Interfaith Festival 28 November 2010
Message of Peace on 28th November 2010
Delivered by Venerable Thich Minh Tam
Photos of the event.
Ladies and Gentlemen
History of mankind witnesses continuous violence among different groups of people. Groups against groups. Countries against countries. Million people have been killed. So much properties have been destroyed. The World is filled with endless conflict. Ethnic and racial prejudices run rampant in today’s global, multicultural society. And, all over the world, wars are waged in the name of religion.
Of many factors causing such violence, are mainly Greed, Anger, and Ignorance according to Buddhism. Greed can never be fulfilled. Greedy people always want more. When Greed is not fulfilled, Frustration exits. Anger is manifestation of Frustration. Anger easily breaks to uncontrollable violence especially among the young people who have not appropriately been trained with spiritual disciplines.
Religions teach people from the beginning to love and to share. First they must learn to love themselves. Second they must learn to love their families, then their friends, neighbors. Finally they must learn to love all other beings including the environment in which they live; trees, animals, birds etc…
Not only do the children need to be taught about love but they should learn to share. As man never exits in isolation, sharing nurtures the good habit and results in a harmonious community. All these lead to sustainable peace.
Buddhism is peace. Peace is Buddhism. There has been no bloody war in the history of Buddhism. A Buddhist collection of verses on daily practice, the Pali (Theravadin) Dhammapada, makes this clear. Verse five of the text (of 423 verses) states:
“Hatred is never appeased by hatred.
Hatred is only appeased by Love (or, non-enmity).
This is an eternal law.”
The problem occurs when our own individual likes and dislikes are mistreated as fundamentals. Not only do we form inflexible opinions, but treat them as truths. At this point, we have entered into the arena of prejudice which causes harm and suffering both for ourselves and for others.
Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “We have only two choices: to peacefully coexist, or to destroy ourselves.” If we are ultimately to survive on this planet, we must appreciate each other as human beings and thus to live together in peace. Disarming of all nation states will not be possible until we have first disarmed our own, individual hatred hearts.
In reality, at our innermost cores we are all exactly the same. We are human beings who struggle for happiness and avoid suffering. Yet, out of ignorance, we forcefully attempt to achieve these goals blindly violently and without insight examination. As a result, we suffer because we nurture the false belief of our self-separateness from one another.
The illusion of self-separateness actually stops us from recognizing this error. Buddha tells us that from the very moment the notions of ‘I’ and ‘mine’ arise, there simultaneously arises the notions of ‘not me’ and ‘not mine.’ That is, from the moment we conceive of ‘us,’ there is ‘them.’ Once the notions of self-separateness, difference, and otherness enter our mind, they then go on literally to colorize all of our subsequent experience, judgments and perceptions. The world is viewed by us in terms of us vs. them, me vs. else, mine vs. yours. We are immediately trapped up in a world of illusionary, illogically, and seemingly uncontrollable hatred and prejudice.
To the question, then, “Can racial, ethnic and religious hatreds and prejudices among human beings be terminated?,” the answer is, ‘Yes, it can.’ Of course, ending something so deep-rooted and unconsciously operative for years is not an easy task.
The dismantling of hateful prejudices begins with the right recognition that we do, in fact, attach and harbor them. Next, we must be willing to examine at our own particular prejudices with honesty and resolve. We must examine how and why we harbor such views. And through this understanding, we are willing to replace them with more positive views and proper behaviors. Lastly, it is us who make a difference. We can work together for positive change in our own society and in the world.
We must appreciate that hatred is learned. To establish Peace, we must un-learn it. Racism and racial profiling is learned behavior. We must determined to un-learn it. Ethnic and class distinctions are learned. We must appreciate the common humanity that unites us.
Today is a day of children. Children possess natural inner peace regardless of races, religions, genders etc..
We all have obligation to the children. They are our future. Let’s work together to build the everlasting peace on Earth for our children.
Good wishes and Loving kindness to all Peace Lovers.
Thank you for listening to us.
Venerable Thich Minh Tam