I find it interesting that we live in (an American) society that is more interested in whether the newest phone (phablet) on the market bends in our “tight” pants (we label these events "bendgate" or "bendghazi" trying to make them more meaningful than they are), or whether the President saluted with a coffee cup, or a Scottish terrier in his hand, than the issue of us now bombing a country (in fact several countries) because of a few bad seeds that have managed to garner media attention. It would be interesting to note that no president prior to Ronald Reagan ever saluted uniformed military personnel. I learned, while in Basic Training (also prior to that 3 years in JrROTC) that you never salute in civilian clothes or without a hat (cover) on your head.
We do not and cannot have enough intelligence to just destroy “enemy” targets with our "brand new, never been used before F-22 Fighters carrying weapons that will have to be replenished by companies that show huge profits based upon American Government contracts." We will, as we always do kill innocent people, and justify it as "collateral damage" on all of the "for profit New Agencies" in America. We continually create scary enemies out of those cultures, religions and societies that we do not understand. We justify our killing as a protection of our lives or our sovereignty, yet we destroy women, children and innocents in these acts or war (terror) and wonder why so much of the world hates us.
It seems that divisiveness and vitriol have become commonplace in our society and this is spreading throughout the world. With global warming, continuous wars, starvation in the midst of over-consumption that this is some of what Buddha was pointing to and tried to teach his entire life. It seems the gap between rich and poor, social bullying, rumors of future wars, and a lack of mutual respect for our fellow human beings has left us at an interesting pivot point in human evolution. Therefore, what is the core of the problem and how do we suppose we can move forward in a compassionate and loving way.
My idea is correct! These words are still reverberating, with the operatic bravado of Zen Master Seung Sahn’s deep baritone voice, and rattling around somewhere within my eighth level of consciousness. This simple statement, as with many of the euphemisms that somehow found their way into the minds of students lucky enough to have studied with this great Bodhisattva from Korea, is an extremely powerful insight into the rampant global malady of the twenty–first century. Zen Master Seung Sahn would often return to this point repeatedly; sometimes it was during public talks, and other times it was during one of the many kong’an interviews that I was lucky enough to have with him. However, there was one particular morning that a group of us were lounging around in the living room after breakfast at Dharma Zen Center in Los Angeles.
Someone in the group asked, “If dharma is the truth, why can’t we just make people understand this truth, it has always seemed to me that we should not have wars and should not be killing people, yet it seems that the problems keep getting worse. Why can't you just tell the Pope and the other world religious leaders to follow the truth or the dharma?” Zen Master Seung Sahn answered the question in this way,
“It is quite common to hear people say that their own beliefs are correct, and that any other belief structures cannot be correct because there is only one true belief structure and that is the one that I adhere to! Some may even go so far as to say that if you do not believe the same thing as I believe, I will kill you! Today this is humanity’s number one problem. However, earlier you asked me what we can do about this problem. This morning I woke up at four thirty and bowed, and chanted and sat meditation. However, many of you believe that this is not enough?
Frequently I lecture on the Buddhadharma, yet the true Buddhadharma is not Buddhadharma, also, neither the sun, nor the moon, nor the star ever said, ‘I am the sun, I am the moon, I am the star.’ Likewise, Śākyamuni Buddha never said, ‘I am the Buddha;’ nor did God ever say, ‘I am God.’ The true God, just like the true Buddha has no name. Additionally, the true sun, the true moon, and the true star also have no name. All names are created by mind alone; these are names like Buddhadharma, truth, and Christ Consciousness. The only true Buddhadharma is no Buddhadharma and the ultimate truth is no truth. The true Christ Consciousness is also no Christ Consciousness, but you must watch out! If you create Buddhadharma then you will have Buddhadharma; and if you make Christ Consciousness, you will have Christ Consciousness. Nevertheless, if you cut off all thinking, and then everything in this cosmos and you will become one.
In addition, if you attach to some idea, then you only have some idea, and you lose everything in the cosmos. If you relinquish every idea of your own, then you already have everything in the universe. This means that you must, throw away Dharma, Buddha, and God, and you must also throw away your understanding. If you can do this you will then realize the true Dharma, the true Buddha, true nature, and true substance.
Once you realize this, then everything you see, everything you hear, and everything you smell, is Dharma, Buddha, and truth. If your mind perceives the correct Buddhadharma, then everything is the correct Buddhadharma. If your mind perceives the truth, then everything is the truth. If your path is correct, then everything is the correct path. This is Buddha’s teaching, that everything is made by the mind alone. However, how do you just now, moment to moment, keep your correct situation, function and relationship? This is the point. So if you make your idea completely disappear, then everything you see, everything you hear, and everything you do, all is Buddhadharma.”
I’d like to share a poem (or prose if you will) written by Coleman Barks who is the Poet Lauriat of Jellaudin Rumi. This poem was written just before President George W. Bush engaged our country in the second Iraq/Afghanistan war. I don’t think many of you read this but after years of bloodshed, death and destruction, I just thought I’d share it with you all.
I do not think what I have said is right or somehow should be used to put others down, I only wish to follow Śakyamuni Buddha’s aspiration of doing no harm.
From Coleman Barks, the translator of Rumi, to President Bush:
“Just This Once President Bush, before you order air strikes, imagine the
first cruise missile as a direct hit on your closest friend. That might be
Laura. Then twenty-five other family and friends. There are no survivors.
Now imagine some other way to do it. Quadruple the inspectors, or put a
thousand and one U.N. people in. Then call for peace activists to volunteer
to go to Iraq for two weeks each. Flood that country with well-meaning
tourists, people curious about the land that produced the great saints,
Gilani, Hallaj, and Rabia. Set up hostels near those tombs. Encourage peace
people to spend a bunch of money in shops, to bring rugs home and samovars
by the bushel. Send an Arabic translator with every four peace activists.
The U.S. government will pay for the translators and for building and
staffing the hostels, one hostel for every twenty activists and five
translators. The hostels are state of the art, and they belong to the Iraqis
at the end of this experiment.
Jimmy Carter, Nelson Mandela, and my friend, Jonathan Granoff at the U.N.,
will be the core organization team. No one knows what might come of this.
Maybe nothing, or maybe it would convince some Iraqis and some of the world
that we really do not wish to kill anybody, and that we truly are not out to
appropriate oil reserves. We're working on building a hydrogen vehicle as
fast as we can, aren't we? Put no limit on the number of activists from all
over who might want to hang out and explore Iraq for two weeks. Is anything
left of Babylon? There could be informal courses for college credit and
pickup soccer games every evening at five. Long leisurely suppers. The U. S.
government furnishes air transportation, that is, hires airliners from the
country of origin and back for each peace tourist, who must carry and spend
the equivalent of $1001 US inside Iraq. Keep part of the invasion force
nearby as police, but let those who claim to deeply detest war try something
else just this once, for one year. Call our bluff. If this madman Saddam's
WMD threat is not, somehow, eliminated by next February, you can go in with
special ops, and do it that way.
Medical services, transportation inside Iraq, lots of big colorful
buses--let the pilgrims paint them!—along with many other ideas that will
be thought of later during the course of this innocently, blatantly, foolish
project will all also be funded by the U.S. government.
There's a practice known as sama, a deep listening to poetry and music, with
sometimes movement involved. We could experiment with whole nights of that,
staying up until dawn, sleeping in tents during the day. So instead of war
there's a peace period from March 2003 through February 2004. It could be as
though war had already happened, as it has, and the healing and rebuilding.
Now we're in the celebration afterward. I'll be the first to volunteer for
two weeks of wandering winter desert and reading Hallaj, Abdul Qadir Gilani,
dear Rabia, and the life-saving 1001 Arabian Nights.
I am Coleman Barks, a retired English professor living in Athens, Georgia,
and I don't really consider this proposal foolish.