Friday, March 12, 2010


The moral view of violence, labeling it as bad and wrong, has done little to end it. The alternative view is to release our judgments and see violence for what it is: a form of suffering. This is a difficult shift for many people. Not only are they in the habit of making knee-jerk judgments, but violent people cause harm, and therefore their suffering seems to deserve less sympathy.

You hurt me, so why should I have compassion for you? It should be the other way around. Does it take a saint to make the shift from moral outrage to compassion?

Turning points arrive when we can make a choice not to suffer in silence. We then strike a soul bargain that is fearful but necessary. The bargain is that redemption is possible through love. The absence of love is absolutely the problem, and love is absolutely the solution. We don’t have to reach into another realm to locate the redeeming power of love that is available to us here and now.

The problem is that love comes through a fallible human being. The rule is constant work on the spiritual path to clear away the obstacles that prevent love from coming through us. The work is much more like working on clogged plumbing than it is like imitating a saint.

Hope is the emotion that sustains this dogged work even when results seem to be slow or impossible. Can I love the terrorist who harms my country? Can I love the criminal who wants to harm me? At the level of the soul I already do, and the spiritual path is a means to arrive at that level.

No one is required to leap into sudden compassion for terrorists, or even to announce publicly that our enemies deserve love. But in our souls each of us harbors the knowledge that only love is going to bring violence to an end. No matter how you and I live our outward lives, our spiritual lives must remain devoted to that vision.

Adapted from: Peace Is the Way, by Deepak Chopra (Harmony Books, 2005).

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