Monday, May 31, 2010

Master Of Meditation

Master Of Meditation..!
By D. C. Ranatunga
02 - 05 - 2004

Born into a non-Buddhist family with hardly any religious background, Ven. Kiribathgoda Gnanananda as a young man, started reading Buddhist texts he found in the temple he was staying in. He was then an undergraduate at the Sri Jayawardenapura university. He soon found himself engrossed in the Dhamma. To everyone's disappointment, he decided to quit university to study the Dhamma. He was then in his final year.

Keen to don robes, he approached a monk in an aranyaya who wanted to check his horoscope before deciding whether he should be ordained. "How could I have a horoscope? I was born into a Catholic family," says Ven. Kiribathgoda Gnanananda Thera recalling his childhood in one of his many publications. "Through the hospital where I was born, I managed to find the time of my birth with difficulty and got a horoscope prepared. I went back to the monk, who got it read. Whoever read it said that I would go straight to hell after my death and would never see 'Nirvana'. So the monk was rather reluctant to take me in.”

He then went to another monk who also got the horoscope read. This time the reading indicated he would go a long way in his search for salvation. "Just imagine how there could be two totally contradictory forecasts," questions Ven. Gnanananda Thera. "I was confused as to how the Buddha's teaching can be given two interpretations based on the same horoscope."

He then decided the way ahead was to go to the Himalayas and seek guidance from the rishis on the path to salvation. He was determined not to return to Sri Lanka. Life was tough in the Himalayas. Meals were sparse. Some days he merely had a 'roti' and a little water. He was virtually a skeleton.

Then something strange happened. One night, someone dressed in white approached him and asked him why he was feeling so sad. The stranger advised him that he was wasting his time in the Himalayas and that he should go back to his country. He returned and started studying the Dhamma. The Rahula Sutta in the Sanyukhtha Nikaya made him think seriously.

"'I' is impermanent. Because it is impermanent, it brings sorrow. Sorrow means that it's not me. It does not belong to me. It's not my soul. Think wisely," the Buddha had preached.

"When learning the Dhamma, one must listen carefully. One must remember what is learnt and practise it. The next step is to understand what is being practised," Ven. Gnanananda Thera says.

As he began to go deeper into the Dhamma, Ven. Gnanananda Thera thought of sharing his knowledge with those who were keen to learn the Dhamma. "I realised that the benefits of the Dhamma can be seen in this life itself. It's not a dead Dhamma. The Dhamma is eternal. It's not something that is valid for a limited time. The Buddha's teaching is alive even today," he says.

After he started preaching, he found more and more young men showing an interest in learning the Dhamma. They were keen to enter the Order. This led him to establish a forest monastery on a 20-acre plot of land in Waduwawa in Polgahawela. The 'Mahamevna Asapuwa', is based on the forest monastery tradition, where monks live in simple dwellings with a few communal buildings. Thirty monks are in residence. Having renounced personal concerns and ambitions they follow the code of conduct established by the Buddha. Facilities are also available for lay people to follow Theravada Buddhist meditation programmes during weekends.

With the increasing interest in meditation, Ven. Gnanananda established a second meditation centre at Dompe, Palugama where 15 monks are in residence. Here he conducts a meditation programme for laymen on the first Sunday of each month. A third branch monastery has been opened closer to Colombo, at Pittugala, Malabe. Known as Amawatura Bhavana Asapuwa, this monastery is dependent on donations. A building programme for the construction of a Sanghavasa for resident monks and other amenities including a meditation centre for laymen is underway.

In addition to these centres, Ven. Gnanananda Thera has undertaken an exhaustive programme of weekend meditation sessions at many temples. Even though he lives on a single kidney having donated the other to a Catholic mother, he tirelessly conducts these sessions. Thousands of lay devotees follow these programmes, which they find most useful in their daily lives. He teaches an easy-to-follow practical approach to meditation.

A prolific writer, Ven. Gnanananda Thera’s sermons are also available on audio cassettes and CDs."I gain satisfaction from my life for two reasons. One is being born a Sinhalese. My ability to learn the Buddha's teaching is the other. I would never have got this opportunity if not for the fact that I was born into the Sinhala race," he says.

Ven. Gnanananda is confident that the nation can be revived and built on Buddhist traditions. He underlines the need for lay people to follow the 'Tisarana'. "The Buddha should always be in one's mind. We should be mindful of the teachings of the Buddha and we should respect the Maha Sangha," he insists. "If adults follow these basic principles, we can easily mould the younger generation."

(Based on 'Kiyannam senehasin
Miya noyan his athin'
by Ven. Gnanananda Thera)

A serene Vesak at Mahamevuna
A happening reminiscent of the time Arahat Mahinda introduced Buddhism to Sri Lanka will be re-enacted today, when over 100,000 devotees throng the Mahamevuna Uyana in Anuradhapura to take part in a special Vesak programme. They will assemble in the green near Ruwanveliseya and take part in the full-day programme conducted by Ven. Kiribathgoda Gnanananda Thera.

The programme which will start at 7 a.m.will emphasise the importance of meditation. After explaining the key elements of the Buddha's teaching, Ven. Gnanananda will guide the devotees in following 'anapanasati' and 'maitri' forms of meditation. During the afternoon session they will follow a guided programme on insight meditation. The day will end with the chanting of the Dhammacakka Pavattana Sutta, the first sermon preached by the Buddha after His Enlightenment at Varanasi.

Ven. Gnanananda Thera is confident that today's session will be a new and serene experience for the people.

Only Four People Attended My First Sermon

Only Four People Attended My First Sermon...

Last October 40 monks and 800 Buddhist followers of the Mahamevna meditation Dwelling went on a pilgrimage to India led by Kiribathgoda Gnanananda Thera. At the time he was interviewed by Shyama Samarasingha, which was published in the Budusarana of November 28, 2006. The translation of this interview.

When did you decide to become a bhikkhu?

I was ordained at age 17. I did not have a good understanding of life at that age. Just felt attracted to it. First I received traditional Buddhist academic education and entered the Jayawardenapura University. Before completing the degree, I left the university education and became a hermit.

I understood that what I was seeking was not available in the traditional education system. Because of this understanding, most of the time I lived on my own and learnt the Dhamma through meditation centres and hermitages.

In the beginning I stayed with Kithulampitiye Wipularansi Thera. He is a special person. He has abandoned everything and has gone to India ten years ago and reached the Himalaya. I have not heard about him since then.

After that I stayed at a meditation centre in Colombo for sometime. In 1997, I started a Dhamma service though I was not particularly interested in it. I had a personal ambition to attain Nirvana quickly. I pursued this goal with dedication. I lived in the Sri Pada forest many times alone.

During the off season periods I took the Kuruwita route to Sri Pada. I met Baduraliye Chandima Thera in one of these trips. My desire was to live alone in a sparsely populated place. But while paying homage to the Sri Pada, it dawned on me that I can be in danger in the forest and can even get killed by wild animals. If that happens, then nobody is going to benefit from me.

Therefore I decided to teach the Buddha Dhamma to the people for sometime. I was able to do this from time to time. In 1997, I decided to go to the forest again, but soon realised that I could not achieve my goal as fast as I wished. Again I decided to spread the Dhamma.

I went to Colombo Sambodhi Vihara to deliver Buddhist talks. Because I was new, I had to overcome many obstacles. Only four people attended my fist sermon. Slowly, this situation changed. The problem at that point was to find a large enough place to give the talks.

At this time I met Kotapola Amarakitti Thera by chance. He asked me to accompany with him to Polgahawela. He took me to the present day Mahamevna monastery site. At the time it was an expanse of Eraminiya shrubs. I did not know anybody in the village and there were no Dayakayas. Amarakitti Thera offered me support.

He told me that I have to take charge of the place. It was a very quiet place, and I thought it would be ideal for meditation and to propagate the Buddha Dhamma. As the pioneer, I had to make many sacrifices.

I was able to build three Kutis with thatched roof and walls of plastic sheets. In addition there was a Dhamma Hall of 20 x 10 also with a thatched roof. This was the beginning of the Mahamevnawa.

Afterwards, the Dhamma started spreading beyond belief. My honest and sincere wish to spread the Dhamma is the secret to this success.

I understood the real Dhamma as taught by the Buddha and used my creativity to propagate it. I talked to the seekers with empathy. I showed them the delusions. I convinced them of their wrongful attachments and devotions to the astrology, auspicious times, and the likes which consume their energy.

I used simple Sinhalese to explain the Dhamma. I made it clear that it is the Four Noble Truths that is essential to the realisation of the Buddha Dhamma.

Intelligent people gathered around me, and hundreds of young men came to me to be ordained as monks. The learned and intelligent monks in Sri Lanka ordained these young men. Now we have 35 branches of Mahamevna in Sri Lanka and one in Canada. There are 300 trainee Bhikkhus in these hermitages.

The Mahamevna that I started in August 14th, 1999 blossomed into a huge tree with numerous strong branches within a seven year period. It is a common thing to be the target of criticism and slanders when one becomes a popular figure. I was the target for endless criticism from Sri Lankan monks. It is difficult to develop Buddhism in Sri Lanka.

The main reason for this is the jealousy among the monks. The Sri Lankan attitude is to destroy the person who is genuinely serving society. This happened to the Bhikkhus Dolakande, Soma and Ariyadhamma. This can also happen to me. Before that I have to stop my Dhamma propagation activities. At that time, the jealousy ridden individuals can sleep soundly.

I have herd that you are a Catholic by birth. What led you to become a Buddhist?

After 1505 Catholicism started spreading. Before that all the Sinhalese were Buddhists. There was no foundation for Catholicism in Sri Lanka; it is not surprising for a born Catholic to become a Buddhist. Missionary invasion of Asia forced people to convert to Christianity. It is happening today too.

Especially the Catholicism spread in the coastal areas of Sri Lanka among the fishermen. This happened because many people who lacked the understanding of the Dhamma looked down on fisherman clan.

Why did you decide to go on a pilgrimage to India with a large group this time?

There is a reason for it. Many of us do not create a complete mental orientation for such a pilgrimage. People lose their spiritual tendencies after reaching India. I felt empathy towards them. I taught them how to methodically conduct a Buddhist pilgrimage to India. I met a suitable and capable organiser for our Dhambadiva pilgrimage.

Dambadiva is the land of the Buddhas and Buddhist saints. The environment in Dambadiva has not changed from the great times. I have gained many experiences travelling in the area.

I see it as an ideal place for a lay person to attain his goals amidst many hardships. Bodhisatvas are born from time to time in Dambadiva. I see Dr. Ambedkar, a Buddhist leader from the recent past, as a future Buddha. Anagarika Dharmapala also had Bodhisatva qualities.

What do you think about the Sri Lankan Buddhists?

Most Buddhists in Sri Lanka are filled with empty pride. They are plagued with many obstacles, preventing them from reaching a sound understanding of the Dhamma.

Mahamevna forest retreat at Polgahawela

They think they know everything even though they know nothing. They engage in slandering and gossip. There are also very intelligent, moral, and faithful Buddhists in Sri Lanka. I am very proud and happy about it.

I have a special request for all Buddhists. Do not vote for any bhikkhus to the Parliament. It will be detrimental to the Buddhists. I translated many Pali Pirith books to Sinhalese.

The translations available were not very meaningful. I also started reciting Pirit in Pali mixed with Sinhalese. People did not understand even the meanings of the verses used for the homage to the Buddha. It is useless to recite Pali verses beautifully to the common people who can not understand them.

The verses recited in Pali have many mistakes in the way we break the sentences and also in the pronunciations. People really like the way I recite the Pirith, since they could know the meaning of contents.

What a blessing it would be to see the young generation being attracted to the Meditation and Dhamma in an age that most temples are being abandoned.

Ven. Kiribathgoda Gnanananda Thera

Monday, May 24, 2010

Are You Afraid of Meditation?

Are You Afraid of Meditation?

When the word ‘meditation’ is heard, the idea of getting free and becoming calm comes to some people’s minds freely while some become frightened. In fact, a considerable amount of people in our community at present afraid of meditating even though they like to practice it. However, if one is to learn Gautama Buddha’s teachings carefully and open mindedly, then he will understand how profoundly the Buddha revealed the usefulness of meditation. Most people do not know how much information is included in the teachings of Buddha about the proper ways of meditation. They do not know that there are about 18,000 discourses of Gautama Buddha securely protected even in this era.

Since most of these discourses are translated into Sinhala language with the ability to comprehend the meanings easily, you can read and learn them without any sweat.

On the other, some people even think that one who tends to meditate does that because of the problems or troublesome status they are in their lives. No one will ever come to these phony beliefs if they at least have a tiny knowledge of Buddhism. Unfortunately, these are the views they have. These views seem to spread among Buddhists rapidly because they do not have the wisdom to differentiate the persuasions about the false beliefs they encounter from the truth.

However, it seems like these false views are only spread in countries like ours. A majority of Indian people holds a completely different view regarding meditation. Even the people in western countries practice meditation with a proper understanding of it.

I will show you a typical example. Once, when I went to USA for Dhamma related work the custom officer asked me the reason for my trip. I told him that I am going to teach the devotees about the meditation. That officer was delighted with my answer. He told me it was really great and that he also likes the meditation.

Can you imagine this difference? The people in a western country like USA values meditation while a country like ours does not. What is the reason for this? Actually, the people in western countries close to Buddhism through meditation and not through knowledge. There are two famous topics among these people. Those are the meditation and yoga. They use yoga for their physical fitness while meditation is used for their mental fitness, and they use to illustrate it as the inner peace. If you check carefully, do you see any of these in our country? Our people insult both yoga and meditation. What and why is this type of moral decline can be found in the eastern countries? I will explain you the cause for this decline.

There are mentally depleted and lust thirsty group of people in our countries. They do not have any knowledge about the life. Their lives are empty and have no meaning whatsoever. They just follow a blindfold path trying to sooth an unending passion for lust.

There is another famous viewpoint in our countries. That is, meditation can lead you to insane. However, there is no such thing and the truth is completely deformed in that notion. Meditation will help you to develop your wisdom by increasing your insight of seeing your life in its exact way, and that is the truth about it.

When a person repeatedly thinks that someone is going to do him harm, he becomes a mental patient. The beginning of a mental illness is the memory loss. Then, keep on staring at empty space and keep thinking about one particular thing in a distorted manner are the rest of symptoms of a mental disorder.

All these behaviors seem to come freely when that person is alone. He always tries to separate himself from others and tries to spend more and more time alone as it becomes significant. Furthermore, this loneliness makes these types of people to begin meditating as an alternate to remedy for what they are dealing with. Even though such person cannot figure it out, it is an illness that he has. He cannot mend his mind eliminating his disputed thoughts. This is why such person could not meditate in the proper way. All what he can do is the thinking according to what he used to, but in a meditating posture. This would make his illness worst by the each minute passed by. This is when the people start to notice his mental condition. Since he was meditating by that time, people think he lost his mind because of the meditation. However, if you find out what exactly happened to him, then you will start to realize that it was not the meditation that made him sick, but he was suffering with his condition for sometime even before he started to meditate.

In fact, if meditation made him lost his mental control, then the people who do not practice it should not have mental disorders. However, that is not the case. We know there are mental patients all over the world without any regard to the race or the religion. For example, you know that meditation is not taught to Catholic or Muslim people. Meditation is not a subject for them, and it does not relate to their religion. However, are not they still become sick with mental illnesses? Thus, we can confirm that meditation is not the cause for mental illnesses.

Still, there are rumors we need to deal with when spreading Dhamma. The most pressing and unfortunate matter is the rumor that has been spread through our community about meditation. These rumors say that meditation makes people mentally ill. However, there is one meditation called ‘Kasina Bhāvana’. It is not appropriate for anyone, and I do not recommend it either. Here, the meditation is taken place by looking at a particular color. This meditation does not lead to an achievement of what is resulted from developing Satipatthāna. It does not help one to be mindful with respect to Chittānupassanā (mindful about what is being thought) and Dhammānupassanā (mindful about Dhamma). One who practices Kasina meditation only focuses on a color. That is why it does not help to promote one’s mind in achieving the main goal of practicing meditation. Moreover, this Kasina meditation can elevate a person’s mental disability if he had one at a minor level before started doing it. In fact, there are some stories about monks who practiced this meditation and ended up with this sort of problems over the past. These incidents on the other hand may have caused the above mentioned rumors flying around in the Buddhist community for some time.

The meaning of ‘Bhāvana (meditation)’ is ‘cultivation’ or ‘development’ of something. In Aānāpāna Sati meditation, the mindfulness, effort, and wisdom are to be developed. The Loving-kindness, Asuba, and Anittya Sangna meditations help cultivating love-kindness, state of passionlessness, and wisdom of authentic knowledge of life, respectively. Thus, our teacher, the Supreme Buddha, has taught us enough types of meditations to help achieving a concentration of mindfulness and to stay in that state as long as the person who meditates wants. Actually, these kinds of teachings cannot be seen in other religions.

Other than something picked up from Buddhism, they do not have any kind of meditations. We know at present, some people in other religions copy some types of meditations from Buddhism and practice them. However, their minds can get shuffled and become mentally ill since they practice meditation without any knowledge of it. This is a dangerous situation. I will let you know something that you should understand well. Do not ever start meditating without clarifying this matter. If a mind needs to be developed, first we need the knowledge of it using a scientific teaching such as Buddhism which describes the mind in an astonishing way. Let us think about a very simple ordinary matter. If someone needs building a road, then he needs the science behind its making. Also, we need scientific knowledge to make buildings. Do not we? Likewise, can we just develop a mind without knowing it properly? Where can we find the technical wisdom of developing a mind? It can only be found in Buddhism…

On the other hand, there can be two or three persons at most present with mental disorders among a thousand of them. Even if that is the case, can we let the rest of the nine hundred ninety nine persons to be neglected in vain?

I teach different types of meditations in our meditation programs. What are those types? They are Maitriya Bhāvana (Loving-kindness meditation), Buddhānussati (meditation focused on the great characteristics of the Supreme Buddha), Anittya Sangnā (meditate thinking about the true nature, the impermanence of things), and Aānāpānasati Bhāvana (meditation focused on inhale and exhale). In Maitriya Bhāvana, we practice to live with minds full of love and kindness. Meditation by thinking about the great characteristics of Buddha (Buddhānussati) is another tremendous way to develop your mind by meditation. With the Anittya Sangnā, one develops a mind capable of revealing the true nature, the impermanence, of the life and all other things around him. Furthermore, Aānāpānasati Bhāvana helps you calm your mind and make it clear to see the natural order of life as it is. Thus, it should be apparent to you and should ask the question: if these meditations are risky for your lives, then what other meritorious deeds do we have to practice? If these meditation techniques are not to be thought, then what else is there to think? If that is the case, we might just have to stare at televisions or listen to radios and waste our time thinking only what is being broadcasted. We will also be trapped within the messages published in news papers. In fact, these meditations taught by Gautama Buddha help you to identify the cloud of hallucination of lies that covers your wisdom from seeing the truth. It will then prepare you to eliminate this hallucination with the penetrating light of Dhamma. Once you started to practice these meditations, you will begin to see things through as this light of Dhamma propagates throughout your entire life.

Without meditation, a bunch of people who used to rely on the messages from these media will become desirous, full of lust, full of hatred, or ignorant. Actually, a majority of people in the present society always suffer mentally in this manner. Though, they do not know that they are suffering each moment of their lives. They are also not aware of its danger. This is the ignorance of majority of people of these societies that is trapped within their own desires and malpractices.

A person who has no idea about the Four Noble Truths does not know anything about healing his mind. However, people at present have somewhat better understanding about meditation than the people in the past. In the past, people used to get perturbed by the sight of young people meditating. Everyone thought those children have some sort of problem.

Even though that was the case, they still talk about highly if they confront a foreigner meditating even among the young people of our society. This shows us how hard these shortsighted people would like to strike the arising of a wise generation full of young people in our country. They simply cannot bear the dawn of a bright new generation. It is also clear that they have no idea what the meditation is or what is its significance and how it would influence the arising of a loyal, bright, and full of compassion generation. They just admire and criticize the meditation at the same time without a proper knowledge about it.

Meditation creates an inner peace of a person as a result of practicing it properly. It also gives birth to a healthy and an invigorating mind. However, a broad discussion is required if these benefits are to be achieved.

There is another fictitious standpoint in the Buddhist community today. That is, the idea of a need of hidden advices for the practitioner of meditation before he starts to meditate. In a way, this is a kind of pretence of haughty people who neglect the teaching capability of the Supreme Buddha. We need to identify the danger behind this matter. If we keep the advices regarding meditation secretly or start to convey them to just one person, then there will be a significant risk of corrupting and concealing Dhamma. I think you know that there are some places where people get secret advices on meditation. Though, you should clarify the fact that there is no such thing as hidden Dhamma in Buddhism. Our most Fortunate One’s Dhamma brightens when it is revealed and not when concealed. Supreme Buddha clearly stated this in his discourses.

If someone conveys any form of Dhamma secretly, then it is significantly doubtful because Dhamma is not to be concealed...

These situations are serious since the person who gets the advices can refuse them at any time. This is because these advices are given to him in private and not in an open environment.

Most people like to argue different opinions about meditation present in our society today. However, Dhamma is a raft which helps us to cross the Sansāra (the repeating state of birth, age, and death). It is not appropriate to refuse Dhamma, and just describe one’s own thoughts as Dhamma by showing off his expertise and enjoying it. The Supreme Buddha exemplified Dhamma to a raft with the intention of it being used to get rid of the Sansāra.

On the other hand, if the idea of giving advices secretly is based on the fact that there are people of different types of characters such as lustful, faithful, malicious, and ignorant, then there is no problem just to consider what Buddha taught about what kind of meditations they should follow. This is because the most Compassionate One has showed us what type of meditation should be practiced by people with each of these personalities. For example, a person with a malicious character should test practicing the loving-kindness meditation. If someone is obsessed with his self-centeredness, then he should practice Anittya Bhāvana (meditation about the impermanence).

If these Dhamma advices are being accepted even today, then the Dhamma will still be comprehended (Sanditthika: Dhamma needs to be realized in this life).

Dhamma was well taught (Swakkhāta) and is compatible to any time (Akālika) whether it is past, present, or future.

The teachings in Buddhism (Dhamma) do not vary whether it was the Supreme Buddha’s time or the present time without him. We should first clearly understand these remarkable properties of Dhamma, and then only we should start practicing meditation. In other words, we need to make the discourses of our teacher prominent for us by opening them. Once the Dhamma is open, everyone will have the passage to its knowledge and in turn it will allow them to practice meditation properly.

In fact, the idea behind developing meditation is to make our own protection by identifying our weaknesses and skills. Furthermore, we try suppressing our weaknesses by finding refuge of Dhamma. Thus, we need to become one with the virtues that is described in Dhamma prior to meditation and protect it throughout the journey of realizing the noble truths. This journey is not something we have to take blindly because there is enough guidance in the Dhamma.

The only reason for hundred thousands of people to attend in our meditation programs is the disclosure of Dhamma. We had the chance to open it to the public. Other than that, Dhamma is not a private property of Mahamevnawa Bhavana canters. Everyone should understand that Mahamevnawa only made Dhamma open and closer to the general public. That should be the only prominent understanding.

Venerable Kiribathgoda Gnanananda Thero
Discussed by Tanuja Dharmapala

(A part from the Sadaham Sitmal Yaya – Book 2)

Sunday, May 23, 2010

We Freed from the Most Fearsome Terrorism

We Freed from the Most Fearsome Terrorism of the World

History of mankind is filled with wars. Terrorism is the most dangerous item that has been recently added to it. Although terrorism is a part of recent ways of war, there are apparent differences between war and terrorism. Ethics cannot be appended to a war, but we can see agreements between the parties who involve in a war at most of the times. Moreover, nothing good has ever come from terrorism to anyone in the world including the terrorists themselves. In fact, it only brings destruction to the world.

I was also encountered by the wrath of the terrorism once. It was the year 1985. On 17th April of that year, I was traveling from Sēruwila to Kantale by a bus. On that day, our bus was attacked by the fearful terrorists in an area called Sittaru. When we were passing that town, a sound of an explosion came from a distance in the forest. It was like a sound of some firecrackers. Bunch of bullets flew from that direction and passed through the windows of the bus smashing them like withered leaves. Everyone started to scream. Some of the feared mothers even defecated themselves inside the bus. Fortunately, a soldier was in that bus with us on that day. He acted quickly. He shouted and told us to get down on the floor “get down, the tigers (LTTE) are shooting…” We laid ourselves down on the floor inside the bus. Tigers were still shooting at us. Everyone was terrified and still screaming. It was some kind of our luck that the bus driver somehow drove the bus forward to some distance without stopping it. However, there was still no escape from the terrorists. They were still shooting at our bus.

“It looks like there is nothing else we can do to escape. Everyone, try to get off the bus. And lay beside that ramp to the left.” The soldier commanded us. We immediately get off the bus and laid ourselves down on the floor beside the ramp according to his command. There were mothers with small children on their hands, expecting mothers, students, people going to work, and some more in that bus. None of them has anything to do with the terrorism. They were just innocent people who were trying to pass by another day of their lives... The sound of the shooting did not allow anyone to think of anything else but their deaths. Could this be our last moment? Are we going to die by the hands of those cruel terrorists? There was nothing we could do. I also made up my mind. But, I became more worried when I recognized that I was the only Buddhist monk in that bus. I have heard some rumors about what they do to the captured people. They say terrorists torture the captives. I did not like to become a prisoner of them. When I continued to think about it, my mind was covered with fear. “They might emerge from those shrubs in the forest and take me as a prisoner if I stay here.” That was why I thought to run if they are to come towards us. Then, they will not be able to catch me even though they might shoot me. I was even ready to face the death on that day to prevent me from getting captured by the terrorists.

However, a small unit of soldiers came towards us at that time. No one would have guessed it. It was our luck. We were surrounded and being attacked by the terrorists hiding within bushes in the distant forest. The soldiers felt the terrorists' shooting on our bus and started to counter-attack. The feared terrorists fled away. One mother was killed on that day, but the lives of everyone else including mine were spared because of those heroic soldiers... Those are the days we spent in fear. On those days, we spent the day time in the temple and the nights in huts built up on trees. No lights were lit in the nights. Each night, the shadows of darkness haunted everyone indicating an ill omen of those ferocious terrorists.

The terrorism, which covered the whole body of the country like a violent tsunami destroying everything it came across, was a great opportunity and a trap for the politicians who were insane with the power hunger to trick the votes they needed to rule the country. For some politicians, signing agreements with terrorists was like an avenue of peace. Politicians who were deceived by the terrorists' tricks even supplied weapons, communicating devices, and international relationships to them by endangering the whole nation just for their own benefits and well-being. On the other hand, it was like fishing in troubled water for some nongovernmental organizations who were aiming to fulfill their various economical, social, and religious needs. In fact, they were impulsive and fished without any concerns about the consequences. It was a lode for them. On the other hand, none of the politicians, artists, journalists, mass media personnel, venerable monks, students, or farmers of the country could free from this giant web of terror. Everyone became victims of the terrorism.

It was extensively expanded throughout the entire community such that it could not even be differentiated or recognized as terrorism. Mass media sometimes introduced them as a military organization with a perspective. Sometimes, they said it was a separatist group. Especially in Sri Lanka, they were not exposed or introduced as terrorists in general. This was a good indication of how prominently the terrorists' international image affected the media of Sri Lanka. The intention of this article is to perform a psychological evaluation about the terrorism. For us who are freed from such evil terrorism, a systematic evaluation and a discussion about the terrorism will definitely help us to see our past more clearly. Then, such terrorism will not be forgotten from our minds quickly helping to retain peace and the freedom in the country.

Our teacher, the Gautama Buddha, taught us that our basic behavior or activities are dependent on the basis of our minds. It is known as the 'Drushti' (the view). When this basis of our mind causes evil action, it is then called the 'evil view' (Evil Drusthi). The Supreme Buddha exemplified it to a seed of wormwood. Each and every tender leaf, a leaf, a root, a flower, or a fruit that grows from that wormwood seed will be severely bitter. The reason for such bitterness in each part of the wormwood tree is the bitterness of the seed itself. In a similar manner, actions of a person with an evil view will also become evil. None of those actions will bring any good to him or to others.

What is the view of terrorists? A terrorist is created from a person with a mental infection because such a person has a heavy desire to leadership. He likes becoming a leader, becoming popular, making his name known to the people around the world honorably or dishonorably, desire to own other people's things, and becoming the sole and pretentious hero of a group of people who surrounds him. What these persons have is infections or illnesses that cause ill wishes, and they try to fulfill these ill wishes in any means necessary. If they see some people as obstacles in fulfilling their targets, they will consider them as challenges. Then, they start to destroy such people, nations, religions, cultures, properties, and countries with deadly forces. They will not have any shame or fear to execute their ill-mannered plans to do it. Without any foresight, they acted cruelly. The basis of their inhumane actions was the evil view.

The terrorism originated from the fictitious view

Any form of fictitious view that creates terrorism is tremendously dangerous. The people with such views refuse to believe in good and evil. There is no meaning to the concept of merits-demerits for them whatsoever. Their hearts have no place or commitment for their parents or teachers. There is no value for moral concepts in their lives. They do not have any gratitude for anyone. They are the ones who would “bite the hand that feeds them” and who refuse to believe in the consequences of one’s actions. What they always think is how to destroy a person or an object that obstructs their goal. This feature can be seen in the entire history of terrorists. Some of the Tamil and Sinhalese political leaders helped promoting the terrorism in Sri Lanka. These leaders were also killed by terrorists, complicating the ability to understand how they think. This is why it is important to keep it in our minds that identifying terrorists is a far difficult task than we expect. For some societies, this might also be the reason why they became the militant organization, the vacuous heroes, and the crucial force of power that came to rescue others from the delusive concept of injustice they mention repeatedly.

Communication methods of the terrorists…

They act as victims of a society’s injustice. In fact, they are well capable of making fictitious histories to show how they were subjected to the injustice by the majority of the country. They were also experts in killing any character that opposes their goal. To create falsehood by hiding the reality is another skill they have. This is described as an illusion in Buddhism. In fact, the true nature of these terrorists is completely different. They act and say something in public with the hidden truth inside their minds. The truth comes out only when they meet each other in private. In front of the world, they are the most innocent and unjustly treated group of people in the society. It was in fact the society that was being assaulted by them. Though, the truth is not apparent to the outside world because their act of innocence in front of various unions and associations, which work for human rights, was talented and illusive. Their hypocritical tears before these associations were better than “crocodile tears”. That was how elusive their ways of attempting to win the love of various societies. For this purpose, they are writing books and feature articles with distorted truth, making movies, creating songs, and performing various kinds of exhibitions to propagate falsified messages in great extent. Earning money from these things is also known. The ways they use to earn money cannot be fathomed easily. Sometimes, they give out books and journals for free. In this way, they try to create a basic foundation for earning money in the future and confirming their opinion among people. The LTTE terrorists carried out all these things to their wish.

Believes of the terrorists

They showed that they were ill-treated by the society, and their gods completely assist them in their fight for freedom. Therefore, they believed in their gods and performed various kinds of offerings, worshiping, praying, and religious pledges to the gods promptly and without neglecting. Some terrorists create their barbaric mentality by blindly welcoming the contents in diverse views and theories of corrupted and distorted politics, philosophies, and books. They expect to build a strong conflictive and antipathetic mentality from all these means. Furthermore, they try to keep the people who they motivated in believing their opinions around them and get their continuous support.

Spuriousness of the terrorists

Because the people have been caught by communications about the false injustice in the society, it is difficult for them to come to the truth. They are trapped within mere views of terrorists. Therefore, the people who welcomed the terrorists’ false believes allured to consent with whatever the destruction they committed. They think their fight is for fair and good intentions. Everyone else is also allured to support this false belief and to think similarly. Even though they try to deceive the general public by defending their fight as a cause to win back their lost rights, their inner spiritualities are corrupted with hatred, jealousy, revenge, fear, suspicion, and the desire to fulfill their goal even by killing others.

The mental stress associated with the terrorism

The mental comfort cannot be seen in the lives of terrorists. Even though they show it falsely to the world, they live with a great fear. The reason for such living is their conscience of the false, untruth, and artificial creation of their status on which they rely on. The conscience brings them a moment of truth to think about, but it does not last for long. Their minds are attracted to the mental distortion in a second. Even though, they pretend to like the peace, do everything to acquire it, and ready to embrace it at any time, it is not their true nature. They cannot embrace peace whatsoever. The history has shown us that the terrorists are a group of people with prolonged ill health of mental stress and could not be cured completely. It is a demerit resulted by their desire to trap within the mental stress created by themselves.

Terrorist attacks

They do not attack only with weapons but also with their ideologies. The LTTE and the Buddhist opposing Tamil political views released a large number of false ideologies to the Western countries. We are being currently attacked with those false opinions and those attacks are not easy to cope with. We still cannot free ourselves from those false views because they were made by the terrorist philosophy and because these views have been firmly established for some time now.

They spread the idea of infeasibility of building their lost world within the frame of democracy among their people. Also, they point fingers on Sinhalese-Buddhist people saying they are racists. What they say is that all their facilities and rights have been cut short, and an armed confrontation is needed to win those back. Furthermore, they suggest destroying anything or anyone who obstructs achieving their goal. There are members in their group who are ready to fulfill the commands of killing many leaders, mass media personnel, and religious leaders, and destroying social corporations, institutions, government resources that their leaders have decided to destroy. The terrorists take pleasure in destroying everything and everyone who oppose their fight. They enjoy by dedicating to their cause, but they kill themselves with the destruction of it as well. The power to suicide for the sake of their false beliefs comes from the satisfaction they have tasted by becoming heroes of their false leadership and terrorism itself.

Can terrorists be rehabilitated?

We do not know of any terrorists who were rehabilitated in the history of terrorism. Because they provided the leadership to the terrorism, it is difficult to remove the mentality that brought forth the terrorism from them. On the other hand, terrorism is a product of their mental distortion. However, there can be many good people who became members of their group after deceived by the terrorist communication methods. If the masks of the terrorist concepts that have clouded their wholesome mentality could be removed, then they will in fact become good people. Therefore, we should have our confidence in rehabilitating these people. The concentration is not to free the terrorist leaders, but to free the people who were trapped in the network of terrorist concepts that were created by the leadership. They will not try to find sanctuary under the terrorism if they are to be protected from being tricked into the terrorist viewpoints again. Even though new leaderships were trying to be arisen after the terrorists’ former leadership was destroyed, it was not possible because they all are spurious and secondary leaders.

The wonder of Sri Lanka

The wonder of Sri Lanka at present is its freedom from terrorism and nothing else. It was not a war that lasted in the country for thirty years. It was the most brutal, fierce, inhumane, barbaric, and despicable terrorism, which swallowed everyone in the country. The country was pulling into a dark and deep hollow. It was in fact some kind of a miracle indeed to see freeing the country in such short period of time. Anyone can travel anywhere in the country without any fear now. A night can be spent at homes with lights turned on. Now that the terrorism, which used to terrify us, is gone, we can walk freely. Anything can be bought from any place and used it. Everyone can spend their time happily without any fear. This is the peace we all being expecting for a long time. Emergence of the peace by disappearing terrorism is the pleasant miracle that has been recently occurred in Sri Lanka!

We, the Sinhalese Buddhists are not racists. It was in fact the Sinhalese Buddhists who helped everyone equally, without any regard to their race when the tsunami hit Sri Lanka. Sinhalese Buddhists were extending their hands for friendship to their brotherly Tamil people since a long time. We should work for bringing the day on which we live together in joy like brothers and sisters once again. The brotherly Tamil people did not feel the Sinhalese Buddhists' hearty warmth until now because of the terrorism and not because of our fault. The Sinhalese Buddhists who used to spread loving-kindness to everyone throughout the world forgot the brutality and pain they had to go through because of the terrorism and embraced the brotherly Tamil people with love and kindness. This is the other wonder of our country. Such a miracle happened because of the Buddhism and not for other reasons. There is a conflict between the Christians and Muslims in Africa. These people in these two religions are killing each other in hundreds even as we speak. This demonstrates that none of the religions have helped building peace among the people who follow those religions. We are not unfortunate in such manner. Buddhists can become the peace makers of a country and of the world because of the teachings of Buddha.

There is no place for terrorism in Buddhism

There is one thing apparent in Buddhist history. That is, Buddhism has never brought forth a terrorist leader or a terrorist philosophy into the world. On the other hand, Buddhism has been a victim of terrorism many times in the history. For an example, Buddhism in India was destroyed because of the terrorism of Brahmins. Their terrorism was born as a result of a religious belief. Thus, it could also be considered as a type of religious terrorism. It was the devotees of Shiva belief that started this terrorism, which destroyed the spiritual side of Buddhism completely. Then, the Muslims annihilated the physical body of it entirely. The bad effects of that devastation were enormous. The collapse of huge universities like Nālanda, educational institutions like Valabhii, and huge libraries built to store tremendous knowledge, which used to shed the light of good and to develop the entire world, were some of them. The terrorism’s wrath did not stop just by destroying the spirit of Buddhism and physical goods. It ended the lives of virtuous and pure Buddhist monks, and as a result, it swept away the entire Buddhist community from India. In the twelfth century, the Shiva devoted terrorist leader called Magha who was insane with his religious view came from Kalinga nation to Sri Lanka. He completely transformed both Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa cities into ruins. After his hatred being released, only very little of the Buddhist culture in Sri Lanka was. We lost a marvelous heritage that was to be granted to the world because of that incident.

We had to face a great deal of damage because of the invasions of Portuguese, Dutch, and English as well. Not only they destroyed and stole our national treasures, but also brutally acted to take away Buddhism from us. They burst into our villages with the bible in one hand and a sword in the other threatening us to give up the world’s most peaceful religion, Buddhism, which we practiced with devotion. Without considering it as the terrorism, how else could we interpret it? Should the terrorism and religion be one? Without terrorism, cannot we propagate a religion? Did Buddhists use force or terrorism? In the history of mankind, there is no one who attempted propagating Buddhism by taking the “Dhammapadaya” (the basic text book of Buddhists) in one hand and a sword in the other hand. Furthermore, Buddhism shows us that a monk does not belong to Buddhism if he joins or supports killing another human being. Therefore, the terrorism is not allowed in Buddhism whatsoever.

It is true that the people in Buddhist societies face conflicts and instabilities from time to time due to their other problems such as political, social, or economical. Nevertheless, they have never killed people in the name of Buddhism, to spread its view, or to establish it. With more than 2500 years of history, Buddhism is the only religion that has never killed humans for the sake of its religious believes. However, most other religions cannot free from the allegations of killing human beings to propagate their beliefs. It is impeccable to say that some religions at present involve in creating terrorism. Humans’ religion has to be the teachings how to love mankind and not to create terrorism that destroys it. Therefore, anyone who loves human beings should not agree to the views that make terrorism in the name of their religion. What we should do is to start admiring the religion that loves the mankind and values the lives of human beings. As humans, if we do not love and spread our compassion towards the mankind, then who else is there to protect it?

I am not someone who is fond of politics or being politicized. I do not at least represent a political viewpoint. However, I do indeed like the leadership that freed our country from terrorism. It was something even some of the powerful western countries could not accomplish. This is why I like this leadership. It freed the country from most dangerous and powerful terrorism, which was known to the world few months ago. By defeating the LTTE terrorism, the leadership found the true freedom to the people. Now they are living their lives free of terror. This is our pride and dignity. Therefore, this marvelous leader will always be the King in the hearts of the people who have opened their minds to the truth.

The terrorism is not over yet. We are currently free just from the fearsome weapons of terrorists. We are not yet free from the distorted minds of them. Some people who became victims of the strategies of terrorists are still in their obsolete views. It will take some time to cure them completely. Like randomly distributed small amount of parasites in a giant tree, they will try to bring back the shadows of died terrorism by means of various political philosophies, media strategies, artistic creations, and different religious concepts. However, all of them should know that the terrorism is terrorism even though it comes in disguise. If someone represents that opinion, then a way to terrorism will be opened bringing devastation to everyone including the person who opens it. Terrorism and evil will never be favorable to anyone in any way. A stanza preached by Gautama Buddha comes to my mind at this moment:

“Parē cha na vijānanti – mayamettha yamāmsē

yē cha tattha vijānanti – tatō sammanti mēdhagā

“People who like to engage in fearful conflicts do not know that they are the ones who are going to destroy from it. But, if someone knows about himself being engaged with such deadly conflicts, he gives it up and comes to the path of peace. Fierce fights are ended by ones who recognize the peace.”

Those terrorists existed for thirty years destroying us in thousands without any regard to the political, religious, and nationality differences we had. Therefore, we should love the leadership that built a true basis for the peace by freeing us from the most fearful terrorism that has ever been existed in the entire world to this time. It is in fact one of our duties that we should dearly take into account...

Ven. Kiribathgoda Gnanananda Thero Copyright © 2010
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