Was the shooter really a Buddhist?

On Monday Aaron Alexis entered the Washington Navy Yard and created mayhem with a firearm. All we really know is that 13 people are dead including Mr. Alexis. The Washington Postreports that he used a shotgun and finished up with a sidearm. We don’t know why he did what he did. There is a suggestion that he was suffering from mental illness. There has also beenquite a bit made of his affiliation with a Thai Buddhist community in Texas.

Many in the Buddhist communities in the US are on the defensive. From Facebook to Tricycle, the Buddhist world is attempting to come to terms with the actions of a lone gunman in the nation’s capitol on an American Navy base.

The only thing we know for sure is that 13 people are dead and many times that number suffer the after affects of Monday’s violence. Wagons are being circled, political lines are being drawn, and the usual voices are sounding as shrill as ever. Still Aaron Alexis is dead. His victims are dead.

I am a Mahayana Buddhist, and a Thomas Christian. I am also a minister of the Gospel. I appeal as a Christian to a God he may not have believed in for his forgiveness. I wonder as a Buddhist if his conciousness can make it through the Bardo into another precious human rebirth. Could Alexis see Amida as she came to meet him? Don’t know. If anyone could use the rest in Amida’s Pure Land it is Alexis.

I care for and pray for the lives lost by Aaron’s hand. I also pray for Aaron’s mother. She said she was happy he was in  a place where he could no longer harm anyone. Those words must mask a pain unimaginable by me. Her’s is the pain of a mother’s loss.

I also pray for me. May I be blessed with compassion for all those around me – the pleasant and the not so pleasant.

Namo Amida Butsu.

(I published this article earlier on a blog I am i the process of shutting down. Even though the article is dated, it is still worthy of contemplation.)