Last week, in moju, Nicolas Chauvin touched on another of those issues which have troubled me for some time, by saying: “the history of Buddhism in Sri Lanka seems to be political and not philosophical. Sri Lankan popular Buddhism -the kind that has monks participating in rallies or forming political parties, or linking up with ethnicity, for that matter- seems unconcerned with simple moral values like tolerance or compassion, much less any of the deeper teaching.”

as a race, the sinhalese wish to stand true to their history. that history is full of many fine achievements, people and traditions. however, it is also full of 2500 years of very deep rooted mistrust of most fellow races! the fact that we are a majority in a country, and yet a minority in a region has a part to play. but there are lots of other reasons, and none of them are relevant here.

the weird thing is that buddhism, a religion that advocates more pacifism that most, has also dominated in this country!

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what follows is going to be an achcharu of logic, science, and quotations from all sorts of people who weren’t scientists or logicians. and the explanation is a very long one. i hope i dont bore you, and i’m apologizing in anticipation.

as before, i’ll start with my problem as a buddhist: does the kamma-vipaaka concept really exist?

kamma. i’m so sick of hearing the old, hacked ‘every action..’ line. newton proved his third law for mechanics, not for people. so is there any reasonable explanation? and everythings ok as far as the i-hit-you-you-hit-me-urgh theory goes. but does everything we think / do / say really matter? and on who does it have an effect? where? should we always know?

– – –

i’m going to start answering these questions in what may seem a totally irrelevant area of mathematics that itself requires a very short introduction.

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one question that kept bothering me for years was whether its a sin to take life, as the first precept dictates to us.

you know where this question leads to. if it is a sin, why? and is smacking at mosquitoes a sin? mice? did they know about bacteria those days? so is killing one now, that we know of them, a sin? what about scratching your back then? epithelial cells lead a dependant existence. you scratch them away from the blood supply, they die. sin?

and so on. i know this is the kind of thing that children ask their sunday school masters in the first grade. i did. the problem is that i never quite got it answered to my satisfaction.

so here i am, trying to answer it for myself.

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take one

September 4, 2006

I’m a Buddhist by birth, upbringing and, somewhat by conviction.

i know that as far as Konrad Lorenz’s geese (and certainly most humans) are concerned, birth and upbringing tend, invariably, to add upto conviction.

still its good to think of conviction as a separate entity, isn’t it? something we think our way through to beleiving in. and i hope that one day i’ll be able to say that about Buddhism: that its my worldview because I thought it through and reasoned it out.

as you see, i’m still stuck in a mental age which believes that reason rules.