In Digha Nikaya 1 Brahmajala Sutta – The Brahma Net Sutta (What the Teaching Is Not), the Buddha advised the monks on what they should and should not do when others speak in disparagement of the Buddha, Dharma or the Sangha.
“… 5. Bhikkhus! If others should malign the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha, you must not feel resentment, nor displeasure, nor anger on that account.
Bhikkhus! If you feel angry or displeased when others malign the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha, it will only be harmful to you (because then you will not be able to practise the dhamma).
Bhikkhus! If you feel angry or displeased when others malign the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha, will you be able to discriminatc their good speech from bad?
“No, indeed, Venerable Sir!” said the bhikkhus.
If others malign me or the Dhamma, or the Sangha, you should explain (to them what is false as false, saying ‘It is not so. It is not true. It is, indeed, not thus with us. Such fault is not to be found among us.’ “
In light of the recent debacle of a Christian pastor making wrongful comments on Buddhism and Taoism, it is good to remember the Buddha’s advice above. For as long as I can remember, Buddhists in Singapore has mostly been of a rather docile and meek manner even in the face of an attack on Buddhism. I suspect that such behaviour is not necessarily due to the Buddha’s teachings as above, but because of our cultural influence. The Singaporean (or Singapore Chinese?) attitude of “Kiasu” and “Kiasi”.
“Kiasu” is a close romanisation of the Hokkien pronounciation of 怕输 ‘afraid of loosing (out)’ while “Kiasi” means 怕死 ‘afraid to die’. Kiasu can be a form of competitiveness but it can become a form of self-preservation mechanism that morphs into Kiasi. Kiasi is a pronounced form of self-preservation fringing on cowardice. It can also be seen as a developed application of ‘Mind your own business’.
In the past ten twenty years, Buddhists have gradually matured and outgrown this culture. Whether on the press or on the net, Buddhists are remaining firm on what they stand for. Without going to the extreme end of becoming religious zealouts, Buddhists are firmly saying “Enough. This is not what the Buddha taught. Stop spreading falsehood”. This is encouraging and heartening to see both online and offline.
Let those Buddhists (monastics and lay alike) who are well-grounded in the Dharma stand up and establish what is falsely said, and declare what the Tathagata1 has taught. Let those who are not well-grounded put in more effort to learn and practise so that they may be well established, for it is for their and others’ welfare and benefit.
Should a written apology be written by the pastor in his capacity as leader of his congregation? Share your views either here or on my facebook wall.
1 Tathagata 如来 The One who has thus gone and/or the One who has thus come. One of the epithets referring to the Buddha.
Digha Nikaya 1 Brahmajala Sutta – The Brahma Net Sutta (What the Teaching Is Not)