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The Buddha said, ‘War cannot bring Peace’.

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By Sanjoo Thangjam
War is a violent conflict between states. Though the word is used to describe other types of conflict – civil war, class war, etc. – war is an aspect of politics. Much of man’s oral and written records, perhaps as much as of it as it devoted to any other human beings, deal with war. Groups of men used their hunting weapons against other men long before the dawn of history. For centuries man regarded war as an inevitable part of his fate, like his struggles with the weather, disease or the mysterious ocean.
One of the greatest novelists, Leo Tolstoy (1828- 1990) wrote War and Peace in 1885 to exemplify the individual’s fate by submissively performing the cruel, gloomy, irksome and in human role assigned to him by destiny. There has not been and never will be the real happiness in the world, without peace.
Buddhism above all, teaches the law of cause and effect. Peace is no exception. Peace comes primarily by the absence of war; it is a result, an end, not an instrument. It does not come by mere wistfulness or prayer. It has to be obtained by effort, by weaving the principles of righteousness into the whole fabric of human relationships.
The opposite of peace is conflict or war, which according to the Buddha, is the cause of all our happiness.
War is the result of tension, which is of various kinds. There are international tensions, some of which come down to us as historic legacies. We have also economic tension between the haves and have-nots. These manifold and tensions create fear, suspicion, hatred and vindictiveness.
A man’s individual life, circumstances and world are a reflection of his own thoughts and beliefs. All men are mirrors reflecting according to their own surface. All men, looking into the mirror, which gives back their own reflection.
It was R.L. Stevenson who once said:
“There is so much good in the worst of us, And so much bad in the best of us,
That it ill-behooves anyone of us,” Even a rose has flaws. But why examine the flaws when you can appreciate its duty?
Bolton once remarked:
I looked at my Brother with the Microscope of Criticism,
And I said: “How coarse my Brother is!”
I looked at him through the Telescope of Scorn,
And I said: “How small my brother is!”
Then I looked in the Mirror of Truth,
And I said: “How like me my Brother is.”
Each individual lives in an individual world of his own creation. Man is false and deceitful, not merely in relation to others, but to himself as well. The remarkable thing about man is that he often deceives himself. “As we think, so we act.”
“Since it is in the minds of men that wars are created, it is in the minds of men that the fortresses of peace must be erected.”
This preamble to the UNESCO Charter reminds us that war begins in the mind of men. The Buddha made the same remark, many centuries earlier which is enshrined, in the first verse of the Dharmapada. In fact, he went much further than that; declared that all things good and bad have their origin in the mind.
The age old myth that many people believed for thousands of years that God or the devil can destroy this world is refuted by the realisation that man is the only person who puts the world in flames and can eliminate the whole mankind from the earth. However, still there are people on this earth who can sane enough to understand the danger that mankind is facing today.
Those so-called leaders in the battlefield do not realise that great conquerors of the world vanished in the course of time. There is none to shed a tear at their death.
But the great people who have conquered hearts through kindness and compassion continue to live in the minds of people and honoured as great conquerors. Some cruel leaders, who tried to achieve the aim of their lives by destroying millions of innocent people and creating disasters, never succeeded in the end.
Dr. Johan Galtung, the world – renowned authority on peace studies, has said, “Just because there is no war does not mean there is peace. Equating peace with the lack of war is like pronouncing a person healthy because there are no visible superficial signs of illness.”
Some people argue that conflict and war cannot be avoided because they are expressions of human nature. It is realistic enough to realise that it would be foolhardy to sit down and to do nothing when aggressions are brutally destroying innocent lives on the basis of unrealistic and unfounded claims, but we must always bear in mind that war is at best a last resort to maintain peace. It cannot be denied that many wars being fought today are on the work of charismatic but unscrupulous leaders out to serve their own ends. They manipulate their followers to fight on their behalf, to go against the legitimate interests of the majority.
The  writer is a lay Buddhist. He can be reached at [email protected]

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