Ashin Suriya (Gemini)
There have broken out many conflicts, violent riots and mass-of-people-killing wars in the different places of the world, such as crusade wars, World War I, World War II, etc. These are still happening these days as well. Some cases were on the basis of politics, and some on the basis of religion and some on the basis of race. .
I, being just a very novice and a very beginner in the field of writing, am indeed incapable of pointing out and commenting and examining the controversial points of outbreaks of those violent events mentioned. And the political affair of which wars broke out is also beyond my scope of knowledge. But I have unforgettable experiences with regard to religious belief. This article is just about one of my own experiences, which is humbly hoped to be able to convey the reader something beneficial about the notion of religions. The ensuing story is taken and enlarged from my diary then written.
It was in the hot summer of 2003. My friend and I took respective seats in the middle class of the daytime train from Yangon to Mandalay. I was by the right window and he was beside me. I thought then we were lucky because we had two girls of our age in the face-to-face seats.
The train started leaving the Yangon railway station. Until that of the Bago town we spoke no words, but investigating one another through eye-contacts. My friend was almost silent in front of the girls of opposite sex throughout the way although he is talkative enough with friends of the same sex. Naturally, I also speak few words but am quite loquacious about knowledgeable things such as literature, religion, education, view of life, and so on with the familiar people. Beside I am such a too shy person in front of unfamiliar people when with no interesting conversation that my shyness affects my facial expressions and behaviors.
That self-awareness made me try to ask some greeting questions that paved the way to engaging conversation with the stranger girls. My hesitant questions let me know that the thin girl right in front me was a pious Buddhist secular teacher while the beautiful one with gold complexion right in front of my friend was a devout Christian secular teacher. The Buddhist girl was almost all the time telling beads, with her eyes closed and leaning back in the seat. The Christian girl, however, pulled out the pocket Holy Bible and was reading in the manner of enthusiasm.
Here let me tell you about the then strongly interested subject of me. Those days I had been rather familiar with the books that reveal weak points of other religions, had heard of the bad news of other religionists. Moreover, I have an inborn nature of worshipping nationalism. Because I do not believe that the loving of one’s own nation is the hating of other nations. Similarly, that one has great devotion to one’s religion does not mean that one has the sense of hatred towards other religions. But then with the extremely narrow mind, I wanted to debate with other religionists on the teachings in their sacred books. It seems worse to me that I went to a centre of one other religion along with a friend of mine when I was in Mandalay, with the intention of oppressing that religion. It was lucky of me not to have chance to do so there.
To see the Christian girl reading her sacred book aroused my insincere thought of oppressing other religion to arise. So with such a bad attitude kept in mind, I started raising some questions to the girl. She gave some replies to my teasing questions calmly. She did not seem angry at my bullying behaviours. The rain of such questions fell onto her so much, which she could not answer. To my shamefulness then and to my great thankfulness now, I heard the hard unique voice abruptly, saying, “You are a Buddhist monk; you should be broad-minded.” The voice was not from the distant place but right in front of me. The Buddhist secular teacher. She prevented me from constantly oppressing the other girl by saying that word. I think she could no longer bear my purposeful verbal attacks. After that, she (the Buddhist secular teacher) kept silent for few minutes. I was also then ashamed of my rudeness and bad attitude towards other religionist. But the Christian girl said no word, and I think she was amazed, looking at us: the Buddhist girl and me.
Admittedly, the word spoken to me by the Buddhist girl did change my way of thinking, to understand other religions and to be broad-minded towards other religionists and to accept the differences. It opened my narrow-mindedness and gave me what is unbuyable by money-a great memorable experience in my life. As a matter of fact, existing of different religion and races in a country or in a region or in the world means beauty that can be compared to the park with colourful, various kinds of flowers, plants and trees. On the other hand, different kinds of flowers around make a kind of flower more obvious to be noticed. Beside due to the black colour around, the white colour is clearer in sight vice versa.
I honestly confessed my fault of attacking other religion in front of them. The confession made our conversation tenderer and smoother. And it created more intimate relationship between us on the train journey. Getting closer, I enquired about them, who have different beliefs. My curiosity was why they had been very close although they are different in religion as well as race.
According to them, I learned that they came back from a training course for teachers conducted by the government in Yangon. They told us that they live in Naungcho, Northern Shan State of Myanmar. In spite of difference mainly in religion, they had not ever made persuasion of each other for conversion into one’s religion. They went to the Buddhist temples and pagodas together where they performed good merits. And also they paid frequent visits to the churches for praying and singing songs to the guitar. They respect each other and avoid talking about differences between the religions they believe in.
From this story and my other experiences, I would like to present four principal facts as the conclusion of my article. I humbly hope, from religious point of view, that these facts will help make the world we live peace to some extent. These are what each individual of all religionists as well as non-religionists all over the world must start to put into real practice from now on.
No persuasion; no dishonest way of promoting one’s religion
Back to the history of world religions, some religions had grown powerful by invading, fighting, forcing and persuading other religions. With violent, dishonest, persuasive methods, people will never and ever be in the state of peace but in worse and worse situations, with the world being burned in the inextinguishable flames of fire of wars. Governments should therefore try to prevent some religionists from forcing other religionists to convert into another one.
No religious attacks or assaults towards other religions but broad-mindedness
These days there have appeared some extremely disgusting assaults. It is the assaults that attack other religions: printing religious icons of other religions on the clothes for women, tattooing those images on lower parts of the human body and so on, destroying religious images, buildings and the like, abusing and blaming other religions on Medias like Facebook, etc. The more these happen, the more violent the world will be, then the further the world will be from the peace. It is thus believed that the governments should wisely and vigorously handle those issues.
No bribe-taking by the officials or administers
When the religious tensions between two particular religions occur, some religionists were found giving bribes to some officials or administers concerned. That is as if fueling the tension to lead to more violent and uncontrollable situations. Therefore, the governments should inspect and bar its officials so strictly that they would not commit such bribery and corruption.
No bias or injustice by the officials or the government
I think this fact is a subtle and controversial issue. Also I feel it is concerned with the dignity of religionists and governments of a country. Anyway justice is the universally accepted virtue. Those that neglect that are those that cannot be called ‘good people’, irrespective of the popular religions they believe in.
May the world people be at peace with no persuasions, no attacks, and no bias towards other religions. May the people do not want to torture and kill each other. May the people of the world be able to avoid conflicts and fighting wars. Instead, may the people turn the world to the peaceful planet.