Feb 25-26 2022 - For World Peace

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  • Koushi
    Treeleaf Unsui / Engineer
    • Apr 2015
    • 1263

    Feb 25-26 2022 - For World Peace

    For a PDF version of this talk, please click here: Feb 25-26 2022 - For World Peace.pdf


    It's so hard, but at times of fear, sadness, loss, violence, the Buddhist teachings somehow point us to look through surface appearances to some greater wisdom and compassion that is present—even at such terrible times.

    And we feel. Buddhists are allowed to cry; cry for the victims of violence, those who lose their own lives or are injured, or have those they love lost or injured. We cry. They are suffering. They are human beings. They are victims.

    Yet, the hardest thing to do sometimes is to see one's enemy also as a victim and to avoid meeting anger with anger—which is the human thing to do. Somehow, and it's so hard, we see the true enemy as the poison within the human heart, not the person. Not the soldier on the front line. Not the dictator, the enemy, but the poison in human beings. That is the true enemy.

    The poisons of greed, excess desire, anger, and division that divides me from you. Better and worse, my race from your race, that is the enemy. And it's so hard to see sometimes when all you see is the person who acts in such angry ways. Greedy ways. Somehow we must learn to meet anger and violence with wisdom and peace, and it's so hard.

    Somehow in our practice, we try to see beyond mine and yours and right and wrong. But Buddhism also has ideas of certain basic rights and wrongs. Don't get me wrong. Don't misunderstand me. In the monastery, everyone has their place to sleep, their place, and in this world we can all have our place to sleep. And in the monastery you do not take someone's place to sleep when you have your own. We all in this world should have our place, a safe place, a place to live, to eat. To sit zazen. We have our place, and you have your place, and we share.

    It is wrong to take what is not given, we say. And it is wrong to use violence in anger or in greed to take what is not given. It is wrong to use violence for those reasons. So we also think of right and wrong, but somehow, somehow, we see the enemy who takes and attacks as still a suffering sentient being—a victim too—of that poison within. And it's so hard to see. They are sick, they are ill, with the poison.

    Somehow we sit beyond right and wrong too. To sit in a world where just everything is as it is. This is our sitting too. And yet, it's not so simple. Although we may see the victim of poison, the poison as the real enemy, you may have to act sometimes in defense. Some people think that Buddhism avoids all violence. And it's a very hard question for Buddhists. It's a koan.

    There are some Buddhists who would say that when an army is marching to take your village, to harm your family, to threaten your town, you should just meet it with complete non-violence: And there are good arguments for that. I don't know the answer.

    But there are other Buddhists who might say that it is violence and anger that is wrong, but not violence in defense. I don't know. The Dalai Lama, who is such a symbol of peace in the world, once said that he fled Tibet, but he needed to because Tibet did not have an army that could meet the enemy. If Tibet had an army, they may have tried to defend themselves. I don't know the answer. I wish we lived in a world without need to even ask the question.

    My teacher Nishijima Roshi believed that civilizations have a right to defend themselves. I tend to think so too. But when we do so we must do it while crying, while regretting every moment, and feeling the weight of what we are forced to do. We must only act in defense. We must never act with anger. And it's so hard. It's so hard. We must only act until we can restore the peace where I have my place to sleep and you have yours. And we must feel the weight and the sadness.

    Some folks said that sitting zazen like we're doing doesn't do a darn thing to bring peace, but I disagree with that. So many people right now are shouting in anger: mine and yours and I'm right and you're wrong and this one and that one. And they may be right. But it's much better to try to fix this world when your own heart is at peace. That's what we're doing here.

    First we sit and we put it all down. And then when zazen is over, we may pick it up again and head back into the world: trying to make this world better, trying to make a world of peace. But this time we've spent here is very important, very important, because as the Buddha said in the Dhammapada: "We do not meet anger with anger. We meet anger with peace." It's very important, no matter what is happening, try to stay wise, to try to be compassionate. It's so hard.

    We have people in the sangha from many places: from Russia, from Ukraine, from Germany. Islamic people, Jewish people, Christian people, people from places that were great enemies now friends, places that were friends that sometimes are enemies. In our own families, in our own friendships, sometimes we have enemies. We must do the best we can to make peace. It's our duty. So that someday silly talks like this don't have to be given. We can all live in a world where I have my place to sleep. And you have yours. Side by side.

    Let's dedicate today to all the victims of war, violence, and all natural events. To the injured, to all touched by these tragedies. To wisdom and compassion of our world leaders, peace of the world, and the harmony of all nations.

    Let's sit.


    Last edited by Koushi; 02-27-2022, 03:11 PM.
    理道弘志 | Ridō Koushi

    Please take this novice priest-in-training's words with a grain of salt.
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