Twenty five hundred years ago, Shakyamuni Buddha was born a warrior prince in a small Indian kingdom. He renounced the privileges of worldly power and became an uncompromising warrior for peace. The Buddha said:
He explained further:
Victory breeds hatred,
The defeated live in pain.
Happily the peaceful live,
Giving up both victory and defeat.
(Dhammapada, Verse 201)
Hatred never ends by
hatred in this world;
By love alone does hatred end.
This is an Eternal Law.
(Dhammapada, Verse 5)
We at Buddhist Peace Fellowship believe that opposing this war is absolutely necessary. Extending the American Empire invites national destruction. The Buddha’s First Precept says "Don’t kill." It also means: Do not to allow others to kill, and do not live at the expense of others. Further attacks against the Iraqi people will only earn us more implacable enemies and deepen the cycle of violence. Disastrous fruits of war will haunt the world for generations, and will come home to us in terrible, unseen ways.
The seeds of war with Iraq were planted not so many years ago by our political leaders in a self-serving effort to further American interests. They supplied them with arms. Now they’ve changed their minds. Leaders on both sides chose war. They seem locked in this delusion, even though the whole world can see through it. Our present political leaders have never lived with the horrors of war. Their policy of "Shock and Awe" is obscene. It means blitzkreig, raining bloody death and terror on millions. As the gospel song (from another spiritual tradition) preaches: "We’re gonna reap just what we sow."
The Buddha taught that our actions co-create each other’s reality, that self and other are never separate. So how we conduct ourselves in opposition to war makes a great difference to the world. Because we co-create life, we must walk a path of peace. We are already on this journey together, right here, right now. And we must bring along our leaders and our opponents. At times we hesitate or turn away because we are angry and afraid, each with our own cast of demons. Indulging those emotions, we create more anger and fear in that endless cycle of reactive violence.
Can we see George Bush, Dick Cheney, Saddam Hussein, Ariel Sharon, Yasser Arafat, and whomever we might oppose, as suffering beings like ourselves? Can we fiercely resist their actions and this war without placing them outside the circle of humankind? We can challenge ourselves to do this. This is the single-voiced message of the Buddha, Gandhi, King, and all the great peacemakers. May we be more like them day by day. And however far-fetched it seems, may our leaders forsake war and awaken to the truth of love and peace.