I have been a spiritual practitioner for over 20 years, I am also a national of Israel and Britain and live near Tel Aviv. During these very troubled days, I find myself reading many ideas, opinions and experiences of people from all sides of the political map, both in Israel and Palestine. Unlike many of my Israeli fellows, I am fortunate enough to be exposed to all of them and see the different angles from different standpoints.
And for this main reason I choose not to take sides. In this war, I choose the side most neglected, the side that is the so called cause of this conflict but that is completely forgotten. I choose the side of life. Rather than writing yet another opinion about the conflict, I am writing about that, for this is the only side that has no other side and it is the only side I want to be on.
I realize that for spiritual practitioners around the globe the situation in Israel and Gaza is very challenging, the instinct is to take sides and choose the side of the weak victims, but what happens when everyone is a weak victim? What do you do then?
I decided that the best way I can contribute to this dilemma is to share my experience as a spiritual practitioner and explain why times like these can strengthen our motivation and understanding of the practice. This is a tale of my own individual experience and I would like to share this with you with the hope that it will serve as a sacred universal teaching and open our hearts to compassion and wisdom.
As I started writing, a siren went off and I went down to the shelter, so this is what you can call a “live” post of what is it like to practice in this situation.
Here are some of the insights I have gained through my practice during these past few weeks:
- Gratitude and living in the moment – For years now I have been practicing being grateful for life and its small wonders. I give thanks before eating my food and when waking up in the morning. During the last weeks, when bombs fall and sirens call me to go into the shelter at unexpected times, I am grateful for even more things in my life. For having a good night’s sleep, for having food on my table and being able to slowly eat my meal, for being able to take a shower, for having time with my partner, for taking a walk outside without having to run to the shelter, for having a shelter when so many others have none or have to run very fast to get there. There are so many things we take for granted in our everyday lives and when they are taken for granted, it is much easier to complain about what’s not working rather than enjoying the moments and little things in life. These times have taught me that nothing in life can be taken for granted, that every moment is truly sacred. I have tried to train my mind to think this way for endless moments of practice but now that direct experience is teaching me this, I can feel it penetrating into every cell. So you too can imagine now how it feels when you don’t know what will happen next, not in order to form an opinion out of fear or hatred of some other side, but rather in order to be grateful for the freedom, protection and nourishment you have at this present moment.
- Transforming and understanding fear – the energy most felt in this place, at this time, is the energy of fear and stress. It will of course not surprise you that when sirens are going off and you can hear bombs around you, you instinctively cling to these emotions. These emotions create a very strong energy field that is nurturing much hatred and anger. As in many situations, the secret is not to identify with this energy but to transform it with healing but although in most situations and times I have already learnt to do this, this time I find it almost impossible. So I decided to take a different route and it has proven a very strong healing and transformational process. I decided to join this energy and use it as an amplifier for all the fears that still exist within me, all those fears that I have forgotten about, all those fears that I thought no longer existed. I decided to observe them carefully and listen to what they have to say. This is of course what one does while meditating and again I have tried to teach my mind to do this endless times, but now it is as if I have no choice. The truth is that when collective fear is so strong, your individual fears become even stronger, their voice is loud and clear and you can’t fool yourself any longer even if you try. This practice has taught me so much about the real roots of these fears and after inner listening, there is an automatic feeling of healing transformation. So now to you, what is this to you? If you choose not to identify with the slanted imagery of the media, you can start to find compassion for the fears of people living in conflict, fear that leads them to do what you may think are crazy things. By doing this, you can enhance your ability to listen rather than judge your own fears. You will see that this will happen effortlessly, if you agree to take this stand point. Transforming judgment into observation is probably one of the most difficult and important aspects of the practice and now this conflict can help you do exactly that.
- Inner peace as the only path to external peace – when you look at the news and remember that inner conflict is what brings external conflict, you are choosing to transform fear into love. You can enhance your practice towards inner peace when you admit to yourself that you too sometimes do crazy things out of fear. The only thing you can do to benefit the situation is use this external conflict as an image of the conflict you are experiencing within you so that by transforming your inner world you are contributing to peace in the external world. For me this has proven to be a much better practice than using my mind to analyze or identify what opinion is right.When this is your standpoint then all the healing energy, the prayers, the light work you are doing to help us transform this conflict, is actually helping you transform your inner conflict, your inner fears. It breaks down the false separation and is therefore the only thing that can really bring about healing and love. Anything else will just nurture you feeling sorry for someone else, and “feeling sorry” cannot create healing energy.
There are many other insights I have from my practice these days, some of which I am not even able to express yet. By writing this post I feel that even during times like these, there is something I can give to the world, the world that is sending me and everyone here so much healing and prayers, the world that is struggling to take sides and understand what “to do”. As with anything in life, even this “dark” situation can be the bearer of light. This too can lead us to transformation and healing and strengthen our motivation to find inner peace, which is the only cause of external peace.
I thank you for taking the time to read these words and wish you a beneficial practice. May all beings be freed form suffering and find their genuine path to happiness.