The Buddhist Shooter


Fudo Myou (不 動 明 王 “The Immovable”)

After being burned a few, make that several, times, I’ve learned two rules that always apply to the news about something like the recent shootings at the Naval Research Labs:

  1. First reports are always wrong.
  2. In case of doubt, refer to Rule 1.

So, let’s review the things we know aren’t true that were reported:

  • It was a single shooter, not three.
  • He didn’t have an AR-15 or any sort of “assault weapon.”
  • He didn’t steal an ID, he had a valid ID.
  • He didn’t get a general discharge, and his military discipline problems weren’t major. They also happened mostly in the last couple of years.

There are some things that are being pretty reliably reported now, too:

  • He took refuges (read “converted”) and attended a Thai Buddhist temple in Fort Worth.
  • He had a history of oddly random instances of anger.
  • He was apparently very intelligent (he learned Thai from hanging around with Thai people watching Thai TV. This is not easy.)
  • He was being treated by the VA for emotional problems, including “hearing voices.”

Now, here’s what the Mayo Clinic says about the symptoms of paranoid schizophrenia:

Signs and symptoms of paranoid schizophrenia may include:

  • Auditory hallucinations, such as hearing voices
  • Delusions, such as believing a co-worker wants to poison you
  • Anxiety
  • Anger
  • Emotional distance
  • Violence
  • Argumentativeness
  • Self-important or condescending manner
  • Suicidal thoughts and behavior

With paranoid schizophrenia, you’re less likely to be affected by mood problems or problems with thinking, concentration and attention.

Key symptoms

Delusions and hallucinations are the symptoms that make paranoid schizophrenia most distinct from other types of schizophrenia.

  • Delusions. In paranoid schizophrenia, a common delusion is that you’re being singled out for harm. For instance, you may believe that the government is monitoring every move you make or that a co-worker is poisoning your lunch. You may also have delusions of grandeur — the belief that you can fly, that you’re famous or that you have a relationship with a famous person, for example. You hold on to these false beliefs despite evidence to the contrary. Delusions can result in aggression or violence if you believe you must act in self-defense against those who want to harm you.
  • Auditory hallucinations. An auditory hallucination is the perception of sound — usually voices — that no one else hears. The sounds may be a single voice or many voices. These voices may talk either to you or to each other. The voices are usually unpleasant. They may make ongoing criticisms of what you’re thinking or doing, or make cruel comments about your real or imagined faults. Voices may also command you to do things that can be harmful to yourself or to others. When you have paranoid schizophrenia, these voices seem real. You may talk to or shout at the voices.

Look, it looks pretty classic. As far as the Buddhist thing goes, the priest at the local temple says now he thinks the guy was just looking for a Thai girlfriend. But anyone who has practiced in any Buddhist group is also aware that a fair number of birds with broken wings come in, hoping meditation will help them.

Sometimes it does.