Daily Mirror (Sri Lanka)
DISTORTING RELIGION DOESN’T GENERATE NEW KNOWLEDGE
In Sri Lanka religion most often causes turmoil rather than usher in peace and calm. Just a few days ago a Pastor by the name of Jerome Fernando caused a stir by stating at a religious sermon that Buddhists were alien to the word ‘love’. Buddhists are not focussed on love but their goal is enlightenment. The word love is used in a wide context and can be misunderstood too. How can a religious man preach about love if he has no regard for those who don’t have a habit of talking about love in their lives?
The world has seen enough of self-proclaimed religious preachers who stir up controversy. Baghavan Sree Rajneesh, better known as Osho, was one. When Osho started using the name Zorba the Buddha on himself there were objections from Buddhist countries and Buddhists all over the world. Sri Lanka made its protest through the Sirimavo Bandaranaike Government. But nothing could stop Osho from reaching international recognition through his Osho commune situated outside India. Strangely however Osho had a liking for Buddha and his teachings despite talking much about Patanjali yoga in his sermons. And he never spared any of the other religious founders and philosophers. Osho, like this religious preacher, has stirred up controversy and believed in living a rich life. The issue with Sri Lanka is that the constitution protects the interests of Buddhism and not the other religions. Buddhism is the main religion or supreme religion in the country and enjoys lofty status. There was a time, just after the civil war, when a certain Buddhist monk harassed the society and even any Buddhist priest who differed from his thinking. Churches have been smashed and mosques have been damaged when angry Buddhists have gone on the rampage. This could be why President Wickremesinghe ordered the CID to probe the speech made by the controversial pastor because the content has the potential to cause tension in society. But it could be termed rather ridiculous when addressing such issues from a security perspective because regimes in the past have used religious tension to be in power or topple governments.
Buddhists may not talk about love but they do work towards enlightenment. But what has the dark-skinned Buddhist priest who changed his clergy name once after taking to robes say about the self-proclaimed prophet? He who claims to have reached enlightenment has declared war and called for the arrest of the preacher who has insulted other religions
Breakaway religious sectors reach quick stardom when the culture of lavish spending and earning big money is promoted in the commune. That pastor is also the same; akin to Osho, the Isha Foundation and the Swami Nithyananda Community. A word of caution: Faith can sometimes make the individual very gullible.
Buddhists may not talk about love but they do work towards enlightenment. But what has the dark-skinned Buddhist priest who changed his clergy name once after taking to robes say about the self-proclaimed prophet? He who claims to have reached enlightenment has declared war and called for the arrest of the preacher who has insulted other religions. Can an enlightened being make such a call?
Even in the Islam religion in Sri Lanka there have been occasions of teachers distorting the Quran and teaching an aggressive form of religion; a form that looks down upon other religions.
These breakaway religious sects must be checked and the authenticity of their teachings must be questioned. If the dark-skinned vocal priest who claims to be enlightened could be summoned to Kandy and be warned, why can’t this pastor be summoned by the church and cautioned that how he is setting about his business of preaching is annoying other sections of the community.
He is not talking about anything genuinely new. someone who loves this man should quickly speak to him. Sometimes the banion that one wears as the identity is too much if it is heavy as iron. It helps when you change into something lighter.