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Generation-gap and the Buddhism

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It is a fact that Buddhism emerged to solve the practical problems of human life as Siddharth was moved after watching the pain and suffering of an ill, old, a corpus and behind it lamenting, weeping people in deep sorrow. He considered it a perennial problem and set out for seeking the reason and remedy of it. His analysis to it and remedy for it is universal in character. Though with the change of time, place, climate and culture the problems change, but a living philosophy tackles all these, solve them and sublimates the human conditions. It makes an individual a better individual and transforms the society in a harmonious whole.

Since I am a student of Buddhism I feel that Buddhism has the potentiality to tackle even the contemporary problems of the complex life as well as varied human situations in a better way. The present paper is based on my existential experience that hinges towards a situation of Generation- gap and the feeling of alienation amongst the old generation. We know several such instances through the newspapers TV. and very many other social media. The owner of Redmond Company is living alone with his wife in a rented house as his only son has ousted him after he handed over his property and his business to his son. An old women’s skeleton was found when his lonely son came from America and opened his flat’s door. And very many such incidents are seen in the society. My paper starts with an incident of my life that made me to ponder over the problem of generation gap and the feeling of being alienated in the family as well as its reason and remedy as found in the Buddha’s teaching and preaching..

I woke up very early in the morning, started for a walk and was welcomed by the fresh, fragrant and soothing mild breeze of the east. The chirping of the birds, Koo-Koo melodious sound of the cuckoo, moo of the cow and morning sounds of very many animals and birds were presenting the music of divine orchestra and their movement on the earth and sky were like a divine painting or colas on the canvas of the nature. The cumulative effects of all these made me light and fresh from within. After coming back to my house I found a missed call of my mother. I called her back. I heard her very feeble voice, saturated with pain of loneliness. She talked to me for a good length of time. She was concerned for her loneliness and her offspring’s negligent behaviour towards her, as all the time she rings her son, daughter and grandsons and granddaughters but most of the time her call remains unattended and if received a brief talk takes place. Even at Kolkata she feels lonely as both her daughter and son-in-law do not stay in the house in the day time because of their job. In the evening they come exhausted. After a brief talk they retire on the bed. Next day again very early in the morning the same routine is repeated. My brother is in army and posted in Kashmir, very disturbed and sensitive place from security point of view, and he has hardly any time to talk to her, though he is very caring and sensitive towards maintaining the relations and he loves her mother too.

 However, consoling her I replied very sympathetically, “Our children too have grown adults, earning and are standing on their own feet, engrossed in their own job and their children, rendering us alone and isolated. This is the way of the world, which has become the ethos of the global society today.” Though I said it instantly and spontaneously but it is the bruit fact of the modern mechanical society. People are in huff and hurry amidst the hue and cry of the world. No one has time and patience to listen to the others because of our busy schedule and self-centered nature. But my talk with my mother reminded me an article in Chantudui.com, a digital journal of Pure Mind Buddhism of Vietnam, entitled “ANSWERS TO DEPRESSION AND ANXIETY OF A FILIPINOCATHOLIC” wherein Mr. Boying Baguio, a character, complained regarding the ill treatment of his children against him. This compelled me to ponder over this modern problem and search the reason remedy of this global tragedy through the Buddhist way of life. Since, the Buddha has propounded the Four Noble Truths of The Suffering, There is cause of suffering, The Suffering can be eliminated and there is a path leading to the cessation of sufferings. I shall like to analyze and interpret this modern problem in the Buddhist fashion.

  1. There is suffering: In this context the so called ill treatment of the younger generation towards their elders and parent, is the suffering in hand. :- This is the basic fact that the good number of younger generation today are ignoring their parent and the older generation (if not insulted), and the old people in the family feel ignored, isolated and alienated in their own family. They feel it an ill treatment and callousness for them. On the contrary children feel forlorn and thrown away in this world even after parental backup as their expectations are not being achieved even after a tough struggle. And whatever they achieve they give the credit to their own hard labour, acumen, strength, and struggle not to the parental grooming and support. And thus, the difference in their attitude and behaviour is creating a chasm in their thought of the two generations culminating into a gap that is technically known as generation gap in the modern terminology. Since the so called, expectations of the both are frustrated and thus they suffer. This is the greatest suffering of the modern global society, as suffering is nothing but impended volition.

 I too happen to meet a young boy in a foreign land who came to attend a socio-religious and academic conclave from America to his motherland. While talking to him I came to learn that his grandparents are still alive and living in another city alone, which is not too far from the place he was staying. On asking whether he will go to meet his grandparent with whom he has not met for very many years, to my great amazement, he emotionlessly replied, ‘No’. He further explained he had paucity of time and money both. I was wonder struck. Morals, customs, family norms and traditions as well as socio-religious institutions that are older than human memory are melting under our eyes like superficial organs of our society.

The family that nursed and cherished the basis of social order has broken into pieces. Homes that were built for sacrifices to shelter the sons and daughters are silent and desolate. The children’s loyalty is scattered to the wondering task. Oh, the father and mother are left alone in their black houses with vacant chairs and every room is echoing with the absence of the family sound. Value, virtue and human sentiments have evaporated like the water droplets on the red hot iron. To me this is one one of the greatest tragedy of the modern man, which comprises the First Noble Truth in Buddhist terminology.

II. There is cause of suffering:-  Now let us consider how the great transition through which we are passing through, that has been entrapped in a drastic change in our our morals, ways of thinking and acting, as well as normative concepts and precepts. As the matter of fact, the change of morals in a global society is an endless change of single personalities stung on one the other. It consists in the intra-working of the groups grasping in such a manner that young and old react differently on a single stimuli, morally opposed to each other. Now the million Dollar question is, what is that sufficient cause of this unceasing becoming in which we find ourselves involved in the ethical dilemma? And the answer is the rapid industrialization and globalization along with some other economic conditions. Let us examine it.

When we caste our glance over the history of human civilization we come across two profound transitions that caused moral changes. One was passage from hunting to agriculture and other was passage from agriculture to industry. And in each case the moral codes, which served the older society’s welfare were transformed chaotically under new regime.  Man’s transformation from hunting to tillage created a demand for new virtues and moral codes of conducts. Industriousness, thrift and peace were considered more vital than bravery, violence and war of hunting age. Men women and children worked together in a farm hence cooperation kindness and respect for elders, love, compassion and discipline emerged as new values. Status of women changed. Now she became the pivot of the family. Children became the helping hand of their parent and the grandparents, the day their adolescence was complete. Thus our moral codes of conduct are rooted in the rural milieu. Man matured on the farm at the very early age- both in mind and self-support. At the age of twenty he understood all the tasks of his life, and his life’s struggle started.

This agricultural normative continued for about two thousand years. Then suddenly factories appeared. Men women and children began to leave home and family authority and unity, to work as individual and individually paid. Children attain their maturity very late. They are groomed in crèche, Received basic training in the school and technical education in the colleges. By the time they become able to earn an income they have to leave their parental authority to the freedom of irresponsible individual life. Even if they did not go off of their own accord the call of job and wage, the migration markets and factories and trade tear them from home and the normative reign. And thus the old agricultural moral has fallen to pieces, and the urban world ceases to be judged by it any more.  

Now the basic cause of the moral change is the industrial revolution. It is instrumental in almost every modern moral flux. It weakened the moral influence of the family and led the replacement of puritan asceticism and restrain on every pleasure and perversion. The rise of science and technology along with Darwinian fever attacked over religious belief. When the youth found that religion and the elders are denouncing their modern pleasure they found thousands reasons in science for denouncing religion.

The fetal factor in the change of ethics and social norm is the First World War. It broke down our habit of cooperation and peace, which had been framed under the reign of industry and trade. It accustomed men to brutality and promiscuity. It returned thousands of men to their countries as Centres of moral infection. It cheapened the value of life by its wholesale killing and prepared the psychology of gangs and crimes. Vietnam was a worst hit state of this world war.

Last but not the least the invention of TV mobile and others I. T. instruments have made the human relations strained. While watching T. V. serials or news; surfing internet, Facebook, or chatting on Messenger youths ignore their family members and friend as unwanted hindrance. Mobile disturbs our moral sense organs too. In our brain system there is an Insula which generates compassion, love, affection and sympathy in us. The regular use of mobile affects it adversely. Those who use it extensively start losing the moral feelings and often become immune of it. This is the reason that youths, all over the world are becoming indifferent of moral reasoning and human sentiments.

III. The Annihilation of Suffering: Finally it can be said that there may be very many causes of our moral change in the rapid transit from farm and house to factories and city streets, but we must try to understand the young and the coming generation, which have and are replacing us very rapidly. Their lives and problems are very different as they are in the grip of industrial revolution. It has transformed their custom, their garb, their work, and their conduct. Hence it will be unfair to judge them through the majoring rod of our old moral codes of conduct derived from the age of yore.

On the contrary the hard fact is that the moods of most of our elders have not changed. Their senility finds it hard to forgive the youths. However, it seems desirable for the elders to find some time to contemplate upon the variability of Good and try to understand the fluid relativity of morals. Otherwise it will be gross unfair to them. The words ‘Morality’ and ‘Immorality’ are in flux between mooring and the new ones yet to be found. We do not know what they should mean and how they may be redefined to help us understand the human conduct in an industrial and urban era.

It is apparent from the above discussion that today most of the people live their life as carelessly as they do, without caring others. They do not rightly know the conditions in which they find themselves. Rather they persuade themselves that they have emerged out of absolute nothingness of their own. At the time of death they will again disappear without leaving any trace. This ignorance born egotism has made them not to care others specially the older generation. These hurt the elders and make them prejudice for the Youngers and they reciprocate accordingly. This continuity of a chain of reactions is the basic cause of suffering between the two generations.

 Today we are standing between two worlds, one is dead and the other is hardly born. Our fate is a chaos for a generation. We are conscious like Confucius that moralities of restraint and fear have lost their hold upon the modern man. There is a need of new natural moral code that is based on intelligence and be able to convince both, the older and the younger generation. The time has come to scrutinize our assumptions and our habits in order to build for ourselves a system of life and thought which may be consistent with the experience and the demand of the day. It is again very difficult rather impossible to slash down our all ethical codes of conducts declaring them obsolete and reconstruct a new one. It is again very unwise and impossible to roll back the entire industrial developments and to arrive at the agriculture age or rural milieu. Now it is a million Dollar question how to arrive at the solution to reconcile the problem of the modern man and their generation gap.  

IV. Path leading to annihilation of suffering: For solving this basic modern problem one will have to look into their real position and thereby recognize with sufficient clearness that they are aimlessly and without plain wandering through the world in all its heights and depth under the perpetual self-delusion. Now the time has come to make them recognize the possibility of escaping forever from this circle of suffering. This is the Fourth Noble Truth which constitutes the cap and crown of the mighty structure of the Buddhism. But in this newly emerged situation, Buddha’s Eightfold Path, though universally accepted a perfect path for eradication of sufferings, become austere and difficult for a modern man to follow in a normal way. The mind is considered basically responsibly for all sorts of problems.

Today most of the persons are having stress and strain. The Buddha was in know of this fact that it is very difficult to control and purify it. Secondly, it is again very tough to undergo the meditational practices. But the Buddha gave a clue when he says that a wise man should guard the mind as guarded mind is conducive to happiness. The Tibetan yoga and our revered Guru have developed this idea and provided some easy steps for skipping away from mental stress and strain and keeping the mind in the congenial atmosphere.

As we know that mind is fickle and makes a man restless. It hardly remains in the present. It roams either in past or in future. Even if it is in the present it roams in the different directions, now here now there, now on fictitious and adventitious ideas. And the basic need for the happy life is to live consciously in the present. For that our Guru has advised to walk on the Mani Mantra. If it is followed honestly the mind will not wonder here and there as well inauspicious thoughts will not erupt. Even if it crops up it will be driven out slowly and stealthily. With the absence of evil thoughts the stress and strain will be release and mind will become calm and cozy. With this mind set one will never irritate other as well get irritated. This will make one’s attitude mild and positive, instead of pessimistic. Our Guru always say to come out of the pessimistic bent of mind as it take a person in a perilous condition. 

Secondly, Tibetan Yoga provides a unique method for generating compassion for all the things and the beings of the world. Since the secret of one’s future is hidden in one’s daily routine, Guru has suggested certain change in our everyday life. He has asked us that before doing anything you must pray for the wellbeing of others whether it is man or any other creature of the universe. For instance we are asked to think or speak before eating, “May all sentient beings have the Buddha food.” While drinking, “May all the sentient beings may have the Buddha Amrit” and so on.

The regular practice of all these radically transforms ones personality. Unbounded compassion is generated in him. It also creates sympathy and empathy for other. If both the generation is full of compassion, sympathy and empathy both will understand each other and there will not a problem of generation gap. Their sympathetic ray will unite all the sentient beings in one organic whole.  This practice, on the one hand, unites the entire members of the biotic community and feel their pain and pleasure on the other, it relieves them from their past ignorance based Karmic fruition.

Once our Holy Guru Sri Dalai Lama Jee has said, “In order to create a positive action we must develop a positive vision.” Accordingly  the founder of Pure mind Buddhism suggests the proper and regular study of the Buddhist text, Buddha’s teaching and preaching besides observing Samath and Vipassana. These will drive out negativity from our mind and create a proper and positive vision wherein there is no scope of discrepancy in our thought and action as well our mild behaviour will create a congenial atmosphere in the house and outside. One will be incapable of doing any wrong. His mind will be saturated with pious thinking.

To conclude with I would like to quote one verse of the Dhammapada; “Refrain from committing any sin, do good and auspicious work. Purify one’s mind. May all sentient being be at peace and happiness.

Avinash Kumar Srivastava
Prof. & head
P. G. Dept. of Philosophy
Nalanda College Biharsharif

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