The aim of an organization is its very soul. An organization without an aim is like a boat without a compass. It may set out to cross the ocean, but it will soon become hopelessly lost. An aim gives us direction, and it gives us our future. All members of the BLIA should have as their aim a willingness to organize and work together so that we can actualize and completely fulfill all of the guiding principles of the BLIA. In the following four sections, I will discuss the four principal aims of the BLIA.
In recent years, Buddhism has experienced a lot of growth. More and more people are becoming Buddhists. We all should be gladdened by this trend, and yet at the same time, we must recognize that some of the Buddhism spreading around the world has drifted quite far from the original teachings of Sakyamuni Buddha.
This kind of Buddhism will not succeed in giving people the means to fully escape the sufferings of this world. For example, some people spend a lot of time reading abstruse Buddhist treatises, while completely neglecting the much more important chore of actually practicing what they read. Other people adopt the outer forms of Buddhism – they become vegetarians and frequent temples – but beyond that, they do almost nothing to carry their beliefs into their daily lives where they can get real benefit from them. Others spend all their time shut away in long retreats without giving any consideration to the broader needs of society. Still others indulge themselves in the superstitions of false teachers. Instead of truly learning the truths of the Dharma, they waste all their time trying to develop psychic powers or the ability to remember their past lives.
The Buddha did not teach us to be like that. He taught a Human- istic Buddhism that is to be lived and practiced in our daily lives. The practical is more valuable than the arcane, the collective is more important than the individual, society is more important than the mountain retreat, and it is more important to help others than it is to help ourselves.
It is very important that members of the BLIA realize the central- ity and deep significance of what is meant by Humanistic Buddhism. Only when we have fully understood the importance of truly carrying Buddhism into every area of our lives will we be completely fit to shoulder the immense responsibility of spreading the Dharma for the good of all sentient beings.
What lies at the heart of Humanistic Buddhism?
Conditioned genesis and cause and effect lie at its heart. The five precepts and the ten wholesome acts lie at its heart. The six perfections and the four means of embracing (Catuh-samgraha-vastu) lie at its heart.
Compassion and equanimity are Humanistic Buddhism. The five vehicles and the Dharma are Humanistic Buddhism.
Work, tolerance, respect, praise for others, helping others and putting forth the effort to make this a better world all are Humanistic Buddhism. I hope all members of the BLIA will dedicate themselves to the vision, as well as to the real work, of Humanistic Buddhism by practicing the ideals of Buddhism in all areas of their lives.
This world is full of darkness, so it needs the light of Buddhism. This world is full of turbulence, so it needs the peace of Buddhism. This world is full of suffering, so it needs the relief of Buddhism.
The Pure Land is something all of us desire to see.
To reach the Pure Land of Amitabha Buddha we must contemplate his name with perfect concentration. To reach the Pure Land of the Flower Adornment we must perfect our practice. It is said to be easier to reach Tusita Heaven, but Tusita Heaven still lies within the Three Realms.
The Vimalakirti Sutra says, “Insofar as the heart is pure, there the Pure Land lies.”
There is no need for us to abandon this world in search of another one. If all of us would try together, we could make this earth as beautiful as a Pure Land. Think of it, in the entire universe, there is not one Pure Land that was not established on the strength of the vow of a great bodhisattva! If we in the BLIA really succeed in living and promoting the deep truths of Buddhism, we will succeed in making this world into a Pure Land.
The world has changed so rapidly in recent years, tradition- al moralities have been stood on their heads. People place their own benefit before others’, and they believe falsehoods and take pleasure in harming others. Many people actually desire destruc- tion and enjoy calamities. They use mind-altering drugs and give themselves over to the command of the senses. Perverse ideolo- gies surface daily in the news, and whole areas of the world lose themselves in destructive conflicts as they pursue unrelenting vengeance and hatred.
The Flower Adornment Sutra says, “The Three Realms are the mind, the myriad phenomena are our consciousness.”
Our minds are something like factories. If our factories are good, the products they produce also will be good, and their influence on society will be beneficial. If our factories are bad, the products they produce will not be good, and their influence on society will be terrible. The minds of human beings are just like this. If our minds are good, if they are filled with loving-kindness and compassion, then we will do good things and our influence other others will be beneficial. If our minds are filled with greed, anger and ignorance, however, then what we do will harm both ourselves and all others with whom we have contact. This is a basic law of life, and recognition of this law is the start of virtue.
Sun Yat-sen (1866-1925) once said, “The nation is a collection of people. A person is a vessel of the mind.”
If we want to make our nations strong and our peoples happy, then we must purify our minds and uphold the morality of this world. We must have proper attitudes toward money, toward saving, and toward other people, and we must develop deep religious convictions. Beyond this, we must make a real effort to improve society with an attitude of compassion, tolerance, gratitude and kindness. This is the bodhi way, and this is the only way we can hope to have a lasting, positive influence on the history of the world.
The history of the world is characterized by its variety and its tendency to turn variety into conflict.
There are many races, religions and languages on this planet.
With the development of modern weapons, our capacity to enter into extremely destructive conflicts with each other has only increased. At the same time, our desires for peace have also grown.
Now we have peace movements, nuclear-weapons bans and other policies designed to lessen the chance of war.
These outer policies are important, but when all is said and done, they will not in themselves bring lasting peace into this world. The world’s conflicts are so complex and changeable, more than mere governmental policies will be needed to bring them to an end.
The very hearts and minds of people must be changed until they better accord with the Six points of reverent harmony. Only this will bring lasting peace to the world.
The six points of reverent harmony are:
In this turbulent and difficult world, we are fortunate to have Buddhism as our guide. Buddhism protects us from many troubles, and it gives us so much peace and joy. As we relish the good fortune of being Buddhists, let us also consider the importance of unity so that, together, we will be able to spread these benefits to even more people in the world.