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Student: I wasn't going to share something but I think I will. The point that I would like to make...during a battle in World War II a friend of mine took my place and was shot to death, and bled to death in my arms. And then I cried uncontrollably. He bled all over me. And then I went with three other guys to destroy a machine gun nest at [unclear] and I climbed into the mouth of a cave and there were three Japanese soldiers there. And I killed them in a murderous rage. And at the time I didn't think much of it. I went on with my murderous rage for several days after that. But trouble loomed, and yet I went to Japan after the war and I met Japanese and realised how wrong what I'd done was. Suffice to say that I drank for 17 years until I drank myself to near to death. I stopped drinking and at some point subsequently I turned my life over to trying to work against war and to alleviate poverty. And so for many, many years I worked to try to make amends. And I haven't understood that until very recently, until just in the last 24 hours, that the murder subject, it's all really enough for me, and I find it's very upsetting also that my life has been so shaped.
So my question about the compassionate way is probably based the fact that I know...I believe, "Thou shalt not kill" is a true teaching. For me it's an absolute teaching and not a [unclear]. To me it is. And I've paid dearly for my belief that I've violated it in the worst possible way. And all I can do is make amends. But I guess I'm sharing this currently because I want to be open, but also partly because I want to know how I can be a compassionate person without acting out of a deep sense of guilt and shame. [Unclear]...
Ken: Well thank you very much for your openness. I think it adds or brings a sense of concreteness to this discussion. You've done three quarters of the job. You still hold on to an identity. That's the last quarter. I say three quarters because your question brings to mind a teaching in the Tibetan tradition which is called the four forces. You may already know them, I don't know. The four forces are how you stop the karmic process of evolution in your being. We can not go back and undo what has happened. And when you make amends it isn't really to undo or to set it back in order because--in a few situations that might be possible, but in most situations it isn't, and your example is very clear. Your buddy died in your arms, there's no undoing that and you killed a number of people, and there's no undoing that.
The four forces are first, repudiation or regret, and that is, by doing the kind of reflection that you clearly have done, and that we're doing here, we come to repudiate those actions or that particular action. In this case it is killing you've repudiated. It's wrong. Period.
The second is remedy, and we do this not with the idea of undoing what we've done, but with the idea that we add to the karmic process something that takes us in a good direction. And then there's resolve, and that's where you say, "I will not do this again."
Okay, and the fourth one is reliance. Because whenever we act unwholesomely--which, for our purposes is intentionally causing harm to others--to do so, we actually have to check out of awareness, and one of the original meanings of the word sin is, that which separates you from God. So there's a similarity in that perspective. So we have to come back into awareness, and we do that ceremonially or ritually, by taking refuge, renewing our vows of bodhicitta and so forth, awakening mind. And you'll notice in this discussion there's no talk of forgiveness.
And what I'm suggesting is that you're holding on to an identity of a person who's no longer here. You follow? And to come to know through your own experience that you are no longer that person is how you let go of that identity. That person isn't here anymore. Now I can say that; that's my sense, but only you can know that.