Compassion for Osama bin Laden

From the Sunday, May 22, 2011 Public Talk
By Gelek Rimpoche

We lack inner joy because we have powerful hatred within us. That hatred not only gives us inner misery, but we begin to infect those around us with it. That is a harmful thing we have within ourselves that we have to change into love, care, and compassion. Even for an enemy we have to have compassion, otherwise, our compassion will be selective. For example, Osama bin Laden who is treated like an enemy. It is true that so many innocent people were killed and so many people lost lives and 9/11 was real and he was responsible for it so he was an enemy, no doubt about it. Was it great or not great to have gotten him? I told myself I was not going to comment about it but today’s topic requires it. I think it is good to have gotten him, but it is good mostly for him because it will stop him from creating more negativity. From that angle it is great to discontinue his negative karma and to stop him from creating misery for other people.

My statement is that I am not impressed with the killing, but for him it is the best thing that happened to him because it discontinued his negativities and the lesser his negativities, the better off because life after life he will suffer tremendously and at least that will be interrupted. From a Buddhist perspective, existence does not end at the time of death and the results of whatever actions we commit will be experienced in our future lives, so that is why it is great for him to have his negativities discontinued. Whatever he has done he will pay for it life after life and then one day he will come out clean. That may be a in a couple of centuries. For us it is a little peace for a while.

The world cannot just kill and destroy enemies. We had all these different enemies, one after another, including Hitler, Stalin, Mao, followed by Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden and maybe Qadaffi (who knows). But the enemy within ourselves is not destroyed and until that one is destroyed there will be constant enemies. But for Osama it is great because his negativity is discontinued. At least for the time being it is interrupted. He misused his education, intelligence and discipline. He didn’t use it to help and to serve, but rather to hurt.

For us, the hatred within us needs to change and become compassion for Osama bin Laden. You may say we cannot have compassion because he killed us and he is continuously killing. But that is why you need compassion – not because of being afraid of getting killed, but because of the negativities he will suffer for centuries and lives to come. It is an opportunity for us to have compassion. We don’t rejoice that he is getting killed, but we rejoice that his horrifying activities are stopped. You are capable of developing compassion for him. Each one of us is educated, intelligent. Think that way. That way you can rejoice in the news of the discontinued Osama bin Laden, but from a different angle. Spiritual practitioners have to do that. We always say we have to have compassion but we do not have to be a doormat. That’s the way to do that.

There is an example from earlier times when Buddha was a captain of a ship. There was a serial killer on board willing to kill everyone to become rich. Since Buddha was the captain, he had no alternative but to kill that person so he could save 500 human beings. Yes compassion, yes love, but the way is this way. Not through anger of having to destroy the other person. That is the totally wrong way. If we bring compassion, it could become virtue. That is why motivation is so important. If you change the hatred into love and compassion then you have the joy within you.

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