This seems to be the basic BBS gameplan (for fucking up everything we’ve worked so hard to build after the war). It’s a cycle of outrage, riot, fear, repeat. It’s like the eightfold path to not being a Buddhist:
Archive for the 'Religion' Category
Buddhism is not racist. The ideas and practice of Buddhism involve meditation, perception of impermanence and ultimately what we would call a renunciation of self. Being a Buddhist, however, is not just that. Being a Buddhist fundamentally involves taking refuge in three things – the Buddha, the Dhamma (his teachings) and the Sangha (the community of practice). As a Buddhist, this is why the violence in Aluthgama is so troubling. Becomes it comes cloaked in the colors of the Sangha. The main racists and instigators of mob violence are monks.
I haven’t written here in a while because, well, I guess I haven’t had much to say. I’m been writing about food and leisure at YAMU but, well, somethings gotten in the way of that now. In a way we could sense it because of the constant halal debate on YAMU, which is mainly a food site. That food issue in many ways has become a touchstone for the Muslim/Buddhist tensions rising in this country. Yesterday those tensions seemed to explode in Aluthgama and Beruwela on the Western coast. The racist BBS staged a rally there and then paraded thru the streets. This exploded into violence, attacks on businesses and homes.
Shamefully, places of worship were attacked over the holidays – both Christian and Muslim. In this case the attacks seem to have been Muslims attacking Sufis (a sect) and claimed Buddhists attacking evangelical Christians. Both of these acts go under the radar because they’re on what my friend Dinidu calls ‘minorities within minorities’. The attacks are no less awful, however, and it’s sad the mainstream Muslims and Christians are not speaking out, let alone Buddhists.
Alanmathiniyaramaya Temple had a ceremony last night which blasted ear-splitting chanting through loudspeakers all down the street. There was literally a loudspeaker 15 feet from our bedroom window, playing at full volume. They were also loading a poor, terrified young elephant onto a truck under our window, with clanking of chains and slamming of metal. I’m a Buddhist and for the past few days I’ve been unable to meditate because they’re making so much noise. There are two things I really object to in Sri Lankan practice. Loudspeakers, and the use (frankly, abuse) of elephants.
There’s been a lot of talk about violence and hate speech towards Muslims, but it’s going on against Christians too. A lot. According to RSQ, “A mob led by three Buddhist monks attacked a prayer meeting in Colombo last week, beating the pastor unconscious.. On the same day, Praise Prayer Lanka Church cancelled their service after police warned of threats against them. A week earlier, a pastor in Hambantota had a narrow escape when arsonists tried to set his house on fire.”
I heard this quote yesterday and I couldn’t place it, I actually thought it might be sensible. In context, it’s not. Defense Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa is essentially saying that minorities are drawing majority ire by being insular, that the minorities are to blame for the extremism directed at them. The extremist BBS, of course, welcomes this statement. Logic doesn’t.
The Global Mail has a good piece on rising BBS bile. Here’s the money quote: “Gnanasara turns very angry at the mere mention of Muslims and Islam, which is hardly the demeanour one expects of a pious Buddhist monk. Withanage’s previous, more moderate explanations of BBS activism now pale before a bilious Gnanasara who seems to rail at the notion of anyone who isn’t a Buddhist. “Don’t talk with us,” Gnanasara yells. “Any Muslims, they are very bad people here. They are creating all problems here.””
I was thinking about it. If you go to any temple it’s primarily full of women, aunties mainly. That’s who’s upholding the Sinhala Buddhist faith, really. And yet I don’t see many aunties in the BBS. Any, really. It seems to be a bunch of men, including monks with drunk driving violations, practicing aggression under the guise of a religion that’s actually far more chill. At least as shown by the people that actually practice it. Which would be the white-clad aunties. The day they lead a protest movement I’ll take it seriously as representing mainstream Sinhala Buddhism.
Mohsin Hamid, author of How To Get Filthy Rich In Rising Asia, has a nice op-ed in the Guardian. Money quote for me was ‘Individuals are undeniably real. Groups, on the other hand, are assertions of opinion’. If you go buy news reports Muslims or Jews or Sri Lankans or any number of groups can appear monolithic and uniform. When you meet people, however, you find that they’re not. If you meet enough people you hopefully become aware of that tendency and judge people less by group identity in advance. Muslims, however, are quite publicly tarred with the same brush these days, and it really isn’t fair. Or accurate.