The Tenth Anniversary of 9/11
By Rinban Don Castro
This year marks the 10th Anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center that killed almost 3,000 people. As I write this article almost a month in advance of the anniversary date, I have heard very little about the planned commemoration. I know that President Obama and former President G.W. Bush will be at the World Trade Center site in New York City and CBS is planning to broadcast a documentary. All will be looking to draw lessons from the past decade. We each have our own historical and political perspectives as we contemplate the past decade but I find it personally most useful and meaningful to apply a Buddhist perspective. What comes to mind first is a quote from the Dhammapada:
“He abused me, he hurt me, he defeated me, he robbed me,” – in those who harbor such
thoughts hatred will never cease…For hatred is never conquered by hate: hate is
conquered by love. This is an eternal law.
My mind asks, however, if hatred is the crucial issue here. Those who perpetrated the countless acts of violence in the U.S., Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan mostly thought they were doing right. Brainwashed children became suicide bombers. Soldiers on both sides believed God was on their side. My first teacher of Buddhism once said, “Man is a concept-secreting animal.” Beliefs are like slime that we secrete like a slug. If you get a person to believe something, no matter how absurd that belief is, they are likely to do anything.
Buddhism is a questioning religion; we are always questioning our assumptions and beliefs. We never declare that we have the true religion but that we have a true religion; which is not to say that all religions are true. Consequently, a true Buddhist does not impose their religion on another. The unanswered challenge of the post 9/11 decade, in fact the perennial challenge of humanity, is how to prevent concept-secreting slugs (who emit enormous quantities of carbon dioxide) from destroying our garden. Beer has limited effect.
All humor aside, our fervent hope as Buddhists is that humanity will engage in an active tolerance to address the tremendous social issues that face our world today. May peace and harmony prevail.