After the news of the early-Sunday morning mass shooting at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, Buddhist teachers and communities began to share their grief and support for and with the LGBTIQ community. Here’s a sampling of what they had to say.
Note: this page has received several updates. Most recently added comments appear first.
As members of the Soto Zen Buddhist Association — along with communities and practitioners of all faiths — we stand in solidarity with those who seek to live in peace and nonviolence, and grieve for the loss of life in Orlando. In particular we extend our heartfelt compassion to Orlando’s Latino and LBGTQ communities, their friends and families.
In the Dhammapada Shakyamuni Buddha, says: “Hatred does not cease by hatred at any time. Hatred ceases by love. This is an eternal law.” While we cannot untangle the thoughts and emotions of the shooter, quite aside from political dimensions, this is a crime motivated by delusion. Our world will never be free from conflict, but we yearn for a human culture in which one person’s views will not lead to another’s death.
We reflect, too, that mass shootings in Orlando, Paris, San Bernardino, Aurora, Newton, and throughout the world are facilitated by the ready availability of assault-style automatic weapons. These weapons, designed for military application not for sport, do not belong on our streets.
In the name of those below, and all victims of gender violence, hatred, racism, and homophobia — our sisters and brothers — we call for people and our elected leaders to wake from delusion and vow to resolve our differences with the strength of nonviolence. In this spirit we call the names of the dead in Orlando:
Stanley Almodovar III, 23
Amanda Alvear, 25
Oscar A Aracena-Montero, 26
Rodolfo Ayala-Ayala, 33
Antonio Davon Brown, 29
Darryl Roman Burt II, 29
Angel L. Candelario-Padro, 28
Juan Chevez-Martinez, 25
Luis Daniel Conde, 39
Cory James Connell, 21
Tevin Eugene Crosby, 25
Deonka Deidra Drayton, 32
Simon Adrian Carrillo Fernandez, 31
Leroy Valentin Fernandez, 25
Mercedez Marisol Flores, 26
Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz, 22
Juan Ramon Guerrero, 22
Paul Terrell Henry, 41
Frank Hernandez, 27
Miguel Angel Honorato, 30
Javier Jorge-Reyes, 40
Jason Benjamin Josaphat, 19
Eddie Jamoldroy Justice, 30
Anthony Luis Laureanodisla, 25
Christopher Andrew Leinonen, 32
Alejandro Barrios Martinez, 21
Brenda Lee Marquez McCool, 49
Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez, 25
Kimberly Morris, 37
Akyra Monet Murray, 18
Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo, 20
Geraldo A. Ortiz-Jimenez, 25
Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera, 36
Joel Rayon Paniagua, 32
Jean Carlos Mendez Perez, 35
Enrique L. Rios, Jr., 25
Jean C. Nives Rodriguez, 27
Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado, 35
Christopher Joseph Sanfeliz, 24
Yilmary Rodriguez Solivan, 24
Edward Sotomayor Jr., 34
Shane Evan Tomlinson, 33
Martin Benitez Torres, 33
Jonathan Antonio Camuy Vega, 24
Juan P. Rivera Velazquez, 37
Luis S. Vielma, 22
Franky Jimmy Dejesus Velazquez, 50
Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon, 37
Jerald Arthur Wright, 31
Omar Mateen, 29
With palms together,
Hozan Alan Senauke
President, Soto Zen Buddhist Association
Roshi Joan Halifax, Upaya Zen Center:
Last evening, many of Upaya Zen Center’s sangha gathered for a time of silent meditation, followed by a powerful talk by head priest Genzan Q Quennell. Genzan’s talk focused on the tragedy in Orlando and the “power of speech to turn the destiny of a nation” (Dogen). He finished his talk with reading the names and ages of all those who were killed in the Pulse Club.
We at Upaya stand in sorrow at the horrific loss of life, and in solidarity with all those who are calling out for an ending of violence and the passing of sane and compassion-based gun legislation
We are deeply shocked and saddened by the mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. We wish to express our profound sympathy to the families and friends of the victims.
When we encounter tragic events such as this, we turn to the Buddha for guidance on how to live our lives without hating and harming each other. We recognize that the root of hatred is very difficult to identify. It comes from deep inside of our karmic consciousness. We live our lives based on emotions and feelings of love and hatred. This is the source of our daily actions.
But there is a true and real realm beyond love and hatred. This is the Buddha’s realm; the realm of Enlightenment. Deeply grieving our condition, the Buddha urges us to listen to the Dharma and to hear the words from the world of true equality. Through this realization, we are able to see one another as fellow travelers on a journey to the world of true equality. Regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation, we should live our lives with respect and kindness.
Namo Amida Butsu
In Gassho (With Palms Together),
Bishop Kodo Umezu, Buddhist Churches of America
Buddhist Council of New York:
We, members of the Buddhist Council of New York, recognize the interconnectivity of all living beings and stand in solidarity with the citizens of Orlando as well as the entire Global LBGTQ Community.
Having a steadfast commitment to nonviolence, loving kindness, and compassion we would like to echo the following words of Jack Kornfield when he said:
“As we move through this beautiful and troubled world, may we vow to be a beacon of peace, a fearless carrier of respect and lovingkindness for all life, a teller of truth, a voice for justice, a protector of those who are vulnerable or targeted. May the power of wisdom, integrity and compassion be our guide.”
In this spirit we acknowledge that while times may be hard, we must love one another, that hate is not the answer to hate and only mindful compassion can heal our fractured world.
With palms together.
BCNY is organizing gathering of meditation and prayer for victims and families of Orlando Tragedy
Place: Church Center for the United Nations @777 UN Plaza @E. 44th St, (in front of the United Nations Headquarter)
Date: Wednesday, June 15
Time: Right after (continuing from) formal program “interfaith Service and Opening Reflection” starting at 11:00am
Buddhist Council wants to organize meditation and prayer service for the victims and families of Orlando Tragedy tomorrow, Wednesday, June 15 at the UN Church Center. Please join us.
TK Nakagaki, President, Buddhist Council of New York
Higashi Honganji Buddhist Temple (Los Angeles):
We join with countless others in expressing our grief for the victims, families, and friends of the LGBTQ community in Orlando, FL. We hope that the Buddha’s compassion reaches out to all, especially in this moment of tragedy. “As one little candle lights another, so the light of Buddha’s compassion will pass from one mind to another mind endlessly.” (Dhammapada)
The passing of compassion from one mind to another is highly significant. As the Theravada teacher Bhikkhu Bodhi once stated, “Mind is the forerunner of all that we are, the maker of our character, the creator of our destiny. The entire discipline of the Buddha, from basic morality to the highest levels of meditation, hinges upon training the mind.” And, he points out, an unawake mind can bring greater harm than any enemy; an awakened mind can bring the greatest good. Namu Amida Butsu.
We stand in heartfelt solidarity with the families and loved ones of those who were killed, with the residents of Orlando and with the global LGBTQ community.
We are saddened beyond words by this tragic loss of life. As President Obama noted, it was an act arising from hatred, and as Buddhists we believe that the fundamental antidote for the stream of hatred which distorts our society, is to build an even deeper stream of compassion that affirms our bonds as brothers and sisters and challenges those ideologies which would divide us into “us” against “them”.
Finally, we reflect on the shocking fact that a single heavily armed person was able to inflict this much damage and suffering on so many. We therefore call on our elected leaders to put the safety and well-being of our communities first, and to reach across the borders of party and ideology to enact common-sense, humanitarian limits on the availability of those weapons whose only purpose is to kill other human beings.
Larry Yang, East Bay Meditation Center:
In the chaos of violence, senselessness, carnage, and despair, we can take care of each other. We can hold each other with the most precious thing we can offer, our compassionate attention. Unwavering, we can love one another without questioning or second-guessing any aspect of that love or anyone’s life experience or identity. There is great Power in that coming together from wherever we are. In that solidarity with the deepest of places of our tender humanity, we begin to live the truth that the Buddha spoke of:
Hate never yet dispelled hate. Only love dispels hate.
This is the law, ancient and inexhaustible.
We begin to create justice in the only ways possible—through just means. Instead of trading Homophobia with Xenophobia as an insidious pattern of the market economy—Instead of displacing and playing off the oppression of one, for the oppression of another—we endeavor to dispel all oppressions, for the freedom of all beings. We can only create justice through just means—that is the law, ancient and inexhaustible.
Today, many of us are experiencing great sorrow and disbelief at the recent tragedy in Orlando. We are deeply saddened that one individual, whose mind may be clouded by ignorance and hate, has taken the lives of 50 people at a gay dance club in Orlando and injured 53 more. At this difficult time, we turn to our practice – to our loving, compassionate heart-minds – and hold everyone tenderly in Buddha’s embrace.
May we focus our hearts and minds now on unity, acceptance, and resilience rather than blame and hate. May we bring the world into our hearts and extend our loving kindness to those affected by this violent act.
May we turn our hearts and minds towards the conditions for realizing our Bodhisattva vow of freeing all beings from suffering and the causes of suffering.
Eyes of Compassion
Observing Sentient Beings
Assemble an Ocean of Blessings
—Chapter 25, Lotus Sutra
Adapted from City Center Tanto David Zimmerman’s opening remarks at a memorial service today for the victims of the recent shooting in Orlando.
The tragedy in Orlando brings us together in deep sorrow and prayer.
May those suffering loss feel held in our love;
may those suffering from hatred be healed with compassion;
may yet more violence awaken our collective dedication to living from peaceful, open hearts.
Lama Rod Owens of Natural Dharma Fellowship:
Remembering the loss of life everywhere this morning. I continue to watch, fight, and pray. May you continue to do the same.
The Dalai Lama:
His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama today led a minute of silent prayer, in recognition of the events in Orlando, noting that he “is quite skeptical about the effects of prayer. The real change, effect, comes through action.” Watch his full comments here.
This morning I offered a Dharma talk titled “Let’s all become buddhas together: the importance of spiritual friendship” to the full house Sangha gathering at Insight Meditation Center of Redwood City, California. When I left my home in Oakland, the first report of 20 people who died in the mass shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida was in the news; by the time I returned home, there was a report of 50 dead and 53 wounded. Acknowledging this hate crime in my talk, I said: “I propose that, considering all of the desperate and liberatory people’s movements now happening all over the world, that we need to look deeply and continuously — as continuously as we return to the physical sensations of the breath or whatever the object of our meditation practice is — to ask whether we are creating not only community, but whether we are creating *beloved* community. After all, this is more than an abstract question. We live in earthquake country, and at any moment those of us gathered in this meditation hall, whether we know one another or not, might need one another in ways that are highly intimate and highly unromantic. The Big One could happen at any time. Then we would need to rely on that essential human bond, in moments of crisis, which asks: ‘Even if I am not your parent, your child, your sibling, your coworker, your neighbor, will you help me? Will you be my spiritual friend?’ When I was in the Korean Buddhist monastery in 1988, I learned the phrase ‘songbul hashipshio,” which I was told translates into English as ‘Let’s all become buddhas together.’ Creating beloved community this year and next year and beyond is an urgent matter.”
IMS stands in solidarity with the LGBTIQ community grieving over the Orlando Massacre. May you rest in abiding love during this tragedy.
Maia Duerr of the Liberated Life Project:
Feeling kind of stunned today, in the aftermath of the news from Orlando… I am remembering back to years that I lived in Oregon when hate crimes against LGBT were commonplace, and when legislation to discriminate against our community was being pushed on everyone.
This level of violence, hatred, and bigotry is traumatizing… any group of people that has experienced oppression has experienced that. May we never forget what this trauma can do to people, and let that help us to have great forbearance with each other in the days to come.
I keep remembering something that dear Frank Ostaseski has said — “There is endless suffering. There is also endless compassion.” Let us abide in that place of compassion in the days and weeks ahead…
I heard and saw on television news the tragic event that happened in Orlando Florida for those who were simply having fun in their life. I am strongly doing my prayers for those who have passed away, those that are hurt and those who are going through a difficult time. All my love and caring and respect to the LGBT community and individuals around the world.
All the teachings from the great masters comes with nonviolence, kindness, love and compassion. This is the foundation of the teachings of all religions and all the great masters. We must continue with that direction for what we believe.
Be proud of who you are and don’t let any religion tell you what you have to be. Just look for happiness and quality and wisdom in mind. Happiness and truthfulness is never based on lies, violence and ignorance. It Is always based on wisdom and equality and living the life we want with simplicity and freedom.
Love and care from your Kalu Rimpoche
As I learn of the shootings in Florida, I am filled with tears and an ocean of compassion for so many who have been harmed. Sitting quietly, this tragedy strengthens my resolve to not let terror and fear take over my heart.
As we move through this beautiful and troubled world, may we vow to be a beacon of peace, a fearless carrier of respect and lovingkindness for all life, a teller of truth , a voice for justice, a protector of those who are vulnerable or targeted. May the power of wisdom, integrity and compassion be our guide.
And may I/we follow these instructions of the Buddha…….
Others will kill. We shall not kill. Thus we should direct our hearts.
Others will be cruel. We shall not be cruel. Thus should we direct our hearts.
Others will speak falsely. We will speak what is true. Thus we should direct our hearts.
Others will be fraudulent. We shall not be fraudulent. Thus we should direct our hearts.
Others will be hateful. We shall become loving. Thus we shall direct our hearts.
Others will be unwise. We shall become wise. Thus we shall direct our hearts.
May I/we carry these intentions with courage, as a beacon and a medicine, as a blessing to all we touch.
Our hearts and prayers go out to the victims and their families and all those affected in Orlando, FL.
When Rinpoche heard about this tragedy he immediately started doing prayers.
Lama Zopa Rinpoche always advises to make strong prayers to Medicine Buddha for anyone who is dying, sick, injured or who has already passed away. Also this can be dedicated to anyone who needs protection, support, strength and love.
I am very sad and tired today. But posting things on the internet doesn’t seem like enough today. So I’m committing to volunteering for a nonprofit that does gun violence prevention work going forward. Do you have one you’d recommend? Willing to put in a few hours a week.
[Rinzler also wrote a piece for Huffington Post called “Meditation Isn’t Enough: A Call to Take Action Against Gun Violence.”]
This pain belongs to all of us. Senseless, awful violence. May we unite from a place of compassion, rather than divide from a place of fear. Our brothers and sisters need our love.
Greg Snyder of Brooklyn Zen Center:
This morning I got really irritated about something not that important and realized I was resisting letting my heart break for Orlando. Then it just did. I have no idea what to say here, other than Charleston, Orlando, on and on – enough with the hatred, all of us. I am speaking from grief, so forgive my insistent tone; but we have just got to stop as a nation, as a people of many peoples, communities, and take stock, slap ourselves in the collective face and wake up to the ways we are creating the conditions for this. People are being executed… executed in nightclubs and churches, on streets for nothing. Nothing. Nothing. They are worshipping and dancing and walking. I pray every person with a shred of sanity – especially those of privilege and power – train her or his heart on love and, from that place, work to expose and heal hatred wherever we see it. I would encourage us all to take up the practice of watching our every word and silence, every action and inaction, every thought and distraction, every vote and political shrug of the shoulders, and ask ourselves – Am I right now cultivating a world of love or hate? Is the language I’m getting behind a language of love or hate? I know I fail at this intention everyday of my life, but all I feel right now is that we must work tirelessly to cultivate a society deeply rooted in love. Most of us will fear this because love is both personally and societally revolutionary. Love will shake us to our core as people and as nations. But it’s so long past time. It has been said so many times that it’s boring, but business as usual really has to stop being business as usual. I can already see the story unfolding in the news and soon it will be all too easy just to blame this on ISIS and take no stock of who we are. We too easily use this or that terrorist or sociopath as a free ticket for moving on. This too has to stop. We have to bring the world into our hearts and make love our first thought, our first intention for ourselves and every person we meet. That means we have to critically engage the mental and societal habits that resist love. Despite all we can do to each other, I choose to have faith in humanity. Yes, we can be a wind of fire that leaves scars and burning, but we are also dear and precious and deserving of our birthright of peace and happiness, every one of us. I vow to focus my heart on the latter, knowing that we must learn to clearly see and end the conditions for the former. May the mystery forever cradle those murdered in Orlando and may we all learn to care for each other while here. Love to the families and communities of those lost. Love to all of you, my sacred sisters and brothers.
May we be free from hatred and the suffering caused by hatred. May we hold our suffering and the suffering of the world with fierce, deep, and tender compassion.