Today I interrupt your regularly scheduled program to reflect on events of the past 48 hours in France.
Many wise and useful things have been said, but this is the basis of my contemplation:
What are they fighting about? About their perception of the world.
These words are taken from a talk by Ajahn Sumedho, “The Need for Wisdom in the World”. It answers the question: Why does anyone fight? People fight because their perception of the world leads them to a position where fighting seems reasonable. The question of what creates those perceptions is impossible to answer fully, and may or may not be useful to pursue.
In Ajahn Sumedho’s essay, he goes on to say:
As human beings we can make our lives into great blessings; or we can become a plague on the landscape…
This provides the foundation of my own response to outrageous events in the world. We can react by dividing the world into “us” and “them” and cling to a mind state of hatred toward the other. Another response is to consider what we can actually do, what our public and private response can be. I have decided that the best I can do is to keep cleaning up my own act; keep the precepts, maintain my sitting practice, choose to seek understanding rather than control, and live so my life blesses (as much as possible) others rather than condemning or criticizing.
So many feelings: shock, outrage, fury, sadness, compassion, determination. Feelings are powerful and should be acknowledged, not denied. At the same time, if we watch these feelings, we can’t help but notice that they are fast-moving. We can get stuck into one or let them all flow through. If we have to get stuck into one feeling, let it be compassion – for all of us.