issue 17 winter 01
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Humane Responses

Buddhist teachers write on 9:11

'We need to think whether a violent action is the right thing, and in the greater interest of the nation and people in the long run. I believe violence will only increase the cycle of violence. But how do we deal with hatred and anger, which are the root causes of such senseless violence? This is a difficult question ...'

The Dalai Lama, letter to President Bush

'Why do people around the world hate America so much? The death toll, suffering and sorrow heaped upon people and the environment around the world through US foreign policy is incalculable. Isn't the USA the leading rogue nation? We must all take responsibility for international conflict. Or else the vicious cycle of co-dependent arising continues. We, the West, do not need to make War on Terrorism but we do need to start compassionate Acts of Reconciliation with the rest of the world.'

Christopher Titmuss, an Insight Meditation teacher, letter to President Bush

'A lust for vengeance and violent retaliation is rising, fanned by a leader caught up in his own rhetoric of a holy war to purify the world of evil. Please consider: does the previous sentence describe bin Laden, or President Bush? If we pursue the path of large-scale violence, bin Laden's holy war and Bush's holy war will become two sides of the same war... If this time of crisis encourages us to see through the rhetoric of a war to exterminate evil, and if we begin to understand the intertwined roots of this evil, including our own responsibility, then perhaps something good may yet come out of this catastrophic tragedy.'

David Loy, Think Sangha

'Evil is good covered over. Wherever we, in our confusion and unwillingness to look at life as it actually is, with all its pain and difficulty, commit acts of evil, we add to the covering. And whenever we have the courage and the calmness to be with life as it is, and therefore to do good, then we remove the cover. Evil is a constant part of our world because ... there is only one life, and all of us share in it. The simple practice of being quiet, listening to ourselves, to the cries of the world, listening deeply with an accurate ear, opening to what we hear - that practice is more relevant than ever in times like these.'

Norman Fischer, former Abbot, San Francisco Zen Center

'When our hearts are broken open we may find a moment of vital opportunity. Only out of suffering comes understanding. Great suffering can turn to great compassion and beneficial action. We pray for the healing of the perpetrators of these crimes whose damaged hearts and clouded minds have created vast suffering. We count on the wisdom, patience and loving-kindness of the world's leaders, that they may be just and exercise restraint and care in all their actions. Let us dedicate ourselves to peacefulness and non-violence so that the power of human goodness will overcome the folly and delusion of violence.'

Buddhist Peace Fellowship, San Francisco

See other Buddhist comments about September 11th and its aftermath on http://www.bpf.org