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Buddhadharma : Winter 2011
41 WINTER 2 01 1 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY at the terrorists’ actions. I was troubled because it seemed to be a missed opportunity to recognize that these four young men were not born this way, that the hatred and delusion that led to this tragedy is not alien to me, or to any of us. I thought of the Thich Nhat Hanh poem “Call Me By My True Names,” in which he expresses the awful truth that we are both the victim and criminal, that those whom we would push away in self-righteous indignation are actually a part of us—they are us. I remembered the words of Shakyamuni Buddha: “If we could understand the universe with the eye of omniscience we would forgive everything.” So I read every- thing I could find about these four men and came to the deci- sion that I would remember them in my own prayer offering at the memorial—and that they would be held in my heart with forgiveness of their actions and the honoring of their true natures. I could abhor their violent behavior while still being clear that those acts were not a reflection of their true selves. I felt a huge release of emotion at this decision, knowing that I was not just forgiving them but forgiving myself as well. On the morning of September 12, I drove through the quiet farm community of Somerset into the tiny town of Shanks- ville. The rolling green hills and sights were very familiar to me, having spent a large part of my youth there. When I arrived, I met the other clergy whom previously I had only known through telephone and email. I also met the man who almost single-handedly spearheaded the effort to make this event happen, the affable county coroner, Wally Miller. As the families gathered, we vested in our robes and took our places on the dais that three U.S. presidents had shared just the day before. I removed my malas and practiced “just being,” listening and surrendering totally to the moment. We walked in procession to the field where three coffins filled with the remains of all those who had died rested on the very site where the plane had struck the earth. As we walked, I became absorbed in silent, mindful steps and the lonely strains of the bagpipe that preceded us. When it was my turn to lead the liturgy, I caught the eyes of Toshiya Kuge’s mother, who traveled here from Japan to be with her little boy who had so loved everything American, much in the same way that I, as a young lad, had fallen in love with all things Japanese. I offered incense from a flame held by my brother priest, Father Dan O’Neill and recited, first in English and then in Japanese, the words of the Heart Sutra. As I bowed solemnly before each casket, I chanted the names of each of the passengers—all of them. When the ceremony was over, each of the clergy went into the crowd to offer whatever pastoral care he or she could. I was humbled by the Kuge family as they presented me with an exquisitely wrapped gift, as is the tradition in their culture. Through a translator, I shared my honor at being with them, and with many bows and exclamations of domo arigato, I hoped that I had helped provide them some small measure of closure. I was happily surprised that many of the families came forward and thanked me for being there, saying that their loved one, while ostensibly Christian or Jewish, had in fact been a Buddhist practitioner. I told each of them that it was my deepest honor and assured them that we are all one people of faith in love. As things settled and folks moved on, I walked off into the field alone, marking the very trail Flight 93 had taken as it crashed. Suddenly a voice from behind called out and said, “Sensei! Look!” I looked up and there, flying all about me, were thousands of dragonflies. I smiled and the tears flowed. Our order of clergy is the Order of the Dragonfly, named after my late beloved sister, Christine, who saw them as a symbol of the awakened life. It was a gentle confirmation of the healing action that had taken place. I whispered the Nembutsu and was embraced by oneness. Anthony Stultz is a Zen teacher in the tradition of the Zen Peacemaker Sangha and the founder and director of the Blue Mountain Lotus Society in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. He is the author of Free Your Mind: The Four Directions of an Awakened Life. T.J.SHAFFER