"We all carry within us places of exile, our crimes, our ravages. Our task is not to unleash them on the world; it is to transform them in ourselves and others." ~ Camus
I carry within me the potential for all unspeakable horrors committed by anyone at any time in history. My task is to find the unchallenged core beliefs that would impel me to find evidence for these beliefs. All these core beliefs are just that: beliefs. They can be transformed. I am on it.
“Once you know with absolute certainty that nothing can trouble you but your own imagination, you come to disregard your desires and fears, concepts and ideas and live by truth alone.” ~ Nisargadatta
I do not doubt the breathtakingly beautiful Truth in what Nisargadatta says. Is it true for me at all times? No it is not. The key for me is not to judge the times when I ignore that Truth in exchange for some ‘special request’ but to be kind with myself and say: “Aww, honey, you are once again believing something that is not true and that belief is what is offering you and experience of ‘pain’. Time to heal that belief yet?”
“And out of that hopeless attempt has come nearly all that we call human history—money, poverty, ambition, war, prostitution, classes, empires, slavery—the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy.” C.S.Lewis
To put it another way: it is the relentless looking outside my ‘Self’ for peace and joy. Why is that habit so tenacious? Could it be that I am pathetically addicted to the feelings associated with the belief that I have done something so terrible, that ‘Self’ or ‘God’ has long ago abandoned me for unspeakable deeds of which I am not even aware? Enough already. So I took a bite of that apple. Get over it. My innocence is unchangeable. It is time to stop feeding my addiction to guilt feelings.
“A person isn’t who they are during the last conversation you had with them--they’re who they’ve been throughout your whole relationship.”
Rilke offers entry point into compassionately working with conflict where the desire to be right takes precedence over diplomacy. Hearing the line: “Are you willing to let that [the grievance] go?” can sound undesirable, as it challenges my entrenched position regarding a certain view towards a particular situation. But by enlarging the frame of reference to the entire history together, and the meaning and growth derived as a result, the question gets shifted from the event to the relationship: “Am I willing to let all that go because of this?”...well, you might say, "You have a point."
“The mind creates the abyss. The heart crosses over it.” ~ Nisargadatta
The mind, the ego, is just the idea, the thought that there could be an abyss. The heart Knows that could never be True.
"If there is peace in your mind, you will find peace with everybody. If your mind is agitated, you will find agitation everywhere. So first find peace within and you will see this inner peace reflected everywhere else. Where else will you find peace if not within you?" ~ Poonja
“To be wronged is nothing, unless you continue to remember it.” ~ Confucius
Another gentle reminder of the freedom of forgiveness over holding onto grievances from the past.
“Letting go of a craving is not rejecting it but allowing it to be itself” ~ Batchelor (Buddhism Without Beliefs)
This is why declaring a battle against something--ie. The War on Drugs/Terrorism/Islamophobia--will never achieve harmony because the goal is dissociation: “I am NOT that”. The desire to judge, to separate oneself out from the rest, is part of the human condition. When I recognize and embrace this part of myself, I open myself a little more to the world. To dominate, in my opinion, is to ‘look over with love’, and that can only come from a self-evaluation, and extend outward.
"For at times it happens that some trifle will cause as much suffering to one as a great trial will to another; little things can bring much distress to persons who have sensitive natures. If you are not like them, do not fail to be compassionate." ~ Teresa of Avila
So often we look for major trauma as the cause of someone’s ‘trauma of origin’ in psychological distress. We have found over the years that the most common, by far the most common cause is something as seemingly innocuous as: “My father was five minutes late picking me up from pre-school.” That became a defining moment; that is when a belief was formed. The belief could be a variety of things: not lovable, not important, worthless, not loved, abandoned. Each of these needs to be transformed to prevent an endless run of replays.
"To forgive is wisdom, to forget is genius." ~ Joyce Cary
It is wise to forgive, yes, that may not be too difficult to acknowledge. If I do not forgive much of my creative energy goes to sustaining the grudge, grudges are hungry and require lots of energy. To forget, however, is well beyond wise. It is to recognize that if I ‘forgive’ but do not forget, what I claim to have forgiven is lurking in the background, waiting, fully armed, to attack again at any time convenient to me. What a sad waste of energy! How many times did you hear people say: “Did you forget 9-11?” In other words: “Do not allow your energies to be directed towards love keep them focused on anger, resentment and hate.” Forgetting is remembering better.
Diederik Wolsak is program director at Choose Again