Be careful with quotes of Lord Buddha

There is a tendency within the Sangha to use quotes of the Buddha out of context. Many if not most of Lord Buddha’s sutta are directed to the community of monks themselves. For example, this quote which shows the essence of Buddha’s teaching on surrendering anger:

“Those absorbed insuch accusations as: “He/She/They abused, hurt, did me or us wrong ” whether right or wrong!, such foolish ones only prolong own pain by being obsessed by their own anger. However! Those freed of these accusations:”He/She/They abused, hurt, did me or us wrong ” noting: whether right or wrong – so what! – such clever ones stop own pain by relinquishing all anger.”

This quote is best understood as directed at solving disputes within the Sangha and not society at large. The Dalai Lama makes an interesting point that “As free human beings we can use our unique intelligence to try to understand ourselves and our world. The Buddha made it clear that his followers were not to take even what he said at face value, but were to examine and test it as a goldsmith tests the quality of gold. But if we are prevented from using our discrimination and creativity, we lose one of the basic characteristics of a human being.”

When speaking on the wellbeing of a democratic society, Lord Buddha said thus

”So long, Ānanda, as the Vajjians assemble in harmony and disperse in harmony; so long as they conduct their business in harmony; so long as they introduce no revolutionary ordinance or break up no established ordinance, but abide by the law; so long as they honour, revere, esteem and worship the elders(thera) among the Vajjians and deem them worthy of listening to; so long as the women and maidens can go about, without being molested or abducted; so long as they honour, revere, esteem and worship the Vajjian shrines, both the inner and the outer; as long as they allow not the customary offerings given and performed, to be neglected; so long as customary watch and ward over the holy men that are among them is well kept, so that they may have free access to the realm and having entered may dwell pleasantly therein, just so long as they do these things, Ānanda, may the prosperity of the Vajjians be looked for and not their decay.“

Social harmony is an explicit goal of the Dhamma. When social harmony does not exist, anger at crimes is a natural response to injustice, it is the goal of Buddhist training that anger is no longer possible. However the cause of justice must not be surrendered to rectify crimes and wrongdoing which must be confessed and punished for. Since he is not of samsara, Lord Buddha will always show mercy, he will always be compassionate, and he will always be forgiving. As such he is the perfect model for human behavior for us to model ourselves on. However it is the kamma of the authorities, and when lacking, the people, to insure justice be done and the Dhamma protected. Just as when the insane are placed in a hospital for their own protection, when people with infectious diseases are placed in quarantine, when criminals are put into prison, and when foreigners in detention camps, these merciful acts are done for their protection.

As Buddhists we believe that blindly following religious doctrine without discrimination and creativity is the source of untold suffering in the world. Carefully consider all words and supposed words of the Buddha in this context.

That is why 969 Movement is so important for Buddhist people and Buddhist nations. Without harming others, we help each other. Without harsh speech, we strengthen each other.Without poor choices, we enrich each other. This is the way it has always been done and a little more mindfulness and a little more effort can produce great benefit to all sentient beings. 969 means no surrender of our principles.

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