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Talking about war and peace


There has not been and never will be real happiness in the world, without peace. Peace comes primarily by the absence of war; it is a result, an end, not an instrument. It does not come by mere wistfulness or prayer. It has to be obtained by effort, by weaving the principles of righteousness.

By Sanjoo Thangjam

Across the world, there had been bloody wars, conflicts, and clashes. The violent situation we hear and see every day has become a huge burden on us both economically, politically, and socially. It has also disturbed our inner psychological state over the centuries. Against this backdrop, it is imperative that we talk about war and peace and make an attempt to reconcile with the violent tendency of human beings.

The following quotations written below are the sayings of the founders of several religious teachers as well as great philosophers, thinkers, scientists, historians, psychologists, politicians, free thinkers and from some other publications, too. Their names and references are given below each quotation. There are also many other sayings where references are not given. Most of them are extracted by me.

War is a violent conflict between states. Though the word is used to describe other types of conflict – civil war, class war, etc. – war is an aspect of politics. Much of man’s oral and written records, perhaps as much as of it as it devoted to any other human beings, deal with war. Groups of men used their hunting weapons against other men long before the dawn of history. For centuries man regarded war as an inevitable part of his fate, like his struggles with the weather, disease or the mysterious ocean.

One of the greatest novelists, Leo Tolstoy (1828- 1990) wrote War and Peace in 1885 to exemplify the individual’s fate by submissively performing the cruel, gloomy, irksome and in human role assigned to him by destiny.

There has not been and never will be the real happiness in the world, without peace. Buddhism above all, teaches the law of cause and effect. Peace is no exception. Peace comes primarily from the absence of war; it is a result, an end, not an instrument. It does not come by mere wistfulness or prayer. It has to be obtained by effort, by weaving the principles of righteousness into the whole fabric of human relationships.

The opposite of peace is conflict or war, which according to the Buddha, is the cause of all our happiness.

War is the result of tension, which is of various kinds. There are international tensions, some of which come down to us as historic legacies. We have also economic tension between the haves and have-nots. These manifold and tensions create fear, suspicion, hatred and vindictiveness.

A man’s individual life, circumstances and world are a reflection of his own thoughts and beliefs. All men are mirrors reflecting according to their own surface. All men, looking into the mirror, which gives back their own reflection.

It was R.L. Stevenson who once said:

“There is so much good in the worst of us,

And so much bad in the best of us,

That it ill-behoves anyone of us,”

Even a rose has flaws. But why examine the flaws when you can appreciate its duty?

Bolton once remarked:

“I looked at my Brother with the Microscope of Criticism,

And I said: “How coarse my Brother is!”

I looked at him through the Telescope of Scorn

And I said: “How small my brother is!”

Then I looked in the Mirror of Truth

And I said: “How like me my Brother is.”

Each individual lives in an individual world of his own creation. Man is false and deceitful, not merely in relation to others, but to himself as well. The remarkable thing about man is that he often deceives himself. “As we think, so we act.”

“Since it is in the minds of men that wars are created, it is in the minds of men that the fortresses of peace must be erected.”

This preamble to the UNESCO Charter reminds us that war begins in the mind of men. The Buddha made the same remark, many centuries earlier which is enshrined, in the first verse of the Dharmapada. In fact, he went much further than that; declared that all things good and bad have their origin in the mind.

The age-old myth that many people believed for thousands of years that God or the devil can destroy the world is refuted by the realisation that man is the only one who puts the world in flames and can eliminate the whole of mankind from the earth. However, still there are people on this earth who are sane enough to understand the danger that mankind is facing today.

Those so-called leaders in the battlefield do not realise that great conquerors of the world vanished in the course of time. There is none to shed a tear at their death. But the great people who have conquered hearts through kindness and compassion continue to live in the minds of people and honoured as great conquerors.

Some cruel leaders, who tried to achieve the aim of their lives by destroying millions of innocent people and creating disasters, never succeeded in the end. Dr. Johan Galtung, the world – renowned authority on peace studies, has said, “Just because there is no war does not mean there is peace. Equating peace with the lack of war is like pronouncing a person healthy because there are no visible superficial signs of illness.”

Some people argue that conflict and war cannot be avoided because they are expressions of human nature. It is realistic enough to realise that it would be foolhardy to sit down and to do nothing when aggressions are brutally destroying innocent lives on the basis of unrealistic and unfounded claims, but we must always bear in mind that war is at best a last resort to maintain peace.

It cannot be denied that many wars being fought today are on the work of charismatic but unscrupulous leaders out to serve their own ends. They manipulate their followers to fight on their behalf, to go against the legitimate interests of the majority.

Buddhism teaches us that all of man’s unhappiness comes from the greed for things such as pleasure that money can buy , power over other men, and , most important of all, the things, the inherent desire to go ‘living for ever’ even after one is dead.

The desire of these things makes people selfish, so much so, they come to think only of themselves, and do not, for a moment, mind what happens to other people. And since invariably they do not get all that they wish for, they become restless and discontented.

The only way to avoid this restlessness is to get rid of the selfish desires that actually cause them. This is very difficult; but when a man achieves it, it reaches a state of mind, which is the end of suffering.

– The laws of conflict is nothing but selfish craving

Verily, due to selfish craving,

Conditioned through selfish craving,

Impelled by selfish craving,

Entirely moved by selfish craving,

Kings fight with kings,

Princes with princes,

Priests with priests,

Citizens with citizens,

Mothers quarrels with son,

Son with father,

Brother quarrels with sister,

Sister with brother,

And friends quarrel with friends.

Thus thereby they suffer death or deadly pain.

Buddha –M.I:86

– Why a man gets angry

Very often when a man is wrong and does not admit it, he always gets angry.

– The nature of man’s craving

Man is never satisfied with his life. The purpose of life will elude him even after gaining the whole world.

– People feel lonely when they work for their own benefit

People are lonely because they build walls instead of bridges.

– Why worry?

For every problem under the sun

There is remedy or there is none

If there is one to find it

If there is none, why worry about it.


– Retaliation is not the solution

The policy of an eye for an eye will make the whole blind.

Mahatma Gandhi

– Observances of precepts supports others to live

Observance of religious principles or precepts not only benefits the one who observes them, but supports others to live peacefully. It is just as one who erects a fence or wall to protect his own house from the neighbour’s house, serves to protect the neighbour’s as well.

– Try to harmonise with others

If we do not know how to live up to the expectation of others, how can we expect others to live according to our expectations!

– Calmness is the nature of a cultured mind

Calmness is not weakness. A calm attitude at all times shows a man of nature.

– Sensual pleasure and mental happiness

To experience sensual pleasure there must be external objects or participants but gaining mental happiness does not depend on these.

– People’s mentality differs

Dogs like bones, not grass, cows like grass but bones. In the same way some people like excitement more than peace; for others, peace is more valuable than excitement.

– Live in harmony

It can only come about when we live in harmony with the natural laws, which bring us health, success, contentment, and tranquillity. When we live in discord with these laws we experience sickness, failure, discontent, worry and insecurity.

– Peace comes when we cope with conflicts

Peace comes not from the absence of conflict in life but from the ability to cope with it. War is not an unavoidable law of nature.

– Principles give happiness

Nothing can bring you peace but yourself; nothing can bring you peace but the triumph of principles.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

– You are the cause of your happiness or unhappiness

It is not your position that makes you happy or unhappy; it is your disposition.

– How important is laughter

A good hearty laugh is worth ten thousand ‘groans’ and a million ‘sighs’ in any market on earth.

Napoleon Hill

– Health and hope must work together

He who has health has hope;

And he who has hope has everything.

– Learn how to smile

If you can smile at life, life will always smile at you.

– Health is more important than wealth

The health of nations is more important than the wealth in nations.

Will Durant

– Make the whole world happy

Individual happiness is conducive to the happiness of society, while the happiness of society means happiness of the nation. It is on the happiness of nations that the happiness of world is built.

– Contentment is the real wealth

I have great wealth that can never be taken away from me; that I can never squander; that cannot be lost by declining stocks or bad investments; I have the wealth of contentment with my lot in life.

Napoleon Hill

– If you can trust yourself that is enough

If you can trust yourself when others suspect you that is enough for you to maintain peace in your mind.

– Law and weapon

Laws kneel down in front of the gun.

Mao Zedong

– Man’s conflict is the cause of fear and worry

o Man is in conflict in nature;

o Man is in conflict with other human beings;

o Man is in conflict with himself.

Buddhism says, the worries and suffering that we experience are nothing but a clash between our selfish desire and changing worldly conditions. One who develops one’s mind to understand this can overcome worries and suffering.

The winds of the cold war are blowing all over the world. This dangerous situation can wipe out mankind from the face of the earth.

In the end, there will be nobody left in this world to win the battle.

(Sanjoo Thangjam is a columnist based in Imphal)

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