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Lions Roar : September 2016
brown/black, or labor—are material to be exploited and dominated. Through these frames, the world is divided into those who are entitled to dominate and those who are humiliated by domination. One may argue that these views exist in places without the same level of gun violence. That may be true, but our nation has always placed guns at the crux of the relationship of domination and humiliation. Consider how we acquired this land and the labor to cultivate it. Is there any more succinct symbol of the taking of America than the gun? When American myth, media, and entertain- ment hold up guns as the ultimate punctuation mark of all manifest destiny and revenge tales, is it any wonder why Americans might go for a gun? Though we occupy different positions, we have all, to greater or lesser degrees, internalized the logic of domination that patriarchy, white supremacy, and capital- ism defend. For the Buddhist’s vow to do no harm to have real meaning in our world, we must engage systemic harm. This includes the systemic harm caused by unconscious identification with ide- ologies of domination. The Buddha was clear: think- ing is action, and action has effects. Our unconscious beliefs were born of ideologies that uphold and are upheld by our societal structures. Our beliefs sup- port the continuity of those ideologies and—difficult as it is to admit—the vio- lence that “makes sense” because of them. If we want this violence in our nation toend,eachofushastodotheworkof clarifying the ways we have internalized and normalized the lethal opposition of domination and humiliation in response to life. It’s the very logic that makes the gun an acceptable choice. This is not to say we should not work for legislative change, organize to reduce homicides and suicides in our communi- ties, stand up to systemic violence and law enforcement abuses, critically engage our own consumption of violence as entertainment, and actively address our nation’s child-soldier problem (that is, gangs). But these efforts alone will not change the soil in which this violence grows. We must illuminate this culture of domination, grieve our shared karma, and introduce the sacredness of spirit and all life back into our nation. To do so, we will have to courageously witness the mind of domination that accepts gun violence. Our practice gives us what we need to wake up to this mind. We have only to turn our hearts toward the work. Until we do, little may change. ♦ of a friend’s hand delivering an abrupt jolt to a locked mind. In a fight there is time for grace, time to wake up, time to consider how far things will ultimately go. Guns rob us of this grace. It is because of this theft of time and mind-space I feel strongly that we need stricter gun laws. Human beings should not be able to grab a gun when they’re at their worst. It is no kindness to anyone to grease the means for acting so absolutely when under the control of a fearful, angry, or humiliated mind. Looking at the bigger picture, Buddhist practitioners like myself should squarely face the many internalized ideologies of domination and humiliation that create a reality in which these kinds of absolute outcomes seem to make moral sense. We can certainly understand all of this in terms of greed, hate, and delusion—Buddhism’s “three poisons”—but spiritual terms are often too general to be useful in transform- ing our polity. It is imperative to the health of our society and planet that we rigor- ously unpack and speak to our specific expressions of greed, hate, and delusion. Where gun violence is concerned, we cannot ignore the logic of patriarchy, white supremacy, and capitalism. What these three ideologies share is an agree- ment that bodies—whether female, WHEN WE ENCOUNTER tragic events such as this, we turn to the Buddha for guidance on how to live our lives without hating and harming each other. We recognize that the root of hatred is very difficult to identify. It comes from deep inside of our karmic consciousness. We live our lives based on emotions and feelings of love and hatred. This is the source of our daily actions. But there is a true and real realm beyond love and hatred. This is the Buddha’s realm; the realm of Enlightenment. Deeply grieving our condition, the Buddha urges us to listen to the Dharma and to hear the words from the world of true equality. Through this realization, we are able to see one another as fellow travelers on a journey to the world of true equality. Regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation, we should live our lives with respect and kindness. BEYOND LOVE & HATRED After the early morning massacre that took place in Orlando on June 12, Buddhist figures and communities took to social media to offer comfort, support, and prayers. Bishop Kodo Umezu of the Buddhist Churches of America offered some timeless advice for keeping on when things are bleak. ©HANODED/ISTOCK LION’S ROAR | SEPTEMBER 2016 16 CULTURE • LIFE • PRACTICE