This month, we commemorated once again the events of 9/11/11. Though 14 years is a long time for the memories and the suffering to fade, certainly they are not forgotten. I think it's important to take some time to reflect on the events and what we can learn from them, now that we have had even more distance and greater perspective. Every year at this time, I invite students in my yoga classes to consider these words from the Buddha:
Hatred can never cease with hatred, but by love alone can hatred be healed.
My understanding of the Buddha's teachings is that he taught that change must occur within first, before any significant kind of change can happen in the outer world. So, for example, when approaching yoga asana practice, one can certainly "hate" one's way deeper into each pose. Often, I see people pushing their way through physical exercises as if they think it's better to do more difficult positions and give more effort. Alternatively, I believe we can choose to "love" our way deeper into each posture. That is often the path less emphasized. Yet, I think it is a powerful path that is well worth exploring. So, as you practice, consider "softening" your effort. You just might go further.
When things go bad for us, or when someone does something to us that we don't like, it is quite easy to have a knee-jerk reaction of anger and hatred. Love, however, is the more difficult path to choose. It requires us to step back and see a slightly larger picture. It requires us to create some space before we act. And this is what practicing yoga and meditation helps us to be able to do -- to create distance and observe with softer eyes.
The Buddhist meditation Teacher, Pema Chödrön, wrote:
"There was a story that was widely circulated a few days after the attacks of September 11, 2001 .... A Native American grandfather was speaking to his grandson about violence and cruelty in the world and how it come about. He said it was as if two wolves were fighting in his heart. One wolf was vengeful and angry, and the other wolf was understanding and kind. The young man asked his grandfather which wolf would win the fight in his heart. And the grandfather answered, "The one that wins will be the one I choose to feed."
Perhaps you don't want to admit that there is a vengeful and angry wolf in your heart. Perhaps you've forgotten that there is an understanding and kind wolf in your heart. Practicing yoga and meditation can remind you that you do have a choice as to which wolf you can feed. If anything, doing yoga and meditation are gentle -- and powerful -- ways to practice feeding the wolf that will move you further along towards a more peaceful existence. Which wolf do you think that is?
May you be happy.
May you dwell in your heart.
May you cultivate the kind of love that can heal hatred.
May you feed the right wolf, ...
... all for the benefit of all beings everywhere.
with aloha and metta, paul keoni chun