For the Sake of Peace
Daisaku Ikeda
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buy *For the Sake of Peace* online For the Sake of Peace: Seven Paths to Global Harmony - A Buddhist Perspective
Daisaku Ikeda
Middleway Books
272 pages
February 2001
rated 4 of 5 possible stars

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Daisaku Ikeda recalls:

"I heard the emperor's August 15, 1945, radio announcement of the end of the war. My complex feelings at the time remain indelibly engraved in the core of my being."
Curled Up With a Good BookThis is the beginning of a lifetime spent fighting for peace. From the recipient of the United Nations Peace award, and based on more than twenty-five years of university lectures and proposals to the United Nations, For The Sake of Peace "addresses the issue of peace from the Buddhist perspective."

While this might seem too lofty a subject for your average bedside reading, don't worry. Written in an easy, light tone, the chapters move swiftly, with no resemblance to the textbooks of your past. But while the layperson can get on top of the idea of global discord and harmony, do not think that you will be able to move in and out of the material without consequences. You will be forever changed. When you consider the task at hand, and the role Daisaku and we as individuals have, you may feel momentarily overwhelmed.

"When the twentieth century began, there was a general belief that human progress was limitless. The lofty ideals and high purposes envisioned at the outset of the century were obliterated, however, by the extremist ideologies that swept the world, leaving slaughter in their wake. Perhaps no other century has been witness to such endless tragedy and human folly; the global environment has been grievously damaged, and the gap between rich and poor seems ever widening."
But don't despair. Daisaku poses some big questions but goes on to offer some ways in which we, everyday people, can go onto change the world, if even just with small things.

What inhibits the world from making peace? What can bring about a change in character? What is really meant by a culture of peace? This is extremely topical, considering the events of September 11th and the possibility of war that hovers over our daily lives like heavy clouds that threaten thunder. Daisaku uses the Buddhist way of life as a conduit in which to change our ways, to create a world where peace remains:

"The Buddhist understanding of life can help us translate the ideal of an inner transcendence of difference into the actualities of daily life. In other words, we can achieve a state in which we are no longer caught up in or constrained by our awareness of difference."
While you may not be Buddhist yourself, the precepts are universal enough that peace will come about from making very small changes, as long as we are willing to put forth the effort. Throughout the book, examples of Buddhist sutras show that compassion and love pave the way to peace. Daisaku writes,
"The people of the world are obviously looking forward to the arrival of a world without war, a world of eternal peace."
The question remains - how hard are we willing to work for it?

Covering such intense subjects the world's growing poverty rate and continuing lack of education presents an opportunity in which to reflect on not just your own experience, but of those less fortunate than you. This is what will bring about global understanding. This is what is going to change the world. Daisaku writes,

"Humankind is faced on every side by inescapable dilemmas; the threat of nuclear arms and other weapons of mass destruction, the intensification of ethnic discord, damage to the environment from the effects of global warming and destruction to the earth's ozone layer, and the spread of psychopathic, brutal criminality."
This is what we are up against - the evils of the world. But, through self-restraint, we can make a difference.
"Eternal peace is a continuum consciously maintained through the interaction of self-restraining individuals within a self-restraining society."
This may sound awful, painful, too much for an individual to bear. But this is not so. Daisaku is "firmly convinced that a large-scale awakening to the greater self will lead to a world of creative coexistence in the coming century," and that "the real seeds of peace lie not in lofty ideas but in human understanding and the empathy of ordinary people." The bottom line? According to Daisaku, tolerance:
"Tolerance can help us create a new epoch of coexistence, shining the light of hope into the dark shroud of pessimism."
Do you know the five principles of peace?
  1. Mutual respect of territorial rights
  2. Mutual nonaggression
  3. Nonintervention in domestic politics
  4. Equality and reciprocity
  5. Peaceful coexistence.
Now you do. And now's the time to do something about it. Read this book and then decide that reading about it isn't enough. For action is only thought put to movement.

Through the threat of nuclear war, ethnic exclusivism and national sovereignty, we are introduced to a provocative work. Unfortunately, we are not the ones most in need of understanding these materials. Our leaders are. However, armed with this knowledge, we have enough power to change the world ourselves. And we will have Ikeda to thank.

"To find and follow a universal Way is one of the most important goals for civilization in the new century."

© 2002 by Stephanie Dickison for Curled Up With a Good Book

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