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Buddhism and Contemporary Issues II

Buddhism and Contemporary Issues II

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B

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E-mail: bdea@buddhanet.net
Web site: www.buddhanet.net
Buddha Dharma Education Association Inc.
Ven. Dr K. Sri Dhammananda
iii
9edication Of ´erit
May thc mcrit and virtuc
accrucd lrom this work
adorn thc 8uddha’s Purc Land,
rcpay thc lour grcat kindncsscs abovc,
and rclicvc thc sußcring ol
thosc on thc thrcc paths bclow.
May thosc who scc or hcar ol thcsc cßorts
gcncratc 8odhimind,
spcnd thcir livcs dcvotcd to thc 8uddha Ðharma,
and nnally bc rcborn togcthcr in
thc Land ol Ultimatc 8liss.
Homagc to Amita 8uddha!
5amo :mitabha
Printcd lor lrcc distribution by
Tc Corporatc 8ody ol thc 8uddha ¡ducational Foundation
11F, 55 Hang Chow South Road Scc 1, Taipci, Taiwan,
R.Ò.C. Tcl: 886223951198, Fax: 886223913415
¡mail: ovcrscasCbudacdu.org.tw
Vcbsitc: http://www.budacdu.org.tw
Tn:s noox :s s+v:c+iv vov vvvv o:s+v:nu+:oN, :+ :s No+ +o nv soio.
iii
CoN+vN+s
Juddhism for the Tuture
Fovvwovb ......................................................................................................... iv
Tnv Tnivb Miiivxxiu: ....................................................................... 6
Soci~i Coxcvvxs ........................................................................................ 9
Uxi)y ix 8ubbnis) Scnoois ov Tnoucn) ......................... 13
Roiv ov S~xcn~ ......................................................................................... 16
Tnv 8nixxnuxi Òvbvv ....................................................................... 22
Tnv L~y Pvvsox ........................................................................................ 24
8ubbnis: ~s ~ Fovcv ~c~ixs) W~v .......................................... 25
Pvosviy)iz~)iox ...................................................................................... 30
¡cu:vxis: ..................................................................................................... 32
8ubbnis) \~iuvs ...................................................................................... 32
iv v
Iovvwovo
!t is hcartcning to notc that 8uddhists in Malaysia arc
gaining rccognition lor thcir signincant contribution to thc
world community whilc at thc samc timc dcvcloping a rcc
ognizablc idcntity ol thcir own. Vhilc in thc past Malay
sians wcrc dcpcnding on thc culturcs ol thc prcdominantly
8uddhist countrics likc China, Tailand, Sri Lanka and
Myanmar, today Malaysians havc bcgun a trcnd to mcrgc
thcsc various traditions and cvolvc a distinctivc Malaysian
8uddhist charactcr.
Also a sizcablc numbcr ol knowlcdgcablc 8uddhists
arc making contributions to this ncw culturc not only
through thcir Ðhamma talks and thc organization ol
8uddhist activitics likc scminars and conlcrcnccs, but also
in arcas such as art, litcraturc and poctry.
Tc Sasana Abhiwurdhi Vardhana Socicty, thc old
cst rcgistcrcd 8uddhist socicty in Malaysia has cmbarkcd
on a modcst programmc to publish books lor thc bcncnt ol
all Malaysian 8uddhists. Vc arc cxtrcmcly proud that thc
Sasana Abhiwurdhi Vardhana Socicty has bccn givcn thc
honour to publish this book authorcd by our most \cncrablc
tcachcr, Ðr K Sri Ðhammananda Nayaka Maha Tcra, thc
Chicl High Pricst ol Malaysia and Singaporc.
iv v
Tis prcscnt volumc is oßcrcd to thc rcadcr to com
mcmoratc ¡sala Poya which is a vcry important datc on thc
8uddhist calcndar. !t marks thc day on which thc 8uddha
dclivcrcd his nrst scrmon altcr his ¡nlightcnmcnt morc
than a· ccnturics ago.
Tis book by our \cncrablc tcachcr will no doubt go
a long way in kccping thc glorious ßamc ol thc Ðhamma
alight to cnlightcn luturc gcncrations and hclp thcm attain
thc nnal bliss ol Nibbana.
Committcc ol Managcmcnt
Sasana Abhiwurdhi Vardhana Socicty
]uly accc
o ¬
Juddhism for the Tuture
Tnv Tn:vo M:iivNN:ux
Tis ycar wc, thc mcmbcrs ol thc Human Racc cntcrcd into
into what has bccn tcrmcd by thc largcly Vcstcrndominated
intcrnational mcdia as thc Tird Millcnnium or yax for
short. Vc havc bccn subjcctcd to an cnormous amount
ol hypc by commcrcial intcrcst groups and somc rcligious
cnthusiasts who promiscd us that thc world would surcly
cnd. Tc ignorant, thc supcrstitious and thc lcarlul wcrc
cspccially a targct lor thcsc groups. Ncw cults sprang up
thrcatcning thc wrath ol a lrustratcd God on humanity that
has consistcntly rcluscd to bclicvc in him or obcy his unrc
alistic commands. Tc gulliblc wcrc pcrsuadcd to part lrom
thcir matcrial wcalth and cvcn kill thcmsclvcs to cscapc thc
ultimatc, nnal holocaust ol thc cnd ol thc world. Tcn ol
coursc, thcrc wcrc thosc who madc loud and stridcnt calls
to warn us ol thc horrors ol thc “millcnnium bug” which
would wipc out modcrn civilization at midnight on thc last
day ol .ooo. Computcrs wcrc supposcd to crasc inlormation
rclating to whcn wc had bccn insurcd, whcn wc wcrc last
inoculatcd, that our nxcd dcposits intcrcst ratcs would havc
o ¬
to bc rcncwcd… thc prospccts wcrc simply horrilying! Tcn
camc thc grcat anticlimax — nothing happcncd! Tcrc
wcrc many shamclaccd rcligionists who had to run to thcir
holy books and intcrprct thcm — oncc again.
Now, what was thc 8uddhist attitudc to all ol this:
Vc did not join thc mad crowd and vicwcd this wholc situ
ation calmly and rationally. To bcgin with, wc rcmcmbcrcd
that wc rcachcd our sccond millcnnium nvc hundrcd ycars
ago and wc arc alrcady hall way into our third millcnnium.
Tat ccrtainly gavc us somc grcatcr scniority and maturity
with which to vicw thc univcrsc and to advisc our lcllow bc
ings on how to conduct oursclvcs in thc pursuit ol ultimatc
happincss. Pcrhaps wc could now prcvail on our youngcr
brothcrs and sistcrs with dißcrcnt world vicws that thcir
pcrspcctivcs havc motivatcd thcm to act in ways dangcr
ous not only to thc human racc but to all inhabitants on
this lovcly planct, including plants and animals. 8clorc
wc bccomc too smug and dividc thc human racc into “us”
8uddhists and “thcm”, thc rcst, lct mc hastcn to rcmind
oursclvcs that all ol us havc bccn guilty ol joining thc samc
rat racc and thosc who call thcmsclvcs “8uddhists” havc just
as happily trod thc “primrosc path” ol scnsuality, matcrial
ism and grccd likc almost cvcryonc clsc in thc acth Ccntury.
Vhat ! will procccd to discuss in thc rcst ol this cssay is how
ï ,
thc Sublimc Tcachings ol thc 8uddha, il rightly undcrstood
and corrcctly lollowcd by cvcryonc can savc thc human racc
lrom ultimatc disastcr.
Vc nccd not think that thc bcginning ol thc a.st
Ccntury had any particular, or cosmic signincancc in thc
supramudanc scnsc. Timc is a human invcntion and a
human bcing is no dißcrcnt today lrom what his anccstor was
two or thrcc thousand ycars ago. Vc humans havc thc samc
propcnsity lor good or cvil as our lorcbcars did during thc
timc ol thc 8uddha. Tc dißcrcncc may bc that today, givcn
our vast tcchnological advanccs and cducation, wc arc in a
bcttcr position to dcvclop our good or cvil naturcs. !l wc
havc thc good scnsc to slow down and look at thc Tcachings
without bias and practicc thcm sinccrcly, wc can raisc thc
human racc to high lcvcls ol divinity. !l wc pcrsist in ignor
ing thc prccious tcaching wc will continuc to givc in to thc
bcast in us. Tc choicc is ours. Tc 8uddha taught lor all
mankind. !l this mcssagc can bc brought to all human
beings, il wc can pcrsuadc all human bcings and thcir govcrn
mcnts that thc 8uddha was not bound by narrow scctarian
intcrcsts, but that hc was conccrncd with all scnticnt bcings,
wc would havc gonc a long way towards making this world
a bcttcr placc lor all its inhabitants. To cßcctivcly promotc
social harmony and univcrsal pcacc through 8uddhism
ï ,
wc havc somc scrious thinking to do. Vc should scriously
considcr what our attitudc to thc 8uddha’s mcssagc is, wc
must bc unitcd and not wastc prccious cncrgy and rcsourccs
arguing about thc supcriority ol any particular school ol
8uddhism, wc must rccognizc thc rights ol our lcllow in
habitants on carth (including plants and animals), wc must
rccognizc thc cquality ol all mcmbcrs ol humanity, (includ
ing womcn and childrcn). Òncc wc havc sct our own housc
in ordcr, so to spcak, wc will bc in a bcttcr position to work
lor thc happincss and wcllarc ol cvcryonc just as thc 8uddha
intcndcd.
Soc:ai CoNcvvNs
A grcat dcal has bccn spokcn and writtcn about thc
8uddha’s conccrn lor thc wcllbcing ol all living bcings
and humankind in particular. Vhilc thc grcatcr part ol
his ministry was dcvotcd to thc cdincation ol thosc who
rcnounccd thc worldly lilc, hc was most lrcc with his advicc
to uplilt thc condition ol thc houscholdcr. Somc ol thc bcst
known Sutras arc dcvotcd to thc dcvclopmcnt ol social har
mony and arc addrcsscd to royalty as wcll as common lolk.
!n thc :gganna 'utra lor cxamplc thc 8uddha spcaks in
:c ::
mythical tcrms about thc origin ol socicty and thc causcs
ol incquality, in thc Kasibharad+aja 'utra hc distinguishcs
bctwccn labour lor spiritual progrcss and labour to gain ma
tcrial wcalth. !n thc 'iga/o+ada 'utra hc cxplains thc dutics
and rcsponsibilitics ol thc dißcrcnt groups which comprisc
socicty — parcnts, childrcn, husbands, wivcs, cmploycrs,
cmployccs, tcachcrs and rcligious pcrsons. Hc spcaks ol
thc bcncnts to bc dcrivcd whcn cvcry mcmbcr ol a com
munity knows what is cxpcctcd ol him or hcr and sinccrcly
lulnlls his or hcr obligations. !n thc Jarabha+a 'utra hc
cnumcratcs thc various lorms ol antisocial bchaviour which
causc pcrsonal and social loss. !n thc 7yagghapajja 'utra
hc dcscribcs thc bcncnts that can bc gaincd by thc housc
holdcr cvcn without “going lorth”. !n onc scction ol thc
´ahaparinibbana 'utra thc 8uddha cxplains thc lactors
which arc ncccssary lor good govcrnmcnt and national
unity. !n thc ´anga/a 'utra hc cnumcratcs good social
bchaviour which obstructs miscry and woc to thc individual
and thcrcby thc community.
8csidc thcsc sutras, thcrc arc ol coursc thc numcr
ous storics and lcgcnds rccordcd in thc Ðhammapada and
thc ]ataka which again cmphasizc thc lactors which pro
motc social harmony and univcrsal pcacc. Tc qucstion
now rcmains to bc askcd, how practical arc thcsc admoni
:c ::
tions in modcrn timcs: !t has oltcn bccn suggcstcd that thc
8uddhist lormulac lor social wcll bcing arc rathcr idcalistic.
Tcy may havc workcd whcn govcrnmcnts cxcrtcd lar morc
powcr ovcr thcir subjccts in ancicnt !ndia than thcy do today.
Today’s citizcns arc too indcpcndcnt and sclnsh to bc rulcd
with glovcd hands. Tis nccd not bc so. Pcoplc can still bc
trcatcd humancly and wc can still lollow thc principlc that
il you trcat pcoplc wcll, thcy will bchavc wcll. Part ol thc
rcason why govcrnmcnts arc so harsh today is that thcy op
cratc lrom a point ol vicw that thc world is nnitc and that
cvcrything is rcal. Vc must rcmcmbcr that all thc 8uddha’s
advicc was givcn against a world vicw which is totally dil
lcrcnt lrom thc world vicw ol a vast majority ol humans
today. !l wc want to cßcctivcly makc usc ol thc 8uddha’s
Tcaching to promotc social harmony and univcrsal pcacc
wc must bcgin to scc thc world as thc 8uddha did. Vc must
“scc thc world as it rcally is”. Vc must usc all our cßorts to
givc an undcrstanding ol thc thrcc charactcristics ol :nicca
(impcrmancncc), 9ukkha (unsatislactorincss) and :natta
(nonscll). Admittcdly this is a hugc task. Vc havc to ovcr
comc two millcnnia ol propaganda which sprcad thc lalsc
notion that thc world and its crcaturcs wcrc spccially crc
atcd lor thc sclnsh plcasurc ol man. Vc havc to countcr thc
Rcnaissancc notion that “man is thc mcasurc ol all things.”
:: :+
Surcly it is a dimcult task, but ccrtainly it is not im
possiblc. Morc and morc pcoplc in dcvclopcd countrics arc
waking up to thc obvious lact that thc world was xo) madc
lor man’s plcasurc, and that it was not crcatcd in onc glori
ous momcnt but that cvcrything that cxists is an illusion
and dcpcndcnt on cvcrything clsc, that man’s ultimatc hap
pincss lics in his working not lor himscll alonc but lor thc
salcty and happincss ol othcrs. Tis is cxactly thc 8uddha’s
vicw and a largc numbcr ol pcoplc, wcary ol past cxccsscs
and lcarlul ol impcnding disastcr arc rcady to givc hccd to
thc 8uddha’s advicc on pcacclul cocxistcncc whcrc dutics
and rcsponsibilitics takc prcccdcncc ovcr rights.
Tc timc is thcrclorc ripc lor 8uddhists all ovcr thc
world to cxplain thc mcssagc ol thc 8uddha in modcrn
tcrms, to hclp pcoplc undcrstand thc vv~i naturc ol cxist
cncc. Òncc thcrc is Right (or Pcrlcct) Undcrstanding thcn
naturally all othcr aspccts ol thc tcaching will not sccm
so naivc and impractical altcr all. Alrcady many cduca
tion systcms in thc wcst arc paying duc attcntion to thc
dcvclopmcnt ol a culturc whcrc man is taught to put thc
conccrns ol othcrs bclorc his own nccds. !ncrcasingly thc
innatc goodncss ol bcings is lostcrcd through propcr cdu
cation and undcrstanding. Ycs, thc 8uddha’s modcl lor a
Pcrlcct Socicty can work. 8ut wc must work intclligcntly
:: :+
and ccasclcssly to makc it work. A 8uddhist valuc systcm is
alrcady rccognizablc in many organizations such as uxvsco,
wno, v~o and so on. !t is ol no conccrn to us whcthcr or not
cvcry human bcing is convcrtcd to 8uddhism. Tc 8uddha
has dcclarcd that wc can rcspcct any systcm which contains
aspccts ol thc Fouv Noniv Tvu)ns which obviously thcsc
organisations do. Òur conccrn is only lor thc happincss ol
humanity, both matcrial and spiritual. Grcatcr awarcncss ol
thc 8uddha’s tcachings will makc his principlcs univcrsally
acccptcd.
UN:+v :N Buoon:s+ Scnoois ov Tnoucn+
To crcatc this awarcncss 8uddhists must adopt a two lold
stratcgy. First wc must put our own housc in ordcr. Two
millcnnia ol disscnsion within oursclvcs and aggrcssion
lrom outsidc havc wcakcncd our practicc. Vc must look at
oursclvcs clcarly and cxaminc what arc our inncr wcakncsscs
which rcducc our ability to truly practisc thc 8uddha’s mcs
sagc to hclp our lcllow bcings. ¡vcr sincc thc First Council
lollowing thc passing away ol thc 8uddha wc 8uddhists
havc cxpcndcd cnormous amounts ol cncrgy to dcvclop dil
lcrcnt schools or traditions within 8uddhism. Òl coursc
this dcvclopmcnt ol our divcrgcnt vicws took placc with a
:¡ :s
dcgrcc ol brothcrly lccling which is uniquc in thc history
ol rcligion. Vc can proudly asscrt again and again that wc
havc practiccd a path ol pcacc which is uniquc. Vc can
proudly asscrt again and again that guidcd by thc Mastcr’s
Tcachings in thc Kalama Sutra (and rcitcratcd in thc cdicts
ol Asoka) wc havc ncvcr shcd a drop ol blood or raiscd a
singlc whip to sprcad our bclicls or to dclcnd thcm. Tis
rccord alonc givcs us a grcatcr crcdibility ovcr othcrs. Vc
havc thc blucprint to crcatc univcrsal pcacc.
Howcvcr, lct’s bc rcalistic. Vhilc wc can go on lor
cvcr patting oursclvcs on our backs lor our tolcrancc, thc lact
rcmains that wc havc gonc in dißcrcnt dircctions and that
wc havc tcndcd to considcr “our” school supcrior to that ol
othcrs. Tc 8uddha taught only onc Path to Pcrlcction. Òur
impcrlcctions gavc risc to thc dißcrcnt schools. Tc timc
has comc lor us to transccnd our narrow scctarian vicws and
look lorward to dcvcloping an undcrstanding ol what has
bccn dcscribcd as “Transccndcntal 8uddhism”. Tis pool
ing ol our rcsourccs, and lcaving bchind our culturcbound
approach to thc tcachings, has bccomc absolutcly ncccssary,
givcn thc lact that thc world has shrunk so much and so
many pcoplc with such divcrsc languagcs, bclicls, culturcs
and attitudcs arc taking an intcrcst in thc 8uddha and his
tcachings. All ol us, who havc inhcritcd this rich trcasurc
:¡ :s
lrom various sourccs, must comc togcthcr to hclp all ol
mankind gain ultimatc happincss.
Tis docs not mcan ol coursc that wc must abandon
thc indcscribablc richncss and varicty ol our dißcrcnt tradi
tions. Tc world would bc so much poorcr il wc lost thc in
valuablc trcasurcs ol Sri Lankan, ]apancsc, Korcan, Chincsc,
Tibctan and South ¡ast Asian 8uddhist way ol lilc. No,
what ! mcan is, whilc wc continuc to lostcr thc mundanc
manilcstations ol thc tcachings within our own culturcs,
wc must vigorously makc cßorts to lct thc world hcar thc
8uddha’s voicc. Tis will rcducc thc conlusion rcgarding thc
Tcachings cspccially among pcoplc who hcar it lor thc nrst
timc. Altcr all, wc must ncvcr losc sight ol thc 8uddha’s
nrst injunction to sprcad thc Ðharma lor “thc happincss and
wcllarc ol scnticnt bcings”. Tis clcarly altruistic motivc lor
our missionary cßorts must ncvcr bc lorgottcn. To rcalizc
this idcal wc must bc humblc and bc prcparcd to look at
thc tcachings ol thc othcr schools without discrimination.
Mcmbcrs ol thc Sangha particularly must highlight thc
arcas ol agrccmcnt amongst thc various schools so that thc
youngcr gcncration is hclpcd to vicw 8uddhism as a pcrlcct,
harmonious wholc that cvolvcd lrom a singlc tcaching.
Ònc way ol doing this ol coursc is to cncouragc
morc dialoguc amongst thc dißcrcnt traditions. Tc “First
:o :¬
Vorld 8uddhist Propagation Conlcrcncc” organizcd by thc
Ncmbutsu Scct ol ]apan, in Kyoto in .oo· is an cxccllcnt cx
amplc ol such a succcsslul mccting ol 8uddhist minds. Such
gathcrings ol promincnt 8uddhists lrom dißcrcnt traditions,
mccting amicably, scrvc to rcmind thc world that 8uddhists
arc rcally unitcd and do sharc idcntical vicws on such issucs
as cnlightcnmcnt and scrvicc to mankind.
An obvious arca whcrc 8uddhists can promotc co
opcration cßcctivcly is in thc disscmination ol thc Ðharma.
8ooks, pcriodicals, magazincs and morc rcccntly thc !n
tcrnct should all try to cncouragc intcrscctarian dialoguc
bctwccn schools ol 8uddhism so that rcadcrs bcgin to scc
thc undcrlying unity ol 8uddhism in thc apparcnt divcrsity
ol its practiccs.
Roiv ov SaNcna
Asidc lrom making cßorts to comc togcthcr and lostcring
thc acccptancc ol thc conccpt ol Transccndcntal 8uddhism,
onc morc arca wc must look at scriously to cnsurc our inncr
strcngth in thc 8uddhist world, is thc Rolc ol thc Sangha.
!t is clcar that thc 8uddha rccognizcd thc vital importancc
ol thc Sangha in kccping alivc thc purity ol his Tcaching.
Tis is cvidcnccd by thc lact that hc includcd thc Sangha as
:o :¬
thc third componcnt ol thc Holy Triplc Gcm. Tc Sangha’s
important rolc thcn and now as thc transmittcr ol thc
Ðharma across timc and spacc can ncvcr bc undcrcstimatcd.
From thc 8uddha’s timc until now thc history ol 8uddhism
has bccn illuminatcd by such glorious namcs as Sariputta,
Moggallana, Ananda, Mahinda, Sanghamitta, Nagarjuna,
\asubhandhu, 8odhidharma, Asvaghosa, 8uddhaghosa,
Yuan Chuan, Fa Hsicn… thc list is cndlcss. Philosophcrs,
prcachcrs, commcntators, travcllcrs… thcy all had onc thing
in common. Tcy wcrc sons and daughtcrs ol thc 8uddha.
¡vcn in our own timcs thcrc arc so many namcs ol mcmbcrs
ol thc Sangha who kccp thc glorious ßamc ol thc Ðharma
alivc, bringing thc voicc ol thc 8uddha to cvcry corncr ol
thc globc.
From thc timc ol thc 8uddha right up to our own
timcs, thc mcmbcrs ol thc Sangha havc bccn thc lorcc
which sustaincd and intcrprctcd thc 8uddhaword so that it
is kcpt cvcr alivc and lrcsh in thc hcarts and minds ol mcn
and womcn. So much lor thcir importancc. Lct us now look
at thcir lunction in today’s socicty and thc challcngcs that
thcy lacc.
Although thcrc havc bccn grcat monks who wcnt
lar bcyond thc monastcrics in which thcy nrst donncd thc
mcndicants’ garb, thc vast majority ol monks ncvcr straycd
:ï :,
bcyond thcir monastcry walls. Tcy wcrc contcnt to livc
quict sccludcd livcs ol contcmplation avoiding as much as
possiblc thc turmoil ol thc outsidc world. 8ut as wc rcach
thc cnd ol thc twcnticth ccntury wc cannot ignorc thc lact
that thc world is indccd vcry dißcrcnt lrom what it was lor
ccnturics, particularly in Asia. Tc world is crccping vcry
much into thc monastcry. Tc monk is incrcasingly callcd
upon to scrvc thc socicty which supports his matcrial nccds.
!t is no longcr cnough to conduct thc occasional dcvotional
practiccs lor thc lay pcrson or tcach thc rudimcnts ol rcad
ing and writing and calculation to his childrcn. Tc world
has shrunk. ¡vcnts which occur in thc US or ¡uropc dccply
aßcct thc livcs ol cvcryonc on thc planct. Tc 8uddhist
monk is part ol that global lilc. Social harmony and Uni
vcrsal Pcacc arc thc rcsponsibility ol cvcryonc on this
planct: thc 8uddhist monk must carry out his part ol that
rcsponsibility. Tc obvious cxccption to this is ol coursc, thc
bhikkhu ol thc Forcst tradition, who complctcly rcnounccs
all contact with socicty and sccks salvation lor himscll. Tc
monastcry monk docs not lall into this catcgory.
Not only in Asia, but in ¡uropc, thc Amcricas,
Australia, and incrcasingly, cvcn in Alrica, 8uddhism is
playing a vital rolc in contributing to social harmony and
univcrsal pcacc. Tc 8uddhist monks or nuns arc thc vital
:ï :,
links bctwccn thc 8uddha’s mcssagc ol pcacc and harmony
and thc pcoplc ol thc world who so dcspcratcly nccd it.
!s thc Sangha rcady lor thc challcngc:
My immcdiatc and honcst answcr to that is “No. At
lcast not yct”.
To bcgin with, traditional lilc in rural Asia has
changcd vcry littlc ovcr thc ccnturics. 8ut at thc samc timc,
tcchnological and urban dcvclopmcnts and wcstcrnization
havc movcd ahcad at dizzying spccds. Tc rcsult: thc avcr
agc 8uddhist in a traditional 8uddhist country (possibly
with thc cxccption ol ]apan) has bccomc incrcasingly dis
oricntcd and thcrc cxists a vast gap within him, bctwccn his
traditional valucs and his modcrn conccpt ol thc world with
its banking systcms, scnsational cntcrtainmcnt, matcrialism,
nuclcar lamilics and so on. Hc is torn bctwccn what hc is
“told” hc should bc as a modcl 8uddhist parcnt, son, cm
ploycc or citizcn, and thc dcmands madc on him in thc rcal
world: thc world ol matcrialism, grccd and sclnshncss. Too
oltcn, thc Sangha is illcquippcd to hclp thcir lay supportcrs
to bridgc thc gap bctwccn thc modcrn and thc traditional.
Tc avcragc modcrn monk in a 8uddhist country is lound
to bc woclully out ol touch with thc modcrn world. !t is
morc likcly hc has not cvcn sccn a computcr, lct alonc bcing
proncicnt to opcratc onc! Hc has vcry littlc contact with thc
:c ::
outsidc world, so how can hc hclp his lcllow bcings to copc
with it:
Vhat is intcrcsting to notc hcrc is that this has not
always bccn so. Vho can dcny that a 8uddhist monk has
always bccn an agcnt ol changc lor thc bcttcr throughout
history: Vho can dcny that it was thc 8uddhist monk who
brought Art, Architccturc, Tcchnology, Music and Mcdi
cinc to cvcry country in Asia: !t has cvcn bccn suggcstcd
that thc ancicnt ¡gyptian Tnvv~vvu)~v who practiscd
monasticism and spccializcd in hcaling (“thcrapcutic”) wcrc
originally 8uddhist monks, thcrapcutic bcing a corruption
ol Tnvv~v~b~: 8c that as it may, thc Sangha civilizcd thc
ancicnt world. 8ut thcy can hardly bc hcld up as rolc modcls
lor changc today! Vhat happcncd: Òl coursc wc can point
a nngcr at colonization, but blaming othcrs lor our short
comings is a luxury wc can ill aßord. Tc only thing wc can
do is to ask oursclvcs how wc can changc thc situation and
oncc again makc thc 8uddhist monk thc lcadcr ol mcn and
womcn in his socicty.
! bclicvc thc kcy is in ¡ducation. Govcrnmcnts as
wcll as social rclormcrs in 8uddhist countrics must rccog
nizc thc trcmcndous potcntial that mcmbcrs ol thc Sangha
havc to hclp thcir lcllow bcings. Tcy arc gcncrally highly
intclligcnt as can bc sccn by thcir ability to mcmorizc, un
:c ::
dcrstand, intcrprct and tcach thc Sublimc Ðhamma. Vhilc
continuing to uphold thcsc traditional lorms ol lcarning, wc
must givc thcm additional skills — computcrlitcracy, larm
ing tcchniqucs, counscling, cnginccring, nursing, tcaching
lor cxamplc. Tcy must not only bc proncicnt in thc Ðharma,
thcy must bc practical in scrving socicty’s matcrial nccds.
Òvcr thc ccnturics thc Saßron robc has carncd its wcarcr a
high dcgrcc ol rcspcct. Today thc 8uddhist monk can makc
usc ol this psychological tool to hclp laymcn bccomc bcttcr
pcoplc. !t must ncvcr bc lorgottcn that thc 8uddha ncvcr
condcmncd matcrial prospcrity. Tcrc arc cnough Sutras in
our scripturcs to show that thc 8uddha cvcn wcnt to thc cx
tcnt ol dcclaring that wcalth, honcstly carncd, gavc a pcrson
scll cstccm, human dignity and thc powcr to do good. Tc
8uddhist monk who hclps his lay dcvotcc to attain matcrial
succcss Vi)n Ricn) Uxbvvs)~xbixc is indccd lollowing
his Mastcr’s injunction to work lor thc bcncnt and wcllarc
ol humanity.
All ol this howcvcr could possibly lcad to a lurthcr
problcm. And that is, wc could havc monks who arc traincd
without undcrstanding. Tcy could go to thc othcr cxtrcmc
and cut oß all links with thc past. (!t has happcncd!) No,
monks havc an all important rolc to uphold tradition. Tra
dition links us to thc past. !t givcs us our roots, it hclps us to
:: :+
rcmain stcady against thc onslaught ol alicn culturcs, alicn
rcligious practiccs and alicn valucs. Tc monk must bc so
stccpcd in and proud ol his signincant traditions that hc im
bucs his dcvotccs with that samc lovc and pridc in his own
culturc. Can it bc donc: Òl coursc! ]ust look at ]apan.
Tis is onc arca whcrc thc Sangha can pcrlorm a
usclul lunction as a lactor in promoting harmony by con
tributing to thc succcss ol that socicty cconomically.
Tnv Bn:xxnuN: Ovovv
Anothcr arca which is worth looking into is thc 8hikkhuni
Òrdcr. ! am ccrtainly awarc that this is still a thorny issuc
among somc quartcrs, but ! am convinccd that thcrc arc
lcwcr pcoplc around who cannot scc thc importancc ol thc
8hikkhuni Sangha. !t is again a mattcr ol grcat pridc to us,
that thc 8uddha was thc nrst rcligious tcachcr to constitutc
thc componcnt ol lcmalc monasticism. Vhilc it cannot bc
dcnicd that hc had somc wcllloundcd initial rcscrvations,
hc did givc in to Ananda. Vhat is gcncrally (convcnicntly:)
ovcrlookcd is that thc organization sprcad likc wildnrc,
almost litcrally, as soon as it was institutcd, showing thc
trcmcndous spiritual nccd womcn had lor uplilting. !t is
also a mattcr ol rccord (to thc ctcrnal crcdit ol thc 8uddha)
:: :+
that oncc acccptcd, womcn had no dimculty whatsocvcr in
achicving thc highcst pinnaclcs ol spiritual achicvcmcnts
human bcings arc capablc ol — Patacara, Khcma, Kisago
tami, Ðhammadinna, Uppalavanna, \isakha… nccd onc
continuc:
Today, womcn havc provcn that thcy arc capablc ol
bccoming Prcsidcnts, Primc Ministcrs and Scicntists as wcll
as tcachcrs and nurscs, womcn arc cqual partncrs in cvcry
ncld ol human cndcavour. !t is timc, thcrclorc that 8uddhists
rccognizc thc trcmcndous contributions womcn can makc to
thc promotion ol Social Harmony and Univcrsal Pcacc. !n
lact womcn havc madc contributions to both thcsc arcas and
thcy can do so today. !t is ol coursc a crcdit to thc 8uddha’s
Tcaching on this mattcr that thc nrst woman primc ministcr
ol thc world was a 8uddhist woman lrom Sri Lanka. A bc
licl that as nuns, 8uddhist womcn havc an undcniablc rolc to
play cspccially in harncssing thc lcmalc worklorcc and play
ing an cmcicnt and intclligcnt part in human dcvclopmcnt.
Tcir contribution can bc invaluablc as tcachcrs, nurscs,
counsclors, in lact, as anything, to cßcct social changc. Tc
voicc ol thc womcn can no longcr bc ignorcd as a voicc to
scck and promotc !ntcrnational Pcacc. As mothcrs thcy arc
bcttcr qualincd than anybody clsc to spcak against thc sacri
ncc ol sons and husbands on thc altars ol war.
:¡ :s
Tc Sangha malc and lcmalc, il propcrly traincd
and convcrsant in many languagcs and skillcd in many
disciplincs, can bc a powcrlul lorcc in thc dcvclopmcnt ol
pcacc. Tanks to world lcadcrs likc nn thc Ðalai Lama, thc
8uddhist monk has always bccn a symbol ol pcacc cvcn
among non 8uddhists. Vhat is ncccssary now is lor 8uddhist
monks and nuns thc world ovcr to cquip thcmsclvcs with
thc skills nccdcd to sprcad thc 8uddha’s mcssagc ol pcacc
to all mankind. Givcn our past history ol nonviolcncc, wc
arc bcttcr qualincd than anyonc clsc to cncouragc cvcryonc
to practicc thc “lovc thy ncighbour” policy.
Tnv Iav PvvsoN
!n a widcr scnsc thc Sangha compriscs not only 8hikkhus
and 8hikkhunis but Upasakas and Upasikas (malc and
lcmalc lay dcvotccs) as wcll. Givcn thc admirablc spirit ol
dcmocracy proclaimcd and practiscd by thc 8uddha, thc
mcmbcrs ol thc Sangha as wcll as lay pcoplc havc dutics and
rcsponsibilitics towards thc dcvclopmcnt ol Social Harmony
and Univcrsal Pcacc. Tcrc arc today upasakas and upasikas
who arc pcrlorming an invaluablc scrvicc in sprcading thc
8uddha’s mcssagc in thc world. Tis is cspccially truc in non
traditional 8uddhist countrics likc Malaysia and Singaporc
:¡ :s
whcrc lay dcvotccs arc lcading thcir lricnds to practicc thc
noblc Tcachings by lcading lcllow 8uddhists along thc Path.
Tcy cvcn build and run \iharas, Òrphanagcs, Òld Folks
Homcs, Clinics to scrvc thc community. !n thc Vcstcrn,
dcvclopcd countrics also lay 8uddhists will play an incrcas
ingly important rolc to promotc.
!ntcrnational Pcacc in thc world, although pcrhaps
thcy may not bc nccdcd as much in arcas ol social dcvclop
mcnt. Tis docs not mcan howcvcr that thc Sangha will bc
rcplaccd by lay workcrs in thc causc ol 8uddhism cithcr in
thc ncar or distant luturc. Tc Sangha will and must con
tinuc to play an important rolc not only as guardians ol thc
Ðharma but also as a rolc modcls and tcachcrs ol thc lay
pcoplc in mattcrs pcrtaining to 8uddhism. Tis ol coursc
lurthcr cmphasizcs thc point that thc Sangha must bc cap
ablc ol taking on this addcd rcsponsibility ol training lay
pcoplc lor Ðhammaduta work.
Buoon:sx as a Fovcv aca:Ns+ Wav
Still on thc thcmc ol !ntcrnational Pcacc, rcligious lcad
crs havc an incrcasingly important rolc to play in tcaching
thcir lollowcrs to walk in thc path ol pcacc. Sadly how
:o :¬
cvcr, thc history ol mankind is rcplctc with cxamplcs ol so
callcd rcligious pcoplc who wagcd war in thc namc ol rcli
gion. 8uddhism ncvcr has and ncvcr can cvcr condonc war
cvcn il it is disguiscd as a “just” or “holy” war. Tc 8uddha
condcmncd violcncc ol any kind lor whatcvcr rcason. Hc
rcpcatcdly dcclarcd that thc only victory is thc conqucst ol
scll and thc only miraclc is thc convcrsion lrom cvil to good.
8uddhists thcrclorc, Sangha and lay pcoplc alikc, arc bound
by prcccdcnt and prcccpt ncvcr to wagc war but to pcrsuadc
all pcoplc to walk thc path ol Pcacc. !t is ccrtainly not an
accidcnt thcrclorc that thc uxvsco Chartcr bcgins with thc
prcamblc: “Sincc it is in thc minds ol mcn that wars arc crc
atcd, it is in thc minds ol mcn that thc lortrcsscs against war
must bc crcctcd”. Tis is almost cxactly likc thc vcry nrst
vcrsc ol thc Ðhammapada which statcs:
“Mind prcccdcs all wholcsomc and unwholcsomc
statcs and is thcir chicl, thcy arc all mind wrought. !l with
an impurc mind a pcrson spcaks or acts, miscry lollows him
likc thc whccl that lollows thc loot ol thc ox”.
!l onc spcaks or acts with purc mind, bccausc ol
that, happincss lollows onc, cvcn as onc’s shadow that ncvcr
lcavcs. Tc tcaching ol thc 8uddha, il inculcatcd in thc
young mind lrom thc bcginning, will no doubt bc a powcr
lul civilizing lactor that will turn humanity lrom violcncc
:o :¬
to compassion. Ònc ol our tasks thcrclorc is to makc avail
ablc thc tcachings ol Tc 8uddha in morc languagcs and
through various mcdia, including thc !ntcrnct.
Although thc human racc has madc such trcmcn
dous progrcss in almost cvcry ncld ol cndcavour, warlarc is
onc arca in which wc havc bchavcd no bcttcr than animals.
!n lact onc might cvcn say that wc havc cvcn dcsccndcd
lowcr than animals bccausc givcn our highcr intclligcncc
wc should know bcttcr than to succumb to our lowcr in
stincts ol lust, angcr, hatrcd and dclusion. !t has bccn said
that man’s worst charactcristic is his ability to inßict pain
— mcntal and physical — on his lcllow bcings. Tc worst
manilcstation ol this irrational bchaviour is man’s tcndcncy
to wagc war on thc ßimsicst ol cxcuscs. ¡vcr sincc man
lcarnt to hold a wcapon hc has wagcd war against his lcllow
bcings, and any studcnt ol history will rcadily agrcc that
thcrc ncvcr has bccn such a thing as a “just war”. And wars
go lrom bad to worsc. At lcast in thc past, wars wcrc only
wagcd bctwccn mcn silly cnough to gct involvcd on thc bat
tlcnclds. 8ut today wholc hordcs ol innoccnt mcn, womcn,
childrcn and cvcn animals sußcr indcscribablc privations as
a rcsult ol war. Mothcrs arc scparatcd lrom childrcn, hus
bands arc scparatcd lrom wivcs, brothcrs arc scparatcd lrom
sistcrs — thcrc is no cnd.
:ï :,
Somc pcoplc arguc that conßict and war cannot
bc avoidcd bccausc thcy arc cxprcssions ol human naturc.
! am rcalistic cnough to rcalizc that it would bc loolhardy
to sit down and do nothing whcn aggrcssors arc brutally
dcstroying innoccnt livcs on thc basis ol unrcalistic and
unloundcd claims, but wc must always bcar in mind that
war is at bcst a last rcsort to maintain pcacc. Howcvcr, il
wc bclicvc that war is incvitablc, thcn wc will wagc war.
8ut il, likc thc grcat cmpcror Asoka, wc havc thc spiritual
dcvclopmcnt and thc wisdom to scc thc lolly ol war wc can
ccrtainly avoid it. 8uddhists can bc vcry proud ol thc lact
that in our own timcs thc grcatcst advocatc ol pcacc is His
Holincss thc Ðalai Lama ol Tibct. For ncarly hall a ccntury
this grcat 8uddhist lcadcr has workcd tirclcssly to rcgain his
homcland, without oncc uttcring a malicious word against
thosc who occupy his land. Hc has ncvcr condcmncd thcm
but trcatcd thcm as lcllowbcings. Òn thc othcr hand, hc
has not bccn a coward cithcr. Hc has lcarlcssly spokcn
against thc illtrcatmcnt ol his subjccts and thc lics sprcad
against him. 8ut hc has not choscn to takc arms against his
pcoplc’s aggrcssors. Tis is bccausc hc livcs by thc advicc ol
thc 8uddha givcn in thc Ðhammapada,
“Hatrcd docs not cnd by hatrcd
8y lovc alonc it is qucllcd”.
:ï :,
A strugglc which is cndcd by lorcc is no victory. Rcal victory
can only bc attaincd by a truc changc ol hcart loundcd on
undcrstanding on thc part ol thc aggrcssor. His Holincss
thc Ðalai Lama truly bclicvcs in inculcating pcacc through
nonviolcncc.
Vc arc all lamiliar with thc story ol how during
thc timc ol thc 8uddha a princc callcd \idudabha annihi
latcd thc cntirc Sakya clan simply bccausc hc harbourcd a
grudgc against thcm lor a slight insult. Vc havc to lcarn
lrom that cxamplc and scck rathcr to lollow in thc lootstcps
ol thc grcat king whosc namc was changcd lrom Chanda
(crucl) Asoka to Ðhamma (rightcous) Asoka bccausc hc
had thc wisdom to walk thc path shown by thc 8uddha.
Lct us also rccall thc 8uddha’s dcclaration that thc pcoplc
ol a ccrtain kingdom could not bc ovcrcomc by lorcc bc
causc thcy lollowcd thc scvcn conditions lor thc progrcss ol
a nation. Tcsc cxamplcs show that war is avoidablc il wc
truly wish it. Tcrc is a principlc ol Modcrn Managcmcnt
today which dcclarcs that il wc cxpcct Zcro Ðclccts in our
opcrations wc will achicvc thcm. Similarly il wc cnvisagc a
socicty without war, wc will achicvc pcacc. Unlortunatcly
wc havc bccn so indoctrinatcd to bclicvc that war is thc
only way to gct what wc want, that wc will continuc to
wagc war. Tc most horriblc irony ol it is that pcoplc cvcn
+c +:
wagc wars in thc namc ol rcligions which tcach thc brothcr
hood ol man.
Tcrclorc thc grcatcst challcngc lacing us in thc
ncxt millcnnium is to grow up, to stop nghting likc small
boys and hccd thc word ol thc ¡nlightcncd Ònc
All lcar dcath,
All lcar thc rod,
Knowing this wc should ncvcr strikc
Nor causc to strikc.
Pvosviv+:za+:oN
Tc world today is dividcd by many lactors. Sad to say onc ol
thc most important ol thc organizations rcsponsiblc lor thcsc
many divisions is rcligion. Today, pcrhaps likc at no othcr
timc in history, arc thc vast rcsourccs ol ccrtain rcligious or
ganizations bcing cxploitcd shamclcssly in a mad scramblc
to win convcrts at any cost. Tcsc includc thc sprcading ol
malicious lics against othcr rcligions likc 8uddhism. Young,
innoccnt imprcssionablc pcoplc arc bcing lurcd away lrom
thcir traditional rcligion through blatant lalsc propaganda
+c +:
and cvcn through bribcs. Tcrc arc instanccs ol wholc vil
lagcs in ccrtain countrics bcing convcrtcd cn massc through
thc promisc ol matcrial gain. Convcrsion in itscll may not
bc a bad thing, but whcn mcthods cmploycd and thc mo
tivcs lor convcrting arc suspcct thcn wc must not stand idly
by and do nothing about it.
!n many countrics convcrsions which arc not accom
panicd by a lull undcrstanding ol what is bcing acccptcd can
lcad to scrious problcms, oltcn causing thc brcakup ol mar
riagcs and lamilics and othcr social problcms. Tcrclorc it is
not convcrsion but buying pcoplc.
Tcrc is thcrclorc an urgcnt nccd lor 8uddhists to
scck thc dialoguc with othcr rcligious groups to voicc our
dissatislaction with thcir activitics. Tcrc arc gcnuinc mcm
bcrs ol thcsc laiths who arc thcmsclvcs cmbarrasscd by thc
antics ol thcir lcllow rcligionists. Tcy must spcak against
thcir own kind and 8uddhists must makc cvcry cßort to
urgc thcm to do so. !n thc past, traditional rcligions wcrc
thc victims ol colonial missionarics. Today, thc problcm is
much morc insidious — citizcns ol thc samc country arc
working to undcrminc thc traditional culturcs and prac
ticcs ol thcir lorclathcrs and introducing alicn ways to thcir
pcoplc, scparating parcnts and childrcn, thc old and thc
young.
+: ++
IcuxvN:sx
Òn a morc positivc notc, howcvcr, 8uddhists havc always
bccn cncouragcd, in thc K~i~:~ Su)v~ lor cxample, to
scck dialoguc with othcrs to show rcspcct lor othcr
gcnuinc scckcrs altcr thc truth. Vc nccd to talk with othcr
rcligionists lormally and inlormally to know how thcy think,
to show thcm how wc think and to nnd common ground on
which wc can coopcratc to work lor thc bcttcrmcnt ol thc
human racc. !n somc cascs wc must cvcn bc humblc cnough
to admit that wc can adopt thcir mcthods particularly in
social and charity work and hclp thc poor and thc wcak and
hclplcss in cvcry corncr ol thc world.
Buoon:s+ Vaiuvs
Having cxamincd somc ol thc challcngcs lacing 8uddhists
today and how wc can hclp to promotc pcacc and social
harmony lct us cxaminc how wc can idcntily somc 8uddhist
valucs which wc will nccd to achicvc our goals.
!t cannot bc said that thcrc arc “8uddhist \alucs”
which arc uniquc to 8uddhism and not to bc lound in othcr
rcligious systcms. Tc 8uddha rccognizcd this whcn hc dc
+: ++
clarcd that wc must acccpt and rccognizc thc worth ol any
rcligion in so lar as that rcligion contains thc Four Noblc
Truths. Vhat is uniquc about 8uddhism is our Uxbvv
s)~xbixc ol thc naturc ol thcsc valucs and why wc practicc
thcm. Vhcn thc 8odhisatta practiscd thc Tcn Paramis, hc
was motivatcd in an cntircly dißcrcnt way than any othcr
lollowcr ol a spiritual path cithcr in part or as a wholc.
Tc tcn paramis — dana (gcncrosity), sila (prcccpt),
nckkhamma (rcnunciation), panna (wisdom), viriya (cncrgy),
khanti (paticncc) sacca (truthlulncss), adhitthana (dctcrmi
nation), mctta (loving kindncss) and upckkha (cquanimity)
— can lorm a solid valuc systcm on which a 8uddhist builds
his or hcr pcrsonal spiritual lilc. Tis individual cßort is
thcn cxtcndcd to mcmbcrs ol thc lamily, thc community,
thc nation and nnally thc world as a wholc. All 8uddhists
all ovcr thc world must consciously makc thc cßort to un
dcrstand thc importancc ol practising thcsc valucs, cndcav
our to practicc thcm carncstly, and thcn cxplain thcm to
othcrs. Òur cducation systcm and our mcdia nctwork must
sprcad thcsc valucs through cvcry mcans possiblc so that
our daily thinking is aßcctcd by thcm. Vc all know thc
lamous ]ataka talc in which thc 8odhisatta adviscs his ac
robat mastcr. To cnsurc pcrlcct salcty cach pcrlormcr must
bc lully conccrncd about his own wcllarc and sccurity nrst.

!n that way both partics will bc salc. Tcrclorc thc implc
mcnting ol a 8uddhist valucsystcm involvcs making cach
individual undcrstand his rcsponsibility towards thc rcst, to
undcrstand thc intcrrclatcdncss ol all bcings, to guard him
or hcrscll and thcrcby guard othcrs.
Tc ycar accc holds many promiscs and challcngcs
lor all mcmbcrs ol thc human racc. 8uddhists arc in a par
ticularly strong position to hclp all human bcings rcalizc
thcir lull potcntial and livc in pcacc and harmony not only
with thcmsclvcs but with othcrs as wcll. !t is our duty to
hclp sprcad thc 8uddha’s mcssagc by sprcading it through
thc writtcn and spokcn word, but, lar morc importantly
through thc cxamplc ol living noblc livcs in accordancc with
thc sacrcd Tcachings.
May you all bc wcll and happy.

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