The Propagation of Buddhism: Unity for Peace

Ven.Master Hsing Yun


Everyone has a desire for peace, everyone has the right to seek for security and happiness, to seek the kind of life that has no fear of ware. There are campaigns for the stopping of nuclear testing, and for the abolition of nuclear weapons. Nuclear power can be used for peaceful purposes, but this itself is not really the goal of an effective peace. Peace, does not only mean that there is absence of war; rather it seeks for permanent peace. A sutra says, "We have the seed of disharmony within ourselves and there are also external causes of disharmony. These external causes and conditions affect one onother." That is why there will never be peace in the world. If we only cmphasize the external cause of peace, and if we don not bother to purify our minds, this is not true peace.


Peace is not due to the effort of a single person. We need to muster everyone's strength and power in order to work for peace. So it is really meaningful indeed to have this as the theme for the 16th General Conference of the World Fellowship of Buddhists. Now I have a few points that I would like to share with you.




a.       Peace Con Be Attained Through Selflessness


It says in the Diamond Sutra, 'There are no concepts of "a self", there are no concepts of "others", ther are no concepts of "living beings". The so-called "self" is the source of conflict. Because of this supposed "I", we are selfish; and because of this "I", we have clingings and craving. Because of this "I", we have conflicts. The thought of this I " gives us no peace. It says in the Lotus Sutra, "Those persons who have the weighty view of the self are likened to hungry ghosts. Therefore if we want peace of this world, we should not have any idea of a self. If we have no ideas of self, then wee can bring about equality, and when there is equality, then there is peace.


The Buddha taught the Bhiksus, saying, "When we are careless and torn our clothing, we feel sad. When the leaves fall beside us, we don't really care, because the leaves are not considered as part of out possession, not a part of out self. But clothing is part of us, and so we feel sad when out possessions are torn.


In order to awaken worldly people to this w2rong view of clinging to "self", the Buddha taught us the right view of dependent origination and selflessness, to correct the self-centered view of beings, for the benefit of all beings. Because of selflessness, ther is no sense of self and others. Because of selflessness, ther is no wrong views. So the peace attained through selflessness will be real peace.


b.       Peace Can Be Achieved Through Compassionate Action


Compassion is the basis and essence of Buddhism, It says in the Dhammpada, "All beings are afraid of death. There is none who is not afraid of knives and sticks. Put yourself in the position of others; then we should not kill, we should not use the stick." If we put ourselves in the position of others, and view others as our own self, the act of compassion will not be at all difficult. During the jperiod of the Northern and southern Dynasties in Chines history, Fo T'u-ch'eng,m in order to rescue a large number of innocent persons, used compassion to convert Shih Lo and Shih Hu, who killed persons as number as grass. His compassion has become a good example for us to follow. If there is no compassion, then all thing become demonic. And if there is compassion, then all things become the Buddhadharma.


When we se the sufferings of others, we should try and relieve them of their sufferings through out compassion; and when we see that they are unhappy, we should try to console them through our compassion. the Mahayana Parinirvana Sutra, says, "Compassion. puts an end to craving, and love puts and end to anger." If all persons can treat one another with compassion, then all beings will attain good fortune. And if this can be accomplished, then the world will have peace.


c.       Peace Can Be Searched With Respect


All person s like to be respected, but hey always neglect respecting others. There is a Chinese proverb, "Whatever you do not wish, do not do to others." This is the basic principle regarding respect. It says in the sutra that Buddhism can be sought with humility. This is the essence of a person who is seeking the way. Every person has the right to develop his strong points. This is like out eyebrows; they seem to have no special function when compared to our eyes or out nose, but if we have no eyebrows, we don't look human. The ancient Chines e always stress one thing: Gentleman should always be forgiving, respect others, be kind to others, remember other's strong points, forget about their shortcomings, praise other's goodness, and do not attack their weakness. If the five fingers co-operate with each others, they can be united into a fist. When we have a fist, we have strength, and when we have strength, then we can seek peace, During the Warring States period there is a story of a minister and a general. Even though in traditional China the office of a prime minister was greater than that of a general, these two persons Lin Hsian-Ju and Lien P'O, worked together without any consideration of rank, and the country was, because of this, strong and lived in peace, This still serves as an example that modern persons can learn from.


The belief in Buddhisms based on mutual respect; if there is no respect, and if we all suspect one another and look down on one another, how can we live in peace? There will be peace in Buddhism if all Buddhist s respect the Triple Gem. Peace without respect cannot last. If we want permanent peace, then we should respect each other. If all Buddhists were to respect each other, and unite with one another, then the prospects for world peace will be good.


d.       Peace Can Be Promoted Through A Sense Of Equality


When the Buddha was seated on the Vajrasana, under the Bodhi Tree, he proclaimed, soon after his enlightenment, "All beings in the world posses the mark of the Tathagata's wisdom," This proclamation of equality of Buddha and living beings is the light of salvation for all beings.


When the Buddha established the Sangh, he proclaimed the six harmonious rules, that is harmoney of thoughts, acceptance of precepts, sharing of common wealth, sameness of speech, behavior and mind, as the principle of democracy an equality. Buddha always said that he was not above the Sangha, but that he was a member of the Sangh. The Buddha helped sick Bhikkhus, he threaded needles for his blind diciples, and he always dealt with the Sangh with a sense of equality. He never considered himself to be above anyone. He says in the Ksudrakagama, that there are four things that should not be lightly regarded: Buddha emphasized the fact that all beings have the Buddha nature, that men and women can both be members of the sangha, that persons of all of the four castes can become members of the Sangh, and that one should not look down on one's juniors: this emphasis in many ways established the principles of harmony, equality and democracy.


If we wish to see world peace, wee should first proclaim to all people the establishment of a sense of equality, the equality of great nations and small nations, the equality of all races, Only if there is the sense of equality can we realize peace.




If we want to have peace, we must have unity. The slogan of unity is repeated by all persons, but it is very difficult to put it into practice. Everyone wants others to unite with them, but they refuse to unite with others themselves. The lack of unity is like a plate of loose sand; it has no strength. If we want peace, we should be following the road to unity, as follows:


a.       Unity Can Be Attained By accepting Persons Who Are Of Different Mentality


The week point of human nature intolerance, the attitude that "if you submit to me, you will live, and if you don't submit to me, you will die," Because people cannot aspect someone who is different from themselves, it is difficult for them to unite. A proverb says that if we can be tolerat, we can become great; the land accepts anykind of soil, and the ocean receives all types of rivers. If we cannot tolerate the thoughts and opinions of others, the customs of others, then how can we unite together?


In Chinese history, Duke Huan of Ch'i employed Kuan Chung, w3ho had been on the side fo his enemy, and by this he become the hegemon of Central China. T'ang T'ai-Tsung has come to be called an enlightened ruler because not only could he unite with those who had been against him, but also he could use ministers who had political views different from his own. Thus the T'ang was a golden age in Chinese history. Eight years ago, when Mr. Bush was running against Mr. Reagan for the nomination, Mr. Bush lost the nomination, but remained friends with Mr. Reagan used Mr. Bush as his vice-president, and now Mr. Bush has become president, in spite of difference s with Mr, Reagan, The United Nations stands tall on the soil of the United States because Americans can tolerated persons different from themselves. And because America can accept different races of the world America is great.


Buddhism is one of world's most tolerant religions, When the Buddha first stablished the Sangha, all of the four castes were permitted to become the Buddha's followers, Even if one were a prince of the Ksatriya caste, or a poor person of the Sutra caste, Buddha treated them equally. Mahakasyspa who was fire worshipper, and the debater Mahakatyayana, were allowed by the Buddha to be members to the Sangha, and they both become important members of the Sangha. The Buddha could tolerate persons who were different from himself, that si why he had such a large Sangh. If the human race could learn to tolerate each other, then there is paradise. If we all have this attitude, then we can develop the spirit and power of unity.


b.       Unity Can Be Attained Through Cooperation.


Each part of the human body-the eyes, the ears, the nose and tongue-each have their own sphere of activity. The eyes see and the ears hear, and through cooperation, the function of the human body can be developed to it maximum. Contemporary social and scientific development also stresses the harmonious cooperation of creative activity. In a construction project, jobs are divided into different sections in order to bring about the cooperation of many persons in order to finish the work. The cooperation is the spirit of unity.


Buddhism has been disseminated for the last two thousand years because its doctrine can fit into different capacities of many different persons. And this is the reason why we have the difference between Northern and Southern Buddhism and the difference between the Sutra and the Tantra. This is actually a very good phenomenon, but unfortunately in the last two thousand years, our predecesors only emphasized the divisions and neglected cooperation. There was mutual rejection an mutual criticism. This is all the teaching of the Buddha, but there is intolerance between the Ch'an Zen and the Pure land schools, there is clinging to the Northern and the Southern lineages, difference in views between the Sangha and the laity, and boundaries are established between the Revealed and the Secret Teachings. All this has led to disunity between the Buddhists. If we can all follow the division of work of the six sense organs and unite as one body, then this will be like the hundred rivers flowing into the sea, and there will be nothing that we cannot accomplish.


It says in the Sutra, "All things arise due to causes and conditions, and all things become extinguished in absense of causes and conditions." The world is a world that arise through the conflux of different cause and conditions, like water and clay. But if we mix the two and mould it into a Buddha image, then it will become very valuable thing. This proves that cooperation is valuable.


Our modern world has a lot of channels to communicate. We have all kinds of technology, thoughts, doctrines, and religions, although they are different, they can all be integrated with each other to achieve unity and peace.


c.       Unity Can Be Attained Through Realization Of A Strength


If there is no strength, th4e there is no unity. There was a time when the Vatican issued a call for world peace, and someone said mockingly, "How many troops does the Pope have?" Of course, the military is not the only source of power but f we really actualize this strength, it will become a resource for unity, of this there can be no doubt.


During the lifetime of the Buddha, the and of Magadha was a newly arisen power; they planned to invaed the state of Vesali, so they went to the Buddha to ask for suggestions on how to win. The Buddha taught them the seven ways to rule a country, the way to not endangering a country. So the seven ways of governing a country are the way to actualize power. When we have the strength of unity, where there is the power of unity, and then we can plan for peace.


The Chinese Confucians say, "People should help themselves, and only then will others help them." Buddhism also stresses self-realization and self-reliance. So the practice of meditation and chanting of Mantras are ways o acquiring our strength in order to eradicate our defilements and suffering. The Sutra of the Eight Great Methods of Enlightement says, "Bodhisattvas should always think of the practice of listening of promoting wisdom in order to attain eloquence, to teach all, an to bestow great happiness on them. "We as Buddhists have the ability to acquire our strength by wisdom; there are some who acquire their strength through faith, and some acquire their strength by compassion and there are some who acquire their strength by vows and aspiration. When there is strength, there is unity, and when there is unity, there is peace.


d.       Unity Can Be Attained Through Sacrifice


In our present world people say that we should unite. One organization says to another organization that we should have unity. One country says to another country that we should unite, but in actual fact, each one of us tried to work for his own benefit. How many really honor the spirit of unity? The most important point about unity is that one should be prepared to sacrifice oneself for the sake of peace.


In his previous lives, the Buddha used his own flesh to feed an eagle, he gave his body to the hungry tiger, his sacrifice earned the respect of all beings. When we have this respect, then we can unite together in harmony.


Today we have persons who go to Court for their individual benefit, who disown their relatives for money, they argue with other over their own views. When we hear something that does not suit us, we become angry at this person for the rest of out lives. Our clinging to name, and fame brings about a lot of suffering. We have all kind of attachment, and are calculative. We are not preparod to sacrifice even a little bit. We want to presure others to show our power. We want to attack other people to show our authority. When we have this kind of behaviour, we will just bring about hatred and revenge. How can we then have unity? If we cannot unite together, then how can we have peace? If we want to have unity, we should have harmony, and harmony is necessary for unity. And if there is unity, there is peace, and if there is peace, there is true unity. In this world where we have a lot of unsettled violence, the 16th General Conference of the World Fellowship of Buddhist democrates the meaning unity for would peace. I believe that the spirit of tolerance and equality of the Buddha will be recognized by all people in the world, and will create a world of harmony and peace.

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