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Seeing Love in an Act of Murder

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Q: The quote in your exquisite book, Living from the Heart, “But when we see the loving nature of even murder....” needs expansion for me.

A: When I point to love as the true nature of even a murderous act, I’m not denying the horrible tragedy that murder is. I’m only pointing out that it is love that motivates and animates the murderer, even when that love is so narrow and distorted that the end result is tragic. One quality of love is that it is caring and takes care of that which is loved. Even murderers are trying to take care of themselves or something else that they love, even though the way they go about doing that is limited, misguided, and so ineffective that the end result is terrible.

If we look deeper, we can see that all dualities in this world are really just different amounts of one thing: Light and dark are different amounts of one thing, which is light. Hot and cold are different amounts of the energy called heat. And so it is with love. Love is the energy or force that moves all of life, and yet we can experience such a tiny amount of love that that experience is a dark and cold one, so dark that it can motivate tragically harmful acts even while someone is attempting to take care of themselves.

Seeing love at the heart of every action enables us to respond with compassion and forgiveness even when we may still need to take appropriate action to stop a violent act or prevent it from happening again. So for the victim, family, friends, and even the perpetrator, the ability or willingness to see love at the core of every action makes it possible to not respond to the murderous or violent act with more violence and judgment but with loving compassion and understanding, which may begin the long, difficult process of healing the murderer’s pain and suffering and lead to rehabilitation.

Our best protection from violence is to heal the wounds in others and in ourselves that lead to violence, not to treat perpetrators with hatred, judgment, and violence (although we may still need to take appropriate action to protect society by preventing the murderer from doing further harm). It is love and compassion that will lead to a reduction in the violence and horror in this world. So anything that allows us to respond in these painful and difficult moments with more love, clarity, understanding, and kindness is a gift to both ourselves and the world.

Someone wrote to me with the following questions:

The quote in your exquisite book, Living from the Heart, "But when we see the loving nature of even murder...." needs expansion for me. Since we are only always seeing ourselves, is the naming of murder as 'evil' versus a 'call for love' a reflection of how we see ourselves? What is the true nature of love in murder? And what is the opportunity for all those involved in that event (the victim, victimizer, friends,) to rise to?

Here is how I responded:

Thank you for your good questions. First I want to stress that when I point to love as the true nature of even a murderous act, I am not denying the horrible tragedy it is. I am just pointing out that it is love that motivates and animates the murderer, even when that love is so narrow and distorted that the end result is tragic.

If we look deeper, we can see that all of the so called dualities in this world are really just different amounts of one thing. Light and dark are really just different amounts of the one thing that exists which is light. Hot and cold are different amounts of the energy called heat. And so it is with love. Love is the energy or force that moves all of life, and yet we can experience such a tiny amount that it is a dark and cold experience of love.

One quality of love is that it is caring and takes care of that which is loved. Even murderers are trying to take care of themselves or something else that they love, even though the way that they go about taking care is so limited, misguided and also ultimately ineffective that the end result is terrible.

But by seeing the love at the heart of every action, it makes it possible to respond to that action with compassion and forgiveness, even if we also need to take appropriate action to stop a violent act or prevent its recurrence. So for the victim, their family and friends and also even for the victimizer, this seeing of the love at the core of every action means that it becomes possible to not respond with more violence and judgement to the murderous or violent act. And specifically, we may respond to the murderer with a loving compassion and understanding, that may begin the long difficult process of healing their pain and suffering that may lead to a true rehabilitation (although again we may also need to take appropriate steps to protect ourselves and others and to prevent further violence). But we definitely do not always need to protect ourselves with further hatred, judgement and violence. Ultimately, the truest protection is to heal the wounds in others and in ourselves that lead to violence. It is love and compassion that will lead to a reduction in the violence and horror in this world, and so anything that allows us to respond in these painful and difficult moments with more love, clarity, understanding and kindness is a gift both to ourselves and to the world.

Both Real and Unreal

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Please feel free to contact me with email questions or comments that I will address in this blog.

Here is a question I received in an email:

I guess if I had to frame a question it would be: how can life, me, the world, etc. be so real but at the same time be so illusionary? Sometimes I see that I am just a presence, no one, and this is full and peaceful, other times I am very solid, so pulled in by it all. This is challenging.

And here is my response:

You are clearly describing the situation. This reality is kind of like a one way mirror that is transparent when you see it from one direction, but opaque and seemingly solid when you view it from the other side. From the inside of the illusion it looks solid and real, and from a more expanded and subtle perspective the same reality suddenly appears transparent and as insubstantial as a pure illusion. And no matter how many times you have experienced the bigger truth where it appears as an illusion, when you contract back into identification it all appears solid and real again.

But just as when you have been on both sides of a one-way mirror, you can begin to remember that someone might be watching you from the other side even if you can't see them, so too you can develop a sense of trust in your more subtle and clear perceptions. Then you can simply know they are real even if you are not experiencing them in this moment. We have this trust when it comes to physical objects. Even if you are not experiencing your car right now, you probably still trust that it exists. You can also trust your deeper knowings. They are even more real than physical objects, even if the experience of them comes and goes

PS: There is a wonderful article about this same topic by Alan Jacobs at http://luthar.com/is-the-world-an-illusion-by-alan-jacobs. I especially appreciate his point in the article that "Maya or Illusion, the powers of veiling and projection are inherent powers in Brahman". It gives a sense of how even though illusion is not real (especially in the Advaita sense where the real is that which is eternal and does not come or go), illusion is still a part of Brahman or the ultimate Reality. It is not some separate problem or mistake that needs to be rejected or denied, but an integral power or capacity of the Real that can be honored and respected and even treasured, even as its nature as illusion is discriminated. Thank you Alan for sharing your perspective.

The Present Heals by Gina Lake

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Here is a guest post from my wife, Gina Lake's blog where she posts frequent messages about living in the now. It is an excerpt from her book Embracing the Now: Finding Peace and Happiness in What Is, which is available on Amazon.com.You can read much more on her website at www.radicalhappiness.com.

What heals the past? The old adage claims that time heals. If that’s so, why does it heal, and is it really time that heals? Over time, our memories weaken and our ability and desire to bring the past into the present through thought weaken. Life starts getting in the way, as whatever was lost gets replaced by new life. That new life begins to get our attention more than what happened in the past. Time heals because life moves on to something new. Life brings us new experiences, opportunities, challenges, and relationships. Since we can only give our attention to one thought at a time, after some time has passed, our memories are naturally given less attention, they fade, and other thoughts take their place.

If this is how time heals, that is very good news, because that means we can speed the process of healing sorrows from the past and release ourselves from suffering over the past just by moving our attention away from thoughts about the past onto the present moment. Being in the Now is actually what heals old emotional wounds, not time. Shifting our attention to the present moment is not denying or repressing the past, but simply not creating unnecessary pain for ourselves. It is a very wise choice. We can continue to recreate, or reanimate, the pain of the past, or we can choose to leave the past in the past once we see that bringing memories into the present moment doesn’t serve us, but only extends the pain and keeps us at a distance from life.

Putting our attention on anything other than our painful memories heals the past. Whatever we give our attention to becomes our experience. If we put our attention on the past, we will re-live the pain of the past and probably create more by telling ourselves upsetting stories, such as: “This shouldn’t have happened.” “If only I’d done something differently.” “Why does this always happen to me?” By doing that, we create more pain for ourselves on top of whatever loss we had. That suffering isn’t necessary. Dredging up memories and telling negative stories about the past isn’t a healthy way to grieve, but a way we unknowingly increase our suffering and remove ourselves from the Now, where peace and happiness are available.

The past is a diluted memory, and the future is a figment of the ego’s imagination. The past and future only exist as thoughts. The ego creates a sense of time through thoughts about the past and the future, and we can become entranced by the ego’s world when we believe such thoughts are the past and future. What we imagine can seem very real, especially when those imaginations create feelings, which make our thoughts seem even more real. The painful feelings related to a loss often come more from what we tell ourselves about the loss than from the loss itself, especially the farther away in time we get from the loss.

There’s a difference between grief and suffering unnecessarily over the past. Grief is a natural release of emotion over a loss, which takes time to adjust to. But many people grieve far beyond the time required to adjust to a loss because they continue to reinforce their pain by going over the past in their minds and telling themselves painful stories. Doing this isn’t helpful and only prolongs the healing process.

Stopping this re-stimulation of pain by not giving our attention to memories or stories about the past heals the past and helps us move on to what life intends for us now. With every loss, come new possibilities. When we are present to anything other than our thoughts and feelings, we are likely to pick up on what life’s intentions are for us and where life is leading us. Moreover, by being present to life as it is right now, we can discover the acceptance, joy, and excitement Essence has over being alive, even when life is challenging.

Life is always good, and we are always having the experience we need. If life doesn’t seem that way, you are listening to the mind’s sad or negative story about life. This kind of suffering is so unnecessary. When we drop out of our egoic mind and into this simple moment, we discover the truth about life. Life can be lived very well from this place of Presence, or being in the Now, because Presence is what’s real, and the ego and its thoughts are not real. The good news is we have never needed the ego’s thoughts to live our life, and therefore freedom from suffering is possible.

Gina Lake, Nirmala's wife, is a spiritual teacher who is devoted to helping others wake up through counseling, intensives, and her books. She has a masters degree in counseling psychology and over twenty years experience supporting people in their spiritual growth as an astrologer and a channel. She is the author of eight books, including Radical Happiness, Loving in the Moment, Living in the Now, Return to Essence, What About Now? Anatomy of Desire, What About Now? Embracing the Now, and Getting  Free. Her website offers information about her books and consultations and free e-books, book excerpts, a monthly newsletter, a blog, and audio and video recordings: http://www.radicalhappiness.com.

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