by S. N. Goenka
A Message from Goenkaji in the aftermath of September 2001 terrorist attack in USA
September's tragic events have shaken us all. Our hearts go out to those who lost their lives or were injured; to their families, friends and colleagues; and to the millions who watched in helpless horror.
This was an attack on the right of men and women to live in peace and safety, and to work toward a better future for themselves and their children. The tragedy occurred in a country that has opened its doors to the people of the world, that has championed the ideal that all human beings are equal, and that gives hope for a better future.
We must not allow that hope to be dimmed. In a time of darkness, we must bring light - the light of the Dhamma. Deep wounds caused by the darkness of ignorance can be healed by the wisdom that the light of Vipassana brings.
On September 11, within a few moments, ordinary superficial reality was stripped away and we saw the harsh truth: that suffering is inescapable, that everything we cling to is bound to pass away, that we have no real control over what happens.
This vision may seem unbearable, but Vipassana teaches us how to bear it. By learning to observe dukkha, anicca, and anatta within ourselves we can develop balance of mind - the balance that will enable us to face any situation and not be overwhelmed.
It is the duty of every government to protect its citizens from external attack, and to do everything possible to make its people and territory secure. At the same time, it must also be borne in mind that such measures give only short-term benefits. Goodwill and compassion alone can remove the roots of all such acts of hatred, no matter who performs them nor what justification they claim.
Certainly now is the time to have a balanced mind, the time to generate goodwill and compassion for others. We have seen how great some people's hatred is, and how dangerous and corrosive. If we can do anything to reduce the sum total of hatred in the world, we shall have achieved a significant victory.
The Buddha said, "Never in this world is hatred quenched by hatred. By love alone is it quenched; this is an eternal law." (Dhp, 5) This law has nothing to do with Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Judaism, Sikhism, or any other "ism." It is a universal law of nature.
Therefore we must develop metta toward all who share in this tragedy. And our metta must extend even to those very deluded beings who perpetrate such attacks. They have thrown away their precious lives for a mistaken conception of religion, and in harming others they have much more seriously harmed themselves.
It would compound the tragedy to regard their distorted views as being representative of Islam. The Holy Quran proclaims unequivocally that there can be no violence or compulsion in the name of religion. Those who truly follow the teachings of Islam are peace-loving, like all genuinely religious people. Now is the time for us to demonstrate solidarity with innumerable peace-loving Muslims and Arabs. Let not the cowardly acts of a few cloud our perception of one of the world's great faiths.
Good is bound to triumph over evil and all acts, good and evil, originate in the mind. The greatest good is to have a pure mind free of taints. With such a mind we can weather even the greatest vicissitudes of life. We can return goodwill for hatred. We can forestall hateful acts without provoking more hatred. We can live without fear, and in peace with all others.
The Quran tells us, "Virtue and vice can never be the same; therefore repel vice with virtue. In the end this will prove better, for enemies will then become friends, and hatred forever will disappear." (Surah Ha-Min, 34-35)
The Dhamma gives us a way to repel evil within ourselves, which in turn will help to dispel hatred in the world. Let us be diligent in practicing the Dhamma, and let us bring the light of Dhamma to all those who are suffering or in sorrow.
May all the wretched people of the world be free of suffering.
May all who fear be rid of their fear.
May all people forsake enmity and live in peace.
May the Dhamma arise in the minds of all.
May all beings be happy, be peaceful, be liberated!