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Flashbacks of reinforcing 13A

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By Austin Fernando

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa has recently said that the Provincial Council (PC) elections will be held when the ground situation is conducive. Minister Sarath Weerasekara insists on scrapping the PCs. Ambassador Nalin de Silva has opined that in the absence of elected PCs, the 13th Amendment to the Constitution (13A) stands abolished.

There are three competing standpoints: (a) Legally, the PM believes the 13A is intact; (b) Conceptually, Minister Weerasekara believes 13A is live, but must be “killed”; and (c) Cavalierly, Ambassador de Silva thinks it is already dead! Thankfully, sanity prevailed when Sagara Kariyawasam MP, following the PM’s statement said: “The 13A remains part of the Constitution, and elections will have to be conducted” and “PCs cannot be indefinitely run by Governors and officials.”

 

13A and devolutionary dynamism

Against this background, I read an article by my respected and adored guru, Professor Gerald Peiris. He urged abolishing the PCs and replacement by constitutional devices, to ensure: (a) genuine power-sharing, and (b) statutorily protect Sri Lanka’s sovereignty/ territorial integrity. He revisits the Dutch and British times, articulating a rich historical analysis of how the provinces evolved. There is other analysis as regards the provinces like that by Professor Madduma Bandara.

Although no government implemented the 13A in full, leading politicians and political parties, undecided or against or silent on 13A, attempted to reinforce devolution by creating Regional Councils (RCs) between 1997 and 2000.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa internationally validated 13A by incorporating it in the UNHRC Resolution in 2009, which the Yahapalana government repeated in the Co-sponsored UNHRC Resolution in 2015. Therefore, I hope PM Mahinda Rajapaksa and yahapalana leaders may not conscientiously demand the repealing of 13A.

These developments are not discussed by Prof. Peiris, while I consider them as important, because they are attached to international diplomacy, the All-Party Conference recommendations, and other influences and consequences.

Anyway, conceptually devolution has come to stay. It has also inputted political dynamism. The Tamil political parties, India, internationals and Diaspora groups, and our political leaders across the divide (excepting President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who was apolitically inclined then) have virtually contributed to the creation of this status. However, due to the continuity requirement, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s stand is appreciated.

One formidable influencing factor is India. She has shown interest in our devolution under successive governments. This has been clear from the policies of Prime Ministers Rajiv Gandhi, Manmohan Singh, and now Narendra Modi, who has made his position clear to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and PM Mahinda Rajapaksa. (See: “Crisscrossing 13A Abolition”- November 13th, 2020 – The Island)

These interventions are probably forgotten by our leaders who were instrumental in enhancing devolution. We hardly hear from them about such interventions nowadays. The younger generation of first timers in Parliament who support the 13A erasure proposition are either unaware of this past or being conformist.

That the aforesaid leaders did help enhance devolution does not mean that there were no hostile moves to undermine it. A case in point is the late President R. Premadasa’s Transfer of Power Act, through which the District Administration was disturbed, and the Divisions were institutionally brought under direct central control, at the expense of the powers of the PCs. Similarly, the lowest village level functionaries, i. e. Grama Niladharis were brought under the Ministry of Home Affairs by President DB Wijetunga.

 

Reinforcing devolution

One notable attempt to enhance devolution was the ‘Proposals for Constitutional Reforms’ of 1997, mooted by President Chandrika Kumaratunga. The then ministers Mahinda Rajapaksa, Chamal Rajapaksa, Nimal Siripala de Silva, GL Peiris and Susil Premjayanth were supportive of it. But they would not talk about it today!

The second attempt at the reinforcement of devolution was the Bill to repeal and replace the Sri Lankan Constitution in August 2000. The above-mentioned personages were in power and supported the changes proposed. Now, they are silent on that.

I wonder whether the former Chief Ministers who are MPs now, such as Susil Premjayanth, Chamara Sampath, Shan Wijaylal de Silva, CV Wigneswaram, and Nazeer Ahamad and former Provincial Governor Seetha Arambepola are supportive of reinforcing devolution.

Chandrika Kumaratunga, when she was the Chief Minister of the Western Province, having passed a PC resolution, ably supported by Susil Premjayanth, Felix Perera et al, vehemently demanded the devolution of police powers; but she did not care to grant the PCs police powers after becoming the President. Since there is no LTTE conflict now, I wonder whether Minister Susil Premjayanth will call for devolving police powers to the provinces now.

Before the Romesh de Silva Committee to formulate a new Constitution was appointed, there were proposals made to amend the Constitution. The 13A is material to devolution and PCs. Even 17A, 18A, and 19A which mostly dealt with governance did not attempt changes to 13A.

The constitutional reform proposals which took devolution seriously were the ones presented in 1997 and 2000, and the Steering Committee proposals (post-2015). The latter did not lead to a formal consensus. One important difference with the current exercise is that the yahapalana project had a Steering Committee of the Constitutional Assembly, whereas the current exercise is a government affair without any parliamentary participation. The worst way to formulate Constitutions! This could be due to the two-thirds majority of the incumbent government in the Parliament.

Out of the six Sub Committees appointed by the Yahapalana Steering Committee- some headed by currently pro-government politicians such as Ministers Premjayanth (Public Service Reforms), Bandula Gunawardena (Finance), and from the Opposition Sagala Ratnayaka (Public Security), MP D Siddharthan (Center – Periphery Relations), four were related to devolution. The other two were on Judiciary and Fundamental Rights. I believe the current committee deliberating on a new Constitution could gain from these Sub-Committee Reports, without reinventing the wheel if it so wishes.

 

Years 1997 and 2000 devolution proposals

The 1997 and 2000 constitutional reform proposals are available in print. Very recently, Professor Gerry Peiris has discussed the evolutions of Provinces, probably because he was concentrating on the historical progression. Since this evolution is dynamic, I may discuss some selected aspects (due to space constraints) of reinforcing devolution. It is because the 1997 and 2000 proposals are revolutionary as regards devolution. Although the 1997 document was an internal one, the 2000 document had Opposition inputs provided by eminent persons like KN Choksy.

I refer to the Table below which shows a comparison of a few selected aspects for reinforcement.

 

 

What concerns me is the stoic silence of seniors in the government, having agreed to support different devolutionary approaches, as evident from the Table. I do not wish to discuss the nitty-gritty of land powers for instance although there are questionable issues i. e. the attempt by the 1997 proposals to abolish the National Land Commission; it was corrected in the 2000 proposals. I will limit my presentation to the issues in the Table.

PC Boundaries

Let us look at PC boundaries. Some critics are against the existing boundaries of North and East Provinces, for reasons such as sovereignty and national security. But in 1997 the then government proposed to amalgamate two districts of Eastern Province with the Northern Province subject to approval by the people at a referendum in two districts. In 2000, they agreed to the creation of the North-East Province after a referendum, as proposed by Indians by way of an option, having staged street protests against it.

They were willing to establish a Muslim-dominated South-Eastern RC, pushing aside the Sinhala majority in Ampara Polling Division to the Uva RC, disturbing the demographic status of both RCs. They knew that the remaining Sinhalese and Tamil community, nearly 40% of the population in the Ampara District, would become a split minority in the new RC. The same fate would have befallen the North Trincomalee Sinhalese population, who were not offered the benefit of joining the North Central RC as in the proposed Ampara-Uva amalgamation. Having been the Governor of East, I am aware of such sensitivities. So much for the politicians who consider themselves the savior of the Sinhalese in the North and Eastern Provinces. In a way, one may expect the indigenous Eastern Muslim politicians to clamour for the South Eastern RC in return for the votes cast for the 20th Amendment.

Governors

The appointment of Governors is a presidential prerogative under 13A. But the 1997 proposals sought to dilute it by subjecting it to the advice of the Chief Minister. The Chief Minister’s involvement was one issue used by these politicians against devolving police powers to a Provincial Police Commission. The appointing prerogative was further restricted in the 2000 proposals by making it conditional to the concurrence of the Chief Minister, consultation with PM and approval of the Constitutional Council. That proposal, if implemented, would certainly have an averse to the powers of the incumbent President.

Of course, these changes in 1997 and 2000 will be attractive to minority party politicians. If the 2000 proposals were adopted, the names of those to be appointed Governors would have to be submitted to the Parliamentary Council, for its observations and endorsing the President’s choice. The removal of Governors in the 2000 proposals was the same as under 13A and 1997 proposals, but the setting up of another committee of inquiry was incorporated into the 2000 proposals [Art 129(d)(iv)] to check on the capacity of the Governor to perform his duties.

Provincial Executive Powers

Executive powers are given in one Article in the 13A and enlarged in 1997 and 2000 proposals. Extra responsibility for contracts is mentioned in Art 130(2)(a) and personal immunity from contract liability is given in Art 130(2)(b). The 1997 and 2000 proposals sought to introduce the Executive Committee system, which empowers discussion of subjects and functions assigned to an RC Ministry. More emphasis is given to the selection of the members than functioning in the proposed Article.

Committees are more powerful in the Indian States. The Committee system is preferred due to the time constraint for the members study the Bills, allowing an informed debate. Apart from scrutinizing legislation, Indian committees also examine budgetary allocations for various departments and other policies. These “mini-legislatures” provide a forum for lawmakers to develop expertise, engage with citizens, seek stakeholder inputs, provide a platform for building consensus on various issues, and strengthen policy management.

Of course, for a government that wishes to prevent committees from overviewing legislation in Parliament, such improvements at the PC level may be anathema. However, this discussion aims to highlight fact that positive and constructive propositions have been attempted.

Statute-making

There was no constitutional provision under 13A to support statute making. Therefore, the PCs had to depend on the generosity of expertise in the Attorney General’s Department. The two PCs in the North and the East, where devolution was to make an indomitable mark, we find slow progress in statute-making. The PCs in general did not have the expertise for statute-making. The clarification of any legal arrangement was always delayed.

A solution was found in the 1997 and 2000 proposals through the appointment of a Regional Attorney General (1997) and an Advocate General of the Region (2000). The provision in 13A for statute-making is reinforced with these two propositions.

Clamour for elections

I will not argue whether the PC elections should be held or not, or whether PCs should exist or not. I only attempt to show that the devolution concept has been expanded from 13A, and those who once agreed to reinforce devolution should not forget their past actions.

Of course, one may argue that the 13A was intended to resolve the armed conflict, which ceased in 2009, and therefore a new mechanism should be constructed to suit the present situation. However, their opponents may argue that the causes of the conflict have yet to be obviated and thus among other things, strengthening 13A is a prerequisite for national integration and reconciliation. Importantly, political commitments by leaders of the incumbent government should not be forgotten. Of course, this may create an issue for President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who has not included national reconciliation and integration in the 20A.

The PC administrations have also been wavering as regards the powers they already have. I am reminded how all Peoples’ Alliance Chief Ministers challenged Land Minister Rajitha Senaratna’s attempt to pass land legislation and won. These PCs were silent when President Mahinda Rajapaksa once insisted that the centre held the land powers. It is noted that former PC Members supportive of the government have organized themselves demanding PC elections. They represent the government’s grassroots support like the Local Authority Members, who were responsible for the SLPP’s victory at the local government polls in 2018, which made the party’s electoral wins in 2019 and 2020 possible.

Some believe that the PC elections need not be held because its fate can be determined when the new Constitution is drafted. The very same commentators were silent when the 19A was replaced by 20A, without waiting for the new constitution!

Conclusion

This article has attempted to emphasise that we should not only consider the 13A as the basis for future decision-making as regards devolution.

Secondly, it aims to highlight the less-discussed issues that cropped up from 1987 (13A) to 2020 (20A). These are in the public domain and should be seriously considered by politicians as well as those who advise the government.

Thirdly, some of the incumbent government leaders have been exponents of devolution and were instrumental in the drafting of the aforesaid documents. Therefore, they need to remember the good they had done towards developing institutions and try to do something better. This is an exercise not only in politicking but also in bringing about reconciliation, which is necessary for the wellbeing of the country.

Fourthly, since there are measures that have received approval from the incumbent government leaders previously, the Opposition should look at them positively and contribute to further improvement instead of putting for political arguments.

Finally, the government should make a genuine effort to usher in reconciliation and reintegration, which will help it in Geneva come March 2021.

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Olga Sirimanne (1923 – 2021)

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In memoriam

My darling beautiful angelic wife Olga (First batch of Air Ceylon stewardesses) and I commenced a partnership of love in Holy Matrimony on 17th June 1954. We loved each other deeply, enjoyed a blissful relationship for over 66 happy years with each other. We devoted our lives to give love and happiness not only to each other but also to all those who came to know us during our delightful almost 100 years. Beautiful incidents and memories are portrayed in several photo albums. Our friends and family loved listening to Olga’s exciting experiences and stories laced with humour and laughter as she was an excellent story teller.

Olga was blessed with three loveable children, Sunil, Laksen and a beautiful daughter Minoli; adorable grandchildren, Shelana and Sanjev, Rahel and Sariah, Kaitlyn and Taylor; great grandson, Sevan and darling niece, Ashie whose mother (Olga’s only sister) passed away some years ago. Ashie considered Olga, her ’Loku Ammie’ as her surrogate mother. Her son-in-law and daughters-in-law too loved her deeply with great respect and love. She held them fondly close to her heart with pride.

Her lifelong heart-throb was me. She always called me ‘darling’ but never addressed me as ‘Siri’ though all her friends did. Since I was ‘Thathie’ to our loving children, she too affectionately called me ‘Thathie’ even when she was on the verge of passing away. I too enduringly called her ‘Ammie’ as I loved her as much as our children.

Her gentle protective care and devotion helped me to maintain youthful looks and excellent health to celebrate my 100th birthday on 31st January 2020. She and our daughter had arranged a Holy Mass at home followed with a surprise birthday party attended by a few close friends and relations. She too received Holy Communion with blessings for the peaceful and happy years of coexistence with me. I too responded to her caring ways and helped her maintain her health and beautiful charming looks to the end.

Her 98th birthday was on 12 January 2021. She was greeted by me first thing in the morning, with loving kisses, hugs and prayers to God for giving us another year of peace and happiness. She received with warm wishes lots of beautiful bouquets and baskets of flowers, birthday cards and a countless number of telephone calls from children, grandchildren, relations, friends and loved ones here and scattered around the globe. It thrilled her to know that so many remembered and loved her.

Deep within our hearts, there was this chilling fear of the unbearable sorrow if one of us was left without the other. As age was creeping into our lives, every night we started reciting together a prayer to God before going to sleep, kissing each other and whispering, “I love you darling, God Bless you.”

The inevitable happened on 3rd February 2021 when my darling (Olga) passed away in my arms to the Kingdom of Heaven to be with Jesus. Thus, ended our happy and peaceful partnership, me afflicted with sorrow and yearning for her presence. I love you darling, my love. Rest in Peace.

Our children, Sunil, Laksen, Minoli and I wish to thank all those who attended the private funeral, sent floral tributes and messages of condolences and regret our inability to thank you individually . Please accept our heartfelt gratitude.

 

D.L.Sirimanne

leosirimanne@gmail.com

 

 

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Divided people in a distorted democracy

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The Geneva Calamity comes more from the thinking of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, than that of the former Chilean politician who is now the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

It is such thinking of disaster advancement that made our Foreign Minister tell the Geneva meeting in his virtual address that Sri Lanka acted in ‘self-defence” in the fight against the LTTE’s terrorism. Was it self-defence that led to the actions of the armed forces or the fundamental right to safeguard the unitary state, sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Sri Lanka – whether Democratic Socialist or not?

The debate will go on in Geneva about our actions for self-defence, that defeated the LTTE, and what has taken place after that assurance of self-defence, that relates to wider reaching issues of Human Rights, with emphasis on responsibility and accountability.  Now that Yahapalana is no more, it is the task of the Powers of Fortune, or Saubhagya, to make its own case on how Sri Lanka relates to the international community.  This is certainly no easy task as we see the unfolding of the politics and crooked governance in Sri Lanka.

As the echoes of Geneva goes on, we are much more involved in the Easter Sunday carnage and the Presidential Commission report on it. The people are certainly puzzled as to why the planners and directors of this hugely bloody act of Islamic terrorism have not been revealed. We have the unique situation where the person who appointed this Commission of Inquiry, none other than former President Maithripala Sirisena, is to be legally punished for this carnage. 

Are we to have special satisfaction on the possibility that future Heads of State, who appoint such commissions of inquiry, will be the first accused, even in the much-delayed reports of such commissions?  There is not much hope for such satisfaction. The Head of State is the emblem of supremacy, with all the powers of the 20th Amendment to the Constitution. 

The families of the victims of that terrorist attack at the Katuwapitiya -Negombo, Kochchikade – Colombo, and Batticaloa churches, will certainly remain in search for the exposure and punishment of those who planned and carried out these situations of carnage. What we are shown is the true purpose and meaning of a Presidential Commision of Inquiry – PCoI.

We have certainly gone back to the origins of such inquiries, and the powers of Saubhagya at Rajavasala, have shown their honour to J. R Jayewardene, who brought the Presidential Commission as the show of the five-sixth majority Jayewardene Power.  Mr. Sirisena may remember how the first PCoI of the Jayewardene era, ensured the removal of civic rights to Mrs. Sirimavo Bandaranaike, the defeated Prime Minister and Mr. Felix Dias Bandaranaike, former Minister of Justice.  

Punishment of one’s political opponents is the stuff and substance of Presidential Commissions of Inquiry, and Sri Lanka is now showing the whole world how much this is a part of a Distorted Democracy. A show of power that was enabled by 69 lakhs of voters in the presidential election, followed  by the parliamentary two-thirds gained through those who bowed their so-called critical heads on ‘Dual Citizens” coming to Parliament, and the huge Muslim MP cross-over – for the benefits they must have gained – as all such cross-over politicians always obtain.

The Archbishop of Colombo, Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith, who certainly prevented the Easter Sunday carnage leading to even more bloodshed, by a few timely words of caution and Christian thinking that tragic day, must be now wanting to know why he was so keen to get the report of this Commission.  Who were the planners, the funders, the trainers and leaders of this carnage? What will the people know in the weeks and months to follow, and how much can the feelings of the families that were the bloody victims of this massacre of the innocents, be brought to some relief?

This PCoI is the answer to the political prayers of those manipulating power today. It is the answer to the continually rising Cost of  Living, the protection to those who keep destroying our forests and jungles, the safeguard for all those who keep reducing the Alimankada pathways of our elephants, it is the whistle blow of  go ahead to the forces of urban destruction, and the show-piece managers of Presidential visits to the rural people. 

The rising voices of sections of the Maha Sangha against this PCoI, the call from Christian voices to expose and deal with the planners and movers of this carnage, and the louder voices for the protection of nature and the environment, will be the cause of joy to the powers of a Deadly Dominant Democracy. It is the message of power to those who take pride in killings of the past – be it the Tigers of the LTTE, or the cases of killed, injured and missing journalists, and the abduction of children.

 The powers that be will continue to sing loud about how we acted in self-defence against the LTTE terror. The echoes of Geneva will keep ringing in the ears of manipulative politics and power. But this and other PCoI reports that are seen as the substance of crooked power, will soon lead our people and country to an Age of Disaster – an age of new confrontations and calamities. How much worse can we become than the JRJ manipulation of anti-democratic power?

 How much can we allow our people to be divided, and thus supportive of a Distorted Democracy?

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HOW REBIRTH  TAKES PLACE

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The passing away of the consciousness of the past birth is the occasion for the arising of the new consciousness in the subsequent birth. However, nothing unchangeable or permanent is transmitted from the past to the present.

(From THE BUDDHA AND HIS TEACHINGS by Venerable Narada Mahathera)

“The pile of bones of (all the bodies of) one man
Who has alone one aeon lived
Would make a mountain’s height —
So said the mighty seer.”

— ITIVUT’TAKA

To the dying man at this critical stage, according to Abhidhamma philosophy, is presented a Kamma, Kamma Nimitta, or Gati Nimitta.

By Kamma is here meant some good or bad act done during his lifetime or immediately before his dying moment. It is a good or bad thought. If the dying person had committed one of the five heinous crimes (Garuka Kamma) such as parricide etc. or developed the Jhānas (Ecstasies), he would experience such a Kamma before his death. These are so powerful that they totally eclipse all other actions and appear very vividly before the mind’s eye. If he had done no such weighty action, he may take for his object of the dying thought-process a Kamma done immediately before death (Āsanna Kamma); which may be called a “Death Proximate Kamma.”

In the absence of a “Death-Proximate Kamma” a habitual good or bad act (Ācinna Kamma) is presented, such as the healing of the sick in the case of a good physician, or the teaching of the Dhamma in the case of a pious Bhikkhu, or stealing in the case of a thief. Failing all these, some casual trivial good or bad act (Katattā Kamma) becomes the object of the dying thought-process.

Kamma Nimitta

or “symbol,” means a mental reproduction of any sight, sound, smell, taste, touch or idea which was predominant at the time of some important activity, good or bad, such as a vision of knives or dying animals in the case of a butcher, of patients in the case of a physician, and of the object of worship in the case of a devotee, etc…

By Gati Nimitta, or “symbol of destiny” is meant some symbol of the place of future birth. This frequently presents itself to dying persons and stamps its gladness or gloom upon their features. When these indications of the future birth occur, if they are bad, they can at times be remedied. This is done by influencing the thoughts of the dying man. Such premonitory visions of destiny may be fire, forests, mountainous regions, a mother’s womb, celestial mansions, and the like.

Taking for the object a Kamma, or a Kamma symbol, or a symbol of destiny, a thought-process runs its course even if the death be an instantaneous one.

For the sake of convenience let us imagine that the dying person is to be reborn in the human kingdom and that the object is some good Kamma.

His Bhavanga consciousness is interrupted, vibrates for a thought-moment and passes away; after which the mind-door consciousness (manodvāravajjana) arises and passes away. Then comes the psychologically important stage –Javana process — which here runs only for five thought moments by reason of its weakness, instead of the normal seven. It lacks all reproductive power, its main function being the mere regulation of the new existence (abhinavakarana).

The object here being desirable, the consciousness he experiences is a moral one. The Tadālambana-consciousness which has for its function a registering or identifying for two moments of the object so perceived, may or may not follow. After this occurs the death-consciousness (cuticitta), the last thought moment to be experienced in this present life.

There is a misconception amongst some that the subsequent birth is conditioned by this last death-consciousness (cuticitta) which in itself has no special function to perform. What actually conditions rebirth is that which is experienced during the Javana process.

With the cessation of the decease-consciousness death actually occurs. Then no material qualities born of mind and food (cittaja and āhāraja) are produced. Only a series of material qualities born of heat (utuja) goes on till the corpse is reduced to dust.

Simultaneous with the arising of the rebirth consciousness there spring up the ‘body-decad,’ ‘sex-decad,’ and ‘base-decad’ (Kāya-bhāva-vatthu-dasaka).

According to Buddhism, therefore, sex is determined at the moment of conception and is conditioned by Kamma not by any fortuitous combination of sperm and ovum-cells.

The passing away of the consciousness of the past birth is the occasion for the arising of the new consciousness in the subsequent birth. However, nothing unchangeable or permanent is transmitted from the past to the present.

Just as the wheel rests on the ground only at one point, so, strictly speaking, we live only for one thought-moment. We are always in the present, and that present is ever slipping into the irrevocable past. Each momentary consciousness of this ever-changing life-process, on passing away, transmits its whole energy, all the indelibly recorded impressions on it, to its successor. Every fresh consciousness, therefore, consists of the potentialities of its predecessors together with something more. At death, the consciousness perishes, as in truth it perishes every moment, only to give birth to another in a rebirth. This renewed consciousness inherits all past experiences. As all impressions are indelibly recorded in the ever-changing palimpsest-like mind, and all potentialities are transmitted from life to life, irrespective of temporary disintegration, thus there may be reminiscence of past births or past incidents. Whereas if memory depended solely on brain cells, such reminiscence would be impossible.

“This new being which is the present manifestation of the stream of Kamma-energy is not the same as, and has no identity with, the previous one in its line — the aggregates that make up its composition being different from, having no identity with, those that make up the being of its predecessor. And yet it is not an entirely different being since it has the same stream of Kamma-energy, though modified perchance just by having shown itself in that manifestation, which is now making its presence known in the sense-perceptible world as the new being.

Death, according to Buddhism, is the cessation of the psycho-physical life of any one individual existence. It is the passing away of vitality (āyu), i.e., psychic and physical life (jīvitindriya), heat (usma) and consciousness (vijnana).

Death is not the complete annihilation of a being, for though a particular life-span ends, the force which hitherto actuated it is not destroyed.

Just as an electric light is the outward visible manifestation of invisible electric energy, so we are the outward manifestations of invisible Kammic energy. The bulb may break, and the light may be extinguished, but the current remains and the light may be reproduced in another bulb. In the same way, the Kammic force remains undisturbed by the disintegration of the physical body, and the passing away of the present consciousness leads to the arising of a fresh one in another birth. But nothing unchangeable or permanent “passes” from the present to the future.

In the foregoing case, the thought experienced before death being a moral one, the resultant rebirth-consciousness takes for its material an appropriate sperm and ovum cell of human parents. The rebirth-consciousness (patisandhi vijnana) then lapses into the Bhavanga state.

The continuity of the flux, at death, is unbroken in point of time, and there is no breach in the stream of consciousness.

Rebirth takes place immediately, irrespective of the place of birth, just as an electromagnetic wave, projected into space, is immediately reproduced in a receiving radio set. Rebirth of the mental flux is also instantaneous and leaves no room whatever for any intermediate state (antarabhava). Pure Buddhism does not support the belief that a spirit of the deceased person takes lodgement in some temporary state until it finds a suitable place for its “reincarnation.”

This question of instantaneous rebirth is well expressed in the Milinda Panha

The King Milinda questions:

“Venerable Nagasena, if somebody dies here and is reborn in the world of Brahma, and another dies here and is reborn in Kashmir, which of them would arrive first?

“They would arrive at the same time. O King.

“In which town were you born, O King?

“In a village called Kalasi, Venerable Sir.

“How far is Kalasi from here, O King?

“About two hundred miles, Venerable Sir.

“And how far is Kashmir from here, O King?

“About twelve miles, Venerable Sir.

“Now think of the village of Kalasi, O King.

“I have done so, Venerable Sir.

“And now think of Kashmir, O King.

“It is done, Venerable Sir.

“Which of these two, O King, did you think the more slowly and which the more quickly?

“Both equally quickly, Venerable Sir.

“Just so, O King, he who dies here and is reborn in the world of Brahma, is not reborn later than he who dies here and is reborn in Kashmir.”

“Give me one more simile, Venerable Sir.”

“What do you think, O King? Suppose two birds were flying in the air and they should settle at the same time, one upon a high and the other upon a low tree, which bird’s shade would first fall upon the earth, and which bird’s later?”

“Both shadows would appear at the same time, not one of them earlier and the other later.

The question might arise: Are the sperm and ovum cells always ready, waiting to take up the rebirth-thought?

According to Buddhism, living beings are infinite in number, and so are world systems. Nor is the impregnated ovum the only route to rebirth. Earth, an almost insignificant speck in the universe, is not the only habitable plane, and humans are not the only living beings. As such it is not impossible to believe that there will always be an appropriate place to receive the last thought vibrations. A point is always ready to receive the falling stone.

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