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Anagarika Dharmapala tried to revive Buddhism

Let’s practise socially Engaged Buddhism

Ven. Sumedha

ndia is the birthplace of Buddhism. After deteriorating during medieval times, it is again in a state of revival. After the Buddha’s Mahaparinirvana, all his disciples assembled to compile the teachings of the Buddha. His teachings were compiled into Buddhist cannon in Pali.

Approximately, after 200 years of the Buddha’s Mahaparinirvana his disciples divided themselves into different groups on various issues. These groups are known as sects of Buddhism. When these sects are not following the Buddha’s teachings the values in Buddhism come down. Many a religions like Brahmanism started attracting Buddhists to their religion.

Another important aspect is invasion of foreign rulers such as Mongolians. Muslim Emperors killed Buddhist Monks and destroyed Buddhist libraries to establish their religion.

Anagarika Dharmapala, a Sri Lankan Buddhist, tried his best to revive Buddhism in India. He established Mahabodhi Society and published many books. Socially Engaged Buddhism. The 20th century concept of Buddhism is known as socially engaged Buddhism.

True to the spirit of its founder, Buddhism has been renowned throughout its history for its tolerance of other beliefs and values. Not only Buddhist leaders like Thich Nhat Hanh, Sulak Sivaraksa and Sheng Yen but also Buddhist organisations like Tzu Chi and Sarvodaya have been engaged in numerous activities with other religious groups in the era of globalization. They are actively engaging in forging new bonds of understanding and acceptance across different religious groups. In a global society, it is very important to have harmony and respect among different religions. Better understanding of other religious traditions brings various social groups together. It is a means to secure greater social and religious acceptance. Communication provides an opportunity for discussion of issues of mutual interest. All religions teach moral precepts for perfecting the functions of mind, body and speech. All religions have similar ideals of compassion, kindness, tolerance and social welfare. Buddhists have a very cordial and friendly relationship with most communities like Christians, Hindus, Muslims and Jews.

Socially Engaged Buddhism, i.e. the application of Dharma/Buddhist teachings to the resolution of social problems has emerged in the context Human Rights, equal justice and social progress. As a style of ethical practice, it may be seen as a new paradigm of Buddhism.

To follow Hinayana or Theravada philosophy, the aspirant must have some qualification. That is courage, sound health and intelligence. However, Nagarjuna’s Sunyavada, which is a moderate theory of the teachings of the Buddha made possible to all the human beings to practise Buddhism. The great compassion of the Nagarjuna made possible to common people to attain Nirvana. Panchasila of Buddhism is mandatory for each aspirant to follow.

Anybody can follow the new movement of Buddhism i.e. Socially Engaged Buddhism or Engaged Buddhism. It is a socio-political action infused with spiritual practice and thought. Even a physically challenged can also practise Buddhism by doing his duties towards society and for his own spiritual development. It is a unique opportunity to practise Panchasila. Today Engaged Buddhism can do a lot for the social welfare in India as well as other countries. When I was touring southern part of India many people from under privileged section came to me and asked me to teach Buddhism. I asked them to practise Panchasila. I also advised them to make their surrounding fit to practise Buddha Dhamma.

The prospects for increasing contact and cooperation between Buddhists and members of other faiths are vast. Formal dialogue evolves gradually, in response to the needs and aspirations of the members of various religious groups. Buddhism is a ‘universal’ religion in the sense that it is concerned with the fundamental human condition, suffering. Since the beginning of the twenty-first century, there has been a blossoming of Engaged Buddhism activity. It is heartening to know that the impetus for this movement has come from young Buddhists. The participation of young Buddhist nuns is also gathering momentum. Activities of Engaged Buddhism can lead our society towards social harmony, understanding and friendship.

Engaged Buddhism is a term originally coined by Vietnamese Zen master teacher Thich Nhan Hanh. During the Vietnam War, he and his samgha (spiritual community) made efforts to respond to the suffering they saw around them. They saw this work as part of their meditation and mindfulness practice, not apart from it. Since then, the term continues to apply to Buddhists who are seeking ways to apply the insights from meditation practice and dhamma teachings to situations of social, political and economic suffering and injustice.

I have been to Myanmar to practise meditation. I was there for more than 50 months. During my stay in Myanmar, I wrote articles to Myanmar Journals and magazines. All my articles were translated into Burmese language and simultaneously published. I wrote about the application of Buddha Dhamma (the righteousness) in day-to-day life. Nowadays passion has dominated the lives of the people rather than morality. We have forgotten the benefits of moral practice in our traditional system. Daily routine has become a moral and mechanical. Nowadays using tablets (pills) have become a habit so we need to change our behaviour. For this, we should be like a Dhamma soldier, who fights against evil.

In the present era, violence and sexual misconduct are increasing day by day. The discussion like third world war is a very bad thought. Bribery, harassment, cheating, inequalities, insecurity etc. are common features of the day-to-day life. The other side of the coin is sexual misconduct. It is emerging as a lawful profession in many countries.

Today we are living in a mentally disturbed society. The tensions and irritations are making people sick. Life is filled with many kinds of bad habits like gambling, smoking, consuming alcohol, sexual misconduct, chewing betel, cheating and unethical advertisements. It is destroying the life of humanity. Therefore, I decided to be a soldier against evil. Noble work gives merit. One can get awards and rewards also. I think it is right to follow Dhamma.

You may think that the work of a soldier is fighting only. However, I am a dhamma soldier. A Sanskrit proverb says Dhammo Rakhati Rakshitaha. It means one who protects the Dhamma in turn will be protected by the Dhamma. I will follow the four noble truths and the moral code to succeed against evil.

The people in Myanmar have been practising traditional Buddhism for the last 2,000 years. They have preserved Buddhism since it is introduced in Myanmar. Therefore, this will help us to practise insight meditation (Vipassana) to attain Nirvana. At the same time the Buddha also taught us to practise Right livelihood in order to build a harmonious and peaceful society. Thich Nhah Hanh popularised Engaged Buddhism, when the Vietnamese were bombed and they became homeless. He was a leader who responded to the situation as Dalai Lama shouldered the responsibility of Tibetans.

Retreat would be peaceful and non-distracting. However, is it practical for us do so? Can we find stillness within while gangs fight in our neighbourhood. The earth is raped and made into an uninhabitable desert, and the poor starve a few blocks from where the wealthy feast? Turning our backs on the world is not the answer. Doing whatever we can do, no matter how little that might be, is one path to choose.

For example if we analyze the present political, economical, social conditions of the Andhra Pradesh, we can find a lot of suffering and injustice, Once upon a time squirrels are fed in the Rajagiri a famous Buddhist site, unfortunately today vultures are feasting in the Andhra Pradesh. I hope that if Socially Engaged Buddhism (S.E.B) is applied, it can bring a big change. In the recent past, many farmers committed suicide. Either the police or armed personnel posing as Naxalites kill many people. Corruption is on the increase.

I personally started a movement called Dhamma Soldier in Burma and I worked in India as well. I wrote a few articles about society and how to deal with injustice and suffering. Sarvodaya Shramadana movement tries to bring peace to the Island by organizing peace marches and meditation camps. Sarvodaya also began working with the government and with other NGOs.

In the Andhra Pradesh we have to organise meditation camps and practise panchasila. We must organise peace marches and invite all religious people to work together. When we organise the camps we will help newcomers to understand the profound teachings of the Buddha.


බිනර පුර අටවක පෝය

බිනර පුර අටවක පෝය සැප්තැම්බර් මස 14 වන දා අඟහරුවාදා අපරභාග 11.10 ට ලබයි.
15 වන දා බදාදා අපර භාග 11.42 දක්වා පෝය පවතී.
සිල් සමාදන්වීම සැප්තැම්බර් 15 වන දා බදාදා ය.

මීළඟ පෝය සැප්තැම්බර් 22 වන දා බදාදා ය.

පොහෝ දින දර්ශනය

First Quarterපුර අටවක

සැප්තැම්බර් 15

Full Moonපසෙලාස්වක

සැප්තැම්බර් 22

Second Quarterඅව අටවක

ඔක්තෝබර් 01

New Moonඅමාවක

ඔක්තෝබර් 07

2010 පෝය ලබන ගෙවෙන වේලා සහ සිල් සමාදන් විය යුතු දවස

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