“When I don’t know who I am, I serve you. When I know who I am, I am you.” (The Ramayana)
There was a terrible event here in Melbourne last week. A 26-year-old man, after allegedly stabbing and almost fatally wounding his brother, drove a stolen car into the city in the middle of a busy Friday lunchtime, turned into the pedestrian mall in the centre of the city, and drove at 70 km/hour for several blocks mowing down whoever was in his path. Five people died including a 10-year-old girl and a 3-month-old baby. The mother and younger sister of the girl are critically injured, as well as many others.
Amid the blame and anger expressed by people being the ordinary way of being human, a man from my sangha posted the following thoughts of Facebook. His response is the one which most people are unwilling to make, and is the path to the end of sorrow: to see yourself as the perpetrator and the perpetrator as yourself. And once one makes that move, the ultimate truth may hove into view: to see that you are the perpetrator and the perpetrator is you.
Following my friend’s thoughts is a poem by Thich Nhat Hanh:
“As I sit in stillness this morning, I sense my weary heart. I feel the pain and the suffering for what has happened in Melbourne yesterday. I see myself as friends and families for the injured victims and for the deceased victims. I also see myself as the man who caused such a tragic chaotic incident. I see a beautiful little boy with a charming smile in him. I see all the nice things that he has done during his childhood. Just as similar and no different to my own children. So what has gone wrong I wonder.
My immediate reaction is anger. And anger can lead to hate. But I know that hate never resolves hate. Hate escalates hate. Only understanding and love has the power to embrace hate and transform hate. Our society is becoming problematic everyday because of fear, anger, confusion and hate but with the right understanding we can all transform this …
So how do we cultivate love in our society? In schools, in families, in workplaces and every part of our lives. It’s all up to the individual to take action. How we want our community to turn out all depends on us. We can all make a difference. Happy parents can change the world.”
“Do not say that I’ll depart tomorrow —
even today I am still arriving.
Look deeply: every second I am arriving
to be a bud on a Spring branch,
to be a tiny bird, with still-fragile wings,
learning to sing in my new nest,
to be a caterpillar in the heart of a flower,
to be a jewel hiding itself in a stone.
I still arrive, in order to laugh and to cry,
to fear and to hope,
the rhythm of my heart is the birth and death
of all that are alive.
I am a mayfly metamorphosing
on the surface of the river,
And I am the bird which, when Spring comes,
arrives in time to eat the mayfly.
I am a frog swimming happily
in the clear water of a pond.
And I am the grass-snake
that silently feeds itself on the frog.
I am the child in Uganda, all skin and bones,
my legs as thin as bamboo sticks.
And I am the arms merchant,
selling deadly weapons to Uganda.
I am the twelve-year-old girl,
refugee on a small boat,
who throws herself into the ocean
after being raped by a sea pirate.
And I am the pirate,
my heart not yet capable
of seeing and loving.
I am a member of the politburo,
with plenty of power in my hands.
And I am the man who has to pay his
‘debt of blood’ to my people
dying slowly in a forced labour camp.
My joy is like Spring, so warm
it makes flowers bloom all over the Earth.
My pain is like a river of tears,
so full it fills up the four oceans.
Please call me by my true names,
so I can hear all my cries and laughter at once,
so I can see that my joy and pain are one.
Please call me by my true names,
so I can wake up
and so the door of my heart can be left open,
the door of compassion.”
~ Thich Nhat Hanh, Being Peace