Reconciliation through Buddhist teachings
Reconciliation is a broad-based sociological phenomenon that emerged
among the human groups long before the modern subject area known as
sociology came to be known. Reconciliation embraces quite a number of
areas such as art culture, religion, physical sciences and
Reconciliation covers a broad perspective from a historical point of
view. The Buddha was one of the greatest advocates of reconciliation
process who tried to usher in peace and harmony via the understanding of
the real value of human existence. He, it is widely known, was
responsible in bringing back friendship to enemy clans.
From a broad as well as panoramic point of view the phenomenon of
reconciliation through the teachings of the Buddha was examined for
three long days from November 14 to 17. The event was significant not
only to the Buddhists but also to others who are interested in peace and
harmony among human groups.
The event happened to be the 60th anniversary of the World Fellowship
of Buddhists. The glorious past, the present and the future trends were
openly discussed by scholars. In Sri Lanka the event was organized by
the All Ceylon Buddhist Congress.
The main agendum was segmented into five: socio-cultural and economic
perspectives, historical perspectives, environmental perspectives and
ethnic harmony all linked to the central subject of reconciliation
throughout the teachings of the Buddha.
As a classical and learned contribution, a compendium of essays was
distributed to those who participated in the event at home and abroad.
This collection of essays is edited by Dr Praneeth Abhayasundara and
Diuni Gunawardhana. I found this a remarkable gift for all participants
who gathered within the three days. The collection is itemized into four
groups as follows.
Part one: selected essays relating to the main topic of
reconciliation through the teachings of the Buddha. Part two consists of
essays related to the origin and progress of the World Fellowship of
Part three is devoted to five essays linked to Sri Lankan
contribution to Buddhism. Part four is devoted to fourteen essays
written on miscellaneous subjects pertaining to the teachings of the
Buddha. All in all the compendium of essays covers a broad gamut of
subjects linked to Buddhism looked at from various points of view.
I, as a participant on the second day of this summit, had the chance
to watch and listen to three eminent personalities who I admire so much
and read some of the writings by them. They are Dr Ananda Guruge,
Professor Asanga Tillekaratne and Ven Achan Brahmavanso. All the three
scholarly presentations were equipped with the adequate knowledge
related to the main subject.
They were not merely addressing the audience, but made it so
stimulating that there was a sense of liveliness. Books are meant to be
read silently. But speeches are meant to be heard and grasped in its
Though we have read quite a number of contributions made by these
scholars, we also felt that they possessed the knack to mesmerize the
audience with resourceful doctrinal material of the Buddha.
A special mention should be made about Ven Achan Brahmavanso for his
skill in wit and wisdom. It was never an exercise in mere dogma. Most of
what he underlined happened to be emerging from his own practices.
A number of booklets were freely distributed to the participants. For
me some of them were rare publications. The list of freely gifted books
included Buddhism, a living message by Ven Piyadassi Thera, Buddhism in
a Nutshell, and parts I, II and III of Buddhism for Beginners written by
Ven Narada Thera.
All these books seem to have come out of press to meet the needs of
the modern day necessities. They will be included in the repertoire of
Buddhist books by those who love to collect them for posterity. This in
fact is one of the main issues that should be taken seriously by the
literary panels and/or religious study panels of the ministry of
A serious minded group of scholars should translate some of these
selections into Sinhala enhancing the growth and strength of religious
studies in the country at large. A newly carved vision on religious
conscience is emerging in the field of comparative literary studies in
But I am not sure whether our literary enthusiasts and literary
critics are aware of this trend. I propose that such a symposium should
be planned to meet the area of awareness. The literary scene is
gradually narrowing down as a mere conventional literature. But in
actual practice the literary vision should be broadened too.