There is no joy in the death of another human life, even if that life wanted to see an end to my own.
Recently in the news there has been much talk about the death of Fred Phelps senior.
In many ways, he was one of the most openly hateful people against gays and gay rights in North America. And upon his death Twitter, Facebook, all the social medias became alive with the buzz of glad tidings and hateful speech.
There is a part of me that just did not feel right about this. And so on a couple friends comments I left the above post. One unfriended me and the other two deleted the original post. It made me pause, so I posted it on my own wall.
How can we as a community who desires freedom, love and tolerance for all condemn another human being who disagrees. Love and tolerance for all or is it just love and tolerance for some? If we just want it for the ones who agree with us and share our own personal beliefs then in what way are we any different. Perhaps then we compare actions – well so and so did this and I did not so that makes me better? It becomes a game of valuing one’s beliefs and opinions and actions over another.
To be very clear, I will not take glory or satisfaction from the demise of another. I will not stoop down to that game. I will not revel in the suffering of another, even though that same person would not hesitate to revel at mine.
There is a word I use often at the end of articles or e-mails that I send and letters I write. The word is metta. It is a Pali word meaning loving-kindness, friendliness, goodwill, benevolence, fellowship, amity, concord, inoffensiveness and non-violence. And there is a whole philosophy and practice devoted to metta which leads to universal love leading to freedom of mind.
I often think of it a four-fold path of love. To love one’s self, love those close to us, love to a stranger (one whom you are indifferent to), love to an enemy. To practice is to work until the quality and feelings behind each of them moves to a place of equality. I'm not completely there. Granted, recently in my life I have suffered a personal loss and the process was a challenge and brought up different feelings, many uncomfortable ones, and forced me to look at and re-evaluate myself, my life and the way I see others nearby. This path, however, is to see and recognize the humanness of another. Try to imagine what he was like when he was three years old on a picnic with his family; sitting near his mother and father laughing and playing while they ate sandwiches under a shaded tree on a sunny day. It's hard to live in hate of a three years old that’s lost their way somewhere. It’s tragic really.
But in order to grow beyond this and to move forward in life, I have found it necessary for me to remove these justifiable angers from my life. I honestly do not know how much space anger took up in my heart until it’s absence. So I have learned that if I want love and forgiveness and acceptance for being a flawed human, then I need to LIVE that. And it’s hard. It’s a practice but it’s worth it.
The other word with which I end many of my posts, emails and every yoga class I have ever taught is Namaste. In Sanskrit it means Thank-you. The deeper spiritual meaning is “Whatever is Holy and Divine that lives inside of me honours and bows down to whatever is Holy and Divine that lives inside of you.” To speak this then I have to acknowledge that there exists a spark of something extra that exists in whatever way or capacity I wish to comprehend that; and that if it exists in me, then it exists in you.
This means then that if it exists in us then it also exists in those that seek to bring us harm; that in them is this same spark of divinity. It's hard to see that light sometimes through the darkness they shine out, but it's in there.
I really feel for those that have lost their way along this path of life. I numbered among them. There are periods where the thoughts, images, and words I used were sharpened with poison and I lashed out. I remember those people who loved me regardless.
During the years in transition I often wondered how was it they were able to do that and be kind like that and perhaps I am only starting to get it. That perhaps they too have been on a journey, conscious or otherwise, of learning to love and be loved and that for everyone means even those whom they may not see as worthy. Because that’s just it right. What makes me more worthy than the person to the left or the right of me of human love and tolerance?
I myself in this moment am a human being on this planet and am also having a human experience. It may be different than yours. The challenges I face on this path of life may look different than your own, but that does not make my journey any greater or any less. I am a unique, wonderful and flawed human being seeking love and acceptance, just like everyone else.
May all beings be free from hostility.
May all beings be free from affliction.
May all beings be free from distress.
May all beings live happily.