A WEEK OF VESAK THINKING
Bhikkhu Professor Dhammavihari
A Thought for the Day 2
By the benevolence of the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha, may all beings be well and happy. Having briefly indicated the need for the observance of the principles of the pa¤ca-sãla for the well being of society, including all life therein, let us pick one each day for further elaboration.
Is important for the Buddhists to note that the precept pertaining to respect for all life - pàõàtipàtà veramaõã - heads the list. That is where all our morality or basis of good living begins. In Buddhism this includes all life, of man and bird and beast. It is agreed in principle that life is dear to all : Sabbesaü jãvitaü piyam. says the Dhammapada verse no. 130 Statement after statement pours in supporting this position. Every being that has come into existence loves to continue being so and never likes to have its life process terminated : jãvitukàmà and amaritukàmà. Everybody's right to life is essentially the Buddhist principle, shared with the Jains of old, and they both enforced this as the very first one of their code of good living.
Our needs by way of food, clothing and shelter as we live in this world do not justify the destruction either by ourselves personally, or with the intermediary of others, of the lives of any other sentient being. In the world of trade and commerce today, many do the killing for others. Money and profit wise, it looks extremely attractive. Therefore many are driven to it professionally, unmindful of any other considerations. Killing for the market, for food and clothing, is a worldwide capitalist venture of the highest grade. Would the socialists raise a finger against it, the victims being not humans? The exploitation is of the silent dumb community who cannot lay their claims before the world.
Money rules the roost today. Ethics and moral considerations lie far outside the money market and therefore play much less than even the second fiddle. Even political ideologies are subordinated to this larger money attraction. Everybody tries to capture world markets in the so-called less developed countries for their goods. And everybody tries to manufacture something, wholesome or unwholesome, so that they can get the money for their survival.
This is where Buddhism steps in to stipulate as to what are possible forms of trade in a country. They ban the manufacture and sale of weapons of destruction and firearms. Forbidden sales include poison as well. This shows the overall concern for the safety and security of life all round. This total respect for life should be the primary consideration where one comes forward to speak of peace moves in the world. What good does it do for big men to initiate peace moves on world platforms and subversively indulge in illicit sale of fire arms wherever one can trap helpless poor countries, having cleverly manipulated warring situations within them. This definitely is the order of the day and we know it very well, thanks to the world media.
This becomes extremely easy where the pride of killing the enemy for national or religious glory has been popularized as a noble theme, quite often in our misguided society. These promptings for destruction of life, we witness in the world today, more than ever before, in all three areas of 1. ethnic supremacy, 2. religious arrogance and 3. political domination. On paper alone, we speak of fundamental human rights, at national and international levels, but elsewhere endeavour to wipe out everything that is different to our ways of thinking and acting. See in our midst samples of these for yourself.
It is not a day too early in Sri Lanka to get sensitized to these menacing new trends showing themselves up everywhere. Are we, the young and the old, the religious and the less religious, serious about arresting this decay? Do we think it is only the other man's business and leave it alone for him to handle it ? Definitely we are erring in a very serious and disastrous way!
We address these words to everyone. Not only to the Buddhists. We are humans. Let us be essentially human. We have it on record "He prayeth best that loveth best All things both great and small". Others know equally well to chant melodiously the wish or prayer Sabbe sattà bhavantu sukhitattà. In Sri Lanka, we have enough inspiration on all sides to put this concept of love seriously into practice.
As an expression of this, why not turn vegetarian for at least one day in the week? This is Love, much more than in the Valentine way! This is primarily an act of self-discipline, of testing our own strength within, as man or woman. There are enough things to eat, and lovely good things at that. Explore the possibility. Love selflessly, and you will be loved in turn unasked, a great deal more.
Let us turn the Third Millennium as it comes to one of Save All Life in the world.
May all beings be well and happy. May there be peace on earth and goodwill among men.