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Sunday, September 30, 2007

Time for revival of Budhism in Sri Lanka

Time for revival of Budhism in Sri Lanka
- Lakbima Online' News
By Ven. Alubomulle Ratanasiri Thera, the Chief Sangha Anunayaka of Malaysia.

It is amidst irrepressible obstacles that Buddhism survived in Sri Lanka to date. Buddhism gave rise to a new civilization in this country. People became disciplined owing to Buddhism. The majority of Buddhists we find in Sri Lanka at present are nominal Buddhists who are so by virtue of birth. As Sri Lankan Buddhists, moral discipline has degenerated. Buddhists in other countries apply principles of Buddhism in their day-to-day life. In our country, we have Dhamma schools in every temple and preaching of Dhamma is a daily routine. But people have distanced themselves from practisinging what they listen. What is urgently needed in this country is a mental revolution. Cleanliness is the basic factor in Buddhism. Cleanliness should prevail both in thought and environment. This is the factor meant by pathiroopa desa vasocha.
There are a number of reasons for the degradation of Sri Lankans to this condition. Sri Lankans are burdened with so many problems they cannot endure. These problems have distorted their mentality. Among such problems, their economic condition dominates. Their security is at stake. Finding a square meal daily is a problem to them. Providing a satisfactory education for their children is another problem. The multitude of problems has thrown them out of mental balance and made them indisciplined. So they ignore religious teachings. They are battered by injustice. An under developed economy leads to spiritual collapse.
People of our country should not be blamed for this condition. It is owing to them that Buddhism survived in this country for so long. What they lack is a proper leadership to put them back on the correct track.
The Buddhist clergy can provide leadership for this cause. But to make the Buddhist laity abide by Buddhist principles, there must be unity among Buddhist monks. The Buddhist clergy in Sri Lanka today divided under various complexes. They are divided as Nikayas. They are divided according to lay patrons, according to political affiliations and so on. Among such causes of division, politics play a major role. You can hardly come by ten temples prepared to work together in harmony. An active amalgamation of Buddhist monks dedicated to perpetuate Buddhism is an urgent need of the hour. There are umpteen number of temples in the country which do not get alms
Some system has to be evolved to protect the Buddhist clergy. There must be an organisation capable of solving the miscellaneous problems confronting the Buddhist clergy. Towards this end the unity of the Buddhist religious order is absolutely essential.
Once the Buddhist order is free of obstacles, they become independent to see to the social and spiritual revival of the people. Programmes can be implemented to extricate people from alcoholism and similar vices. Children could be guided on a proper code of moral conduct through Dhamma school education which is not based on competition to pass examinations.
Buddhist monks should start social work at the village level to solve the prevalent problems in the village. They must visit patients in the village and help them recover. Such services should not be confined to mere lip service.
The active participation of young monks in this regard is absolutely essential. At the same time the young Bhikkus must be trained to undertake propagation of Buddhism in foreign countries. Their present contribution towards this end is less tangible. They must be versed in the three languages of Pali, Sinhala and Sanskrit in addition to literacy of English and Tamil. The pirivena vacation periods may be utilized for this purpose. Propagation of Buddhism needs some degree of sacrifice.
To achieve goals of this nature, Bikkhus must first of all, feel secure. Safeguards must be introduced to discourage young Bhikkus from leaving the robe. When they enter the order they are so young that they long for parental love. In the temple at their formative years the elder bhikkus in the temple should strive to bridge the gap. In our temples today, when the novice bhikku reaches the age of 14 or 15, his impression about the elder bhikkus is disheartening. So he begins to revolt.
Even the provisions of the Buddhist Temporalities Ordinance are not conducive. Under it the chief incumbency devolves on the eldest in the temple.
This condition tends to create tension among Bhikkus. Similarly I cannot agree with the provision for a Bhikku to become the Chief Incumbent of a number of temples. The knowledge of modern technology must be imparted to young Bhikkus at the Pirivena level. Without literacy in modern technology a person gets non-plussed in a developing surrounding.
Discipline and self control are the ingredients of a civilized society. A growing child needs the self-control of a soldier and a discipline of an ascetic. Persons of the ages of 18 to 50 years are eligible to receive higher ordination. The system of receiving temporary priesthood should be introduced in Sri Lanka. This is a common phenomenon among the Buddhists in Thailand and Myanmar.
The pirikara that is offered to us at almsgiving is our economic strength. When you offer pirikara to us make it a dozen exercise books. We can collect them and distribute them among poor school children in the village. In this way as Bhikkus we can unite and go to the village to serve the people.

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