In Praise of Enlightenment
Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on March 12, 2017
By Aarya Pokhrel*
It’s 2017, yet how far have we really come when Race, religion, gender, sexuality, politics, wealth and even physical conditions, still seem to instigate large scale conflict and tension?
How long will it take one to notice that everyone’s idea about life is different? Even those in the same religions interpret Holy Scriptures differently, based on their level of perception. Your truth is not the only truth. The world is full of people with individual belief-systems – we must respect that and not use it as an excuse to belittle, ignore and abuse others.
Of course, any actions that are not in line with love can be seen as immoral and destructive to mankind. Therefore, maybe love should be a primary religion – yet, even me labelling it that will create distaste in some people. That’s just how many of us are programmed.
Our world should be a world full of equals; those who will enter and leave in the same way. We are a different manifestation of the same thing. We are all souls having a human experience – sadly it’s the instrument we choose to express ourselves in which sometimes creates separation. We’re like M&M’s; we might look different but we’re made exactly the same. The idea of fighting over which tastes is better is hideous. Like you, I’m tired of reading posts like this about equality, but I’m even more tired of seeing inequality. “No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” (Nelson Mandela).
With our world still toiled with constant hatred and change, it seems natural for us as humans to long for change. A sense of belonging and implementation of simpler, more natural living. Living free from prejudice and distaste, and one where we are truly treated and seen as one. Enlightenment- or philosophical shift in the mentality of beings- truly means to understand or have knowledge. It was once said that the world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing. This captivated me to think, if we live in a world with countless opportunities; why do we dwell on the materialistic aspects? The aspects that don’t matter? the aspects that divide our own people against one another?
When the theme of Enlightenment and philosophical shifts enter my mind, I cast my focus on Lord Buddha and this notion of Enlightenment he found. Irrespective of the nature of his upbringing as a Prince in Lumbini (Nepal), he incredibly freed himself of all resentful thoughts and emptied any residue of hatred and delusion. This sense of simpler, just thinking cast away all aspects of evil, and allowed the Lord to open his mind to smaller, more important concepts. It was through this intellectual revelation that he, and many others were able to adjust themselves to simpler, more pure lifestyles; a notion that not many of us in this day and age can even begin to fathom. Buddha and his teachings promoted insightful education, literature, art and influences which rejected biased ritualism and encouraged equality. However, regardless of the ample wisdom he has promoted regarding peace, tolerance and non-violence, our world still evidently has not learnt.
People nowadays often ask, “How do we stop the terrorism of today?”, “The unjust systems of political and societal chain of command”, “The materialistic pettiness of no longer appreciating and truly feeling satisfied with what we have?”. Quite simple. We need to eradicate this complex, cannibalistic approach we have to our daily lives and attempt to shift our critical thinking and everyday actions to a direction influenced off the notion of simplicity; or in other words nothing. We need to stop over complicating situations, over-thinking, and placing ourselves in uncomfortable situations which we displease, and rather, implement Buddha’s teachings of basic peace and karma in life. The teachings of Peace and equality- all deriving off the notion of Enlightenment is crucial if we want to maintain the peace and harmony of this world. We already are declining from 100’s of years ago. Sure, there are improvements here and there regarding the improvement in quality of life and overall wellbeing, but alongside necessities, the exponential increase in the covetous objects is what will drag us as a human race down. It truly is so sad that in today’s society, it is no longer surprising when news of a terrorist attack or devastating violence event has occurred as this truly indicates how extreme society has become in tolerance to conflict.
We think we have come far, but the fact of the reality is that no country or state in this so called “modern world” has really moved forward in efforts to truly place individuals as equals. We were all born humans until race disconnected us, religion separated us, politics divided us and wealth classified us. People have truly forgotten no matter your colour or social status, we are all equal. We came here by birth and will leave in death. It truly is not as complicated as it seems; we as a human race just need to revisit the planted seeds of peace and use it to empty ourselves of destruction and evil.
I think ultimately, in this point in time we as a human race need to learn how to put differences aside and realize how significantly such teachings can help to improve the situation of the world today. We can influence others and facilitate our communities with change, but we cannot make THEM change. Hence, awareness of such a message is vital in helping others change and if one by one, we can once again spread and implement aspects of enlightenment which were imprinted in Nepal back in 576 BC. If we can do that, then maybe one day, we can truly spread the unpretentious message and teachings of Lord Buddha that will do nothing but improve what the world has become.
*Lumbini-Kapilvastu Day Movement Student Ambassador. Aaarya is 17 years old girl who has completed VCE in Australia and starting Law and Commerce degree in university from end of this February.
The article was published in The Rising Nepal on 10th of March, 2017