Siri Vajiraramaye Ñāṇasῑha
A portrait about Siri Vajiraramaye Ñāṇasῑha
– Interview from the 10’th of April 2019, Siri Vajiraramaye Colombo 4, Sri Lanka –
1. When was the last time you felt happiness from the bottom of your heart?
(laughs) I always feel happy in every situation. There are certain moments you get agitated, but immediately you calm down and can be happy again. So it’s balanced. Before I became a monk I had problems in my daily life. Since I’m a monk the problems from my daily life have gone and now I’m very peaceful.
2. How would you describe spirituality in your own words?
One day we discussed about it in Italy and later I wrote about spirituality in my book. The four pillars of anthropological spirituality in Asian tradition, mean the Buddhist tradition, are loving kindness, compassion, altruistic joy and equanimity. These are the four factors of spirituality.
With loving kindness you have fewer conflicts. With compassion you start to empathize and feel something for each other . The third factor in spirituality is to be happy about another person’s progress. Sometimes people have feelings like jealousy which bring conflicts. When you are not jealous and help others like when you asked me whether you can record this you can be happy. I like everybody to be happy. And finally it’s equanimity which keeps you balanced in every moment. You have up and downs in your life and afterwards you have to develop your equanimity to face anyone in every situation.
3. Imagine, the last day of your life has come and there is nobody who has any information about you and your life. All the information has mysteriously been deleted. If I would give you an empty sheet of paper and you could leave a message with the three most important wisdoms of your life, which three wisdoms would you write down?
Aging. Health. Death.
4. How will the world be a different place because of what you have contributed?
I have contributed in many ways, even international. I have contributed in a group of a non-government sector the law for the consumption of alcohol and Tabaco in India 2003. We were being part of the process branding that law and the government was wondering about our many things we did. This work had a big influence on the government and also changed the world. In Sri Lanka, I have contributed in the same section. I was developing a law to regard alcohol and Tabaco. In many countries you have two laws for the consumption of alcohol and Tabaco. For me it’s important to have the one law for alcohol and Tabaco because they both create the same problems for human beings. So I could convince the government with my idea of having one law for both because of my contribution and I’m very proud about it.
5. Do you have a saying which shows your vision of life?
I have a particular word which inspired me from my young days on. It is the word “Sakko” and means “able”. You can do it. This word helped me a lot. Even now, you could become a monk. I say “Sakko”. You know you can’t force it but you have that constancy to develop it which makes it possible to achieve.
6. How do you prefer your funeral to be like?
I was thinking of my funeral, but the point is to be ready and to be prepared of the dead.
(He shows me a memo on his desk)
Here are certain telephone numbers and please inform them when I am dead. I have told my friends the place I store the key for my window. One morning, when I won’t wake up anymore, they open my window that everybody knows I am dead. (laughs) There is no fear at all. It should come. Mostly the things won’t happen we want it for, but I hope and wish that I’m not suffering with the stroke or anything similar.
7. What’s happening with your soul after the doctor has testified your death?
There is no soul. I don’t believe in a soul but there is something we call energy. It’s like you take a ball and throw it. You want to stop it and you can’t stop it because it goes on. So you have developed all the energy up to now. And there is a death, a physical death. It’s not the death of your energy. That energy will go on to another life. The energy which some people call soul is something which changes constantly and the soul is staying permanent. The energy changes by your vocal and physical actions and thoughts. Your thoughts are full of feelings as hatred and not understanding. They are defiled and not pure. In those moments the color of energy is changing. I control that particular moment. If I want I can raise my hand and in that moment you can have always the power to decide. The decision is yours. What you have recorded is in the past. Your next question is in the future. I don’t know what I say in the future because it depends on the question. But now in the moment I am the master of this. So it’s this particular process and this energy which is influenced by your action. According to that, the force goes on until you stop it. The whole effort and the object of the Buddha’s teaching is to see that those mind conditions are the propagation of this particular energy.
8. Which thoughts give you hope?
I have achieved so much and the concept of “Sakko” is very helpful to have hope. Through my action I get a boost in life and I’m not desolated or getting depressed. That hope is your own positive achievement. You can achieve what you want.
9. If an artist would draw a picture about your life, what animal would he choose as a symbol for you? What would the landscape around you look like in the drawing? What kind of weather would it be there?
It doesn’t come to my mind. I like to be a peaceful animal which doesn’t kill other animals. The landscape from your country is beautiful with its monotony, calmness and peace.
Additional information: 84 years old, Bhikkhu (monk), living in the famous Siri Vajiraramaye Temple Colombo //5