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Jan 09
Shambhala News Service
Concerning the Tragic Events in Paris

Message from the Sakyong concerning the tragic events in Paris:

I have been tracking the attacks in Paris closely since they were announced and want to offer my sincere condolences to everyone affected by this tragedy. It was heartbreaking to hear the news about the shootings.

Click here to read the rest of the message in French and English.

Message du Sakyong à propos des événements tragiques à Paris
Je suis attentivement l’actualité concernant l’attentat qui a eu lieu à Paris hier et je voudrais présenter mes sincères condoléances à tous ceux qui ont été affectés par cette tragédie. La nouvelle de cette fusillade meurtrière est bouleversante. J’ai passé beaucoup de temps à Paris au cours de ces dernières années et j’ai toujours porté dans mon cœur la communauté Shambhala ainsi que les habitants de cette ville. C’est encore plus vrai aujourd’hui. Paris est une ville où la bonté humaine est palpable.

Alors que nous essayons de faire face à cet acte de violence, toutes sortes d’émotions diverses peuvent surgir. Face à cette douleur et cette confusion, nous devons nous autoriser à être touchés par notre propre bonté et ouvrir nos cœurs, engendrant l’amour et la compassion pour les victimes de cette tragédie. Par ailleurs, nous ne devons pas perdre espoir dans l’esprit et le courage de l’humanité dont votre ville est un si bel exemple. J’exprime ici toute ma solidarité envers Charlie Hebdo. Je vais dédier ma pratique à toutes les personnes affectées par cette tragédie.

En ces moments particulièrement éprouvants, adressons nos pensées et nos prières aux victimes et à la courageuse ville de Paris.

Avec toute mon affection et mes bénédictions,
Le Sakyong

Message from the Sakyong concerning the tragic events in Paris
I have been tracking the attacks in Paris closely since they were announced and want to offer my sincere condolences to everyone affected by this tragedy. It was heartbreaking to hear the news about the shootings. I have spent much time there in the past several years and have always held both the Shambhala and the larger community dearly in my heart. No more so, than today. Paris is a city where humanity’s goodness is palpable.

As we try to come to terms with this act of violence, a wide range of emotions may arise. In the face of this pain and confusion, we must allow ourselves to touch our own goodness and open our hearts, generating love and compassion for the victims of this tragedy. As well, we must not give up on the spirit and courage of humanity, which your city so exemplifies. I offer my solidarity to Charlie Hebdo and will be practicing for everyone involved.

At this poignant time, please join me in sending thoughts and prayers to the victims and to the courageous city of Paris.

With love and blessings,
The Sakyong

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9 responses to “ Concerning the Tragic Events in Paris ”
  1. Sherab Gyatso
    Jan 16, 2015

    In countries other than France, racist speech may be a form of free speech. If this were the case in France, then one could correctly state that France (and Charlie Hebdo) apply double standards. However, in France, racist speech is illegal, so the premise of such an argument is false.

    Why does France have a different position on racist speech? It has to do with being occupied during World-War II. Afterwards, many collaborators publically maintained their racist views. This was found to be incompatible with restoring a secular state in which everyone’s rights were respected.

    As a result, France has laws that ban speech that criticizes people for things they cannot be responsible for such as their race. Ideas however are different: since ideas are not people, they can be criticized freely. (Religions are considered to be ideas, not people).

    @David Walmark: Philippe Val was Charlie Hebdo’s editor, and it was he, not Charb, who fired Siné to avoid a lawsuit that was being prepared against Charlie Hebdo due to Siné’s article. Philippe Val left Charlie Hebdo 6 months later, and Charb became its editor thereafter.

  2. david walmark
    Jan 16, 2015

    Charb’s firing of his colleague for an anti semitic cartoon does suggest a double standard . thank you Nick for so forcefully pointing this out . I am not Charlie Hebdo . david walmark

  3. Sherab Gyatso
    Jan 13, 2015

    By allowing other people’s offense to direct what can be spoken of in a country one recreates the atmosphere of intolerance that destroys the very freedom of thought that allows other religious communities to live in the West (including Buddhists). To attack those who who defend one’s right to attack any idea, because of potential “offense”, is to misunderstand the very framework that allows us to debate and learn from each other. This is what the terrorist attack was about, which makes arguments about body counts beside the point to understanding why many French people were so upset by this attack.

    The people at Charlie Hebdo were not violent people (nor, as has been claimed, were they either racists or right wing xenophobes): learn more about them, they were secularists of leftist or anarchist tendencies. For instance Cabu was very gentle a person who returned quite disgusted from being conscripted to the French war in Algeria. A problem for those who are not French seems to be that French humor is different from humor in other countries. France has its own history and cultural context which is not English, and that their humor refers to it in ways one must learn their context to understand. To an English eye it often seems crude or stupid because the references are missing.

    I do not believe Charlie Hebdo misunderstood cause and effect: they were taken to court over the initial Mohamed cartoons in 2007 (a response to the assassination of a Dutch film-maker you may recall), and won because they proved in court that it was only ideas and terrorist acts that were being criticized. In their interviews you’ll learn that they saw Freedom of thought to be under attack: freedom of thought is very rare and precious. It is a historical oddity. They saw it to be under attack by all those who argue one should not teach things that offend them (be it biology, evolution, the scientific method, the equality of homosexuals or races, other religions’ beliefs, the status quo of a particular economic or political system, whatever). That is why they used the only weapon available to the weak (they had a tiny circulation of 60,000 copies, and were financially strained): they used humor.

    Buddha Nature is hard to recognize, like a gold statue covered in mud, to quote Shantideva. We should not confuse the mud with the gold. We should not confuse criticizing ideas with hurting people. People are not their ideas, nor are ideas people. I fear that idiot compassion is very close in this discussion, but I am not defending a new principle, since vigorous debate between religions was a tradition at the beginnings of Buddhism.

  4. Gerlinde Pilgrimm
    Jan 12, 2015

    I do share and support the general sense of mourning and grief towards all victims of violence, in this and other very painful outbursts of sheer aggression – I did want to say that. I do appreciate Uwe’s comment, too. THank you!

  5. Gerlinde Pilgrimm
    Jan 12, 2015

    Thank you so much, Nick, I think your comment is not only key to where we have to go when we are getting too proud of our “rights” and “freedoms” but it is essential for manifesting “being human” all together. I am, in fact, shocked, that all we hear in public seems to be an echo of only one view; I think , particularily as Shambhalians, we understand what creates alienation from basic goodness and what creates a sense of goodness and decency and, as you say, if we have any allegiance to the principle of cause and effect, we must look inward, too. A simple black and white approach to right and wrong is not only too easy but harmful, I like to say. Thank you, Nick, for reminding all of us to always be kind, loving and accommodating in the first place!

  6. Karl-Ludwig Leiter
    Jan 11, 2015

    Thank you, Uwe !!!

  7. Nick Wright
    Jan 11, 2015

    When I was seventeen, one of my teachers (who happened to be Jewish) played a scathingly “satirical” Tom Lehrer song for us, called “The Vatican Rag”. My teacher obviously thought it was very funny, and she thought all her students would, too. She was almost right.

    Most of the class began laughing at the harshly mocking lines, and I did too—until I glanced at the French-Canadian girl sitting across the aisle from me. Her face was deep red and her expression was a mixture of anger, humiliation and embarrassment, not of amusement. It dawned on me that she must be Roman Catholic, and devoutly so at that.

    My own amusement quickly vanished, to be replaced by a sense of shame. Lehrer suddenly sounded aggressive and mean to my ears, and very unfunny.

    When it was over, the girl, Paulette, courageously (I thought) put up her hand and told the teacher that the song was deeply offensive to her and objected, respectfully, to being forced to listen to it. The teacher waved her off and told her she needed to develop a sense of humour. Some of the class, following the teacher’s lead, said “Yeah” in chorus. The teacher’s response seemed arrogant and unkind to me, and, needless to say, Paulette was not persuaded by it; she looked glum and unhappy in the class for the rest of the year, and the teacher avoided her. The general sense of alienation was palpable.

    The Paris institution Charlie Hebdo instantly reminded me of that incident. The paper’s senior editor, George Biard, once said, “Attacking all religions is the basis of our identity.” (He survived the recent attack because he was in London.) Two years ago, the cartoonist known as Charb said, “We have to carry on until Islam has been rendered as banal as Catholicism.”

    As aggressive and degrading as their actions may be, do those who work hard to alienate followers of religion and to undermine their faith deserve to be murdered for it? Obviously not, but if we have any allegiance to the principle of cause and effect, we have to acknowledge that their decisions and actions raise questions about responsible use of our precious freedoms–including freedom of speech.

  8. Hello fellow warriors,

    what happended in Paris is indeed a tragedy.
    And the same day in Nigeria the Boco Haram islamists did kill 2000 People! Mostly of their own religion!

    So I always wonder which people are more worthy to be mourned? It seams to be the western people and they are few compared to the victims in the rest of the world.
    We tend to look only at what is happening in our western hemisphere – due to the media in the first place. But there are so many people and children dying every day due to our never ending greed, just to keep our level of consumerism at a high standard.

    I do not want to excuse the Paris attack but I would like everyone to see that the whole world is on fire if you dare to look into it! (This is it in a nutshell).

    Greetings from Germany,

    Uwe Kuehn

  9. Sherab Gyatso
    Jan 10, 2015

    Merci Rinpoche. C’etait une attaque ebranlante, meme pour ceux d’entre nous qui ne vivons plus en France. Tres difficile.

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