Vesak Full Moon Poya day is an important day for Buddhists world over it was on this two thousand six hundred and eight years ago was born prince Siddhartha, who was later to attain Buddhahood enabling him to direct the universe to the path of emancipation. Buddha told his followers “Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.” But since independence the Sri Lankan Buddhist rulers have failed to follow the teachings of Gautama Buddha and the nation lost its Paradise status, yet continue to celebrate Vesak Poya on this thrice-blessed day marking the birth, enlightenment and death of Gautama the Buddha.
For Lord Buddha, the enlightened human being gave different aspects of the teaching for practicing Buddhists, based upon their individual inclinations and capabilities; today it refers not only to the sayings of the Buddha, but also to the later traditions of interpretation and addition that the various schools of Buddhism have developed to help explain and to expand upon the Buddha’s teachings. The Dharma includes discourses on the fundamental principles such as the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path; is one of the Three Jewels of Buddhism in which practitioners seek refuge for happiness. The Three Jewels of Buddhism are the Buddha, meaning the mind’s perfection of enlightenment, the Dharma, meaning the teachings and the methods of the Buddha, and the monastic community Sangha, who provide guidance and support to followers of the Buddha.
The Sangha has an important role to play in Sri Lanka where the majority are Buddhists; they should settle for an interdependent relationship exercising spiritual authority and leave the rulers mind the state. For this desired equilibrium was lost when the elite politicians to erase their inconvenient past of socialising with the Colonial rulers and to legitimize their rule built a close association with the Sangha that resulted in them neglecting the followers of other faiths. That explains how in post-independence years particularly after the 1956 political transformation, that has today made the monastic order to gesture to the Unity Government that inclusive governance was subject to boundaries that they will determine. The Sangha that is integral to Buddhists and the guarded clerics continue to spin yarns and conniving politicians willingly spread them to the present day; clearly demonstrated when a minister clings on to the same belief justified the cost of the central highway leading to the Dalada Maligawa in Kandy.
It is vital for Sri Lanka’s Buddhists to reflect deeply on some important dimensions of the Buddha Dhamma specially the issues connected to the situation in the country today. For during his entire mission, which influenced hundreds of millions of people all over the world more than 2500 years after him, the Buddha lived a simple and humble life. Unfortunately political and other leaders who loudly and proudly proclaim Buddhism are known today to be seeking personal gain or glory, perks or privileges and are stuck in the vice, which is the desire to accumulate more and more by way of wealth, property and possessions, power and popularity. As it is believed that the rich, who are a twenty per cent of the population own as much as eighty per cent of the wealth and the government must bridge the gap between the rich and the poor. No better way than for the political, social, religious and other sphere leaders to live in a simple and humble way, stop wasteful expenditure or indulging in luxuries and extravagance. When they live in a simple and humble way the country will be able to save more and thereby share more with millions of people known to be caught in a poverty trap set up by a selfish rich. Buddha said may all beings be happy, for that people must live and work in an all-inclusive way that makes all happy, including those of other faiths. Thus instead of focusing on building on the wealth and power they got the rulers need to reflect on and more importantly live in the way the Buddha wanted people to so that it will be a happy and blessed Vesak for all to make Sri Lanka wonder of Asia.