Sad times for the nation at this moment. We are all consumed with tragedy. We are looking for something or someone to blame. It’s only natural. Innocent people were killed by a young man who saw he world differently than a normal, functioning, rational being. It happens too often in our world. The taking of human life has very little meaning in some parts of the world, even our world, our America. Since 1982, when the shooter was born, there have been something like ten other shootings by young men whose only rational thought was, “You’re not making the world the way I think it should be.”
I remember when 9/11 occurred in 2001. I was taking yoga teacher training at that time when the tragedy hit our nation with full force. We were all numb in class; we were waiting for some kind of direction from our teacher, Max Strom. We sat in silence for a long time in class. Speaking wasn’t an option for any one of us. Max then reminded us that we couldn’t do anything about this tragedy. He also reminded us that even though the deaths and destruction took place outside of us, we were still connected by divineness to everyone involved, including the high-jackers. What we could do in that moment in our yoga studio was to send our love and light to everyone affected by the tragedy, including the families of those who planned the attack because they had lost their sons in a futile effort to make the world into what they wanted it to be.
It is difficult to forgive when one follows an ideology to the letter, when one fantasizes that acts of terror will change people’s minds and hearts. Ideologies promote the “you’re wrong and I’m right” mindset that is so very destructive to societies. Everyone has opinions and everyone has the right to that opinion, but it is unlikely that people and societies who espouse their ideas will force others to conform. It’s a useless supposition. It is a perception out of whack with human nature.
I had a sweet moment with my dear friend and fellow yogini on Sunday that brought the day and a half of non stop angst to somewhat of a normal level. Annie had read my book, Sixty, Sex, & Tango, Confessions of a Beatnik Boomer – in fact, she is in the book – but she had to let me know how important my last chapter was to her. The chapter is called, “Calm To The Core.” It begins with a tex message from a Chinese royal named Hong-Shi (1704- 1727).
“When zen practice
is completely developed,
there is no center,
There are no edges or corners
it’s perfectly round, frictionless”
The last section in the book is subtitled: “Forgiving is a Bitch”
It begins: “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”
It’s challenging and completely exasperating to forgive someone. Annie struggled for years with forgiveness. It wasn’t until her parents had finally passed away that she was able to come to grip with her anger and hostility toward them. She still struggles with forgiveness – there are good days and bad days – but the section on forgiveness has given her a deeper insight in the mantra of forgiveness and how it is so important for us all because it enables us to move on in lives. If we don’t forgive, we never move forward, achieve change or transformation.
I wrote about 9/11 and wondered if that act is forgivable. Now, I wonder about Tucson and I wonder if that is forgivable, too. I wonder if it is possible to separate the actual horrific acts from the perpetrators who are flawed and psychically sick. I think it is possible and I think it is difficult. But if I do not forgive others, I cannot forgive myself. I will always keep my inner anger inside myself and it will prevent me from living a truthful and honorable life. For me, the essence of forgiveness is a spiritual practice through which I can acquire clarity and stay close to my inner truth. To forgive is to be filled with grace, honor, and dignity.
Hate never yet dispelled hate. Only love dispels hate.
The divine in me recognizes the divine in you.