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Paris Attacks: Give Peace a Chance

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It’s terrible what happened in Paris. I mourn in deepest sympathy.

Yet I do not hate and saber-rattle, calling for war. Why? As Buddhist leader Daisaku Ikeda wrote, “Nothing is more barbarous than war. Nothing is more cruel…Nothing is more pitiful than a nation being swept along by fools.”

Tokyo after Allied bombing raid (March 1945)

Tokyo after Allied bombing raid (March 1945) Photo: daisakuikeda.org

Ikeda, who grew up in war-torn Japan, has dedicated his life to ending war and spreading peace through a process called ‘human revolution.’ In the first volume of his series of novels The New Human Revolution, Ikeda cites the great pacifist, Mahatma Gandhi.

Ghandi led India to independence through the nonviolent methods of civil disobedience. Photo: Wikimedia

Gandhi led India to independence through the nonviolent methods of civil disobedience. Photo: Wikimedia

Gandhi proclaimed that the ‘power of the spirit’ is stronger than any…bomb. To transform this century of war into a century of peace, we must cultivate the limitless inherent power of human life. This is the ‘human revolution’…

Ikeda bases the concept of ‘human revolution’ on the writings of 13th-century Japanese Buddhist reformer Nichiren Daishonin. Based on deep study of the teachings (sutras) of the Buddha, Nichiren criticized the people in power in his country for their beliefs and assumptions, for they were causing harm to the people.

These erroneous beliefs and assumptions, he argued, were the causes of the civil unrest, attacks from foreign countries, extreme weather, and epidemics that left bodies piled up like cordwood in his island home of Japan.

What were these erroneous beliefs and assumptions? Are they still around, causing misery in today’s world? And what correct beliefs and assumptions did Nichiren advocate would cause peace and happiness?

The erroneous beliefs and assumptions in general were that humanity was a hierarchy where those at the top had the right to manipulate everyone else in order to maintain their own privileged position of power, no matter how much suffering they caused.

Are these beliefs and assumptions still around today, causing misery? The answer is obvious: Yes.

What beliefs and assumptions did Nichiren say were correct, for causing peace and happiness? He cited the Lotus Sutra, claiming that all humans are equal. We are all interconnected with everything, down to the minutest particle of dust, in the great and sacred mystery called ‘Life.’

Interestingly, these beliefs and assumptions are shared by all the indigenous cultures I am aware of, especially hunter-gatherer cultures who have lived sustainably on this planet for thousands of years.

Some people distil these correct beliefs and assumptions into the phrase “We are One.”

Awake to this reality of our interconnection, of our oneness, our equality, we are called Buddhas – awakened ones. If we are awake to our Buddha attributes of limitless courage, compassion and wisdom, Nichiren claimed we can transform our lives, countries and world into a place of ‘eternally tranquil light.’

Violence only begets violence. The cycle must stop.

World Peace. Art: LynetteYetter.com

World Peace. Art: LynetteYetter.com

The killings in Paris are part of a cycle based on erroneous beliefs and assumptions. Now is a time when we can pause and start a new cycle – a cycle of waking up to our oneness with each other, with our Mother Earth and indeed the entire universe.

Ancestral teachings of many cultures advocate this.

Nichiren taught that we can speed up our awakening, our human revolution, with the practice of chanting the mantra “nam-myoho-renge-kyo” to stir up our Buddha-wisdom. Based on that wisdom we take action to make positive change for our own happiness and the happiness of all our relations.

May the poison of the killings in Paris be transformed into the medicine of world peace.

As we say in Bolivia, Jallalla. It’s an Aymara term imbued with hope and determination to work intensely to make our dreams become reality.

And as my Lakota teacher, Peji, taught me — Ho. “Come on! Let’s do it now!”

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About Lynette Yetter

Lynette Yetter is the author of the books "72 Money Saving Tips for the 99%" and "Lucy Plays Panpipes for Peace, a novel." Lynette is a permanent resident of Bolivia and a graduate student in the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies Program at Reed College.
  • Dr. Joseph S. Maresca

    The goal for humankind right now is peaceful coexistence in search of a sustainable societal and economic paradigm that will preserve the earth and indeed neighboring planets for future generations. In just a few short years, governments and privately sponsored expeditions will be traveling to Mars to explore its poles, caves, green areas and mountainous terrain in the hopes of warming the planet so that it may be an inhabitable extension of earth.

    Over the next half century, we should be bridging the gaps that divide so many of the cultures on this earth in order to make the planet more livable for everyone. Looking back over 100 years, we’ve experienced two world wars, the Cold War, the War on Terror and many smaller conflicts between and among nations. The costs for these wars have taken a huge toll on the poor in virtually every nation on earth. At some point in time, there will be a collective realization that there is a better way. Hopefully, that time will come sooner rather than later.

    • Lynette Yetter, author

      Thank you for your thoughtful comments, Dr. Joseph S. Maresca. I agree wholeheartedly with your words, “At some point in time, there will be a collective realization that there is a better way. Hopefully, that time will come sooner rather than later.”

      What actions can we take today to to create, to advance the time of our collective realization?

      Vaclav Havel, in his essay “The Power of the Powerless” advocates that we each cast off fear and conformity and say and do what is actually in our hearts — following our conscience. He calls this “Living in Truth.” He says that when enough people Live in Truth, then the societal lies are exposed and whither. This is what happened in the Second Prague Spring in 1989.

      We can do it again and again and again. Perserverance. Never giving up. Where there is life, there is hope.

      What can we each do today, right now, that is Living in Truth? Living our truth? Speaking our truth?

    • Lynette Yetter, author

      P.S. “At some point in time, there will be a collective realization that
      there is a better way. Hopefully, that time will come sooner rather than
      later.” Your words also bring to mind the work of Riane Eisler. She is a structural scientist. She has observed that human society has used two different structures throughout our 400,000 years on this planet — domination structure or partnership structure. These past 5,000 years have been marked by violent domination structure — of hierarchy, of power-over. But our first 395,000 years here we lived in far more peaceful partnership-structured societies — egalitarian, of power-with. And many indigenous societies have continued living in partnership structured societies.

      One of Riane Eisler’s many books looks at ways to relearn this “better way” of living in partnership. It’s called “The Power of Partnership; Seven Relationships that will Change Your Life.”


      She even has webinars on http://www.partnershipway.org/learn-more

      Keep shining your light and illuminating humanity!