May 5th, 2011

In the light of 9-11 and the killing of Osama bin Laden we understand the reactions of revenge and of hatred. Their expression was easy enough to see in the outburst of joy at his death in many parts of the US. It made some of us rather uncomfortable.

That we are staging the equivalent of the mob scenes we see on TV that burn American flags, is pathetic and not a reason for pride.

What are the implications of a state-sponsored killing from a spiritual perspective? Are there karmic repercussions for us since it was done by our government in our name? How do we best react to that?

We participate in the collective karma of our nation and will harvest its outcome. But what we contribute to our collective fate depends on the level of our awareness.

As we can see time and again, hatred creates more hatred, violence more violence. Is that what we want? When we act from anger in an attempt to make the world a more peaceful place, we simply pour fuel on the flames of aggression. An eye for an eye makes both people blind.

We are only too familiar with primitive feelings like hatred, but perhaps a bit confused about the dynamic of the higher principle of compassion.

Superficially we tend to see compassion as weak. But is it true that turning the other cheek is for wimps who can’t help themselves, and that compassion is a completely unrealistic approach in the world of ‘real facts and real dangers?’

In my view, compassion is as powerful as it is all-embracing. And, contrary to acts of aggression, its effects last.

Consider this: The works of all the great bullies in human history are now (or will be soon) nothing more than footnotes in history book, their empires destroyed, their memories discredited, their names in disgrace. Ashes to ashes.

The great teachers of compassion on the other hand continue to shine. Buddha and Jesus and so many others changed the world in a way that uplifts us. This is because they acted from love and compassion which became an integral part of their being and of their message. This takes extraordinary courage and strength.

Compassion is Jesus’ message of turning the other cheek—and it is also the fierceness with which he threw the money changers out of the temple with such power that no one dared to obstruct his actions. In the Eastern religions, the ‘wrathful’ deities are known to be the compassionate expressions of the enlightened mind. How so?

True compassion acts on all levels against what creates suffering. It eliminates the causes of pain, ignorance and confusion. It shakes us awake.

Can we then deal from compassion with highly disturbed individuals like an Osama bin Laden, a Gaddafi, a Hitler? How can we stop the creation of suffering by such individuals?

Compassion demands that we do not respond to hatred with hatred or fear, that we do not participate in the creation of suffering, but eliminate it. This can sometimes require fierce action.

What may such fierce compassion look like in today’s world?

Imagine you are a soldier guarding people in a crowded square. You stand here watching the traffic and you see on the far side of the square a man with a bomb belt approaching a school bus full of children.

It is clear what the man intends to do. It is a matter of seconds and life and death.

You recognize the only means you have to stop him from blowing up the school bus and you raise your rifle and shoot to kill.

What karma will that action create? What repercussions will it have? It depends on your motivation.

  • If you were filled with anger or hate your delusion of separateness is reinforced, hatred is strengthened, and the view of this world as a brutal eye-for-eye place, a ‘valley of tears’ is further cemented in your awareness.
  • When you do it out of compassion for the children on the bus, that karma is softened, but still you live in a world filled with danger and enemies.
  • Here is a third option: How would you act if you had complete compassion for the terrorist?

I don’t think you would act differently, the moment is too compelling. But you would act from a very different intention, a very different state of mind.

True compassion is rooted in the highest awareness, the recognition of the oneness of all life. This realization opens the intuitive mind.

Realizing that you and the terrorist are one, the eye of compassion would clearly show you the enormous disturbance in a mind that considers it right to kill children in the name of Allah.

What is then the most compassionate action you can take for the terrorist? Would it not be to stop him with any available means to protect him from the horrendous consequences of his own actions?

If you were a terrorist, would you not—on the soul level—want someone to stop you?

I will leave it to you to transfer this scenario to the killing of Osama bin Laden.

And it doesn’t stop there. How do we now relate to this soul, this part of us, which just ended an extremely difficult incarnation? Would it not be by enfolding him in the great compassion we carry in our hearts?

Who needs our compassion more than a soul who is so disturbed? And because the reality of the soul is non-local, which means it is not obstructed by the limits of time and space, we can be sure that our compassionate impulse will be received.

Yes, whether we like it or not, Osama is part of us. He is part of the oneness of life, as are all beings, high and low.

In the way we deal with terrorists—or with anyone for that matter —can we afford to continue to reinforce the illusion of ‘us against them?’

If we stay in this mode of ‘us against them’ will we have a world to live in, in a few generations?

It is time to use compassion to solve the problems of life. It is a much more powerful approach than hate.


Ram Giri

Skills for Awakening

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