The day before terror was unleashed on Paris, it was reported that Jehadi John, a murderous bastard responsible for multiple atrocities, had been vaporised in a drone strike. I felt elated. Joyful. Delighted. Yes, I did. To be truthful, I still do.
I felt something else to: the need to stop and observe the elation, the quickened heartbeat, the rush of pleasure. .. This is new, this is the fruit of months of Buddhist practice. Why, I wonder, is my instinctive reaction so alien to my respect for human life, my abhorrence of violence?
Can't answer that. It's all there in my neuro-biology I expect, the amygdula kicking in, rushing to the defence of the species as represented by me, or somesuch. A rational explanation for an irrational act. I'm not making any judgement or trying to excuse myself: I don't even feel that my instinctive reaction was wrong. I'm just watching it unfold.
It's what happens next that I can work on.
Hate will never conquer hate. An ideology that feeds off fear and stirs up prejudice cannot be bombed out of existence. Perhaps containment is the best that can be hoped for? II have no answers.
The essence of Zen is to 'tend the garden'. I love this metaphor at every level. In my everyday life it is to keep a perpetual watch on the part of me that would vaporise a man and take pleasure in it, and to go about doing what I can in my patch to make the lives of people I meet a little better.
It's not much, but it's a start.