Dalai Lama: War is Anachronistic, an Outmoded Approach
The following is the English translation of His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s statement to the Buddhist devotees on the first day of the Great Prayer Festival, 11 March 2003, in Dharamsala
The Iraq issue is becoming very critical now. War, or the kind of organized fighting, is something that came with the development of human civilization. It seems to have become part and parcel of human history or human temperament. At the same time, the world is changing dramatically. We have seen that we cannot solve human problems by fighting. Problems resulting from differences in opinion must be resolved through the gradual process of dialogue. Undoubtedly, wars produce victors and losers; but only temporarily. Victory or defeat resulting from wars cannot be long-lasting. Secondly, our world has become so interdependent that the defeat of one country must impact the rest of the word, or cause all of us to suffer losses either directly or indirectly.
Today, the world is so small and so interdependent that the concept of war has become anachronistic, an outmoded approach. As a rule, we always talk about reform and changes. Among the old traditions, there are many aspects that are either ill-suited to our present reality or are counterproductive due to their shortsightedness. These, we have consigned to the dustbin of history. War too should be relegated to the dustbin of history.
Unfortunately, although we are in the 21st century, we still have not been able to get rid of the habit of our older generations. I am talking about the belief or confidence that we can solve our problems with arms. It is because of this notion that the world continues to be dogged by all kinds of problems.
But what can we do? What can we do when big powers have already made up their minds? All we can do is to pray for a gradual end to the tradition of wars. Of course, the militaristic tradition may not end easily. But, let us think of this. If there were bloodshed, people in positions of power, or those who are responsible, will find safe places; they will escape the consequent hardship. They will find safety for themselves, one way or the other. But what about the poor people, the defenseless people, the children, the old and infirm. They are the ones who will have to bear the brunt of devastation. When weapons are fired, the result will be death and destruction. Weapons will not discriminate between the innocent and guilty. A missile, once fired, will show no respect to the innocent, poor, defenseless, or those worthy of compassion. Therefore, the real losers will be the poor and defenseless, ones who are completely innocent, and those who lead a hand-to-mouth existence.
On the positive side, we now have people volunteer medical care, aid, and other humanitarian assistance in war-torn regions. This is a heart-winning development of the modern age.
Okay, now, let us pray that there be no war at all, if possible. However, if a war does break out, let us pray that there be a minimum bloodshed and hardship. I don’t know whether our prayers will be of any practical help. But this is all we can do for the moment.
Translated and issued by:The Department of Information and International Relations, Central Tibetan Administration (Dharamsala, India)
From the Prayers of the Buddhist Monk Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet
Most glorious possessor of all good qualities
Who thinks of all beings as one's own child,
All Buddhas of the three times, Bodhisattvas, and disciples
Please listen to my sad true words.
May those who suffer without interruption
Bearing the burden of countless dark deeds
Find an ocean of peace free from unbearable fears
Of sickness, war, famine and so forth.
May those who are crazed by evil delusions
And bring harm to themselves and suffering to others
Be an object of compassion, gain great understanding,
And enjoy friendship and love with all sentient beings.
For as long as space remains,
For as long as beings reside in Samsara,
There may I also remain
To clear away the misery of others.
Both here and throughout this entire vast world
May sickness, war, famine, and so forth end now.
May all enjoy the wealth of the Dharma and the bliss of good virtue;
May this glorious wealth and bliss grow without end.
From the Tao Te Ching
(Lao Tsu, translated by Gia-Fu Feng & Jane English)
Whenever you advise a ruler in the way of Tao,
Counsel him not to use force to conquer the universe.
For this would only cause resistance.
Thorn bushes spring up wherever the army has passed.
Lean years follow in the wake of a great war.
Just do what needs to be done.
Never take advantage of power.
But never glory in them.
But never boast.
But never be proud.
Because this is the natural way.
But not through violence.
Force is followed by loss of strength.
This is not the way of Tao.
That which goes against the Tao
comes to an early end.
Good weapons are instruments of fear; all creatures hate them.
Therefore followers of Tao never use them.
The wise man prefers the left.
The man of war prefers the right.
Weapons are instruments of fear; they are not a wise man's tools.
He uses them only when he has no choice.
Peace and quiet are dear to his heart,
And victory no cause for rejoicing.
If you rejoice in victory, then you delight in killing;
If you delight in killing, you cannot fulfull yourself.
On happy occasions precedence is given to the left,
On sad occasions to the right.
In the army the general stands on the left,
The commander-in-chief on the right.
This means that war is conducted like a funeral.
When many people are being killed,
They should be mourned in heartfelt sorrow.
That is why a victory must be observed like a funeral.
From the Tao Te Ching:
What is more fluid, more yielding than water? Yet back it comes again, wearing down the rigid strength which cannot yield to withstand it. So it is that the strong are overcome by the weak, the haughty by the humble.
This we know, but never learn.
Mindfulness Must Be Engaged
(Thích Nhât Hanh)
When I was in Vietnam, so many of our villages were being bombed. Along with my monastic brothers and sisters, I had to decide what to do. Should we continue to practice in our monasteries, or should we leave the meditation halls in order to help the people who were suffering under the bombs? After careful reflection, we decided to do bothto go out and help people and to do so in mindfulness. We called it ?engaged Buddhism.?
Mindfulness must be engaged. Once there is seeing, there must be acting. Otherwise, what is the use of seeing? We must be aware of the real problems of the world. Then, with mindfulness, we will know what to do and what not to do to be of help.
Are you planting seeds of joy and peace? I try to do that with every step. Peace is every step. Shall we continue the journey?
Adapted from the Hindu Upanishads
(Swami Chidananda Saraswati)
Lead me from death to life, from falsehood to truth.
Lead me from despair to hope, from fear to trust.
Lead me from hate to love, from war to peace.
Let peace fill our heart, our world, our universe.
Peace, Peace, Peace.
Jewish Prayer for Peace
For the sake of my brothers and friends
For the sake of my sisters and friends
Shalom - Peace to you.
From the Jewish and Christian Bible
(Micah 4: 3-4)
And they shall beat their swords into plowshares
and their spears into pruning hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war any more;
but they shall sit every one under the vine
and under the tree
and none shall make them afraid.
Muslim Daily Prayer
You are Peace
From You comes Peace
To You returns Peace
Revive us with a salutation of Peace
and lead us to Your abode of Peace.
A letter from Ven. Dhammananda:
"The real and everlasting victory comes when we overcome our own ignorance. When in our daily practice we generate feelings of loving kindness and compassion, the true meaning of it is the love and compassion we discover for ourselves and the awareness that each one of us has the right to this love and compassion... Each one of us has the right to live and to be happy."
Theravadin Buddhist Prayer for Peace
(Samdech Preah Maha Ghosananda)
May all who suffer be relieved of their pain.
May all who are afraid be delivered from their terror.
May all who weep be freed from their sorrows.
Two Traditional Tibetan Buddhist Blessings
(Ven. Geshe Lhundup Sopa)
May the whole world and this place be free from hunger, sickness, and strife.
May all beings enjoy spiritual wealth, peace, and happiness.
May all beings be blessed with all good things.
May all beings be free from suffering and the cause of suffering.
May all beings enjoy happiness and the cause of happiness.
May all beings be blessed with pure happiness, unmixed with suffering.
May all beings be in equanimity, free of attachment and hatred, caused by the misunderstanding of closeness and distance.
...and from Prayers for a World With No Landmines (published by the Peace Council in 1997)...
Vedic Peace Chants
Om. May the circumstances of all beings be auspicious. May all beings enjoy peace. May all be full and may all prosper and be happy and free from disease. May all strive to be kind to others. May none despair.
Om. Lead me from the unreal to the real, from darkness to light, from death to life.
Om. That (Brahman) is full, this (this universe) is full. Fullness is born from fullness. If fullness is removed from fullness, fullness remains.
Om. Peace, Peace, Peace.
Om. May there be peace in the heavens, peace in the skies, and peace on earth. May the waters be peaceful. May the grasses and herbs bring peace to all creatures, and may the plants be at peace also. May the beneficent being bring us peace, and may the way of all creation bring peace throughout the world. May all things be peaceful, and may that peace itself bring further peace. May we also bring peace to all.
Om. Peace, Peace, Peace.
(Most Rev. Desmond M. Tutu)
Lord, how can I serve you without arms?
How can I walk in your way without feet?
I was collecting sticks for the fire when I lost my arms,
I was taking the goats to water when I lost my feet.
I have a head but my head does not understand why there are land mines in the grazing land or why there is a trip wire across the dusty road to the market.
My heart is filled with a long ache. I want to share your pain but I cannot. It is too deep for me. You look at me but I cannot bear your gaze. The arms factory provides a job for my son and my taxes paid for the development of ?smart? bombs. I did not protest when the soldiers planted fear into the earth that smothers the old people and the anxious mothers, and fills the young men with hate.
Lord, we are all accomplices in the crime of war which is a lust for power at all costs. The cost is too much for humanity to bear.
Lord, give us back our humanity, our ubuntu
Teach us to serve you without arms. Amen
Prayer & Reading
(Dr. Dalil Boubakeur)
Glory to God, creator of all. It is he who gives us life, he who gives us death. He is most high, omniscient.
God of creation, light of lights, created man to benefit from that light which is the mercy of the heavens and the earth.
God is the Peace that is a boon of Allah for all of humanity. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, A person’s faith is expressed by three things: justice, charity, and peace.
The believer prays, O God, you are Peace; lead us to your Paradise, the home of Peace.
In this world of divisions, atrocities, and wars, may the innocent be spared. Their hands are clean. May their steps never find the minefields of death and mutilation.
May we be horrified and forever haunted by the images of children torn apart, fitted with prostheses, or bedridden for life. As long as humanity can even imagine such crimes, we call upon God to send us his justice and to protect us from evil.
God of all, ruler of humankind, protect us from evil, whether from humans or from the devil’s temptation.
(from the Qur’an: Surah 1: The Seven Verses:)
1. In the name of Allah the all-merciful, most compassionate
2. Praised be Allah, Lord of the universe,
3. The all-merciful, most-compassionate,
4. Lord of the day of judgment,
5. It is you alone we adore, you alone are our succor,
6. Show us the straight path,
7. The path of those whom you have blessed, not the path of those who have incurred your wrath, nor the path of those who have strayed.
My heart is moved by all I cannot save:
so much has been destroyed
I have to cast my lot with those
who age after age, perversely,
with no extraordinary power,
reconstitute the world.
The world was not left to us by our parents, it was lent to us by our children.
We will practice what we profess.
"We commit ourselves to a culture of non-violence, respect, justice, and peace. We shall not oppress, injure, torture, or kill other human beings, forsaking violence as a means of settling differences...
"We invite all people, whether religious or not, to do the same."
from Towards a Global Ethic: an Initial Declaration (signed by leaders from the world's faiths at the Parliament of the World's Religions, Chicago, 1993)
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Page Published: 03/20/2003 · Page Last Modified: 03/24/2003
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