Osama bin Laden is dead. One Buddhist’s response.

phat

“In the Shambhala warrior tradition, we say you should only have to kill an enemy once every thousand years.” –Chogyam Trungpa

So, Osama bin Laden is dead. We killed him. There really was no choice. We were clearly in an “us or them” situation and if we didn’t kill him, he was going to continue to do everything in his power to kill us.

As Buddhists, we are supposed to abhor all killing, but what do you do when someone is trying to kill you? Obviously great theologians have pondered this question for millennia and I’m not going to try to pile on with my point of view, which would be totally useless.

Instead, I’ll pose this question: How do you kill your enemy in a way that puts a stop to violence rather than escalates it?

Strangely, I keep coming back to the same rather ordinary conclusion: the answer is in our ability to face our emotions. When we know how to relate to our anger, hatred, despair, and frustration fully and properly, they self-liberate. When we don’t, when we can’t tolerate them and therefore act them out, we create enormous sorrow and confusion.

Look at your own reaction this morning.

Was there even a hint of vengefulness or gladness at Osama bin Laden’s death? If so, that is a real problem. Whatever suffering he may have experienced cannot reverse even one moment of the suffering he caused. If you believe his death is a form of compensation, you are deluded.

There has been an outpouring of misdirected jubilation, as if a contest had been won and this was a “booyah!” moment. Nothing has been won. Unlike winning a sporting event, this doesn’t mean that our team has triumphed. Far from it. There is only one team and it is us. When those of us (especially our leaders) who now foment violence choose instead to try to create peace, then we will truly have cause for celebration.

One of us is gone, one apparently horrific, terrible, vicious one of us…is gone. I don’t feel regret for him or about this. I’m regretful for the rest of us who are now left thinking that this is a cause for celebration. It is not.  It is a cause for sorrow at our continued inability to realize that there is no such thing as us and them; that whatever we do to cause harm to one will harm us all.

When we hate, we cause hate. When we think we have won by vanquishing our enemy, we have lost. In killing Osama bin Laden, “they” lose because one of their leaders is gone. But we lose too, because we have deepened the causes and conditions that lead to more hatred and its consequences. This is not over.

Then, what to do? I don’t really know, but for me, rather than cheering on this day, I’m going to rededicate myself to the idea of brotherhood towards all, even those that want me dead—and not because I’m some kind of really good person. I’m not. Because I know it’s the only way to stay alive—in the only kind of world I want to inhabit.

Perhaps the way to kill your enemy as a way of putting a stop to violence rather than escalating is to shift our view of “enemy” altogether. Our enemy is not one person or country or belief system. It is our unwillingness to feel the sorrow of others—who are none other than us.

So take aim at this enemy completely and precisely. Feel your sadness for us and them so fully and completely that all boundaries are dissolved and we are left standing face to face, human to human, each feeling the other’s rage and despair as our own, one world to care for.

If you’d like to try to generate such a switch, please try loving kindness meditation. Here is audio instruction in the practice.

“…when you do not produce another force of hatred, the opposing force collapses.”– Chogyam Trungpa

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351 Comments

  1. Paige Worthy { 05.02.11 at 11:22 am }

    Thank you. This is absolutely beautiful.

  2. Shannon Wilkinson { 05.02.11 at 11:27 am }

    I heard about Osama bin Laden’s death last night while driving home. I told the neighbors about it, and they went to high five me in celebration. My hand went up in reflex, but I pulled back, and couldn’t. I tried to explain why I didn’t think this was an event worth celebrating. I wasn’t very successful, I didn’t really understand my complicated feelings.

    Thank you for this post Susan, it helps me understand what feels so sad about this to me. His death is not the end of anything. It could become the rallying cry to escalate.

    Joining you in the (re)dedication to brotherhood and understanding.

  3. SlowX { 05.02.11 at 11:31 am }

    Thank you Susan. You captured a lot of what I was feeling and wondering about, and it’s nice to know I’m not alone in not wanting to dance about this news.

  4. KristaQM { 05.02.11 at 11:32 am }

    This is a beautiful piece of writing. One that reflected many of my own sentiments this morning.

  5. Diana Lee { 05.02.11 at 11:32 am }

    Thank you so much for writing this. I, too, felt weird about the exuberant celebration, but couldn’t put into words why I felt that way.

  6. Christine (Blisschick) Reed { 05.02.11 at 11:33 am }

    We did have another choice, actually. We could have captured him and let the world courts handle him. That is what the UN is for and it is the intent behind such important humanitarian documents like the Geneva Convention.

    Furthermore, killing him is going to create MORE terrorism. He was a mere man and now we have made him a powerful martyr.

  7. Jimmy Piver { 05.02.11 at 11:39 am }

    Susan, I am with you 100%. My thoughts and feelings exactly.

    Jimmy Piver

  8. patty sherry { 05.02.11 at 12:02 pm }

    Beautiful blog. Although I understand people’s happiness and celebration I dont choose to celebrate Bin Laden’s death. I accept that there is hate in this world, but I dont choose to participate in it or any energy around it. I dont want to celebrate a death.

    personally I much prefer to celebrate life and love. I see so clearly the polarity of Global Love Day ( May 1) and Bin Laden’s death. Sort of gave me a chill.

    Seems so fitting that I planned the launch of my website, Share Your Love Story…my vision of sharing more love, regardless of the language we speak or the faith we have. I’d planned all along to launch it this day, it seems more fitting than ever.

    Your blog made me smile inside and know I’m not alone in not wanting to celebrate in any fashion Bin Laden’s death.

  9. Robert T Jordan { 05.02.11 at 12:04 pm }

    In time, the death of Osama bin Laden will lead to more killing. An incident will occur and people will wonder “why did this incident happen” There will be a collective amnesia similar to the causes that brought about Sept. 11. This may very well be a war without end.

    Susan, thank you for this post.

  10. Callahan McDonough { 05.02.11 at 12:09 pm }

    Susan, I so agree with your viewpoint. Yes, he had to be stopped, he was a rageful, dangerous man, there seemed no other way. But to add to the revenge, or hate is becoming the same. Peace

  11. Beth Lopez { 05.02.11 at 12:22 pm }

    Well said. I was trying to explain this exact sentiment to my husband last night. I just don’t feel right cheering about the demise of anyone….even someone who has completely turned away from God and all things good. My favorite pastor has said this a few times. “Who did God love more, Hitler or Mother Theresa. The answer is he loves them both the same.” That’s impossible to understand with an us vs. them mentality. I will probably post a link to your blog on my blog today. I hope you don’t mind.

  12. Susan D. { 05.02.11 at 12:24 pm }

    Thank-you for being a sane voice in the celebratory madness aftermath. Your reasoned response is proof to me (not that I needed proof) that objectifying others, seeing a person or group of people as “other” is the first step in justifying and escalating hate and violence. Your response also inspires me to redoubled my efforts on the alternative path toward peace. Gandhi couldn’t have said it better when he reminded us that, “an eye for an eye makes us all blind”.

  13. Susan { 05.02.11 at 12:27 pm }

    Hey everyone. I’m so glad if this post resonated with you. Beth, feel free to repost if you wish. Love to all–Susan

  14. Lloyd { 05.02.11 at 12:31 pm }

    Thank you so much for your words.
    I couldn’t explain why I felt sadness when I saw the pictures of people cheering at the news of OBL’s death. I wanted to post something on facebook like: “We just killed someone. Why are you so happy?” However, I knew that there would be a tremendous backlash that I have no desire to confront, especially since I didn’t understand why I felt sad and not excited like everyone in the pictures.
    But now I understand my feelings a little better thanks to your words. A part of all of us has died because we are all one. It may have been a part that we have deemed evil, but it’s still a part of us. I have no idea of what consequences good or bad his death will bring, but I know that it has made me reflect on the you vs. me idea and confirm my true belief that we are all one. Therefore, I’m grateful that through my sadness something beautiful has emerged.

  15. Celina Wyss { 05.02.11 at 12:32 pm }

    Thank you for sharing this. I too was feeling the confusion with all the celebration yesterday. I appreciate your words – I really could not agree more.

  16. Gemmond { 05.02.11 at 12:39 pm }

    Susan writes:
    “When we hate, we cause hate. When we think we have won by vanquishing our enemy, we have lost. In killing Osama bin Laden, “they” lose because one of their leaders is gone. But we lose too, because we have deepened the causes and conditions that lead to more hatred and its consequences. This is not over.”

    Susan, thank you for this piece and especially the words above.
    I needed to know that some folks are not out there celebrating and are more closely looking at what has/is happening.

    I, too, felt no cause for celebration or jubilation over the “justice” that so many seem to think came from the killing of Osama and agreed, he was an evil person.

    if you listen to people who lost loved ones on 9/11, there is no closure. And many realize that there is even, really, no justice in all this. Just a way for so many to pat themselves on the back, and, oh, yes, to use it politically.

    On the most practical level, all of this just gives those who are called / defined as our enemies more ammunition to hate us.

    I can still remember watching the planes going into the WTC (I live in NYC) and my first, immediate thought was: So this is what real hate creates in the world. There was this overwhelming A Ha moment. Even as I grieved for many, I also held the feeling that people do not come to take such actions without something going on within them. (Do not mistake this for empathy or sympathy for those who did these terrible things. But the reality is always that as you say “we” are “they” etc. and we are just as capable of brutality and horror as anyone else. Can you say Hiroshima, america, with such short memories?)

    There was no anger and there was something way beyond sorrow that day. Realizing how intense was the hatred of others for us made me focus on how we are perceived by others (we tend not to think about that in this country perhaps because we are so busy judging others)

    I do not understand the symbolism of killing Osama bin Laden despite trying hard to understand why this means so much to so many. I truly do not get it. We have not stopped hatred. We have not stopped terrorists who hate us and want to kill us.

    It saddens me beyond belief to watch people celebrating like this. Yes, ridding the world of one hate monger/terrorist is probably justified (rather than an attempt to have a trial, which would clearly never be unbiased anyway). But this is not the end of terrorism by a long shot. If anything, this is something the terrorists will use as their excuse to escalate.

    FYI: I dare not discuss my feelings with most people who are ecstatic that he’s dead and how he was killed and worse, think it unpatriotic to NOT be celebrating this.

  17. Editer { 05.02.11 at 12:58 pm }

    What you said. Thank you.

  18. Ann Barnet { 05.02.11 at 12:58 pm }

    Thanks for your wise and compassionate words, Susan. I hope they touch many people. They surely touched me.

  19. Dharmashanti Kelleher { 05.02.11 at 1:14 pm }

    May we all be free from suffering and the root of suffering. May we all experience happiness and the root of happiness.

  20. Dave Pangburn { 05.02.11 at 1:20 pm }

    My conversation with friends during breakfast this morning was about the death of Bin Laden. They expressed happiness over his death, while I felt a loss. Violence does beget violence. Buddhism does not condemn killing someone when it protects others, and I do believe that this death will save the lives of others, however I feel no joy knowing that it had to come to such action. I would rather that Bin Laden woke up to the Oneness we all are a part of and changed his life to doing no harm. My American Society is deluded to celebrate the death of anyone, but rather should take this moment and determine to show others the way to compassion and understanding. Evil is one side of the coin while Goodness shines from the other side. We all have a part of that coin. Choose the side that is more helpful, more giving, more understanding.

  21. orphans { 05.02.11 at 1:25 pm }

    Susan,
    many thoughful comments within your statement, but you lost some of your stance with your comment,
    “One of us is gone, one horrific, terrible, vicious one of us…is gone.” The judgement of who and what he is/was, loses your ability to ponder what moments occured in his life that led him down his path of anger and hate. Such judgements lack compassion.
    What loved ones did he lose? What horrific acts did he witness?
    In these questions we might find an understanding of the regretful nature of violence and hate.
    The hateful cycle is one that is very difficult to break.
    If you lost a loved one in 911 you may wish to seek vengance in the very ways that osama did and the cycle continues, passed on to future generations.

    Why do we kill people who kill people to show that killing people is wrong?
    Why?
    “When we hate, we cause hate. When we think we have won by vanquishing our enemy, we have lost.”
    We have lost, in that we are in the cycle, creating the next version to come about.

    Love and respect,
    o

  22. Donna Marie Merritt { 05.02.11 at 1:29 pm }

    Well-said. Compassion is the only way humanity will survive.

  23. kathleen { 05.02.11 at 1:38 pm }

    Hi Susan, this post really touched me – when I heard the news of Bin Laden’s death I felt no joy or relief, only deep sadness that the world feels a need to celebrate killing. Regardless of the horror that the man has caused, there is no victory and no peace will result from this.
    Thank you for writing this and helping me to sort through my confusion.xo

  24. SlowX { 05.02.11 at 1:44 pm }

    “Why do we kill people who kill people to show that killing people is wrong?”
    Excellent question, orphans… Excellent, sad, awesome question.

  25. Maranda Stamm { 05.02.11 at 1:46 pm }

    Absolutely beautiful. Exactly what I was trying to explain to those who failed to explore this perspective.

  26. Fred { 05.02.11 at 1:50 pm }

    Thank you for your wise perspective, you’ve made words of my thoughts precisely. And I’m honored to simply forward it to my friends. Namaste my friend.
    Fred

  27. Cameron { 05.02.11 at 2:01 pm }

    The sticking point as I see it — the real reason we create us versus them — is that if everyone is “us” then we have to share our money with the part of “us” that doesn’t have it. The first conflicts were over resources; at the heart of every conflict today is resources. The have-lots fear violence from the have-lesses and the have-lesses resent the dominance and repression of the have-lots. How does one fix that?

  28. trukker { 05.02.11 at 2:07 pm }

    Died back in 2001 most likely. Still sad news though.

  29. Karen Talavera { 05.02.11 at 2:13 pm }

    Thank you SO much for writing what has been in my heart since hearing the news last night. I felt no joy, vindication or anything else positive upon hearing of Bin Laden’s death. I felt, instead, sadness, sadness that my country is a murderer, and that so many of its citizens have endorsed an “eye for an eye” mentality. There is no right in two wrongs – instead, we have seen the enemy, and have become it. I am deeply saddened. There is only more sadness from his death, only more of what we already were trying to reverse. When will enough people awaken to see?

  30. Joel { 05.02.11 at 2:14 pm }

    I confess to feeling some gladness in the news. It’s not a rational feeling and it’s a little bit unexpected. I assume that the events of Sept. 11 impacted me on a deeper level that I am aware of and that I’m now feeling a reaction – a partial healing perhaps – in the news that the author of that wound has been killed. My rational brain completely agrees with you, and I’m glad you had the guts to make a statement that invites ridicule and mockery but is in reality pretty darned enlightened.

    As an aside, I read your statement in my email and thought, “she’s gonna take some crap for that.” Then I came here and saw that the vast majority of your readers are kinda, sorta enlightened too. You should be proud of helping them to see reality in a different way.

  31. Helen { 05.02.11 at 2:17 pm }

    Thank you, Susan. I really needed your words today. I felt only sadness upon hearing of Osama’s death. Not sadness for him but for all of humanity and this continuous cycle of hatred and violence. I will continue to practice and teach meditation and yoga in the hope to grow more compassion in my heart and the hearts of others. We are one. Om shanti.

  32. G. Antonio Jimenez { 05.02.11 at 2:24 pm }

    I am grateful to have read the words of this response as I can share in their sentiment. They are filled with beauty, compassion, and awareness and eloquently describe what I have been feeling since hearing this news and seeing the “outpouring of misdirected jubilation” all over the media. While I do not and cannot sympathize for Osama Bin Laden, his followers, and their agenda, it is disheartening to know that his death is being percieved as a cause for celebration…

  33. Kathy { 05.02.11 at 2:31 pm }

    I am so glad to have found your writing, thank you. I have read two quotes that I’ve been thinking about all day, the first:
    “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction… The chain reaction of evil-hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars-must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation.” – MLK, Jr.

    And the second;
    “God has no pleasure in the death of the wicked.” – Ezekiel 18-23

    Thank you again for your writing.

  34. Peter Cimino { 05.02.11 at 2:31 pm }

    Hi. A thoughtful entry. I an quite happy at Bin Laden’s killing. Not because he suffered (I dnk if he did) but because it stopped his killing and perhaps that of his followers. The posters are sad because US citizens celebrated, but saw no such sad posts when muslims danced after 9/11 and after Benazir Bhutto’s assassination nor Sikhs danced after Indira Ghandi’s murder. Part of their sadness over US celebrations may be higher consciousness, but some may be a hatred of all behavior of mainstream America, as higher consciousness. When the opportunity arises to kill a Bin Laden we shouldn’t practice “idiot compassion” (not stopping the rape because you don’t want to hurt the rapist). I don’t rejoice in his suffering; I rejoice because his killing will, I believe lessen suffering. Thanks.

    • Susan { 05.02.11 at 2:35 pm }

      Peter, if that was true, I would rejoice too. I just don’t think that it will reduce suffering. I believe it will increase it. Hatred leads to hatred. And btw, i’m not saying we did the wrong thing. Not at all.

  35. Janine { 05.02.11 at 2:32 pm }

    Yes indeed. Thank you for a wonderful post. We all need to be mindful and aware of the causes and conditions.
    Gassho

  36. Alysia { 05.02.11 at 2:38 pm }

    “Why do we kill people who kill people to show that killing people is wrong?”
    Exactly.

    I felt so alone in my opinion and then I discovered this.
    Not only is this post very insightful, but the people who comment are as well. I am glad I am not alone.

  37. phunkyphan { 05.02.11 at 2:47 pm }

    amazing

  38. Joe Dixon { 05.02.11 at 2:48 pm }

    Thank you for this, Susan. It needed to be said (and it has) and this is a shining example.

    Gemmond, if you’re still out there, you should absolutely not be afraid to voice your opinion. “Patriotism,” as George Bernard Shaw said, “is the belief that my country is better than your country, simply because I was born there.” Therefore it is not wrong to be ‘unpatriotic’. In fact, it’s important.

    I hope this helps you.

    Namaste.

  39. Meghan { 05.02.11 at 3:06 pm }

    Thank you to everyone for sharing and creating a community for those who don’t think killing for any cause is just. I share all of the sentiments and thoughts about (non)violence in this post and the comments.

    Today I asked my coworker what she thought about the incident. She told me that she felt that his murder gave closure to many especially to those who have lost family and friends in the wars and 9/11. She also said that it is nice that Americans have something to bring them together and be happy about. This was disconcerting to me. I just thought that if instead Americans could rally together for peace instead of more war, those soldiers and civilians may not have died in the first place.

    Thank you, Susan for providing a voice of reason and wisdom amongst the choas and hate that pervades today and everyday.

  40. Chris { 05.02.11 at 3:08 pm }

    Not only thank you to Susan for such an enlightened article, but also thank you to the dozens of people who have made a comment here and shared their empathy.

    All day I have heard reports of government officials expressing how today is a ‘great day for justice’ and people taking to the streets chanting ‘USA’. I think the day man takes joy in the murder of another is a sad day for justice.

    His assassination may well lessen the suffering of many. But the same could have been achieved by simply capturing him. I hope, for his conscience, that whoever made the decision to assassinate him was confident that it was truly necessary.

  41. Jen { 05.02.11 at 3:10 pm }

    I am so relieved to hear of others feeling the same way. So much of what I’ve been seeing in social media is jubilation. For what exactly? Thank you for putting into words how I feel so much more eloquently than I did this morning.

  42. Winifred Shokai Martin { 05.02.11 at 3:15 pm }

    Deep bows.

  43. Nancy { 05.02.11 at 3:17 pm }

    THANK YOU! I have felt this incredible ick all day at the constant news barrage and the joy that people are showing. Your blog put my sentiments into words!

  44. Beth Lopez { 05.02.11 at 3:26 pm }

    “Why do we kill people who kill people to show that killing people is wrong?”
    I just wrote this same phrase almost exactly. Well put. I think this is why the celebration doesn’t feel right to me either.

  45. Arahminta { 05.02.11 at 3:34 pm }

    Firstly, I feel a bit afraid to speak out about what I think/feel as it’s not the popular US opinion, but I’m saddened by the way the US handled this. Why didn’t we just capture the man? After all we are the almighty United States of America with every thing one could need to catch him. Why was he buried at sea vs given to his family? It is sad that in 2011 this is the way one of the biggest nations on Earth chose to deal with him. I hope this means that all of our troops can come home now and that we’ll really take care of them.

  46. newman { 05.02.11 at 3:36 pm }

    I think you’re wrong and that Buddhism is a joke. And I know you’ll probably block this comment so that other followers of this page don’t get mislead. You’re so hip that you have a wordpress by the way, I mean, I would assume you’d would have a wordpress so you could find a way of expressing your unique buddhist views. checkmate.

  47. Jessica { 05.02.11 at 3:39 pm }

    I completely disagree. There has been war since the first humans have lived, and there will be war until everything in this world has been done that has been needed to be done. Usoma’s death has started a motion of justice that will start to bring about the only kind of peace that may exist in the world… that is protecting the majority of human lives who have no qualms whatsoever about the loss of human life they have brought on only out of hate.

    I am not someone who loves what it is evil, and the killing of thousands of civilians without warning is wrong. Justice is good. It is not evil. Ending a man of great violence’s life will prevent the death of what could’ve been many more lives.

    What if Hilter was not reigned in? Would you rather save his one life wasted in the rampage of mass murder or have him take the punishment for what he deserved?

    And before you comment, remember that if you show anger to my own statements here… you yourself are not living up to your own theology of peace. I’m not judging you… but be careful what you post if you judge me. Karma is a bitch…

  48. Jessica { 05.02.11 at 3:43 pm }

    ps… i have felt great sorrow for those who have been in morning around me. In fact I have mourned nearly the last 10 years regarding this. Its a shame that you think that celebrating the death of someone who brought great sorrow to many means that those who have mourned and now have a sense of hope do not understand the plight of sorrow. To be honest, its quite juvenile and ignorant to even consider that notion.

  49. Christina { 05.02.11 at 3:44 pm }

    Thoroughly enjoyed your article. While it would seem that you and I hold very different “religious” beliefs, we also have something in common: The belief that Osama’s death is somehow something worthy of a victorious celebration.
    While watching those celebrating outside of the White House last night, I couldn’t help but flashback to the footage of those that would consider themselves enemies of America laughing and celebrating at the news and images of the fallen towers on 9/11. How can we consider ourselves any different than they when we respond in such a similar manner? How can we remain blind to the obvious fact that we are not all so different as humans?

  50. Another Susan { 05.02.11 at 4:03 pm }

    Your words, my feelings. Thank you.

  51. Ira Cord { 05.02.11 at 4:04 pm }

    Well said, but not too compassionate…
    I meditate, practice unconditional love, abhor killing, and try to use empathy in all situations, and had an audience with the great Dalai Lama. I’m also a proud New Yorker living in LA and was there when the Twin Towers were being built-also saw the people jumping out of the windows and their families horror and the firemen giving their lives! With your logic, Hitler should be tried and given our utmost sympathy! This is sheer nonsense! Tell me what you would do if someone wants to shoot you or your family at gunpoint-how it works out for ya! I am a peace loving person…but if someone tries to kill me, I don’t HESITATE to make sure they never do that again….How VERY naive! It’s NOT us and them-we are all united and the same…but NOT all. As far as I’m concerned-I never celebrate death-I cheat nature by protecting mantises and lizards from cats, but in this case-I AM QUITE ecstatic!!! A trial and death sentence would have been preferable-loved to have watched…
    Namaste…

  52. Sarah { 05.02.11 at 4:07 pm }

    Thank you so much for this post. It expresses what I could not put into words. I did not feel elated when I saw the news, rather I felt sad and a bit fearful and hopeless (will we ever break the cycle of us versus them?).

    I am going to link to this post from my own blog when I have time later.

  53. Janey Bell { 05.02.11 at 4:11 pm }

    Your words are always meaningful, and particularly today. Thank you.

  54. Jeanine { 05.02.11 at 4:13 pm }

    I agree, violence begats violence, hatred begats hatred. We must find a way to work out our differences in a loving peaceful way. We must learn to forgive (not condone) so we can move forward. We must not hate, teach others to hate, or promote hate. As a human race we cannot continue in the catch 22 of revenge and call it justice. We can not use our religion as the right to bring destruction and evil upon anyone. When 9-11 happen I experienced a range of emotions, but hate was not one of them. If I allowed myself to hate and act on it, that would perpetrate the problems and lead to more of the same. I prayed that our enemies would stop the evil and be delivered from evil so they could build instead of destroy. Bin Laden is gone, but his evil lives on in others, that makes me sad. What gives me hope is that love can conquer and bring us to peace and its starts with each one of us.

  55. Lisa ~ Fat Yogini { 05.02.11 at 4:19 pm }

    Thank you… so much for this beautifully written post. My heart has been so heavy today and I’m finding it so difficult to put my feelings into words. You did it for me. So again… thank you from the bottom of my heart.

    Namaste,
    Lisa

  56. JJ { 05.02.11 at 4:22 pm }

    It was said that Osama was the Hitler to the young children who experienced 9/11. This was a new experience for a young generation to be attacked on our own soil. The death of Osama has been framed for these malleable young minds as “justice”. As the “right” thing to do when you are met with hatred and anger. I mourn the lesson that the next generation is learning. The cycle of violence is taught to us. To break the cycle is evolution. I can only hope, that one child who paused and had a second thought about the “justice” of death, might learn to trust their instinct that violence never has, nor never will end violence.

  57. _I_I_ { 05.02.11 at 4:23 pm }

    Which would explain why Tibet’s such a dominant world power.

  58. Susan { 05.02.11 at 4:55 pm }

    For what it’s worth, I think that our President did the right thing. I just don’t think that it’s something to celebrate.

  59. Brad { 05.02.11 at 5:00 pm }

    What a wonderful perspective…Thank you!

  60. Linda { 05.02.11 at 5:02 pm }

    I am glad and sad, at the same time, in the same feeling. Just as I am when I have to kill a feral cat that is causing havoc in an ecosystem. The cat is dead, that’s good, the system can begin to recover. The poor cat, it had its own life and reasons. Unless I fix the underlying problem, another cat will just move in. These are not contradictions.

  61. Heather { 05.02.11 at 5:02 pm }

    When I saw Obama’s speach on Sunday night I felt sad. Not particularly about Bin Laden- sad about the focus this has taken for nearly 10 years, sad that we haven’t grown past this in nearly a decade. I do not know what is “right” but in any case our hearts need to be opened to more compassion for ourselves and for others.
    Thank you for publicly declaring another point of view when it may not be popular to do so.

  62. Marydahna Nicholoff { 05.02.11 at 5:03 pm }

    I am new to your blog. Today when I heard the news of the death of bin Laden I “googled” Compashion for Osama bin Laden because I have been carrying a heavy heart all day. I needed to hear a side to this situation that would shed some light on my confused feelings when I heard this news. I can understand others who are “celebrating” on the death of this man, Samsara is slippery, and if you fail to see our universal connectedness you will only see it’s division.

  63. Karen Talavera { 05.02.11 at 5:05 pm }

    Wow, what a lesson in the (Abraham-Hicks) Law of Allowing this discussion is, don’t y’all think?

    I love what Christina wrote above and myself flashed to the same thought: “While watching those celebrating outside of the White House last night, I couldn’t help but flashback to the footage of those that would consider themselves enemies of America laughing and celebrating at the news and images of the fallen towers on 9/11. How can we consider ourselves any different than they when we respond in such a similar manner? How can we remain blind to the obvious fact that we are not all so different as humans?”

    Yes, and that there is no “them” and “us”, only the perception of separateness. Truly we are all one. I realize many won’t “get” that and without physical proof won’t believe it, but science is catching up quickly. Those who are intellectually curious or love the science would be well to check out Lynne McTaggart.

  64. pp { 05.02.11 at 5:12 pm }

    Susan
    It is the closest I have come today to the feelings I have had of this. You are right in many things, but in saying you “had to kill him”..that is not true. How does it stop? We have ways and courts and tribunals and due process. Many countries have healed themselve through a process of “truth and reconciliation”…hundreds and thousands have died in trying to right the wrong.

  65. angie { 05.02.11 at 5:12 pm }

    Thank you for this. I was comforted to see a link to this post on my FB feed among the digital high-fives and celebration. It’s validating to read the thoughts of like-minded individuals who see the world more clearly.

  66. Spencer Lord { 05.02.11 at 5:18 pm }

    ‎i posted this, and lost 6 facebook friends: “No man is an island entire of itself. Each is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. Each man’s death diminishes me, for I am involved in mankind. Therefore, send not to know for whom the bell tolls… it tolls for thee.” —John Donne

  67. Andrew { 05.02.11 at 5:20 pm }

    Beautifully written..thank you. I’ve always found it interesting that the most commonly recited Christian prayer asks “forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us,” yet in this nation where being anything but Christian is viewed with suspicion, we are taught vengeance, not forgiveness.

  68. Sarah { 05.02.11 at 5:28 pm }

    Thank you Susan for your thoughtful, beautiful words, they are so important. I have been feeling uncomfortable with the rejoicing and feel reassured to read your words and the comments that express similar thoughts to my own. I just feel sadness that the cycle continues…

  69. Zane { 05.02.11 at 5:30 pm }

    Seeing people revel in ones death somewhat reminded me of public hangings and such. While last night I felt relieved, this morning I felt uneasy seeing this. We are supposed to be better than say the middle ages.

    But I have a few concerns from this thread. I would be careful what one considers “enlightened” viewpoint. Saying that puts one on a pedestal. I have said this elsewhere but EVERYONE was effected by what has been happening over the past 10 years. EVERYONE suffered because of it. People are going to deal with this in different ways. And that may include celebration. People are HAPPY because there is some sense (illusory or not) of closure. We should be, it’s been a nightmare. We can be happy that some people will suffer less. We can be happy at others happiness. Really. You wont be a bad buddhist because of this.

    For me personally, I am sad because this all had to happen, I am sad because it’s been a nightmarish 10 years, I am sad that someone had to die, and I am sad that this isn’t going to be the end and I am sad that even Buddhists cannot see the brilliance in this so called life, but happy something happened that may possibly have shifted things. Having been in Afghanistan, and seen what happened there first hand, please do not fool yourself in thinking the high road is the right way. Everyone has their own version of that.

    • Susan { 05.02.11 at 5:38 pm }

      I don’t think I’m counseling the high road, only the real road. A guy killed a lot of people. Now that guy is dead. This is probably for the best and we can all breathe a sigh of relief. On one hand. On the other, to become jubilant or imagine that any larger problems have been solved seems kind of delusional.

  70. Wendy { 05.02.11 at 5:36 pm }

    I do not agree with you. There are some truly bad people in this world and it is okay for people to feel grateful today that one of them was taken away. He was responisble for many thousands of lives lost and no doubt had intentions of taking more. The world is better without him and it is okay to feel good about that. Please do not devalue the sacrifices service men and women make on a daily basis to protect YOUR and MY freedoms and safety by saying that we should not be proud of the work they accomplished today. We didn’t ask for this, it was brought to us on 9/11. It is more than okay for people to feel justified and even good about getting justice for all of those who were killed on that day and others.

  71. Karri Flatla { 05.02.11 at 5:45 pm }

    It’s a bit silly to sit here and speculate as to whether or not US Intel had the choice to capture vs kill him. We weren’t in the fire fight, nor were any of us privy to what transpired in the months and months leading up to yesterday’s events at the compound. So let’s remove that from the conversation, at least for now, or until someone qualified to comment speaks up.

    I’m a Canadian and while I didn’t lose a loved one to the 9/11 attacks, my heart truly bled for the American people and anyone else who suffered as a result. I too didn’t feel “celebratory” last night when I heard the news. But I DID understand that America collectively needed some kind of closure.

    Of course hate does not solve hate. But let’s not oversimplify what’s going on either …

  72. Susan { 05.02.11 at 5:46 pm }

    I had no idea I was devaluing anything our service men and women have done. I am so grateful to them, and also for living in the greatest country in the world. Perhaps in some way, justice was served. The world IS better off without Osama bin Laden. Where I intimated otherwise, I’m not sure.

    If what has happened can mark a turning point in the cycles of hatred, I will be so incredibly thankful, most especially for those who serve our country and stand in harm’s way so that the rest of us may be safe.

    But I for one am not rejoicing at death, even while I am glad that bin Laden is gone.

    • Luciana { 12.19.12 at 4:09 am }

      Hi, Susan–Right on point, as usual. Thank you very much.

      But I wonder whether we can say that we live in ‘the greatest country in the world’. What does that mean? It seems to me that we are only clearly the ‘greatest country’ if that’s measured in military might. Other measures are problematic.

      On the other hand, what are countries anyway? I feel more like a citizen of the earth than a citizen of the nation.

  73. Matthew { 05.02.11 at 5:55 pm }

    Thank you so much for writing this. Despite allof the terrible things he did, I found myself struggling between being disgusted with the West’s rejoice over his death, and the feeling of venegence or “justice”.

    I knew the former is the truly righteous thought, but I could not help but to think back to the images of the twin towers, and associate his face with those acts.

    I was ashamed of my fellow man, and of myself, but I am glad that I was not one of those rejoicing in the streets, like a pack of wild animals.

  74. melissa kotch { 05.02.11 at 5:56 pm }

    amazing! FINALLY, someone thinking clearly in all of this. and i love reading all the comments, made me feel less crazy for my thoughts today. please send me any links you might find with similar sentiments. Thank you!!

  75. Matthew { 05.02.11 at 5:59 pm }

    I want to share a quote that I think fits in well with this piece.

    “I will mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.” -Martin Luther King Jr.

  76. Kathy { 05.02.11 at 6:00 pm }

    bin Laden started a chain of events that resulted in many lives lost, others contributed along the way to keeping violence and killing as the means of working this through. I think bin Laden is only the most recent victim of the chain of events started on 9/11. A shame that ultimately hundreds of thousands of souls have left us during this decade based on his actions. But I think cheering death and vengence doesn’t wrap this up, as there may still be many more deaths to come, and that is the tragedy. Somewhere along the way, someone/government/leader will have to resolve to not retaliate, so that we can get to peace. Perhaps it is today, I certainly hope so.

  77. Gemmond { 05.02.11 at 6:08 pm }

    Susan writes:
    “But I for one am not rejoicing at death, even while I am glad that bin Laden is gone.”

    Yes. Thank you. I think perhaps some reading the post did not get the distinction.

    And I did not think you were judging anyone else, but rather raising some questions. Asking people to rethink, or think.

    And no one who differed with your opinion should be surprised that you did not post them. You’re not about censorship.

    Finally, I have reread your piece several times. In no way, would I construe that you were anti-military.

    And it may surprise some who posted here to learn that people IN the military are not necessarily celebrating about all this. Thankful he’s dead, not celebrating. If anything, hoping that our troops can return sooner than later.

    It reminds me of a conversation I had many many years ago that was totally understood. I said something to the effect that we would someday never have a military. The person to whom I spoke, a veteran, totally did not hear or understand what I was meaning. I was hoping that we would come to a time/place in our civilization where we had no need for a military to protect us in either peace or war. That is not a slam on the military, but rather a wish for a world that did not need a military to protect civilization.

    War continues today for many reasons, some of which are purely financial. When we come to believe that war, somewhere, is natural and accepted (as some of who have commented here either say or imply), then we must question our belief system.

    Just because something IS, does not mean it should be. We know how to kill. That doesn’t mean killing is always the answer. Killing is rarely the answer, just what people seek in the name of justice which is often merely revenge. Call a spade a spade and own it, no matter what “side” of this one is addressing.

  78. Gemmond { 05.02.11 at 6:11 pm }

    Meant to say:

    No one should think you would NOT post there stuff.

    Also, the conversation about ending the need for military was NOT understood by the person I spoke to. (Sorry. Typing too fast)

  79. Karen McLaughlin { 05.02.11 at 6:12 pm }

    Thank you Susan. Like many here, I felt that you captured feelings I couldn’t have expressed nearly so clearly. I’d like to think most Americans were jubilant as a form of gathering just for sheer joy of feeling connected to so many, much as we love the camaraderie of sports. It’s a universal draw. We saw shades of that when Egypt overthrew their government. Here’s hoping that some day we will not need the death of an enemy (or regime) to joyfully gather together en mass, most ideally globally, chanting WORLD, WORLD, WORLD!

  80. Susan { 05.02.11 at 6:12 pm }

    Gemmond, I share your sentiments, down the line.

  81. Susan { 05.02.11 at 6:14 pm }

    I understood what you meant, Gemmond!

  82. patty sherry { 05.02.11 at 6:17 pm }

    I think everyone deserves to feel what they need to feel. While many people are celebrating and feeling a type of closure and relief, many others are feeling not so celebratory and a bit uneasy,
    Whether you celebrate Bin Laden’s death or you don’t acceptance of each person’s right to feel, in my opinion is important.

    It has always been lack of acceptance that has lead to all wars and killings since the beginning of time. While I cannot do anything about anyone else’s acceptance, I can simply work on mine. It’s a process, and not a perfect one, and it begins with one less judgment at a time.

    With all of this, I have a heavy and yet hopeful heart. I think all of us want to feel that hope for the future, a loving more peaceful world.
    No, I don’t feel like celebrating….but I won’t take away anyone else’s celebration.

    • Susan { 05.02.11 at 6:19 pm }

      Agreed, agreed, agreed.

  83. Matthew { 05.02.11 at 6:27 pm }

    Thanks Susan. I needed to hear from someone else who felt this way.

  84. Ben { 05.02.11 at 6:27 pm }

    Thanks both to Susan and to the many many supportive comments here. My partner and I joke that you should NEVER read the comments because so often they seem to be thoughtless and hateful for no other reason than just be thoughtless and hateful.

    Even when I agree with a post, the comments often leave me feeling very alone and surrounded by world filled with people who, from my perspective, don’t seem to “get it.”

    To see so many comments from thoughtful people who can understand and appreciate the complex balance that is life – that sometimes it might be necessary to kill but never to celebrate it, never to glorify it – well, it makes me feel connected.

  85. Sally Jane { 05.02.11 at 6:38 pm }

    Thank you.

  86. Carla { 05.02.11 at 6:41 pm }

    Thank you so much for your post – I have felt out of sorts all day and was trying to find a way to articulate what I was feeling…thank you for bringing some clarity to my thoughts!

  87. teresa { 05.02.11 at 6:45 pm }

    this is so beautiful and thoughtful and it means a lot ot me to read your words.
    Thank you for sharing this and I’m so glad also because it led me to your blog!

  88. Andrew Ray Gorman { 05.02.11 at 6:47 pm }

    My thoughts exactly. So many of my friends are either glorifying his death, or trying to make political justifications.

  89. Alison { 05.02.11 at 7:06 pm }

    Thank you. I don’t feel so alone now.

  90. Alison { 05.02.11 at 7:07 pm }

    Thank you. It’s nice to know that I’m not alone in my sadness.

  91. Stephanie { 05.02.11 at 7:11 pm }

    You put into words, so beautifully, so powerfully, exactly what I felt when I heard the news this morning. Thank you, Susan, so much.

    “I don’t feel regret for him or about this. I’m regretful for the rest of us who are now left thinking that this is a cause for celebration. It is not.”

    Yes, yes. Thank you for saying this. I lost someone on 9/11 and the first thing I felt this morning when I heard the details on NPR was not joy, not relief. It was sadness. Weird, complex, real sadness. For all the reasons you list above.

    So I went and practiced. Metta.

    Blessings to you, Susan. And thank you.

  92. ihath { 05.02.11 at 7:15 pm }

    Osama bin Laden committed horrific crimes and I can’t feel sorry for his death. He lived by the sword and died by the sword. However his crimes are nothing next to the crimes that the US government creates all around the world, I pray that a more gentle end is coming to those crimes as well.

  93. Scott { 05.02.11 at 7:24 pm }

    Thank you for your words, Susan. I don’t usually respond to articles like this, but I was moved to because you’ve helped me understand my feelings regarding the death of bin Laden. I’m afraid I’m a lone voice among my friends; all I’ve heard is jubilation and a sense of great accomplishment. I’ve always been anti-death penalty; bin Laden’s killing is an extension of that. When will people realize that taking a life doesn’t prove or solve anything; it only escalates hatred. The poster above who quoted Ghandhi, “”an eye for an eye makes us all blind”, really summed it up for me.

  94. Byron { 05.02.11 at 7:25 pm }

    Susan, in response to your comment: As Buddhists, we are supposed to abhor all killing, but what do you do when someone is trying to kill you?

    You defend yourself! Last I checked, Buddhists are capable of defending themselves. That doesn’t give a Buddhist license to kill as a means of self-defense but if death arises because of defending oneself, then I don’t see the conflict. In this case, however, Osama was actively being sought for killing, which is a big difference, and as a Buddhist, I’d have a hard time defending this practice.

  95. Patty { 05.02.11 at 7:31 pm }

    And sometimes? Sometimes the loving answer is no. And sometimes the way “No” is communicated is with a gun.

    It is sad that Osama bin Laden was so twisted by his upbringing, or by his mental wiring, or some combination of the two, that he grew into a monstrous excuse for a human being — hate-filled, misogynistic, divisive, and yet (like so many sociopaths) apparently charismatic enough to develop quite a following.

    Today I celebrate the fact that he has now moved on to another life, where he will get a fresh opportunity, hopefully with better parenting and/or better mental wiring, and will be able to work off the karmic debt he has accumulated.

    For whatever it’s worth, even as I grieved her passing with all my heart, because I loved her dearly, I also celebrated the fact that my own mother moved on to another life and a fresh opportunity when she lost her battle with cancer. I do not see death as a loss or an ending but rather as a transition.

    I celebrate the fact that *this* man will never, EVER harm another human being again in this lifetime.

    I celebrate that he will never oppress, exploit, or abuse another woman or girl.

    I celebrate that his message of hate will, at least in part, die with him.

    I celebrate that a statement has been made to Islamo-fascist tyrants everywhere that if they turn their jihad on innocents in the name of perpetuating their sick interpretation of the Qu’ran, their twisted belief in an angry, bitter, vengeful God, they will be met with fierce (and even deadly) resistance and self-defense.

    I celebrate the fact that, for some victims and survivors of the 9/11 attacks here in the US, for other victims and survivors of other harm done by al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden in the past, this death brings some small sense of relief… some small blessing of closure, however tenuous.

    So I am a peaceful, left-leaning person. I have pretty substantial peacenik street-cred. And I must say that honestly, the only sadness I feel today might be for the young, unformed, innocent Osama bin Laden who, had he been raised, for example, by one Stanley Ann Dunham in Hawaii and Indonesia, he might have turned out to be a very, very different kind of man.

    But for the rabid dog… the remorseless serial killer… the ego-driven megalomaniac that was the Osama bin Laden of two days ago? I am not sad he is gone — if anything I am happy that he has been put out of his misery, and so have the rest of us.

    • Susan { 05.02.11 at 7:35 pm }

      really beautifully said. thank you.

  96. Shaun { 05.02.11 at 7:37 pm }

    Thank you Susan for articulating the confusion of emotions I felt at seeing the celebrating crowd outside the White House last night. As I watched, I wondered if the crowd perhaps kept the Obama’s daughters awake and – if they asked – how their parents explained the jubilation. As a parent, I struggled to explain these reactions to our own daughter. She and I will talk again this evening.

  97. Chris { 05.02.11 at 7:44 pm }

    I felt very alone in my feelings this morning, watching my countrymen celebrate and speak of his death like it was just so simple, so normal, so right. I felt very much like the odd man out. I was sad and uncomfortable for humanity, it was kind of surreal. In looking at this post and seeing the tone of all the responses, I feel a bit of comfort in that I am not really alone with these feelings. I am grateful.

  98. Amir Talai { 05.02.11 at 8:01 pm }

    Am I allowed to celebrate the fact that he will not murder anyone else? Or do you have a problem with that also?

  99. Noreen { 05.02.11 at 8:12 pm }

    Thank you, Susan. I felt similarly and your words and suggested meditation bring healing.

  100. Gail Lynne Goodwin { 05.02.11 at 8:14 pm }

    Your words echo the sentiments of my heart. We’re told if we’re patriotic we should cheer his death, yet something inside of me wants to instead, celebrate life…. OUR lives, in this very moment.

    Let’s focus on the good in the world and as Gandhi said, BE the change we want to see in the world.

    Thank you Susan for shining your light so brightly.

    If you’re interested on my take on this in greater detail, I’d love your comment on my blog at http://InspireMeToday.com.

    Thank you again for sharing your words.

  101. Maia Duerr / The Liberated Life Project { 05.02.11 at 8:16 pm }

    deep bow, Susan… thank you.

  102. Terry { 05.02.11 at 8:25 pm }

    You said: I’m not going to try to pile on with my point of view, which would be totally useless.

    But then you did.

    I will say, though, that I respect your point of view. I’m against capital punishment, but I was happy when I heard the news: a little less evil now exists in our world.

  103. Cody { 05.02.11 at 8:31 pm }

    I understand the confusion because I felt it too but I am glad he is gone. You can continue to discuss your love about the people who want to see you dead but I can not forgive this man for leading actions that took so many innocent lives. Everyone talks about society being “disillusioned” and “awful” for cheering for his death. Wake up people. This is the real world we live in. I don’t walk around looking for the worst in people but people do need to be held accountable for their actions. If their actions lead to 3,000 innocent deaths of men, women, and children then a call must be answered. If everyone here is so understanding and saddened for humanity go live with the filth that spew their hate all around the Middle East and see how long you last. They are a good century behind the rest of the world in human rights and dignity towards women. In a perfect world we could all sit at a table and talk about these things… As you set the table I will be sure to keep your home safe by attacking the people you wish to destroy you just for being.

  104. sue { 05.02.11 at 9:21 pm }

    sanest remarks I’ve heard about this matter.

  105. pme { 05.02.11 at 9:25 pm }

    When I saw people celebrating in the streets I was surprised. Isn’t that something “they’re” supposed to do? It made me question the celebrants’ level of personal involvement or understanding of what is/was at stake.

    My coworker asked today, “Would family members similarly celebrate the execution of their child or friend’s murderer?” I would say no. And I would say that those of us who have served and lost brothers in the “sandbox” would react in kind.

    With that being said, murderous individuals who would potentially do you (or service members) harm need little pretext for their actions. The death of OBL is just as good as, say, a Mohammed cartoon (or naming a stuffed animal “Mohammed”). And as a former Marine and friend of many who are still active duty, any “uptick” in Taliban or AQ activity is enthusiastically welcomed by the US military.

  106. Smith Heavner { 05.02.11 at 9:32 pm }

    This echoed strongly within me. As a Christian I feel pain for the death of any of my equals in creation as well as my sisters and brothers in faith.

    Matthew 18:21-23
    The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant
    21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” 22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. 23 “Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants.

  107. John { 05.02.11 at 9:46 pm }

    I was one of the celebrants. My cousin’s son was the first Californian soldier killed in the war. I read your article this morning and you made me do some serious thinking. I recently came across your web site and I am new to meditation. I have mixed emotions about Buddahism but continue to be drawn to it by my desire to be more peaceful. I want my inner being to be peaceful, loving and control my anger. PEACE TO YOU ALL.

    • Susan { 05.02.11 at 9:50 pm }

      So sorry to hear about your cousin’s son… And a desire to be more peaceful can never lead you astray. Wishing you the best in your explorations.

  108. Uncle Rocco { 05.02.11 at 9:46 pm }

    An interesting view point. As a fellow Buddhist, I guess my practice is different than yours…mine emphasizes, deep, almost endless inquiry, being dissatisfied with simple answers, as the Buddha was dissatisfied with the multiple teachers he encountered before his enlightenment. So here’s a simple question, that you will likely brush off as silly, rejecting an opportunity for deeper inquiry into the nature of the reality you inhabit:

    On what basis of evidence do you agree with the consensus view that OBL was responsible for the events of 9/11/01?

    • Susan { 05.02.11 at 9:51 pm }

      That he claimed responsibility, I suppose.

  109. Candice Marie { 05.02.11 at 9:57 pm }

    This article is perfect. I wish it could be read by the world. Thank you Susan Piver. You so perfectly captured the big picture.

  110. Uncle Rocco { 05.02.11 at 10:07 pm }

    In what venue did he claim responsibility? In one of the many videos for al-Jazeera? In a video tape found in a house in Afghanistan? In my opinion, if you claim to follow the teachings of the Buddha, you are responsible to dig deeper into your reality, regardless of the difficult feelings that surface as a result. This is what the Buddha did: he refused again and again to believe what he was told, nor did he do what was easy and popular. Start here: http://www.patriotsquestion911.com/

  111. Allie { 05.02.11 at 10:08 pm }

    Thank you for such a beautiful and well written piece.

  112. Ravi Budhiraja { 05.02.11 at 10:09 pm }

    A truly beautiful piece. Thanks for sharing your feelings and helping us recognise our aspirations! Love.

  113. Jerah { 05.02.11 at 10:12 pm }

    Wow, 100% positive comments!
    You must be really busy deleting all of the contrary viewpoints.

    • Susan { 05.02.11 at 10:16 pm }

      I haven’t deleted any comments. All I received have been published.

  114. Luiza { 05.02.11 at 10:20 pm }

    Wonderful words, thank you for sharing. I was neither happy nor sad when I heard the news, I was neutral. So I can relate a lot to what you said.

  115. Pooja { 05.02.11 at 10:44 pm }

    Wonderful words! I think they are wonderful because i did not loose anyone in the WTC attacks, and therefore the concept of brotherhood is justified. However, if i had lost a mother, father, sibling or a best friend, i am quite sure i would disagree with your concept about how his death should not be a celebration. It is quite simple to talk of peace and no revenge when you have not lost someone because of a group of people wanting to take over the world.

    • Susan { 05.02.11 at 10:47 pm }

      If any family members have found even an iota of peace or closure from this, I’m glad.

  116. John { 05.02.11 at 10:57 pm }

    Peace to Uncle Rocco, My brother your response seems to be confrontational. Be humble and peaceful. If you are an enlightened one be humble and peaceful. PEACE

  117. Tarde { 05.02.11 at 11:00 pm }

    Great writing. Sad thing is that people dont seem to understund that this is/might be starting of something really bad; “what goes around, comes around”.

    Let´s see where will next explode; here in Europe or in USA and then it continue, continue…:(

  118. Raquel { 05.02.11 at 11:09 pm }

    thank you for sharing this wisdom. my heart has felt a heaviness all day today…for the suffering of those who rejoice in this. because I do not rejoice at this…it does not mean that I am somehow complacent and “ok” on any level with the violence and many who died due to Osama Bin Laudin’s terrible deeds…I just cannot condone more violence…a continual blood letting…or rejoicing in violence…the entire situation is very sad..my heart just aches today.

  119. momwholoves { 05.02.11 at 11:35 pm }

    What happens when a peace activist has a gifted child who has always had that dream of a college education & the source of college money saved, was raided by unethical folks ( who will go unpunished ), and the only way to pay for college is military..

    • Susan { 05.03.11 at 7:18 am }

      There is a peaceful/intelligent way to do everything, even within the military. There are many wonderful people and opportunities and much good heartedness in the military.

  120. Tammy { 05.02.11 at 11:38 pm }

    Thank you for this insightful post. Peace to all.

  121. Uncle Rocco { 05.02.11 at 11:43 pm }

    @ John— Your admonition to me that I just be peaceful, and thereby never bring up realities that may confront another’s vison of reality is, to me, not the path that the Buddha taught or practiced. That man turned people’s world upside down. I am not talking about an extreme state of constant confrontation, nor an extreme state of passivity, I’m talking about a middle way of continuing, constantly to interrogate reality in all of its manifestations, on the cushion and off. We are presented today, on every channel, all over the world, with a version of reality that, in my opinion, and the opinion of millions like me, is faulty and leads to tremendous, unnecessary suffering. On my path, if I encounter an obviously sensitive and intelligent human, who might be open to look again at her assumptions, I’ll bring a different reality to her attention. I am not surprised if she finds that intense. If she had found it too intense, she could have not posted my comment, or posted it without personally responding to it. Reality is intense, sometimes peaceful, sometimes not. Best to you on your path.

    • Susan { 05.03.11 at 7:21 am }

      Uncle and John: I appreciate both of your intentions (to enlighten and protect) and have not found anything to be too intense.

      btw, my policy is to post all comments, unless they are pornographic or purely hateful. In my time as a blogger, this has happened only ONE TIME. So, I count myself extremely lucky. All best to you both.

  122. Nicholas { 05.03.11 at 2:08 am }

    The most terrible thing is that these people call themselves christians.

  123. Teresa Luttrell { 05.03.11 at 2:29 am }

    My fiance is in Afghanistan. And although he thinks what was done was necessary–as do I–the essential question remains: How do you kill your enemy in a way that puts a stop to violence rather than escalates it? I’m not arguing that what was done was necessarily wrong–but the American reaction was not helpful. The people I know who lost family in the 911 attacks are not celebrating; they are appalled at the reaction televised by the media. Those that celebrated obviously didn’t consider the consequences of their gleeful chants regarding the death of bin Laden–or stopped to consider how closely their behavior mirrored that of the radical Islamic terrorists they abhor. This type of behavior is not only adolescent, but puts those in service in Islamic countries at risk.

    • Susan { 05.03.11 at 7:23 am }

      Teresa, I agree with all your points.

  124. Maria { 05.03.11 at 2:41 am }

    It’s complex and I’m processing what you’re saying in conjunction with what I first felt when I heard the news last night. I’m with you in that we are all connected and everything has a ripple effect. I’ve never felt happiness at the killing of someone and am against the death penalty. (I think they killed vs. captured him since he was protected and shooting back and he put one of his wives in front of him as a human shield – not an easy person to capture and they wasn’t surrendering.)

    But I must say, I did feel hope of a new world with less evil in it when I heard he was dead (and captured would have served the same). I think people are celebrating what’s possible with the evil leadership of this person removed. Again it’s complex, we used old world methods (killing) and people are celebrating a new world with less evil as a result. I think we can agree that we have been better off without some of the evil leaders of the past in power (Hitler, Hussein…). There may be some retaliation. Hopefully the vibratory impact of the evil will get smaller and smaller. In the meantime, let us here continue to envision a peaceful future where we not only have compassion for the life Bin Laden chose for himself, those who suffered as a result, but one where evil has less and less of a grip. One where compassion and empathy hit the tipping point and it’s the way of life. One where we all see how interconnected we are.

    Today I did think that now that Bin Laden has been released from his body and the choices he was making in it… he can see from an enlightened perspective, have remorse for the suffering he caused himself and others and come back to a different life experience.

  125. Sam { 05.03.11 at 2:43 am }

    The point of this is that America has taken down one of the big symbols of Terrorism. Bin Laden was a symbol not just for Islamic Terrorists,… but for Terrorists and Murderers and others who would seek to hide everywhere. For ten years he has been the living icon of the “The one who got away.”

    Stopping him tells everyone, Domestic and Foreign, Ally and Enemy, Hero and Monster, Criminal and Innocent, that you cannot hide from consequences. That eventually what you have done will catch up to you. For the innocent it is proof that, ultimately, the guilty will be stopped. And for the guilty it is a reminder that, no matter how far you run, ultimately you will have to pay for your crimes.

    The death of Bin Laden is not about the War on Terrorism. It’s about symbols, and the victory of one symbol over another.

    What you’re saying, about Violence begetting Violence and Death, is incredibly simplistic. In your acknowledgment of Bin Laden as only a man, you are just as self deluding as those who would see him as only a monster. The world is not Black and White. Not for you, and not for the people who are celebrating. Neither side of this debate seems capable of looking at a bigger picture. To each of you it seems to come down to one person, and so you are equally wrong.

  126. Jane Starz { 05.03.11 at 2:51 am }

    Another voice echoing many: Thank you Susan, for helping me sort through my feelings of grief. I can now understand why I felt sadness at seeing the celebrations.
    Perhaps we can learn, perhaps we can change the world with love. I sure hope so.
    Thank you for writing this.

  127. Alexander { 05.03.11 at 2:59 am }

    I read almost all comments and answers but I cannot see “100% positive comments” (@ Jerah). Some different points of view are worth to be reflected. But I agree Susan 100% distinguishing between some relief due to his death which makes some few percentage of the american population to dance on the streets (btw I am neither dancing on the streets when my country won the cup), and the general sorrow based on historical, logical and meditative insights that the main part of mankind seems not to understand that hatered creats hatered, revanche creates revanche even “everybody” likes to live in peace (really?). The killing of enemies, the death penalty of murderers, the philosophy “an eye for an eye” is so archetypical but based on an unripe feeling how to deal with other human beings which Buddhists try(!) to overcome. Susan and many others, including me, feel uncomfortable and unhappy just to celebrate the event as life in general is ambivalent and Buddha guides us to a path out of the vicious circle of such feelings.

    • Susan { 05.03.11 at 7:26 am }

      Alexander, I so appreciate this.

  128. barking pumpkin { 05.03.11 at 3:01 am }

    The Buddha and American Realpolitik:
    It is a mix of emotions, for certain, to celebrate or be relieved by the death of another human being. We are in the human realm, we have these emotions, we breathe, and sometimes we notice. There is no easy answer to the questions you raise, Susan. In many ways, this speaks to what Trungpa often talked about as Idiot Compassion. When does compassion lead to stupidity? When it has become a dogma of sorts. It is possible that taking Osama’s life was a necessary step toward a greater awareness of our human interconnectedness, for he more than anyone alive today was resolved to destroy that awareness. Could we have apprehended him? Possibly, yet highly, highly unlikely. This is like a criminal hiding out after committing a murder, in fact it was just that. Negotiation was probably not going to happen, nor was his coming peacefully. How do we address that? Do we have a duty to protect the lives of innocent people or a duty to be pacifists in the face of brutality? Even Gandhi said that if ever there were a reason for pursuing a war, though he could not condone war personally, there was in his lifetime against the Third Reich. Osama represented a mentality akin to Nazi Germany. Had he the power, then you would be put to death for being an American and a nonbeliever of Islam. This we know and this is why Obama went after him. In the midst of confusion and emotion, the power shift in our national politics is palpable. To rejoice in Bin Laden’s death is not the same as he and his followers’ hatred against an entire people, and while it ought to be reflected upon and the motives questioned, to deny it’s emotional significance and judge people for doing so is a little bit selfish. These are complex issues, and Buddhism, the science of the mind that it is, teaching compassion and awareness, can play a significant role in the evolution of the United States, for without it, we would be on a much worse trajectory. In order for this consciousness to permeate the fabric more fully of the American mainstream, I would offer that making lofty criticism of the fundamental American notions of equality and justice served is not going to change many minds. We can be thankful that this happened under Obama’s watch, for one, and that a new era of humanitarian based foreign policy, imperfect as it is at present, can be on the horizon. I would go further to say that this ends 40 years of Republicans’ monopoly on framing the debate in regard to foreign policy in particular and all other issues in general. Does this mean that we are going to magically become the enlightened leader of the world? No, not overnight, it means that there is a crack in the armor of what has been a stultifying, myopic, anti-diplomatic, and often plainly stupid projection of our power. This may take a generation or longer, yet this is possible and is more possible with the simple basic sanity (to use another Trungpa term) that is the silver lining to this nightmare of a decade ending with this one sacrificial death of this one hate-filled person who did cause the suffering of so many. Namaste and Mahalo.

    • Susan { 05.03.11 at 7:34 am }

      barking pumpkin, you misread me. (a sentence I never dreamed i’d write…)

      Personally, I believe it was a necessary step. I prickle when I hear the phrase “idiot compassion” applied to my thinking here. Of course we have a duty to protect ourselves and if another Hitler arose, I would hope he would be taken out post haste. The point of my post is NOT about whether it was right or wrong to kill. It was about this: if we are in a position where killing another happens, is there a way to put our enemy down that increases the chance for peace rather than inflaming the chances for more violence. I think it is a very deep and strange question; however my post is not about whether or not we should have killed bin Laden. I leave that for others to figure out. My post is about the rejoicing, not the killing.

      If you’re saying people have a right to celebrate–well, of course they do. But what I’m saying is that what they are celebrating will only lead to more of what they don’t want. Complex issues, for sure.

  129. Sarah Jackson { 05.03.11 at 4:36 am }

    I am so so SO glad you wrote this.

  130. Robb { 05.03.11 at 5:12 am }

    Thank you so much for your comments, Susan. As I struggle with these concepts and feelings, it’s helpful to realize many others are as well.

    With thoughts of peace…

  131. jiman { 05.03.11 at 5:51 am }

    just wonder what you think of president Obama who ,according to the journalist Allan Nairn ,interview :`One killer killing another`,the the website, http://www.democracynow.org,is responsible for the death of 1900)!!!) innocent people killed by american forces in Pakistan since he took power.Here are his words:`Every day, the U.S., directly with its own forces, or indirectly through its proxy forces, its clients, is killing, at a minimum, dozens of people. I mean, just since Obama came in, in the one limited area of drone strikes in Pakistan, something like 1,900 have been killed just under Obama“.

  132. Thomassabo { 05.03.11 at 6:10 am }

    It’s not means the terrorist attacks stop.I think.Americans will may be more attacks by terrorist ,specially who oversea .

  133. Elliott { 05.03.11 at 7:28 am }

    Hi Susan,

    As a Born Again Christian I totally agree with your post. The killing of an individual no matter how “evil” (which varies: one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter) they are is not something to celebrate.

    I was previously in a rescue team as a confined spaces specialist, studied numerous examples of terrorist bombs and seen the effects. This doesn’t change my point of view.

    I was meant to be on one of the London Underground trains that was bombed on 7/7. The bomb went off in the carriage I would normally sit in. It is only by chance that I was not a victim of 7/7. This doesn’t change my point of view.

    Some of my friends have died in Iraq and Afgahnistan. This doesn’t change my point of view.

    Osama Bin Laden was the public face of Al Qaeda, he organised numerous terrorist acts. Without doubt he has blood on his hands. How would people have reacted if he had renounced violence and tried to forge peace (as Gerry Adams did)? That would have been cause to celebrate

    Osama Bin Laden will become a martyr to the cause. Another public figure will emerge, there will be more terrorism and violence despite his death. Some of the terrorism and violence will quite probably be “revenge” motivated.

    “Why do we kill people who kill people to show that killing people is wrong?”

    I’ve never understood why any civilised country would pursue this course of action. Surely it only punishes those left behind? I’ve never supported the death penalty; apart from an inherent wrongness, you can’t reverse it when you find out the evidence was actually wrong. There have been numerous cases in both the US and the UK (who abolished the death penalty) of everyone being certain someone was guilty only to find they were innocent, sometimes decades later.

    • Susan { 05.03.11 at 7:40 am }

      Elliott, thank you so much for this comment, which says it all. I especially like this bit:

      “How would people have reacted if he had renounced violence and tried to forge peace (as Gerry Adams did)? That would have been cause to celebrate.”

      YES. Of course. That says my whole post in once sentence. Thank you.

  134. Jeff { 05.03.11 at 7:31 am }

    While I didn’t rejoice in his death, relief and calmness over came me. I get on an airplane 4 times a week for my work. Every time that I cross that threshold from the walkway onto the plane, I think about the possibility of UBL or one of his followers blowing me up to prove their point, whatever it may be. I think about my children being fatherless and who will teach them the right way to live. I felt no joy or happiness. I high fived no one, and I didn’t celebrate at all. I felt relief that maybe his madness will end sooner and thereby save the the happiness of countless children who would be left motherless and fatherless, and the mothers and fathers who may not have to live through the worst fear of losing their son or daughter. It might have been you.

  135. Bill Ritchotte { 05.03.11 at 7:55 am }

    As a Taoist or Tao Cultivator you do not celebrate military victories. It should be treated like a funeral and modesty must prevail.

  136. karen m { 05.03.11 at 8:03 am }

    Thank you…

  137. Patricia Selmo { 05.03.11 at 8:15 am }

    Beautiful post! Thanks for putting in words the bigger picture of what’s going on in our world…

  138. Patty { 05.03.11 at 8:26 am }

    @ Susan ~ Do you think the things I noted that I am celebrating in the context of the justifiable homicide we have committed in taking out bin Laden is necessarily going to lead to more of what I don’t want?

    Specifically:
    * More harm against innocents at the hands of al Qaeda in the name of Allah?
    * More exploitation, oppression, and abuse of women and girls?
    * Increased spread of his message of hate and misogyny?
    * Islamo-fascist tyrants will feel more empowered to victimize others as a result of ObL’s death?
    * Continued pain for the victims and survivors of 9/11 and other victims/survivors of Al Qaeda crimes against humanity?

    Because that’s just not adding up for me somehow… :-p

    The words of MLK regarding how “violence begets violence” are wise — and worth using as a guiding principle when dealing with people who are, for the most part, mentally sane and functional.

    But trying applying that principle to a sociopath like Osama bin Laden makes about as much sense as applying that principle to Charles Manson or, for that matter, a king cobra. Would it be wise to think that, by bringing a cobra home with us and treating it lovingly, that it will not bite us or anyone else? It is in the nature of cobras to strike, to bite, to poison, and to kill and devour their prey. Denial of the reality of who and how something IS — denial of the very essence or nature of a person or thing — is not compassionate, it is simply dangerous and foolish … and it teaches the cobra nothing.

    It is sad — tragically and heartbreakingly sad — that Osama bin Laden’s life experiences and/or mental wiring resulted in his becoming such a hate-filled and destructive person. But the reality is that he was a hate-filled and destructive person. He was not going to change.

    A little context about where I’m coming from on this…
    I work in Corrections in Vermont. We work very hard here to help prisoners to develop healthier habits of mind, to break the cycle of addiction, to put the pieces of their hearts, minds, families, and lives back together because most of them have suffered terrible abuse, neglect, etc., sometimes from birth, and many of them have not had much, if any, model for what healthy, functional, consistently loving behavior looks and acts like.

    The reality is that there are many people who are simply so far gone that they either cannot…or will not…be healed.

    Those who commit crimes within our borders, we can at least lock them up. But for those in other countries — in nations where there is no consistent application of the principle of law, nor the least understanding or embrace of mental health and rehabilitative principles — we must recognize that such people are deadly to the rest of us, and if they are actively seeking to prey on us and on those we love, we are justified in defending ourselves, and in celebrating the fact that we have successfully done so.

    If we really want to address the problem of Osama bin Laden and others like him, and treat the disease, not just the symptoms (because really, at the end of the day, bin Laden was simply a symptom of a larger disease), we will have to begin addressing the larger global issues like the role of women in Islamic culture… like the ugly fact of how misogyny is endorsed by not only passages in the Qu’ran, but also in The Holy Bible, and even in the Hindu Vedic texts, it is perpetuated by Arab culture, by Indian culture, by African cultures…

    It is complex, yes, but less so if we peel back the layers and try to address the problem at its origin by asking ourselves, “What is it that turns someone into a man like Osama bin Laden? And, on the other hand, what is it that turns someone into a man like the Dalai Lama?” And then find a way to raise every baby born the way the Dalai Lama was raised… problem solved, right?

    Now the question is how to implement that… and that is where things start to get a bit more complex, alas.

  139. Elliott { 05.03.11 at 8:30 am }

    Hi Susan,

    :-)

    I was only commenting on absolutely brilliant post. Am jealous I didn’t write something as good on my own blog.

  140. Susan { 05.03.11 at 8:32 am }

    A mutual admiration society, then.

  141. Burke Ingraffia { 05.03.11 at 8:47 am }

    Official Vatican Statement:

    Faced with the death of a man, a Christian never rejoices, but reflects on the serious responsibility of each and every one of us before God and before man, and hopes and commits himself so that no event is an opportunity for further growth of hatred, but for peace,

  142. a passerby { 05.03.11 at 8:47 am }

    It’s good to see that so many have not lost their conscience, even despite all of the silly nationalism and public circuses centering around this symbolic victory.

    Only a sick and twisted person could even wince at the death of bin Laden or any other thug, but by triumphantly beating our chests and celebrating violence, we sink to the level of our enemies and become what we claim to hate.

    Our campaign against al-Qaeda is one of principles, and if we lose our sense of right and wrong, we have lost.

  143. Dot Hall Hanlon { 05.03.11 at 9:09 am }

    Susan, I am so happy to be among kindred spirits. Thank you fb for connecting me to hearts and souls that have studied hard (mostly within themselves) to get it. I always wonder if I am judging when I say that…for am I judging those that don’t ‘get it”? Help me out Susan!

  144. Ray { 05.03.11 at 10:02 am }

    Might I offer. I work with children who are in prison/detention camps. The pattern of violence is learned and passed on through hurt. Hurt people, hurt people. All of you who are upset at the others point of view… perhaps channel that energy toward a child who is being hurt. Children heal through loving. Just pick one out in your neighborhood and be of service. Use your creativity and channel your upset and change their/your world.

  145. Jessica Leader { 05.03.11 at 10:27 am }

    Thank you for this. When I heard the news on Sunday night, I thought I might be the only one feeling queasy and wrong. I’m so grateful for the members of the internet community who have expressed and shared that the only reaction is not one of cheering a man’s death in Times Square.

  146. karen { 05.03.11 at 10:48 am }

    Bin Laden is dead, but what about Bin Ladenism?

  147. Alexander { 05.03.11 at 10:57 am }

    @ Jeff : I have greatest respect for your feeling and concern as a father but IMHO I think that your statement is a little bit naiv… “… calmness over came me. I felt relief that maybe his madness will end sooner and thereby save the happiness of countless children who would be left motherless and fatherless, and the mothers and fathers who may not have to live through the worst fear of losing their son or daughter” … as exactly the opposite can occur. We saw this kind of misjudgment based on “greed-hatered-blindness” with a lot of boomerang effects when the USA and the UK started the war against Iraq due to “what has been a stultifying, myopic, anti-diplomatic, and often plainly stupid projection of our power” (quotation barking pumpkin). But most of the Americans and Britains did not recognized the aspect of the personal revanche of the parochial G.W.Bush referring to S.Hussein and “how closely their/his/ behavior mirrored that of the radical Islamic terrorists they abhor” (quotation Teresa Luttrell). This is the bitter reality and because it is so unsatisfying the Buddha and his followers (Susan among them) looking for the deeper reasons why, asking for more productive solutions and teaching a more peaceful attitude. Jeff, I wish your hope becomes true but I am afraid of the opposite. Hopefully I am wrong and we can dance together on the street by a better reason….

  148. Steve { 05.03.11 at 11:09 am }

    I had read your blog post on HuffPost and came to your website since I was curious what other folks may have written. While I sympathize tremendously with the point of view that hate breeds hate and that we need to create a new and thoughtful dynamic in this world … my question to those who abhor the killing (I’m not talking about the celebrating of the killing, which is another issue) — what would you have had the US gov’t do? So, you put him on trial and give him a platform to spew his venom? So, you give him to his family for a burial and create the opportunity for a ongoing memorial to him and his beliefs? Do we leave him alone and allow his machinations to continue? I am honestly curious about what, in this real-world, we ‘should’ do with a bin Laden. I think it’s easy to beat one’s chest, decry man’s inhumanity to man, and get into all sorts of relativism … I would like to hear what ‘should’ have been (or should be done in the future).

    • Susan { 05.03.11 at 12:08 pm }

      I don’t know if anyone is saying they abhor the killing. My read at least is that most agree (whether happily or not) that it had to be this way.

  149. crying still { 05.03.11 at 11:55 am }

    I was struck by confused sadness on sunday when my husband told me that the u.s. killed bin laden. It felt like ‘sport execution’. When I saw the papers yesterday of people celebrating his death I fell into deep dread. When I heard the jokes by late night hosts about his death I burst out crying. I harbor no happiness or relief over his death only deep sadness and terror that we share the same sentiments as terrorists. Thank you for your beautiful words. I want to live in the world you paint.

  150. barking pumpkin { 05.03.11 at 11:58 am }

    I didn’t say you specifically were advocating Idiot Compassion, and, frankly, it exists and I can’t understand why one would bristle at it’s use as a term. As for the rejoicing, yes, in the Art of War sense, a victory is to lead to modesty, let’s hope that the Obama Administration may reverse the bravado of the previous one. At the same time, I think it is rather unrealistic expectation for Americans to not celebrate. We are an adolescent nation with a lot of vigor, even though decades of misguided foreign and economic policy have been turning it into something of an oligarchy. We might have a chance if we can change the channel a little bit at a time; in that regard, I think our modern mythology (science fiction) has a lot to offer in regard to these heavy events. The Jedi in Star Wars did not rejoice in killing, using the Force in anger or aggression only leads to the Dark Side. Star Trek kind of has that underpinning too. These are valid frameworks to see ourselves in, because we create what we become, and someday, we probably will have the technology akin to these and someday we might not be the only kids on the block in our corner of the universe.

  151. Chi { 05.03.11 at 12:19 pm }

    Great article. Thanks for expanding my mind. I dont celebrate his death, but I damn sure dont feel bad about it. And for those that think we should have captured him, trust me, we tried.

  152. Patty { 05.03.11 at 12:20 pm }

    barking pumpkin = AWESOME. Are you on FB?

  153. K. Yovela Hershey { 05.03.11 at 12:26 pm }

    Thank you for putting this into such eloquent words. I’ve been trying to say just this, but you have done it infinitely better than I have been able to.

  154. BGRome { 05.03.11 at 12:46 pm }

    I disagree. You can’t protect yourself from these kind of enemies with good thoughts or “facing our emotions” and having control of our own emotions, no matter how liberating they might feel to us, will not defeat these enemies, it only feeds them. Many people lost fathers, daughters, sons, mothers, and sisters in the events that Osama Bin Laden instigated for no reason other than we were happy with who we were and celebrated diversity and freedom and if the people who lost someone over the course of the past 10 years want to feel like we have been given closer from bin Laden’s death and celebrate it…go right ahead. Protecting ourselves from the wolves that have been seen eating our loved ones, by striking first is not hatred it is simply protection. Susan you can go right ahead and rededicate yourself to “love” these guys but don’t be surprised when the snakes you sleep with coil around your sleeping body. Why would anyone feel sorrow for the loss of a man that killed thousands of innocent people and then was so cowardly to pull a woman in front of him when the people he hit first came back for him. Apparently he WAS a “horrific, terrible, vicious one..” and he deserved his end.

  155. Bob B. { 05.03.11 at 12:55 pm }

    First, these comments are intended to be about awareness primarily, but in the context of the world in which we live.

    The article was beautiful and I’m in complete agreement with it, spiritually. But my response to the report of bin-Laden’s death was nevertheless quite different from Susan Piver’s and that of most of her respondents. It was a response of neutral curiosity about the event, mixed with sadness that we are so credulous. So often we simply believe what we’re told, even if it’s told to us by those with the greatest propensity for deception.

    Why do I say this? In this case, because there is no body; it was disposed of — buried at sea, we’re told. No photos. No evidence. Just an official story. And why should pose a problem? Because we have been lied to countless times by our government. (Have we forgotten?) About why we go to war, about the nature of war, of collateral damage, the state of the economy… Go back as far in history as you like. Have we been awake to this or not?

    Awakening in a spiritual sense is one thing. Being awake to what’s going on around us is in some ways different from this, but not irrelevant. There are such people as ignorant saints — people who are awake to Truth but asleep to mundane truth. Naive. Suggestible. And therefore less able to navigate and address the mundane world effectively. — And we have all been naive and suggestible at times. Do we put limits on awareness? Are we committed to being awake while sitting, but somehow go to sleep when we walk out into the world?

    Here is some (in my opinion) valuable worldly wisdom from two worldly-awake notables of the past, regarding how best to receive official reports (paraphrased from memory):
    — The [self-assigned] first duty of every government is to lie to its own people. (Alexis de Tocqueville, French author of “Democracy in America,” early 19th C.)
    — Don’t believe that anything is true unless it has been officially denied three times. (Otto von Bismarck, German Chancellor, late 19th C.)

    They were advocating critical thinking and social awareness. This is why the most reasonable first response to the bin-Laden news, to my mind, is: “Is that so?”

  156. Damon Pourtahmaseb-Sasi { 05.03.11 at 12:56 pm }

    I think this is the main reason I’m not a Buddhist… there’s so much of the philosophy I enjoy. In this post particularly, I agree 100% with rejecting the “Us and them” view. But I think there’s a middle ground between self-centered jubilation, which I think is perfectly fine within reason, and actually feeling sad about his death (and not just because it might cause retaliation).

    My feelings? Relief, that perhaps now the witch-hunt can end and more incentives will be present to end the wars. Relief, that at least one less terrorist “mastermind” walks the world. Relief, that those who lost someone in 9/11 have some closure, however I disagree with the method and cost of reaching this point.

    Because that’s actually where my thoughts are. I never lost anyone in 9/11, but if I did I imagine I would feel very different about Osama’s death. I doubt it would have changed my view of the wars and meaningless cycle of hatred and oppression, but I don’t feel disgust when I see someone celebrate Osama’s death. Why should they not? This was a man committed to killing them, their loved ones, their way of life. If you truly believe in an afterlife where this world does not matter, I suppose turn the other cheek makes sense. For those of us who do not, it does not. I would prefer those that celebrate his death take a more long-term peaceful view, yes. I would prefer we not meet hatred with hatred. But I don’t expect them to be sad, or to mourn the loss of someone so filled with hate.

    Like I said: for me, relief that he can no longer harm anyone with his poisonous thoughts. Regret that he came to be the way he was, regret that it had to end the way it did, but for me, forgiveness is for those who earn forgiveness, and as far as I know he went to his death wishing nothing but pain and misery toward people who never did him harm.

    I regret it no more than than the death of a rabid dog. If I could have given my life to cure him of such hate, I would have, but that’s not the way the world works. We do the best we can to stay alive and live in peace, and move on to work for a better world.

  157. Alexander { 05.03.11 at 1:52 pm }

    sorry to interrupt with a total different aspect: the international agreements of war, the American definition of war and precedents, the reasons of state, the legality of the action and of the “self-willed” and “questionable” handling of law of nations by the American administrations which is pointed out in a short article under the title “About the killing of an enemy” in one of the most important and best German newspapers “Süddeutsche Zeitung”. Who can read German is invited to follow this link http://www.sueddeutsche.de/politik/us-kommandoaktion-gegen-osama-bin-laden-das-toeten-eines-feindes-1.1092300 .

  158. Jeannine Vegh { 05.03.11 at 2:26 pm }

    I just wrote a similar type of response on my own blog, not from a Buddhists point of view but from my work in social services. I don’t believe that the death penalty is the answer or will solve domestic or world problems. I needed to write what I wrote but I think what you had to say helped me feel a lot better. I am so happy to see how many people have “liked” your post.

  159. Barbara { 05.03.11 at 2:29 pm }

    So, Osama bin Laden is dead. We killed him. Thank God that we finally got an evil, vile man, off the face of this earth to face our God. There really was no choice, as he had terrorized much of the world, killed thousands, and believed raping women for fun was ok . His right to do so. We as Americans were clearly in an “us or them” situation and if we didn’t kill him, he was going to continue to do everything in his power to kill us, our children, our Mothers, Fathers, Sisters, Brothers, family members, and military personnel. He was a monster. He laughed in the face of those who have lived this horrible tragedy and more often than not bragged and boasted that he would kill generations to come. Fearless of God.
    As Buddhists, Christians, as human beings, we are supposed to abhor all killing, but what do you do when someone is trying to kill you, your family, the very principles for which your country stands? You make a stand! You say no more! You say I’ve had enough politics and religion battles! I really want justice for all those who were so desperate that they felt the need to jump from the towers? Who sat in wheel chairs knowing what was sure to come? Those who listened to their children’s fear and said it will be alright knowing all odds were it would not.
    I’ll pose this question: How much do you think anyone can take? How many nights have people lied awake and wondered what those last moments must have been like for those in the buildings and in the air? “How do you kill your enemy in a way that puts a stop to violence rather than escalates it?”
    I keep coming back to the same conclusion: if it were my child, my partner, my Mother, Father, Sister or Brother the answer is NOT in our ability to face our emotions. But in our inability to act upon our emotions due to the politically correct mythology. We know what we are feeling , what to do, and yet there is always someone somewhere telling us how wrong we are.
    “Was there even a hint of vengefulness or gladness at Osama bin Laden’s death? If so, that is a real problem. Whatever suffering he may have experienced cannot reverse even one moment of the suffering he caused. If you believe his death is a form of compensation, you are deluded.”
    Deluded? Before anyone can get a response out you have already told them they are deluded. Well I’m just thinking you may be a bit deluded yourself if you believe for a second someone wouldn’t kill for their child or any family member. The vast majority would stand between death and friend. You can’t possibly hate someone enough to actually kill them. Can you? Duh yeah!
    Look at your own reaction this morning.
    You felt the need to tell others they were deluded, no triumph has been won, we are no more than Osama himself for the jubilation shared across this country. He wasn’t one of us. He was a killer. His actions not only killed but caused thousands of others to be maimed, in a war we didn’t start as a peaceful nation but were forced to defend our rights and those who were killed.
    It is a time to celebrate, the lives of those lost, the bravery of the armed forces, and the patience of America. It is a time to heal, a time to join together as a country again.
    In killing Osama bin Laden, no one lost. He was a terrorist that instilled that terror into an entire nation. He will go down in history as the most feared man in America. But did we learn anything? I think not. Everyone is too set on me to walk in the shoes of the neighbor next door. Most of you don’t’ even know your neighbors nor do you care to know them.
    What to do? Learn something new. Celebrate for those who have lost and do feel closure, go meet your neighbors! As you said, “Our enemy is not one person or country or belief system. It is our unwillingness to feel the sorrow of others.”I believe that is evident here.
    This enemy of ours, brought a country to its knees in sorrow, in prayer, and now in celebration of his death. Do not take this away from those who gave all so that you may enjoy the freedom to post a blog, speak your mind, and live in the greatest nation on Earth.

  160. Dot Hall Hanlon { 05.03.11 at 2:38 pm }

    In response to someone asking ‘what should we have done if we are opposed to his death?’ I don’t think the actual actions of our universe are nearly as important as our contemplation of what all of these actions and all of our actions. The conciousness of it all brings light within darkness…..each and everyone of us has played a role in our present day dilemmas on earth…we should be determined to change as much as we can…towards a brighter day.

  161. Toni { 05.03.11 at 2:51 pm }

    Beautifully written..thank you.

  162. barking pumpkin { 05.03.11 at 2:53 pm }

    @BGROME, I believe Susan is talking about the notion that we are a society that has long sanctioned violence as a means to an ends and that while this killing might have been necessary (I certainly see it as so) and the emotions running are there, we might also become more aware of what is going on in this moment, as individuals and as a nation and planet. It is punctuated moments like this in history that give us reasons to reflect, and we are direly in need of such reflection (and without judgment) as a country. The tone and substance portrayed by the corporate media and the Right Wing in particular up to this point have been enormously destructive spiritually and physically, the conversation framed on these destructive terms, and any inclination to reflect frowned upon if not accused of being traitorous. This is an untenable, unpatriotic, unAmerican abdication of our right to discuss, question, and have alternative points of view to the status quo. So, basically, reality is overtaking all that hot air of the likes of Limbaugh, Hannity, Beck, Palin, Bachmann, all these lying, hate-mongering mouthpieces right back up their keisters in the form of a President Obama leading a country responsibly (and yes, with faults). We ought to be celebrating that more than anything. It is against Buddhist teaching to gloat, but, dammit, the Buddhists are never listened to over these supposed “Christians” with their bullhorns dictating public policy or a sorry excuse for it feeding the super rich on the backs of the rest of us. That’s the meaning of Obama gettin’ Osama. “Gotta birth certificate, made Trump look like an idiot, and now he got Osama…damn, he’s one of us afterall…”

  163. Mark Haller { 05.03.11 at 3:00 pm }

    Thank you for posting this. I’ve struggled with his death, his atrocities against thousands, but the celebrations of the taking of his life by so many. I feel glad, as a Buddhist myself, that I am not alone in the rationalising of the events that have played out and how it sits with my beliefs.

    Thank you.

  164. Ven. Ajahn David Chutiko { 05.03.11 at 3:04 pm }

    My wounded heart, my tortured spirit has begun to heal quantumly knowing that the voice of reason is still to be heard, that wisdom can and ultimately will triump over passion and delusion; love over hatred. Do we really know what the answer is? Leon Tolstoy told us that “the highest flight of wisdom is knowing that we don’t know.” Yet there are the hawks of war and the doves of peace equally certain that they have ‘the’ answer. How long does it take to prove that war is not the answer? How much time has society devoted to peacefully with the countless cells in the universal body, connected one to the other as we are? Scarsely any. Many have mentioned the practice of loving kindness as the potential solution. It being unconditional love, a love that asks for nothing in return; it simply gives and gives and gives. With a mind concentrated on and in loving kindness, we open the doors to forgiveness, compassion, understanding and all of the other ‘practical’ virtues that allow for the peace and tranquillity which we all seek. Those who are advocates for peace, please keep on advocating and continue to develope loving kind-
    ness more and more for all humanity, friend and foe alike.

  165. Matt { 05.03.11 at 3:04 pm }

    I am just a man. I don’t pretend to have the heart of God; therefore, I don’t have any forgiveness or sorrow in my heart for Osama. Forgiveness is between him and God. So, in my opinion, to HELL with him, he has reaped what he had sown.

  166. Barbara Erb { 05.03.11 at 3:46 pm }

    Dear Susan,
    Thank you so much for this. I read it on the Upaya newsletter and then found your blog. I felt totally alone when everyone seemed to be so excited. How can I rejoice at another’s demise?

    Your post says what I believe. Thank you so much.
    With Love,
    Barbara

  167. barking pumpkin { 05.03.11 at 3:57 pm }

    @Patty, I am reticent to post my Facebook profile in a public forum, but if you want to check out my music, go to: facebook.com/timmymusic

  168. Louise Altman { 05.03.11 at 4:28 pm }

    Wow Susan, you have created a powerful place for people to speak to the complexity of the feelings that are out there. Something, that is rarely done with such thoughtfulness and respect. Surely, the response must be quite a surprise! You have hit a powerful place, a place where few of go, even privately, let alone, publicly.
    We aren’t taught (well most of us aren’t) about HOW to relate to our emotions when we are kids. Emotions are “modeled,” by our caregivers and the culture we grow up in – but rarely are we taught how to handle the range of our feelings – and the contradictions.
    Because we live in a society filled with “duality,” we often do a great disservice to our emotions, feeling we have to choose between, sadness and anger, for example, rather than allowing the full spectrum of our feelings to be heard and understood.
    Because recent findings in neuroscience clearly demonstrate that emotions are contagious – it is fascinating to see it in action on a large scale – and of course scary too.
    While so many of the comments here are so thoughtful and heartfelt, I hope people unfamiliar with the spaciousness of Buddhist thought, don’t pigeonhole your important thoughts as being “just for Buddhist.”
    Your post’s universality is what is speaking volumes!

  169. Hey Jen { 05.03.11 at 4:31 pm }

    I agree completely. You captured my thoughts a lot more eloquently than I did in my own blog. That was beautiful. :)

  170. Miriam MacDonald { 05.03.11 at 4:31 pm }

    I understood people’s sense of relief and even satisfaction at this man’s death. But the “jubilation” and celebration did not sit well with me. A news anchor said “people are filled with joy” and I was shocked. This joy is not real. This is not joy. This is one man who is symbolic of a failure of cultures to accept and understand one another, among other things. A proper response would have been solemnness, in my opinion.

  171. John Malcomson { 05.03.11 at 5:08 pm }

    Well Said Ms. Piver!

  172. Jim Tyler { 05.03.11 at 5:25 pm }

    I hope none of you are cornered by that rabid dog cause it’s not going to care. If it was not for crushing and stomping down this type you would not be here now with the freedoms to do what you’ve done and stated here.

  173. Susan { 05.03.11 at 5:47 pm }

    Jim: I don’t think anyone is suggesting not fighting back when cornered . I’m certainly not. Nor do I take our freedoms for granted. We should protect them with everything we have. I’m just saying that to think we’ve “won” anything significant is a dangerous mistake. Yes, we have taken out someone deeply dangerous. But the danger remains.

    Feeling and acting vindictive or vengeful actually creates the kind of situation where crushing and stomping are required. If we really want to change our world, we are going to have to open our hearts, even to people we hate: not to excuse or forgive them. Please hear me on that: NOT TO EXCUSE OR FORGIVE. But to begin to forge bonds of humanity and dialog. We must create peace for future generations. We must get off this collision course we’re on with crushing or being crushed. For good. The time to change is now.

    The only way I can think of to do this is to stop hating. That is all I’m saying.

  174. Susan { 05.03.11 at 5:49 pm }

    “This is not joy.” Could not agree more.

    • David Sneen { 05.31.11 at 10:57 pm }

      The question is not and never was- to kill-or not kill Osama bin Laden, he will be replaced.

      He only had power because he had many followers. He had, and his successor will have many followers because there are desperate people living, without hope, in deplorable conditions. A desperate, starving person is not likely to care what he does to get a slice of bread.

      The way to get rid of Osama bin Laden and his type is to help people escape these deplorable conditions.

      • carolyn Morton { 01.12.12 at 10:40 pm }

        much easier said then done, my friend.

  175. Matt { 05.03.11 at 5:49 pm }

    The only peace any of us has ever known was built on the back of death. Nature is red in tooth and claw.

  176. Susan { 05.03.11 at 5:55 pm }

    The problem with saying “to hell with him” is that we still have to deal with the consequences of his life and death. We can’t act like children anymore; we have to grow up and take responsibility for our world in a more thoughtful way than this. I’m not saying I don’t feel that myself, like screw him, he got what was coming. I do. But I can’t let that be the thought that dictates my actions or allow it to poison the other things I feel and am.

  177. Shri Devi { 05.03.11 at 5:57 pm }

    I believe the “celebrating” is misunderstood. I do not believe celebration is hateful. That it is, is an assumption!! I think what is happening for many people globally is a normal way of releasing fear. (People often do this at the end of war.) It’s a way of releasing the body-held fear-energy of trauma. Americans and many other people globally have suffered terrorizing events at the guidance of the departed. It frightened many of them tremendously. I think their celebrating is them releasing the trauma. I think it’s normal. It’s not about morality. It’s about biology.
    See this article on trauma:
    http://www.traumahealing.com/somatic-experiencing/art_chapter1.html

  178. Uncle Rocco { 05.03.11 at 5:57 pm }

    A tip of the hat and a cry of recognition in the wilderness to poster Bob B., comment 193! I’ve been reading these posts on my phone and my computer, despairing at the depth of credulity being manifested on this thread. We are the only two I’ve read on here yet that do not take this fable we’re being fed at face value. Bob’s post combines knowledge of, and practice of Buddhism with real knowledge of the political reality we actually inhabit. On top of this: the spiritual sophistication to to recognize the Two Truths taught by Buddhism, the mundane vs. the transcendent, and h0w to make useful distinctions between the two. And, just for the icing on the cake, the tag line from a famous Zen story, “Is that so?” Bob, if you are so moved, please send me a message from the webform on my site http://www.southmetrourbanfarmers.com

  179. patty sherry { 05.03.11 at 6:10 pm }

    @Louise I read what you said about emotions and you are so right. We aren’t taught how to relate to our emotions or to relate to how they are triggered.

    and sometimes ( most times) when we try to talk about emotions and logic they are two different languages. We try to validate our emotions with logic, when really what we feel is what we feel and it needs no validation. No emotion is right or wrong, and yet often we try to do that too. Make an emotion right or wrong, defend why we are angry, sad, happy etc.

    When I step back a bit and see on a consciousness level what all of this is bringing out, two words come to mind. Judgment and acceptance. It may seem to simple to say we either judge or we are accepting, but when I start to look at it, I see how as a human race we are either judging or accepting ourselves…and judging or accepting others.
    Perhaps this has nothing to do with this original post, and yet I am aware that when I first saw the news I slightly judged myself for feeling weird..and soon it was easy to slip into a judgment of others for not feeling what I felt…. I saw that so clearly and i knew I needed to take a breath..

  180. AC { 05.03.11 at 6:10 pm }

    I was one of the celebrants at Ground Zero.

    I am slightly appalled by the notion that the people celebrating on television were simply reveling in the death of another human being. I am sure there were some who held that sentiment, but nothing was further from the case for many who were there, including myself.

    Like many others, I was there to celebrate that we can now close a long, dark chapter in America’s history.

    America has in many ways has been torn apart by our quest to find bin Laden. The nation has had many more questions than answers in the past ten years: CIA prisons and interrogations, Guantanamo Bay, justifications for entering war, justifications for continuing war, a trillion dollars spent, many American troops dead, many times more innocent foreign civilians dead.

    When Obama made his announcement, all those questions were instantly put aside. Those who showed up to celebrate were all united- no matter what beliefs you may have had prior, we knew the future would be different. The end will not justify the means, but at least everyone can agree on moving forward.

    Yes, this subscribes to an “us vs them” mentality, and defines myself as an American (and not as a world citizen). But those of us who live in America have a certain set of shared experiences from the War on Terror, and that helps build understanding and consensus. There is a purpose to it, and patriotism is not necessarily bad.

  181. Sue W { 05.03.11 at 7:22 pm }

    Thank you. My sentiment exactly. Rejoicing at another human’s demise just doesn’t feel good. I too am saddened by the “celebratory” mood and righteousness after the head terrorist’s killing. It is very dangerous when we as a government glorify killing. A very bad precedent. Violence only begets violence.

  182. Patty { 05.03.11 at 7:52 pm }

    Sue W., while there are a *few* people out there engaging in chest thumping, USA! USA! shouting jingoism in response to OBL’s death, I think a lot of what you’re seeing is your interpretation of people’s response, and not how THEY would describe their response if you were to ask them.

    I encourage you to read/listen to this afternoon’s piece from NPR’s _All Things Considered_ …and for that matter read what *I* have wrote… and try to grant to each person you see celebrating this turn of events … the dignity of their own emotions without you projecting onto them negative qualities that may or may not actually be present.

    http://www.npr.org/2011/05/03/135957207/cheering-the-end-of-bin-laden-let-the-kids-yell?sc=fb&cc=fp

    To me, that is just as dangerous as the jingoistic patriotism you fear. Check the mote in your own eye, friend? :-)

    • Susan { 05.03.11 at 7:59 pm }

      Is it possible to share differing viewpoints without condescension? We could each grant each other the dignity of emotion. Without sarcasm. Perhaps a little more humor would help; each of us not taking ourselves so seriously.

  183. Patty { 05.03.11 at 8:12 pm }

    Ah, yes, humor — perhaps we should be more concerned about this nation’s youth…and how few of them seem to be grasping who Osama bin Laden was or why his death is making headlines…? (chuckling cringe)
    To wit:
    http://www.boingboing.net/2011/05/02/who-is-osama-bin-lad.html

    • Susan { 05.03.11 at 8:24 pm }

      Well, perhaps another time then.

  184. Patty { 05.03.11 at 8:32 pm }

    B…b…but… did you check the link? It’s actually pretty funny…if a bit worrisome… but still funny! *<):o)

  185. Namel { 05.03.11 at 9:30 pm }

    What feelings did you express when Prabhakaran, author of Bin Laden was dead?

  186. Namel { 05.03.11 at 9:32 pm }

    Await your respense

  187. Mary Noble { 05.03.11 at 9:34 pm }

    I like to think of the mother aspect. OBL’S mother felt exactly the same joy and overpowering love when she first held him in her arms as I did when I held my baby. As all mothers do and did for eons. I cannot rejoice at the killing of someone else’s child. And we are ALL—even Osama bin Laden–someone else’s child. What a tragedy for him to be so mired to a belief system it ended not only his life but those of other innocents. I taught in Egypt and had one of his nephews in my class. Indeed, one of us is extinguished by a bullet to the head. It feels adolescent to cheer that on, like the Roman gladiators. We are better than that.

  188. Mary Noble { 05.03.11 at 9:36 pm }

    Belief is a pathology. That’s what it comes down to, ultimately.

  189. charlie { 05.03.11 at 9:53 pm }

    “Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering.”
    ―Yoda
    It’s May Fourth, this quote seemed appropriate. Great Article.

  190. Chandran Methil { 05.03.11 at 10:52 pm }

    There is evil in this world.It is the duty of all right minded people to stand up to this evil,especially if they hold positions of power.In fact it is a duty as spelled out by Sri Krishna in the Bhagwad Gita.President Obama has done his duty.All praise to him.The question of celebration does not arise.It does depend on peoples attitudes.Pacification towards evil will lead to loss of independence as happened in Tibet and other Buddhist communities in Asia.

  191. Pierre Dowing { 05.03.11 at 11:12 pm }

    As of the death of Osama Bin Laden, I find there’s been a metaphorical cloud of mystery surrounding the consequences. I myslef have been doing a bit of reading and have found the following article one of the more clear and reliable ones. (here’s a link, if you’d like a look:
    http://www.pressdisplay.com/pressdisplay/showlink.aspx?bookmarkid=G2NXDMDSH7G8&preview=article&linkid=80c0e3c4-d6f7-4708-b6c0-2fbab40234c2&pdaffid=ZVFwBG5jk4Kvl9OaBJc5%2bg%3d%3d) Well anyway, hope this helped a little with context, and I’m sure more will come up as the media fuss calms down a little.

  192. Zews { 05.03.11 at 11:12 pm }

    I do not agree at all. To me, as a child of Holocaust survivors, the killing of ObL was akin to killing Adolf Hitler. Without him, and the evil that he has wrought hundreds of thousands of people would still be alive today. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq would not have happened, etc.

    Listen to this commentary on NPR (All Things Considered) today. Cheering The End Of Bin Laden: Let The Kids Yell
    http://tinyurl.com/42quthe

  193. Alexander { 05.04.11 at 12:36 am }

    @ AC: your statement “… we can now close a long, dark chapter in America’s history” must be proved during the next weeks, months and even years. We do not know by killing OSB the US got the head of a snake or just one of the nine heads of the Hydra so for each head cut off it will grow two more.

    In addition: “The nation has had many more questions than answers in the past ten years: CIA prisons and interrogations, Guantanamo Bay, justifications for entering war, justifications for continuing war, a trillion dollars spent, many American troops dead, many times more innocent foreign civilians dead.
    When Obama made his announcement, all those questions were instantly put aside.” Put aside for a moment, psychologically suppressed, but do you realy believe all this questions are over now???

  194. Jeffrey J Ward { 05.04.11 at 12:49 am }

    I posted something similar on my blog. We live in an imperfect world and make decisions that are also necessarily imperfect. But that, in the end, is what makes being human so interesting.

  195. Marney { 05.04.11 at 1:17 am }

    Now I have words to explain to my husband how I feel. Sometimes a situation like this is so difficult to explain. My husband does not understand my lack of enthusiasm over bin Laden’s death. This article helps…as does the following short quote from MLK Jr.

    “I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

    • carolyn Morton { 01.12.12 at 10:42 pm }

      obviously not a student of history then. The Munich Agreement and the Treaty of Versailles were “compassionate” and meant to avoid further war–it only lead to more and more horrific war. It is fine for us, in the west, to be so naive and silly I guess…but I expected more from the comments here.

  196. Arthur Kranz { 05.04.11 at 4:35 am }

    Hatred is unhealthy. Bin Laden hated a lot. I do not. Yes, we killed him. There really was no choice as you said. We were clearly in an “us or them” situation and if we didn’t kill him, he was going to continue to do everything in his power to kill us. However, we did not kill him out of hatred. We killed him out of necessity. And we celebrate not his life of death and destruction nor his death. We celebrate the lives that will be saved by his demise and the brave action of our men and women in uniform. We celebrate their lives and their victory over one who wished and acted to kill them and all of us because of his intolerance of people of other faiths (Buddists included), traditions and lifestyles. Nobody is asking or forcing you to celebrate. How and why do you ask US military personnel and their families who make great sacrifices not to celebrate their victory and their safe return from a dangerous mission? I must peacefully disagree with anybody that this is not an occasion to celebrate. One of things that I love about America is the Freedom to peaceful disagree with each other. You will not find that in oppression fundamentalist Islamic regimes envisioned by Bin Laden, especially as a woman. US military personal make personal sacrifices, including the ultimate sacrifice of their lives to preserve those freedoms that you and I enjoy daily. I think they and their families who make such large sacrifices for us deserve to celebrate their victories. Others may feel no need to celebrate, but should not judge negatively those who do.

  197. jamming on revenge { 05.04.11 at 5:10 am }

    the part where you said you wouldnt just give us your opinion you just gave us your opinion

  198. Maggie { 05.04.11 at 5:52 am }

    This post is a thoughtful viewpoint that I completely agree with.

    I think it is well understood that the death of Osama bin Laden was necessary in many ways because the situation did not allow for peaceful coexistence between him and us. I understand that atrocities and the pain his has inflicted upon the world, so I do understand some people feeling like that he is only reaping when he has sown.

    But you’re right, the jubilance of the crowds should not come from a vengeance like this. Like us all, he was only human.

    I wish we could see such widespread celebration over the love and unity of the world instead of one small “victory” in this war.

    Thank you for sharing.

  199. Susan { 05.04.11 at 5:54 am }

    jamming: I said I wasn’t going to give my opinion about whether Buddhists should ever condone killing, but I was going to give my opinion on whether or not there is a way to kill your enemy that leads to peace rather than more violence.

  200. Susan { 05.04.11 at 5:57 am }

    Zews, you miss my point. I am glad OBL is gone, just like everyone else. But to think this is a cause for celebration is a mistake. To “let the kids yell” is, to me, like saying “let the kids make themselves into targets for yet more evil” or “let the kids make believe that our suffering is the only one that matters.”

    We need to take a more grown-up view, in my opinion.

  201. Susan { 05.04.11 at 6:00 am }

    Arthur, I’m not judging those that are celebrating. Celebrating is good, as is relief and pride in our government and armed forces. What is not so good is a feeling of vengefulness or hatred or dividing the world into us and them. What is not so good is thinking that we’ve scored a victory over the problems that got us into this situation in the first place.

  202. Susan { 05.04.11 at 6:02 am }

    Unfortunately, that MLK quote is only partially accurately attributable to him. But it is fully accurate in sentiment.

  203. penny { 05.04.11 at 6:16 am }

    i don’t understand why people have to laugh or be happy about it…what happened to humanity?

  204. James { 05.04.11 at 7:55 am }

    It has shocked, but not surprised, me to see people in the streets celebrating. I really liked these thoughts – its nice to hear a bit of humanity and simple common sense. I just wished more people would think like this – open their minds to actually what is going on in this world, the bigger picture – and realise they are being manipulated by the people with power and money. I hope more people will wake up – although I still get sucked in now and again, I have come to realise what we need is a world based on human cooperation, giving and love, not driven by money, power and greed.

  205. Fran { 05.04.11 at 8:30 am }

    As the world becomes smaller and smaller we become more a nuclear family than distant relatives. Surely it is time we act compassionately for ourselves, our families and our neighbors. There are so many dilemnas that we face as a world that can only be solved by joining hands, hearts and minds. Be considerate of the people whose lives you impact everyday with your smile or your words and make it a point to make a difference. I appreciate the messages above and am happy to share the same feelings and ideas you’ve expressed. Also remember reactions can be knee-jerk and contagious. Many people who celebrate in the streets simply aren’t been mindful.

  206. Eric_RoM { 05.04.11 at 9:06 am }

    A lot of huffy people lacking the reading comprehension they sorely need: if a commenter is all defensive about this innocuous post they need to examine themselves more clearly, and quit projecting what they’d do in the author’s place.

  207. Brian { 05.04.11 at 9:29 am }

    It’s a shame the comments and editorial on this page are so condescending and simplistic. Despite what you think, that man was evil, and has consistently shown that nothing would have ever stopped him from continuing terrorism. He was personally responsible for the deaths of more than 10,000 individuals and likely would have continued in some way if his life did not end. The end of his life alsmost certainly disrupts their regime and avoids a media a circus that would have certinly created more terrorism. While I would probably consider myself a pacifist, there are no absolutes in life, and there are times when force is necessary.

    Although it is a trite example, political leaders clearly tried to pacify Hitler in the 30s and were unsuccessful, and the result was the death of more than 10 million innocent civilians. History has showed us numerous other examples as well. And unlike the situations faced by MLK or Ghandi, it is difficult to preach nonviolence when faced with an individual attempting mass murder who has shown he is not open to reason. While I disagree with rejoice in the actual killing of anyone, I do feel it is appropriate to rejoice the removal of evil from our world, and the possibility of increasing safety for innocent civilians in public places, airports, etc… Your criticism of others’ rejoice is arrogant and insensitive.

    • Susan { 05.04.11 at 9:52 am }

      Again, I am in no way saying that it was wrong to kill bin Laden. Please try to hear me say that.

      Arrogant and insensitive is not what I’m after here, nor who I am, except when I can’t help it because I’m simply one puny human being trying to make sense of a very complex situation in a way that leaves my heart open, even–or especially–to people who accuse me of what I don’t intend.

      All I’m saying is that if we could use bin Laden’s death as a chance to grow more compassionate rather than more arrogant, that would be great.

  208. Sharon Vreeland { 05.04.11 at 9:49 am }

    Thank you for writing this. It says what I have been feeling but unable to express the way I wanted to.

  209. Dot Hall Hanlon { 05.04.11 at 10:05 am }

    We are humans with different sets of data….meaning how we process various experiences. Let’s all ‘forget’ the data and come to our common place. That is what I see as the goal. We have all experienced something ……9/11, death of Bin Laden, and the awareness of waking up this morning….regardless of how we process any of that…it’s up to us to make today meaningful for all.

  210. Brian { 05.04.11 at 10:42 am }

    I understand what your are saying, but it is arrogant, and condescending to Americans. The basis behind your commments is the assumption that people’s emotions are rooted in hate, which is incorrect. How you can separate people’s rejoice in the exit of this evil and possible increased safety with violence rooted in hatred is beyond me, because I cannot. I personally did not hate him, nor did I rejoice at his actual killing, but I am joyful that his evil is gone from our world.

  211. SallysueLee { 05.04.11 at 11:02 am }

    My personal intentions are; peace for all mankind, but I also accept the occurrence of ALL things as being in Divine Order. Our history as a species is riddled with ’causes’ for freedom… if the US civil war did not happen.. when would slaves have been freed… if the people in the middle east –today- don’t fight for liberty.. how long before their release from oppression? I only have observations .. we all came here with individual purposes.. some are the ‘warriors’ for our physical freedom… others remain the stalwarts of our mental & spiritual freedom (in the unseen realm of energy).. so let’s each focus on our individual journey according to the urgings of our Spirit… and leave others to do the same… Ripple effects are in play as we speak… because Intelligent Design is at work.

  212. Collin { 05.04.11 at 12:14 pm }

    Susan, your blog brings perfect clarity to the situation from a Buddhist point of view, thank you very, very much. And your follow up comments have further clarified your point very well, having summed up that the killing was necessary and so is reflection, not celebration. I shall celebrate… that your posting is here as a guidepost for those of us with the same desire on the subject but hadn’t the proper way of expressing it.

    Thank you!

  213. Collin { 05.04.11 at 12:24 pm }

    P.S. Also celebrated, is your continued comments reiterating that there is no reason to think his death was wrong, for those that think celebration is necessary now. Thinking such a way, may be out of touch with compassion and may benefit from a perspective that allows compassion in this situation.

    May celebration be from being blinded by hate, which is masked as happiness?

  214. Lise-Ann { 05.04.11 at 12:28 pm }

    A friend of mine met with the PLO one year before 9/11 as part of a “unofficial” peace council: The final report? That no one cared about the rights of Muslims and that often they were denied the right to feed and care for their families. Simple people brought to a boiling point by people not listening or having compassion for their plight. When the planes hit, I was walking by the Hudson north of New York and heard the engines roar of the first plane…and later smelled what can only be likened to as grilled meat floating up the river to the condo I then lived in. The young policeman who lived next door and worked at Ground Zero came home trembling one night saying that, “I have seen things no one should ever see.” Then he would go into his apartment and blast Arrowsmith until his next shift. However, what I have since seen (doesn’t mean I do it 100%:) is that when you are really trying to help people see beyond their “small vision” into a larger one, you are often end up having every button pushed, every emotion evoked–and a lot of anger cast your way for speaking your truth: And that is the path of the true warrior…laying your heart open so that it may be pierced by someone’s fear and frustration when they cannot yet accept that the world is not predictable and free of suffering–that there are those who cannot find their way to seeing each of us as sentient beings both precious and valued. Thank you, Susan, for being that brave voice/warrior (ironic term, but true) as you “fight” to keep the eyes of love open in this world. I think it is a wonderful thing that so much is being evokedin this blog and laid at the altar of being human…frail, imperfect and suffering. Just as Osama certainly did in his own human way. Just as we all will continue to suffer if we inflict harm on each other…and ourselves… when we turn off our compassion and shut down our ability to have unconditional goodwill toward all on this planet. This is not wimpiness…this does not mean approval for harm done…but this is our only hope for salvation and sanity in a quickly changing world dynamic. Thank you, thank you. Maitri.

  215. Anders { 05.04.11 at 12:32 pm }

    I just found this Martin Luther King quote, that has its roots in the wisdom you are touching – just for the support of more light and less darkness: “I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

    –Martin Luther King, Jr.

  216. Nancy Voorhoeve { 05.04.11 at 12:36 pm }

    As a Zen priest I have watch my responced to the action caused the other night. I live out side the US and often look at the international news and its responce to the US. We, I am a US citizen, can not aford to be so arrogant. We are only a small part of this universe, if only we could understand this. Thank you for speaking up. you were right on, when you said how sad it was for us not to feel sorrow for others. This only reflects back to us

  217. Maria Brophy { 05.04.11 at 12:48 pm }

    Susan, I was so relieved to get your e-blast today, addressing this! I thought I was the only person who was feeling sadness at how our country is turning into that which they hate.

    I couldn’t talk to anyone about it, either, because I am the minority here.

    Am I glad he’s dead? It makes no difference to me. There are others just stepping into his shoes right now. There are more like him.

    Am I horrified at the violent thinking we have adopted from our enemies? Yes. and saddened and worried.

    I do not want our children to be taught what our enemies’ children are taught – KILL those you see as bad, then do the “death dance” with exuberance!

    I do not want to see us become that which we despise.

    We need to be the change we wish to see in the world. (Someone wonderful said that once…)

  218. Sommer { 05.04.11 at 12:52 pm }

    I couldn’t disagree with this more. It is easy for a person who has not been personally affected by this kind of violence to preech this. But if it was your husband, wife or child that had fallen victim to a man like OBL you would celebrate the end of his evil and rejoice in the fact that another family would not suffer his torture. And that would be normal.
    Suggesting that it’s insensetive for us to celebrate his death is interesting considering he would NEVER have done the same for us. It’s ignorant to believe for a moment that you can show brotherhood and compassion to an enemy who will only ever want to see harm done unto you. We all want world peace… but I’m a realist.

    • Susan { 05.04.11 at 1:25 pm }

      Sommer, I would be so happy if you read my blog post of today. I truly do not intend to dismiss anyone’s suffering. I know that compassion is the only way to create peace and we have to be brave enough to try it. Otherwise, we’re in for a world of (more) hurt. I’m a realist.

  219. Joan Z. Rough { 05.04.11 at 1:06 pm }

    Susan, This is quite a conversation you’ve got going here and I believe it is a good thing. I am with you all the way. I woke up yesterday morning and felt so totally alone in my feelings. Then I read your post. Thank you for speaking out. Too many of us don’t because we’re afraid of the judgements that often take us down. I think all of us have the right to react to situations in the way that makes us feel better about acts of violence and other dreadful acts … except for adding hatred and more violence to the situation. My biggest hope is that we can express ourselves with dignity and respect for those of differing opinions. We all need to listen carefully to those around us who do not agree with our own stand, just as we need those around us to listen to what we believe. There is healing in that and the Buddha knows how badly we need that in this country right now. Again, Thanks!

  220. EB { 05.04.11 at 1:14 pm }

    Susan, thank you for writing something thoughtful and necessary. Also, I commend you on keeping this discussion open and ongoing, it’s an important one. A series of books rivalling the Encyclopedia Brittanica could be written on the many intelligent questions that are being brought up here, and I am so relieved to see so many thinking people voicing their hearts and mind. Conversely, it is frustrating to read a lot of the ignorant and naive bits that inevitably surface in the comments’ section of most blogs. But, I welcome those too because they point to the real problem>> we need to listen more, ask ourselves more questions, talk a little, and then….listen some more.

    OBL death has not exacted any kind of justice. The killing of one man does nothing to eradicate the evil seeds he has planted in the minds of followers around the world; it does nothing to bring back the innocent people that died on 9/11 (an event that we are far too quick to believe was orchestrated by one man and his henchmen); and it doesn’t leave me feeling warmer and cozier in bed at night. I also do not protest anyone’s right to celebrate what they perceive as a ‘rightdoing’ in killing a man that entire nations have projected their collective feelings of injustice, grief, anxiety and terror onto.

    What really bugs me isn’t that he was killed; it’s that people believe this is somehow justice. If so, what a completely perverted sense of justice this is.

    Do a happy dance if you must, but please, don’t expect me to participate.

    The ‘War on Terror’ is far from over.

  221. Susan { 05.04.11 at 1:30 pm }

    To Joan and others who have encouraged this full, rich, deeply-felt, contentious, confusing, good hearted and occasionally bitchy but ultimately awesome conversation: thank you, thank you, thank you. Thank you.

  222. Lisa { 05.04.11 at 1:32 pm }

    I’ve read all 252 comments and I’m encouraged by the conversations your post has stirred up in so many, Susan. I have been in an unnameable funk the past couple days and I feel somehow comforted knowing others are struggling with a mix of emotions just as I am. One would like to believe that thousands of years of war, hate, and revenge would show us, teach us, prove to us they are not the means for lasting peace, compassion and love for all on this planet. I am glad this man is no longer in our world and I’m not celebrating. I am deeply disturbed to see people rejoicing as though the U.S.A. just won the World Cup. We didn’t win anything. The madness will continue as long as people accept and perpetuate an us vs them mentality. Can we ever look at one another and know we are one and the same? I don’t know, but I hope we keep trying.

    • Susan { 05.04.11 at 1:38 pm }

      Lisa, bless your heart for reading through all of these amazing comments and I too am encouraged by the dialog.

  223. REALLY?! { 05.04.11 at 2:46 pm }

    I think you all need to refresh yourselves as to what happened on September 11, 2001. Take a look at the photos of people so terrified that they were willing to leap out the windows of a skyscraper—mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, friends—all of our brave firefighters, police and citizens that lost their lives. And remind yourself of all of the freedoms that you have because our brave and selfless soldiers are out there protecting it everyday. That’s what is being celebrated—the his death is a symbol for our continued freedom, a freedom that many have given their lives for. Seriously, wake up.

  224. Maria Brophy { 05.04.11 at 2:51 pm }

    Our enemies teach their children the same things….

    Hatred, anger, revenge (different stories, same results).

    • Susan { 05.04.11 at 2:53 pm }

      Exactly, Maria.

  225. Susan { 05.04.11 at 2:52 pm }

    Believe me, I remember. In no way am I intending to minimize the terror and sorrow and suffering that was experienced, nor do I mean to disregard that so many laid their lives down to protect me and you.

    Seriously, I’m trying to wake up. And possibly to help others wake up to the idea of compassion so that we can avoid future 9/11s. REALLY.

  226. Wesley Davis { 05.04.11 at 2:54 pm }

    “Because I know it’s the only way to stay alive—in the only kind of world I want to inhabit,” I love how you phrased this whole paragraph! Each of us has to choose to rededicate ourself to brotherhood. Thank you!

  227. Ven. Ajahn David Chutiko { 05.04.11 at 3:00 pm }

    Susan, one of my meditation students brought your blog to my attention yesterday morning. Although
    I have been aware of this phenomena, at her suggestion, I read with great interest this blog which I consider to be the best use of “social media.” I decided to enter into the mix as a matter of the heart and not as an intellectual pursuit. What is at issue here is a matter so grave that it behoves one to rely more on the right hemisphere, of the brain of course, rather that the left, in an attempt to gain insights as how to get there from here. If you and your followers have yet to read Jill Bolte Taylor’s My Stroke of Insight, I could not recommend more highly that you do. By the way, Dr. Taylor is a brain scientist at Harvard and is not a Buddhist that I am aware of. Thank you for who you are and what you do.

  228. Barbara { 05.04.11 at 3:06 pm }

    These feelings are not mutually exclusive. I can feel the deep sorrow and grief at what happened on 9/11 and also feel sorrow for all of us that we even have a “war on terror”. What a sad situation for all of us. I am not saying that we didn’t need to “kill” bin Laden. I am just saying that for me it is not a celebration. It is a sad day that we have to eliminate someone from this Earth. Thank you, Susan, for this post. Thank you Lisa (above a few posts) for saying what I have been feeling. With love to the world, Barbara

  229. Brian { 05.04.11 at 3:19 pm }

    The issue is the assertion that people’s rejoice is rooted in hate. Their emotions are too complex to be defined by hate alone and in this situation it is almost offensive to offer a condescending tone to those rejoicing when you clearly do not understand their psyche.

    It is clear nonviolence is a superior answer in most situations and that we should not think of ourselves as “us and them”, but unfortunately this situation and situations like it are much more complex than that advice is designed to handle. It is not adequate to continue to say “we have to think of ourselves as one and not spead violence or hate” repeatedly. That advice is too simple for this situation.

    • Susan { 05.04.11 at 3:23 pm }

      “The issue is the assertion that people’s rejoice is rooted in hate.” I think you’re right. I hope I didn’t assert that. I agree that the emotions are too complex for such black and white thinking and I appreciate you pointing it out.

  230. Chris { 05.04.11 at 3:45 pm }

    Sadhu! Sadhu! Sadhu!

  231. Chris { 05.04.11 at 3:49 pm }

    Different people will have felt differently at the news. Indeed, two people chanting and pumping fists in the air right next to each other might be doing so with a different mix of emotions and intents.

    My experience of people on the whole, and particularly with peoples’ comments over the past few days, is that in most there is at least some aspect of hatred, or of joy in the death of another. It is this which I think Susan is pointing to.

    To those of you who were rejoicing with a completely wholesome mindset – well, I think you have a lot to teach the rest of us!

  232. ALEX { 05.04.11 at 4:34 pm }

    I think all of you are Stupid!!!! After what they did to use on 911 and you can say things like that and that our enemy is not one person or country or belief system, that is why they hit use because the way we live and our beliefs and to me it should be a Holiday and we are not cheering for his death we are cheering for all the people that HE KILLED because there familys finally have justice and before you write about things like this you should thank god that he is gone and that our people fight for people like you so you can wake up another day!!!!!!

  233. Susan { 05.04.11 at 4:38 pm }

    Personally, I am very grateful he is gone. I think everyone else is too.

  234. Rob { 05.04.11 at 5:59 pm }

    It is tragic that he had to be killed and that we had to participate in the tragedy. That it was necessary and inevitable makes it more — not less — tragic. I don’t mourn bin Laden; I mourn our fallenness.

  235. Nathan J. { 05.04.11 at 6:32 pm }

    I was one spoke out immediately on Facebook regarding people’s celebratory status updates. I was very sad to see people acting like they had won the lottery. I spoke out and received a lot of backlash because of it. But I received some support to that I am very grateful for. I can handle the backlash. It’s what happens when you step outside the norm and take a different view. I am very grateful to have come across this blog and all the wonderful comments. I pray that others will begin to awake to the reality of life instead of living behind unconscious walls.

    Love,

    Nate

  236. barking pumpkin { 05.04.11 at 11:52 pm }

    The typical kneejerk reaction of REALLY! and ALEX (probably the same caps-on person) is to be expected, and I’m sure Susan allowed those to be posted partly because they were probably less inflammatory than a host of others that are shocked that people would actually have a discussion such as this. Regardless, or maybe in full regard of that kind of lower-brain stem fear-based paradigm, I’m not shedding any tears, that’s for certain, the red-blooded American in me wanted him dead or alive, yet now that he is dead at the hands of our Jedi, I think we can help raise the awareness quotient by doing this: Last night, I said a little Tibetan-inspired prayer for Osama Bin Laden’s soul to find liberation from suffering, because obviously he was full of suffering and hate. Simple. As I was saying this, I could psychically feel an almost palpable wave of calm in our planetary consciousness. Maybe it was just me, yet I feel that this, acknowledging that he and all Jihadists are ultimately suffering while causing suffering in so many ways and praying for their liberation is win-win situation. If we can show compassion from this level, then we can make some strides in healing this irrational anger and fear (maybe for some boneheaded Americans too). Namaste and Mahalo.

  237. michael { 05.05.11 at 12:44 am }

    Susan, thank you for a beautiful and insightful post. While I accept that his death was necessary and feel relief that he is gone, I am keenly aware that if we are all really connected; if our separateness is an illusion, then we don’t get to waive that because it’s Osama bin Laden. Gleefully celebrating a killing is feeding energy that I don’t personally want to feed. Let’s move forward in love.

  238. Richard { 05.05.11 at 1:50 am }

    Thank You , I was very confused and conflicted as to why I felt the way I did. Your post helped me feel better. I’m still a little sad that some people don’t understand what you’re trying to say. But again thank you.

  239. Robin Frisella { 05.05.11 at 5:34 am }

    A beautiful post. Thank you. I will repost on my facebook page, and hope that others do the same. Hopefully, many people will read and have reason to think, or re-think; it may just add some peaceful energy to our world!

  240. Mark Brady { 05.05.11 at 7:15 am }

    I found myself overcome with great sadness at the announcement of Osama Bin Laden’s apparent assassination. And I felt quite alone in that sentiment. The sadness had many threads and when I pulled them apart a bit, two things I discovered were shame and hopelessness. Shame because I know there’s an Osama Bin Laden who lives in me, in my heart. I have felt oppressed and victimized and longed for revenge. I have even acted some of it out.

    I also felt shame for my country which decides that it can suspend the Rule of Law any time it feels righteous justification, that it can violate the primary central spiritual commandment with impunity. Such actions trigger the hopeless feeling.

    I also felt sadness for the men who carried out that assassination. They have altered their own karma in ways that will affect them spiritually forever.

  241. Margherite Williams { 05.05.11 at 9:17 am }

    Thank you, Susan. I strive daily for the sense of rightness that your post projects. All I felt at the time of Bin Laden’s assassination was a sense of dismay and inevitability, the same response I had to Bush’s declaration of war against Saddam Hussein. I can’t remain with dismay and inevitability, because it turns rapidly to dread. Your words and many of the comments help.

  242. Alexander { 05.05.11 at 11:26 am }

    From 288 comments I read almost 280 and I will continue to read it. So, to whom it may concern:

    Buddhism is based on realism (instead of belief), real observation and realistic understanding of human’s nature, thus the Dharma is been taught exactly to wake up.

    Psychologically it’s realistic as well to expect that some of us disagree and some of the commentators are repeatedly missing Susan’s point, especially those who think she “forgot” 9/11.

    That “it’s normal” for people to show there relief and to rejoice such a necessary and therefore tragic action which is an assassination on foreign territory by breaking international laws and in addition creating karma… that this is “normal” that’s the true point of uncomfortable feelings, sadness, hopelessness, shame and so on. Buddhism is looking for an alternative mindset to that “normality”. To go beyond this old fashioned “normality” of behavior is the aim of Buddhism’s psychology and view of life.

    In addition, as non-American, I wonder how many commentators here say “we killed” him, as a part of the US collective. But at the same time I am glad to see how express their individual inner voice – even though they may get in opposition to the “normal” habit of the social collective.

  243. Alexander { 05.05.11 at 11:30 am }

    correction at the end: … how many express…

  244. Alexander { 05.05.11 at 12:06 pm }

    p.s. “we are cheering for all the people that HE KILLED because there familys *finally have justice* – sorry, beside of a very different understanding of “justice” this statement is as unrealistic as superficial as old fashioned.

    Susan, please, excuse my misspelling and do not hesitate to merge my comments in one!

  245. Carlb { 05.05.11 at 12:43 pm }

    Why was OBL so bent on attacking US? He saw us as invaders of Islamic land, killing vast numbers of people in our various wars (and support of wars) and bringing an unholy culture to degrade a holy one. We repeated behaviors in Afghanistan that had been tried by numerous, war-making countries who attacked for various reasons, the major being controlling mid-east oil to fund gluttonous, consuming societies. Ironically, the CIA trained OBL to rebel against the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan—and OBL used those techniques against us when we invaded Afghanistan. Unfortunately for us, OBL’s strategic approach insures a continued jihad well beyond his lifetime. Tragically, we will be passing this war of terror to our children and their children. Consider all the US war-making dollars and “friendly dictator” payments made in the past 20 – 30 years throughout the Islamic world. What if those US dollars had been invested in building schools, hospitals, infrastructure, and improved agricultural techniques with one purpose: help those less fortunate–no strings attached. Would radical Islamic people still want to destroy the US?

  246. barking pumpkin { 05.05.11 at 1:30 pm }

    These are two interesting articles addressing some of the issues (and some of the posts by a few people posting are perfect examples!)

    http://www.thenation.com/article/160405/end-bad-guys
    http://www.thenation.com/blog/160408/shut-and-play-patriotism-jock-culture-and-limits-free-speech

    One grand silver lining of this event is that it is giving many many people the impetus to reflect. It’s also, of course, bringing some people to light in how much they cannot reflect, or perhaps, feel compelled to attack those who do reflect and ask tough questions. That’s ok too, as it kind of forces your hand. From everything I’ve seen of interviews with people in the military or people with loved ones lost on 9/11, this is not a time to boast and swagger. Those days died with the Iraq War. War has an uncanny ability to humble people, for better or for worse. There will always, it seems, be a segment of the American population that just doesn’t get it or want to get it; they think war is a sport (and therefore the politics behind whether to make war or not). This is a carry over from the Cold War, which, of course, was not a real war, yet, which had many proxy wars and many American escapades into military stupidity and bravado (like Vietnam, Panama, Grenada).

    I’ll say this again, we ought to be celebrating that this was a precision operation that utilized force to a minimum instead of dropping a 500 ton bomb with no regard for “collateral” damage. We also ought to be celebrating the fact that Obama and his Administration, in marked contrast to BushCo, values real intelligence and makes decisions based on real intelligence rather than made up intelligence to suit their agenda. I see this as an evolutionary step to a more liberal view of the world, one that isn’t afraid of complexity (shiites, suunis, kurds, what are those?) and that will with time assert humanitarian values as being crucial to US foreign policy. I think already out military is getting a breath of fresh air, seeing the road ahead increasingly freed up from the fear-based lower-brain stem dogma setting our strategy since the Korean War toward one which will be superior at assessing threats from shadows.

  247. Kate Bacon { 05.05.11 at 3:42 pm }

    Hi Susan

    Jasmine from All Is Listening pointed me to your post. Your words are a blessed relief in the online mele surrounding Osama Bin Laden’s killing this week.

    Our enemy is our delusions and we need to fight this inner demon not supposed enemies outside of ourselves. I remember a Buddhist teaching I attended right after 9/11 when I was living in Seattle – our teacher reminded us of this point as a way to separate the person from the delusion. The nature of every living being is purity, unfortunately we tend to focus on these negative states of mind which obscure our true nature, like clouds obscuring the blue sky.

    Peace can only come from within…it is our job to develop this ourselves – only then will the world change.

    Take care

    Kate x

  248. Arthur Kranz { 05.05.11 at 5:28 pm }

    CNN ran a story yesterday about the Dalai Lama’s answer to a question about Bin Laden’s death by a student attending his speech recently. When asked about Bin Laden, he responded compassionately, thoughtfully and practically. He expressed no remorse about Bin Laden’s death and saw it as a practical matter that people need to take practical action to protect themselves from people that would mean them harm. I will post the link when I can. He is a very wisen Buddist with a lot experience and common sense given the atrocities experienced in Tibet.

  249. Arthur Kranz { 05.05.11 at 5:51 pm }

    From a non-duality perspective, there is really no evil or good. That is a dichotomy perspective. Many great thinkers have stated that the only constant in the universe is change. I think that we call the changes we love, good, and the changes we hate, evil. So the only way to fight evil is to lessen hate. Hate was unhealthy for Bin Laden and for all of us! Hopefully, this will be a time of healing for Americans who have suffered losses. President Obama has been a very thoughtful leader at this time, asking people to celebrate in moderation, but not to hate Muslims. I also agree with his decision not to release gory pictures of a dead Bin Laden as some sort of hunting trophy.

  250. Barbara { 05.05.11 at 6:10 pm }

    Here is one link to that story that Arthur just reported: http://blogs.wsj.com/indiarealtime/2011/05/05/dalai-lama-in-bin-laden-quandary/.
    You may have to copy and paste this into your browser.

    What I get from this story and what I feel is that sometimes it is necessary to do something about someone. It seems that “intention” is what matters. If you are doing it for the wellbeing of others, for their safety, then it might be necessary. So, can you kill someone and still have compassion for them and all those whom he/she harmed? As he says, we don’t forget what happened in order to forgive. My feeling is that if we really allow the feelings that we have to arise, and feel them fully, dropping the story, they will transform into perhaps fear and then sadness and then compassion. Earlier I said that I didn’t rejoice in his death. I felt it was necessary and am glad he won’t be orchestrating more killings. At the same time, I have compassion for all those whom he killed and for him, as well. for OBL to have done all that, he had to have been in great fear. In addition, we all need to be aware of that OBL part of us that is capable of harming others and not project out onto one guy, saying he is the “evil” one. It is both: an inside job of accepting our own capacity for harm AND an outside job of protecting ourselves. Everything is “both, and” not either, or.

  251. Mark Brady { 05.05.11 at 6:19 pm }

    I can guarantee that the OBL story is WAY more complicated than any of us here in America will ever know. The only things I know about him I know from mainstream news and government dispatches, hardly unbiased in their reporting.

    And there’s a big difference between “protecting ourselves from someone,” and murdering them in cold blood. I often find myself wondering what Martin Luther King Junior would have advised Obama to do.

  252. Gabi { 05.05.11 at 8:47 pm }

    It is heartening and refreshing to know that attitudes like this exist as I have found myself overwhelmed by so many hate-driven and vengeful comments on noticeboards around the U.S. that have saddened and angered me.

    Susan, thank you for presenting a balanced and grounded side to all the craziness. It gives me hope to read comments such as yours, along with all the remarks on readers feeling the same.

    The main problem I have is not with the act itself (taking out Bin Laden) but the self-congratulatory attitudes and vengeful stances people have taken on it. Instead of bringing people together in peace or love, it feels like it’s bringing them together in hatred and retribution.

    I look forward to more posts and commentary like yours to reassure me that there are still people in the world who don’t relish violence, revenge and anger as a way of life.

  253. Alexander { 05.05.11 at 9:41 pm }

    It’s interesting to see the reaction in Germany. Chancellor Merkel who – maybe analogue to Obama – is very appreciated in abroad but very criticized in the own country expressed her great joy about OBL’s killing in an instant statement on the same day. By doing so in such an early stage, before some important but mixed details of the action were released, she showed probably not only her own feelings but intent to please the US administration. She is now facing a lot of unhappy and serious reactions not only from the media but from the leaders of different churches, including Jewish and Muslim organizations, and even from some voices from her own party as well. Remember the immediate commentary published by the Vatican which I personally didn’t expect from that side.

  254. Lance { 05.05.11 at 9:52 pm }

    Susan,
    This is so beautifully written. And I’m especially drawn to this idea of brotherhood. And for me – it’s also in remembering that I have never walked in his footsteps…so how can I know what it’s been like to live his life…

    Much peace,
    Lance

  255. Bill { 05.06.11 at 12:18 am }

    I practice the buddah faith but have to disagree with you. I did not like the celebration but thought it was right to put a bullet in his head. You may think differently if you had lost a loved one in the twin towers or he blew up your child. I know it won’t bring those people back but karma caught up to this man. He has done many terrible things to end up in this life form and perhaps he will learn the next time around. No amount of meditation or good vibes would help this man. Many more would of been slaughtered. He will get his chance to redeem himself but I fear his next life will be a horrible experience, but over time he will figure it out. The fish are happy, they have a fine meal.

    • Susan { 05.06.11 at 5:12 am }

      bill, I don’t disagree with his death, moe do I lack empathy. my post is about compassion, not whether or not we should have killed bin laden.

      • Maia Duerr / The Liberated Life Project { 05.12.11 at 6:21 pm }

        The thing is, this chain of events actually did not start with bin Laden. His actions were in response to what he perceived as an aggressive U.S. military presence in the Middle East, which is a consequence of our country’s need for oil. I’m not saying any of this makes what bin Laden did okay… just saying it’s part of a much larger web of cause and effect.

  256. Adman { 05.06.11 at 1:19 am }

    From a european point of view, the celebration of the death of Osama is considered extremely strange, perhaps even barbaric. People weren’t celebrating justice, they were celebrating revenge. The death of ONE man. Does anyone really believe that the death of Osama will change anything? Also, the news footage from the celebration looked depressingly similar to those pictures of people celebrating the destruction of the twin towers.

    It’s really hard to understand the celebration. I can understand the necessarity of killing Osama, but people shouldn’t be happy because of the death of the man. They should acknowledge his death, but because it won’t change the past, they should also restrain themselves.

    Sadly, nothing brings the dead back.

  257. Mark Brady { 05.06.11 at 6:08 am }

    I find it both interesting and disturbing that so many people take it as a given that Osama Bin Laden deserved to die. Anytime I find myself holding similar sentiments about ANYONE, I am 100 % convinced I am having a bout of Distorted Thinking (http://www.committedparent.com/Distortion.html).

    Not only that, but I’m wondering how many of us would hold that sentiment if we were the ones elected to pull the trigger?

    Finally, I’m pretty convinced that Osama Bin Laden was assassinated for more reasons than we know. Mostly, the Rule of Law was suspended, I suspect, because of the many dark secrets any Trial of Osama Bin Laden would have told the world about America. The world is very complex and any notions about it that are black and white or right and wrong are almost always distortions and incomplete.

  258. Arthur Kranz { 05.06.11 at 6:14 am }

    Socrates said: ” I know nothing except the fact of my ignorance.” I agree. I don’t know you or anybody else well enough to advice them personally on how to observe this occasion. I can only speak for myself. As a Jewish American, I celebrated our troops’s victory and safe return from a dangerous and brave military operation, and our survival. Bin Laden’s wives, his children and his followers surely mourned his death. We all have different needs and paths. At best, I can say follow your heart and understand others are following their hearts too.

  259. Joe Niederberger { 05.06.11 at 9:46 am }

    Of course there was a choice. It is now utterly obvious that he could have been taken alive, very easily. Your story is flawed.
    Recognizing our choice is the beginning of wisdom.

  260. Eadaoin { 05.06.11 at 10:58 am }

    Thank you for writing this, you’ve put into words how I was feeling about this whole affair. I am not an American citizen, I live in Ireland, but I was just as much horrified and saddened as anyone in the US after 9/11. But you are right, the idea of retribution for those that died through even more violence is incredibly unsettling and almost empty – the celebratory news that they had killed Bin Laden left me feeling a little dispair at the cycles of brutality our societies seem to be stuck in. Thanks again for such a well expressed post x

  261. Heather Philipp { 05.06.11 at 11:44 am }

    Susan, thank you for this open-hearted, candid response to this moment in time. I whole-heartedly agree that celebrating is the last thing that is helpful in response to this, as if vengeance is a triumph when, as you seem to be saying, the desire for vengeance and the feeding of such a feeling is a sad problem. And as Mark has well put, even the event itself is shrouded in all sorts of cloaked intentions. Getting swept up in the mob mentality is rarely, if ever, a way to open the heart and create true peace and so one this day and the ones following I have felt quite sad. Thank you for so clearly describing what I imagine many of us felt and still feel but have not fully understood and are still learning.

    Best,
    Heather

  262. vbaba { 05.06.11 at 10:22 pm }

    I felt more sadness that the masses so easily accept and believe what they heard on the news is the truth. That to me is more scary than alleged terrorists.

  263. Margot-deepa Slater { 05.07.11 at 12:17 am }

    How sad I am for the majority of Americans, immersed in their dogmatic, patriotic, naivety. Your Government/s been supplying arms & weaponry to dictators, supporting them financially, training their armies and then; finding reasons to go to war with them and eventually killing their people. Do you recall the weapons of mass destruction scam? If you as a country do not acknowledge or know your history, you are doomed to keep repeating it. All in the name of God, democracy & world peace.

    Who & what is the definition of a terrorist? Read about your nation’s war history since WW2, the CIA, their allies, their atrocities in covert wars, greed & murderous plunder. Are they any less treacherous or murderous than the Bin Laden’s of the world? In several thousand years, humans have not yet learned the real meaning of the acceptance of another’s differences, forgiveness, tempering of greed and lust, or compassion. Culture breeds bigotry. We are no better or worse than they are. Yet we blame them, for their behaviors in retaliation to our behaviors and we retaliate again to theirs. It never ends.

    The story after 9/11 was……. when we get rid of Bin Laden the world will be a safer place. Is it safer now? Or will it be unsafer because of this retaliatory action? Only a fool would agree with your statesman who are brainwashed war mongers, your economy thrives on the sale of weaponry and war. No one can save another from their blind stupidity and need for revenge.

  264. JoeTaxpayer { 05.07.11 at 12:20 am }

    When Moses and his people crossed the Red Sea during the Exodus from Egypt and the waters rushed back drowning the Egyptians in pursuit, the angels sang songs of praise and God reprimanded them saying “My creatures are dying and you would sing songs of praise to me?” This was the thought that crossed my mind as I heard those who cheered at the White House gates.

  265. huxley { 05.07.11 at 1:04 am }

    The “celebrations” were a few thousand people in front of the White House and a few thousand people in Times Square. I imagine the participants experienced a range of emotions and motives from relief to hate to patriotism to giddiness to youthful ebullience to revenge to closure. It looked pretty human to me. If you didn’t feel like grabbing a flag and going into the streets to cheer, fine. No big deal either way.

    However, I don’t find the impulse of many Europeans and apparently Buddhists to express their judgments about the demonstrations all that sensitive or admirable.

    If Susan and other Buddhists wish to examine their responses to Bin Laden’s death and the subsequent “celebrations,” they might want to include classic egoistic posturing of spiritual superiority, moral preening, and their likely opposition to the war on terrorism and disappointment that the policies of President Bush were in some measure successful.

  266. Margot-deepa Slater { 05.07.11 at 6:59 am }

    Asa practicing Buddhist, I am not regimented by any dogma. The Buddha in his wisdom said, ” Challenge everything, believe nothing until tested by your own wisdom, compassion and experience. ” I celebrate no person’s death by the hand of another or as a result of cruelty. Revenge does not heal broken minds or hearts. As a result of our inability to live together peacefully and cooperatively, ultimately we will destroy ourselves. We will destroy the environment of which we are mere custodians of and it will cease to support us, unless we change everything about the selfish and greedy ways in which we live. It is up to us now. Each one of us must examine ourselves no one else and change our lives.

  267. Nan { 05.07.11 at 7:29 am }

    Susan, I appreciated your article on Huff Post. Restored my faith in my fellow citizens. Here’s how I felt when I heard the news of OLB’s demise:
    I’m not sad, but not glad, he was someone’s dad, did they think he was bad? They must be sad, so maybe I am sad for them, but not for him.

  268. Mark { 05.07.11 at 10:23 pm }

    killing, revenge for that killing, then revenge on that, then more killing, and more killing for revenge.The spiral of killing continues, like a school-yard spat – ‘you started it, NO you started it, No you started it’
    Killing bin Laden, however odious he was, was part of the problem, not part of the solution. I hang my head in shame that the human race has evolved to such levels of lowness.

  269. dolores { 05.08.11 at 12:18 am }

    The idea that we gain peace by killing has always eluded me.
    Thanks for all the posts. The mixture of feelings seems truly a common thread.
    All of this news, pumped through the ‘bought’ media has me wondering what really happened. We will never know.

    I believe that each sensory part of us which is affected by what we hear, see, feel – in this eternal moment, is of utmost importance to our own welfare. Each of us does the choosing.
    I am with everyone here. It is comforting to know there are many others who are relating to each of us. More sad than anything…and now, to focus on peace.

  270. Mark { 05.08.11 at 5:45 am }

    Hey Delores.
    I think that there are sometimes legitimate reasons for killing for peace – justifiable homicide, as long as it is a last resort. I do not think the killing of bin Laden was a ‘last resort’. But who knows, presumably none of us were there, which means that we have to rely on the media. I hope that this extra judicial killing of bin Laden will not be avenged, but i doubt it. The spiral of killing, from both sides, will continue to the undoubted glee of the arms manufacturers. For me, peace and love are nicer feelings than hate and anger. I wish more people felt the same!

  271. Dave { 05.08.11 at 7:14 am }

    Thanks for the insight.
    Let us pray that it is another thousand years, before we see another this evil.

  272. Ellen { 05.08.11 at 10:16 am }

    Thank you for this posting. I think much of what you said is right on. But I would encourage that we not judge others for their reactions in this extreme situation. When we draw the conclusion that “outpouring of misdirected jubilation” is indeed that, or when we say it comes from gladness or vengefulness….well, we really don’t know. So many have suffered these past ten years, many who have been directly harmed by this violence, many whose lives have been changed forever, too many who have lived in fear…perhaps it is better to search our own hearts, extend lovingkindness to others to do the same, and leave judgement out of it!

    • Susan { 05.08.11 at 11:02 am }

      Agreed. I don’t mean to judge what is in other people’s hearts, just how our collective behavior toward others might impact them.

  273. AliceY { 05.08.11 at 5:02 pm }

    We defiantly should not be celebrating the death of a man but even so, there are still thousands of people who gather in Times Square to party. Though he had done horrible things in his life that can never be forgotten, as a fellow human being, he at least deserves to be treated with a detached sort of respect.

  274. Alexander { 05.08.11 at 10:40 pm }

    Watching the cheer of others as expression of their feelings I don’t think it’s real judgment if Susan, y and many others do express OUR feelings such as uneasiness, wondering, concern, ambivalence, irritation, sorrow, skepticism about black and white view, and this as a result of less collective attachment but more individual discernment. Peace to all !

  275. huxley { 05.10.11 at 10:04 am }

    Alexander: Sure. Your side — and make no mistake, you do have a side from which you and your friends here are likewise cheering and booing– has every right to express itself about other Americans expressing themselves after Bin Laden’s death.

    But I say that if you believe your side is more sensitive, more mature, or more … enlightened … as opposed to just another group of human beings with their particular feelings and attitudes, that is your conceit, your side’s ego in the game.

    Notice that of all the things that your side might have said about current events or the war on terror, this is where you landed: once again lecturing other Americans — in this case about kids letting off steam about Bin Laden’s death.

    Consider that many, if not most, of those demonstrators were children on that bright clear day when the Towers fell and 3000 people were murdered by Bin Laden and his minions. Imagine the fear they felt when they saw those images and saw their parents and teachers likewise horrified and bereft. Remember that for ten years Bin Laden freely taunted and threatened the United States. Now put yourself in the shoes of those children a week ago when this bogeyman of their youth finally met his end. You might want to go out and do some celebrating yourself.

    I hear a lot from my liberal spiritual friends — Christian, New Age and Buddhist — about how one has to go beyond the boundaries between people and find the oneness between us all. Susan herself makes that appeal in the last paragraph of her blog entry. However, I have seen little indication that spiritual liberals can do so when it comes to Americans expressing themselves in conservative or patriotic ways.

    • Susan { 05.11.11 at 3:56 pm }

      I consider myself to be extremely patriotic. I truly believe that ours is the greatest country in the world, in no small part because it is founded on principles of liberty and equality. I celebrate that every day of my life, and give thanks for my rights which I hold precious.

      BTW, there is no such thing, as far as I have seen, as a “spiritual liberal.” There are people who seek to walk the path of kindness, tolerance, and generosity whether or not they hold s0-called liberal, conservative, or no political views.

  276. Dot Hall Hanlon { 05.10.11 at 10:28 am }

    Call each of us what you may….conservative, liberal, …..the bottom line is that none of us liked 9/11 and all of us want our children and children’s children to be safe…..isn’t that really what it’s about. Why do we continue to dispute one another?

  277. barking pumpkin { 05.10.11 at 11:33 am }

    Huxley: “Your side…” “Conservative or patriotic”? Thanks for making the distinction that conservative doesn’t equal patriotic. That’s actually the helpful part of your statement. The rest seems to be incoherent. Who is lecturing whom and where on this subject? I do not see any such lecture anywhere on the web or mainstream media. Perhaps this is your mind playing trick on you? You know, I actually have made statements questioning some the earlier postings that might invalidate the raw emotion that was and is legitimate. If you buy into this whole drama as being the complete story (and don’t look deeper at evidence suggesting it may have been an inside job, which there is when you honestly look at how the towers and neighboring towers fell) I guess you have every right to feel that Bin Laden freely taunted the US (even though he hadn’t been heard from in years) and so he met his proper demise. To say anything else would be unpatriotic, to you. Well, I say, everyone reading this has a right to question everything about this. That is what a free society is all about (and, yes, thanks to our troops that protect us). It’s not patriotic to give up one’s critical thinking capacities, it’s not patriotic to NOT question actions our government take, it’s not patriotic to demand others adopt your point of view lest they be “unpatriotic”.

  278. Alexander { 05.11.11 at 1:52 am }

    Every patriotism is suspicious to me, or it is American, French, German, British, Turkish, Chinese, Korean, Pakistani, Argentinean or else as in general, it’s the beginning of nationalism, often linked to confrontation and does not consider enough the feelings or culture of neighbors and others. My own definition as a human being is rather based on individualism due to my education and the fact that I have ancestors from 4 different countries, grown up in country no 5 with an adoptive mother from country no 6. The families of my sister and my cousins added again 5 more nationalities. And now I am living in a different country from all of these which offers again a different perspective on life. So I used to “put myself in the shoes of others” since my childhood. Of course I did not choose such a situation voluntarily by myself and I do not expect to be shared by others. But this is another story.
    Huxley: when others show their feelings what is wrong to share mine? I don’t think anyone was posting in this blog feel “enlightened”. Lecturing? Booing? You miss the point to remind again on 9-11. The sorrow and compassion for those who suffered was never in question. But after having “put myself in the shoes of those” I have to walk again in my own shoes what doesn’t mean to ignore the others. This is life and has to be handled in an individual and responsible way. Not more but not less.

    • Susan { 05.11.11 at 3:57 pm }

      “The sorrow and compassion for those who suffered was never in question.” Thank you for pointing that out.

  279. gps jammer { 05.16.11 at 1:45 am }

    Good news of course, but were the deaths of so many innocent Afghan and Pakistani civilians worth it? It was the meddling of foreign powers that created Al Qaeda in the first place. Maybe we can learn a lesson and stop being so imperialistic, but I guess not. Our politicians will carry on working in the interests of the rich and powerful.
    gps jammer http://www.espow.com/wholesale-security-surveillance-jammer.html

  280. Luna { 05.17.11 at 1:25 pm }

    This is a wonderful, wise article, thank you so much for it. This is a thought-provoking question that I’ll think about: “How do you kill your enemy in a way that puts a stop to violence rather than escalates it?” And it does depend entirely on our motivation, skill and wisdom.

    I also weighed in with a Buddhist perspective on the whole sorry affair in my meditation blog:

    http://kadampalife.org/2011/05/02/wanted-dead-or-alive-our-anger-and-other-delusions%E2%80%A6/

    I hope you and your readers may enjoy this one too.

    Thanks so much,
    Luna

  281. http://zindadilpakistan.com { 05.27.11 at 7:00 am }

    The recent Osama killing by US forces in Abbottabad has opened a new can of worms. The first question that comes to mind is whether this entire episode was true or a drama created by US in connivance with Pakistan’s leaders for public consumption. The US media is taking full advantage of it, as is their president. After all he has the most to gain with the upcoming presidential elections.

    • Susan { 05.02.11 at 8:10 pm }

      no, I have no problem with that.

  282. James Wyld { 11.14.11 at 8:26 am }

    wow
    Beautiful writing. I have been thinking similar thoughts as yours but could not express them in the way you did.
    looking at all the positive comments has also renewed my faith in People. maybe things will be allright in the end…..

  283. Susan { 11.14.11 at 6:16 pm }

    James, so glad you resonated with this and, yes, there is much to have faith in.

  284. Shaun { 01.04.12 at 8:45 am }

    I didn’t think Buddhist should abhor anything; that they should try to remain equanimous?

    Metta

    • Susan { 01.04.12 at 11:20 am }

      You can remain equanimous about you abhor.

      • Susan { 05.02.11 at 9:27 pm }

        I see what you’re saying! But what I meant to say was that I’m not going to pile on about whether or not one should ever kill. My post instead was about, if you have to–which in this case is how it turned out–if it’s possible to do so in a way that doesn’t lead to MORE violence.

      • Susan { 05.02.11 at 9:28 pm }

        And PS, I respect your point of view. And I also share it–

  285. carolyn Morton { 01.12.12 at 10:38 pm }

    You write: When we think we have won by vanquishing our enemy, we have lost.

    So when we defeated Germany and the Nazis–that was a bad thing? I’m confused?

    I wasn’t overjoyed at the death of Osama Bin Laden, but I can understand other people reacting that way. I am also a Buddhist and try very hard not to judge others, even those who I may not agree with. Sounds to me like your Buddhism needs some more self examination bevause this article sounds an awful lot like you are judging the ones who celebrated, and judgement is not part of what we strive for.

  286. Jerald { 06.02.12 at 9:25 am }

    Actually, you are wrong on at least two points.

    1st
    “‘In the Shambhala warrior tradition, we say you should only have to kill an enemy once every thousand years.’ –Chogyam Trungpa”

    This is entirely dependent upon the enemy. If one can be an enemy at peace without ambitions of destroying or usurping the sovereignty of the other, then they can peacefully agree to disagree. Also, if one is willing to be subjugated by the other, they can also live in peace. But then who is going to bind the hands of the king and dictate what he can or cannot do? If he is honorable, then it is only by the power of those he rules that his hands can be so bound.

    2nd
    “When we think we have won by vanquishing our enemy, we have lost. In killing Osama bin Laden, “they” lose because one of their leaders is gone. But we lose too, because we have deepened the causes and conditions that lead to more hatred and its consequences. This is not over.”

    This is notion is a fallacy. To forgo proper justice is to punish the innocent in place of the guilty. Justice is not just about punishing the guilty, it’s just as much about protecting the innocent.

    The death of a tyrant is a loss only to the tyrant, and possibly those who care about the tyrant. However, in many cases, even those that care deeply about the tyrant suffer because of the tyrant through physical and emotional abuse at the hands of one that they love. It can even be argued that perhaps the tyrant himself/herself is now free from the being bound to his/her corruption and wicked deeds.

    As for the killing Osama, you are right, it’s not a real victory at all, and it saddens me deeply. However, I say this not because I agree with you, but because Osama’s death means nothing if we don’t control and subvert terrorism as a whole. Obama’s decision to focus on one organization and one man is a fool’s war because even if Obama wins, nobody actually wins because nothing was actually accomplished because other terror networks fill the gap, members of Al Qaeda move to other organizations and continue their bitter hatred and rhetoric.

    You don’t seem to understand the benefit of empires. When you are constantly at war because your leader is one of many warlords fighting for control of an area and land, and then either one warlord finally takes control or some other empire like Rome comes in and destroys it all and rebuilds with what’s left, finally a lasting peace comes over the land that can last generations. This is accomplished often by killing the former leaders so that they can no longer oppose the empire and make war with it.

    You see, it is always wisest to be that empire because if you do not have the power to dominate, another will rise up against you and dominate instead. At least if you have the power, you can control how destructive you are, but you will never control how destructive your enemy is if he succeeds in dominating you.

    What was wrong about the way the Osama’s death was handled is that we did not have time to bring him to court and try him in public for all to see, then punish him according to his guilt.

    The reason killing someone who is found guilty of a crime that warrants such punishment is good is because people in general have always proven that without fear of proper retribution, there will be many who are willing to do that which they have no right to do. When you abstain from killing the guilty who warrant such a punishment, essentially then, you become the executioner of the innocent who would otherwise have survived the incident as the criminal feared the retribution of murder. This is proven in China where the death penalty is too freely given, and it is proven in the states that still implement the death penalty.

    Of course this is all subjective to the condition of those willing to commit crimes. Many who live in poor areas are more willing to commit more deadly crimes and seem to have a lesser concern over the lives of those they do not care about. However, in the end, even they prove to fear the retribution of the death penalty. So, in the end, a properly conducted death penalty actually helps society because it serves to bind the hands of those who would otherwise murder.

    As for war, only a fool of a king allows those who wish him and his nation dead to grow a foothold and a power that could threaten him or his people. It is extremely naive to think that one can never be bested, that one can never feel the pain of war, the pain of being attacked.

    Do you realize that today there are many who suffer at the hand so their own leaders, and due to today’s technological advances and political associations, it can be nearly impossible to depose them.

    You know today we sit stuffed and happy, having all we could ever want and enjoy, so much we don’t know what to do with it all, and we pat ourselves on the back because we’re peaceful, because we won’t violate another’s right to be emaciated as their government steals their food and water, we’re so open-minded because we respect another nation’s right to kill others at the whim of their political leaders. We’re so peaceful, we respect the rights of others to die of starvation, to die in WMD attacks by their own government, to be virtually enslaved by a corrupt government of the people that’s actually a government of the elite, because we believe in anothers right to die before they’re 20 because of roving bands of revolutionaries that their governments are in bed with.

    When I watch those children dieing in the streets, what infuriates me most is our “peaceful” ways. We could put a stop to all of it right now. We could put an end to revolutionaries murdering families and stealing children, to sex trades, to children being starved because their governments are too greedy to give them the resources that were meant for the people suffering. We could, right now, put an end to all it, but we’re . . . fat, happy, and peaceful. We can’t be bothered to take out corrupt tyrants that seem to enjoy watching their people suffer or are too greedy to care because we’re peaceful.

    Well guess what, people walking by watching a woman get raped on street in NYC are also peaceful. People watching as Hitler experimented on the Jews and sent them to death camps were peaceful. Children starving in the streets because the peaceful people are so fat and happy in their luxuries that they don’t want to be closed-minded and do something that will actually solve the problem.

    You know what, peaceful is just another word for closing your eyes. Those who do not care will always act that way so long as they have no fear of retribution. It is the fear of retribution that causes men to be good who would otherwise not be. You want to bring good into this world, then you must take control over the world and demand that good be done by penalty of retribution, otherwise kids will starve in the streets at the greed of their own governments, women will be raped as people who pat themselves on the back for being peaceful walk by, and people will constantly be brainwashed into joining things like terrorist groups because their suffering brought on, primarily, by the actions of their own government will believe that it’s because of whomever their government or terrorist leaders tell them it is because of.

    War and killing, they are not bad things, well, they are in the wrong hands, but they are not bad things when they are used for the sake of establishing the fair and equal rights of all people, when they are used to eliminate the selfish and greedy who murder.

    You see, today, unlike yesterday, we are even in a unique situation where we could go to war, arrest and lock up the tyrant governing officials who are primarily responsible, and then help the people to establish a more fair and just governing body. They may hate us at first because of the propaganda, but once they realized we were only there to help ourselves by helping them, they’d be more cooperative, more optimistic. We could then easily just to trials. We wouldn’t even have to outright kill any king or despot. But we wont because we’re all so peaceful. Well, if we die because of our peacefulness, then it will serve us right for doing nothing more than feeding the tyrants instead of doing what’s necessary to use our power to eliminate suffering. We’re so peaceful, we’ve become complacent, blind, fat, and spoiled

  287. Jerald { 06.02.12 at 9:33 am }

    To add the WWII situation, and even this Osama ordeal. Both of them could have been avoided if people hadn’t been so peaceful, and took care of the problem when it first arose. If we had stopped Hitler at the first signs of his ambitions and murderous ways, we would have saved hundreds of thousands of lives.

    If we would have stopped Osama back at the first signs of violence against others, we would not have had so many die today. Sometimes, killing serves to remove the corrupt before they have the power to cause more death and destruction later. If Saddam had not been stopped today with the loss of so few lives, we would have had to deal with him later, perhaps after he already had nuclear weapons.

    You see, today, we prefer to feel the pain of greater death and destruction because we’re open-minded and peaceful instead of pro-active and willing to do what we need to do.

  288. Craig { 07.13.12 at 10:45 am }

    I watched the documentary about bin Laden’s driver “The Oath.” The driver actually did time at Guantanamo, but was released. He was asked, “Why would so many men pledge their lives to bin Laden?” He replied that for many young men, bin Laden was the first older man in their lives who actually cared about them and their hopes. Compassion is powerful stuff, and people will do anything to get it.

  289. Carol Hess { 11.24.12 at 8:51 am }

    I’ve just now discovered you, your blog, and this post, thanks to your Thanksgiving interview with Patti Digh that brought me here — which was phenomenal, by the way, in its honest dialogue about the challenge in receiving. But I digress, which is not an unusual occurrence! :)

    I wanted to thank you for this particular blog post that represents a reaction and point of view about the killing of bin Laden that I hadn’t heard yet and which mirrored my own reaction and point of view. I feel a little less confused and a little less alone.

    • susan { 11.24.12 at 9:18 am }

      Thank you so much for this very affirming message…

  290. max millar { 10.22.14 at 8:18 pm }

    This is a very brave post. You are certainly in an area where it’s easy to want to put across a point of view. Any point of view. Whether that point of view is about the justification to kill or not-kill.

    But a point of view, even if it comes with the the weight of 2500 years of Buddhist wisdom, cannot in any way answer the fact there were many small children waking up without a parent on Sept 12th 2001.

    No conceptual understanding, no point of view or spiritual edict can answer the pain and confusion of the many, many small children that woke up without their mother or father who died in those towers. A thousand Buddhas fall silent in the face of this kind of pain..there is nothing to be said..

    We can only be silent in absolute awe and love for these little people who have borne this level of suffering. A level of suffering we will never know.

    We do not possess the right to have a conceptual point of view on the death of Osama Bin Laden-even if we are Buddhists.

    ..we are not the ones that suffered in those towers as they fell. We are not the ones who have been left bereft of a parent or family member or much loved friend. Only they have the right to have a viewpoint on the death of Osama BL.

    The Buddha exhorted us to shed all concepts and points of view because it is in that very space that true compassion arises…

    • Susan Piver { 10.23.14 at 7:29 pm }

      This was a very interesting and brave comment. I believe you are 100% correct. Thank you for stopping my mind.

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