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Buddhist History: Sri Lanka – Cambodia relations with Special reference to the Period 14th-20th Century

By Dr Hema Goonatilake

The emergence of Theravada Buddhism in Cambodia is conventionally traced back to the 13th century A.C. However, there is emerging epigraphical and sculptural evidence, that Buddhism of both the Mahavihara and Abhayagiri of Sri Lanka had made a strong early impact on the development of Theravada Buddhism in South East Asia when a good part of this region was dominated from about the 5th-6th century A.C. by the Mon Khmer culture, and later became part of the Khmer empire. The movement of Buddhist monks and teachers from Sri Lanka to the region was facilitated by advances in navigation technology that witnessed a quantum leap during the period of the fourth-fifth centuries. This helped the spread of the Pali language, the lingua franca of Theravada through Pali texts written in Sri Lanka. This paper explores these links. 

Buddhist History: Cultural Exchanges between Thailand and Sri Lanka

By Dr. Hema Goonatilake

The growth and development of Buddhism in the Southeast Asia region was the result of a dynamic process with South Asia. Sri Lanka due to its strategic position in the Indian Ocean was a centre of trade and maritime activity at least from the 6th century CE. The kingdoms in the region were partners in an international cultural exchange, in the context of the constant intellectual and cultural traffic within South and South East Asia. Sri Lankan monks and nuns had visited many countries as teachers and propagators of Buddhism and Buddhist culture. Buddhism was the medium through which the dissemination of culture took place. The Southeast Asian monks studied Pali, the language in which the Tripitaka was written down in Sri Lanka in the 1st century B. C. These monks were inspired by the Buddhist sculpture, architecture, literature and painting in Sri Lanka, and created their own forms of art with a local flavour. Among the Southeast Asian countries, Thailand appears to have had the most intense and continuous cultural interchange with Sri Lanka. This paper examines the historical links between Sri Lankan and Thailand. 

Buddhist History: Sri Lanka - Myanmar Historic Relations

By Dr. Hema Goonatilake

One of the earliest references to Buddhism in Myanmar is in the Dipavamsa and the Mahavamsa where mention is made of the two missionaries, Sona and Uttara sent by Emperor Asoka to Suvannabhumi at the same time Arahat Mahinda came to Sri Lanka. Suvannabhumi has been identified as Lower Burma. According to both Sinhalese and Burmese historical records, however, direct religious and cultural relations between Sri Lanka and Myanmar began in the 11th century.  Although India was the country of birth of the founder of Buddhism, Sri Lanka soon became an important centre of propagation of the Dhamma after Thera Mahinda’s teachings took a strong foothold in the country. Writing down of the Tripitaka in the 1st century B.C. and its translation into Pali in the 5th century CE, the Sinhala commentaries on the Tripitaka coming down from the time of Thera Mahinda gave Sri Lanka an unparalleled position in the propagation of the Buddha’s teaching in Pali, the lingua franca of the then Buddhist world. This paper discusses the centuries of Buddhist links between Sri Lanka and Myanmar (Burma). 

Engaged Buddhism: Towards a Buddhist Social Philosophy

By Prof Laksiri Jayasuriya

The spirited revival of interest in Buddhism in the West1 is due to a variety of reasons, and foremost among these are the contradictions arising from the juxtaposition of present day scientific achievements such as the genome project or the new science of cosmology), and the conventional religious systems, fractured with cults, sects, and fundamentalism; and, the profound disenchantment with the new cultural ethos of unfettered greed and selfishness pronounced in the post-industrial globalised world. The new social ethic of these societies represents an attitude of mind born out of perverse forms of selfishness, ruthless competition and an excessive and unmitigated ideology of individualism. These are clearly defining features of many old and new societies driven by the twin forces of a Wellsian godless scientific ethos (Wells 1921) and a market dominated neo-liberal social and economic ideology. A dominant response in the West to this cultural and social malaise has been a renewed interest in the scientific humanism inherent in Buddhism in confronting meaningfully within the acceptable realms of scientific discourse, the challenges presented by contemporary culture of selfishness and greed characteristic of capitalism in postmodern societies. Read more ......about an evolving Buddhist social philosophy. 

Buddhist History: The Role of Sri Lanka in the Growth of Buddhism in India in the New Millennium

By Dr Ananda Guruge. 

This is the text of speech delivered on October 27, 2013 at the "Sri Sambuddhathwa Jayanthi
Mandiraya" ,Colombo. The talk was sponsored by the newly formed Indo – Sri Lanka Buddhist Network  

Engaged Buddhism in India and Role of Theravada Buddhism: Perspectives and Prospects

By Dr Siddharth Singh

Engaged Buddhism, as a specific term, was originally coined by noted Vietnamese Zen teacher Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh. As we know, during the Vietnam War when he and his Dhamma friends were engrossed in their meditative practices and surrounding society was afflicted with the sufferings of the war, the question arose in their mind regarding the objective of their religious life. They thought that when the other part of the society is enveloped with fear, pain and suffering so would it be appropriate for them to confine themselves to their spiritual practices, hiding from the external world? They decided to expand the field of their actions. As an ideal monk to do the spiritual practices so that they could understand the grief and agony of others, and on the other hand, to go out of their Viharas to offer their services to the common people of the society and they gave this way of life a new Chinese term, translated as Engaged Buddhism into English, although not considered to be very accurate translation. This paper explores how it is practiced in India today.

A Buddhist Humanism for the ‘Asian Century’

By Prof Laksiri Jayasuriya

The growing interest in critiquing the Buddhist metaphysic points to the remarkable congruence between the intellectual and moral discourse of the Western and Buddhist Enlightenment traditions. In this regard, this Paper argues that the Buddhist discourse is ideally suited to confront the challenge presented by the scourge of anti-intellectualism and moral decay of a contemporary world which is overcome by an unbridled material progress steeped in a sterile individualism, selfishness, and greed. The Paper concludes by suggesting that a Buddhist Humanism extolling the power of reason and ‘other regarding’ sentiments may generate the intellectual and moral foundations of a cultural renaissance befitting the emerging knowledge based ethos of the ‘Asian Century.’ 

How Buddhist Cultural Memes Were Appropriated By Christianity

By Professor Subhash Kak

What is the exact relationship between the New Testament and ancient Indian texts on Buddhism? How much of the early gospels were inspired by the Buddhist texts? This paper examines how Buddhism may have been misrepresented by the West. 

Media Issues: Buddhist Goals of Journalism and News Paradigm

By Shelton Gunaratne

This essay compares and contrasts the goals of Bud- dhist journalism with the general traits of the dominant/ Western news paradigm to demonstrate the gap between the moral aspirations of the Orient and the instrumental materialistic traits revealed through the performance of the dominant/Western paradigm, which has even margin- alised the moral imperatives of the Decalogue The essay goes on to assess the unique opportunities o ered by Bud- dhist journalism, which no other genre of journalism – devel- opmental, civic/public, peace – is able to o er to improve the quality of journalism, journalists and their profession. 

Buddhism online: A global spiritual force

By Janaka Perera

Today Buddhist websites are proliferating covering almost every known school of Buddhism ranging from Theravada to Mahayana to Tantric. Making known the contribution that Buddhist mental culture can offer to fill the spiritual vacuum that has come with modernization and consumerism is a vital need today. Meditation techniques, for example, can be clearly explained and illustrated on the Net, with an online teacher guiding the student. A core Buddhist understanding is interconnectivity and global interdependence both of which are characteristics of the Internet.  The author discuss this phenomena. 

Buddhist Economics – Myth and Reality

By Dr Ananda Guruge

What E. F. Schumacher saw or heard in Burma (now Myanmar) in 1955 inspired him to explore Buddhist economics as an answer to the new world of 1960s and 1970s, when a generation, disillusioned and disenchanted by prevailing values and norms, was looking for alternatives, among others, to classical or mainstream economics. His slogan “Small is beautiful” attracted worldwide attention as the crux of Buddhist Economics. Despite the events since 1962 in Myanmar, his ideas found and continue to enjoy support among scholars, social activists and Buddhist monks in traditionally Buddhist countries of Asia.  This paper examines this concept. 

Buddhist Economics: Thai King's Sufficiency Economics Model

Interview with Ven. Phra Dr. Anil Sakya, Assistant Secretary to the Supreme Patriarch of Thailand and Deputy Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences of Mahamakut Buddhist University 

Engaged Buddhism: Towards A Buddhist Social Ethics - The Case of Thailand

by Tavivat Puntarigvivat 

Buddhism is often criticized as a religion that, being mainly concerned with personal salvation, lacks a social ethics. Although this may seem to be true, Buddhist teachings on personal conduct do contain principles that could be reinterpreted and extended to a social ethical theory. Thailand offers a good framework in which to approach Buddhist social ethics, for it provides an opportunity to examine socio-political issues under the global market economy at a structural level and from a Third World point of view. 

By Sri Lal Perera

This article describes how Sri Lanka's indigenous (Vedi) people embraced Buddhism and practice it, including an annual ritual. 

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