I refer to Mr. Upali S. Jayasekera's response in The Island of today (6/6) to my earlier contribution on this subject in The Island of 23/5.

Normally I do not reply to such responses because they are not worthy of comment. But when he says that "My Jayatissa Perera appears to have launched a campaign ridicule Buddhist practices" I must deny the allegation because I do not for a moment consider the consumption of liquor after reciting panchaseela, a Buddhist practice.

I mentioned how a prominent Buddhist Secretary to an equally prominent Cabinet Minister considered a Buddhist leader in this country consumed arrack soon after Venerable Madihe Pannaseeha had delivered a bana at his home.

This writer knows another Buddhist who leads a Buddhist Society as its President who consumes liquor after reciting Panchaseela. When I asked him if that was correct, he replied, "The Buddha has never told us not to drink!"

I am not against anybody consuming liquor but I am against such a person calling himself a Buddhist while reciting the Panchaseela in public. I also know such an alcoholic whose photograph is seen from time to time carrying the sacred relics of the Buddha! If such practices go unquestioned the Kalama Sutra of the blessed one is meaningless!

According to the little bit I know of Buddhism (though I do not carry a label of any sort) doubt and questioning is a method of spiritual enquiry. Doubt cleanses, purifies the mind. As beautifully explained in the Kalama Sutra, the very questioning, the very fact that the seed of doubt is in one, helps to clarify our investigations. That is why religions like Christianity which believe in an angry, jealous, punishing God prohibit doubt.

Spiritual evolution is not possible without questioning the rigid orthodoxy into which a Buddhist or Christian is born. We need to know the difference between the spiritual and the ritual. In this country we see a rapid decline in religion, an utter disregard for human life, political chicanery and the absolute cessation of any religious, enquiry. The tribalism that is glorified and labelled as nationalism, cemented by all our politicians in laymen's garb or saffron robes cannot be got over by making an exhibition of oneself reciting panchaseela, morning and evening.

The challenge is so great that one cannot respond to it with some conditioned reply as a Hindu or Buddhist or Christian etc. We must bring about a spiritual evolution in ourselves. This cannot be achieved through rituals of any sort, including panchaseela.

Even after 2,500 years of rituals, Panchaseela, 84,000 pahan poojas, pichchamal poojas, sabda poojas, pirith, lanterns, pandals, 'olu bakkas', we are living in utter confusion, not knowing whether we will live tomorrow.

Jayatissa Perera, Bambalapitiya.

Related Posts: