During the fourteen months I spent in the war in Vietnam, I saw the hideous wounds assault weapons make.

So today I’ll be fervently praying for the very difficult recoveries of 53 hospitalized people in Orlando, Florida, who all have those kinds of wounds. I’ll pray, too, for the doctors who have to treat those massive injuries.

Unfortunately, most of the media coverage of the controversy over assault weapons focuses on the weapons themselves, not on the wounds their projectiles ultimately produce. The recent deadly attack in Orlando will undoubtedly reignite the recurring debate in the United States about banning assault weapons—but before you make up your mind on the issue, you might want to learn some additional information you may not already know.

This information, even though it’s completely factual, is hard to take. It will make some people quite queasy—so please don’t keep reading if you’re squeamish.

When a military-style assault weapon fires its full-metal-jacketed round, that bullet travels faster and farther than most other weapons. The bullets from a Chinese AK-47 Kalashnikov assault rifle or an American M16A1 or A2 assault rifle, the most common types, were actually designed to produce high muzzle velocities—but they were also designed to disrupt human tissue in a unique way. Rather than producing a “through-and-through” wound—basically a round, relatively small-diameter tube-like hole in muscle, bone or organs—the bullets from assault weapons have what ballistics and medical experts call a “yaw” effect. That means the bullet itself is designed to “tumble” or break apart in the body it strikes, producing a small entrance wound but creating a very large tissue cavity as an exit wound.

ar-15-rifles

Here’s how it actually works: an assault weapon’s bullet enters human tissue pointed-end forward for 12 centimeters (about 5 inches) before it yaws to 90 degrees, flattens out and breaks apart. The rear section of the bullet then fragments in the body, like a grenade. Those fragments penetrate even further, traveling about 7 cm in a radial pattern. Then the bullet and its many fragments exit the body, making a much bigger and more ragged hole than they made going in. This yaw, flattening and fragmentation effect—which doesn’t occur in standard handguns or most long rifles used for hunting—creates huge, disruptive exit wounds, which of course kills the victim much more often than a standard non-military weapon does.

You can visualize it this way: the path of destruction an assault weapon’s round creates, when viewed from the side, resembles a cone rather than a pipe. You can imagine what that does to a fragile human body.

We might not like to admit it, but the main purpose of military assault weapons and their bullets is to produce as much carnage and death as possible. In my view, an assault weapon has no real alternative use—it is made to kill human beings, not for use as a hunting rifle. A regular bullet cores through human or animal tissue, producing an exit wound not much larger than the entry wound. But an assault weapon’s bullet destroys the greatest amount of tissue possible, making death from wounds much more likely. When medics and physicians attempt to treat those wounds, they’re fearsomely harder to repair and recover from, because they do so much damage. Ask me how I know.

In the United States, even though polls report that approximately three-quarters of the populace would support a complete ban on military-style assault weapons, they’re available for sale and legal to possess in almost every state. Today, after the Orlando massacre, the President of the United States said, “We have to decide if that’s the kind of country we want to be.”

The Baha’i teachings call these weapons of war—made solely to annihilate other human beings—“the malignant fruits of material civilization:”

Consider! These battleships that reduce a city to ruins within the space of an hour are the result of material civilization; likewise the Krupp guns, the Mauser rifles, dynamite, submarines, torpedo boats, armed aircraft and bombers — all these weapons of war are the malignant fruits of material civilization. Had material civilization been combined with Divine civilization, these fiery weapons would never have been invented. Nay, rather, human energy would have been wholly devoted to useful inventions and would have been concentrated on praiseworthy discoveries. Material civilization is like a lamp-glass. Divine civilization is the lamp itself and the glass without the light is dark. Material civilization is like the body. No matter how infinitely graceful, elegant and beautiful it may be, it is dead. Divine civilization is like the spirit, and the body gets its life from the spirit, otherwise it becomes a corpse. – Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 303.

Do Baha’is support a ban on the civilian ownership of military-style assault weapons? Baha’is look at the issue from a different, more macroscopic perspective, actually—rather than simply banning the weapons themselves, the Baha’i teachings want to transform the larger society that condones their use. Rather than symptomatic medicine, Baha’is want to cure the entire disease. We want to make our global culture a peaceful, harmonious and united one. Baha’is want to combine material civilization with a divine civilization, and inculcate the spiritual values Baha’u’llah taught in all people.

If we fail to do that, the Baha’i teachings say, we face nothing but more of the same:

O God, my God! The gloom of night hath shrouded every region, and all the earth is shut away behind thick clouds. The peoples of the world are sunk in the black depths of vain illusions, while their tyrants wallow in cruelty and hate. I see nothing but the glare of searing fires that blaze upward from the nethermost abyss, I hear nothing save the thunderous roar that belloweth out from thousands upon thousands of fiery weapons of assault, while every land is crying aloud in its secret tongue: ‘My riches avail me nothing, and my sovereignty hath perished! – Ibid., p. 272.

The opinions and views expressed in this article are those of the author only and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of BahaiTeachings.org or any institution of the Baha’i Faith.

28 Comments

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  • Steve Eaton
    Jun 25, 2016
    Assault rifles have some qualities
    that make them able to quickly decimate a crowd of people at close range:
    Rapid rate of fire, even in their civilian semi-automatic form; also,
    it's easy enough to retrofit or modify them to get full-automatic speed, or nearly so.
    Available magazines holding 30 or
    more cartridges.
    Maneuverability in close quarters,
    because of their light weight and short overall length.
    Controllability in rapid fire, because of their small calibers' light
    recoil.
    I do not ...think these features are
    needed in hunting or target work, and we can't deny the original purpose of these guns' development!
    David Langness's account of the
    trauma caused by yawing or fragmenting bullets made me wonder about "hollow points". Our
    policemen use them in pistols, and
    our military is considering it. Some
    say they reduce the risk of injury to folks behind the person targeted, and of damage to airplane cabins, because hollow points flatten out
    or mushroom so much in a body they may not exit at all. Maybe this
    rationale makes sense. For whatever
    it's worth, though, the 1899 Hague
    Convention banned such projectiles
    in warfare. I do not know if it applied to side-arms, or only rifles. America
    didn't ratify the ban, but so far we have voluntarily gone along with it.
    I also don't know if we have because
    of the "wound, and take three men
    out" strategy Mr. Safaee mentioned,
    or if that is an urban legend. It is
    important to know that the U. S. did
    sign on to the 1907 Hague ban on
    "arms, projectiles, or material calculated to cause unnecessary
    suffering...". Aside from hollow points, did the yawing & fragmenting
    bullets find a loophole or not?
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  • Steve Eaton
    Jun 22, 2016
    After quickly looking at the "After Orlando" article and responses, I think Stephen and anybody reading has been offered enough reassurance of the loving and tolerant nature of Baha'i scriptures, so I'm happy about that.
    I would like to add some more to the assault weapon discussion: assault rifles were developed to fill a gap between sub-machine guns (like our "grease gun" and Thompson and the German Schmeisser) and the traditional high-powered infantry long rifle (like our M1 Garand and later M14.....I do not remember the ...other nations' counterparts). Over the centuries, battle tactics had changed. In WWI, static trench fighting involved a lot of long-range
    sniping; then, high-powered medium-bore ( .30, 8mm., etc.) very accurate guns (like our Springfield and Enfield and the German M98 Mauser) were made to order. However, during "over-the-top" advances, sustained rate-of-fire would have become more important than accuracy the closer the combatants became. Also, in urban fighting during both world wars, the same was true. It was finally realized at some point that very little combat still happened beyond a medium range. Sub-machine guns were rapid-firing, but not quite long enough
    in range, so the assault rifle was designed as a compromise all-purpose gun. I will finish my comments in thr next post.
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  • Steve Eaton
    Jun 19, 2016
    I didn't expect to see so many new responses to this article! Some of them clearly have an emotional charge, which can be a sign this web site is badly needed for us to resolve our differences. There has been contention here, which is not a good thing generally, but as Abdu'l-Baha said, that "clash" can cause the "spark of truth". There doesn't seem to be an apathy problem here, at least!
    I would like to comment on some points or concerns brought up by Mr. Gray, Mr. Desailly, Mr. Safaee, and Mr. Langness, but ...don't feel quite sure of facts without some study. Before leaving now, I want to emphasize, to whom it might concern, that gentle kindness seems to me the most basic tenet of Baha'i
    doctrine and all other religions. If in
    fact, "God is love", how could it not be?
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  • Paul Desailly
    Jun 18, 2016
    Payam's measured and friendly response (consistently so) which opens as follows:
    "Thank you David" entails reasoning that i m o demonstrates where both of these gentlemen
    might consider a new approach or re-adjusting re this otherwise excellent BT site
    Payam opines incorrectly I feel that "this is not the place to discuss what the purpose of a given cartridge is....."
    That getting to the bottom of any important matter and to the full truth of the subject under discussion is exactly what this BT site should be about constitutes an opinion shared by several of my correspondents. Besides, it's ...an easy matter for those who'd sooner avoid topics that delve into violence and its emanations to simply turn away - that's cool too.
    David states: "Mr. Safaee, I rarely weigh in on comments to my posts--not because I'm uninterested, but because I simply don't have the time. In this case, though, I'll make an exception, so I can correct the egregious errors you claim as truth."
    Given that true consultation is not easy and that as David suggests it is the truth of a matter that should prevail and that polymaths like David are expert in assisting the process of getting to the truth of just about any subject I'd like to suggest that he consider composing fewer essays in order that more time is at his disposal for more adequate consultation on matters already raised, especially in regard to matters that merit "the most urgent attention" as stated by the Universal House of Justice
    Actually, there's no shortage of volunteers out there among writers in the Baha'i world community as indicated in the long list of contributors already amassed in David's terrific team; more will appear once certain rules are changed about editorial control, proprietorship, education level criteria and especially when feed back, commenting and true consultation are seen by the average reader as matters respected (i.e. discussed at length adequately) by the authors of said essays etc ,
    For example, this amateur has demonstrated in apparently uncontested documents as far as my Baha'i peers are concerned that a paucity of true consultation on the principle of a universal auxiliary language is linked to a crisis re enrollments and that David and his colleagues at BT, as exampled again this week in otherwise fine articles, are at best laconic and at worst dismissive or worse when called upon to consult on an actual fundamental principle of the Faith itself. Kia honto maksimuma! Yes, it's a disgrace because the rank and file believer is understandably inclined ergo to be equally dismissive and as a consequence a thirty year stasis in growth continues unabated
    Baha'i love
    Paul
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  • Payam Safaee
    Jun 17, 2016
    David, Thanks for your opinion in this matter.
    A few errors I would like to correct if I may. The 5.56 NATO round was designed to be light weight (so soldiers could carry more rounds with them) and to wound not kill.
    In war it is preferable to wound your target rather than kill him because if a enemy is killed he is removed from the fight but if he is wounded he will make noise demoralizing his comrades and it will require 2 or more other soldiers to remove him from harms way. Not to mention the ...lost revenue of medical supplies needed to care for him and the trauma in the homeland of having wounded warriors (war is truly a horrible affair as you well know). So your opinion about the 5.56 NATO round being designed to kill people is false.
    Your statement about "regular bullets" (I assume you mean those used in hunting) having a similar entry and exit wound is also untrue. In fact it is the exact opposite. steal core bullets commonly designed and used in war are meant to wound by exiting the body while softer cored bullets are designed for hunting because they are more likely to kill.
    in the case of the 5.56 NATO round it is not suitable for hunting large game. It is considered a varmint round for hunting animals no larger than a wolf of coyote. In hunting terms it is a relatively weak bullet. Hunting rounds like the 30-06 are FAR more powerful and will created what is called cavitationing in the body and usually don't exit the animal at all because they are designed to dump all their energy in the target to kill them. This is not the case for military cartridges. Those rounds are designed to wound not kill.
    Also your use of political terms such a "Military style assault weapon" is troubling. A assault weapon is any weapon used to assault a person. it does not even relate to guns a baseball bat could be a assault weapon. What I believe you meant to say is Assault Rifle like the M16A1 that you mentioned. These are practically banned in the US and are extremely expensive and hard to get by civilians. The difference between a M16 and a AR15 is that the M16 is capable of automatic fire. this is what makes it a Assault Rifle and the AR15 a semi-automatic civilian rifle.
    Thanks for your article I hope I was of some assistance to you.
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    • Payam Safaee
      Jun 17, 2016
      Thank you David for your reply.
      I see this subject is one that ignites in you a strong emotional response and I hope my comment did not offend or bother you too much. I would also like to assure you that I have no affiliation to the NRA. My opinions are my own and are shared by many hunters and sport shooters. I agree that this is not the place to discuss what the purpose of a given cartridge is or what the definition of words commonly used by politicians are I only myself brought it up because you discussed ...it at length in your article. and I believe I addressed it in my original reply. What I said is commonly held as fact among hunters and experienced sport shooters but I believe your understandable aversion for war has given you a certain view for all things firearms and this is understandable. I will say only one thing before I wish you happiness and success and graciously bow out of this exchange. You, and indeed many of the political establishment, say, "No legitimate civilian use exists for military style assault weapons". By your own definition you are talking about semi-automatic rifles with black plastic furniture and a vertical pistol grip. Yet these types are firearms are used by people peacefully to hunt, target shoot and to defend their lives much more commonly than they are used to kill innocent people. There are literally millions of such firearms that will and have never been used in taking a life. The FBI statistics from the US show that murder committed using fists and feet is 2 and a half time greater than murders with ALL RIFLES. And this number has been steadily dropping for many years. Now some will say that this firearm was designed specifically to kill people. To that I say should we not look at what the given object is USED for rather that what it's DESIGN is? We could say that a car was designed to transport individuals from one point to another yet it is used to kill a lot more than rifles are...
      In conclusion I would like to thank you once again for your article and you reply and also bring to your attention a letter from the UHJ as well as the FBI source that I mentioned.
      Kind Regards
      http://bahai-library.com/uhj_guidance_self_defense
      https://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2014/crime-in-the-u.s.-2014/tables/expanded-homicide-data/expanded_homicide_data_table_8_murder_victims_by_weapon_2010-2014.xls
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    • Jun 17, 2016
      Mr. Safaee, I rarely weigh in on comments to my posts--not because I'm uninterested, but because I simply don't have the time. In this case, though, I'll make an exception, so I can correct the egregious errors you claim as truth.
      First of all, your comments read suspiciously like the National Rifle Association's assertions about assault weapons--in some cases, word for word. The NRA is fond of saying, for example, that the term "assault weapon" is a "political term," and that "an assault weapon is any weapon used to assault a person." Both are manifestly incorrect. An assault weapon, in ...common parlance and by dictionary definition, refers to a weapon originally designed for military use, just at the M16A1 and A2 and the AK47 were. The laws of multiple countries define assault weapons in this manner, despite what the NRA would have people believe. Their numerous semi-automatic "civilian" counterparts like the AR-15, the NRA says, are simply "sporting rifles." Nothing could be farther from the actual truth. Those weapons have no real sporting use, as any legitimate hunter will readily admit. Instead, assault weapons are useful solely for killing human beings, which was their original intent.
      And no, a baseball bat could not be an assault weapon--that statement is patently absurd, as well as deeply offensive to those who lost loved ones in any one of the recent mass murders where assault weapons killed large numbers of people.
      Your next assertion--that the 5.56 NATO round is "designed to wound and not to kill" I find not only naïve but egregiously wrong. Until you have treated combat casualties injured and killed by these weapons, I suggest you refrain from making such ridiculous claims. I have seen the damage these weapons produce, with their high muzzle velocities, their high yaw and fragmentation rounds, and their high magazine capacities, and I can personally testify to their impact on human flesh. So, unfortunately, can many urban trauma surgeons who try their best to save the lives of people shot by assault weapons. For your delectation, and to prove my points, a cursory review of the medical literature--say, reading just about any research paper on assault weapon injuries published in the Journal of the American Medical Association or the New England Journal of Medicine--will fill you in on the grievous wounds and deaths they produce. That's why the major medical societies have called for banning assault weapons.
      And that's why these military style assault weapons have become the weapons of choice for mass murderers--because they kill with high efficiency, not just wound. Even though his primary weapon in the Orlando massacre was a "civilian version" AR-15 style Sig Sauer MCX, recordings made on that night confirm that the shooter fired 24 rounds in 9 seconds. Try that with a conventional hunting weapon. Then take a look at the marketing materials Sig Sauer uses to sell the MCX--they tout its military heritage, its rapid trigger pull (even in semi-automatic fire), its high-capacity 30-round magazine, its fast reloading time and its stopping power. Then ask the 49 dead in the Orlando massacre if the 5.56 round is "designed to wound." I guarantee you, from my own long, traumatic and nightmare-producing experience, that those NRA-sourced claims have absolutely no veracity in the real world.
      Since BahaiTeachings.org is a site devoted to teaching the tenets of the Baha'i Faith and not debating the relative killing power of assault weapons, I won't belabor these technical points any further. Suffice it to say that the Baha'i teachings urgently call on the world--and on individuals--to disarm. Baha'u'llah made disarmament and world peace one of the major cornerstones of his revelation. No legitimate civilian use exists for military style assault weapons, and in a future state of society, as Abdu'l-Baha commands, we will "Come and cast down your weapons of wrath, till unity is won!"
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  • Paul Desailly
    Jun 17, 2016
    Again, Stephen, your assertion, that I'm pasting below, along with some other notions in your last posting, are incorrect
    This sinner holds no official office in any Baha'i institution nor do i seek any due to my state of health; I simply write as an individual follower of Baha'u'llah who in this instance is primarily reaching out and at the same time telling you the truth as far as the Universal House of Justice and Baha'u'llah are concerned vis-a-vis the twisted motivations in the mind of the murderer and prevalent yet in society and vis-a-vis how we Baha'is should ...behave in regard to murder, homosexuality, mercy and justice
    Though justice trumps everything my feeling at this time is moving toward how we can avoid such tragedies in the future.
    In the case of Baha'u'llah himself and of the institution and as far as I'm concerned too, mercy and empathy for all as far as possible and protection of all are above all else are the main sentiments for Baha'is to convey at this time i m o
    "Your last comment (before the one I’m responding to) was 90% stating that homosexuality was a sin, and at or less than 10% saying murder was bad and homophobia was bad."
    This incorrect assessment on your part and the general tone of your last posting that I am more concerned about the sin of homosexuality than murder is possibly attributable to the poor penmanship of this amateur scrivener.
    Were such horrific events as Orlando, such as the recent murders of your singer Christine Grimmie and your 50 young people enjoying a night out, to occur in my home town, I pray that i would have the courage to personally intervene immediately
    What I actually and unequivocally expressed in my previous post is my deep affection for my gay friends and that murder is a far more egregious sin and that we need to work together so as to eradicate all forms of prejudice which are the root cause of many evil phobias
    On reflection I feel that it's best at present until some more time for grieving has occurred that I refrain from airing my personal views and advice. My apologies for upsetting you inadvertently
    Baha'i love and good bye
    Paul
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    • Jun 17, 2016
      Actually what I meant by the 90%/10% things was a measurement of how many lines you devoted to in the text to each topic. How else could I compare several long paragraphs on one side to one short paragraph on the other?
      I never asserted you had any official standing, but that is irrelevant as official standing in a religion is fallacious when talking about topics themselves.
      A summary of the situation is Omar Mateen is a vigilante homophobe who punished gays with the death penalty as per IS law as the state he pledged allegiance too. Lots ...of countries have sod of laws of various extents, but only a few give the death penalty for it. This was mentioned in countries' denouements in their responses to the crime as the killing of innocent people as American law sees them as innocent even if some of the countries who mentioned that where the laws wouldn't view them as innocent. The Chalcedon Foundation (a Christian organization) as well as various Islamist organizations all want to spread IS types sodomy laws, but they want to do it legally rather than through the terror of IS.
      Guyana and Uganda have sodomy laws, without the death penalty as punishment. LGBT rights have been debated even in those countries. Baha'is have supported retention and tightening of such laws in those countries.
      Also, why hasn't the author David Langness not posted any comments or any new articles in response to any conversations here? This isn't that big a deal, but just something I noticed.
      Back on topic: In an age of social media and instant news, where lots of religions and religious groups responded fast to this news story (especially Muslim groups), why have Baha'is been mostly either silent or using a partial condemnation as a soapbox to preach about their views on the sinfulness of LGBT related stuff despite none of the other religions doing so in their condemnations? Do Baha'is think a straight forward condemnation is deceptive by omission and they must disclose each and every aspect of their beliefs on LGBT issues at each and every chance despite all other religions giving straightforward condemnations?
      Chirsitans like WWJD (What Would Jesus Do). You can substitute WWMD (What Would Moses Do) for Jews, WWMD (What Would Muhammad Do) for Muslims, WWBD (What Would Buddha Do) for Buddhists and so on.
      With the exception of some Southern Baptist preachers, the Westboro Baptist Church, and a Turkish newspaper, none of the responses have included judgement calls on LGBT issues. The responses I mentioned as examples like the Southern Baptist preacher saying there are 50 less sinners in Orlando and Orlando is safer without then have been extremely controversial. Huffington Post has an article on it. You can find it and simmilar articles on the Queer Voices section.
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  • Paul Desailly
    Jun 16, 2016
    Stephen incorrectly asserts in his understandably saddened state at this tragic time, which is, as far as I'm concerned, a sadness that I really share given that my young sons and I have on several occasions celebrated Christmas and Christmas dinner in Australia with our dear gay Esperanto friends Igor and Tim:
    "Also condemning both homophobia and homosexuality in the same stamements is a pox on both houses way of saying the killer and killed were equivalent and the same in their evil sins by saying if there were no gays there would be no homophobes."
    Homophobia is a prejudice ...which like all prejudices is contrary to the fundamental principles of the Baha'i Faith . Homosexuality is a sin, sinning is a subject in which I am well versed before and after joining the Baha'i Faith in 1989. Murder, particularly mass murder, is obviously though a far more egregious sin.
    I mean, taking the logic of the excerpt above to a logical end we might as well conclude that there would be no murderers if there were no people.
    Baha'i love
    Paul
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    • Jun 17, 2016
      Just look at any and all of the religious groups who responded to Orlando for a comparison and contrast. Look at the tact in press releases. Also, despite the shooter being Muslim rather than Baha'i, you write the Baha'i position as if he were and you were detonating the Baha'I Faith from him. Muslims groups felt no such need to state their positions on sodomy or same-sex marriage or anything in their press releases and condemnations.
      Your last comment (before the one I'm responding to) was 90% stating that homosexuality was a sin, and at or less than 10% ...saying murder was bad and homophobia was bad. Now compare and contrast that to the press releases of any or all of the other religious groups and their press releases (even if they have the same teachings on the topic, especially if so). Notice and differences. Did CAIR, ISNA, Ahmadiyya (Ahmadi Muslim Community) who were the most prominent responders say anything about their teachings on marriage or sex in the condemnations? NO! Did they ignore the LGBT component of the killings? NO! (The original article here did by contrast as if this were just random gun violence and nothing more.)
      Correct me if I'm wrong, but did ANY of the Jewish, Christian, or Muslim organizations specific that while condemning the killings and homophobia behind it that they needed to specify that homosexuality was sinful or that same-sex marriage was invalid or that sex should only be within a valid marriage? If you can't, why do you think they didn't feel the need to specify their teaching on the issue in their comments and press releases?
      Also, I have probably already gave all responses from all Buddhist organizations and persons responding to the Orlando shootings. Despite not being that prominent a religions in America or being involved in the shootings, they still felt the need to give comments as quoted in other comments.
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  • Jun 16, 2016
    After sharing them on my Facebook, full SGI statement below:
    On behalf of our Soka Gakkai International-USA (SGI-USA) Buddhist community, we offer both our deep prayers and our resolve for action in response to the senseless murder of 49 precious human beings as well as those wounded in Orlando, Florida yesterday. We stand in heartfelt solidarity with the families and loved ones of those who were killed, with the residents of Orlando and with the global LGBTQ community.
    We are saddened beyond words by this tragic loss of life. As President Obama noted, it was an act arising from hatred, ...and as Buddhists we believe that the fundamental antidote for the stream of hatred which distorts our society, is to build an even deeper stream of compassion that affirms our bonds as brothers and sisters and challenges those ideologies which would divide us into “us” against “them”.
    Finally, we reflect on the shocking fact that a single heavily armed person was able to inflict this much damage and suffering on so many. We therefore call on our elected leaders to put the safety and well-being of our communities first, and to reach across the borders of party and ideology to enact common-sense, humanitarian limits on the availability of those weapons whose only purpose is to kill other human beings.
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  • Jun 16, 2016
    Update more examples
    Soto Zen Buddhist Association:
    As members of the Soto Zen Buddhist Association — along with communities and practitioners of all faiths — we stand in solidarity with those who seek to live in peace and nonviolence, and grieve for the loss of life in Orlando. In particular we extend our heartfelt compassion to Orlando’s Latino and LBGTQ communities, their friends and families.
    In the Dhammapada Shakyamuni Buddha, says: “Hatred does not cease by hatred at any time. Hatred ceases by love. This is an eternal law.” While we cannot untangle the thoughts and emotions of the shooter, ...quite aside from political dimensions, this is a crime motivated by delusion. Our world will never be free from conflict, but we yearn for a human culture in which one person’s views will not lead to another’s death.
    We reflect, too, that mass shootings in Orlando, Paris, San Bernardino, Aurora, Newton, and throughout the world are facilitated by the ready availability of assault-style automatic weapons. These weapons, designed for military application not for sport, do not belong on our streets.
    In the name of those below, and all victims of gender violence, hatred, racism, and homophobia — our sisters and brothers — we call for people and our elected leaders to wake from delusion and vow to resolve our differences with the strength of nonviolence. In this spirit we call the names of the dead in Orlando:
    Stanley Almodovar III, 23
    Amanda Alvear, 25
    Oscar A Aracena-Montero, 26
    Rodolfo Ayala-Ayala, 33
    Antonio Davon Brown, 29
    Darryl Roman Burt II, 29
    Angel L. Candelario-Padro, 28
    Juan Chevez-Martinez, 25
    Luis Daniel Conde, 39
    Cory James Connell, 21
    Tevin Eugene Crosby, 25
    Deonka Deidra Drayton, 32
    Simon Adrian Carrillo Fernandez, 31
    Leroy Valentin Fernandez, 25
    Mercedez Marisol Flores, 26
    Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz, 22
    Juan Ramon Guerrero, 22
    Paul Terrell Henry, 41
    Frank Hernandez, 27
    Miguel Angel Honorato, 30
    Javier Jorge-Reyes, 40
    Jason Benjamin Josaphat, 19
    Eddie Jamoldroy Justice, 30
    Anthony Luis Laureanodisla, 25
    Christopher Andrew Leinonen, 32
    Alejandro Barrios Martinez, 21
    Brenda Lee Marquez McCool, 49
    Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez, 25
    Kimberly Morris, 37
    Akyra Monet Murray, 18
    Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo, 20
    Geraldo A. Ortiz-Jimenez, 25
    Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera, 36
    Joel Rayon Paniagua, 32
    Jean Carlos Mendez Perez, 35
    Enrique L. Rios, Jr., 25
    Jean C. Nives Rodriguez, 27
    Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado, 35
    Christopher Joseph Sanfeliz, 24
    Yilmary Rodriguez Solivan, 24
    Edward Sotomayor Jr., 34
    Shane Evan Tomlinson, 33
    Martin Benitez Torres, 33
    Jonathan Antonio Camuy Vega, 24
    Juan P. Rivera Velazquez, 37
    Luis S. Vielma, 22
    Franky Jimmy Dejesus Velazquez, 50
    Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon, 37
    Jerald Arthur Wright, 31
    Omar Mateen, 29
    With palms together,
    Hozan Alan Senauke
    President, Soto Zen Buddhist Association
    Roshi Joan Halifax, Upaya Zen Center:
    Last evening, many of Upaya Zen Center’s sangha gathered for a time of silent meditation, followed by a powerful talk by head priest Genzan Q Quennell. Genzan’s talk focused on the tragedy in Orlando and the “power of speech to turn the destiny of a nation” (Dogen). He finished his talk with reading the names and ages of all those who were killed in the Pulse Club.
    We at Upaya stand in sorrow at the horrific loss of life, and in solidarity with all those who are calling out for an ending of violence and the passing of sane and compassion-based gun legislation
    Buddhist Churches of America:
    We are deeply shocked and saddened by the mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. We wish to express our profound sympathy to the families and friends of the victims.
    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.
    Namo Amida Butsu
    In Gassho (With Palms Together),
    Bishop Kodo Umezu, Buddhist Churches of America
    Buddhist Council of New York:
    We, members of the Buddhist Council of New York, recognize the interconnectivity of all living beings and stand in solidarity with the citizens of Orlando as well as the entire Global LBGTQ Community.
    Having a steadfast commitment to nonviolence, loving kindness, and compassion we would like to echo the following words of Jack Kornfield when he said:
    “As we move through this beautiful and troubled world, may we vow to be a beacon of peace, a fearless carrier of respect and lovingkindness for all life, a teller of truth, a voice for justice, a protector of those who are vulnerable or targeted. May the power of wisdom, integrity and compassion be our guide.”
    In this spirit we acknowledge that while times may be hard, we must love one another, that hate is not the answer to hate and only mindful compassion can heal our fractured world.
    With palms together.
    BCNY is organizing gathering of meditation and prayer for victims and families of Orlando Tragedy
    Place: Church Center for the United Nations @777 UN Plaza @E. 44th St, (in front of the United Nations Headquarter)
    Date: Wednesday, June 15
    Time: Right after (continuing from) formal program “interfaith Service and Opening Reflection” starting at 11:00am
    Buddhist Council wants to organize meditation and prayer service for the victims and families of Orlando Tragedy tomorrow, Wednesday, June 15 at the UN Church Center. Please join us.
    Metta,
    TK Nakagaki, President, Buddhist Council of New York
    Higashi Honganji Buddhist Temple (Los Angeles):
    We join with countless others in expressing our grief for the victims, families, and friends of the LGBTQ community in Orlando, FL. We hope that the Buddha’s compassion reaches out to all, especially in this moment of tragedy. “As one little candle lights another, so the light of Buddha’s compassion will pass from one mind to another mind endlessly.” (Dhammapada)
    The passing of compassion from one mind to another is highly significant. As the Theravada teacher Bhikkhu Bodhi once stated, “Mind is the forerunner of all that we are, the maker of our character, the creator of our destiny. The entire discipline of the Buddha, from basic morality to the highest levels of meditation, hinges upon training the mind.” And, he points out, an unawake mind can bring greater harm than any enemy; an awakened mind can bring the greatest good. Namu Amida Butsu.
    SGI-USA:
    We stand in heartfelt solidarity with the families and loved ones of those who were killed, with the residents of Orlando and with the global LGBTQ community.
    We are saddened beyond words by this tragic loss of life. As President Obama noted, it was an act arising from hatred, and as Buddhists we believe that the fundamental antidote for the stream of hatred which distorts our society, is to build an even deeper stream of compassion that affirms our bonds as brothers and sisters and challenges those ideologies which would divide us into “us” against “them”.
    Finally, we reflect on the shocking fact that a single heavily armed person was able to inflict this much damage and suffering on so many. We therefore call on our elected leaders to put the safety and well-being of our communities first, and to reach across the borders of party and ideology to enact common-sense, humanitarian limits on the availability of those weapons whose only purpose is to kill other human beings.
    Larry Yang, East Bay Meditation Center:
    In the chaos of violence, senselessness, carnage, and despair, we can take care of each other. We can hold each other with the most precious thing we can offer, our compassionate attention. Unwavering, we can love one another without questioning or second-guessing any aspect of that love or anyone’s life experience or identity. There is great Power in that coming together from wherever we are. In that solidarity with the deepest of places of our tender humanity, we begin to live the truth that the Buddha spoke of:
    Hate never yet dispelled hate. Only love dispels hate.
    This is the law, ancient and inexhaustible.
    We begin to create justice in the only ways possible—through just means. Instead of trading Homophobia with Xenophobia as an insidious pattern of the market economy—Instead of displacing and playing off the oppression of one, for the oppression of another—we endeavor to dispel all oppressions, for the freedom of all beings. We can only create justice through just means—that is the law, ancient and inexhaustible.
    San Francisco Zen Center:
    Dear sangha,
    Today, many of us are experiencing great sorrow and disbelief at the recent tragedy in Orlando. We are deeply saddened that one individual, whose mind may be clouded by ignorance and hate, has taken the lives of 50 people at a gay dance club in Orlando and injured 53 more. At this difficult time, we turn to our practice – to our loving, compassionate heart-minds – and hold everyone tenderly in Buddha’s embrace.
    May we focus our hearts and minds now on unity, acceptance, and resilience rather than blame and hate. May we bring the world into our hearts and extend our loving kindness to those affected by this violent act.
    May we turn our hearts and minds towards the conditions for realizing our Bodhisattva vow of freeing all beings from suffering and the causes of suffering.
    Eyes of Compassion
    Observing Sentient Beings
    Assemble an Ocean of Blessings
    Beyond Measure
    —Chapter 25, Lotus Sutra
    Adapted from City Center Tanto David Zimmerman’s opening remarks at a memorial service today for the victims of the recent shooting in Orlando.
    Tara Brach:
    The tragedy in Orlando brings us together in deep sorrow and prayer.
    May those suffering loss feel held in our love;
    may those suffering from hatred be healed with compassion;
    may yet more violence awaken our collective dedication to living from peaceful, open hearts.
    Lama Rod Owens of Natural Dharma Fellowship:
    Remembering the loss of life everywhere this morning. I continue to watch, fight, and pray. May you continue to do the same.
    The Dalai Lama:
    His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama today led a minute of silent prayer, in recognition of the events in Orlando, noting that he “is quite skeptical about the effects of prayer. The real change, effect, comes through action.” Watch his full comments here.
    Mushim Patricia Ikeda:
    This morning I offered a Dharma talk titled “Let’s all become buddhas together: the importance of spiritual friendship” to the full house Sangha gathering at Insight Meditation Center of Redwood City, California. When I left my home in Oakland, the first report of 20 people who died in the mass shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida was in the news; by the time I returned home, there was a report of 50 dead and 53 wounded. Acknowledging this hate crime in my talk, I said: “I propose that, considering all of the desperate and liberatory people’s movements now happening all over the world, that we need to look deeply and continuously — as continuously as we return to the physical sensations of the breath or whatever the object of our meditation practice is — to ask whether we are creating not only community, but whether we are creating *beloved* community. After all, this is more than an abstract question. We live in earthquake country, and at any moment those of us gathered in this meditation hall, whether we know one another or not, might need one another in ways that are highly intimate and highly unromantic. The Big One could happen at any time. Then we would need to rely on that essential human bond, in moments of crisis, which asks: ‘Even if I am not your parent, your child, your sibling, your coworker, your neighbor, will you help me? Will you be my spiritual friend?’ When I was in the Korean Buddhist monastery in 1988, I learned the phrase ‘songbul hashipshio,” which I was told translates into English as ‘Let’s all become buddhas together.’ Creating beloved community this year and next year and beyond is an urgent matter.”
    Insight Meditation Society:
    IMS stands in solidarity with the LGBTIQ community grieving over the Orlando Massacre. May you rest in abiding love during this tragedy.
    Maia Duerr of the Liberated Life Project:
    Feeling kind of stunned today, in the aftermath of the news from Orlando… I am remembering back to years that I lived in Oregon when hate crimes against LGBT were commonplace, and when legislation to discriminate against our community was being pushed on everyone.
    This level of violence, hatred, and bigotry is traumatizing… any group of people that has experienced oppression has experienced that. May we never forget what this trauma can do to people, and let that help us to have great forbearance with each other in the days to come.
    I keep remembering something that dear Frank Ostaseski has said — “There is endless suffering. There is also endless compassion.” Let us abide in that place of compassion in the days and weeks ahead…
    Kalu Rimpoche:
    I heard and saw on television news the tragic event that happened in Orlando Florida for those who were simply having fun in their life. I am strongly doing my prayers for those who have passed away, those that are hurt and those who are going through a difficult time. All my love and caring and respect to the LGBT community and individuals around the world.
    All the teachings from the great masters comes with nonviolence, kindness, love and compassion. This is the foundation of the teachings of all religions and all the great masters. We must continue with that direction for what we believe.
    Be proud of who you are and don’t let any religion tell you what you have to be. Just look for happiness and quality and wisdom in mind. Happiness and truthfulness is never based on lies, violence and ignorance. It Is always based on wisdom and equality and living the life we want with simplicity and freedom.
    Love and care from your Kalu Rimpoche
    Jack Kornfield:
    As I learn of the shootings in Florida, I am filled with tears and an ocean of compassion for so many who have been harmed. Sitting quietly, this tragedy strengthens my resolve to not let terror and fear take over my heart.
    As we move through this beautiful and troubled world, may we vow to be a beacon of peace, a fearless carrier of respect and lovingkindness for all life, a teller of truth , a voice for justice, a protector of those who are vulnerable or targeted. May the power of wisdom, integrity and compassion be our guide.
    And may I/we follow these instructions of the Buddha…….
    Others will kill. We shall not kill. Thus we should direct our hearts.
    Others will be cruel. We shall not be cruel. Thus should we direct our hearts.
    Others will speak falsely. We will speak what is true. Thus we should direct our hearts.
    Others will be fraudulent. We shall not be fraudulent. Thus we should direct our hearts.
    Others will be hateful. We shall become loving. Thus we shall direct our hearts.
    Others will be unwise. We shall become wise. Thus we shall direct our hearts.
    May I/we carry these intentions with courage, as a beacon and a medicine, as a blessing to all we touch.
    Metta, Jack
    Lama Zopa Rinpoche:
    Our hearts and prayers go out to the victims and their families and all those affected in Orlando, FL.
    When Rinpoche heard about this tragedy he immediately started doing prayers.
    Lama Zopa Rinpoche always advises to make strong prayers to Medicine Buddha for anyone who is dying, sick, injured or who has already passed away. Also this can be dedicated to anyone who needs protection, support, strength and love.
    Lodro Rinzler:
    I am very sad and tired today. But posting things on the internet doesn’t seem like enough today. So I’m committing to volunteering for a nonprofit that does gun violence prevention work going forward. Do you have one you’d recommend? Willing to put in a few hours a week.
    [Rinzler also wrote a piece for Huffington Post called “Meditation Isn’t Enough: A Call to Take Action Against Gun Violence.”]
    Miguel Chen:
    This pain belongs to all of us. Senseless, awful violence. May we unite from a place of compassion, rather than divide from a place of fear. Our brothers and sisters need our love.
    Greg Snyder of Brooklyn Zen Center:
    This morning I got really irritated about something not that important and realized I was resisting letting my heart break for Orlando. Then it just did. I have no idea what to say here, other than Charleston, Orlando, on and on – enough with the hatred, all of us. I am speaking from grief, so forgive my insistent tone; but we have just got to stop as a nation, as a people of many peoples, communities, and take stock, slap ourselves in the collective face and wake up to the ways we are creating the conditions for this. People are being executed… executed in nightclubs and churches, on streets for nothing. Nothing. Nothing. They are worshipping and dancing and walking. I pray every person with a shred of sanity – especially those of privilege and power – train her or his heart on love and, from that place, work to expose and heal hatred wherever we see it. I would encourage us all to take up the practice of watching our every word and silence, every action and inaction, every thought and distraction, every vote and political shrug of the shoulders, and ask ourselves – Am I right now cultivating a world of love or hate? Is the language I’m getting behind a language of love or hate? I know I fail at this intention everyday of my life, but all I feel right now is that we must work tirelessly to cultivate a society deeply rooted in love. Most of us will fear this because love is both personally and societally revolutionary. Love will shake us to our core as people and as nations. But it’s so long past time. It has been said so many times that it’s boring, but business as usual really has to stop being business as usual. I can already see the story unfolding in the news and soon it will be all too easy just to blame this on ISIS and take no stock of who we are. We too easily use this or that terrorist or sociopath as a free ticket for moving on. This too has to stop. We have to bring the world into our hearts and make love our first thought, our first intention for ourselves and every person we meet. That means we have to critically engage the mental and societal habits that resist love. Despite all we can do to each other, I choose to have faith in humanity. Yes, we can be a wind of fire that leaves scars and burning, but we are also dear and precious and deserving of our birthright of peace and happiness, every one of us. I vow to focus my heart on the latter, knowing that we must learn to clearly see and end the conditions for the former. May the mystery forever cradle those murdered in Orlando and may we all learn to care for each other while here. Love to the families and communities of those lost. Love to all of you, my sacred sisters and brothers.
    Spirit Rock Meditation Center:
    May we be free from hatred and the suffering caused by hatred. May we hold our suffering and the suffering of the world with fierce, deep, and tender compassion.
    Read more...
  • Jun 16, 2016
    Examples of responses I found online for comparison and contrast to the comments section responses as none of the writers here or on any other Baha'i blog has written an official response to this incident. Also, Huffington Post, Religion News Service, Lion's Roar, Tricycle, etc are all news sources with such articles from a variety of religious perspectives.
    I'd like to thank Daniel Clark Orey for informing me about these responses from his Revoked (Revolked 2 Blogspot) blog. Religion News Service columnists also give other examples of religious responses: David Gushee is an Evangelical Protestant Christian of the Christians ...Conflict & Change blog, Jeffrey Salkin is a Reform Jew of the Martini Judaism blog, Jonathan Merrit is a Mainline Protestant Christian of the On Faith & Culture blog, and other such examples of religious bloggers who responded could be listed. Even Orthodox Jews, Catholics, Orthodox Christians, Mormons, Evangelicals, and Muslims have given responses that both condemn homophobia as well not validating the homophobic basis of the killer's extreme IS/Salafi beliefs on homosexuality by condemning only the homophobia and not mentioning their religion's teaching on homosexuality. Baha'is, bycontrast, get defensive by ignoring homophobia (biphobia and transphobia) where if a killing was motivated by another bigotry (discrimination and prejudice) they would be condemning it and not just the killing as well as talking about things like the unity of humanity, equality of the genders, etc as well. Also disputing if the killer was gay to say he couldn't have been homophobic if he was gay (despite internalized homophobia being a thing and his behavior not explicitly saying he was gay more than saying he was casing gay people and the places they hung out in order to prepare for the killing) to get out of talking about homophobia. Also condemning both homophobia and homosexuality in the same stamements is a pox on both houses way of saying the killer and killed were equivalent and the same in their evil sins by saying if there were no gays there would be no homophobes.
    Buddhist figures, communities respond to Orlando massacre
    Buddhist flag and pride flag.The Buddhist flag (right) debuted in Sri Lanka in 1855 and was adopted internationally in 1952. The rainbow pride flag, designed by Gilbert Baker in 1978, has become a symbol of LGBTIQ hope and progress worldwide.
    After the news of the early-Sunday morning mass shooting at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, Buddhist teachers and communities began to share their grief and support for and with the LGBTIQ community. Here’s a sampling of what they had to say.
    Buddhist Churches of America:
    We are deeply shocked and saddened by the mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. We wish to express our profound sympathy to the families and friends of the victims.
    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.
    Namo Amida Butsu
    In Gassho (With Palms Together),
    Bishop Kodo Umezu, Buddhist Churches of America
    Buddhist Council of New York:
    We, members of the Buddhist Council of New York, recognize the interconnectivity of all living beings and stand in solidarity with the citizens of Orlando as well as the entire Global LBGTQ Community.
    Having a steadfast commitment to nonviolence, loving kindness, and compassion we would like to echo the following words of Jack Kornfield when he said:
    “As we move through this beautiful and troubled world, may we vow to be a beacon of peace, a fearless carrier of respect and lovingkindness for all life, a teller of truth, a voice for justice, a protector of those who are vulnerable or targeted. May the power of wisdom, integrity and compassion be our guide.”
    In this spirit we acknowledge that while times may be hard, we must love one another, that hate is not the answer to hate and only mindful compassion can heal our fractured world.
    With palms together.
    BCNY is organizing gathering of meditation and prayer for victims and families of Orlando Tragedy
    Place: Church Center for the United Nations @777 UN Plaza @E. 44th St, (in front of the United Nations Headquarter)
    Date: Wednesday, June 15
    Time: Right after (continuing from) formal program “interfaith Service and Opening Reflection” starting at 11:00am
    Buddhist Council wants to organize meditation and prayer service for the victims and families of Orlando Tragedy tomorrow, Wednesday, June 15 at the UN Church Center. Please join us.
    Metta,
    TK Nakagaki, President, Buddhist Council of New York
    Higashi Honganji Buddhist Temple (Los Angeles):
    We join with countless others in expressing our grief for the victims, families, and friends of the LGBTQ community in Orlando, FL. We hope that the Buddha’s compassion reaches out to all, especially in this moment of tragedy. “As one little candle lights another, so the light of Buddha’s compassion will pass from one mind to another mind endlessly.” (Dhammapada)
    The passing of compassion from one mind to another is highly significant. As the Theravada teacher Bhikkhu Bodhi once stated, “Mind is the forerunner of all that we are, the maker of our character, the creator of our destiny. The entire discipline of the Buddha, from basic morality to the highest levels of meditation, hinges upon training the mind.” And, he points out, an unawake mind can bring greater harm than any enemy; an awakened mind can bring the greatest good. Namu Amida Butsu.
    SGI-USA:
    We stand in heartfelt solidarity with the families and loved ones of those who were killed, with the residents of Orlando and with the global LGBTQ community.
    We are saddened beyond words by this tragic loss of life. As President Obama noted, it was an act arising from hatred, and as Buddhists we believe that the fundamental antidote for the stream of hatred which distorts our society, is to build an even deeper stream of compassion that affirms our bonds as brothers and sisters and challenges those ideologies which would divide us into “us” against “them”.
    Finally, we reflect on the shocking fact that a single heavily armed person was able to inflict this much damage and suffering on so many. We therefore call on our elected leaders to put the safety and well-being of our communities first, and to reach across the borders of party and ideology to enact common-sense, humanitarian limits on the availability of those weapons whose only purpose is to kill other human beings.
    Larry Yang, East Bay Meditation Center:
    In the chaos of violence, senselessness, carnage, and despair, we can take care of each other. We can hold each other with the most precious thing we can offer, our compassionate attention. Unwavering, we can love one another without questioning or second-guessing any aspect of that love or anyone’s life experience or identity. There is great Power in that coming together from wherever we are. In that solidarity with the deepest of places of our tender humanity, we begin to live the truth that the Buddha spoke of:
    Hate never yet dispelled hate. Only love dispels hate.
    This is the law, ancient and inexhaustible.
    We begin to create justice in the only ways possible—through just means. Instead of trading Homophobia with Xenophobia as an insidious pattern of the market economy—Instead of displacing and playing off the oppression of one, for the oppression of another—we endeavor to dispel all oppressions, for the freedom of all beings. We can only create justice through just means—that is the law, ancient and inexhaustible.
    San Francisco Zen Center:
    Dear sangha,
    Today, many of us are experiencing great sorrow and disbelief at the recent tragedy in Orlando. We are deeply saddened that one individual, whose mind may be clouded by ignorance and hate, has taken the lives of 50 people at a gay dance club in Orlando and injured 53 more. At this difficult time, we turn to our practice – to our loving, compassionate heart-minds – and hold everyone tenderly in Buddha’s embrace.
    May we focus our hearts and minds now on unity, acceptance, and resilience rather than blame and hate. May we bring the world into our hearts and extend our loving kindness to those affected by this violent act.
    May we turn our hearts and minds towards the conditions for realizing our Bodhisattva vow of freeing all beings from suffering and the causes of suffering.
    Eyes of Compassion
    Observing Sentient Beings
    Assemble an Ocean of Blessings
    Beyond Measure
    —Chapter 25, Lotus Sutra
    Adapted from City Center Tanto David Zimmerman’s opening remarks at a memorial service today for the victims of the recent shooting in Orlando.
    Tara Brach:
    The tragedy in Orlando brings us together in deep sorrow and prayer.
    May those suffering loss feel held in our love;
    may those suffering from hatred be healed with compassion;
    may yet more violence awaken our collective dedication to living from peaceful, open hearts.
    Lama Rod Owens of Natural Dharma Fellowship:
    Remembering the loss of life everywhere this morning. I continue to watch, fight, and pray. May you continue to do the same.
    The Dalai Lama:
    His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama today led a minute of silent prayer, in recognition of the events in Orlando, noting that he “is quite skeptical about the effects of prayer. The real change, effect, comes through action.”
    Mushim Patricia Ikeda:
    This morning I offered a Dharma talk titled “Let’s all become buddhas together: the importance of spiritual friendship” to the full house Sangha gathering at Insight Meditation Center of Redwood City, California. When I left my home in Oakland, the first report of 20 people who died in the mass shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida was in the news; by the time I returned home, there was a report of 50 dead and 53 wounded. Acknowledging this hate crime in my talk, I said: “I propose that, considering all of the desperate and liberatory people’s movements now happening all over the world, that we need to look deeply and continuously — as continuously as we return to the physical sensations of the breath or whatever the object of our meditation practice is — to ask whether we are creating not only community, but whether we are creating *beloved* community. After all, this is more than an abstract question. We live in earthquake country, and at any moment those of us gathered in this meditation hall, whether we know one another or not, might need one another in ways that are highly intimate and highly unromantic. The Big One could happen at any time. Then we would need to rely on that essential human bond, in moments of crisis, which asks: ‘Even if I am not your parent, your child, your sibling, your coworker, your neighbor, will you help me? Will you be my spiritual friend?’ When I was in the Korean Buddhist monastery in 1988, I learned the phrase ‘songbul hashipshio,” which I was told translates into English as ‘Let’s all become buddhas together.’ Creating beloved community this year and next year and beyond is an urgent matter.”
    Insight Meditation Society:
    IMS stands in solidarity with the LGBTIQ community grieving over the Orlando Massacre. May you rest in abiding love during this tragedy.
    Maia Duerr of the Liberated Life Project:
    Feeling kind of stunned today, in the aftermath of the news from Orlando… I am remembering back to years that I lived in Oregon when hate crimes against LGBT were commonplace, and when legislation to discriminate against our community was being pushed on everyone.
    This level of violence, hatred, and bigotry is traumatizing… any group of people that has experienced oppression has experienced that. May we never forget what this trauma can do to people, and let that help us to have great forbearance with each other in the days to come.
    I keep remembering something that dear Frank Ostaseski has said — “There is endless suffering. There is also endless compassion.” Let us abide in that place of compassion in the days and weeks ahead…
    Kalu Rimpoche:
    I heard and saw on television news the tragic event that happened in Orlando Florida for those who were simply having fun in their life. I am strongly doing my prayers for those who have passed away, those that are hurt and those who are going through a difficult time. All my love and caring and respect to the LGBT community and individuals around the world.
    All the teachings from the great masters comes with nonviolence, kindness, love and compassion. This is the foundation of the teachings of all religions and all the great masters. We must continue with that direction for what we believe.
    Be proud of who you are and don’t let any religion tell you what you have to be. Just look for happiness and quality and wisdom in mind. Happiness and truthfulness is never based on lies, violence and ignorance. It Is always based on wisdom and equality and living the life we want with simplicity and freedom.
    Love and care from your Kalu Rimpoche
    Jack Kornfield:
    As I learn of the shootings in Florida, I am filled with tears and an ocean of compassion for so many who have been harmed. Sitting quietly, this tragedy strengthens my resolve to not let terror and fear take over my heart.
    As we move through this beautiful and troubled world, may we vow to be a beacon of peace, a fearless carrier of respect and lovingkindness for all life, a teller of truth , a voice for justice, a protector of those who are vulnerable or targeted. May the power of wisdom, integrity and compassion be our guide.
    And may I/we follow these instructions of the Buddha…….
    Others will kill. We shall not kill. Thus we should direct our hearts.
    Others will be cruel. We shall not be cruel. Thus should we direct our hearts.
    Others will speak falsely. We will speak what is true. Thus we should direct our hearts.
    Others will be fraudulent. We shall not be fraudulent. Thus we should direct our hearts.
    Others will be hateful. We shall become loving. Thus we shall direct our hearts.
    Others will be unwise. We shall become wise. Thus we shall direct our hearts.
    May I/we carry these intentions with courage, as a beacon and a medicine, as a blessing to all we touch.
    Metta, Jack
    Lama Zopa Rinpoche:
    Our hearts and prayers go out to the victims and their families and all those affected in Orlando, FL.
    When Rinpoche heard about this tragedy he immediately started doing prayers.
    Lama Zopa Rinpoche always advises to make strong prayers to Medicine Buddha for anyone who is dying, sick, injured or who has already passed away. Also this can be dedicated to anyone who needs protection, support, strength and love.
    Lodro Rinzler:
    I am very sad and tired today. But posting things on the internet doesn’t seem like enough today. So I’m committing to volunteering for a nonprofit that does gun violence prevention work going forward. Do you have one you’d recommend? Willing to put in a few hours a week.
    [Rinzler also wrote a piece for Huffington Post called “Meditation Isn’t Enough: A Call to Take Action Against Gun Violence.”]
    Miguel Chen:
    This pain belongs to all of us. Senseless, awful violence. May we unite from a place of compassion, rather than divide from a place of fear. Our brothers and sisters need our love.
    Greg Snyder of Brooklyn Zen Center:
    This morning I got really irritated about something not that important and realized I was resisting letting my heart break for Orlando. Then it just did. I have no idea what to say here, other than Charleston, Orlando, on and on – enough with the hatred, all of us. I am speaking from grief, so forgive my insistent tone; but we have just got to stop as a nation, as a people of many peoples, communities, and take stock, slap ourselves in the collective face and wake up to the ways we are creating the conditions for this. People are being executed… executed in nightclubs and churches, on streets for nothing. Nothing. Nothing. They are worshipping and dancing and walking. I pray every person with a shred of sanity – especially those of privilege and power – train her or his heart on love and, from that place, work to expose and heal hatred wherever we see it. I would encourage us all to take up the practice of watching our every word and silence, every action and inaction, every thought and distraction, every vote and political shrug of the shoulders, and ask ourselves – Am I right now cultivating a world of love or hate? Is the language I’m getting behind a language of love or hate? I know I fail at this intention everyday of my life, but all I feel right now is that we must work tirelessly to cultivate a society deeply rooted in love. Most of us will fear this because love is both personally and societally revolutionary. Love will shake us to our core as people and as nations. But it’s so long past time. It has been said so many times that it’s boring, but business as usual really has to stop being business as usual. I can already see the story unfolding in the news and soon it will be all too easy just to blame this on ISIS and take no stock of who we are. We too easily use this or that terrorist or sociopath as a free ticket for moving on. This too has to stop. We have to bring the world into our hearts and make love our first thought, our first intention for ourselves and every person we meet. That means we have to critically engage the mental and societal habits that resist love. Despite all we can do to each other, I choose to have faith in humanity. Yes, we can be a wind of fire that leaves scars and burning, but we are also dear and precious and deserving of our birthright of peace and happiness, every one of us. I vow to focus my heart on the latter, knowing that we must learn to clearly see and end the conditions for the former. May the mystery forever cradle those murdered in Orlando and may we all learn to care for each other while here. Love to the families and communities of those lost. Love to all of you, my sacred sisters and brothers.
    Spirit Rock Meditation Center:
    May we be free from hatred and the suffering caused by hatred. May we hold our suffering and the suffering of the world with fierce, deep, and tender compassion.
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