Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Retinue of Demons

The pots of stew simmered
during hundreds of thousands of years,
Have brewed oceans of deep resentment
into hatred that’s hard to contain.
If you want to know the reason
for the disaster of weapons and troops,
Try listening at the door of a slaughterhouse
to the haunting midnight cries. [Shurangama Sutra, notation by Venerable Master Hsuan Hua, p. 690]

As Venerable Master Hsuan Hua said, “Nowadays, slaughterhouses are usually located far away from populated areas, and so the sounds are not easy to hear.”

But besides killing living creatures, we human beings kill one another and the killing has reached the point where the killer won’t have to die to be killed in his next reincarnation, but someone alive will kill him in his present lifetime. The resentment deepens. Weapons and troops exist as the heralds of death. “If ten people do not kill,” Venerable Master Hsuan Hua said, “then there are ten spots of auspicious energy in the world. Those spots are devoid of negative influences and contain only positive ones.”

It started with a post in Kanani’s blog, a well-loved and much respected blogger among us. It’s about a young American soldier, 22, died recently in an ambush in Ganjgal, Afghanistan. She asked me if that post disturbed me with a bad memory, and I said yes. A bad memory from the Vietnam War. It’s reprinted here from my comment on her post.

The only haunting memory I have is about this woman who lived with our family since she was a child. We considered her a member of our family.

Her brother was a paratrooper of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN), i.e., First Republic of South VN. One morning someone rang the doorbell. She answered the door in her usual merry manner. At the door was a soldier who wore a red beret and the familiar airborne unit's fatigues. I bet for a moment she thought it was her brother returning home on leave from the front.

The man was a friend of her just deceased brother. Killed in action. Body mangled by a mortar shell.

To date, I sometimes wonder why the government didn't send a telegram. Maybe they didn't know whom to contact, didn't know her whereabouts, though she was the dead man’s only blood relative.

But I remember the look on her face when she heard the news. Worse than reading a telegram.

[Image from www.auralexploits.com]


  1. Whether I like it or not, this war has become a part of me. There's not a day when I don't think about the outcomes for everyone --Afghans, armed forces, military families and friends.
    My peripheral involvement always be as much a part of me, as your direct experience is part of you. Thank god for writing.

  2. Sad, but interesting and informative post.