Gun Violence & Sacred Silence

We were walking our dog to the local dog park when we heard helicopters overhead. The streets were strangely empty. When we arrived at the park, people had gotten the news: there was a shootout taking place nearby.

Devi recognized the street and wondered . . .

We know a family who lives on that street whose son was struggling with drugs, violence, and mental illness. Devi felt a twisting, crying energy in her gut.

The news streamed in. Yes, it was our friend’s son. He had wounded a police officer before taking his own life.

Everyone in the park became very, very, still. No one spoke. Minds emptied. Hearts opened.

What is it about tragic events that calls us to silence and stillness?

There’s a profound message in this impulse towards stillness. The message is: Remember the sacred nature of life; connect to it; let it guide you.

But, it’s hard to remember the sacred when you’re multitasking. The racing mind skims the surface of life.

It takes stopping — and stillness — to see what has been here all along.

That the sacred nature of life is ever-present. That all life is sacred.

We don’t have to do anything to achieve sacredness. It is not a prize. Not an award. It is what we are.

Everybody and everything. It’s all sacred.

But, the mind has a hard time with stillness. The mind cries, “What about the violence? If life is sacred — where does all the violence come from? And don’t we have to do something to stop it?”

There are many ways of responding to these questions. The mind can take many perspectives: political, historical, economic, religious.

But, before adopting any perspective, consider: What is the quality of consciousness that animates that perspective?

Because, it’s not the perspective that is primary. Whether one chooses a political, historical, economic, religious or spiritual perspective, each will reveal some aspect of the truth.

But, no perspective is primary.

What is primary is the consciousness that “looks” through the perspective.

Consciousness is primary. Perspective is secondary.

Which is why stopping and stillness are so vital. In stillness we drop our preferred perspectives. We let go of well-worn interpretations. With an empty mind and open heart . . . we open to life.

In openness it’s possible to receive a new revelation.

So, before acting, be still.

  • Don’t perpetuate the patterns of the past. Be still.
  • Don’t push for answers or understanding. Be still.
  • Breathe and let the waves of emotions settle.

Be still and reconnect to the sacred essence of life.

How often in a typical day do you stop and become still? Do you practice stillness? Or, are you constantly on the move? Have you established a daily practice of meditation?

Do you rest in the sacred nature of life as-it-is?

Or, like most of us, are you:

  • Perpetually rushing forward.
  • Straining to make things happen.
  • Attempting to control people and events.

We’ve been conditioned to act as perpetual motion machines.

This never-stopping compulsion obscures the recognition of life’s sacred nature.

It’s the relentless (and reactive) movements of the mind that create the conditions for violence. We all need to become better students of stillness.

This is not a plea for inaction. There is a need for wise and healing action. An acute, even an urgent need. Being frozen in “overwhelm” is no better than lashing out.

What’s needed is wise and healing action.

Wise and healing action only arises from a consciousness that is awake to the sacred.

Scattered, speedy, emotionally-fragmented consciousness is blind to the sacred. Actions that arise from the fragmented, reactive mind only add more violence to the mix. This is true on a global scale and around the dinner table.

Stillness is the prerequisite for healing and helping the world.

By cultivating y(our) capacity for stillness, you/we serve the world. By deepening our attunement to the sacred — we establish the inner conditions for taking actions that heal the world. Globally and around the dinner table.

There’s no need to wait for a violent shock to jolt us into stillness. Today — and every day from now on — let’s each make time for stillness and silence.

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