For the Restoration of the Dharma
Posted on January 23rd, 2012

By Gunadasa Amarasekera-Courtesy The Island 

What prompted me to write this short piece is a thought that crossed my mind on reading SL Gunasekara’s Lore of the Law and Other Memories, which I thought was worthy of being shared with its readers.

Before elaborating on it I wish to express my appreciation of the noble task undertaken by SL Gunasekara in producing this work. It is a heroic attempt on the part of a sincere soul, who is overwhelmed by anguish and anger by the gradual collapse of the moral and ethical foundation of our society which most of us have come to accept without a whimper .He goes all out to expose those evil forces with the ferocity of a Knight in arms. This reminds me of the command given by Lord Krishna to Arjuna in the Bhagwath Gita “”…” “ƒ”¹…”for the protection of the good, for the destruction of the wicked and for the establishment of righteousness, I come into being from age to age’. I see SL in that role.

SL Gunasekara is a self-confessed agnostic. He appears to pride himself in announcing it. His conversation with the policeman which he has reported shows this too well. Little does he realize that the policeman is a true product of our culture. The poor policeman cannot think of a Sinhalese in this country without a religion.

What SL wants us to believe is that one could have moral and ethical values in spite of being an agnostic, that moral and ethical values need no religious foundation. The very vehemence with which SL pronounces his agnosticism I believe betrays him. He may be sincere in believing that he is a product of the Liberalism and Rationalism that was brought forth by the Enlightenment that laid the foundation of the secular society in the West. His reading Bertrand Russell at a tender age may have strengthened his convictions. But I cannot believe that the

Moral zeal with which he acts can have any other foundation other than Christ’s message. Liberalism and Rationalism are too shaky a foundation for such moral zeal.

Even without going into the past the last few years have shown us that the moral and ethical values those Western countries profess are nothing but a thin veneer to cover their inherent amorality-the result of a pagan Godless society. It was the German philosopher Nietzsche who dismissed these Enlightenment values as hypocrisy, who saw through the Western man, his true nature driven by the thirst for power. The will to power was according to Nietzsche the power that propels the Western man. The recent years have proved Nietzsche right once again! Surely SL cannot be a member of that pagan society. As Romesh de Silva pointed out in his key-note address SL is a true Christian at heart in spite of his protestations.

The dichotomy in the psyche of the individual as typified by SL, I believe has much relevance to us living in this part of the world. That dichotomy is very much there in our society though we have failed to recognize it.

The foreigner who ruled over us made us believe that they had created a “ƒ”¹…”secular society’ for us. It was part of “ƒ”¹…”the White man’s burden’. In this scheme of things religion was relegated to the position of individual preference. It had no societal dimension. Our elitist group that replaced the foreigner had immense faith in this dispensation and thought of it as a great blessing bestowed on us. The parliamentary system built on the Westminster model ,the party system, the bourgeois democracy, which were needed to maintain a secular society were taken over by our leaders with great relish and devotion. Since then we have been trying our utmost to keep these institutions going in spite of the decay and degradation that was becoming obvious with every passing decade. Even today we have not given up and our erstwhile intellectuals are hell bent on redeeming them and getting them to work.

SL Gunasekara in the second part of the book has exposed in no uncertain terms the depth to which these institutions have fallen over the years.

In Part IV the author deals in eight chapters the tragic fate suffered by all the pillars- the parliamentary system, the party system and the democratic system on which the secular society rests. Going through these sordid details I could not help feeling that the whole system was beyond redemption; that it is already moribund and that no amount of effort would be able to resurrect it. To think of any possibility seems to be wishful thinking.

SL Gunasekara devotes the last part of the book to deal with the lore of the law. With these nine chapters he gives us a first hand, a ring side description of the degradation, the rule of the law has suffered in this secular society; how the judiciary, the custodian of the secular society has acted shamelessly without any moral scruples. Reading through these revelations one shudders to think what would be in store for us if this trend is to continue. When the legislature that formulates the law is full of power hungry elements, how could the judiciary that enacts these laws remain unsullied? How judges who have carried out the wishes of powers to have been promoted, while those who refused to do so have been penalized have been well documented by the author with examples. Can we expect the average citizen who reads these revelations to have faith in our judiciary any longer? The judiciary too has become part of that moribund system, prompting the people to take the law into their hands.

All in all what this devastating exposure justifies is the cynical view the ordinary man has arrived at regarding these institutions that have been kept going in the name of a secular society.

From here where do we go? This was the question that was uppermost in my mind. SL Gunasekara does not come out with an answer. He has only posed the question. Do we have an alternative to replace this moribund system?

In that search I think the first step should be to disabuse our mind of this myth of a secular society. As pointed out it has been something alien that has been forced on us which has remained outside our being.

Ours was never a secular society; it was a religion led society which was built on a religious foundation-on the Buddhist faith. It was there for centuries, right up to the time we came under British rule. Our moral and ethical values are derived from it; the governance was based on those moral values. What we had had throughout our history was a Buddhist state. Professor Trevor Ling in his masterly work Buddhist Civilisation in India and Ceylon, has discussed the nature of this Buddhist state, the triangular relationship between the monarchy, the Sangha and the laity that made this Buddhist state function. He has shown how the prosperity of the country and the people depended on the smooth functioning of this triangular relationship. It is this relationship which has been with us for centuries, that was replaced by a fake counterfeit of a secular society. That counterfeit would have suited India which in itself is a counterfeit created by the British in the name of a nation.

If you are looking for an alternative to this moribund system, it is to this past we should look up to, not to replicate but to draw the necessary inspiration to formulate a model that is in keeping with our genius and present times.

With the threat of devolution hanging over us at the moment, I believe a unique opportunity has come in our way to make a start on these lines. Devolution is nothing but the disintegration of this country. Have no illusions about it. (Let the Colombians and the LLRC pundits harbour such illusions.) If we are to avert the disaster of devolution, empower the people, get democracy at grass root level, there is an institution for us to fall back. It is the institution of the Gamsabhava which has been with us for centuries and was able to achieve these ends. A new model based on that institution to suit our present times and demands will do the needful and save this country.

An observation by a Thai intellectual which I happened to come across recently comes to mind in this context. This Thai intellectual was a member of the Dharmic Socialist Movement initiated by Ajan Budhdhadasa. This is what he has to say-“There were three countries in South Asia that had the potential to go back to their inheritance for revival and resurgence after the withdrawal of the foreigner. They were Burma, Cambodia and Sri Lanka. U Nu in Burma was partially successful till he was deposed by a coup after a decade. Prince Sihanauk had no opportunity. People in Sri Lanka brought Bandaranaike into power in ’56 to achieve this goal. But Bandaranaike who was a thorough product of Western Liberalism failed to understand this’.

It is time we understood what Bandaranaike failed to.

12 Responses to “For the Restoration of the Dharma”

  1. Ben_silva Says:

    Morality and ethics are very important for social order. Buddhist ethics and stand on morality are excellent. Buddhism is however is weak on dealing with real world nasty people. Buddhist ethics could be taught, without linking to unproven myths such as Nirvana and rebirth. Morality and ethics could be taught independent of religion. If there is a threat, then we need to develop survival skills rather than go back to a religion that led millions of its followers to be wiped out, such as Buddhists in the silk route. Do we also want to be wiped out ? Why on earth should we go back to a religion that has been dumped by the source country of Buddhism, India.
    In my opinion, it is better to learn and evolve, understand the problem and find a solution, rather than blindly follow a religion, that has been dumped by the source country, and that lead to the death of millions of its followers, due to the passive nature of the religion.

  2. Lorenzo Says:

    SL is not a secualr country. Never was it. It has always been a Buddhist country since the 3rd century BC. This is how it should remain.

    However, Mr Amarasekara, SL law has a secular background.

    Look at our law.

    It has Roam Dutch law based on Judeo-Christian faith.
    English law based on Judeo-Christian faith.
    Muslim law based on Arabic-Islamic faith.
    Vesawalami law based on South Indian Hindu caste practices.
    And of course International law (mostly based on Christian backgrounds) has crept into local laws as well.
    Of course Indian imposed laws (13 amendment, provincial council law, other BS) based on racist-caste divided Hindu society of India.
    Ban ki moon imposed laws.
    Before I forget, the law of the jungle.

    Achcharu!

    So our legal system has secular inputs.

    In modern law, Buddhism inspired laws are the LEAST in our legal system compared to the above!

    Prove me wrong. (No one can because what I stated are the FACTS).

  3. Dham Says:

    Lorenzo,

    But accoring to your friend our law is based on compassion and Nibbana. Therefore all Buddhists are seeking extiction.

    In this world most people blindly follow all sorts of religions and those non-religion followers follow the religions such as greed and hatred. Hopefully yout friend will change that. Good on him !

  4. nandimitra Says:

    All Sri Lankans be it christian or Muslim has acquired Buddhist Morality by the mear fact they and their ancestors have lived in a Buddhist led society. Man is a product of the enviorment he lives in. SL s morality is what he acquired by living in this society. What is wrong with Sri Lanka is that it is too close to Capitalism but too far from Buddhism.

  5. Dham Says:

    Sir,
    may I add,
    It is being pulled further towards capitalism by pundits who fled Sri Lanka and who admire the west and science which you have little to admire. These enemies of the nation are enemies of Buddhism too, who blame all our failure on Buddhism and claim all our achievement are due to entertainment of greed, hatred and delusion.
    May these fools see the truth.

  6. Ben_silva Says:

    Morality is important and Buddhist ethics as given in precepts are very valuable and in my opinion the most valuable part of Buddhism. However, Any religion is a dangerous mind virus and clouds thinking. Info is provided at the mind virus called religion,.http://firmitas.org/MindVirus.html When we face threats, we need a clear mind to think rather than a clouded, biased mind, that is produced by religion. We have to be aware that the passive nature and the clouded mind, brought about by Buddhism lead to the deaths of millions of Buddhists in the silk route.I agree that morality and ethics need to be revived but not through religion. Buddhism is a good religion but has to be used wisely and the myths such as Nirvana and rebirth need to be questioned, as they have no verifiable evidence.

  7. Dham Says:

    A fool is writing wise comments !
    If one has a brain, one can use it whether iit is “clouded” or not. Except pure fools who cannot sort things out properly, then his mind gets flooded by the virus called ” low self esteem “. When he gets this vius he thinks his mother , his father, his country of birth all his heritage as inferior.
    If this fool can understand mind viruses any one in this world with slightest brain can easily understand it. Fools can keep on trying to tell normal people that they have a mind virus because he does not understand how normal people think.

  8. mjaya Says:

    For the sake of participants of the Lankaweb forum google “Christian School of Buddhism – Nibbana is Extinction! by Ratnapala” (on Lankaweb). It is a factual response to Ben Silva (his repeat telecasts!) long ago by Ratnapala. There is no point in arguing with Ben Silva who uses fake patriotism to hide his hidden agenda. He will always repeat the same story over and over again, despite all the factual arguments others have given. You can find his repeat telecasts on sinhale.wordpress as well.

    Another interesting thing that should be noted is how he very carefully selected his words (as if not to offend someone) when commenting on “No Divine Intervention in Cricket” by Citizen K when Christianity was the target of criticism.

  9. Dham Says:

    There is no doubt on what mjaya saying and Ratnapala said and Bikkhus already protested in Lankaweb.
    No one in the world insulted Buddhism like this. No one in the world insulted chritianity or islam like this. This man has attacked Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha. Should we tolerate this fool any more ? Now it is the time to give him his own medicine.
    Problem is a lot of other Christians pretending to be Buddhist by copying some Buddhist scriptures and even not knowing the real meaning do not obviously finding this pretender like an enemy.
    Thanks for your comments friend, a noble friend among fools is rare indeed.

  10. Dham Says:

    Fool,
    watch out ! words from the master.

    He who inflicts violence
    on those who are unarmed,
    and offends those who are inoffensive,
    will soon come upon one of these ten states:
    Sharp pain, or disaster, bodily injury,
    serious illness, or derangement of mind,
    trouble from the government, or grave charges,
    loss of relatives, or loss of wealth,
    or houses destroyed by ravaging fire;
    upon dissolution of the body
    that ignorant man is born in hell.

  11. Kit Athul Says:

    Lorenzo, small correction: Gunadase Amerasekra is Dr. and not Mr. He is a retired dentist. Let me add another law to your list. TALATHEL LAW. In the 1920 or so all the government heads were Tamils. When they take vacation, they go back to Jaffna. When they come back, for months the office they work stinks. If any one complains of the smell, he gets fired. Now do me a favor, please put your comments to the article by top Spin by Suni. Sri Lanka Cricket captain needs recognition.

  12. Ben_silva Says:

    Dham is at it again being abusive. I have sympathy for Dham as Dham cannot help it, due to his mental state. I will make a sign of the cross and prey to God to be generous with Dham, and give him at least a bird brain next birth, rather than brainless as in this birth. Poor man also under estimate the Karmic forces of hate and abuse. Who knows, next birth he may be reborn as a Dengue mosquito to continue his abusive ways.May the triple gem bless confused dumb Dham fool Dham.

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