When Horses Cry
- I wrote the following post the day after the shooting of innocent Amish Children in Paradise, PA. I have pulled it from my Archives because I believe we need to read it again.
The sound of the horses hooves were heard across the cornfields as they pulled the carriages carrying the Mothers and Fathers, Sisters and Brothers, Aunts and Uncles, and fellow neighbors of the Amish Community of Paradise Pennsylvania making their way to the funeral of the man who, just two days ago, senselessly murdered their daughters. “They had already forgiven him.” the press wrote that morning, and now they were on their way to console the wife and children of this man, and to stand at his gravesite and pray that he would find the peace in death that he could not find in life.
Just days before all across the nation Americans heard once again the news of an unknown gunman who entered the “one room schoolhouse”, after sending the young men on their way, before ending the lives of their sisters, cousins, and nieces. I remember thinking that it was as if we were able to shoot and kill angels. I imagined seeing their wings dropping to their sides before their small bodies struck the wooden floor in the “one room schoolhouse”. Even now as I write these words I am unable to hold back the tears. Once again we were all left with the unanswerable question as to how anyone could tie the hands of, and line up little children, only to bring to a sudden end their short-lived lives. How could anyone kill “Amish children” I thought. I tried to imagine the horrific confusion these little girls must have felt, having never witnessed violence or the threat of violence, while the gunman began shooting from once side of the blackboard to the other until he finally turned the gun on himself.
Whenever I speak about Buddhism and meditation, which the Buddhist teach as the core practice of the Compassionate Life, inevitably someone asks me the question, “How do I get myself to practice meditation everyday?” or “My life is so busy I can’t seem to find the time to pray or meditate, is there a secret to doing it everyday?” I always reply, “There is no magic, just do it.” or “You must want this as if your life depended on it, because it does.” I thought of how the families of the fallen little girls were able to forgive their children’s murderer, and choose to go to his house and console and care for his wife and children, just hours after laying them to rest. In Buddhist teachings there is the image of Avalokitesvera, the Bodhisattva of Compassion. All Buddhist understand that this is the ideal to endeavor to achieve, the goal of practice, the true heart of all beings – The Heart of Compassion. Practitioners strive to emulate her. They believe that all who step into The Way of Compassion are bodhisattvas even though they may not live as such. The bodhisattva is that person who having achieved enlightenment and passage into Nirvana, chooses nonetheless to return to the physical world time and time again until all beings are from suffering. In Christianity, the Son of God offers himself as the sacrificial lamb for the salvation of all beings everywhere. Every Christian is understood to be another “child of God” even though they may not live that way and are to emulate Christ. In Judaism we find the story of the Good Samaritan, the outcast, the rejected, who when coming upon a Jew who had been beaten, robbed, and left to die in the road, chooses to not only come to his aid, but with his own money pays the bill. In all of these sacred teachings we never find “a secret” to living this way. We are told – Just do It!
Sentimentality might have us think that on that darkened beautiful fall day in Paradise, the world witnessed extraordinary people doing extraordinary acts of compassion. I’d rather believe that the Mothers and Fathers of those little girls hurt as bad as any Mother or Father would. They may have even thought vengeful thoughts or malice like any Mother or Father would. Ordinary people experiencing very ordinary human emotions choosing however to respond in extraordinary ways. Who when searching their hearts and each others hearts for some answers to the insanity that entered their lives and their peace loving community, came upon the one-thing that ultimately mattered the most to them and knew what they had to do. Did it make sense? It never does. Did it ease the pain? Nothing will ever ease the pain of loosing one’s child this way or any way. Was it easy? What do you think?
Sunday morning for the last time I saw the news broadcast once again. My eyes filled up once again with tears. This time however my head bowed, my knees buckled, and I prayed not only for the community in Paradise, but that I may one day emulate The Bodhisattva of Compassion, as they had learned to be Son’s and Daughter’s of God, Children of Abraham and – Avalokitesvera, Bodhisattva’s of Compassion.
We owe all the children of the world as much.
– Seijaku Roshi