Dr. Daya Hewapathirane
Buddhists experienced untold persecution and discrimination from non-Buddhists during the history of Buddhism. Buddhists have suffered unwarranted beating, torture, arrest, and execution. In addition their places of worship and property in general were often destroyed or confiscated by non-Buddhists. Catholics, Christians and Muslims were responsible for such persecution and destruction.
Deaths caused by Christianity alone, up to 1945 or roughly the end of the World War II, amount to more than 251 million. (Reference: Deceptions and Myths in the Bible by Lloyd M. Graham, Citadel Press, 1997). Countless millions were killed in religious wars initiated by Catholics during 1400 years of European “dark Ages” - 380 to 1812 CE. During the Crusades of 1095 to 1291 CE. about 7 million people were killed for Christian religious reasons. One million were killed in the first crusade alone.
More were killed in recent years in religious wars and genocides in Buddhist Vietnam and elsewhere. From mid 1950’s onwards, Catholic terror in Buddhist Vietnam led to the killing of about a million people. Thousands of Buddhist protesters and monks were imprisoned in “detention camps” by the fanatic Catholic dictator Ngo Dinh Diem. Over 500, 000 were incarcerated and 80,000 were executed. Out of protest, Buddhist teachers – male and female and monks, poured petrol over them and burned themselves to death.
MUSLIM VIOLENCE AGAINST BUDDHISTS
Muslim incursions of Central Asia began in the 7th century with ruthless conversion of people to Islam. Many were killed in the process which continued until about the 14th century with the involvement of Muslims of Islam faith such as Alauddin who captured Afghanistan, Genghis Khan who later invaded Afghanistan and devastated every town murdering many thousands of Buddhists. In 1504, Babur of Islam faith, conquered Kabul, Herat and Kandahar and proceeded to Delhi and Agra and founded the Mogul Empire in 1525. This was a period when large scale killing in the name of Islam. Most people killed were Buddhists.
Besides Afghanistan, all countries/regions associated with the Silk Road at this time were associated with flourishing Buddhist communities – Kashmir, Indus valley, present day Pakistan or Ghandara, and Bangladesh. In the late 12 century, Muslim invaders slaughtered thousands of Buddhists including monks in places such as Bihar, India. The Buddhist University of Nalanda with its great library was completely destroyed by Muslims. Countless ancient Buddhist monuments were defaced or destroyed, virtually erasing the Buddhist faith from India.In addition, Indonesia and Malaysia were Buddhist countries. With Muslim invasions most of the Buddhists in these places were either killed or converted to Islam. Most of the places of Buddhist worship were destroyed in the process. More recently in 2001, in the name of Islam, the Taliban destroyed the world renowned monumental Bamiyan Buddha statues built in the 6th century, citing that these were ‘idols’ which are forbidden under Sharia law in Islam.
Disrespect, disregard and sheer indifference towards people of other religions, is a common character trait of many Muslims, wherever in the world they live. These negative attitudes have made them resort to crude forms of violence against people and property of other faiths, especially Buddhists. This is well evident today not only in places like Bangladesh and Southern Thailand, but also in our own motherland.
Muslims often are concerned only of themselves, their religion and their community. This is a reason why they cannot assimilate with mainstream communities in countries where they live. It was not long ago that Islamic fundamentalists and armed Muslim extremists were inciting violence against legitimate Buddhist activities in the East in the Pottuvil region. Muslims were encroaching upon and forcibly taking land that rightfully belongs to Buddhist temples on the southeast coast. They were demolishing some significant Buddhist archeological sites. The Sri Lanka Muslims Congress and several Islamic groups of our country had the audacity to oppose the construction of Buddha’s statues on the island’s southeast coastal areas which contain Buddhist historic monuments and important archeological remains as part of the nation’s cultural wealth.
INTOLERANCE IN MONOTHEISM
In contemporary times we witness a disastrous hardening of two of the world's major religions - Islam and Christianity, into rigid fundamentalism, in which each aggressively proclaims its beliefs, zealously proselytizes, and even takes up arms against its rivals. A fundamentalist and intolerant stance, taken by any religion, is offensive to followers of other faiths and to those of no faith at all. Overzealous attempts at conversion disturb peaceful-coexistence.
Intolerance is essential only to monotheism. An only God is by nature a jealous God who will not allow another to live. When a religion sees its scripture as revealed and divinely inspired, it finds a basis for exclusivity and intolerance. Justification for intolerance is provided by the very nature of a Supreme Being who is described as a jealous and angry being, who punishes those who defy Him with eternal damnation. There are stories in the Bible which describe God as committing genocide on unbelievers with violence toward men, women, children, and even the unborn. The Koran says: "Slay unbelievers wherever you find them, and drive them out of the places they drove you from . . . Fight them until idolatry is no more and God's religion is supreme."
THE BUDDHIST APPROACH OF NON-AGGRESSION
Buddhism does not accept an omnipotent God, a Creator, nor any revealed scripture. Because faith in God or a savior is not an issue for Buddhists, there is no reason for Buddhists to judge others, to condemn them for their beliefs, or to feel compelled to convert them.
Fanaticism and brutality and unethical and confrontational approaches adopted by the Catholic, Christian and Islam religious establishments, often in the past and even today, to promote their religious beliefs provide a stark contrast to the approach in Buddhism. The Buddha Dhamma is described as 'ehipassiko', inviting one to come and see for himself. There is no concept of coercion or proselytization in Buddhism. The Buddha taught the importance of patience, tolerance, and non-aggression, providing a splendid ideal of tolerance for Buddhists to follow. There is not a single occasion in the Buddhist scriptures of the Buddha being less than compassionate, not only to those who accepted his teachings but also to the followers of all faiths, not only to the good but also to the wicked, not only to humans but also to animals and to all living beings. In striking contrast to the spread of other world religions, which are replete with unethical and forcible conversions and sectarian strife, the history of Buddhism is remarkable for the complete absence of bloodshed in the name of the teacher.
The history of Buddhists of Sri Lanka during the four hundred years of foreign Catholic-Christian rule prior to the country’s political independence is nothing but a long and poignant chronicle of Buddhist tolerance in the face of direct and indirect oppression and injustice. Atrocities committed against Buddhists by Catholics and Christians in Sri Lanka during the 16th to 20th century period in particular, were extensive and unprecedented. The undertaking to maintain the Buddhist religion given in 1815 by the Christian British was grossly betrayed. Who but the Buddhists tolerated the rank injustice of Catholic Portuguese rulers who used the revenue from one of the most sacred places of Buddhist worship, the Dalada Maligawa, to pay for the construction of St. Paul's Cathedral right in front of the Maligawa on land that belonged to the Maligawa. Who but the Buddhists tolerated the rank injustice of the Christian British in destroying a magnificent Buddhist Vihara in Kotte to erect in its stead a Christian School? Who but the Buddhists tolerated the extortion from them of four hundred pounds a year for the building of Christian Churches?
MUSLIMS AND CATHOLICS ARE INDEBTED TO BUDDHISTS
It would be ungrateful on the part of Sri Lankan Muslims, if they overlook the fact that Buddhists gave them shelter and protected them when the Portuguese Catholics and Dutch Christians subjected them to untold harassment by ousting them from their places of living and livelihood, preventing them from pursuing their commercial activities in our country. Muslims sought refuge among the Sinhala Buddhists and Buddhist kings such as Senerat and Rajasinghe-II, provided them with necessary protection. Most were settled in the Eastern coastal regions which provided them with opportunities to establish themselves in secure places among the Buddhist community living in these areas at the time. Some were settled among the Sinhala communities in the central hill country. It is ironical that when the Roman Catholics were ill-treated by the Christian Dutch, they sought refuge among the Buddhists who gave them shelter amongst them. Right throughout the Catholic- Christian colonial period of our country, it was the Buddhists who showed compassion towards the oppressed, it was the Buddhists who tolerated the dreadful Catholic-Christian injustices and wretchedness.
BRITISH FAVOUR CHRISTIANS OVER BUDDHISTS
It is reported that in the 16" century, the Catholic Church came to Sri Lanka with sword in one hand and the bible in the other. “They and their lay collaborators under the Pope's Treaty of Tordesallas had been given license to plunder, destroy buildings, rape and kill. That was Christianity old style as they rampaged destroying an entire civilization. Their Protestant successors, the Dutch drove these marauders away. But Sri Lankans, who at the time were almost exclusively Buddhists, gave Christians sustenance in their country, and allowed them freedom to practice their religion. Their other Protestant successors, the British, talking with double tongue favoured Christians and Christianity over Buddhists and Buddhism, whom under the 1815 treaty they promised to protect. They created a new collaborator Christian class drawn from spies and those who betrayed the country. They rewarded them with lands stolen from the people and the Buddhist temples.
SPIRIT OF TOLERANCE AND ACCOMMODATION OF OTHERS
History of our country reveals vividly that this spirit of tolerance and accommodation of others irrespective of their religious or other differences has been a common distinguishing characteristic of Sinhala Buddhists of this country from very early times. Judging from the fanaticism and confrontational attitudes and actions of the Catholic Church, the Evangelists and Muslims in recent decades, it appears that this spirit of tolerance and accommodation on the part of Buddhists is not appreciated by them. It is being exploited as a weakness to pursue their self interests of promoting their religions and ways of life at the expense of Buddhism, Buddhist culture and Buddhist way of life. In some areas of our country, historic Buddhist monuments and sites have been demolished by Muslim fanatics.
UNHOLY ALLIANCE BETWEEN CHURCHES
In Sri Lanka, there is competition and conflicts among the many different churches established by different denominations like the Catholic, Anglican Wesleyan, Baptist, Salvation Army and Methodist churches and the later entries to this island known as Evangelical churches of Assemblies of God, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Seventh Day Adventists, Mormons, Apostle church, Calvary church, Church of Prayer, Divine Love Church, East Lanka Evangelical Church, Four Square Church, Gethsemane Church, Every Home Crusade and so on. Today there are over thirty seven Christian sects in Sri Lanka.
The Evangelical Christians believe they hold a divine mandate, their "Great Commission" from God, to spread their creed. But it is also a matter of policy as far as the Catholic Church is concerned. Pope John Paul II, during his 1998 visit to India, stated categorically that the "Christianization" of Asia is an absolute priority" for the Catholic Church in the new millennium.
The present Christian regrouping in Sri Lanka is an unholy alliance between Catholics, Anglican Protestants and fundamental Christians from the USA. The Christian resistance to the "Anti-conversion" Bills is carefully stage-managed with enormous amount of money being spent. Foreign funded Christian Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO) and arc being mobilized.
It should be emphasized that Christianity in whatever form did not spread in this island through liberalism, that the Christian churches now expect the Buddhists to adopt. On the contrary, the Christian faith came to stay because the Buddhist rulers accommodated them not through ignorance but through their magnanimity and tolerance, a fact now forgotten.
COMMON AGENDA OF ALL CHURCHES
It is no secret that all the world churches- most important of them being the Roman Catholic Church and the Protestant Church -- have a common agenda which they call "Evangelization 2000 and Beyond". Evangelization 2000 is not an isolated phenomenon. It comes in wake of two other movements, globalization and Westernization. Westernization has culturally enslaved the minds and lives of many people. All this together constitute a single, three-pronged onslaught on our national sovereignty – economic, cultural and religious. Evangelization is in fact homogenization. It seeks to impose "one God, one Prophet and one Book” over all mankind. It is aimed at destroying cultural pluralism and religious diversity. It is the evangelizing faiths that threaten the rich and colorful diversity and impose a monolithic way of life over all peoples.
Although we proudly claim that Buddhism has survived for some 2300 years in our country and armed with its teachings of non-violence, tolerance and compassion, we were able to withstand various threats and challenges and protected Buddhism, we should not overlook the fact that Buddhism was wiped out from many countries and regions in the Asia continent in the not too distant past. The exclusively Buddhist populations of places such as Afghanistan, present day Pakistan, a good part of the Indian sub continent, Bangladesh, Nepal, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines and Maldives Islands were either murdered or converted to either Islam or Hinduism. Ruthless Muslim invasions in particular changed the Buddhist religious landscape of these places. Buddhist places of worship and reputed places of learning were demolished during Muslim invasions. In more recent times the Christian Evangelists through their well-planned proselytization programmes, have become a serious threat to Buddhist communities in predominantly Buddhist countries such as South Korea, Mongolia, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. For that matter, South Korea is no longer a predominantly Buddhist country.
UNETHICAL PROSETYTIZATION MENACE IN SRI LANKA
In recent decades, the Evangelical Christian unethical prosetytization menace has become an increasingly serious problem for Sri Lankan Buddhists. Since late 1970s, there has been a massive inflow of Evangelical organizations to Sri Lanka, supported by huge funds from western countries, especially from the US. These Fundamental Christian organizations, numbering nearly 500 and certain NGO's have been taking advantage of Buddhists and Hindus in poverty or in distress. Besides allurements and other fraudulent means, they even use force, threats and undue influence to convert these innocent people to Christianity. This has been a big threat to the traditional Buddhist norms that characterize these neighborhoods, which helped to establish social cohesion and generate harmonious relationships in our rural areas. Christian conversion activities have resulted in divisiveness and disharmony, in addition to moral degeneration in some of our historically peaceful and moral rural neighborhoods.
INCOMPATIBLE TO THE TRADITIONAL WAY OF LIFE AND CULTURE
What these Christian missions are attempting to introduce to the predominantly Buddhist country, is incompatible with the way of life and the social value system of the country. Sri Lanka has a well-established Buddhist culture which extends to a period that exceeds 2200 years. It is based on non-violence and compassion towards all living beings. Buddhist way of life is based upon the Five Precepts of Buddhism. The Buddhist way of life has resulted in the development of cohesive communities with closely knit families with strong and lasting family bonds. Respect for parents and elders is an important element of this culture. Children are great sources of inner satisfaction and pride for parents and taking personal care of parents and elders during their sunset years is customary practice among adult children. Maintaining close ties with one’s relatives, taking pride in their accomplishments and helping those in need are common characteristics of this culture. People are actively involved in numerous religious, cultural and recreational activities where Buddhist principles are followed. What is evident is people’s active participation in these customary festivals, ceremonies, rituals and celebrations. Towns and villages have their own individual festivals and celebrations that attract many people. Annual Vesak festival, the Sinhala New Year celebrations, Dalada Perahera festival, Sri Paada season, are among the many historic events which generate a good amount of community feelings. Especially in the rural setting people’s community attachment and feelings of togetherness are best expressed at weddings and funerals, which are usually attended by many.
This socio-cultural cohesiveness of Buddhist communities is destroyed by the western norms and lifestyles introduced with Christian prosetytization menace. It has had a divisive effect on our societies. There are instances of serious disharmony in families where some are converted and others not. Youth subject to conversion adopting lifestyles that are not in-keeping with the cultural norms of the communities concerned has caused much disharmony and turmoil.
Those Sri Lankans, who have been well exposed to the western world, are aware of the largely individualistic tendencies that the western corporate culture promotes where excessive aggressiveness, competition, greed, craving and sensuality reign supreme. In these ‘Christian’ countries, most people suffer from undue stress, depression and ill-health owing to the limitless craving for material possessions, physical comforts and sensual pleasures that this system propagates.
RESPONSE OF BUDDHISTS TO PROSELYTIZATION
In recent decades, Evangelists have been quite active in their proselytization work in remote Buddhist villages of Sri Lanka. This threat should not be taken lightly. On the other hand, the Muslims are encroaching on Buddhist temple lands and destroying Buddhist monuments and archeological remains in the Eastern Province.
Buddhist communities that have become victims and potential victims to Christian proselytization are mostly poor and illiterate. They are easy targets for evangelists. It is important to realize that there cannot be Buddhist spirituality where there is widespread hunger and poverty and in addition widespread illiteracy, ignorance and superstitions.Buddhists have to accept the fact that no matter with what ulterior motives the Evangelists choose to help these forgotten and neglected Buddhist communities living in remote area, the intrinsic goodness of their action is something that cannot be denied or downplayed. This only questions our inability and unwillingness to help our own fellow Buddhists. We have effectively failed to address and respond to the acute needs of these forgotten Buddhist communities who are now the targets of Christian evangelism.Buddhists do not appear to have an organized approach to handling these challenges. Their approach has been to take measures on a highly ad hoc manner as reactions to situations when they are highlighted in the news media. There are no well conceived strategies and programmes to handle the problem. The several well established large monastic orders and lay Buddhist organizations are effectively failing to perform their duties. Under the circumstances, Evangelical proselytization appears to be proceeding unchallenged in many places in the country.
It is time for Buddhist leaders in particular to get their act together, look out for one another and redeem themselves by rallying to the Buddha's call to "go forth... for the good of many, for the benefit and well being of many." If we do not organize ourselves without further delay and adopt appropriate strategies and measures to help these impoverished and forgotten Buddhists and let the Evangelists have their way, then the only ones to blame will be us - the indifferent, indolent, complacent Buddhists. Buddhist leaders, both ordained and lay, should be in the forefront in planning, developing and promoting appropriate counter measures to prevent our innocent and poor Buddhist communities living in remote villages who are becoming victims of this menace. It is a pity that the Sangha institution which has been the backbone of the Buddhist community as traditional defenders of Buddhism from historic times is not paying due attention to this serious problem faced by the Buddhist community. In recent decades, what is clearly evident in our country is the fact that in general, our Sangha community and vihara establishments have not been faring well in retaining its followers.
With the leadership of dedicated Buddhist bhikkhus, we need to mobilize work teams to visit and look into the problems and grievances of these forgotten fellow Buddhists and help to develop relevant action programmes to assist them. The rich temples and rich Buddhist organizations of our country should be approached in order to get them actively involved in supporting in a tangible manner a well conceived programme of activities to counter the conversion of Buddhists to other faiths using unethical means. There may be many philanthropists among Buddhists living within and outside Sri Lanka who will be forthcoming with funds if they are approached by Buddhist leaders with specific programs to assist poor Buddhists, especially those who are being hunted by the Evangelists. Development of appropriate Bhikkhus leadership Training programs is another area that may be pursued.
The media, especially the electronic media needs to be used to the fullest to make people aware as to where help is needed and the nature and type of assistance that is needed. Buddhist leaders including Bhikkhus should take greater initiative in pursuing this function.
As Bhikkhus and Buddhists living in contemporary times, our approach to and action against social suffering should involve close interaction with people faced with various forms of difficulties and perils. The increasing complexity of the individual and social dimension of suffering in contemporary times, and the Evangelical threat that is definitely exploiting this situation in order to pursue their hidden agendas, calls for direct interaction with these people to better understand their plight and to mobilize ways of helping them and alleviating such social suffering.
Private spirituality and morality alone cannot address and contain overall suffering of others – or the community at large. Suffering has a social dimension and its relief involves engaging in the lives of others through compassion, sacrifice and service. This should be the spiritual path to be observed by committed Bhikkhus and Buddhists in general. Merely feeling sorry for those who suffer or meditatively channeling compassion to them or performing rituals on their behalf is of little value today. We need to be more actively involved by finding more direct and tangible ways of helping the suffering and relieving them from their misery. This is a more meaningful spiritual path. As Buddhists, we are committed to relieve suffering of others, and promoting peace.
THEISTIC RELIGIONS BASED ON UNVERIFIABLE BELIEFS
Sri Lanka has to be a genuinely Buddhist country if we are to have a free and moral society. We cannot have a free and moral society until an ethical code based on observable, objective reality is derived, taught, and internalized. It is Buddhism that serves this purpose. Theistic societies are based on beliefs whereas Buddhist societies are based on a totality of verifiable truths.
God exists only in belief. All God or Allah believing societies are based on beliefs that are unverifiable. Any society which can only exist based on a lie or a bunch of lies is a society which has no right to exist. As a human being it is one’s nature to live by reason, not by force. To live by force is to attempt to be something other than what one is. It is a path which can only lead to pain and unhappiness and my eventual destruction.
Catholics and Christians argue that their God exists and is the only god. Then, there are Muslims who profess Islam arguing that their Allah exists and is the only god. This means these two groups have different gods. How can both of these beliefs be true? Allah and God cannot both exist. That which cannot be shown to exist should be assumed to be nonexistent.
NO CLAIM OF DIVINE AUTHORITY IN BUDDHISM
Buddhism does not claim to be the one and only valid spiritual path. It is not based on, or claim divine authority. Buddha never claimed to be divine or sent from God. Buddhism does not attempt to suppress reason by dogma. Unlike most other religions, Buddhism isn't so much about things to believe, as things to do. It is a technology of mind improvement. This is why Buddhists often refer to themselves as practitioners rather than believers. The Buddha told his students to trust their own experience of the effectiveness of the teachings, and not believe things just because he said so. The Buddha’s teachings are to be judged by their effectiveness in promoting peace and spiritual realizations, rather than unverifiable claims to their origin.
ABSOLUTE RELIANCE ON FAITH IN THEISTIC RELIGIONS
In order to justify themselves against attack by reason, the God/Allah-based religions place absolute reliance on faith, which is seen by them as being superior to reason. They refer to it as the divine truth. Their argument is that since it is the divine truth whatever it says is true and all other competing beliefs are the work of the devil. They promise heaven for belief and threaten eternal punishment in hell for disbelief. They boost the believers' egos by telling them they are 'chosen' or superior to believers in other false beliefs. These religions teach that they are the one true path to salvation and all unbelievers are cast into hell. This is a doctrine known as exclusivism. They establish themselves as belonging to the One True religion usually by reference to some sort of a holy book – Bible or Koran. Buddhism is not exclusivist. Any person guided in their activities by compassion is regarded as following a beneficial spiritual path. In Christianity exclusivism went to extreme lengths with many denominations claiming that they were the one true faith and the other denominations were corrupt, this is still the official policy of the Vatican.
MEANS TO PROPAGATE RELIGION
God and Allah based religions argue that they are required according to the word of God or Allah as the case may be, to propagate their religion by resorting to various means. One such means has been the so-called Holy War to convert or kill all unbelievers. Intimidation and terrorism are common methods used even in modern times. Threatening and discriminating against unbelievers is a common practice.
Buddhism is a religion which has never attempted to propagate itself and exterminate its enemies by war and tyranny. Buddhism recognizes that one of the most destructive delusions is excessive attachment to any view, which will thus appear virtuous and right for all people. The harm that can be done by fundamentalist attachment to ideologies and abstractions is far greater than that caused by attachment to wealth or material objects.
Muslims believe the Koran is the word of Allah. They believe this because it says so in the Koran. It also says that a good Muslim must make continual war on all unbelievers until the entire world is Islamic. Radical Islamic ideology is being spread all over the Muslim world through schools popularly known as madrasas, also through the media and through mosques. They also resort to organized forms of disinformation and spread lies about other rival beliefs and ways of living. These are psychological blackmail techniques used by them to serve their selfish ends. They demonize other religions by using big lies.
MUSLIM PROLIFERATION BY REPRODUCING ABUNDANTLY
As a means of propagating their believers, a well evident practice in all Muslim societies almost throughout the world is Fecundism or proliferation by reproducing abundantly. Their so called true believers are encouraged and assisted to breed faster than non-believers. This is an ecologically disastrous population growth situation which can lead to far reaching, highly detrimental consequences affecting overall development of any country.
RATIONALITY IN BUDDHISM
Buddhists have no need to suppress, censor or misrepresent the teachings of other religions, as Buddhist philosophy is totally rational and quite capable of withstanding criticism from other belief systems. In fact, Buddhism appears to be the only spiritual system which can provide counterarguments to theistic beliefs and Western Materialism. Buddhism has not even been slightly corroded by modern scientific discoveries.
Buddhism is a set of tried and tested methods which are used to develop the mind by producing altered states of awareness. In effect it is a psycho-spiritual applied science. Its methods of mental development are designed to free the mind from the accumulated delusions of millennia, and lead to a state of peace and tranquility. Using Buddhist meditation techniques one could examine the rubbish left over in one’s mind from childhood indoctrination and reflect upon and clear one’s mind from the various mind-polluting and divisive belief systems driven by fear, guilt, wanting other people to conform, or alternately pride in being better than non-believers.
The Buddha always encouraged his students to gain understanding of his teachings by putting them to the test of personal experience, and not just relying on his authority. In fact the Buddhist idea of authority has much more in common with the idea of scientific authority than it does with ecclesiastical authority. Buddhist authority carries with it the idea of the possession of knowledge which can be conveyed to others and confirmed by reproducible experiences. In Buddhism there are no unsupported statements which one must believe without questioning.
There are no threats of hell or promises of heaven attached to being a Buddhist as opposed to being a non-Buddhist. The condition of future lives is determined by actions of body, speech and mind and not by religious affiliation. If a religion encourages positive actions and states of mind then it is doing its job. If it causes hatred, division and pride then it isn't working.
THOUGHTS OF JUSTICE CHRISTMAS HUMPHREYS
To quote Justice Christmas Humphreys (1901-1983), the eminent British Judge and Founder of the Buddhist Society, London:
“The way of Buddhism is Middle Way between all extremes. This is no weak compromise, but a sweet reasonableness which avoids fanaticism and laziness with equal care, and marches onward without that haste which brings its own reaction, but without ceasing. The Buddha called it the Noble Eightfold Path to Nirvana, and it may be regarded as the noblest course of spiritual training yet presented, in such a simple form, to man. Buddhism is neither pessimistic nor ‘escapist’. It is a system of thought, a religion, a spiritual science and a way of life which is reasonable, practical and all-embracing. For 2,500 years it has satisfied the spiritual needs of nearly one third of mankind. It appeals to those in search of truth because it has no dogmas, satisfies the reason and the heart alike, insists on self-reliance coupled with tolerance for other points of view, embraces science, religion, philosophy, psychology, mysticism, ethics and art, and points to man alone as the creator of his present life and sole designer of his destiny”.
Dr. Daya Hewapathirane
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