The Only Way Out is Love
Updated: Oct 13
Putting my son to bed last night, the faces of children killed in Israel-Gaza conflict flickered in my mind, superimposed on his sweet sleeping face. I’ve been walking through my days this week with a constant gnawing at my heart as the echoes of the screams of millions reverberate through its chambers. The lines from my ninth-grade Shakespeare come back to me, “Where be these enemies? See what a scourge is laid upon your hate, that heaven finds means to kill your joys with love…All are punished.”
How I experience global atrocities since becoming a meditator and even more so since becoming a teacher is so multi-layered. Having a deep knowledge of the patterns of consciousness, one part of me perceives all the movements simultaneously that formed such a disaster. It feels like a perspective high up in space, seeing the currents of the ocean moving everywhere yet going nowhere. That part is deeper, unemotional, almost marveling at the complex dance of it all.
Then there’s the mother in me whose heart is being turned inside out. It may be part of my “punishment,” but I welcome it, it’s empathy. We as meditators dip into those deep layers every day where we are all connected, and even deeper where we are all One. That means when we are meditating, we are processing the stress of the entire collective. If you’ve noticed some pretty intense meditations lately, you can trust this is happening to you.
The entire story line of the Ramayana begins with a rishi coming to Rama asking for help with killing the demons that are murdering the yogis in the forest. He says those yogis through their meditation and expanded awareness are keeping the whole world in balance, they are cooling the collective, and if they are killed, the whole thing will go to hell. We as meditators are the modern yogis, acting together on more subtle levels to pull the whole thing away from the brink.
I think of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in the 60’s, the urgency he felt to teach meditation to as many people as possible, all to keep fingers off those red buttons. He wasn’t the only one, there were sages from other traditions who came to the West with the same mission. They weren’t standing on soap boxes, or the modern soap box of social media, they were teaching people tools to expand their consciousness. Because all problems are a problem of consciousness state.
All in existence are looking for unity, but when one only experiences themselves as the wave of self and not the ocean, they may look for unity through the elimination of Other. Achieving unity this way of course is impossible, even if the hated ones are indeed destroyed, a new Other is spontaneously perceived because “Other” is the color of glasses someone in that consciousness state is wearing.
When one not only understands the concept that all is One, but it is his or her experience, and consequently everything is experienced as extended Self, it is impossible to do harm. And the mythology or scriptures previously used to support aggression are reinterpreted in a more enlightened way to reflect the heightened consciousness state of the person teaching them and the person receiving them.
But as long as there is this experience of Other, there will be turmoil within the self, in one’s home, echoing all the way up to one’s society. It is the habit of most people to blame government, to blame leaders, but these are reflections of the collective, and the collective is made up of individuals. Collective consciousness shifts on the individual level, which means it’s in all our hands to change this world.
In ancient conflicts such as this one, whole populations are similar to traumatized individuals. Those old wounds that have never gotten a chance to heal tear open again, and the new attacks daisy chain to thousands of other similar attacks from the past, pulsating in the bodies of millions.
For some, that kind of pain results in a white knuckled grip on othering. But this only causes the storm to blow harder and harder until that grip is let go. Nature will not tolerate the resistance to progressive change for long, and with each karmic cycle, the push to change will be more destructive.
Anger is such a natural response to what is happening. I feel it too. Anger is like fire and is just as hard to control. There is powerful energy there, but one must be careful, it can slip so easily into hate. If you extrapolate where hate is going, all paths of hate, no matter the original justification, they all only lead to devastation–the “scourge laid upon our hate.”
There is only one way out of this. The only way out is love. Love is the recognition of Self in another, and it is the only antidote to the othering consciousness that leads to such atrocities. Like a break in the clouds, if we all lean into its brilliance, it will push the storm away.
It is not a coincidence that Navratri, the nine nights of Mother Divine, begins on Sunday. On a cosmic level, it’s “eclipse season,” a time of shadow overtaking the light. Who but that Mother within us to hold our hand through the darkness. She is that part of us that sees everyone equally, everyone as her children. It is only through Her loving eyes that we can perceive that golden path leading us to peace.
Peace in the world and peace in our own hearts. Which, it turns out, are the same thing.