Hostilities aren’t stilled

through hostility,

regardless.

Hostilities are stilled

through non-hostility:

this, an unending truth.

     —Shakyamuni Buddha {Dhammapada: Yammakavagga: “The Pairs” (Verses 1-20)}

 

And how do you protect others when

protecting yourself?

By pursuing the practice

developing it, devoting yourself to it.

     —Shakyamuni Buddha {Sutta Nipata 47.19: Sedaka Sutta — At Sedaka (The Acrobat)}

 
Over the course of the past 2 days, I’ve had numerous students, friends and family members ask “why” such tragic events happen in our world; “why” people are so cruel, intolerant and hold little regard for life. These are impossible questions for anyone to answer because we can’t really know what goes through another being’s mind when they intentionally take a life (or many lives).  Consequently, all we can assume is that anyone capable of such barbarity must be (or have been) suffering greatly in their ignorance.
In times of crisis, we often feel we don’t have the time or energy to practice, but those are precisely the times when the practice is most necessary. This is what we’ve been practicing for: the situations where the practice doesn’t come easily. When the winds of change reach hurricane force, our inner refuge of mindfulness, concentration, and discernment is the only thing that will keep us from getting blown away. When we can be secure in our inner source for true happiness, we don’t expose ourselves to the devastation that comes when outside hopes for happiness and security are dashed. We have our shelter, our place of security, inside. And we needn’t be afraid that this is an escapist shelter. When the basis of our well-being is firm within, we can act with true courage and compassion for others, for we’re coming from a solid position of calmness and strength.
So take heart. Do what you can to help the living, and dedicate the merit of your practice to the dead. We may be powerless to change the past, but we do have the power to shape the present and the future by what we do, moment to moment, right now. And in maintaining our intention to be as skillful as possible in thought, word, and deed, we’ll find the only true refuge there is.