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.
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...