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Venerable K. Sri Dhammananda Maha Thera
15 - War And Peace
Why is there no Peace?
We are living in a world of really amazing contradictions. On the one hand, people are afraid of war; on the other hand, they prepare for it with frenzy. They produce in abundance, but they distribute miserly. The world becomes more and more crowded, but man becomes increasingly isolated and lonely. Men are living close to each other as in a big family, but each individual finds himself more than ever before, separated from his neighbor. Mutual understanding and sincerity are lacking very badly. One man cannot trust another, however good the latter may be.
When the United Nations was formed after the horrors of the Second World War, the heads of Nations who gathered to sign the charter agreed that it should begin with the following preamble: 'Since it is in the minds of men that wars begin, it is in the minds of men the ramparts of peace should be erected.'This very same sentiment is echoed in the first verse of the Dhammapada which states: 'All [mental]states have mind as their forerunner, mind is their chief, and they are mind-made. If one speaks or acts, with a defiled mind, suffering follows one even as the wheel follows the hoof of the draught-ox.'
The belief that the only way to fight force is by applying more force has led to the arms race between the great powers. And this competition to increase the weapons of war has brought mankind to the very brink of total self-destruction. If we do nothing about it, the next war will be the end of the world where there will be neither victors nor victims -- only dead bodies.
'Hatred does not cease by hatred; by love alone does it cease.' Such is the Buddha's advice to those who preach the doctrine of antagonism and ill-will, and who set men to war and rebellion against one another. Many people say that the Buddha's advice to return good for evil is impracticable. Actually, it is the only correct method to solve any problem. This method was introduced by the great Teacher from His own experience. Because we are proud and egoistic, we are reluctant to return good for evil, thinking that the public may treat us as cowardly people. Some people even think that kindness and gentleness are effeminate, not 'macho'! But what harm is there if we settle our problems and bring peace and happiness by adopting this cultured method and by sacrificing our dangerous pride?
Tolerance must be practised if peace is to come to this earth. Force and compulsion will only create intolerance. To establish peace and harmony among mankind, each and everyone must first learn to practise the ways leading to the extinction of hatred, greed and delusion, the roots of all evil forces. If mankind can eradicate these evil forces, tolerance and peace will come to this restless world.
Today the follows of the most compassionate Buddha have a special duty to work for the establishment of peace in the world and to show an example to others by following their Master's advice: 'All tremble at punishment, all fear death; comparing others with oneself, one should neither kill nor cause to kill.' (Dhammapada 129)
Peace is always obtainable. But the way to peace is not only through prayers and rituals. Peace is the result of man's harmony with his fellow beings and with his environment. The peace that we try to introduce by force is not a lasting peace. It is an interval in between the conflict of selfish desire and worldly conditions.
Peace cannot exits on this earth without the practice of tolerance. To be tolerant, we must not allow anger and jealousy to prevail in our mind. The Buddha says,'No enemy can harm one so much as one's own thoughts of craving, hate and jealousy.' (Dhammapada 42)
Buddhism is a religion of tolerance because it preaches a life of self-restraint. Buddhism teaches a life based not on rules but on principles. Buddhism has never persecuted or maltreated those whose beliefs are different. The Teaching is such that it is not necessary for anyone to label himself as a Buddhist to practise the Noble Principles of this religion.
The world is like a mirror and if you look at the mirror with a smiling face, you can see your own, beautiful smiling face. On the other hand, if you look at it with a long face, you will invariably see ugliness. Similarly, if you treat the world kindly the worldly will also certainly treat you kindly. Learn to be peaceful with yourself and the world will also be peaceful with you.
Man's mind is given to so much self-deceit that he does not want to admit his own weakness. He will try to find some excuse to justify his action and to create an illusion that he is blameless. If a man really wants to be free, he must have the courage to admit his own weakness. The Buddha says:
'Easily seen are other's faults; hard indeed it is to see one's own faults.'
Source: Buddhist Study and Practice Group, http://www.sinc.sunysb.edu/Clubs/buddhism/
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