On Having no Head…

Defaced Buddha Statue – Hilda Jayewardenaramaya Buddhist Temple

Vandalized Buddhist statue prompts police investigation

In late 2015, the Canadian Government voted AGAINST supporting a United Nations (UN) Resolution calling for the ‘banning’ of the glorification of neo-Nazism. This vote was triggered by the 2014 neo-/Nazi ‘Maidan’ uprising in Western Ukraine, which unleashed a fascistic violence across the region, using images of Adolf Hitler and Nazi German swastikas as justification. This ‘Maidan’ movement has been, and remains supported by the USA, UK and EU due to the fact it is ‘anti-Russian’. In 2015, and with virtually no opposition from the its populace, the Canadian Government sided with the neo-Nazi ‘Maidan’ regime. To the eternal shame of Canada, this move is now a matter of permanent Public Record.

Recently, in Ottawa, Canada, the media has reported that a large, ceramic statue of the Buddha (sat in cross-legged, seated meditation) has been vandalised, with its head being smashed by an iron bar. This statue was made in Sri Lanka and only recently shipped to the Hilda Jayewardenaramaya (Theravada) Buddhist Temple. My attention was drawn to this story yesterday, by a post on social media purportedly made by one of the monks residing at this temple. I was immediately struck by the very ‘non-Buddhist’ sense of ‘victimhood’ voiced by this (Asian) member of the ordained Sangha, and how he encouraged the (predominantly ‘Western’)  laity to respond to this matter with an emotionally ‘disturbed’ mind-set. Having visited Sri Lanka some years ago and trained for a short time at the Ganga Ramaya Temple in Beruwela (under Mangalo Thera), I can state without a shadow of a doubt, that this approach is wrong, and is considered ‘aDhammic’ in nature.  Why is this the case?

The Buddha stated that the Dhamma – or his collected sayings – is the most important aspect of his teaching, which both monastics and laity alike must follow. This involves at all time following a path of psychological and physical discipline which permanently ‘checks’ and ‘uproots’ greed hatred and delusion from manifesting in word, deed and thought. Furthermore, this state of equipoise is achieved through generating ‘non-attachment’ to thought and physical objects. Although it is legally wrong to vandalise the property of others according to the secular legal systems of the West, it is equally ‘illegal’ from a Buddhist and Dhammic perspective to react to ANY circumstance with a mind clouded by greed, hatred and delusion. Although the laity must follow this injunction to the best of their ability, it is absolutely essential that EVERY Buddhist monastic puts this teaching into practice with no deviation whatsoever. This maybe considered double so in importance for the Theravada Sangha, which lives a life ‘begging’ everything it needs to survive from the laity.

As the Theravada laity occupies a subordinate position to the Ordained Sangha, the monks (and nuns) are responsible for conveying the Dhamma to them in a truthful and pristine manner. Turning a Buddha statue into a type of ‘god’ for which the laity must be ’emotionally’ attached is not inaccordance with the Buddha’s teachings. Furthermore, the monk(s) responsible for this are breaking the vows they have taken when they pledged to follow the Vinaya Discipline. Such monks should confess their short-comings and accept the established punishment at the next meeting of the Sangha (held twice monthly). This could involve ‘expulsion’ from the Order if the case is severe enough in nature. This matters as the lay people responding to the previously discussed post on social media, were making highly inappropriate comments for Buddhists, which ranged from immature sentimentalism, emotional attachment, self-righteous indignation, anger, hate, revenge and even racism (aimed at Muslims). None of these comments made by Canadians were ‘corrected’ by the monk that made the original post. In all likelihood, this crime looks opportunistic in nature and probably carried-out on the spur of the moment by a misled individual. It has even been pointed-out to me that a disgruntled ‘Buddhist’ might well be responsible, as it was the head of the Buddha (considered sacred by Buddhists) which was destroyed. Many people who are not ethnic Buddhists, do not know this type of information. Statues can be replaced and repaired – they are only material objects.

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