Craving grows in the passionate
For the person who is perturbed by evil thoughts, who is
exceedingly lustful, who contemplates pleasant things, craving
increases more and more. Surely, he makes the bond of Mara
Tanha Vagga - The Dhammapada
Religious values versus TV ads
TV ADS: Despite my hoisting the flag often for my own religion
(though my participation in its boosting is pure voluntary) I have a
wide circle of non - Buddhist acquaintances including Roman Catholic
priests who are very curious about Buddhism. One of them once remarked:
â€śYour religion seems to have the Theory of Impermanence as its
nucleus. Does that mean Buddhism too would cease to exist in the
future?â€ť â€śYesâ€ť I said though not on solid ground â€śIn fact the Buddha
himself has said words to that effectâ€ť (Frankly speaking I was not sure
of the stipulated period i.e. the span of this faith and did not wish to
elaborate on the point).
â€śThat is sadâ€ť he said â€śIt is such a great and profound religion. And
believe me, a pristine white Buddha statue seated in the so - called
Samadhi posture brings so much of mental peace to the beholder.â€ť
The exponent of this remark was none other than Dr. Baptist Croos, an
eminent Roman Catholic priest, when he handed me for review a highly
enlightening book written by him, â€śReaching for the Starsâ€ť in his office
in the church overlooking the picturesque delta of Modera and fringed by
the buildings of De La Salle College that I visited when I was in the
Anyway none of them ever asked me to list the causes for the possible
disappearance of Buddhism which not only fervent Buddhists but even non
- Buddhists who admire it do not wish to envisage.
Had I been asked to list them I may stammer out factors like the
growth of an over - consumerist society, the demon of bickering politics
that has seeped into lower levels too and the phenomenon of TV ads that
erode almost directly noble Buddhist values, cum certain values of other
That this erosion takes place on the glamorous TV screen in front of
which my families now sit and roost and â€śAh! and Ooh!â€ť at all the
gimmicks going on, makes the destructive process more formidable.
The defilements of envy and greed are inculcated in many a TV ad.
Take for instance the TV ad that appeared some years ago when a couple
watching with grudging envy the neighbouring family unload a whole heap
of electric gadgets.
The female contrives to find out how they have become so prosperous
overnight and learns about the God - send, a highly advertised loan
It matters not whether they need those same gadgets, the only end is
competition and they are back the next day, victory flushing their
faces, with the same assortment of goods. Outdoing the Jones, no, the
Punchi Appuhamys and Rosa Nonas next door and elevating themselves into
the status of glorious debtors.
Then there was the hilarious ad where a female gazes enviously at the
drawing room suite of her neighbour and throwing all self-respect away,
when she is informed that some visitors would be arriving she negotiates
with this neighbour and removes her drawing room suite and drags in that
This is openly flaunting the practice of deceit but those furniture
dealers just thrived on this ad. Of course the ad could not have been
the only factor, persistence and luck too playing their part. What is
evil here is that the ads directly work against religious teachings, be
they Buddhist, Catholic, Moslem or Hindu that cry foul against deceit
and vain glory.
I wonder whether any other country in the world has TV channels that
begin in the morning with religions sermons delivered by savants of all
the religions flourishing in that country. We have almost set a record
here and then these TV ads come on the screen to counter all that like
buckets with holes that filter away all the fresh water gathered from
They show children who lick their fingers after eating, wipe all the
slush after walloping on a crunchy chocolate or cone of ice cream or
some such stuff.
Then they tell the gaping audience in whose tummies sometimes worms
cry due to hunger, that unless you feed the child on a particular kind
of cheese that he or she can never grow up properly or attend to
studies. For balanced growth and sound education a certain kind of
butter or margarine is essential the children are told.
I read the other day that the education Ministry on the initiative of
the new and enterprising Commissioner of Examinations is planning a
symposium to find out causes for poor exam results.
Let the advertisers too participate for they contribute enough for
the devastation. What easy excuses the TV supplies the children to
discourage them from studying but encourage them to fritter away their
time before the great liar arisen out of modern technology.
A certain publishing house of long standing has now begun a campaign
that unless exercise books with their brand name are used that the
children can never go ahead. This is open lying. â€śThou shalt not lieâ€ť.
It also can lead to domestic squabbles when children begin demanding
from parents the purchase of this particular brand of exercise book or a
writing pen, if they are to go ahead.
There was once a TV ad where both father and son in turn steal from a
bottle of jam.
They get into corners of the house away from the prying eyes of the
overbearing female of the house and finish the stuff in stealth. Greed
and unhealthy overeating are directly encouraged and the ad flouts the
Panchaseela and the Christian teaching, â€śThou shalt not steal and
similar taboos of other religions.
Some ads simply do not make any sense.
There is the young lady seated with others at a table loaded with all
the mouth watering calories filled stuff. Suddenly she slyly looks at
others,â€ť stealsâ€ť a fat sausage, gets into a corner and gorges on it.
Returns, takes another one and repeats the performance.
Actually there is no taboo for her to fill her tummy at the table
with the sausages but the advertising agency that designed the ad wishes
to stress the delicacy of it and brings in this torrid drama of a young
lady openly stealing food. Well dressed and extremely attractive she is
the heroine of the piece and the young audience just relish her acts.
How nauseating is the ad where mother boasts how with the aid of her
children a fowl was powdered to make sausages at home.
What a Pinkama where the whole family partakes! Compare this with a
piece in a Readers Digest magazine where children of a family in England
cry on bed the whole of the Christmas night at the memory of the goose
they had been playing with, roasted and made the centrepiece of the
dining table! Where are the true Buddhist? Here in the repository of
Theravada Buddhism or in Christian Europe?
As if all this is not enough, recently the change of programmes on a
certain channel is signalled by the gong of temple bells and the
blossoming out of a lotus.
It is all very well if the programme to follow is a Dhamma discussion
or a song recital by children or some such item but imagine the
sacrilege when it is followed by a food demonstration where on a lavish
table a fat roasted cock is displayed to be sliced or decorated with
flowers stuck on its lifeless beak and other body parts.
Remember the famous politician who ceremoniously began to slice a
young roasted pig at a sumptuous party and then went on to fix a lime on
its snout for convenient use of those about to feast. The Feast proved
his undoing in a Buddhist country as photographs of the little pig and
the politician flashed on all the newspapers. There was no TV then.
Are we in a similar fashion to allow the uninhibited use of evilly
designed TV ads to hasten the disappearance of our great religion? I am
only posing a question. Or have I exaggerated the situation?
Towards a purified mind
Indonesian Buddhist monks pray in front of a statue of the Buddha
during a ceremony for Waisak or the Buddhaâ€™s birthday, at Borobudur
temple in Magelang, central Java, Indonesia. AP
Purified mind: Man consists of mind and body. Most people
ensure that their bodies are clean for good health and to prevent
discomfort for others with whom one associates. However, there is
considerable neglect in the effort to maintain a clean mind. The mind is
a flow of thoughts and though not visible to the human eye and its
location cannot be determined, has an important role to play in the
practice of the Dhamma.
In Buddhism the mind is considered the forerunner of all states of
being, as mentioned in opening lines of the Dhammapada, a collection of
important sayings of the Buddha.
Thoughts precede action, both physical and verbal. The exception is
reflex action and there too oneâ€™s overall character would influence such
reflex action. As one feels the pain of a mosquito bite, an untrained
mind would by reflex action kill the mosquito. Not so the trained mind.
Full of compassion for lesser living beings, he would merely drive
the mosquito away with the wave of the hand. A disciplined and
controlled mind will be an asset to oneself and others while an untamed
mind would be the opposite.
What is an unclean mind? It is a mind that is polluted with
unwholesome thoughts and defilements. They are thoughts such as
unrestrained sense - desires, ill-will, envy, anger and fear.
These thoughts are harmful to oneself and others. Unrestrained
desires are never fully satisfied. When one desire is realised others
They are insatiable. It is compared in Buddhist literature to taking
salt water to quench oneâ€™s thirst which would aggravate the thirst
rather than satisfy it. Sense - desires are considered the main cause of
dukkha, the unsatisfactory nature of life, together with two other root
defilements, namely, hatred and ignorance.
A mind that is dominated by uncontrolled sense - desires is restless
and never peaceful and content.
Even worse are thoughts of ill-will and hatred. When one thinks of a
person one hates or dislikes, for whatever the reason, there is
unhappiness. Thoughts of ill-will pollute the mind.
So are the thoughts of jealousy and envy. Such thoughts, comparing
oneself with others, cause unnecessary unhappiness. Often the person
towards whom envy is directed may have caused no harm but such thoughts
disturb the tranquillity of the mind.
Anger is an evil emotion that is substantially harmful to oneself and
others. The liabilities of anger are obvious. A strong sense of anger
would deprive the control of oneself and could result in action, verbal
or physical, that one would very much regret later. It could result in
violence and in extreme cases even murder.
At such times one loses complete control of oneself. It could ruin
oneâ€™s personal family life as well as ones own health. Speech or action
in a fit of anger has led to serious development such as the
disintegration of long standing and cordial associations and the break
up of even closely knit families.
Actions dominated by intense anger could cause irreparable damage to
cordial relations which may not be overcome in the lifetime of the
protagonists. It becomes an intense conflict most devastating to the
physical, mental and material well-being of both parties.
Fear is a disturbing mental emotion and also considered in Buddhism
as unwholesome with a negative kammic impact. Largely arising due to the
uncertainties of life, it affects oneâ€™s sense of security. Although
measures could be adopted to mitigate against possible unsatisfactory
results of uncertainties, there is no absolute guarantee that they would
This situation is aggravated if one has a high sense of ego - of me,
mine and myself. Then there is greater anxiety and a greater effort to
create a credible sense of security.
Commitment to mental purity
An important prerequisite for determined action to progress from a
polluted to a purified mind is to deeply comprehend the liabilities of a
defiled mind, as briefly indicated earlier, to galvanise oneself to take
appropriate corrective action. In a short leaflet titled Introduction to
â€śVipassana Meditationâ€ť, the outstanding Meditation Master, S. N. Goenka,
has stated that lasting happiness is only achieved by the purification
of the mind.
Reflection on death could also strongly encourage action to cleanse
the mind. The Buddha has frequently extolled His followers to keep the
fact of death in the forefront of their minds and it is an important
subject of meditation in Buddhism.
Reflection on the kind of life that one is leading at present and the
style of life that should be adopted being acutely conscious that our
body before long would perish and die and all that we could take to the
world beyond is our kamma, both wholesome and unwholesome.
Material riches of this life are not valid currency in our forward
samsaric journey. This would be an effective incentive to purify the
mind since as stated earlier it is our thoughts that most often govern
our physical and verbal actions.
The Buddha disclosed remedies to overcome factors that pollute the
mind. For excessive sense - desires the recommended answer is the
reflection or meditation on impermanence - anicca.
This would invalidate the assumption that the object of desire would
last for ever. If the object of desire is a living being there is the
process of change all the time with living beings often facing old age,
disease and decay and certainly death.
In the case of inanimate objects there is deterioration, decay and
eventual destruction although not observable at a superficial level in
respect of solid structures at a given point of time. The reflection on
impermanence is considered an important factor in Buddhism and its
contemplation is a highly meritorious action.
For ill-will, hatred and aversion, the counter mechanism is the
development of metta or loving kindness or the sincere wish for the
happiness and welfare of all living beings without discrimination. For
the effective practice of metta an essential prerequisite is that one
should have no ill-will or hatred towards any living being.
If some one has harmed us and we think that person has acted in a
wrong and unfair manner, we should from a Buddhist stand point extend
compassion to him and wish that he would reform himself for his own
welfare and the good of others. Thoughts of metta have to be extended to
all without distinction just as the sun gives its rays to all without
The remedy advocated for jealousy is the development of the noble
quality of mudita, one of the four factors of Brahma-Vihara, the art of
noble living. This is the cultivation of joy at the happiness and
success of others. Rather than be jealous of othersâ€™ success let us be
happy about their success.
This would counter thoughts of envy that unnecessarily pollute the
mind and cause unhappiness. No harm is usually done to one by the
success of others. Our happiness is generally confined to the success
and welfare of ourselves and those close and dear to us. We could add to
our sum total of happiness by being joyful at the success and progress
The Buddhist approach to overcome anger is to be aware of it in the
initial stages. The earlier one is alive to the beginnings of anger the
easier it is to contain and control it. Anger could be controlled to a
considerable extent by the informal practice of the meditation on the
breath-anapana sati - observing the in and out of the natural breath
which would reduce the tension. Many who have tested this technique have
found it to be most satisfactory.
One could also reflect that the unpleasant feelings caused by unjust
speech or action would be the result of oneâ€™s own unwholesome actions of
the past, either in this life or previous lives, under the Law of Kamma,
the law of cause and effect. Thinking on those lines one could extend
compassion rather than ill-will for those immediately responsible for
the unpleasant feeling.
The more important battle is within ourselves, the internal struggle
to overcome the rising anger and maintain a calm and balanced state of
mind. Anger would only aggravate the unfortunate situation. For fear
arising largely from the uncertainties of life, we could consider
uncertainty as a hallmark of nature.
We cannot change the nature of things but could adapt ourselves to
the nature of things. While taking whatever action is considered
feasible to minimise the harmful effects of uncertainties, we should
adjust ourselves to face possible adverse effects of future
uncertainties with equanimity and balance of mind accepting them as a
part of dukkha, the unsatisfactory nature of life.
This would largely reduce the fears, anxieties and worries
proliferating in our minds leading to restleness and eventually in
extreme cases to physical ailments such as ulcers and skin diseases.
How do we practise in our daily lives the art of purification of the
mind in accordance with the teachings of the Buddha? In this respect
formal meditation would be considerably helpful.
Sulugal Vihara needs urgent renovation
The eighteen feet Buddha statue disfigured by termites.
- Hiriyala Group Corr.
A number of Buddha statues in Sulugal Vihara , a historical temple at
Peddawa, Mahamookalanyaya in the Ganewatta Divisional Secretariat
division are being destroyed by termites.
A large portion of the frescoes too have been destroyed and now the
plaster is falling off.
The ancient dagoba in the premises also lies in ruins.
According to history, this temple had been built in the Kandyan era.
Several recumbent Buddha statues too have been eaten into, disfiguring
The Dayaka Sabha of the temple request the department of archaeology
to take action to renovate these statues and frescoes.