2023-10-25-Gil-Non-Violence (3 of 5) Bringing Peace to the World
12:07AM Nov 2, 2023
One of the most repeated teachings of the Buddha is that of living a life of non harming, non violence, ahimsa. And sprinkled throughout the teachings, all kinds of little quotes in this regard. And if we ask ourselves why the Buddha emphasized this, we could maybe get a clue of in the way he described himself before he was awakened. And this is a description where you get a sense of the Buddha's own. This may challenge the way he was troubled by the state of the world by his time. This is from a discourse called the discourse on being violent at the Dunder SUTA. And it's, it's in a book that have teachings I've translated in a book called The Buddha before Buddhism, the book of eights. It's chapter 11, Chapter 11, it's chapter 15. So the Buddha states, violence, gives birth to fear. Just Just look at people and their quarrels. I will speak to you of my dismay, and the way that I was shaken. Seeing people thrashing about like fish and little water, and seeing them feuding with each other, I became afraid. Though world is completely without a core, everywhere, things are changing. Wanting a place of my own, I saw nothing not to already taken. I felt discontent at seeing only conflict to the very end. Then I saw an arrow here, hard to see embedded in the heart, pierced by this arrow, people dash about in all directions. When the arrows pulled out, they don't run and they don't sink. So the pathos of the Buddha's time before his awakening, how he looked around the world and was deeply moved to disturbed by it is very different contrast to the kind of idea that many of us have of who the Buddha Buddha was after he was awakened. And here, the suggestion is that it was his seeing the violence in the world, the way people are fighting. The way that the fighting is, they saw no end to the fighting that, that people had have. That this sounds like it motivated him to find an alternative way of living, that he didn't see any solution, have a place for him as a refuge, any place in the world that he could go to be safe. And so he looked within. And lo and behold, he found what he called an arrow that was not inherent to in the heart, but can pierce the heart causing a lot of pain. And because it's not inherent to it, because it's not, you know, part of the heart, that arrow can be taken out. And that's what he did. And then he says, as he did that, then one doesn't run about and one doesn't sink when does not agitated or when doesn't give up and just kind of collapse. And so that's a to me, I'm very touched by this description, that it feels much more you see the humanity of the Buddha, compared to some other descriptions of his enlightenment where it seems a little bit more almost maybe sometimes it could you say disconnected from the world, or very much focusing on his own personal suffering seemingly, and the way description is, and what about the world around us? And the Buddha an emphasis emphasis for the next 4045 years of his teaching career on the importance of non violence, and the importance of discovering the roots of violence in oneself and pulling out that arrow became a common theme one way or the other of what He taught. And, and. And part of the reason for that was I think that there was plenty enough violence in his times, there are descriptions of the wars and the fighting that went on around him. the cruelty of rulers and bandits and robbers, and it was a dangerous time. And the sad thing is that it's been this world that's been dangerous ever since. And I don't think that given the history of humanity, we can expect that the dangers the horrors of it are going to stop, they'll probably continue. But there has to be alternatives, there has to be some people who find that arrow embedded in the heart, so that we're not motivated by our reactions to that pain, that doesn't have to be there. And not a few people, their anger, their despair, their dismay, their fear, the way that we run around and act impulsively, and maybe act violently, either with our words or deeds, even our thoughts are those are born from trying to struggle with our own pain, not knowing how to be with our own pain, feeling the suffering of the world, and having that be like assault on her own wound, having that be a to evoke the pain of this arrow that we have within. And so then their response to the world is not trying to stop what's in the world from being terrible. But we're trying to react to the world to try to assuage this, this pain of our own in our own heart, by looking in the wrong direction. And, and so, in the Buddhist practice, the idea is to turn oneself inside out, go in, find the arrow, and then in turning once inside out, then step into the world, with that peace with that capacity of being a nonreactive presence for this world. And does that mean that we become passive? No. The Buddha stepped forward into the world, and sometimes moved towards where the violence was. The kind of the representative example of this in the suit does is the story of a mass murderer, named Ongole Mala, who was abandoned and robbed people but killed people. And he was apparently quite vicious, and killed many, many people. And the people at times were quite afraid of him. And when the Buddha heard about it, the Buddha went into the jungle to find him. And people just to try to stop the Buddha and said, It's too dangerous don't go there, you're an unarmed mendicant that the Buddha went anyway, in the city of go and went there and was able to pacify the murderer and was able and actually converted him to become a Buddhist monk. The, this idea of going towards where the conflict is, and firefighters go towards the fires. Medics sometimes go towards the war not to fight but to help people who are deeply trained, deeply liberated have pulled out the heart, or people who then have the the fearlessness to go to towards conflict or towards violence. And and another kind of representative example, of the power of being peaceful, is the story of King Ashoka, one of the first rulers of a huge vast of Indian women, the first empires of India, and he went apparently was a vicious conqueror large army going around conquering and killing. And, at one point, he was involved in a very large battle, where 1000s upon 1000s of people died on the battlefield, even though he won. And the day after the battle, he was walking across the battlefield looking at the carnage.
And walking right through the middle of the battlefield, there was a Buddhist monk, and that Buddha monk had a demeanor had a way of bearing, which was so peaceful and calm there was such a radical contrast to the carnage of the war, that this got the king's attention. And, and the king asked him, you know, what, who are you and what's going on here with you and, and he explained that he was a Buddhist monk and what is it your teacher teaches. And the monk calmly said, hate is not overcome by hate. Hate is overcome by love. This is the ancient teaching. So to have the demeanor of peace, to step into the battlefield, after the fact, to be able to have a presence that somehow influenced this person to be calm. And then to have these teachings that touched his heart. Then then, this King Ashoka then became known as a proponent of non violence, he became the first seemingly righteous, or just the king of India, and he created lots of shelters and hospices and fed the poor and created shelters for animals and, and, and kind of completely turned around how he was a king. It's supposed to have been a true story with lots of stories by King Ashoka being transformed from a vicious King to a non violent King. Whether that story is accurate or not, I don't know. But it's a wonderful representative example. Take that hon, use a similar example to talk about the boat people who, who fled Vietnam in the 1970s, maybe early 80s, on very flimsy boats packed with people trying to get to the Philippines. And, and there were storms in the middle of the ocean and big waves and take that on as for me a powerful teaching that that if one person could stay calm on the boat, the boat would stay calm enough, so it wouldn't tip over in the big waves. And everyone be would be safe, one person to become one person to be peaceful. And one of the fallacies about pulling out one's own arrow, and being peaceful, is that it's avoiding taking care of the world and taking care of others. And the Buddha was very adamant about don't sacrifice yourself, don't, in order to take care of others. Take care of yourself first. So you can be a effective peacemaker in the world. And a very challenging teaching. I think a very evocative teaching provocative teaching of the Buddha is the one where he says, don't give up your own welfare, for the sake of others welfare, however great, clearly know your own welfare, and be intent on the highest good. This is also not meant to be don't ignore other people. But the highest good elsewhere, he talks over and over again, also about live a life. That is intent on the welfare of self and other the welfare and happiness of everyone involved. And so the and then we want to look for examples of people who are doing this, to see how we can support that kind of activity, instead of the activity of endless war, endless conflict, endless ways in which we continue to evoke fear in people's hearts, endless ways in which we keep driving that arrow deeper and deeper into people's hearts because we are just continuing the cycles of conflict that go on and on. And, and the more we feel deeply moved by violence in the world, whether it's the violence in Gaza and Israel or the Ukraine or Syria. There's places in the world right now, where 1000s of people are being killed and fighting and these conflicts and horrific ideas of what's happening. And where are the peacemakers? Do we support them? Can we bring them into the forefront? There's an organization in Israel called standing together, where Palestinians and Jewish Israelis are working together to bring humanitarian aid to people who need it. And now this idea of working together is and finding a common ground. It goes against what many, many people maybe the majority of people are doing. But that example of people walking across the battlefield, the example of someone else who's helping this is I think, what we want to highlight and shine a light on, on our on our world. And can we be a person like that? Can we be a person who lives peacefully? So here is a king, who time with a Buddha, who came to see the Buddha and made this comment about what he saw with the buddho together with his monastics. Venerable sir, Kings quarrel with kings, nobles with nobles, Brahmins with Brahmins, householders with householders mothers quarrel with children, children with Mother, father with children, children with father, brother, quarrel with brothers, brothers, with sisters, sisters, with brothers, friends with friends. But here, I see monastics living in Concord with mutual appreciation without disputing, blending, like milk and water, viewing each other with kindly eyes. So there are people who live this way. May we shine the light and appreciate those people who are doing this? May we be that kind of person? May we feel that it's that being a peacemaker, turning towards the violence in a peaceful way? Bringing a peaceful influence is a revolutionary act. And may we be courageous? May we have faith in that? May we trust that so that we can find an alternative to violence without an inter alternative to violence? Do we want to live in such a world? Do we want to live in a world where our so called Peace is at the expense of others people's suffering? One way or the other? Can we be an example of someone who has pulled out the arrow in our own heart and then becoming a calm force a peaceful influence into this world around us? Thank you, and may you become a peacemaker in your world