Do peaceful minds go to war?

einstein So, the UK has decided to send military action once again, this time to Syria.

As a Mindfulness practitioner, this highlights to me the lack of understanding in the world and why we’re all continually suffering with one another.

At a basic level, if someone says something rude to us, our first (subconscious, survival instinct) is to say something rude back. It happens all the time in our lives. Our mind thinks we have been wronged: “they shouldn’t have said that to me” or “I can’t believe that just happened, I’m going to really ignore that person from now on” and so on.  This is how arguments begin, how anger can manifest within us, how grudges start. We’ve been wronged, or so we think, and so we need to justify ourselves, defend our position, fight back!

This is not mindful. With Mindfulness, we observe what is going on in the world without judgment – a very difficult thing to do for our ego mind. However, with our practice, the more we do this, we more we gain insight and understanding on what is really going on.

If someone says something rude to you, instead of getting annoyed with them or wanting to punch them, or plot your revenge (or, hey, let’s make it really big – start a war with them!) why not seek to try and understand them first? What made that person want to be rude to you? What insecurity/fear do they possess that caused them to do such a thing? Curiosity is our friend in these cases, it stops us thinking about ourselves and our ‘justifiable righteousness’ to defend our position. Maybe the rude person was just tired, having had a difficult day themselves, and blurted something out without thinking. Maybe the rude person was actually wanting to inflict a wound, but that too is cause for pondering why. Each act like this is actually a cry for help. It’s saying “I’m not happy and I want you to know about it”. It’s someone, in their mindless state, leaking out their suffering…something that they’ve had all their lives, something that’s not resolved within them because either they don’t see it, or they are stuck in a conditioned habit. Mindful people do not seek out pain and suffering. They do not choose to be rude, or be angry. As humans, we are fundamentally born with love, not with this hate, this fear that can so inflict so much damage. Whatever happens in our lives brings in the fear, the threats, and the rub is that the vast majority of these threats are actually just thoughts in our head: the mind is very good at making things up that aren’t real.

So, the UK government is frightened, and it’s doing what it thinks is right ‘for the protection and security of Britain’. However, one cannot fight war with war. It just creates more war. What is needed is a deeper understanding of what is going on in Syria, why some people there feel the need to inflict suffering on others through chemical weapons. Those people must be in deep pain to want to do such things. Our retaliation will just ensure they have more fear, and are more likely to re-use their weapons from that fear. That’s why we keep having wars and conflict.

Fear needs to be looked at, to be met head on, to be understood. When understanding comes, fear lessens, and our real humanity emerges: a deep compassion for all life.

Peaceful minds do not go to war. Peaceful, mindful minds observe what is going on in the moment, accept it, and move on. They do not dwell on anything, they do not complain about being ‘right’ or ‘feeling wronged’. They do not fight.  What exists simply exists. Our minds are pools of compassion and kindness.

I will sit, and practice my mindfulness, with an intention to ‘not harm or judge anyone or anything’. If I do this, I will notice the times when I’ve not managed it, when I’ve got annoyed at something, or judged someone, and I will return to my breath and to my practice. Each time I do this, my mindfulness will become stronger, so that I’m less annoyed, less judgmental.  I will be heading towards a more quieter, peaceful mind. That way, I will never choose war as an option. I will seek understanding, with curiosity, and compassion for myself and for others. With that insight, peace may one day come.


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