As we celebrate our 69th Independence Day on February 4, we need to ask ourselves whether we are the noble country we claim to be. We need to ask how much independence we have in our homes, villages and in the country. We cherish our life and we need to safeguard it with patience and [...]


We need to cherish and nourish our Independence


As we celebrate our 69th Independence Day on February 4, we need to ask ourselves whether we are the noble country we claim to be. We need to ask how much independence we have in our homes, villages and in the country.
We cherish our life and we need to safeguard it with patience and wisdom while looking to the future. Religion and good habits are there to make life more meaningful. Unfortunately, most Sri Lankans belong to a religion largely in name. Though we try to adorn our lives with good habits and qualities, many of us rely on false values and practices. Though we seek happiness, rather than undergo suffering, we wonder who deserves to be happy.

All beings need food for their sustenance. Sri Lankans who have gone against nature to seek food and living conditions alien to them, are like the toddy tapper going from one tree to another with the help of a rope. We have, to a large extent, lost the greatest wealth of good health. The medical profession has largely strayed from the quality of kindness. Health is wealth, according to the teachings of the Lord Buddha. Today one of the biggest problems we face is that we have more sick people than healthy people. Medicine is expensive and doctors’ fees are high. The more sick and mentally retarded people we have the greater our problems are. True we will always have needs and deficiencies. There are inequalities among the deities also. Some are more powerful than others. The Buddha’s Eightfold doctrine is applicable to both humans and the deities.

Do we enjoy true independence? Are we preserving it or slowly destroying it? Only a few are keen and work for its preservation.

What of the future generation? Who is responsible for the virtual collapse of good speech, good qualities of living, good relationships, simple living and other noble qualities? We all must take the blame for this. If we do not have the qualities of kindness and patience, what can we pass on to others and the country? When we get old and near death, can we even die in peace? We need ponder on this. If we realise that nothing is permanent in this world, we could enjoy a sort of independence and freedom. But again, parents can never be free of their children. One must not take the role of a parent if one is not able to properly play that role.

Religion and noble ideals are there to help in the realisation of our duties. Wealth, material and immaterial, is obtained by our own efforts. When there is robbing and cheating and undue amassing of wealth that society is heading in the direction of what happened to ‘Alibaba’s forty thieves’. Today in schools, hospitals, temples, churches, kovils, mosques, on the threshing floor and practically in the whole country there are examples of ‘Alibaba’s forty thieves’. What happened to the concept of ‘Sri Lanka as a noble country’? We need to realise and do our duties while teaching and training the ignorant. To develop the country, we need discipline and good behaviour. When these are not there, there is little or no development, happiness and security. Who can be independent then?

If we realise our duties and obligations, then freedom is assured. People of all religions and races must live in peace. Very few acknowledge that our lives are guided by the effects of karma. On this Independence Day, it is good for us also to understand our status. According to the blessings of Buddhism there are ways to live successfully whatever our religion, caste or creed may be. These teachings helped people to live in peace and freedom. The teachings helped to curb dissension, calamities and internal divisions. These teachings are needed even more today. Demands, problems and short comings are growing in society. How can we protect and nourish the Independence that we got? Those in authority need to give more attention to this.

Recently a friend who visited India gave details about technical training there. We too have this knowledge. With discipline and commitment, the Indians do their work. Those undergoing hotel training cannot sit still for eight hours. Those who are following training in music for a degree must go on practising for hours and hours with patience. This is the discipline that is maintained in India. Most of us have no training to work with dedication and commitment ever for a few hours. The farmer who went to the field early morning would work till evening, come rain or sun. Why do we not have this commitment and patience today? The young and old, and not so old, who are to develop and give liberty to this country must draw up a time frame and resolve with commitment to develop the country, within that framework.

Teachers, parents, leaders, workers and others need to work for our plate of rice and even preserve every drop of water. We need to take every measure to carry this country out of the mire and into to a bright future. Our beautiful country has a history and we must protect its good name for all to benefit from the fruits of independence.

When I visited China, I realised that trees were protected there. One particular tree, a plant was respected and was planted in front of many hotels and homes by the Chinese. This plant is not much respected and cared for here. It is what we call Alocacia or in Sinhala, ‘Habarala’, which is of help to us. In villages its leaves are carried to protect oneself from rain. Fishermen wrap fish using these leaves. During famines, we have heard that the yams from the plant have been detoxified and used as food. During Sirimavo Bandaranaike’s government, when there was a scarcity of rice, the yam was in great demand. Plants and trees are in danger sometimes. Since this particular plant was not threatened it is respected and cared for in China. We must protect nature too because we need nature for us to live. That is why our Lord Buddha asked his monks not to even break a leaf or branch of a tree. Today the tree that gave Lord Buddha the shade and protection to attain Buddhahood is treated with great respect and protected all over the world.

If we are united as a grateful nation, we can be truly independent. Let us contemplate on our Independence in the privacy of our homes.

The ‘Sahana Sevaya’ at Gangaramaya, 61 Sri Jinarathana Road, Colombo 2 will accept all your news and views.

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