Buddhism and Blood Ivory
Sri Lanka customs confiscated blood ivory from Kenya last year. The tusks were being smuggled to Dubai from Kenya. The tusks weighting over 1,500 kilos have been valued over Rs 400 million. More than 200 African elephants had been massacred to obtain these tusks.
The Presidential Secretariat has decided to donate these poached tusks to the Dalada Maligawa and many other Buddhist temples.
Buddhism teaches essentials, very specially to abandon evil and to do good ,to purify the mind and also emphasize the value of human and animal life equally.The temples should refuse these tusks as Gauthama Sammasambuddha taught (Ahimsa) compassion to humans and animals. It is contradictory to the teachings of Buddha.
Are the monks deciding on monetary values and not Buddhist and ethical values? Have Buddhist monks learnt nothing from Gauthama Sammasambuddha’s teachings on compassion?
The Presidential Secretariat is making a grave mistake because it is an insult to Buddhist temples and Buddhism. The presentation of these tusks is akin to presenting blood money for they have been obtained by killing innocent elephants.
If an elephant belonging to a temple dies of natural causes you may preserve the tusk as a mark of respect to the dead elephant but not otherwise. The regard for animals in Buddhism is very high. Sir John Arthur Thomson, professor of Natural History, Aberdeen university makes the striking observation that ‘an animal may not be ethical but they are often virtuous’
Buddhist monks should understand that the universe was not brought into existence solely for man’s convenience and enjoyment.
Buddhism takes into full account the animal’s latent capacity for affection, heroism and self-sacrifice.
There is in Buddhism a greater a sense of kinship with the animal world, a more intimate feeling of community with all that lives than is found in western religious thought. And this is not a matter of sentiment but is rooted in the total Buddhist concept of life. For a true Buddhist monk the elephant tusk should be an object of no value. The right view (Samma Ditti) and right-mindfulness is essential to self-guard Buddhist ethical values.
President Board of Trustees
Sirisena Dharmamandiraya Meditation Centre, Moratuwa