An inspiring story on the subject of love vs. violence was shared by Wayne Muller, in Legacy of the Heart: The Spiritual Advantage of a Painful Childhood. The story goes back to the times of a terrible holocaust, the one conducted by Pol Pot on thousands of Cambodian refugees. The camps were overflowing. Muller reports that every family had lost children, spouses, parents to the genocide. Their homes were destroyed. Temples had been burned.
Maha Ghosanda, a respected Cambodian monk, went into the refugee camps, inviting people to join with him in a ceremony the next day. Over ten thousand refugees converged at the designated meeting time to a large field where they waited to share in the “ceremony.” Maha Ghosanda sat for some time in silence on a platform in front of the crowd. Finally he began chanting the invocations that began the ceremony. There were many tears, for people had gone through many sorrows and difficulties. Many had died. They hungered for familiar sounds that would bring comfort. There was great curiosity about what he would say. What could he possibly say to these people who had gone through so much? But then in hushed words, he began to repeat those sacred words from the Dhammapada.
Hatred never ceases by hatred:
But by love alone is healed.
This is an ancient and eternal law.
Over and over again he chanted these verses. All these people had as much cause to hate as anyone on earth. Yet as he sat there, enunciating these ancient words, one after another voice joined in in an echoing chorus. Eventually thousands of voices joined together — “Hatred never ceases by hatred: but by love alone is healed. This is an ancient and eternal law.”
This outpouring from the heart did not instantly end the suffering, nor magically free these desperately suffering people from bondage. What it did, though, is slowly remind them of the essence of their humanity, reestablishing the ties of love and mutual support to sustain them. Out of this shared outpouring, they were better able to abide their suffering, gaining strength and sustaining each other with dignity and courage.
- Robert D. Rossel
Photo credit ~ by Photnart ”The Golden Temple at Dambulla” via Wikipedia licensed under Creative Commons – Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unporte
* * *
When I read Rob’s essay, I was so taken with the story of this “joyful proclaimer” that I had to learn more about him. I don’t think he’s written any books and there are few videos and none with a dharma talk but the whole of the man’s life was a dharma talk,* an inspired and inspiring one.
Samdech Preah Maha Ghosananda (1929 -2007)
Patriarch of Cambodian Buddhism during Pol Pot’s reign of terror
Maha Ghosananda, his Pali Monastic name means joyful proclaimer
He lost his entire family and his friends at Khamer Rouge
“Peace is possible!”
Maha Ghosananda’s motto.
“Don’t struggle with people, with men. Struggle with the goals and conditions that make men fight each other.”
“If a driver is not sober how can he drive a car? If you don’t calm your spirit, you cannot bring peace to the country.”
“I do not question that loving one’s oppressors – Cambodians loving the Khmer Rouge – may be the most difficult attitude to achieve. But it is a way of the universe that retaliation, hatred, and revenge only continue the cycle and never stop it. Reconciliation does not mean that we surrender rights and conditions. It means that we see ourselves in the opponent – for what is the opponent but a being in ignorance, and we ourselves are also ignorant of many things. Therefore, only loving kindness and right mindfulness can free us.” [From his essay The Human Family.]
“We must find the courage to leave our temples
and enter the temples of human experience,
temples that are filled with suffering.
If we listen to the Buddha, Christ or Gandhi, we can do nothing else.
The refugee camps, the prisons, the ghettos
and the battlefields will then become our temples.”
The quotes were gleaned from two sites, which others may wish to visit:
- Jamie Dedes
ROBERT D. ROSSEL, Ph.D. ~ has been on Bardo almost since day one. He is a gifted essayist and a life coach and grief counselor living and practicing in Portola Valley, California. He is a practicing Buddhist and a long-time practitioner of self-relations psychotherapy and Ericksonian hypnotherapy. With an abiding interest in music, art, yoga, nature, shamanism, and mind-body practices, Rob has sought for many years to find ways to apply meditation and mindfulness in his spiritual practice and his life. Rob plays violin and viola.
JAMIE DEDES ~ My worldly tags are poet and writer. For nearly six years I’ve blogged at The Poet by Day,the journey in poem, formerly titled Musing by Moonlight. Through the gift of poetry (mine and that of others), I enter sacred space.