We live in wildly tumultuous, perilous times, even the very fortunate living in the relative safety & sanity of Canada. The war in Palestine / Israel, like all conflicts, demands infinitely more than knowing how to defeat 'the enemy.' The level of thinking which builds & sustains colonial empires, multi-national corporations, & billionaires; also estroys the air, water, land, plant & animal species, human relationships, quality of life; & promotes conflict & war. This reptilian 'rape, pillage & plunder' mentality favors only the short-sighted ultra-rich & puppet politicians. Jem Bendell PhD https://batgap.com/jem-bendell/
Sadly, we've been conditioned to at least partially believe the 'American dream' sales pitch: owning stuff IS happiness. Otherwise, we're repeatedly told that life is supposed to be meaningless. Immediately after 9/11, then US President George W. Bush told New Yorkers, "go show those terrorists what we're made of - and shop!"
But Einstein suggested we NEED a qualitatively higher level of intelligence THAN the one that got us into this mess.
The current Palestinian / Israeli war provides a pressing opportunity to decide WHICH MENTALITY we take - the old reptilian 'eye for an eye' reaction - OR - our evolved wise loving nurturing intelligence.
"The personal experience of suffering unites us with other people: it is the dynamo that generates compassion, which, by its nature, is transpersonal." Dean Rolston
Below Jack Kornfield - former Buddhist monk, beloved meditation teacher, retired clinical psychologist, parent, husband & senior citizen - reminding us of our true nature & what we stand for (transcribed from his EXCELLENT 61min YouTube video bottom of page) :
“From Yuval Harari, one of our great thinkers & historians,
‘For right now, most Israelis are psychologically incapable, at this moment, of empathizing with the Palestinians. The mind is filled to the brim with our own pain, and no space is left to even acknowledge the pain of others. And most Palestinians are in a similar situation. Their minds too are so filled with pain and loss that they cannot see our pain. But outsiders like you, who are not themselves immersed in pain, should make an effort to empathize with all suffering humans, rather than lazily seeing only one side of this terrible reality. It is the job of outsiders to help maintain a space for peace. We here in Israel and Palestine deposit this peaceful space with you, because we cannot hold it right now. Take good care of it, for us, so that one day, when the pains begin to heal, Israelis and Palestinians and you too might inhabit the space of peace together.'
If you go into certain Zen temples in Japan or elsewhere, there’s this weird thing, they have little, low doors. We find them in Tibetan temples too, & other places. You have to bow to go into the temple. You can’t stride in. You actually have to lower yourself, with a certain sense of reverence & humility. And often by the gates of the temple are (statues of) the demons, that represent all that keep us from that place of peace & stillness. And you have to pass through them & acknowledge them. You can’t just ignore them. They’re part of the price of admission: to face the demons, to bow low. And then when you enter, you’re invited into a timeless reality. In Zen they say, ‘This is the reality of who you were, before your parents were born.’ That’s one of the great koans: ‘Show me, tell me, who were you before your parents were born?’
There’s a liberation amidst birth & death, joy & sorrow, war & peace, that is beyond it all. And this is the sacred openness of love & awareness itself. And you know this. You know this as sure as you know your own name – even if you forget it – you do know that there is something bigger & majestic & timeless. And this is the opening to the cosmic dance.
Remember the famous poem by Thich Nhat Hanh, ‘Call Me by My True Names’?
'I am the child in Uganda, all skin and bones,
my legs as thin as bamboo sticks,
and I am the arms merchant, selling deadly weapons to Uganda.
I am the twelve-year-old girl, refugee on a small boat,
who throws herself into the ocean after being raped by a sea pirate,
and I am the pirate, my heart not yet capable of seeing and loving.
I am a member of the politburo, with plenty of power in my hands,
and I am the man who has to pay his "debt of blood" to, my people,
dying slowly in a forced labor camp.'
I am them all. I am the joys & the sorrows. I am born again & again. This is the cosmic dance. And from this perspective, fear & ignorance & hate are seen in the vast ocean of love & understanding because we are part of creation unfolding itself. And if you take a Bodhisattva vow, as I’ve done, ‘O nobly born,’ it reminds you, ‘may you remember this freedom, and may you commit yourself, o nobly born, to alleviate the ignorance and suffering and fear in beings, the suffering of beings wherever you are.’ And then you say, ‘How long?’ As long as it takes.
So this is a shift of consciousness for refuge. This is the timeless refuge. ‘Who is your enemy?’ it says in the Buddhist texts. ‘Mind is your enemy. No one can harm you more than your own mind untamed, filled with greed, fear, confusion & ignorance. Who is your friend? Mind is your friend. No one can help you. Even the most loving parents & friends, as much as your own mind, tamed & trained & filled with goodness.’ So then you sense the outer refuge and the sacred refuge and it becomes your refuge inside.
What else is a refuge for us in these times? Ethics, virtue, whatever language you want to give it, morality. Here from a Buddhist text that I love:
‘Others will be cruel. We shall not be cruel. Thus we shall incline our hearts. Others will kill beings. We shall not kill beings. Thus we shall incline our hearts. Others will be violent. We shall not be violent. Thus we shall incline our hearts. Others will take what is not given and steal. We will abstain from taking what is not ours. Thus we shall incline our hearts. Others will speak falsely. We will abstain from false speech and speak that which is true. Thus we will train our hearts. Others will be envious. We shall not be envious but respectful of all others. Thus we shall incline our hearts. Others will be fraudulent. We will be honest. Thus we will train our hearts. Others will be arrogant. We shall be open-minded with humility. Thus we will train our hearts. Others will be harsh without compassion. We will be established in compassion. Thus should we incline our hearts.’
That’s a really powerful call isn’t it? To say no matter what happens, what is your refuge? What do you stand for, no matter what? Integrity, honesty, non-harming, respect, and in it there’s so much truth & mercy, because it knows that ‘hatred never ends by hatred, but by love alone is healed.’
And you look at Palestine and Israel, and it’s one traumatized people traumatizing another traumatized people from the displacement of the Palestinians and the Holocaust. And we may weep, and stand with others, and understand the cycles of trauma, and see with the eyes of wisdom, tenderness, and tears, and courage.
Like Longfellow who says,
‘If we could read the secret history of our enemies, we would see sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility.’
A deep forgiveness, allowing the heart to break, and opening to this dance of joy & sorrow that is given to you, it is who you are, is who we are.
And I think of these lines from Ellen Bass in her poem, ‘If You Knew,’
‘What would people look like
if we could see them as they really are
soaked in honey, stung and swollen,
reckless, pinned against time?’
How could we not see, with the eyes of love, everybody?
So what supports you in living your values? Reflect for a moment, and sense what it feels like to stand up for what matters. Others will do other things, we shall not.”
Jack Kornfield on the Heart of Refuge - Heart Wisdom Ep. 211