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by Prof P.D. Premasiri Ph.D - Courtesy Vesak Lipi

It is possible for one who is himself not stuck in the mud to pull out another who is stuck in the mud. From the Buddhist point of view there is no ultimate conflict between what conduces to the welfare of oneself and what conduces to the welfare of others. As the Buddha has put it, "one who takes care of oneself takes care of others. One who takes care of others takes care of oneself. One takes care of oneself by moral training, moral culture and moral development. One takes care of others by harmlessness, by goodwill and by compassion'' "Whether one wants to see that one's own good should be brought about or one wants to see that the good of others should be brought about or one wants to see that the good of both should be brought about it is necessary to cultivate one's character diligently". When one is overwhelmed by greed or hatred one cannot sees one's own welfare or the another associated with intense physical, suffering.

Much more intense is the mental suffering that human beings experience due -to the presence in the human mind of unwholesome emotions referred to in Buddhism by a number of terms such as akusala dhamma asava, anusaya, kilesa. Having ethico- psychological meanings. From the Buddhist point of view putting an end to all human suffering and distress involves the destruction of these unwholesome states of mind. As long as such states of mind are present, living beings are considered in Buddhism to be in bondage going through the repeated process of becoming which makes them exposed to all the physical and mental sufferings. The greatest welfare of human beings is the escape from this unsatisfactory condition. Every individual who strives to escape from that condition seeks one's own welfare.

Those who engage in providing guidance to others to escape from that condition are engaged in social welfare in the highest sense. They are capable of serving society with a totally detached attitude, and with no ulterior motives, but purely through compassion for the suffering masses. The Buddha and his reputed disciples did commit themselves to the service of society throughout their lives in this sense. It remains valid to this day that the greatest service that Buddhists could do to mankind is to lead them on the way to the attainment of this liberation. That is the greatest social welfare that Buddhism can promote.

One of the most potent sources of suffering in society is the cruelty and insensitivity of man that is-reflected in the pursuit of self-interest. Human conduct becomes a hindrance to social welfare when it proceeds from the roots of unwholesome motivation that Buddhism describes as greed, hatred and delusion. Numerous social crises that produce immense suffering in society are frequently a product of human cruelty. If the recent history of human civilization is considered more human suffering has resulted from cruelty of man towards man than from any other causes such as natural disasters that are unrelated to human conduct and intentions. >

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