An Open Letter to Mr. Sampanthan
| by Shelton A. Gunaratne*
Dear Mr. Sampanthan:
( March 14, 2014, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) May I suggest that the TNA and the GoSL consider ahimsa and dharma principles of Hinduism and the dependent co-arising (paticca-samuppada) doctrine of Buddhism to bring about amity and harmony between the Sinhala and Tamil ethnic communities in Sri Lanka.
If you try to resolve problems in Asia by applying Oriental wisdom rather than by applying Occidental thought, which brainwashed us to rely on the white man’s wisdom for more than 500 years, we will stand a better chance of peaceful co-existence.
Let me call upon the so-called Buddhist rulers of Sri Lanka to adopt the Buddha’s dasarajadharma as their principles of good governance. Just forget about the jargon on human rights, press freedom, etc., that the West and its paid subsidiary, the UN , are using selectively to destabilize countries run by ‘pariahs’ they dislike.
After committing itself to dasarajadharma rule, the GoSL should re-assess what kind of discrimination against minorities exist in Sri Lanka vis a vis the majority Sinhalese. It should not be afraid to ask the question whether Tamils are restricted from owning land and settling down in any part of the island and whether the country can afford to set apart a vast tract of land specifically for one ethnic group.
The GoSL should declare its belief in the ti-lakkhana of existence: dukkha (suffering), anatta (no self) and anicca (impermanence). It should readily agree to dislodge rulers who behave as if they have everlasting souls and want to entrench themselves in power.
Because all problems are points of various ongoing processes, apply the same ti-lakkhana to assess social conflicts. Existence is suffering. Therefore, social or ethnic problems (included in suffering) cannot be totally eliminated. they can only be alleviated.
Both GoSL and TNA should thus strive to approach negotiation with this basic understanding. Both Tamil and Sinhala intransigence is the result of their false belief in self or ego. The Tamils seek to depend on external forces (the West, UN and the Diaspora plus Tamil Nadu) to maintain their false ego while the Sinhalese feel miffed. Both parties forget that no permanent solutions exist in a world where all conditioned things are impermanent.
Sampanthan and the TNA must be more realistic: Don’t expect the GoSL to self-incriminate itself by proving it killed any more than 7,000 “terrorists” in the no-fly zone. Surely, the names of the missing or the dead must be known to the TNA by now. Collect these names and produce them before the general public rather than seeking international intervention. Follow the principles of dharma and ahimsa.
The Sinhala Buddhists should study the mutual causality process embedded in the dependent co-arising doctrine to understand the causal links that lead to the karmic effects of tanha (craving) and upadana (clinging), from which the ethnic problem has arisen.
This is just a brief outline of how Oriental “wisdom” could help us restore our ability to self-govern. Andaya’s sibling seems to rely too heavily on Western political science because he cannot think outside of his allegiance to Occidental “wisdom.” Despite his incorrigible bias, his suggestions also should receive GoSL and TNA’s attention at this late stage.
[Dr. Gunaratne is a professor of communication emeritus currently residing in the United States. A proponent of mindful journalism, he wrote the book "The Dao of the Press: A Humanocentric Theory" in 2005.]