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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2428

Ven. Aggamaha Pandita Dr. Walpola Piyananda: On Sri Lanka Independence Day

Washington, 03 February, (Asiantribune.com):

As we celebrate the 70th Anniversary of Sri Lanka’s Independence, I would like to remind you of two important common sayings in Sri Lanka. The first: Do not forget your mother who gave birth to you. The second: Do not forget your country, the place where you were born.

We should look at our country with fresh eyes to gauge what we have accomplished since our independence and what still needs to be developed in order to be able to move forward to make our island a paradise. If we do not develop our characters, we will end up like the two men in Aesop’s Fable about the donkey and his shadow.

One day a donkey and his owner were walking down the road and a traveler asked if the donkey was for hire. The owner agreed to have his donkey carry the traveler to the next village. That day it was very hot and about half way to the next village, they decided to stop and rest. The only shade they could find was under the donkey.

Both men tried to fit in the shade, but there was not enough room. The traveler said, I should sit in the shade because I hired the donkey to carry me to the next village.” The owner disagreed, saying that the donkey was only hired to carry him and that the shade belonged to the owner.

On and on they continued arguing about who the shade belonged to while the donkey wandered off. When the men finally stopped arguing, the donkey and his shade were gone.

The traveler demanded half of his money back and walked to the next village. The donkey’s owner spent hours looking for his missing donkey.

When we identify with our ethic, political or religious differences we are like the two men in the fable; we focus on the labels which divide us.

The Buddha taught in the Mahaparinibbana Sutta that for the wellbeing of a community, these seven practices were necessary:

1. Gather together for discussion frequently.

2. Meet in harmony and unity, depart in harmony and unity, and work in harmony and unity.

3. Respect and follow all laws or if a law is found to be incorrect, work to change it in a lawful manner.

4. Respect and listen to worthy leaders, both religious and secular.

5. Refrain from committing or advocating violent crimes, rape, destroying other’s property, or killing.

6. Respect, protect, and maintain the temples and shrines.

7. Preserve their personal mindfulness, so that in the future the good among the people will come to them, and the good who have already gathered will feel at ease nwith them.

While I am aware that these practices are much quoted, my question is:
“Are they truly practiced, or only given lip service?” A person would be wise, no matter what their ethnicity, political or religious affiliations to keep in mind that what is at stake.

It is well known that Sri Lankan people are very gifted and talented. Highly intelligent, we can learn how to do just about anything we set our minds to. Unfortunately the ability to work together in a harmonious manner for the good of everyone is not a priority. We have not set our minds on this; we have not learned that we can respectfully disagree and compromise; we have not learned the value and benefit of cooperation. This lack of teamwork has cost us a great deal and we must change this if we are to survive both as a people and as a nation.

Do not waste your time and energy on needless disagreements that are unproductive.

Let us be dedicated to developing ourselves for the benefit of our families, our communities and our country, Sri Lanka.

Put aside the past, because by dwelling on it, only brings more anger and unhappiness. The Buddha said holding on to anger was like swallowing a hot coal. And to dwell on past grievances is to be on a continuous diet of hot coals. One can put out this fire of anger and hatred by focusing on present opportunities to be kind and compassionate, thereby drinking the milk of human kindness to quench the thirst for revenge.

“So cultivate calm patience, and grow wiser as you age. Never act, nor speak a word when overcome by rage. Remember without fail, that when your temper flies, you’ll never do a worthy thing, a decent deed, or wise.”

- Asian Tribune -

Ven. Aggamaha Pandita Dr. Walpola Piyananda:  On Sri Lanka Independence Day
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