This short article below appeared on Kadampa Life in 2011, but the blog was in its infancy so not many of you have seen it. Here it is again, to celebrate Martin Luther King Day today.
A Kadampa nun gave the annual Martin Luther King lecture at Montana State University last Monday, speaking to about 400 students, professors and community members.
King proved power of love, nonviolence, speaker says
Martin Luther King Jr. achieved incredible changes in American law and society, yet it all sprang from what was within his mind, a philosophy based on love, compassion and wisdom, a Buddhist nun told a Bozeman crowd Wednesday.
Gen Varahi spoke in Washington DC, a breath of fresh air in a city known at the moment mainly for its partisan bickering.
Democrat or Republican, the only way to make a lasting difference in our world is to have a good intention — beginning, middle and end. Geshe Kelsang Gyatso says in Mahamudra Tantra (page 9):
Wherever we go and whatever we do depends upon our intention. No matter how powerful our body and speech may be, we shall never be able to do anything if we lack the intention to do it. If our intention is incorrect we shall naturally perform incorrect actions, which give rise to unpleasant results, but if our intention is correct the opposite will be true.
As Gen Varahi, a former medical doctor, points out:
King was a hero, who led a movement that took America out of a “very shameful” position to one we can be proud of”… “We can be like Martin Luther King if we train our minds to react with compassion and wisdom…. King’s use of the practical philosophy of nonviolent worked. It showed us the power of love.”
I read last Sunday’s papers yesterday and came to my usual conclusion that the world is a mess.
Africa — disaster
Arab world — disaster
Afghanistan — disaster
American job situation — disaster
And that is just the A’s.
And why? We can point the finger at any number of external causes and conditions, and usually do. In politics different people point fingers at different causes, and then spend most of the time arguing about what they’re pointing at.
But the real causes are the delusions — i.e. unpeaceful, uncontrolled minds — of everyone involved. Anger, greed, ignorance, pride, hubris, hypocrisy, selfishness, the eight worldly concerns… These are all states of mind, nothing external.
Imagine if they were replaced by love, generosity, wisdom, humility, straightforwardness, honesty, unselfishness, equanimity…?
“King realized that you cannot separate the ends and means”, Varahi said. “Over time, violent methods do not result in peace.”
(See the article for her reply on the efficacy non-violence in the face of violent dictators).
As my teacher Geshe Kelsang is fond of saying:
“Without inner peace, outer peace is impossible.”
Atisha, the original Kadampa Teacher, said:
“Since you cannot tame the minds of others until you have tamed your own, begin by taming your own mind.”
It might sound obvious when we see it, so why do we keep pointing the finger elsewhere when things go wrong? After all, whenever we point a finger, there are four fingers pointing back at us.
M.L. King has the qualities of a bodhisattva, it seems to me. Thank you for honoring him.
Yes, thanks Mickey, he is a great example for our world.