Buddha's Brain

"Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without." ~ Buddha

Good & Evil

Posted on March 25, 2015

YODA

If only there were evil people somewhere, insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?    

- Alexander Solzhenitsyn

 

Because it emphasizes mindfulness of our thought processes, Buddhism encourages us to be wary of antithetical concepts, not only good and evil, but success and failure, rich and poor, even the duality between enlightenment and delusion. We distinguish between the opposing terms because we want one rather than the other, yet the meaning of each depends upon the other. That may sound abstract, but such dualities are actually quite troublesome for us. If, for example, it is important to live a pure life (however I understand purity), then I need to be preoccupied with avoiding impurity. If wealth is important for me, then I am also worried about avoiding poverty. We cannot take one lens without the other, and such pairs of spectacles filter our experience of the world.
What does this mean for the duality of good versus evil? One way the interdependence of good and evil shows itself is this: we don’t feel we are good unless we are fighting against evil. We can feel comfortable and secure in our own goodness only by attacking and destroying the evil outside us. And, sad to say but true, this is why we like wars: they cut through the petty problems of daily life and unite us good guys here against the bad guys over there. There is fear in that, of course, but it is also exhilarating. The meaning of life becomes clearer.
We all love the struggle between good (us) and evil (them). It is, in its own way, deeply satisfying. Think of the plots of the James Bond films, the Star Wars films, the Indiana Jones films. In such movies, it’s quite obvious who the bad guys are. Caricatures of evil, they are ruthless, maniacal, without remorse, and so they must be stopped by any means necessary. We are meant to feel that it is okay…..even, to tell the truth, pleasurable…..to see violence inflicted upon them. Because the villains like to hurt people, it’s okay to hurt them. Because they like to kill people, it’s okay to kill them. After all, they are evil and evil must be destroyed.
What is this kind of story really teaching us? That if you want to hurt someone, it is important to demonize them first…..in other words, fit them into your good-versus-evil story. That is why the first casualty of all wars is truth.
Such stories are not just entertainment. In order to live, we need air, water, food, clothes, shelter, friends…..and we need stories, because they teach us what is important in life. They give us models of how to live in a complicated, confusing world. Until the last hundred years or so, the most important stories for most people were religious. Today, however, the issue is not whether a story is an ennobling one, a good myth to live by, but the bottom line: will it sell?
The story of good and evil sells because it is simple and easy to understand, yet from a Buddhist viewpoint it can be dangerously deceptive. It keeps us from looking deeper, from trying to discover causes. Once something has been identified as evil, no more is there a need to explain it, only a need to fight it.
By contrast, Buddhism focuses on the three unwholesome roots of evil, also known as the three poisons: greed, ill will, and delusion. In place of the struggle between good and evil, Buddhism emphasizes ignorance and enlightenment. The basic problem is one of self-knowledge: do we really understand what motivates us?
In a passage from the Sutta Nipata, Ajita asks of the Buddha, “What is it that smothers the world? What makes the world so hard to see? What would you say pollutes the world and threatens it most?”
“It is ignorance which smothers,” the Buddha replies, “and it is heedlessness and greed which make the world invisible. The hunger of desire pollutes the world, and the great source of fear is the pain of suffering.”
Because this view offers us a better understanding of what actually motivates people…..all of us…..it also implies a very different way to address the problems created by ignorance and desire and violence: not a new holy war against evil, but a less dramatic struggle to transform our own greed into generosity, ill will into love, and ignorance into wisdom.

International Women’s Day – March 8, 2015

Posted on March 6, 2015

In 2015, International Women’s Day, celebrated globally on March 8, will highlight the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, a historic roadmap signed by 189 governments 20 years ago that sets the agenda for realizing women’s rights. While there have been many achievements since then, many serious gaps remain.
This is the time to uphold women’s achievements, recognize challenges, and focus greater attention on women’s rights and gender equality to mobilize all people to do their part. The Beijing Platform for Action focuses on 12 critical areas of concern, and envisions a world where each woman and girl can exercise her choices, such as participating in politics, getting an education, having an income, and living in societies free from violence and discrimination.
To this end, the theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is the clarion call of UN Women’s Beijing+20 campaign “Empowering Women, Empowering Humanity: Picture it!” Click here to learn more.   Join governments and activists across the world in commemorating the ground-breaking Conference of 1995. We celebrate the many achievements that have come since then and galvanize action to address the gaps that still remain in making gender equality a reality.
In addition to learning more, you may want to attend a screening of the “Honor Diaries” (www.honordiaries.com)……a phenomenal documentary giving voice to an all-female panel. Trailer and links below. If you are not able to find a local screening, please note that the movie is available for viewing on Netflix with your active account or you may rent it on Apple iTunes.
Join the conversation for #IWD2015!

  • Main hashtags: #IWD2015 (#DíadelaMujer, #Journéedelafemme); #Beijing20
  • Main Twitter accounts: @UN_Women (English), @ONUMujeres (Spanish), @ONUFemmes (French)
  • Main Facebook accounts: UN Women (English), ONU Mujeres (Spanish), ONU Femmes (French)
  • Other accounts: InstagramGoogle+, Pinterest
  • Change your Facebook and Twitter cover image with the banners available in English, Spanish and French (under “General”) here.
  • If you organize or participate in a local International Women’s Day event, share your images and messages on our Facebook Event page and bring your event to a global audience.
  • If you are in New York City, join our march for gender equality on 8 March.
  • On 8 March, follow our Facebook Live event with UN Women Goodwill Ambassador Emma Watson through the below webcast.
  • Follow our accounts for live coverage from the different events and share content from our social media package, which is available with images, videos and sample promotional messages in English, Spanish and French here.

 

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