Friends, for many millenia, ever since we came down from the trees, we humans have been struggling to find a way to achieve a happy life during the few short years that we exist. With few exceptions, we have failed miserably.
We have invented a plethora of religions and a multitude of Gods, a thousand different societal models, political models, economic models, empire models. We have engaged in endless wars and killing and slavery and oppression. As well we have indulged in gluttony, drugs, alcohol, pornography, sexual deviation, sadism, etc. All of them have come to naught. People, much of the time, are anxious, stressed, afraid and unhappy (much as they have always been).
The current world, led by America, is ready to explode into a nuclear war which will surely bring to an end humankind's brief, tumultuous period on earth. There is also the spectre of global warming and large-scale, irreversible poisoning of the land, the air and the soil.
There is a way to stop the inevitable end of human civilization caused by our consuming materialism, our self-destructive madness. I believe that if we, individually, fused together the philosophical thoughts of Buddha and the non-violent civil resistance of Gandhi we would eventually end up on a path that will lead us to peace! Let me explain.
Buddha, who was a Prince, renounced all the trappings of great wealth and social position and sought the truth about the world he lived in. Between the ages of 29 and 35 he thought, he meditated, he fasted, and lived frugally. At the end of this period, under a Bodhi tree, he experienced enlightenment (enlightenment simply means that he worked out how to achieve internal harmony and peace despite the constant difficulties and vagaries provided by nature and other humans). With enlightenment came personal happiness, peace, wisdom and love for his fellow man (note that, after his death, his followers added bits and pieces of religion to his philosophy!).
You can read about his life for yourself (don't be thrown by all the big foreign words) but, briefly, his simple philosophy is based upon the following:
Self has to be demoted to a position of insignificance. Logically, you cannot have a unified, peaceful world if everyone is preoccupied with themselves and working purely to advantage themselves. Look at the insects. They work together to ensure the species survives.
Religion, which is based entirely on unscientific hocus-pocus, has to be superseded by rationality, by relating honestly both to the real world and life and accepting their limitations. Believing in silly superstitions and fantasies is basic to primitive peoples. We are supposed to be intelligent and educated and rational.
Then all forms of life have to be valued and killing avoided all together or limited. Resultantly, many Buddhists are vegetarians. Reverence for life itself is one of the basic Buddhist beliefs and explains why they are pacifists.
Then the negative things which are the main drivers of our current world: conceit, arrogance, greed, lust, envy, nationalism, imperialism, religious bigotry and racism have to be seen for what they are and become thoroughly despised by everyone (as they have been at various times in the past). To do this, like Buddha, we first have to get rid of negative, divisive attitudes and traits like these from within ourselves.
We can do this using meditation. Meditation is important. It gives you time out from the world, temporarily takes away its hurts, allows you to self-heal, to stop the constant tumult in your mind, to put things in perspective, to see what's important, to discover truth. Using meditation, we can gradually replace each negative within us with a positive. Fill your mind with noble ideas and ideals: honesty, caring, sharing, loyalty, generosity, selflessness, simplicity and humbleness. These values must once again become prized and those who excel in them highly esteemed.
Once we have conquered ourselves, then we can help others. Remember, people have always followed leaders! You can become a force that helps the world towards peace.
Gandhi showed that real change can be brought about by patient pacifism. He freed his country, not by force of arms, but by non-violent civil disobedience. He shamed the militarily powerful British into submission, forced them to free his country and his people. Passive resistance became his weapon. It beat guns.
Combining the important contributions of these visionaries, if treated seriously, will eventually result in the spread of peace, equality and happiness. Let's change direction, try something different before it's too late! Buddha showed that inner peace leads to peace between people. Gandhi showed that simplicity and pacifism can defeat the mightiest empire.
Hopefully it's not too late to try another way, an already proven way! Let's start now before it's too late.
First we need to change ourselves. Then we, the enlightened ones, can lead the world towards peace!