#WW: 👹What does the Dhamma say about evil people? Can they be forgiven?

2 mins read
Published on Mar 29, 2023

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There are times in history and present day where we hear of really evil atrocities done to innocent people. Our heart aches with pain for the victim and burns with anger for the perpetrator. As a Buddhist or one that identifies with Buddha’s teachings, is forgiveness the answer? We cover an interview about evil and also how Buddha approached a mass murderer who nearly killed him. Here are two stories:

  1. Can evil people be forgiven?
  2. Buddha faced a mass murderer who tried to kill him. Here’s what happened next. 

Can evil people be forgiven?

Cr: Jubilee’s Youtube Channel

What’s going on here & Why we like it

Jubilee, a youtube channel focused on fostering interfaith understanding, does an ask-me-anything with Gyokei, a soto zen monk. We enjoy this interview because of how Venerable Gyokei does not try to give ‘ideal’ or ‘theoretical’ answers but shows his human side. He even refers to his son as a way to empathise with a situation of mass murder. 

Often, perpetrators are driven and blinded by three poisons (greed, hatred, delusion) making them heavily trapped in these cycles. Gyokei shares that forgiveness needs to come from understanding that person’s conditions and from there we see a certain humanity within them. 

“There are so much more than I’m failing to see and there’s recognition that how did that form of struggle and suffering came to take form and shape

Wise Steps

  • Is there someone who has wronged us in the past? Are we able to see the conditions that led them to where they are
  • Forgiveness does not need two parties. It can start from us, releasing us from the prison of repeated pains of the past. 

Check out the video here or below!

Buddha faced a mass murderer who tried to kill him. Here’s what happened next. 

Cr: Vipassana Research Institute

What’s going on here & why we like it

ICRC, International Committee of the Red Cross, provides readers with an abridged version of the Angulimala Sutta which shares how Buddha faced a serial killer (Angulimala) and how that killer eventually became a prominent disciple.

We like this article as it is concise on the story of Anguilimala and it also highlights the humanitarian principles that the Buddha pursued in his life as a teacher. It showed us that even the most deluded/evil of people can be redeemed. It is about seeing how their conditions made them that way and slowly un-conditioning them. This is a useful sutta on how Buddhists can face even the deepest tragedies caused by deluded individuals.

“The Buddha replied, ‘I have stopped, Angulimala. You stop.’”

Wise Steps

  • How often do we see the world as black and white, and in absolutes? Do we pause to reflect on how complex people are and what conditioned them?
  • Question deeper: If I was as hurt as these individuals who harm others, will I wish to receive compassion and kindness as well?
See also  If You’re Scared Of Ghosts, Read This

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