Buddhist teachings to heal the world | Sunday Observer

Buddhist teachings to heal the world

11 July, 2021

Be your own lamp Seek no other refuge but yourself  Let truth be your light – The Buddha

It is Buddhism which paved the way for the highest spiritual goal Nirvana or liberation from the cycle of rebirth called Samsara. Buddhism liberates human beings from bondage by offering a great freedom. At present, not even a single day passes without deaths caused by Covid-19 and wars waged by blood thirsty people being reported in newspapers.

Needless to say that doubts can arise whether Gods are in existence. Obviously It is evident that family violence too has increased as a result of unbearable burdens and trying situations. However with the number of deaths and that of Covid infections being reported daily it has become impossible to give an iron clad guarantee that we are safe. Obviously no one is safe. According to available information, the corona virus has undergone many mutations. Indeed it is a red light for all. Be that as it may we have to make efforts to get out of the abyss.

The Five Precepts

From a Buddhist perspective we can focus on the Five Precepts.

1. Refrain from killing living beings.

2. Refrain from taking what is not given.

3. Refrain from misuses of the senses.

4. Refrain from the wrong or false speech.

5. Refrain from intoxicants which clouding the mind.

Let’s discuss how the five precepts contribute to a world sans fear and tears. The first precept instructs us not to take others’ lives and save every living being. In other words, even a microbe, according to the Buddhist teachings, is a living being. Speaking of wars and conflicts it is observable that many have inflicted great damages on living beings including humans, animals and even our environment.

Wars between two rivals can occur as a result of insensitivity to blood and pain. For example, the Israel-Palestine war which claimed thousands lives. Such blood thirsty wars can bring about destruction in every sector. Sadly some have forgotten that the environment plays a major part in our existence. Some hold a view that even if ranges of mountains are carried into the midst of the sea we can survive in the world, which is hilarious.

According to Buddhist teachings, living beings including plants and even soil are regarded as one kind of life. Intentionally damaging or destroying a living plant is an offence. Focusing on the ‘Vinaya Pitikaya’ it is clear that Buddhist teachings instruct monks to refrain from defecating and spitting in pure flowing water. This means that the first of the five precepts instructs us to save one’s life without inflicting any damage on them.

Then comes the second precept which instructs us not to steal. Today it is evident that many people are involved in crimes. We, therefore, think twice or thrice to put our faith in someone mainly because this society has exploited our trust many times. Those who observe the third precept, refrain from sexual misconduct. So to speak, abstaining from having sex with those we are not married with. The third precept directly contributes not only to the elimination of social diseases but also to the containment of Covid-19.

Speaking of the fourth precept, we can witness that even at present spreading fake news on Social Media has become a hindrance to the anti-covid-19 drive. Many are alleged to have spread fake news on social media to mislead the public and have been arrested. Only by observing the fourth precept can we ensure the security of the country.

As pointed out by scientists, smoking any kind of tobacco reduces lung capacity and increases the risks of many respiratory infections. Smoking cigarettes impairs lung function making it harder for the body to fight off the corona virus and other respiratory diseases. Recently scientists discovered that smokers and boozers are highly vulnerable to Covid-19.

However, many years ago the Exalted One instructed human beings to abstain from smoking tobacco and taking alcohol. Considering all these facts we can understand that we can by observing the five precepts heal ourselves and our world.

The Eightfold Path

The Eightfold Path, as you might know, is the path towards Nirvana.

1. Right Understanding: Buddhist teachings instruct us to see the world clearly as It is without being enmeshed in illusions. At present we can witness that it is in the COVID backdrop many are attempting to enjoy life without adhering to health guidelines. It is because they do not have a clear understanding of the prevailing situation. But according to the Buddhist teachings we should have a clear understanding of the world.

2. Right Intent: True that Right understanding eliminates ignorance and false views. And the right intent will eliminate desires and ill-will. Therefore we realise that everything is impermanent and do not get attached to anything. On the contrary we attempt to gain everything even by hook or by crook. That is why we are caught up in the rat race unrelentingly. However, now Mother Nature has put a halt to our race. Now we can re-think about our harvest.

3. Right speech: According to Buddhist teachings we should abstain from lying, false speech, abusive speech and idle chatter. Mainly because they have a negative impact on society. At present fabricated fake news has become a menace in our society. Many who have disseminated fake news about COVID- 19 have been punished.

4. Right Action: This draws our attention to the five precepts. We have to live a peaceful life ensuring others’ safety and wellbeing. Regarded from another perspective, In order to curb the spread of the Corona virus we have to adhere to the health mandate.

5. Right Livelihood: The Buddhist teachings encourage us to be involved in any kind of work which can uplift society and instruct us to abstain from wrong-doing. However sadly it is evident that many have been involved in moonshine businesses to mine money. However it is at the expense of our society.

6. Right Effort: According to the Buddhist teachings our daily activities should not be a hindrance to our spiritual goal.

7. Right Mindfulness: Buddhism instructs us to live in the present moment without worrying about the past and dreaming of the future. We have to focus on the present moment so that we can see the reality with more clarity. We can eliminate evil thoughts by practising mindfulness.

08. Right Concentration: This means that we should unify our mind. If we have a well concentrated mind we can enter into the state of emptiness in which the mind gets liberated. Considering the above mentioned facts it can be pointed out that The Eightfold Path directly contributes to the inner peace and health of our minds. In addition, going deeper into the Buddhist teachings we can discuss the impact of meditation on minds.

At present we can witness that meditation centres have been established not only in Asian countries such as Sri Lanka, India, China, Japan, Thailand and Vietnam in which Buddhism has been well rooted but also in western countries. Recently researchers have discovered that meditation reduces stress and improves mental well-being. It can be said that meditation directly contributes to a sane society. However we all can understand that it is possible to heal the world by observing the Five Precepts.