Although Buddhism is a major religion in the world there is no proper centre which can monitor and co-ordinate Buddhist religious activities in different parts of the world. We simply do not have a place similar to Holy Mecca or the Holy Vatican. The result is that when it comes to international deliberations, our voice is very weak and very often easily ignored.
Religion and Politics
A religion is primarily meant for spiritual advancement while politics deals with exclusively worldly affairs. Religion is supposed to concentrate more on what happens after death, but a look at world history will clearly show that religion very often gets mixed up with politics. Since religion is a powerful agent capable of influencing and controlling the human mind political power has used religion to maintain its stability and for domination. Immediately after every conquest you will find the priests of the faith which the ruler followed being invited to propagate that particular religion or faith among the subjects. In this task both force and rewards in many forms are used freely. Sri Lanka is a clear example.
"World history will clearly show that religion very often gets mixed up with politics. Since religion is a powerful agent capable of influencing and controlling the human mind political power has used religion to maintain its stability"
The present trend
Today in the world conquests are very rare and not very practical as such conversions by force are not feasible. What happens today is that a few very rich western countries as well as a few Asian countries are pumping billions of foreign currency into selected countries for unethical conversions. Those funds are distributed in several ways through voluntary organisations which are designated as charity organisations. Why are they making such an effort to spread a particular religion? The idea behind is the same old idea of domination, instead of colonising the land they are now colonising the human mind. In the present world you would clearly see countries with similar major religious backgrounds forming into blocks when it comes to international issues. Is Sri Lanka a victim of those blocks? Buddhist and Hindu countries have failed to analyse this reality and consequently are being harassed.
Right to propagate a religion
No one can deny the right of expression and the right to propogate a religion. These are fundamental human rights Even the Buddha had advised his disciples to go forth and explain the Buddha Dhamma to the people. The main feature was that instead of using any unethical methods the task was to convince people of the values of the doctrine. The Buddha was not afraid of any criticisms and welcomed debate because there were no political motives or anything to hide.
"Even the Buddha had advised his disciples to go forth and explain the Buddha Dhamma to the people. The main feature was that instead of using any unethical methods the task was to convince people of the values of the doctrine"
Protection of Human Rights
The case of Sri Lanka has to be viewed in the background of a 30-year-old war conducted by a ruthless terrorist organisation which openly flouted human rights. The carnage inflicted by them covered not only Sinhalese but Tamils and Muslims too. This ruthless organisation was helped by foreign organizations, giving military training and supplying funds and weapons. In Sri Lanka some political organisations were performing the task of the political wing of the terrorists’ organisation. Are they also not responsible for the violation of human rights? Ironically they are the very people who accuse others of violation of human rights. Violation of human rights cannot be judged merely by citing one or two incidents in the 30-year-old war. It is clear that politics is behind their accusations. There have been similar incidents in other parts of the world which have been ignored. There is strong evidence of double standards followed by some countries.
The need for an effective world Buddhist organisation
The present organisation seems to be weak and ineffective to meet the demands of the present-day Buddhist world. Non-existence of such a powerful Buddhist organisation has made the position of the Buddhist weak and vulnerable. Holding annual conventions and passing some resolutions alone is not sufficient. Buddhist countries such as Japan, China, Korea, Thailand, Miyanmar, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Bhutan and Sri Lanka should have close cooperation in world affairs and possibly like the Western countries, form a block. Sri Lanka coming to the aid of Japan at the world body after the Second World War is a good example to follow.
Where should this centre be established?
The obvious choice is Sri Lanka, and I would like to state the following in support of my submission:
(a) Availability of modern transport and communication services and easy access from any part of the world.
(b) Being the only country outside India which the Buddha has visited.
(c) The availability of all modern facilities to set up such a centre.
(d) The availability of facilities for research study, pilgrimage and the presence of a large number of erudite bhikkhus and scholars.
(e) The availability of the Buddhist TV channel catering to the needs of the Buddhist in different parts of the world. However this channel has to be further developed to broadcast in all the major languages.
(f) The universally accepted Buddhist flag was designed in Sri Lanka.
(g). Vesak day was declared a holiday at UN on the initiative taken by Sr Lanka.
(h) The presence of the Bodhi tree at Anuradhapura which is a branch of the original Bo tree under which the Bodhisattva attained Enlightenment.
(i) The presence of a large number of stupas and temples where Buddha relics are enshrined and also the tooth relic in Kandy.
(j) The continued existence of the Buddha Sasana in Sri Lanka lasting over 2500 years.
If Sri Lanka is to be accepted as the world centre it is necessary for us to show that we practise the principles of Buddhism. There should be less corruption and violence.