Friday, September 24, 2010

Susan's Shusho Blog: Killing

What is killing? I read so much about killing in the newspaper. I hear about it on the news. I see it on my tv screen and in the movies. I was brought up on the ten commandments. "Thou shalt not kill" was the big one. War, of course, was rationalized away as being a necessary evil. In graduate school I read a book by Michael Walzer called Just and Unjust Wars. His thesis was that we no longer have just wars. Vietnam changed all that. One of the rules of a just war was that it didn't involve civilians. In Vietnam and now in Iraq and Afghanistan we don't know who the enemy is. Innocent people are hurt and killed; wedding parties interrupted by violence.

Projection is a psychological process whereby we project powerful feelings inside ourselves onto the body of another. This can happen between two people. I see you and I have a story about you. I am hungry so I think you must be hungry too. I am sad and I feel sadness coming from you. When negative feelings of anger, rage and fear are projected out onto a group of people they become "the other" and a dangerous situation is created.

I remember trying to understand how I was a part of what happened in Nazi Germany before the Second World War. Jew hatred and fear of Jews and jealousy of Jews was projected out onto millions of people. Millions of Jews became "the other". It was easy then to see the other as enemy and see the need for their annihilation.

How can we live in the peace and harmony we say we desperately want and seek? In my 12 or so years of Buddhist practice I have come to believe that the answer to that question lies within. If we can't recognize and own our deepest feelings, we are all in danger of projecting them out. Buddhist confession is reality based. It says look within for the darkness that lies there. Zazen creates the space and the stability for this process to take place.

All my ancient twisted karma
from beginingless greed, hate and delusion
born through body speech and mind
I now fully avow
After saying the confession we say the refuges:

I take refuge in Buddha
I take refuge in dharma
I take refuge in sangha

We are held by the perfect teacher, we have a path and others are there to help. This works. Take it from me.

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