At a recent memorial service, Ethel Wan-Sharp told thestory of how the slain Starbucks manager, Anthony McNaughton, once wentout of his way to stop her from killing a moth, spending more than 30minutes gently shooing the creature out the window to safety.
"Tony heard me swearing at this huge, ugly black moth one night atwork," Wan-Sharp told the mourners. "He came running in, and with hisIrish accent, he said, `Stop! What has that moth ever done to you? Itcould be a reincarnation of your uncle or auntie.'"
Wan-Sharp, who had worked with McNaughton, broke down in tears aftertelling her story, saying that McNaughton "had always said you shouldrespect all life forms. To us it had just been an ugly moth that eatsyour clothes."
Friends of McNaughton, who was a devoted member of the Buddhist sectknown as Soka Gakkai International, believe his intense religiouscommitment to respecting all life played a role in his heroic decisionon Jan. 29 to step in the way of a man threatening one of his employeeswith a long knife.
McNaughton told the employee, Ildiko Seres, to run, while he blockedthe assailant.
The mayor of Vancouver, police officials and others have saidMcNaughton, 39, who moved to Vancouver from Ireland six years ago,should receive the country's highest awards for bravery. Theinternational coffee chain is establishing a memorial fund forMcNaughton.
Ned Boyden, a Vancouver member of Soka Gakkai, speaking at another memorial service, said adherents of the religion are taught not to fear death.
"It was Tony's karma to have an untimely death. But he's created alot of value out of that in terms of affecting other people in apositive way. The response from here and around the world to his heroismhas been amazing."
At the Soka Gakkai center here, religious colleagues of McNaughtonspoke about his 12-year devotion to the Japan-based religion, thefastest-growing Buddhist group in North America. Rock singer Tina Turneris one of its many celebrity devotees.
British Columbia Soka Gakkai official Harry Miyazaki said thereligion teaches about the equality and sanctity of all human life.
Although no one knows what went through McNaughton's mind when heprotected the Starbucks employee from a man alleged to be her estrangedhusband, Miyazaki said McNaughton may have been adhering to the SokaGakkai admonition to reduce the suffering of all people, because everyhuman being "possesses Buddhahood."
Soka Gakkai, whose 8-million members in Japan are closely tied to aninfluential political movement known as the New Freedom Party, arededicated to working for peace in the world.
McNaughton was such a strong proponent of nonviolence, Boyden said,that he would spend several hours each week chanting for peace betweenbattling factions in Northern Ireland.
As a result of his heroic death, Boyden believes McNaughton willbuild up a great deal of positive karma, or ethical standing, and "havea very enjoyable passage to the next life. His life has merged with theuniversal life force."