As individuals who embrace a secular or naturalistic approach to the dharma, one that is based on the goal of reducing suffering and facilitating the flourishing of all beings in this world, we feel a responsibility to speak out about the horrific events in Israel and Palestine.
While there are diverse political perspectives among us, we all recognize the need to avoid dualistic and simplistic views on this issue which lack an adequate historical context and ignore the broader, structural causes of this violent conflict. These types of views promote hatred and bigotry, reinforcing the cycle of blame and violence.
But we also know that a more adequate understanding of the situation is not enough; our perspectives and actions must be based on a deep sense of care for all beings, an insistent demand for non-violent and just solutions, and an overall attitude of kindness. When we bring these dharmic values into our interactions with others and our political activities, we embody the kind of compassionate action that is essential in this world wherever violence is being perpetrated by any group against another.
Those of us who embrace a secular or naturalistic approach to the dharma recognize that individual transformation and well-being are integrally connected to and dependent on creating a society in which all beings are valued and can live in a just, peaceful world. Compassionate action is not a supplement to our practice but a vital part of the path that we walk together.
We recognize that Israel/Palestine is not the only region in our world where people are suffering from violence and harm, often as a result of inter-ethnic conflict supported and facilitated by powerful elites. According to the Geneva Academy, there are 45 violent conflicts occurring now throughout the world, in Yemen, Sudan, Colombia, and the Ukraine. Millions of people are suffering. All of us must do what we can to bring compassionate action and wisdom to help resolve these conflicts as well.
We, of course, are not alone in responding to the events in Israel and Palestine. Valuable and insightful statements have recently been issued by several organizations in the Buddhist community, including:
The Plum Village Monastic Community – Click here for their statement.
The Buddhist Peace Fellowship - Click here for their statement.
The Upaya Zen Center - Click here for their statement: “HATRED IS NEVER APPEASED BY HATRED”
This statement was developed by an ad hoc group of participants in SBN’s monthly discussion group.