Aṅgulimāla, the killer of many, occupies a special place in the suttas. Aṅgulimāla takes us far, far away from the nice, the pleasant, the beautiful–Aṅgulimāla takes into the horror of intentional killing and violent harm. And yet…
…the Buddha walked ahead of Aṅgulimāla, who asked him to stop:
MN86:5.9: “I’ve stopped, Aṅgulimāla—now you stop.”
To understand MN86, the following may help:
SN46.54:13.7: The apex of the heart’s release by compassion is the dimension of infinite space, I say, for a mendicant who has not penetrated to a higher freedom.
In this age of violence and mistrust, how shall we practice our own compassion? Will that practice be limited or will it embrace those who harm?