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October 4, 2017


A Message in Response to Violence

Dear Sangha,

The abbatial leadership and all at San Francisco Zen Center join with people throughout this country and the world in mourning those who lost their lives, the hundreds who were wounded, and the families and friends of so many who were harmed in the indiscriminate killing of innocent people in Las Vegas. We also thank the many individuals—professional police, fire fighters, paramedics, ambulance drivers, doctors and nurses, as well as the citizens at the scene—who risked their lives to help protect and save, and recover one another.

One of the most fundamental teachings of Buddhism is non-harming and, in the verses of the Dhammapada, the Buddha teaches:

Chapter 10, Violence, translated by Gil Fronsdal

129. All tremble at violence;
all fear death.
Seeing others as being like yourself,
Do not kill or cause others to kill.

130. All tremble at violence;
life is dear to all.
Seeing others as being like yourself,
Do not kill or cause others to kill.

“All  tremble at violence; life is dear to all.” This being so, how do we create the causes and conditions needed to take care of our shared world? Acts of violence do not appear in a vacuum; they are co-dependently arising like all conditioned things. Let us look at the causes and conditions that make possible this suffering that manifests over and over again, and ask ourselves how we might practice, respond, and act to contribute to the harmony and change so needed in our world.

Central Abbess Eijun Linda Ruth Cutts

Photos: Avalokiteshvara by Travis Stansel; frieze from Gandhara Buddha at Tassajara by Taiyo Lipscomb


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2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Jeffrey Schneider
    Oct 5 2017

    While this is good as far as it goes, I would have appreciated a straightforward statement about the urgent necessity for sane weapon legislation from the Zen Center religious leadership.

  2. Thom Pastor
    Oct 7 2017

    I agree with Jeffrey Schneider. How different is our Buddhist chanting from politicians saying glibly with each event that our “thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families.” The fact that law enforcement officials (did a great job) are still searching for a motive, also questions the NRA’s Washington lobby being unable to focus on mental illness per se or some other social aberration to distract the public. The time is long overdue to ban assault weapons for general public purchase. “Regulating” them as suggested by the NRA is just a ruse to distract from the truth. Human beings, even law abiding ones, are capable of horrific atrocities.


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