Buddhist way of life - Answer to socio-economic crisis | Daily News

South Asian Buddhist Forum established at Baurinagar Buddhist Maha Vihara in Maharashtra:

Buddhist way of life - Answer to socio-economic crisis

The South Asian Buddhist Forum was held with the participation of over 25,000 people at the Baurinagar Buddhist Maha Vihara in the State of Maharashtra on January 7. Ven. Atureliya Rathana Thera was elected as the President of the South Asian Buddhist Forum on this occasion. The former Chief Minister of the State of Maharashtra together with several ministers of the State participated at the event. About 25 Sri Lankan monks were also present and Buddhist representatives from various States of India also joined in. This could be identified as the biggest Buddhist forum up to now.

Prof. Nandadas Agale was elected as the Secretary. Ven. Assajee Thera of Maharashtra and Kin Po Chinmd Ringpoche, who is a member of the Constitutional Council of Nepal, were appointed as the Vice Presidents. Ven. Gnanarakshith Thera of Hyderabad was also elected. The following agreement was adopted on this occasion.

The Keynote speech by Ven. Atureliya Rathana Thera:

Some people say Buddhism is a way for them to attain personal liberation. That is why they need to be rid of this world full of human desires. To prepare in this regard, the world need not be prepared. It is taught that releasing yourself is the pathway. The attitude of the Bodhisattva is that it is self-centred to achieve Nirvana on your own. That is why it is important to dedicate yourself for the good of all the world's creatures. Even if he wants to meditate alone and be free, he gives it up because others are suffering. This story appears in our Theravada Pali literature as well. Deepankara receiving vivarana is an example.

The Jathaka Potha (book) is very popular among Sri Lankan Buddhists. It is mentioned as follows in the book. Accordingly, attaining Nibbana on your own, which many people wait for, is similar to eating a tasty food on your own. It is comparable to parents fleeing when their children are on the verge of dying due to a fire. It is mentioned in Mahayana Literature that attaining Nibbana on your own is selfish. As a result of this argument, Buddhism was divided into two sections - Mahayana and Theravada.

Even when we consider the basic sutras under Theravada as well as the Maha Prajnaparamita Sutras in the Mahayana, we can see a philosophical similarity. In Theravada literature, there are four highest mental qualities of an Arahant. That is Brahma Vihara. It means highest behaviour. These four virtues and the Bodhisattva attitude are similar.

* Metta (Unconditional love)
* Karuna (Compassion)

* Mudita (Joy)
* Upekkha (concept of equanimity)

There is no difference between developing these four virtues and a Bodhisattva. Therefore, it is easy to understand the use of the word completing maithree instead of the word "arahant" or "attaining Nirvana". Everyone can understand that. Our attempt is to combine all these branches of Theravada - Mahayana Vajirayana both philosophically and practically. Bringing the entire world of Buddhism to one place. For what? For the happiness of the whole world, to get rid of suffering. You cannot change the world without understanding the consensus and without associating with the consensus. Sammuthing wohorathi na aparaamasathi. Nagarjuna said this as well. Sammuthing mahashrithya pramattanadheshaithe. That means we cannot make the world better without knowing the global practice. World beings cannot be freed from suffering. Therefore, now let's focus on the current state of the world.

Today, at first glance the world seems to be very advanced. The mobile phones we have are miracles. They are like magic. The entire world can be organised. Everything in life has become convenient. Anyhow, are people of the world living happily? Science, technology and miracles can do amazing things. Everything that is required for a human being to experience a good, wonderful life has been discovered. However, if we look at the true situation of the world, we are in jeopardy. Are people of rich countries happy?

True compassion

This danger has affected the entire human civilization. This situation seems to have brought about the end of an era. Therefore, trying to prevent this and attempting to make the world a better place is true compassion. That is the proper Bodhisattva conduct.

More than one fourth of the world’s people kill each other in wars. Although it is said that the World War II ended, other wars prevail. They only talk about peace. Certain stories are about peace and part of the war. Can a Bodhisattva say this is not my country?

We have swallowed the environmental problem, which prevails now more than ever. The 21 Paris Convention was held in 2015 and everyone pointed out this danger scientifically. Every country agreed to that covenant. However, they did not agree to its implementation. America said that if China was not going to implement, they would not either. Obama said they will do it since he was in a rush at the end of his tenure of power. Trump said he would tear it up and throw it out when he came to power. Europe and America have emitted CO2for 100 years of development. As a result, China said they need more time. The powers engaged thus in a tug-o-war. This document stated mainly on how to reduce the emission of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. This happens chiefly because of oil and coal. If you consider a country like America, the quantity of carbon being released into the atmosphere by one individual is about 16 tonnes. So, 80 per cent of toxic air is being emitted by the so-called developed countries. We are less than one tonne. There are many countries similar to us. We are poor countries. Whoever in the world emits toxic fumes; it affects everyone living on the earth. The situation we are in at present is extremely serious. Initially, discussions were regarding halting the increase of global temperatures due to emission of CO2 by one-degree celcius. However, there is no alternative other than to stop it from increasing this side of 2. With the increase in global temperatures, untimely rains, droughts, floods, landslides and tsunamis have reached a very critical juncture. So, in the face of this situation, China has now agreed to implement the Paris Agreement. But America is not yet in agreement. However, the world is speedily running towards alternatives. Renewable energy especially has developed technologically. It has been proved specially that it is more profitable than solar and coal. Nevertheless, the solution for the environmental crisis that has been created is not only renewable energy. It is a very important turning point. The great power that came into being during the past century was oil and coal. It is being depleted on one side. On the hand when those sources end, there will be a situation where it will be the end of the world. Anyhow, the world has to now turn towards a new path. Scientific discoveries are useful for the good of mankind. But it is being used recklessly and irresponsibly. Some things may seem scientific and though there are current and immediate benefits, detriments are greater in the long run. Similarly, the knowledge and experience of many years have all been destroyed while this technological knowledge is being deployed. As a result, in order to use this scientific knowledge, ethics and discipline is required. That cannot be provided through science. It can be done only through spiritual guidance.

Let us consider farming today. Today's reproduced seeds have both advantages and disadvantages. However, commercial enterprises have taken over the scientific discoveries of that today and created a monopoly for the profits. It has had an enormous effect on bio-diversity and created a very serious situation in the food culture. At the same time, there is a huge influence on the health of humans when food planning, regarding use of artificial vitamins and artificial flavouring agents among others. Methods used by commercial enterprises in food culture for their advantage have created serious health problems.

Modern farming has found many new things compared to traditional farming. It is something that is required for the human community. However, the use of chemical fertilizers, insecticides and weedicides has put the environment, the entire life process and human health in serious danger. The main theme of Buddhists is that all living beings are healthy. But because of these chemicals that one farmer applies to the earth, billions of living systems, visible and invisible, are destroyed in a moment. That is done due to consideration of profits and convenience. When you see it from the point of view of a Buddhist, it is an unrighteous act. On the other hand, while such a system of life prevails, is there any result of our remaining in our temples and engaging in meditation or maithree? Therefore, our Bodhisattva action is to change this wrong way of life. We need to look not only at the injustice here, but also at the great damage that has been done. Due to thinking only about short-term benefits, the destruction wrought upon this earth and system of life is enormous. Therefore, our true Bodhisattva action is to lead the human race towards righteous humane farming that is not harmful to the living process.

Environmental destruction

The destruction to the overall system of environment today in the name of development is extremely serious. In the last century, around 80 per cent of the world's forests have been destroyed and megacities built. If this destruction that is being wrought by going in search of resources everywhere in the name of development is not controlled, it would not be possible for mother earth to bear it. Our lives are not called concrete forests. Not only we but birds, other animals and four-legged creatures, all of these have to live on this earth. It is stated in the Chakka watte seeha nada Sutra that it is a responsibility of the government to provide protection to animals. Other animals are a part of our life. They are our relatives, too. We cannot survive after destroying them. That is why cutting down trees has been pointed out as a non-righteous act. Trees have to be cut down, but it should be done with utmost care.

Not only our food but all our medicines are determined by the same monopoly of companies. People contract many diseases due to improper food and because nature was destroyed as well as due to our wrong addictions and wrong process of life. Without changing these, people cannot be made healthy.

This new Western treatment has spread while bulldozing our medical traditions, which have existed in the world from thousands of years ago. Therefore, it is our responsibility to introduce natural medical methods based on our traditional knowledge when treating people.

Buddhist philosophy of life from past to future

Let's look at how Buddhism started in Bharatha (India).When the Buddha came into being in India, the Aryans dominated. The Aryan people, who were the majority, were suppressed by sword and horse power. Also, the Aryans, who had a tall well-built appearance suitable for the appropriate colour, became the religious leaders of society from generation to generation. The main religious books it had were the Vedhaya. It divided society into four sections.

The ideology for this was that God had created the world. There is only one God who is the creator of the world. It is a powerful force and an eternal power that does not change ever. And the native black people were enslaved. They were the working farmers and at the same time, those who had engaged in various types of industries. They were born from the feet of the God who had created the world. Those who were born from the God’s mouth were those Aryan people who were somewhat tall and fair. Also, various superstitions were formed at that time. Fire offerings and things like offering prayers for various worldly pleasures are some of them.

Different people came up against these myths, which were traditionally very powerful. One group is physicalists. They did not accept even the fact that gods would die and be reborn. They rejected the idea of ​​a permanent life. Another group went to the forest and did severe austerities. They advanced through meditation. They were called sages and saints. One group lived in urban areas and criticised the mainstream religions. Another group went to the forest and sought liberation.

Anyhow, there is a major ideology that drives any society. We have mentioned that main opinion that existed in the Buddha's time. There is an unchanging eternal universal soul. The operator of that universal soul is Maha Brahma. (The Great Creator.)

Now let us see why Buddha sought the truth. This story is like a fairy tale.

The famous story is the layman's desertion after seeing the four omens. According to this story, he went stealthily. But the original Theravada Sutras contain a different idea. He was moved to see people killing each other in the war. Hence, the story that he went to the forest to find an answer for humanity in relation to this conflicting situation. The other was that he dressed as an ascetic and left the house after telling his parents while they were in tears. This story is very natural and emotional.

But today the life of Buddha is created as a supernatural story. In the early Theravada sutras, Buddha's life is written in two ways. One is the way in which natural human traits emerge. The other is so that supernatural characteristics emerge.


At that time, the way to find the truth was to leave everything worldly and go to the forest to meditate. The highest discovery of the ascetics who sought such truth was to approach the highest level of meditation, the 8th level. That means living without any food for months without moving and going into the depths of concentration. Buddha, who declared this as liberation, also became an ascetic like this and came to this state. But Siddhartha ascetic said that entering into this kind of deep meditation is not liberation and showed that a deep concentration achieved by making the body suffer without eating or drinking is not the true path of liberation for himself or for the world.

Thus, the Buddha who attained enlightenment engaged in two struggles at the same time. One is that being enslaved to worldly pleasures with lands and property, wealth, and the power of wealth, is not the cause of true happiness. The second extreme of this is that going to the forest and giving up all comforts and getting spiritual strength through meditation is not true liberation. Buddha criticised both these sides. He pointed out that instead of going to the end of eight levels of meditations, four levels of meditations lead to the realization of the truth. It meant that it was not necessary to go to the edge of concentration. This path was known as Majjama Patipada or the Middle Path.

He rejected going to the forest and engaging in severe austerities and pointed out that such extremism proved futile.

Instead of asceticism in the forest, living in the city he spread and preached a way of understanding the truth immediately through sermons. Some had to meditate under the guidance of teachers, while others did not and at the end of the sermon became an Arahant, which meant that rebirth stopped and the person was fully liberated.


The main dhamma, matter of understanding the dhamma, was the development of mindfulness. It is a discovery of Buddha himself. If you go into deep meditation, mindfulness will disappear. Buddha showed how to change one's mind through mindfulness. When this doctrine was preached, thousands became followers of Buddha. Some of them accepted this doctrine as laymen and lived. Others left the lay life and became monks. It is called Bhikku Society. That community of monks is not a group of individuals. It is an organisation. All those who entered the monk society after seeing the Dhamma should live as an organisation. It was called the Sangha Samaja. It means living together as a group. No personal property. A few robes. Living through begging for alms (Pindapatha) going from house to house. This system can be seen even today in Thailand and Myanmar. It prevails in some provinces of Sri Lanka. Even today, 90 per cent of temples in Sri Lanka do not cook food. People of the village serve dana and bring food to the temple.

So, this Sangha organization gradually became an organisation that spread all over India. There was no policy to lead the country after the Dharmasoka war. There was no way to gather different races together. He was impressed by seeing the community of monks who had become powerful in society by that time. He changed. After that, only this doctrine spread rapidly throughout Asia.

The Chinese monk Fa Xian (Fa Hsien) came to Sri Lanka in the 5th century. According to his reports, there were 10,000 monks in the main monasteries (which are actually universities) in the main capital of Sri Lanka.

I will explain how the Buddhist philosophy in Sri Lanka was implemented at this time. It is very important for our future procedures. Anuradhapura existed as a major Buddhist city for 1,300 years. Facing many foreign invasions, the Sinhalese thought that protecting the religion is their absolute responsibility. Sri Lanka is the only country in the world that has written 2,500 years of continuous history. That history is the history of protecting Buddhism.

Although there are no big palaces, there are many ruins of tanks and Sangharamas. The lives of the kings were not great. Great tanks technology is amazing. There was a great revival in art and literature. Buddhist philosophy has been tried here as a way of life. Even the lives of trees and four-legged animals were protected. Everyone's basic needs were met. There are many evidences that the vision of Buddhism as a non-oppressive state had been practically implemented in society. Some of its features can still be seen today. For 500 years, we have been under western nations. Temples and universities were burned. Our economic system was destroyed. Today, we do not have a Buddhist way of life. We are Buddhists on the surface. However, our Buddhist tradition is still strong. So, now we have to take into account the situation in the world and confirm the Buddhist way of life in this country. It is not a construction of religious extremism. Understanding the serious challenges facing humanity today and building a way of life that contributes to peace for the entire world community. It cannot be done without the unity of the entire Buddhist world.

It is not something that is done for a single country. We are making this effort to make it a turning point for a new journey in the world. It is suggested that we start with Sri Lanka as a suitable country for that. Sri Lanka is the centre of the Buddhists in the entire world. There is no deep Buddhist tradition in India today. It is hard to do that in China. Affirming a Buddhist philosophy as a way of life in Sri Lanka will not be unfair or cause prejudice to any minority race. Our foundation is loving-kindness. It is based on non-violence.

Essence of Buddhist philosophy

We need to extract the essence of Buddhist philosophy for this way of life. For example, developing mindfulness can be used as a medicine by any religious leader. Loving-kindness has no religion. It is loving the whole world. Dhamma is not belief in God. It is understanding existence. Buddha preached impermanence to reduce the selfish impulse of man. To understand the interrelationship is to understand my being as an entity of the sun, moon, stars and socio-cultural life. Seeing my mind through me is psychology. It is a method of psychotherapy. When this simple teaching is confirmed, it can be confirmed as a common life philosophy more than any other religion.

By 1930, Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar was an international scholar of political science and law. He was also a scholar who studied philosophy, history, Marxism and other religious philosophies. He came from the most downtrodden castes but Nehru Gandhi could not ignore him. He wrote the constitution for India's independence. That constitution remains strong to this day. The oppressed castes that were trampled for thousands of years were able to rise up because their rights were confirmed through the constitution itself. Although Gandhi was against it, it could not be reversed. In 1956, he embraced Buddhism together with 100,000 people. The great Buddhist uprising that started then has grown to more than 20 million Buddhist people in India today. It was Babasaheb Ambedkar, who raised these downtrodden people through education and professional skills. He was truly a Bodhisattva. He was the father of the modern Buddhist renaissance in India.

Ambedkar wrote many Buddhist books. Buddhism has been shown as a socio-political thought in the book Imaiya Ba Yasi Ejayasabata. He had pointed out that there is a philosophy of life in which the oppressed and the whole world can gain freedom and building a social power based on that, which is the need of the age.

It will be seen how important his thinking is at this moment when the South Asian Buddhist Convention is being established in front of more than 25,000 people. He was a true Bodhisattva.

Rebuilding the Buddhist heritage in India will be a calming message to the whole world.

Sabbe satta bhavantu sukhitatta.

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