06 November 2017
Buddhist Sri Lanka - the Internal Solution?
[Buddhism is a religion and dharma that encompasses a variety of traditions, beliefs and spiritual practices largely based on original teachings attributed to the Buddha and resulting interpreted philosophies……….In Buddhism dharma means "cosmic law and order”………… Cosmology is a branch of metaphysics that deals with the nature of the universe, a theory or doctrine describing the natural order of the universe] Wikipedia
To my mind, the essence of the above is that the law of karma maintains its balance for independent bodies to be self-governing. This could be through the vertical system of autocracy or the lateral system of democracy. Which system suits us is up to us but the moment one is indiscriminately mixed with the other, we end up confusing ourselves.
The question of whether to keep ‘Buddhism Foremost’ in the Constitution of Sri Lanka is key to our success as a Sovereign Nation. It need not be through Democracy.
Mr Sanjana Hattotuwa, through his article ‘Framed’ published by the Island, demonstrates a good example that he confuses Democracy with Independence:
[I was approached some months ago by staff of the Office of National Unity and Reconciliation (ONUR) to help with a photography project. The idea was to celebrate seventy years of Sri Lanka’s independence by asking citizens to submit photos that, to them, framed hope and reconciliation. After sharing some ideas around the theme and related technical aspects, I forgot about the project until I was invited to be part of the jury that selected winning entries which would go on public display
And that was when things started to get interesting.
ONUR received less than 400 submissions. I didn’t see the call for the submission of photographs, but was assured that it went in all three languages in the mainstream print media as well as social media. The jury expected many more photos, especially since the call extended over some months. Aside from other reasons, the jury felt that when asked to capture hope and reconciliation, citizens don’t quite know how best to frame either. This was supported by the fact that most of the photos submitted captured, somewhat bizarrely given the clearly stated theme, random scenes from nature, domestic pets, birds and a whole range of wild flowers or indoor floral arrangements.]
Do hope and reconciliation go together in the Sri Lankan mind? Reconciliation in this context is taken as reconciliation with other cultures. Those who leave reconciliation to their leaders are not likely have a picture of ‘reconciliation’ in their minds. The prerequisite for Reconciliation is Equal status attributed to the other. The war as seen and known by the Sri Lankan who left National level governance to her/his leader would be drawn in picture form as follows:
(i) In the Sinhala mind - due to conflict between Tamil rebels led by the Tamil Tigers on one side and the Government of Sri Lanka on the other.
(ii) In the Tamil mind, the war happened initially due to Sinhala Buddhists using majority power to ‘fail’ those of other cultures who were eligible to pass on merit basis. After the LTTE hijacked the Tamil agenda and the Government’s punishment was disorderly, a good proportion of Tamils accepted the authoritarian pathway of the LTTE due to lack of alternate pathways that were less violent. Until we identify to the best of our ability why we were affected by the war – any photo of ‘reconciliation’ would mean – reconciliation with Truth/Nature. Hope based on that picture is irrelevant to the current needs of the Government of Sri Lanka.
This lack of understanding has been demonstrated by the above author as follows:
[In 2017, Independence Square is an interesting location. On the Western flank, a very large Buddhist flag is hoisted and flies every day. A much smaller national flag is flown just behind the statue of D.S. Senanayake at the front or North of the monument. On the Eastern flank, a flagpole, of comparable height to the one of the West, is where the national flag should be present. But it’s absent, and can only be hoisted with the permission of the Navy. On the day of the exhibition and for its entire duration, we were told that the rope to hoist the national flag had frayed, which prevented it from being flown. A monument to celebrate the country’s independence is thus, visually and through the oversight of the military, associated with only a single religion. It is quite revealing that of the thousands who flock to the monument, no one asks why it is only a Buddhist flag, and not the national flag, that flies there.
Using my curatorial freedom and the 76 selected photos, I set out to more clearly highlight the violence of all this. Flanking the Buddhist flag, I placed images of Sri Lanka’s Muslim community – of two women, one in a hijab, engaged in manual labour, and in the other photo, another woman, also in a hijab, holding a Sri Lankan flag at what looked like a cricket match. On the other side of the flag pole, I placed an image of a book seller selling what appeared to be sermons of the Buddha on a street, and another image from Galle Face, showing a small Muslim boy eating an ice cream cone, amidst a sea of other people. Moving outwards in each direction, I placed images of children who were visibly from different ethnic and religious communities, an image of a Buddhist flag flying in front of a very well-known mosque in Colombo, Muslim men paying their last respects at the funeral of a venerable monk and other photos that when you stepped back, helped shape a more critical appreciation of the large Buddhist flag and its symbolism. Inside the monument, I deliberately placed images of Sri Lanka’s rich communal, religious and political diversity – reflecting upon our own tryst with destiny on February 4, 1948 and how much of the 70 years since have been mired in bloody violence. Each of the photos on the Eastern flank, all prize winners, resonated with the visible absence of the national flag. Back to the West, between the two large (dysfunctional) fountains, photos were placed along the walking path in the middle.]
I did not find any evidence of Hindu or Christian representation being highlighted by the author, to balance the Buddhist picture. This would have been acceptable if the war had been registered in the minds of Sri Lankans as being between Muslims and Buddhists. The author has been presented as follows by tedxcolombo.org:
[Schooled at S. Thomas’ College, Mount Lavinia, Sanjana read English at the University of Delhi, India and as a Rotary World Peace Fellow, was awarded an Advanced Masters in Conflict Resolution and International Relations from the University of Queensland, Brisbane with a Dean’s Commendation for High Achievement.
He is currently a Senior Researcher at the Centre for Policy Alternatives. Sanjana is a frequent commentator on journalism and new media in domestic and international fora. In addition to hosting a talk show on public television, he also lectured at the Sri Lanka College of Journalism (SLCJ) for a number of years, teaching journalists to use web, Internet and mobile technologies to strengthen professional, independent and investigative journalism. Sanjana is the founding editor and curates the entire media operations of Groundviews (www.groundviews.org), an award-winning web based civic media initiative.]
Here in Australia, the big picture shows more conflict with the Muslim world and one does wonder whether the author who is reported to have Advanced Masters certificate in Conflict Resolution and International Relations, from our University of Queensland is picturing the Australian problem as Sri Lankan problem? That was the way our Australian Prime Minister by conduct, recently pictured the Lankan Government as the victim of war, while still under the influence of the holocaust mind of the Jewish leadership. It is to prevent this kind of influence that Dual Citizenship is banned for policy/law makers.
The true picture that has evolved through the above exercise is that in the minds of those who sent photos, there is no problem and therefore they hope to live close to Nature. If majority of them are Buddhists – one is entitled to conclude that their ‘freedom to hope’ happened through Buddhism also and hence the acceptance of Buddhist flag as the first flag. When such folks elect Government and the Government acts in breach of Buddha Sasana, the Government acts in breach of the belief of the true voter who has the power to induce self-punishment by the Government. Truth is self-regulating. Given that Lord Buddha is believed to have realized Truth – the very inclusion of ‘Buddha Sasana’ if invoked would act as the foremost law – before the Judiciary or the People.
A citizen or a Parliamentarian through practice of Buddha Sasana, has the power to invoke traditional powers of Buddhism as well as the Lankan Parliament against those who claim to be Buddhists but act in breach of this Sasana beyond the level that could be corrected by the other side/ the Opposition. That is where ‘greed’ takes them if at least one investor in that Parliament has added her/his Truth to its structure at its highest with feelings at the depth/root of that Tradition.
The most recent example of this is the Dual Citizenship decision delivered by the by the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka, in relation to Ms Geetha Kumarasinghe, which decision would naturally apply to former Defence Secretary Mr Gotabaya Rajapaksa if he stood for Presidency. This is a good example of how Natural Justice works independent of all of us.
Article 91 (1) (d) of the Constitution of Sri Lanka states:
91. (1) (d) No person shall be qualified to be elected as a Member of Parliament or to sit and vote in Parliament if he is –
(xiii) a citizen of Sri Lanka who is also a citizen of any other country;
As per my knowledge there is no specific provision in relation to dual citizenship in the case of the President. But as per the provisions of the laws of Dharma, the eligibility of the President needs to be equal to or stronger than that of any office that reports to the position of President.
Article 31 (3) of the Constitution states in this regard:
(3) The President shall, by virtue of his office attend Parliament once in every three months. In the discharge of this function the President shall be entitled to all the privileges, immunities and powers of a Member of Parliament, other than the entitlement to vote, and shall not be liable for any breach of the privileges of Parliament or of its members
As per the above, the President is allowed to ‘sit’ in Parliament. A dual citizen is not allowed to ‘sit’ and ‘vote’. The question here is whether they (sitting and voting) are two functions or one. If they are one – then a President who has dual citizenship would be acting unlawfully if s/he sat in Parliament. In any case, the President while in Parliament, is not entitled to more privileges than an elected Member of Parliament.
Unless therefore Mr Gotabaya Rajapaksa renounces his American citizenship, he would not qualify to become President as per Dharma.
Where majority voters seek independence at group level rather than individual level –devolution becomes necessary. Where majority seek independence as individuals – as is the case with me – A Unitary structure with an Independent Judiciary would suit us. Former helps develop belief through common living whilst the latter elevates our mind to use knowledge based discriminative thinking until we complete our journey by discovering Truth and therefore Independence.
The average voter may not seek Court Rulings. But to the extent we submit our investment to self-regulating leaders with Divine personalities like Buddha and Yoga Swami – they will deliver the outcomes needed by all participants. The basis of Equal Opportunity principle is Diversity. The mind that does not register diversity would tend to use the autocratic pathway – in which case devolution by law becomes necessary to prevent abuse of power by one group on the other – which in the case of Sri Lanka could happen top-down or bottom-up.
The more we contemplate the deeper our contribution to Truth and therefore to Independence. Until we recognize diversity within our group – we do not qualify to claim to be spokespersons of Democracy. Where there are only two parties involved as in the case of the war – they are opposition under a unitary Democratic system. If more diverse parties are recognized as parties to the conflict – rule of majority is needed to precede such equal allocation of status at the beginning of Administration. Article 9 with Buddhism foremost provision, prevents this and hence where Buddha Sasana applies itself it would reverse the status including by diffusing the borders – so others could be included. That was how India came into Sri Lanka through culture – and America came in through those who actually practiced Democracy to defeat Mr Gotabaya’s side which opened the doors to punish one of theirs through the powers of all Americans who were committed to Democracy.
Independence Square represents our Truth – that Buddhists rule over Non-Buddhists. Lord Buddha is presides not only at Independent Square but in Parliament also – through the Constitution. Where a minority culture declares its belief that it is independent of Buddhism Lord Buddha will awaken to uphold the cosmic power of the Sri Lankan Parliament. That was how Lord Buddha delivered to Tamils the Equal position of Opposition Leadership. It is therefore to the advantage of minorities if Lord Buddha were expressly included at policy level not as a statue but as the founding leader of Buddha Sasana. The following report about Gandhi may help Buddhist leaders unite Sri Lanka :
[When Gandhi was questioned by the missionary E. Stanley Jones why he rejected becoming a follower of Christ he stated,
“Oh, I don’t reject Christ. I love Christ. It’s just that so many of you Christians are so unlike Christ. If Christians would really live according to the teachings of Christ, as found in the Bible, all of India would be Christian today.]