“Grief can be the garden of compassion. If you keep your heart open through everything, your pain can become your greatest ally in your life’s search for love and wisdom.” ~ Rumi
“Don’t grieve. Anything you lose comes round in another form.” ~ Rumi
“There are no victims, only volunteers.” ~ John Berger
I was going to write an entirely different post today, but in the light of the shootings in Laurence, Kansas and Las Vegas, Nevada I feel I must write something else.
Since I graduated with a degree in religious studies, I’ve been reading lots of books about spirituality. They’re not the mainstream Christian books but a mixture of lots of different religious and philosophical points of view. I’ve learned a great deal about human nature from my studies. I’ll try to make my thoughts about this latest round of violent acts as clear as possible. They are not the conventional ways of thinking about violence, or even life and death, so you can take them with a grain of salt. They are my thoughts. I’m not going to try to convince you to change your point of view.
Before I became interested in spirituality, I learned some vital lessons from my father. One of the most valuable was that people who are hurting, hurt other people. Violence doesn’t come out of nowhere. We become violent when we feel powerless and full of fear. That’s what leads to uncontrollable anger that erupts into our desire to harm someone else. This lesson has served me well throughout the years because it has helped me understand my own lust for revenge as well as why other people strike out in anger.
In my opinion, these acts of seemingly unexplainable violence happen because we as human beings both individually and as large groups have not fully taken the time to look at the unhealed places in ourselves or our communities. The problems seem so huge that we get overwhelmed. Where do we begin to heal our wounds and those of our neighbors? Horrific violent acts will happen until we face ourselves and our culture and decide to make some changes.
Years ago I read Gary Zukav’s book Seat of the Soul. In that book Zukav asserts that, at some point in our development, human beings decided to learn through crisis. That we resist change unless we’re forced to do so. The ideas in his book were eye opening for me. What if he was right? Could we choose to learn, heal, and create without living through dire circumstances which force us to change?
A few years after reading Seat of the Soul, two other startling ideas changed the way I look at human existence. First, when my husband and I decided we wanted a much larger spiritual life than the one offered by the church in which we grew up, several other people left with us. One of them was our friend John Berger, who had suggested several books on spirituality to the group. He was a crisis counselor for the Forestry Service and had helped many employees work through traumatic experiences of various kinds that caused drug and alcohol use, to getting chased by a bear, to losing colleagues while fighting fires. So when he said that there are no victims, only volunteers, I felt like he knew what he was talking about. I didn’t understand it at first, but I thought that concept was worth contemplating.
The second idea came at about the same time. Neale Donald Walsch said to me, “Contemplate these words: Nothing matters, and you think it does.” What! Nothing matters! I did not understand. Yet I did as Neale asked. I thought about both those concepts for quite some time, though their deeper meanings were unclear to me.One day someone said something that helped me shift my perception. And once I understood what Gary Zukav, John Berger, and Neale Donald Walsch meant, I couldn’t unsee the truth of their ideas.
Humans have chosen to learn through crisis. Because that’s true, certain people volunteer to suffer and/or die so the rest of us have a chance to address all our unhealed places. But ultimately, no one ever dies. One way to look at it is that we go back to God when we die. Scientists say we go back to being particles in the universe, or we go to another dimension. But the real point is that what happens to us gives us an opportunity to grow and add to the wisdom of all that exists.
I know that was really academic, but let me try to help you see how I feel about human existence. Since I’m a highly sensitive and empathic person, I ache for the victims and their families and friends when any disaster happens to them.
On another hand, now that I have this other perspective about life on this planet, I’m grateful for those who volunteered to be the victims of those tragedies. Since I know those who died are still living in another form, I’m excited that we all get another opportunity to learn some deep lessons about ourselves and to choose how to treat each other better.
Maybe the best thing we can do to honor all of those who choose to be victims is to, finally once and for all, face the problems we’ve been trying to avoid for so long. If we face our grief maybe this world can become a garden of compassion, as the Rumi quote above suggests. It will take time and effort, but I think it’s worth it.
Again, I want to reiterate that these are my thoughts. You can take them or leave them as you choose.
Thanks so much for reading, leaving comments, and likes. I appreciate them very much.
Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2017
Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, a historical, time-travel, magical realism women’s novel. It’s available in all ebook formats at Smashwords, and print-on-demand at Amazon and other fine book sellers. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.