English Section

      Buddhism Today 

Vietnamese Section


...... ... .  . .  .  .
A real Buddhist is a citizen of the world
Bhikkhu T. Seelananda

Buddhism, the Dhamma, breaks all the barriers which separate one another. According to the teachings of the Master, the Buddha, there is no reason to keep aloof from others merely because they belong to another persuasion or another Nationality. The Dhamma is excellent in many ways. It is to be practised in daily life. It is neither a religion nor a philosophy. There is nothing miraculous, mythical, or dogmatic in it. But mere reading the Dhamma does not help one to understand the interdependence of the world or the existence of beings and truth . The Buddha said "a man is not versed in Dhamma because he speaks much of the Dhamma. He who, after hearing even a little Dhamma, realizes its truth directly and is not heedless of it, is truly versed in the Dhamma." The base of the Dhamma is morality and wisdom is its apex. There are no divine revelations or prophets in the Dhamma.

Whether Buddhas arise or not this Dhamma exists in the world. The Dhamma is unique. In one sense it is not a philosophy, in another sense it is the philosophy of philosophies. In one sense it is not a religion, in another sense it is the religion of religions. It is neither a metaphysical path nor a ritualistic path. It is neither sceptical nor dogmatic. It is neither self-mortification nor self -indulgence. It is neither pessimism nor optimism. It is neither eternalism nor nihilism. It is neither pluralism nor monism. It is neither absolutely this worldly nor other worldly. It is a unique Path of Enlightenment.

The Dhamma helps man to keep a good relationship with his fellow beings and other living forms as well. It is not confined to any country or any particular Nation. It is through the concept of Metta or loving kindness and the teaching of Dependent Origination (Paticcasamuppada), that all beings may be seen to cooperate and intermingle in the world. According to the Discourse on loving kindness (Karaniyametta Sutta), the real Buddhists by suffusing with metta all beings in the world say "may all beings be happy and safe(sabbe satta bhavantu sukhitatta).When one says "sabbe satta" it means all types of beings in the World. Just to illustrate how these truths are manifest in life , let us take a little poem by an American poet, Mark Van Doren,

"Once there was a fence here
And the grass came and tried,
Leaning from the pasture to get inside
But colt feet trampled it turning it brown
Till the farmer moved and the fence fell down.
Then any bird saw under the wire
The grass growing inward like green fire."

Even that poor life loving grass, a lowly weed, struggles to live in a farm in which colt feet trample it brown. Is n't this poet aware of a Universal struggle though he is not a Buddhist. The Dhamma's truths are there in the world and some who have not even heard of metta and the Dhamma see them.

In the Dhammapada it is said "Putting oneself in the place of another, one should not kill nor cause another to kill" (130.vr). This friendly attitude extended towards the environment and all beings certainly provides a fertile ground for peace and unity among all life. This boundless loving kindness is to be radiated towards all beings in the world -above, below, across, and in all the direction - It is to be practised while one is standing, walking, sitting or reclining, even as long as one is awake. If one leads life in this manner it may be called " Noble living"(brahmaviharam idam aahu). In the whole world there will be no enemies for such as him, nor a nearest and nor a dearest as well. Buddhists in this way extend loving kindness even towards the tiniest creature that crawls at one's feet. Noble sentiments expressed by people regularly near plants and fruit-trees are said to produce better yields . As life is precious to all no man has the power or right to destroy the life of another. This concept of loving kindness or metta goes even beyond charity which is the book of Corinthians preaches.

Obviously it is a marvelous teaching of the Buddha. In many of his discourses the Buddha has stated how loving kindness may be practised. By eating flesh and meat(carcasses) and harbouring anger and hatred one cannot extend loving kindness. Whatever anger or hatred, there is never appeasement by hatred, but only by loving kindness. It is a Universal teaching.

Dependent Origination is the doctrine through which one can easily understand the relationship between one and another and the environment as well. It teaches us how we all are interconnected and interdependent. If one is mindful and wise this reality can be comprehended even through a piece of paper, a grain of rice or a piece of cake. According to this teaching of Dependent Origination one exists because of the other. There are causes and effects. There is nothing, in this world, that happens by blind chance or accident but everything is from a concatenation of causes. We must emphasize that there is never a single cause. There are cluster of causes and cluster of effects for the arising, existence and perishing of things in the world. The Buddha first realized that there is something called suffering(dukkha). And then he explored the cause of it and then the remedy for the cause. As the result, he enunciated the Eight-fold Path as the path leading to the cessation of suffering, the emancipation, Nibbana. Of course, he referred to one cause for suffering-craving, but though it is stated as a single phenomenon it has a "cluster" of events.

Once the Ven. Ananda said " It is wonderful, Lord, it is marvellous how profound this Dependent Origination is, and how profound it appears! And yet it appears to me as clear as clear!" Then the Buddha said " Do not say that Ananda, do not say that! This Dependent Origination is profound and appears profound. It is through not understanding, not penetrating this doctrine that this generation has become like a tangled ball of string, matted like a bird's nest, tangled like coarse grass, unable to pass beyond states of woe, the ill destiny, ruin and the round of birth-and-death".

According to this teaching everything in the world is dependent on other things . So we all are dependent on things or beings in the world. It means without the assistance of other things and other beings in the world we cannot live in the world. Ecological balance is very significant fact in the Universe for us. As we are interdependent we need each and everyone's help to live in society. Then only can we lead a righteous and a successful life. The real Buddhists never look down upon others. Never harm others. They treat others as their own brothers and sisters. Ven. Narada in his work "Buddhism in a nutshell" states "To a Buddhist there is no far or near, no enemy or foreigner, no renegade or untouchable, since universal love realized through understanding has established the brotherhood of all living beings. A real Buddhist is a citizen of the world. He regards the whole world as his motherland and all as his brothers and sisters."

May all beings be well and happy!

Paramita International Buddhist Centre
Sri Lanka


Updated: 24-8-2000

Return to "Buddhism for Beginners"

Top of Page