May 04, 2011

LA Times: Dalai Lama suggests Osama bin Laden's death was justified

via The LA Times,

Speaking at USC, the Buddhist spiritual leader says of the Al Qaeda chief's assassination: 'Forgiveness doesn't mean forget what happened.'

As the leader of Tibetan Buddhism, the 14th Dalai Lama says he practices compassion to such an extent that he tries to avoid swatting mosquitoes "when my mood is good and there is no danger of malaria," sometimes watching with interest as they swell with his blood.

Yet, in an appearance Tuesday at USC, he appeared to suggest that the United States was justified in killing Osama bin Laden.

As a human being, Bin Laden may have deserved compassion and even forgiveness, the Dalai Lama said in answer to a question about the assassination of the Al Qaeda leader. But, he said, "Forgiveness doesn't mean forget what happened. … If something is serious and it is necessary to take counter-measures, you have to take counter-measures."

It was, perhaps, an example of the Dalai Lama confounding expectations, something he appears to relish doing. The 75-year-old leader spoke on the first day of what was to have been a four-day trip to Southern California; he was delayed by two days when he fell ill in Japan. continues

Read the complete article here.

UPDATE: The title of this article seems to be a bit sensationalistic. A better title would have been, "The Dalai Lama discusses the death of Osama bin Laden." A full transcript of the Dalai Lama's talk at USC can be found at dalailama.com

Share with a Friend

Email to a Friend

Already a member? Log in to share this content.

You must be a Tricycle Community member to use this feature.

1. Join as a Basic Member

Signing up to Tricycle newsletters will enroll you as a free Tricycle Basic Member.You can opt out of our emails at any time from your account screen.

2. Enter Your Message Details

Enter multiple email addresses on separate lines or separate them with commas.
CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Charles K's picture

Al-Qaida has selected its heir to dead head Osama bin Laden. The terrorist group's number-two man, Ayman al-Zawahri, a physician from a notable Egyptian household, was named Thurs in a proclamation posted on many jihadist sites. The proof is here: Al-Qaida announces bin-Laden’s successor.

derek_a's picture

I don't see that anything is justified or non-justified. I think the Dail Lama was saying.. "He was killed. And that is so." He was extending forgiveness and compassion to the killers and the killed. To be born and to die could be described as an act of violent impact with the physical world, if we judge it to be so. It seems at times that we are living a koan.

ACBannister's picture

I submit that His Holiness' statement was meant to awaken in his audience a new conception of human necessity. Necessity is experienced individually and collectively. Some might argue that it is easier open your heart and offer compassion to those who harm us directly, rather than to those who harm the people we hold most dear -- from the intimate familial level to the broader nationalistic level. He was neither condoning nor condemning the action; he was using diverse methods to embed a seed in our mind -- our necessities are bound to such unstable phenomenon, from our priorities and goals to our innate fears of impermanence. I applaud His Holiness for speaking directly to the world regarding the assassination of Osama bin Laden. He is not among us to pass judgments and crystallize fears -- he is the embodiment of those qualities to which we can hope to attain, and upon which more beneficial thoughts, words, and behaviors may arise.

ACBannister's picture

I submit that His Holiness' statement was meant to awaken in his audience a new conception of human necessity. Necessity is experienced individually and collectively. Some might argue that it is easier open your heart and offer compassion to those who harm us directly, rather than to those who harm the people we hold most dear -- from the intimate familial level to the broader nationalistic level. He was neither condoning nor condemning the action; he was using diverse methods to embed a seed in our mind -- our necessities are bound to such unstable phenomenon, from our priorities and goals to our innate fears of impermanence. I applaud His Holiness for speaking directly to the world regarding the assassination of Osama bin Laden. He is not among us to pass judgments and crystallize fears -- he is the embodiment of those qualities to which we can hope to attain, and upon which more beneficial thoughts, words, and behaviors may arise.

khrystene's picture

"He is not among us to pass judgments and crystallize fears -- he is the embodiment of those qualities to which we can hope to attain, and upon which more beneficial thoughts, words, and behaviors may arise."

I wholeheartedly agree.

khrystene's picture

I disagree. His Holiness is not suggesting it was justified at all.

This is nothing more than titillation. Why would you write such a comment piece Mr McKeever?

Monty McKeever's picture

The piece is from the LA Times. I think it is sensationalistic, which is why I added in the update note.

I'll often post snippets from news stories just to bring them to people's attention, but in this case I regretted not originally including a note that I thought the title was questionable.

khrystene's picture

Ah, thank you for the clarification. Sorry for snapping.

Bob Wallace's picture

If HHDL meant to convey the message that the execution was justified....that would be sad...but then he is only a human being.

Tharpa Pema's picture

After Osama Bin Laden was assassinated, I immediately thought of the passages below from Smile at Fear. They are etched in my memory because of trauma I suffered as a child. My family’s lives were repeatedly threatened by the Ku Klux Klan because of the nonviolent civil-rights activity in which my father was engaged. I’ve spent a lifetime coming to terms with my conflicting impulses: to defend my life and the lives of others versus lay down my life—or someone else’s—out of compassion for others.
Even though I am femaie, I’ve never felt that my gender excuses me from the responsibility involved in making such decisions, whether I make them as an individual or as a member of a republic.
Without expecting ever to arrive at a definitive answer to a question that can only be decided in the present moment in an actual situation, I feel compelled to ask the question over and over again—to somehow prepare for such an unlikely event. I would like to discuss my discomfort with fellow Buddhists.
Under what circumstances, if any, would we take the life of an “enemy”?
Chapter 10—The Tools of Bravery
P. 66. In the Shambhala warrior tradition, we say that you should only have to kill an enemy once every thousand years. We mean here the real enemy, . . .or ego run wild. You can work with other enemies by subjugating or pacifying them, talking to them, buying them out, or seducing them. . . However, once in a thousand years a real assassination of the ultimate enemy may be necessary. . . Your action has to be completely free from aggression, and it cannot be motivated by anger, greed, or a desire for retribution or vengeance. The motivation has to be pure compassion. You might use a sword or an arrow, . . . so that their ego is completely popped. Such an assassination has to be very direct and personal. It’s not like dropping bombs on people. . . . You always look for other alternatives to cure the situation, but sometimes there are none.
Chapter 9—Overcoming Doubt
P.59-60. . . .[R]enunciation is the willingness to work with real situations of aggression in the world. If someone interrupts your world with an attack of aggression, you have to respond to it. Renunciation is being willing to face that intense kind of situation rather than cover it up. Everyone is afraid to talk about this. . . .
P.60 You don’t need party-line logic or a package-deal response. . . . You don’t kill an enemy before they become the enemy. You only slash the enemy when they become a hundred percent good enemy. . .
P.61 When a warrior has to kill his enemy, he has a very soft heart. He looks his enemy right in the face.
P.62 When you slash your enemy, your compassionate heart becomes twice as big.

Chogyam Trungpa. Smile at Fear:Awakening the True Heart of Bravery.
Shambhala: Boston & London, 2009.

Herb Cohen's picture

I don't think the swat team that murdered Osama was motivated by compassion for his pathetic state of being, his intolerances, his lack of compassion for all life and especially for human suffering. I am only speculating of course, but I believe the soldiers were acting as warriors in a very pure literal sense and not necessarily the metaphoric warrior of Trungpa's teaching. I know my heart reacts when I read about all the Tibetan ancient treasures destroyed by Chinese intolerance in this month's issue, and it reminds me of Hitler and Pol Pot and Apartheid. Osama was intolerance, but he was unarmed I suspect a dead man walking when the plan to take him out was conceptualized.As a therapist in the NYC area I have counseled a good number of 911 survivors. I should be celebrating his end knowing he was determined to kill more people.2 dozen heavily armed super trained soldiers could have taken him out alive.As much as I despise him I feel such a deep pain that he was executed.I know I can rationalize that his death was justified but I just feel this nagging hole in my gut.

Dominic Gomez's picture

My understanding is that since the United States is at war, all rules of engagement with the enemy apply. Bin Laden's death a homicide? Yes. But a justifiable one. The law of causality (i.e. karma) is that strict.

Wisdom Moon's picture

The law of causality does not justify pre-meditated murder

khrystene's picture

Agreed.

Dominic Gomez's picture

The Law is impartial. It applies to Bin Laden as much as it applies to the victims of his actions, to those who planned and executed his capture or death, to you, to me, etc.