Sunday, September 11, 2011

A meditation on 9/11 ten years later.

In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, I had hoped that somehow, we as Americans would come to see how the terrorists had arrived at what seemed to me a skewed view of this country, and that we would come to see how much of what we had done in the world which seemed well-intentioned from our own socio-centric perspective made them feel that their own socio-centric perspective was threatened.  I hoped that as a consequence, there could be a reaching out over the violence.  But I was disappointed.

Hee Jin Kim writes of Dogen that one of his deepest, felt insights is that "Death is the ultimate companion of impermanence."  Comprehending our individual and collective responses to the 9/11 events, including the resultant intolerance and violence from all sides, requires that we remember that teaching.  It is the path through the events and the path to transcending the clash of perspectives that caused them.  Ten years later we have moved almost no distance toward bridging the gap of mutual cultural understanding that was at the root of 9/11, or the lack of individual self-understanding that is also at the root of our individual actions.  Mutual compassion can arise only when we realize our common fate as individuals and cultures, and then act to create "others" who are worthy of our understanding and compassion, rather than "others" who are the imputed source of our suffering.

I see no large solution to this lack, only the regular practice of meditative awareness, of introspection, and of manifesting in each of our lives the insight that we create the universe each moment, and the universe we create is a direct reflection of who we are in that moment.  There is the next moment.  We are free to change that universe and ourselves.  We have the responsibility to do so.  The consequences of not doing so are before our eyes today.



  1. Your point is very hard to accept and integrate for me: "I have co-created 9/11, I have co-created the war between Serbians (Moslems) and Croatians (Catholiks, I am actually working with in Zagreb) and I am actually co-creating the next tragedy!" I am pushing that insight away, try to relativise it, make it small or irrelevant and thus continue co-creating tragedies. It is just too big. But I have my personal smaller starting point: I accept and embody my negative feelings for people very different to myself (other cultures, countries, types, styles, ...) on a daily basis on the street, in a bus etc. I accept to have these feelings even if political incorrect, totally inadequate, illogical and creating tragedies. But as a 1. step I own them and do not push them away. I own that fear, that aggression, that irritations for this one man or women across the street or on the other table in the restaurant and do not try to change it. Only this is practically possible for me. And we all have our bearded muslim, hells angel, investment banker, prostitute, hispano or american tourist at the next table every day. Learning from 9/11 is accepting my unacceptable feelings for the guy at the next table first. What do you think?

  2. The Dalai Llama has said he wishes for "what is good for China, what is good for Tibet." I was stunned the first time I heard that. But that's what you're taking about too, and now its stunning to me that ten years later we are still so mired in harmful perspectives and wishes. I have found that (using Big Mind) intentionally going to the perspective of the ego and then to the perspective of the universal (as best as I can do that), helps create the possibility that I can take small actions to co-create peace. I have one daughter living in D.C. and another living in London. Sometimes I get really scared for their safety. Its easy--automatic?--for me to imagine an eye for an eye as best, most appropriate justice were their safety compromised, and yet your blog post, big mind, meditation, our sangha, our book club,the Dalai Llama's wishes, all give me pause... Thank you, sensei, for your active commitment to facilitating peace. I'm not there often enough, but I do appreciate BMZ.