Buddhism: 9/11 and violence

Buddhism: 9/11 and violence September 12, 2006

I taught class today and felt the need for some mention of the Buddhist response to 9/11. Here are the excerpts and photos I breifly presented. It was a difficult position to be in – our University isn’t officially recognizing the day and I didn’t want to say too much or get too little. In the end I chose three statements, those by The Dalai Lama, Thich Nhat Hanh, and one by the Buddhist Peace Fellowship, along with two verses from the Dhammapada.

The Dalai Lama:
“Human conflicts do not arise out of the blue. They occur as a result of causes and conditions, many of which are within the protagonists’ control…. Violence undoubtedly breeds more violence.”


Thich Nhat
Thich Nhat Hanh Hanh:
“The root of terrorism is misunderstanding, intolerance, hatred, revenge and hopelessness. This root cannot be located by the military… Each one of us has the seed of awakening and insight within his or her heart. Let us help each other touch these seeds in ourselves so that everyone can have the courage to speak out.

Buddhist Peace Fellowship:
“[The Buddha taught] that all beings are our family… If we are all one family—victims, perpetrators, innocent, guilty—then each of us is potentially capable of terrible and noble action. We must first taste our fear and anger without rashly retaliating and escalating the violence.”

The Buddha on Violence

“Hatred is not overcome by hatred,
By love alone is hatred overcome.
This is an eternal law.”
Dhammapada v.5

“All tremble at the rod.
All fear death.
Comparing others with oneself, one should neither strike nor cause to strike.”
Dhammapada v.129

I asked the students to reflect on the principles contained in the statements, principles that we will discuss further as the course progresses. I also asked them to critically think about whether the Buddhist responses are/were realistic and practical in today’s world. That was all.

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