Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Couple of secularists hanging out & talking about SL & secularism

These clips may appear better (full frame vs. cropped at this blog) at YouTube.

Visit Secular Sri Lanka site for more.

Thanks goes out to Hemantha for making the discussion, recording, & upload to web happen.

- S

On Secularism, Sri Lanka, & Several Related Items

New article at Secular Sri Lanka, check it out!

Here's the 1st paragraph:

"At Secular Sri Lanka website (secularsrilanka.com), related discussion groups (including comments threads at Groundviews.org articles and other sites), and at live meetings in Sri Lanka (at the Rationalist Day event recently http://newslagnostic.blogspot.com/2010/06/report-from-rationalist-day.html & elsewhere), and in the Sri Lankan Diaspora (in US & elsewhere) a relatively old subject - secularism - is receiving a second look. Namely, can increased secularization - in the Sri Lankan context primarily the separation of the government and the religions in an actual sense (or, for example, separating the government and the temple - making Buddhism primarily the concern of the Buddhists and making the government the concern of all, and applying the same approach for all religions) be beneficial to Sri Lanka in advancing peace, national unity, development, creation of a common Sri Lankan identity, and increasing cooperation between Sri Lanka and the Diaspora? While this topic may alarm some Buddhists and some members of the other religions, let me clear the air by saying that those who are thinking about the idea of greater secularization in Sri Lanka are not against Buddhism (most are either culturally Buddhist or are, to some degree, practicing Buddhists, or are agnostics and atheists who have been heavily influenced by Sri Lankan/Therevada Buddhism), nor are they against any organized religion currently active in Sri Lanka or the concept of and practice of religions - they are merely people who love Sri Lanka and would like to see the island pull out of decades of poverty and underdevelopment, and also ethnic/religious unrest. In fact, many who are in favor of greater secularization believe that Buddhism and other religions will benefit - they will be strengthened & may become more useful to people - if practical separation between the government and religions were to occur. Thankfully, now that the 26-plus years long civil war has been ended due to the sacrifice of many, we can take a look at ideas and approaches such as secularism that may speed up positive developments in Sri Lanka. There are many items to consider when thinking about Sri Lanka and secularism. I will briefly outline several items below and point out possible positive outcomes related to greater secularization in Sri Lanka."

Read the rest of the article here/at SSL site.

- S

Saturday, June 12, 2010

$8 for a pair of shoes for a war affected student in Sri Lanka

From the project's page:

"Thousands of children we were affected by the war, do not have access to basic needs such as a pair of shoes, an exercise book or a pencil.

Sarvodaya is already providing these educational resoruces to the children.

This is a campaign to provide 1,00 kids with a pair of shoes.

It costs only $8 for a pair of shoes"

More here.

- S

Interesting ancient religious concept - Brahmavihara

From Wikipedia page for Brahmavihara:

"The four immeasurables are:

Loving-kindness (Pāli: metta, Sanskrit: maitri) towards all: the hope that a person will be well; "the wish that all sentient beings, without any exception, be happy."[9]

Compassion (Pāli and Sanskrit: karuṇā): the hope that a person's sufferings will diminish; "the wish for all sentient beings to be free from suffering."[9]

Joy (Pāli and Sanskrit: mudita): joy in the accomplishments of a person — oneself or another; sympathetic joy; "the wholesome attitude of rejoicing in the happiness and virtues of all sentient beings."[9]

Equanimity (Pāli: upekkhā, Sanskrit: upekṣā): learning to accept loss and gain, praise and blame, and success and failure, all with detachment, equally, for oneself and for others. Equanimity is "not to distinguish between friend, enemy or stranger, but regard every sentient being as equal. It is a clear-minded tranquil state of mind - not being overpowered by delusions, mental dullness or agitation."[10]

Loving-kindness and compassion are both hopes for the future (leading, where possible, to action aimed at realizing those hopes). Joy and equanimity are attitudes to what has already happened, but also with regard to consequences for future action. While these four might be delineated as attitudes to the future or past, they contain the seed of the "present" within their core (as a living embodied practice).[clarification needed] This is the essence of the spiritual laws of karma, self-responsibility, and right thoughts (samma sankkalpa, literally 'right commitments').[clarification needed] A dedicated intention[clarification needed] that all beings are in the "here and now", tranquil, happy, in touch with their gifts and accomplishments, and feeling interconnected by that synergy[clarification needed] to eschew suffering by abdication.[clarification needed]"


"Although this form of these ideas has a Buddhist origin, the ideas themselves are in no way sectarian. The Sarvodaya Shramadana Movement uses them in public meditation events in Sri Lanka bringing together Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, and Christians. Rudyard Kipling's inspirational poem If refers to the idea of upekkhā in calling Triumph and Disaster impostors."

For more, check out the Wikipedia page for Brahmavihara.

- S

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Link of the day - Navajeevana

Heard about this SL social service org - Navajeevana recently. From their site:

"We have been working to rehabilitate people with disabilities in southern Sri Lanka for over twenty years. Our vision is to see people with disabilities as equal and participating members of a non-discriminatory society.

We provide a holistic service for people with disabilities and work with the “whole” person—from early identification, intervention, treatment and full rehabilitation, where the person is able to earn an independent income.

At our fully accessible rehabilitation centre in Tangalla we provide a range of paramedical services, including physiotherapy, prosthetics and orthotics, speech therapy, supportive seating, wheelchair production, audiological services and physiotherapy. We also run four special schools for disabled children, carry out community mental heath work and work in and with the community to rehabilitate people with disabilities."

For a lot more about the org, visit Navajeevana's site.

- S

Sunday, June 6, 2010

UN human development report '09 for Sri Lanka

Check out the page here - lots of interesting & possibly useful info (for development related projects).

Thanks Muditha for the link!

- S

Thursday, June 3, 2010

In development this summer - Greater Sri Lanka blog

Started a new blog to explore & promote a concept - Greater Sri Lanka - check it out here.

I plan on fully developing that blog this summer.

- S

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Report from Rationalist Day

At Secular Sri Lanka blog.

From the post;

"While it is not proposed to go into details, I must state that the SLRA has right along been advocating secular governance, meaning that the government should be separated from all religions, religion being a private matter of individuals. Indeed, it was as far back as 1970 that the SLRA (then known as Ceylon Rationalist Association) submitted a Memorandum on this issue to the then Minister of Constitutional Affairs, when he sought the views of the members of the public and NGOs on the proposed new Constitution.

Item 6 of our Memorandum dated 25. 09. 1970, stated as follows. ‘In a multi-religious country like Sri Lanka, the best protection for freedom of conscience is a Secular State. India, a country ridden with diverse religions and superstitions, although the vast majority of its teeming millions are Hindus, is, through the wisdom of its political leaders, a secular state. It is good to remember that in the history of the human race, more blood has been shed in the name of religion than in any other cause’."

Read more at Secular Sri Lanka blog.

- S

India, Secularism, & Psuedo-Secularism

While doing some research on both the current & historical instances of secularism in the Indian subcontinent, I found the following Wikipedia articles:

Secularism in India: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Secularism_in_India

From the article:

"The history of Indian secularism the protest movements in the 5th century B.C. The three main protest movements were by the Charvakas (a secularistic and materialistic philosophical movement), Buddhism, and Jainism. All three of them rejected the authority of the Vedas and any importance of belief in a deity.[2]

However, it was in the 18th century, when the British East India Company began to gain total control over India that ideas of secularism began to have impact on the Indian mind. Until then, religion was considered to be inseparable from political and social life. On the other hand, the British codified laws pertaining to practices within religions on the sub-continents. To this effect they instituted separate laws for Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Parsis and others as part of their divide-and-rule policy. In doing so they laid the foundation for a nonuniform civil code which remains largely unchanged to date. This is a major grouse for Hindu right wing politicians who insist that there should be a uniform civil code for all citizens. For example, believers of all faiths other than Islam are legally bound to be monogamous while those who practice or convert to Islam are permitted up to four marriages."


Psuedo-Secularism http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pseudo-secularism

From the article:

"The Hindu nationalist movement claim that the Indian National Congress and the associated Communist Party of India are pseudo-secularist. Their claim is that leftists in India are not truly secular since they appease minority communities (such as Indian Muslims or Indian Christians) at the expense of the interests of the Hindu community, and often at odds with western ideas of secularism .

A major issue raised by the Hindu nationalist movement is the implementation of a uniform civil code of India and their opposition to separate legal codes for religious communities, such as the Shariat bill, and the Indian Government's subsidy of the travel of Indian Muslims to Saudi Arabia to visit Mecca (Hajj subsidy) or Kumbh Melas for Hindus and many religious holidays. In India, courts have ruled that Sharia or Muslim law, holds precedence for Muslims over Indian civil law,[3] which caused considerable anguish among Hindus and fueled allegations of pseudo-secularism against the judiciary as well."

Very interesting, I think I'll need to read more about secularism & India.

- S

Flood relief appeal from SL Red Cross

From: http://www.redcross.lk/eh_news199.html

"17th May 2010: The unprecedented heavy rain over the last two days have severely affected many people all around the Colombo, Kalutara, Galle Matara and Ratnepura districts, displacing over 40,000 people.

In close coordination with the local government authorities, the Sri Lanka Red Cross volunteers are working round the clock, helping with the rescue operations and food distribution. Branch disaster Rescue teams have been deployed in the affected districts.

The Kalutara branch is feeding 2000 people of the affected 13,000 in the district. The Gampaha branch is helping the Forces with rescue boats and equipment in addition providing and distribution of cooked food.

Volunteers from other branches including Galle and Colombo are also engaged in a number of relief operations including food distribution.

We are urgently in need of funds to provide cooked food for distribution amongst the affected civilians amounting to over fifty thousand people.

At this time of dire need of our people, is making an appeal for funds to assist these vulnerable people and will be used for the provision of food for the coming days to as many people in need, marooned in the affected areas.

For further details on relief activities & funding coordination please contact Chandana @ 0773710352"

More here: http://www.redcross.lk/eh_news199.html

Link: SL Red Cross site

Check out the site for SL Red Cross here:


Couple of interesting pages on the site:

Red Cross Scholarship Scheme: http://www.redcross.lk/scholarship.html

Assistance for IDP's page (their most recent update is from Nov '09 however): http://www.redcross.lk/idps.html

- S

Link re: 1000's of SL farmers receiving aid from a UN anti-poverty project

From http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=33858&Cr=lanka&Cr1=;

"Thousands of Sri Lankan farmers to benefit from UN-funded anti-poverty scheme

23 February 2010 – Nearly 58,000 farming households in Sri Lanka are expected to benefit from a United Nations-funded programme designed to improve their livelihoods, boost their incomes and enhance their participation in the marketing and selling of their products.

The $25 million loan from the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) will enable the country’s National Agribusiness Development Programme to help small producers, women, landless households and young people in rural areas."

More here: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=33858&Cr=lanka&Cr1=

- S