Poson thoughts

Editorial, Lanka Daily News, June 30, 2007

Colombo, Sri Lanka -- June 30, 2007 is a very special day for Buddhists in Sri Lanka. It was on a Poson Poya Day, more than 2,000 years ago, that Sri Lanka received Buddhism. Thsi was the day when King Devanampiyatissa and his subjects embraced Buddhism, which led to a socio-cultural revolution in Sri Lanka.

In fact, the country's heritage rests firmly on the foundation of Buddhism which has been preserved and practised through the ages in spite of foreign invasions.

The contribution made by Buddhism to Sri Lanka’s cultural evolution is immeasurable.

The multitude of Cetiyas, Buddha statues and magnificent temples around the country speak volumes of the ancient rulers’ fervent devotion to Buddhism. The Buddhist way of life was also the bedrock of the country’s hydraulic civilisation.

This Buddhist way of life is now increasingly under strain in a commercialised world where the pursuit of wealth is the priority for most.

In this relentless quest for money, most have lost sight of moral and religious values which have been handed down from generation to generation.

Even in rural villages, people have distanced themselves from the temple and other places of worship, leading to a society facing moral decay.

In earlier times, the temple used to be the focal point in the village, with the Chief Incumbent being held in high esteem by the residents. He acted as mentor, healer and mediator.

The fact that the country is receding from the Buddha’s noble words is discernible from newspaper reports of horrendous crimes. The root cause of many of these is money itself. When one’s sole goal in life is accumulating more wealth, Buddhist tenets can appear to be a hindrance. This is a very common misconception.

The Buddha Dhamma has clearly defined, in Suttas such as the Sigalovada, how lay persons can lead a contended life without deviating from noble Buddhist ideals. These words still hold true today as they did then.

The simple act of following the Five Precepts alone can turn one’s life for the better. These values and practices should be inculcated from childhood itself to mould good citizens.

That is the only way Sri Lankans can ensure a future generation which will respect religious values and human dignity.