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Crime-curbing through the Five Precepts

by Chandra Edirisuriya

It is of vital importance for Buddhist leaders in this country to take effective measures drive home to the Buddhists of all ages the necessity to observe the Five Precepts.

When we look at the Penal Code of this country and other laws relating to crimes we can very clearly and convincingly see that one who observes the Five Percepts in Buddhism will not break any of the criminal laws of any country.

The Five Precepts in Buddhism admonish one to abstain from theft, killing, sexual misconduct, telling lies and taking intoxicants.

Thus we see that the Five Precepts embrace the totality of the criminal behaviour of man. We are badly in need of a thousand Anagarika Dharmaplas at this hour to accomplish the task of getting the Buddhist to observe the Five Precepts.

There is no shortcut to achieve this onerous task. One cannot have the cake and eat it too. A very silly excuse is given that the Buddha did not force anyone to follow the Five Precepts. But the simple truth is that one cannot call oneself a Buddhists if he or she does not observe at least the Five Precepts.

All those who claim to be Buddhist should give serious thought to this matter. Buddhism is accepted and valued by intelligent people all over the world as a philosophy that provides consolation to the mind.

When we read about them and their writings we see that they have acknowledged the fact that following the Five Precepts is a pre-requisite and sine-qua-non for anyone who claims to be a Buddhist.

So why are we who say that we live in what was called the Dharmadveepa lax in this matter. Chanting manthras like the village, the temple and the dagaba alone is hardly sufficient.

Buddhist leaders who observe the Five Precepts should visit every Buddhist home and prevent Buddhists from committing crime.

There is no other way to save the Buddhists. It is heart rending to read news about the various crimes committed in this country daily. Those who commit these crimes including murders and rapes do not seem to have been guided by the tenets of any religion.

So not stopping at making children go the temple with the parents, sending them to Dhamma Schools in addition their being taught Buddhism in school as a subject for public examinations, the youth should be made to lead religious lives rather than allowing them to imitate alien life styles, living a life out of tune with the indigenous culture.

In Thailand every young man is encouraged to ordain as a Buddhist monk as a qualification for marriage. In Myanmar, every young man and young woman is required to don yellow robes and may disrobe if they want to marry.

It is said that in Myanmar, in time to come there will be more people who have attained higher mental planes than in any other country in the Buddhist world.

When we look at the life of the Buddha, as ordinary men or laymen, we can see that the Buddha never condoned misbehaviour or crime and was diligent in tactfully showing the correct path to the misguided. The story of Angulimala is the best case in point.

The motto of my alma mater, Ananda College, Colombo, is Appamado Amathapadan. diligence is the ambrosial expression. This institution that could be equated to a university in my time diligently spread the word of the Buddha to the four corners of the world.

Those who correctly understood the phlilosoply of Buddhism, while being students of this premiers Buddhist educational institution emanate its fragrance and shine in whatever they do in the service of humanity.

The Buddha exhorted the Sangha to propagate the Dhamma, travelling the length and breadth of the then known world purely for the good of the many and not to set up a Buddhist empire.

The penal laws of a country discourage and deter the people from committing crime, inculcating virtue in them in a negative way. The Buddhist philosophy, makes people virtuous in a positive manner and has the potentiality to create a world free of crime.

Buddhist leaders observing the Five Precepts should be fully awakened to this fact. Such leaders have no skeletons in their cupboards. They must rise to the occasion and take appropriate action without delay to create a righteous society in this beloved land of ours.

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