The Destruction of Buddhism, Part 1

This series of posts comes from Dr. Sharif Abdullah of the Commonway Institute, a regular visitor to Sri Lanka and active peaceworker.

sharif-buddhism-is-dead-1 sharif-buddhism-is-dead-2
The war poster caption reads:
“Now we have a country for ourselves,
There is now a tomorrow for you, son.”
“We salute you!”

I had gotten pretty immune to the never ending stream of “patriotic” billboards and posters along Galle Road, Sri Lanka ‘s Main Street . Soldiers in jungle gear, faces smeared with war paint, huge assault guns held in ready position, with lots and lots of bullets draped on them – the jewelry of death.

Because I turn off the propaganda of war (in whatever country I’m in), I almost missed this poster: a little larger than usual, and with more implements of violence (jet fighters, helicopters…). But, the thing that got my attention was its position: right in front of a huge statue of the Buddha.  My first reaction was: “I didn’t see that.” Maybe my mind conjoined two very separate images — after all, most of Galle Road is a blur to me, after traveling this main traffic artery for over a dozen years.

A few days later, I drove back by. This time, I asked my driver to stop. And I took some photos. And a movie clip, in case someone accuses me of Photoshopping (a verb, akin to plagiarizing).

I am not a Buddhist scholar. I haven’t formally studied the religion. But, from the little that I know, I believe the Buddha would unequivocally condemn the violence being done in his name in Sri Lanka . If that statue could move, it would get up and tear down the poster that glorifies and revels in violence. If that statue could cry, it would.

All around the world, I see people all too willing to hijack and subvert their most precious spiritual beliefs, to satisfy their lust for blood and their lust for power.

This isn’t about a minor deviation from a minor aspect of a hard to understand religious dogma. It is a major violation of one of the core tenets of one of the world’s most important faiths.

But that’s not the bad part: what turns my stomach is the near-silence met by this travesty.


  • Very sad indeed; I have some connection to Sri Lanka and it saddens me that of all the impossible perversions of spirituality that could possibly exist; that this one has taken place. The Buddha would certainly not approve of the suggestion that he either condones war or that the fighters of this war are defending Buddhism… very sad but all too human.

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