On the situation in Berlin Vihara
by SoGen Ralf Boeck, Vice-President of the German Buddhist Union, The Buddhist Channel, Nov 22, 2012
I'm referring to the article "Asoka Weeraratna - Germany’s Mahinda Thera" by Senaka Weeraratna, published Nov. 16 in the Lanka Daily News and republished in your 'Personality'-section.
The story told there is indeed a heart-warming one and german Buddhists still hold Asoka Weeraratna's memory in high esteem. So far, nothing in this story is untrue - though I really would not subscribe to the notion, that the Berlin Vihara "to date remains the centre of Theravada Buddhism in Germany and continental Europe". In my opinion not even in Berlin, to be frank. Alas the story of the Berlin Vihara has a sequel untold in this article - a very sad one.
Please read this paper about the 50th anniversary of the Berlin Vihara by Dr. Sudath Thenuware, a respected Sri Lankan citizen living in Berlin:
Check out the Website http://www.buddhist-forum.net/ for more background information. The deeper you go into it, the more depressing it gets.
You may be aware that the 50th anniversary of the Berlin Vihara was in 2007 - but in the last 5 years things have changed only for the worse. Today the Berlin Vihara is almost in ruins; it is now a Vihara where no monks reside any more.
This is all that remains of Asoka Weeraratne's legacy in Germany.
The DBU (German Buddhist Union), umbrella organization of German Buddhists and Buddhist organizations, feels deeply troubled by the decay of this eminent place in the history of Buddhism in Germany. In 2009 the Berlin Vihara was barred from
the DBU - it had become unavoidable.
The purpose of this letter is not to slander anyone or to gossip. But many German Buddhists have been hoping for years that the German Dharmadhuta Society would eventually intervene to make the Berlin Vihara 'Das Buddhistische Haus' again a true "centre of Theravada Buddhism in Germany and continental Europe".
The problem is not money - German Buddhists and the German monument protection service were more than willing to help. It's a problem that only the German Dharmadhuta Society in Sri Lanka can solve. Maybe that letter helps a bit - though I don't have much hope left.