Parsing Carolyn on Compassion: On Loving Your Enemies

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This post got a lot of us thinking.  I re-post it here, with the hope that you will spend time with the many comments.  They  constitute a dialogue of unusual insight and caring, in which many of us do our best to come to terms with a teaching that is virtually universal among religions and philosophies, yet seemingly impractical and rarely honored in reality.  There are also some very useful references.  Enjoy! 

My wife Carolyn was a Professor of Psychology and Therapist for many years.  I tell people I am her principal client, and this is more true than I care to believe.  This morning she was thinking of the awful things that have happened recently in our world, and she penned the following lines that I think call for reflection.  She wrote:

“Maybe the horrors in our world are instigated and carried out by the very people who most need compassion and love–but they scare us so much that they trigger more fear and even hate, disgust, depression and despair.  These all need compassion, even if we cannot completely understand.  Surely our own acts that stem from fear, or lack, or a sense of scarcity, need compassionate and tender consideration?  If I am to commit fully to love, then I am also fully committed to extend love to all–even those who commit the most horrendous atrocities. This love seems so out of reach.  Yet once in a while I know its healing power.”

Here is a coda by Rumi:

With the Beloved’s water of life, no illness remains.

In the Beloved’s rose garden of union, no thorn remains.

They say there is a window from one heart to another.

How can there be a window where no wall remains?


My good blogger friend Hariod Braun offered this insight:

“I understand; though I shall have to allow disgust to play through first; that and many thoughts for the children, both dead and alive – I think they come first in the queue. [re: Peshawar]”

I of course agree–both with Hariod and with Carolyn.  With Hariod, I cannot help feeling anguish at the slaughter of innocent children and the ultimate sacrifice of dedicated teachers. Having lost a child, Carolyn and I both know the wrenching grief that the parents of Peshawar feel as they bury their children.  The vicious assassins of the Taliban fill my heart with anger, disgust and confusion. How can a grown man feel justified in the massacre of scores of children?   What kind of a monster could do this?

Yet with Carolyn, while acknowledge these feeling of revulsion, I find that they throw this most radical teaching of the world’s religions into bold relief.  It might be illuminating at this point to juxtapose these teachings:

Christianity, the Sermon on the Mount: You have heard it said, “You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.”  But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.

Judaism, Jerusalem Talmud, Nedarim 9.4:  Who takes vengeance or bears a grudge acts like one who, having cut his hand while handling a knife, avenges himself by stabbing the other hand.

Islam, Qur’an, 41.34-35: the good deed and the evil deed are not alike.  Repel the evil deed with one which is better, then lo! he between whom and you there was enmity shall become as though he were a bosom friend.

Islam, Qur’an 60.7: It may be that God will ordain love between you and those whom you hold as enemies.  For God has power over all things; and God is Oft-forgiving, Most merciful.

Buddhism, Dhammapada, 1.3-5: “He abused me, he beat me, he defeated me, he robbed me!” In those who harbor such thoughts hatred is not appeased.  “He abused me, he beat me, he defeated me, he robbed me!” In those ho do not harbor such thoughts hatred is appeased.  Hatreds never cease through hatred in this world; through love alone they cease.  This is an eternal law.

Hinduism, Ramayana, Yuddha Kanda 115: A superior being does not render evil for evil; this is a maxim one should observe; the ornament of virtuous persons is their conduct.  One should never harm the wicked or the good or even criminals meriting death.  A noble soul will ever exercise compassion even towards those who enjoy injuring others or those of cruel deeds when they are actually committing them–for who is without fault?

Taoism, Tao Te Ching, 49: The sage has not fixed ideas. He regards the people’s ideas as his own.  I treat those who are good with goodness, and I also treat those who are not good with goodness.  Thus goodness is attained.

There are so many theoretical quibbles among cultural belief systems–one life or many, one God or many, transubstantiation, the Filioque–which have few practical implications.  The most fundamental theme, however, is this seemingly impractical one of loving one’s enemies and doing good to those who hurt us.  This principle seems not only impractical, but downright wrong.  We need, people say, to reset the balance of Justice by punishing the evildoers, and it is astounding how often the almost universal teaching of love and compassion is honored in the breach.

The trick, I think, is to feel the feelings of disgust, sorrow, and revulsion, and to condemn and curtail the atrocities–man’s inhumanity to man–while still believing in the power and the decency of compassion; while still believing in the divine spark in every creature; while still acknowledging the unfathomable depths of every person’ soul.  As many of the quotes above imply, this is a terribly difficult thing to do both in the face of our raw feelings and in the need to actively intervene to stop cruelty–sometimes even in a war.  My most inspiring modern example of loving active resistance is Martin Luther King, Jr. whose letter from the Birmingham Jail is a magnificent rendering of Christian (and universal) values.  The most eloquent classical expression (that I know of) of the importance of compassion even in the midst of war is that of Lao Tzu in verse 31 of the Tao Te Ching:

Good weapons are instruments of fear; all creatures hate them.

Therefore followers of Tao never use them. […]

Good weapons are instruments of fear; they are not a wise man’s tools.

He uses them only when he has no choice.

Peace and quiet are dear to his heart,

And victory no cause for rejoicing.

If you rejoice in victory, then you delight in killing;

If you delight in killing, you cannot fulfill yourself. […]

This means that war is conducted like a funeral.

When many people are being killed,

they should be mourned in heartfelt sorrow.

that is why a victory must be observed like a funeral.

Now please go back to the top and peruse the replies for a rich dialogue

19 thoughts on “Parsing Carolyn on Compassion: On Loving Your Enemies

  1. Hariod Brawn

    For myself John, this episode is not about delineating enemies, lusting for vengeance, expressing anger, demanding justice and retribution; it is not currently for me within the sphere of morality, or religion, or wisdom, or love, or hatred. It is simply about absorbing a great tragedy to the extent that I am able to from such a distance. In this absorption, compassion arises within me along with disgust; the compassion reaches out first and foremost to the children, both dead and alive, to their parents and siblings, to the slaughtered teachers and to their families. They did not choose death and suffering; the killers chose to die in what they believed was a greater cause and which in any case would take them to a better place. The killers, as far as I know, do not need my compassion; they have what they want; they are now happy in paradise, or perhaps not. Either way, they left this world willingly, with hope and with their God in their hearts.

    The dead children do not need my compassion; their suffering in this life has ended, yet I cannot but help think of them with compassion in my heart, for what it is worth. Separately, then perhaps in small part I feel a weight of guilt for what humankind has inflicted upon them, for I am part of that collective which wrought terror in those children’s hearts. Quite possibly, we all ought bear a burden of disgrace as to what our species has done to itself here; it feels a little like that to me. I have quite recently held a dead child in my arms – my own grandson – and know the value this moment brought in time to my situation. I can only hope that the parents of the dead children of Peshawar were afforded such an opportunity, that at least the faces of their sons and daughters remained to be kissed and remembered.

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    1. jhanagan2014 Post author

      Thank you so much, Hariod. Your comments always urge me to think more and more deeply. These are difficult perspectives for me to think through in written comments. I do wish we had a table between us instead of an ocean—a table with a bottle of good Sherry on it and a crackling fire in the hearth. We still might not solve the problems of life, but I’ll bet we would travel a good distance.

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  2. John Dougill

    John, this is what I was trying to get at in an earlier response, about the problem of showing compassion for one’s torturers – not part of a Stockholm syndrome but in the very real sense of understanding and forgiving those who cause outrageous harm. I’ve read of this in Holocaust survivors, and it’s the subject of the wonderful Dead Man Walking in the sense that the nun played by Susan Sarandron shows love for the murderer even after she realises what a horrendous crime he committed. The problem is of course is where does one draw the line in terms of responsibility, which is why the parents of the victims are so angry with the nun. If no one is responsible for their actions, then compassion makes good sense to me. But if we’re all children of fate and circumstance, how can there be a moral dimension to life? And surely there are countless occasions where confrontation has greater effect in righting wrong than compassion? I’m thinking in particular of the Reconciliation process in S. Africa and N. Ireland. Only when confronted by the immense harm they had done did some of the most hardened killers break down and repent…

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    1. jhanagan2014 Post author

      These are difficult ideas for me, John, and I wish we were walking along the Kamogawa probing them. Perhaps we can confront human viciousness and assign responsibility, but do so with compassion for the person. I think this is the point of the quotations I listed today. I know I am balancing on the edge of a vapid cliche: Hate the sin and love the sinner. Ot perhaps, hate the sin, and do not use it to justify having a heart filled with hatred and self-righteousness. It embarrasses me to think in such superficialities, but I do think this is close to Lao Tzu’s vision: if you need to, fight a war. Fight it to win. But never with hatred for the “enemy.” If a person acts viciously, hold him to account, assign responsibility and restore the balance of justice–but without the aforesaid hatred or self-righteousness. History seems to be a ping pong game of victim/perpetrator/victim/perpetrator ad infinitum. This has to stop somewhere, and I am trying to figure out how to be a part of this shift. I thought of this sometimes when I was standing in front of a class of lovely Japanese students, knowing that our grandparents hated each other. Surely, individuals on both sides committed atrocities and needed to be held responsible, but I think it can be done without hatred. As you know, I worked in a maximum security prison for two years, and the self-righteous disdain with which the guards treated the inmates was soul-destroying for both sides.
      In Dead Man Walking, I think there were two disagreements. One was over the nature of the punishment, and the other was one of attitude. The nun was against the death penalty in general, and over and above that, she came to see Sean Penn as a person. I don’t think her compassionate insight exonerated him from guilt and responsibility, and she knew he deserved a punishment short of death, but her heart was not hardened to him. This, I think, Martin Luther King exemplified to an amazing degree.
      I feel way the hell out of my depth here, John, but I am grateful for your help in the journey toward understanding and living compassion in a realistic way.

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  3. Michael

    Hi John,

    First off, I want to thank you for offering your space here for such a difficult topic– a topic for which one could be challenged simply for offering an opinion that differs from another, and where pain, contempt, anger, sorrow and other emotions run to their extremes. When such atrocities are committed, it is nearly impossible to feel as though there is a level playing field between those who have lost children, or siblings, or friends, and those who look on in pain, disgust, empathy and compassion from (seemingly) afar. If opinions differ, surely those most directly affected should have the floor… right? What is the appropriate response?

    I think you touched upon something important in one of your comments, which (in my own paraphrased expansion) is that regardless of what it is “right and good” to feel, regardless of what the world may deem an “appropriate response”, and regardless of how directly or indirectly we are touched by acts of violence and ignorance, the question remains: how do we become part of the solution? These are difficult waters, for they beg for a fulfillment of the ideals espoused in our greatest religious philosophies as you have recounted here.

    I think that at the heart of these practices, perhaps sadly, as it may be easier were it otherwise, it is not possible to hate an act (to harbor hate of any sort in one’s heart) and love the actor. In the book A Course in Miracles, and later in A Course of Love, and in a wonderful book by Tom Carpenter entitled The Miracle of Real Forgiveness, an idea is presented which suggests it is not possible to truly forgive while looking first upon that which is unforgivable, and then attempting to absolve it through some act of will or to negate it through some guilt-laden act of expiation.

    It is indeed nonsensical to turn the other cheek, if it means allowing that to happen which permanently damages beings, or causes harm to Creation itself– to the most essential nature within us. Rather than judging an act as being truly harmful in the sense of it having caused irreparable harm to the foundations of being, as it therefore would be unforgivable, I believe the practices you have noted above rest upon the powerful knowledge that no physical act is capable of remotely touching that which is sacrosanct and abiding, and that every act upon the physical plane is but a temporary form of communication. Senseless violence communicates pain, and is a desperate call for love. Seen as such, the return of Love is the only appropriate response.

    We always come back, though, (do we not?), after deliberating upon such a philosophical viewpoint, to the question of pain and suffering. Yes, but… Yes, great… but what about the victims? What about their pain? What about the loss and the grief? What about the very real and irreparable damage that has been done to so many lives? How do we prevent this…? How can we say that greeting violence with love and forgiveness will change anything?

    I believe if we look deeply, we can see and realize that to insist that suffering is the fundamental nature of these events without realizing that suffering is an interpretation, is to perpetuate suffering. It may well be an interpretation 99.999% of us agree with, but that doesn’t mean it is accurate, or that it doesn’t contribute to the arising of suffering.

    Now, I do not mean to suggest everything is hunky-dory, or that those who would harm others be permitted to do so without staunch resistance, only that we open our hearts and flood the scene with Love. Love to the children. Love to their parents and siblings and friends. Love to their persecutors. Love in the sense of communicating profoundly the realization that no act of violence can ever change nature of who we are, and as such to render all forms of violence everywhere meaningless. For as acts of communication, that is what they are: without meaning.

    When there is thunder, and the skies are suddenly peeled open, and every tree is shaken and the stones rattled in their sockets, what will come flooding into the void? Love. Love can at times be warrior like, I think, and will always protect itself from being defiled, but such love stands on the power of invincibility, of compassion, of what is, and will see only a cry for help in every act of violence. We delude ourselves to think one form of meaningless violence is “different” than the forms we offer in our own thoughts in all sorts of situations and seemingly more “benign” ways. We delude ourselves to think our own violent outbursts, muffled and channeled through “reasonable” avenues that do not result in physical violence, do not have far-reaching affects on the nature of this world. We delude ourselves to think we are “different” from those who committed these acts, for if we are honest, we know the ways we have lashed out in our own pain, and in that honesty we can see in all beings the face of a brother or a sister. We can discover compassion with equanimity. For we are the ones whose thoughts have created poverty and desperation. We are the ones whose thoughts have created ignorance and division. We are the ones who can become vessels through which all of it is healed…

    Much Love
    Michael

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    1. Hariod Brawn

      If I may be forgiven for jumping in here, I would like to thank you for your wonderful contribution to this difficult discussion Michael. You commendably attempt to bridge two worlds of knowing with your words, which is a tall order at the best of times. One danger in this valiant endeavour, though not one which you fell prey to, is that we might fail to do justice to either.

      Suffering is, as you say, an interpretative overlay, a superimposition that may rest even upon the actuality of a single sensory datum – we stub our toe, feel momentary pressure then pin pricks of heat therein, and overlay an anger-filled belief that these events cause to the self egregious suffering in and of themselves. And yet there is suffering, regardless of its causes.

      And then there is the kind of suffering that issues not from defending and sustaining the interests of the self, but from the pain of human loss, whether it be that of an unknown child or of one close to us. This can never be beaten into submission by any degree of understanding. It is an irrevocable part of the human condition, of the great sages too.

      Being privileged in having both access to, and an appreciation of, the deepest of philosophical truths – such as yourself, John and Carolyn clearly enjoy – we can bring a balanced view to atrocities such as Peshawar; and you all must be commended for speaking up. I am at a stage in my development when I must just rest with simpler expressions for now.

      This situation then, for me, remains primarily one for the heart to dwell within. I would feel uncomfortable in myself abstracting the whole to the sphere of (my limited) wisdom alone. And I know I would feel awkward straddling these two worlds, wanting rather to do full justice to this one, the human one. I feel strongly that I owe it to the children, irrational though this is.

      Much love to you dear Michael, to you John and to you too Carolyn (if you are reading).

      Hariod. ❤

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  4. Julie Montinieri

    I feel humbled and blessed by this conversation. Carolyn raised what we all are feeling — anguish at another atrocity involving the murder of many children. It brings up the helpless and panicky feelings we experienced here in Connecticut as we remembered Newtown’s loss two years ago at the hands of a very troubled young person.

    What to do with feelings for the killer? I am able to broach compassion when I realize that he must have forgotten his humanity. Anyone who can aim a gun at a child and pull the trigger surely has lost their humanity.

    Michael referenced A Course in Miracles, which I am making my way through now. I’m not sure I’m getting it all, my first time through it, but let me add Lesson 82 to our conversation:

    My forgiveness is the means by which the light of the world finds expression through me. My forgiveness is the means by which I become aware of the light of the world in me. My forgiveness is the means by which the world is healed, together with myself. Let me then, then, forgive the world, that it may be healed along with me.

    John, I’m so grateful for this conversation tears are brimming in my eyes. I can’t seem to find thoughtful, conscious reflections/questions like these anywhere else. One of my teachers used the phrase “compassionate accountability” this week. Perhaps this offers some glimpse of how to be part of the shift. From my perspective you, Carolyn, Michael and Hariod are all part of the shift into a new age of humanity. It’s just that the breakdown of the old, unsusstainable, patriarchal system is particularly ugly. Let’s pray it’s a breakdown in order to break through to new ways of being.

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    1. jhanagan2014 Post author

      Dear Julie, Michael, Hariod, John, and Carolyn: Thank you all for the wonderful gift of love and wisdom that you all so unstintingly offer. It seems to me that we are all dancing around a mysterious yet beautiful prism, looking though different facets to glimpse the light within. John seems to be wrestling with the balance of compassion and justice, and how we might understand the dimensions of a moral universe. Michael and Julie both affirm love, and raise the equally difficult question of forgiveness (one which I was studiously avoiding in order to keep from getting ever more deeply in over my head). And I hear Hariod wondering about the power and value of abstract words–even wise words–amidst the horror of Peshawar. He mentioned earlier that the state of my mind and even my heart will have little direct effect on the mothers of Peshawar.

      I think we all agree that “beating our feelings into submission” is not the way to go. It seems people often use their ideas to do just that: justify your feelings, and if you can’t, they are obviously wrong. In my post on shoddy virtues, I suggested that any “virtue” (e.g. forgiveness) that is forced by an act of will is more serving of one’s own ego than of the needs of others. True forgiveness, I think, is arriving at a state of consciousness where the need to forgive evaporates in the loving fire of our common humanity. This is close to my idea of true compassion, and it is the sense I get from the lovely remarks of both Michael and Julie. The allusions to the Course in Miracles were especially moving.

      The issue of the efficacy–or even the appropriateness-of “wise” words is a thorny one for me. The first line of the Tao Te Ching reminds me that talking about something and living it are very different. I’m not at all sure of this, but I think words can come from different places in our psychic universe. They can be intellectual, brittle and self-serving when ego and/or fear are in the executive role. When I speak or write this way, I feel the words coming from very high up in my body–certainly above the throat. But I also think that words can come from a deeper place of wonder and especially vulnerability, and then they might have the possibility to flow from heart to heart. This is why I love poetry so much, and the times I was able to access this level of discourse in my classes, I felt the words welling up from my hara and flowing though my heart. I was often surprised by what was coming out of my own mouth.

      But still, what difference does it make? (I used to tell my students that at any time they could ask me “So What?) I think my struggles to understand the balance between compassion and accountability help to reduce cognitive dissonance and to bring my thoughts, actions, and feelings into closer alignment: to think feelingly and to feel thoughtfully, as it were. But the proof of the pudding is not in what i say, but in what I do. Thus, while I can do little directly to ease the pain in Peshawar, I do think the attitudes and energies that I introduce into the world around me–the world of my family and friends and the folks I run into every day–are worthy of reflection. I simply don’t think I can harbor hatred toward any group or individual, and come out into the world upon which I do have some effect in ways that foster the consciousness of love, compassion and forgiveness that I long to nurture in the world.

      I send my love to each and every one of you. John

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      1. Hariod Brawn

        Thank you for tying together the various threads raised here John; you do so with admirable clarity and balance, which of itself is no surprise. This, together with Carolyn’s original article, has been fascinating to unpack, to react and to reflect, to observe the interplay of heart and mind. It is rare to come across any piece which evokes the mix of powerful responses such as these two have – a fine opportunity to practise exactly what you point to above: “to think feelingly and to feel thoughtfully.” Once both the ego’s obligations and reactionary responses are set aside, I think this is what obtains in any case. What a privilege it is to hear the words of another who appears unhindered by either.

        With gratitude and seasons greetings to all reading and contributing here.

        Hariod.

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  5. juliemontinieri

    This sentence is a diamond among many gems: “True forgiveness is arriving at a state of consciousness where the need to forgive evaporates in the loving fire of our common humanity.” Also, what you say about teaching from the hara — with the energy flowing through your heart –that’s how it feels when healing flows through me to my client. Perhaps all of us are all healers each in our own way, intending deep healing for the families of the children in Preshawar even when it seems impossible.

    Now our conversation seems to have come full circle, as Carolyn referenced healing power of love at the start.

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  6. Eileen

    Thank you all for your very articulate and honest struggle with the meaning and value of forgiveness. For me the underlying issue is the meaning and value of suffering. Can it be redemptive for those that suffer and even perhaps for others? Is our anger and is even our compassion born out of our own fear of suffering?
    Does the melding of the words “passiondeathresurrection” into one word sum up the symbol of the cross? Is this perhaps the heart of the Christian experience? Can love cast out
    the fear that underlies both hate and compassion? Can lesser beings than Jesus come to that freedom?
    The simple story of Corrie Ten Boom would suggest it can. The writings of Viktor Frankl make it seem possible. The life and death of Dietrich Bonhoeffer would demonstrate the possibility, along with Ghandi and Martin Luther King. And many many who suffer worse than any of these from disease more prolonged and painful and humiliating than any torture man can inflict, but do not curse their fate or God.
    I have a post with just a few concrete personal examples of what the violence of war does to the souls of the winners, even the seemingly righteous ones. “Become Peacemakers: Wars Kill Our Souls.”
    Perhaps it might add some flesh to our theories in this discussion. Would greatly appreciate some feedback on it. And my questions. Eileen

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    1. Eileen

      Hi again, I have been preparing a presentation on blogs for a retired teachers’ group and was rereading some of my favorite bloggers’ posts. These words in a post on the blog ‘Unshakable Hope’ hit me as terribly relevant to my struggle to find both meaning in suffering and forgiveness for those that intentionally inflict it on the innocent.
      “This is one of the first lessons this 18 year trial with ALS taught me: man-made religion is simple, true faith is not………Will you trust the unseen God when you face a trial that doesn’t fit the simple and logical law of sowing and reaping? Spiritually speaking, answering “yes” to this question is to forfeit our right to adulthood. But I finally came to the point when I realized that this (Child-like faith) is the only way to receive the abundance of grace needed during these horrible trials – when things just don’t make sense.” Bill is now completely paralyzed and writes somehow with his eyes and a special computer
      When my own mother died a fourteen year death by inches with Alzheimer’s, a serendipitous quote helped me one point of despair: “There is no sorrow that heaven cannot heal.” And I learned that sometimes all we can do is stay at the foot of a loved one’s cross suffering with them.
      And my seventeen year journey with a beloved granddaughter suffering from Autism has taught me that joy and suffering are two sides of the same coin called love.
      I also rejoice that one of my grown sons lives and teaches in a Village in Cambodia that was created as an orphanage for between two hundred and three hundred children born HIV positive or suffering from AIDs. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have moments of great fear for him.
      I am a great believer in preventative prayer so this last fall semester when my grandson Jordan was teaching in a school in Afghanistan, I not only prayed for his and the others’ in the compound’s safety, I prayed for the terrorists, and I prayed for grace to forgive if the worst happened.
      Jordan came home for Christmas because it wasn’t safe to stay during a Christian holiday and the day of his return flight, he was notified not to return because the authorities had uncovered a plan to attack that particular school when the students and teachers returned.
      For now the school is closed. Jordan taught last year in Indonesia and loved it, but the Indonesian government closed down the foreign run schools. I share my own challenges because I fear that my comment earlier with my focus on the problem of suffering in the scheme of things, made it sound like I do not feel the pain of those suffering from terrorism.
      As anguishing as the evil of terrorism is right now, it seems pale in comparison to Hitler,
      Stalin, Pot Pol and the Khmer Rouge, and Harry Truman and the Atomic Bombing of Japan.
      This will not keep me from suffering if terrorists kill my wonderful Grandson, but it does put it in perspective.

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    1. jhanagan2014 Post author

      Thank you for this reference, John. I, too, have listened to it very carefully, and have taken four pages of notes! I found the humor, insight, and honesty of this discussion exciting. Here are a few ideas I loved:
      It is highly rational to love one’s enemies.
      Moving from hatred to non-hatred to love is a realistic way to grow.
      Love is wishing the happiness of another.
      Holding another as an enemy creates myself as an enemy, filled with anger and self-righteousness, thus losing my life’s energy to another’s imperfections.
      Good discussion of “tough love,” where we take action, but without the sting of hatred. The lack of this sting renders our actions more effective.
      The Dalai Lama’s assertion that he still feels anger, but it passes through him in seconds.
      The power of mindfulness. (I love the distinction between having a full mind and being mindful, the first being incompatible with the second).
      The observation that we rarely talk to each other about our common humanity: our fears, our vulnerabilities, our confusions.
      Thurman’s equating the kleshas with addiction.
      A mind addicted to certain ideas, attitudes, or feelings is like a TV with one channel. Meditation helps us find the clicker.
      We can feel anger, but ride it is a different way.
      Compassion for oneself is a difficult road, but one that is necessary for the the ability to look for the good in others.
      Befriending time. The Now is the hologram of eternity. Einstein: the idea of time as linear is a stubbornly persistent illusion. (I, too, like Tolle).
      Growing inner spirituality but not channeling it outward to my daily interactions with the people who cross my path, is like rowing a boat but not untying it from the dock.

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      1. John Dougill

        Wow, you listened much more intensely than I did! You’ve sent me back to listen again with greater concentration, and I noticed straightaway that in my mindlessness I got the names of the interviewer and distinguished Buddhist mixed round; Krista Tippert is the interviewer, and Sharon Salzberg, one of the ‘importers of Buddhism to the West’ and author of many books.

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  7. kanzensakura

    As long as we imperfect and broken humans inhabit this earth, there will be atrocities and horror. Converesly, we broken humans will do all we can to heal and help others. It depends on the chojces we make and the courage to follow through. Our various teachings tell us to be compassionate and sharing. I have been urging those who follow my blog my blog to be the peace, the change, the light. 2015 is the International Year of Light. It is up to us regardless of the badness around us to be sharers of this lights. To be mindful of the world around us, not just in a passing manner but in a way we take it into ourselves and let it change us for the better. It has to begin with me, so to speak. Excellent discussion.

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  8. flora010

    “Conflict must be resolved. It cannot be evaded, set aside, denied, disguised, seen somewhere else, called by another name, or hidden by deceit of any kind, if it would be escaped. It must be seen exactly as it is, where it is thought to be, in the reality which has been given it, and with the purpose that the mind accorded it. For only then are its defenses lifted, and the truth can shine upon it as it disappears.” -A Couse in Miracles, Lesson 333(Forgiveness ends the dream of conflict here.)

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  9. Eileen

    Anger blots out the pain of fear, just like any other addiction. Senseless violence is an addiction to anger and communicates pain as Michael said earlier. Where people may have never experienced unconditional love, where it may be a totally foreign concept…..their desperate call for love will be limited to a love based on achievement, power, obedience, domination. How would we communicate the kind of love that heals and frees in those circumstances? Many have obviously missed the point of someone dying for them out of love ie, Jesus. Yet that seems the only way, if they make it a choice of them or us.

    All best intentions aside, if I were there with an Uzzi when terrorists were going to kill children, I wouldn’t hesitate to kill the terrorists. I might conceivably lay down my own life for the children and it’s remotely possible that I might lay it down for the terrorists, if it was just a choice between them or me. But if they are going to continue killing innocent people of all ages, they will have to be wiped out like we would have Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, and maybe even Harry Truman if we had had the full knowledge of their intentions and the means to kill them.

    So often life seems a choice between the least of evils. Maybe the challenge is to never stop admitting it’s evil and live with the horror of our own part in it.

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