BY BR. SENJI KANAEDA
Na Mu Myo Ho Ren Ge Kyo
“Civilization is neither to have electric lights, nor airplanes, nor to produce nuclear bombs. Civilization is not to kill man, not to destroy things, not to make war. Civilization is to hold mutual affection and to respect each other.” — The Venerable Nichidatsu Fujii, Founder of Nipponzan Myohoji
Recent headlines: “26 children Newtown shot with assault rifle.” “Radiation evicts over 160,000 people from their sweet home in Fukushima … forever.”
In China, the world’s largest supplier of factory-made goods, air pollution around Beijing has spread to an area 3.5 times the size of California.
There are huge islands of plastic in the Pacific Ocean.
While many of us are comfortable in our homes, many places around the world are crying. When we are content, we don’t see the truth—the global and environmental consequences of the lifestyle we support and enjoy.
Will it take catastrophe for us to see life differently or will we listen to the wisdom of the ages? Buddha, 2,500 years ago, preached against taking life first and foremost. The Buddhist Lotus Sutra offers parables including the message that wealth keeps one captive when, even when there is great danger, yet there are greater rewards than wealth. In St. Mark 10:25, Jesus said: “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”
When we focus on harmony not war, we can decide to live in this world without weapons.
In the Bible, in the Book of Isaiah 4:2, “And …they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.”
The Native Americans speak a similar truth when they say “all our relations” and who doesn’t know the Golden Rule?
Even so as we witness war against other nations and life-shattering violence against the earth itself, which truth is rooted in our minds and our civilizations?
It is time to see the world in a different way, yet change is quite difficult. Therefore, we need inspiration, like a lighthouse to guide us into the future.
Our order first came here in 1981 to build the first Peace Pagoda on the West Coast. It will symbolize the dual wisdom of Buddha “Ahimsa” (Do no harm) and “Living with harmony.”
Peace Pagodas are stupas that contain Buddha’s relics; they stand as a lighthouse for world peace and sustainable future for all of us. We believe that it acts in a deeper way to inspire more peaceful thoughts and relationships. We hope that people will not assume it is simply a Buddhist symbol because it is actually the symbol of all humankind’s common hope.
Nipponzan Myohoji Buddhism stems from the earliest Japanese Buddhism. Our practice is to walk, chant, and drum for peace. Another primary purpose is to build Peace Pagodas.
There are more than 70 around the world including two in England, one in Vienna, one in Sicily, and two in the Northeastern United States. The others are located in Asia. This year we are firmly on the path to building a West Coast Peace Pagoda on Bainbridge Island.
Br. Senji Kanaeda of Bainbridge Island is with the Nipponzan Myohoji Dojo.