I went to “Saturday Sangha” Dharma group today for the first time in several weeks. I stopped by the bookstore with Joe on the way to see if there was a copy of the Dhammapada, but there wasn’t. When we arrived, I asked ChongGo Sunim* if there was a theme they have been discussing and he told me that they were wrapping up their discussions of the Dhammapada. The last section discussed was on craving.
Unchecked craving strangles the careless man,
Like a creeper growing in the jungle.
He leaps from lifetime to lifetime,
Like a monkey seeking fruit…
Basically, the Buddha explains that craving, unchecked, carries us away, as though we are caught in a strong current. It multiplies our sorrow and perpetuates us in a cycle of dissatisfaction. But to cut off craving, one gains freedom from sorrow and finds truth.
I had been thinking about the crisis in Gaza a lot this week. I tried to put together the knowledge I’ve gained so far and see what thoughts arose on the matter. Pointing fingers or blame are irrelevant at this point, and that didn’t concern me. I thought a lot about The short reply from my friend when I wrote to see how she is. I thought mostly how most of the people affected on either side are merely civilians, even if they are called by the leaders to put on a uniform and sent into action, “justifiably” or not. What I thought mostly about, though, is the ultimate harm that is being created.
I compared this situation to the Dalai Lama’s account of dealing with China invading his country with brutal force, slaughtering civilians and his fellow monks in his former palace. By chance, he was convinced to flee the night before the Chinese came into the palace with machine guns, shooting the palace to pieces along with any monk in sight. the next day the soldiers sorted though the corpses trying to identify his. Through it all, he advocated peace, always discouraging the Tibetan people to respond with violence. I can only imagine the amount of hatred towards Israel that is growing in the Islam world, regardless of what Hamas had done. Who knows how long this hatred will last and how much damage will be caused by it.
I spoke to Joe on Friday and he felt the same, that the hatred created is really the only result. He compared it to America invading Iraq in hopes of security but really in the end they are less secure because now there is even more hatred and more people who want to kill them. I think this hatred is a part of what the Dalai Lama had the wisdom to avoid. China continues to destroy everything that Tibet once was. last year, they changed the school text books to teach that Tibet was always a part of China and that the Dalai Lama left in 1959 and pretty much vanished. China has taught for years to it’s people that the Dalai Lama is a terrorist. How does the Dalai Lama respond? With peace and compassion for the Chines people. When the world turned on China in the weeks leading up to the Olympics, it was the Dalai Lama who spoke up and said, this is for the Chinese people, and wished them success.
The topic of Israel and Gaza came up briefly in the Dharma talks today. I already don’t remember what the connection was to craving but I’m sure you could make one anyway. Again, it was compared to Tibet’s response to China. ChongGo Sunim added that Tibetans (not all, I’m sure) actually practice focusing on compassion for China. This is even a step further than forgiveness, and ultimately, what better method for the best results? What better way to dissolve the karmic hatred? What better example for Israel and the rest of the world? What better reminder for ourselves when we are suffering over the most redundant, irrelevant issues? Then, to think of the Dalai Lama, who refers to himself as, “just a simple Buddhist monk, just one human being.” Just a simple monk, who was personally faced with China taking away his land, his home, killing thousands of his people, attempting to take his life and responds with only compassion.
*Sunim is the Korean title given to a monk
The Dhammapada is a collection of Buddha’s most essential teachings