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Thread: Military Action in Syria ...

  1. #1

    Military Action in Syria ...

    Zen Teacher James Ford has a piece on whether, as Buddhists, one might support possible military action in Syria in response to the chemical attacks, resulting deaths of nearly 1500 civilians and others suffering in that civil war.

    Reluctantly, I feel much the same as Rev. Ford ... that to do so may be the least evil of evils.

    We will also examine this and related questions when we sit with the Precept on Avoiding the Taking of life during our upcoming Jukai preparations.

    Rev. Ford writes ...

    What I feel is my moral obligation at this time as a parish minister standing within the heart of the community I serve to call us to reflection and hopefully out of that to help us as we each must make decisions about where to stand and what to do. I fear as I do I will disappoint many. That acknowledged, I will be faithful to my vows to you, and I will speak my best, my deepest.

    ...

    When I wrote on Facebook that I had to address this issue one friend suggest I preach how war is horrible. Certainly, true, but, far and away, not enough. In fact as I reflect on the great moral poles of war, pacifism and just war theory, I find both positions unsatisfactory.

    Just War theories, grounded in an assertion of a right to self-defense, which, particularly thinking of that monument on Beacon Street in Boston I accept as a deep truth, are nonetheless so easily, too easily subverted by nationalist sensibilities. And even at best, the unsheathing of the sword trails a ribbon of blood, a great pooling of unintended consequences. As for pacifism, when moved into the nitty-gritty of real life, in situations like the one we’re forced to face today with that whiff of poison gas hanging in the air, becomes an opting out of the responsibility individuals have toward one another, abandoning one’s family and neighbors for an abstract higher good, one that, to put it brutally, has never existed in reality.

    So, here I am.

    ...

    Here’s what I know from the bottom of my heart. The individual is precious, beyond calculation. And, at the same time, we don’t exist in isolation. In fact we have no existence outside of relationships. This is a harsh, and at the same time, if we consider it, a beautiful truth. We’re all in this together. Every single blessed one of us on this globe, every one of us. We are connected.

    ...

    We’re now watching the dying embers of the Arab Spring. It’s a mess. Democratic dreams have been captured by those who believe in one man one vote one time. In Egypt we see the response to a rising theocracy in a lurching back toward military dictatorship. In Syria the democratic Arab Spring fell into a smoldering revolution now in danger of being dominated by its own theocratic forces. I’m also painfully aware that among the various contending sects in Syria, the dictator Assad’s ruling Alouettes are the most liberal of the religious communities. The whole region is awash in tears and blood, all interconnected and complex. Shadows of the holocaust followed by the horrors of the nakba, dictators and princes, religious and ethnic hatreds. And, oh yes, oil. It seems no one has clean hands, and if we look at our own American hands in all this, they drip oil and blood. Wrong piles upon wrong, sadness upon sadness.

    And, in the immediate, in this moment, the whiff of poison gas hangs in the air. Me, I painfully recall 1988 when we didn’t act when another dictator gassed Iraq’s Kurds, perhaps our most natural allies, a lingering shame.

    I’m deeply concerned by the lack of a clear outcome from either action or nonaction in the face of those murders of civilian populations. I gather from several sources there’s a reluctance to strike the dictator personally or even to significantly degrade his forces for fear he will be brought down leaving the country to the mercies of the fundamentalists who appear to be the strongest and best prepared among the revolutionary contingents. It is a mess. It is a tangle of horrors.
    And, still, the whiff of poison gas hangs in the air. Yes, conventional war leaves so many innocents wounded and maimed and killed, as well. But, the potentialities for horror are in fact so present in the use of chemical warfare that we stand at the edge of something unimaginable, roiling along the ground, a spreading fog of murder.
    So, for us, for you and me, what are we to do?

    ...

    For me the reality is that it is impossible to be right. As the Zen tradition often notes, its all one continuous mistake.

    Me, I’ve decided, for the moment, the least evil stance is to not oppose these called for attacks that might degrade the Syrian dictator’s forces, to demonstrate that poison gas must not be reintroduced into modern conflict. Out of respect for the Kurds. Out of respect for those others who’ve been victim to these horrors, to prevent the reintroduction of this terror. To finally, finally draw a line in that one small regard, at last.

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/monkeym...-on-syria.html
    I would merely add that sometimes, abiding by the Precept to Preserve Life and Avoid the Taking of life, it may be necessary to take life to save other lives and to restore peace. Such is my view and feeling.

    The Suttas and Sutras offered many opinions on these questions (having been written, of course, by men of many opinions), and modern teachers are of many minds on this.

    Here is something I posted once ...



    From the opinions of Buddhist teachers from various traditions which I have read, I would say that almost all who saw the need for some response involving the taking of life saw it as a "necessary evil" ... not as a path or goal in any positive sense. Sometimes we must break a Precept to keep a Precept. And given modern warfare, most of the teachers were aware that this might include the unavoidable taking of civilian and other "non-combatant" lives in order to save a much greater number of lives.

    I believe that the following responses, some by the Dalai Lama, are representative of the diversity of opinion.

    http://www.tricycle.com/p/1487 (the comments which follow are also very interesting)
    http://www.tricycle.com/feature/war-...utside-the-box
    http://india.indymedia.org/en/2003/09/7833.shtml

    Thich Nhat Hanh may have been most representative of the "any violent response only leads to increased violence" opinion ...

    http://www.peaceiseverystepla.org/PeaceMessage.htm

    The Buddha also seems to have been of two minds on this. On the one hand, there are some writings in which he is framed to say that killing is never skillful.

    http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/a...ngmessage.html

    On the other hand, in other Sutta he did seem to countenance a nation having an army for certain limited purposes, and its discreet use.

    http://www.beyondthenet.net/thedway/soldier.htm

    http://www.urbandharma.org/udharma6/militarycanon.html

    Almost all the Buddhist teachers I can think of (including me too, for what it is worth) would say that we must also bear all the Karmic consequences of our volitional words, thoughts and acts, no matter whether we had a "reason" for killing or not.

    You may kill the cat, but you still likely have to pay the price in some way.

    A Tibetan teacher (Chagdud Tulku) relates this famous Jataka legend about a previous incarnation of the Buddha ...

    (In a previous life, the Buddha was Captain Compassionate Heart, sailing with 500 merchants. An evil pirate, Dung Thungchen (Blackspear) appeared, threatening to kill them all. )The captain, a bodhisattva himself, saw the [pirate]'s murderous intention and realized this crime would result in eons of torment for the murderer. In his compassion, the captain was willing to take hellish torment upon himself by killing the man to prevent karmic suffering that would be infinity greater than the suffering of the murdered victims. The captain's compassion was impartial; his motivation was utterly selfless.
    I am not sure about the effect of our Karma in lives to come ... but I do know that we likely will bear the effects of our actions in this life in some way. I have a friend, an ex-policeman, who had to kill someone in a perfectly necessary and justified act to save lives. Yet, my friend still carries that with him to this day.

    No, taking lives is never a "good" thing.
    It is important to remember too that Buddhists do not generally believe in "bad people", only in "people who do bad things" because they themselves are victims of greed, anger and ignorance within. The real evil doer is "greed anger and ignorance".

    Even if one is required to act in self-defense ... of one's own life, the life of another, or to protect society as in the case of a policeman or soldier ... one should best not feel anger even if forced to use force, one should nurture peace as much as one can, avoiding violence as much as one can, using violence as little as one can even when needed.

    Yes, most all flavors of Buddhism teach that, even should one be forced to break a Precept in a big or small way, one should bear the Karmic weight, reflect on having had to do so, seek as one can not to do so in the future.

    The case I usually mention is that friend of mine, a Buddhist policeman, who had to kill someone in the line of duty in order to save an innocent person held hostage. It was a perfectly justified, necessary shooting. However, from that day he always felt a kind of mental scar, a heavy weight ... even though he knew he had to do the right thing. He always felt the need to bring peace into the world in some measure to make up for what he had had to do. So it is for all of us if we must reluctantly support the use of violence in order to preserve life.

    Let me close with something recited by us in our Sutra Dedication ...

    We dedicate our hopes and aspirations:
    To all victims of war and violence and natural events
    To the injured and to all families touched by these tragedies
    To the healing of hatred in all countries and among all peoples
    To the wisdom and compassion of our world leaders
    To the peace of the world and harmony of all beings.


    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 09-02-2013 at 02:45 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  2. #2
    Senior Member YuimaSLC's Avatar
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    I, too, am forever affected by the image I saw in a photograph some years ago of the corpses of a Kurdish father and child laying in the village road after the Iraqi gassing.

    I am affected by the pain and suffering of children drowning in a classroom when the tsunami hits their building in March 2011.

    Restoring peace and living in harmony (with our natural environment, our neighbors, our countrymen) is and should be a constant effort. We should take effort to "set things right" while understanding that our limited knowledge may never truly comprehend how things "are". And we are motivated, with our original efforts of setting things right: to 'just protect" the afflicted, regardless of all the other complicated issues. And thus, we become involved in stopping the raping in the Balkans, and slaughter in Rwanda, and now, the use of chemical weapons upon it's own citizenry in Syria.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Clark's Avatar
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    Thank you Jundo

    I find myself thinking that this terrible decision that has to be made to some extent IS our karma. Not so much as a result of what we have done, but also what we as a world community have NOT done, to try to bring an end to conflict in the middle east. A lesson is here in what happens when we are not proactive, just reactive. I very much include myself in those who have definitely not done enough to proactively resolve conflict with those around me. When we are confronted to watch others duke it out, physically or verbally, are we content to just sit on the sidelines and say "I'm a good person, I would never behave like that."?

    I have always liked this quote from Mother Theresa:

    "I would not be part of an anti-war rally, but if you are doing a pro peace march sign me up" Or something like that

    Gassho
    C
    Last edited by Clark; 09-02-2013 at 03:09 AM.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Amelia's Avatar
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    I agree that sometimes life must be taken, but I respectfully disagree that we should begin another costly and divisive conflict by military action in Syria.
    迎 Geika

  5. #5
    It is a desperately sad situation but I agree with Amelia on this. The urge to 'do something' is almost overwhelming but this situation calls for clarity and wisdom. There is no talk of ground forces but air strikes and what will these achieve aside from make Assad dig his heels in even further and take more desperate action of someone who knows the world is against them? Even if Assad is removed what is likely to remain is civil war with various factions, including those supported by Al Qaeda.

    Personally, I would want any diplomacy or action to be led by the leaders of other Middle East countries who have far more at stake in the region than we do. There is a tremendous desire for the US and Europe to police that area and sort things out but mostly our actions have made things worse. Assad's brutal attack is utterly horrible but I just don't think that our role should be any more than providing logistical and diplomatic support to Middle East leaders who should be supported to take the lead.

    May all beings be well, happy and free from suffering

    Gassho
    Andy

  6. #6
    I want to emphasize that there is not "one right answer" on this, and viewpoints on the best (of many unfortunate) responses may vary.

    Life is not always a clear choice. Our Zen Way, if anything, is merely crystal Clear about and as that sometime lack of clarity.

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 09-02-2013 at 09:01 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  7. #7
    There is no easy answer here. 25 years ago I was fortunate to share the life, joys and sorrows of these beautiful people, and what I witnessed is beyond belief. The cruelty and barbaric atrocities committed in various places by the Syrian army led by the brother of Hafez , the father and founder of this dynasty, were told to me by people in tears and living in constant fear of the secret police, of torture , of just vanishing. Bashir, the son , has not learned the lessons and has just one language he speaks and understands: the sound of guns and bombs. And he is sitting heavily on a minefield as, he would disappear, extremists would tear apart the whole country and it would be real chaos. Hell with Bashir, hell without him. Meanwhile innocents fall. If we don t do anything ( and so far we did nothing) more innocents will fall. It is like giving this frightened dictator ( they are so dangerous when scared) the green light to carry on. He won t stop until opposition is turned into dust. And innocents will be targeted along with rebels. He does not care. This is something hard to grasp if you never lived in the Middle East. The Assad family and their clan are ready to do anything it takes to remain in power.

    Saya, my dear friend and Zen nun, is presumably dead by now, and many of the friends I knew and their kids. Sometimes we have to use violence, remember this is not Irak, this is not a lie, it is a complete different situation.

    Gassho


    Taigu
    Taigu, teacher at Treeleaf Sangha, was born in 1964, started Zazen early and received Shukke Tokudo in 1983 at age 18 from Rev. Mokusho Zeisler of the Deshimaru Lineage. Received Dharma Transmission from Chodo Cross in 2002. Now resides in Osaka, Japan.

  8. #8
    Yes, you are right, Jundo, and the difficult thing is you can never know the outcome of any one action before starting it. Best guesses are just that but I hope all the world leaders are able to sit with what they know before committing to anything. There really should be a zazen training programme for presidents.

    I am so sorry to hear of your experiences and those of your friends, Taigu. I do not think that anyone is advocating no action or thinking the reports are a lie but what the action should be, who should take it and what the likely consequences will be are still very much open for debate. We very much need to ensure there is an integrated plan involving Middle East leaders, western military and diplomatic expertise, and humanitarian aid agencies and neighbouring countries who will need to pick up the pieces of refugees fleeing the country.

    Gassho
    Andy

  9. #9
    Senior Member Juki's Avatar
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    Ultimately, one would hope that we reach a situation in our evolution as human beings where those who aspire to positions of leadership understand that the word "govern" should alwasy be interpreted as "to rule wisely." But we are not there yet. Instead, in both despotic regimes (like Syria) and in so-called democracies (like the United States), our leaders more often act and react based upon the ingrained notions of the ego. They cling to power, rather than letting go when the time is necessary.

    "The leader has to start the march, and then fall back and walk with the people." (Driving and Crying)

    Gassho,
    William
    "First you have to give up." Tyler Durden

  10. #10
    Senior Member Myosha's Avatar
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    "All the world's mad but thee and me jock, and sometimes thee's a bit queer."
    -Anonymous

    One. . .life as it is. . .Grateful.


    Gassho,
    Edward
    Practice with humility, respect all beings, avoid attachments, give rise to praj˝a from your own awareness, put an end to delusions - Hui-neng

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    I want to emphasize that there is not "one right answer" on this, and viewpoints on the best (of many unfortunate) responses may vary.

    Life is not always a clear choice. Our Zen Way, if anything, is merely crystal Clear about and as that sometime lack of clarity.

    Gassho, J
    I agree ... sometimes things are not that clear. Sometimes we need to stand up for people who cannot stand up for themselves.

    Gassho
    Shingen
    真 眼

    As a trainee priest, please take any commentary by me on matters of the Dharma with a pinch of salt.

  12. #12
    There is far from a clear answer on this issue and I am so conflicted. The atrocities that have been committed in this conflict are nearly beyond comprehension. How should the world respond, will a "limited" punitive strike help the people of the region. I have no idea but what I do know is that world has taken a hands off approach for over two years (with the responses from world leaders to this point being mostly substances-less sound bites) and that has been a mistake (not saying what the right action would have been, but more proactive).

  13. #13
    Unfortunately, such situations existed in the Buddha's time as they do in our time. This is the legendary story of how the Buddha's family, the Shakya clan, were wiped out in a massacre despite his early efforts to keep the peace ...

    The most telling event in this particular story is Buddha’s final refusal to act to protect his
    clansmen, the Sakyas, from their violent fate at the hands of King Virudhaka and the Kosala
    army. Buddha asserts that their fate is inevitable, stating that “a fixed karma cannot be changed.”
    King Virudhaka seeks vengeance on the Sakyas after he is insulted and humiliated by them. ...

    Buddha lies down in the path of the invading Kosala Army and petitions King Virudhaka to give up his campaign of
    violence against Buddha’s kinfolk, the Sakyas. At that time it was tradition that an invading army
    must retreat if they are petitioned to do so by a holy man. Virudhaka’s army returns twice more
    only to be sent back in deference to Buddha’s request. When Buddha receives word that the army
    is making a fourth advance, he refuses to intervene on the Sakya’s behalf, stating that their
    slaughter by Virudhaka’s army was an inevitable outcome resulting from the negative karma of
    the Sakya clan.

    ...

    After King Suddhodana (the Buddha's father) had passed away, General Mahanama became the King of Kapilavastu. ... Meanwhile, Prince Virudhara, having seized power, announced that he was now King of [rival] Kosala and declared war on Kapilavastu [and the Shakyas].

    When the Buddha learned of the impending conflict, he tried to stop the advancing Kosalan army by meditating under a dead tree on the face of the advancing King Virudhara.
    The King did not like the Buddha at all, but he stopped his chariot and asked him, "You should be meditating under a Bodhi tree, not under a dead tree."
    "You are right, " replied the Buddha, "but what is the use of a Bodhi tree without love and peace?"
    It was customary those days in India that an army had to retreat if they came across a holy religious man on the way, and what they met was the Buddha. Therefore, following international protocol of those days, King Virudhara ordered his army to return home.
    But soon King Virudhara mounted a second assault and a third assault, but each time he met the Buddha seating underneath a dead tree facing the advancing army. So according to ancient Indian international protocol, the Kasolan Army returned home.
    The fourth time, however, the Buddha was not there, and King Virudhara's army marched straight towards Kapilavastu.
    ...

    "My Lord Buddha, " said Ananda, ... "why are you so sad?"
    "The Sakya people will be massacred in a week," replied the Buddha sadly. "They had broken international protocol and insulted a Royal Prince from their neighbourhood Kingdom. They never felt sorry of what they did nor gave an apology. No matter what his ancestors was, a human being should be treated with respect. Therefore, the karma of the Sakya people had ripened and there is little I can do to help."

    http://venyifa.blogspot.jp/2008/09/s...ssacre-of.html
    I hope that we someday see a world where there is room for everyone, all with sufficient food, water, housing, education, medical care, living in safety and peace with their human rights respected.

    I feel that armies should best be used ... not to conquer territory or seize resources ... but only to keep the peace, protect human rights, protect innocent lives. Violence should be avoided if at all possible but, like a policeman protecting civilian lives, might sometimes have to be used if other options failed.

    Alas, such a world is still but a dream, as much now as in the Buddha's time.

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 09-02-2013 at 03:44 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  14. #14
    Senior Member Clark's Avatar
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    Taigu

    My condolences on your personal loss, in this very tragic scenario

    Metta
    C
    Last edited by Clark; 09-03-2013 at 04:20 AM.

  15. #15
    Senior Member Joyo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Taigu View Post
    There is no easy answer here. 25 years ago I was fortunate to share the life, joys and sorrows of these beautiful people, and what I witnessed is beyond belief. The cruelty and barbaric atrocities committed in various places by the Syrian army led by the brother of Hafez , the father and founder of this dynasty, were told to me by people in tears and living in constant fear of the secret police, of torture , of just vanishing. Bashir, the son , has not learned the lessons and has just one language he speaks and understands: the sound of guns and bombs. And he is sitting heavily on a minefield as, he would disappear, extremists would tear apart the whole country and it would be real chaos. Hell with Bashir, hell without him. Meanwhile innocents fall. If we don t do anything ( and so far we did nothing) more innocents will fall. It is like giving this frightened dictator ( they are so dangerous when scared) the green light to carry on. He won t stop until opposition is turned into dust. And innocents will be targeted along with rebels. He does not care. This is something hard to grasp if you never lived in the Middle East. The Assad family and their clan are ready to do anything it takes to remain in power.

    Saya, my dear friend and Zen nun, is presumably dead by now, and many of the friends I knew and their kids. Sometimes we have to use violence, remember this is not Irak, this is not a lie, it is a complete different situation.

    Gassho


    Taigu
    Taigu, the fact that you lived there with these stories makes this all the more real and painful. I agree something needs to be done, no easy answers here though. Just so, so hearbreaking!! And my condolences in regards to your Zen nun friend, and the many others who you knew. I sincerely hope they are all in a more peaceful place now!!!

    Gassho,
    Treena

  16. #16
    Senior Member Genshin's Avatar
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    The images coming back from Syria are horrifying and deeply saddening. Respectfully, I think it is important to take action to prevent the proliferation and use of such weapons, and if progress through diplomacy and dialogue fails, then unfortunately I do feel military action is justified as an absolute last resort in order to preserve life and prevent this horror from happening again. That said, the consequence of the west taking action is likely to create further regional instability down the road.

    Taigu, I'm very sorry to hear about your friend.

    Gassho
    Matt

  17. #17
    I refuse to believe that the only way to end suffering is by perpetuating it.

    As ghastly as the Assad regime is, I don't see how Wahhabi jihadists allied with Al Qaeda would be an improvement. I also think that the notion that the world powers have sat idly by, impotently wringing their hands for two years is mistaken; someone, somewhere, has profited handsomely by continually selling the means of mass industrialized death to all sides in this conflict. Now the largest weapons dealer in the world with an extensive history of rampant militarism, deceit, and confabulating casus belli wants us to believe that as great humanitarians they can be trusted to judiciously add to the carnage for the good of all.
    I've heard that a hunter (Dick Cheney notwithstanding) will not take the shot unless they can clearly see their target...and trust their backstop. I see no such clarity here.

    May all beings without exception be safe, free of the suffering of fear, anger, and hatred, and be at peace.
    May all beings everywhere plagued with sufferings of body and mind
    quickly be freed from their illnesses.
    May those frightened cease to be afraid
    and may those bound be free.
    May the powerless find power
    and may people think of befriending one another.

  18. #18
    Treeleaf Unsui/Engineer Kyonin's Avatar
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    In war the first victim is always the truth.

    So many things we haven't heard on the media, so many people suffering, so many stories and so many reasons.

    Yet, we can only see from afar and hope for the wisdom and clarity of mind for world leaders.

    May things turn to peace soon and all suffering end.

    Gassho,

    Kyonin
    Please remember I am only a priest in training. I could be wrong in everything I say. Slap me if needed.

    The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one. Mr. Spock

  19. #19
    The U.S. will be damned if it takes action, and damned if it doesn't. Obama is not Bush, who choked on a pretzel while watching football and knew God's will. He is no fool and in a tough spot. He can see shades of grey. No one will win the Syrian civil war. Syria won't become a human rights haven. It will be a different flavor of awful. Obama only wants to thwart further use of mass gassing as a weapon. He is not just taking a moral pose. I have no idea what will happen, and can do nothing about it. Only hoping and wishing for the best.

    Gassho Daizan.
    大山

  20. #20
    Sadly all of our thoughts and feelings and opinions are like dust in the wind.

    I have a small globe of the world on my dressing table and when I send metta I simply focus on this small object, because it represents the suffering of million upon millions of human beings.

    It makes me realise that as an individual my opinions are of little consequence and that I can only realise a compassionate vision of the world at a local level - within my family, friends and local community. If we can not create love within our lives and immediate circumstances then there is no hope for our world.

    This doesn't mean that I feel we shouldn't campaign, protest and do whatever we can - but I don't believe the world can change on a global level without a huge shift in our sensitivities to all that we experience as 'other'.

    Metta to all who are suffering in Syria and so many other parts of the world.

    Gassho

    Willow

  21. #21
    Buddhists, despite thousands of years of time, have never found a way to make this world peaceful and perfect.

    They did not find such a way when Muslim invaders conquered India, killing and burning Buddhism right out of existence in that country. They did not find such a way during the Mongol invasions of ancient China, Korea and Japan. The Dalai Lama and Thich Nhat Hanh have yet to find the way to prevent war. Buddhists have identified the causes in human greed, anger and ignorance ... and found medicines and a cure for so many people. But we have never found a way to bring peace to the whole wide world (not even for all Buddhists). So much of this Samsaric world continues to burn with greed, anger and ignorance, violence and division.

    No, Buddhists, despite thousands of years of time, have never found a way to make this world peaceful and perfect.

    We have, however, found the key to be 'at Peace' with this world of sometime peace and sometime war, and to find the Wholeness in this perfectly imperfect life.

    ... seeing through the dream-like beauty and ugliness ...

    ... all while doing what we can in this world to bring peace, cure the disease, make the world better.

    This world may be much like a dream, though sometimes a nightmare. But it is our dream, and we live it. So, while seeing through this world to Peace and Wholeness, we nonetheless do what we can to make this world better.

    I look forward to a day ... not only in which there is sufficient food, water, housing, education, medical care, safety and peace and human rights rights for all sentient beings ... but a day when all violence anywhere in the world is made illegal, and nations gather together to enforce non-violence through the whole world much as police work to stop violence and protect the innocent in a single city.

    Maybe it is impossible, but we can keep working for such a world.

    I would like to share with everyone my rather idealistic dream ... maybe even too radical for the taste of many. Here it is:

    I would love to see developed countries such as the United States and EU Nations primarily answer violence ... even something like the destruction of the World Trade Center ... by turning the other cheek, responding by spending the same billions of dollars in the military budget by building schools, hospitals, roads and other "good will" projects in the countries of our enemies, "killing them with kindness" instead of bullets. It would be an all out effort to win the hearts and minds of those who hate.

    Is such a world possible?

    Of course, I do not see this as a total answer ... and some situations will yet need to be met with bombs and armies. That is just the reality. Syria may be such a situation where we cannot "turn the other cheek" but, instead, must step in to protect the innocent, no different from how a group of good samaritans ... when seeing an innocent victim being beaten or raped on a city street ... would not merely stand by, leave it to someone else to handle. They would step in, take action (even by force if and only as necessary) to save the innocent. However, military force should be turned to only as a last last resort.

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 09-03-2013 at 03:39 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  22. #22
    Well, yes. As long as we don't expect politicians, military guys and bankers to run the show, as long we take it into our own hands, not to change the world but change our world, that is to say the way we behave, work, interact...in other words, changing from top to bottom simply does not work. A revolution can really happen in our daily lives and if we are many to do so...then, change will take place. Don't think that if you drop a piece of paper into a box it is going to change things. Politicians lie just because the truth is that their are powerless, they are under the direct changing move of money and the stock exchange. Nobody will tell you: vote for me but you know, I can't do most of what I say I would do...

    So, Zen is my way to universally work. Commuting and filling forms, talking to people and helping them as much as I can...this is the way to change things.

    Gassho


    Taigu
    Taigu, teacher at Treeleaf Sangha, was born in 1964, started Zazen early and received Shukke Tokudo in 1983 at age 18 from Rev. Mokusho Zeisler of the Deshimaru Lineage. Received Dharma Transmission from Chodo Cross in 2002. Now resides in Osaka, Japan.

  23. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by Taigu View Post
    Well, yes. As long as we don't expect politicians, military guys and bankers to run the show, as long we take it into our own hands, not to change the world but change our world, that is to say the way we behave, work, interact...in other words, changing from top to bottom simply does not work. A revolution can really happen in our daily lives and if we are many to do so...then, change will take place. Don't think that if you drop a piece of paper into a box it is going to change things. Politicians lie just because the truth is that their are powerless, they are under the direct changing move of money and the stock exchange. Nobody will tell you: vote for me but you know, I can't do most of what I say I would do...

    So, Zen is my way to universally work. Commuting and filling forms, talking to people and helping them as much as I can...this is the way to change things.

    Gassho


    Taigu
    I don't know, Taigu. I still think we can have a world with decent leaders acting decently, working for peace and social welfare instead of simply to get re-elected and to support whatever large interest sends campaign contributions their way. We would first need to take the money out of politics, and perhaps let our leaders be selected-elected as a board of "Wise Elders" more in the way America selects its Supreme Court (not to say that is a perfect system either!). I still think that we can have an economic system that aims for and produces medicine, education, decent housing and benefit for all in place of waste, fat, flash and fast food for some. I think we can learn to "agree to disagree" on social values, religious beliefs and cultural differences ... all while cooperating together, and not killing each other.

    I am an optimist, although I have to admit that I am not optimistic that such a world will come about soon. Hopefully it will before we do destroy ourselves. That is why I have to remain optimistic.

    Bhutan is no "Shangri-La", but their king did help introduce the idea of a "G.N.H. Index" (Gross National Happiness) to replace our current G.N.P. measure.

    The term "gross national happiness" was coined in 1972 by Bhutan's fourth Dragon King, Jigme Singye Wangchuck, who has opened Bhutan to the age of modernization soon after the demise of his father, Jigme Dorji Wangchuk. He used this phrase to signal his commitment to building an economy that would serve Bhutan's unique culture based on Buddhist spiritual values. ...

    ... the country has rejected GDP as the only way to measure progress. In its place, it has championed a new approach to development, which measures prosperity through formal principles of gross national happiness (GNH) and the spiritual, physical, social and environmental health of its citizens and natural environment.

    For the past three decades, this belief that wellbeing should take preference over material growth has remained a global oddity. Now, in a world beset by collapsing financial systems, gross inequity and wide-scale environmental destruction, this tiny Buddhist state's approach is attracting a lot of interest..
    http://www.theguardian.com/world/201...ppiness-counts

    Of course, even Bhutan has struggled for such a dream in the face of realities ...

    New Bhutanese PM Tshering Tobgay has cast doubt on the country's pursuit of Gross National Happiness (GNH).

    The concept is overused and masks problems with corruption and low standards of living, Mr Tobgay told AFP news agency.

    ...

    Mr Tobgay, 47, said that while he supported the notion that "economic growth is not the be-all and end-all of development", GNH should not distract from tackling Bhutan's pressing problems, including chronic unemployment, poverty and corruption.

    "If the government of the day were to spend a disproportionate amount of time talking about GNH rather than delivering basic services, then it is a distraction," he said.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-23545641
    Such is Samsara, this Saha world, requiring great endurance.

    Samsara/Saha is this world which is full of suffering. Often translated as the world of endurance. Saha means the earth; it derives from a root meaning "to bear" or "to endure." For this reason, in the Chinese versions of Buddhist scriptures, saha is rendered as endurance. In this context, the saha world indicates a world in which people must endure suffering. It is also defined as an impure land, a land defiled by earthly desires and illusion, in contrast with a pure land. The saha world describes the land where Shakyamuni Buddha makes his appearance and instructs living beings.
    No, Buddha never found a way to fully fix this messed up world, though pointing to what we need to do. Fortunately, we have Nirvana which lets us see right through it.

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 09-03-2013 at 03:11 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  24. #24
    Senior Member Myosha's Avatar
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    Thank you.


    Gassho,
    Edward
    Practice with humility, respect all beings, avoid attachments, give rise to praj˝a from your own awareness, put an end to delusions - Hui-neng

  25. #25
    I am always in two minds when it comes situations like this in the world. On the one hand there is the promise that violence is the best of a bad situation. On the other the cycle is perpetuated. Then there are the intentions of the players pushing for war, their motivations, the voters that have to be appeased. It is never that simple.
    Metta to the people of Syria.

    Gassho,

    Simon.

  26. #26
    Senior Member Nengyo's Avatar
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    War sucks. No two ways about. I hope the people of Syria find peace soon...

    Tiagu, I hope your friends have found a safe, dry, warm place with lots of tea and bread to ride this storm out. Syria will need peacemakers after this.
    Try not to be a jerk-- one of the Buddhas

  27. #27
    Senior Member Daijo's Avatar
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    In peace, sit.
    In war, sit.
    To every stranger, smile.
    In abundance.
    Make peace in your body/mind
    and share it.
    With everyone you meet.
    And when you fail.
    smile again. In Abundance.

  28. #28
    Quote Originally Posted by chuck13 View Post
    In peace, sit.
    In war, sit.
    To every stranger, smile.
    In abundance.
    Make peace in your body/mind
    and share it.
    With everyone you meet.
    And when you fail.
    smile again. In Abundance.
    Beautiful!

    Gassho
    Shingen
    真 眼

    As a trainee priest, please take any commentary by me on matters of the Dharma with a pinch of salt.

  29. #29
    Senior Member Heisoku's Avatar
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    So, Zen is my way to universally work. Commuting and filling forms, talking to people and helping them as much as I can...this is the way to change things.
    Originally Posted by chuck13
    In peace, sit.
    In war, sit.
    To every stranger, smile.
    In abundance.
    Make peace in your body/mind
    and share it.
    With everyone you meet.
    And when you fail.
    smile again. In Abundance.


    Keeping the 'Dharma of the Buddha' alive has never been so important. Changing 'hearts and minds' as we are doing is not a military intervention, but a long arduous process of personal practice in our lineage of the Soto tradition.
    How far this is from the immediacy of what is required in Syria.
    We can only hope that there are enough wise people of skilful means on all sides to find a path through this minefield. As ever, the forces of ignorance, greed and anger make the front page news. We can only have faith that the wise are finding ways to operate behind these scenes.
    Metta to those suffering and who have or will suffer and metta to those who find themselves about to make momentous decisions.
    We can only continue with our own personal journeys and make the changes in our own small parts of the world. At some point a critical mass will develop, enough to put a stop to such irrationalism.
    Gassho.
    Heisoku
    平 息

  30. #30
    Thank you for posting, Jundo _/\_

  31. #31
    Member glow's Avatar
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    Thank you, Jundo.

    Gassho

    Glow

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