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Letters


Readers please note it is essential that all letters to the Editor carry the full name and address of the writer, even if it has to appear under a pseudonym. This applies to all email letters as well.

 

A system planned in every detail

Breathing, eating, walking, etc, are very natural human functions. But most people do not think about how these basic actions take place. For example, when you eat a fruit, you do not contemplate on how it will be made useful to your body. The only thing on your mind is eating a satisfying meal; at the same time, your body is involved in extremely detailed processes unimaginable to you in order to make this meal a health-giving thing.

The digestive system where these detailed processes take place starts to function as soon as a piece of food is taken into the mouth. Being involved in the system right at the outset, the saliva wets the food and helps it to be ground by the teeth and to slide down the esophagus.

The esophagus transports the food to the stomach where a perfect balance is at work. Here, the hydrochloric acid present in the stomach digests the food. This acid is so strong that it has the capacity to dissolve not only the food but also the stomach walls. Of course, such a flaw is not permitted in this perfect system. A secretion called mucus, which is secreted during digestion, covers all the walls of the stomach and provides a perfect protection against the destructive effect of the hydrochloric acid. Thus the stomach is prevented from consuming itself.

The point that deserves attention here is that evolution can by no means explain the system briefly summarised above. Evolution maintains that today’s complex organisms have evolved from primitive cellular forms by the gradual accumulation of small structural changes. However, as stated clearly, the system in the stomach could, in no way, have been formed step by step. The absence of even one factor would bring about the death of the organism.

When food is received into the stomach, the ability of the gastric juices to break down food is effectuated as a result of a series of chemical changes. Now, imagine a living being in the so-called evolutionary process in whose body such a planned chemical transformation is not complete. This living being, unable to develop this ability autonomously, would not be able to digest the food it ate and would starve to death with an undigested mass of food in its stomach.

In addition, during the secretion of this dissolving acid, the stomach walls simultaneously have to produce the secretion called mucus. Otherwise, the acid in the stomach would destroy the stomach. Therefore, in order for life to continue, the stomach must secrete both fluids (acid and mucus) at the same time. This shows it was not a step-by-step coincidental evolution that must, in effect, have been at work, but rather a conscious creation with all its systems intact.

What all this shows is that the human body resembles a huge factory made up of many small machines that work together in perfect harmony. Just as all factories have a designer, an engineer and a planner, the human body has an ‘Exalted Creator.’
Sawmeer Khan

 

Medin Full Moon Poya Day

With the dawn of Medin Full Moon significant Poya Day,
Sakyamuni set forth from Rajagahanuwara to Kibulwathpura, a long way.
Both cities greatness of King Suddhodana, his righteous rule,
standing testimony,
Sakyamuni agreed to request by Rev. Kaludai, playmate envoy trustworthy.

These royal cities were venerated unique places in Buddhist history.
The long journey of Gautama resulted in numerous events of dignity,
The performance of ‘twin miracle’ Yama Maha Pelehara stupendous sight,
To dispel, subdue arrogance the pride of elderly sakyans conceited, the plight.

A retinue o twenty thousand Bhikkus accompanied Sakyamui Gautama.
Sakyans marveled at strange phenomenon of Sakyamuni Buddha.
Posssed by Thathagata powers‘n psychic super might,
King Suddodana’s third salutation seeing the wonderful sight.

Seven years after Abinishkramanaya renouncing worldly pleasures,
visited relation,
The first Medin Poya after the greatest event, the ‘enlightenment,’
total liberation.
To illustrate in previous birth too has renounced worldly life, all desires,
Buddha preached Vessantara Jataka, heart rendering story of renouncing worldly pleasures.

To enlighten, for their well being in welfare of parental families.
The request of father King Suddhodana accepted for sake of relatives’ families
King Suddhodana attained ‘Sakadagami’ hearing Anumeveni Bana
Queen Maha Prajapathi Gotami attained sainthood Sotapanna.

Princess Yasodhara paid due respects at the feet of Sakyamuni Buddha,
Clear from ancient records the ordainment of Prince Rahula‘n Prince Nanda.
Sakyamuni Gautama honoured the request of his father, King Suddhodana.
The month of Medin occupies unique place in Buddha, Dhamma.

The month of Medin, Medin Full Moon Poya Day, unusually dominant,
The Exalted One, commenced service to parental families significant
Particularly important to Sri Lankans climax of Sripada pilgrimage starts
on this day
The season ends in two months, on sacred Vesak Full Moon Poya Day.
Kumari Kumarasinghe Tennakoon

 

Dr A. P. de Zoysa (1890-1968)

Social reformer and scholar

Agampodi Paulus de Zoysa was born on April 5, 1890 in his mother’s family home, situated in the coastal village of Randombe, near Ambalangoda in the Southern Province. His father was from Hegalle, Kosgoda. When he was 11, his parents died in an epidemic; he was brought up by his grandmother, and supported by maternal uncles, some of whom were clerks in government service. One of the uncles who influenced him was Bhikku Randombe Suddharmalankara.

De Zoysa had his first lessons in the nearby historic temple, the Maha Samudraramaya, and later attended the Wesleyan school in Randombe and Mahinda College, Galle, where he came under the influence of its Principal, the famous Theosophist and Pali scholar F.L. Woodward. Moving on to Wesley College, Colombo, de Zoysa was not only a good student but also a keen cricketer, artist and actor. He taught for a time at Ananda College, and after attending a teachers’ training college he was appointed art master at Royal College. Being adventurous in spirit, he decided to go to Britain in 1921 for further studies although he lacked the resources. But with the help of his uncles, he was able to meet the initial cost.

De Zoysa had to rely on his own efforts to support himself in London. He was a born teacher and soon became a popular coach to overseas students especially in Mathematics and Latin. He was appointed examiner in Sinhala to the Universities of London and Cambridge. He did an external London degree, and in 1927 was called to the Bar at Gray’s Inn. In 1929, he obtained a PhD in Anthropology at a London University. His dissertation was on ‘Observances and Customs in Sinhalese Villages’ which he completed with the guidance of world-renowned anthropologist Bronislaw Malinowski. During this time he was also active in the Buddhist movement in London, addressing meetings in Hyde Park, as well as visiting Ireland and New York where he lectured on Buddhism.

While in London, he married Eleanor Hutton of Durham, who was from a socialist, secular family, and interested in Buddhism. They had one child, Visakha Kumari. Their wide circle of friends included British artists as well as students from Africa, India and Malaysia, and Sri Lankans studying in Britain, most notably the Buddhist reformer Dr. E.W. Adhikaram and Dr. S.A. Wickremasinghe, the future Left leader.

After long years in Britain, de Zoysa returned to Sri Lanka in 1934. He was greeted by a large crowd of friends, relatives and former pupils. De Zoysa began the struggle to earn a living at the Bar and became known as a poor man’s lawyer, while his wife taught music at Ananda Balika. It was, however, public service that attracted him, and when he decided to contest Colombo South in 1936, many good friends rallied round to help in his campaign. Against all odds, Dr de Zoysa won the election on a platform of social reform, and was in the State Council until 1947, intervening on a large number of issues. Many of them were controversial: These included his support for the Malayali workers in Colombo who were threatened with deportation; his opposition to the death penalty; his unsuccessful sponsorship of anti-dowry legislation; and his suggestion (later withdrawn) that brothels be legalised for the duration of the Second World War when there were foreign troops stationed in Sri Lanka. Another cause he championed was that of Bhikku Walpola Rahula and the politically active Bhikkus of the Vidyalankara Pirivena, Kelaniya, who were under attack.

De Zoysa served in the Education Committee of the Council, and was deeply interested in promoting a better system of State education from the elementary school upwards. He was also a Municipal Councillor for several years, taking up local issues and campaigning to improve the city’s amenities.

In 1939 Dr de Zoysa, who was always enthusiastic to branch out, bought a printing press, and produced a series of books in Sinhala on educational subjects, and edited the weekly paper, Dharmasamaya. Then he began his ambitious work, the translation of the whole Tripitaka into simple Sinhala so that a larger public could read and understand Buddhist teachings. The project took over 20 years, and with help from Buddhist scholars, he produced 48 volumes. Dr. de Zoysa started on a concise edition of the Tripitika which he hoped to compress into about ten volumes, but he only got as far as the first two books — The Digha Nikaya and The Majjhima Nikaya, before his death.

Besides his magnum opus - the Tripitaka translations - he compiled and printed in 1948, an English-Sinhala Dictionary and helped by his wife, produced a cheaper concise edition for students. In the following year, his Sinhala-English dictionary in two volumes appeared. A second enlarged edition of this was published in three volumes. These dictionaries were of immense value at a time when language policies were changing. The printing of the Tripitaka and dictionaries was done at his small press, the Dharmasamaya in Maradana.

Dr. A.P. de Zoysa did not join any political party, but all his life supported social change. He led a frugal life, following a simple healthy diet, and travelled by bus to the State Council. He spoke of Buddhism as a liberating, universal philosophy-- denouncing superstition, astrology and auspicious times as non-Buddhist practices. After de Zoysa’s death aged 78 on May 26, 1968, Dr G.P. Malalasekera lauded his “simplicity in life and dedication to work” calling him “a man with rare integrity, great courage, perseverance and powers of endurance.”
Dr. Premakumara de Silva
University of Colombo

A stamp in his honour was issued on March 5 at the Speaker’s residence in Kotte

 

 

 

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