Archive for March, 2011


The Way to Stop Violence

Life’s journey is going round and round and faces so many troubles. Family situations or social situations are not always going smoothly in the modern society. Some families or societies are living in harmony, peace and happiness with each other while other ones are crying and calling upon for helps. Of course, in this universe, nothing is unchangeable or stable. Violence can also be put in an end but it is not with bullets or weapons. Here, the Lord Buddha said,

‘Hatred is, indeed, never appeased by hatred in this world. It is appeased only by loving-kindness. This is an ancient law’18.

This is absolutely correct to everyone. In the world, the revenge each other never comes to an end.

In Angulimàla Sutta, the Buddha used the great way out of His compassion and loving-kindness to win murder Angulimàla who have killed many people at that time.

When Angulimàla saw the Blessed One coming from afar and on seeing him, this thought occurred to him: “Isn’t it amazing! Isn’t it astounding! Groups of ten, twenty, thirty, & forty men have gone along this road, and even they have fallen into my hands, and yet now this contemplative comes attacking, as it were, alone and without a companion. Why don’t I kill him?” So Angulimàla, taking up his sword & shield, buckling on his bow & quiver, followed right behind the Blessed One.  Then the Blessed One willed a feat of psychic power such that Angulimàla, though running with all his might, could not catch up with the Blessed One walking at normal pace. Then the thought occurred to Angulimàla: “Isn’t it amazing! Isn’t it astounding! In the past I’ve chased & seized even a swift-running elephant, a swift-running horse, a swift-running chariot, a swift-running deer. But now, even though I’m running with all my might, I can’t catch up with this contemplative walking at normal pace.” So he stopped and called out to the Blessed One, “Stop, contemplative! Stop!”

“I have stopped, Angulimàla. You stop.”

Then the thought occurred to Angulimàla, “These Sakyan contemplatives are speakers of the truth, asserters of the truths, and yet this contemplative, even while walking, says, ‘I have stopped, Angulimàla. You stop.’ Why don’t I question him?”

So Angulimàla the bandit addressed this verse to the Blessed One:

“While walking, contemplative, you say, ‘I have stopped.’ But when I have stopped you say I haven’t. I ask you the meaning of this: How have you stopped? How haven’t I?”

[The Buddha:]

“I have stopped, Angulimàla, once & for all, having cast off violence toward all living beings. You, though, are unrestrained toward beings. That’s how I’ve stopped and you haven’t.”


“At long last a greatly revered great seer for my sake has come to the great forest. Having heard your verse in line with the Dhamma, I will go about having abandoned evil.” So saying, the bandit hurled his sword & weapons over a cliff into a chasm, a pit. Then the bandit paid homage to the feet of the One Well-gone, and right there requested the Going-forth. The Awakened One, the compassionate great seer, the teacher of the world, along with its devas, said to him then: “Come, bhikkhu.” That in itself was bhikkhuhood for him.19

This story enlightens us so much clear about the root cause of violence and how to put it into an end. The Buddha used the great technical way to deal with violated people. Violence may not be completely removed within bullet or weapon in the world, but it, of course, will be successfully achieved only by guarded mind. We must look within ourselves what should be done and not be done in our daily lives.

Here, the great essential word of the Buddha,

A man may conquer a million men in battle, but one who conquers himself is, indeed, the greatest of conquerors’20.

This verse wakes people up from the bed of greed, hatred and delusion of ones’ own selfishness. Once again, the Buddha said,

‘It is better indeed, to conquer oneself than to conquer others. Neither a deva, nor a gandhabba, nor Màra together with Brahma can turn into defeat the victory of the man who controls himself’21.

The Buddha understood well the psychology of the mighty, which basically has not changed through the millenniums. All those wrongful acts, from killing down to expulsion of innocent victims, are committed out of the lust for power-the enjoyment of power, the wish to secure it, the drive to expand its range. This power craze is, of course, an obsessive delusion intricately bound up with authority. It threatens to overcome all those who exercise authority over others, from the old-style monarch to the modern dictator. Even the petty bureaucrat does not escape: he too delights in wielding his own little share of power and in displaying his stamp of authority.

That is why those who can conquer themselves are the best ones in the world. They will maintain the victory forever in their lives. To conquer himself, one can sleep well by day and night. But to conquer others one will surely not get good sleep. One will stay in the ocean fear and sorrow with tearing drop.


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The Obstacles for Social Development

First of all, the characteristics of these three root causes of unwholesome must be understood. As we see the family life as well social situation is always going with troubles. In the modern society, domestic violence has been occurred everywhere around the world. The whole world is like the mad house. So, what causes such kind of problem to arise? How can the social development move forward for the good of the many, for the happiness of the many, out of compassion for the world, for the good, benefit, and happiness of gods and men? Now the characteristics of these roots must be noted as follows:

Greed has the characteristic of grasping an object, like birdlime (lit. ‘monkey-lime’). Its function is sticking, like meat put in a hot pan. It is manifested as not giving up, like the dye of lamp-black. Its proximate cause is seeing enjoyment in things that lead to bondage. Swelling with the current of craving, it should be regarded as carrying beings along with it to states of misery as a swift-flowing river does to the great ocean.

Hatred has the characteristic of savageness, like a provoked snake. Its function is to spread, like a drop of poison, or its function is to burn up its own support, like a forest fire. It is manifested as persecuting like an enemy that has got his chance. Its proximate cause is the grounds for annoyance (aghata-vatthu). It should be regarded as being like stale urine mixed with poison.

Delusion has the characteristic of blindness, or it has the characteristic of unknowing. Its function is non-penetration, or its function is to conceal the true nature of an object. It is manifested as the absence of right view, or it is manifested as darkness. Its proximate cause is unwise (unjustified) attention. It should be regarded as the root of all that is unwholesome.15

In the modern society, the characteristics of these three root causes of unwholesome show us clearly that the social development has been stuck because of greed, hatred and delusion of the leaders. Some countries in the world have so bad leaders to lead the countries. They are so selfish to himself and his family. The countries become killing-field of hunger of greed, hatred and delusion. Here, in the Kàlàma Sutta, the Buddha taught to Kàlàmas thus:

What do you think, Kàlàmas? When greed, hatred and delusion arise in a man, is it for his benefit or harm?’-‘For his harm, venerable sir.’ – ‘Kàlàmas, a person who is greedy, hating and deluded, overpowered by greed, hatred and delusion, his thoughts controlled by them, will take life, take what is not given, indulge in sexual misconduct, and tell lies; he will also prompt others to do likewise. Will that conduce to his harm and his suffering for a long time?’ ‘Yes, venerable sir.’

‘What do you think, Kàlàmas? Are these things wholesome or unwholesome?’ – ‘Unwholesome, venerable sir.’ ‘Blamable or blameless?’ – ‘Blamable, venerable sir.’ ‘Censured or praised by the wise?’ – ‘Censured, venerable sir.’-‘Undertaken and practised, do these things lead to harm and suffering, or not? Or how is it in this case?’-‘Undertaken and practised, these things lead to harm and to suffering. So does it appear to us in this case.’

‘Therefore, Kàlàmas, did we say: Do not go upon repeated hearing (of orally transmitted religious tradition), nor upon a linear succession (of teachers), nor upon hearsay, nor upon the authority of scriptures, nor upon speculative and logical grounds, nor upon thought-out theories, nor on preference for views pondered upon, nor upon another’s seeming competence, nor on the consideration that “The monk is our teacher.”

‘But when you yourselves know: “These things are unwholesome, blamable, censured by the wise and if undertaken and practised they will lead to harm and suffering, ” then give them up.’16

It is absolutely true to every family or society in the world. When greed, hatred and delusion arose in mind of anyone, he does not know even his or her parents or relatives or anyone who is honoured to him or her. He or she can kill even his or her own parents because of needs. A story of King Ajàtasattu, for example, showed us how much King Bimbisàra was tortured and caused him to death by his own son, King Ajàtasattu. And Let’s have a look another story of Angulimàla, in Angulimàla Sutta, what caused Angulimàla to be a murder. Did his teacher force him to do so? Did his greed, hatred and delusion cause to be so? Of course, both of stories are individual problems. In real conditions of family or society, it is much more dangerous related to violence. Innocent children may not go to school when their parents had quarrels to each other day by day. They have to face so much in their lives. Children need good education for their bright lives in the future in order to develop the society. In the modern societies, there are various root causes which bring obstacles to social development.

Indeed, there are three inner taints, three inner foes, three inner enemies, three inner murderers, three inner antagonists. What are these three? Greed is an inner taint . . . . Hatred is an inner taint . . . . Delusion is an inner taint, an inner foe, an inner enemy, an inner murderer, an inner antagonist.

Greed is a cause of harm,

Unrest of mind it brings.

This danger that has grown within,
Blind folk are unaware of it.

A greedy person cannot see the facts,

Nor can he understand the Dhamma.
When greed has overpowered him,

In complete darkness he is plunged.

But he who does not crave and can forsake.

This greed and what incites to greed,
From him quickly greed glides off,

Like water from a lotus leaf.

Hate is a cause of harm,

Unrest of mind it brings.
This danger that has grown within,

Blind folk are unaware of it.

A hater cannot see the facts,

Nor can he understand the Dhamma.
When hate has overpowered him,

In complete darkness he is plunged.

But he who does not hate and can forsake.

This hatred and what incites to hate,
From him quickly hatred falls off,

As from a palm tree falls the ripened fruit.

Delusion is a cause of harm,

Unrest of mind it brings.
This danger that has grown within,

Blind folk are unaware of it.

He who is deluded cannot see the facts,

Nor can he understand the Dhamma.
If a man is in delusion’s grip,

In complete darkness he is plunged.

But he who has shed delusion’s veil,

Is undeluded where confusion reigns;
He fully scatters all delusion,

just as the sun dispels the night.17

Greed, hatred and delusion do not harm others only, but these unwholesome roots started from ourselves first and then they effected on others. If we, for example, hold the fire, we will surely burn ourselves before we throw it on others.


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The Influence of Violence to Mankind

Human lives are always going up and down. We are shakable to what we have seen, heard, done and so on. Even though family life is also like the realm of tigers for sometimes. As it has been described in first chapter, the root causes of violence in family, society and so on are based on misunderstanding, greed, hatred and delusion (ignorance) which begin with unguarded mind of human beings.

Of course, “Greed: liking, wishing, longing, fondness, affection, attachment, lust, cupidity, craving, passion, self-indulgence, possessiveness, avarice; desire for the five sense objects; desire for wealth, offspring, fame, etc. Hatred: dislike, disgust, revulsion, resentment, grudge, illhumour, vexation, irritability, antagonism, aversion, anger, wrath, vengefulness. Delusion: stupidity, dullness, confusion, ignorance of essentials (e.g. the Four Noble Truths), prejudice, ideological dogmatism, fanaticism, wrong views, conceit.”13

In the reality, these three root causes have not been seen by the ignorant ones. All of these produce and bring violen ce into mankind. In Buddhist text we can find the related storied within the time of the Buddha. The story of King Ajàtasattu of Magadha, a son of Queen Vetehi, for example, should be understood. The King Ajàtasattu, raising a fourfold army, marched toward Kasi against King Pasenadi Kosala. And King Pasenadi Kosala also raising a fourfold army, launched a counter attack toward Kasi against King Ajàtasattu. These two groups of army fought a battle, and in that battle King Pasenadi Kosala defeated King Ajàtasattu and captured him alive. Here, a fighting battle arose because of greed, hatred and delusion led by unguarded mind of both Kings. Then in the early morning, a large number of monks, having put on their robes and carrying their bowls & outer robes, went into Sàvatthi for alms. Having gone for alms in Sàvatthi, after the meal, returning from their alms round, they went to the Blessed One and, on arrival, having bowed down to him, sat to one side. As they were sitting there, they [reported these events to the Blessed One]. So, on realizing the significance of that, the Blessed One on that occasion exclaimed:

“A man may plunder as long as it serves his ends, but when others are plundered, he who has plundered gets plundered in turn. A fool thinks, ‘Now’s my chance,’ as long as his evil has yet to ripen. But when it ripens, the fool falls into pain. Killing, you gain your killer. Conquering, you gain one who will conquer you; insulting, insult; harassing, harassment. And so, through the cycle of action, he who has plundered gets plundered in turn.”13

In addition, we human being should properly train our mind and find out the diversity of these three evil root causes. Of course, we sometimes can be asked the difference between the diversity of unwholesome roots, greed, hatred and delusion. The Buddha said, questioned thus, O monks, you may explain it to those outsiders in this way:

‘Greed is a lesser fault and fades away slowly; hatred is a great fault and fades away quickly; delusion is a great fault and fades away slowly.’14

Of course, if we can reach this point of view on greed, hatred and delusion, we really understand the human mind.


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Ignorance (Avijja)

Ignorance (Avijja),

By Venerable Suy Sovann (Pannavaro)

This term is very familiar to all Buddhists, but they might or might not properly understand it as the root cause of violence in societies. Avijjà is termed pàøi which means ‘ignorance, the main root of evil and of continual rebirth’7. Again, avijjà that obstructs the way to a heavenly rebirth and to the attainment of Jhàna and Nibbàna can also be called ‘moha’ from abhidhamma point of view.

It can be said, “Moha is one of the three roots of evil and is common to all immoral types of consciousness. It is opposed to Paññà-wisdom. The chief characteristic of Moha is confusion with regard to the nature of an object. Moha clouds one’s knowledge with regard to Kamma and its consequences and the four Noble Truths.”8

The real evil situations in our modern society are led by ignorance according the definition above. All actions through body, speech and mind are under the cover of ignorance of human beings.

Here, the Buddha said, “People seek pleasant sense objects, good sights, good sounds, good food, etc. Their effort to secure what they believe to be the good things of life is due to their illusion about their existence. Ignorance works here like green eyeglasses that make a horse eat the dry grass, while mistaking it for green grass. Living beings are mired in sensual pleasure because they see everything through rose coloured glasses. They harbour illusion about the nature of sense objects and mind and matter.”9

Actually, the evil doers do also need to live in harmony, peace and happiness, but they have gone the wrong paths because of their ignorance. They always hold the negative thoughts in their daily lives, therefore the violence has arisen among their family, society and themselves. Here, the Buddha said,

“They take untruth for truth; they take truth for untruth; such persons can never arrive at the truth, for they hold wrong views.”10

As worldling persons live in the ocean of tears, and promise with sufferings because of ignorance and craving (avijjà and taähà). In addition, taähà, in differences may exist in the way conditions situations of violence. On analysis, two broad and mutually interdependent areas emerge: (1) violence arising from an individual’s maladjustment, and (2) craving and violence arising from unsatisfactory social and environmental conditions, caused by the craving of others.

“The Buddha saw that all beings were slaves of lust and greed, and that moved him to great compassion. Living beings serve their lust and greed even at the risk of their lives. They have to work daily during all their lives to satisfy their craving, and after death and in the next existence, too, they remain slaves of the same master, craving. There is no period of rest for them. In the human world a slave may remain a slave for one lifetime, but a slave of greed has an unending term of servitude, spanning uncountable lifetimes, unless he/she becomes an arahant and thus ends his/her wandering through the cycles of birth and death.”11

Living beings have attachments to sensual pleasures. Because of delusion, we develop greed and hatred. We make all out effort to do everything for personal survivals. In this modern society, living beings are surely slave of lust and greed. Some are fighting each other because of material needs. They kill thousands of innocent citizens surround the world every day. A greedy person alone can also make the world become ashes.

Buddhist view violence as the response of a confused mind to worldly experiences. Violence is, however, not considered a ‘sin’ but an unskillful means toward the ultimate end of achieving happiness. People commit violent actions out of greed, hatred and delusion and they become angry because they are confused about what will make them happy. So, the angry person thinks that by forcing the person or situation to be different she or he will be happy, but true happiness results from recognizing that it is really our grasping at pleasure that causes our suffering.

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Misunderstanding (Micchaditthi)

Misunderstanding (Micchaditthi)

Indeed, there are many cases concerned domestic violence. Yet what I have mentioned above is just in brief. Here, I would like to pick up another specific point which can be called the root cause of violence in the modern society- that is misunderstanding.

The world might not be glorious or peaceful or happy place to everyone if the conflicts, violence, insecurity, grief, lamentation, misunderstanding, etc, are still deeply remaining in human hearts. The views are always up and down. As the Mahadukkhakkhanda Sutta, for instance, uses graphic description to show that violence, conflict and war spring from misunderstanding of sensual desires:

And again, monks, when sense pleasures are the cause… having taken sword and shield, having girded on bow and quiver, both sides mass for battle and arrows are hurled and knives are hurled and swords are flashing. Those who wound with arrows and wound with knives and decapitate with their swords, these suffer dying then and pain like unto dying…

And again, monks, when sense pleasures are the cause… having taken sword and shield, having girded on bow and quiver, they leap on to the newly daubed ramparts, and arrows are hurled and knives are hurled and swords are flashing. Those who wound with arrows and wound with knives and pour boiling cow-dung over them and crush them with the portcullis and decapitate them with their swords, these suffer dying then and pain like unto dying.4

The golden words of the Buddha above show us clearly that people in the universe always dwell on the sense pleasures (lobha) which are the root cause of violence in the societies as their favorite things. Living beings misunderstand the characteristics of sense pleasures (lobha) that always defile the mind of beings. Here, in the classification of the four Noble Truths, lobha is termed samudaya. It means the cause of suffering or suffering-to-be. All beings who cannot do away with lobha have to wander round and round in the cycle of rebirths accompanied by suffering.5 In addition, the violence occurs because of misunderstanding between wife and husband in one own family or society or community. One of them might think his wife or her husband did not trust or honest to her or him. All of them must be disappointed to live with each other. And one day the whole family or society will become ashes because of fire of jealousy. The story of a Lass, for example, is taken place here to remind every parent in the world.

In India, there once was a young lady who suffered from the evil consequences of hatred. In this story, a young lad and a young lady were not acquainted with each other before. They were betrothed and married by arrangement of their parents. Though the young lady, being a daughter of a good family, did her chores dutifully, the young lad neither appreciated her services nor loved her sincerely. She began to be disappointed because he did not care for her in spite of her amiably attending to him. She was unhappy and was often lost in despair. Her husband, having no love lost for his wife, when seeing her cheerless behaviour hated her more and more and became violent. Although she was unsatisfied with her husband’s behaviour, there no choice for her but to carry on with her household duties. However, she being not a lifeless rock, but a living being with a sentiment, often attempted suicide. Although she suffered so much from disappointment, unpleasantness, unhappiness and fear, she bore the suffering till she got two children. But at last she could not bear the burden any more and wrote a letter to her husband away on business which runs thus__ “My lord, though you had become my husband married by order of my parents, I really loved you and tried to win your love. But it was all in vain. I was accused of cheating and concealing my faults; and I was so disappointed that I often tried to resort to suicide, but it was a failure because of my children. Anyhow, it is of no use to live any more. After writing this letter, I will take my own life after putting poison in my children’s food.”6

The conditions in any family around the world are always not going smoothly no matter how poor or rich it is. The story of a couple above, for example, shows us how much family life faces trouble day by day. Such kind of misunderstanding thoughts does not only cause troubles to husband and wife, but it also causes so many problems to the innocent children.

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