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Thursday, January 10, 2008

Why ? Sri Lanka ....

WHY SRI LANKA ?


Extracted from,
sujata.wordpress.com


Why does anybody want to live in Sri Lanka, if there are other choices? Why deal with corruption, stupidity, headless bodies and bodiless heads, if you have a choice.

These are questions that seem to come up more often than I like.

What did the great sage of India have to say about location? I turn to the Mangala Sutra, A discourse on blessings, in Buddha’s own words, and translated to English by Henepola Gunaratana Thera.

To reside in a suitable location

To have past good deeds doneTo set oneself in the right direction

This is a blessing supreme

(Patirupadesavaso ca; Pubbe ca katapunnata;

Attasammapanidhi ca; etam mangalam uttamam)

There it is. The second verse in the Mangala Sutra. Buddha did not go as far as realtors to say location, location, location, but he did say to get your location right. First decide what is suitable for you.

For me what makes Sri Lanka unsuitable as a location is not the usual list of corruption… etc., but the Buddhist monks who are calling for war, and the chanting of pirit that nobody understands and pansil nobody intends to keep. Mixing of Buddhism and Nakshtra can be added to the list.

What attracts me also has much to do with Buddhism. Picking Sepalika flowers off the meadow on a poya morning and visiting Mihintale on Poson night. Those associations tie me down to this place. [Sepalika is the only flower (?) that you might offer after it has fallen. So delicate with a fragrance so subtle.]

If a truly Buddhist community is the object, one is perhaps better off in Los Angeles, USA or other foreign place where there are communities of true practitioners. To me, somehow, the Buddha, Dhamma, and Sangha there fail to connect with the sounds, smells and sensations that I associate with Buddhism.

What else does Sri Lanka offer or not offer?

Mangala sutra begins with,

Asevana ca balanam panditanan ca sevana;

Puja ca pujaniyanam etam mangalam uttam

To associate not with the foolish

To be with the wise

To honor the worthy ones

This is a blessing supreme.

To find a monk worthy of obeisance or a friendship worth sustaining is indeed a blessing supreme. As a returnee home after many years I have much to discover. At first glance I saw all monks here either as hate mongers or mudalalis, but, then I found you need to look deeper. For example, until recently I did not know that the very old monk I have seen round the temple I visit is the most venerable Davuldeniye Gnanissra thero, the chief incumbent of Amarapura Nikaya. One of these days I might get a chance to talk to him.

Interestingly, the Mangala sutra, [according to my limited understanding], has very little to say about social action. It essentially says to care for ones mother, father, spouse, children and relatives. Be good and do good to those around you.

Fourth and fifth verses in Mangala Sutra:

To be well caring of mother, of father

Looking after spouse and children

To engage in a harmless occupation

This is a blessing supreme

Selfless giving, living the just life

Open hands to all relatives

And blameless action

This is a blessing supreme

But take the last set of blessings. It is that set that grabs me most and makes me want to repeat it day after day, moment after moment, hoping the real meaning would sink in.

Last set of blessings, Mangala Sutra:

A mind unshaken

When touched by the worldly states

Sorrowless, stainless, and secure

This is the blessing supreme

How can you remain unmoved by corruption, stupidity, headless bodies and bodiless heads? Apparently, in later years, the Buddha watched his Shakya clan get decimated by the Kosala kings and did not intervene [Pankaj Mishra in, An End to Suffering: The Buddha in the World]. Buddha intervened in a fight over a river but at some point he had to give up, I suppose.

Michael Ondaatje got it right. To me, the running theme in his two seminal works—English Patient and Anil’s Ghost—is about finding inner strength through your craft when the world around you is falling apart. In the English Patient, the young Canadian nurse Hana saw her best friend blow up in a land mine and decided to opt out with one hopeless patient and care for him. What I remember most about Kip, the young Sikh mine sweeper, is his almost robotic attention to his task.

All the characters in Anil’s Ghost find solace in their craft and in each other in the middle of a strange war. Anil, the forensic anthropologist; Sarath, the archaeologist; Ananda the artist, and lastly Gamini the doctor even as he tended to the body of his brother’s body, a victim of the same war.

Mangala Sutra, third verse:

Great learning and craft

And a discipline well-trained in

And whatever utterance is well-spoken

This is a blessing supreme

Difficult times or not Sri Lanka is the place for me and the Mangala Sutra tells me to stay put, apply my craft as best as I can, take care of those around me, speak kindly, speak well, and above all, stay unshaken or try at least.

—————————————————————————-

Mangala Sutra or Great Discourse on Blessings

(Translation, by Dr. Henepola Gunaratana Nayaka Thera, Bhavan Society, High View, West Virginia, USA)

Thus have I heard. One time the exalted one was living near Savatthi, in Jeta’s Grove, the monastery of Anathapindika. Then, in the middle of the night, a certain deity of astounding beauty, lighting up the entire Jeta’s Grove, approached the exalted one. Drawing near, she paid homage to the Exalted One and stood to one side. Standing thus the deity addressed the Exalted One in verse:

Many deities and humans have pondered on blessings,

Desiring their well-being. Tell me the blessings supreme.

Buddha’s reply:

To associate not with the foolish

To be with the wise

To honor the worthy ones

This is a blessing supreme.

To reside in a suitable location

To have past good deeds done

To set oneself in the right direction

This is a blessing supreme

Great learning and craft

And a discipline well-trained in

And whatever utterance is well-spoken

This is a blessing supreme

To be well caring of mother, of father

Looking after spouse and children

To engage in a harmless occupation

This is a blessing supreme

Selfless giving, living the just life

Open hands to all relatives

And blameless action

This is a blessing supreme

To cease and abstain from evil

Complete restraint from intoxicants

To be diligent in virtuous practices

This is a blessing supreme

To be reverent and humble

Content and grateful

To hear the Dhamma at the right time

This is a blessing supreme

To be patient and obedient

The seeing of recluses

To discuss the Dhamma at the right time

This is a blessing supreme

To austerely and purely

To see the Noble truths

And to realize Nibbana

This is the blessing supreme

A mind unshaken

When touched by the worldly states

Sorrowless, stainless, and secure

This is the blessing supreme

Those who have fulfilled all these

Are everywhere invincible

They find well-being everywhere

Theirs is the blessing supreme


http://sujata.wordpress.com/2006/05/30/why-sri-lanka/

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