Buddhism and Modernity
It gives me immense pleasure to note that the Second World Buddhist Forum is going to be held in China in the early November 2008. In this context I recollect with great pleasure that I as a member of the delegation of Bangladesh Bouddha Kristi Prachar Sangha headed by its President Most Ven. Suddhananda Mahathero attended the 1st World Buddhist Forum held in Hangzhan and Zhoushan in Zhijiang province from 13th to 16th April 2006, which played a significant role in the history of Buddhism in the world. After return to our country we the members of the delegation tried to propagate the success and achievement of the First World Buddhism Forum to the Buddhists of our country. We were highly benefited to follow the theme of the 1st World Buddhist Forum that “A harmonious world begins in the mind”. And, I am happy to know that in order to further advocate the idea set forth at the 1st World Buddhist Forum and to promote the realization of the beautiful vision of New Six Harmonies- human kindliness, happy and harmonious family, friendly social relationship, harmonious society, pleasant and beautiful world and peaceful world, the 2nd World Buddhist Forum is going to be held with a noble theme of “A Harmonious World, A synergy of conditions”, where 13 sub-forums will be hosted. Among these, I like to focus my view points on the last item that is “Buddhism and Modernity”.
Buddhism teaches the highest possible doctrines of purity, kindness and justice. It makes the lives of the people an example of noble virtues. It is a religion, a system of thought, a spiritual science and a way of life, which is practical and reasonable. For the last two thousand and five hundred years it has satisfied the spiritual needs of mankind. Buddhism does not consider material welfare as an end itself, it is only a means to an end higher and noble end. But it is a means which is indispensable in achieving a higher purpose of happiness of mankind. So, Buddhism recognizes the need of certain minimum material conditions favourable to spiritual success. It is a plan for living in such a way as to derive highest benefit from life. It is a religion of wisdom, where knowledge and intelligence predominate. Lord Buddha did not preach to win converts but to enlighten listeners. Buddhism taught a life not by rule but by principle, and as a consequence, it is a religion of tolerance. When we speak about tolerance, we speak about equality, justice and rationalism. Lord Buddha gave much emphasis and importance on it. He said that there should not be any difference between man and man, man and woman, rich and poor and according to him all are equal. He pointed out that by dint of perseverance Brahmin and Chandal (schedule caste) that is any two human beings can be seated in the same position. In Buddhism there is no division among human beings. All are same and so all need be treated equally. This is the main theme of Buddhism.
Now a days, we talk much about human right. The entire world is now vocal to see that rights of the people are not violated. For this purpose United Nations Organization(U.N.O.) was established in 1948. This International organization has been working in almost all the countries of the world. Not only that different Non Government Organizations(NGO) have also been found working in each and every country of the world on this issue. Their main aim is to ensure that the rights of the people are not violated and if there is any violation, the violators should be brought to book and punish as per law of the individual nation. But, even then, it is observed that violation of human rights is being
occurred every now and then here and there. When we discuss all these matters we the Buddhists bow down our head to Lord Buddha. Long 2550 years ago when world human environment was very megre, he being a Prince, leaving all the worldly happiness went to deep forent to find out ways and means for the salvation of human sufferings. After long six years devotion and meditation he got enlightenment. He became Buddha. He showed the path of Dhamma to mankind. The path of Dhamma is the path of peace. The path of Dhamma is the path of happiness. The fundamental teachings of Buddhism is to relieve all sentient beings from suffering and bring happiness to humanity with loving kindness, wisdom, compassion, equality and harmony. Buddhism aims to rescue people from misery and help them achieving happiness. Buddha asked human beings to attain Nirvana through the three studies, four embracing virtues and eight noble paths. If all these noble virtues and paths are followed and people respect each other, the entire world will remain free from conflicts and become harmonious.
In the modern time the world has become a global village. People of one end of the globe can see, know and understand any happening and above all can move to any other part of the world at the quickest possible time. This has become possible due to tremendeous development of science and technology. Now the I.Q. (intelligence quota) and the knowledge of the people are so development that people can easily understand what is right and what is wrong, what is good and what is bad. Hence they can understand and justify the importance of religion, its utility and also merit. A question may arise why Buddhism has become so prominent in today’s scientific world. To answer the question I think the achievement of Lord Buddha need to be mentioned. Lord Buddha after attaining enlightenment disclosed that human life is full of sorrow. Nobody can escape from this. He said in everybody’s life there are sufferings, there are causes of suffering, there are ways of cessation of suffering and suffering can be eliminated. If one can understand these four noble truths and try to lead his life accordingly he can achieve peace and success. So, he advised the people to realize the ethics of his findings. In Buddhism this known as ‘Chaturajja Satya’ (four noble truths). Then he narrated to his disciples eight fold path and in Pali it is known as ‘Arja Austangikmarga’. These are Right views, Right thinking, Right speech, Right action, Right livelihood, Right resolution, Right mindfulness and Right meditation. Buddha’s teachings seek to free human sufferings. He attributed his enlightenment to human intelligence. He claimed no inspiration from God or Supernatural power. That’s why Buddhism has become so prominent in today’s Scientific world.
As a Buddhists when we speak about modernity we feel proud to see the development made in many Buddhist countries like China, Japan, Korea, Thailand, Vietnam, Srilanka and some other countries. I think the main cause of their development is their moral courage. They are definitely following the doctrines of Buddhism. Buddha said to control ones mind. If one can keep his mind free from greed, keep his behaviour right, keep his word faithful, he can not do anything wrong. Buddha further said if one finds his mind tempted and so entangled himself in greed, he must suppress and control the temptation so that he can be the master of his mind. A man’s mind may make him a wise man or it may make him a beast. So, to make success in life and to make progress of a country the character and behaviour of the people play the vital role which we can see in the developed Buddhist countries. But there are some countries where Buddhists are minority. In these countries, the members of the Buddhist community are not getting proper facilities to perform their religion properly. We know the Buddhist temples are the main place where Buddhist monks and novices stay. Secondly this is the place where lay devotees assemble to make their prayer and perform all religious activities. But it is seen that in many villages and localities due to financial constraint the Buddhists can not construct a temple. If anyhow they can make a temple they can not keep a Buddhist monk or novice. So, during festival and religious ceremony they are to invite a Buddhist monk from their neighbouring village or area to perform religious activities. Further in many temples there are no religious books of their own language. So, people of this community can not study and learn the ethics of Buddhism. They learn and perform all religious activities on hear-say basis. As a result, they are deprived of many good things of
Buddhism. Another important thing is that in some countries where Buddhists are minority I have seen that there is no training facility for the Buddhist monks and novices. Monks and novices of these countries if can be given training about the religion they can perform their religion and preach the religion properly to the people of our community. And, by this true aspects of Buddhism can be propagated to the people of these countries. Furthermore, I have seen many new Buddhists of Bangladesh and India. They feel proud that they could embrace Buddhism. I got the opportunity to meet some of them in our country and in India. They want to know their religion properly. But, I find it not so easy because we the Buddhists of Bangladesh can not provide necessary facilities to them due to our financial hardship and lack of logistic support.
Further when we are discussing about Buddhism and modernity we are to focus our eyes to the people of the developed countries. There we have seen that lot of missionary works are being rendered there for providing modern facilities to the deserving people of their community. These are being done to provide food, shelter, education, medicare and religious facilities. Not only that the Christian missionary organizations. Muslim missionary organizations and Hindu missionary organizations now a days are providing all the above mentioned facilities to the people of their respective community in different countries of the world including Bangladesh. As a result, the poor people of all these religions are getting necessary help and logistic support for their livelihood, education, service facilities and religious activities. But, I need to mention that for the Buddhists of our country there is no Buddhist missionary organization for rendering missionary work. This is almost same in other countries where Buddhists are minority. Considering all these aspects and to keep harmonious relationship among the Buddhists of different countries I suggest that the 2nd World Buddhist Forum can think over the matter and suggest action plan to initiate and activate Buddhist missionary works in all the countries where Buddhists are minority. If this plan can be implemented and materialized then Buddhist countries like China, Japan, Korea, Thailand, Vietnam, Srilanka and other rich Buddhist countries can provide financial help for this purpose. Not only for religious purpose these missionary organization can also give financial support for the survival of the Buddhists of under developed and poor countries as people of other religions are providing all necessary financial help to the people of their respective community. Further, scholarship may be awarded for higher education on Buddhism to the monks, novices and teachers of Buddhist religion. It has been observed that many poor and meritorious students who are willing to study Buddhism can not obtain higher education for pecuniary circumstance. If they could acquire higher education they can contribute to the development of the community and work for the development of Buddhism. For this purpose religious schools, colleges and training centres can be established for teaching Buddhism. We know there is no alternate of learning. We know that knowledge is power. So, if people of our community can acquire proper knowledge on Buddhism they can make themselves true Buddhists.
At present the main theme of international dialect has become “peace”. Almost all the nations of the world are universally conscious of its value and tremendously in demand of it. Sometime people talk about world peace. It is quite natural because now the people of one particular country can know, see and visit any country of the world within a short possible time. Standard of education has developed, economic condition of people of many countries has improved and mode of communication has developed tremendously. And, due to this all the happenings of the present day world are being noticed and witnessed by the people of the different countries of the world through electronic media within the quickest possible time. As far as Buddhists are concerned, they are peace loving people. They follow the path of non violence. Lord Buddha rejected any form of supernatural connection. Buddhist teachings reveals the Buddha’s understanding about the world. This unique teaching is concerned mainly with human problem. According to Lord Buddha we have to solve our problems and only the human mind can develop into the highest degree of wisdom which help us to understand things as they really are. Therefore, we can introduce Buddhism as a human centered religion.
Short summary of the topic “Buddhism And Modernity” to present at the 2nd Buddhist Forum by Prakrita Ranjan Barua, Sr. Vice-President of Bangladesh Bouddha Kristi Prachar Sangha, Dhaka, Bangladesh.
On behalf of the Buddhist of Bangladesh I feel it a great privileged to participate and take the floor on this significant Forum. In this context I like to recollect with great pleasure that I attended the First World Buddhist Forum held in China in 2006, which played a significant role in the history of Buddhism in the world. After return to our country we tried to propagate the success and achievement of the First World Buddhist Forum to the Buddhist of our country. We were highly benefited by following the theme of the First World Buddhist Forum that “A harmonious world begins in the mind.” And to advocate the idea set forth at the First World Buddhist Forum and to promote further scope to explore the capacity of the teaching of Lord Buddha in order to contribute to build better social condition the 2nd World Buddhist Forum is being held; where 13 Sub-Forum are being hosted. Among these I like to focus my view point on Buddhism and modernity.
Buddhism teaches the highest possible doctrines of purity, kindness and justice. It makes the lives of people an example of noble virtues. It is a religion, a system of thought, a spiritual science and a way of life, which is practical and acceptable. It is a religion of wisdom, here knowledge and intelligence predominate. Buddhism taught a life not by rule but by principle. And as such it is a religion of tolerance that’s why people of the entire world like it, love it, appreciate it and try to follow it. For this Buddhism conquers the heart of the people of entire world.
As far as modernity is concerned we feel proud to see the development made in many Buddhist countries like China, Japan, Korea, Thailand, Vietnam, Srilanka and some other Buddhist countries. I think the main cause of their development is their moral courage. They are definitely following the true doctrines of Buddhism. Now-a-days we talk about peace. Sometimes we talk about world peace. The main way of bringing peace in the world is to ensure the rights of the people. If fundamental rights and human rights can be ensured then there will be no violation, no offence, and no crime. For this purpose, as far as Buddhism is concerned we need to ensure that Buddhists of poor countries and where they are minority, facilities are to be provided so that they can live happily and perform all religious activities properly. To materialize this I will suggest and recommend to the members of the Forum to establish Buddhist Missionary organizations and arrange to provide necessary help and co-operation to the deserving members of the community and Buddhist monks and nuns. They can establish Buddhist temples, supply religious books, provide pecuniary help for food and other necessary recurring expenditure of the monks, nuns and poor lay-devotees. If this can be done, future Buddhism will be much more strengthen and Buddhism will flourish. With this I conclude.
Thank you all.