Making sense of the jubilance and victory, amidst confused feelings

I am stuck in traffic, stationary for the past half an hour at the Colpetty junction because the roads are closed as President Mahinda Rajapasksa and Ministers are returning back to Colombo after a jubilant and victorious speech on the victory of the Sri Lankan government in defeating the LTTE and killing its leader, Prabhakaran. While I write this to while away the time, I hear and see helicopters flying above and hear the sounds of Kafirs flying too high for me to see from the car.

A passenger in a three wheeler watches me while I type this. He smiles at me. It is a smile of victory.

On TV I hear people on the street commenting on the victory, some calling it a victory for the Sinhalese, and the Sinhala Buddhist, some wishing the President the status of a Buddha for bringing peace to Sri Lanka.

There is no doubt that this Government has done something no other Government could do. This Government has militarily defeated one of the deadliest terrorist organizations in the world. This government has done something that not even America, the worlds largest and most powerful army could do with the war on terror. Kill the leader of one of the deadliest terrorist organizations in the world.

All around me I see relief and jubilance. A 26 year old war has apparently ended. Our generation has not known a Sri Lanka without this war, and suddenly it seems possible, that it is over.

I am left with confused feelings.

Why am I not rejoicing and jubilant. Joining in the exhilarating conversations that people around me are having, those conversations that are commending the President, feeling that at last justice has been done, that a new beginning is possible.
I do not condone what the LTTE did, and stood for in its terror tactics. If as an organization they are wiped out, I am glad, we are rid of a terrorist organization that had dubious honour of inventing the suicide belt and using child soldiers.

I am left with confused feelings.

I feel that due to many historical reasons the Tamil people in our country did have grievances, that the ordinary Tamil person did not have some of the same choices that a Sinhala person has.

Unlike immigrants that protest for their rights in other Western countries. The Tamil people are not immigrants in our country. They are from the same land as the Sinhala. In fact, myth and history and now gene analysis indicates that the Sinhala are descendents from Indian Tamils (69% ) with about 25% Bengali and only about 4% from the natives of Sri Lanka (Veddhas), .

I do believe this land belongs to them as much as it does to the Sinhalese.
But I do not condone the manner in which some Tamil group tried to obtain these rights.

I am left with confused feelings.

I do not advocate violence and killing and hatred and I don’t think that deep in the hearts of those rejoicing in the death of Prabhakaran advocates any of these under normal circumstances. The Sinhalese hate the LTTE, and there may be a minority of Sinhalese that do not see a difference between the Tamil people and LTTE.

I cannot rejoice in the fact that the victory flags that are being waved about comes at the expense of many lives; the lives of Sri Lankan soldiers, lives of LTTE soldiers, lives of ordinary civilians, Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim.

I met a convoy of cars, vans, three wheelers waving Sri Lankan flags, and I felt personally guilty, as if these people are celebrating the death of the hundreds and thousands of people who have died. The victory parades seems to be gloating. Of course this is an assumption I make. Most are celebrating hope, a future free from terrorism, a feeling unknown for over 26 years. They are justified in their jubilation.

I am left with confused feelings.

But I know some are celebrating the death of the terrorists and most specifically the LTTE leader.

I cannot celebrate the violent killing of anyone, even if it is the leader of one the most dangerous terrorist organizations in the world. Some would say, it is justified, as he is responsible for the deaths of so many.

Nothing justifies a violent killing.

All who have died are human beings, even if war makes us behave like wild animals.
We have fought a war based on differences, but I look at the mutilated remains of corpses, that only show a human. Flesh and blood. In their demise, I can’t see the difference between their hopes and dreams from those who killed them. We are just flesh and blood. Nothing more. Nothing less.

I do not want these victorious celebrations to hurt or humiliate anyone, especially the Tamil people. Such pain brings on more pain and hatred that will only feed the cycle of violence we have been part of.

Today (Tuesday), President Rajapaksa said “"We must find a homegrown solution to this conflict. That solution should be acceptable to all the communities. "That solution, which would be based on the philosophy of Buddhism, will be an example to the whole world." (http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5gVoaDFmbCYS-Usz9ACDRIengj21QD989OJTO0)

Gloating over the violent death of anyone is not in accordance with the Dhamma. This is the source of my discomfort, this inability to show exuberance at the violence and death that marks the military victory.

But I am filled with a quiet anticipation, a sense of disbelief, a sense of relief. I am, girding my energy for the work ahead. The work of reconciliation, of forgiveness, of fulfilling the aspirations of the Tamil people of the Muslim people and the Sinhala people, of creating a land that belongs to the Sinhala, Tamil, Muslim and Burgher people. The work of fighting the mistrust and hatred between brothers and sisters, children of the same land. This is the real war and this is the real work to be done.

Maybe the first step is to translate the Sri Lankan national anthem in to Tamil, so that the Tamil People can sing it with conviction, with understanding, with love. So that we, children of one mother, “Eka mawekuge daru kala bawina”, can sing it as one.

I am left with confused feelings that only indicate what I hope for, what I pray for.

I pray for all those who lost their lives in this terrible war.
I hope we never forget this dark episode in our history, so we may never repeat it again.
I hope we forgive each other for the terrible deeds we have done to each other.
I hope we learn each other’s tongues so that we speak as one.
I hope we learn to hear each other and listen to each other.

I hope we dream together.

I hope we co-create a peaceful Sri Lanka.


Being the World

My first posting to my first blog!!!

The concept of ‘being the world’ is that we are inseparable from the world we live in, and that the change we want to see in the world is within us, and we must live and act today as if we are already living in the world we dream of.

Part of this ‘world’ is conceptual (and visionary), and in trying to ‘be the world’ means I have to start with changing myself, so that through me the world I dream of may emerge.

Changing myself is certainly challenging. Many times I am confronted by my own incongruence of what I say and what I do. As I learn and grow with others who are on similar journeys I am also faced with the ever evolving and ever emerging vision of the world.

This journey is sometimes full of joy and sometimes full of frustration but always full of learning. In this space I share my thoughts, feeling and experiences of trying things out in the world. I would like to meet you in this virtual space we have created so that we may link hands and minds and learn from each other in our journey.

I like the mythology of the Shambhala Warrior that explains the journey of people like you and me.

Shambhala Warrior

Coming from almost twelve centuries from the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, ‘Shambhala’ has many interpretations. It is thought to be a mythical kingdom hidden somewhere in Tibet. There is reference to the Shambhala prophecy. Some thinks it is the inner spiritual transformation of people across the world, some think it is an external event that will unfold at a particular time. The explanation I like best is the one where it is prophesied that there will come a time in the history of the Earth and the history of human beings, a time of great danger, violence and destructiveness, and as earth’s living beings fights for its survival, the kingdom of Shambhala emerges.

The concept of Shambhala and Shambhala Warriors is so beautifully written in Joanna Macy’s 'Coming Back to Life, practices to reconnect our lives, our world' (reference 1 below), and I quote her here (as I am hoping it will motivate you to read the rest of her book).

“You cannot go there, for its not a place; it’s not a geopolitical entity. It exists in the hearts and minds of the Shammbhala “Warriors”. Nor can you recognize a Shambhala Warrior when you see her or him, for they wear no uniforms or insignia, and they carry no banners. They have no barricades on to which to climb to the enemy, or behind which they can hide to rest or regroup.”

It is thought that the work of the Shambhala Warrior is most important at this particular time in human history, when the Earth is reeling from the impact of human activity, when humans are at war with each other in every corner of the globe, when the economic and financial system that dictates the way people live starts crumbling and when the actions of human beings annihilate other human beings.

Shambhala Warriors know that the ills of this world are “mind made”, and “in this time, the Shambhala Warriors go in to training”. They train using the weapons of compassion and insight.

“You have to have compassion because it gives you the juice, the power, the passion to move. It means not to be afraid of the pain of the world. Then you can open to it, step forward, act. But the weapon by itself is not enough. It can burn you out, so you need the other – you need insight in to the radical interdependence of all phenomena. With that wisdom you know that it is not a battle between “good guys” and “bad guys,” because the line between good and evil runs through the landscape of every human heart. With insight into our profound interrelatedness – our deep ecology – you know that actions undertaken with pure intent have repercussions throughout the web of life, beyond what you can measure or discern. By itself, that insight may appear too cool, too conceptual to sustain you and keep you moving, so you need the heat of compassion. Together these two can sustain us as agents of wholesome change. They are gifts for us to claim now in the healing of the world.”

This way of being, is similar to the description of the Tempered Radical (reference 2 below). Tempered Radicals are people who are part of a system and works from the fringes, from within, to create change.

The mythology of the Shambhala Warrior and Tempered Radical fills me with energy and self empowerment to act, to change and make a difference.

It teaches me to be compassionate towards those who maybe hurting themselves and others, but also have the power to use my own wisdom and insights to awaken them. I can be humble and be compassionate towards my own human fallibilities, when I find I am incongruent in what I say and what I do. It is an opportunity for me to raise my awareness of that gap, and the existence of that gap in others, and see how I can be authentic in my own actions.

It reminds me to do what I do, with responsibility for the purity in my intention and for the impact of my actions. It liberates me to be without attachement to the outcome of my actions. Small steps I take could have big impact. (There is so much more to explore about what I have just said in this paragraph - so more about the 'why' and 'what' of what is said will be posted later).

This blog is a space for me to 'word my world’ in to being and to explore and share my experiments and adventures in the world as I journey to find my Shambhala Warrior within. It is a space to invite your comments and stories so that we may both enrich each other as we co-create the world we dream of.

Welcome fellow Shambhala Warrior!

(1) Macy, J. M., & Brown, M. Y. (1998). Coming Back to Life : Practices to recconect our lives, our world. Gabriola Island: New Society Publsihers, pp 60-61
(2) Meyerson, D. E., & Scully, M. A. (1995). Temered Radicalism and the Politics of Ambivalence and Change. Organization Science , 6 (5), 585-600