world. ref :http://www.religioustolerance.org/var_rel.htm

Religious practices often involve rituals, a code of ethics, and a philosophy of life. There are many Buddhists, Christians and Muslims, who follow the code of ethics given by their respective religions, who are kind, good human beings. At the time Lord Buddha formed Buddhism, there were other religions such as Jainism and Hinduism that also had evolved concepts of Karma, rebirth, Nirvana etc. It is possible that cross fertilisation of concepts may have taken place between religions.

There are common features in Jainism and Buddhism which amazed me.

Religion has been a creation and a main part of the ancient world. Indians, Egyptians, Aztecs, Mayans and many other groups practiced religion, generally to do with betterment in the life after death. Some people, such as those following the Muslim faith, believed in one creator God whilst some believe in many Gods. Many religions had concepts of heaven and hell. The equivalent concept of heaven in Buddhism appear to be Nirvana and that of hell appear to be Sansare. The concept of Nirvana is an ancient Hindu concept, along with the cycle of death/rebirth. The man made concepts of heaven, hell, God, Nirvana, Sansare, rebirth appear to have no verifiable evidence, yet billions believe in such concepts Many science thinkers say religion is a thing of the past, ancient world.

Sikhism also had its roots in Hinduism, but later Sikh Gurus, learnt from Muslim threats and developed the militant version of Sikhism, where followers were guided to become soldiers to defend their faith physically.

Followers of various religions believe that their religion is the truth. Christians believe that the Bible is telling the truth, whilst Muslims believe it is the Kuran and Buddhists believe that Buddhism is the truth.

Many ancient believers made offerings at the temples to Gods. This practice can be seen in Kovils and Temples even to day in Sri Lanka. and in other Buddhist countries in the world. Some ancient South American tribes even made human sacrifices. People made offerings to Gods to get various favours from Gods. Religion is associated with Spirituality. A spiritual person may be described as some one who is more aware of things that are not simply physical. Ancient people, who did not have an understanding of nature wanted answers to questions such as “Why I am I here “,” Where did I come from? ” , “ƒ”¹…”Who created the earth ?”and so on. Ancient Indians believed in rebirth and sought ways to end the cycle of life and rebirth. It was a fashion, at the time of Buddha to seek means of salvation.

Religion has many uses such as it brings tranquillity and a peace of mind at times of distress, provides therapy, provides hope, provides possible answers to why some one is disadvantaged, disabled or ill, provides hopes of after life and so on. Religion also perform the useful function of providing guidance on morality and values to its followers. Many religions, specially the Christian and Muslim faiths, promote social interaction and provide a support network to its followers. The community spirit provided by Christians and Muslims appear to be a source of great strength to the followers of the respective religions. I observed that such organised community activity lacking in Buddhist organisations in Sri Lanka, but found in Buddhist orgs in Malaysia. Buddhism has good guidance on morality, such as the precepts. Further, meditation, mindfulness and the middle path are good things in Buddhism. However, concepts such as Nirvana has become questionable for its usefulness in a modern highly competitive world.

Religion has negative effects such as being treated as the opium of the people, its effect as a mind virus and so on.

I would like to respect peoples beliefs, provided religion is not used as a weapon. Muslims have killed Millions of Buddhists. Muslims have killed even fellow Muslims belonging to different sects, on the belief that killing non believers will enable them to go to heaven. Clearly in such circumstances, it would be fair to challenge such beliefs. In fact for non Muslims in Lanka, it is a time bomb, wafting to explode! and both Christians and Buddhists need to be aware of the threat from Muslims who believe that non believers should be killed.. Religious tolerance is important for peaceful co existence in Sri Lanka.

It is also well known that imperialists used religion as a weapon. Imperialists on a grabbing spree for land and resources, used the bible in exchange for land and as a means of subjugating the natives. Again it is fair to challenge beliefs, when religion is used as a weapon. We also have Buddhists who are brain washed to seek extinction and encouraged to give up desires. In a nutshell, we have one group, say group A, who will kill non believers and get their land, we have another group, say group B, who exchange a bible for land. We have a third group, say group C, seeking extinction and encouraged to give up desires. One does not need to be a rocket scientist to work out who will be the loser and who will fight against each other. Evidence shows that Buddhism has been wiped out from most of the previous Buddhist countries. Further evidence is that group A and group B have waged war for dominance.

Buddhism has certain things common with Hinduism, such as Nirvana and rebirth, although Buddhist version of Nirvana is different to that of Hinduism. Sikh religion also has roots in Hinduism. When Sikhs found that Muslims were threatening them, they modified their beliefs to deal with threats from Muslims. Sikhs are now developed as soldiers to fight physically for the faith. This development is due to Muslim aggression. Buddhists could learn from Sikhs.

Arabs have been credited with he development of Al gebra, an important branch of maths. As for the so called Arabic numerals, which were used by Arabic traders, the origin is now thought to be India, along wit development of Zero. The invention of zero is a major event in science, maths and business. Arab scholars are also credited with documenting knowledge originating from Europe and Asia. It has to be acknowledged that modern day scientific knowledge originated from Europe and United states and a large contribution coming from Jews. Vast bulk of discoveries and inventions have been made in the West (Europe and USA). In comparison, the contribution by Arabs is tiny. Europeans advanced in science and technology and the Arabs didn’t. Neither did the Chinese nor the Indians, as long as they hung on to ancient belief systems. The moment, Indians and the Chinese became secular, they have made tremendous progress The progress of Europeans is thought to be due to their better thinking methods and better proving methods..

Is this lagging behind the West due to the influence of religion?. In the ancient world, China was the main source of discoveries and innovation. The reason why China lagged behind the West was researched by Needham, an Oxford academic. Needham accused the belief systems in China, which included Buddhism, for the decline of China.

Since the dumping of religion by both India and China, they have made tremendous progress. This phenomenon cannot be surprising as religions create a biased mind and stop people thinking rationally.

As the law of nature is “survival of te fittest “, it would appear that those seeking extinction, do not want to compete, want to kill off ambition, and will automatically not survive as a result. Nalanda Buddhists did seek extinction and thought it was karma and did not even fight back. They got the extinction they wanted. I hope the Sinhalese think twice before seeking extinction. If Prabakaran had his way, we would have been pushed to the sea and had our extinction. Tamil problem has been there for the past 2500 years and unless we have a strategic survival policy and means to survive, then the future may be bleak. Further those Norwegians and Tamils promoting Buddhism, probably want the Sinhalese to do their own extinction without the assistance of Muslims, Tamils or even without the help of the Western imperialists. Western imperialists have killed millions of natives around the world, made natives extinct and it is crazy to seek extinction ourselves, instead of developing survival skills and fighting spirit..

Many scientists are of the opinion that religion n is a thing of the past. The views of well known thinkers are given below.

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

Buddhists in the silk route have achieved their objective of seeking extinction, as now only a few Buddhists are left in the silk route. The Muslims that killed the Buddhists may have thought that they are doing the Buddhists a favour as the Buddhists did not fight back or run away. Do Sinhalese in Sri Lanka want to follow Buddhists in the silk route and seek extinction so that Tamils and Muslims can have Sri Lanka ? Seeking extinction (Nirvana) has a number of disadvantages in a highly competitive world, such as making a person less competitive (Why bother to compete if one is seeking extinction), less ambitious, more passive, more meek, an easy victim as a sitting duck, an easy push over and so on. I believe, this Nirvana is a suicidal dangerous concept and should be avoided. In the modern world, which is highly competitive, when organisations fine tune processes to win, seeking extinction appears to be suicidal. If we ourselves seek extinction, it will be less effort our enemies will have to spend on eliminating us. Further, Nirvana seekers may end up being poorest of the poor due to their lack of competitive spirit. Extinction seeking may be attractive for cowards who are afraid to face the challenges in the real world. Smart people will take Nirvana with a pinch of salt. Unfortunately, blind followers may end up as the most economically weak group. There is a grave danger that, whilst the Sinhalese aim for extinction, the rest aim for survival and winning. One does not need to be a rocket scientist to predict who the losers will be. There are good things in Buddhism that could be used and dangerous things such as Nirvana that could be dropped, just as Sikhs did to their religion. There are already several versions of Buddhism in the world.

If people learn to think rationally, instead of seeking extinction, then the potential is enormous. For the success of anything, clarity of the mission is vital. In life, the mission should be to overcome obstacles and win and not to seek extinction. If Sinhalese continue to seek extinction, then it is likely that they will automatically reach their target. They were nearly there before MR saved them from Praba. If the Tamils make another attempt, we may not have MR to save us, and we have to think for ourselves on how to survive. After all ,Sri Lanka is the only home country we have and we have to save our selves from going extinct, rather than seeking extinction.

References

1. “ƒ”¹…”Religion is a mind virus’ “http://home.comcast.net/~plutarch/MindVirus.html”

2.http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/console/p0038x9m

3.“http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MeSSwKffj9o”

.4..http://www.historyworld.net/wrldhis/PlainTextHistories.asp?historyid=ab38

17 Responses to “Religion and its effects”

  1. KingSasanka Says:

    I read with consternation and this is what I feared most that many so-called Buddhists want to have a Militancy version of Buddhism in Sri Lanka.
    My recent article (Is there any attire prescribed as the suitable attire to be worn to a place of worship? http://www.lankaweb.com/news/items/2011/03/30/is-there-any-attire-prescribed-as-the-suitable-attire-to-be-worn-to-a-place-of-worship/ ) appeared in this forum was also trying to deal with this development taking root in Sri Lanka, which is a disgrace to the teachings in the first place and secondly a threat to the national harmony.
    If anyone wants to deal with the subject of the Survival of Sinhalese in this land then please do not bring Buddhism also in to the equation.
    I am confident that the sublime teachings would survive even without some so-called Buddhist taking arms to protect the existence of the teachings in the land.

  2. Dham Says:

    Sasanka,
    This Ben Silva appears to be a enemy of Buddhism. My suspicion is he is a Muslim. He could be a Sinhalese. But could even be a tiger.
    He is systematically trying to influence readers of this forum.

    For those followed him will know that he has not facts. He is bringing the same old arguments he constructed again and again.
    There is no point arguing with him.

    Another month later he will write another one with the same argument. Hiding behind Sinhalaness ( Hela) his aim is to take all the foolish Hela people to his side. He will not succeed though, there are no folls here.

  3. Sunil Vijaya Says:

    I am baffled at Ben’s statement ‘Extinction seeking may be attractive for cowards who are afraid to face the challenges in the real world. Smart people will take Nirvana with a pinch of salt.’ First of all 99% Buddhists in Sri Lanka including our monks (Poojakavaroos) aren’t worried about Nibbana, but seeks a heavenly birth, contradicting the very concept of Nibbana by Thathagata. So you need not worry on this aspect because most fall under the category of non-cowards, that includes you, the category of ignorants. For those monks and few laypersons who seek nibbana does not come into the equation of development at all as they will be insignificant.
    Most attempt to identify Ben an anti-Buddhist, an Agent, a Tiger, a Muslim as Dham above does but finally I presume I have the answer. During Buddhas quest to find a solution for deathlessness, Mara followed him and seduced him for 7 years, which include one year even after Buddha’s enlightenement. ‘Live monk live, why pursue extinction?’ Whenever Buddha confronted him and exposed Mara who disguised himself as another being, he use to disappear immediately, ashamed. I sincerely see parallelism here with Ben. Ben could have been planted on this planet by Mara or he could be be the Mara himself! Now will you disappear Ben as you have been exposed?

  4. Dham Says:

    Sunil,
    Mara disappeared because Buddha confronted him. But here, in this case you and me and Ratnapala confronting him. Not sure about you but I still have defilements. We are in noway as effective as Buddha.
    So , he will not disappear.

    What you explained was perfect. He wants to save that 1% of committing suicide because he probably thinks that 1% is the cream of Hela.
    And you explained it last time too. The real coward will use the same argument and come back again and again the same way.

    The real coward, wetting his pants being afraid of of Nirvana, is accusing the Buddha and calling him a coward ( not directly, a cowardly way of doing things).
    Buddha faced every possible problem in the world , including death, head on and resolved it forever.

  5. Ben_silva Says:

    To respond to Sunil: As far as I am aware the main aim of Buddhists is to seek Nirvana, which is the ending of the cycle of birth/rebirth. In simple language, this is aiming for permanent extinction. Other religions also wanted to find means to end this cycle. If Sunil says 99% want to seek heavenly birth, then it is safer than seeking extinction. Heavenly birth idea is similar to Hindu Nirvana and if this is the case we have no worries. and I have no problem with that. Clarity of objectives is important for the success of any mission. So is Nirvana heavenly birth or seeking permanent extinction ? Some Buddhist experts could clarify. My main point is we should aim for survival, winning and achieving potential and it should not be seeking extinction Getting objectives correct is important in a highly competitive global environment If not we may continue our path of decline Reassessing our objectives may help us to arrest the decline and it may help us to assess external threats and formulate a survival strategy If we seek extinction, our survival may be bleak, as we may not have a survival strategy Some NGOs attempted to stop the way saying Buddhism is promoting passive nature. If our leaders followed that and stopped the war, then Praba could have pushed us to the sea. There is evidence that some suyicidal cults in USA and in Japan killed themselves

  6. Dham Says:

    Kithsiri,
    Your understanding of his argument is simple. Everybody understands that.
    He is not bringing religion to his argument. He is attacking very heart of Buddhism.
    He wants to separate SINHALA from BUDDHIST. In a cowardly way , after the war , he started this new argument of SURVIVAL.
    Main problem to survival is BUDDHISM. Now, he has no balls to tell that direct. So he started attacking NIBBANA instead.
    The is thinking he is very smart.
    Those non-Buddhist who stuck with Sinhalaness always angry when some people say “we SInhala Boudhdhyo .
    Now the war is over ( fought and won by mainly SInhala Buddhist sons and daughters ) this coward has come forward with his cunning plan.

  7. isa Says:

    Ben Silva needs violence against other religious adherents in order to protect buddhism. It is so pathetic. Indirectly, he tries to say that buddhism is impracticable religion.

    No one is against the buddhist philosophy. Buddhists are ignorant and neglect the teachings of buddha. If the buddhists neglect their religion, it automatically will vanish from Sri Lanka.

    Buddhism will survive, when only the adherents practice that path completely.

    So, do not criticise other religions, in order to overcome.

  8. devamitta Says:

    a verry dangerous statement! militant Buddhism? contradiction! be aware for this kind of Taliban thinking; and by the way Al Gebra comes fro Al Gebirol a Marocan Jew in Spain and is based on the Kabala. bending things fortunately wont work.

  9. KingSasanka Says:

    True!

    It is a contradiction but this is what some of the misguided ones in robes and some laymen trying to do by introducing their own version of Buddhism, simply to push their own private agendas.

    Buddhism has survived attacks from Shankaracharya, Moguls, Westerners and many more in the past and it will survive many such attacks in the future too but not if you allow those militants to hijack the teaching.

    Beware ! some of them are around and among you!

  10. Fran Diaz Says:

    Dear Ben,
    You have certainly raised a host of issues !
    We think you have misunderstood the word “Nirvana”. The Buddha has said, according one Sutra, that “Nibbana is the chiefest BLISS”. BLISS is a human FEELING, to be experienced while we are alive, not dead. It is not seeking extinction, but seeking the best human feeling possible. Buddhists believe that those who have felt the Nirvanic Bliss, never get caught in the Wheel of Life & Death again. They are one with and absorbed into the force of Truth/God/Brahma/Allah/Life Force, etc., whatever Name you give this vast Intelligence that exists like a Matrix, unseen in another dimension. However, since “Truth is within You” (Buddha) and the “Kingdom of Heaven is within You” (Jesus Christ), we can only FEEL this Intelligence/Life Force that exists within each one of us and be one with It. Meditation is the chief way to reach this dimension of Bliss within. (Dhana, Seela & Bhavana). It is certainly not seeking extinction ! On the contrary, it is seeking the highest possible feeling in human existence.

    The wars & weapons production that goes on some countries have nothing to do with the Teachings of the Great Masters.
    Wars & weapons production are a product of human Ignorance (Anger, Greed, Lust, etc. the negative emotions). Likewise, Crusades & Jihads have nothing to do with Christianity or Islam. Some cunning or ignorant leaders use religions as a convenient and quick way to sway human emotions to action.

    What we in Lanka must do to Survive any future hostile events is to Educate ourselves about the world, and also learn modern day Science & Technology to meet our needs in safe Energy production (Green & sustainable), plus production of other daily needs.

    The Buddha Sasana may have to be revamped to suit modern day needs. This will have to be done by a single Committee comprising of the Sangha & the various Buddhist Organisations, for the common good of all Buddhists. Especially, the needs of the Buddhist poor & needy must be looked after through Buddhist Organisations. Ideas should be invited in encouraging the Buddhist Public to participate in this process.

    Above written with umbrage to none.

  11. Ben_silva Says:

    To respond to Isa:
    I have never suggested violence be used against any one In fact, I promoted religious tolerance To make it even clearer, I say that violence should never be used against a believer of any faith In contrast it is the Muslims who have used violence against peace loving Buddhists I have, however exposed the violence made by Muslims and Christians against peace loving Buddhists and emphasised the need to be able to defend themselves Of course some Muslims may want the Buddhists to carry on the same way, so that it is possible to do another Nalanda It is not the Buddhists who made Buddhism vanish from countries in the silk route It was done by Muslims who killed Buddhists in cold blood in millions Of course, if Buddhists refuse to learn, then it is inevitable that another Nalanda would be repeated. All the evidence is tht Buddhists do not want to learn, but want to go back to the same failed ways. Sikhs have learnt and developed militant sikhism, that will protect their faith.

  12. isa Says:

    Mr Ben Silva

    You proclaim here that you promote religious tolerance, but your writings are contrarary to your sayings.

    Everyone has the total right to defend his religion when he gets threat from outside. You point out your finger on Muslims and Christians who are danger to the survival of buddhism. This is utter nonsense!

    Time to time, every religion has suffered from war, genocide, etc. in this planet. History says that! This is reality and inevitable.

    In the past, most of the religions have gone extinction which are not traceable. Even now, new religions, dogmas, philosophies come to this earth intermittently and some extinct and some exist.

    Extinction of a religion only occurs from its own followers and not by outsiders.

    When people realise that their religions or philosophies are irrelevant to their day to day lives, those religions deem to extinct.

  13. Nanda Says:

    Dear All,
    This man is an Agent of some group.
    He pretends to be worrying about extinction of “Sinhala” race because of Buddhism. He says Buddhism is OK but without Nibbana, which is a suicidal idea. He is extremely happy go get rid of Buddhism. That is all.
    If Sir Lankan nation is considered as Sinhala Buddhist Nation where all others are treated with equnimity and compassion, then Ben Silva is a national enemy. If he wants Buddhist to be aggressive , he should be the first one to go !

  14. Nanda Says:

    Fran,
    You have explained it extremely well. Thank you for that.
    Unfortunately you cannot negotiate Ben Silva’s stand on this.
    He is paid to neglect even if Buddha preaches him. So forget it.

  15. Fran Diaz Says:

    I thank Mr Ben Silva for prodding us to THINK about serious issues. His intent, I am sure, is a good one. We have to think how best to move forward, on a long term basis, & give voice to our opinions, as it is the public opinion that pushes DEMOCRATIC countries to grow for the greater good.

  16. Nanda Says:

    Fran,
    You may not be aware that he is bringing up this issue after the war only. If he is honest, the must have brought this up during the war.
    Are you aware of his similar writing a month ago and may partiots answred him with respect. he ignored all that with no argument at all.
    BEN SILVA IS A COWARD.

  17. Fran Diaz Says:

    Dear Nanda,

    It is up to us to defend our philosophical religion, Buddhism, and define what we understand of it, so that people can appreciate our stand on matters.
    It was difficult to discuss matters such as Buddhism during the war times, as our minds were too busy just defending the Country & our People.
    Now is the right time to discuss Buddhism & revamping the Sasana to suit the times.

    However, I wish more thinking people in Lanka would offer Solutions to problems, big or small. Together we can achieve anything !

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