Just a FEW of my adoptive father’s 55+ books.
Google ‘Ananda Guruge‘ if you want to check out his Buddhist bona fides.
I have been railing against religious violence in Sri Lanka for YEARS.
Click to images to access original post.
To say that this Easter bombing saddens & distresses I does not even come close to genuinely capturing my disapprobation.
My adoptive family was as Buddhist as you could get. Check out some of my father’s Buddhist books shown above and Google him. He was a Buddhist scholar, ACTIVIST and, alas, also one of the original architects of the ‘Buddhism First‘ precept for Ceylon. But, he was as open-minded when it came to religion as one could be. My SURROGATE FATHER, my adoptive mother’s brother-in-law, with whom I spent nearly as much time as with my family — and who influenced me more than any other man — was a practicing Baptist. My ‘father’ never had any issues with that. We celebrated Easter and Christmas, at my surrogate father’s rather fancy house with abandon replete with all the best goodies that money could get in Ceylon — imported ham, lamb, cakes etc. My surrogate father, who was a lawyer, and his wife, who as the Assistant Principal at Royal College (Sri Lanka’s premier boys school) were rich — and had no kids, bar I.
In addition, we had more Christians on my “mother’s” side; she one of 9. One of her brother’s was married to a Catholic as had one of her sisters. We were a CLOSE family — multi-religious. Nobody cared about who was who. We all mucked into to each other’s holidays.
My “Father’s” best friend, who he met with near daily, was a prominent muslim. Never an issue. Our neighbors, that my “mother” genuinely treated as part of her family, were Tamil Catholics. They were at our house, without fail, every day.
So, I grew up in an environment where religion had no ‘color’ or ‘race’. It was just like a name. Made no difference.
This is why this religious violence disturbs me so.
All that said, I refuse to jump to conclusions as to who perpetrated this horrendous series of crimes. The last TWO bombings, which were of private houses, puzzles me.
Though I am NO LONGER a Sri Lankan (in terms of citizenship or affinity) I do know, alas, the mentality of my brethren. We can be a devilishly devious, unscrupulous, ruthless bunch of bastards.
These bombings, I hate to say it as such, were ‘genius’. It has created the PERFECT TSUNAMI.
We now can have a circular firing squad, consisting of Buddhists, Christians and Muslims, each taking pot shots at the other. READ BETWEEN THE LINES.
This was geared to cause political, social and ECONOMIC upheaval. It will, of course, decimate the burgeoning tourist trade. That will have far reaching knock-on effects.
But, please do NOT jump to conclusions.
It is not always the usual suspects.
Sri Lankan politicians are ruthless to a level that others will never comprehend.
Read Between The Line!
Check Category ‘Sri Lanka’.
by Anura Guruge
Θ Myanmar population control by Buddhists.
Θ All Buddhists should be ashamed re. Myanmar.
Θ Extremist Buddhist violence … Θ Appeal to all Buddhists
Θ Curb Buddhist extremists … Θ Curbing the Extremists
++++ Check Category ‘Sri Lanka’ & ‘Buddhism’ for more posts >>>>
Click here to access very good BBC original by Colombo-based Charles Haviland.
This extremist Buddhists muck-stirring, ably spurred on by unscrupulous hard-line Buddhist monks, this opportunistic yellow-robed reprobate, Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara, the chief culprit, have become totally out-of-control in Burma and Sri Lanka.
His statement, above, that “white people created all of the problems” is pure unadulterated TRIP. This is the ignorant Sri Lanka rhetoric ‘of late‘. I am NOT white, never have been and never will be. I was born brown in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). Though I left Ceylon in 1967, a week ahead of my 14th birthday, I had already made up my mind that the “whites”, Europeans, had GOT us to where we were. My adoptive mother, as I have often stated, was an out-and-out Anglophile. I just assumed that my adoptive father, who did VERY well from the education he got under the British, felt the same way. It was only 20 years ago, when I was reading his first nonfiction book, that I found out that he claimed to be vehemently anti-British.
IF NOT for the whites there probably would be
no Buddhism in Sri Lanka.
IF NOT for the whites ‘we’ would all be (heaven forbid) circumcised, praying 5 times a day, observing Ramadan and a growing bloody beards! [Yes, of course, we have Muslims in Sri Lanka and as I pointed out in this post my adoptive father, who, at least on the surface, supported BBS, was best friends, inseparable, with a prominent Muslim, who he talked with, if not met, every day!] So don’t get this wrong. All I am saying is that Buddhists who spout this tripe about the whites forget that it was the British that made sure that the Buddhists remained a majority on the Island.
IF not for the whites we would not have had, in the mid-1900s, the health system, the education system, the transport system and governance that ENABLED the extremist Buddhists of today to have the platform they have.
I do NOT believe in any religion. I do not believe in life after death. Simple as that. So I have NO axe to grind.
It is JUST that, given the unprecedented exposure I had to Buddhism and Buddhist monks while growing up (because of my adoptive father’s involvement with the ‘movement’), I KNOW that Buddhism is not a religion of violence.
Buddhism should NOT have a Darker Side.
Simple as that.
This is my adoptive father, in 2014, a few months ahead of his death, endorsing Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara and the BBS. I only became aware of the YouTube video, when a relative forwarded the link, a couple of months after his death. He and I had not been close for decades. We were very different people with radically different views and values. I eschewed religion when I was 18 (and formed an inordinate fondness for white females). He was extremely religious and did not fully appreciate my preferences — though to be fair to him he never interfered or told me to change. And contrary to what many think, especially those in the family, he was actually rather PROUD that I was writing ‘scholarly’ books about popes! Despite his foibles there was one constant in his life. He was an academic to the core and appreciated academic pursuits — even if they were outside of his value-system. Plus, he had made a point of meeting with John Paul II multiple times — exploiting his credentials as an ambassador.
Four years prior to his death, when we were STILL on speaking terms, I asked him — verbally and via e-mail — to speak out about the extreme Buddhist movement in Sri Lanka and in particular the GARBAGE that they were trying to propagate that the Buddha was born in Sri Lanka. He admitted to me that HE KNEW that this was WRONG but he was unwilling to say so publicly. And that in a nutshell sums up why we could NOT get along and why I was never his son. I have to stand up and speak for or against the things I believe in and things that are important to me. Hence this post, hence this blog. Yes, I was never a diplomat or a politician.
Anywho … here is the video. In a way it cracked me up. It epitomized why we could not get along. Something else about this video that is spooky. Watch it. Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara TOWERS over him as he speaks. It looks like an HOSTAGE video and some have commented on that aspect. I love some of the comments that have been posted on YouTube. Anywho, you make up your own mind. And PLEASE remember you cannot pick your parents and to make it worse I am adopted. [I am as it happens a Ceylon version of the “Other Son“.] But that is life.
…by Anura Guruge
Prayer means many things to many people, and to many it is a very personal and reverential facet of their life. You could tell that the President, always politic even when making a joke, was very careful about how he ‘worded it’ and then referred to it as ‘good vibes’ when talking to journalist. Given that his true faith is often questioned, the last thing the President wanted, so soon after his resounding reelection, was for the ‘birthers‘ to start claiming that he was now a Buddhist! The current pope, Benedict XVI (#266), is definitely not a fan of non-Christain prayer.
We need to tread very carefully when it comes to Buddhism and prayer to avoid unwarranted misconceptions.
It is also important to make a distinction as to the meaning and significance of prayer. To many, prayer involves asking for intervention of some sort, typically in the form of a beneficial favor. In this case, the President, when talking of prayer, was referring to a beneficial outcome in the U.S. Fiscal Cliff talks.
So, this is why you need to be careful when you bring up prayer and Buddhism in the context of ‘I need a favor‘ type prayers.
Simply put in Buddhism per se there is really no one that can really grant anyone, even the President of the U.S., with beneficial favors!
Yes, of course, Buddhist pray. That is beyond doubt or debate. My mother who was a devout Buddhist prayed incessantly and was known for having a never ending supply of Holy Water from Lourdes and Holy Ash from Sai Baba!
Though some will argue, Buddha was not a god, and definitely not ‘God’ with a capital ‘G’. Buddha was very specific about that. Though he was not fond of discussing how we came to be, he was always adamant that he was not ‘God the Creator’. So, Buddha, or Siddhartha Gautama Buddha to be specific, was not God.
The Buddha per his own was to reach the state of ‘Nirvana‘ when he died (over 2,400 years ago). Nirvana is the cessation of existence. So other than his teachings and some relics nothing of the Buddha per se exists. There is definitely no ‘soul’, ‘being’, ‘persona’, ‘spirit’ or ‘essence’ of the Buddha floating around here, there or in heaven. That would be totally against his much beloved noting of ‘Nirvana’. So, this means, that while you obviously can’t stop people doing so, it is kind of futile praying to Siddhartha Gautama Buddha. He by his own claim ceased to exist in any tangible form. So, that is, to me, the most fundamental issue when it comes to Buddhism and prayer. You cannot equate Buddha to the Abrahamic God. You might want to, but it just does not make sense.
Yes, Buddhism does embrace the notion of ‘non-human’ entities called ‘Devas’. Yes, of course, you can pray to them, and Buddhist do. But, per the teachings these Devas have limited powers and are definitely not supposed to grant favors — even if they had the power to do so!
In reality, many Buddhist, my family among them, pray most often to the Hindu gods. Buddha was born an Hindu and the two religions acknowledge each other. All Buddhist temples in Sri Lanka (where I come from) have shrines for two or more Hindu gods. In Sri Lanka it is a seamless, symbiotic relationships. Buddhists pray to the Hindu gods. But, to me there is a distinction. That is not Buddhist prayer. That is Hindu prayer.
Yes, ‘Buddhist prayer’ in the form of a kind of meditation is favored by some. But, that is prayer without asking for something. So it is different; very different to some.
So, I just wanted to make sure that my President was not misleading all.
by Anura Guruge
You can post them right here.
Do it as a Comment or e-mail me. [Contact info. is on the sidebar –>>>]
I can answer, with conviction, most questions about Buddhism or at least point you in the right direction. I also have some contacts who could help. IF really pressed I will ask my 83-year old father, the doyen on the subject.
[I just posted a similar offer on his blog, which I maintain. They will BOTH come to me.]
Actually, while I am at it, you can ask me about most anything you like. The chances are that I will have some type of answer.
So … fire away.
…by Anura Guruge
Address of the temple: 162 Old Upton Road, Grafton, MA 01519
(just off Route 140, south of Grafton center)
Tel: 508-839-5038 & 646-897-8951
I am no longer a Buddhist. More on that later. This is the first time I had been to a Buddhist temple since 1992. But, it was definitely worth going and we all really enjoyed the experience. Suffice to say it was an all time first for Deanna and the kids.
This temple was founded by my first cousin, my mother’s oldest brother’s, youngest daughter. It is the 14th Buddhist temple, in 14 separate states in the U.S., that she has founded in the last 14 years! She, for obvious reasons, eschews publicity so I am not going to say anything more about her, other than that she is pretty amazing. I have about 16 cousins from my mother’s side and all of them are mega successful luminaries; I am the dud.
I had not seen her in 40 years! That was a primary motive for making the 120 mile (each way), 2 hour trek. I have interacted more with her older sister, and she even visited us from Texas 7 years ago. She called me up two weeks ago and told me that I should go and surprise my cousin. That is what we did, but she recognized me right away (the sister having told her that there might he a surprise).
There were at least 31 Buddhist monks and 1 Buddhist nun from all over the U.S., Illinois, Ohio, Maryland, D.C., Staten Island, Long Island. I was impressed.
I had expected to find 5 monks at that and possibly 150 people. Even the Sri Lankan Ambassador to the U.N., resident in New York City, drove up to the event.
I knew that there would be a lot of food but even that exceeded expectations. We got there around 10:30 am and left at 4:25 pm. They did 4 separate food servings in that time and there was still food left over.
There were 200 people or more. I was amazed.
The weather did not cooperate. It was awfully humid we had some heavy downpours. But, the weather did not impede proceedings. There was a large tent and everybody could fit in it.
So, it was good. Lot of nice people. I spoke with some; also with some of the Buddhist priests (the fact that I can no longer converse in Sinhalese being an embarrassing impediment, though I can still understand much of what is said to me in Sinhalese). Speaking with Buddhist priests used to be daily part of my life, sans exception, until we left Ceylon in 1967 – a week before my 14th birthday.
Deanna and Devanee were impressed. Teischan, as ever, was difficult. Not sure whether we will be going back. We might.
So, me and Buddhism, especially with me spending so much time and effort as a papal historian.
I was born a Buddhist to an awfully devout Buddhist family, my father even then a noted Buddhist scholar and activist — as he still is. If you don’t believe me start with this link or check Amazon (for ‘Ananada Guruge’). My young life was a total immersion in Buddhism. Buddhist priests visited the house, without fail, every day of the week — mainly in the morning, but sometimes at night as well. I had to go to Sunday school. But, during the rest of the week we could end up going to a temple a couple of times a week — not for religious purposes necessarily, but because my father had to meet with one or more monks about the various initiatives they were up to. One of them involved creating a Buddhist university. I was probably 8 around that time. Given that I got dragged to so many of the meetings I became quite involved with it! So, Buddhism was very much an integral part of my life.
People ask me, even today, whether I no longer follow the Buddhist way of life. Well, within reason, of course I do. The Buddhist way of life was never too onerous, though I used to get grief about the large number of eggs I ate (which explains my super high cholesterol). There are no commandments in Buddhism. Only precepts, and you only have to follow 5 of them. Three were never really a problem — given that Buddhism is somewhat ambivalent about meat eating. Plus from all I know, and remember I knew plenty, the precepts tell you to ‘TRY and REFRAIN‘. Yep, I do that. I try and refrain, always have, all my life. (As Oscar Wilde said: ‘I have great willpower. I can resist anything but temptation‘.) Plus, not sure that my 1/2 a glass of diluted red wine, strictly for medicinal purposes, counts anyway. So, my abandonment of Buddhism when I was about 18 years old (which was 40 years ago) had nothing to do with ‘way of life’.
It had everything to do with the AFTERLIFE. You talk to Buddhist in America and they start waxing lyrical about meditation. That is like saying Catholicism is all about confession. Meditation played no role in my life growing up as this model Buddhist, in Ceylon, the supposed cradle of pure Buddhism, in a family noted as exemplary Buddhist. I actually asked my father about this, on camera, earlier this Summer. He admitted that meditation did not play much of a role in the Buddhism we practiced in Ceylon.
To be Buddhism was, and still is, all about reincarnation. Those that have seen some of my work know that I am a pedantic devil that likes to mull about very arcane topics. Well, when I was in College, among other things, I did a lot of thinking about reincarnation. When I was about 15, after a funeral, at a large family gathering at one of my uncles houses, with quite a few heavyweights from the Ceylon Buddhist scene, I asked all present: ‘per Buddhism, when does reincarnation of a human ‘soul’ start, at the moment of conception or when the baby is born?’ There was a stunned silence. The uncle whose house it was, had a brother. He was the Secretary General of the ‘Ceylon Buddhist Congress‘. I still can remember the look on his face. He was a lifelong bachelor. I was asking about conception and Buddhism. His jaw dropped. Actually I never got an answer. I still haven’t, over 5o years later.
I cannot, for the world of me, reconcile reincarnation. To me, if I do not believe in reincarnation I couldn’t and shouldn’t be a Buddhist.
I explained that to my father. He understood. He is a scholar. His only issue is what do I believe in IF I don’t believe in reincarnation. Aaahhh.
Well, life permitting, I plan to write a book someday about ‘Growing Up Buddhist in Ceylon in the 1960s‘. But, before that I have two other titles I would like to get done — life permitting, and yes, one of them has to do with popes, now that I have gone a whole full year without publishing a pope book!
But, bottom line, we are glad we went to the temple opening (consecration) today. It was good to see my cousin. It was good to see all those people. Thanks.