Avoiding Poison

The recent bombings and increased activities of religious extremists have provoked a myriad of responses, both rational and irrational. In the United States people of power tend to react instead of responding. The reaction is normally superficial and immature. They miss the point by creating their own, much like the main behind the curtain in the Wizard of Oz. The genuine issues are often ignored, hence the term “ignorance.” The Buddha made much of this word.

With the recent bombings in Paris, at least 30 Governors, the vast majority conservative Republicans in the United Sates, who seem to hold humanity disdain anyway, found an excuse to apparently attempt an unlawful move to block the intake of Syrian Refugees. Well, the “American dream” idea never did mean all that much to them anyway. They make a weak claim that their decision would make America a safer place in which to live; but so would putting every man woman and child under house arrest, but this is not realistic, is it?

Repealing the Second Amendment and making guns illegal would also have saved hundreds of thousands of lives. The 9/11 incident took 3,000 lives. Since 9/11 Americans using guns have killed over 300,000 other Americans. The same Governors that want to deny humanitarian help to human beings, including children in danger, also want to abandon reasonable gun control legislation so more Americans can murder more Americans. It is better that we kill ourselves than to have brown foreigners kill us — I think this is their logic. For all intents and purposes the First Apostolic Church of the Holy Semi-Automatic is the dominant church of the formerly fringe American religious movement called The Sacred Second Amendment and the conservatives are its apostles. It’s as popular as the Sacred Temple of the Almighty Dollar. Madness has become as mainstream.

In trying to deny the basic human right to a safe haven, found in the Declaration of Human Rights and advertised on the plaque at the base of the so-called Statue of Liberty, these Governors are also shredding the US Constitution by ignoring the primacy of the Federal Government in international matters, after all, they believe what Hitler is supposed to have said, a treaty is only a scrap of paper. So much for the “Rule of Law” they taut when in opposition to the Black guy in the White House. So now the US Republican Legislature is trying to pass a bill to curtail the incoming Refugees. This is the usual waste of time and money politics we have in the United States. The Legislature is very keen on trying to pass laws that they already know the President will veto or the Supreme Court will rule against.

Aside from the political rant evident so far, there is a deeper issue at stake here. In even talking about denting the agreed upon Syrian refugees to enter the United States we are showing incredible weakness. We display fear in the face of a perceived enemy and create even more negative & unskillful kamma as a society. America is telling the world 1) we are petrified with fear of helpless people, 2) we are terrified of our enemies, and 3) we are a heartless people. In doing so we also give the Islamic fundamentalists, “Freedoms” perceived enemy, one more cause to hate us and creating more terrorists at the same time — good for us and the Conservative cry babies that rule the once mighty American Empire. We are cowards in the face of the enemy. Not too long ago that would have been a capitol offense; today it is politics as usual.

The words of the Dhammapada that ring even more true today than ever:

Verse 1: Thought is of all things first, thought is of all things foremost, of thought are all things made.

If with thought corrupt a man speaks or acts,

Suffering follows him, even as a wheel follows the hoof of the beast of burden.

Verse 2: Thought is of all things first, thought is of all things foremost, of thought are all things made.

If with thought of faith a man speak or act,

Happiness follows him, even as a shadow never fading.

Verses 3, 4: “He abused me, he struck me, he defeated me, he robbed me;”

If any cherish this thought, their hatred never ceases.

“He abused me, he struck me, he defeated me, he robbed me;”

If any cherish not this thought, their hatred ceases.

How much longer will we, as a society, ignore the mistakes of our past? We never did come to grips with our part as a cause of 9/11. Some of the French people, at least, understand that they are part of the reason they were attacked this past weekend and hope to be part of the solution. Some others have become so self-righteous and narcissistic as to be in complete denial of the fact that we have created those who hate us and wish to see us destroyed. We are the source, not only of our own fears, but also of those we fear.

Thought is of all things first, thought is of all things foremost, of thought are all things made.

The universe is an incredibly user-friendly mechanism. If you put fear into it the universe responds by giving us an adequate number of things to fear. If we want enemies, the universe provides us with enemies. Yet the same is true of love. If we put love into the universe, the universe will supple us with an infinite number of things to love.

…not by hatred are hatreds ever quenched here in this world.

By love rather are they quenched. This is an eternal law. (Verse 5)

In order for wisdom to be effective it requires its right hand to be compassion. We can be either compassionately wise or wisely compassionate, either one will work for us. In creating the world we call our home violence and anger have no place. The Buddha referred to anger as a disease, but in our culture we often speak of “righteous anger.” We almost never talk about righteous gonorrhea, and that too is a disease, no?

But others do not understand that we must here control ourselves;

Yet let them understand this, and straight (away) dissensions cease. (Verse 6)

Holding on to anger and hatred really is little like taking poison and expecting others to die. The Buddha’s way is an invitation to sanity, it challenges us to genuinely “love” our supposed enemies. This is called Metta and is beneficial on all levels. It brings peace, first to ourselves and then to world. It is as contagious as hatred but much more advantageous.

About Sensei Mui

Sensei Mui is a Buddhist monk who took formal refuge and bhikkhu ordination as a Theravada monk in Thailand during the early 1970s. Since those days he has both studied and was ordained in multiple Mahayana lineages. Today the main focus of his practice and teaching is from the Pure Land perspective. He currently acts as the Director and Administrator for Hongaku Jodo, an educational and practice oriented organization of Buddhist teachers of Dharma, pure and simple.
This entry was posted in Buddhism, Core Teaching of the Buddha, Hongaku Jodo, Pure Land Buddhism, Rational Amidism, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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