Mindfulness in a Time of Tragedy
By: Fa Hui
On September eleventh, two thousand one, the United States experienced the greatest tragedy ever in it’s two hundred twenty-five years. On that day, four commercial airliners were hijacked by terrorists, all meeting one single fate; destruction. Now, in this new time period of awareness, we need to do what the most important thing we can do in this time of anguish. We have been struck at the heart with terrorism and now we must try to be mindful; mindful of the very moment and attempt to take each day at a time. With mindfulness we will transcend our fear of life and death; which has been so ignored until this moment when it was rudely shoved in our face. Mindfulness will help us develop compassion for our friends, loved ones, fellow Americans, the world, and our enemies. This mindfulness will allow us to seek justice in a justified manner and not in a way that would belittle humankind and sink us to the level of the terrorists.
On that fateful day, we were faced with a great deal of death, as well as a renewal for the love of life. It is sad to note that it takes the fear of death to strike us into the love of life. However, we should not continue to fear death in such a way. Many of us throughout the world are realizing that we could now die at anytime. The assurance of us dying at old age seems to be rapidly disappearing. It now appears that we, as the world, must look at life and death as the process that we all face and we should let go of petty and distant future plans. Suddenly the Latin phrase ‘carpe diem or seize the day’ seems so clear! Now this moment becomes critical, we must now return to our most precious concern. Mindfulness seems to be the key to overcoming the fear of living and dying; when you can truly live, you can truly die. This nation, if not all of humankind, look at death as a time of sadness. What’s sad is that the person, who died, probably didn’t even live in the first place. The dream that we have so pleasantly been immersed seems to be more of nightmare. The truth is finally exposed; Life is Pain! It is due to our mindlessness that we have suffered; this utter and painful ignorance as put all of us in this state of anguish. Now we must be mindful of this moment, this very moment.
Joy and happiness is sought in the moment. Life only exists in the moment. What other time but right now are you aware of? Mindfulness brings about compassion for all things; it gives us that clear head, allowing us to see what things really are. Mindfulness brings about the understanding, we must learn to understand the attacker’s hatred and ignorance, so that we can act out of compassion and not out of rage and anger of our own pride being injured. It is the difference between child abuse and discipline; the mother or father who taps the child or tells them NO in a stern voice does so out of compassion and wishes for them to learn something. However, when the parent smacks the child, he/she does it out of anger as if it’s own pride was threatened. We should not hate our enemy, they are not to be hated, that would be their goal. They hate us so much; that they want us to hate them in return, this way they can feel that their hate is justified. We should look at our enemies as we look at children, some choose not to know that they are truly the cause of their suffering. It is our position to relieve them of that suffering, to free them of the bonds of ignorance.
Justice must be sought! However, it must be justice and not vengeance. Vengeance can be likened to a water bottle with a hole in it; it’s only purpose is to serve emptiness. We should not be clouded by our anger, our feelings of betrayal at the fact that our safety and freedoms were blatantly attacked. We should respond with focus, with awareness, with mindfulness. This will allow us overcome our enemy’s hatred and maybe, just maybe it will transform their own hatred.
Now, in a time like this, there will be the argument that this is the passive way. That this is they way we have always taken. However this is quite the other way around. This is not a means of not fighting, but a means of non-fighting while fighting. Our attitude must be one of compassion and understanding and not that of hatred and anger. Whether we send a small commando team or whether we nuke a nation is not the point, our attitude is the point. If we have thoughts of altruism, then the actions we take will only be that of justice and not that of vengeance.
This is the first time that I have spoken about the Tragedy of September Eleventh. I offer only my thoughts of how we can handle the situation in a way that may, in the long run, benefit all of humankind. This is the key to our survival from here on out; it will help us to create that peace on earth that we have so long talked about, use it and all will be just as it should be!
- Written by: Fa Hui