Development of Man As the Prerequisite for Peace

3 December 2529

Development of Man As the Prerequisite for Peace

It is at this point that we need amendment, and the service of religion, or the Dhamma, is indispensable. This means that systematic thinking, free of harmful motives and self-centered tendencies, must continue, following the first and second phases of scientific and technological thinking, into the third decisive phase. People have to be trained to think in terms of ethical or moral values such as: How can this be used to enhance the quality of life or to promote the mutual well-being of mankind? If moral thought has been established as the third phase of the thinking process, moral behaviour and actions will follow, completing a whole process and leaving no gap for unwholesome tendencies to influence. Now the thinking process consists of the three phases of thinking in terms of science, of technology, and of ethical values. Thus, science, technology and the Dhamma or religion are harmoniously integrated even at the level of thought, each finding its proper role which is complementary to the others. A fundamental change in the pattern of thought and behaviour has also been achieved.

However, it is not necessary that the thinking process will consist of all these three phases. The scientific and technological phases exemplify neutral phases in general. They can be dropped or replaced by some or other neutral phases. Only the Dhamma or ethical phase is a necessity. Both moral and immoral tendencies are there in the mind. If the moral ones are not to the fore, the immoral will come to reign. (However, with true knowledge or insight into the true nature of things, which usually requires mental training, a man can have a pure process of thought, beyond both moral and immoral qualities.)

Today, how to think is an emphasis in education. Truly, children, and all people alike, should be taught how to think. Many people, however, refer to the “how to think” only in terms of scientific or intellectual thinking. They do not touch the true nature of the mind and thus leave the thinking process unsound and defective. Their “how to think” is therefore too short to realize the aim of education, that is, to develop the individual man so that human problems will be rightly solved and a good life will be attained to. With the phase of moral thought, the thinking process of “how to think” is complete. In this right process of thinking, intellectual thought and moral thought become integrated. It is thought that is both rational, wholesome and truly sound. Then “how to think” means the way of thinking which is in accordance with truth, full of reason, and favourable to a good life. With this right thought, true religion is there in man. He is truly religious in the full sense of the term (religion in the meaning of the Dhamma). There is no need for any other label.

The right process of thinking as described above is the connection through which mental or emotional development can induce and occasion physical and social development, and through which mental or emotional freedom can contribute to the achievement of, or even effectuate, physical and social freedom.

Deeper into the sphere of mental or emotional development is the readjustment or purification of the contents of the mind itself. This aims at the liberation of man from the influence or controlling power of unwholesome motives, impulses and tendencies, so that none of them will remain to overcome the thinking process. This is centred on the eradication of the three above-mentioned self-centred tendencies, that is, selfish desire for pleasures and acquisitions, egotistical lust for dominance and power, and clinging to views, faiths and ideologies. In place of these three unwholesome qualities, their three opposite ethical values will be developed respectively, viz.,

1. Wise dealing with pleasures and possessions and the resolve to make use of wealth to realize common well-being, or wealth for the common weal.

2. Respect for, and appreciation of, the value of life, the ways of other people, and social order.

3. Detached search for truth, with an attitude of tolerance and good will to those who have different views of truth.

Usually, the three self-centred tendencies are not immediately given up by generating the three counter-values, and the latter also are usually not directly brought about to replace the former. The destruction of the former and the growth of the latter are, as a rule, the corollaries of the development of such virtues as loving-kindness, compassion, sympathetic joy and equanimity, and the practice of such ethical principles as generosity, kindly speech, life of service, and equality consisting of impartiality and participation.

The development of the heart needs a great deal of contribution from the development of wisdom, as the real freedom of the heart can be realized only through the freedom of true knowledge or wisdom. Accordingly, the total eradication of the three self-centred tendencies will be actualized only when one has attained Enlightenment, or the full understanding of life. When wisdom is lacking, or still in the early stages of its development, man has to depend on the three self-centred tendencies for his self-protection, though he has to risk their harmful influence. Once wisdom or true knowledge has been developed to the full, a person, living under the guidance of wisdom, can do away with all of them.

The term intellectual development is here loosely used. It does not exactly convey the intended meaning. It is truly not only the development of the intellect, but the development of wisdom or true knowledge.

There are so many practices that are helpful to the development of the heart. Some bring about temporary freedom. Others lead to absolute freedom. What distinguishes them is wisdom, true knowledge or insight. Any practice without wisdom as a factor can help achieve only temporary freedom. This is evident in the practice of meditation. Generally speaking, there are two kinds of meditation: calming meditation and insight meditation. Calming meditation with concentration as its essence leads to temporary freedom. Insight meditation, in which knowledge of the true nature of things is the guiding principle, makes possible the absolute freedom. Wherever there is freedom, there are peace and happiness. Along with temporary freedom, come temporary peace and happiness. Inseparable from absolute freedom are perfect peace and happiness.

The really happy person is in real possession of happiness, as it is inside oneself. If one is provided with pleasures, one enjoys happiness to the full. If one is deprived of pleasures, or if some misfortunes befall one, one can still find happiness. The plaster of unhappiness does not have any real effect on one. Only the really happy person has real peace. Only the person who has peace can be really happy. The person who has happiness radiates happiness. The person who has peace diffuses peace. The person who has no peace of mind tends to break peace in one’s family, among neighbours and wherever one is. The one who is at peace with oneself naturally and automatically lives in peace with everyone. This is the happy and peaceful person in the full sense of the terms. One’s peace and happiness are true to life; and it is this truly happy and peaceful person who is the fully developed human being. One is really educated. The development that creates this free, peaceful and happy person is entitled to the term Peace Education.

In order to achieve freedom, peace and happiness for man and his society, we need the interrelated and interdependent service of the four spheres of development, and also the interrelated and interdependent fulfilment of the four levels of freedom. In the process of successful development we have to deal wisely with the two principal domains that affect man’s life, i.e. the inner world of the individual himself and the outer physical world. Success in the solution of problems, and the creation of peace, lies in the right understanding and proper recognition of the relationship between the two domains, and of the extent and limitations of the roles and contributing capabilities of each of them, and in action in accordance therewith.

Regarding the outer world, we have to appreciate the roles of science and technology and the various social institutions in the process of development that leads to freedom. We must accept that science and technology rightly and wisely used can be complementary to the Dhamma, or religion, in carrying out physical development to achieve physical freedom. Effective and efficient social, economic and political systems and organizations are indispensable if social development is ever to effectuate social freedom.

However, it seems that today we already have so abundant a supply of these physical and social tools of development that there is a problem of misusing them and people, being unprepared for the wise and right use of them, gain more troubles rather than benefit from them. Now, we should stop giving them priority. Although some among us should go on with the job of improving and advancing science, technology and social, economic and political systems, special attention should be paid to the comparatively long neglected task of developing the human individual. The development of man should be our top priority of today.

The development or education of man is a unique task. It is the task of and for the specific life of each person. Unlike other fields of human activities, where the wealth of experiences and achievements of former generations can be handed down as cultural heritage to a later generation, and the later generation can make use of that heap of accumulations as the step on which they climb further up the ladder of civilization, without the necessity of starting up anew from the ground, the development or education of man is a matter for a specific life. It has to be started anew from the ground up to the top of the ladder in the span of each and every life. In considering the fact that man is the creator, the central figure and the sufferer or enjoyer of all problems and their solutions, this task is of even greater importance.

The peace and happiness of the individual are the foundation of the peace and happiness of the whole world. Education for the promotion of peace is therefore one of the most important tasks to undertake. Essentially it is education or the development of man that is the prerequisite for peace. If this right education has been fully and thoroughly carried out, the international year in need of peace will surely become the real International Year of Peace, when peace, happiness and freedom prevail all over the world. Or, as this year of 1986 is going to end soon, let us hope that it will be the year when the world begins to move in the right direction towards peace. Also, let everyone of us take some action to turn hope into reality.

To be practical, the first action to take is to make our own mind happy and peaceful, and then share our peace and happiness with all other people we come into contact with. May all be happy and peaceful and their mental, verbal and physical actions be contributions to the creation of long years of peace to come.

Peace be unto you and to all beings.

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