midwestbuddha: (silence)
The historic death of Osama Bin Laden made me think of this article, which I wrote in September of 2001 for my column at the time, Living Mettamind. As you may know, there is a Buddhist precept against killing--anything, not just people. But I recently heard Pema Chodron say that even the Buddha had to make choices. There's a story about him killing a murderer in a previous life before the murderer could strike and kill hundreds of others. In this way, he saved the many and sacrificed the one. BUT he also protected the murderer's karma, which would have been horrendous if he had carried out his plans. It is my sincere hope that there is to be considerably less fear in the world today, with the death of Osama Bin Laden. With that, here is my original article:

Some years ago, science fiction writer Frank Herbert wrote: “Fear is the mind killer, fear is the little death”.

On September 11th, 2001, (now being called Black Tuesday) fear became horrendous death, in the shape of four hi-jacked commercial passenger jets, deliberately crashed into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a verdant Pennsylvania field. In the face of such barbaric acts, such tremendous loss of human lives, how can I write the encouraging, peaceful article I had intended on fighting fear as a hindrance to enlightenment? In all conscience, I cannot.

So I shall write a passionate one instead!

The Dhammapada says, “Not by hate is hate defeated; hate is quenched by love. This is the eternal law.”

Are you feeling angry? Are you hoping for revenge for the deaths? Are you looking with suspicion at your co-workers, neighbors, even your friends who are also Americans? Are you concerned about their culture, their religious practices, and the color of their skin?

Do you understand that this is exactly how evil operates? It creates doubt, fear, and suspicion. These mind states cause prejudice, oppression and suffering.

Of course you are angry! Of course you are afraid! These mind states arise when the conditions are correct (oh, and they most certainly are) for them to arise. You are a human being and, one with a conscience.

Well, look around you. Your other American friends are angry, too—the Arabs, Egyptians, and all other persons of various colors, cultures and faiths that were born right here. The land of the free is where we all live, and the home of the brave is their home, too!

In Frank Metcalf’s book, “What Would Buddha Do?” he quotes the Jatakamala, 14.11: “Throw away your pitiful apathy and act boldly in this crisis! A wise person shows energy and resolve; success is in his power, no matter what.” Rest assured, the United States will overcome her enemies.

But, please, I implore you to check out Tolerance.org. Fight your prejudice as the enemy itself…

I read recently that worry can be defined as, “a series of negative thoughts and images that intrude into awareness in an uncontrolled manner.” A Buddhist parable compares our thoughts to many different animals all roped together, each one seeking its home and taking turns dragging the others this way and that, depending on which is strongest at a given moment. As I read it, the mere image of this chaotic cacophony was enough to get my attention! I, for one, do not relish the idea of being pulled about by my emotions in such a manner—do you? And certainly not by terrorists.

It is our minds they are trying to kill. Educate yours, while sitting with your sorrow, anger and fear. As so many things before it, this too shall pass.

I wish you Metta, my friends…and peace…


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June 2012

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