Victory gives rise to hatred. Those who are defeated lie in pain. Those who are peaceful live happily giving up both victory and defeat. – The Buddha
Distance lends a highly profitable perspective to view an intricately created tapestry in all its glory. When you are too close to it, you may get overwhelmed by the detail and you may miss the impressive grandeur of the holistic vision, you can get from afar.
This is true of a country as well.
When you are in it – involved every moment in its hum and buzz – you may not get the total picture of those events.
But, when you are away, you can see the picture, a lot better. This is true of Sri Lanka too.
Those of us who are resident, here in Japan, see what is taking place in our motherland, from a totally different view-point.
I paid keen attention to the festivities that were held to celebrate the 67th anniversary of Sri Lanka’s Independence.
A particular feature of these celebrations, etched itself deeply in the inner recesses of my being.
For the first time since the Independence in 1948, this time around, all the ethnic, religious, racial and linguistic groups were represented are the Independence Day celebrations. The whole of Sri Lanka celebrated the Independence, as a united, undivided nation.
The message that came to those Sri Lankans who live abroad was loud and clear: “All sections of Sri Lanka’s population, have become war-weary. They, uninhibitedly seek a future, that will be totally bereft of even a trace of harrowing violence.”
As a Bhikkhu, residing in Japan, I feel that the 67th Independence Day, throbbed with a kind of spiritual spasm.
We could quite clearly see that at this important event, the whole nation was brought together by a bright hope, for a long and sustained era of uninterrupted peace.
Strangely enough, there were similar spiritual nuances, at the recent Republic Day celebrations in India as well. To be specific, the Buddha was predominantly present at those Indian celebrations.
President Barack Obama’s official host, at the Republican Day celebrations, offered their famous visitor, an image of the Buddha, to remember this historical moment.
Over and above that, President Obama planted a sacred Bodhi sapling, to monument his participation in the Indian Republic Day celebrations.
The world at large viewed on-line, President Obama worshipping the Bodhi sapling.
While paying tribute profusely to the Independence Day celebrations in our own motherland, I am quite keen to draw everyone’s attention to the example set by the Indian Government.
Hindu India, currently under the administrative direction of Prime Minister Narendra Modi – a dedicated Hindu devotee – assigned an honoured and exalted place to the Buddha on the occasion of that country’s Republic Day celebrations, since the Buddha is a universally recognised sacred symbol of peace, harmony, tolerance and friendly coexistence.
The totality of India was happy that the Buddha stood for the inner spirituality of that massive sub-continent.
Besides, the Buddha is one of the supreme sons of mother India and the timeless teachings of the Buddha are an ever-lasting treasure, endowed upon mankind by India.
While reflecting upon this homage to the Buddha at the Indian Republic Day celebrations, the planners of Sri Lanka’s Independence Day celebrations, should assign a more influential position to the spiritual aspects of Sri Lankan culture – in programs associated with Independence celebrations.
This will invariably strengthen Sri Lanka’s sense of being united.
This is only a suggestion introduced in a spirit of profound humility.
Prioritisation of peaceful coexistence stood out as a major feature in the Independence celebrations.
But, muted to an undertone, there was yet another significant theme. This was an urge for austerity.
It is quite apt to reflect on this as well. Media reported that the total investment for the ritual of taking the oath of presidency, was less than Rs. 7,000.
Austerity at the level of State Administration imports a dignity to a land.
As I reflect on the 67th Independence Day celebrations in Sri Lanka, I cannot help but feel that those at the helm of affairs in Sri Lanka today are completely ready to assist to take this land towards an era that is totally violence-free and is awaiting the dawn of an age of spiritual and material well-being.
The end-note, I like to append to my reflections is that as a nation Sri Lankans should make a strenuous effort to shun those hatred-driven reprisals that mar the security and the allure of this spiritual haven of compassionate radiance.
Although we reside away from our motherland, we always assiduously trace the progress in Sri Lanka, to reach those noble ideals of love, tolerance and mutual understanding.
The 67th Independence Day celebrations were held in an atmosphere of unity and harmony. We must always maintain this new initiative towards a free and compassionate era – sans disharmony.
I am a Sri Lankan Bhikkhu, residing in this Land of the Rising Sun Japan – a country where the citizens are highly disciplined and value peace and tolerance as noble human values. I wish my motherland too such a distinction.
Independence must strengthen our unswerving will to make our motherland a blossoming valley of peace and harmony. We must uphold our centuries’ old cultural and spiritual values.
The writer is the founder of the Daham Sevane Singitto and the pioneer of the International Development Foundation.
By Ven. Wimalasara Thera