As the year draws to a close and winter tightens its grip I am reminded that peace and goodwill do not extend to all. The world remains a dangerous place and a political solution to the perennial problems of war, deprivation and injustice is still a long way off. The latest issue of ‘The Middle Way: Journal of The Buddhist Society’ is devoted to the issue of reconciliation, and I hope you will agree that its timely message is one worth sharing.
As the year draws to a close and winter tightens its grip I am reminded that peace and goodwill do not extend to all. The world remains a dangerous place and a political solution to the perennial problems of war, deprivation and injustice is still a long way off.
There is a distinct lack of socially-conscious role models within the global elite, and the recent sad passing of Nelson Mandela is yet another blow for anyone hoping to see similar examples of courage and selfless leadership among those who wield power, wealth and status. Fortunately, however, the latest issue of ‘The Middle Way: Journal of The Buddhist Society’ is devoted to the issue of reconciliation, and I hope you will agree that its timely message is one worth sharing –
“Reconciliation in Buddhism is… seen as the ‘process’ of return to a dynamic state of unity, harmony, amity and peace, a process universally acknowledged.
“This practice; school boys shaking hands after a dispute on the pitch, saying sorry to Mum after once again trailing dirty shoes across the carpet, points to something we all innately understand, that in a way does not need to be taught, at least in theory. The same could, of course, be said about all moral laws. Unfortunately, we humans don’t see it that way. We have all sorts of excuses and beliefs to justify our wrong doing. As the Buddha points out, all is due to greed and avarice. On a personal level, to come to terms with and to be reconciled with this innate understanding (wisdom) is the spiritual path itself.
“The Buddha recognized the futility of pursuing the objects of desire early in his life, consolidated by his direct confrontation with the inevitability of suffering arising from sickness, old age and finally death. His own path to salvation was, of course, one of reconciliation. To achieve the capacity to live happily and confidently while being surrounded by these realities, indeed living these realities, was the result of the Buddha’s enlightenment. Wanting ‘things’, ourselves, others, the world to be other than they are is the obstacle we must all overcome. We fear death, change, impermanence, suffering and thirst for their opposites, and in the process become even more entangled.
“To be able to act as a mediator in solving disputes, preventing disputes, mediating between opposed parties, requires us to have lived some of this process ourselves and to recognize just how really difficult this can be. It is not good enough to want to solve disputes if the outcome is simply to be how ‘I’ want it to be.
“Our world is shrinking at an alarming rate; even the Buddha prevented loss of life over a dispute centering on the waters of a river. As our population expands and our resources shrink, disputes will become more frequent. Many are misrepresented as religious disputes, when they are, in fact, disputes over resources: food, fuel, markets, access to education,’ decision making. All are related to survival. As a single human family we are not doing well. The Buddha’s way offers a solution to our own deepest conflict, that between ‘I’ and reality.
“This problem is writ large in the ways of men, governments and nation states. The problem is a human one that first needs to be solved at home, in our own hearts before being practiced abroad.
Text Source: Editorial by Dr Desmond Biddulph in ‘The Middle Way: Journal of The Buddhist Society’ (November 2013 Vol. 88 No. 3) p.197.
Image Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Handshake1.svg#