Mon, Nov 20, 2000 - Page 8 News List


Wisdom needed for peace

I'm an American visiting your country now and wish to comment on two related stories printed in your newspaper. In one article, President Chen encourages Taiwan to develop a knowledge-based economy to make Taiwan into a "green silicon island" (Chen pushes knowledge-based economy, Nov. 10, page 17).

In the second story, Premier Chang, in discussing his decision to halt construction of a nuclear power plant says: "We have to make a rational and responsible choice for Taiwan's descendants as well as for the earth [and] for all human beings" (Contractors for fourth nuclear plant told to halt building until further notice, Nov. 10, page 17).

These statements deserve considerable reflection. It is absolutely clear, if one pauses to reflect, that we live in a time of radical change. All life is interconnected. and we all share the same wish for happiness.

This awareness may be essential to our collective survival as human beings.

In the past few decades, large numbers of people in America and other western countries have been exploring the teachings of Buddha. They have begun to realize that technical expertise and material affluence are inadequate by themselves, both in terms of creating a meaningful life for the individual, and in fostering a sustainable, harmonious world.

In Buddhism, knowledge (or skill), and wisdom, are likened to the two wings of a bird. When we have knowledge, without wisdom, we only create new problems as we solve old ones. On the other hand, when we have wisdom, but no knowledge, we tend to ignore the needs of others, again eventually bringing problems. The bird of world peace and harmony needs two wings to fly.

Of course, Buddha cannot solve our problems. You and I have to.

Taiwan is a beautiful country, as is quite apparent from the forward thinking leaders quoted above.

May we all meet again in a very pure land, free of disease and pollution, and there realize our highest potential for happiness.

Jordan Van Voast

Seattle, USA

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