Academic journal article International Journal of Peace Studies

The Way to Peace: A Buddhist Perspective

Academic journal article International Journal of Peace Studies

The Way to Peace: A Buddhist Perspective

Article excerpt

Abstract

This article provides a survey of the Buddhist vision of peace in the light of peace studies. According to the Buddha's teaching of Dependent Origination, everything, including the psychophysical compound that we call individual, exists only in relation to other beings and things and undergoes constant changes responding and reacting to them. The next section examines the Buddhist perspective on the causes of violence and ways to prevent violence and realize peace. The last section explores the potentials of Buddhist contributions to the peacemaking efforts and the promotion of a culture of peace in today's world. Believing that the root of violence is located within the mind, Buddhism has placed a greater urgency upon inner reflection. With the awakening to the interdependent reality, selfish compulsive responses will be replaced by loving-kindness, compassion, sympathetic joy, and equanimity. On the behavioral level, one practices peace daily by observing the Five Precepts. To prevent in-group disputes, the Buddha teaches the six principles of cordiality in any community. As for inter-group or international affairs, Buddhist scriptures are rift with stories that teach nonviolent intervention. The article concludes the Buddhist worldview is surprisingly in accordance with the insights of peace studies in its process-oriented paradigm, its insistence on peace by peaceful means, and its holistic framework of peace, which would play a vital role in the efforts of bringing the culture of peace into existence around the world.

Introduction

Buddhism has long been celebrated as a religion of peace and non-violence. With its increasing vitality in regions around the world, many people today turn to Buddhism for relief and guidance at the time when peace seems to be a deferred dream more than ever, with the wars in the Middle East and Africa, and the terrorist activities expanding into areas where people never expected that scope of violence before such as Bali, London, and New York. Yet this is never a better time to re-examine the position of Buddhism, among those of other world religions, on peace and violence in the hope that it can be accorded in the global efforts to create new sets of values regarding the ways people manage conflict and maintain peace via nonviolent means.

This article tends to provide a review of the Buddhist vision of peace in the light of peace studies. It also addresses the Buddhist perspective on the causes of violence and ways to prevent violence and to realize peace. The last section explores the potentials of Buddhist contributions to the peacemaking efforts and the promotion of a culture of peace in today's world. Buddhism, having enjoyed a long history and enrichment by generations of people in various traditions, ranges north and south with branches across many cultures and regions. However, a common core of Buddha's teaching and practice is observed in major Buddhist traditions and considered essentials of Buddhism. In this article, the term Buddhism is used to refer to the common core teachings across the current major traditions of Buddhism.

The Concept of Peace in the Buddhist Worldview

Buddhists believe that the Buddha (meaning "the awakened") awakened to the laws of the universe, which are said to be operating eternally, whether the Buddha discovered them or not. The most fundamental among these laws is the law of karma, or, in Buddhist terminology, dependent origination, which explains the genuine condition of things that exist in the universe. In its simplest straightforward form, dependent origination claims that anything (including sentient and insentient beings) can only exist in relation to everything else; if the causes of its existence disappear, then it ceases to exist. Nothing can exist on its own and everything is dependent on other things. All elements, all entities, all phenomena are thus related directly and indirectly to one another in the universe. …

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