Protecting Buddhism in Sri Lanka
Posted on February 8th, 2011

Shenali Waduge

If Sri Lanka feels the need to protect & preserve Buddhism, it translates to mean that there are challenges that need to be overcome & issues that need to be addressed without bias. Action plans will not work unless we are able to determine if Buddhism in its conceptual form, in its practice & even in its belief is seeing a decline and if so we need to first return to basics and determine why. Naturally, the present anxiety to preserve & protect Buddhism must be due to external or internal factors or a combination of both.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Let us firstly look at the external factor that many attribute as a singular threat to the decline of Buddhism.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ There are 6.4billion people on Earth, of this 2.1billion or 33.1% are Christians of one sort or another. By 2025, world population is likely to hit 7.8billion & total Christian population to rise to 2.6billion. This is certainly a high number considering in 1900 there were only 558million Christians the world over. There are 25.2million new Christians annually (22.7m due to population growth & 2.5m due to conversions)

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ In India & Africa the situation is alarming. Nagaland has almost emerged as a Christian state with over 90% (1.79m population) of its population being Christian. In Mizoram that number is around 87% (772,000 population), while in Meghalaya it is 70.4% (1.6m population), in Manipur the number is 34% (737,000 population) while in Arunachal Pradesh it is 18.7% (2-5,548 population). Christian growth in Africa is nothing short of astonishing. There were 8.7 million African Christians in 1900; there are 389 million African Christians today & by 2025 there is likely to be 600million African Christians (when EuropeƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s Christian population will have fallen to 513million)

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ How has Christianity become the fastest growing religion both in absolute number of new converts & absolute number of new Christians due to population growth? Christianity has certainly evolved from one Man, to 12 apostles and to 25million presently with the number rising. In answering how Christianity has evolved to such numbers does not & should not deny why other religions cannot similarly spread their faith. It is nevertheless the manner that ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-spreadƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ takes place & the motivating ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-factorsƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ that have changed the number of ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-convertsƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ that is alarming.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ We need to all agree that the Christian movements are extremely organized and they are able to quickly galvanize support, they provide charity to the impoverished & the homeless, at times providing employment, aid & finance resources during times of disaster, they have excellent nursing services & spend a lot of time ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-counselingƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ people. Moreover, Christianity has provided equality to women & with Christian women marrying non Christians it has produced secondary conversions of pagan men. Now an important question here is how many of these new Christians are actually ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-free ridersƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ benefiting from what the Christian network could supply in terms of national & international focus. These plus points are certainly what draws people away from the philosophically based Buddhism.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Conversions in reality do not happen in the open, they are done in a very subtle way & with a modus operandi that ensures for lack of proof. It is much later on that when counting the numbers the reality prevails. While, we do condone these conversion practices at the same time it merits to ask a very simple question ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-Why are Buddhists in Sri Lanka convertingƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ similarly ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-why is there a decline in Buddhism in Sri LankaƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚?

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Tied to the conversions in families that are impoverished & homeless is the ability of the Church to provide for the basic needs of the people ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢¢”š¬…” food, clothing, shelter & at times schooling & employment, for the urban & town dwellers it is the happy go lucky style that is associated ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚¦. Being able to provide basic needs is the basic requirement left to all those that govern or lead and the lack of it makes people go for options.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Let us see what is happening in Sri Lanka.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ There are 300m around the world who follow Buddhism. Its origins date back to 2600. For many, Buddhism is beyond a religion it is a ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-way of lifeƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ & it is this philosophy that leads to a person leading a moral life, to be mindful & aware of thoughts & actions & to develop wisdom & understanding. Buddhism explains life & provides a code of practice, in a materialistic society, Buddhism essentially has the answers so long as people endeavor to follow neither extremes. Lord Buddha realized at 29 that wealth & luxury did not guarantee happiness & so after much exploration & six years of study & meditation he became enlightened. His teachings are found in the Dhamma or Truth & despite the years Buddhism has become a religion different to other religions. Yet, Buddha is not a God, though idol worship is not part of Buddhism, many Buddhists enjoy paying respect to the statue of Lord Buddha. ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ 

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ It is interesting to note that many Buddhist countries are poor and it links to the Buddhist teachings that wealth does not guarantee happiness & wealth is also impermanent. Buddhism essentially denotes tolerance & does not denounce any of the other religions that prevail. Have there ever been wars fought in the name of Buddhism? Buddhists do not try to preach or convertƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚¦they only explain if an explanation is sought. The core of Buddhism is fitted into the Four Nobel Truths which can be tested by anyone thus the need to understand more than simply having faith. (life is suffering, suffering is caused by craving & aversions, suffering can be overcome & happiness is possible if we give up useless cravings, & the path is to follow the Nobel Eightfold Path (being moral through what we say, do & how we live). Then there are the 5 precepts that teach us refrain from taking the life of anything living, refrain from taking anything that is not freely given, to abstain from sexual misconduct & sensual overindulgence, to refrain from untrue speech & to abstain from intoxication. Karma in Buddhism teaches us that our actions have results while wisdom is explained that we need compassion and to have the understanding that in reality, all phenomena are incomplete, impermanent & do not constitute a fixed entity. Compassion in Buddhism is sharing, giving comfort, sympathy, caring and concern. What Buddhism essentially teaches us is that the solutions to our problems are within ourselves & not outside.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Buddha asked his followers to first test his teachings & to decide for themselves & thereafter to take responsibility for their own actions. Buddhism is not a fixed package of beliefs to be accepted in its entirety and this is one of the reasons why we see a decline in ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-realƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ Buddhists today.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Before any national programs are implemented, we seriously need to ask ourselves whether Buddhism as seen today is actually what Lord Buddha has depicted in his teachings. My sincerest question is why would there have to be three Nikayas in the first placeƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚¦.??? Has this not triggered much of the divisions that prevail?

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Unless we are able to put our own house in order, it is unfair to be blaming other religions. Intricately woven to our fear of Buddhism declining is issues related to us as laymen & our Buddhist monks in general.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ The question of relationships between the laity & the Sangha is extremely important for this is the factor that certainly is distancing peopleƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s faith in Buddhism. If craving & desire for material things, the desire for wealth etc are to be abstained knowing its path to suffering, it is prudent to ask why our Sangha live in such luxurious setupsƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚¦the temples and the dayakayas are eternally in competition to make the temple look far better than the neighboring one. Basic amenities are replaced with ultra modern infrastructure. A simple dana today ends up with a menu list sent, some danaƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s often been set up like buffets & to younger & impressionable newcomers watching this it would be impressed upon them that this is what Lord Buddha has preached & where is the moderation!!! Has it not turned up a fad to send oneƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s children to dhamma schools?

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ If Lord Buddha did not allow money to be collected by monks why is it taking place today? We are finding Buddhist monks as politicians, driving vehicles, engaged in illicit activities etcƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚¦ Is it then the fault of the monks or the dayakayas? Certainly both parties are to blame. For the dayakayas have in their shortcomings paved the way for a ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-commonƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ & ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-acceptedƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ practice to occur & this has spread across the globe especially where there are Buddhist viharaƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s frequented by expatriate Sri Lankans. ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ 

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Media attention alone cannot bring Buddhists to become ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-BuddhistsƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ that is the eternal truth. One must feel it from within & that within realization must come firstly by being truthful unto oneself & accepting oneƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s shortcomings. ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ 

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Inner development of character & attitude can to a great extent be nurtured by preaching but those that preach must first be practicing it otherwise that itself creates a negative impact on the person listening. Does no one really wonder why at pirith ceremonies held in urban & town homes, the majority of guests arrive closer to the end of the pirith or end up coming only for the dana!

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ How far is it likely to increase understanding of Buddhism by putting up posters all over State & other institutions?

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ We enjoy saying we are Buddhists but do we generate action when Buddhist places have been attacked. How much did the attack in Chennai generate media attention, how many of our politicians came out deploring such ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚¦was the silence not attributed to not wanting to anger the Indians diplomatically?

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Then there is the question of legality of converting. Though conversion & the modus operandi used to convert is unethical, unfair & unjust..eventually it is left to the individual who decides and once that individual asserts his desire it ceases to be a group activity. The only difference is that a person of another religion who decides to shed his/her faith & practice living the Buddhist way can do so without any ramifications. However, anyone born unto other faiths like Catholism, Islam etcƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚¦end up being treated like outcasts.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ One of the areas that we need to request our Buddhist monks to show more empathy towards is their people approach. When Catholic & Christian clergy visit patients in hospitals & homes & offer Gods blessings to them even to non-Buddhists, it would be nice to have pirith being chanted in hospitals & a Buddhist priest come & offer some words of wisdom to the family. When Churches open their doors in times of calamity especially during natural or man-made disorder, it would similarly be nice to know that a dana will never go wasted & thrown to the dustbin where mouths that have not been fed could come & be fed & dayakayas would instead of making temples materialist with all the modern equipment & infrastructure spend that money on feeding the poor & impoverished & finding ways to securing employment to those without, to champion a drive to stop alcohol consumption & to advise men whose alcohol consumption limits know no bounds & end up turning his home upside down! These are very simple & basic things that could actually change the present perceptions of the people. In watching & listening to sermons which are not practiced it is natural for anyone to loose oneƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s faith in Buddhism. ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ 

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ The list of present day blunders taking place for which most of us as laymen must take part responsibility as well as the Buddhist monks in agreeing to receive such wealth & materialistic offerings without denying same will serve to essentially put our house in order.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Everything in moderation essentially demands us to wonder why we would need more than one houseƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚¦we can but live in it at one single time, why we would crave for more carsƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚¦some of the latest brandsƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚¦we all really go from one place to the nextƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚¦why we would want more money that we can live it outƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚¦there is a limit to what we can consume ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚¦!!! Yet for all it is this agonizing desire amongst us that is really making Buddhism decline & unless we set ourselves right it is unfair to be blaming others or setting up plans that would be just nicely worded documents of paper.


12 classic world Religion New Adherents Annually Growth Rate
Christianity 25,210,195 1.36%
Islam 22,588,676 2.13%
Hinduism 12,533,734 1.69%
Buddhism 3,687,527 1.09%
Sikhism 392,638 1.87%
Judaism 124,515 0.91%
Baha’i 143,491 2.28%
Confucianism 44,305 0.73%
Jainism 34,951 0.87%
Shinto -31,993 -1.09%
Taoism 25,242 1.00%
Zoroastrianism 58,471 2.65%

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ 

Shenali Waduge

19 Responses to “Protecting Buddhism in Sri Lanka”

  1. Nanda Says:

    I note that Shenali used two words to discribe Buddhist monks. “Monks” and “Priests”.
    What Buddha started is the “Sangha” which can be translated to “Buddhist Monks” – the closest.
    Priests are the people who preach, live in the material world, touch money, get married, drive cars and so on. Although Buddha never wanted to start this “priests” system most monks are now actually priests, wrongfully wearing robes! What they should do is do not wear robes and wear a shirt with a yellow collar or something to avoid going to hell. Buddhism cannot be preserved by priests, it will obviously deminish gradually , as more and more monks become “priests”.
    I agree, government must do something drastic to stop the “priests” movement

  2. jayt Says:

    christian gives basic family counseling that help children grow free of mental and physical abuses which help children mind stays clear and have an excellent ability to focus on education, additionally, they find out if you ok with food, clothing and shelter. and if you not ok, they get everything slowly or fast depending on situation to you and or your children. In Canada, church organization give info to those people who need help extra help besides govt.’s help. In many case, they even deliver food to families or individuals who do not have transportation to pick them up regardless your religion.
    They all talk about god and love(I do not mean politically corrupt extremists who have colonial and military ideas). I do talk about normal good Christian who do not violate real meaning of Christianity. I met many many good Priests who will never give one penny to Tigers in intention of killing Sinhalese. I had good friendship with very loving Priests who help me and some other young friends from other countries. They told us ” Sons, regardless of your religion, you must never be shy to tell us your need, all of you are children of God, all of here on earth for a reason”. We used to drop by their homes for dinner almost every week. One day, in the winter, we went to one of the priests home and told ,”Farther we need winter clothing and the money that Canadian government give us for monthly expenses not enough to spend on clothing. He told us,” Sons, that’s why we are here for for you”, He came to shopping mall with us, and we five of us spent five hundred dollars each for winter clothing.
    So, this is the reason why that many christian communities in many part of the world highly educated success in businesses and become prosperous business oriented community. than other religious communities. To achieve this goal, first, christian educators make sure children do not harbor any hatred or jealousy in the mind which will be barrier for children personal growth and education.

    In Sinhalese Buddhists society, there is nothing like that, instead, some jealousy Sinhalese will lough at you, persecute you if you are poor, and will make word like ” you are poor because you stole from other people in your past lives”, and constantly will be watching you if you trying to be rich, and if you do, they will carry every conspiracy stop you becoming rich or popular. If ask help from a Buddhist monks. He has no idea, because he never thought to help and be sympathetic needy people to make strong, loving, prosperous Sinhalese Buddhists society. Additionally, Buddhist monks are thought to teach people not to like the life because lord Buddha hate the life. Some of the Buddha’s teaching is good but people cannot do what He did. life is beautiful if can make it without negative teaching about it. People need to make life happy and enjoy your culture to which you were born. We all here for a reason.

  3. Ben_silva Says:

    Buddhism is a part of our heritage and need to be protected as such. Sri Lanka also has to be protected from Christian agents converting Buddhists so that converted Buddhists become part of a global Christian cult, manipulated by foreign agents, who may act against Sri Lanka. My view is that the Sinhalese in Sri Lanka need to be protected rather than an Indian belief system that is no longer believed by a majority in India. In fact after the Nalanda Buddhists were wiped out by Muslims, Buddhism never recovered in India. We also need to take into account the reality in the world. Shenali has observed that Buddhist countries are poor. Needham studied the decline of China, pre communist era and accused the belief systems, which consisted of Taoism, Confusiosism and Buddhism as to the reasons why China lagged the West. Research has shown that religion does not help development and advanced societies rely less on religion. Religion was also known as an opium of the people. It is a historical fact that Buddhists in nearly all Buddhist countries were either wiped out as in Nalanda or living in poverty. Exception is Japan where they follow Zen and Shinto Buddhism, which is different to the type followed in Lanka. It appears that for practical purposes, Buddhism do not appear to produce the goods, in a world which is rough and tough. Some Buddhists appaear to be passive and have not been able to deal with the tough world
    Also notice that both China and India have developed tremendously, since becoming secular.
    My view is we should protect the Singhalese, rather than protect an ancient belief system that has not helped the believers to protect themselves.
    We should ask our selves, as to the reasons why we have lost a good chunk of our only homeland. It is also possible that if Buddhism survives in Lanka, there may not be any Sinhalese left !
    Buddhism has given its believers the kiss of death, as shown by Nalanda Buddhists, Anuradhapura Pilgrims, Young Buddhist monks that got killed, Dollar and Kent farm incidents and so on. We should spend more time and effort protecting the Sinhalese rather than protect an ancient Indian belief system. The danger with Buddhism is its passive nature. History shows that nearly all passive etnic groups have been wiped out or living as second class citizens. I agree with most of Jayts comments.
    We live in a highly competitive global economy and we need to look at ways of survival and winning now, rather than attempt to extinguish ourselves, because of our fear to face the challenges in the modern world. Religion is an ancient belief system. It is time to move on to the 21st century rather than be living in an era 500 years BC and be wiped out buy our competitors. Remember we ave lost a major chunk of our only home land. Why ? and how do we arrest further decline. It is unlikely that Buddhism will help to stop the decline (as we live in a highly compititive world, where only the fittest survive), and if we are to look at Needhams analysis, Buddhism may be even the cause of the decline. An analysis and a discussion is needed.

  4. jayt Says:

    I am 100% agree with your article, but we have people like you to start out a program and put it into work here in the west and over there in Sri lanka? in my experience, NO! I wanted start out a globe system program that counter the all globe conspiracy by raising millions of billions of dollar funds right here in Canada, and I was wanted spend more than 15 hours a day and seven days a week working for a it. But I most Sinhalese are brought up to be dependent on somebody, lazy, low self esteem, no confident, no motivation and no ambitious. AND If you have100 Sinhalese from Canada, US and Eu ready to commit their time on behalf our country, we can run a global business empire and all problem is gone.

  5. Fran Diaz Says:

    First, we would like to thank Shenali for writing this much needed article. Many thanks, Shenali, for your concern, time & energy you have put into this article. And our thanks to participating others who have written in.

    Here are some salient points on Buddhism in this Modern World :

    (1) Theravada Buddhism as practiced in Sri Lanka & other places is difficult to follow in the modern poverty ridden world. Even the 5 Precepts which should be repeated on a daily basis is difficult for some people to adhere to. The 5 Precepts state that :

    – I shall endeavor/promise not to tell lies, not to steal, not to misbehave, not to kill, not to indulge in liquor.

    The ‘Gathas’ are stated in Pali or Sanskrit, when they should be stated in Sinhala or even in Tamil or English, so that understanding the worlds are easy even for a small child.

    * Then we go to the higher Teachings of Dhana, Seela & Bhavana. How many in our large poorer sector can afford these acts in money or time ? Who teaches them the correct Bhavana, which we think is the most important of these three, and can be done by oneself, rich or poor.

    * Then again there is the Eightfold Noble Path of Right Thinking, Right Action, Right Speech, Right Livelihood, etc. Most of this can be followed by the wealthy or the poor. But, in the act of trying to just Survive from day to day, the poorer, huge sector may just chuck most of it aside, to the detriment of themselves and others.

    We think that our Buddhist MONKS should preach practical Buddhism, keep it Simple, and illustrate a point with stories, old and new. Which of the Teachings can be practically followed by any Buddhist, on a daily basis ? Only thus can a solid foundation be laid for survival of Practical Buddhism in Lanka. Concentrate on what can be done. Not on what cannot be done.

    (2) The HELP OF THE BUDDHIST NEEDY, in Lanka & abroad : Should be undertaken by the BUDDHIST ORGANIZATIONS. Wealthier Buddhists must contribute to these Organizations, and How to Help should be very clear to those who work there. It should be a paid job, carrying less pay but nevertheless needs to be organized like in any other work place. There can be sincere, knowledgeable Volunteers working in these Organizations.
    The Organizations have to cover basic needs of Food, Shelter & Clothing, and expand into Jobs, Job creation, COUNSELING, training in Skills, etc. – an enormous task. Doubtless, other Buddhist countries which are successful such as Japan & China, can help in this regard. If every Buddhist gave 5% of their net earnings to a Buddhist Organization of their choice, every year, some funds can be created, at least in Sri Lanka for a start. These funds must be handled honestly by a competent Accountancy firm.
    Social events such as Concerts & Games can be organized to raise funds. Buddhist businesses & schools can be mobilized to raise funds for Buddhist Organisations.

    (3) Buddhists of Lanka are generally poor on business organization & administration. This has to be rectified. It is heartening to note that some well known Economists in the west advocates a Buddhist approach in their economic activities, with first concern for People and the Environment.

    (4) We agree that BUDDHIST MONKS should have a different dress code to BUDDHIST PRIESTS. Buddhist Priests should specialize in Counseling, among other social activities and should be allowed to marry and have a family.

    (5) It is NOT in other religions or Conversions that our Salvation lies. It is in recognizing the realities and difficulties that the vast numbers of poorer Buddhist individuals have to face in daily life, and doing acts of Compassion & Kindness in an ORGANIZED WAY, so that their burdens are eased away. Creation of Wealth for the sake of accumulation of Wealth is not the Buddhist Way. Wealth is like Water – it must flow in a creative, life supportive way, or else it will stagnate.
    Sinhala people should not feel shy to create Wealth. Perhaps it is the way some wealthy folk behave that makes others laugh at them ? I am not sure – but I am sure that a wealthy person who is kind & humble is never laughed at ….

    (6) Please do not forget that the Christian west had its bad times and many wars were fought in Europe in the name of saving religion, against Islam, but really for trade routes. This went on for many centuries. Illiteracy, fires, pestilence, Inquisitions, Dark Times raged in Europe. All relatively modern Empires were from the west. World Wars I&II began in Germany. Even today, in USA, the richest people number less than 1% and one third of the wealth of the country is in their hands. Matters have changed after many centuries of strife.

    We of Lanka still have a good chance to redeem our Society following Buddhist values, through our Buddhist Organizations & Buddhist Temples. It all depends how badly we want Life & Happiness to be alright for all Sinhala Buddhists of Lanka, once again. Help anyone who asks for help, and welcome them to come to Buddhism, if they so wish.

    (7) Family Planning a must in Sri Lanka. Hopefully, India will do the same soon.

    Above written with good intent. May only good flow from all our thoughts here in these columns ….

  6. nandimitra Says:

    In this day an age when humanity is at risk due to enviormental damage and climate change Buddhism offers a way forward. In my view there are 3 reasons for the decline of Buddhism in Sri Lanka
    1)Pauperisation of the Temples – Temples do not have any assets for its maintainance what ever assets they had was taken over during British Colonialism Sinhalese Buddhists are not rich, The govt does not support the temples and hence the Priests are forced to do jobs, avtively take part in politics to earn money to maintain temples thus neglecting the primary function of the priests which is to attend to the spiritual needs of the community. this void is easily filled by the christian churches which is well supported by the international agencies economicaly
    2) The priests have failed to bring Buddhism into ths 21st century. It needs to be digitalise and presented in a format acceptable to the populace. The priests are not wise to the communication skills that are necessry to attract the younger generation or do not have the wisdom to address the problem
    3) Present open economy is virtualy run on greed at the expence of the enviorment and health of the people that is very unbuddhistic. To gel the community which is corrupt with buddhism that is basicaly moral and spiritual is a near impossibility
    The answer is to find fiancial support to the temples, educate the priests in the modern scientific understanding of the religeon and force the ruling class to observe tha dasraja dharmaya.

  7. mjaya Says:

    Hi Fran

    One thing that you should be careful about.

    “(7) Family Planning a must in Sri Lanka. Hopefully, India will do the same soon.”

    We should not forget that with higher birthrates a minority can easily outnumber a sub replacement fertility rate (less than 2 children per woman) majority within a couple of generations. That is the current demographic war that is going on in Europe (or in other words Eurabia).

  8. Nanda Says:

    You said,
    “Additionally, Buddhist monks are thought to teach people not to like the life because lord Buddha hate the life. ”
    Never mind you are Hindu of Christian but are you an enemy of Buddhism ?
    I challange you to give me evidence of “Buddha hated life”. This statement is a huge insult to Buddhism and you will be dead by now if you made similar statement to Muslims.
    Firstly , Buddhism encourages you to live the life to the fullest by living in the present moment (mindfulness). Buddha has categorised how people should earn and enjoy wealth to the fullest. If you do not know Buddhism, keep quiet.
    Budhha has eleinated “Hatred” , how could he hate anything ?
    Jayt !
    May you be happy and peaceful ! may no harm come to you ! This is the Buddhist blessing.

  9. jayt Says:

    what I meaned is Buddha did not like the life, that’s why he went to seek enlightenment, but ever body cannot do what he did, and I said clearly his teaching about how to make life is good.

  10. Fran Diaz Says:

    mjaya: Family Planning has to apply to all in Lanka. Tax breaks should be given only to the small family of one, two, or no children.
    Likewise, may be free education should be given only to two children of any family ? This sounds tough. But, I am sure quite sure, there are ways to encourage ALL the people of Lanka to have small families.
    An established fact is that, even today, poverty ridden families have more children.

  11. jayt Says:


    I am sorry that you had some misunderstanding about some of thing I said. We wouldn’t go into this kind of problem like you said if Sinhalese had a world organization with paid workers where they have enough time to write, communicate, raise funds, gain missing knowledge and information by traveling and organizing meeting in different cities in different part of the world(especially developing strong bond of friendship with American, Canadian and EU people who love Buddhism and peace). I am hoping people like Ben take the lead to set up an organization which match other world organization who are coming against Sinhalese.

  12. Ben_silva Says:

    Number of good points such as helping the needy, population control, sustainable growth etc.have been presented by contributers,My view that is we have to focus on dealing with present day problems and also future potential problems rather than living with a mind set 500 years BC. If people recognise population growth as a problem, then solutions may be found. People with power to make decisions are the politicians and they need to see population growth as a problem. Making politicians see reality may not be easy.

  13. sanath sirisena Says:

    Hi Shenali,

    Your findings in declining part of Buddism is right as most of the buddist monks today are acting in the wrong way. That is why our lord Buddha preached the DAMMA PADA purley for the buddist monks knowing that the monks life is difficult to adhere to, if discipline is not maintained. Our lord Buddha knew that his teachings will be of waste if the monks ignores the discipline part.

    The Dayakayas must take action to look after the monks in the best possible way. As a former military man,I used to go for training to the jungle.Duringthis period, I came across some temples in the jungle and the monks living cooking their own meals such as jack fruits and coconut sambol. The villagers near by brought some tea and wood apple cream, bananas for the monks whenever possible. I asked the Hon. monk, how do you go about to preach Damma to villagers. His prompt reply was Sir, I walk some times 5 to 6 miles and there is no problem for me. Now if you experiece this kind of atmosphere, I wonder why our monks in the city limits expect a different style of life.

    this is just an example of situations and how its change the life pattern of our monks. On this, my opinion is that, monks needs to be looked after by Dayakays and the Government if needed. The monks must live a simple life and set an example to the buddist devotees.

    Now about the the religions like Christianity and Muslim, I experience that there is war to overcome the other. There is a move to look after the Christian followers and give them the open way to get jobs and other purks whenever poissible. There is a movement to buy people and convert other followers to their religion. If you do not join you are not given a place. Its happening in a very tactful way. It happened in the past and will keep going on.A good example is how in the past, British invaders of our country converted many of our people to act against their own people.

    Whatever it is All the wise people in the world respect our Lord Buddhas teachings THE WAY OF LIFE without any argument. I am sure many of them are silent followers of BUDDISM. The Buddism will pravail forever if people get wiser.

  14. Fran Diaz Says:

    jayt: It’s ok – we have to learn to trust ourselves first. Sometimes we find it hard to trust, especially after 30 yrs of war in Lanka.
    That is where educating ourselves about world affair, some history, and some good natural health care & awareness how our minds work, really counts, so that others cannot dupe us. Here some learning of Science & some knowledge of the English language helps us to make sound judgement on important matters. Judge everything for ourselves, and accept only when you know it is alright. That is what the Buddha advocated.

    Ben is right in some things. We all have to move to the present day world in everything to survive, and I will add : while keeping our Buddhist Values intact.

    That said, Buddhists must set up a network through the various Buddhist Organisations to help other Buddhists in need. If we do not, then we ought not to complain about conversions to others religions where help is given.

    We hope with all our hearts that such help is realised through Buddhist Organisations, in Lanka & abroad. All the Buddhist Organisations may have to get together. Even our Embassies & High Commissions may be able to help out in some ways in this matter ?

    Simply put, it just allows a Buddhist person in need to approach, we suggest, this joint Organisation of Buddhist Associations when they are in trouble, if other help is not available through family, friends, GoSL. If helped, the person can make some Donation to the Organisation so that others too are helped.

    We are throwing out ideas hoping at least some of it helps our people to get organised as a Buddhist Nation.

    Will it ever happen ? Have we got what it takes ? It’s such a worthy challenge.

  15. Ben_silva Says:

    In response to SS’s comments. Buddhism has a number of good things such as the precepts, meditation and the middle path. We had 2500 years under Buddhism, and the Singhalese lost a major chunk of their only homeland and declined. We nearly lost the whole country . If Praba iwas allowed to stay, we would have lost the coubtry within a short time.. India and China also declined under Buddhism, as they were ill prepared to deal with external threats. In short, Buddhism has not worked for us .Like believers of religion, people do not want to deviate from their beliefs. Both China and India have made tremendous progress, since becoming secular. Unfortunately Buddhism do not guide us on how to deal with external threats and the nasty tough world around us other than seeking Nirvana. If we want to survive in a highly competitive global system where money and greed is the God, then we have to think fresh.

  16. Fran Diaz Says:

    The best way to help ourselves and others stay safe from a Greedy World is to help others see the Buddhist way of life in basics. We think times have changed from Genghis Khan & the Ming Dynasty days with present day new Information Technology, particularly the internet & wireless apparatus, where in seconds news is flashed around the globe. Armed attacks by any group should be anticipated and stopped before they happen in each country.

    Now it is false information attack, false rumour mongering, fear mongering, etc. – all surreptiously done by the ‘nasty’ side of the world, as Ben says. We have to counter that with our common sense and wisdom.

    Ben, we know that it was not Buddhism that was responsible for the decline of China & India – it was poor leadership under various warlords who lacked the wisdom of Buddhist Teachings. India was at its best and shone under Buddhist King, Asoka of India, and all Chinese wisdom flows from Buddhist teachings. India was over run by Muslim warlords during the time when Hindu Temples were richest. Muslim warlords came to plunder the wealth. In China, the British introduced Opium into China, destroying the peoples ability to think rationally. China was poverty stricken. That was the time Mao Tsetung stepped in.

    Sri Lanka herself flourished under Buddhist teachings. It was the Colonists with their guns who over ran Lanka ! However, we blended in after much heart rending scenarios.

    The wealth of a Nation should be its People. Truth/God lives in the Hearts of each human being. Safeguard the People, and the country is safe.

    We already have our own armed forces. What more can be done ?

    As a predominently Buddhist Nation, we have to move forward now in Development in every sphere, with the basic Buddhist Teachings intact, yet modernising the approach to the way Buddhism is taught to a practical, simple way, so that anyone can understand and follow the Teachings. Translate from Pali & Sanskrit into Sinhala, Tamil & English and spread the message to all who care to hear..

    Buddhist Organisations must get together to help the Buddhists in need, here & abroad.

  17. sanath sirisena Says:

    In response to Ben’ s comments , I totally agree with the last statement made by you , ‘If we want to survive in a highly competitive globel system where money and greed is the god’. This where we got to see the damma of Lord Buddha. the more we strive to compete, the troubles will never end. Buddism is not only guide you to attain Nirvana but also to live a peaceful life also meeting the challanges today.

    In the EIGHT FOLD PATH, it guides us, how to over come the threats ahead WHETHER ITS INTERNAL OR EXTERNAL. If I have to write the eight fold path , it will be a long story. I am sure you as a learned person know about what I am saying.

    We must learn to live with what we have and also meet the challnges to meet the present highly advancing science and technology around the world. Its upto us what to decide within our means.

  18. Andare Says:

    If all the Buddhists lived a true Buddhist life then I can guarantee that even the Christians and Muslims will on their own convert to Buddhism. I remember once an old lady who was a non-Buddhist in Colombo told me with great relish how all the Buddhist statues, and temples in Indonesia had crumbled and were now ruins. She expected me to get very angry. I remained very calm and told her that Buddhism is not in a statue or a temple, it is an idea which is truth itself therefore there is nothing that can destroy it. She was so angry after that she began to tremble with anger. I went on to tell her that that there is nothing to believe in Buddhism. Buddha said “Ehi passiko” come and see for yourself. His teaching is very open and clear. There is nothing hidden.

    If we realize how short this life is and how very vulnerable we are most of the ego and the greed will disappear. Once the realization of this temporariness of life happens then the process begins which is almost automatic and will eventually make the person seek answers and lead him to tread the path which will lead to eventual salvation. We are essentially clay dolls operated by some thing we have no understanding of. We can call it God, Truth, Brahma or what ever name. Buddha when asked about Nirvana said there is something unborn, undying eternal. We need to understand that thing and become one with it. Then all the questions go away and all the things we are supposed to be happen automatically.

  19. cassandra Says:

    This is a most interesting article, written with typical clarity. And the responses have been just as interesting.

    The writer has concluded the article with the observation, “Yet for all it is this agonizing desire amongst us that is really making Buddhism decline & unless we set ourselves right it is unfair to be blaming others or setting up plans that would be just nicely worded documents of paper.” Here is a point worth serious consideration.

    I suggest, in respect of external factors that pose a threat, there are two that also need to be considered. The first of these is religious indifference. In the West it has been observed that religious indifference is as potent a force as outright anti religious attitudes. The second factor is the inevitable decline in religious observances and allegiance that follows increased personal prosperity. In addition to these, there is also, of course, the growth of materialism and consumerism that hardly help.

    I must say I have some difficulty with some of Ben’s comments. On 9th February, he wrote that, “Buddhism is a part of our heritage and need to be protected as such” and almost in the same breath, added, “My view is that the Sinhalese in Sri Lanka need to be protected rather than an Indian belief system that is no longer believed by a majority in India”. I don’t know whether I am misreading his comments, but there seems to be an inconsistency here. I also cannot see why a belief system should lack merit because it is “no longer believed by a majority in India” I would have thought that doctrinal integrity rather than popularity was the determinant of religious validity.

    Ben had also said that “religion does not help development and advanced societies rely less on religion”. I don’t see why religion should be an impediment to development. In fact, it can provide a ‘moral compass’ to developers so that they do not engage in wasteful practices. It is worth noting that much of the development by the so called “advanced societies” has come at a huge cost, including dispossession of vulnerable and powerless people and significant and sometimes permanent damage to the fauna and the environment. No wonder they are now – at long last – talking of sustainable development, something that shows respect for the environment. And in this connection, it is pertinent to recall that it was over 2,500 years ago that the sage Mahinda famously reminded a Sinhalese king that the forest belonged to every creature who used it, and that the king was not its owner, merely its custodian. This is something that many developers in the “advanced societies” have sadly overlooked – that we are custodians of this planet with the sacred duty of trustees to look after it.

    Ben has also said, “We should ask our selves, as to the reasons why we lost a good chunk of our homeland”, and that, “It is possible that if Buddhism survives in Lanka, there may not be any Sinhalese left”. I am rather more optimistic. It seems to me also that his second statement reflects some curious logic. Buddhists in Sri Lanka are almost all Sinhalese. So, can we in fact have Buddhism in Sri Lanka without any Sinhalese?

    In his comments of the 11th, Ben has said that “India and China also declined under Buddhism, as they were ill prepared to deal with external threats”. But was Buddhism – or any religion for that matter – ever meant to give nations the military muscle needed to meet armed threats? Religion belongs in another sphere. Ben has also said that “If we want to survive in a highly competitive global system where money and greed is the God, then we have to think afresh”. That should not, however, involve abandoning religion or moral principles. It is interesting to note that in Britain, for instance, it is being acknowledged publicly that one reason for the recent financial crisis was the lack of moral considerations in the way in which the banking and financial system was operated – seemingly, there was no regard for the common good, the main consideration being to secure the bonuses of the CEOs.

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