Your Excellencies the High Commissioners of Sri Lanka, etc
Honourable My Lords,
Right Honourable Ministers
Honourable Members of Parliament
Most venerable eminences of religious faiths,
Leaders of Faith communities,
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen
The world is still terribly shocked and in deep grief after the senseless, brutal bombings on Easter Sunday in Sri Lanka. We are still coming to terms with news about the victims of this tragedy – it has touched so many people from all walks of life. From the young to the old, from the poor to the rich – no one was spared. These attacks were targeted at Catholic Churches and tourist hotels on one of the holiest days in the Christian calendar. An act of violence such as this must be condemned - there is nothing more barbaric than setting off a bomb as people are kneeling for prayer. As Chief Sangha Nayake of Great Britain, and Head of the Sri Lankan Sangha Sabha of the United Kingdom, I stand as a representative of the Buddhist community in solidarity with the victims of these awful events, and especially with the people from all faiths and none who are grieving for lost ones and hoping for the recovery of those injured. An attack on one faith community is an attack on us all.
The perpetrators of these bombings have sought to bring us apart. They would like to sow mistrust and disharmony amongst us. But as a Buddhist we should respond to these violent acts with love and compassion. We must not allow darkness and anger to extinguish the light, friendship, understanding and dialogue that already exists between our communities, either in Sri Lanka or amongst communities in UK.
The Dhammapada says
“All tremble at the rod.
All fear death.
With equanimity, one should neither strike nor cause to strike.”
“Conquer anger with non-anger or love
Conquer evil by good
Conquer miserliness with generosity
Conquer falsehood by truth”
In one of the Buddha’s suttas he mentions a discussion with Akkosaka Brahamin in which he explains that even though you may be treated harshly or wickedly by others, you must not respond in a similar fashion. Instead the Buddha said “Treat to others as you wish them to treat to you.”
Great Emperor Asoka of India once said:
“Whoever praises his own religion, due to excessive devotion, and condemns others with the thought "Let me glorify my own religion," only harms his own religion. Therefore contact (between religions) is good. One should listen to and respect the doctrines professed by others.
In his book Wisdom of Forgiveness, the Dalai Lama shared his views on this subject with Bishop Desmond Tutu. They declared that there should be “wisdom for forgiveness for the peace and harmony in the world.”
In a UNESCO declaration it says ‘Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that defences of peace must be constructed’
This is how the Buddha wanted change to take place
In Buddhism love is Metta,
Loving kindness. It is universal love. Unconditioned love.
Metta comes in a category with other three qualities. They are compassion, appreciated Joy and Equanimity. Compassion comes directly to our mind to the beings who are suffering. This quality to be practiced is helping others to overcome their suffering. With Appreciated Joy, just as parents like to see the success of their children, everyone should be happy seeing the success of everyone else - This quality is the opposite of jealousy.
The last quality is equanimity or Balance of mind. Facing the vicissitudes of life is best achieved with balance our mind. This is based on Wisdom. It is through an understanding of anicca, dukkha and anatta, that wisdom is developed. Equanimity is helped by the appreciation of how the Karmic theory, of cause and effect, operates. We this must understand the consequences that we may encounter through the results of our intentional actions.
Everyone thought that Nelson Mendela when he was released from prison after 28 years in the prison may be a man of hatred. But he had utterly changed his mind with love. His solution for South Africa was based on compassion and understanding:
“No one is born hating another person, because of the colour of his skin or his background or his religion. People must learn to hate and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”
I would like to finish by quoting the Buddha:
“He abused me, he beat me, he defeated me, he robbed me, in those who do not harbour such thoughts, hatred is appeased.” - Dhammapada 3,4
“Nahi verena vertani-Sammantica Kudacanam
Averenaca Sammanti- Esadhammo Sanantanao.”
“Hatreds never cease through hatred in this world; through love alone they cease. This is an eternal law”
Talk by Ven.Seelawimala , At the House of Lords
Head of London Buddhist Vihara
Monday 29 April2019
"The Significance of the Tripitaka as a World Heritage "
Forum held at the London Buddhist Vihara
on 16 March 2019
Ven Bogoda Seelawimala, Head of London Buddhist Vihara and the Chief Sanghanayake of Great Britain welcomed the guests and stated that the Government of Sri Lanka has declared the teachings of the Buddha, the Tripitaka as a National Heritage. In order to develop the awareness of this significant act, the Sri Lanka High Commission in London in association with the London Buddhist Vihara has organised this forum.
The Forum was attended by the High Commissioner for Sri Lanka in London, Her Excellency Manisha Gunesekera and Ambassadors of Thailand and Myanmar, High Commissioner for Pakistan and representative of the embassy of Bangledesh and Afganistan.
Presentations were given by Dr Desmond Biddulph, the President of the Buddhist Society in London, Prof Rupert Gethin, the President of the Pali Text Society, Dr Elezabeth Harris from University of Birmingham, Prof Ven Deegalle Mahinda Thero and
Dr Martin Seeger.
The presentations were followed by a lively panel discussion
Click the links below for the video recording
The Significance of Tripitaka as a World Heritage - Part Two
Pictures and video by Tissa Madawela
New Years Day celebration - 2019
The New Year was celebrated at the London Buddhist Vihara with a full day's programme.
The day started with offering of Buddha puja and dana to the monks at 7am which was followed by chanting of seth pirith which was repeated every 3 hours.
The main event of the day was at 3pm, chanting of Maha Paritta.
This event was attended by the new Sri Lanka High Commissioner, HE Manisha Gunasekera.
The celebration was attended by a large number of devotees.
Most Venerable Dr M Vajiragnana
A dana event was held at the Vihara in memory of Dr Medagama Vajiragnana, the former Head Monk of the London Buddhist Vihara
on 15 December. He passed away 12 years ago on 15 December 2006.
After the dana, ceremony of passing of merit to the departed was performed by the devotees.
Pictures by Tissa Madawela
Inter Faith Event 2018
As part of the UK’s Inter Faith Week, London Buddhist Vihara hosted an Inter Faith celebration on 10 November 2018 at which representatives of several religious communities gathered together to reflect on the theme of Peace and Reconciliation in Society.
This was an opportunity to strengthen relations, share experiences and foster understanding between peoples of different religious and non-religious beliefs. London Buddhist Vihara is a founder member of the Inter Faith Network and we are honoured that the IFN’s Executive Director, Dr Harriet Crabtree, was our keynote speaker. The evening included a panel discussion as well as audience participation with a Question & Answer Session.
Katina Ceremony 2018
The end of the traditional rainy season (vas period) was celebrated at the London Buddhist Vihara on Sunday, 4 November 2018.
This year, the katina robe was donated to Most Venerable Bogoda Seelawimala, the Head Monk at London Buddhist Vihara.
The occasion was attended by over 350 devotees.
Kathina signifies the traditional end of the Vassa (Rainy) season pertaining to the Buddha's own home ground in Northern India. A Vihara may perform this ceremony only once in any particular year. Kathina is an auspicious event giving devotees the rare opportunity of offering a Kathina robe to the Sangha who have observed the rainy retreat (Vassa) at this Vihara. The occasion also gives an opportunity for practising Dana (generosity) in providing useful requisites to the monks and to the Vihara in general.
This year, seven families of devotees got together to sponsor the kathina period.
New High Commissioner for Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka's new High Commissioner to UK, Manisha Gunasekera arrived in London recently from Seoul, South Korea where she was the Ambassador.
One of her earliest visit was to the London Buddhist Vihara where she received blessing from the Head monk, Ven Bogoda Seelawimala Thero and the resident monks.
Founders Day 2018
The birth anniversary of Anagarika Dharmapala, the founder of the London Buddhist Vihara was celebrated on Saturday, 15 September 2018 at the Vihara. The event commenced with the memorial lecture delivered by Professor Peter Harvey, Professor Emeritus of Buddhist Studies at the University of Sunderland. The title of the talk was 'The Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha'.
This was followed by Paritta chanting at 7:30pm which went on until midnight. Twenty five monks from various Buddhist viharas in the UK took part.
The following morning dana to the monks was offered by the devotees followed by transference of merits to Anagarika Dharmapala
Pictures by Tissa Madawela