“When we know that our suffering, hatred and fear are organic, we don’t try to run away from them. We know that if we practice, we can transform them and they can nourish our happiness and well-being. Meditation is grounded in the insight of nonduality – nonduality between good and evil, suffering and happiness. So the method of handling our suffering is always nonviolent. When you accept the non-dualistic nature of reality, your way becomes nonviolent. You don’t feel the need to fight against your anger or fear anymore, because you see that your anger and your fear are you. So you try to handle them in the most tender way. There’s no fighting anymore. There’s only the practice to transform and take care. Anger and fear should be taken care of in the way that best gives them the chance to turn into love and compassion. In this way, the nondualistic foundation of meditation gives rise to the nonviolent way of practice. You handle your body and feelings in the most nonviolent way. If you’re caught in the dualistic view, you suffer – you’ll be angry at your body and your feelings. You’re trying to run away, looking for something that keeps you from being in touch with your emotions. But happiness cannot be without suffering, the left cannot be without the right.To say that either “you’re with us or you’re with the terrorists” – shows that you’re profoundly attached to the dualistic view. It’s like saying, if you’re not a Christian, you’re against Christ. That’s not sound theology. To say if you’re not with the Buddha, you’re against the Buddha, is also not correct. In the teaching and practice of Buddhism we are reminded that the Buddha was a living being and that there is no distinction between Buddha and living beings.We live in a time when meditation is no longer just an individual practice. We have to practice together as a community, as a nation, as a planet. If we really want peace to be possible, then we should look at reality in such a way that there is no separation. It’s so important to train ourselves to look in a nondualistic way. We know from our own experience that if the other person is not happy, it’s very difficult for us to be happy. The other person may be your daughter, your partner, your friend, your mother, your son, your neighbor. The other person may be the Christian community, the Jewish community, the Buddhist community, or the Islamic community. Because we know that safety and peace aren’t individual matters, we will naturally act for the collective good. Anything we do to help our friends, neighbors and other countries to be safer, to be respected, benefits us as well. Otherwise we are caught in our arrogance, and our dualistic view causes us to act in ways that will continue to destroy ourselves and destroy the world.
I couldn’t help but be reminded of Ishmael again, especially when I read the last quoted line. If we continue to see the world as an adversity to be conquered, then we are naturally heading towards the path of total destruction, both of the world and ourselves. But if we realize the fact (which is unchanging regardless whether we believe it or not) that we are not separate from the world or each other, that we are really all beads on the same string, and work towards collective good, then… Life might still stand a chance.