Friday, November 20, 2015

Paris Attacks: Give Peace a Chance

It’s terrible what happened in Paris. I mourn in deepest sympathy.

Yet I do not hate and saber-rattle, calling for war. Why? As Buddhist leader Daisaku Ikeda wrote, “Nothing is more barbarous than war. Nothing is more cruel…Nothing is more pitiful than a nation being swept along by fools.”

Tokyo after Allied bombing raid (March 1945) 
Ikeda, who grew up in war-torn Japan, has dedicated his life to ending war and spreading peace through a process called ‘human revolution.’ In the first volume of his series of novels The New Human Revolution, Ikeda cites the great pacifist, Mahatma Gandhi.
Gandhi led India to independence 
through the nonviolent methods of 
civil disobedience. Photo: Wikimedia

Gandhi proclaimed that the ‘power of the spirit’ is stronger than any…bomb. To transform this century of war into a century of peace, we must cultivate the limitless inherent power of human life. This is the ‘human revolution’…
Ikeda bases the concept of ‘human revolution’ on the writings of 13th-century Japanese Buddhist reformer Nichiren Daishonin. Based on deep study of the teachings (sutras) of the Buddha, Nichiren criticized the people in power in his country for their beliefs and assumptions, for they were causing harm to the people.

These erroneous beliefs and assumptions, he argued, were the causes of the civil unrest, attacks from foreign countries, extreme weather, and epidemics that left bodies piled up like cordwood in his island home of Japan.

What were these erroneous beliefs and assumptions? Are they still around, causing misery in today’s world? And what correct beliefs and assumptions did Nichiren advocate would cause peace and happiness?

The erroneous beliefs and assumptions in general were that humanity was a hierarchy where those at the top had the right to manipulate everyone else in order to maintain their own privileged position of power, no matter how much suffering they caused.

Are these beliefs and assumptions still around today, causing misery? The answer is obvious: Yes.

What beliefs and assumptions did Nichiren say were correct, for causing peace and happiness? He cited the Lotus Sutra, claiming that all humans are equal. We are all interconnected with everything, down to the minutest particle of dust, in the great and sacred mystery called ‘Life.’

Interestingly, these beliefs and assumptions are shared by all the indigenous cultures I am aware of, especially hunter-gatherer cultures who have lived sustainably on this planet for thousands of years.

Some people distil these correct beliefs and assumptions into the phrase “We are One.”

Awake to this reality of our interconnection, of our oneness, our equality, we are called Buddhas – awakened ones. If we are awake to our Buddha attributes of limitless courage, compassion and wisdom, Nichiren claimed we can transform our lives, countries and world into a place of ‘eternally tranquil light.’

Violence only begets violence. The cycle must stop.
World Peace. Art:

The killings in Paris are part of a cycle based on erroneous beliefs and assumptions. Now is a time when we can pause and start a new cycle – a cycle of waking up to our oneness with each other, with our Mother Earth and indeed the entire universe.

Ancestral teachings of many cultures advocate this.

Nichiren taught that we can speed up our awakening, our human revolution, with the practice of chanting the mantra “nam-myoho-renge-kyo” to stir up our Buddha-wisdom. Based on that wisdom we take action to make positive change for our own happiness and the happiness of all our relations.

May the poison of the killings in Paris be transformed into the medicine of world peace.

As we say in Bolivia, Jallalla. It’s an Aymara term imbued with hope and determination to work intensely to make our dreams become reality.

And as my Lakota teacher, Peji, taught me — Ho. “Come on! Let’s do it now!”

First published as "Paris Attacks: Give Peace a Chance" on

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