Bhikkhu Professor Dhammavihari

"May no fears affect you. May no illnesses afflict you. May no dangers come your way. May you enjoy good health and long life."

These are my very sincere greetings to every one of you listening to me at this moment. I encompass you with thoughts of love from the depth of my heart.

Tomorrow would be the New Year's day for good many of you in our country, when you meet your families and meet your friends and greet each other, wishing good luck and happiness for another time slot of one year.

Working out the New Year on the solar calendar as we do today is the outcome of beliefs in astrology and astronomy entertained by our forefathers. They come to us from pre-Galilean times. And for sure, we own them with pride.

From whichever angle we look, it is our wish for happiness and comfort, for prosperity and abundance which motivate us in these directions. The motivation, it has to be conceded, is well below the level of religion and spirituality. But we have been all very clever to integrate our religions with this line of thinking and seek the assistance of the agents of religion, the gods above, to push our aspirations further.

But in terms of science and philosophy today, man has pushed the frontiers further. He has probed deeper into the fountains which generate human happiness and spelt out most of the causes which bring disaster on mankind. They have been proved to be in the hands of man and well within his reach. Whether they have been the disasters of World War II, including the bombs over Hiroshima or the bumper harvests of corn elsewhere.

This new angle of vision of seeing things with accuracy and honesty does no violence to religion at all, if only men and women of all ages do really endeavour to know what their religions can claim to deliver. And, on the other hand, their human agents of religion down below here are honest enough not to exploit the credulity of the masses, playing on many areas of social life, like health, wealth and vitality, with promises of restoring whatever is lost through recklessness of man himself.

In the area of human health, both medicine and surgery have reached incredible heights. Men, women and children have been wonderfully relieved of numerous congenital defects, of malformed organs and defective parts of bodies. Preventive medical care, professionally recommended by men and women who are dedicated to it, and faithfully observed by those who need it, have been a great deal more than prayers answered.

In terms of modern economic theories, wealth seems to be hardly heaven sent. It is very clear to us how it is generated, both here and elsewhere. It is generally through extra-religious or more genuinely through irreligious means that vast amounts of unaccountable monies get credited into the accounts of people, anywhere in the world. Several notable cases in the world have come to light recently and many responsible people are pining behind prison bars for their irresponsible deeds.

I thought I would bring to light a few instances like these in order to show how people in the world today, particularly in Sri Lanka, confuse religion, culture, health care, economic well-being and political ideologies, all in one, and set up massive propaganda machinery for the purpose of achieving foe each one very personal gains in diverse areas.

Innocent people in rural areas who are severely handicapped in many ways and subject to economic hardships, or are alienated from their own lands, or are become victims of war much against their wishes, have to be warned against these delightfully veiled generous gestures coming from all directions.

So on days like these, when people meet one another on a very healthy note of mutual well wishing, it is necessary that they inquire with a high degree of honesty and sincerity about each one's well-being in all areas of human growth and uplift.

These inquiries should contain references to personal health, family structures, economic well-being, educational growth and spiritual maturity of persons of all ages, of both men and women. This is the only way to take care of a nation, and not through honours conferred on a select few, posthumously or in person.

They should also utilize the wealth of their religious traditions to bring harmony in a multi-ethnic and multi-religious community like Sri Lankans. Let our religious leaders meet, with their cards on the table, well above board.

What good does it do to adore the sun and the moon above, as gods or goddesses, and plead with them for greater shares of allocations on ethnic or religious basis. It was good enough for Horatio Nelson then, for victory. This is not worthy of Sri Lankans today, no matter to what religious denomination they belonf.

May all beings be well and happy. May there be peace on earth and goodwill among men.