Proper Dharma Seal
The Karma of Killing – by Bhikshu Heng Sure
The Buddha said to the Four Heavenly Kings, “Kings, to killers Earth Store Bodhisattva speaks of a retribution of a short lifespan… - Earth Store Bodhisattva Sutra
Beneath my nose as I bowed to the blacktop I found a killer. Lying prone, one eye squinted, the other eye aiming down a long, deadly rifle barrel: A plastic toy soldier. I used to have a boxful. My brother and I would set up battles and execute the slaughter of each other’s troops, day after day. Each tiny cavalry man, each gunner, cowboy, pirate, and marine must have died thousands of times. Who killed them? Not the other toy figures. We killed them. We knocked them over with a finger or a marble, killing them in our minds. Entire generations of good men perished on the carpet of our bedroom. What seeds did we plant?
Of course, we were only children playing games. We did not make the connection between horror and suffering of war and killing. The toy guns were silent, the blood was only make-believe. It was just like the violence and death we watched on television. When the program was done, we went to eat dinner – unharmed and intact. But how about all those bodies left dying and maimed in our minds? Who consoled the families of the dead? Who swept
up the mess, who washed away the blood? Don’t be silly, it’s only a T.V show. What attitudes did we absorb?
My brother and I were lucky. He went to war and came back, without dying and without directly killing anyone. I met the Buddhadharma and received the Precepts against taking life. But how about the thousands of young men who weren’t so lucky? Men went to war like toy soldiers or T.V. phantoms, only to discover that when metal cuts flesh the pain and fear and grief are unspeakably awful. Each death echoes through families, bringing sorrow to many people. It makes you sick with pain. It makes you resolve to kill no more and be careful not to plant seeds of killing in children.
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