Recently a hotel in Beruwala was raided by Bodu Bala Sena for hosting a Buddha Bar themed party. This organization is actually more of a Sinhala nationalist group, using the colors but none of the teachings of the Buddha (who was, incidentally, not Sinhalese). I don’t support the defamation of any religion, but as a Buddhist the greater lesson is that there is no self and that attachments to this sort of identity just lead to suffering. And yes, that includes attachment to Sinhalese and even Buddhist identity. The lessons of Buddhism are much deeper than that and to invoke it’s power for such petty causes is just wrong.
The thing is that Sinhala culture has quietly preserved Theravada Buddhism for years. Even today there are wonderful Sri Lankan monks here and abroad who teach and practice mindfulness, a practice of great neurological and spiritual efficacy. These are the kindest and gentlest people you’ll ever meet. The people of Bodu Bala Sena, however, are essentially just racists. Some of their biggest complaints seem to be that Muslims and foreigners are conspiring to make Sinhalese infertile and reduce us to a minority. This is A) crazy B) not true and C) very little to do with Buddhism. If you accept that there is no self then it’s curious as how you’d see preserving evolving races as a Buddhist issue.
As a Buddhist I find the whole thing very disturbing and sad, both that Bodu Bala Sena stirs hatred here and makes Sri Lankan Buddhism look petty and cruel to people abroad. In fact it is not, Sri Lankan Buddhism is a practice that I have found refuge in and which offers hope and acceptance to anyone that chooses to learn about it. These small thugs don’t represent Sri Lanka or Buddhism at all.