Since Ceylon’s independence in 1948, the rise of “political Buddhism” has seen a radical and uncompromising deviation from traditional Theravada Buddhism. Though Buddhist philosophy eschews violence, in Sri Lanka, monks and political elites have used mytho-history, like the Mahavamsa (Great Chronicle), to espouse ethno-religious supremacy. This is an ideology which contravenes the moral, ethical, and peaceful values of Buddhism.
It has contributed to a Sinhalese Buddhist ultra-nationalism that is now fully embedded and institutionalised as state policy. A policy which justifies dehumanising non-Sinhalese; i.e., Tamils, should doing so be necessary to preserve and propagate the dharma-Buddhist doctrine. Furthermore, it legitimises ethnocentrism and militarism as a means to enforce that ethos.
An underlying tenet of the Mahavamsa ideology is the belief that Sri Lanka is an island exclusive to the Sinhalese majority. It insists that only a Sinhalese Buddhist culture exists (or ought to exist) in Sri Lanka, which suggests that the only valid ethnic identity is a Sinhalese Buddhist identity. This has served as a mandate for a litany of injustice, cultural annihilation and human rights atrocities against the Tamil nation.
The Noble Eightfold Path is one of the principal teachings of the Buddha. It is described as the way leading to the end of suffering. It is often represented by means of the dharma wheel, with the eight elements of the path.
Meena Kandasamy’s poem, the second in the Victims Without A Voice campaign, brings to conscience the stark contrast of Sinhalese Buddhist extremism, vis-à-vis ‘the middle way’. It exposes the façade of its ideology, and adds voice to crimes of genocide against Eelam Tamils.
The Noble Eightfold Path
This is the middle way, this is the eightfold path
This is the way to the end of suffering.
Right view is the forerunner of the entire path.
Right view provides the right practice.
Right view leads to a virtuous life.
Right view comes at the end of the path.
Right view requires you to know
that the dying always look up to the sky
and therefore get ready to shell hospitals.
Birth is suffering, aging is suffering,
Sickness is suffering, death is suffering,
Sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief
and despair are suffering,
Association with the unpleasant is suffering,
Separation from the pleasant is suffering,
Not to get what one wants is suffering.
For the instant cessation of their suffering
Right intention requires the carpet bombing
Of the fleeing masses.
Right speech is about the absence of wrong speech.
Abstain from falsehood, abstain from slander,
Abstain from harsh speech, abstain from idle chatter.
Speech can break lives and start wars,
so it is best to pull out of the peace talks.
Right action means refraining from unwholesome deeds
that occur with the body as their main means
of expression. Do not take life,
Do not take what is not given,
Do not indulge in sexual misconduct.
The celibate Buddha and his monks
never spilled any semen and it is our bounden duty
to make up for that by raping every woman in sight.
The Buddha mentions five kinds of livelihood
which bring harm to others that must be avoided.
The first tells one to avoid dealing in weapons
so please get India and China to gift those toys.
Right effort requires a wholesome form of energy.
Dispelling dullness calls for a special effort
to arouse energy through the visualization
of a brilliant ball of light or reflection on death.
For desire, a remedy of general application
is meditation on impermanence to knock away
the underlying property of clinging.
To get rid of dullness let light into the lives
of your enemies through luminous bombs
and to get rid of their desire for one another
bulldoze their bunkers and this will be the last time
they cling to each other.
The first step in right mindfulness involves
the contemplation of the body and the last step
in the mindfulness of the body involves a series
of cemetery meditations which necessitates dreaming
of death and decomposition of the human body.
Meditate on the mass graves in Mullivaaikaal and Chemmani.
Right concentration implies seclusion
from sensual pleasures and reining in the unruly mind.
Right concentration is achieved through training
so work hard to estimate the exact amount of napalm
Or white phosphorous for sky-showers
To grant nirvana to the Tamil people,
For blessed are they who get to breathe
The Laughing Buddha’s Laughing Gas.