Michael KreponThe Buddha on Arms Control

One of the many benefits of foreign travel is discovering what hotel nightstands offer as their equivalent to the Gideon Bible. In 1996, while spending the night at a hotel near Narita airport awaiting a morning flight to Beijing, I opened the drawer to find The Teachings of the Buddha.

Can the sufferings of arms controllers be alleviated by applying the Buddha’s strategy and tactics? Arms controllers lament missed opportunities, bone-headed decisions, and unhelpful, repetitive behaviors. Why not, then, extend the Buddha’s teachings beyond our personal lives to the practice of arms control?

Herewith some advice from the Teachings of the Buddha:

Faith teaches courtesy and respect for others. It frees one from the bondage of circumstances. It gives one courage to meet hardship.

The mind of a wise man is not disturbed by either honor or abuse.

To worry in anticipation or to cherish regret for the past is like reeds that are cut and wither away.

Do not dwell in the past; do not dream of the future. Concentrate the mind on the present moment.

Do not waste your mind in idleness and quarrelling.

For the sake of attaining enlightenment, try to accomplish the impossible.


  1. hass (History)

    Here’s another one: you can’t honestly except to “control” everyone’s else’s arms, but not your own.

    How’s that?

  2. Alex (History)

    Christopher Ford has applied Buddhist principles to the disarmament question: Nukes and the Vow:
    Security Strategy as Peacework

  3. Azr@el (History)

    “To be idle is a short road to death and to be diligent is a way of life; foolish people are idle, wise people are diligent.”


    “Peace comes from within, do not seek it from without.”

  4. Alex W. (a different Alex) (History)

    And on the subject of Eastern Religions and the Bomb, there is of course the excellent article by James Hijiya from 2000: The Gita of J. Robert Oppenheimer.

  5. Josh (History)

    But the deeper connection is surely the Eightfold Way.

  6. John Field (History)

    The three poisons: Greed, Hatred, and Delusion.

    quite apparently, the weapons encompass all three.

  7. Major Lemon (History)

    To think one can glean wisdom from a man-made god that neither thinks, sees, hears nor speaks is an insult to the intelligence.

  8. Major Lemon (History)

    In fact its as silly as could be. You could write the ‘teachings’ of the Doo-Dah Boo-Dah or what ever the stupid little idol is called on half a square of toilet paper. Now if you want to discuss something important how about the Syrian missile test that just killed 20 people in a market place of a Syrian-Turkish border town.

  9. Azr@el (History)

    I’m curious which are the man-made gods and which are not and the metric by which such distinction is drawn. I personally have viewed Buddha, aka Siddhārtha Gautama, much as many of the followers of Buddhism have, not as deity but rather a sage who founded a school of philosophy intent on making sense of the world. This is also the same categorization I have for a historical Jesus, if they ever prove his existence, and for the Islamic prophet Muhammed. And we continue to blessed with wise philosophers, Sartre, Saïd, Sakharov, et al. and some not so wise philosophers, Marx, Engels, Mao et al. who continue to enrich the human experience and prevent it’s degeneration into a monosyllabic discusion of toiletries.

  10. Major Lemon (History)

    Mao ‘continues to enrich the human experience?’ If you say so Azr@el.

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