The biggest news, by far, over the last day is the death of Osama Bin Laden.
Susan Piver, a Shambhala meditation teacher and author of Wisdom of a Broken Heart, wrote a very eloquent post today here: http://www.susanpiver.com/wordpress/2011/05/02/osama-bin-laden-is-dead-one-buddhists-response/ .
She invites us to look at our own reaction to the situation:
Was there even a hint of vengefulness or gladness at Osama bin Laden’s death? If so, that is a real problem. Whatever suffering he may have experienced cannot reverse even one moment of the suffering he caused. If you believe his death is a form of compensation, you are deluded.
Susan considers her own response, and writes:
rather than cheering on this day, I’m going to rededicate myself to the idea of brotherhood towards all, even those that want me dead—and not because I’m some kind of really good person. I’m not. Because I know it’s the only way to stay alive—in the only kind of world I want to inhabit.
I noticed that my own first thoughts about bin Laden’s death and watching reactions to it are informed not by Buddhism but by my root religion, Catholicism. Which is strange to me, because I rarely “think like a Catholic” any more. After getting pretty disillusioned with Catholicism in my 20s, I never really looked back. But I guess twelve years of Catholic school instilled some pretty deep values in me.
Because my first thought was: Wow, we are still stuck in an Old Testament view of justice: an eye for an eye. More than 2000 years later, we still haven’t grocked what Jesus was teaching. Hmmmm. We are slow learners.
So I went to look it up. Here’s the original teaching, from Matthew 5.38-48:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; 40and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; 41and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile. 42Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you.
43“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. 46For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
A deep bow to you, Jesus.