Seeds of Peace

Seeds of Peace is a book by Sulak Sivaraksa, a Thai social activist. It has the Buddhist seal of approval with a foreword by the Dalai Lama, a preface by Thich Nhat Hanh and a blurb on the back cover by Joanna Macy.

I have seen the book at Borders and other places many times and it was one of those books on my list, but I figured I would wait until I ran across it in a used book store which was bound to happen sooner or later. Yesterday, I saw it on one of the selves in my local thrift store, and it was dirt cheap, at only 50 cents.

Sulak Sivaraksa is founder and director of the Thai NGO Sathirakoses-Nagapradeepa Foundation, a social, humanitarian, ecological and spiritual movement. The back cover says that in Seeds of Peace, “Sulak draws on his study and practice of Buddhism to approach a wide range of subjects, including economic development, the environment, Japan’s role in Asia, and women in Buddhism.

Published in 1992 Seeds of Peace is still very relevant, considering the recent unrest in Thailand and the ongoing discussions over the role of women in Buddhism. On the later subject, he devotes an entire chapter, which he concludes by saying, “If those in Buddhist countries would study the life and teachings of the Buddha, much of the prejudice and ignorance of the present day would be alleviated.”

You’d think that would be the first thing Buddhists would do . . . study the life and teachings of the Buddha . . .

Another chapter that piqued my interest is “Buddhism with a small ‘b’”, and although his focus is on Asia, like the statement above, people everywhere can benefit from his point of view:

Buddhism, as practiced in most Asian countries today, serves mainly to legitimize dictatorial regimes and multinational corporations. If we Buddhist want to redirect our energies towards enlightenment and universal love, we should begin by spelling Buddhism with a small ‘b.’ Buddhism with a small ‘b’ means concentrating on the message of the Buddha and paying less attention to myth, culture, and ceremony.

We must refrain from focusing on the limiting, egocentric elements of our tradition. Instead, we should follow the original teachings of the Buddha in ways that promote tolerance and real wisdom. It is not a Buddhist approach to say that if everyone practices Buddhism, the world would be a better place. Wars and oppression begin from this kind of thinking.

If you’d like to know more about Sulak Sivaraksa, visit his Wikipedia page or his website.

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