|What lies beneath?|
Most faiths are
big on confessions. The Catholic faith in particular has preserved the ancient
tradition of herding their flocks into small pens known as confessionals and
listening to their list of misdemeanours. After the said confession, the
confessor is supposedly absolved of their “crimes” and then directed towards
some suitable penance. In the case of Catholicism, a dozen “Hail Mary’s” and
two “Our Father’s” always go down a treat.
A priest has
always been willing to lend a ear, a shoulder and a helping hand. He is the
first agony uncle that many a devotee turns to when they are ailing in spirit,
mind and even body. He's a trustworthy figure; a man of the cloth. In fact, God is his right hand man or so we’re led to believe. In the
21st century as walls come down we start to understand that the men,
we once trusted to keep the faith, are false idols with feet of clay.
I don’t want to
adopt a holier-than-thou stance on which religion is more blameworthy. Men are
at the helm of nearly all of them and until that changes they’ll have to grow
thick skins and wide shoulders. Yes, verbal rotten eggs and tomatoes are about
to be launched.
|Praying he doesn't get found out!|
My particular disappointment is with the ancient religion of Buddhism. Last week a renowned cleric
of a certain South London temple was jailed for seven years. This was following
a unanimous guilty verdict for sexual assault against a minor over thirty years
ago. The minor grew up to become a leading ophthalmologist and, following her
father’s death, decided to file a charge.
I know the
priest in question and he certainly believed he had got away with it. His
origins are from a developing country that is rooted in patriarchy. In this
society, women have no voice and the law dismisses them as mere chattels of their
fathers, brothers and husbands. Such is the contempt and scorn that is heaped
upon women that men have become arrogant, selfish and with an ego greater than
the small islands they call home.
|Your body is a temple so why the desecration?|
The islands where
Buddhist monks are to be found are also home to some of the best beaches. A veritable
paradise for tourists though the inhabitants live in quiet desperation or adopt
demon like characteristics. Priests are cloaked in orange, they smile and appear
gracious. They have taken vows but very few are put into practice. They partake
of food once a day but they feed their minds with the unwholesome. They play on
your sympathy and they’ll have you bowing in obeisance and respect.
Above all, the
religion lacks the one essential ingredient of immortatlity. There is no soul.
People with no soul also have no heart, They are poor in spirit. They are quick
to anger and slow to forgive. They preach a doctrine of loving kindness but practise black magic against their neighbour. Birth, death, marriage and children are mere civil and social
arrangements. These are a people that do more harm than good, protected by a constitution that disregards human rights.
|No prosperity without freedom|
I don’t care to
dwell on the unsavoury, but statistics
reveal that the poverty fuelled sex industries are located in developing countries of the Theravada
Buddhist tradition; Bangkok being the most notorious. Where their is
suppression, oppression and depression, exploitation is the natural outcome.
We must not put
priests or anyone else on pedestals or build temples on shifting sands. The
priesthood is political but it must be established with palatable utilitarian
principles of “the greatest happiness for the greatest number.” Or perhaps it
is.....”happiness” being eschewing holy vows and turning to depraved pursuits.
A priest must ever
be conscious of his position in society. He may play the role of confidant and
confessor but he must never be a friend. He may be warm and generous but he
must not be exclusive with his outpourings of good will. Favouritism is not in
his vocabulary. He seeks solitude instead of company. He is an instrument not
conceit and vanity is the material life he left behind. Should he find himself
hankering after worldly things....money that would buy him a little status
amongst his followers, visual aids (television and literature) that over
stimulate and titillate and the company of women and children who arouse their
sensuality....then it's time to find a cave or give up the robes.
Love, which is never romantic can only be understood from an aesthetic point of view. He has no truck with it and when
it does enter his mind he recognises the imposter that often poses as love –
lust. If he weakens during a trying time then he must redefine his priorities
|Offering her innocence|
Greed is often
the overriding emotion found in the hearts of men, whether they are in the
priesthood or not. Lust and greed make for psychotic bedfellows. They were
surely the motives of the fair skinned, snake eyed monk who preyed upon a mere
child in the bud of womanhood. The spiritual destruction he wreaked on her will remain with her forever.
In the 21st
century, the Buddhist philosophy needs to take long, hard look at itself. It
needs to make a decision as to what it is. It must speak out against a social
injustices that allow women and children to be used as sex objects by the vice
cartels as much as any another group. It must de-frock and ex-communicate the flies in the ointment!
|Wake up and....smell the truth!|
What is noble
about this path? Where is loving kindness? Where was desirelessness when a girl
was being sexually assaulted? Why does Buddhism wish no harm to sentient beings
but damage the body and mind of a growing child?
Justice has been
done following this monk’s incarceration (a Chief Priest no less) but the
memory of that foul deed he committed cannot be erased.
"Religion is your daily life," so says the Lebanese poet, Kahlil Gibran. If daily life is about violation and abuse then count me out of religion.
It is a permanent stain
on the robe and the mutilation of a noble philosophy. I lost my religion many
years ago though my faith and zeal for righteousness remains intact. Religion
is dangerous as it is made by men.
Faith is something that never leaves you. I
know which I prefer. It was Gandhi who famously said: “in heaven, there are no
religions – thank God!”
Labels: World view