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Mihintalava - The Birthplace of Sri Lankan Buddhist Civilization

Build on our inherent humanity

Today, Vesak Full Moon Poya Day, besides being a blessed occasion for Buddhists the world over, poses some important questions for the whole of mankind.

As is known, compassion, caring and charity are central to the Buddha Dhamma. The self-professed Buddhist, accordingly, needs to be an embodiment of these values which are in fact, the cornerstones of any gentle civilisation. In other words, Buddhism has an undeniable humanising impact, both at the level of the individual and at the level of society. While opinions abound on how successfully mankind has measured-up to the values enshrined in the world's religions, there can be no doubt that Lankans have - at times of crisis of least - shown that Sakyamuni Buddha's efforts to transform humankind into a being reflective of compassion and concern have not been in vain.

There was, for instance, the tsunami disaster five months ago, which saw sections of the Buddhist clergy doing their utmost to succour their fellow beings in a most self-sacrificial manner while tens of thousands of 'ordinary citizens' too were seen lending a ready helping hand to those who suffered haplessly in the natural catastrophe.

The spontaneous caring and charity which were thus displayed by the majority of the people of this country have, of course, been warmly commended by even the world outside, but we need to remember that what this outpouring of charity proved was that religious teachings and the Dhamma continue to form the foundation of the collective consciousness of the people.

In a sense, therefore, the tsunami tragedy was a moment of triumph for the people of Sri Lanka. They were in a position to prove that religion could be brought out of its ossified institutionalised forms and made to serve man - the real purpose of religion. May this spirit of humanity continue to flourish in our midst, is our prayer.

Besides, at that moment of great crisis on December 26, 2004, Lankans proved quite adequately that they could reach out to each other in a spirit of humanity, irrespective of class, caste and creed. Such man-made barriers simply did not exist as people helped each other selflessly, caring only for the humanity of the other.

This spirit of caring has taken such proportions that the vast majority of Lankans are said to be backing the joint mechanism proposal, which is indispensable for post-tsunami rebuilding. It is our hope that this spirit of magnanimity would continue to prevail among us.

It could be seen, therefore, that the people are for humanity and peace. It is only some sections of society - and they are in the minority - who are opposed to a just peace, based on power-sharing.

Our conclusion is that the people are guided by the Dhamma and left to themselves would back a peace agreement based on power-sharing because this is not alien to the core values of our religions. The State should build on this outpouring of humanity to bring peace to the land.

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