Archive for March, 2013

March 24, 2013

Explaining Embodiment (1)

“Views of a Fetus in the Womb”, Leonardo da Vinci, ca. 1510-1512.

It is a fundamental truth of Suddha Sanmargam that sentient beings are embodied souls. Hence, the distinction between body (தேகம்) and soul (ஆன்மா) is a cardinal distinction in Suddha Sanmargam.

What is this distinction?

In the first part of his great unfinished essay on “The Ethic of Compassion for Sentient Beings” composed in 1867, Ramalingam writes:

“இந்தத் தூலதேகத்தில் சீவனாக இருக்கிற ஆன்மாவும் அறிவுக்கறிவாயிருக்கிற கடவுள் இயற்கை விளக்கமுந் தவிர, கரணம், இந்திரியம் முதலிய மற்றவைகளெல்லாம் கருவிகளாகிய தத்துவசடங்களே யல்லது சித்துக்களல்ல.”

In this gross (தூல or sthūla) body, apart from the soul which lives in the body and the inherent illumination of God (கடவுள்) also present in the body, the mind, the inner senses of cognition (கரணம்), and the outer physical senses (இந்திரியம் or Indriyas) are only inert natural constituents (தத்துவசடங்கள்) which are instruments (கருவி) and not entities possessing consciousness and intelligence”.

“ஆகலில் சுகதுக்கங்களைச் சடங்கள் அனுபவிக்க அறியா.”

Therefore, happiness and suffering cannot be experienced and known by those inert natural constituents, viz., senses, mind, the instruments of cognition.

“செம்மண் சந்தோஷ’த்தது துக்கித்தது என்று சொல்லப்படாது. அதுபோல், மனஞ் சந்தோஷ’த்தது துக்கித்தது என்று சொல்லப்படாது.”

We cannot meaningfully say that red mud is happy or sad. In just the same way, we cannot meaningfully say that the mind (மனம் or Manas, an instrument of awareness) is happy or sad.”

“செம்மண்ணினால் தேகவாழ்க்கைக்கு வீடுகட்டிக்கொள்வது போல, மன முதலான கரணேந்திரியங்களால் சீவவாழ்க்கைக்குக் கடவுளால் கட்டிக் கொடுக்கப்பட்ட தேகம் ஒரு சிறிய வீடாகும்.”

In just the way red mud is used to build a house which the body can inhabit, the body and its senses, mind, and instruments of cognition constitute a small house built by God to enable a soul to live in this world.”

“இன்பதுன்பங்களை வீட்டிலிருக்கின்றவன் அனுபவிப்பானல்லது, வீடு அனுபவிக்கமாட்டாது. அன்றியும் காசத்தினால் ஒளி மழுங்கப்பட்டு உபநயனங்களாகிய கண்ணாடிகளால் பார்க்கின்ற கண்கள் துன்ப விஷயத்தைக் கண்டபோது, அக்கண்கள் நீர்சொரியுமே யல்லது, கண்ணாடி நீர் சொரிய மாட்டாது.”

Pleasures and pains are experienced, not by the house, but only by the inhabitant of the house. Further, although spectacles enable a pair of deficient eyes to see clearly,  on seeing scenes of suffering, it is only the eyes which shed tears and not those inert spectacles.”

“ஆகலில் ஆன்ம திருஷ்டிக்கு உபநயனங்களாக இருக்கின்ற மனம் முதலான கருவிகள் சுகதுக்கங்களை அனுபவிக்க மாட்டா; ஆன்மாவே அனுபவிக்குமென்று அறியவேண்டும்.”

Therefore, the mind and other instruments which enable a soul to perceive and understand cannot experience happiness and suffering. Only the soul can experience them.”

Ramalingam anticipates a question in this context.

Since we observe physical signs of grief or happiness in the form of tears, smiles, etc., and also their verbal expressions (rendered by the mind), why can’t we conclude that grief or happiness is actually experienced by the body and the mind?

He answers this question as follows:

“…சுகதுக்கங்களால் ஆன்மாவுக்கு உண்டாகிற மகிழ்ச்சியும் தளர்வும் மனம் முதலான கரணேந்திரியங்களில் பிரதிபலித்துப் புறத்தில் தோன்றுகின்றன. ஆகலில் சுகதுக்கங்கள் ஆன்மாவுக்கே அனுபவமென்றும், சுகதுக்கங்களை அறிந்தனுபவிப்பதற்குக் கரணேந்திரியங்கள் ஆன்மாவுக்கு உபகாரக் கருவிகளாகுமென்று அறிய வேண்டியது.”

“The happiness or suffering experienced by a soul (ஆன்மா) is reflected outwardly in its instruments of body, mind, etc. Therefore, it is only the individual soul which undergoes experiences of happiness or suffering. The body and mind are but instruments which help or enable the individual soul to experience and understand happiness and suffering.”

The import of these observations is clear. The individual soul is the self or subject which undergoes and knows experiences of happiness and suffering. The body and its senses, the mind, the means of cognition, etc.,  are but instruments which enable a soul to undergo and understand diverse experiences of pain and pleasure, happiness and suffering. The individual soul’s experiences of grief, happiness, etc., are reflected in its instruments of body and mind. The body, the mind, etc., constitute a house, built by God,  for the soul to inhabit and lead a sentient existence.

Thus, the distinction between the soul and the body is essentially a distinction between an agent who undergoes experiences, knows, wills, and acts, and the means or instrument which enables that agent to undergo experiences, gain knowledge, exercise volition, and perform actions.

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March 3, 2013

“Buddhist” Monks of Sri Lanka In Defense of War Crimes!

Sri Lankan Buddhist monks protest against UN human rights resolution proposed by US

These Sri Lankan “Buddhist” monks are exactly like the monks of the “Zen Buddhist” establishment in Japan who supported Japanese militarism, and its heinous war crimes against civilian populations in Asia in WWII, e.g., the well-documented Nanjing atrocities by the War Criminal Japanese Imperial Army, and offered specious appeals to “Zen Buddhist” doctrines to justify that militarism and its heinous war crimes.

Nanjing (China) Massacre victims of the War Criminal Japanese Imperial Army on the shore of the Yangtze River with a Japanese soldier standing nearby.

These ignorant and hypocritical Sri Lankan “Buddhist” monks, like their Japanese “Zen Buddhist” monk counterparts in WWII, have forgotten that the ethical principles of “Buddha Dhamma” take priority over irrational forms of patriotism and nationalism.

They have also conveniently and fatally forgotten the Buddhist emphasis on the relentless wheel of “Kamma” in accordance with whose turnings those who committed or supported war crimes will inevitably reap the consequences of their deeds in just the way the war criminal Japanese military establishment did in WWII.

Sri Lankan Buddhist monks protest against UN human rights resolution proposed by US
By Associated Press, The Washington Post
14 March 2012
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Hundreds of Buddhist monks on Wednesday marched in Sri Lanka’s capital to urge the United States to withdraw its support for a proposed U.N. rights body resolution on alleged abuses during the country’s civil war.
The monks blocked traffic on a main road as they marched from a Buddhist temple to the U.S. Embassy. Five were allowed to enter the building and deliver a letter that called on the U.S. not to “inconvenience and embarrass” Sri Lanka.
( Gemunu Amarasinghe / Associated Press ) – Buddhist monks, supporters of the government, march towards the U.S. Embassy, to urge the United States to withdraw its support for a proposed U.N. Human Rights Council resolution on alleged abuses during the country’s civil war, in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Wednesday, March 14, 2012. The U.N. rights body in Geneva is expected to vote next week on the resolution, which calls on Sri Lanka to investigate allegations of abuses by both government troops and ethnic rebels in the final months of the war in 2009.
Sri Lanka’s government has organized protests against the proposed resolution, which calls on Sri Lanka to investigate allegations of abuses by both government troops and ethnic Tamil rebels in the final months of the war in 2009. The U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva is expected to vote on it next week.
According to a U.N. report, tens of thousands of ethnic Tamil civilians may have been killed in the final months of the 25-year civil war. It said most of the deaths occurred due to shell fire by government forces.
The government has rejected the report and its own reconciliation commission has cleared the military of deliberately targeting civilians.
The United States says that commission did not address some of the main abuse allegations and has introduced the draft resolution in the U.N. rights council calling for them to be investigated.
Meanwhile, India’s External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna said Wednesday that his country hopes its Sri Lankan neighbor “acts decisively and with vision” toward reconciliation with minority Tamils by continuing power sharing talks.
The Indian government has been under pressure from lawmakers, largely from the southern state of Tamil Nadu, home to some 60 million Tamils, to support the proposed resolution at the rights council.
Krishna however said that a decision will be taken only after the resolution is tabled and discussed.
India was a strong backer of Sri Lanka’s military campaign to defeat Tamil Tiger rebels after a failed military intervention in 1987.
Copyright 2012 The Washington Post

March 3, 2013

Regimes of Cruelty: “Buddhist” Sri Lanka’s War Crimes Against Tamils (1)

Tamil Civilians Slaughtered By the War Criminal Sri Lankan Army, January – April 2009

Tamil girls lamenting the slaughter of their family members by the War Criminal Sri Lankan Army (Jan – April 2009)

“…What happened in Sri Lanka was a major Rwanda-like atrocity, in a different scale, where the West didn’t care. There was plenty of early warning. This [conflict] has been going on for years and decades. Plenty of things could have been done [to prevent it]. But there was not enough interest.”

(Noam Chomsky at a 2009 United Nations forum on R2P, the Responsibility to Protect doctrine established by the UN in 2005)

Cruelty is the intentional and avoidable infliction of harm and suffering on sentient beings. In the ethics of Suddha Sanmargam, cruelty is paradigmatic of what is morally wrong and evil.

Further, in Suddha Sanmargam, the prevalence of cruelty in nature and human societies is explained in terms of the ignorance of the truth of soul-kinship (the fact that another sentient being is an embodied soul similar to oneself in terms of its basic origin, nature, and predicament) and its instantiation in the form of the biological truth of the common origin, kinship, nature, and predicament of all life.

The moral laws of compassion and the laws of Karma established by ARUTPERUMJOTHI have their foundations in this truth of soul-kinship and constitute the means of bringing about its realization in சீவர்கள் or embodied souls. I will elaborate in future posts on these central truths of Suddha Sanmargam.

Suddha Sanmargam holds that starvation, torture, and murder are the worst harms which can befall சீவர்கள் (Seevargal), or sentient beings, or embodied souls. When சீவர்கள் inflict such harms on other sentient and embodied beings, or when, despite having the requisite knowledge and capability,  they fail to prevent, alleviate, or terminate such harms which threaten or befall other sentient beings, they violate ARUTPERUMJOTHI’S commandments of compassion designed to regulate the conduct of சீவர்கள் toward one another.

As a consequence, they are subject to the unerring operations of the laws of karma instituted by ARUTPERUMJOTHI for the purpose of bringing about a moral transformation in the nature and conduct of such சீவர்கள் or embodied souls, a moral transformation wrought on the anvil of suffering in a variety of forms.

The hearts and egos of such சீவர்கள் hardened by indulgence in cruelty toward their own soul-kin are eventually softened and transformed only by an enforced sojourn in the vale of intense suffering.

In addition, such instances of suffering, whether caused by moral evil in the form of violations of the commandments of compassion, or by violations of the laws of nature, or by lack of caution in one’s actions, are a necessary condition of the development of compassion, a sine qua non, according to Suddha Sanmargam, of enlightenment or liberation. This is because compassion is, in its very nature, directed toward the prevention, alleviation, or termination of suffering.

Hence, the occurrence and reality of various forms of suffering is required for the exercise and development of compassion, a sine qua non of liberation or enlightenment.

But all this does not justify indifference or inaction toward the suffering of others on the grounds that such suffering is a consequence of their own bad Karma stemming from their violations of the moral laws of compassion, failure to act in accordance with the laws of nature, or foolhardiness or lack of caution in their actions.

Indeed, this form of indifference or inaction, regardless of the accompanying specious attempt to justify it by appealing to the bad Karma of the victims, is simply another form of cruelty!

Further, the cause of suffering is irrelevant to the commandments or requirements of compassion to alleviate and/or terminate the suffering.

If I suffer from burns due to foolhardiness or lack of caution in handling flammable material, or if I am afflicted with leprosy due to bad karma, this is irrelevant to the moral requirement of compassion to provide medical assistance to me.

Hence, the fact that a sentient being suffers due to bad karma, failure to act in accordance with the laws and regularities of nature, or lack of caution, is irrelevant to the moral requirements of compassion.

Therefore, on the path of Suddha Sanmargam, there is a solemn moral obligation to refrain from cruelty, to do one’s very best in preventing, alleviating, or terminating cruelty, and, if necessary for these purposes, to document and highlight acts of cruelty.

In light of this obligation, I wish to make a very small contribution by way of drawing attention, in this blog devoted to Suddha Sanmargam, to the crimes of cruelty against the Tamils in Northern Sri Lanka, perpetrated with pathological impunity and callousness on the world stage in the 21st century, by the Sri Lankan government and military.

It is worth noting that the brutal Sri Lankan military receives considerable assistance and training from the Israeli Defense Forces, an equal partner in perpetrating heinous acts of cruelty on defenseless civilian populations in the Palestinian territories and beyond.

Indeed, the tactic adopted by the Sri Lankan government and military of attempting to ensure that there were no international observers in or near its killing fields, by targeting such observers and their locations or fields of operation, is reminiscent of the hoary tactics of the War Criminal IDF in the occupied Palestinian territories and in its invasions of Lebanon.

Israeli built Kfir plane used by Sri Lankan Air Force. Photo: Wikipedia.

India, Sri Lanka’s pathetic and morally paralyzed neighbor which harbors delusions of moral superiority in international affairs, also bears considerable moral responsibility for supporting the Sri Lankan government and military in this conflict and turning a blind eye to the latter’s horrendous war crimes against the Tamil-speaking civilian population in the areas of conflict with the Tamil Tigers in 2009 in the Northern territories of Sri Lanka.

It should be noted in this context that the vast majority of Tamils in Sri Lanka are the descendants of the Tamils who migrated from India to Sri Lanka as early as 2nd century CE, a fact supported by the evidence of the discovery of potsherds with Tamil writing dated 1st – 2nd century CE in Poonakari, just below the Jaffna peninsula, in Northern Sri Lanka.

The U.N. (which to its shame is yet to order an international probe into the war crimes of Sri Lanka’s government and military) and the world’s major powers, e.g., USA, Canada, European nations, Russia, China, and Japan also bear responsibility for failing to organize a humanitarian intervention, or any other means necessary, to prevent the mass slaughter of the Tamil-speaking civilians in the areas of conflict in Northern Sri Lanka.

But, of course, it is a truism of Realpolitik that these world powers hold the U.N. captive to their Chimpanzee-style politics and intervene only when their own sordid and petty economic and/or strategic interests, or interests of criminal hegemony, are at stake and rarely on grounds which are only morally compelling.

A recent documentary, by the award-winning film maker and journalist Callum Macrae, on the war crimes of the Sri Lankan military, titled “No Fire Zone – The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka” presents graphic and compelling evidence for the following truths:

http://pulitzercenter.org/reporting/killing-fields-sri-lanka-film-trailer

The treacherous “No Fire Zone” set up by the Sri Lankan government and military in January 2009 in the Tamil territories in Northern Sri Lanka served as a cruel trap for hundreds of thousands of civilians who flooded into the area in the hopes of finding a safe haven. This area was brutally and indiscriminately shelled by the Sri Lankan military, resulting, according to U.N. estimates, in the killings of some 40,000 – 70,000 Tamils.

Macrae’s documentary shows the decapitated and bloodied bodies of men, women, and children strewn all over the treacherous “No Fire Zone”. This is assuredly the way of Ravana, the legendary demon-king of Lanka vanquished by Lord Rama in the Hindu epic Ramayana, and not the way of the Buddha!

A salient truth pointed out by a U.N. worker, Peter Mackay, who was trapped for two weeks in this vicious and cruel farce of “No Fire Zone”, is the fact that the Sri Lankan military set up the zone within the range of all of their artillery.

Why would they do this if their goal was in truth to provide a safe haven to Tamil civilians fleeing from the conflict? According to Mackay, in reality, the Sri Lankan army was actively targeting these defenseless Tamil civilians in their so-called “No Fire Zone”.

If this is not a case of premeditated slaughter of defenseless civilians based on their ethnicity, and, therefore, a clear case of a war crime and crime against humanity, I wonder what could possibly count as one.

The documentary also describes the shelling of aid-centres and make-shift hospitals after the UN or Red Cross workers informed the Sri Lankan military, in accordance with standard practice, of their locations.

There is footage showing parents wailing over their dying and dead children.

Video footage or images provided by the Sri Lankan soldiers, the true sons of the demon-king Ravana, show a Tamil Tiger commander interrogated and then tortured and killed, his mutilated body in the dirt; those who had surrendered, or been captured, bound, blindfolded,  and executed in cold blood; naked bodies of dead Tamil women, who show evident signs of physical and sexual abuse, filmed and accompanied by degrading comments by the onlooking Sri Lankan soldiers, and on and on. The catalogue reeks of all that has gone terribly wrong in the human condition.

SHAME ON SRI LANKA! SHAME ON INDIA! SHAME ON THE U.N. ! SHAME ON THE WORLD POWERS ! SHAME ON HUMANITY!

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