At the outset I wish to thank the German Buddhist Union for inviting me to speak at their Annual Congress. I am delighted that more than 50 Buddhist organizations from different Buddhist traditions are participating at this Congress in Wuppertal. The theme you have selected, namely, “Inner Peace – Outer Peace” is very timely as we are living in a world in which humans are confused, disturbed and are suffering from inner as well as outer conflicts. Unless inner peace is firmly established we can never think of a world without external conflicts. This is exactly what the Buddha taught us 2600 years ago.
Manasa ce padutthena
Bhasati va karoti va
Tato nam dukkamanveti
Cakkam va vahato padam”
The meaning of this Pali stanza is:
“Mind is the forerunner of (all evil) states. Mind is chief; mind-made are they. If one speaks or acts with wicked mind, because of that, suffering follows one, even as the wheel follows the hoof of the draught-ox.
Then the Exalted One continues with a second stanza:
Manasa ce pasannena
Bhasati va karoti va
Tato nam sukhamanveti
chaya va anapayini “.
Which means –
“Mind is the forerunner of (all good) states. Mind is chief; mind-made are they. If one speaks or acts with pure mind, because of that, happiness follows one, even as one’s shadow that never leaves”.
The lesson we learn from this teaching is that if we can put our mental faculties right then everything else in the world would be put right.
The Chairman of the Organizing Committee, Rev. Heinz-Jurgen Metzger, asked me to speak about the Sarvodaya Movement in Sri Lanka where we are trying to build both inner peace and outer peace based on the Teachings of the Buddha.
Sarvodaya is a word coined by Mahatma Gandhi meaning the well being of all. He combined two Sanskrit words Sarvam meaning ‘all’ and Udayam meaning ‘well-being’ and coined the compound word Sarvodaya. After independence in India he expected for people to realize a social order, which would work for the well being of all rather than for the well being of a minority or a majority. In the development process he wanted the lowest, lowliest and the lost in society to benefit equally as any others.
AWAKEN AL BY SHARING
When we in Sri Lanka started a Movement in 1950s to work for the well being of all by sharing our time, thoughts, efforts, knowledge and other resources to build a society that works for all we first called that Movement the Shramadana Movement which literally meant a movement for sharing to bring about the well being all. Subsequently, to give a philosophical meaning to what we were doing we adopted the word Sarvodaya which Gandhiji had coined and gave it the Buddhist interpretation of “Awakening of All”.
The Buddha means the Supremely Awakened One. Following the teachings of the Buddha all human beings can attain a state of full enlightenment. We attempted to translate this lofty ideal of the awakening of all into practice taking the teachings of the Buddha as found in our traditional scriptures. Therefore, Sarvodaya Shramadana Movement in Sri Lanka can also be described as an attempt to practice Buddha’s teachings in the fields of development, welfare and social transformation. Some call this Engaged Buddhism.
In Buddhist teachings we are asked to work for the removal of Physical suffering, Fear and Mental suffering of all sentient beings.
Dukkappththa ca Niddukkha
Bhayappatha ca Nibbhaya
Sokappaththa ca Nissoka
Honthu Sabbepi Panino
May those who suffer physically overcome that suffering
May those who suffer from fear overcome fear
May those who suffer from mental pains overcome them
May all sentient beings be well and happy
If we are to realize Bodhi or the highest level of intelligence (or Buddhi) that any human mind has the capacity to attain, we have to serve all living beings and help them to overcome physical, mental and emotional suffering. This truly is the Bhodisatva ideal. This is our supreme goal and it may also be called the total personality awakening. We can never attain this goal only by acquiring knowledge, but we have to follow a process of purifying our mind and giving up of the defilements we have acquired in our sansaric journey of numerous births and deaths. Because of these defilements deep within our minds we have developed a conceit of self which can only be destroyed by progressively cultivating selflessness (Dana), morality (Sila) and meditation (Bhavana). Morality or Sila, Concentration of mind or Samadhi through Bhavana help us to develop wisdom or Panna which helps us to understand the reality of the life within us, the society in which we live and the living and non-living environment around us. Such a development of wisdom will ultimately lead us to live with peace in our minds, in our societies and in our environment.
A HOLISTIC APPROACH
We started the Sarvodaya Movement in 1958 appealing people to come forward and gift whatever they can, their labour, their lands, their skills, their wealth etc. to alleviate the suffering of the poorest and the powerless people living in our rural and urban communities. Harnessing these resources which people were voluntarily prepared to sacrifice for the well being of the less fortunate we were able to construct wells to provide drinking water, irrigation tanks and canals to provide water for the cultivation of lands to produce food, shelter for people who had no houses to live, access roads to villages, community centres, schools and such other community facilities in education and health care. In other words, depending on self-reliance and community participation on the part of the people the Sarvodaya Movement initiated a scientific and integrated community development programme, which would benefit people through their own participation as well as from beneficence (dana) on the part of others who were ready to give them a helping hand.
It is this Movement that progressively expanded into a countrywide people’s movement of national revival based on the values of Buddhism. We were inspired by the examples set by good ancient kings who followed the Buddha Dhamma to build what they called at that time a land of economic prosperity (Dhanyagara) and spiritual richness (Dharmadvipa), an island of righteousness. Today, after 45 years of ups and downs we have become the strongest people’s organization for national revival based on Buddhist values. We operate in more than 15,000 villages of Sri Lanka, which is more than half the number of village communities in the country. These villages have both Buddhist and non-Buddhist people with whom Sarvodaya work in greater understanding and harmony.
We work in six integrated sectors, namely, spiritual, moral, cultural, social, economic and political. We try to show that we can build an alternative society based on the teachings of the Buddha as applicable to the challenges of the 21st century. At the same time we have succeeded in developing programmes at six levels, namely, personality awakening, family awakening, rural community awakening, urban community awakening, national awakening and global awakening. It is our belief that the concept of Bodhi that is the highest awakening of the human mind or the human society can be realized if we work diligently with these objectives in mind. All we are trying to do is to demonstrate to the best our ability that this can be done in the present confused and disturbed world if we rightly understand and interpret the Buddha’s teachings and translate them into practice.
INDIVIDUAL AND GROUP AWAKENING
When a human being participates in any of the Sarvodaya activities, we stress that his or her primary objective should be to practice four principles of Personality Awakening, which the Buddha has taught us. The first principle is Loving Kindness (Metta) towards all beings. The Buddha in the Discourse on Loving Kindness (Karaniya Metta Sutra) has taught us the importance of respecting and preserving all sentient beings. From one celled living beings to the most evolved of living beings such as the humans friendliness and respect have to be extended. Therefore, anybody joining the Sarvodaya Movement is a person who accepts the principle not to destroy sentient beings, but to protect all life.
This thought of Loving Kindness or Metta is translated into Compassionate Action (Karuna) by undertaking physical or mental activities to alleviate the suffering of humans and other sentient beings, whether it is by digging wells or building schools or helping the sick or educating the children or improving the economic life of all people or teaching the Dhamma to improve their spiritual life. All these actions are expressions of compassion. Such a human being invariably gets the maximum mental impact from such meritorious deeds in the form of dispassionate or Altruistic Joy (Muditha). When over a period of time human actions are guided by these three principles of Metta, Karuna and Muditha, such a person can progressively develop a state of mind which does not get disturbed by loss or gain, name or blame, success or failure. This stable state of mind is called equanimity (Upekkha). Thus in a very simplified way Sarvodaya provides four guiding principles for those who volunteer to work for the awakening of all. In trying to help to awaken all one awakens one self simultaneously.
When large groups of people get together in communitarian work they are guided by the four Buddhist principles of Sharing (Dana), Pleasant Language (Priya Vacana), Constructive Activity (Artha Carya) and Equality (Samanathmatha). So, in the Sarvodaya Movement, in their daily life people are imbibed with these eight principles, which become a part of their daily personal and social conduct. This means that a culture of non-violence is inculcated in the community by direct and constructive activities, which benefit the people as a whole.
The 15,000 Sarvodaya villages where we are working do not exist in isolation from other communities. Sarvodaya villages as well as others are conflict-ridden. They may be due to economic, social, political, linguistic, religious or racial divisions.
SPIRITUAL, MORAL AND CULTURAL AWAKENING
Without emphasizing on these divisive elements we emphasize on commonalities. In our development education programmes we teach community leaders to identify the Basic Needs in their villages and train them in methods, techniques and skills to satisfy these needs physically with their own endeavours. Similarly, these leaders are educated in principles of Human Rights and Responsibilities so that in their own communities universally acknowledged humanitarian principles can be cultivated. In other words without any outsider advocating how they should act, they themselves awaken to their needs, rights and responsibilities. This is a difficult process in a world where politically and economically privileged groups try to impose their will on the people. But in the villages where we are working we have demonstrated that people, however much they are poor and powerless, have the potential to overcome their poverty and powerlessness if they diligently follow the teachings of the Buddha. “You are your own salvation” (Atthahi Atthanonatho).
I should explain briefly what I mean by spiritual, a moral and cultural foundation of our work is. Without a psychological and cultural infrastructure where these three elements are strongly bound together we do not believe that any worthwhile, non-violent and constructive social, economic or political progress is possible. By spiritual awakening we mean the purification of the human mind from greed, ill will and illusions.
If I may quote a well-known Sri Lankan Buddhist scholar, Mr Bogoda Premaratne –
“Mind is regarded as the seat of consciousness that brings to light all perceptions of things, feelings, thoughts and volitions. Buddha teaches that what we call mind or a “citta” is only a union between a perception gained through the senses and a feeling generated in the heart (Sanna ca Vedana). Thus the mind is what coordinates the functions of the heart and the head. Mind prepares all programmes out of the raw material or data brought in by the sense organs of the head and the body, always, invariably, mixed with a component of feeling generated by the heart. It is the mind that thinks, imagines, forms concepts, ideas, ideologies, opinions and views. The intelligence of the mind can be employed both for good and evil”
The essence of spiritual awakening is purifying the impurities in our consciousness which builds an egotism or self-conceit in us which we identify as “I – mine and – myself”. All our cravings for power, position, status, wealth etc originate from this egotism. Living with others with similar egotistic tendencies naturally brings about competition, ill will, hatred and finally violent inter personal conflicts. When a person goes through a spiritual awakening process these egotistic tendencies are reduced and their inter personal relationships become more healthy. By moral awakening we mean such friendly relationships, which bring about cooperation among human groups and societies. When all the thoughts, words, actions, art and architecture, music, drama, singing and life patterns and so on are taken as a whole we call it a culture. With improved spiritual and moral life the culture itself becomes healthy and non-violent. In our work we emphasize the building up of a spiritual, moral and cultural infrastructure as a pre-requisite for building social, economic and political structures, which would lead to peaceful and progressive societies.
There are innumerable discourses preached by the Buddha like the Maha Mangala Sutra (The Great Discourse of Success Generators) and Para Bhava Sutra (Discourse on the Conduct of people that leads to Degeneration and Suffering in Human and Social Life). Similarly, Singalovada Sutra, which teaches us the kind of relationships we should have between husband and wife, parents and children, employers and employees, teachers and students and friends, provides us with plenty of Buddha’s teachings to improve our social relationships. There is also such a wealth of teachings pertaining to education, health, environment, politics and economic life relevant to the present times. In the Sarvodaya Movement we are attempting to apply these teachings for the improvement of family, community and national life.
INVOLVING ALL AGE GROUPS
In the Sarvodaya Movement we pay great attention to design programmes for various age groups. For example there is a programme for pre-natal childhood. In this programme which is conducted voluntarily by a consultant gynecologist and an experienced meditation teacher at Vishva Niketan, which is the Sarvodaya Centre for Universal Peace and Meditation, pregnant mothers and their husbands are being taught to communicate with the unborn through ancient practices and meditation for healthy development of the unborn. Similarly special programmes are conducted for children of pre-school going age, school children, adolescents, young adults and grown up people. At the village community level there are formations of children, youth, women, farmers and others, all of whom are related to basic human need satisfaction programmes as well as to training in human rights and responsibilities. To train the trainers for our villages we have established 8 Development Education Institutes, which are, assisted by 34-district level and 345 divisional level Sarvodaya Centres.
Having continuously developed this movement over a period of five decades I believe it is appropriate for me to make certain remarks taking the country as a whole as to the influence of Sarvodaya philosophy, principles and its activities. Statistically over 70% of people in Sri Lanka are said to profess Buddhism. There is hardly any place in the country where ancient Buddhist monuments or monasteries are not found. There are over 36,000 Buddhist monks attending to the religious needs of people today. Religious ceremonies and activities are going on continuously. The teachings of the Buddha are found in its most pristine form in Dhamma texts. Even non-Buddhist layman and politicians liberally quote chapter and verse from the Buddha’s words in their public utterances. When one sees and hears all this, one gets the impression or I would say the illusion that Sri Lanka is a Buddhist country.
To my mind, to call Sri Lanka a Buddhist country and then to put the blame for every kind of immoral act or incident of violence or denial of human rights, on Buddhists is not fair. Even though historically and culturally Sri Lanka may claim to be Buddhist, in my opinion, certainly the way political and economic structures are instituted and managed today can hardly be called Buddhist either in precept or practice. We have simply implanted social, economic and political systems borrowed from the imperial powers who dominated us for nearly five centuries. Sarvodaya is trying to go back to our roots and values and try to rebuild an alternative social structure, which we can call our own.
FOUR EVILS AND POLITICS
Let me have a look at the political structure. It is based on the so-called party system, which has been adopted from the west. Political parties in practice promote, what is called in Buddhism the four defilements, namely, chanda, dvesha, bhaya and moha. By chanda we mean the bringing about of alienation between one another in the minds of the people. The existing caste, linguistic, racial, communal or other differences are surreptitiously and sometimes openly used by political parties to promote their own self-interest, instead of promoting compassion and the idea of well-being of all in the minds of people. Therefore, the political parties hold a notorious record for promoting alienation among the people of Sri Lanka.
Dvesha is ill will, which is the direct result of the aforementioned alienation. Organized gossip, rumours, falsehoods and so on supplement various kinds of apparently democratic, political and economic propaganda, carried out by most of the leaders of political parties. While the political elite may have a common understanding of the game they play according to their own rules, the unwary ordinary people fall prey to their machinations and develop longstanding enmities and irreconcilable conflicts. This explains the origin of a lot of the violent confrontations we witnessed in Sri Lanka during the last six decades.
The third characteristic, bhaya, is fear. In post- independent Sri Lanka while an unjust, unhealthy and a borrowed party political system was kept going for the benefit of a small class of people, to whatever party they belonged, mutual suspicion and fear among common people also kept gathering momentum. The so-called 1983 “communal” violence was promoted by a handful of politically powerful people who were in a microscopic minority. Yet, they were able to rouse this spirit of mutual fear in most people and they kept them away from any constructive intervention to prevent the escalation of that violence.
Of course there was a negative kind of intervention on the part of some educated people, interventions in the form of scholarly analyses based on a hoard of statistical data and historical facts. I call this mostly negative intervention because they did not affect in any way the thinking of either the man on the street or our structurally violent political and economic structure that promoted the situation of disharmony and conflict. In other words, philosophizing that does not touch the basic roots of mental defilements and a social remedy resulting from them. In Buddhist terminology, this is simply called moha or ignorance. When ignorance becomes organized, and one calls it social science, it is a disaster for communities who have a right to expect more positive interventions from the more educated sectors. We saw a situation for twenty years in Sri Lanka of different groups holding onto their own uncompromising positions while the sound of guns and explosions continued to be heard.
A NEW ECONOMIC ORDER
The economic goals, structures and processes that are officially promoted are not, in my opinion, conducive to building peace in a Buddhist way. Promoting consumerism is one extreme, which Lord Buddha rejected as Kamasukhallikanuyoga (Excessive indulgence in the satisfaction of five sebnes). Since independence the country has been drawing away from the Middle Path which is neither self-indulgence nor self-mortification. Four hundred and fifty years of western influence and rule, the deliberate promotion of the materialistic way of life and the existence of a small elite group who have achieved that affluent level, have made the general population also aspire to achieve material prosperity as their sole aim in life. But few succeed. Most end up in a situation worse than they were in before. With the introduction of the so-called free market economy during the last two decades and with plenty of imported consumer goods floating around, everyone is bent on making quick money to acquire these non-essentials. Malnutrition is on the increase; crime is on the increase; the cost of living is skyrocketing and bribery and corruption have taken unprecedented proportions.
When any kind of social unrest sets in, there are small gangs of undisciplined people who take advantage of the situation. These are mostly teenagers who have had no proper schooling or education in cultural values. But the advertising media have conditioned their minds to desire various material things. They go on a rampage of looting and arson at the slightest opportunity. This is what happened in July 1983 in many places in Sri Lanka. Some young people looted television sets from shops and only after taking them home to their shanty dwellings did they realize that they had neither electricity nor a place to keep them. Then they smashed them on the ground. This kind of psychological reaction is a clear example of the frustrations developed in people who see a consumerist society around them, but are denied the opportunities to be a part of it.
So the economic environment is not conducive to the mental peace and contentment of individuals and communities when it is supported by a vicious power- oriented political system. In a Buddhist society, neither political nor economic activities promoted by the State should contradict the Teachings of the Buddha. Furthermore, in both these fields of human activity there are teachings that can guide a state dedicated to following the teachings of the Buddha. Primarily a Buddhist has to abstain from killing, stealing, committing adultery, lying and consuming intoxicants. When all five injunctions are formally promoted directly or indirectly by the State it is far from building a Buddhist economy. When speaking of economic development, Lord Buddha not only stressed the importance of increased efficiency in production (Uttana Sampada), but also the importance of the protection of resources and the environment (Arakkha Sampada), a friendly social milieu in which economic activities should take place (Kalyana Mittata) and a wholesome lifestyle towards which all the economic activities are directed (Sama Jeevakata).
Production and consumption do not constitute the totality of life and society. They are the material foundation on which higher objectives pertaining to human life and culture are to be attained. The way in which production, distribution, consumption, technology, and marketing are carried out determines whether these higher objectives are promoted or hampered. The economy in Sri Lanka makes it very difficult to realize these higher aspirations. The lack of a spiritual balance is resulting in widespread ecological and environmental problems, which in turn affect the thinking and conduct of human beings.
Since Nineteen Eighties Sarvodaya is trying out its own economic development methods in villages. Already in over 5000 of the 15000 villages where Sarvodaya is active Sarvodaya Economic Enterprises Development Services (SEEDS) are tried out. Based on the Buddhist economic principles these activities are conducted in agriculture, small industries and services. Savings and credit programmes, Enterprise Development and needed Technical training are provided through SEEDS which is an independent legal entity of the Sarvodaya Movement. Nearly 900 Sarvodaya Village Development Banks also have been established and these are fully owned and operated by incorporated village societies. These banks provide the much needed capital for the people for their economic activities. We have named this kind of economic philosophy on which our economic activities are based Artha Dharma Vidya meaning An Economic Science with Buddhist Ethical Foundations.
In the political field without getting involved in party and power politics the Sarvodaya Movement is promoting an alternative kind of direct political participation by the people. This is an attempt to build self-governing village communities. This we call Grama Swarajya or Village Self Governance. During the time of the Buddha there were such village republics such as those of Lichchavis and Vajjins. We were inspired by both these political units which Buddha himself praised as well as Gandiji’s teachings where he conceived Grama Swarajya as the most democratic form of governance for the people. We have opened a Grama Swarajya School and have started conducting course for village leaders.
For the last five decades Sarvodaya has been in the forefront to bring about peace and harmony in the country. The Sarvodaya approach to peacemaking is twofold. Firstly, the movement tries to re-establish a value system while promoting technologies and structures that would lead to a sustainable society. Secondly, the Movement addresses itself to the problems that need immediate attention even though their origin is in the present arrangement of the political, economic and social structure of our society. The latter programme is something like bringing relief, rehabilitation and reconciliation to people who have been affected by violence. The former is an attempt to remove the causes that have brought about the present state of unrest
It is appropriate to mention here, briefly, the technique of community meditation that the members of the Sarvodaya Movement practice. It has five steps. Firstly, relaxing of the body with the mind; Secondly, maintaining attention at the tip of the nostrils while observing the breathing in and out; Thirdly, expressing loving kindness towards one’s body and mind and progressively extending it towards the near and dear ones and then to all others including the ones who are disliked; Fourthly, attempting to link up with other human beings and those who live in other planes of existence who practice similar forms of universal loving kindness; Fifthly, directing all the thought energies consciously towards justice and world peace.
During the last two decades Sarvodaya has conducted over 150 mass meditation programmes in different parts of the country in each of which from 3,000 people to 650,000 people have participated. In all nearly 2.7 million people participated in these mass meditations. We strongly believe the influence we made in the consciousness of the people towards non-violence and loving kindness has made its impact on the conflicting parties, which has today brought about a ceasefire. We continue this meditational exercise almost every day in some place in the country and also on a mass scale at least once a month. Unless we create a critical mass of spiritual consciousness in our society as a whole we will not be able to build lasting peace. The transformation of consciousness, the economy and the power structure, we believe, are the three components that have to be simultaneously promoted to realize a state of lasting peace in our country.
In Sri Lanka all the citizens in the past 23 years became victims directly or indirectly of the on going conflict. The most violent communal conflict ever, occurred in July 1983. Within twenty-four hours, Sarvodaya went into action facing all the risks involved in the general atmosphere of insane violence. There were neither organizations nor leaders, official or otherwise, who had the courage to publicly condemn the violence and to call for sanity during the critical days following the violence, except for the leadership of the Sarvodaya Movement. It was with their open commitment amidst threats from extremists that they opened the first refugee camps for affected Tamils, encouraged and supported government ministries to come out and help the victims, and even toured the whole country including the North and the East to render relief and to appeal for sanity so that further escalation of violence could be prevented. This commitment and sacrifice would never have been possible if it were not for the holistic approach that the Movement had been building during the preceding two and a half decades.
The two months that followed the July 1983 violence was a tense period and even the best of friends among Sinhalese and Tamils abstained from openly mixing together. But Sarvodaya workers in all parts of the country openly went about their work together without any racial differences and they contributed in an immeasurable manner to allay the mutual fears. In 1983 August itself, at the Sarvodaya Headquarters, the first public meeting on the communal violence to be covered by the media was held. This was followed by a historic conference held on the first and second of October 1983 at the Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall in Colombo. Attendance was nearly two thousand civic leaders of all races, dignitaries of all religions including the Mahanayakes of all Buddhist Sects. A historic document titled “A People’s Declaration for Mutual Peace and Harmony” was discussed and adopted unanimously. All present became signatories to this document. The recommendations in that document became the peace programme of Sarbvodaya Movement In years that followed.
The Sarvodaya Shanti Sena (Peace Brigade) Division, which aims at national harmony and cooperation, has engaged itself in many an experiment. One important project is to involve a Sinhala youth from the South, male or female, with a Tamil youth from the North in community service for a period of three months in the village of one of them and to repeat the experiment in the other’s village. Here, while they learn each other’s language, customs and habits, they also grasp their needs. These first meetings often lead to further opportunities to exchange their views with mutual understanding. As a result, whatever grave conflicts arise among others in the country, these young men and women never contribute to the damage. Rather, they strengthen links in the cause of mutual understanding. Amidst grave risks, dangers and threats they courageously continue to this day to serve according to their means, protecting lives, making available relief services, and succoring to the afflicted and arresting the sowing of the seeds of hatred. This type of reconciliation is already an accomplished fact in the areas in the turbulent North and East, where thousands of families have been resettled with Sarvodaya initiative, long before the present official resettlement programmes started. At present Sarvodaya is working on a programme known as ‘Village to Village and Heart to Heart’ Programme where 1000 villages in the South are linked to 1000 villages in the North and East.
Conflict has power over us only insofar as we ourselves give it that power. In the future, if we survive the current age, I think the deep spiritual peace we are talking about here will blossom explicitly to imbue into every aspect of reality, accompanied by this simple clarity pervading all human interactions and situations on a global scale. For now, it is the role of people based in a strong religious practice like in Buddhism to cultivate this clarity and be witness to it. More often than not, a strong religious practice is not present in society, people are cut off from those deep natural reservoirs of peace, and so when a problem arises it quickly degenerates into a conflict. One group may begin thinking that the second group is hording the food unfairly, or the second group may feel unwilling to give their surplus away to a group of people who did not work to harvest it. Like this they take sides and make themselves miserable with bickering. Each side may have the idea that they are struggling for justice, but it is a justice divorced from the very source of justice. Mistrust, anger, frustration, paranoia narrow their minds and impoverish their justice and their good. In this state of mind, even if a solution arises, the conflict projects itself onto the solution. As soon as we return to our spiritual peace, there is no problem. But falling out of touch with this peace, there is no solution. Perhaps then a third party mediator enters the scene to resolve the conflict, but if their good intentions are not grounded in the deep inner peace of spiritual practice, then they too are quickly swept up into conflict. The task of these mediators is difficult. Perhaps they catch a glimmer of the astounding simplicity of the solution, but they try and reconcile it with the outward political complexity, not understanding that they are mutually exclusive.
The greatest message that Sarvodaya gives to the world in the 21st century is the message of peace and tolerance. Such a message can only be realized when it begins in the human heart. It should thus begin in the individual and then flow to the family, community, society and the world. Toleration of others, equality and sharing of resources and power without the exploitation of human being by others is the final objective. Violence should be eschewed at all levels. It is in such a context where we learn to tolerate our differences and refrain from exploiting others that a new world order may be created. Sarvodaya is searching for strategies to build such a world order. It possesses a tested strategy to achieve this objective. Can we all coming from all parts of the world realize the importance of this objective and muster sufficient courage and strength to put this strategy to action? In this unique exercise all of us may not reach Nirvana; but I am sure for most of us the world then could be a more satisfactorily fulfilling and beautiful place to live in.
Annual Congress of the Deutsche Buddhistische Union
October 24~26, 2003
Wuppertal ~ Germany