Respecting the Otherness of Others

I was reading through Bhutan Times and I was shaken beyond words to see some of the ideas being injected in a reputed newspaper like Bhutan Times. Here are some extracts from the article, “The Buddhist kingdom of Bhutan and the policy of secularism”
“….Buddhism was the religion of the State until the introduction of the Constitution of Bhutan in 2008. Under of ideology of secularism, the Buddhist kingdom of Bhutan disowned its state religion and in so doing may have symbolically diluted its allegiance to the Deities of the nation. Buddhism is physically represented by the Central Monastic Body headed by His Holiness Jhe Khenpo and the religion is inseparable from the Deities that protect it. Till very recently Buddhism was the centre of governance. It also remains as the way of life for all Bhutanese except for the Hindu immigrants who mostly populate the southern part of Bhutan during later part of the last century. The Central Monastic Body is the repository of Bhutan’s culture, tradition and history. It is the father and mother of almost every social, cultural and philosophical thoughts and practices of a Bhutanese. This state religion of many centuries is what has given the Bhutanese sovereignty an exclusive independent feature that is absolutely unique only to Bhutan. Under the philosophical approach of Secularism policy of the Constitutional Democracy, Bhutan as a distinctive sovereign Country may have won international accolades for its secularism but may perhaps have lost its spiritual soul of Buddhism. Even when Buddhism was the state religion, the practitioners of other religions were not banned. Hinduism and Buddhism share many similarities and there were Jesuit priests educating Bhutanese youths in the schools of Bhutan.”
“…Today the State still shoulders the constitutional responsibility for the up keep of the Dratsang and the maintenance of all holy and blessed monasteries, temples and even chortens. However, the national objective for so doing is totally different. Previously the nation up held the Buddhist religion as being the supreme above all, today it is for the preservation of historical culture. Buddhism is no more the officially recognised Faith and Inspiration of the nation. The nation may still perform all the religious rites and up keep the Central Monastic Body, all the temples and still pray to the deities yet politically the Buddhist religion is no more recognised as the foremost national source of Inspiration, Faith and Belief. This could have created an invisible line of divide between the Deities and the Bhutanese people as a political nation. Could there be a correlation between this possibility of bridge of faith and the endless natural calamities that the nation suffered since day one of the new democratic government and the secular State? “
“…Politically right, left, centre or whatever may be but in terms of leyjumdrey and thadhamtsi that most Bhutanese so freely advocate, the new political system may have caused an unforgivable grievance to the centuries of Buddhist Saints, Leaders and Institutes that nurtured, developed and preserved Bhutan the Buddhist kingdom. A broken faith cannot be mended by material support. Once a nation has displaced its Religion and the Deities as State Faith, praying to it in times of crises and calamites may be equitable to beseeching the force that has been declared obsolete and therefore rendered ineffective. It is a food for thought!!”
If one looks at the basic elements of Buddhism, it is love, patience, compassion, tolerance and forgiveness. Buddhism, I guess is threatened not from the emergence of other religions but from fanaticism grown within the so called elite believers. I hope God and deities would save me from such dangerous believers.
In fact, it is wrong to speak for deities and supra human beings when we cannot even distinguish what is Buddhism and what is not and let alone make direct comparison of what is good for us and what is not. What is good to one man is not good for another. So long the religion do not breed fanaticism and leave society in a state of anarchy, I think people should be allowed to practice what is right for them. What is important is that, a CIVILISED society believes in respecting the OTHERNESS of OTHERS. It may be dangerous for a newspaper to misrepresent a society and its thought process.


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