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. 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, 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.
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.
Your question about seeing murder as evil is also a good one, and the greatest gift of seeing the love in the truly horrible acts of others is that then we can start to see the love in our own hurtful or even violent acts. Again not to deny the violence or to allow the harm to continue, but to really start to heal the pain and hurt that have distorted our own love into such narrow and potentially destructive expressions. It is when we can see our own love at the core of our anger, hatred and potential for violence, and therefore forgive our own hurtful acts, that we can begin to change our own violent or hurtful responses. Seeing the love in oneself instead of seeing oneself as bad or evil actually inspires us much more strongly to make the needed changes.
Evil does not really exist as a force, just as darkness does not exist as a force or form of energy. (There are photons, but there is no such thing as a "darkon".) Darkness, evil, and coldness are just words we use to describe the relative absence of the light, love and warmth that do exist. If we can see the essential love in others even when there is very little being expressed, we can also see it in ourselves. It is what is here in our hearts always. Even in the darkest moments, there is always some light, and there is always love present in every moment and in every action.