Today I am feeling good so I’ve decided to scribble a little about my thoughts on the Middle East. Firstly, like just about everyone, I feel the suffering of the people in this region and particularly the Israelis and Palestinians something awful. I am also realistic to realise nothing much will improve very soon and we are all going to need patience more than anything else. Being as patience is the Buddhist antidote to anger contemplating the Middle East situation serves as good practice for overcoming my own anger.
And that’s just it really anger breeds violence, which feeds more anger and more violence. I sought advice about my own anger and was told to recognise it as it appeared in my mind and then let go of it immediately, without clinging to it. With patience I was told this was possible. I asked whether instead of just not clinging to my thought of anger if I couldn’t convert it in some way to something more useful. I was told it was possible to convert any emotion to something more positive by applying the practice of taking over the suffering of the object, using it to crush my ego and then giving back the benefits to the object.
This means basically applying a bit of compassion even to ones enemy, as we recognise his suffering is ego-based the same as ours.
Back then to the Middle East - it looks like what is missing there is both patience and compassion. Not surprising really as the anger and thus the violence has been building up over a very long time.
I think the solution lays in those taking responsibility for peacemaking, such as those present on this very site, constantly bear in mind patience and compassion every time they act or react. There is absolutely no difference between an Israeli and a Palestinian. Both want happiness, yet both suffer. As soon as one consciously sees this suffering in another along with his wish for happiness, surely we cannot help feeling compassion for that person, whatever the harm we think he wants to do to us. OK, so he’s another religion and keeps sending rockets against me – so what? Does that mean he’s not just like me – doesn’t really know what he’s doing – suffering like mad because of it. If we learn not to cling to our anger, as it arises in our mind and use our human power of compassion that anger and the violence that goes with it will evaporate like the morning mist, which I assume appears sometimes in the Middle East too.
It simply won’t do to blame the other guy – it’s me, my own ego, to blame. It’s the anger in me that is rubbing off on everyone about me. How can we love our neighbours when we are so full of hate? Where do these crazy ideas come from?
And many of us pretend we are religious too! How if it’s God’s will that we die at this particular time, we still have to bring someone else down with us? How is that going to get either of us into paradise? And if to save just one life we can save the world, what happens when we go against God’s commandment and kill instead? Why in His name to we constantly point the finger at someone else when it’s plain to see it’s ourselves to blame.
And if we have lost the religion of our ancestors and pretend to practice humanism, why to we act like some crazed animal and forget we are human at all? You can’t really do anything much about the other guy’s anger, fear, ignorance, etc. but you can sure do something about your own? We evolved from reptiles that wanted to love but found they were not soft enough. We are now fully equipped with soft fingers to caress and compassionate minds to think about anyone we wish to love. What excuse can we possibly have except that we’re too busy thinking of ourselves and our own selfish needs instead of the poor guy next door we would like to love but have no time for.