Sometimes metta is just not enough...
Sometimes metta is just not enough...
We sit for these victims of violence, children, parents, spouses. The true evil-doer is greed, anger and ignorance, mental illness. May all those now suffering, somehow and someday, find peace even amid this sadness.
Gassho, with tears, J
I have many friends from that town. We are beyond numb down here.
What can I / we do to help? I have no tolerance to violence against children and have do to something. Do you know of any organizations that have been mobilized to help, Hogen?
One of the things that Zen teaches me is that things don't have to make sense, and this is a senseless tragedy.
What to do? How to help? If ever there was an event to resist, the slaughter of 20 innocent 6- and 7-year olds, and the adults that guarded them (and even the gunman himself), this is it. But that moment of helping is gone, taken from us before we even knew it was happening. Now, those of us at a distance speculate and try to reason the unreasonable, or we get angry, or we talk policy, none of which is helpful. Such "knowing" reactions actually distance ourselves from the sadness that is so appropriate. Those there in Connecticut touched so much more directly by this tragedy grieve deeply, and as a counselor I can tell you that is helpful. So let us simply grieve with them as best we can. As Hogen said, money and food cannot fix this. As I said at the start, sometimes metta is not enough, but that and sitting with the overwhelming sadness is all we have. But then we need to take that grief off the cushion to be with others in such a healing way as to try and prevent this ever happening again.
I know this is a very unpopular view, but how much suffering can a person experience to do what this person did? He is at this point certainly not a sympathetic figure, nor should he be, but to empathize with his pain and then to the best of our feeble ability to act as Avalokitesvara is our challenge as Buddhists. This in no way what so ever means approval of his act. NO, absolutely not! But the only way to really help, to really try and prevent something like this ever happening again, is to reach out with an open hand and heart to the people around us, the people that surround us every day, and care for them with as little separation between them/us as possible, especially those that separate themselves from us. I know I can be a whole lot better at this, and Newtown makes me want to be.
"But the only way to really help, to really try and prevent something like this ever happening again, is to reach out with an open hand and heart to the people around us, the people that surround us every day, and care for them with as little separation between them/us as possible, especially those that separate themselves from us. I know I can be a whole lot better at this, and Newtown makes me want to be."
I can't sleep. I've taken a long walk under the stars, breathing and thinking about this. This tragedy is bringing my Buddhist practice into sharp relief, even crisis - how can I practice and love in a way where on an individual basis I do not waste a single moment, and on a human level, how do I fulfill my vows to ease the suffering of others?
Alan, thank you for your wonderful and prescient post. Your view may be unpopular in a world that discriminates between good and evil, but in a community and sangha where we practice metta, compassion, and recognition of no-separation, I venture to guess that your feeling is shared by many. There is no justification for or condoning the actions of the shooter, but recognition of the suffering that drove this individual to unimaginable pain and to commit these acts is, as you have said, our challenge as Buddhists. There is suffering everywhere you look in this equation - the parents, the children, the emergency responders and law enforcement who were confronted with scenes of carnage - not to mention the fear and pain of parents far from Connecticut who hug their own children tightly. Our practice of metta and recognition of emptiness allows us to move beyond the "good v evil" paradigm and accept the challenge of the recognition of suffering. To that end, how can we then move on to observe our vows and work to relieve the suffering of others? Perhaps a form of the caring you have mentioned is to work in our communities and as citizens to fully fund, or restore funding for mental health treatment programs and interventions for individuals who, in the absene of proper resources treatment, may resort to violent action. Our perspective on suffering and "oneness" also allows us to move beyond the political and emotional dimension of debating firearm rights and ownership.
It is an individual decision to make the transition from personal practice, working with one's emotions and reactions to this tragedy, to a socially engaged Buddhist practice, where we become involved in community and social issues, guided by our precepts and beliefs to address the suffering of others. One is not better than the other, they are just different manifestations of practice. I increasingly am embracing both aspects.
Anybody doing this Buddhist thing will naturally wake up compassion and action.
All we can do is to do our best so we give Kannon a chance to hear the cries and be its arms and hands.
And not be caught in the ambient emotional turmoil.
Thus have I heard...Quote:
"how much suffering can a person experience to do what this person did? He is at this point certainly not a sympathetic figure, nor should he be, but to empathize with his pain and then to the best of our feeble ability to act as Avalokitesvara is our challenge as Buddhists."
Despite all appearances, no one is truly evil. They are led astray by delusion. If you think on this always, you will offer more light than judgement and condemnation.
As I sat that evening, I recited the memorial prayer 28 times, for despite his actions, he was a human being beloved of someone, too.
No advice or answers to offer, just the sincere wish that all beings without exception may transcend suffering and attain Buddhahood.