Friday, July 27, 2012

Jack Lawlor: the Buddhist Approach to Understanding Conflict and the Concept of Misperception.

Jack Lawlor has written:

By way of some initial exposure to Buddhist thought, I'm attaching the Buddha's "Discourse on Love", as fresh today as it was when memorized by the monastic community 2,500 years ago.

The following lines from the Collected Sayings of the Buddha, known as the Dhammapada, are also illustrative of the Buddhist approach to identifying and remedying the roots of conflict:

We are what we think.
All that we are arises with our thoughts.
With our thoughts we make the world.
Speak or act with an impure mind
And trouble will follow you
As the wheel follows the ox that draws the cart.

We are what we think
All that we are arises with our thoughts.
With our thoughts we make the world.
Speak or act with a pure mind
And happiness will follow you
As your shadow, unshakable....

"Look how he abused me and beat me,
How he threw me down and robbed me."
Live with such thoughts and you live in hate.

"Look how he abused me and beat me,
How he threw me down and robbed me."
Abandon such thoughts, and live in love.

In this world
Hate never yet dispelled hate.
Only love dispels hate.
This is the law,
ancient and inexhaustible.

Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh urges us to cultivate the following qualities through an engaged, consistent practice of meditation based on mindful breathing in order to live in love in the manner suggested by the Buddha:

1.) The cultivation of stopping, or "Shamatha" in Pali: to recognize and let go of compulsions and prejudices which cause misperception. At a recent retreat with over 1,000 people in Mississippi, Thich Nhat Hanh begged Americans not to enter any more wars based on misperception;

2.) The cultivation of concentration, or "Samadhi". Everything in our culture encourages distraction and reduces our ability to concentrate, thwarting our ability to understand what is actually going on.

3.) Dwelling in "Appammada", the absence of madness. Once we cultivate stopping and concentration, we dwell in awareness, free of misperception that causes us to say and do things we do not understand.

4.) The cultivation of insight, or Vipassana. Once we dwell in concentration, our preception clears, and we can see and understand underlying causes and conditions not only effecting us, but also others. We are capable of seeing and understanding things from the vantage point of other beings.

5.) The cultivation of compassion, or Karuna. Once free of our own obsessions and misperceptions, we better see and otherstand what is going on, how we have an impact on others, and how they influence us, opening the way to compassion.

6.) The cultivation of understanding, or Prajna. The practice of compassion deepens our understanding of the radical impermanence and interdependence of all beings, resulting in wisdom.

Drone warfare is the apex of misperception. Rather than practicing stopping, we begin with a prejudice that certain "types" do not deserve to live. Rather than take the time to look deeply and really understand who we are targeting, or even provide the basics of due process, growing numbers of people are targeted for destruction. Rather than question the saneness of this approach, and whether it is consistent with human morality, the rules of engagement in warfare, or morality, we are led by technology to rely more and more on the use of robots. Rather than learn from the protestations of countries who protest the sudden death of so many innocent people within their territory in our pursuit of untried terrorist suspects, we purchase and accelerate the use of more and more drones, never pausing to contemplate the world we will have created once other nations obtain this technology within a few years. Our hearts are hardened to the possibility of compassion, even when our Hellfire missles strike weddings and family gatherings. In reliance on technology, we understand less and less, rather than more.

Continued in:
"The Buddha Meets the Drone"
"The Buddha and a Culture of Violence"
"The Buddha On Love"
"The Suffering Caused By Misperception"
"Modern Applications of the Buddha's Teachings on Love and on the Suffering Attributable to Misperception"
"The Nearsighted Drone"

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