Written by Sharon Brooke Uy
Terrorism strikes again, as it seems to be doing more frequently and brazenly, though in reality, violence and the like have been in effect for centuries, just in different ways and under different names. How challenging it can be to offer compassion rather than anger and vengeance to those who effect terrorism. But in the end, how can peace arise if we return warfare in kind?
I was watching a special featuring Eckhart Tolle, and a woman called in to ask his opinion on how to deal with people around her not being ready to become more conscious or enlightened. He responded that she might ask herself if she is ready to work towards consciousness and enlightenment. She ultimately has no control over any one else’s path but her own. None of us do.
Theoretically, it makes complete sense: I focus on me, and you focus on you, and the energy spent trying to change others can be used infinitely more effectively when we direct it towards our own spiritual work. In reality, this isn’t always so easy to practice.
I remember one day, a woman walked in (late) to yoga. She carelessly placed her mat down in front of me, at a diagonal angle. (I begrudgingly admit that I can be a stickler for ensuring my mat is perfectly lined up with the planks in the wood floor.) She also, at times, seemed to be doing an entirely different yoga practice than what was being taught. I was so distracted! I may as well have been curled up on the edge of her mat, because I was nowhere near mine.
It was a lesson – a reminder – to stay on my own mat. To do my own part. To place full awareness on the ways I can better myself. After all, there is enough self-work to last a lifetime, and hopping onto someone else’s mat will only hinder my own progress. Anyway, it’s all ego. When I’m wanting the person in front of me to change the placement of his yoga mat, or when I’m driving to work and hoping the car in front of me will move more in accordance with my speed, or when I get defensive trying to prove a point to someone who holds a differing view – these all represent my attachment to my way. Ego is what gives us a sense of identity at the expense of being separate from others.
It makes sense, then, how terrorism can occur on such minute and mammoth scales. It all boils down to blind, raging devotion to that which is mine. I am attached to my beliefs, and you are attached to yours, and if they are different, then how can we possibly coexist? Well, we can coexist with our differences the same way we show up on our mats – with the intention to stay on our own mats, without judgment towards what everyone else is doing. We shed our attachments to mine and yours, and we simply acknowledge what is there. And there, there is no right, and there is no wrong. There just is. Living this way, there can be freedom, and there can be peace.