Monday, November 28, 2011

Do Feelings Guide Your Actions: The Practical Buddhist Hopes Not

Four Year Old Boy Beaten to Death on his Birthday

Monday, Nov 28, 2011  |  Updated 6:35 AM CST

Mom, Boyfriend Charged in 4-Year-Old’s Death
Crystal Valdez and Cesar Ruiz were both charged in the death of 4-year-old Christopher Valdez.The mother and boyfriend of a 4-year-old boy who died Friday were charged Sunday afternoon in the boy’s death.

Police said the boy was dead when they arrived at the home about 2:10 p.m. Friday. He appeared to have died from “multiple blunt force trauma,” police said.
Christopher Valdez was pronounced dead at 3:10 p.m. at Holy Cross Hospital, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office. A Saturday autopsy determined he died from multiple blunt force injuries and child abuse, and the death was ruled a homicide.


The Practical Buddhist Responds

The Dharma teaches compassion for all, including a killer who beat his girlfriend's son to death on his fourth birthday. Compassion? Impossible, right?  Just look at the photo of Cesar Ruiz, the murderer of little Christopher.  Do you feel like turning away, or perhaps imagine beating him the way he beat the child? What could compassion for him look like?

Relax. Compassion isn't a feeling.  We don't control our feelings. They are like the weather. Some days it's lovely and bright and warm. Other days are full of rain and ice and long shadows.  No matter, we keep our promises whatever the weather: we go to work, we care for the children, we take out the garbage. Rain or shine.

We don't control our feelings, and they certainly don't need to control us. They are background music, sometimes soft and distant and other times loud and intrusive, but they never define us. Our actions define us. Our choices and kept promises show who we are.

Feelings provide information and deserve some attention. They offer a little data to help us make decisions, but they should never be decisive about anything important.  Big decisions must be based on conviction, commitment, and principle, never emotion alone.