It’s been a rough week for an empath, hasn’t it?
I’ve been observing my emotions swing all over the place with the disappointing and distressing outcome of the Stanford rape trial and then waking up to hear of the devastating Orlando shootings just 40 minutes away from me here in Florida.
All week, I have felt helpless as tears have stained my face reading the letter Emily Doe wrote to her attacker in court then watching him get a too lenient sentence and really show no remorse for what he did I felt the collective rage of the oppressed feminine in the world, in all of us. Hundreds of years of being violated and abused rising up in my body like a great bloodthirst that can never be quenched. I felt gutted when I saw the pictures of all those who lost their lives in the Orlando shooting. I made the mistake of turning on the news and saw even more pain and devastation. I felt incapacitated. This grief felt like a rabid animal sitting down on my chest, baring its teeth and threatening to rip my throat out.
I have felt the primitive part of me rise in anger, wanting to punish those who have perpetrated these crimes and I have felt the compassionate part of me see all of the pain and separation from self that must be present inside of these individuals to incite them to such violence and harm of their fellow human beings (though believe me, that does not justify their horrific actions in the least).
And as I observed my emotions swing from extreme grief, to sadness, to anger, to helplessness, I decided to sit with all of it, feel it all and then do my best to sit as empty presence. I call this “sitting practice” and I give this assignment to most of my clients to help them build a stronger connection to their soul and what is really true for them.
I believe that in empty presence we connect to our soul and the divine intelligence of the Universe. So I sat in emptiness, with these questions:
What can we truly do now to stop this madness. How can I help create a change that will put an end to this pain and violence? What is the root of all of this violence?
From the emptiness, a word arose in my internal vision.
I thought that was curious, so I asked my soul, what does this mean?
Please tell me more.
And this is what arose.
What leads a person to justify a rape, a mass shooting or any other violent act?
What series of events drives a person to commit such an atrocious, damaging act upon another human being?
Separation of self from the One that we all are, said the voice of empty presence. We are all one.
And then I saw it in my mind’s eye, the entire Universe and us little ants, little building blocks in it. I saw that we are all made from the same elements that make up all other elements in the living Universe. Quantum physics has proven that we are all connected, down to the molecular level. A molecule in France moves and at the same exact moment a molecule in Ohio will move the exact same way. When you look down to the smallest part of a thing, all you find is space. Everything in the Universe is just the same…space.
We are all made of the same molecules that originated in stars millions of light years away and made of the same empty space that is all around us. We are not separate from each other when we go beyond the surface layers of race, gender, sexual orientation education, age and so forth, we are all stardust and space.
That does not mean we shouldn’t enjoy the large variety of different expressions there can be in being a human, nor does it mean we shouldn’t honor our cultures, our traditions and the things that make up our identity. Nor does it mean we should whitewash everything into one kumbaya moment and forget that pain and the atrocious things that have happened in centuries of human existence. We are all one AND we are all uniquely beautiful in our own individual ways and it is a delight to celebrate the beautiful variety of expressions that come with being a human being on this planet.
And beyond the shells that are our bodies, beyond the belief systems and mental structures we have learned by default growing up where we grew up, we are all connected and we are all created from the same source, the same building blocks of which the entire Universe is made.
And it’s when we forget that we are all unique AND we are all One, that separation begins.
And in separation, the seed of violence is born.
In separation we see ourselves as separate from other human beings around us. In separation we can take it so far as thinking our way is the superior way, my skin color is superior to your skin color, my gender deserves more rights than your gender, my sexual orientation is the correct one and yours should be changed to be more like mine.
In “otherness”, when we look around at things that seem unknown to us or things we don’t yet understand or are not part of our life experience, separation says, that person, country or beliefs system is “other”. They are not like me at all. That person is separate from me. I am not that person. Therefore they must be a threat.
The moment we do that, we have dehumanized that person just a little bit (or a lot). And if we do that enough–separate a person from their humanity in our lensing of the world more and more–we eventually arrive at a terrorist gunning down over 100 people in a nightclub, or detaining and killing an unarmed man simply because of the color of his skin.
The minute I view you as separate from me, the seed of violence is planted. Because if we are all One, if I am you and you are me, then separating myself from you, making you “other”, separates me from myself, too.
As a result, when I have separated from myself and separated from you, it becomes incrementally easy to justify little acts of cruelty, indifference and towards others I view as “separate” from me.
Whether we’re blaming the @sshole at the stoplight for cutting us off in traffic, or judging someone for their sexual orientation, we lose compassion for self and for others when we see them as separate from me. We don’t see fellow human beings as having the same ability to feel pain as we do, we don’t see the mirror that is being reflected back to us in the face of the person we are naming “other and so we lose the ability to feel the compassion that could unite us.
Let’s not construe this to mean that we shouldn’t feel angry. That we shouldn’t stand up for our rights. That we shouldn’t hold accountable those who have harmed, violated and abused. That we shouldn’t march for a cause or speak out against injustice.
Let’s not take this to mean that if a person is threatening to harm you or behaving in a way that violates your boundaries or is toxic that you should continue to stay around them and not protect yourself.
My point is, if we could catch when we are separating or turning someone else into “other”, we don’t forget that there is another human standing across from us capable of feeling pain and all the same emotions we are feeling and that makes it less likely that I will be able to justify to myself that it is okay to harm you.
There are many things we can do right now–you can donate blood to the victims of the Orlando shooting. There is a petition to remove the judge who presided over the Stanford rape case from his seat. Go out there, make your voice heard, stand up for the rights of your fellow human being.
Because in the end, the denial of rights, the denial of compassion, the denial of love of another human being, is the denial of the same for ourselves.
But taking action, marching, changing our profile pictures on Facebook…they will amount to nothing if we don’t go to the core of the issue, which is to stop watering the seed of violence within us and in the world by going into separation.
We can stop the violence that ignites through shunning, judging and oppressing that which we don’t understand in others or in ourselves and instead welcome it with an open hearted, loving curiosity. Stand together for the freedom and wellbeing of all living beings. The next time you want to make that person next to you, the enemy, you can instead remember that they are a human being, just like you.
Not everyone will follow suit. Not everyone wants to be awake in a world where we are connected and for the wellbeing of all beings. Some are in too much pain to want to unravel in that way, to open their eyes to a new possibility. Some prefer their habits and staying in willful ignorance because it’s uncomfortable to change and grow.
But in 1993, a group of transcendental meditators got together in Washington DC to perform a carefully controlled scientific demonstration. Between June 7th and July 30th, they meditated every day. And within the first week of doing so, violent crime in Washington DC had dropped 23%.
If that doesn’t tell you that we are all connected and that the work we do on ourselves makes a difference in the world and in the hearts of others, whether they are consciously participating or not, then I don’t know what else will.
As above so below.
What is within is without.
I am you and you are me.
I always wonder what would have happened to the crime rate during that study if even just 20% more people were meditating during that time frame. How much more it would have dropped.
If we want to change the world, we must start with the world that is within.
I’d love to hear in the comments below how this landed with you and what is one way you can create change within today to assist in changing the world outside of you.