Two days ago I got an email message from a friend, saying that Wildmind had been hacked. Uh, oh. It was about 12:25PM, and the timing sucked, since I was just meeting with a couple of friends who were helping me move the last of my stuff out of the house I’ve been living in for the last nine years. As soon as that was over, it would be time to pick up my kids from school, feed them, and then take them back to school for an ice cream social and art show.
In the email my friend had sent me a screen shot, showing a screed criticizing Israel and the US. The night before, on Google Plus, my social network of choice, a western Buddhist monk living in Burma, Bhikkhu Subhuti, had posted that his site, and 60 other Buddhist sites, had been hacked by Muslim activists. I didn’t know if the group that attacked our site was involved in those attacks, but it seemed possible.
Our web hosts contacted me moments after my friend did, telling me that they’d locked down the site, preventing any public access.
When I had a chance to look behind the scenes, devastation awaited me. The hackers weren’t just trying to publicize their message, but were out to do damage. They’d deleted almost all the files and images needed to run the site, and had destroyed the database containing the thousands of articles that have been posted here over the years. But I wasn’t too upset, since I was aware that our web hosts keep backups.
It took 24 hours to restore the site, and to add new security features that will, I hope, stop a repeat of that incident.
Am I angry at the hackers? To my surprise, I’m not. One of the Buddha’s teachings has been my guide through this time:
In this way, monks, you should train yourselves: ‘Neither shall our minds be affected by this, nor for this matter shall we give vent to evil words, but we shall remain full of concern and pity, with a mind of love, and we shall not give in to hatred. On the contrary, we shall live projecting thoughts of universal love to that very person, making him as well as the whole world the object of our thoughts of universal love — thoughts that have grown great, exalted and measureless. We shall dwell radiating these thoughts which are void of hostility and ill will.’ It is in this way, monks, that you should train yourselves.
Bhikkhu Subhuti shared a similar sentiment:
The only thing one can do is be loving towards them and let them know that fighting is useless, counterproductive and loving-kindness prevails!
And of course change passwords too!
There’s one other thing that’s been in my mind, which is connected with the fact that the hackers were Muslim. This incident has been a good opportunity to remember that Buddhists in Burma have been persecuting the Rohingya Muslim population. This persecution has included rioting, murder, and arson. Monks in Burma have instigated these attacks, which are of course entirely the opposite of what the Buddha taught, since in the Buddha’s teaching there is no room for “righteous anger,” and the Buddha pointed out that any moment of anger or hatred is a moment in which you are not following his teaching.
Yes, it’s a pain to have your work vandalized. It’s a pain to have to spend many hours fixing things. It’s a pain to have those niggling worries that it might happen again.
But compared to the pain of having a family member murdered, or of being driven from your home, or of having your business burned down, the inconvenience I’ve experienced has been of little significance.
Of course it’s ironic that Bhikkhu Subhuti’s site was attacked despite him being a positive force for reconciliation between Buddhists and Muslims in Burma, and that our site was attacked despite us being vocal in condemning the acts of Buddhists who perpetrate hatred and violence. But this is just an illustration of the fact that hate is blind.
So I’m not going to join in with the cycle of hatred this time. It would just cause me more pain, and make the world a more hateful place. My response to these hackers is to accept difficulties with equanimity, think of them with kindness, and, of course, to change my password.