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Midweek Review

Norwegian MP of Sri Lankan origin takes a courageous stand



By Shamindra Ferdinando

Newly elected Norwegian lawmaker of Sri Lankan origin Khamshajiny (Kamzy) Gunaratnam, in one sentence, denied any knowledge of the Geneva-based United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) intervention in Sri Lanka. Having declared her strong faith in ‘outside actors’ inquiring into war crimes accusations, Gunaratnam declared: “I haven’t followed that, so I cannot answer that. I’m sorry. Gunaratnam said so, in response to my former colleague Paneetha Ameresekere’s quite simple query as to what her position vis-a-vis UNHCR Resolution 46/1 was?

On behalf of Ameresekere, now with The Ceylon Today, that question was posed by Balasingam Yogarajah, who handled Gunaratnam’s Zoom media briefing on Sept 26. Yogarajah repeated the question twice so there cannot be any confusion.

Of several questions that had been emailed by Amarasekera to the MP as advised by the Norwegian embassy, Yogarajah asked two. In addition to the query on 46/1, Yogarajah repeated Ameresekere’s second question what lessons in respect of multiculturalism that Sri Lanka can learn from Norway? Gunaratnam briefly explained how people from about 10 different backgrounds, including her, had been elected to Parliament at the recently concluded general election. She made reference to a Somali being among the newly elected to the 169 member Norwegian Parliament. Kamzy Gunaratnam’s shocking declaration that she hadn’t been aware of the much touted Geneva process should be an eye opener to all those interested in genuine post-war reconciliation process.

The MP’s claim should be examined against the backdrop of 46/1 being the culmination of a process initiated on Oct 1, 2015. Norway backed that US-led initiative meant to haul up Sri Lanka before the hybrid judicial court.

Now, the UK is spearheading that project which received a further boost with 22 countries of the 47-member UNHRC voting for the resolution and 11 against in March this year. Fourteen countries, including India and Japan (both Quad members) skipped the vote on Sri Lanka. How can Gunaratnam be unaware of such a long high profile process if she is pushing for war crimes probe here with foreign intervention? Therefore, Gunaratnam’s claim is questionable to say the least.

The Zoom meet called by Gunaratnam drew altogether 36 journalists and other interested persons from various parts of the world. Harim Peiris, one-time spokesperson of President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga had been among those participants though he didn’t pose any questions.

The media should be grateful to the Norwegian embassy for informing Colombo based journalists of the interview, especially giving an opportunity to those genuinely interested in the issues at hand to submit their questions to the Norwegian Member of Parliament several days before the zoom event. Whatever the circumstances, Gunaratnam, by denying knowledge of 46/1 resolution clearly indicated that it hadn’t been discussed therein, at least in her Labour Party.

Amarasekera must have been quite surprised by Gunaratnam’s reaction to his first question. The writer was simply flabbergasted by Gunaratnam’s genuine or feigned ignorance.

How can she be unaware of 46/1, it so strongly underscored the accountability process.

Having declared at the onset of her statement that she followed the war in Sri Lanka and the subsequent escalation finally leading to the conclusion of the armed conflict in 2009, Gunaratnam emphasised that there wouldn’t be any room for reconciliation unless Sri Lanka let someone independent from the international community to investigate war crimes.

“War must be investigated before you talk about reconciliation. It is about closure. Everyone wants closure. And it is about openness. And yes, it is about openness and transparency and those two key words are most important …So, when it comes to reconciliation, I think that the Sri Lankan government have to let in independent actors to investigate war crimes.

Gunaratnam’s comment on the critical importance of external intervention is quite contrary to her claimed ignorance of the 46/1 adopted by the UNHRC at its March 2021 session. Gunaratnam’s unawareness of the Geneva process certainly reflected very badly on her political party, the Labour as well as the entire Norwegian political setup. Having invested so much on disastrous Sri Lanka peace mission, her not knowing accountability resolutions pertaining to the country of her birth cannot be believed under any circumstances.

In the midst of a massacre

Gunaratnam had been a 23-year-old member of the Labour party’s youth wing when she joined a summer camp on Utoya Island in late July 2011. Having arrived in Norway at the age of three with her parents, Gunaratnam had been quite an active member of the youth branch. However, she may not have received the opportunity to move up the political ladder quickly if she hadn’t joined the summer camp. That is the undeniable truth. Right-wing extremist Anders Behring Breivik, who infiltrated the Labour party youth camp on Utoya Island, opened fire, killing 69. It was the deadliest mass shooting by a lone gunman in modern history. Breivik killed eight others in a car bomb that targeted a government building complex in central Oslo close to the Norwegian Parliament.

As Breivik attacked what the Norwegian media called workers’ youth league camp, Gunaratnam had swum across 500 metres of the Tyrifjorden Lake to escape the carnage.

The Norwegian media quoted Gunaratnam as having said: Eventually, I decided I would rather drown than be shot. The Oslo massacre obviously gave a mega boost to Gunaratnam’s political career. She received the prestigious post of Deputy Mayor, Oslo, in the third week of Oct, 2105, at the age of 27. That is certainly a significant achievement. Having secured a second term in late Oct 2019, Gunaratnam quickly advanced to the next phase of her continuing high profile rise, a parliamentary role. As expected Gunaratnam entered parliament as a member of the ruling coalition at the Sept 13, 2021 general election. Jonas Gahr Støre’s Labour Party brought an end to the centre-right government’s eight-year rule under Prime Minister Erna Solberg to an end.

Breivik made references to the LTTE’s eviction of Muslims from the North in the 1990 in his so-called ‘manifesto.’ There had been two references (i) Pro-Sri Lanka (supports the deportation of all Muslims from Sri Lanka) on page 1235 (ii) Fourth Generation War is normally characterised by a “stateless” entity fighting a state or regime. Fighting can be physically such as the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) to use a modern example (Page 1479)

Several Labour Youth League members, who survived the July 2011 Oslo massacre entered Parliament at subsequent elections. The writer submitted several questions to Gunaratnam though facilitator Balasingam Yogarajah raised only one.

The writer submitted the following questions to Gunaratnam as advised by the Norwegian Embassy in Colombo:

(A) Before your entry into Norwegian Parliament this year, how many of those who had escaped Anders Breivik’s rampage in June 2011 entered Parliament in 2013 and four years later? (1) In addition to you, did any other survivors enter Parliament this year?

Gunaratnam responded that one entered Parliament in 2013, two in 2017 and six this year. (However, a section of the international media, including Reuters reported that four young Norwegian Labour Party members who survived Breivik’s rampage were elected to Parliament at the 2013 election. They were among 33 Labour Party candidates in the parliamentary election who had escaped Breivik’s bullets. The Reuters story was based on information provided by Anne Odden, spokeswoman for the party’s Parliamentary group. Perhaps, Gunaratnam should re-check numbers elected from her party.

(B) When did you reach Norway, what was your age? Please name family members who accompanied you? When did Norway grant your family political asylum and Norwegian citizenship? What was your hometown in the Jaffna peninsula?

According to reports your parents as soon as they arrived in Norway had worked as fishers in a northern town, but later settled down in Oslo. So how did they get so much help and how did they manage without knowing much English?

You have graduated from Norwegian local politics to the country’s national stage. What made you choose politics as a vocation?

(C) Why did the family leave Sri Lanka? Did Sri Lanka Army (SLA) kill family members? Did SLA harass the family? Did any family member die fighting for the LTTE or any other group trained by India? Did any members of your family or relatives perish during IPKF operations?)

(D) Did your family leave Sri Lanka by boat to India and then fly to Norway? Or left the country on fraudulent travel documents or did the Norwegian Embassy issue necessary travel documents required by your family to reach the final destination?

(E) During your political career did you study the role played by Norway in Sri Lanka? Do you still believe Norway can assist Sri Lanka in addressing post-war reconciliation issues?

(F) Will you be interested in visiting Sri Lanka to see the ground situation? And finally

(G) How many Norwegian passport holders of Sri Lankan origin are there as at 2021?

During the 90-minute meet, the writer, through Balasingam Yogarajah asked Gunaratnam when did she reach Norway. She said 1991. The MP didn’t respond to emails requesting her to reveal the month of their arrival in Norway. She had been born on March 27, 1988 during the Indian intervention in Sri Lanka’s northern and eastern provinces. The Gunaratnams fled the country after the Indian withdrawal in March 1990.

A Norwegian suicide bomber of Somali origin

MP Gunaratnam, during Sunday, September, 26 zoom meet, made reference to the election of a Norwegian of Somali origin along with nine others. It would be pertinent to examine the danger in granting citizenship to unknown foreigners without proper vetting.

Let me remind the readers of the case of a Norwegian of Somali origin carrying out a suicide mission in early 2014. Somali terrorist group Al Shabaab in March 2014 identified the suicide car bomber, Abdullahi Ahmed Abdulle, who carried out an attack on a hotel at Buulo Burde, in Southern Somalia, as a Norwegian of Somali origin.

The AFP, in a Mogadishu datelined story, quoted Al Shabaab military spokesman, Sheikh Abdul Aziz Abu Musab, as having said: The attacker of Buulo Burde was a 60-year-old man who came from Norway to fight the enemies of Allah. He paid the sacrifice in order to be close to Allah by killing his enemies. The violent incident is showing us that there is no age limit for Jihadists.

Al Shabaab mounted a car bomb attack in response to a large scale military operation launched by the African Union forces.

The Norwegian of Somali origin was perhaps the oldest person to carry out a suicide mission. Did Norway examine how the Shabaab terrorist entered Norway, secured citizenship and subsequently returned to Somalia to launch a suicide mission on March 18, 2014? Did the Norwegian Foreign Service help the Al Shabaab terrorist leave Somalia clandestinely? Sri Lanka should study such cases. Did Norway provide Al Shabaab killer political asylum? Had he been involved in terrorism or engaged in such related activities in Somalia at the time he entered Norway?

Commonwealth member Kenya, too, had been threatened by foreign terrorists of Kenyan origin. Unfortunately, the Sri Lankan government never realised the need to examine such threats faced by other countries.

Clandestine projects

Sri Lanka should be concerned about the Western world accommodating its citizens. New Zealand recently admitted that Ahamed Adil Mohamed Samsudeen, who was shot dead by police after stabbing seven people in an Auckland shopping mall, had been on a terror watch list and was under surveillance. Having entered New Zealand on a student visa in 2011, Samsudeen had received refugee status two years later. Subsequently, the youth from Kattankudy, the hometown of the 2019 Easter Sunday carnage mastermind Zahran Hashim, attracted the attention of New Zealand security authorities. However, the New Zealand judicial system prevented Samsudeen from being deported on the basis he faced threats in Sri Lanka.

The then Sri Lankan Ambassador in Myanmar Prof. Nalin de Silva questioned the rationale in New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern naming the ISIS inspired terrorist as a Sri Lankan instead of as a person accepted as a refugee in her country nearly a decade ago. Samsudeen migrated to New Zealand after having been a student in a Colombo school.

A subsequent incident revealed the New Zealand mindset. New Zealand had no qualms in providing political asylum to another Sri Lankan (a Sinhalese) wanted in connection with the 2019 Easter Sunday carnage. On the basis of reportage of the issue at hand, New Zealand accepted the suspect, who had claimed he hadn’t been aware of the Easter Sunday perpetrators though he facilitated the transfer of funds to them from abroad. United Nations Human Rights Commissioner Michelle Bachelet who commented on the Easter Sunday carnage at her latest oral update on Sri Lanka last month should look into New Zealand’s response to terrorism.

Sri Lanka lacked the political will to take up these issues with powerful Western governments. How many Sri Lankans received foreign passports and new identities over the years? How many members of the proscribed LTTE received foreign citizenship? A significant number of Sri Lankans categorised as ‘missing’ or ‘disappeared’ sought by the Office of Missing Persons (OMP) can be among those carrying new foreign passports.

Take the case of Khamshajiny Gunaratnam aka Kamzy, now a Norwegian lawmaker. What is the status of Gunaratnam family in Sri Lanka? Had they been accommodated on some missing persons list? Categorised among the so called disappeared? However, Gunaratnam should earn the respect of all for her fearless and courageous stand on Sri Lanka. Having paid a glowing tribute to the Tamil community in Norway, Gunaratnam didn’t mince her words when she underscored her position. She declared: “….do not represent the Tamil Diaspora but Norwegian Parliament.” Gunaratnam’s stand should be appreciated.

Gunaratnam’s response to Deputy Editor of the Daily Mirror Kelum Bandara, too, underscored her readiness to take a principled stand on contentious issues. Asked whether she believed in a separate state for Tamils in Sri Lanka, Gunaratnam responded: “I do not understand why people asked us. I’m a Norwegian citizen. I have to run to another country with my father to start a new life. We should not have an opinion about how Tamils, Sinhalese and Muslims live. It is their decision. They should make the decision.”

Gunaratnam however reiterated her commitment for a greater partnership and also investigations into alleged war crimes.

A substantial number of Sri Lankans, including members of the LTTE had received Norwegian citizenship, hence the freedom to travel in Europe, as well as the Scandinavian region, without any hassle. Had some of them given new identities or in special cases changed ethnicity? Although Sri Lanka summoned the then Norwegian ambassador, Hilde Haraldstad, over a secret project to help Sri Lankans leave the country, Sri Lanka never really pursued the case. The then Foreign Secretary, the late Karunathilake Amunugama, raised the issue on behalf of External Affairs Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris (Helping 12 persons out of Sri Lanka: Government summons Norwegian envoy-The Island March 20, 2011).

Denying any wrongdoing on Norway’s part, Haraldstad insisted she was not at liberty to discuss individual cases. The External Affairs Ministry never pursued the clandestine Norwegian project thereafter, though Norway brazenly played politics with Sri Lanka.

A section of the Norwegian media exposed the clandestine Norwegian project. The revelation was made by the Norwegian newspaper, Aftenposten, regarding the Norwegian diplomatic mission in Colombo buying air tickets for 12 would-be Sri Lankan asylum seekers deemed to be at risk in Sri Lanka. Aftenposten quoted one-time Norwegian peace envoy in Sri Lanka, Erik Solheim, as having endorsed the project undertaken by the Norwegian diplomatic staff in Colombo. Solheim also accused Sri Lanka of ex-judicial measures, including killings during the last phase of the conflict. Ambassador Haraldsrad said that she couldn’t confirm the figure given by Aftenposten with regard to the number of Sri Lankans given political asylum in Norway. Although the number of Norwegians of Sri Lankan origin is relatively smaller when compared with communities in Canada or the UK, the Norwegian grouping is one of the most influential among pro-separatist expatriate groups.

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Midweek Review




By Capt Elmo Jayawardena

Some days ago, a fellow Captain dropped in to see us at home. He was accompanied by his wife. Amidst a light conversation and pleasant chatter, they mentioned NADAGAMKARAYO.  He swore it was a great teledrama and that we should give it a go. I had never watched teledramas because I could not allocate a fixed time for sitting in front of the television. The same goes for my wife, who is ultra-busy with our own dramas in life. Somehow the following day we got a break from a tight schedule and went to YouTube and watched Episode 1 of Nadagamkarayo.

Then we watched Episode 2 and then 3 and 4 and 5.Now after two weeks we are at Episode 184 and well set on Nadagamkarayo to light-up our evenings. I called a dear friend. I know his taste. By profession he is the Head Honcho of a prominent bank.  But he’s still got grass-root vernacular taste, yes, from Spielberg masterpieces to Indika Ferdinando’s ‘Ho Gaana Pokuna’.  The bank boss has not been a tele-drama man. The next day he texted me, “Thank you for the gift my friend, the programme is great, I am hooked on Nadagamkarayo.” A few days later, he emailed me that he was on Episode 58. I called another friend, a leading corporate lawyer married to an ultra-busy surgeon. They have three young children, and the lawyer is a multi-tasker from the ‘A’ Team. She too has taken the Nadagamkarayo drug and was watching the teledrama at 8.00 in the morning, the only interval in her roller-coaster daily road map.   So, what is all this hype about Nadagamkarayo? It certainly is no quick fix for lockdown blues. It is much more. Pure Sri Lankan simple story with excellent creativity.

The cast bar none is acting at Sarasavi or Sumathi level.  Kawadiya, who has traces of Dustin Hoffman, gets the Oscar nomination, and Kukul Bada, the young domestic, deserves an honourable mention purely for his varying facial expressions. The totality created by director Sivagurunathan is amazingly watchable.  The insatiable appetite of the TV audience to watch Nadagamkarayo stems from the clever way the drama rolls on, keeping all characters alive and active. If this is watched by anyone as a ‘Daily Bread’ at 9.30 in the night, that is fine, so long as you have that half-hour free to sit in front of your TV. But like us, if you are a late starter and going through the episodes to catch up with the current stage, then you are in trouble. Watch one and then go to the next and the next and the next in an unstoppable frenzy and the wake-up call comes when you hear the clock striking midnight. That is how strong the addiction could be. I do not know who the scriptwriter is or the brilliant cinematographer who is responsible for depicting rural scenery of high pastoral quality.

There will be so many others who added their smidgen to make this a first-class entertainment to all and sundry.  They say cocaine, LSD and pure Kerala ganja are addictive?

Try Nadagamkarayo, you get bewildered from episode to episode which is hard to switch off until you watch the entire story.  Kukula Mudalali seems a veteran from either stage or screen. As bald as a doorknob and with a ‘Taras Bulba’ moustache he is the perfect all-round villain for the drama. Not only is he a thug selling moonshine but a failed Romeo with any skirt that swings in the wind. Manamalan driving his red imitation Ferrari is difficult to define from the audience point of view. He is brash and bawdy and is always the ultimate liar. That is his role, and he sure brings a different dimension to the bucolic village setting with his patch-work denims and action-filled behaviour which has the unique distinction of being pleasing and annoying at the same time. This is what we traded for Netflix and HBO.

At the start it was curiosity, but in no time Nadagamkarayo became an addiction. We have not seen the evening television news for weeks. No, we missed nothing. We do not want to know who stole the garlic and created the Sudulunu scandal or who runs the rice mafia and hides the harvest. Pandora’s Box and how Uhuru Kenyatta and Vladimir Putin looked for reliable laundries to clean their money is way above what we need to know. The same goes for those who bid for a Cypriot passport at 1.3 million dollars.

We do not want to know how 600 plus items were blacklisted for importing and then in a flash a new magician came on stage like Gorgiya Pasha and swung his multi-coloured wand and Ooppss – the restrictions vanished into thin air. No more dollar-saving cutbacks. We can be clad in St Michael’s underwear and feast on Cadbury chocolates stocked in a brand new two-door refrigerator imported from Germany. No, I certainly do not need all that twisted jargon camouflaged as current head-lines to crowd my evening by watching local television channels. Maybe, it is not the fault of these stations but the politically- dominated mundane news that is available or ‘has to be’ shown by order.

I will gladly trade all that to see Loku Hamuduruwo on Nadagamkarayo screen with his serene behaviour and exemplary attitude to life which soothes our very souls. At all times the soft words of Loku Hamuduruwo are always a simple wisdom-filled lesson in life to all of us. Cap it up with the daily occurrences at the tea kiosk by the paddy field where the shop owner, manager, and tea-maker Mudalali and his golaya Gajaman colour the show.  His customers are the banana-eating and kahata-drinking clan who spice the story with palatable ‘Gamey Talk’.

The champion of this mini-stage is Sirisena the erudite goat-milk-seller who has his own interpretations and anecdotes to anything and everything political that happens in the country.Sudu Chooti comes to the story as a village Juliet. She is the daughter of the Music Master and his comely wife Kusumalatha who is ‘all perfect’ in her role as a village mother. Here the village damsel Sudu Chooti falls in love with the Kassippu-selling Sara, the scourge of the village.  No doubt, Sara carries the show wrapped in a rugged flamboyance which is nothing but raw talent. He sure is the ultimate ‘Village Hampden’ from Gray’s Elegy, a rebel against constant village tyranny. He and his Kassippu boys, Kawadiya, Suddha and Kiri Putha depict clearly to the audience the sadness of the youth of today.

The poverty that plagues their young lives with no answers visible to make a decent living is an unchangeable tragedy. They are outcasts in the village and are branded for life with no avenue for redemption.  That part of Nadagamkarayo is a lesson to us all. The underlying message is clear; It is not the core of the man that is rotting, it is the system that denies him the opportunity. Where and when is the brighter day that would give him a chance to wake up and make attempts to be a decent human being?Rasika is poor, her husband has left her and run off with another woman. Rasika is a single parent taking care of an innocent little daughter. They live in a hovel that is called home. Her father is sick, a heart patient, and the mother is unemployed.

The day that dawns for them is always a struggle.A stranger is kind to her. Gives Rasika a lift to visit her father in hospital and brings her home. She invites him for a cup of tea. He is reluctant and hesitates. Even though we are poor we can afford to give you a cup of tea,” she tells the stranger. That line says it all. It defines the soul of Sri Lanka and what is Sri Lankan.Where would we be without it?

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Midweek Review

Is Buddhism pessimistic teaching?




Buddhism is a non-theistic religion. Unlike many other religions it does not believe in a god or a creator. It is not only a religion but also a philosophy with a moral discipline. It originated in northern eastern India and was founded by Gautama Buddha. Today, Buddhism has become one of the major religions in the world, with more than 500 million adherents. Prince Siddhartha Gautama, who later became Gautama Buddha, having realised the immense human suffering looked for a way of easing their pain and suffering. He pursued strict spiritual disciplines to become an enlightened being. Having achieved enlightenment he preached a path of salvation to his followers, so that they could escape the samsaric cycle of suffering, rebirth and death. In brief, the entire teaching of the Buddha can be summed up in one stanza from the Dhammapada. “Sabba papassa akaranam kusalassa upasampada sacitta pariyodapanam etan buddhana sasanam” (not to do evil, to cultivate merit, to purify one’s mind, this is the teaching of the Buddhas}.

Criticism of Buddhism has taken many forms. Some incline to the view that Buddhism is overly pessimistic in outlook, and always takes a gloomy and melancholic view of life. While others were of the opinion that Buddhism was unscientific, idealistic and impractical. These misconceptions have prevailed from the time of the Buddha to this day. It should be stated that these beliefs are fallacious and misleading, as Buddhism is neither pessimistic or optimistic. If anything at all, it is realistic as it takes a realistic and dispassionate view of life and of the world, and teaches us to look at things as they really are. Buddhism promotes rational and empirical investigation, and invites people to put the teachings of the Buddha to test before accepting it. Buddha does not stop at analysing suffering [dukka], but proceeds to show us the practical way out of it, which is the Noble Eightfold Path.

The erroneous view that Buddhism is pessimistic has come about as a result of many scholars giving a restricted meaning to the word dukkha (Suffering) in the First Noble Truth. They have interpreted dukka (suffering) as nothing but suffering and pain. This has led many to regard Buddhism as a pessimistic religion. But viewed from a Buddhist perspective the word dukkha (suffering) has a deeper and wider connotation and dimension.

It should be noted that other than the ordinary meaning of dukkha (suffering), the word dukkha in the First Noble Truth also connotes such things as ‘’imperfection “, “impermanence” and “insubstantiality”.

Dr. Walpola Rahula Thero in his book “What the Buddha Taught” has stated thus: “First of all, Buddhism is neither pessimistic or optimistic. If anything at all, it is realistic, for it takes a realistic view of life and world. It looks at things objectively (yathabhutam). It does not falsely lull you into living in a fool’s paradise, nor does it frighten and agonise you with all kinds of imaginary fears and sins. It tells you exactly and objectively what you are and what the world around you is, and shows you the way to perfect freedom, peace, tranquility and happiness”.

Pessimism is a philosophy of suffering, while Buddhism is a philosophy of the relief of suffering. Had the Buddha in his discourse proclaimed that there was nothing but misery in life, and there was no happiness to be found anywhere, without showing us the way out of it, we would have been justified in characterising Buddhism as pessimistic.

It is true that the Buddha exposed the unhappy part of life. However, while doing so he explained the way to come out of it.

Buddhism does not countenance a melancholic, sorrowful, gloomy attitude to life, and it does not foster an attitude of hopelessness to life. The Buddha didn’t ask his adherents to contemplate only on the gloomy side of life. He did not expect them to brood over misery only, but wanted them to know that both the happy and sad sides of life are equally fleeting and impermanent.

No one can deny the reality of suffering associated with birth, decay, old age, death, association with the unpleasant and disassociation from the pleasant. In reality there is none in the whole world other than the Buddha, who can be described as a preacher of happiness or sukhavadi. A true Buddhist is the happiest of all beings.

Buddhism is a religion of salvation. It is an ethical philosophy which preaches the unsatisfactory nature of the world. Unlike other religions in the world, which talk about an almighty god on whom people depend for salvation. According to Buddhism, one is indeed one’s own lord {attahi attano natho}.

The entire teaching of the Buddha when summed up, amounts simply to insights into “impermanence” [annicca] suffering or unsatisfactoriness” [dukka] and “non-selfhood” [annitta]. These three characteristics were the aspects of teaching, which the Buddhas stressed more than any other. The three characteristics annicca, dukkha and anatta which facts of life can be realized and grasped by everyone. Even the most placid person would admit that dukka is omnipresent and universal. This truth can be easily realized by anyone who can think soberly and dispassionately. It can be seen everywhere around us. Infatuation with transient pleasures prevents us from seeing things as they truly are.

Walpola Rahula Thero in his book states the Buddha does not deny happiness in life when he says there is suffering. On the contrary he admits different forms of happiness, both material and spiritual, for laymen as well as for monks. In the Anguttara-Nikaya, one of the five original collections in Pali containing the Buddha’s discourses, there is a list of happiness (sukhani), such as the happiness of family life and the happiness of the life of a recluse, the happiness of sense pleasures and the happiness of renunciation, the happiness of attachment and the happiness of detachment, physical happiness and mental happiness etc.

Misery arises because of craving and aversion, which in turn arise from tanha. If these causes are eradicated the root cause of misery is eradicated. The Buddha said pain is followed by pleasure, and pleasure is followed by pain. In other words, pleasure and pain follow each other as day follows night.

If you observe the reality around us it is evident it consists of birth, sickness, old age, sorrow, pain, distress, decay, grief, death, lamentation, etc. Empirical observation of human existence makes it clear. Buddha laid emphasis on knowing things as they really are [yatha bhuta nana] if you take a critical look at life and all its concomitants, it is clear to everyone everything is in a state of flux. Life is a succession of fleeting moments of arising and dissolution. And every cell in the body of a being would die and be replaced by a new cell which in turn would die to be replaced by another. From conception to death the process goes on uninterrupted. Buddha’s definition of suffering is clear and empirical to anyone.

The Buddha has preached that the following come into being and pass away. Release from them is bliss—Annicca vata sankara Uppada vaya dhammino Uuppajjitva nirujjhanti Tesam vupa samo sukho).

He also preached “he who sees dukkha sees also the arising of dukkha, sees also cessation of dukkha, and sees also the path leading to the cessation of dukkha“. This does not make the life of a Buddhist melancholy or sorrowful at all.

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Midweek Review

The Runaway Rash



By Lynn Ockersz

Drained of its nutritional sap,

Thanks to a runaway rash of scams,

The fabled isle sees red on multiple fronts;

On the one hand, it faces an economic slump,

On the other, it’s being greedily milked dry,

By a political class answerable to none,

And on top of it all, people who most matter,

In revered bodies that help build the land,

Are thrusting aside the Voice of their Conscience,

And vitalizing the gangrenous growth of corruption.

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