The Most Venerable Thich Nhu Dien
War - we all know this word. There were too many battles in this world since we were the nomads, wandering over sea and land up to the time when the acquisition of material goods increased over time and possession became more powerful in their desire to master and dominate the world. In family and society, from the young to the dignitary, none of them want to give up possession but always to get more. The more assets, the greater desire. The more one tries to get, the stronger greed and selfishness fortifies.
Struggle for survival generates unlimited greed. It starts from family, gradually spreads to academies, companies, then appears in each and every corner of a country. The strong always eat the weak. Since then conflict arises. Staring with brawls, then taking down each other by various tactic to win. Then interstate wars break out.
The latest wars known in XX century are WWI (1914-1918) and WWII (1939-1945). During this century, we had experienced many traumatic events like South-North Korean War, South-North Vietnam War (1954-1975). The most recent war is Russia-Ukraine. We are not here to concern about whose benefit has gone to but the loss that our people had to bear. How many lives had been taken on the battle fields? How many people had been starved to death or killed by stray bullets on the way to free-land? How many people had left their homeland for freedom in the distance that totally strange of language and profanity?
What does the authority gain and lose? What do people gain and lose? No need to do statistics, an obvious relative outcome is more loss than gain. Man is the master of all species, but himself has lost his dignity just to resolve personal conflicts or dominate power and as a result, the people suffer loses; the authority seems not to care about that. Since then, the conflict between the authority and people provokes regime discontent and dissenters; the country will be put in danger due to many protests, rebels, etc.
When the people have no voice to convince the leaders through their votes, the discontent is increasing. Since then, individual violence and discontented populace gradually increases; this causes production, labor, companies, and enterprises to stagnate due to the demand of protests to be paid well. If the government doesn't deal with this properly, violence will ensue. The government will use military strength to suppress this conflict. But this just makes the discontent among the people to increase like blazes and society becomes more unstable.
During the monarchy, it was held that: "People are precious, then the country, last the king". However, most democracies these days, which stand in freedom, human rights, etc., they all do the opposite. The first is that authority, then the right; people are the ones who only fulfill their tax obligations while congressmen are the ones receive their monthly salary and create one law after another; This makes people become even more miserable.
Whatever form of society such as: monarchy, democracy, capitalism, communism, pluralism, etc., there is a common point that the governors possess too many assets in banks around the world while the governed are fighting for their lives; hence inequality continues to grow stronger; riots between the people and the government occurred everywhere. If the government protects their people, listen the people's will, compensate for poor harvest due to natural disasters and droughts; resistance will decrease. Meanwhile, due to the high taxes, violence becomes the result that people use to flight injustice. Hatred grows across the communities and lead the order of the country and the world into the chaos which would be difficult to restore for a long time.
We observe the animal world to infer people for man is also a living being but more rational than any others. However, the display of power is quite similar. For example, when the realm of a Lion or a Hippo has been set within a certain boundaries, if others trespass into this boundary, they will definitely become a prey for those who rule in that territory. Animals kill for survival, so are human.
Animals act to defend themselves, but rational human act for many irrational reasons. They use their intelligence to invent atomic bombs, modern weapons to kill each others just to bring their own victory and set the opponent under their rule. Instead of showing compassion, forgiveness, charity, helping the world, they invent more and more advanced weapons to kill each other. Although animals are less intelligent than humans, but when they kill their prey for food, first they divide among their fellows, then other small animals enjoy the left-over and do not waste its hunting prey. Whereas humans, on the other hand, are calling for peace, asking for a truce; but behind the armistice, there is the defense on each side is on each side and battle formation. This is the main reason that hatred caused by humans never comes to an end.
Saint Gandhi, the father of the India since the middle of the 20th century, advocated a nonviolent struggle to regain the independence and self-control for Indian people, with only a determination not to use guns, hatred, but only non-violence, understanding and compassion for the poor people, determined to fight for an independent India from the British colonial rule, which he was The leader in this movement of nonviolent struggle succeeded and in 1948 the British officially returned India's independence.
The 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet left his homeland in 1959, coming to India to seek political and religious asylum because his homeland has been invaded by communist China since 1949. Since then, in any of his teachings, he has never mentioned the issue of violence to regain independence and sovereignty from the Chinese communists that the compassion has always been expressed in his life.
Many times His Holiness has stated that: "If in your heart compassion reigns, hatred will not have a chance to exist". This is the same message that Shakyamuni Buddha proclaimed 2,600 years ago:
“Hatred will not conquer hatred. Only compassion can conquer hatred."
Non-violence is not a weakness, but not to sacrifice the people's lives to strengthen the leader's power, that are the worthy leaders of the people. This is the practice of the Buddha's teaching: “It is better to conquer yourself than to win a thousand battles.”
Concerning to the Eastern Europe, especially the East Germany. Germany was divided in two in 1949. East Germany followed communism and West Germany followed liberalism. From 1949 to 1989; when The Berlin wall broken by the people of the East Germany awoke the sense and marked a democratic movement emerged from the people of the East Germany and the Eastern Europe.
Therefore, all communist countries in Eastern Europe automatically left the communist regime for decades they had obeyed, the path of freedom and democracy is the goal that the people need; so they untied themselves the shackles of communism that had bound them for decades, thereby integrating into a new dawn of humanity.
For example, Ukraine has escaped from communism to find a place of freedom and that democracy is still young, and now the ruler Putin finds all ways to annex the territory, in order to bring benefits for himself and for his people, this is also a new kind of domination.
The Buddha has brought forth the historic mission of tolerance, forgiveness, compassion and non-violence to people from the sixth century BC. The one who had applied this policy was King Ashoka in the 3rd century BC had made India become stronger and more powerful, not in terms of geographical borders, but in compassion, considering the people as his own, ruling the country accordance to the Buddha's teachings; therefore, the Tripitaka Theravada canon was preserved and the peoples of Southeast Asia applied it to their daily life; this reduces the rist of war more than other countries nearby.
For example, to avoid accumulating wealth into one person, group or any regime, they should distribute alms, charity to average the supply and demand scales; this balance makes society more peaceful. Since then, the relationship between rulers and the people get closer to share and help in case of the losses such as drought, injustice, etc., the opposition will be less then.
This can be a formula to solve the problem which is not difficult to get the answer; but people chose a more difficult method which seems not to be the way out for 8 billions people on this planet. If we follow the Buddha's teachings mentioned in Mahāprajnāparamitāsatra that: "don’t expect other people to put carpets on your way, but go get your own shoes”, if so the peace we all looking for will last long. Thus, the responsibility of each individual to himself is the most important. If the body is not cultivated, and the family is not a home, the nation cannot be well led.
Many leaders, including Religious ones, just want to teach others and expect people to obey and serve them; while they do not benefit anyone. This is a big problem that few leaders have ever looked at.
To conclude the speech, we wish all venerable, buddhsists or non-buddhists, the religious or non-religious that you can take 5 to 10 minutes to observe yourself everyday that might help you to repent our past mistakes, and do something benefit for other that could bring peace and happiness to yourself and people.
May you be joyful and happy.
May hatred, violence, or war come to an end and the world fill with peace, compassion and loving-kindness.
Namo Pramudita-garbha Bodhisattva.
Thank you for your intention. May All be happy and abide in Dharma-joyful.
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