by Brandon Nappi
The thoughts and prayers of the Copper Beech Institute community extend to all those in Orlando and throughout our world who live with the daily reality of cruelty and violence. Violence is the result of fear, confusion, and pain. People do not hurt others because they are mean or evil. They hurt others because they are suffering, and they falsely believe their violence will relieve their pain and those they care about. The most important thing that any of us can do right now is take care of our pain.
Mindfulness is a way to work with our pain so that we do not create more suffering for ourselves and for others. Pain that is not transformed within us will be transferred to others outside of us. What is not healed within us will be inflicted upon others. This willingness to meet our own pain with courage and mindfulness is a supreme act of love and compassion.
Of course, the practice of mindfulness does not free us from the sadness, pain and violence so present in our world. Mindfulness is not an escape from the challenges of our day. Rather, when we are grounded in the present moment, the energy of mindfulness brings great relief as we see life clearly, free from the prison of hatred and false judgments. So the question is not only what does mindfulness free us from, but also what does mindfulness free us for. While our practice relieves our own suffering, it also frees us to love. Maintaining open hearts when we are vulnerable to being hurt by others is the courageous work of mindfulness. Our practice allows us to stand peacefully amid not knowing the answers or even knowing the questions to ask.
May the ancient wisdom of Lao Tzu comfort and challenge in these wrenching days: If there is to be peace in the world, There must be peace in the nations. If there is to be peace in the nations, There must be peace in the cities. If there is to be peace in the cities, There must be peace between neighbors. If there is to be peace between neighbors, There must be peace in the home. If there is to be peace in the home, There must be peace in the heart.
Amid the sadness, confusion, and anger of this week, may we find a way to be responsive without being reactive. May we find a way to love without being consumed with the very hatred that leads to violence. May the violence so commonplace in our world today inspire us to deepen our own practice of kindness and love. May we practice compassion for ourselves as we seek understanding in a confounding time. May we practice compassion for those who are directly touched by violence. May we practice compassion even for those who seek to end their own suffering by causing the suffering of others.
Still trusting in goodness,