This is a dharma-talk Maha Ghosananda gave in preperation for the 1995 Dhammayietra
Dhammayietra means to walk according to the Dhamma; that means with compassion, a pure heart, wisdom and step by step.
It means to be mindful, and to pacify your mind, whether walking, standing, sitting or lying down. The people walking behind us are bound to follow our example.
We have to have both faith and wisdom; these two have to be balanced and we should know the mantra used by King Jayavarman 7th , “Om mani padme hum." The head has to be at the same level as the heart, and compassion has to be used with wisdom. Like a bird has two wings, or a human has two feet, you have to use both. It is the same with compassion and wisdom. If you use only one foot it would be difficult to walk.
We’re going to replant trees. The King, the Father of the nation, has said we have to do this for the sake of the rainfall. We live in the environment. If the environment is not healthy, then we cannot live properly. Sometimes there is too much smoke or too much dirt. The forest will help to purify the air and regulate the rainfall.
Between 1970 and 1995 half of the forest in Cambodia was cut down. Even trees as old as the civilization of Angkor have been felled and exported. This loss of trees is disturbing the natural balance, causing more droughts and more floods and destroying the natural wealth of the Tonle Sap lake.
We have to explain to people that felling trees will lead to very bad consequences for the people who do it, for their families, their country and for the people of the whole world. The Universe has inter-relations. If we’re suffering then the other part of the world suffers as well. If we have drought, then the other part of the world will also experience problems.
Trees are very important. Like in the life of the Buddha, the Buddha was born under a tree, he found enlightenment under a tree and he passed away under a tree. Our houses are built of timber; trees provide us with fruit. We owe a lot to trees and to nature in general nature is very important.
To have peace with our neighbor, we have to respect each other. Geographically, we live side by side – we can’t move away from our neighbors. And after all, human beings are brothers and sisters. We may be born as a Vietnamese or as a Thai – or a Thai may be born as a Cambodian. Therefore there is a saying:
The world is our home and all human beings are our brothers and sisters – to love them, to help them, to serve them is our duty and our religion. This is included in the ten supreme virtues. All human beings are our mother. Sometimes we take birth as a man; sometimes as a woman. The Buddha once took birth as a woman, and he made a vow to be enlightened as a Buddha.
We can turn our suffering into joy. You have to experience the suffering yourself, and also see others suffer. Like the Buddha – he experienced suffering himself and he saw others suffer – he saw the suffering of birth, aging and death – and then he felt compassion towards his son, his wife, his mother and father and all sentient beings throughout the world.
King Jayavarman 7th always had compassion towards his subjects. He said he was more concerned about his subjects than about himself. He said the suffering of his subjects affected him more than his own suffering. King Jayavarman, who constructed Angkor Thom, had such a feeling towards his people. The four faces of Angkor Thom represent loving kindness, compassion, sympathetic joy and equanimity. If we follow these boundless qualities – loving kindness, compassion, sympathetic joy and equanimity – then happiness will come and the war will end.
We simply tell people the truth. When you are hungry you need food, when you are thirsty you need water. We do not blame anybody but ourselves. If we blame other people they become upset. But we have to tell people the truth. We have to explain why we suffer – we suffer because of craving, aversion and illusion. If we want happiness, we must practice generosity, morality and meditation – and transcend the world.
Ordinary people can be creators of peace: There is little we can do for peace in the world without peace in our minds. And so when we begin to make peace, we begin with silence – meditation and prayer.
When we stabilize our posture and calm our mind, we can realize peace within ourselves. Then we can radiate loving kindness to those around us – our family, our community, our nation and the whole world.
Peacemaking requires compassion. It requires the skill of listening. To listen, we have to give up ourselves, even our own words. As we come to trust one another, we discover new possibilities for overcoming conflict. If we listen carefully, we can hear peace growing.
Peacemaking requires selflessness. There is little we can do for peace as long as we think we are the only ones who know the way.
Peacemaking requires wisdom. Peace is a path that is chosen consciously. It is not an aimless wandering, but a step-by-step journey.
We are advised to be mindful and to believe in the law of karma. Good deeds will bring happiness and bad deeds will bring suffering. If you kill, then ultimately you yourself get killed – you have a short life, whereas if you don’t’ kill, your life will be long.
We Buddhists must find the courage to leave our temples and enter the temples that are filled with human suffering. If we listen to the Buddha, Christ or Gandhi, we can do nothing else. The refugee camps, the prisons, the ghettos and the battlefields will then become our temples.
We must remove the landmines in our hearts which prevent us from making peace – greed, hatred, and delusion.
We can oppose greed with the weapons of generosity. We can oppose hatred with the weapons of living kindness. We can oppose delusion with the weapon of wisdom and understanding.
Peacemaking begins with us. As we make peace for ourselves and our country, we make peace for the whole world.
We always want a lot, but everything starts form the little thing. We were born as a tiny being and now we are adults. We want to reach the horizon in a few steps – and don’t realize that the important thing is here and now. All will come to the same thing in the end. Breathing in, breathing our, word by word – we have a lot of words now. Everything progress by the same principles – step-by-step.