I don’t mean to sound trite or self-helpy when I say that we are love.
I was probably born spewing cynicisms and am a recovering pessimist. I believe it’s important to be aware of our current realities, and not turn a blind eye to the tragedies in our midst. I believe in knowing that corruption and impure intentions form a part of the web of our humanity as we’ve evolved up to this point (Not devolved. Bad news makes us think we are devolving, but I don’t believe devolution is our narrative arc).
I am horrified and saddened beyond words to hear about the terror attacks in Paris, the suicide bombings in Beirut, and so many other soul-ripping issues and problems occurring around the world.
One or two horrors don’t eclipse all the others; they are a searing, painful reminder of the darker side of the world. One broken body, one broken heart is the cracking open of an awareness of all heartbreaking things everywhere.
It is not meant to sound trite, either, to say that we are all connected. We know that we are, with our deepest instincts. We bleed for the fallen and laugh with the triumphant. Though it doesn’t always seem like it, we are not on any perch; we are not our own havens or cocoons. We are not reacting to world events from somewhere apart, no matter how far we might seem.
This is the world we all live in. Moments like this, when the world rips into shards of pain, highlight the fact that the separations between us and everyone else are illusory.
It’s not that these things “could” happen to us. They are happening to us. Our reality is an enjoined one. This is why we cry at someone else’s loss and remember our own: we are exercising our great capacity for sympathy, and also tapping into universal pain and suffering. This universality of our experience is also evidenced in the hundreds of thousands of monks meditating creating an observable ripple of peace everywhere.
Focusing on the potential we have to generate and spread peace from within us to the world is not to turn away from the shocking realities in our midst. It is a way of taking action. It is to confront tragedy directly, and instead of getting angry or placing blame (though some anger is healthy—provoking, as it does—impassioned action), we are cradling it in our arms in acknowledgement, and providing an antidote of love.
The longer we sit in meditation, or quiet reflection, the more we come to understand that we are swimming in a sea of love beyond the immediate world of suffering.
We can feel it within the microcosm of our bodies, too.
We sit down to meditate, and it isn’t long before we become uncomfortable. Our back and shoulders begin to ache, our legs fall asleep, sharp pain shoots out from the knee, the stomach rumbles, the heart begins to palpitate. Intertwined with all this are our thoughts and emotions, buzzing every which way, wreaking havoc through our system, reminding us how hard it can be to be human, to have this history of our past pain living inside of us.
We confront all this, observe it head on, and give it compassion.
Eventually, the discomfort subsides (it will return of course; everything earthly cycles before we can free ourselves from all our past wounds), and we wonder: where did it go? How could such disturbances just disappear? But they do. And then an ocean of calm floods the body, the mind, the heart. Breath elongates and we dwell in a calm universe we know extends far beyond the boundaries of our physical form.
We even come to see or feel that this universe of calm is our foundation, our platform, our natural state.
It’s most crucial to remember this when it most feels like this cannot possibly be true, because violence is erupting and hurt and horror are spreading like wildfire.
Let’s grieve, and cry, and really feel the suffering that abounds. And then, let’s give it love.
Let’s breathe in all the suffering of the world, gathering it into the soft spot of our hearts, where we transform it to love and peace.
Let’s breathe out this shimmering love and peace to the whole world.
Breathing in all that is, breathing out the love that underpins it all.
May we all find peace.
This piece was first published in The Tattooed Buddha.