This morning I read some of my favorite books, Cosmic Consciousness, and came across an awakening line by Walt Whitman. In a poem, he writes, “I say there is in fact no evil.” Wow. Really?
Is there evil in this world? Tough question. Science doesn’t really address whether or not evil exists. From my personal experience, I think an understanding of evil exists within the minds of each one of us, but there is no objective evil. What appears evil to one may not be evil to another. Even to someone yet another, there may be no evil at all. Believing in evil or not is simply a choice one makes.
Shakespeare actually shared similar words to Whitman when he wrote, “There is no good or bad but thinking makes it so.” Whether we perceive good or bad is a matter of our perspective on what we observe. Of course, given years of cultural programming, mass media, and consumerist culture flooding the minds of so many millions of people, it’s quite common to believe in evil, to believe in fear, and to believe in people jumping up and down when they drink Coca-Cola, but is any of it actually real? It’s real if you think it’s real. If you don’t, it’s not.
Walt Whitman and Bill Shakespeare decided that evil did not exist, and look what that did for them. Fairly prolific guys I’d say. Great contributors to humanity too!
It might seem difficult to let the idea of evil go in this world of school shootings and bombings and Big Macs, but the key, as one of my heroes Steve Pavlina reminds me of over and over again – is the lens you apply to the given event. What kind of glasses are you looking at the world with?
How you perceive events in the world is ultimately a choice you make. For me, it makes sense to choose to perceive events in a way that is truthful and for the greater good, because I believe the Nature of the Universe is inherently good. Rather than letting the news of the recent school shooting shake me into a state of fear and sadness, I think it’s best to see the event, like all events, as an opportunity to learn, to grow, to unite, and to awaken.
Ultimately I believe in a cosmic reason that underlies all events. I understand God as a sort of Infinite Goodness, offering us a beautiful message to discover each and every moment. So then, what’s the beautiful message behind the school shootings? As I mentioned before, some may choose to see it as evil and madness and a sign of everything that’s wrong in the world, however that perspective doesn’t vibe well with me and I don’t see it as useful. Rather, I think the event sends just the message we all need for our growth, which for me, goes something like this…
The Message and Meaning I Choose for the Connecticut Shooting
Life is short. The passing of the spirit from the physical body can happen at any time, so I shouldn’t take moments of being with other people for granted. Instead, I should cherish each and every moment as a miraculous gift.
Mental and physical sickness exists in the world, but that does not mean it cannot be eliminated. Because I too exist in the world, then this sickness also exists in me, so the best thing for me to do is strive to eliminate any sickness within myself and within every part of my life. This means I should start take better care of my physical body, of my mind, and of my spirit. By eating only vegan foods, monitoring my use of language to only speak positively and in love and harmony, and spending more time each day in meditation and prayer, I intend to live in greater health and energy, and so use that energy to further eliminate sickness in myself and in the world.
There is an opportunity to love in each and every moment, and the more we transcend our egos and forget about this false sense of separation that keeps us apart, the more we’ll realize the unity of us all, and how intricately connected we really are.. No man or woman is an island, and therefore I too am responsible for the choices of the shooter in Connecticut. After all, I’ve chosen to live in this culture that promoted exactly the type of behavior that occurred, so how am I not responsible? By living in the world, I am complicit in the act, and it’s clear that there is still some violence in me. The best thing I can do is look to my own life, to the choices and decisions I make each moment, open up my consciousness to any violence I’m allowing into my own life, and overcome such violence with compassion and love.
Furthermore, I know that on the day of the Connecticut shootings, there were many other people and animals who also died. Thousands of people lost touch with people they loved and many tears were shed. These things are a part of life, and it’s important to accept them and learn from them. I choose to see this event as a reminder of my role in the world as not just a citizen of America, but a Citizen of the World.
I also look to this shooting as a wake-up call to more freely share love with not only my neighbors, but also strangers I pass on the street. The power of a smile or of an enthusiastic “Hi!” should never go underrated. A kind moment of connection and compassion with a person can totally change a life, and even save many lives.
The shooting also reminds me how important it is that I have conscious conversations with those who I speak instead of fluffing about weather and nonsense beyond my control. The personal choices we make in our life ripple out into the world, and the more we think about how we can personally grow in compassion and peace, the greater peace and compassion we will generate in the world. The best conversations we can have are those that bring issues of peace to conscious awareness, so that we can constructively think together as to how to realize greater peace in our own lives and in the world as a whole. Through conscious conversation, we can answer all kinds of questions and create a better world Here & Now.
The best thing any of us can do is be the change we want to see in the world. This means identifying as a Citizen of the World and making a conscious effort to bring greater Peace, Love, Compassion, and non-violence to each of our lives. Certainly, our thoughts and actions ripple out into the world and affect those around us. If we all were living with greater Peace and Compassion, maybe it would have rippled to the shooter himself, and he might have felt loved, and so not have done what he did. The responsibility rests within each one of us to be the change.
Remember: the meaning of the event may be different for every one of us. It is our personal responsibility to look deeply within ourselves, to think, consciously, and discover the empowering significance of the event in our lives.
Links to Other Articles and a Poem on the Shooting, Perspective, and Oneness
Below are three links that help explain some of the points above.
For one, the article Jumpers testifies to the power of a smile or a kind word to literally safe someone’s life. Following is an excerpt from the article:
“Dr. Jeremy Motto had a patient who committed suicide from the Golden Gate in 1963, but the jump that affected him most occurred in the seventies. “I went to this guy’s apartment afterward with the assistant medical examiner,” he told me. “The guy was in his thirties, lived alone, pretty bare apartment. He’d written a note and left it on his bureau. It said, ‘I’m going to walk to the bridge. If one person smiles at me on the way, I will not jump.’”
Read more: http://www.newyorker.com/archive/2003/10/13/031013fa_fact#ixzz2FQXjxN2Q
Thich Nhat Hanh’s poem, Call Me By My True Names, speaks to our interconnectedness and how we cannot really separate ourselves from the shooter. In his instance, he heard of a story of a girl raped by a pirate, and realized that he was ultimately one with the girl and the pirate. Following is an excerpt from his poem:
I am the twelve-year-old girl, refugee on a small boat,
who throws herself into the ocean after being raped by a sea
and I am the pirate, my heart not yet capable of seeing and
Read more: http://www.quietspaces.com/poemHanh.html
Steve Pavlina wrote an amazing article titled Dealing with Tragedy and Loss in which he discusses various ways we can place seemingly tragic events in perspective to derive meaning from them and understand the role the events play in ultimately bettering the world we live in. Following is an excerpt from his article:
“When I look around at a world that others would have me view as discouraging, one supposedly full of corruption, famine, disease, poverty, murder, and environmental destruction, I don’t see tragedy in any of it. All I see is the joyful expansion of consciousness. I don’t turn away from such events; I simply recognize the joy within them. We have free will here in this physical universe, so anything goes. If you can accept and even embrace that fact, then human life becomes a wondrous adventure instead of a series of uncontrollable tragedies. We are free to make this reality anything we wish it to be, but we must first do it in our thoughts. I choose to hold the vision of this world as a joyful place, regardless of circumstances. Others may choose to view it in a less empowering manner, but I will not be joining them, although I do feel great compassion for the suffering they choose to experience (usually without being aware that they do have a choice).
We will not improve the circumstances of this physical world by labeling them as tragic. That robs us of all our power to think and to act consciously. Such attachment defines us as victims instead of as the creators we truly are. Victims cannot save our environment. Victims cannot end our wars. Victims cannot transform our corporations. Only creators have the power to make these changes.
But even while we regard ourselves as victims, we are still powerful creators. We’re so powerful in fact that we can even choose to create ourselves as victims.
What is your choice? Do you choose to be the conscious creator of your life or the unconscious victim of it? There is no right or wrong answer. You have the free will to do whatever you wish. But even if you choose to deny yourself the full exercise of your true power, you can never deny yourself the existence of it. It is always there, locked away in a safe place, and the state of joy is the key that opens the door.”
Read more: http://www.stevepavlina.com/blog/2006/06/dealing-with-tragedy-and-loss/
Steve Pavlina also wrote another awesome article called Recovery in which he discusses three critical steps to successfully recovering from a seemingly tragic event: reacting consciously, accepting, and finding meaning. This guy is really a great writer and very wise as far as I believe. Helping a man find meaning in killing a drunk person with his car, he addresses the importance of perspective:
“The next decision is to determine the meaning behind the event. What exactly happened? What does it all mean?
One of the best ways to do this is to look at the situation from multiple perspectives. Here are some examples:
- Zoom in – I just watched a man die.
- Zoom out – Over 150,000 people die on this planet every day.
- Downplay the impact – The man was 72 years old and drunk, so he probably didn’t have much longer to live anyway.
- Magnify the impact – This man’s family will really miss him. He might have lived another 20 years.
- Downplay the responsibility – If the man hadn’t been drinking, he might still be alive.
- Magnify the responsibility – If only I’d driven a different route, he might still be alive.”
Well then! That should do it for today. Much of this post was not my own words, but I find Thich Nhat Hanh and Pavlina’s words incredibly relevant for addressing a similar situation we are all facing. Hopefully they help you experience some Peace as well.
Until next time…and even after next time!…Much Love and Peace J