Buddhists react to the invasion of Ukraine
As the Russian invasion of Ukraine continues, Buddhist leaders around the world are issuing calls for peace and messages of support to the Ukrainian people and to those watching from afar who feel helpless but eager to act. The growing number of civilian and military deaths is unknown, but initial reports estimate over 230 civilian deaths to date and over 525 civilians injured. Although Russian and Ukrainian reports of military dead and wounded differ, numbers are in the hundreds to thousands. On March 2, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees reported that one million refugees fled Ukraine. Responses from Buddhist teachers and organizations range from formal public statements to heartfelt appeals on social media.
the The Dalai Lama released a statement on February 28 in which he called the war “outdated” and declared that nonviolence was the way forward.
Our world has become so interdependent that a violent conflict between two countries inevitably has an impact on the rest of the world. War is over, non-violence is the only way. We must develop a sense of the unity of humanity by considering other human beings as brothers and sisters. This is how we will build a more peaceful world.
On March 2, the Tzu Chi Buddhist Foundation, a global humanitarian organization based in Taiwan, has started raising funds for Ukrainian refugees fleeing their country for Poland. A few days earlier, the founder of Tzu Chi, Master Cheng Yen, expressed her concern for those who were forced to leave their homes:
To see them flee – some carrying young children on their backs, holding them in their hands, the older ones holding smaller ones – large families flee in droves. We don’t know what their destination is.
The dharma masters at the foundation headquarters are also currently chanting part of the Lotus Sutra called the “Universal Gate”, which is believed to bring peace and protection. Find more information, including how you can support the foundation’s efforts, here.
Roshi Joan Halifax wrote about The lion’s roar that by recognizing our interdependence, we will be moved to act with compassion.
We can cultivate peace by transforming our own lives. And, at the same time, we must work actively for non-violence towards all and a deep and true dialogue in respect and appreciation of differences and plurality. And we have to take our responsibilities. We must ask ourselves what is our part and the part of our country in feeding the demon of hatred and violence?
In an email, meditation teacher Oren Jay Sofer also reminds us of our interconnectedness and that engaging in suffering is an expression of compassion. But he asks, “How can we use our energy wisely so that we have inner resources to offer when needed?” He will offer a dharma talk this Sunday titled “Cultivate wise energy.”
Also on The lion’s roarTrudy Goodman reminds us of the power of Buddhist wisdom and mediation in times like these.
Practices for cultivating mindfulness and compassion open the inevitably narrow frame of individual perspective to an immensity of peace and well-being, a space where all opposites can rest in the infinitely tender embrace of a great heart. open. Learning to be present with everything – from the horror of hate to the wonder of beauty – is a huge relief.
Jetsunma Tenzin Palmofounder of Dongyu Gatsal Ling Nunnery in Himachal Pradesh, expressed his sympathy and support for the Ukrainian people and invoked the responsibility of the whole world to help Ukrainians regain strength.
The suffering of people is truly beyond imagination! However, with suffering comes strength. I hope people rely on their innate goodness, I hope people can help each other and be supportive of each other in this very difficult situation. . . it’s time to show your inner strength, not only as a member of a religion or an ethnic group, but [to] show your unity as a human being.
Religions for Peace, a global network of religious readers, has published a statement offering prayers for Ukrainian and Russian citizens and categorically rejecting violence on any grounds.
We pray for the citizens of Ukraine and Russia who, through no fault of their own, will suffer both spiritually and materially for decades. Violence begets violence, and they will need a lot of support to recover from the fear, insecurity, bitterness and trauma that inevitably follow violent conflict.
In a statement on February 28, Minoru Harada, president of the Soka Gakkai, called for an immediate end to all violence, saying:
I hope that all the countries concerned will do their utmost to prevent the situation from getting worse. As a Buddhist, together with Soka Gakkai members around the world, I offer fervent prayers for the earliest possible end to the conflict and a return to peace and security for all.
Buddhists and non-Buddhists alike seek and share the wisdom of peace activists Thich Nhat Hanh, who died on January 22. Plum Village, the Vietnamese Zen master’s sangha, recently shared the following on Twitter:
By the way we live our daily lives, we contribute to peace or war. It’s mindfulness that can tell me I’m going in the direction of war and it’s the energy of mindfulness that can help me turn around and go in the direction of peace. —Thich Nhat Hanh
Receive Daily Dharma in your email
Start your day with a fresh perspective
Explore timeless teachings through modern methods.
With Stephen Batchelor, Sharon Salzberg, Andrew Olendzki and many more
See our courses
Thank you for subscribing to Tricycle! As a non-profit organization, we rely on readers like you to keep Buddhist teachings and practices widely available.