Rejecting Race Theory (with the help of direct experience & secular & religious ideas)

[The following is a blog post I first wrote & published in 2003, and since belief in race theory has not yet disappeared from this planet, I thought I would re-post the entry here, it may be useful for people who are thinking about ending their belief in race theory & the negative practices & views that arise from that belief]

Race Is A Lie
By Sujewa Ekanayake

For perhaps 10-20 years I contemplated two seemingly incompatible ideas that exist in my environment (society, the human world). These two ideas are: 1) all humans-more or less-are capable of the same level of high or low achievements, given the right effort (an idea that was planted in my brain by being raised as a Buddhist in Sri Lanka), and the counter idea is that 2) humans fall into a handful of categories, based on skin color and physical features, and the worth and the level of achievement an individual human is capable of depends on which group they belong to (for example: people w/ light skin or “white” people being capable of more things than people with dark skin or “black” people, an idea that has been popular in Europe, America and places that have been heavily affected by Europeans, also in India in a slightly different form and older origin).  After much contemplation, research, observation, including reflecting on the Sinhalese and Tamil ethnic violence in Sri Lanka, and analyzing knowledge gained from living among various people and interacting with various people, I have decided that idea 1 is correct and that idea 2 is not correct (this decision was made several years ago).

This means that how I view the world now and how I interact with it is drastically different than how many of the people in my immediate society (American) view and interact with the world. That is, I believe that the concept of race is a lie, a false view, brought into existence, refined, and kept alive for self-serving reasons by the creators of the idea and those who were able to benefit from the idea, and that at this point in time (2003 AD) many people simply accept race as a fact and organize their lives by it.  Many evil things have been made possible by belief in the idea of race or races of humans: including the Hindu caste system which treats millions of people as sub-humans, slavery, European colonialism or the taking control of lands through force by people who believed they were more human then the ones that they conquered, Manifest Destiny, and Nazi attempt to exterminate Jews in Europe. Less damaging perhaps numerically but perhaps just as devastating on an individual basis is that in modern-day America I see the population continuing to organize themselves based on the concept of race. The down side of this is that individual people are placing an artificial constraint on themselves, and along with this comes mental anguish, and of course in some unfortunate moments, physical violence. The plus side for the person who believes in race is that they have a group to belong to. But, all in all I believe that the negative effects of believing in race are greater to everyone then the positive effects. And I believe that it is counter productive to the American experiment of creating a great nation consisting of people from the hundred corners of the world (also counter to the aims of any modern country that wants to reduce friction & conflict between various groups of people).  And I believe that race is dangerous and destructive to the world in general because it causes people to sympathize more with, and in many cases at the expense of, some populations over others.  So, as a productive and well-meaning member of American society (& of Earth in general) and a moral human being who wishes to do good (that which helps humans live well) I am sharing my views through this public forum, this web page. I invite people to post their views and responses to my writing as I share and fine tune, through regular journal entries, my theories and observations and ideas for creating a world without race.

This journal entry is step #1 on this side project.  Parting thoughts: in ancient Christian thinking the concept of deception perpetuated by evil (or The Devil) exists, and in ancient Buddhist thinking there is a concept called maya, or illusion, created by a being called Mara or The Evil One. Race would fall neatly under those categories. Race (and its’ child racism) is an evil illusion because it causes human misery and it is a dangerous lie that has hypnotized the human population. Let me know what you think about this idea. Should we create a world without race or should we let the idea and belief of race exist in the world?


Copyright 2003 Sujewa Ekanayake


Buddha Phone – buddhism on the go for you tech savvy Buddhists

I thought bling in religion was mainly reserved to diamond encrusted crosses on chains hanging around necks of rappers and  hats embroided in gold on the heads Catholic priests. Apparently not. Buddhists don’t have to despair any longer, they can be fashionable too! Behold the Odin 99, the gold coloured, incence burning (simulated of course) MOBILE PHONE. It comes with a charm and animated altar of Buddha on the screen, it will simulate purification rites, and will also  play music to help meditate. I’m sold already!

And it comes with two camera’s too, if you ever need to video conference a Pirith. Only available in China at the moment, but don’t worry, it will find its way to Sri Lanka.

Is Religion an important part of your life? 99% Sri Lankans say yes

Apparently, according to a Gallup poll done in 2008. Sri Lanka is 3rd on the list of the most religious countries in the world, after Egypt and Bangladesh, and leaps just ahead, by a whisker, of  Congo, Malawi, Sierra Leone, Senegal, Indonesia, Djibouti and others. At the other end of the spectrum we got the countries who are the least religious, Estonia at 14%, Sweden 17%, Denmark, Norway, Hong Kong, Japan etc. Lists shown below. I’m sure I don’t have to point out some obvious trends, do I?

Lets break down these lists to perform some analysis shall we (data from Wikipedia and CIA Factbook);

Egypt – Approximately 90% adheres to Islam, the rest pretty much Christianity.

Bangladesh – Like Egypt, approximately 90% adheres to Islam, and most of the rest to Hinduism

Sri Lanka – 70% follow Buddhism, 15% Hinduism, 8% Christianity, and the rest Islam.

Indonesia – 86% follows Islam, 8.7 Christianity and the rest a mixture of Buddhism and Hinduism

Congo – 50% Christians, and 48% Animists

Malawi – 80% Christian, 13% follow Islam

Senegal – 95% follow Islam

Djibouti – 94% follow Islam

Morocco – 98.7% follow Islam

UAE – 96% follow Islam

A you can see, from this list, Sri Lanka is the only country with a Buddhist majority. Sri Lanka doesn’t have the highest concentration of Buddhists even (Bhutan 66-75%, Burma 90%, Cambodia 95%, Japan 96%, Taiwan 93%, Vietnam 85%). Of course, wealth plays a major factor. Most of the least religious countries are developed or well developed. If you are rich, you have the option of ignoring God, most of the time atleast. If you are poor, you tend to pray to, and ask, God most of the time.

Few of the least religious countries;

Estonia – 76% no religious affiliation

Sweden – 75% Church of Sweden, BUT, that’s because till 1996, people born Sweden automatically became a member of the Church, if one of the parents was a member. Now only if you are christened you become a member, and single digit percentages attend church regularly.

Denmark – 81% members of the Church. According to a 2005 study by Zuckerman, Denmark has the third highest proportion of atheists and agnostics in the world, estimated to be between 43% and 80%.

Norway – 83% members of the Church of Norway.

Czech Republic – 60% no affiliation to any religion, 27% Protestant

Mongolia – 50% Buddhism (!) and 40% listed as having no religion.

Azerbaijan – 96.7% follow Islam. Religious affiliation is still nominal in Azerbaijan; percentages for actual practicing adherents are much lower, according to Wiki

As the report itself point’s out, “Obviously, these data only compare the importance of religion in people’s lives — they say nothing about what being highly religious means in different parts of the world and among different faiths”.

So why do Sri Lankans say they are highly religious?

Is it because the principles and conditions of the religions are being followed meticulously by Sri Lankans? Is it measured by how much the people idolize their god(s) and believe in spiritualism and supernatural powers? Or is it because of the number of times we visit places of worship, and the amount time we spend there? The value of alms and donations we give to the clergy? The involvement of religion in politics? Or is it because we are still a developing nation, education and wealth wise, with a civil war in our hands?

Personally, the results from the Poll are a bit hard to believe, although its a valid poll done by a highly respected agency. But 99%?

Questionable Investors In Golden Key List – Continued……..

Continued from –

I won’t generalise all Buddhist priests, there are plenty of good Buddhist priests in SL who are devoid of wealth and yet helps the society and are well respected and treated by the people. But I think I can safely say that this isn’t the case for most major cities, for e.g. Colombo, Kandy, Galle, Kalutara etc.

But then many would say, “may be the money was saved to build a statue, to upgrade a temple or simply donations which some well connected temples receive”.

Again, in my opinion, this is a classic example where religion has got it priorities wrong, it has become a state affair, a extravagant one. I wont say this is a problem that happened recently, its been happening since I don’t knows when, but is it so hard to understand that we really don’t need a Rs 41 million statue? Do we really? Did Lord Buddha want himself represented by a pile of rocks and cement worth millions, overlooking the shanties a few miles way? I think Lord Buddha wants to be represented by good honest people with good morals and values, not by towering structures.

And note I don’t use words like Buddhist people, or Christian people, or Hindu or Islamic people, because that’s another form of labelling brought forward by people who see their world through their own eyes. That’s another discussion for another time.

Sorry to mention this again, but donations to build a statue or otherwise shouldn’t be going into a investment firm into an investment account. Key word there being investment. I’m sure any bank would jump up and handle money on behalf of a temple on legitimate matters, using things called savings and current accounts. And I assume there must be Buddhist organisations that handle these kind of things. Surely donations to the temple won’t involve Treasury bills and bonds, high yield high risk investments, and dropping interest rates?

Questionable Investors in Golden Key list

Read a recent article on the great philanthropist Lalith Kotalawela and the Rs 26 BILLION scam he’s involved in, and here are some investors found on the list. These are individual deposits, money under their name.

Bishop of Ratnapura, Dr. Cletus Chandrasiri Perera – Rs. 40 million

Ven. Rathanasara Thero from Kegalle – Rs. 17 million

Ven. B. Somawansa Thero – Rs. 41.4 million

The high priest of a temple in Matara who also requested anonymity has invested over Rs. 17 million in Golden Key. He said the money does not belong to him but to a Japanese national who is a “close friend.” (Ed – yea, of course, and the fairies in Sinharaja forest are always seen with unicorns. These Swiss banks these days, so untrust-worthy, the best place I can hide my money is with a Buddhist monk who can invest it under his name)

I’m not knowledgeable on the matters of the Church and its clergy, so I can’t comment, but on Buddhist clergymen, I think I can. Somebody please give me a reason why a Buddhist man of the cloth should stockpile 41 big ones? Money he inherited? Earnings before joining the clergy? To build a temple or statue? I would not step into a temple built with 41 million when there are people in SL who have nowhere to live and nothing to eat in refugee camps.Would you?…To be continued.