Introduction to Speech at the World Interfaith Harmony Week 2012
Good Evening Extinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen
My name is Pramaha Thanat Inthisan. I am a Thai Buddhist monk residing at the temple Wat Thai Washington, D.C., in Silver Spring, Maryland. I am the representative from the Theravada tradition. Welcome to the World Interfaith Harmony week tonight. I’m glad that you are able to cerebrate the religions and cultures the we share as we create a path towards peace.
Today the followers of the most compassionate religious leader have a special duty to work for the establishment of peace in the world and to show an example to other by following their Master’s advices.
The Buddha said that “All tremble at punishment, all fear death; comparing others with oneself, one should neither kill or cause to kill. (Dhammapada 129)
Peace is always obtainable. But the way to peace is not only through prayers and rituals. Peace is the result of man’s harmony with his fellow beings and with his environment. The peace that we try to introduce by force is not a lasting peace. It is an interval in between the conflict of selfish desire and worldly conditions.
Peace can not exist on this earth without the practice of tolerance. To be tolerant, we must not allow anger and jealousy to prevail in our mind. The Buddha says, “No enemy can harm one so much as one’s own thoughts of craving, hate and jealousy. (Dhammapada 42)
The world is like a mirror and if you look at the mirror with a smile face, you can see your own, beautiful smiling face. On the other hand, if you look at it with a long face, you will invariably see ugliness. Similarly, if you treat the world kindly the world will also certainly treat you kindly. Learn to be peaceful with yourself and the world will also be peaceful with you.
If we are to have peace in our world, each of us has to start by developing inner peace. Otherwise there will be no true peace in the world. And the thing that ensures we have inner peace, peace in our hearts, is an unselfish concern about the welfare of other people. In fact, we need to have loving-kindness—what we Buddhists call mettā—for all living things.
It can rightly be said that loving-kindness and compassion are the foundation upon which the whole building of Buddhism stands. Destruction or injury to life is strictly forbidden. Harming or destroying any being from the highest to the lowest, from a human to the tiniest insect, must be avoided regardless of the cost. The Blessed One said, “Do not harm others. Just as you feel love on seeing a dearly beloved person, so should you extend loving-kindness to all living things.”
Usually, when I describe the essence of Buddhism, I say that at best we should try to help others, and if we cannot help them at least we should do them no harm. This teaching grows from the soil of love and compassion.
The aim of Buddhism is to guide everyone to lead a noble life without harming anyone, to cultivate humane qualities in order to maintain human dignity, to radiate all-embracing loving-kindness without any discrimination, to train the mind to avoid evil, and to purify the mind to gain peace and happiness.
Buddhism is a religious that teaches people to “live and let live.” In the history of the world, there is no evidence to show that Buddhists have interfered or done any damage to any other religion in any part of the world for the purpose of introducing their religion. Buddhists do not regard the existence of other religions as a hindrance to worldly progress and peace. Instead of converting the followers of other religions to their religion, Buddhists can encourage others to practice their own religions, provided that they promote the well-being of all living beings.
The Buddha’s message was an invitation to all to join a universal brotherhood and sisterhood to work in strength and harmony for the welfare and happiness of mankind. He had no chosen people, and he did not regard himself as a chosen person either.
The Buddha was concerned only about showing the path to ultimate happiness. He was not concerned with founding a religion in his name.
The Buddha wanted to show people the difference between good and evil; he wanted to teach humans how to lead a happy, peaceful, and righteous way of life. He never advised his disciples to convert people from one religion to another. His idea of conversion was to introduce a righteous, noble, and religious way of life. In fact, he said that the greatest miracle one could perform was to convert a bad person into a good one. Thank you very much !