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Virtual library of this blog offers enormous number of resources for people from all walks of their Christian life. It also provides an annotated list of articles relating to theological studies.

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Virtual library offers enormous number of resources for people from all walks of their Christian life. It also provides an annotated list of articles relating to theological studies.

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This is a blog about my living a journey within the context of being an Indian Christian. I blog about various topics from issues that affect the Church today to current political and cultural trends and even poetry.


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Thursday, May 31, 2012


 “Is God the author of suffering?”  “Is my suffering because of my sin?” These and similar questions have disturbed people belonging to different faith. It however, seems that these questions are worthy of understanding and it takes a lot of our attention. No matter what answers religions offer it goes back to their own actions. However, Christianity answers the best to the problem of suffering and sin than does any other religion. In Buddhism ‘existence entails suffering.’[1] It is the part of reality rather than consequence to sin. In contrast Christianity teaches that life is a blessing from God but because of sin which is prevalent in the world humans suffer. However, in Buddhism because life is considered as suffering every person wants to be liberated from this evil.

This paper attempts to study the concept of suffering in Buddhism in the light of the idea of Doha, Kamma and Ajana (Pali words for Sin, Action and Ignorance) which will be then compared with Christianity. Further an attempt is made to build a bridge to communicate and engage with Buddhists by bringing out the idea of sin through the five precepts and suffering. Thus this paper will have philosophical approach and and later a comparative analytical method.

1:1 Research Statement
In order to be free from suffering and to attain Nirvana every Buddhist is supposed to keep the fundamental five precepts. If a person breaks any of the prescribed precepts it is equivalent to committing sin. The best ground to communicate the gospel to the Buddhist is by building a connecting bridge by highlighting the notion of Sin which can be traced in Buddhism and connect it with the Biblical understanding of Sin. And how Jesus is the one who removes our transgressions and gives us hope of eternal life where there is no Suffering.

1:2 Objectives
This paper attempts to study the concept of suffering in Buddhism in the light of the five precepts, the law of moral causation and suffering which will be then compared with Christianity. Further paper attempts to build a bridge to effectively and intelligently engage and communicate the gospel to the Buddhist world. It is achieved by tracing the notion of Doha (Sin) in Buddhism and attempting to dialogue that Dukkha (Suffering) is not an end in itself. There is much more to life and the abundant life can be enjoyed in Jesus Christ amidst suffering and pain.

1:3 Methodology
This paper is adapting the Philosophical and Comparative Methodology. While doing so, this paper will also be taking a missional perspective, since the topic the researcher is dealing with demands to be missiological in nature.

1:4 Scope and Limitation
The major scope of this research paper is to show continuities with suffering as a bridge to evangelize the Buddhists. For doing this, the researcher attempts to bring out the notion of sin through the fundamental five precepts of Buddhism and stating that the Desire is not the reason for suffering but Sin.
While bringing out the concept of sin through the fundamental five precepts and the concept of the law of moral causation, the paper will not be dealing with the historical aspect of Buddhism, metaphysical teachings such as the three existences of life, the noble path to attain Nibbana (Pali word for liberation, the Sanskrit word is Nirvana). However, while stating this, quick reference will be made of the above issues in order to bring a proper transition to the methodology which the researcher will be using.

1:5 Research Question
The research paper deals with a primary question, how can a bridge be built to effectively communicate the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the Buddhist? What can be the bridge to bring out the continuities with suffering to evangelize the Gospel effectively and intelligently to the Buddhist world? Further it deals with a question, “How can desire be the reason for suffering?” and what is the cause of evil desire and how suffering is related to it? 

 In order to be free from suffering and to attain Nirvana every Buddhist is supposed to keep the fundamental five precepts. If any of the prescribed precepts are violated then it is equivalent to committing sin. Buddhist has to faithfully follow the eight fold path so that they don’t break the precepts.  A person can follow the eight fold path only if he believes in the four noble truths.

2:1The Law of Karma
As this paper attempts to bring out the concept of sin in Buddhism through the law of moral causation, it becomes vital that one understand Karma since it is associated with the law of moral causation. The law of Karma will be understood in the definition of Karma.

2:1:1 What is Karma?
According to Dhammananda, ‘Karma is an impersonal, natural law that operates in accordance with our actions. It is a law in itself and does not have any law-giver. Karma operates in its own field without the intervention of an external, independent, ruling agent’.[2]

In simple words Karma means what you sow so shall you reap. The other name for this term is the law of moral causation. It means both good and bad, mental action or volition. The law of Karma describes the connection between actions and the resulting forces, as follows: wholesome actions lead to wholesome states while unwholesome actions lead to unwholesome states. The quality of actions can be described in ethical terms, simply as either good or bad. The Five precepts (pañca-sīlāni) in Buddhism gives proper meaning to wholesome and unwholesome acts. These five precepts are a condensed form of Buddhist ethical practice.

Furthermore, these ethical practices are very much intertwined with Karma. The reason is that these ethical practices have the energy to create some karmic results. That’s why in his book What Buddhists Believe Dhammananda explains that ‘Karma being a form of energy is not found anywhere in this fleeting consciousness or body’.[3] He further comments that ‘Karma is like a wind or fire. It is not stored up anywhere in the Universe but comes into being under certain conditions.’[4]

Thus the moral and immoral actions produce their results immediately in this life itself. Morality in Buddhism serves the most important purpose of directing or guiding the people to attain Nirvana. Here the notion of self effort is promoted. A person will be liberated by his or her own moral development.

The theory of Buddhist ethics finds its practical expression in the various precepts.[5] These precept or commands thus leads the people to find their way to final salvation or Nirvana. Shakyamuni in the Dhammapada summarises the fundamentals of Buddhism which was laid down by the Buddha – ‘To avoid evil; to do good, to purify the mind.’[6]

The teachings in Buddhism is been considered as the most reflective and wholesome education directed by the Buddha towards all people.[7] The prospectus of Buddhist teaching is to observe the precepts which not only cultivates the moral strength of the people but also benefits the society by the people’s highest service but if one breaks precepts is considered as sin or morally wrong.

3.1The Five Precepts
The five precepts are divided into two aspects. First, it enables people to live together in civilized communities with mutual trust and respect.[8] Second, it is the starting point for the spiritual journey towards Liberation.[9] Every good Buddhist must follow these precepts sincerely and honestly. They are i) not killing any living creatures ; ii) taking what is not given; iii) sexual misconduct; iv) false speech; v) taking intoxicating drugs and liquor.[10]

These five precepts if practiced faithfully it will make the person to practice the five ennoblers. The five precepts guides them in not doing certain bad things whereas, the five ennoblers will guide the person to cultivate qualities such as ‘loving kindness, renunciation, contentment, truthfulness and mindfulness.’[11]
The observance of these five precepts will further make a person to develop his or her personality positively which will be filled with love and care and consequently store good karma for him or her. The purpose of the faithful adherence to these precepts is because this will make a person get rid of all kinds of evil passions which are expressed through thought, word or deed. And moreover, the honest adherence to these precepts will stop a person to go to the four evil planes of existence.

However, to follow the five precepts one has to exercise Samadhi and Panna - the Eight Fold Noble Path so that the person will be kept away from committing offenses. By observing Sila, Samadhi, Panna will be developed. Thus the person is on the right path to attain Nirvana. This is possible because by observing these paths the person will do what is right. He or she will be free from all kinds of selfishness, ill-will, hatred, jealousy etc. and will have the assurance of Nirvana.

According to Buddha one must by his or her efforts cultivate the positive aspects of the five precepts so that a higher consciousness will be attained.[12] This leads to a good, righteous and happy life. When a good act is repeated for sometimes it becomes a habit. Thus the reproductive power of the mind will develop oneself to counter react to feelings which have to be abstained. Thus the tendency to become angry will be changed to loving kindness and compassion. And when these habits are been repeated time and again those vices will be eliminated from the mind just as ‘the darkness of the night fades away before the dawn of the rising sun’.[13] This method which has been given by Buddha if followed faithfully then a person is on the way to attain Liberation or Nirvana. Thus a sincere and a skillful mind will cultivate themselves in observing the Precepts, by following the Middle Way or the Eight Fold Noble Path. This will in turn help them to avoid actions that are likely to cause Suffering.

But by any chance if the person is unable to keep up with the precepts and breaks even one of them then there is a little chance for the person to have assurance of Nirvana. Not only that, non observance of any one or the whole five precepts is equivalent to committing Sin. Thus a person will not inherit the blissful stage of existence but the four woeful or unhappy states of existence, which is, animal, hungry ghost, hell, and demon.

According to Buddhism, the desire which makes the person to do or want anything is the cause of all Suffering. Suffering is because people are in Ignorance about the facts of life. In order to eliminate Suffering people must know the four noble truths of which the Buddha had been enlightened of.

The inexhaustible theme seen in Buddhism is that ‘all of life is nothing but suffering.’ The four sacred truths of the Buddhists treat of suffering (Dukkha), the cause of suffering (Tanha), the cessation of suffering (Nirodha), the path leading to the end of dukkha (Magga).[14]

The removal of suffering is the word and the idea of suffering which gives the key-note to Buddhist thought.[15] These four truths make the essence of Buddhism. Buddha determined to know the answer to all the miseries in this life took many steps of knowledge and toilsome journey which brought him to no avail. However, on that night under the Acvattha tree at Uruvela, the four truths at last dawn on him; they become the keystone of his knowledge[16]; now he is the Enlightened One, the Buddha. According to the Buddhists ignorance of the four noble truths is the ‘most deeply hidden root of all the suffering in the universe’.[17]Thus these four truths become the most prominent announcements of Buddha sharing first with his five disciples in Benares. He announced, “Open ye your ears, ye monks; the deliverance from death is found: I instruct you, I preach the Law”.[18]

The way to the removal of desire is to follow the Noble Eight-fold Path: Right Faith, Right Resolve, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Living, Right Effort, Right Thought, and Right Self-concentration.” [19] Another name for the eight-fold path is the Middle Way. The Middle Way is a righteous way of life that does not advocate the acceptance of decrees given by someone outside of oneself[20]. The Eight-fold Path shows the final goal to human life. To attain the final goal there are three aspects to be developed by the devotee. They are as follows:

i. Sila – it mentions about the moral and ethical conducts such as Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood.
ii. Samadhi – it mentions about the mental disciplines. These factors are for the purification of the mind. They are Right Effort, Right Mindfulness, and Right Concentration. These factors, when practiced, enable a person to strengthen and gain control over the mind, thereby ensuring that his or her actions will continue to be good and that the mind is being prepared to realize the Truth, which will open the door to Freedom , to Enlightenment.[21]
iii. Panna: It consists of Right Understanding and Right Thoughts.
The Noble Eightfold Path is the most important truth taught by Buddha because this Path eliminates Dukkha and leads a person to Nirvana - the state where there is no Dukkha. Moreover, the eight fold noble path teaches every Buddhist to live a morally good life by forsaking all evil deeds. [22].

  4.1 The Ultimate Goal-Nirvana
The religious goal of Buddhism is to attain Nirvana. According to the teachings of Buddha one must learn to be detached from all worldly attachments. Buddha taught that when a person lives a life of complete detachment from all kinds of desire and all the precepts are been observed faithfully, then the person is free from the cycle of rebirth. Moreover, no dependency must be shown on anything or person to achieve liberation. Salvation is achieved by one’s own efforts. While keeping with all the precepts and following the noble paths one realizes that human beings is a combination of the five aggregates which keep changing because of the impermanence of all things. This is called suffering (dukkha). By realizing that the reality is a component of impermanence (anicca), no-soul (anatta) and suffering (dukkha) there are chances of attaining Nirvana. [23]  Buddhists work out their salvation mainly by keeping the basic five fundamental precepts. Failing to keep up with these fundamental precepts will stop them to attain Nirvana and they are once again bound by the evil of suffering. [24]

Thus we have seen that Buddhist believe that ‘existence entails suffering’[25]. In order to be free from suffering one must keep the five fundamental precepts by following the Eight Noble Paths. Hence one of the common grounds to begin talking about the essential matters is on the ground of morality. However, in order to build bridges it becomes essential that we know what out Christian faith teaches us on that regard.

Suffering persists as an important topic within Christianity. Suffering is a part of life. It is also seen as a mystery where God who is so loving and compassionate allows it. Nevertheless, unlike Buddhism, Christianity teaches to view suffering positively rather than negatively.

Though suffering is painful and beyond human understanding redemption through suffering is found only in Christianity. And it exists because of the cross of Christ. Not because the cross was a place of great suffering, which might suggest suffering is in itself good, but because amidst the suffering, which is in fact very bad, love triumphed over evil. Jesus who followed his calling to the point of death, refused to give in to hatred even as he hung on the cross and through his agonizing pain overcame the power of evil, symbolized by the resurrection, by overwhelming evil with love.[26]

5.1 The Original Sin and Ultimate Plan of Redemption
The Bible opens with a striking account of God as a creator of all that we call “the world.” The creation account culminates with God creating humankind in His image and likeness (Gen.1:26b). As we follow the story, the Creator’s remarkable design, purpose of unity and relationship with humankind is thwarted by human sin of disobedience and self will in rejecting the Creator’s directives[27] (Gen. 3). The major reason for suffering in Christianity is because of the first man Adam violating the commandments of God. Thus in Christianity too breaking or not keeping the law is sin and this as a result becomes the reason for Suffering. From this point onward the Biblical narrative is dominated by God’s initiative to redeem the creation and sinful humankind. [28]

God’s concern for humankind is constantly revealed in and through the nation of Israel and finally through Jesus Christ who came into the world to redeem, reconcile and restore the creation and humankind through his life and suffering on the cross for the redemption of all humankind.

5.2 Continuity with Suffering but Redemption in Christ
Even as suffering continued to be part of humankind the purpose of Christ’s coming was  to bring human beings under the salvation plan so that  human beings will have hope even in suffering. As a human, Jesus Christ kept the law of God perfectly. As the sin bearer of the elect, Christ died to make atonement for their sins, to restore them to their position of righteousness under God.[29] The redeemed are recalled to the original purpose of man, to exercise dominion under God, to be covenant-keepers, and to fulfill “the righteousness of the law” (Rom 8:4)[30] It is clearly mentioned in Rom. 5:12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.
In Buddhism to attain Nirvana a person has to adhere to the five precepts. It is a complete dependence of one’s own self effort. But in Christianity it is not self effort but the righteousness of God and the Grace of God given freely through Christ’s life, death and resurrection which leads us to Salvation or Freedom. This change is because of Jesus Christ and the grace that He offers to all those who believe in Him.

5.3 Two Aspects of Sufferings in Christianity`
There are two sides of suffering in Christianity. As seen earlier, suffering is the consequence of sin and it is continued through disobedience, selfish and sinful life of humankind. The other side of suffering is that God, in all His wisdom allows some to go through suffering for a period of time. The word suffering is part of the certain expectation and inevitable character of the Christian life.[31] God allows suffering to exist as a mark and means of discipline (Heb. 12:3). Theoretically, suffering has some good purpose behind it and on the practical level it is to be patiently endured.[32] The best example of suffering can be learnt from Jesus Christ. Christ Himself suffered on the Cross. His suffering turned into triumph which can be symbolized in His resurrection. Therefore, a Christian’s response to suffering must be based on an outlook towards these two historical events. The imitation of Christ involves enduring suffering for the sake of good.[33]

While evangelizing to the Buddhist the gospel must have a practical approach. The reason is that for the Buddhist the practical aspect of sin and suffering might make sense to them rather than the theoretical aspect. As Buddha always indicated that his aim was practical and he never liked being dragged to the theoretical questions of the problem of suffering.[34]  The emphasis on areas of personal need and how to fulfill the precepts of Buddha can be appealing to Buddhists, as their belief system is weak in areas like sin and suffering.[35] A bridge can be built based on these areas to evangelize the Buddhist.

6.1 Ajana and Kamma
 According to Buddhism, evil and suffering are the main products of human ignorance (ajnana). Buddhism invokes the concept of karma and reincarnation. Tiwari asserts this understanding of sufferings:
            Moral evils are all the direct results of attached, egoistic human actions and the various natural         evils (sufferings) are also indirect consequences of these very actions. If one understands the real            nature of things and does not perform such actions the world remaining as it is, he will not be            affected by it, nirvana is possible in this very life.[36]

So it means that one has to be free from all sorts of desires and passions of the world. However, in reality, humans are very much aware and not ignorant of their sinful nature, selfishness and inescapable desires then how can Nirvana be possible? What Christ offers is the great awareness of one’s sinfulness and the need for the salvation. Christianity not only offers salvation and victory over the bondage of sin, sinful desires and passions but also gives a new hope for the ultimate freedom from suffering.
 Further Buddhism explains this perception of suffering as induced by ignorance, which affirms that the root cause for suffering is ignorance.[37] But Buddhism fails to provide answer to who is the source of the ignorance and does it lack true knowledge? Ravi Zachariah rightly asserts that the evil cannot be both illusory and concrete.[38]

 Tiwari while commenting on the man’s after life and self regulated Moral Law raises few questions:
There is no deity here who will judge the good and the bad actions of man so as to either reward him or punish him accordingly. But in saying all this Buddhism has to face a very serious problem and that is, when there is no permanent soul in man, who migrates from one body to another and who attains Nirvana. We have seen that Buddhism presents before us a theory of no-soul (Anatmavada)…If such is the case, then where is the question of rebirth or salvation? Who is reborn or who gets salvation? There is also no question of the same person taking rebirth in the future life or getting Nirvana, because in the absence of the permanent soul-substance, personal identity cannot be maintained.[39]

So according to the above mentioned theory Buddhist does not remain the same man even for a moment and even after rebirth and they are not even sure who really judges their karma. But as we closely look at the Bible’s teaching is clearly mentioned that  “it is appointed into men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Heb 9:27). In fact in this very context Jesus states that there is no direct connection in the any previous act and the man’s condition, and the opportunity to choose to believe God’s message is brief, after which there is no recourse. By contrast and by definition, reincarnation is a recurring cycle of cause and effect, till all infractions have been paid for and the absolute attained.”[40]

6.2 Sin and Suffering: Jesus the Redeemer and Hope
Daniel R. Heimbach, an Associate Professor of Christian Ethics, at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary comments that though Buddhists deny that suffering is real, they are deeply concerned with overcoming suffering.[41] While helping and engaging with Buddhist on the ground of sin and suffering, Christians need to rightly emphasize Jesus Christ as He faced the reality of suffering and overcame it by solving the problem of sin, which is as seen earlier is the real source of suffering.
In Buddhism, the concept of Sin does not exist explicitly but the idea is there. Sin is considered as breaking the precepts and as a result becoming slave to evil deeds that is akusalaya kamma patha[42]. The law of moral causation which is the central concept in this religion is related to the idea of liberation. Here the belief is that good or bad deeds are accumulated in one’s life according to one’s action.  These actions then become detrimental for ones after life. Therefore, in this religion a person can do good merits on behalf of others so that they will at least be delivered from the four woeful states. This transference of merit from the living to the dead catalyzes the attainment of liberation (nirvana).[43]

The Christian message is not that Christ will relieve or remove suffering but that He assures His presence while one suffers. He gives hope of a future life free of suffering. With this hope one who trusts in Christ can rise above suffering in this present life. The bible clearly demonstrates this truth:  "We fix our eyes not on what is seen [suffering], but on what is unseen [eternal life free of suffering]. For what is seen [suffering] is temporary, but what is unseen [future good life with Christ] is eternal" (2 Cor. 4:18, NIV).[44]

Jesus Christ’s life and suffering is the ultimate bridge to evangelize Buddhist friends. According to the Bible Jesus fulfills all the precepts of the Law which is similarly demanded by the Buddhist precepts to achieve Nirvana. However, because of the inherent sinful nature of human kind, it does not help the Christian or the Buddhist to fulfill the law or achieve the righteousness or overcome suffering. The cross of Jesus is the ultimate bridge between Buddhist and Christians because on the Cross Jesus not only took all the sufferings of humankind but he also bore sin and shame to redeem those who are under the law and precepts and in bondage of sin. It’s the greatest demonstration of God’s love and the free gift of salvation to all those who repent of their sins and believe in the work of Jesus.

6.3 Morality as a Bridge to Evangelize
Many aspects of ethical teaching in Buddhism seem to coincide with biblical teaching; this prompts even serious people, from both the Buddhist and the Christian side, to assume that these religions are in essence the same.[45] The moralities of the two religions are not far apart, and can be a bridge to evangelize to the Buddhists world.

Further while making morality as ground for building bridge, the sinless life of Jesus Christ and  His suffering on the cross for making humankind morally upright before God is quite appropriate. The precepts that the Buddhists have to adhere are very legalistic. They find no grace, compassion or forgiveness in their religion. Thus life for them becomes very complicated. It almost seems impossible to relieve oneself from suffering and hopeful future.

The Bible does not teach to rely on self efforts but to totally depend on grace which Jesus offers with His unlimited merit as a free gift to anyone who believes in him (Eph. 2:8–9).

D.T. Niles on the subject of the cause and cure for suffering and sin, he concludes that there can be salvation from Dukkha (suffering), but only if we recognize that the primary problem is not dukkha, but Doha (sin). He explains:
            For life’s basic ill is not dukkha but doha- that attitude of rebellion and disloyalty which we have     toward God, who is the ground of our being, the final cause of the world and the purpose which      gives meaning to life. The cause of dukkha is my clinging to self; it is the same self- centralism which is also the cause of doha: the unconscious or conscious assumption that I hold within      myself the clue to life’s meaning and can of myself discover and obey that clue. Dukkha comes as     a result of the self’s craving to satisfy itself with the things of this world: doha comes as a result             of the self’s attempt at self-satisfaction.[46] Niles tries to emphasize that it is humans who are the problem and not the world; it is one’s doha and not the world’s dukkha that needs primary solution. Moreover, there is no final solution in the present humanity to the problem of evil and suffering both in us and in the world.
Ajith Fernando makes a profound concluding statement on suffering. He quotes the Bible and says that “the suffering in the world has been ultimately caused by sin upsetting God’s plan for the world...The Bible also says that God can turn suffering into something good and calls us to participate in this process of transforming suffering.”[47] Both Buddhists and Christians see the need for deliverance from suffering. Building bridge to evangelize to Buddhist friends has to be practically based where hope provided in and through Jesus is of supreme importance.

Buddhists and Christians have much to teach each other. Contemporary Buddhists are open and in engaging with Buddhists to show them uniqueness in the suffering of Jesus Christ and how He redeems through grace might help to introduce the Gospel. Christianity promises not only an end to suffering and pain, but the continuation of individuals in eternal life alike Nirvana- a place where there is no suffering (dukkha).


 Ashin Thittila. The Way to Nibbana: Lecture to the High Court Buddhist Association, Rangoon in Essential Themes of Buddhist Lectures.  Myanmar: Department of Religious Affairs, 2000.
Davis, John R.  Poles Apart: Contextualizing the Gospel in Asia .Bangalore: National Printing Press, 1998.
Dr. Sri Dhammananda, K.  What Buddhists Believe. 4th edn. Malaysia: Buddhist Missionaray Society, 2002.
Ajith Fernando. Relating To People of Other Faiths. Mumbai: GLS Publishing, n.d
Fernando, Ajith. Sharing  the Truth in Love: How to relate to people of other faiths. Michigan: Discovery House Publishers, 2001.
Naw Yaw Yet, Mark. Theravada Buddhism in Myanmar: The Challenges for Doing a Christological Praxis. Master of Theology in Theology and Ethics.  Bangalore: SAIACS,2006
Nyunt, Peter Thein.  Introduction to Buddhism. Compendium. SAIACS. Bangalore, 2011.63-67.
Oldenberg, Hermann.  Buddha: His Life, His Doctrine, His Order. Trans. William Hoey. Varanasi: Indological Book House, 1971.
Prebish, Charles S. (ed). Buddhism: A Modern Perspective.  Delhi: Sri SatGuru Publications, 1995.
Rushdoony, Rousas John. The Institutes of Biblical Law. USA : The Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company,1973.
Seamands John T. Tell it Well: Communicating the Gospel across Cultures. Missouri: Beacon Hill Press, 1981.
Tiwari, Kedar Nath.  Comparative Religion. Delhi: Motilalal Banarsidass, 1997.
Zacharias, Ravi. Jesus Among Other Gods. Chennai: RZIM Life Focus Society, 2000.

Chong, Michael. Suffering and Spiritual Formation in I Thessalonians. Journal of Asian Evangelical Theology 12 (2004)  173-188.
Smart, Ninian. Lights of the World: Buddha and Christ. Bangalore: Dharmaram Publications,1997.
Weerasinghan, Tissa. Karma and Christ : Opening Our Eyes to the Buddhist World.
Wagner,Paul. Taking the High Places for God . INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF FRONTIER MISSIONS, VOL 10:3 JULY 1993, 99
Zacharias, Ravi. Jesus Among Other Gods: The absolute claims of the Christian Message. Chennai: RZIM Life Focus Society,2000.
Appleton, George. On the Eightfold Path: Christian Presence Amid Buddhism. London: SCM Press Ltd,1961.
Nyunt,Peter Thein. The Main Doctrines of Theravada Buddhism. Class Notes September 2011.

Leading a Buddhist Life and the Five Precepts
http://web.singnet.com.sg/~alankhoo/Precepts.htm accessed 17 September,2011.     
 Heimbach, Daniel R (Georgia: Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary), The Evidence Bible http://www.livingwaters.com/witnessingtool/browse.shtml accessed 15 September 2011.

[1] John T. Seamands, Tell it Well: Communicating the Gospel across Cultures ( Missouri: Beacon Hill Press,1981),168.
[2]  K. Sri Dhammanada, What Buddhists Believe (Kuala Lumpur: Buddhist Missionary Society Malaysia,2002) 4th ed.,113.
[3] Dhammananda, What Buddhists Believe, 123.
[4] Dhammananda, What Buddhists Believe, 123.
[5] Dhammananda, What Buddhists Believe, 190.
[6]  Leading a Buddhist Life and the Five Precepts http://web.singnet.com.sg/~alankhoo/Precepts.htm (accessed 17 September, 2011).                                                     
[7] Leading a Buddhist Life and the Five Precepts http://web.singnet.com.sg/~alankhoo/Precepts.htm (accessed 17 September, 2011).                                                     
[8] Dhammananda, What Buddhists believe, 210.
[9] Dhammananda, What Buddhists believe, 210.
[10] Dhammananda, What Buddhists believe, 210.
[11] Dhammananda, What Buddhists believe, 210.
[12] The Way to Nibbana: Lecture to the High Court Buddhist Association, Rangoon in Ashin Thittila Essential Themes of Buddhist Lectures (Myanmar: Department of Religious Affairs, 2000), 98.
[13] The Way to Nibbana, 98.
[14] Charles S. Prebish, Doctrines of the Early Buddhists in Charles S.Prebish ed. Buddhism: A Modern Perspective (Delhi: Sri SatGuru Publications, 1995),29.
[15] Hermann Oldenbberg, Buddha: His Life ,His Doctrine,His Order, Trans. William Hoey  (Varanasi: Indological Book House,1971),209.
[16] Oldenbberg, Buddha,210
[17] Oldenbberg, Buddha,210
[18] Oldenbberg, Buddha,210.
[19] Oldenberg, Buddha, 211.
[20] Dhammanada, What Buddhists Believe, 102.
[21] Dhammanada What Buddhists Believe,108.
[22] Mark Naw Yaw Yet Thervada Buddhism in Myanmar: The Challenges for Doing a Christological Praxis. Master of Theology in Theology and Ethics (Bangalore: SAIACS, 2006),54.
[23] Naw Yaw Yet, Thervada Buddhism in Myanmar,63.
[24] Naw Yaw Yet, Thervada Buddhism in Myanmar,63.
[25] Seamands,168.
[26] Tissa Weerasinghan,  “Karma and Christ: Opening our Eyes to the Buddhist World,” International Journal of Frontier Mission, http://www.ijfm.org/PDF( accessed on 10 September, 2011).
[27] Wilbert R. Shenk, “Mission in Global Perspective,” Mission Focus Annual Review 2005 Volume 13, 82-91.
[28]  Shenk, “Mission in Global Perspective,” 82-91.
[29] John, Rousas Rushdoony, The Institutes of Biblical Law, (USA : The Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company,1973), 3.
[30] Rushdoony, The Institutes of Biblical Law,3.
[31] Michael Chong, “Suffering and Spiritual Formation in I Thessalonians,” Journal of Asian Evangelical Theology 12 (2004) 180.
[32] Kedar Nath Tiwari Comparative Religion (Delhi: Motilalal Banarsidass, 1997), 140.
[33] Tiwari Comparative Religion, 140.
[34] Tiwari Comparative Religio ,55.
[35] Tiwari Comparative Religion ,55.
[36] Tiwari Comparative Religion, 56-57.
[37] Tiwari  Comparative Religion, 55.
[38] Ravi Zacharias, Jesus among other Gods, (Chennai: RZIM Life Focus Society,2000),120.
[39] Tiwari Comparative Religion,58.
[40] Zacharias, Jesus among other Gods, 120.
[41] Daniel R. Heimbach, The Evidence Bible.Com (Georgia: Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary),  http://www.livingwaters.com/witnessingtool/buddhism.shtml
[42] It is a Pali word which means evil deeds or evil actions.
[43] Weerasinghan, “Karma and Christ ( accessed on 10 September, 2011).
[44]Heimbach, The Evidence Bible (accessed 15 September 2011).
[45] Paul Wagner, Taking the High Places for God, International Journal of Frontier Missions, Vo. 10: (July, 1993),99. http://www.ijfm.org/PDF(accessed on 10 September 2011).
[46] D.T.Niles, Buddhism and Claims of Christ, p.49 cited in John R. Davis Poles Apart: Contextualizing the Gospel in Asia (Bangalore: National Printing Press, 1998), 91.
[47] Ajith Fernando, Relating To People of Other Faiths, (Mumbai: GLS Publishing, n.d),210.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

The other side of China

Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng has arrived in New York to begin a new life in the United States. The self-taught lawyer, Chen Guangcheng has campaigned against forced abortions under China's one-child policy and was jailed for four years in 2006 for disrupting traffic and damaging property. He was placed under house arrest after his release in 2010.

Riveting as news accounts of Chen’s great escape on April 22 may be, what led up to it is fit only for a horror film.

Since 2010, Chen had been subjected to house arrest and beatings and four years in prison before that for exposing inhumane enforcement of China’s One-Child Policy. A self-trained legal advocate, Chen was defending rural farmers and the disabled when he uncovered the government’s widespread forced sterilization and forced abortion.

The whole world knows that China is an emerging giant in world economy and military power. But what is the other side of Chna. To be the world’s powerful country, China does take lots of strategies. One is controlling the population growth.  In the Established in 1978, China’s One-Child Policy has prevented 400 million births, authorities claim. Coupled with a cultural preference for male offspring, the policy has led to massive sex-selection abortion -- or “gendercide” as many call it, citing almost 40 million missing girls.
In China, the reported sex ratio of births is 100 girls for every 118 boys; the natural norm is 100 girls for every 105 boys. In some regions, an estimated 130 boys are born for every 100 girls.

Such extreme imbalance can occur only through extreme manipulation. The regime enforces the One-Child Policy through birth permits (meaning some pregnancies are illegal), cervical exams, fines, forced sterilization and forced abortion. The policy is inhumane and incompatible with freedom.

For instance, to prove female workers of a factory weren’t pregnant; the factory’s female employees had to go to the “birth planning doctor” once a month. Only then would they get paid for their work.

In China, a woman’s body is not her own. It belongs to the state. For the Chinese Communist Party to act as ‘womb police’ and crush the life inside her is a heinous crime against humanity. Such brutal treatment of women shatters lives. China has the world’s highest female suicide rate: 500 per day. Chinese women of childbearing age who take their own lives account for 55 percent of the entire world’s female suicides.

And that’s exactly what Chen sought to expose. His 2005 investigation reported 130,000 forced abortions and sterilizations that year in the city of Linyi alone. Building a case to sue local officials, Chen interviewed women about their harrowing experiences; summaries of 14 of his interviews are posted on the website of Women’s Rights Without Frontiers.

Obviously these strict laws can control population growth but it will destroy the millions of unborn lives. it is time for us to wake up and see population control for what it really is: a serious human-rights abuse. Where are out ethical standards on abortion? China should reconsider these strict laws which force abortion on its citizens. 

Friday, May 18, 2012

Victims without a voice: Genocide of Tamils

Tamil Genocide Remembrance Day – May 18

Over 40,000 Tamils Murdered
Over 146,000 Tamils uncounted for
Over 25,000 Tamil Children orphaned.

May 2009 brought Tamils around the world unprecedented anguish and tragedy as the 27 year long brutal ethnic conflict came to a disastrous end. The month of May will always be etched in the memory of Tamils around the world for generations to come as more than 40,000 Tamils were massacred during the final stages. It was two years back, on the 18th of May, Sri Lanka supposedly ended its so called ‘war on terror.’ The LTTE was crushed finally, the government announced. The nation is united, the ruling party declared. Lankan President Rajapaksa used words like ‘freedom’ and ‘justice’ to define the army’s victory. The day, May 18th, meant to the Sinhalese nationalists there restoration of order and peace. For Tamils, it meant something else. The final penetrative act of the army that provided an orgasmic psychological release for the repressed anxieties of Sinhala majoritarians, was read by the Tamils as rape of their homeland. An occupying army rapes. By its very presence. The guns, the boots, the uniform, the gaze are all penetrative. It strips, observes, humiliates, abuses and scars permanently. May 18th is a scar for the Tamils.

There is a humanitarian crisis in Sri Lanka, where the Tamil minority in the island’s north and east are facing annihilation at the hands of the Sinhalese-dominated government. The Sri Lankan Tamil community has been deliberately targeted by the Sinhalese-dominated government of Sri Lanka and its mono-ethnic armed forces ince the beginning of fighting between the Sinhalese and the Tamils in 1983. Acts of genocide, including pogroms, ethnic cleansing and state-sponsored colonization of Tamil areas, against the Tamil population have taken place ever since independence from Britain in 1948.
According to the UN Panel, the killings and other abuses that took place amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity. Independent experts believe that there are elements of these abuses that constitute an act of genocide. The UN Human Rights Council recently looked into this mass killing and passed a Resolution on accountability for these international crimes. Here, I would like you to know what is going on in Sri Lanka.
Problem of ethnic cleansing

There are four options to achieve an exclusively Sinaha-Buddhist Sri Lanka.

1. Drive out the Tamilians out of Srilanka. Although 1.3 million have already been driven out, there are still 2 million left.

2. Make them “non-people”, ie: internal refugees. Currently, there are 500,000 Tamil civilians living in refugee camps in the Tamil north and east or have fled into the jungles in the north to escape Sri Lankan army bombing. There are also 200,000 Tamil refugees in south India. Most of them are staying in Tamil Nadu as refugees.

Let me bring out two more important articles to support my argument on ethnic cleansing

On November 19, 2011, Amnesty International USA, in a publication titled Sri Lanka government must act now to protect 300,000 displaced persons, stated: “In September 2008, the Sri Lankan government ordered the United Nations (UN) and non-government aid-workers to leave the region (the Tamil North). The government then assumed total responsibility for ensuring the needs of the civilian population affected by the hostilities are met.”

On December 23, 2011, the US-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) came out with a 49-page report entitled Besieged, Displaced, and Detained. The Plight of Civilians in Sri Lanka’s Vanni Region, which detailed the Sri Lankan government’s responsibility for the plight of 230,000 to 300,000 displaced people in the Vanni (northern) conflict zone.

3. Make them “disappear”. Today, Sri Lanka leads the world in “involuntary disappearances”. On November 24, HRW published report entitled Sri Lanka: Human Rights Situation Deteriorating in the East in which Adams stated: “The Sri Lankan government says that the ‘liberated’ East is an example of democracy in action and a model for areas recaptured from the LTTE. But killings and abductions are rife, and there is total impunity for horrific acts.”

Tamils are routinely arrested and either murdered or ‘disappear’ in military custody. The numbers have been rising in recent months. Scores are being killed each week in all districts of the Northeast – Jaffna, Trincomalee, Vavunia, Mannar, and Batticaloa – and even in Colombo.

Tamil journalists, academics, politicians, aid workers and rights activists have been abducted and murdered by Sri Lanka’s military with complete impunity, despite the frequent protests by local and international human rights groups and civil society organisations.

4. Kill them — i.e. commit genocide. “Genocide” is defined by the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide as “an act committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group”. Genocide has nothing to do with numbers killed, it is the intention and the act(s) to achieve this intention that defines it.

Bombing, shelling and shooting are not the only ways to kill. One could starve them, withhold essential medicines, prevent survival activity (e.g. fishing and agriculture), destroy businesses, markets, homes, hospitals and schools. Once the intention is there, the ways to achieve genocide are endless.

There are also different types of genocide. I call these, “educational genocide”, “cultural genocide”, “economic genocide” and “religious genocide” — defined as the intention, backed by the act, of destroying in whole or part the education, culture or economy and religion of an ethnic group.

The Sri Lankan government is guilty of all of these, but who is gonna stop them and when?

Therefore, don’t think of it as an isolated individual event without connection with rest of the world. There is no such thing in this interconnected world that we live in. Ultimately the world should understand that how people can be prepared by governments and organizations to use horrific violence outside of the realm of civilized behavior. It’s ironic, in war everybody is killing but there are rules even for killing and should be. The whole world knows that Sri Lanka never fought the war according to the international rules. The whole world simply watched when thousands of innocent Tamil civilians were brutally killed by Srilankan army.
Moreover, the UN Secretary General appointed a Panel of Experts on Sri Lanka to investigate the mass atrocities, international humanitarian law and human rights violations. The Panel of Experts submitted its report in April 2011 calling for international independent investigations into the deaths of up to 40,000 Tamil civilians, mostly caused by Sri Lankan government’s indiscriminate military assault on civilian enclaves and “no-fire-zones” and blocking of emergency food and live-saving medical supplies. The report confirmed violations of international humanitarian law which could amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Further, the well respected Catholic Bishop of Mannar in Srilanka, Rev. Dr. Rayappu Joseph has publicly stated that a total of 146,679 civilians who lived in the area of the conflict are unaccounted for in the final two years of the conflict. Ms. Suba Suntharalingam, speaking for the groups organizing the rally said, “In the absence of credible international investigations to ascertain the truth, we Tamils hold the Sri Lanka government responsible for the deaths of up to 146,000 Tamil civilians in the final months of the blood bath on the beaches of the Tamil homeland.” The international community has done nothing to stop this massacre.

In 2011 UK’s Channel 4 exposed damning evidence of atrocities committed in the war in Sri Lanka. It presents this powerful follow-up film, revealing new video evidence as well as contemporaneous documents, eye-witness accounts, photographic stills and videos relating to how exactly events unfolded during the final days of the civil war. If you have not watched, do watch http://srilanka.channel4.com/.

Sri Lanka came under severe criticism at the UN Human Rights Council meeting held in Geneva in March. The UN body passed a resolution calling for accountability, investigation of incidents of grave violations of international humanitarian law and immediate implementation of positive recommendations of Sri Lanka’s own internal commission. It also mandates the UN Human Rights Commissioner and Special Reporters to monitor and report progress back to the Human Rights Council.

But are these things will bring out justice? What about those human-animals who committed war crime against Tamils? Violations of human rights can no longer be considered an “internal affair” of that country. Hundreds of thousands of innocent Tamils have been raped, tortured, murdered and simply disappeared. The Rajapakse regime continues defy international law (R2P) and deny unrestricted access to media, journalists, NGOs, human rights groups and diplomats to Tamils areas to report independently. There is a culture of impunity and no history of any investigations or justice delivered to hundreds of thousands of crimes committed against Tamils.

This long war is entirely a creation of the Sinhala majority denying the Tamil minority their right to live in peace and dignity. After all ancient Ezham was a seperate kingdom , older then the Sinhala kingdom. Like Aborigines in Australia and the Native Indians in America and like our own poor tribals in India the Tamils are being oppressed and suppressed. If multiculture causes problems, better there should be a separate country for Tamils.

“Learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow.” Is 1: 17.
The only one solution to solve the Tamil issue is Tamil Ealem. Hundred and Twenty Million Tamil who are living in the different parts of the world should join together to stand for Tamil cause to make the Tamil Ealem.