Today only one superpower remains. Soon after the collapse of the Soviet Communist bloc, I was returning from Europe to India and there was a high official from an African state on my plane. When we reached Delhi Airport we were together for a few minutes. I expressed to him that recent developments in the world were hopeful and positive and there was no more danger of a nuclear holocaust.
I expected his response to be equally positive. But instead he raised another possibility. Before there were two superpowers, so the Third World can manage between the two. Now there is only one power so we have more fear, more anxiety.
We are not sure what kind of future lies ahead. I think and feel this is unfortunate. The reason is not because of the American system of liberty, democracy, and freedom but primarily because of the US military forces. Perhaps economic power also has some relevance there.
Soon after the Gulf War happened I made a pledge or resolution that the rest of my life would be committed to the demilitarisation of this planet.
Today about 18 million people in Africa face the danger of starvation. Of course one immediate cause is drought but another is civil war in recent years. A lot of money is being spent on weapons and agriculture is neglected. All these unfortunate experiences are ultimately related to weapons.
The military establishment or war is part of human history. But I think today things are completely changed and now we must find some new way of thinking. After all, we have such beautiful human intelligence but this intelligence certainly is not meant for destruction. If we use our intelligence for destruction it is really unfortunate.
Once, I expressed that I consider the worst event on this planet in the last century was the October Revolution in Russia. Because in order to achieve that revolution and in order co sustain that revolution, so much bloodshed happened. Although, as far as original Marxism is concerned, I’ve deep sympathy, because of its practice and eventual development the outcome was so terrible.
During a certain period, weapons in general, and particularly nuclear weapons, did some good that we call deterrent. Now that the Berlin Wall has collapsed and Soviet Communist Empire has collapsed, that leaves only Communist China. There is no danger from communism, so I think nuclear weapons did their job. Now the time has come to say farewell to these dreadful weapons. We don’t need them any more.
When we get seriously ill we need medicine, and even some poison is needed. But as soon as one is cured, these poisonous medicines must be thrown out of the home. To keep them is dangerous.
A favourable time has come and we should think seriously. First of all we should eliminate nuclear and biological weapons. Eventually we must think seriously about the very concept of war and military establishments. A Chinese proposal to totally ban nuclear weapons is good; whether they really stick to it or not is another question.
During one of my interviews with German television, a question put to me was that Westerners very much fear death and Easterners don’t fear. Why is that? I told the interviewer that I believed otherwise. You Westerners love war; you love these horrible weapons. These weapons kill, and war means death, and it is natural death. This is awful and it seems you have no fear of death. We Tibetans, in our time, saw soldiers and the military as something negative. That means we have more fear of death.
So I think our concept of building military establishments in the name of defence is wrong. I consider military establishments as the worst kind of human rights violation – but legalised. Then, at the same time, I think it is true that with nearly seven billion people there are bound to be some mischievous people. In future world communities there will be also never be a 100-percent perfect society.
Therefore, countermeasures are necessary. During the Gulf War crisis the main force came from America. Because of the world situation the system of collective forces has already happened. In the future a police or military force should be created by nations big or small, irrespectively, by equally balanced forces. These collective forces should be controlled by collective leadership on an international basis. Forces can be mobilised everywhere. If we achieve this, there would be no more violent conflict between nations, no more civil war. We could save a lot of money and a lot of destruction. Fear in the world could be reduced.
Even if we take every precaution to preserve our planet, it’s simply not possible because of the population. According to scientists, if the present rate of population growth continues, there is a real danger and the situation is increasing in seriousness every day.
As a Buddhist monk, of course, I consider every human life is something very precious, almost like a jewel. Therefore, from that viewpoint, to control human birth is not appropriate. This is the individual case. If we look at the whole, obviously because of its high population, eventually this planet simply can’t provide sufficient requirements for human beings.
So this is not a question bf one individual, or two human beings, but the suffering of all humanity – including other species. Therefore, and from a Buddhist viewpoint, it is absolutely worthwhile to think about, and seriously implement birth control.