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     Conflict is the same old story of human being of anywhere and of any times. It easily occurs inside a person or inside a family or in a large scale, among races or nations; and when doing so it leads to suffering or even to the end of the world! So, it is a big problem for mankind and a resolution of it is a must.

In Buddhism, conflict which originates from fancy perceptions is considered as a conditioned and unwholesome thing, and it needs to be transformed. In His 45 years of preaching the Dhamma, the Buddha declared explicitly only two things: suffering and the cessation of it. “Oh bhikkhus, in former times as well as nowadays, I have expounded only suffering and the cessation of suffering”.[1]

In His first sermon in Benares around 2.500 years ago, the Buddha shows the origin of suffering: craving or false view, the underlying reason. In another sermon, He says there is no contending with anyone in the world for a wise person who is not obsessed by any perceptions:

“Whatever is the origin, monk, of the number of obsessions and perceptions which assail a man, if there is nothing to rejoice at, to welcome, to catch hold of , this is itself an end of a propensity to attachment, this is itself an end of a propensity to repugnance, this is itself an end of a propensity to views, this is itself an end of a propensity to ignorance, this is itself an end of taking the stick, of taking a weapon, of quarrelling, contending, disputing, accusation, slander, lying speech. In these ways, these evil unskilled states are stopped without remainder.”[2]

Such an attitude will put an end to quarrels, disputes, wars and all demeritorious things. His teaching is well explained by Mahākaccāna, his disciple, as such:

“Visual consciousness arises because of eye and material shapes; the meeting of the three is sensory impingement, feelings are because of sensory impingement; what one feels one perceives; what one perceives one reasons about; what one reasons about obsesses one; what obsesses one is the origin of the number of perceptions and obsessions which assail a man in regard to material shapes cognisable by the eye, past, future, present. And auditory consciousness arises because of ear and sounds … And olfactory consciousness arises because of nose and smells … And gustatory consciousness arises because of tongue and tastes … And bodily consciousness arises because of body and touches … And mental consciousness arises because of mind and mental objects. The meeting of the three is sensory impingement; feelings are because of sensory impingement; what one feels one perceives; what one perceives one reasons about; what one reasons about obsesses one; what obsesses one is the origin of the number of perceptions and obsessions which assail a man in regard to mental objects cognisable by mind, past, future, present.”[3]

Mahākaccāna also adds that when there is no meeting of the three there is no a manifestation of the assault of a number of obsessions and perceptions.

And those who are ruled by those obsessions possess wrong or false views. The Buddha says that the world usually bases its views on two things, existence and non-existence. ‘It is’ is one extreme; ‘it is not’ is another. Due to attach to them the world is imprisoned. The holy men transcend this limitation of attachment. Avoiding both extremes, the Tathāgata teaches a Dharma by the middle, where alone the truth can be found.

“The world, for the most part, Kaccāyana, is bound by approach, grasping and inclination. And, he who does not follow that approach and grasping, that determination of mind, that inclination and disposition, who does not cling to or adhere to a view: ‘This is my self,’ who thinks: ‘suffering that is subject to arising arises; suffering that is subject to ceasing ceases.’ Such a person does not doubt, is not perplexed. Herein, his knowledge is not other-dependent. Thus far, Kaccāyana, there is ‘right view.’

‘Everything exists,’ – this, Kaccāyana, is one extreme.

‘Everything does not exist,’ – this, Kaccāyana, is the second extreme.

Kaccāyana, without approaching either extreme, the Tathāgata teaches you a doctrine by the middle.”[4]

The Dharma is now, according to Nāgārjuna – the foremost of the Buddhist thinkers and exponents, called Śūnyatā (emptiness). According to him, Śūnyatā means nothing acquirable (aprāptvya-śūnyatā). Everything exists temporarily and nothing is permanent under the law of Dependent Origination (Pratītyasamutpāda). Existence is temporary and not fixed. Even non-existence is temporary and not fixed. So, there is neither a real existence nor a real void. Negation of wrong views of attachment to anything inclusive of extremes is the Middle Path (Madhyamāpratipad). Negation and negation only can lead to the goal of Absoluteness, Ultimate Truth or Nirvāṇa. And, it is the theory of the Eightfold Negation set forth by him in his dedicatory verse of the Mūlamadhyamakakārikā (M. K.), which runs as follows:

“I pay homage to the Fully Awakened One,

The supreme teacher who has taught

The doctrine of relational origination,

The blissful cessation of all phenomenal thought constructions

[Therein, every event is ‘marked’ by]:

Non-origination, non-extinction,

Non-destruction, non-permanence,

Non-identity, non-differentiation,

Non-coming [into being], non-going [out of being].”[5]

The Absoluteness is emptiness and all things also are empty. However, it is unjust to regard emptiness as a kind of Absoluteness behind the conditioned world, as a kind of basis for it, for “Nirvāṇa is not in the least distinct from birth-and-death[6] .”[7] It is not a separate reality at all. So far, emptiness means no views or no doctrines; even the Four Noble Truths (Cattāri-āriyasaccāni) – the first sermon by the Buddha, are ultimately false. The Ultimate Truth alone is not dependent on anything else; it is ultimately real.

In our modern times, any kind of conflict leads to sufferings. The worst is a nuclear war or the like performed by evil perceptions which is the cruelest instrument for disseminating sufferings to all living beings, destroying all forms of life on our planet. As Vietnamese Buddhists, we make our best endeavor to set into motion the wheel of peace by the strength of solidarity with our fellowmen in our duty to defend and to reconstruct our motherland. We work to broaden our solidarity front with peoples in the world, building up conditions to develop friendly cooperation and peaceful coexistence so as to take part in a common endeavor to create more nuclear free zones all over the world and to defend the survival of the whole human race.

More than ever before, the Vietnamese Buddhists bear deep in mind the following teachings of the Great Teacher Lord Buddha:

“Victory brings out hatred,

Defeat leads to suffering!

Live an undisturbed and happy life

Leave behind victory and defeat.”[8]

To build a Nirvāṇa on this very world, from where to begin with? – From man himself. If there is no healthy man how can we expect a healthy social relationship morally good and lovely. If the thoughts of emptiness or non-duality (advayatā) against fancy perceptions do not imbibe deeply into the inner self of every human being, how do we expect to have a real world of peace and harmony.

By Ven. Thich Tam Duc.


[1] M. I, 140.

[2] M. I, 109-110.

[3] M. I, 111-112.

[4] S. II, 17.

[5] Mūlamadhyamakakārikā by Nāgārjuna, trans. Kenneth K. Inada, Sri Satguru Publications, Delhi, 1993, pp. 38-39.

[6] Birth and death refers to phenomenal existence (saṃsāra)

[7] M. K. 25, 19

[8] Dhammapada, 201.

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