The award of the Nobel Peace Prize to President Obama stunned the world, including himself. My first email to read, before 5 a.m. going to the Missouri Zen Center as usual, was congratulations to The Peace Alliance, an initiative to establish a U.S. Department of Peace. I wondered if this were another dream, like those we created recently in a brainstorming session at the Fourth Global Alliance Summit in Costa Rica.
It turned out to be real. The satellite TV news from Japan reported citizens’ voices from Hiroshima and other cities throughout the country: hope for humanity to make a world without nuclear weapons, etc. On the way back home from the Center, I listened to NPR conveying pros and cons and doubts from all over the world. The Global Alliance listserv posted joy and anger and calls for a realistic approach. Eventually, exuberance and extreme reactions will subside and reality will reveal itself. While the global problematique presents a dark prospect, this award to President Obama is like the flashing of the morning star.
In my regular talk during zazen (seated meditation), I referred to this award as support for President Obama who, like fellow laureates Nelson Mandela (1993), the Dalai Lama (1989), et al., has urged the world to advance in its aspirations and actions. I quoted Professor Carlos Vargas at the above cited Summit: “The abolition of nuclear weapons is the ultimate human right.” Not only human life, but the entire global life system is threatened with extinction simply because of selfishness. Selfishness is the ultimate mark of immaturity. Violence is the ultimate means of selfishness. Nuclear weapons are the ultimate force of violence.
Abolishing nuclear weapons, wars, violence, and selfishness is the great human responsibility. It is each person’s responsibility. It is everyone’s responsibility to cultivate what, in Buddhism, we term the Six Perfections: giving (sharing), patience, striving, morality, concentration, and prognosis (insight, wisdom). Then anyone can verify truth and peace in himself or herself anywhere, anytime. From this vantage point we can live a joyful life in truth and peace with everyone and everything we encounter and envision in space and time. Time flies. Life flashes!