The colonial mindset of the ‘dark elite in white masks’
Posted on March 20th, 2013

Akila Weerasekera

For more than 25 years epistemology and ontology has been the primary study of Professor Nalin de Silva. As a result of his study he came up with the philosophy of constructive relativism, also called “paticcasamuppadin” and is different from the conventional materialistic and idealistic approaches.

Constructive Relativism is based on Buddhist culture and states that the world is nothing but a creation of the observer due to ignorance of anicca, dukka, anatma and that the world is the same as the knowledge of the world. Lay people having not attained Nibbana constantly create knowledge. This created knowledge is then categorized as scientific knowledge, indigenous knowledge or any other kind of knowledge.

For a long time Professor de Silva has been lecturing, writing and educating academics and the public about this new approach. Practical application of this new philosophy in various areas has given successful results.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  However, still many people have difficulties grasping this new philosophy.

In a recent discussion on the subject of knowledge on the educational television program Doramadalawa, including the host of the program and many callers demonstrated this difficulty. This is not so surprising while even Professor Carlo Fonseka who was a guest on the program and a staunch supporter of western science is still clueless of what Professor de Silva is saying.

In general it has been assumed in western science that there is an objective reality and science progresses towards the objective truth with successive discoveries. It is also claimed that there is a “scientific method” that is applied in “science” that distinguishes itself from the other systems of knowledge. As a consequence of this approach people tend to (or are led to) view which lies outside the scope of what we can see, touch and feel, with grave skepticism and unless proven true by science becomes relegated to the wasteland of wishful thinking.

Consequently, reason many people have such a hard time understanding this new philosophy is their inability or discontent to think beyond our current learning. This has put us in a bit of a blunder in accepting other worldly views which do not have a western foundation. Therefore, it is not surprising to see people being stunned when Professor de Silva criticize the established western system of knowledge and introduces a Sinhala-Buddhism based knowledge.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ 

How did our modern education system come to be? Today almost all the countries in the world have adopted a single education system and share a similar curriculum in secondary schools and post-secondary schools.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ 

Modern education system was introduced to the world by the British Empire about three hundred years ago. By the early 20th century the British Empire held sway over one fifth of the worldƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s population and covered almost quarter of the earthƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s land area. In order to continue their imperialist agenda the British Empire established what is called the bureaucratic administrative machine. This bureaucratic administrative machine depended on standardization of its work process and was powered by people. In order for its proper function the workforce (people) needed to be identical in their way of thinking.

For example, a person picked up from Ceylon and brought to Britain should have been able to read, understand and function as a British. Likewise, people receiving instructions by the Empire were expected to smoothly carry out their duties. To produce such identical-thinking people they created educational institutions called schools and universities in colonial countries. The educational system and curriculum were set according to the needs of the British Empire.

The knowledge distributed by these institutions was created in the west and has a Greek-Judeo-Christian foundation (for more information refers to Professor Nalin de SilvaƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s books and articles). This knowledge is said to be universal. People who attended these institutions were ultimately trained to become part of the bureaucratic administrative machine.

Today the Empire is no more but unfortunately the bureaucratic administrative machine is still functional and educational institutions continue to produce a class of ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”dark elite with a white maskƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢. Inevitably an ideological struggle has been created between those of who regard western knowledge as universal and those of us who believe western knowledge is just another knowledge system of many.

Through the process of colonialism we have lost a great deal of our own knowledge and other aspects associated with it. The foundations of Sinhala-Buddhist way of thinking were destroyed by the current western education system. It continues to produce people with a mind-set that western knowledge is the only ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-trueƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ knowledge and that we should frown upon any other knowledge systems.

Time and time again Professor de Silva has emphasizes the need to create new knowledge based on Sinhala-Buddhism. It is time that we really listen to people like Professor de Silva and understand the importance of breaking away from the colonial mindset. Creation of our own education system that has a Sinhala-Buddhist base and its proper integration with other knowledge systems could produce better suited people for our society.


5 Responses to “The colonial mindset of the ‘dark elite in white masks’”

  1. Raj Says:

    Unlearning is a lot more difficult than new learning. That is why some people, especially some so called ‘scientists’ can’t grasp Nalin’s concepts. Any new idea put forward has always been ridiculed at first, but later accepted. Ajhan Brahmavamso has many stories about these things and he himself is a particle scientist, and many more.

  2. Senevirath Says:

    NALIN DE SILVA is a thera vada buddhist. but some people cannot understand what he means by “SINHALA BUDDHISM””
    only those who have”” PAARAMI” can attain nibbana in this life. Others have to lead a good life until they reach that level. So they created a suitable life style to save buddhists, their country and their culture from enemies so that they can survive as buddhists until such time. That is why sinhale never turned in a “VATICAN” or AFGHANISTAN.
    We know what happened to other countries

    King DUTUGEMUNU was the founder of this SiNHALA BUDDHAGAMA . With this S .. B HE SAVED SINHALE.
    Thanks to S .B stil we have 70% buddhists . Sinhala buddhists fight only for self defence. Dutugemunu the founder set an example even to respect the enemy . …… (HUMAN RIGHTS OF A DEAD MAN?))…….

    Nalin is trying to save sinhale for others who has “”PAARAMI”” to attain nibbana. For this, he has to postpone his nibbana .
    I have read almost all his books and articles in VIDUSARA AND SUNDAY DIVAINA.
    colonial parasites will never like a sinhalaya like Nalin .
    THANKS NALIN u have sacrificed a lot for this country for more than 30 years . U lost your job for doing this. but u never gave up.

  3. Fran Diaz Says:

    Meditation helps to disengage from conditioning. I have read Prof de Silva’s articles but not his books. We have great admiration for his work.

    At present, some US prisons (including prisons in Texas) have started to use Meditation to overcome the negative conditioning/states in the prisoners’ minds. See website : for more details re the Meditation mostly used there.
    India too uses Meditation with guiding talks, even for the worst of prisoners.

    Our thanks to Prof Nalin de Silva for his continued and fine efforts to bring understanding about life for the people of Lanka.

  4. aloy Says:

    “Practical application of this new philosophy in various areas has given successful results.”

    There is no clue as to what this new philosophy is about, other than the “epistemology” and “ontology” mentioned in the first sentence of this article. Can Akila give one or two examples of the successful applications.

  5. Lorenzo Says:

    Some very GOOD news. Hope it is true.

    UNHRC vote fallout: Sri Lanka to partly take back IOC tanks

    Colombo: Sri Lanka today announced plans that it would partially take over a strategic oil storage depot in Trincomalee from the Indian Oil Company’s local arm after India voted in favour of a US-sponsored resolution against Colombo at the UNHRC.

    There had been unconfirmed reports in the local media that the government was eying the 99-tank storage facility in the north-eastern port district of Trincomalee, but Information Minister Keheliya Rambukwella today announced at the weekly cabinet press briefing the plans to take back unutilised tanks from Indian Oil Corporation’s local arm known as Lanka IOC.”

    – firstpost

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