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More memoirs of escapades at KDU

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by Nilakshan Perera

(continued from last week)

On July 23, 1983, when the LTTE ambushed 14 Army personnel including Lt Waas Gunawardena, we were at Ratmalana Air Force hangar to receive and assist Security Forces personnel. We will never forget the tragic scene of the special Y-8 plane carrying 14 dead bodies wrapped in polythene landing at Ratmalana. The next day onwards we were deployed for Internal Security duties. That was a somber period that opened our eyes to the stark realities of military life. However, no sooner the situation in the country became somewhat normal we too reverted to our usual routine.

Though we could move around with other students at University we were strictly instructed not to engage in any form of ragging as it will lead to the suspension of our studentships as well as being discharged from KDA. Among the next batch of university students, a few happened to be the daughters of some senior officers. For ragging, we asked them to bring us packets of home-cooked lunches wrapped in “kehel kola” with dhal, pol sambol & fried dried fish and asked one of them to get us a good machete so that our midnight operation (plucking kurumbas) could continue after the machetes used earlier had been confiscated. We also asked themto take us to Hotel Rahima (biryani), Venice Ice cream Parlor, or Shanthi Vihar for dosa. They were all good sports and readily obliged.

After one of the dinner nights, we were tasked the next day to rearrange the tables and chairs (we were the juniors throughout our cadetship at KDA as no new cadets were admitted due to protests over KDA entry by various student movements), and the job was going to be quite a task as long distances had to be covered with the tables and chairs. Fortunately, the Duty Officer of the day told us to use the Army 1210 TATA truck provided there was a volunteer driver. Only two of us could drive during our cadet days, but we grabbed the chance and did the unloading and rearranging and then drove back via Airport Road, Borupone Rd, Ratmalana Station Rd – a journery of about two hours. The truck was perfectly parked at the vehicle yard with all 14 of us seated comfortably inside at the end of the assignment.

Lt Dushantha Chelliah of Sri Lanka Navy (he retired as Commander in 1995 and migrated to Canada) took over as our Troop Commander. He came directly from Naval Maritime Academy where he was the Asst Division Commander (the Course Officer of Admiral Ravi Wijegoonawardane, former Chief of Defence Staff). He was a great cricketer who played for Royal College, Sri Lanka Navy, and Defence Services as an opening batsman. He was a strict disciplinarian and didn’t tolerate any nonsense. We were fortunate to have played either football, cricket or rugby matches with teams of several foreign naval ships visiting Sri Lanka. These games were played either at Welisara Navy grounds or S. Thomas’ College grounds, Mt. Lavinia, thanks to Lt Chelliah.

In addition to sports, he also helped us with our studies and with his

contacts. We had our very first sea experience of a voyage from Galle to Colombo onboard SLNS SAGARAWARDANA. (Sadly now it’s at the

bottom of the sea). We were given on-board training of most naval operations We all loved the food that was served on board the vessel with all kinds of fresh seafood on offer. Lt Chelliah had also introduced us to maintaining a Journal. We had to write details of events that took place daily and submit our records to the troop commander by Monday morning at 0700hrs before leaving for campus. He returned the journals marked and corrected the same evening when we returned. Before doing anything else, we read and redid the corrections knowing the consequences if we did not do so. It was a great lesson we learned and we still maintain historic information and important dates.

Few of the most undisciplined cadets were made to measure the depth of Sir John’s lake near the summer hut as punishment. The water was not that salty but the smell of muddy water and different types of rotting vegetation and small fish lingered in our overalls. That was all part and parcel of our training and we still cherish the experiences.

Changing uniforms for parades had to be done to split second precision. We had to get ready in 30- 40 seconds and report to Sir John’s bungalow in a couple of minutes – a maximum of two to three minutes for running back to billets which were 750 meters away and returning to stand at attention in a place where a spotlight was focused. Cadets couldn’t move beyond that point. Lt Chelliah would come to the balcony and see/instruct us on the next kit change and timing. This will go on for about 20-30 minutes. Some tried shortcuts by placing all kits – civil, white PT, battle order uniform and recreational kit – under a coconut tree on the grounds and changing there rather than running back to billets.

Our profound gratitude to you Sir, for who we are today – dedicated disciplined gentlemen officers. Though he was a strict disciplinarian he always respected us cadets and trained us to be the best. He punished us when we did wrong with the good intention of making us better officers so that we too will train our subordinates in the same way in the future.

Normally on Poya Days, we had bana for about an hour, preached by one of the Buddhist monks from Bellanwila Raja Maha Viharaya. Having this in mind, on the day before Poya, we took our civil clothes and left them at a friend’s place on the other side of runway of the Ratmalana Airport.

This particular Poya day in Dec 1983 also happened to be a Saturday which suited us fine for our escapade. While the rest of the cadets were plucking araliya flowers for the bana, five of the worst rascals crossed the runaway to our friend’s place for a quick change into the civilian clothes left there and then scooted off on trip to Sri Pada. We caught the 9.40 am Udarata Menike express train and got to our destination.

We didn’t have any plans for meals but for our good luck, while climbing the mountain we made friends with a very nice family with four pretty daughters. They looked after us very well with food and soft drinks and all we did accompanying them to the summit. We returned their hospitality by carrying all their belongings down the mountain as we had nothing to carry ourselves. This was easy as we had carried heavy backpacks and weapons as punishments and for training and compared to those what we carried for our friends was nothing.

Two of the daughters of that family became popular pediatricians and one a well-known banker. We were fortunate to have met them and still are in touch. We managed to return to KDA secretly by 4.55 am on Monday to be mustered for PT at 5.30 am. All went well but the Air Traffic Controller at the Airport had spotted five cadets wearing PT kits crossing the tarmac. But he had not reported it to KDA as he was a good friend of one of the cadets. We owe him for not reporting his observation to our superiors; and also the rest of our batch-mates, who who covered for us by putting down our mosquito nets and pretending that all of us were asleep in our billet. The duty sergeant on his night round saw all nets down and thought 14 cadets, including us absconders, were sleeping soundly.

We were the very first Intake to decline the leave given for Sinhala/Tamil New Yearone year. We were given four days off but it was hardly enough time for Saliya Weerakkody, whose home was at Diyatalawa, to travel to and fro with the travel time alone two days. We requested more days of leave on behalf of Saliya but when this was refused, all of us said we’d stay back at KDA. Because of us many others from the training staff, naval catering, medical, and transport also had to sacrifice their leave. We were very well served for our ‘solidarity’ with pack-drills, in the morning, afternoon, and evening continuously on all five days. As a result of this became fitter and tougher and also well united and bonded.

Mess Assistants from the Navy and two waiters were dead scared of us as we used to complain about the quantity and quality of food etc. to duty officers who had to either instruct the catering staff to cook separately for us or reach the proper standard. Because there was only the 14 of us in the camp at that time, our unity and comradeship was very high. Only two of us had girlfriends when joining KDA and whenever a love letter was delivered by post, the recipient had to read it aloud for everyone to hear. Others hardly received any letters even from parents but on our own we posted letters to ourselves, just to pretend that we too were getting mail. Few of us were so well known at the Ratmalana Post Office that letters addressed with only a name and Ratmalana reached us. With no WhatsApp, Viber, FB, Twitter and Instagram then, we used to have many singsongs. Preethi would sing Amaradeva’s Minidada Heesara, and Upul Wijesinghe, Mal Warusawe. Just Walking in the Rain was Damian’s favourite while Thiru contributed Maha Re Yame. There were a lot of M.S. Fernando’s songs and baila sung too.

Shantha Liyanage used to do ‘bat drills’ as he played cricket for University and Lal Padmakumara, being a jack of all trades, advised even carpenters and masonry workers at construction sites at KDA. Manoj was glued to James Hadley Chase’s books, one after the other, but Dimuthu had other plans. He used to take us fishing at Bolgoda lake and Panadura bund. Whether we like it or not, we too went with him. He knew all the culverts in the Borupone area, where guppies breed. Only later did we learn that he had fished the best Mermaid of the Kanangara family consisting of three daughters who lived down Borupone Road. That was Nalika (Dr. Nalika Gunawardena, former Senior Lecturer at Medical Faculty Colombo and presently at WHO as National Professional Officer) Catholics among us were allowed to attend Sunday Mass at nearby St Mary’s Church in Ratmalana and Buddhists went to Bellanwila Temple. While returning to KDA we used to check if Dimuthu’s Dad’s EN 2876 black Morris Minor was parked under the portico of the Principal’s bungalow(highly respected Mr.

Cyril Gunawardane was the Principal of the Deaf & Blind school) and if the car was there we were sure of a good dinner and a free ride to KDA with Dimuthu. We’ll never forget Uncle Cyril and Aunt Dolly’s wonderful hospitality and unconditional affection for all of us.

Whenever we were invited for a birthday party (especially girls’ 21st birthday parties) or any other social gathering we got permission but had to return before the 10.00 pm roll call so that the Duty Cadet could report that all 14 of us were there and no one was sick. In case the Duty Cadet wanted to check, he would call them personally by 2200 hrs but not later. Whoever had gone out had to walk along the Kandawala Road would look at our top floor bathroom window. If a green towel was hung there, he could go back to the party and come for the next day’s PT by 5.30 am. A red towel signaled “return immediately.” Coming back we had to navigate a 12 ft. high barbed wire fence.

We were fortunate to have our first ever CADET BALL in December 1984. We were asked to bring our dancing partners and most of the pretty girls of Moratuwa and Colombo Universities were there on the floor. It was all organized by Cadets of Intakes one, two and three and we were well trained in all aspects of hosting these functions very well by our Officer Instructors.

We had the privilege of associating with Military Academy Intake 16, 17, 18 & 19 Cadets on their Unit visits, and having a football match played at railway grounds and also several Cadet Intakes of Naval Maritime Academy Intakes 11 & 12 and China Bay Air Force Academy. Among these cadets, there were two future Army Commanders, Three Navy Commanders, and two Air Force Commanders.

We were also fortunate to have the remarkable company of a few great Air Force flyers like Jayanthalal Thibbotumunuwe, TTK Seneviratne, and Ruwan Punchihetti as they were attached to KDA while doing their flying training at Ratmalana. Sadly all three of them died in action later, (Wing Cmdr. Thibbotumunuwe in Nov 1996 at KKS and Pilot Officer TTK Seneviratne & Officer Cdt Ruwan Punchihetti in May 1995 during a Sia Marchetti training flight accident at Beruwala)

In our last year, five of our batchmates captained University teams.

Dhammika (rugby), Saliya (football), Damian (basketball), Dimuthu (rowing) and Ruwan Upul (athletics). After completing the University final exams in Nov 1985, four joined the Navy, another three joined Air Force and seven others joined the Army for their advanced and further training, saying goodbye to KDA, where we had spent almost three years and three months. Our passing out parade held in Aug 1986, with Mr. Lalith Athulathmudali, Minister of National Security, as the Chief Guest.

Thanks to General John Kotelawela five of our batch-mates found their life partners from Colombo University and two got married to two

doctors from the Medical Faculty while two others wed lawyers from

the Faculty of Law. One found his bride in the Faculty of Science.

After joining the respective services our cadets excelled in their duties to the country at the highest level, especially at sea. Manoaj Jayasooriya, Preethi Vidnapathirana, and Dimuthu Goonawardena played aleading role in defeating Sea Tiger craft and engaging with Sea Tiger cadres face to face many times. For bravery and selfless acts, Manoj was promoted to the rank of Commander while at sea (Field/Sea promotion) by the Commander of the Navy in Feb 1999.

November 19, 1997 was perhaps the saddest day for the officers of Intake three when news was received that Lt Preethi Vidanapathirana, one of the most disciplined and adorable of our batch mates and a dear friend, has made the supreme sacrifice during one of the fierce sea battles in Mullaitivu.

The evening before, three batch mates Manoaj, Dimuthu and Preethi sailed from Trincomalee harbor as directed by the Commander Eastern Naval Area along with a flotilla of ships and crafts on an offensive patrol to disrupt an enemy movement that was due to take place between Thiriyaya and Mullaitivu.

Manoj who commanded the prestigious Fast Attack Craft Flotilla (FAF4) twice in his career after perfecting the art of naval battle, joined this important operation displaying his tactical leadership taking quick and vital decisions in battle. His presence in the theatre was undoubtedly a morale booster to all. Preethi was in Command of another FAC, P452 and Dimuthuin Command of a Chinese Gunboat SLNS Ranawickrama tasked to neutralize enemy launching pads along with SLNS Ranarisi. The two gunboats and eight Dovras engaged targets both at sea and on land to prevent a Tiger logistic move. The battle which is considered one of the bloodiest at sea lasted from approximately 2100 hrs on Oct. 18, to 0330 hrs on October 19, 1997. In the ensuing battle, Preethi having successfully attacked one of the enemy clusters was hit by a high caliber gun mounted on the bows of an enemy boat which immediately immobilized him, paving the way for two enemy suicide boats to ram his vessel sinking it within seconds approximately 3.5 nautical miles off Kokilai.

By this time, the enemy was forced to abandon its logistic move and return to base and what remained at sea were their two offensive clusters. Preethi was one of the best swimmers of his time and shone both in Ananda College, KDA and at the University of Colombo. As the incident occurred quite close to the shore, Manoaj and Dimuthu scoured the area for the next 24 hrs hoping to find and recover Preethi and his crew. But there was no sign of them.

Preethi was posthumously promoted to the rank of Lt Commander having been killed in action. We never forget to leave out Preethi’s beloved wife, Dr. Dayani Panagoda (Senior Technical Specialist Global Communities at USAID/SCORE) at our gatherings for she too is a part of our Intake family.

Manoj retired from the Navy as Commander in 2002. For his gallant and meritorious conduct in battle, he had been decorated fourteen (14) times by the President of Sri Lanka and he remains the most decorated officer in the Navy with this record has not been broken to date. He is a proud recipient of Rana Wickrama Paddakkama (RWP) seven times and Rana Sura Padakkama (RSP) seven more times. He is presently Executive Director of a well known Motor Company and Director/General Manager of a famous Engineering Company.

Dimuthu retired as Rear Admiral in April 2018, and presently functions as Director Communications and Publications at the Institute of National Security Studies having served in several senior positions in the naval hierarchy with his distinguished naval career recognized with awards on several occasions. Shantha Liyanage retired as Major General in Feb 2018 and held the prestigious appointments as Colonel Commandant Army Service Corps and former Commandant Army School of Logistics. He is recipient of PSC, and LSC.

Lal Padmakumara retired as Major General in Sept 2017 and was the former Director Budget & Finance Management of the Army, also the recipient of PSC and HDMC Damian Fernando retired as Rear Admiral and was the former Director-General Budget and Finance of the Sri Lanka Navy, proud recipient of USP, VSV, Purna Bhumi Medal too. Major General Dhammika Pananwela retired in Nov 2018, functioned as Commander Security Forces East, also a proud recipient several times of RSP for bravery, NDU for academics and was trained to bring death to the enemy from the sky. A qualified combat parachutist. Palitha Sirimal retired as Lt Col in 2002 and is at present he is a Director of a semi-governmental organization.

Ruwan Upul Perera retired as Wing Commander in Aug 2005 and is looking after his coconut plantations and other properties in Marawila.

Upul Wijesinghe is the Deputy Chief Executive of one of the largest Life Insurance Companies in Sri Lanka and also former President of the Sri Lanka Insurance Association. Others are well settled abroad like Thiru Amaran (Sydney) Shantha Edirisinghe ( London) Saliya Weerakkody (Melbourne) and yours truly in Singapore.

We salute all our senior officers of Intake one and two for their insightful guidance and patience, tolerating all our acts of misbehavior.

I take this opportunity to thank from the bottom of my heart my fellow batch mates of Intake three for the wonderful memories and camaraderie and humbly salute my brother officers who made the supreme sacrifice. During these past 38 years, we were united not just in friendships but in brotherhood and comradeship.

You guys truly are The Best

 



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Is ‘Knowing’ everything?

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by Panduka Karunanayake

The current fluid situation in the country has brought into focus some fundamental issues, as well. Ordinarily, in the midst of pressing problems, like what we are experiencing, it is customary to push fundamental issues to the back seat. But, it is exactly because such issues have been sidelined, in the past, that we have had to arrive in this sorry state today. In addition, in an extremely fluid and uncertain situation, such as this, the only stable and reliable position that remains for us to make decisions from is, in fact, with fundamentals.

In this essay, I wish to focus on a fundamental issue: the relationship between knowledge and expertise, on the one hand, and the societal weal on the other. This relationship came into sharp focus, in my mind, when I saw a social media posting, by one of my academic colleagues. Let me first anonymise the academic (after all, it is not only he who thinks like this) and quote the Google translation of a part of his posting:

“Everyone knows everything there is to know. Everyone can express things. There are also necessary media for that. Who are we? What do we need? No one can make monopoly decisions about, etc. Therefore, there is no democracy more than this. What is needed now is to make maximum use of that democracy.”

This argument implies that because we live in the Digital Age, where knowledge is distributed very democratically, decision-making by the ordinary citizen is at a level close to, if not identical to, that of the expert. It suggests that the next step is to discover an optimum governance mechanism. At its core is the suggestion that the time has come to supplant the expert with the knowledgeable citizen.

What is fundamentally wrong in this argument?

‘Knowing’ and ‘understanding’

‘Knowing’ is not everything. When we were schoolchildren, in the 1970s, we heard this explained to us clearly by Dr E.W. Adikaram, who made a distinction between දැනුම (‘knowing’) and අවබෝධය (‘understanding’). He pointed out that the task of education should be giving us the latter, not the former. But somehow, we seem to have forgotten (or ignored) that advice. This distinction is also seen in Albert Einstein’s famous quip that education is what is left when we have forgotten what we had learnt – අවබෝධය (‘understanding’) remains while දැනුම (‘knowing’) is forgotten with time.

The crucial point is this. The wide dissemination of knowledge that is seen in today’s Digital Age, by itself, actually promotes only ‘knowing’. We can do an Internet search and find any knowledge we want, and once we have got it, we can say that we ‘know it’ – seemingly, just like the expert. But there is a significant gap between this ‘knowing’ and the ‘understanding’ that is possessed by those who have studied this same quantum of knowledge, more systematically and in depth.

Such persons study this knowledge in relation to other quanta of knowledge, so that they are aware of a more whole, interconnected and integrated existence of the discrete quantum of knowledge. For instance, they then see not only that quantum, but also its origins, applications, limitations, fallacies and fallibilities, as well as how it is connected to the broader map of knowledge.

Of course, there are nowadays also the democratic distribution of learning experiences, too, such as open-access online courses. These would certainly give someone a much better view of the subject than a discrete webpage, but I would still caution, and point out the significant journey from knowing something to fully understanding it.

One clear indication of ‘understanding’ is the ability of the person, who possesses the knowledge, to apply it in different, seemingly unrelated situations. It is, in fact, this very point that is nowadays used by prestigious universities, overseas, when selecting students for their undergraduate courses – rather than the old-fashioned measures of superficial ‘knowing’, such as what we still mostly use here.

‘Understanding’ and ‘doing’

While there is a distinction between ‘knowing’ and ‘understanding’, our intellectual growth does not stop even there.

There is a whole heap of difference between merely ‘understanding’ and ‘doing’ something with that understanding. That is because understanding occurs strictly in the cognitive domain, while applying it to actually do something requires an engagement with the real world. That requires a lot more – things that remain implicit in the real world around us, which are abstracted only to a limited extent when they are written down as ‘knowledge’.

In the past, acquiring these real-life capabilities have been given terms, like ‘skills’, ‘experience’, ‘common sense’, ‘wisdom’ and so on. A more recent practice is to categorise them also as forms of knowledge (i.e., procedural knowledge and conditional knowledge). These weave together, as a person tries to translate an idea into action, and if the person succeeds, we say that this has created ‘functioning knowledge’. Naturally, only a very limited portion of this is found in books or Internet sources, and ‘knowing’ and even ‘understanding’ are thus only a very small part of what constitutes the intellect of a person who can actually do something in real-life situations.

‘Doing’ and ‘critiquing’

Even this is not the full story. All these steps – knowing, understanding, doing – are part of generally ‘how things are’, and not necessarily ‘how things should be’. One of the most important aspects of an academic’s or intellectual’s work is evaluating this ‘things as they are’ and providing a detached, dispassionate critique of it. More conventional terms used to describe this function are ‘critical thinking’ and ‘discourse analysis’. We would expect the academic or intellectual to harness his or her extensive knowledge of the subject with regard to past events, current trends and future possibilities; to then reflect deeply, imagine alternatives and weigh their pros and cons; and to tell us how we can ‘do things better’. This is the whole process that we call (or should call) ‘research’, ‘innovation’, ‘development’, ‘creativity’, etc.

This is the full spectrum of how the human mind works as it progressively becomes more functional and efficacious: knowing, understanding, doing and critiquing. The process of education, from primary to post-doctoral, should be designed with this in mind.

Enter ‘the expert’

There are two types of expertise. The first is routine expertise, which is the ability to carry out a certain task repetitively with a minimum amount of error. It is built by systematic learning with feedback, assiduous practice and extensive experience. The second is adaptive expertise, which is the ability to face new and unprecedented situations where there are little or no known standard procedures (and thus no routine expertise) and come up with innovative solutions that provide a way out. It is built, in addition to the above, by reflective practice and experience in innovative and creative behaviours.

It is not hard to see that in recent years, we have had the need for adaptive expertise – with both the COVID-19 pandemic and the current crisis. They have called upon our doctors, businesspersons, economists, etc., with adaptive expertise, to come forward and do what they know best.

Such past unprecedented events, in our country, led to complete transformations of society, leading to better times (albeit, after decades of effort): e.g., the 1870s coffee blight and the devastating malaria epidemic of 1934-35. Those were examples of (British) adaptive expertise in action.

The ‘knowledgeable’ citizen

The citizen who now shuns expertise is a person who thinks that, because he (or she) has access to knowledge, he has already ‘jumped’ from ‘knowing’ to ‘critiquing’ and that there is no difference between him and the expert. One should avoid jumping into this bandwagon. One should also take care not to throw the expert out in a hurried attempt to throw the politician out.

We cannot build a better governing system using people who lack ‘understanding’ and expertise, notwithstanding any level of ‘knowing’ that they might possess thanks to the Digital Age. We must keep these fundamentals in mind when we explore questions, such as the place of democracy or the value of a constitution, the notion that the gap between people and experts has narrowed, that people can decide for themselves, and so on.

Our post-Independence history is a litany of how our experts failed to produce a beneficial effect in Sri Lanka while contributing to the building of other nations. The solution is to overcome the blocks to this that have existed until now – rather than shunning expertise. We need more expertise, not less.

(The writer teaches in the University of Colombo, where he is currently the Director of the Staff Development Centre. He acknowledges the mentoring of Professor Suki Ekaratne in developing many of these ideas; Professor Ekaratne founded the country’s first SDC, 25 years ago.)

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Join hands with your spiritual power to save Lanka!

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By Ven. Matthumagala ChandanandaThero
Ehipassiko Meditation Center
Calgary -Canada

When Sri Lanka was hit by the catastrophic tsunami waves in 2004, almost all citizens strived in unison to stand up as one because they perceived the calamity as a natural disaster. Without distinction of class, creed or race, people volunteered to help the victims. Monks of all sectors were prompted for action—therapeutic pirith chanting was started all over the country. Blessed water was sprinkled, especially over the coastal areas with the help of Sri Lanka Air Force helicopters. Some coastal areas had become ghastly graveyards within minutes of disaster, with thousands of dead bodies scattering in every direction. World Health Organization immediately warned of another impending threat: a wave of epidemics due to decomposing bodies of humans and animals.

However, Sri Lankans could surprise even the developed nations by recovering from this trauma so fast. The predicted epidemics could never raise their heads. So was with the Covid-19 pandemic, which was also generally perceived as a natural disaster—and people fought it with the team spirit. So far Sri Lanka has lost a relatively smaller number of lives to Covid-19 when compared to those of affluent nations, and it is certainly not just a coincidence.

However, when it comes to the unprecedented economic downfall currently taking place in Sri Lanka, rather than seeing it as yet another crisis, they have to overcome with team spirit. People have viewed it through the lens of ‘personality view’ (sakkāya ditti), and have attributed the responsibility to certain politicians, vehemently accusing and cursing the culprits. The whole effort was seething with anger, jealousy and vengeance—this is an absolute deviation from the path of Dhamma. Under such circumstances, no wonder that people could not recover as efficiently as they should in this crisis. Of course, if those politicians are guilty, suitable action have to be taken, but in a democratic way, and under no circumstances the destructive emotions like anger could be justified to come to play in a big way as has unfortunately happened (Kakacupama sutta). To be angry is like eating poison, expecting your enemy to die! If you think that you are concerned of being with crooked politicians, we should learn to be saner but not crazier.

Famous Sri Lankan poet, Mahagama Sekera, has said something pithy in his book, Prabuddha, and could be rendered into English thus: “If we could motivate people to be violent against injustice, cannot we persuade them to refrain from inequity”? This sensible question echoes in my mind every time I see a violent protest. Buddha who utters only meaningful words, had said: “Overcome the wicked by goodness” (Dhammapada). True, as ordinary people, we might not have political strength, financial power and the inheritance of an aristocratic lineage, as possessed by some politicians in this country. But we have a somnolent giant within us—the power of mind! We just have to train our mind to release this giant. Remember, through struggle comes strength—especially when we set ourself on the right path!

Once upon a time in ancient India, a seven-year-old monk was going on his rounds for collecting alms following a great master called Arhath Sariputta. This novice having observed some people were engaged in woodwork, curiously inquired from the senior monk: “What are they doing?” “They are carpenters; they bring wood from the forest—after cleaning, cutting and treating the wood, they make items like cartwheels”, explained Venerable Sariputta. Then the novice asked: “Do woods have a mind?” “No, woods do not have a mind, but humans who do have minds, creatively change wood according to their needs and make various items”, said the elderly monk. This explanation was a great eye-opener for the reflective novice. He thought, if people can change things using their minds, isn’t it possible to tame the mind using that power of mind itself? Spurred on by this incident, before long, the junior monk escaped from the King of Death (Mara)—the most difficult one to defeat!

On seeing amazing modern equipment like computers, smart phones, air planes, etc., it really makes sense if we also reflect on the fact that: “Such inventions are created by human mind; therefore, my mind is more powerful than those products.” In fact, Buddha pointed out that he does not see anything in this universe so powerful and versatile like the mind, which could become amazingly powerful and versatile upon development. Buddha also taught us how to progressively develop our mind but for the good. Even great meditators who wielded psychic power had only started their journey from the humble state we are in—so please be positive.

Now the human race is getting closer to the brink of extinction due to the dangers like adverse effects of the climate change and possible nuclear warfare. To the dismay of world-renowned scientists, some politicians have openly stated that the climate change to be a hoax— a former US President is also among them! We cannot expect political leaders, national or international, to protect the future generation’s opportunity to inhabit this precious planet. As I have argued in the previous articles, a SPIRITUAL REVOLUTION is the need of the hour.However, our immediate concern is to protect Sri Lanka from the internal and external threats, she has faced with.

According to what Buddha taught, we could employ our spiritual power to mitigate the catastrophes befall the human society. Spiritual Act of Truth (sathyakriya) is one way to achieve this noble goal. Jathaka stories reveal how Bodhisatwa (would-be Buddhas) performed Acts of Truth to ensure his own safety and of others as well. According to Mahawansa (the Great Chronicle), King Siri Sanghabo used this powerful influence to save his countrymen from a dangerous epidemic called Rakthakshi.

With the noble guidance of Most Venerable Kukulpané Sudassee Thero, the Spiritual Studies and Research Wing of Sathjana Social Development Foundation in Horana has been conducting Acts of Truth since 2008, in which hundreds and thousands of compassionate humans around the world unleash their spiritual power at one particular time, with the singular intention of mitigating the catastrophes of human society. Now a cynic might ask: of what use is your spiritual attempts, if the country is plunged into an economic crisis of this magnitude? Sri Lanka is located in an epic place in this planet—epic in many known and unknown ways, and Sri Lankans enjoy great benefits of the legacy. Together with these privileges, some additional responsibilities are also assigned to us—that is the way it is! Again and again, clouds bring us rain; again and again farmers sow seeds; again and again people eat (never tired)— therefore, why not flexing the spiritual muscles also similarly– again and again, and aggressively repeat our wholesome interventions? Because, it seems that conspiracies too are attempted again and again to unsettle the island! In fact, Dalai Lama deserves praise for saying: “Peace is not simply the absence of war. It is not a passive state of being. We must wage peace, as vehemently as we wage war.”

For the fulfilment of this lofty goal, we should find the correct method of performing it. In an Act of Truth, we have to vividly reflect on a wholesome deed we have performed, and we determine thus… ‘By the power of this truth, may the disasters heading towards the country be averted! May Buddha-sāsana and human lives be protected’!

For the success of an Act of Truth or Sathyakriya, three important conditions should have to be fulfilled:

1. The deed you reflect upon should be TRUE

2. It should have been performed by YOU

3. You have to arouse the same state of mind or pitch which has been there at the time you performed this act (e.g., If you think of an instance in which you donated something wholeheartedly, you have to recall and establish that particular mental state vividly at the time of performing Sathyakriya.

Complying with the invitation of many devotees, Ven. Dr. Kukulpané Sudassee Thero has decided to organise yet another Act of Truth on Thursday (the full moon day), 11th of August 2022, at 8:07 a.m. Sri Lanka time. In the evening also we will repeat it at the same time. If you live outside Sri-Lanka, please calculate your own local time, equivalent to the above. Ven. Sudassee Thero kindly requests the participants not to use this particular instance for achieving their personal intentions but to leave them for some other day, if necessary. We stress this point, because on some earlier occasions, some narrow-minded people were seen to ‘highjack’ such a moment, in an attempt to solve their own personal problems. Spiritual power is not for the selfish, for sure.

When hundreds and thousands of people release their compassionate mental power to the universe at a single moment in one single stream, we can generate a sort of spiritual power of tremendous strength capable of mitigating various woes currently plaguing the country.

We kindly invite all of you to participate in this great meritorious deed, with much-needed team spirit, irrespective of race, cast or creed, from wherever you are in the world, and perform the above-mentioned Act of Truth.When we set ourselves in a more humane path, instead of seething with negative emotions, and impulses, the guarding angels of the country will be kinder towards the society, extending their providence for the safety of our motherland.

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‘Slow Food’, the growing concept taking over ‘Fast Food’ rage

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Slow Food is everything opposite to the concept of fast food. While fast food involves highly processed food ingredients, ‘assembled’ together quickly, to form a meal, Slow Food refers to the inclusion of unprocessed food ingredients, cooked in an authentic manner to create a wholesome meal.

SNS:When In Rome, Do as Romans Do’ the saying literally proven right in the late 80s, in the city of Rome when a unique food movement, ‘slow food’ was born against another food frenzy, ‘Fast food’ which started from the US and has hooked the world since the 1920s.

Tradition-loving Romans who did not like the American concept of ‘Fast Food’ protested and pitted against the launch of a popular American fast food giant in the city of Bra, resulting in the birth of Arcigola, the movement against the concept of ‘fast food’ and delved into a registered nonprofit organisation known as ‘Slow Food International’.

Slow Food: The intriguing concept and why it’s becoming a global rave

The fast-paced life of the world over the decades has changed the traditional concepts regarding food. Fast food may ease our life and the choices of food but has proven ill effects on health if consumed on a regular basis. The concept of ‘Slow food’ is pitching for nothing new but promoting to go back to our roots for the food choices for better and healthier lives.

Nutritionists have traditionally vouched for the food which is locally grown and eaten the way our forefathers have consumed, and that is exactly what ‘Slow food movement is promoting’.

The natural food that grows in the region where we live is the most suitable for our body, because the same natural forces impact our body and the locally grown food. Our fore-fathers depended majorly on the local food, which is a major reason for their healthy life and longevity.

What is Slow Food?

Slow Food is everything opposite to the concept of fast food. While fast food involves highly processed food ingredients, ‘assembled’ together quickly, to form a meal, Slow Food refers to the inclusion of unprocessed food ingredients, cooked in an authentic manner to create a wholesome meal.

Where fast food offers ‘on the go’ food that can be hand-held and eaten on the go, Slow Food promotes the idea of sitting down, relaxing and spending some time chatting with family and friends, while savouring the food.

Slow Food Movement

The Slow Food movement began from people’s natural emotion associated with food. Some people opposed the rise of fast-food culture and the disappearance of local traditions and food cultures.
Slow Food movement history
The inception of the Slow Food Movement is traced back to 1986 in the town of Bra and it began as ArciGola, by journalist Carlo Petrini. In 1989, ArciGola began to be known as Slow Food, when a protest broke out against the opening of McDonald’s at “Piazza di Spagna” in Rome. Protestors opposed the American fast-food giant, for opening its outlet in Rome. The ArciGola protest delved into a registered nonprofit organisation known as Slow Food internationally.
What is the Slow Food Movement and How Do We Adhere to it?
According to Perceptions of the slow food cultural trend among the youth by Lelia Voinea and Anca Atanase, “Slow Food has become an international movement that advocates for satisfying culinary pleasure, protects biological and cultural diversity, spreads taste education, links “green” producers to consumers and believes that gastronomy intersects with politics, agriculture and ecology. Slow Food proposes a holistic approach to food problems, where the economic, socio-cultural and environmental aspects are interlinked, being pursued as part of an overall strategy.”

Slow Food, a global movement of local traditions

With due course of time, Slow Food has become a global movement, with more food reformers joining hands together to join the cause. The movement has also involved several smaller international bodies under its fold. These organisations are carrying out various initiatives within their local ecosystem and creating awareness of eating healthy and locally grown food.

Benefit of ‘Slow food’

The concept of fast food was meant to cater to the needs of those individuals, who were short of time and had a busy lifestyle. Number of such people grew over the years and fast food eventually became mainstream and an inseparable part of our lives.
Slowly, people also began to understand the importance of healthy eating instead of industrial processed food, which lacks basic nutrients. The Slow Food Movement addresses two major concerns related to fast-paced lifestyle, one is the inclusion of healthy, wholesome and locally grown ingredients, cooked by using orthodox methods. The second is to eat the meal and the food slowly, while enjoying every bit of it, as opposed to fast food.

Slow Food movement in India

The Slow Food movement has involved several organisations in India under its fold. All these independent organisations are working towards promoting positive food practices, from organic farming to eating the local food produce. Ajam Emba Adivasi of Jharkhand,
Food education for Satvik Jeevan in Gujarat, Mumbai Earth Market, Nagaland for Biodiversity & Heritage Preservation, Nilgirs Coffee Coalition and Banyan Roots, in Udaipur, Rajasthan are all working in close conjunction with the Slow Food International

Slow Food movement in Europe

The Slow Food movement is fast picking up in Europe as an industry. Working for the rights of small-scale traditional food producers and raising awareness among consumers at the very basic level. It is dedicated towards creating a better and more responsible food system.

Objectives of Slow Food movement

It is globally working on a number of issues including common food policy, agriculture, fisheries, biodiversity, climate change, Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) and responsible consumption and food labeling.

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