Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Buddhism To Combat Social Problems

Buddhism is more of a way of life as it offers a course of simple, pure and harmonious living. The Teachings of Buddha emphasize on self-reliance, self-responsibility and more – on the cultivating of both social and spiritual values which help to mould a person into a typical Buddhist character.

In His teachings, Lord Buddha stressed on the importance of cultivating good social values in life like generosity, perseverance, determination, patience, truth fullness and loving kindness and not forgetting the spiritual values of morality, renunciation and equanimity.

We are fully aware that nobody is born with good values. Good personalities and qualities are to be cultivated in life’s long journey.

Perseverance and determination are two transcendental virtues which Buddha advised His disciples to cultivate and practise.

As we cultivate perseverance, we may eventually find ourselves not only having the physical strength of doing moral actions, but also developing the mental vigour and strength of character.

Life is not always a bed of roses; there is always life’s harder moments to encounter. Ours is a rat race world where the impact of changes and challenges in every corner of the world is so immediate and pressing. With perseverance, mental vigour and strength of character, we may be able to survive the pace. With this value of perseverance, we are in a position of setting goals and accomplishing them and thus making ourselves complete, total persons in life.

Determination is another very salient feature taught by Lord Buddha. It is this value that keeps a man driving towards hard and distant goals. With sufficient will power, a person will never turn away from his goal. A very concrete example is none other than the Buddha in His six long years of superhuman struggle for Enlightenment in the face of innumerable problems, particularly so when His five favourite disciples deserted Him at a crucial moment when He most needed their help.

The Buddha often emphasized on self-reliance and not to rely on others for salvation. He exhorted His disciples saying, “Be ye islands unto yourselves, be ye a refuge unto yourselves, seek no refuge in others.” He revealed how vital is self-exertion to accomplish one’s objective. This portion of His teachings is exceptionally realistic and practical to this society of ours – highly competitive one where everybody wants to be better off than others and hence they do not have time for others but ‘self’.

The first step towards self-reliance is to assume responsibility for ourselves and the decisions that affect our lives. We have to indulge in periodical self-evaluation, tell ourselves after each evaluation where we went wrong and improve on them with self effort. No amount of external worship and prayer can make a person progress in insight and righteousness – it is self-restraint, self-effort.

The Buddha, in the course of His ministry pointed out to His disciples the real nature of the world and advised them not to be ‘surface seers’ seeing and acknowledging only the beautiful things in life and pushing aside the ugly side of it. In the hustle and bustle of modern life, we have got to compete against tensions, distractions, stress and strains and none of us would be spared these realities.

Another salient feature of Buddhism is the Buddhist concept that nothing in this world is permanent. Everything in this world is so very uncertain and short-lived nowadays. At any point of time, we may be faced with an involuntary separation, either death of a loved one or the breaking up of a relationship. With a clear perception of the impermanency on life, we will find ourselves being more capable to handle our problems calmly. We will be more ready to face problems in life. Although we are not robots and are still vulnerable to feelings and pains, we will be in a better position to confront and deal with such feelings and pain with realistic approach and be able to survive through the agony.

Very much connected with this Buddhist concept of impermanency is the question of aging which has become a social problem to many people. If we cultivate right understanding (the keynote of Buddhism) we will not be tormented by the thought of old age and will accept it as part of life.

Cultivating right understanding and putting it into practice is essential to solve the day-to-day problems.

- Author Unknown 

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