We need Bodhisattvas

by JH Low, Bangkok, Thailand, The Buddhist Channel, Jan 16, 2015

I write with regards to your op-ed "Je suis la parole juste" (I am right speech).

I am thankful that this news platform has taken the onus to explain the Paris incident with a Buddhist perspective. I agree with the approach of not using the "middle way" as a literally term in this context, which would have juxtaposed this important teaching of the Buddha as a middle point between two extremes.

The Buddha's middle way is basically an expression of dependent origination (paticcasamupada) which requires us to behave mindfully and one that needs us to act - specifically in this instance with right understanding and right speech. It is a call for skillful action.

Your call to "wade ourselves into these seas of extremity, and to participate calmly in the observation of the rise and ebb of unskillful actions" reminds me of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha, who as we know is one who has vowed not to achieve Buddhahood until all hells are emptied.

Indeed what is the point of mastering Buddha Dharma, if not to use such awakening to heal the pain and suffering of our fellow beings? Anger is pain, frustration is pain, and unmitigated hostility and provocation are all symptoms of suffering.

We do ourselves injustice if we are reactionaries to events, especially when we just place our finger on one issue without truly understanding the depth and breadth of the whole problem.

To have deeper understanding means to be knowledgeable of the issues, which then requires us to have an interest on current events, Buddhist or otherwise.

This also means that it would do a lot of good if we can learn how to mix beyond our own groups. Nothing is more effective than having food and chatter with people who are totally different from ourselves - culturally, ethnically and religiously.

We can simply start right speech and right understanding with ourselves, and with the next available person that we meet. And then we go and seek someone who is not like us, and apply these teachings likewise.

Hopefully, through the wisdom attained from the development of compassionate ties and deeper understanding with one another, we will be able to grasp a more holistic approach to create a fuller, more sustainable solution in human relationship.

After all, whether we like it or not, we are all travelers on this one planet, the only home we have. Why waste our lives by making it a miserable place?
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