To Stop Wars, First Stop the Fighting in Your Mind
Wars result in loss of life, property damage, the waste of our own energy; they also increase environmental pollution. Although we are but a tiny percentage of the total human population in the world, we will win against all odds. In our small group we want to pray to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas of the ten directions to put an end to wars. If we can be 120,000 percent sincere in our wish to end all war, we will have a response against all odds.
Everyone please repeat after me: "We disciples, Hsuan Hua and so on, beseech the infinite, inexhaustible, eternal Triple Jewel--the Buddhas, the Dharma, and the Sangha--of the three periods of time, pervading the ten directions of space throughout the Dharma Realm, to bring forth great vows to protect all living beings in the world. We pray that the war in the Middle East will cease and that all living beings will soon enjoy peace and happiness. In life after life, we shall eternally strive to repay the kindness of the Triple Jewel. With the utmost sincerity, we hope the infinite, inexhaustible, eternal Triple Jewel--the Buddhas, the Dharma, and the Sangha--of the three periods of time, pervading the ten directions of space throughout the Dharma Realm, will compassionately fulfill our request."
Today's Dharma assembly is extremely important. Everyone should cherish the wish to rescue the world. Everyone should regard the lives of all living beings as more important than their own lives. We should all resolve to cause the wars in the world to cease. In wanting to cause wars to cease, we cannot oppose wars. If you have the thought of opposing war in the world, then there is war going on within yourself. Once you oppose any person or any war, you start a war right within yourself. We want to stop wars. What kind of strength can stop wars? The strength of sincerity. In our every thought we should keep our minds free of hatred. If there is no hatred in our minds, there will be a bit less enmity in the world. Eventually, when there is no enmity whatsoever, when we have no enemies, there will naturally be no more hatred.
Therefore, in Buddhism there are no armies. There is nothing equivalent to the Crusaders. We treat everyone with kindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity. The karmic offenses of living beings have resulted in the Communist Party, the Republican Party, the Democratic Party, and so forth. You have your party, and he has his. People of the same views join together and fight against those who are different from them. If you don't side with them, they consider you an enemy. Buddhism has no parties or factions. It opposes no one. It loves everyone as one of its own and doesn't hate anyone. And so the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas advocates the six bright paths, also known as the six kinds of wisdom, or the six demon-subduing pestles, or the six demon-spotting mirrors. What are they? The first one is not contending. Why shouldn't you contend? As soon as you contend about something that someone else wants, that person will contend with you. But the practice of the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas is, "If people discard it, I'll pick it up. If people want it, I'll give it away." We take in whatever others don't want; we won't take anything that people want. That's the way the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas is. The second one is not being greedy. We are not greedy for things that other people are greedy for. If you are greedy, then you will be selfish. If you have no greed, that is true unselfishness. Being unselfish, you will not seek anything. Why do people go everywhere seeking for things? Because of greed. We want to be unselfish and not seek. So the third is not seeking. The fourth is not being selfish, and the fifth is not pursuing personal advantage. These all work the same way. The sixth is not lying. Why do people tell lies? Because they want to protect their selfish interests. Why are they selfish? Because they are seeking for something, or greedy for something, or contending about something.
If one is not selfish, does not pursue personal advantage, does not seek anything, does not contend, and has no greed, then one doesn't need to lie and cheat people like one might in doing business. When an item is clearly worth ten dollars, the vendor tries to sell it to you for a hundred dollars, saying, "This is really a bargain. I'm not making any money off this." He has to make a sales pitch. Since we don't contend, are not greedy, do not seek anything, are not selfish, and do not want personal advantage, we have no reason to tell lies. We cherish other people's lives more than our own. That's why, now that you have taken refuge with me today, I am willing to take on your karmic offenses as my own. I want to do this because I have read about the ancient sages and worthies, and they all took the blame for other people's mistakes, but did not shift the responsibility for their own mistakes onto others. Emperor Tang of the Shang dynasty said, "If I have offenses, do not blame the people. If the people have offenses, the blame lies with me." He appealed to the Supreme Lord, to God, and perhaps to the Buddha, asking them not to judge his people.