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Postcard from Sri Lanka ... Buddhism

Ancient Rock Buddha

A section of the
Gal Vihara rock carvings -
huge images of Buddha
carved into a
granite rock face.

Around 70% of the population of Sri Lanka are Buddhists.

    The four noble truths as taught by Buddha are that:

  • all life is suffering;
  • suffering comes from selfish desire;
  • if you can rid yourself of selfish desire then suffering will cease;
  • and the way to eliminate selfish desire is to have the right understanding, thoughts, speech, action, aspiration, exertion, attention and concentration.

Buddha visited Sri Lanka three times, and his most famous relic (the tooth) is currently enshrined In Kandy.

There is a spectacular parade held each year through the streets of Kandy to celebrate the relic.

Buddhism and "government" (be it by way of royalty or elected representatives) have been entwined for centuries in Sri Lanka, and this relationship continues in modern times.

You can see many well preserved archeological remains of Buddhist centres of worship and healing. Features of some of the centres are the huge stupas (some dating back to the 1st Century BC) with one being the tallest brick structure in the world.

The stupa is a monument erected in the memory of Buddha or a Buddhist saint, or commemorating some event or marking a sacred spot.

The centres of learning that were established in ancient Sri Lanka were instrumental in spreading the word of Buddha throughout South East Asia.

You may be disappointed if you visit the sacred bo tree at Anuradhapura. It's the oldest recorded tree in the world, but the sapling that is visible above the high fence that guards the sacred place would not seem to warrant the veneration it receives. If you fold a bo tree leaf in half, you will see where the shape of the stupa comes from.

The Tenants of Buddhism

By ourselves
Is Evil done,
By ourselves
We pain endure,
By ourselves
We cease from wrong,
By ourselves
We become pure,
No-one saves us but ourselves,
No-one can and no-one may
We ourselves must walk the path
Buddha has merely shown the way


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