A translation of an essay written by Professor Sirimal Abeyratne (Colombo) appeared in the Lankadeepa of 18 August, 2021. As I have difficulties obtaining typescripts in Sinhala, I will write in English. Abeyratne dwelt on two questions. First, who benefits from ‘free education’? Second, how do you engineer a knowledge centre?
Prior to answering the first question, he forays briefly into discussing ‘what is free education’. As we have developed the usage, free education is what is free to the student or her parents. But the community as a whole, that includes you and me, pays for ‘free education’. Education is provided by the state. The state, unless you are Hegelian, is the community organised for political purposes. In order to pay for my education, the state using its agent the government, collects taxes from my parents. Instead of paying fees to a private school to educate me, my parents pay taxes to the government which pays the public schools to educate me. No matter who organises the provision of education, my parents pay for my education. However, there is a difference of critical importance of who actually pays for my schooling. When it is necessary that students or their parents pay for a child’s education, whether a child goes to school depends on whether parents can afford to pay for the child’s education. When the community pays for children’s education, the child can go to school, no matter whether his parents have the wherewithal to pay for his education. The rest of the community takes on that burden. This is fairer, far more just and far more productive for social wellbeing. Education is free in school and in university in the same sense as it is in Sri Lanka in France, Germany and Finland and may be elsewhere. In the US, primary and secondary education is free in the same sense. We are in no sense unique.
US school education
In the US, school education (K-12) is organised by School Boards, elected by voters in the School Board area. School Boards pay for education with property taxes paid by owners in the area. The Board is accountable to those that elected them, by and large, the same persons who pay property taxes: an excellent example of the principle of subsidiarity at work. Parents are commonly closely associated with the school. One of them may volunteer to substitute for a teacher absent without expectation, another may help in the library and still another may accompany a class on a day-outing. That gives a clue to the differentiating in the quality of teaching in schools. The more educated and the better informed the parents are, the better their schools. Imagine a young couple who have come out of an elite university and together earn $100,000 to $200,000 a month. They can buy an expensive house in a School Board area (e.g. Montgomery County in Virginia), where public schools are of high quality. In New York City, Brooklyn High School, Bronx High School and Manhattan Science High School, all in the public sector, have excellent reputations. The high prices of houses will keep out those with low incomes. (The State of California introduced, a few years ago, a scheme to make equalisation grants to improve the quality of education in poorer counties.) The parents will take care to provide a home environment conducive to creative activity and the growth of the children’s minds. Besides, they can buy private tuition to supplement what is done in excellent schools. Parents will take the children to see the beauty of the country, to great museums, to enjoy a play and in summer perhaps to Italy, to China, to India or to Japan. The children will learn at least one foreign language (perhaps Greek or Latin, in addition), some music, to dance, play baseball and to debate. Their teachers, counsellors and parents will be aware of what elite college admission committees look for and send the children to volunteer work in a hospital or the local library. In these and many other ways children from educated and high earning families will ‘hoard the dreams’ of children of common families. Contrast that with the experience of poorly educated and low-income families whose children may never have been out of their hometowns, never seen a museum or even seen even the ocean, if in Iowa or Idaho. That pattern, on a lower scale, is quite common in our country. I had not been to Galle till I was 15 when I was hospitalised there for three nights. (I was shocked to hear from a ward doctor in a private hospital in Colombo, who normally worked in a government hospital, that he, although owning a car, had never been to Matara or to Nuwara- Eliya. He had gone to school in Veyangoda.) Given these wide disparities in income levels, educational levels and cultural practices among families, it is utopian to imagine that there are equal opportunities for all children to do well in school and in university. We can observe these differences played out in daily lives. How many physicians or surgeons have you met in this country, whose parents were tea pluckers in the hill country? Even as early as the 5th standard scholarship examination, you can see children whose parents earn regular incomes, commonly from government, end up in the top one or two percent of high scorers. Look at sharp differences of those who score high Z scores at A’Level in Mullaitivu and in Gampaha districts. There are odd instances when an extraordinarily intelligent student may break these barriers. But they are exceptional and prove the rule. In China, the same result is achieved with the hukou system and competition at gaokao, the entrance examination to universities. The $70 billion private tuition industry, now under attack there, is stark evidence of differences in the capacity between the rich and the poor to buy ‘good education’. In Colombo, you can see the same schemes at work through property prices. Borella, Maradana, Kurunduvatta, Bambalapitiya and Kollupitiya have nests of high-quality schools which feed into the more coveted faculties in selected universities. You can observe that even those who score high at Grade V scholarship examination are from families where parents have had more education in them than others. Given even the best intentions (e.g. China), there is no way that advantages enjoyed by children from families of well-educated parents, who almost invariably earn high and stable incomes, can be denied advantages in education.
Creating knowledge centers
Let us briefly, look at the idea of creating ‘knowledge centres’ that Abeyratne wrote abut. The presence of foreign students and teachers is not always a mark of a knowledge centre. There are a large number of foreign students in both China and India, although neither is yet known as a knowledge centre. A country may have a large number of foreigners as teachers, simply because it is short of competent teachers. In Peradeniya in the 1950s, the professor of Samskrt was German, four teachers in economics (Das Gupta, Sarkar, Oliver Henry and Eiteman) were from overseas, in history two and one each in Sociology, Geography and English.) Gradually local scholars replaced them. Abeyratne, in fact, was looking for students and teachers who are attracted by leading scholars in particular disciplines, who open up new lines of inquiry that may extend the width and depth of that discipline and well-functioning labs working on frontier problems in a particular discipline. In the University of Cambridge in 1989-90, out of 10,243 undergraduates, 568 or about 5% were overseas students and of 2,975 postgraduate students 1,022 or about a third from overseas. In the History Faculty in the same year, out of 60 postgraduate students admitted, 33 or more than a half were from overseas. The reputation of good scholars matters much.
Importance of libraries
The importance of libraries, especially for undergraduates has diminished somewhat with computer technology, but not entirely. For research students a great library is an essential asset. A reputation for good research is earned with publications in high quality journals and books that explore new areas or develop new insights into existing problems. That in turn implies that there are good publishing houses. University Presses are essential ingredients for ‘knowledge centres’. The Cambridge University Press comes from 1534 CE and Oxford UP from 1536. There is not a single good publishing house in our country. Good research comes out of universities with strong leaders in certain disciplines. This was most clearly evident in German universities from about 1850 to the disaster that was Hitler. This practice of powerful professors who assembled a number of researchers started in mid-nineteenth century Germany, soon spread to Britain and the US. In US, the outstanding example is Johns Hopkins in Baltimore. The expulsion of Jewish university teachers and researchers in the 1930s from Germany by Hitler and their dispersal in Britain and the US helped greatly to promote research in many disciplines in those countries: mathematics, physics, linguistics and sociology. Amsterdam, Utrecht and London had had great publishing houses from the 17th century, when dissenters of various kinds fled their home cities in search of welcoming havens: e.g. Benedictus Spinoza from Madrid, John Locke and James Mill from London.
Instance of our failure
An instance where we failed to make use of strong leaders in anthropology to establish a centre for the study of societies in South Asia was in Peradeniya in the 1950s. The leaders were Ralph Peiris, Stanley Tambiah, Gananath Obeysekera, Kitsiri Malalgoda and H. L. Seneviratne, all distinguished anthropologists. A younger scholar Sarath Amunugama joined the Civil Service. In addition, there were Michael Roberts in History and K. N. O. Dharmadasa in Sinhala, both of whom had made contributions to anthropology. They all, except KNO, dispersed themselves to more welcome homes in the US, New Zealand and Australia. Some distinguished scientists dispersed to Britain, the US, Canada and Hong Kong. There is a centripetal force at work here, without destroying which, it is unlikely that we will develop a knowledge centre in our country.
I would rather emphasise the development of good undergraduate schools from which may grow graduate schools, as was emanant in the late 1950s in the University of Ceylon but was aborted by ill-informed judgement on the development of higher education. The present ill-founded emphasis on ‘discipline’ in universities would welcome a worse disaster. The memory of Hitler destroying German universities 1930s has not been erased from our memories.
(This is the last of three notes I wrote on university matters in August, during the worst days of the epidemic in our country. It helped me to keep my mind off impending horrors. Then, our son came home spreading sunshine for a brief two weeks.)
Politicos junketing while ordinaries are sinking in COL mire
There was a pall of silence over who accompanied our President to the Big Apple for the Big Meeting of the United Nations. Hence our curiosity was roused, minds scratched around for news. Cassandra WhatsApped a good friend of hers now living in California and asked her whether she knew who accompanied our Prez.
We thought in these hard times only the very essential and relevant to the occasion VIPs would be taken along: a lean contingent would be Prez Wckremesinghe’s orders. Cassandra hurried to her computer and googled. Plenty on President Ranil Wickremasinghe’s address to the UN General Assembly on 21 Sept., which was on the theme, “Rebuilding trust and reigniting solidarity and its relevance to Sri Lanka’s recent challenges.” Reading many articles Cass gathered that Prez RW had dealt with the country’s economic and other travails; global geopolitical landscape; climate action taken and to be taken; carbon reduction et al in his address at UNGA.
It was stated in one article that the Prez was accompanied by Minister of Foreign Affairs Ali Sabry, Secretary to the President E M S B Ekanayake, Foreign Secretary Aruni Wijewardena and other senior officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. So, she rested her mind that no extraneous hangers-on had accompanied the Prez.
Then came a newspaper write up that MPs Rohitha Abeygunewardena and Mahindananda Aluthgamage were in the contingent – stalwarts of the SLPP. What use were they in the context of the topics on which the Prez made his UN address? Were they experts on any issues that would have been discussed at side meetings? Experts on economics, geopolitical matters, climate change, balance of world power? NO! It seemed to be a pure (or rather impure) peace-making gesture and to keep quiet two demanders for Cabinet positions.
Sops to Cerberus in the way of a plane ride to and from, and a stay in one of the more expensive hotels in the Big Apple? Can you believe that the MPs and two die-hard Pohottu MPs and previous ministers want a joy ride and will do anything to get one? Also, that we poor Sri Lankans, suffering such slings and arrows of bad fortune in a bankrupt country with soaring prices to be paid for even the water we drink, food we so niggardly eat and electricity we so sparingly use have paid for these two to junket? We have to fork out taxes, even those with nothing to show as assets. And where does a huge amount of this collected money go? To pay for pleasure junkets for those we feel have no right to go to the UN General Assembly.
When Mahinda Rajapaksa was the President, he would take a huge group of persons who in the majority were completely redundant and of no use at all to these UN General Assembly annual gatherings. A worker in the UN in New York commented that most of those who went along dispersed soon after they had landed, in a fleet of cars hired for the visit, making a vehicle-hiring Sri Lankan in the US rich. Most of them were not even present when the Sri Lankan president made his address.
At least, they could have helped to reduce the mass of empty seats in the UN Assembly hall. Thus, it was surmised that he was repaying his catchers for being loyal to him – at our expense. No dissent, whether loud or soft, then. No one dared question why or wherefores. No one wanted to be taken on a white van ride; or worse, taken on the final journey. Cassandra must add here that a couple of brave women journos did speak up.
And to think there was a replay of this junketing in 2023, though reduced, under a Prez who understands well the plight the country is in and the need to save every rupee of government money. However, junketing was offered at the country’s expense. And by order of Prez RW. The two mentioned are very rich politicians.
Cassandra experienced a happening that showed her how wary people are now, and untrusting. It is a natural outcome of the type of person the Sri Lankan is thought to be in these much-changed times. Do you remember when even in Middle East airports the Sri Lankan passport was treated with utter disdain and suspicion? Cass recalls that en route to Britain she had her passport and other Sri Lankan travellers’ passports confiscated on entry to the airport in Dubai and handed back only when the plane was re-boarding. She squirmed with embarrassment and resentment, but realised it was all because Sri Lankans had behaved shamefully dishonest and thus all Sri Lankans were branded untrustworthy.
Cass bought some tickets to enjoy a singing and dancing of Julius Caesar. The thousands she gave the young girl were found to be short. Saying she would get the balance from her driver, she instinctively took the tickets and was about to step out when she noticed the consternation of the box office girl. Suspicion, she realised, that she would not return. Cass apologised, placed the tickets on the counter, went out to get the Rs 500 needed and then, retrieving her tickets, commented it was so sad that the young one could not trust this old dame. She assured her it was no fault of hers; she was doing her duty, but people nowadays had killed the trust that was a given in years gone by. Even an absolutely honest and honourable person, grey-haired maybe and dignified, is treated with suspicion. What a sad state of affairs! But we ourselves are to blame since cheating and dishonesty are strong features of the present-day islanders of the Pearl of the Indian Ocean.
Use heart, know heart
By Dr Mohan Jayatilake Consultant Cardiologist
Every year on the 29th of September, World Heart day is observed to raise awareness about cardiovascular disease (CVD), which is heart diseases and strokes. As heart diseases are a leading cause of death in the world people must be educated about them and the timely prevention to achieve this goal. World Heart day commenced in 1999 through the joint efforts of World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Heart Federation (WHF).
The theme of the World Heart Day 2023 is “Use Heart, Know Heart” emphasizing the importance of healthcare worldwide. This year’s campaign focuses on the essential step of knowing your heart first. The World Heart Federation has created this day to raise awareness about cardiovascular diseases.
The key message of World Heart Day this year aims to encourage people to look after themselves, others and nature as well. Putting a coordinated effort to improve ones’ own lifestyle and diet and motivating others to do the same can lead to a reduced number of CVD cases.
Heart diseases and strokes are the worlds’ leading cause of death claiming 17.9 million lives every year. According to WHO statistics 82% of deaths coming in from low and middle income countries are due to lack of resources.
Since a healthy heart is the gateway to a healthy life it is important to ensure the health of your heart. With the growing number of heart patients worldwide it has become a cause of concern since of late.The day is observed by organising events worldwide to make people aware about the warning signs of heart disease so that people can take steps accordingly to avoid this disease.
Together with members of WHF spread the news that at least 80% of premature deaths from heart disease and strokes could be avoided if main risk factors such as heavy smoking, unhealthy diet, reduced physical activity (sedentary lifestyle), stressful lifestyle, psychological issues, hypertension, diabetic and heavy alcoholism are controlled. Being obese and overweight, BMI (Body Mass Index) more than 25, is found to be one of the main risk factors that may harm your heart. Air pollution also can lead to coronary artery disease and stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and lung cancer as short term and long term effects.
Fortunately now we have almost come out of COVID 19 pandemic which caused more vulnerable patients having severe cardiovascular events.
Events of the World Heart Day 2023
There are numerous events at the national and international level promoted by WHF. They disseminate information and hold discussions of various heart ailments at different platforms. Some of them like posters, podcasts and forums are quite popular. The day is marked by providing free fitness check-ups, fundraises, walks, runs, concerts and sporting events. All such events encourage people to stay active and be aware of their health.
Global leaders recognise the urgency to give priority to prevention and control of heart diseases and other non-communicable diseases (NCD).Which include cancer, diabetic, and chronic lung diseases.
How to contribute to observance of the event on World Heart Day
By undergoing heart health check at a center near you.
By managing your weight and keeping BMI index under control with less than 25.
By trying to stay active through different physical activities
By attending seminars to learn about different life saving activities like CPR
By attending fitness lectures and lessons of healthy living
According to this year theme also, use your heart for the betterment of others’ heart, by taking following steps to reduce the burden of heart disease. Stop smoking – Cigarette smokers are 2 to 4 times more prone to get heart diseases and strokes than non-smokers. Passive smoking inside the house will also harm your own heart and your family health, causing cardiovascular disease.
Avoid alcohol – Stressful conditions in life can lead to use of alcohol and smoking. Meditation, yoga, music or involvement with any other aesthetic will help to minimize stress and to move away from alcohol.
Healthy diet at home
Limit saturated fats and trans fats
Limit salt and sugar intake
Consume plenty of fruits and vegetables
Unhealthy diet is one of the main causes of obesity, diabetic and cardiovascular diseases. Rapid urbanisation, changing lifestyle and easy access of fast food have made the dietary pattern unhealthy.
Animal products mainly beef, pork and poultry with skin, mutton, lard, butter, cheese carry lot of saturated fats. Avoid having trans fats which are in baked, processed and fried food items, certain margarines and spreads. Take lean meats, poultry without skin, low fat dairy products, fish and nuts with vegetable oil in moderation.
Adults should do at least 150 minutes of moderately intensive physical activity or at least 75 minutes of high intensive physical activity per week. Families should limit the amount of time spent in front of TV or continuous reading to less than 2 hours a day in a seated position. Exercises should be a regular part of life.
World is now facing visible epidemic of obesity. It affects your cardiovascular health and also affect your wellbeing.To lose weight, do regular exercises, have healthy diet, cut down starch and sugar and alcohol. Have plenty of fruits and vegetables.
Psychological health can affect your cardio vascular health. Regular exercise and practice relaxation, reading, being with friends and family, adequate sleep, various hobbies maintain the positive attitude towards stress free life.
Know your numbers
Visit your doctor or health care professional, check your blood pressure regularly and take steps to control it and take regular medication.Know your cholesterol- high cholesterol is another factor for cardiovascular disease. Check regularly and control with dietary measures and medication. Know your blood sugar- Diabetic is another major factor for cardiovascular disease. Diet control, medication and professional advice required to control it.
Know your warning signs
To know the symptoms of CVD will help your survival because earlier the treatment better the chances of survival. Chest pain of tightening or burning in nature with pain radiating down the upper limbs or to the neck and jaw or back, associated with sweating and nausea are your warning signs.
Sudden weakness of limbs, slurring of speech, deviation of mouth, double vision could be due to a stroke. Knowing these symptoms and seeking urgent medical attention allow you to get treatment early to prevent life threatening complications.
Take your medicine regularly and correctly
If you are already diagnosed with heart disease or with stroke, taking your medication regularly will reduce another similar episode in future.
Breast feeding and lifelong health
Breast feeding is the best form of nutrition for newborn and infants according to WHO. Increasing public awareness is important. Infants who are breastfed tend to have lower cholesterol and blood pressure as well as lower rates of obesity.
Both undernourished and over nourished early in life can increase the risk of developing cardio vascular diseases. Maternal obesity during pregnancy has been associated with obesity in children which also increase the cardiovascular disease risk.
As always our emphasis will be on improving heart health across all nations in adult male and female as well as children. By adopting lifestyle changes, people all over the world can have longer and better lives through the prevention and control of heart disease and stroke. This was highlighted on this most important day to persuade people on maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Pride from Buddhist perspective
By Dr. Justice Chandradasa Nanayakkara
In Buddhism, the word mana (Pali) connotes the idea of pride, arrogance, vanity, or conceit, etc. Although these words are used synonymously and interchangeably, subtle differences in meaning are to be found between them. Pride is defined as an inflated state of mind arising out of such things as accomplishments, wealth, knowledge, fame, etc. People tend to evaluate their abilities, qualities, and other achievements by comparing them with those of others. This attitude of comparing one’s achievements and other characteristics tends to evoke pride in people.
According to Buddhism, these comparisons with others can take one of three forms. (a) thinking I am superior to others (seyya mana) (b) thinking I am equal or as good as others. (sadisa mana) : (c).thinking I am inferior to others (hina mana). Pride is an extremely powerful latent tendency that is difficult to overcome and can exist even in those who have attained all the first three stages of enlightenment that is sotapanna, anagami, and sakadagami. It is only on attaining Arahatship that the last vestige of the fetter of pride (mana samyojana) can be eliminated.
When pride arises in a person he sees others having lower qualities, less possession, less fame, and accomplishments, etc. Pride can propel a person to dizzying heights, or tear him apart. It is one of the ten unwholesome mental factors that shackles a person to samsara and an endless cycle of suffering (vissudimagga).
Pride is so deceptive that people are often oblivious to it. It can inconspicuously and insidiously seep into our thinking until we are completely absorbed in it ourselves. As an extremely latent tendency pride lies dormant until it comes in contact with the five sense objects. Pride as an unwholesome emotion is considered an obstacle to spiritual growth in every religion and it is something that Buddhists should strive to avoid.
Pride stems from attachment which is one of the greatest sources of suffering. Pride pervades all orders of society from the highest to the lowest. Prideful people’s yearning for validation and recognition is so pronounced in our society that they try to get a sense of self-worth by promoting themselves on social media platforms and posting their pictures, awards, and other accomplishments. Their main objective is to boost their egocentrism and show the world that others cannot measure up to their achievements. Prideful people generally do not acknowledge pride in themselves but are quick to recognise and condemn pride in others.
Pride clouds the mind and manifests in unwholesome thoughts and actions. According to Dhammapada. “we are the result of what we have thought. It is founded on our thoughts. It is made up of our thoughts. If one speaks or acts with an evil thought, pain follows one, as the wheel follows the foot of the ox that draws the wagon”.
In Buddhism pride has been compared to a fragile bamboo bridge. (Yo manam udabbadhi asesam nalasetum va sudubbalam mahogho so bhikku jahati or aparam urago jinnam iva tacam puranam). He entirely blots out conceit as the flood demolishes a fragile bamboo bridge. – such man gives up the here and the beyond, just as a serpent sheds its worn-out skin. Human pride is just as fragile and shaky. Pride may easily be upset by a whiff of public opinion, hurt by any fool’s snide remark, or hurled down deep by defeat, failure, or misfortune. (nyanaponika)
No human demeanor is more open to contempt and criticism than pride. Pride arises from an egocentric evaluation of oneself in relation to others. Whenever pride arises in a person it deludes his mind and fails to see things as they truly are.
Beneath every manifestation of pride lies self-esteem. It is the conviction of superiority over others. It is the feeling that we are what they are not, or that we can do what others can’t do. Success in early childhood may sow the seeds of it. The praise of relatives fosters it. Once planted, it grows. (Brian Fawcett). Over time, you develop the habit of comparing yourself with others. But it is important to remember that no human being deserves any more or less respect than another regardless of title, wealth, fame, etc.
Pride can also serve a positive, productive purpose, but it has a dark destructive side too. There is nothing wrong with feeling satisfaction when a person achieves some goal in life such as being successful at a competitive exam, when promoted to a higher echelon in one’s field of work, or when he is praised for some work or mental quality. In this instance, pride is considered wholesome as it is aligned with his own merits.
Praise within limits, from a knowledgeable person can be stimulating and encouraging as it motivates him to a higher level, but if it stimulates his ego and allows his accomplishments to define who he is, it is something to be deplored. In these situations, claiming pride beyond what is deserved can easily develop into arrogance or becoming self-centered. Even if one were to achieve success in some field of activity there is no reason whatsoever to feel conceited and arrogant. Moreover, pride in a positive sense helps a person to behave in moral, socially appropriate ways in their social interactions. However, it is important to bear in mind that success in a given field is likely to breed pride and arrogance, and failure to do so may breed pessimism and depression.
They say pride goes before destruction. Pride and arrogance are obvious in many political leaders and people in leadership positions. Proud leaders become immune to their deficiencies and weaknesses. They present themselves as flawless and impeccable. When people in leadership positions are consumed excessively by pride widespread suffering could ensue. Pride in a leader can also be the cause of misery in a nation.
Pride in a general sense relates more to our opinion of ourselves on the other hand, vanity to what we would have others think of us. Vanity is self-absorption in one’s appearance, qualities, accomplishments, etc. is sometimes referred to as narcissism. This infatuation based on attachment to one’s self-image is identified as Mada (Sanskrit) in Mahayana teaching.
Self-absorbed people believe that their looks and appearance will remain the same and carry them through life. Today, people particularly women who are steeped in vanity spend an enormous amount of money on grooming products such as anti-aging creams, lotions, etc., to enhance their beauty. They also resort to other procedures such as facelifts and plastic surgery to counteract their age.
Vanity is detrimental not just to the person displaying it, but also to those around them. It is considered a hindrance for both Buddhists and people who belong to other religions, as it is decried by every religion. Vanity is a delusion that compromises sanity. For a person caught up in vanity, throwing off the chains of attachment would be difficult.
Buddhism teaches that the world and everything in it are illusory and impermanent, even the very looks and appearance over which people obsess are subject to the same law of impermanence and eventually wither and fade. It takes persons with tremendous abilities to do away with vanity when it is ingrained in them. Self-absorbed people tend to pay attention to other people’s shortcomings and weaknesses rather than their own. They usually fail to notice how much their actions hurt the people around them.
An antidote to pride is humility or modesty which is a forgotten quality of the contemporary world. Today, the virtues of modesty are becoming lost in our world, as immodesty is becoming widespread. At the same time, moral purity and values are on the decline. People are losing sight of the importance of modesty and the significance it should hold in their lives. A modest person does not boast of his own merits or achievements. He would rather feel embarrassed if anyone eulogizes him in his presence never exalt himself and becomes prideful when others compliment him.
Most people associate humility with a lack of self-esteem and a lack of confidence in one’s abilities. Humility is a quality found in a wise person with many qualities. They say when the tree is loaded with fruit its branch bends towards the ground. Similarly, a modest person is always attentive to people and never poses as an important person. By being humble we do not denigrate ourselves and jettison our self-esteem. As a legendary British writer, C.S. Lewis aptly says “True humility is not thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less”.
In Mahayana Buddhism humility is one of the precepts. it is a wholesome state of mind in which we focus on our positive qualities and accomplishments to justify a sense of superiority and not look down on others. Humility forbids ascribing to ourselves greater worth than we possess.
Pride can affect even people who lead a spiritual and religious life. Any pride that arises in connection with the practice of Dhamma is also deplored in buddhism. It is called spiritual pride.
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