A common space for harmonic peacemakers
From Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche on the lay precepts:
"Although there may be no danger of our killing someone else, there is a chance we may rejoice in someone else having been killed. We must be very careful about this, since it is actually breaking the vow. For example, when our nation is in conflict with another and we hear that someone from that other country has been killed, our hatred toward the other nation may cause us to think, "Oh, that's great."
"From the Mahayana perspective we do not only practice compassion for the oppressed, but for the oppressor as well. Hatred causes great suffering. We practice compassion for those who suffer because of their hatred, whether they kill many or just rejoice in the killing of one.".
Since hearing about the death of one of the most feared men on the planet, it's struck me how difficult it is to go beyond thoughts of revenge to thoughts of peace and stability - both as a human society and as individuals.
As this quote from Khenpo Rinpoche illustrates, when we hear of the death of a person who has caused the deaths of so many, we must guard and protect our mind against the negativity of rejoicing in that person's death.
It is only natural to feel relief when a murderer is stopped from committing further violence, but we cannot let our thoughts wander beyond mere relief, or we begin to accumulate the karma of hatred and revenge ourselves. Any thought we invest in hatred will bring suffering to ourselves, both now and in the future. If we entertain such thoughts, we slowly lose our humanity, and become closer to eventually becoming killers ourselves.
This week, I am at my "home" center, Karma Triyanan Dharmachakra, and I plan to recite the Prayer to be Reborn in Dewachen (Amitabha's Pure Realm) for Mr. Bin Laden - and for all those whose deaths have resulted from his work: all the victims of 9/11, all the families whose loved ones were lost, all the suicide attackers he unleashed, all the victims and families of the victims of those attacks, all those who died in the many wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and all those suffering now because of Mr. Bin Laden's declarations of war on the groups of people he hated.
It brings tears to the eyes to think of any person suffering the torments of hell; whether that is Mr. Bin Laden's fate or not is up to him and his karma. But I should like for him, and others like him, and any of the victims, to be rescued from the pits of hell by Amitabha, and that they all be reborn in the sight of the victor Amitabha and take pure rebirth in a place where there has never even been the sound of the word "hatred."
I know it will be difficult to be among others who don't share this view, but it is all right to take a different view, either inwardly or outwardly. If I'm asked to speak, sincerely saying, "I feel sadness for his torment, and for that of all of his victims; I will be thinking of and praying for all of them today," will hopefully be enough to inform and perhaps even touch the hearts of those who don't understand my feelings.
Being on the Mountain here in Woodstock is a blessing in times like these; looking at the radiant golden image of the Buddha, who said, "hate never once dispelled hate; only love dispels hate," it is easier to understand the pain of those who hate and those whose shock and grief gradually turns to hate.
Watching our own minds allows us the freedom to not choose hate, and to entertain the notion of cleansing love; may that fact be of comfort to all of us today.