Monday, June 18, 2012
What Do You See In This Photo?
Originally posted on Facebook, this photo is creating quite a stir! Many are delighted and surprised to see HH visit and speak with soldiers; others are surprised but also disturbed and confused as to why a person of such presumably "superior" spiritual development would even speak to military people.
One might view this photo and think of a dualism: war and peace, nonviolence and violence, military and civilians. All the ways we could possibly isolate and separate ourselves. In our ordinary understanding, these dualisms do not mix. But in Buddha-dharma, there is no distinction. Clearly, HH sees only human beings here, and it is the human beings who are the ones receptive to the Buddha-dharma. Would this photo cause a similar stir if, instead of men dressed in military uniforms, these people were dressed in prison garb, or gym clothes, or cheerleading outfits? (the last might be interesting for a photo!) Of if these people were all black, or LGBT, or Arabic? We might consider it charming if HH meets with celebrities, but here it is different. Why is that so?
Angulimala the killer was granted the opportunity to hear the Dharma directly from the Buddha. Although Angulimala was not a soldier (an important distinction), he was also considered by many to be unworthy of the Dharma, and people asked the Buddha to shun him, but the Buddha dared to approach such a frightening individual. The Buddha was not frightened and he taught the Dharma to Angulimala. The Buddha also taught the warriors of his time, and all kinds of people in all kinds of professions.
Whether you agree or not with the military profession, should not all beings be offered the opportunity to hear the Dharma, and each individual to then make his or her choice to follow it or not, to the best of their ability, in whatever circumstances karma has placed them? When I look at this photo, I see only a Dharma teacher visiting people who are willing to listen to the Dharma. How can that ever be a disturbing sight?
Namo Amida Butsu!