As of this writing there have been 250 mass shootings this year in the U.S. What in the world goes on in the mind of a mass shooter? If we think we would never do such a thing, we might want to look into our own minds and notice the anger hidden there. We need look no further to understand the mind that pulls the trigger. Just because we may have the capacity to refrain from acting on our negative thoughts does not mean we have not caused harm. Any time we give the slightest energy to hatred, we send a ripple of violence into the world. Just like a pebble dropped into a pond, we do not know how far that ripple will go and who it affects.
To heal the anger in a mind that would initiate a mass shooting, we need to cure the illness of separation, the delusion of “otherness.” The worst murderous thoughts arise when the mind identifies a target, an “other,” that we associate with causing us harm. If we are awake to what is happening, we see the illusion of our projections. But if we do not understand, blind to our tightly held fixation, we can unleash upon the world all manner of violence. We actually believe this activity will relieve the suffering our hatred has caused us. Buddha suggested this is nuts! He said, “Hatred has never resolved hatred. Only through loving kindness is hatred resolved.” Hatred always causes suffering therefore loving kindness is the way to relieve suffering.
If we hate the one who pulls the trigger, we cannot eradicate the cause of violence. We certainly do not condone the action, but it is important that it does not interfere with our compassion. Violence is unsettling, but it if we act with an unsettled mind, we will have unsettling experiences and cause the same for others. The real solution to gun rage is to pacify the rage and cease encouraging it in our public discourse.
Gun control comes from appropriately re-directing the mind. A gun created to kill, placed into the hands of a mind full of hatred, will inevitably kill. If the mind rests in its true nature, the heart-mind of compassion, such a weapon and intent does not get created. There is no reason to even invent a weapon designed to kill people if there is no “otherness.” A profound teaching regarding meditation goes something like this: “If you wish to realize the true nature of your own mind, simply go to a place and remain immoveable until no otherness can be found.”
I pray we do not continue to do the same thing over and over, expecting a different outcome.I pray that we all recognize our essential sameness. I pray for all victims and perpetrators equally. May we all awaken in loving kindness together.