Tuesday, May 31, 2011

We Must Be Clear

Now That We’re No Longer Singing

Ding Dong! The Witch is dead. Which old Witch? The Wicked Witch!
Ding Dong! The Wicked Witch is dead.

I want to be clear. Not diplomatic. Not obtuse. Not sidestepping.

Here’s what happened to His Holiness when he tried to sidestep the issue:

From The Wall Street Journal:

According to an official statement released by the Tibetan Government in Exile on Wednesday, speaking at USC the Dalai Lama “said [that] in the case of bin Laden, his action was of course destructive and the September 11 events killed thousands of people…so his action must be brought to justice.”

The Los Angeles Times, on Wednesday wrote that this meant the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism implied Osama bin Laden’s death was justified.

But in its statement, the Tibetan Government in Exile disagreed.

When confronted with the most horrific, heinous deeds, whether perpetrated at us or upon us, real or imagined, or at or upon our family, or our friends, or our community, or our country…we never have the spiritual or moral right to kill the perpetrator.

The only thing a Buddhist is allowed to kill is his or her self. Or the Buddha, if he happens to get in your way. That’s it, both literally and metaphorically.

What’s the first precept? Do not kill. What does the Noble Eightfold Path tell us? Do not kill. What about the Bodhisattva Vows? Do not kill. Not mercy killings; not euthanasia, not suicide.

But what about our enemies? No. Absolutely not.

What did the Buddha do when Devadatta tried to kill him…three times? He responded with compassion. What did the Buddha do when King Kalinga cut his body limb from limb? He responded with compassion.

Let’s not delude ourselves. Revenge has no place on the middle path. The middle path has no place for hatred. Rejoicing in our defilements is not our practice.

The Buddhist response to a “perceived injustice” (Bodhidharma’s phrase), regardless of its scale, is compassion.


  1. We had Shotai De La Rosa here last weekend. She asked, "how many of you prayed for Bin Laden?" And then she said he really needed your prayers, and he still needs them. She also talked about Bodhisattvas who go to hell because the people there need their help. (Here's her talk: http://austinzencenter.org/teachings/audio/mp3s/sr052811.mp3).

  2. Beautiful. Thank you, as always, Carl. We are so blessed.

  3. Sweet Brother... I struggled with this; wondering what the feelings were that bubbled up quickly when the news flashed across the screen. You and I talked through 9/11 as they unfolded, you listened and gave me things to think through when my lifelong friends (one born and raised in Pakistan and Muslim)felt the U.S. now understood what other countries were living through, and I was angry. It still stuns me, brother... these things on Earth that touch our core. You've taught me that sometimes compassion and wisdom are unbalanced (you sure know me well). Thank you again... for teaching us still. _/\_

  4. Thank you Carl for what you do, but
    we don't have to be anything.

    Also, I feel that

    "The only thing a Buddhist is allowed to kill is his or her self. Or the Buddha, if he happens to get in your way." is not clear and inherantly flawed. Whether or not this was intentional is left for scholars to debate but I feel it's popularity is dangerous and easily misconstrued in today's world.

    Thank You for your patience and many blessings