佛陀證悟四年後，有兩個城市國家 Kapilavastu 和 Kilivastu 有場「爭水」之戰。當佛陀知道這事後，在兩國開戰前就連忙趕去阻止這場戰爭。當佛陀莊嚴地站在兩國大軍中間，軍隊中引起了好大一陣騷動。有人說：「現在我們看到聖者佛陀，我們不能射殺我們的敵人了。」因此士兵們都把他們的武器丟在地上，佛陀傳喚兩國的將軍問他們：「為什麼你們聚集在此？」兩國將軍回答：「打戰。」佛陀又質問他們：「是什麼原因使你們要打戰呢？」他們回答：「爭水來灌溉」。釋迦牟尼佛又問：「那麼你們認為水和人的生命，哪個比較有價值呢？」答：「水的價值是微不足道的。」佛陀又問：「那麼你們為什麼為了微不足道的水，而殺害寶貴的生命呢？」然後釋迦牟尼佛給了他們忠實的啟示：「人因為誤解而引起戰爭，而互相殺戮和傷害；人應該用正確的態度試著互相了解。」換句話說，釋迦牟尼佛勸告他們，誤解會帶來人類的悲劇，因此兩大軍隊在佛陀的勸阻下止息了戰爭。
THE CAUSES OF WAR
The causes of war are too numerous even to list, let alone discuss intelligently. What we discuss here are what the Buddha considered the most fundamental, the fire under the boiling pot of soup. War is not something abstract. War is waged between one group of individuals and another. The reasons for war are also not abstract. [We have not yet had a war started and directed according to logical paradigms programmed into a computer.] It is individuals who decide to wage war. Even if the war is global, its beginning can be traced back to the decisions of individuals. And so before we talk about global war, let us first talk about war on the level of the individual.
Wars begin because the people of one country, or at least their rulers, have unfulfilled desires—they are greedy for benefits or wealth (i.e., economic greed) or power, or they are angry or hateful. Either their desires have been thwarted or their pride, their sense of self, has been offended. This can also manifest as racial or national arrogance. They wrongly feel that the answer to problems, which are essentially within their own minds, a matter of attitudes, can be sought externally, through the use of force.
THE STORY OF THE WATER WAR
Four years after his [the Buddha's] attainment of enlightenment, a war took place between the city-state of Kapilavastu and that of Kilivastu over the use of water. Being told of this, [the Buddha] Sakyamuni hastened back to Kapilavastu and stood between the two great armies about to start fighting. At the sight of Sakyamuni, there was a great commotion among the warriors, who said, "Now that we see the World-Honored One, we cannot shoot the arrows at our enemies," and they threw down their weapons. Summoning the chiefs of the two armies, he asked them, "Why are you gathered here like this?" "To fight," was their reply. "For what cause do you fight?" he queried. "To get water for irrigation."
Then, asked Sakyamuni again, "How much value do you think water has in comparison with the lives of men?" "The value of water is very slight" was the reply. "Why do you destroy lives which are valuable for valueless water?" he asked. Then, giving some allegories, Sakyarnum taught them as follows: "Since people cause war through misunderstanding, thereby harming and killing each other, they should try to understand each other in the right manner." In other words, misunderstanding will lead all people to a tragic end, and Sakyamuni exhorted them to pay attention to this. Thus the armies of the two city-states were dissuaded from fighting each other.
The doctrine of karma teaches that force and violence, even to the level of killing, never solves anything. Killing generates fear and anger, which generates more killing, more fear, and more anger, in a vicious cycle without end. If you kill your enemy in this life, he is reborn, seeks revenge, and kills you in the next life. When the people of one nation invade and kill or subjugate the people of another nation, sooner or later the opportunity will present itself for the people of the conquered nation to wreak their revenge upon the conquerors. Has there ever been a war that has, in the long run, really resolved any problem in a positive manner? In modern times the so-called 'war to end all wars' has only led to progressively larger and more destructive wars.
The emotions of killing translate into more and more deaths as the weapons of killing become more and more sophisticated. In prehistoric times, a caveman could explode with anger, take up his club, and bludgeon a few people to death. Nowadays, if, for example, the President of the United States loses his temper, who can tell how many will lose their lives as the result of the employment of our modern weaponry. And in the present we are on the brink of a global war that threatens to extinguish permanently all life on the planet. When will that happen? Perhaps when the collective selfishness of individuals to pursue their own desires—greed for sex, wealth and power; the venting of frustrations through anger, hatred and brutal self-assertion—overcomes the collective compassion of individuals for others, overcomes their respect for the lives and aspirations of others. Then the unseen collective pressure of mind on mind will tip the precarious balance, causing the finger, controlled ostensibly by an individual mind, to press the button that will bring about nuclear Armageddon. When the individual minds of all living beings are weighed, if peaceful minds are more predominant, the world will tend to be at peace; if violent minds are more predominant, the world will tend to be at war.
To be continued