|Wednesday, 13 October 2004|
Grief springs from
Buddha's philosophy of awakening
Buddhist mirror by A.G.S.kariyawasam
The term 'Buddha', used as a generic name or an appellative, is not a proper name. It identifies a human being that has attained Bodhi (from Bujjhati to awaken) or perfect enlightenment regarding the realistic conditions of existence in this world. In other words He is one who has realised Truth in the ultimate sense as saving knowledge and enlightenment. He knows and sees (Janati Passati), the things of this world in their true perspective (Yathaabhuta).
Thus, Gautama Buddha was one in a series of such Buddhas who have appeared in the endless past and will continue to appear in the endless future from time to time occurring according to a periodical pattern based on the concept of aeons (Kalpa) involving time and space.
The unique achievement of such a Buddha is His awakening to the reality of life and experience in the supreme manner, whereby He re-discovers an ancient path that had been lost to the world for a long time. This path is the way out of human suffering leading to ultimate freedom and enlightenment.
This extremely rare experience which only a Buddha can achieve is graphically described in several stages by Gautama Buddha in His first sermon, the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta. Here, as the Buddha addresses this discourse to the Pancwaggiya Bhikkus at Migadaya in Benares on the Esala Full Moon Day, 2548 years ago, He explains His unique experience quite forcefully when He claims that the essential core of His teaching, the Four Noble Truths, dawned on Him as "The Dawning of the Eye" (of knowledge), wisdom, insight and light (Cakku, Nyama, Panna, Vijja and Aloka) regarding these truths, which were so far unheard of by Him or anyone else in the then contemporary world.
Here, the Buddha crosses the Rubicon as it were when He says that all those things that He realised at this hour were truths which were quite new to Him because they were so far unheard of by many more (Pubbesu Ananussutesu Dhammesu). at this vital hour, the Buddha discovered something new, something novel. By using several synonyms to explain what that unique experience was He only emphasizes the pregnancy of the meaningfulness involved in this new discovery, which was the celebrated Middle path as the only path of success to the cherished goal of final freedom and enlightenment.
This Middle Path - Majjhimaa Patipadaa - represented as the avoidance of the two extremes of self-indulgence and self-mortification was also a part of His experience in the personal sense as He followed the former in His lay life as Prince Siddhartha and the latter as a self-mortifying ascetic for six long years after the great renunciation. In explaining this Middle Path further He runs through almost the entire gamut of human activity when He explains it as the correct kind of views, intentions, speech, actions, livelihood, effort, mindfulness and concentration. The practice of this path leads the practiser to insight, wisdom, peace, enlightenment and final emancipation.
He further explains that this path is intended to lead a person from suffering to its final cessation. His awakening showed Him that human life is basically is painful and suffering - Dukkha - which He summarily defines in its more pronounced aspects as birth, illness, old age, death, association with unwelcome people, separation from ones' loved ones, non-realisation of ones' expectations etc. etc. As human suffering does not exhaust with these aspects He summarises its entirety by saying that human embodiment itself is all basically a mass of mental and physical pain.
Quite analytically He now examines the reasons for this state of suffering and discovers that it is nothing but man's inherent craving that is at the root of all this pains and sorrows. He also defines this basic cause as threefold as craving for sensual pleasures for a life of sensuality, craving for future becoming and craving for annihilation.
If this multiple craving is the root cause of human suffering it is only by eliminating this canker of craving that human suffering can be overcome. If we examine the troubles-pots in the contemporary world scene, whether it be the Middle East or various of spots in Asia, Africa or anywhere else, this truth becomes evident.
It is craving for land areas, for political power, for wealth etc. that brings about all internecine wars whereby peace among nations becomes forced to pay a heavy toll. It is solely by eradicating these multiple cravings that the ideal of peaceful co-existence can become a living reality. The ever-illusive goal of peaceful co-existence free from so-called 'cold wars' can be achieved only by bringing this insatiate craving under subjugation. Genuine human progress can be expected only from such an attitude of healthy benevolence in the international level. This is the vital truth to which power-hungry nations of the world have to awaken themselves with a sense of dedication and commitment.
It is then only that the correct kind of thinking dawns upon man, who by nature is driven forward by a sense of self-aggrandizement. This cannot be successfully achieved unless and until this risk-ridden ego-concept in man is kept under control because this so-called self has a danger of always seeking to fatten itself which, from another angle, is a source of all our ills. The pendulum has to swing to the opposite side so that self-sacrifice becomes the safe ideal for the peaceful co-existence of man.
If man were to follow the Buddha's path of awakening to certain truths as so far shown how peaceful and prosperous this world would be?
'The first Buddhist School in Sri Lanka - Piyarathana Vidyalaya of Dodanduwa dilapidated, threatened with closure'
by W. T. J. S. Kaviratne, Ambalangoda special correspondent
From time immemorial Southern Province of Sri Lanka has enjoyed a unique position of cultural, historical and religious significance.
Both during the colonial and post independent Sri Lanka, Southern province had given birth to erudite scholars and religious luminaries who emerged as the custodians of the revival of Buddhist education of the country.
As a result of numerous alien onslaughts, several seats of education found on the South Coast such as Vijayaba Pirivena of Thotagamuwa, Telwatta renown in south Asia for Asiatic Studies disappeared.
Dodanduwa on the South Coast was famous in the past for successfully maintaining trade relations with Maldives and India during the era of 'Sailing Ships'. The business community of Dodanduwa had trade connections with their counterparts in India dealing on salted fish, salt, tiles and earthenware. According to the documents found in Sailabimbaramaya, Dodanduwa, the sailing ships anchored on Dodanduwa harbour had enhanced the exotic scenic beauty of the palm fringed beach stretch.
As usual the history of the origin of Sailabimbaramaya Temple is also shrouded in myths and legends. Sailabimbaramaya Temple of Dodanduwa was found in the year 1797 and this temple was given its name due to the presence of two 'Granite Statues' of the Buddha.
The elderly villagers of Dodanduwa said that these two Granite Statues were brought to Dodanduwa from India in a sailing ship.
It was believed that the Incumbent Monks of the Temple at Dodanduwa were informed of the Buddha Statues seen in a region of India known as 'Kaveripattam'. A French Governor had intervened to obtain one of the Statues of Buddha to the delegation reached India from Dodanduwa in a sailing ship and later the second statue was sent to Dodanduwa in a separate sailing ship by its Indian custodians.
Amidst numerous challenges from colonial administrators, Venerable Dodanduwe Piyarathana Maha Nayaka Thera took the initiative to start the first Buddhist School in Sri Lanka by the name 'Jinalabdhi Vishodaka' in the premises of Sailabimbaramaya Temple, Dodanduwa.
Venerable Dodanduwe Piyarathana Thera by forming a Buddhist Society called 'Lokartha Sadana' came to the forefront to safeguard the Buddhist Education in the country and in addition to counteract discrimination, injustice and deprivation caused to the Buddhists by the alien colonial masters.
The first Buddhist school of the country known as 'Jinalabdhi Vishodaka' was founded in 1869 and its founder Ven. Dodanduwe Piyarathana Thera was able to exchange letters with Colonel Henry Steele Olcott several years before his arrival in Sri Lanka in 1880.
Documentary entries to this effect are found on No. 2/357 and 28/8.1965 both in the Archives and in Dodanduwa Sailabimbaramaya Temple.
Both Colonel Henry Steele Olcott and Madame Helena Patrovna Blavetsky arrived at Galle harbour in 1880 and reached Sailabimbaramaya Temple at Dodanduwa. Both Colonel Henry Steel Olcott and Madame H.P. Blavetsky the Founders of Theosophical Society in America, realising the marginalisation of the Buddhists and the challenges caused to Buddhist Education in Sri Lanka were very eager to meet their friendly Buddhist Monk Ven. Dodanduwe Piyarathana Thera. (Ref. Olcott Diaries)
"Our first state was to Dodanduwa five miles off the seat of the Grand Vihara and Pansala of our friend Piyarathana Tissa Terunnanse, a Monk of erudition, energy and high character. I gave the expected address to 2000 people. After that we visited his temple, which are found scrupulously tidy and well kept an unusual circumstances in the island.
(Old Diary Leaves 1878-83 by Henry Steele Olcott, the Theosophical Publishing House, Adyar, Madras, 1954 P - 170). Letters sent by H.S. Olcott to Ven. Dodanduwe Piyarathana Thera are found in the Library of Sailabimbaramaya Temple. As a result of the correspondence and the selfless dedication and the keen enthusiasm shown for the revival of Buddhist Education by Ven. Piyarathana Thera, he was conferred the Honorary membership of the Theosophical Society based in New York, USA.
The official document (Akthapatra) of the membership was sent to Ven. Piyarathana Thera in 1878. Document signed by Henry Steele Olcott, H. P. Blavetsky and Alexander Wilder of Theosophical Society gives the following description.
"Know all to whom these presents may come that Rev. Piyarathana Tissa Therunnanse in recognition of distinguished merit - hath been elected a corresponding fellow by the Theosophical Society in witness whereof the society hath declared the issue of this diploma and its attestation by the hands of its President and Corresponding Secretary. Given at New York in the eighteen hundred and seventy eight."
Due to the prevailing trend under British Colonial Administrators, Missionary Education was gaining ground throughout the country and the resurgence of Buddhist Education was not tolerated by them.
Registration of Buddhist Schools were rejected continuously, by the Colonial Administrators. The Buddhist devotees at Dodanduwa gave a rousing welcome to the British Governor on his official visit to Galle.
A petition signed by the people of Dodanduwa was handed over to the Governor Sir Robinson at a function held in Sailabimbaramaya Temple Dodanduwa. Due to selfless dedication of Ven. Dodanduwe Piyarathana Thera five years after the formation of First Buddhist School of Sri Lanka was registered in the year 1874.
According to the documents available in the Sailabimbaramaya Temple, Colonel Olcott and Blavetsky had spent ten days in the Temple discussing ways of reviving the Buddhist Education of Sri Lanka.
It was chiefly due to the persuasion of Ven. Dodanduwe Piyarathana Thera, Colonel Henry Steele Olcott took an interest in the revival of Buddhist Education in Sri Lanka.
In addition to 'Jinalabdhi Vishodaka', several other Buddhist Schools were opened. "Upadyaya Buddhist School' at Panadura, Weligama Buddhist School and similar Buddhist Schools at Kathaluwa and Ahangama were established by Ven. Dodanduwa Piyarathana Thera.
In order to revive Buddhist Education, Colonel Steele Olcott on the guidance of Ven. Dodanduwe Piyarathana Thera formed the Buddhist Theosophical Society in Sri Lanka.
Several Buddhist Schools were established in the leading cities: Colombo, Kandy and Galle. Mahinda College of Galle, Ananda College, Nalanda College in Colombo and Dharmaraja College, Kandy were some of the famous Buddhist education institutions founded by Henry Steele Olcott under Buddhist Theosophical Society.
Colonel Henry Steele Olcott paid special attention to improve the first Buddhist school at Dodanduwa and he donated several equipments to the laboratory. Over the years 'Jinalabdhi Vishodana' School at Dodanduwa prospered and after the demise of Ven. Piyarathana Thera on May 20, 1907, his disciple Ven. Dodanduwe Dammissara Thera became the administrator of the school. In recognition of the great service rendered by late Ven. Dodanduwe Piyarathana Thera, Ven. Dodanduwe Dammissara Thera founded an English Buddhist School in the Sailabimbarama Temple premises.
The standard of eduction in English medium which was maintained in Piyarathana English School of Dodanduwa was par with that of the Missionary Schools of Richmond College and Aloysius College of Galle.
Pupils of Dodanduwa found it extremely difficult to enter Piyarathana English School. During the period was considered as a rare privilege to study in Piyarathana English School of Dodanduwa.
A retired principal of Ratgama D.D.S. Rajakaruna who was living in close proximity to Piyarathana Vidyalaya said that he could not enter Piyarathana Vidyalaya even though his father was known to then Principal and the Chief Incumbent Thera of Sailabimbarama Temple. Mr. D.D.S. Rajakaruna (75) reminiscing about the success story of Piyarathana Vidyalaya during its past revealed the present plight it was in a consequence of continuous neglect by the relevant authorities.
Piyarathana Vidyalaya of Dodanduwa in the days of its glory, was a sought after school by the parents whenever they failed to gain admission of their children to leading schools at Galle.
Piyarathana Vidyalaya had produced several professors, scholars professionals and legal luminaries during the past. Present Principal of Piyarathana Vidyalaya, Y. Seelawathie revealed that there were only 189 pupils in the whole school. Out of 189 pupils 114 were boys but no male teachers had been sent to the school for several years.
The strength of the tutorial staff was 13 including the principal. Teachers were not sent to teach Sinhala and at present a volunteer from Matara was conducting free classes on Sinhala after school.
Mrs. Nesta Rajakaruna who is the Vice Principal of the school said that there was a massive decrease over the past few years of Grade One admissions.
Only the children of low income groups could be seen attending Piyarathana Vidyalaya of Dodanduwa which was once the alma mater of the elite of the area.
The downfall of this reputed school could be attributed to several reasons.
Dealers of drugs and Kassippu are not rare in the surroundings of this first Buddhist Institution of Eduction of Dodanduwa.
S.K.A.M. De Silva, a staff member of this premier school said that she was a past pupil of Piyarathana Vidyalaya. She said almost all small schools of the country were threatened to be closed down but unlike other schools of the country, this school was of great importance as it was the first Buddhist school of the country. She said it was the prime duty of all educationists, social service institutions, philanthropists and professionals of the country to take whatever possible steps to prevent its closure.
In addition to its educational value there was an archaeological value of this school, she further said. At present, the shrub jungle could be seen invading the playground and the premises of the school.
Recently at an auction held with due permission and approval of the Galle Southern Provincial Ministry of Education and the Zonal Education Office, a previous Principal of Piyarathana Vidayalaya named S.R. Chandrasena had sold some unusable items dumped in a room of the school. The first projector with some reels of Kodak films 8 mm were sold to a nearby caterer. This projector was donated to Piyarathana Vidyalaya by Colonel Henry Steele Olcott during his visit to Sailabimbaramaya Temple as far back in 1880.
If new buildings could be provided and steps were taken to rehabilitate this historical institution of eduction as one of the national heritage items, Buddhist community of the whole world could breathe a sigh of relief.
Richard Gere inspires Jennifer Lopez
London, UK - Celebrities seem to have a strange fascination for Asian religions, and if it was George Harrison becoming a disciple of the Hindu guru Mahararishi Mahesh Yogi and Madonna practising the Jewish religion kabalah, this time it is Latino diva Jennifer Lopez who is taking up Buddhism.
The 'Wedding Planner' actress was reportedly so impressed by her co-star Richard Gere's dedication to Buddhism, that she was inspired to embrace the religion after she had a number of spiritual talks with him, reports the Sun.
Lopez, who is acting with Gere in the movie 'Shall We Dance' says that she is now aware of a higher energy, and the fact that it is very important to be a good human being. "Now I know there's a force in the world. There's an energy that if you put out good and you put out love it comes back to you. That's a basic thing that works for me," the report quoted her as saying. (ANI) - BNN
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