Meditation is not about blocking out the world and the larger troubles of the world.
Yes there are many times one does close the door to their house and then the door to their room and focuses only on the calming meditation practice they have chosen.
But there are other times when one dedicates their meditation session to reflecting on the most difficult problems in the society. In this way you can gain a visceral understanding of the full danger of the burning fires of nationalism, militarism, anger, greed, and raw fear.
The recent revelations of the CIA’s torture of victims offer such an opportunity.
Where was I when the employees of the government I pay taxes to were torturing prisoners in secret jails around the world? Was I watching TV? Was I reading some inspiring book on meditation or laughing with friends? Was I sitting in peace and calm in the quiet sanctuary of my room?
Where were you when the employees of the government you pay taxes to were torturing people in a secret jail in some dark corner of the world?
The men and women who approved or conducted this torture- where did they spend Christmas Eve and Christmas morning?
Were they ashamed of themselves? Were they riddled or haunted by guilt for what they had done as they held a candle in their Christmas Eve service or took pictures of their children in the children’s pageant? Oddly enough I assume most of them had the most pleasant of holidays, and this might be the most bizarre aspect of all. The smiling torturer back at home with their happy family on Christmas morning or New Years eve.
Regrettably, tragically, the CIA has been torturing, bribing, maiming and killing people at different times over the past 65+ years. Every once in a while these horrors see the light of day. But what is done about it? Who goes to jail?
Why is no one put on trial for these crimes against humanity?
Who is punished for these crimes against humanity?
Why do Americans shrug their shoulders and go back to work or do some Christmas shopping or watch the big game on TV as though there is nothing they can do about it? Why do others actually support such crimes as being necessary evils?
Some Republicans in the Congress, many of them backed by conservative Christians, many of them practicing as Christians, actually defended these crimes as being needed to defend our freedom. Certainly Dick Cheney burnished his Prince of Darkness credentials by chiming in to lead the chorus of defense of these crimes.
Do these people not know that more of our soldiers will be tortured because of what our government has done in secret jails?
Do they think that international affairs will be more stable now that it is OK if nations simply ignore the international agreements they signed prohibiting torture and other war crimes?
As serious practitioners of meditation, when we behold the raw cruelty of people and foresee the greater troubles such raw cruelty will generate, it helps us deepen our resolve to become the most compassionate, wise, and skillful people that we can.
It helps us deepen our dedication to see the violence within our own heart and mind and to make greater commitments to virtue on a heroic scale. There is no choice. More of us must become enlightened, or attain Union with God depending on how we state our goals.
Given the violence of terrorists against Americans it is at least understandable to me why some people feel the need to torture prisoners to get information to stop the next 9/11 attack or Boston Marathon bombing. But it is unfortunate almost no one ever asks, what about the torture and violence and exploitation American companies and government agencies have been involved with for decades in many countries around the world?
Yes, the terrorists need to be stopped. In a dangerous situation I too might think it OK to torture someone to find out how to stop a terrorist attack before it happens.
None of these issues are easy to work with.
Still, if we do not do a much better job upholding the positive virtues we claim, and speaking out about abuses that occur, then the cycles of violence will only get worse.
Please remember the torture victims of both our government and the victims of torture at the hands of the terrorists. Please give serious thought to the question, “How can we lessen the violence of the fanatics on their side and ours.”
Please also remember and pray for the torturers and fanatics on our side as well those on the side of our enemies, for they are in the worst shape of any of us.
In truth one can only hope for their sake there is no such thing as hell.
But when I behold the torturers of the world, and how they often get away with their sadism, I can fully understand why spiritual people invented hell.
Please let me know your thoughts. All constructive comments will be posted after the first of the year.
Will Raymond Author of “The Simple Path of Holiness” and host of meditationpractice.com.
774-232-0884 will at meditation practice dot com (Spelled out to lessen spam)