Buddhist Philosophy: A Way from Inner Peace to World Peace
Material world and human mind are changing every moment. The formation of a personality and that of the universe are consisting of matter and mind, the difference being that in a personality, mind is prevalent while in the universe matter is the prevalent. Personality consist of five groups (skandhas) –Form (body),perception, conception, volitation and consciousness(mind).The form or body, again, consist of earth, water, fire and mind. Man is, therefore, to be considered as one who has a form, perceives, wills and thinks.
New Delhi, December 26, 2014 (ismatimes) : To established world peace the individual is the key. Man matters most. For society to change for the better the individual has to change. When the entire forest has withered, each tree has to be nurtured – its roots cleared of disease and then watered. Then the entire forests will bloom again. Similarly for the betterment of world each individual has to improve. Consequently the social reformation will be established by acquiring the peace of individual-mind. So we can say the peace of each mind is the source of world peace.
Peace is the essential teaching of Buddhism. As the means of practice, peace cultivated in a person’s mind is a source of an act of peace and a moral deed. Only a peaceful mind can originate a peaceful act. The Buddha’s philosophical teaching encourages a person to keep his/her mind in peace and demand peace from others. Fellowship, amity and peaceful living have been the normal and natural features of Buddha’s teaching.
According to Buddha, all things are impermanent; therefore, attachment to all material possessions is painful. Man should remain detached from them as per as possible. Secondly there is no permanent soul; therefore, man should be selfless and should be selfishness. Karma is universal and man’s action produces the same kind of effects; therefore man should undertake actions which lessen suffering (dukkha) and promote individual and social happiness. Fourthly, there is no god; therefore, men should make their own morality, they are the builders of their own destiny.
Material world and human mind are changing every moment. The formation of a personality and that of the universe are consisting of matter and mind, the difference being that in a personality, mind is prevalent while in the universe matter is the prevalent. Personality consist of five groups (skandhas) –Form (body),perception, conception, volitation and consciousness(mind).The form or body, again, consist of earth, water, fire and mind. Man is, therefore, to be considered as one who has a form, perceives, wills and thinks. These are his action (karmas) which altogether from his personal existence which has no other reality. A man is a temporary entity, and is living in the continuity of momentariness. In order to change his personality for better, the cultivation of his knowledge and wisdom is necessary, because the perfection of wisdom is the perfection of personality (enlightenment). Buddha established a new philosophy which was extremely necessary for the uplift of human being. The mission of Buddha’s philosophy was to secure the good of many and the welfare of many. The Buddha’s basic philosophy is Dependent Origination or Pratityasamutpada.
The three terms: Impermanence or Change (Anityavada), No soul or Insubstantiality (Anattavada) and Suffering or Unsatisfactoriness (Dukkha) are the form of the core of the Buddhist Philosophy. These features (anitya, anatta and dukkha) are common to all life which were first found and formulated by the Buddha, who was rightly called “Knower of the Worlds” (loka-vidu). They are the Three Characteristics (tilakkhana) of all that is conditioned, i.e., dependently arisen.
The Buddha’s philosophy, on the contrary, is anti-theistic, but it is highly ethical. It can be said that god has been replaced here by a man who strictly lives an ethical life. Emphasis on moral actions with a view to earning merit is the hall-mark of all theistic systems philosophy, but to developed intuitive wisdom is the hall-mark of the Buddha’s philosophy. One should not have craving even for developing non-attachment, not even for attaining Nibbana. His concern for man’s happiness is so great that the philosophy he propounds is not speculative. It is not an intellectual exercise ending in futility but it is a pragmatic and realistic philosophy concerned directly with man’s immediate problems and their solution. Buddha’s philosophy comes close to humanism. He asserts that whatever man can ‘comprehend and investigate’ with his pure mind, will be for good. By his pure mind he means a steady human mind free from lobha (greed), dosa (aversion) and moha (ignorance).
His main concern was to eliminate suffering, to find a cure for the pain of human existence. In this respect he has been compared to a physician, and his teaching has been compared to a medical or psychological prescription. Like a physician, he observed the symptoms – the disease that human kind was suffering from; next he gave a diagnosis – the cause of the disease; then he gave the prognosis – it could be cured; finally he gave the prescription – the method by which the condition could be cured. According to Buddha after acquiring the perfect knowledge of his philosophical teachings of dependent origination, Impermanence, no-soul and suffering human beings should follow the ethical path (which he prescribed) for their own and others betterment. So understanding the Buddha’s philosophical teaching is a healing to establish world peace through inner peace.
According to the teachings of the Buddha, life is comparable to a river. It is a progressive moment, a successive series of different moments, joining together to give the impression of one continuous flow. It moves from cause to cause, effect to effect, one point to another, one state of existence to another, giving an outward impression that it is one continuous and unified movement, where as in reality it is not. The river of yesterday is not the same as the river of today. The river of this moment is not going to be the same as the river of the next moment. So does life. It changes continuously, becomes something or the other from moment to moment.
However in reality leave apart the visible and sizeable things of this world, even an atom is not fixed, it is also disintegrates into small fragments and it is continuously changing. It is the nature of every being to produce and disintegrate; this is the law of nature. The child is not the same when he grows up and becomes a young man, nor when the latter turns into an old man. So the impermanence is an undeniable and inescapable fact of human existence from which nothing that belongs to this earth is ever free.
Buddha declares that there are five processes on which no human being has control and which none can ever change. These five processes are namely, the process of growing old, of not falling sick, of dying, of decay of things that are perishable and of the passing away of that which is liable to pass. Even from a scientific point of view this is true. We know cell divisions take place in each living being continuously. Old cells in our bodies die and yield place continuously to the new ones that are forming. Like the waves in a sea, every moment, many thoughts arise and die in each individual. Psychologically and physically he is never the same all the time. Technically speaking, no individual is ever composed of the same amount of energy. He is subject to change and the change is a continuous movement.
Impermanence and change are thus the undeniable truths of our existence. What is real is the existing moment, the present that is a product of the past, or a result of the previous causes and actions. Because of ignorance, an ordinary mind conceives them all to be part of one continuous reality. But in truth they are not.
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by Dr. Priyadarsini Mitra, Assistant Professor, School of Buddhist Studies & Civilization, Gautam Buddha University
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