by Jean Houston
I, like so many others, spent the day glued to my television in total
disbelief, watching repeated footage of a commercial airliner penetrating
the second tower of the world trade center.
I felt outrage.
I saw clips from leaders all over the world expressing horror and offering
condolences; even diplomats from Afghanistan and Cuba expressed their
condemnation of terrorism.
I felt outrage.
Then, I saw footage of celebration. Rifles shots sent to the heavens.
Jubilant children -- no more than five or six years old -- cheering
in the streets, waving Palestinian flags; open glee at the death of
countless thousands civilians.
I felt outrage.
And then I began to wonder. What unimaginable string of events would
have to occur for me to become so desperate, so frustrated that I would
willingly participate in such an unthinkable act? Then I remembered
the exultant children, bred from birth to hate.
And I, feeling more and more outrage, became increasingly concerned,
shuddering at the power, the amplitude of energy that commanded my thoughts
with visions of revenge. Brilliant surgical strikes. I imagined directing
laser death rays from orbiting satellites into the hearts of Osama Bin
Laden and his hate-mongering mignons.
I had stepped well across the line, reaffirming righteous indignation
as the most dangerous energy on this planet. It is the fuel of the fanatic,
the fundamentalist and the environmentalist alike -- those who would
kill for Peace, for God, for the spotted owl, for the disenfranchised
fetuses of the world unable to give voice to their own need. They are
our champions! They willingly fight and die for us. They are the purest
product of our level of consciousness.
In building this realm of experience, we have created a deliciously
dualistic model that cannot coexist with Peace. Ours was never intended
to be an illusion of harmony. It is far too rich for that. It offers
the spice of towering emotional highs offset by unfathomable depressions.
Peace is our carrot, dangled enticingly just beyond our ken. Peace is
our reward, our graduation gift for making it through to the other side
of the veil.
We can rise above our differences, preach tolerance and achieve detente.
But not Peace. So long as we distinguish ourselves with labels of identity
we remain in the lower grades. So long as there is US and THEM; Israeli
and Palestinian; haves and have-nots we can forget Peace. We simply
Perhaps these events beg a simple question: Who am I?
We are asked to pray and so we should. For prayer -- true prayer --
is powerful beyond measure. Go to your mosque or church or temple if
you must. But for once, please do not go as a Moslem or Christian, Jew,
Hindu or Buddhist. Go rather as a child, unencumbered by belief, free
of predetermined dogma. Go simply to pray -- not for peace or understanding,
not for perpetrator or victim nor for the leaders who are entrusted
with charting our nation's path through these dangerous waters -- but
simply to pray.
Be willing to forsake a familiar Psalm or the intervention of a devoted
Teacher, Master or Lord. Forego even the comfort of angels and visions
of God. For once, trust enough to pray, not with your mind, but with
your heart. Practice the wordless, unconditional outpouring that comes
not from you, but through you. Allow yourself to become an instrument
of pure Being!