Vesak Vivisection

Most of us Sri Lankans hate the LTTE. But Vesak marks the birth, enlightenment and death of the greatest master of compassion ever, the Buddha. So it is logical that we should at least TRY to spread some lovingkindness (metta) to our dear terrorists…

 

“Bomb threat”

“Avoid crowded places”

“Security measures taken”

“Not safe”

 

Wow they really put a wet blanket on Vesak didn’t they?

When I was younger, Vesak was truly a time of joy. We would go to the temple in the morning (cuz it is less crowded then) or maybe observe sil at the local DP (Daham Paasal / Buddhist Sunday School). In the afternoon, we would go sightseeing in the family vehicle or together with a bunch of friends to see the decorations. And man… did we love to see ‘em! There was so much to see and experience during Vesak, which in my opinion was cooler than the Sinhala New Year (probably because of the lights heh heh).

But all that is taken away from us now. We can’t go out and have fun without worrying about the fat lady standing next to us (is she gonna explode??? ) or that lonely parcel lying on the pavement (OMGs or “Hath deiyane!!”). The terrorists did a pretty good job of screwing it up. Thanks guys.

It’s hard to spread compassion to them with all this in mind, don’t you think?

I can hear you fundie-evangelists go “HA! That’s why we keep saying Buddhism is a false faith! It’s impossible to follow it! CONVERT, THOU HEATHEN!!!!”

Aha, but you see… Buddhism has already covered this. How?

 

“Impermanent are all composite things”.

Last time I checked, we were all pretty composite. We are all gonna die some day, be it by bomb or bus (this IS Sri Lanka we are talking about) or something else (like a rampaging minister-brat). Bottom line is, we’re all gonna snuff out one day. So enjoy life while you still can. And be nice to others. That pretty much sums it up.

 

“SILENCE! WE KILL YOU!!!!”

Terrorists… people who believe in causing terror. The more we are terrified of them, the happier they are. The more you are afraid of them, the closer they are to their goal.

“What can we do?” one may ask. “We are not superhuman! We are vulnerable to shrapnel and bullet. We can die by the mere heat of the bombs.”

Precisely.

Our strength is in our vulnerability isn’t it? We know we can die in so many ways and yet we take life for granted. If we truly realized that we will die eventually, death becomes something normal. And we tend to enjoy life to the max.

So what can we do? How do we overcome terror? By not being afraid. By realizing that we have the choice of not giving into these guys. By realizing that all they want to do is to divide us and to weaken us to gloat over our cowering forms. Doesn’t that piss you off? Don’t you want to fight back? Don’t you want to step in and take charge instead of letting them walk all over you?

 

I’ve faced death a couple of times. I have felt the raw fear of dying. I have felt the adrenaline pound through me. Each second that passed at those times whacked me on the head with hard doses of reality. “You are going to die. Are you ready?”. I was scared shitless.

But does that mean we give in to that fear? Let it overwhelm us? The choice is yours to take.

 

I almost drowned once.

I had a fear of drowning ever since. But I never gave up swimming. I didn’t give in to the fear, instead I used it to realize that I am vulnerable to drowning. But does that mean I am to deny myself the pleasure of a nice underwater adventure amidst the coral reefs of Sri Lanka? No. Hence, I still swim to better my chances of survival in water.

 

So it brings us back to Buddhism again (which is cool, because it’s Vesak!)

Life is suffering. Don’t bother sugar coating it. (I can hear the fundies go “Buddhism is pessimistic!”). Assholes like the LTTE and corrupted politicians make sure that you suffer for their benefit.

But this doesn’t mean we let suffering overwhelm us. Instead, in Buddhism we are taught to strive to transcend it. To elevate ourselves to a state beyond suffering. This is not some hippy-drug-acid-trip-trance thing. This is something practical and something possible. Never give up. Never give in.

 

Go out there! Enjoy Vesak! Enjoy life! (Now don’t go do stupid things like jump off buildings screaming “I AM IMMORTAL!!!! I HAVE INSIDE ME BLOOD OF…”*SPLAT*). Take a couple of calculated risks and chill! Live in the moment (while keeping a bit of a margin for the future) and let the past be. You have a choice. You cast the vote. You are your puppeteer. Don’t let anyone else pull your strings.

 

Oh now that you realize that you have a choice in the matter, try and spread a bit of compassion to ‘em terrorists will ya? Pau neh?

 

May this Vesak bring all of you peace and joy and remind you that you totally rock.

 

“Vayadhammā sankhārā appamādena sampādethā”

(” All things are perishable, through vigilance Awaken!”)

         Gautama Buddha

 

PS: I have nothing against Christianity. I’ve just been dealing with a lot of unwanted (not to mention annoying) evangelism lately… *sigh*

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~ by Prageeth Thoradeniya on May 20, 2008.

2 Responses to “Vesak Vivisection”

  1. Interesting article, indeed. Hatred is not something that we are born with. Its cultivated based on whatever we see, hear and experience through life. Further, people dont hate others, in reality. They may only hate what action the others indulge in for whatever reasons and causes.

    No doubt Vesak, is a great time to concentrate on the prsent situation and how best we should addres it and resolve it, once and for all.

    I am at a difficulty in accepting the thesis that Buddhism advocates the principle of the fact that this world is one of suffering. In my own personal view I believe that the teaching advocates the fact that this world is one where we need to struggle against suffering which is just one single component of the various characteristics of this earthly material world. To claim that the world is one of suffering would do injuctice to reality.

    What is this struggle we should all aim to achieve, in the first place? It is no different from the same struggle that we grapple with every day life. The struggle to live, survive, work, eat, enjoy and have peace of mind.

    I believe that Buddhism also advocates the struggle to be free from material needs and pleasures. This, in some ways is a form of abstinence or a moving away from greed, lust and power.

    The ethnic conflict that hs prevauiled in our beautiful land of Paradise is basically a fight for material needs, land, power, language, religion, ownership, rights etc.

    What we need is to individualize our basic beliefs, rituals and practices and confine it to each human being to practice and enjoy by himself/herself sans any community/group theatre. This will remove the visibility of each ones personal domain and give rise to a better relationship of human beings from all communities, cultures, languages, and religious groups to be able to work, live and have peace with each other.

    The land belongs to all. The air we breathe is not copyrighted to a particular entity. The work we do is for ourselves and also for the betterment of our peoples. The fruits we reap are the same.

    Its time we get off the bus and change direction!

  2. OMGs that is THE longest comment I’ve got so far… thank you!

    The Concept of Suffering apparently is quite deep when it comes to Buddhism, since all its concepts (minus the mythological fantasy stories) are derived from deep introspection. It encompasses all forms of sensation as one. This is a very complex concept and the more I talk about it the more I realize how little I know of it. So I best not say much for the moment.

    The conflict is all about material needs. Money and Power. That’s not saying I don’t have material needs too… but I don’t go about razing villages and bombing crowded places to satisfy them.

    Yes we really need to rebuild our country to enforce better interhuman relationships, and also allow all cultures to co-exist peacefully without forcing themselves on each other. Seems like a long shot, but is worth it. Defa.

    Yep it’s definitely time to get off that bus… it’s going all the way to oblivion.

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