Author Topic: Development of Holy sites, good or bad?  (Read 16945 times)

Mana

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Development of Holy sites, good or bad?
« on: January 01, 2012, 09:19:28 PM »
This news stated that Buddhists are protesting against a development project at Lumbini, the holy site of Buddha's birth.

Should holy sites be developed? Or should it remain poor like the surroundings of Bodhgaya, where people may ask: if this place is so holy and blessed, why are the people around it still live in poverty, as in the case of Bodhgaya? Doesn't blessing have some power?

Maybe the fact that the development project is initiated by the Moist leader strikes extra fear and sensitivity among the Buddhists, after all, "Mao" is not "King Ashoka", in fact he is exactly the opposite.




source: http://www.asianewsnet.net/home/news.php?id=24647&sec=1

Thousands of Buddhists protest controversial Lumbini project 

News Desk
The Kathmandu Post
Publication Date : 07-12-2011
 
The Council of Buddhist Sanghas is organising a peace rally on Wednesday against the Nepal's government’s decision to form the Lumbini Development National Steering Committee to work for the development of Lumbini. The rally will begin at Maitighar Mandala and converge in front of the Constituent Assembly (CA) hall in Kathmandu.

Some Buddhist organisations are against the formation of the committee led by Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal. They said it is an effort to turn Lumbini, the birth place of Gautam Buddha, into an industrial area.

They earlier said they will not tolerate the controversial Lumbini Development Project under the chairmanship of Dahal, who is affiliated to Asia Pacific Exchange and Cooperation Foundation and United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (Unido).

"Lumbini is the root of Buddhist cultural values and is sacred to Buddhists all over the world," the organisations said in a press release. On Monday, Dahal interacted with representatives of the Buddhist organisations in a bid to pacify them and address their "misconceptions".

The organisations have also demanded a separate ministry for the development of Lumbini. 

According to the organisers, around 5,000-10,000 Buddhists from all over Nepal will gather in Kathmandu to take part in the silent rally.
 



Big Uncle

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Re: Development of Holy sites, good or bad?
« Reply #1 on: January 02, 2012, 12:30:45 AM »
Mana has a good point. Why can't holy sites be developed? Because in my opinion, development brings in funds that will help the local people and the tourist, whether pilgrims or irreverent tourists, it will spread Buddhism and blessings to even more people. I find that win-win situation.

Yes, the appearance of sanctity of the holy spot will go down a little. But think! What makes the place holy? The appearance or the inherent blessing of the holy being that resided there? I think it is the intangible blessings of the holy being that resided there. If I were Buddhist and have some sway over these matters, I would ensure that the place be developed and a certain measures put in place to educate the pilgrims and tourists of the sanctity of the location so many more will be planted with a certain blessing.

yontenjamyang

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Re: Development of Holy sites, good or bad?
« Reply #2 on: January 02, 2012, 06:15:46 AM »
I agree with Big Uncle that development of holy sites is good, provided it is done with proper guidelines and objectives. Development should be development as a holy site and not development into it becoming an industrial park for example.
Proper development of these sites and the surrounding areas can bring better living standards to the people. Non-Buddhist tourist will view Buddhism as progressive and will be more open to explore Buddhism. More Buddhist will make pilgrimage. Basically, a win win situation.

Poonlarp

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Re: Development of Holy sites, good or bad?
« Reply #3 on: January 02, 2012, 08:45:00 AM »
I agree to have development at holy site too.

The development plan is very very crucial for holy place. The development can not be destroying the whole place and rebuild, it needs to develop to suit the modern needs and for it's cleanliness at the same time remain the essence of the holy place. A good development will draw more people to visit the place, and this will bless the people and the place gain profits for maintenance, this is a good way rather than let the place demolished naturally.

Galen

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Re: Development of Holy sites, good or bad?
« Reply #4 on: January 02, 2012, 02:21:17 PM »
The Lumbini holy site where Buddha was born is located inside the Lumbini Park. I was at the holy site last year and it is very beautiful. The site is well preserved and the energy there is great. There are a lot of monasteries being set up by various buddhist organisation from various countries around the area. The whole area is so holy and should be preserved. There were a lot of tourist who visited the holy site and made prayers there.

The city of Lumbini should be developed so that the standard of living of the people can be increased. They can't just rely on tourist money. Development will be good and will help in increasing the standard of the city. So the proposed development of Lumbini being an industrial area should be good but must be away from Lumbini Park. All these should be planned carefully.

And If Lumbini becomes a successful industrial city, then an airport should be developed. This will help bring in more tourist!

Tenzin K

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Re: Development of Holy sites, good or bad?
« Reply #5 on: January 02, 2012, 03:21:34 PM »
I agree with the development of these holy sites. As most of the above mentioned that it will bring more benefits to the local people.

In term of preservation of the birthplace of Lord BUddha, I have read about Lumbini is under the UNESCO World Heritage. This is a project that the Government of Nepal to reinforce its effort in the protection, enhancement and sustainable development of Lumbini, which as a major pole of international pilgrimage tourism in Nepal is a major source of national income.

 

Klein

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Re: Development of Holy sites, good or bad?
« Reply #6 on: January 02, 2012, 03:49:40 PM »
The Lumbini holy site where Buddha was born is located inside the Lumbini Park. I was at the holy site last year and it is very beautiful. The site is well preserved and the energy there is great. There are a lot of monasteries being set up by various buddhist organisation from various countries around the area. The whole area is so holy and should be preserved. There were a lot of tourist who visited the holy site and made prayers there.

The city of Lumbini should be developed so that the standard of living of the people can be increased. They can't just rely on tourist money. Development will be good and will help in increasing the standard of the city. So the proposed development of Lumbini being an industrial area should be good but must be away from Lumbini Park. All these should be planned carefully.

And If Lumbini becomes a successful industrial city, then an airport should be developed. This will help bring in more tourist!

I agree with Galen. Development is good as long as there is proper planning to improve the living conditions of the surrounding without destroying the heritage of the holy sites. In this way, Lumbini can attract and accommodate more people to visit and receive blessings from the holy site. What's the point of maintaining a holy site where the surroundings are not conducive for more people to visit? Doesn't it defeat the purpose of spreading the dharma?

pgdharma

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Re: Development of Holy sites, good or bad?
« Reply #7 on: January 03, 2012, 03:45:11 PM »
I agree that development is good but it must have proper consideration to the preservation of the holy site. With the right planning coupled with modern amenities and facilities, it can cater and accommodate to more pilgrims and tourists. Even non-Buddhist visiting this holy site as a tourist attraction will be blessed. It will bring in more revenue which will raise the living standards of the people. Overall, it is a win win situation.

Tammy

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Re: Development of Holy sites, good or bad?
« Reply #8 on: January 03, 2012, 04:01:35 PM »
Developing holy sites are definitely beneficial to spreading of dharma. by having the convenience of transportation, accommodation, etc, it can bring in fund and can be visited by many more people.

However, people or organization in charge of the project must bear in mind what is the purpose of developing the holy site - to profit from the influx of tourists or to spread dharma? if the motivation is wrong, it will bring negative effects.

It's a fine line to balance....
Down with the BAN!!!

kris

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Re: Development of Holy sites, good or bad?
« Reply #9 on: January 03, 2012, 04:05:16 PM »
I felt that the holy site should be developed with a motivation to get more pilgrims there easier. Basic facilities such as toilets should be easily available but not necessary has to be "grand". It should not be too commercial.

A holy site is definitely a blessed place, but that does not necessarily equates to material wealth. When I was in Nepal, I also asked myself this question, "Why the people living in this blessed place so poor?" but after 1 to 2 days, I realized that it is me who think they are poor. In fact, they have more spiritual wealth than me!

So, as long as the holy sites has neat basic facilities, it is good enough :)

negra orquida

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Re: Development of Holy sites, good or bad?
« Reply #10 on: February 16, 2012, 05:46:46 PM »
I think what Kris said makes sense..
Quote
When I was in Nepal, I also asked myself this question, "Why the people living in this blessed place so poor?" but after 1 to 2 days, I realized that it is me who think they are poor. In fact, they have more spiritual wealth than me!

Sometimes being "blessed" with a lot of material wealth and physical comfort is not really a blessing... look at the world now... generally the younger generation are richer than the previous generation, but this didn't decrease their mental anguish and other problems which comes with money and a silver spoon in the mouth.

I've been to a country where the cities are developing fast but there are villages in the same country that seemed to have stopped in time... the village people are still engaged in home based business and cottage industries.. but they are content and perhaps even more happy than city folks.  they do not desire for more material wealth.

so back to the question... whether holy sites should be developed.  The government can provide the basic infrastructure and enabling factors but if the locals are content as they are then development will be slow.  nevertheless, the holy sites must definitely be maintained and protected from degradation.  I remember going to the Taj Mahal and upon closer inspection, the walls were carved with grafitti and black from foot prints/ hand prints and stank of feet odour.  Not a good impression for the people in charge of maintaining the place and the locals.

kurava

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Re: Development of Holy sites, good or bad?
« Reply #11 on: February 17, 2012, 08:55:36 AM »
I've not been to Lumbini. Feed back from friends that had gone gave me the impression that it is dirty , with lots of beggars and children born with handicaps . However, Buddhists like the energy around the Lumbini Park while non Buddhist like the Western tourists go there for the experience of a world that is completely opposite to theirs.

I think developing the city with proper planning for the surrounding environment will be good for the locals as well as the pilgrims and tourists because development itself will provide jobs to the locals and with better facilities and infrastructure more pilgrims/tourists will be attracted to visit the holy site.

True, having material wealth not necessarily guarantee happiness but extreme poverty is not conducive for spiritual practice either. The religious and educational institutions will need to play an important role in educating young people on morals and spiritual values.

Government must offer supports to propagate the religion eg. in the oil rich Arab countries, huge sums are ploughed back to build mosques and religious schools, the Christian governments formulate policies to better the material and spiritual well beings of the people. Therefore I don't agree that material improvement will necessarily lead to spiritual poverty. It is about following the middle view that our Lord Buddha taught. With good planning and wisdom, material and spiritual growth can definitely go hand in hand.

vajrastorm

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Re: Development of Holy sites, good or bad?
« Reply #12 on: February 17, 2012, 04:19:52 PM »
I agree that holy sites like Lumbini Park, where Buddha was born, should be developed to upgrade its condition and prevent the sacred place from sliding into decay. Nonetheless, there shouldn't be an industrial park built immediately next to it. It should be preserved as a pilgrim spot with all the necessary modern facilities and amenities so as to attract pilgrims and tourists to this Holy Place. The money this will bring will enable this sacred  place to be properly maintained and preserved.The town and surroundings can be developed industrially to alleviate the poverty of the people there and raise living standards. This way, pilgrims (and tourists alike) will be drawn here and that will promote the spread of Buddhadharma;. and the people of the town would enjoy higher standards of living.

dondrup

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Re: Development of Holy sites, good or bad?
« Reply #13 on: February 24, 2012, 08:32:26 PM »
I have not yet been to Lumbini.  Hope to visit this holy site one day.  I have been to other holy sites like the Borobudur in Indonesia and Ayutthaya historical park in Thailand just to name a few. 

In my opinion, it is important to preserve these holy sites as much as possible in their original state.  The Nepalese Government should consult UNESCO’s guidelines before any new development project is carried out since Lumbini is already under the protection of UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

Development with the intention to improve the living standard of the people living near Lumbini is good.  However the authorities must carefully strike a good balance between development and preservation of the holy site.  There is only one Lumbini holy site but there can be many new development projects.  Must the industrial development be situated at or near Lumbini?  What will be the environmental effect – for example pollution - on Lumbini?   

A new industrial development brings growth to the area.  The infrastructure in the city will improve.  Accessibility will become easier. Eventually that means more tourists will visit Lumbini.  More tourists visiting Lumbini augurs well for the spread of Dharma.  However, the authorities must ensure proper and good control of human activities because increased human activities will cause damage to the holy site if there is no awareness of the need to preserve the holy site.  Hence, there must be some form of education being implemented so that all concerned – especially the local community and the tourists would have the personal responsibility to help preserve Lumbini.

Midakpa

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Re: Development of Holy sites, good or bad?
« Reply #14 on: February 25, 2012, 02:42:24 AM »
The development of a holy place will always have its pros and cons. Just look at Shangri-la in China! It used to be called Zhongdian. The famous Ganden Sumtseling Monastry (Songzanlin monastery) is located there in the capital city of Jiantang (Gyalthang in Tibetan). It is the largest and most important Tibetan Buddhist monastery in Shangri-la county. It was built by the Fifth Dalai Lama, Ngawang Lobsang Gyatso, who apparently had visionary plans to develop the monastery. The local Tibetans refer to the place as "Xiangelila" which is derived from Shambhala! During the Cultural Revolution, the monastery was destroyed and was rebuilt by the Chinese Government only in 1983.

The place was made famous by the author James Hilton in his novel "The Lost Horizon" published in 1933. Since then Western seekers have been going there looking for peace and harmony. Due to the popularity of the place and to encourage tourism, the Chinese authorities renamed Jiantang as Shangri-la in 2001 and developed the monastery and the area around it. Now Shangri-la is a modern town and thousands visit the monastery everyday, bringing in lots of tourist money.

The advantage of developing a holy site like Lumbini is that it brings prosperity to the people in the area. Hotels will be built to accommodate the tourists, etc. etc. I've seen photos taken of the Ganden Sumtseling monastery and surrounding tourist sites. One photographer who posted his photos on a website said that in the monastery, there are always so many people, it is difficult to take a photo without people in it. So he has to wait for the right time and usually had only one or two seconds to take his photos minus the people.

So the disadvantage of a famous holy site is, it becomes more and more commercial. I have a DVD of Shangri-la, a promotional video made by the Chinese Government to promote tourism with lots of beautiful places, beautiful local people dressed in their traditional costumes performing for tourists. China is promoting tourism using spiritualism!

With development, Lumbini will probably become like Shangri-la. In the midst of such popularity, Lumbini  must maintain its identity as a spiritual place and not be affected by the materialistic side. But it also needs money to survive. So I guess it's a win-win situation.