OPEN ECONOMY AND THE DISTORTION OF RELIGION
Posted on November 8th, 2015

Cecil Atukorale

With the open economy we got under J.R.Jayawardena regime in 1977, sometime in the past, a new kind of Buddhist standards was established, according to which all religions are alike both in spirit and essence. Several years later, the Minister of Education Mr.Akila Viraj Kariyawasam is highly lamenting now about the moral degradation of the Buddhist community and ascribed all that to the one single cause of poor attendance marked in Sunday Dhamma Schools. In our opinion, this surely is an attempt to distort the social meaning of the open economy which spoilt our young minds in the country over the years without any let or hindrance or else he has no insight to see the things in its correct perspective. In actual fact, the religious outlook of the Buddhist, their thinking, their modes of expression and their way of life is Un-Buddhist. Even when they conform to the tenants of Buddhism they do so in Un-Buddhist way. This marks the decline of religion.

In the early 80’s school texts books were revised and re-written to match the open economy objectives. Open Economy was not all about export and import of goods, nor about road development and building constructions either, for it had its links with many other vices like drug trafficking , porn films, Casino, sex- shops , Taverns and Brothels and so on. It was during that period of the open economy, massage clinics in the style of Ayurvedic Hospitals , Brothels in the style of Restaurants, Homo sex clubs in the style of friendship circles came to the surface with no legal obstacles. To elucidate this fact, we can cite the following controversial excerpt from the Buddhism text book prepared for year 10 class in the 80’s. See page 64

‘Division of mankind on the basis of religion was contrary to the expectations of religious teachers. In every religion is taught kindness, love and Universal Love; each of which must be a thing not restricted to the followers of one particular religion; and each of which must be a thing that is universally acceptable and common to the whole world. A Buddhist must show his kindness and Universal love not only to the Buddhists; the creation of the well being taught in Hindu religion is not to be confined to the Hindus alone. Love taught in Christian religion is not to be confined to the followers of Christian religion. Brotherhood taught in Islam religion is not to be confined to the Islamists alone either. Each of these things must be common to the whole of mankind. Expectation of all religious teachers was that .’

Though superficially this may appear to be correct was it not a misrepresentation of facts? Was it not a misrepresentation of a major fact in Buddhist religion? In short was it not a challenge to all religions alike?

As we understand things the spiritual essence of these religions is not one and the same. The slaughter of animals was in the highest degree offensive to the Buddha and he disallowed animal sacrifices absolutely. Thus,  the Universal love (Maithree) taught in Buddhism knows no bounds and it applies to all beings alike.  In all the other religions, except Buddhism, animal slaughtering is allowed. It is a fact known to all in our midst. Hence the Universal Love (Maithree) preached in Buddhism can no way be equated with the Christian concept of neither love nor can it be equated with the well-being concept of Hinduism or even the brotherhood concept of Islam either. In the context how is how are we to say that Universal Love is taught? Is this not a greater distortion of facts? In our opinion, what the Buddhism is one thing and what religion ought to be is quite another thing. ‘Religion as it ought to be’ implies a prescriptive pattern of conduct which could in no way be harmonized with the concept of ‘religion as it is’. In other words Buddhism is Not a thou Shall not religion.

We want our young men to study Buddhism as it is ( as found in Thri-pitaka ), but not as it ought to be as Buddhism is a religion based on the Four Noble Truths which are not  subordinate to the laws of neo colonial propagandists. There is no determinate superior, in Buddhist religion to command its will on the followers of that religion. Comparison of Buddhism with other religion needs to be done with greater caution.

Hence, there is a special branch of studies called Comparative Religion. Here it is nothing, but Buddhism that is expected to be dealt with in the text book though it has gone beyond its terms of reference. Again if all the religions are alike, then, there is no need for us to have separate places of worships like temples, churches, Mosques as we do have at present. Anyone can opt to go any place of religious worship irrespective of the religion he/she believes in, resembling the procedure which the public servant follow in reporting to the nearest place of work taking account to the exigencies of situation s such as flood and civil commotion. Is it this kind of nonsense that our education planners want our young ones to learn by way of learning religion? Today we are reaping what we sow yesterday; despite all this there is a constitutional provision to safeguard Buddhism (See Section 9 of the constitution to get an idea about the objective of this provision).

3 Responses to “OPEN ECONOMY AND THE DISTORTION OF RELIGION”

  1. Fran Diaz Says:

    Mr Atukorale has raised some valid points here. Thank you.

    Some further thoughts on the matter :

    Colonisation and Globalisation brought in our share of knowledge as well as sorrow to Lanka.

    We agree that the porn material that came into the country with the Open Economy, had a bad effect on the country as a whole. Terrorism brought in the aspect of violence into the country. War with terrorists brought broken mental and physical health. Introduction of drugs and narcotics brought ruination to the youth of the country.

    Also, what is considered alright for other religions may now prevail over Buddhist teachings, as Colonisation and WW II made the west look powerful and heroic. Money and what moneyed folk do, and “keeping up appearances” also became overly important. I think we lost something ancient and of great value there ….

    Today, the effort to survive well is all that matters to a lot of people and religion (any religion) is pared down to rituals only. The VALUES are mostly set aside.

    ———

    I am a senior citizen from a Buddhist family. However, the learning of the subject of Buddhism in school then was not very inspiring except for the Jataka stories carrying a inspiring, definite and understandable message from the time of the Buddha. There was a great deal of memory work to be done. Memorising Pali stanzas was not easy for young folk. The Sinhala or English meaning of the stanzas were not always told to us either (1950s). This, I think, was due to poor teaching methods and teachers with no imagination to make the studies come alive and exciting, making the student UNDERSTAND, think and act on the Message of the Buddha. A good teacher can make the subject come alive for the student with illustrations from everyday life in Lanka or from around the world. The student will then put what is learnt into practice, which is what it is all about.

    It is school teachers that matter. Parents count a great deal too, as children follow what they are told to do and tend to imitate mostly what their parents and friends do. This is true for all households.

    Can we start all over again with fresh, new and exciting ways to teach the perennial truths of Buddhism ?

    Also, how do we deal with treachery from others in Lanka ? What have the Buddhist teachings to say about that ? How do we defend ouor country and ourselves on a permanent basis ?

  2. LANKAPUTHRA Says:

    From your comments, I think you are confused what Gotham Budha preached and what Juses Christ preached. read this book and you will find it. It is travel document by a Russian Traveler and was translated by Indian born American in 1858 in Chicago. USA. Virchand R. Gandhi. ISBN -13: 978-0-486-46853-2 “Un Known Life of Juses Christ”. Juses was the Bodhi Sathwa we all talk about. It is Certainly different from ATUL KETSUP’s Allah and what MUSLIM OBAMA attempting to Do in Sri Lanka. Juses never told his followers to kill animals and eat. Sobitha Thero wake up was to protect the name change to Nagadeepaya to Nulla Thambi Krishner Kovila. Mangala Samaraweera and Sampathan wanted to do this change in 2006.

  3. Independent Says:

    Lankaputra,

    “Juses never told his followers to kill animals and eat.” ?

    How about this ?

    “In the account of Jesus’ miracle of the great catch of fish (Luke 5:1-11), Luke calls the Sea of Galilee the “Lake of Gennesaret,” a more ancient name that derives from the name of a small plain on its western shore. On this occasion, while standing in the boat in which Simon Peter had spent the whole—and very unsuccessful—night fishing, Jesus teaches those who wanted to hear the Word of God. Afterward, He tells Simon, “Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” The man’s reply is typical of an experienced fisherman: “Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing.”

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