In 2010, one of the biggestearthquakes had hit Haiti leaving small poor villages with severe damage andcasualties.
One of these villages was Leveque, a small village located on theWest side of Haiti. By adopting the Buddhist perspective and empathetic way oflife, we can help rebuild the poor village of Leveque that was stricken by thishorrible natural disaster. The Buddhist path for international development isnot a religious one. Buddhism is more than just religion as it is more of aculture and value system guided by a philosophy or way of life. Living theBuddhist philosophy can help lead to a moral life, be mindful and aware ofthoughts and actions, and develop wisdom and understanding (Khimjee, 2017).
Thosewho understand Buddhist teaching are those who find true happiness, as happinessis not about being rich or poor but about who is mindful and awaken to theBuddhist philosophy. This report outlinesthe steps for redeveloping the village of Leveque by incorporating the Buddhiststeachings and international development. The first steps to helpredevelop the village of Leveque would be to understand the most important andbasic concepts of Buddhism. These concepts include; “humans have no souls,impermanence, compassion, and the most important which is Enlightenment,”(Khimjee, 2017). What Buddhists mean when they say that we have no souls isthat we do not embody any permanent spiritual essence and that rather weconsist of elements including thoughts and emotions. These elements merge andlater reconstruct into a new person (Smith, 2009). Knowing that we merge andreconstruct into a new person after death, allows us to desire less, especiallysince we have no soul to satisfy any of those desires.
The second Buddhistconcept was impermanence, also known as anicca, (Novak, 1994). This teachingtells us that nothing in the world is permanent which makes us desire less, sincethey do not last. The third concept is compassion, also known as metta, (Novak,1994). A gratifying way to end suffering is to develop compassion onto otherswith love and kindness (Khimjee, 2017). Lastly, the most important Buddhistconcept is enlightenment, also known as, nirvana (Khimjee, 2017).
By developingcompassion for every individual in the village, the village of Leveque will beable to help each other redevelop the village together and end their suffering.Reaching enlightenmentmeans reaching a state of freedom by reflecting on one’s suffering by gettingrid of all desires. The village of Leveque should learn to understand theseconcepts, that nothing is permanent, including their suffering. The heart ofBuddhist teaching transcends from the saving of individuals to the saving ofthe whole world through kindness and sympathy (Sivaraksa, 2006). These conceptshelp teach the people of Leveque about conflict resolution and social change byteaching them to find peace through listening to the Buddhist philosophy. To rebuildthis village, the people of Leveque must embrace these values and culture to helpthem heal and end their suffering, which will begin the rebuilding of thevillage. Following these values allows for human development which is importantto achieve before accomplishing redevelopment of the village.
After sufferingfrom such a tragic natural disaster, the people of Leveque must heal from theirsuffering before beginning the redevelopment of their destroyed village. If thevillage does not do this, then it will be impossible to being the redevelopmentof their village and they will still be in pain. One of the Buddha’s mainteachings is the Path to Enlightenment. This is the centerpiece of all theBuddha’s teaching, and is the last step for redevelopment of the village ofLeveque (Khimjee, 2017). The purpose of the Path to Enlightenment, a state offreedom, is to reflect on one’s suffering and to experience nirvana, an experienceof freedom from desire (Khimjee, 2017).
The village of Leveque should reflecton the damages and pain inflicted from the Tsunami and eliminate all the desiresthat they wish to have at the time of their suffering. The origin of oursuffering is, “the craving that produces renewal of being, accompanied byenjoyment and lust, in other words, craving for sensual desires, craving forbeing, craving for non-being,” (Novak, 1994). If the village gets rid of alltheir cravings for a renewed village then it will help them end their sufferingand focus on rebuilding and redeveloping their community by being mindful ofwhat they have and the love and compassion that they have for one another. To achievethis enlightenment, they must follow the Four Noble Truths and the EightfoldPath. Reaching true nirvana is the most important step as without it, followingthe Buddhist perspective of redevelopment will be tough. For the village ofLeveque to reach the path to enlightenment, they should practice mindfulness.
Thisleads us to the last and most important steps to take to help with theredevelopment of Leveque would be to adopt the Buddhist’s Four Noble Truths andthe Eightfold Path. These ideas help one fully achieve the path toenlightenment and by following these approaches, one can help transcendsuffering and eliminate lustful cravings and sensual desires (Khimjee, 2017). Accordingto Buddhists development expert Sulak Sivaraksa (1996), “the Four Noble Truthsand the Eightfold Path, in the context of their surroundings, these methods caninspire people to work towards the creations of a desirable society in thefuture,” (p. 79). The Four Noble Truthsare a set of ideas that help to transcend the suffering and misery that seemsso inevitable in our lives. Not just to help with the psychical pain but the emotionalpain. The Four Noble Truths will lead the village of Leveque on a path ofawakening and uncovering their awareness of the situation and their desires.
TheFour Noble Truths are as follows; “life is invariably and experience ofsuffering and misery to which no one can escape, suffering is caused bymaterial cravings or desires, to escape suffering requires ending our desires,and we can end our desired by following the Eightfold Path,” (Khimjee, 2017). Theseideas will allow the village of Leveque to understand and so transcendsuffering. The Eightfold Path is the last step of the Four Noble Truth. Theseare the following steps for the Eightfold Path that the village of Leveque shouldunderstand and follow; “right views, right intent, right speech, right conduct,right livelihood, right effort, and right mindfulness,” (Khimjee, 2017). Oncethey understand their suffering, then they will be able to understand how toapproach it and begin to redevelop their village. The last Four Noble Truths isto follow the Eightfold Path.
If one follows these eight steps taught by theBuddha, then one can eliminate their sensual desires (Khimjee, 2017). Accordingto Sivaraksa (2006), “Buddhism’s three main root causes of evil, namely greed,hatred, and ignorance,” can help us get rid of pain and suffering byunderstanding these root causes, (p. 288). If the village of Leveque canunderstand the root causes of their pain and hatred for the Tsunami, they itwill help heal them but understanding that it was out of their control.
Reducingthese root causes of evil and by instead adopting a compassionate action guidedby wisdom, the village of Leveque will begin to heal from this enormoussuffering. The village should realize the natural disaster was an act of naturethat could not be controlled and by doing so, they can begin their path ofrighteousness. Buddhism is a resourcefor development in which the village of Leveque should follow by incorporatingtheir insights into suffering and lead them on a path of mindfulness andredevelopment. The four main Buddhist concepts, the Four Noble Truths, theEightfold Path, and the Path to Enlightenment are the main Buddhists philosophiesin which will help the village of Leveque to understand the origins of one’ssuffering. These approaches help transcend their suffering and eliminate theorigins of their suffering which are the first and most important steps to helprebuild and redevelop the village of Leveque. By embracing and understandingtheir sensual desires, they will finally be able to end their suffering andrebuild their village. As they begin to understand these desires they can eliminatethem and begin to terminate their suffering. “Development aims to end sufferingand to advance societies into a state of peace, happiness and freedom” (Sivaraksa,1996).
By following these concepts and the steps to the Path of Enlightenment thevillage of Leveque will be able to redevelop their village, as the path willhelp them to reach mindfulness by understanding the root causes of theirsuffering and transcend their suffering into development. By reaching a stateof mindfulness, the village of Leveque will heal and end their pain andsuffering from the horrible losses and damage that their experiences, and beginto work together to rebuild their community. Adopting these empathetic Buddhistperspectives, the village of Leveque will experience a state of peace andhappiness, by developing as humans and as a community, which ends theirsufferings as they will begin to redevelop their village together.