Why Is The Public Silent?
For a country that professes itself to be with a Sinhala Buddhist majority, why is the general public so lax when they see the disgraceful behaviour of its monks? Now the outcry is to veto Buddhist monks from taking to politics. Aren’t these priorities misplaced? It is time the leaders of all nikayas take stock of the situation and bring about a stricter control of the clergy of today. Some of Lord Buddha’s basic precepts were tolerance, love, friendship, harmony, self control, amongst others.
Another trend among most people is to first stock up on their liquor and meat prior to the approaching ‘Poya’ whilst others think it trendy on this day to have an outing with family or friends whilst the temples are filled with aged and sick worshippers.
Note the profusion of liquor shops, some in close proximity to places of worship (the shrine at Kirulapone Junction is one such). There are over five to six shops dispensing their rot in the presence of worshippers at this shrine even when services are in progress. Certainly, these are not unlicensed premises. These have been granted liquor licences by no less an authority than the government department dealing with liquor licensing and distribution!
With all the efforts to promote Buddhist activities in this ‘Budda Deshaya’ (as so proudly proclaimed) who is responsible for this insult to a philosophy so reverently proclaimed universally and in this island?
What Is Lord Buddha’s Teachings In All Things?
Bhikkus, all is burning. And what is all that is burning? Bhikkus, the eye is burning, visible forms are burning, visual conscious is burning, also whatever sensation, pleasant or painful or neither painful nor pleasant, arises on account of the visual impression, that too is burning. Burning with what? Burning with fire of lust, with the face of hate, with the fire of delusion; I say it is burning with birth, ageing and death, with sorrows, with lamentations, with pain, with grief, with despair.”
(Sermon of the great teacher, Lord Buddha from ‘Aditta Pariyaya Sutta’)
What Is The Role Of The Buddhist Clergy?
It is to the great sorrow and shame of the Buddhist laity and even the general public that Buddhist monks in this country are abandoning the teachings of the Buddha and taken the philosophy of Buddhism, alike to the Islamists, into fundamentalism! It is deviating from the concept, the precepts and the ideology of those very teachings.
Speaking as a layman, what is expected of any person who has committed himself or herself to the vows of a religion is to honour, obey and act in like manner as an example to others. I pick on the subject of Buddhist monks from days gone by, how they were held in awe and reverence, the saffron shroud, the humility expressed in a bowed, shaven head and the very human touch they exuded.
It touched lives to visit the temple, offer flowers, venerate the shrine and listen to the sermon. Besides, it was exciting to see kids speak to the monk who could offer advice or comfort, give some sweetmeats and touch heads as a blessing.
The Buddhist Clergy Today
What has become of the monks today? Sad to say, they have deviated from the path of the Buddha and desiring fame and fortune – some as politicians, some fostering hate against other religions, leading gangs of goons to raze other places of worship to the ground and taking part in demonstrations. It’s such a shame to see some monks at violent demonstrations hiking up their robes and running helter-skelter from tear gas attacks of the security forces, some driving luxury vehicles and a recent tragedy where a monk, under the influence of liquour, was involved in a vehicle crash.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. Even ministers with thugs followed by the ubiquitous saffron robed, unctuous monks are a feature in this island.
One instance I witnessed whilst at the toll gate of the new highway where a monk, in deference to his ascetic state, because of a delay, got off his vehicle, with his robe hiked to his knees, strode up to the barrier and in a vile temper kicked the toll gate and insulted the security on duty. I guess, due to the fact the security officials had some respect to the saffron robe, they pacified the monk and even apologized to him though they were blameless! Don’t Buddhist monks have their pirivenas (universities) for studying Buddhist philosophy? Then what is the need for them to enter public universities to study universal subjects? They don’t need management or medical or law degrees to profess the Buddhist philosophy?